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Old Feb 23, 2010, 8:41 AM   #1
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Default Very confused - FZ35 now or wait? Please help!

Hi


First time poster here. Seeing as I have had no response to this at the other forum site, I thought I'd see how receptive the audience is here at Steve's forum.



I have been putting off writing this post for some time now, hoping an answer would come to me, but like many things in life, it seems the more I think about it, the more confusing it becomes!
So firstly apologies for what is likely a repeat of many threads on a similar topic. But after reading and re-reading through lots of them, I'm still up in the air, and hope some of the good souls here at Panny can voice their opinion. Also I'm sure many others are now, or will be soon, facing a similar quandary. So here goes.
N.B. I have been considering my options vs my requirements for some time, so I won't belabour anyone trying to help me make a decision on what type of camera, just which brand and model of bridge camera for me. And please, I do not want to inflict yet another "what's wrong with Panasonic" debate on the forum - just should I get an FZ-35 now, or wait till the market for bridge cameras stabilises a bit as new models are released over the next few months?
My criteria and current market observations are as follows:
  1. I have owned an FZ-18 (and TZ1 and currently an FS7), and was very happy with it (it died). Therefore I am very familiar with the Panny way of doing things, menus etc, and am reasonably confident of getting the best from Panasonic cameras;
  2. I do some PP, but prefer to get the best results from JPEGs with only the occasional PP later;
  3. From the many expert and user reviews, it seems a no brainer that the FZ35 is the best choice at the moment;
  4. However I don't mind being an early adopter, as I view this as value for money by using the camera over the long term, rather than upgrading every year or so;
  5. I would like (but don't necessarily need) an articulated screen (AS) as street photography is something I really enjoy and would like to increase my skills with. People say that the wide viewing angle of the FZ35 somewhat mitigates this, but after just shooting my brother's wedding on a cheapy Camcorder, I found the AS was a real boon to the functionality of the camera. I also like macro, and I imagine the AS would be a huge bonus when shooting low-to-ground, or leaning over a flower bed to get that perfect insect/bird/flower etc.
  6. A 3.0" AMOLED screen with min. 460k would be nice;
  7. An interval timer would be fun;
  8. A longer zoom (but not at the expense of IQ or IS, or I would have bought an Olympus by now);
  9. Sweep Panorama, in-camera HDR and high-speed burst would be nice
  10. I strongly prefer rechargeable Li-on batteries;
  11. I would not class myself as an FZ50 style user. I am comfortable with the joystick controls of the FZ range for the occasional use of manual settings. However I would not discount getting this larger, heavier style of bridge camera, if it overwhelmingly met all or most of my criteria, and ended up being the best decision in the longer term;
Historically (remember this is all my opinion and perception, please feel free to counter), it seems that IQ-wise, Panny has had the better of the other manufacturers in the bridge class. And the conservative development of the FZ18-28-35/8 has been evidence - no increase in zoom, the same f-range (I think), and gradual improvements in ISO performance through the Venus engine.
But I cannot help but feel fairly certain that (in light of recent releases, and the re-invigoration of the megapixel wars), that Panasonic will almost certainly throw their 14MP sensor in the FZ48. An increase in zoom will also be very likely. (I can't remember where, but I think I read that Leica may not support certification of a longer zoom due to IQ concerns).
These "concerns" I have will probably be offset by the usual plethora of new features and marketing claims. And Panasonic has now announced a new sensor design with a claimed 4-stop improvement over current designs!?! Could this possibly be ready for release in the next FZ60/48? Or be years away?
All this makes me feel even more certain that the FZ35 may just be the best "sweet spot" in their bridge camera range that we will see for some time. (as the FZ8/20/50 were)
Now we have Fuji and Sony with new models that potentially will meet my requirements better than the possible FZ35 successor.
However some posters that I trust, have pointed out that a 30x zoom on a P&S sensor will almost certainly lead to a reduction in IQ, IS and f-stop/ISO (at equivalent focal lengths). Unless future reviews show evidence that Sony and Fuji have been able to achieve perhaps the next evolution of sensor/engine performance, with equivalent or better IQ and high ISO performance than today's bridge cameras, then the law's of physics dictate that these cameras will probably suffer pretty severe fringing, aberration and noise reduction smearing. But they may have all the nice new features that we have been waiting for Panasonic to implement - AS, AMOLED, bigger zoom etc etc.
And lastly, compared to the probable release price of the new models, the FZ35 is becoming very good value.
So if you have read this far into my diatribe without throwing your mouse at the screen, thank you very much. Any thoughts or input at all will be very much appreciated.
Kind Regards
Greg
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Old Feb 23, 2010, 11:32 AM   #2
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Greg, Hi
I think there is a reluctance to answer because there is no easy or simple answer. What I do think however is that everyone faced with such a decision needs to list their own non negotiable requirements.... and then the “nice to haves”. i.e. In my case Lithium batteries were a must, I will never go back to a clumsy AA format. I also did not need a massive mega Zoom but rather a really decent quality one that I knew the Leica 18X would provide based on its earlier success in the FZ28. I also wanted something less than 400g and easy to carry on long trips. Last of all, I wanted it to have AVCHD as well as getting good professional reviews, and the thumbs up from users – I settled on the FZ38/35 in December and have never looked back. I have never owned a Panasonic before, so am not a brand fanboi, and if anything, it was the clear and sharp output of the Leica lens that really had an appeal for me. In the past I have felt the same about Sony and their Carl Zeiss lenses.
The FZ38/35 is a keeper.... it is going to stay with me for quite some time, of that I am quite certain.
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Old Feb 23, 2010, 12:31 PM   #3
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chillgreg-

Welcome to the Forum. We're delighted that you dropped by.

The very nature of the camera market and manufacturing machine is that there is constant evolution and improvement. Yes, we are certainly going to see new models and new features well beyond the Panasonic FZ-35/38 or the Sony HX-1 cameras.

They are just way points along a continuing cycle of improvement and innovation. The FZ-1 was 12X optical zoom with a 2mp imager, and we have come a long way from that starting point. We are however, bound a bit by the laws of physics and light transmission, which tends to make going above 18X while retaining excellent image quality very restrictive. Just look at the Kodak Z-980, The Nikon P-80/P-90/P-100, The Olympus SP-565/SP-570/Sp-580/SP590 series of cameras. They all stubbed their toe once the past around 550 to 570mm in focal length, and image quality versus imager size came into conflict with each other and image quality declined.

Will Fuji's HS-10 be the exception, as they go to 30X optical zoom and 720mm of focal length? Tamron is their lens maker, and I sincerely believe that they will encounter problems as well.

Sony's HX-1 managed 20X and 560mm of focal length with a G category lens that is quite good. The reduced megapixel count of the CMOS imager allowed then to stretch it that far. The Sony compensated a bit and added features like the sweep panorama, and the Twilight Mode that were unique to their CMOS imager and new shutter design. However, the HX-2 due out this summer is facing a lot of pressure from the Fuji HS-10. It will be interesting to see how the super zoom race transpires.

Canon has already upped the bet a bit with the introduction of the new slim pocket sized SX-210 with 14mp and 14X optical zoom. We may see the market twist a bit and head off with more emphasis on physical form factor and convenience. That is what has already made the compact zoom market niche the hottest segment of the camera market today.

So there is nothing wrong with waiting a bit and seeing what develops, at all. Panasonic has already announced that they will be introducing more cameras after PMA and into the summer. There advanced imager project is for now focused on improving their m4/3 line of cameras, not he super zoom range. We saw a hint of that improvement with the new imager installed in the GH-1 camera, which has proved to be quite successful. There will be more imager improvements to come, but they will happen it what has become Panasonic "bread and butter" line of m4/3 cameras where the profit margin is the greatest.

In my opinion, this is a time to sit back and wait, while enjoying my FZ-35 everyday. New, amazing and interesting things will happen for sure, but the camera manufacturers control the program, not ourselves.
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Old Feb 23, 2010, 1:43 PM   #4
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Hi dbnnet, I see you an active member on the Mybroadband Forum, I've joined them in 2006 and have over 3000 post. A good local active forum to belong to.Great to see you on Steve's Forum and a lot of knowledge on photography to share, thank you.dbnnet which model Panasonic do you have coz I often see you refer to the FZ38, I bought my FZ35 @ SA camera via their online shop.Sorry chillgreg for highjacking your post.
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Old Feb 23, 2010, 2:41 PM   #5
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I have FZ7 that works great, but have been considering FZ35 as an upgrade. I really would like access to the wider angle. Ive been "himming & hawing" about getting FZ35. In your case, chillgreg, the improved LCD of FZ35 partly makes up for the lack of a full AS. (Also remember that AS would make the camera heavier/bulky-er. I always marvel at people saying in their post that they like FZXX because of the smaller size then in the next breath add that they wish for things like hot shoe & AS which add to the bulk of the camera.)

I think for me, based on trying out FZ35 in Frys, the camera seems to be easier to take low light (indoor type) pixes & in general gets decent photos, but looking closely at the LCD it appears that the cost is sharpness/detail. FZ35 is a small sensor camera & thus has its low light limitations. (Its as if Neat Image is built into the processing engine.) Reasonable PIX in low light appears to be obtained by sacrificing detail. Anyway, that's what it looks like to me, but that is without having serious hands on access to the camera for involved testing.

I wouldnt worry too much about zoom. I have never found zoom much beyond 8- 10X to be that useful except for identification purposes. Dont expect to win any photo contests at max. zoom. The wide angle is more important a feature after 10X.

I will be watching this post to see what people are saying & the consensus. For me, when the smoke clears, it will be an expensive upgrade as after tax & extras this will be easily $400 so I had better expect to be satisfied by my decision.
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Old Feb 23, 2010, 2:50 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul O View Post
Hi dbnnet, I see you an active member on the Mybroadband Forum,....
....which model Panasonic do you have....
Paul, Hi. Yes... I'm on the East Coast, up in Durbs
Been on MyBroadband since 2004, but mostly on Data Communication stuff... not photography I was "into" photography many years ago mostly developing and enlarging etc., in the pre digital era. I then gave it up as I became "focused” (excuse the pun) on my career in "Hi-Tech" ... but have only recently been back into my old hobby again.
I've got the FZ38 - Its normally the model used in this region. If you bought yours online it would explain the difference as they source from many locations based on pricing and availability. I bought mine from Govan Mani (they have about 5 retails outlets here in KZN), who are sourcing directly from Panasonic in Japan. I called the "official" Panasonic repair agent in Johannesburg to establish if I was getting a "grey" import, and they were able to confirm Govan Mani as an "official" source.
Regards
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Old Feb 23, 2010, 3:02 PM   #7
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I'm in Cape Town and I see you did respond to my "New Bridge Camera: Fuji HS10 (30 X Optical Zoom)" thread in the Photography section on Mybroadband Forum. So the only difference between the FZ35 / 38 is the recording time of the video's right? SA Camera is also an official Panasonic supplier. I'm just lucky to have seen the FZ35 online, they can supply u with both models. I do alot of video shots of my son doing sports and playing around, it's really nice to come home and watch the game or he's swimming lesson on HD @ home. Best of both worlds, camera & HD video's.
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Old Feb 23, 2010, 3:22 PM   #8
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Paul, Ah! so now I know you drive a GTi too
Yes with the FZ38 in Video mode you have to stop after 30 minutes.... but then can continue again. I have only used the video on 2 or 3 occasions so not really knowledgeable on its use. I have done quite a lot of reading about AVCHD though. I’ve also had some issues getting decent class 6 cards as some of them don’t perform to the minimum 6Mbytes/s requirement. Today I managed to find a supplier of 8GB cards (class 6) that were able to write at 10.5 Mbytes/s, so there is hope after all
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Old Feb 23, 2010, 3:43 PM   #9
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Yes that's my handle on Mybb. Can you please forward me with the details of brand & price that of your find, I have 2 class 6 cards, a 16gb Transcend & a 1gb Sandisk ultra II, then the one I got with my FZ35, which is a class 4, a 4gb Lexar. All of them are SDHC, the only one I use most times coz I find it works best with the FZ35 is the 1gb Sandisk ultra II which I got with the Nikon L100 but replace it with the FZ35.
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Old Feb 24, 2010, 3:12 AM   #10
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Paul, my FZ38 came with a free (Class 2) Lexar 8GB card - I did extensive testing with it (using 3rd party software) and was very impressed to see that this Lexar was able to write at 9.45 MBytes/s which was way in excess of the requirement for a class 2 card. I decided to purchase an additional 8GB card as well as a 16GB card (the 16GB I intended to use only for video- Both cards Class 6). These were Verbatim cards, and was shocked to establish that the Verbatim Class 6 cards were basically performing at Class 4 speeds. I immediately took them back to the supplier for a full refund!
I then established that Incredible Connection are selling Integral Ultima cards (Class 6) at very good prices. I've subsequently tested them and they are able to write at a very respectable 10.5 MBytes/s. So currently this seems to be a good deal right now. Incredible connection sell them in 4GB, 8Gb, 16GB and 32GB formats, all priced below the Lexar and ScanDisk prices etc.
Right now the world market is flooded with "fake" cards, so would not recommend buying online or from from a supplier that will not allow a return. There are two types of fakes cards, those that do not actually have the capacity as advertised (i.e. a 16GB card that is in reality only a 1GB card), and those that are not living up to the actual write speeds which will be problematic for FZ38/35 users wishing to use Video.
Regards

http://www.integralmemory.com/produc...g.aspx?prid=84

Last edited by dbnnet; Feb 24, 2010 at 3:17 AM.
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