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andruss Aug 3, 2004 7:13 PM

:?Have a Epson 3000 that does not have 'focus assist' light, am considering the new Panasonic FZ20that does. The light is good to 5 feet. Does this mean the auto focus will lock on somethingat 5 feet or less? I can't quite get a handle on how this functions,...obviously. Anybody up to explaining?


JimC Aug 3, 2004 7:38 PM

All most focus assist lamps do, is shine a light on your subject to help the camera "see" the contrast better. Most non-DSLR digital cameras still use a contrast detection focus system.

This means theylook for contrast in your subject to help them focus.

Most focus assist lamps will work at a better range than 5 feet. If this were the case, one would seem pretty useless. So, I think someone probably gotit wrong.

BTW, I woudn't part with your Epson PhotoPC 3000z. It's probably a much better low light performer from a noise perspective, compared to many of the newer cameras. It has an exceptionally bright f/2.0-2.5 lens (allowing faster shutter speeds for the same ISO settings in most light, compared to most other compact models).

Most digital cameras don't start out until around f/2.8 , and your Epson's largest aperture of f/2.0 at wide angle, is twice as bright as f/2.8

Now, it was not without it's "quirks". One of my biggest "pet peeves" with it, was that it did not retain any settings when you recharged the batteries. Parallax error was also fairly high. So, it's better to use it's LCD for framing at closer ranges, versus it's optical viewfinder (otherwise it may focus on something in the background, versus what you think is in the center of the viewfinder).

I used to own one (bought when it was first introduced). If memory serves, I think I paidclose to$900.00 for it at the time (from an online discounter). :-)

Mikefellh Aug 4, 2004 3:15 AM

To learn why you need a focus assist, here's how the contrast focus mechanism works (in simple language):

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