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Old Nov 27, 2007, 1:13 AM   #11
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Thanks, Calicajun. I have a Sony R1 and I can tell you this, the FZ18 will not replace it. IMO, the FZ18 is a fun camera to take everywhere w/o having to carry a big bag and a lot of weight around your neck. It's very compact and light and the 28mm lens really makes a difference when comparing it againstthe competition.I also have the Sony H1 and the Pana FZ20 (which I'm now selling it on eBay) and I can tell you that having that extra zoom w/o having to add any tele converters is great. However, nothing beats that CMOS sensor of the R1.
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Old Nov 27, 2007, 9:19 PM   #12
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Hi Tullio

I am sure that's the price one has to pay for long zooms and small ccds.

All the pics you ve posted (but one) look very fine to me, noise free, also good the 2nd (ISO 200) and the 10 sec night shot.

On the other hand the moon is horrible, and I think that that must be even more seen at 100% crop. That's really a Hard Day's Night.
NR there has completely erased any detail in the craters.
My FZ20 can do far better though the moon will look a bit smaller owing to the 432mm and 5Mp....

The degradation in IQ is something which has made me kept from buying a FZ50, which has far too aggressive NR... I think that these cams are always useful even when one gose up to dSLR, but I notice that there is some degradation in IQ from FZ10 to 50.
The first one at ISO 50 produiced cleaner pics (and still I remember reviews telling it was too noisy). Yet I m sure that in good light conditions, prints from FZ30- 50, 8, 18 are better than those from 4-5MP Lumix models, but I think too many MP are useless on these cams, and this race for more "resolution" must stop.

How many times we ve said that ?
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Old Nov 28, 2007, 12:30 AM   #13
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Thanks for commenting, Narmer. To be honest, I was not too happy about that moon shot either. I have much better moon shots taken with my H1 (I'm not sure about the FZ20..I have one and I find it to be much noisier than the FZ18. Now, as I mentioned, I have NR set to +1, which works OK in most cases as long as you keep the ISO at 400 or lower. If I use less in-camera NR, then IQ is unacceptable, IMO.
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Old Nov 29, 2007, 11:42 AM   #14
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Tullio wrote:
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I just got my FZ18 early this week and after reading the many reviews already out there, the very first thing I did before taking any pictures was to change some camera settings. I started in P mode andchanged the i ISO to ISO max 400 (anything beyond that produces too much noisethat I wanted to make sure I set it myself if I have no other choice). Then I went to PICT. ADJ. and lowered the NR to-2, Saturation to -1 and left Contrast and Sharpness at default (0). Adjusted exposureas I felt needed to avoid over exposure clipping (unfortunately, the FZ18 does not have the HIGHLIGHT feature that the FZ20 has, which Imuch prefer over the histogram. Why did Panasonic eliminate such a useful functionality beats me). With that, I wentoutside and started taking pictures. Macro shots of flowers, wide angle view of my backyard, trees with a bright blue sky in the background, high contrast shots, subjects in full shade and full sun and, of course, some far away bird shotsusing the long range of the zoom.After downloading them to my PC and looking at each image in Picasa,I was ready to placethe cameraback in the box and returning it to Amazon, so disgusted I was with IQ. Noise was horrible even at the lowest ISO. Images were soft andunder exposed in many cases. So I took a deep breath andmade a few more adjustments.Ipicked a very colorful subjectsitting in the shade and took pictures with every possible (positive, and by that I mean +1 and +2)combination of Contrast and Saturation. OK, now I was getting somewhere. Images were still very noisy but at least they were sharper. They were also too saturated (for my taste - I prefer more natural tones)So, I reduced Saturation to -1, left Contrast and Sharpnessat +1and decided to go against the reviews and increase NR. I took another batch of shots changing NR from -2 to +2 and found +1 to be the ideal. OK, perhaps if you take pictures of people and cropit 100% you may notice a bit of loss in detail when looking at hair shafts- does it sound familiar??? if not, you haven't read allmost popularreviews out there. The only thing that was still bugging me was the under exposure issue. So, I lowered the EVF and LCD brightness one notch and that did the trick. Now what I see is more like what I get so if the image looks too dark ,itactually istoo dark and all I have to do is increase the exposure a bit. In other words, both the EVF and the LCD are a bit too bright and they can easily mislead you in terms of how bright (or not) the image is. The histogram however, is fairly accurate.

Next, I wanted to test its flash capabilities. So I set the three custom settings for flash photography using AUTO ISO, i ISO max400 and i ISO max800 and flash WB. The results were very good. The FZ18 focus very fast in low indoor light and the colorsare well exposed, very sharpand nicely saturated. The flash range is very decent if you allow the camera to choose high ISO values. I was impressed by how quickly the flash recharges and the camera is ready for another shot. The thing is, battery life is modest, nothing to brag about, so I'm alreadyshopping for a spare.

The two things I really dislike about the FZ18 are the already mentioned lack of the HIGHLIGHT feature and the fact that every tine you turn the cameraON you have to remember to remove the lens cap or the camera will not start up until you do so and then press the > button. Very annoying indeed specially if all you want is to check the menus.

There aremany other conditions for me to test my FZ18 but I'mhappy with my initial results.

Here are some samples:
Quote:
Thanks for your writeup. I have the FZ8 soI think a lot of your settings might apply. It appears to me that contrast. sharpness and saturation have only 3 settings high,standard and low. Is this correct?
Also my noise reduction on the FZ8 only gives me high standard and low as well yet you talk about +1 and +2. Am I missing something ordoes the FZ18 have more fine tune adjustments?
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Alsohow do your set your metering and AF settings?
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Old Nov 30, 2007, 11:51 AM   #15
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Sorry for the late reply, Richwolf. I don't have the FZ8 but by the sounds of it, there are a lot of differences between the Z8 and the Z18, beginning with the lens. Therefore, I would not necessarily assume that the settings I found to be optimalfor the Z18 will also be ideal for the FZ8. Sharpness, Saturation, Contrast and NRon the FZ18 all have two levels up and two down plus normal. So, from what you stated, it appears that the FZ18 has an extra step up and down for each setting. As for the metering, I always use Center Weight on all of my cameras. I find it more reliable than matrix. The AF setting varies according thesubject/scene I'm photographing. For most situations where there is no specific focal point (landscapes, architecture, etc.), I use multi-point (not High speed). If I'm taking pictures of single subjects, then I use single point (again not High single)or evenspot focus if the subject is surrounded by other objects that might make the camera focus on the wrong spot (i.e. photographing a bird sitting on a branch in the middle of a tree, surrounded by branches and leaves). The FZ18 has something called "High multi-point" (3 point) and"High single-point"AF (perhaps the FZ8 has this feature also).In these modes, the camera "appears" to focus real quickBUT, I found that in many instances, the imagewas not verywell focused at all. I think in these High AF modesthe camera uses distance to reach focus rather than contrast points. Since it is much faster to calculate distance than it is to analyze contrast areas (edges), the camera achieves focus much quicker. However, the subject not always is in total focus. Please keep in mind that this analysis is purely based on my real life experience with the camera.
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Old Nov 30, 2007, 4:51 PM   #16
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Thanks for the feedback, particularly with respect to metering and focusing.

Do you ever play around with your flash settings, particularly changing the brightness of the flash? I have been doing this and feel this adjustment is a very usefull tool.
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Old Nov 30, 2007, 11:24 PM   #17
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I've setup the 3 custom setting for flash use. The ability to increase the flash output certainly helps however, if you need to increase the reach of the flash, I suggest you use the custom settings. That way you don't need to mess around with your regular settings. I have The 3 custom settings saved as follows:

1. P mode, ISO 400, flash output +1, AF face detection

2. A mode (set to f4.0 (I find that these fixed lens cameras have their sweet spot somewhere between f4.0 and f5.6), ISO 400, flash output +2, AF single point

3. S mode at 1/125, ISO 800, flash output 0, AF single focus point.

Of course each setting has its purpose. You just need to try them and figure out what results they produce and how you can make use of each.
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Old Dec 6, 2007, 9:37 PM   #18
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So were you using the RAW mode, or one of the high quality JPEG options?

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Old Dec 6, 2007, 9:58 PM   #19
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Tullio wrote:
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the fact that every tine you turn the cameraON you have to remember to remove the lens cap or the camera will not start up until you do so and then press the > button. Very annoying indeed specially if all you want is to check the menus.
I bought a second hood adapter from Panasonic and keep both on at all times. You can then turn the camera on without removing the lens cap. It makes the lens barrel a little longer but I would rather be able to turn the camera on with the lens cap in place as well as walk around with the camera on and he lens cap in place.

I like the FZ18 quite a bit. It won't replace my dSLR but it is a fun camera and a nice complement to it.
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Old Dec 6, 2007, 10:42 PM   #20
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That's an interesting idea. In fact, I've read some threads where it's suggested that 3 of those adapters will work as the LA3 adapter that can not be found anywhere. Do you have any lens adapters such as the TCON 17? Do you think 3 adapters will be long enough with the lens extended all the way out?
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