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Old Jan 17, 2005, 2:25 PM   #1
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Hello everyone and happy new year to all. I wish everyone lots of success, wealth, happiness, and most important good health. My question is that I am deciding between the Panasonic FZ20 and the Nikon 8800. I know there is a price difference between the two but that is not really important to me. My main concern is the quality of the image in general and in particularthe ability to take pictures at very low light without noticeablenoise.

I saw the images of the Nikon 8800 and I was blown away by how beautiful the images are. I also think the images of the Panazonic FZ20 are great too.The Panasonic has 5 megapixels while the Nikon has 8 megapixels which I don't really know if it matters significantly in terms of how it impacts the image quality.

I like the fact that the Panasonic contains a Leica lens but the quality of the Nikon lens is, according to what Iread, of the highest quality materials and specifications. What you do you think?

Has anyone seen a side by side comparison of the images producedby the Nikon 8800 and Panasonic FZ20 especially images taken inside buildings in very low ambient light? What do you think?Are the imagequality close or different? Is it worth it spending more money for the Nikon 8800? Please help. Thank you.


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Old Jan 17, 2005, 6:32 PM   #2
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I haven't got a valid opinion for you, but I must admit I am curious as well. For me, I wonder about Panasonics smaller ccd, and no movable lcd screen. The extra pixel real estate of the Nikon is nice, but how much nicer? I wonder if Nikon squeezing 8MP onto a somewhat larger ccd is the same as Panasonic going 5MP on a smaller one. Might be interesting to hear some of our knowledgeable members chew on that one. What about Panasonics cool 12X zoom. Essentially closes the gap with Nikon because a 12X optical zoom on a5MP would be cropped less, so might end up comparing nicely with an 8MP, end results compared, speaking strictly about zoom capacity and MP's. Panasonics focus assist is something I have seen, and really liked. I found the way they magnify the centre portion allows you to get a sharp focus easily. That's a very nice quality, and again, I was really impressed with Panasonic there. Shutter lag and auto focus, writing large files to the storage card, these are more things to compare. While I, like you, ponder these things, in the back of my mind I am wondering how long it will be before Panasonic makes the jump to an 8MP model, or when Nikon will bring out something to raise the bar higher than the 8800, or perhaps replace the D70. Meanwhile, back at the ranch the click, click, click of my old Minolta 7i picks up the pace, so many pictures to take, so little time...

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Old Jan 17, 2005, 7:17 PM   #3
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Thanks Kenneth. I appreciate your comments and I wish you a great 2005. Good Bye.
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Old Jan 17, 2005, 7:49 PM   #4
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Hi KennethD...glad to see you are still lurking here..despite surviving -200C temps ! I also wonder about the value of 8MP. I'm not an expert, but would have to say it ain't incredibly better than my 3 MP Kodak. My pictures are sharper and blow up without so much " grain", but I don't know if that is the good Nikon lens, or the extra MP. I am swayed by the numbers game, asI expect most of us are. My new computer is a Pentium 4...must be MUCH better than a 3 !!

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"I do know that my 8800 pics are bright, clear and vividly coloured. If that is the 8MP or something else, it beats me. A good photo stands alone and I like what I see. It is much clearer on an LCD screen, and that is probably the easiest way to improve your viewing.

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"+3C. and pouring rain after 2 weeks of just below freezing. Spring just a month away. Life is good.

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Old Jan 17, 2005, 7:52 PM   #5
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Someone tell me what this "style background colour" thing is that crops up in my posts ?

Dazed and Confused. (Led Zeppelin)

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Old Jan 17, 2005, 7:53 PM   #6
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Aha....I see Colour is spelled "color"...so this must be a conspiracy from South of the border !

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Old Jan 20, 2005, 9:34 PM   #7
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As a long time Nikon fan, on December 2, 2004 I bought 8800 without giving much thought, trusting Nikon since it was the highest megapixel prosumer camera, an of course from Nikon.

In January 10 or so I ended up selling the Nikon for two main reasons: 1 too slow focusing or not focusing at all during low light and 2. too long write time to CF card at RAW mode. It was to the point that it was not tolerable. For me, those two flaws were so big that I ended up selling the camera. In my opinion, Nikon should have not release the camera without figuring out improving that. It was really a bummer and un Nikon like. Plus the filter size is some really on 43.5mm that you can only get from Nikon.

I am now using FZ20 and I am very happy with the camera. Definitely much much faster than Nikon and better low light response.

Overall summary

Nikon: pluses - build quality, picture quality, can zoom while shooting video (video quality is quite good), buttons well laid outlike traditionalNikon , minuses: too slow (huge minus), autofocus hunts around in low light, manual focus is useless

FZ20: pluses - much more compact and lighter than Nikon, longer zoom, brighter lense, LCD is larger and brighter, image quaility is as good(in my eyes no significant differences), manual focus ringminuses - manual exposure is through button not dial (though intuitive and easy to use), location of EVF is in an odd place, adapter for filter they give out is not good (the distance from lense to filter is big, better to buy after market one. I bought one from Rynox and it is perfect about $20 including S/H)

Overall FZ20 is the winner for me and with 200+ dollars difference I can't justify Nikon. Too many flaws for a 1000 dollar camera
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Old Jan 20, 2005, 11:12 PM   #8
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I've always found the sample pix from Steve's reviews are very helpful.

Download the full res pix from both cameras and then load them up side by side.

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Old Jan 21, 2005, 5:20 PM   #9
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The Scubbler wrote:
Quote:
Hi KennethD...glad to see you are still lurking here..despite surviving -200C temps ! I also wonder about the value of 8MP.
Greetings Scubbler...I do indeed continue to lurk. I just got back from a little jaunt over to the "breaking news" section. Ahhhhhh, like a sip of good hot Darjeeling, laced with honey, on a cold frosty day. Finally some new camera news! Konica Minolta has thrown it's hat into the mega zoom ring, and will offer a 12X zoom with a 5 MP Z model. Plus, it has the anti shake (to shake things up a bit in this market...npi..uh...no pun intended) I was very impressed with the idea that 8 MP cameras were the latest and greatest until I came across the facts and figures to suggest that in order to double resolution a 4X increase in pixel count was required. (by way of the X,Y multiplier for resolution) and that the overall real estate in pixel count wasn't as great as you'd think, between 5 & 8 MP cameras. (or 6 & 8)so, I harrumphed and filed that little thought away for future retrieval. However, cropping has always been a necessary requirement for me so any increase is good. Limiting my argument to wildlife for the moment, so has a large zoom been coveted by me. So both would be idyllic. Winter is biting us at the moment so I'm content to limit most of my photography to the indoors, and see if I can cultivate my portrait skills. I have really high hopes that spring might see some nice development in the 8 MP 8800 type offerings. I know it might sound odd but, even after 2 &1/2 + years there are still some things in the old 7i that I'm just finding out about. Either there really is a lot to learn about these prosumers or I'm just a lot denser than my mother in law gives me credit for. But either way, it's all good...retirement is sweet my friend, sweet indeed. Even better because this digital camera thing is like...way cool, dude...totally!! Best regards,

KennethD
little edit here...that revoving happy guy ought to be an 8...every time i put an 8 there ....it gives birth to the happy guy!!...?????oh welll
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Old Jan 22, 2005, 1:02 PM   #10
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Well heck. I just typed up a long post and lost it.

It went something like this: I too have owned both cameras. I am NOT a photographer by any means and have very little experience with digital cameras. I was waiting for the FZ20 to come out due to the image stabilization feature. I owned an Olympus 10x zoom (forgot the model off hand) and you had to use a tripod for the long zoom. Unlike Leeyx, I went from the FZ20 to the 8800. He, I'm sure, has much more experience than I do, so I don't want to discredit his statements at all. My experience with the FZ20 was very frustrating.

The indoor pictures I took right out of the box with the FZ20 did not seem sharp, had a ton of noise, etc. Not worth keeping 9 out of 10 photos I took. I'm sure some of the problem was probably me; however, I felt as though a camera should take decent pictures in program mode before tweaking with anything. I could not get it to do that, even after I tweaked.

The indoor pictures I took in auto mode with the Nikon 8800 were sharp, crisp, low noise (if any). I even took similar pictures (same aperture/zoom/shutter/etc.) that I did with the FZ20 and the Nikon ones look much better (almost luxurious if that makes sense). I don't know what to attribute it too since I don't know alot, but whatever it is...thanks Nikon.

Here are some things that I found different about each camera - since I lost my post earlier, I bet I'll forget something, but anyway:

LCD: FZ20 was brighter and better. You could tell when something was in focus before taking the picture. The nikon one: when you're trying to look at your subject, it seems like you're watching an old TV with an antenna (snow on the screen). Strange I know, but it was difficult to see if you're subject was in focus. You pretty much have to take the camera's word for it that it was able to focus on the subject. Nikon one swivels though so that's cool. Panasonic: +1

Auto Focus: Both cameras seem to hunt in low-light. I finally noticed last night when I was testing my SB-600 flash that the Nikon one seemed to have trouble focusing at all. Prior to this, my experience was that both cameras seemed to take a couple of times to try to focus. I'm not positive that the FZ20 is better in this category or not. Maybe by a little bit so I'll give a small advantage to the FZ20. Please note though that the FZ20 still hunted, although it seemed to be a little faster in coming back saying that it couldn't focus. The FZ20 might have been a fraction of a second faster when it did focus as well. All in all, small advantage to the FZ20. Hmmm... I'm wondering why I returned my FZ20...Another note about auto focus: both cameras have an AF assist lamp that will fire to help the camera focus. In my experience. This didn't seem to help enough. My subjects didn't like the AF lamp either. Why not just put a bright lamp on the camera (like camcorders have) to help with the focus? Any way, my point is this: With the FZ20, you can turn this off. On the Nikon, you cannot. The nikon will use this anytime it thinks it needs too. Bummer, but not huge. Panasonic +1/2.

Manual Focus: Again, I have to give an even bigger edge to the FZ20. The manual focus ring was great. I feel I'll hardly ever use the manual focus, but when I do, I wish it was like the FZ20. With the FZ20, all you have to do is flip a switch. That switch even has a thing that will assist you in manual focusing. It will use it's auto focus to try to help you get where you want to be. Huge help when manual focusing. The FZ20 also increases (zooms in on) the center of the picture to help youout as well. Huge kudos to the FZ20 for this feature. With the Nikon, you have to hold a button down while turning the command dial to try and focus. With the bad quality LCD on the Nikon, you can't tell when your subject is in focus. I tried a few shots letting the Nikon autofocus, then trying to manually focus. I seemd to always be a couple of stops off from where I wanted to be. It was difficult indeed. Like I said earlier though, I won't use manual focus very much at all so it's not a huge deal for me, but definitely something you might want to keep in mind. Instead of having to hold a button in, I think nikon should have just had an extra stop on that AF button - That button goes through Auto, Macro, and Infinity. They should have just added a manual focus option. Panasonic should probably get a +2 on this, but I'll just give them 1. Panasonic +1.

Zoom: 10x (nikon) vs 12x (fz20). Well the difference between 2 more Xs isn't much of a big deal. Plus, with the extra megapixels that the Nikon gives you, this isn't a big deal at all. So I won't give the plus to Panasonic just yet. However, here is where I will give Panasonic the plus: With the FZ20, the zoom lever is where your pointer finger is (in front of the shutter release button). This was excellent thinking. The zoom on the FZ20 was also smooth and responsive and quiet. Nice job panasonic! The nikon: the zoom buttons (one for W, one for T) are on the back of the camera. Functional, but why? The zoom does seem to be a bit sluggish, but fine enough if you're just an amateur like me who just wants a digital camera for the convenience. The zoom on the Nikon was also noisy (not bad so don't think it is a bother). It seems to be just like an old SLR camera zooming in. That's the noise I'm talking about. One more thing: The aperture with the FZ20 sticks at 2.8 throughout the entire zoom level. The Nikon one ranges from 2.8 at wide to 5.2 (I think) at tele. I'm not sure how much of a difference this will be for me. I haven't taken outdoor photos with the 8800 yet (too cold/cloudy so far), so I don't know how much this will affect what I think a picture should look like. Still though, a supposed plus for Panasonic. Panasonic +1

Write times to card: Yes, there does seem to be a difference in the write times to the card. I have a Lexar 80x which I know that Nikon doesn't take advantage of the speed of this card. However, a side note for you memory card readers: writing from this card to the computer was way faster than my Sandisk ultra II card I had with the FZ20. Back to times: Sometimes, there does seem to be a lag when writing to the Nikon. I don't quite understand it. There is a delay to write to the card (hourglass). Sometimes I get a green icon that freezes the camera and you can't do anything at that time either. I don't understand it much. Either way, unless you are serious about photography, I don't think this is a huge deal at all. Yes, the FZ20 did seem to write faster (not noticeable at all), but I don't care. The nikon (to me) takes better pictures so I'll still stick with the Nikon. Panasonic: +1/2

Image quality: You're going to get differences of opinion on this all the time. It depends on the person, which camera they're using, etc. Heck, you know most people will say the image quality on their cameras is just fine - of course, most times, that's the only camera (or brand of camera) they've owned.This discussion is about the FZ20 vs 8800 and I've owned both so here is my opinion. The Nikon way outweighs the Panasonic. Many digital cameras take very nice outdoor pictures, so I'm not going to say anything about that. I also don't know much about color (I don't have an eye for that - to make sure blues are the exact blue you see with your eye, etc.): So outdoor pictures will vary on that part as well; however, for the most part, outdoor pictures will look pretty darn good with any camera. So to me, it comes down to indoor shots (you know, the ones you take during the holidays or birthday parties, etc.). The FZ20 shots I took were not sharp, not eye-pleasing, way too noisy, and a little blah looking. Yes, you can get rid of most of the noise with software, but why do I want to spend all of my time taking pictures just so I can run them into my computer through a noise reduction program, then save them again, then print them somewhere? I expect to take my CompactFlash card down to my local Walgreens, choose the pictures I want from it, and have them print it. Is that too much to ask? Maybe I expect too much from an $500 camera, but I don't think so. The Nikon 8800 takes sharp, eye-pleasing, almost luxurious indoor pictures. Very nice, and that's in auto mode! This is what I wanted from a camera. Yes, I'm learning more and more about aperture / shutter speed / etc.; however, if I want a good-looking shot. I don't want to spend 15 minutes just to get a decent one. I want a nice sharp picture in auto mode. Here, the Nikon delivers. The FZ20 was lacking in my opinion. Even on the pictures on Steve's reviews of these 2 cameras, if you download them to your computer and look at different places of each camera's photo, to me anyway, the Nikon did a better job of constructing the photo. This in my opinion is the bottom line factor when determining which camera to buy.

Another side note: I know many serious photographers already have external flashes, but I want to say something to all others. Buy an external flash for your digital camera. This helps take some very nice pictures indoors. You don't get the nasty contrast that built-in flashes carry and you can bounce the flash off the ceiling to not get the harsh shadows from a direct flash. Bouncing the flash does produce a soft picture, which some people might find it bothersome. The softness doesn't bother me much. The quality of the photo makes all the difference.

Thanks for listening and any comments are welcome.
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