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Old Sep 16, 2007, 1:48 PM   #11
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 226

Greg, nice images, I like the glass sky-scraper.

OP describes themselves as Newbie, so Snipe's comments are appropriate to the OP.

Whether you need a DSLR or not does depend upon several factors, most importantly what you shoot and how you shoot it. I like wildlife and I like to isolate the subject from the background. So for me, this pushes me down the DSLR route. I have sold some images, so image quality has been essential (ielarge sensor quality), together with ensuring a full dynamic range.

But I agree, lugging lenses is not fun, hence I have bought the FZ18. Here are some observations that I posted on another forum - Norm.

These are my observations from a second day of more considered snapping.

I took 163 pictures on a full battery. Virtually following each snap, I reviewed the picture, checked on the ISO, dipped in and out of the menu and had the zoom shooting backwards and forwards for each shot. The battery had dropped from 3 to 2 bars, so the battery looks robust.

No CA to my eye (purple fringing), even on some quite contrasty shots

Good colour reproduction with the saturation set to +1. I re-did my garden door shot from yesterday and the result is VERY close to the DSLR.

I frequently thought that the camera was over-exposing, so I compensated by 1/3 or 2/3. However, when I downloaded the pics onto the computer, exposure had not been such an issue and in most cases, adjusting the exposure downwards had underexposed the pictures. It looks like the LCD is making the pictures look over-exposed.

Like with all photography, there was a mix of keepers and none keepers. For pixel peepers, I thought things stop looking pretty after 40 - 60% cropping. 100% can look quite rough (in keeping with all 1 / 2.5 sensor cameras and many of my DSLR shots). However the prints do look nice. I think this is a camera in which the resolution and associated noise means that you should use the zoom to get the crop you want, rather than relying on cropping after the snap. I have found the same with other bridge cameras.

On a couple of snaps I had birds in quite deep shadow because I had used matrix instead of spot metering. However the camera did capture the detail and post processing (PP) brought the detail out.

I did not change the ‘in camera' sharpening and found that in PP, prints benefited from a bit of sharpening (unsharp mask). For those who loathe PP, you may want to increase the camera sharpening to +1.

On Auto ISO, the camera does not abuse ISO by jacking it up at the drop of a hat. I was shooting at 1/125 in gloomy light and the ISO was still at 100. When I used ‘intelligent ISO' it either did not seem to make a difference or it pushed the ISO up by one stop. Quite a few of my shots were taken at ISO 200 and they seemed quite clean.

I took a picture of a bird box on a tree in woodland - I.E. heavily shaded. In ‘P'mode, the camera selected ISO 125 and speed 1/80 - the result was nicely exposed, sharp and with good colour and detail.

When photographing one of the harder subjects, a Black Swan, I was very pleased with the outcome. I had previously done this with the Fuji 6500 and also the Fuji 9600 and both those cams struggled to get feather tips right, but the FZ18 was bang on - sharp and correct contrast.

During use, I found it to be a responsive camera. The EVF refreshes itself quickly enough that movement can be tracked, I am not so sure that the continuous auto focus can track as fast though. I tried to photograph flying seagulls and this was a hit and miss affair - although the ones I got showed some nice detail. As you are aware, when you take a picture, the EVF goes black, while the camera process the photograph. This is a downside of EVF, but I found the FZ18 to be the fastest recovering EVF that I have used, probably at a tad under a second and I was only using a standard memory card - not a x133 card or anything like that..

As I have previously mentioned, I have a DSLR, a couple of lenses, flash etc and the backpack is surprisingly (and tediously) heavy. It was therefore quite liberating to walk round with this ultra light cam today.

There are clear differences between the two cams. The DSLR just reaches out and grabs anything that passes me, regardless of speed etc. It is a fantastic tool, particularly with it's ability to isolate the subject from the background, due to the shallow depth of field that it can create. But there are days when I just don't want to lug it around. I would be more than happy to take the FZ18 out on those days as it strikes me as a camera that has a better chance than most compacts of getting those more challenging shots. For anyone who does not own and does not want a DSLR, the FZ18 is a good camera - full stop. As I trawled through the shots taken today, I found quite a few that would be destined for the bin without any attempt to PP them, but the same is true when I use my DSLR.

I have not been immediately successful with the Macro shots and think this just needs some practice with regards to the relationship between zoom and shooting distance.

One of the things to be aware of is that just because the zoom can go out to 500mm+, there is a temptation to do this, even in dim light. I tried to pan 2 ducks swimming at 500mm, 1/125 and ISO 200 but the shot (not unsurprisingly) was blurred. This is of course a problem of physics, not the camera, but it shows how the camera does give the user the confidence that it can accomplish much.

Just for the record, I was shooting in Fine quality JPEG. This gives 253 shots to a 1 GB card. Typical image size has been 3.5meg.

I have not looked at the manual yet, so there will probably be things in there that will allow me to get more out of the cam.

For it's weight and size, this is a very powerful tool. I have not used an FZ50, so cannot say how they compare

norm smith is offline   Reply With Quote

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