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Old May 15, 2013, 12:51 PM   #1
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Default Panasonic DMC-FZ200 or DSLR

I recently upgraded my Canon T1i to a Canon T3i but I’m having doubts about the decision. I’m thinking the Panasonic FZ200 with 24x zoom and f2.8 lens may be a better camera for my needs. I have wide ranging needs ranging from Saturday T-Ball, to outdoor Orchestra concerts, to indoor concerts, to taking photos indoors to parties to traveling domestically and abroad. I want a camera that can handle all these situations reasonably well without breaking the bank and with some sibilance of portability.

Here are my perceived positives and negatives of the FZ200.

Positives—
• Impressive 24x 25-600mm equivalent lens
• F2.8 Aperture across the entire zoom range
• Touted as “The” super zoom to buy by the press
• Value priced for what you get
• 1080p Video

Negatives—

• The FZ 200 isn’t much more portable than a DSLR
• Image quality not as good as a DSLR.
• Noise starts as low as ISO 100.
• IQ not as good as a DSLR

I’ve owned a DSLR and love the quality, but I also own a point and shoot (Nikon 9300, Olympus XZ-1) and can live with the quality.
I have aspirations of doing more with my DSLR but I’ve harbored this aspiration for years and made nothing of it; all the while I’ve missed shots by not having the “right” lens for the job.

I’m beginning to come to the realization that I’m just an enthusiast who likes taking good photos, but doesn’t have the time nor cash to invest in a more expensive DSLR system. To buy the zoom lens to make the DSLR system work I’d need to spend much more than I would if I bought the Panasonic FZ200. I’m thinking I should buy a camera that plays to my current strengths not my future hopes.

What do you think?
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Old May 15, 2013, 3:04 PM   #2
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The T3i has more than a 3 stop advantage over the FZ200 with respect to noise and dynamic range.

But the FZ200's constant f/2.8 aperture makes that less important at longer focal lengths. With the FZ200, you can use a relatively large aperture for a lot of what you say you want to do, whereas you'll need to use f/5.6 (or smaller) for the same kind of shooting with a T3i and a reasonably priced telephoto zoom lens, so you can use lower ISO settings with the FZ200 than with the T3i, negating much the noise and dynamic range advantage of the T3i.

Plus, the FZ200 is smaller, lighter, and less expensive than a T3i with appropriate lenses.

The downside is that, at shorter focal lengths, the difference between the FZ200's f/2.8 maximum aperture isn't much different from the f/3.5 maximum aperture of reasonably priced standard zoom lenses, so the lower noise and greater dynamic range of the T3I really comes into play.

For much of what you say you want to do (... Saturday T-Ball, to outdoor Orchestra concerts, to indoor concerts ...), I think the FZ200 is a great tool, but for some of it (... to taking photos indoors to parties ...), a dSLR might be a better choice.
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Last edited by TCav; May 15, 2013 at 3:15 PM.
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Old May 15, 2013, 3:04 PM   #3
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I think as an "all rounder" the FZ200 cannot be beat.
Other bridge camera's may offer more zoom range- but the lens quality suffers as a consequence- the Panny delivers good results across the frame at all focal lengths.
Yes,the IQ won't match a DSLR, but so long as you don't scrutinize your images too much,or view them at very large sizes,I'm sure you'd be happy with them.
Of course,the Panny shoots RAW also to squeeze as much as you can out of the sensor.

The AF on the Panny is fairly swift,it has good burst speed/options,video capture is very good,many accessories are available for it,it's built well- and with no shutter/mirror noise- very useful for sneaky/candid moments..!!

Have a look around the web for a variety of photo sharing websites (such as Flickr...) and seek out images taken with the FZ in scenarios similar to what you'll be shooting- see if they meet your expectations/requirements- just bear in mind that often some of those images may be taken by a novice- thus not getting the best out of the camera.. seek out the exif data where possible.
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Old May 15, 2013, 3:19 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TCav View Post
The T3i has more than a 3 stop advantage over the FZ200 with respect to noise and dynamic range.

But the FZ200's constant f/2.8 aperture makes that less important at longer focal lengths. With the FZ200, you can use a relatively large aperture for a lot of what you say you want to do, whereas you'll need to use f/5.6 (or smaller) for the same kind of shooting with a T3i and a reasonably priced telephoto zoom lens, so you can use lower ISO settings with the FZ200 than with the T3i, negating much the noise and dynamic range advantage of the T3i.

Plus, the FZ200 is smaller, lighter, and less expensive than a T3i with appropriate lenses.
Which is one of the main reasons I bought the FZ200.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TCav View Post
The downside is that, at shorter focal lengths, the difference between the FZ200's f/2.8 maximum aperture and the f/3.5 aperture of reasonably priced standard zoom lenses, so the lower noise and greater dynamic range of the T3I really comes into play.
I would think that short focal lenghts the Panasonic f2.8 is a benefit because it keeps noise in check due to the brightness/speed of the lens.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TCav View Post
For much of what you say you want to do (... Saturday T-Ball, to outdoor Orchestra concerts, to indoor concerts ...), I think the FZ200 is a great tool, but for some of it (... to taking photos indoors to parties ...), a dSLR might be a better choice.
I'm hoping the f2.8 helps indoors this too because with my Canon t3i I really have to pump up the ISO (800-3200) to get bright enough shots. I'm thinking I can keep the range down in the 400 range on the FZ200 with the same light. From the images I've seen online, ISO 400 (800 may be pushing it) is about the max ISO you'd want to push with the FZ200. The cool thing about the Panasonic is that you can limit the max ISO to 400 in the settings from what I've read.

I still have the T3i and T1i, so I can compare them briefly before going on a vacation to Spain next week.
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Old May 15, 2013, 3:34 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by intelonetwo View Post
I would think that short focal lenghts the Panasonic f2.8 is a benefit because it keeps noise in check due to the brightness/speed of the lens.

I'm hoping the f2.8 helps indoors this too because with my Canon t3i I really have to pump up the ISO (800-3200) to get bright enough shots. I'm thinking I can keep the range down in the 400 range on the FZ200 with the same light. From the images I've seen online, ISO 400 (800 may be pushing it) is about the max ISO you'd want to push with the FZ200. The cool thing about the Panasonic is that you can limit the max ISO to 400 in the settings from what I've read.
At long focal lengths, f/2.8 is a lot larger than the f/5.6 you'd need to use with the T3i, negating much of the T3i's noise and dynamic range advantage. But at shorter focal lengths, f/2.8 isn't much better than the f/3.5 you could use with the T3i.

It's still an advantage, but it's not as great an advantage, so it doesn't negate the advantage the T3i has in noise and dynamic range.
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Old May 15, 2013, 3:53 PM   #6
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i had the fz150, and while it may not be much smaller than a small dslr, it is much lighter. i found its autofocus was very good, and while images were noisier at lower ISOs and at much brighter low light (if you see what i mean), the convenience of that long lens just rocked!

here's an unprocessed picture that was actually in pretty low light


now think of what the FZ200 can do with its f/2.8 lens.
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Old May 15, 2013, 3:55 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TCav View Post
At long focal lengths, f/2.8 is a lot larger than the f/5.6 you'd need to use with the T3i, negating much of the T3i's noise and dynamic range advantage. But at shorter focal lengths, f/2.8 isn't much better than the f/3.5 you could use with the T3i.

It's still an advantage, but it's not as great an advantage, so it doesn't negate the advantage the T3i has in noise and dynamic range.
I see. The ultimate proof in the pudding is going to be how it performs while I'm on vacation.
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Old May 15, 2013, 5:07 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pcake View Post
i had the fz150, and while it may not be much smaller than a small dslr, it is much lighter. i found its autofocus was very good, and while images were noisier at lower ISOs and at much brighter low light (if you see what i mean), the convenience of that long lens just rocked!

here's an unprocessed picture that was actually in pretty low light


now think of what the FZ200 can do with its f/2.8 lens.
Nice shot. What was the ISO at with the FZ150.
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Old May 15, 2013, 9:38 PM   #9
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No one camera can do everything.
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Old May 15, 2013, 9:58 PM   #10
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Every camera will have compromises. The key is aligning my needs with the sweet spot of a camera with the greatest number of strengths.
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