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Old Nov 25, 2007, 1:54 PM   #1
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I am looking for a real digital camera. My history:

I spent years with a Minolta XD11 for its AP, SP, and Manual modes and some ten years agogot my wife a Cannon Rebel SLRso we couldenjoy the autofocus capabilities. Four or fiveyears ago Ientered thedigital world with aNikon 4500 series and then went smaller to the Cannon SD400.I pretty much feelall I am doing istaking snapshots, no matter how much I play with the Cannon settings. Lighter and smaller is not necessarily better.

I was set to get the Cannon XTI digital until I saw thePanasonic LumixDigital FZ18K.Would be giving up the interchangable lenses, but I am getting a 18X zoom, good wideangle, image stabilization in a body that I hope feels close enoughto a real camera with easy to set choices AND a display of those settings as I compose and ready my shot. Lots of travel -- landscapes, buildings, people; family photos, and plenty of hiking.

Shaving some weight may not be all that bad as its tough to tote a full DSLR on a 50 mile packpacktrek oraforeign vacation. Am I going to have a middle of the road that does is not quite there, or am I going to be close enough in a better suited package?


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Old Nov 25, 2007, 2:59 PM   #2
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The FZ18 is capable of an incrediblely wide range of photography. Whether you are givingup things you can't live without in picking it over a DSLR is something only you can decide..

1. Flash Photography....people can talk about slaved flash units all they want, but you are definitely giving up the best possible flashcapabilities in buying any camera that does not have a dedicated hot shoe, but if you are not the type person who would take advantage of that hot shoe, this is no issue.

2. The Larger Sensor of the DSLR- This really should go without saying, but these f5.6 kit lenses being soldwith DSLR's are not as big a liability as they used to be since most every DSLR today can record images at ISO 1600 that will probably be cleaner looking than what the FZ18 can do at ISO 400.

The trade off is the bulk of carrying such an outfit. With two lens kits like the Olympus E510 ($675 at B&H online)and it's built-into-the-body image stabilizationweight really is not that big an issue any more with the tiny lenses, but it definitely is more bulky than a camera like the FZ18 that can slip into almost the smallest of accessory bags.

The Rebel XTi and a kit of lenses with image stabilization will be a little more weighty and will definitely be much more costly, but the camera has a marginally better sensor on it. The E510 has taken Olympus to a point to where it's a viable alternative due to the much better ergonomics...it's a much nicer camera to handle and ismuch less expensive than a Digital Rebel with a set ofimage stabilized lenses. Either will produce superior results to the FZ18, but the FZ18is a very capable performer. I've seen some wonderful images posted on the Panasonic forum over on DPReview.

The decision about what tradeoffs are more important to you are, well, hard for us to know.


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Old Nov 25, 2007, 9:00 PM   #3
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While I have and really enjoy using DSLRs if I were a hiker I would most certainly use a FZ camera.......during the hikes..... I have a FZ30 and a FZ18 on the truck for delivery.....while you give up a bit if the absolute best Image Quality is your main concern........but if a really nice photo is what your after the FZs are perfect.
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Old Nov 26, 2007, 1:22 AM   #4
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Although I've been able to obtain some real impressive results with the FZ18 (which I was never capable of with the FZ20 BTW), it is certainly not a replacement for a dSLR. As mentioned before, the FZ18 has a small sensor, which is w/o a doubt, its weaknesses. As a result, noise is high even at ISO 400. Its build is nowhere near any dSLR I've had the opportunity to hold in my hands. It's very light and you feel like you are holding a toy. Even though the FZ18 has a fast AF system, its shooting performance does not match any dSLR in terms of burst mode. So, IMO, the FZ18 is avery capablecamerabut if you really want performance and the best IQ, go for a dSLR.
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Old Nov 26, 2007, 6:52 AM   #5
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Another option would be one of the newer lenses for DSLR models with more focal range from wide to long.

For example, the Tamron 18-250mm f/3.5-5.6 is rapidly becoming a popular "travel" lens for those that don't want to lug a larger kit around.

On an entry level Nikon, Pentax, or Sony DSLR model (these use Sony APS-C size sensors), that Tamron would give you the same angle of view you'd have using a 27-375mm lens on a 35mm camera. You need to multiply the focal length of a lens by 1.5x on these cameras to see what lens you'd need on a 35mm camera for the same angle of view. IOW, lenses will appear to be "longer" (more apparent magnification) on most DSLR models, because their sensors are smaller than 35mm film.

For Canon's entry level models (like the XTi you mentioned), use 1.6x instead. For example, a 100mm lens on a Canon Rebel XTi would give you the same angle of view you'd get using a 160mm lens on a 35mm camera (100mm x 1.6 = 160mm).

In some Pentax models (like the K100D and K10D), all lenses you use are stablized, too. Ditto for Sony DSLR models (the DSLR-A100 or DSLR-A700).

In a Canon or Nikon DSLR, you wouldn't have stablization using a lens like that Tamron. You'd have to buy a stabilized lens instead. Sigma just recently started making a stablized 18-200mm for them. But, reports are mixed. I suspect the Tamron 18-250mm is a better lens from what I've seen so far. In a Nikon DSLR, you can get a lens like a Nikkor 18-200mm VR and get stabiization. It's pricy though (around $800).



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Old Nov 26, 2007, 11:23 AM   #6
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An interesting thread. Some day my FZ will wear out and I will have to think about what to do next and this is all useful information. Thanks all.
Steve
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Old Nov 26, 2007, 4:06 PM   #7
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The thing with dSLRs is not just the inconvenience of having to carry multiple lenses along with you if you want to have a vast coverage of focal length but the sensor dust issue that comeswith the exercise of exchanging lenses. I think Jim's suggestion to get a more versatile lens (i.e. 18-250mm) is a very good one. Not only you don't have to take an extra full size backpack with you, you also don't take the risk of getting dust inside your camera while switching lenses on that windy day. Now, The Sony A100 and the Pentax K10D bothoffer a sensor cleaning feature. Both of these cameras are going for less than $700 and I'd seriously consider them as a viable option.
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Old Nov 26, 2007, 5:21 PM   #8
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Dust is a non factor.......its amazing what the consumer can drive.....Nikon and Canon even added dust removal to its new cameras........I have changed lenses often and anywhere and in everything from dust storms to snow........and you need to clean the sensor once or twice a year.....and a few minutes at a time. I get more dust on the mirror or focus screen than I do on the sensor and the dust removals do nothing to help that.

But I would not overlook IS .....wheather its in body or in lens.....I know I need it.

I can not handhold 200mm in anything but very good light without IS.
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Old Nov 26, 2007, 8:28 PM   #9
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genece wrote:
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Dust is a non factor.......its amazing what the consumer can drive.....Nikon and Canon even added dust removal to its new cameras........I have changed lenses often and anywhere and in everything from dust storms to snow........and you need to clean the sensor once or twice a year.....and a few minutes at a time. I get more dust on the mirror or focus screen than I do on the sensor and the dust removals do nothing to help that.

But I would not overlook IS .....wheather its in body or in lens.....I know I need it.

I can not handhold 200mm in anything but very good light without IS.
Ditto....

The first DSLR setup I usedincludeda Canon 10D and originalDigital Rebel combination for a couple of years with no sensor dust issues. It was there in some amount...it only takes shooting an all-blue sky at f22 to see it, but as a rule, I don't go around shootingallblue skies at f22.... it is, however,suprising how many people do! I rarely shot anything at a smaller aperture than f8 with a DSLRand at that setting, you simply don't see dust, but image stabilization.....now that I've used cameras with it, I'd not use anything without it.
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Old Nov 28, 2007, 12:02 AM   #10
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I have the V-LUX 1 the Rebaged FZ50 and recently bought an Olympus E-1 DSLR very cheaply just to learn how to use a DSLR before I took the big jump. What I have discovered is they both have their places. The DSLR will surley give better overall IQ but like Gene says, on a hiking trip the smaller size and weight of the FZ's are really nice. You might take a look at the FZ50 instead of the FZ18. It has a 12x lens and a little larger sensor and should give less noise that the FZ18.

DonR

http://donr.zenfolio.com/
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