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Old Dec 10, 2003, 10:26 AM   #1
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Default Interesting FZ1 Megapixel Discussion!

A dialogue between two individuals on a usergroup having discovered that neither is insane.

:lol:
If you need some proof that the FZ1 is an excellent camera. explore my pictures.
There is much to do and much to learn:
http://www.georgekowalski.com/Isabelpics/fz1.htm
I have only taken around 700 pictures with this camera, but the more I use it,
the more respect I have for it. Less emphasis should be placed upon features of
the technology and more on the use of it. An excellent camera with skillful
use, produces excellent pictures and that takes time.
George






(RANT WARNING)

Amen. My biggest issue that I encounter when telling folks about the FZ1 is
they always balk on it being "just 2.0 megapixel". They always approach me
(it's not like I'm bragging about it), usually after they see the big "12x
Optical Zoom" on the side of the lens. They then start bombarding me with
questions about the camera, and you can tell they're getting very excited
about it, until they find it's "only 2.0 megapixel" and then you get, "Oh,
well I'm looking for a 5.0 megapixel camera or better." Now, these are not
professional photographers -- these are just amateur family picture takers
just like me. So, I've started finding myself asking them something to the
effect of, "How many billboards are you planning on printing? Then why do
you need anything over 2.0 megapixel?" or "Can your printer even print a
picture bigger than 8x10?"

People are so misinformed when it comes to what's required of a digital
camera to get excellent 8x10 prints, and especially if they're just buying
the camera for sending photos via email or posting auctions on eBay. A very
applicable analogy is what has happened with the home computer industry.
You have millions of people going out and spending $3,000 on the very latest
computer with all this technology in it that they don't know how to use or
can't begin to comprehend how to use it (even after reading the manual), and
all they're doing with it reading email and surfing eBay. They could buy a
$100 WebTV package and get everything they need for those simplistic
internet uses. It's the same thing with digital cameras. You got folks
getting megapixel hungry, and for what? Why do they need 5 megapixels? 6
megapixels? 8 megapixels? It's ridiculous. The human eye cannot tell any
difference in a photograph printed on a printer over 300dpi (actually less),
and I know of very few people who have a printer that prints on anything
bigger than a 8.5x11 sheet of paper. You can get buy with a camera at
640x480 resolution if you're posting pictures on the internet, so it has to
be a printing requirement. So what are they printing? And how many of
these poster or billboard size prints to they actually print in a year? I
have had digital cameras for over 3 years now, and I have not had the desire
to print anything bigger than 8x10...ever. Put some matting around it and
put it in a nice frame, and it looks HUGE. It's just ridiculous.

The biggest problem that most people have with the end results of digicams
is their own abilities. If they have a shaky hand, the pictures turn out
blurry and then they blame the autofocus or say that they need more
megapixels to make it look sharper. Put it on a tripod and see if you need
anything more than you already have. They just need to learn the
limitations of the camera, figure out work-arounds wherever possible, and
forget about the megapixel craze. I also laugh when I hear about someone
buying a $1,200 digicam because it has laser hologram warp speed Klingon
Star Wars Battlestar Galactica focus assist Hubble Telescope modular
technology in it, which allows them to take perfectly focused pictures in
the dark. Who takes pictures in the dark? How do you frame a picture in
the dark? And is it REALLY worth the extra $800-900 to get that? I mean,
to each their own, but I find it really annoying when some BestBuy dweeb
tells my friends or family that they NEED a 5 megapixel camera, and then
talk them into buying some overpriced piece of garbage that does nothing but
waste space on expensive memory cards with the extra megapixels.

People cannot believe the pictures I've taken with my FZ1. Folks also
couldn't believe some of the 8x10 (yes, 8x10) pictures that I took with my
sub-megapixel (less than 1 megapixel) Sony Mavica FD91 camera (which used
floppy disks for storage). The pictures turn out beautiful, and what is the
common denominator? Well, without trying to sound vain, the common
denominators are (1) me taking the pictures and (2) both cameras have
incredible optical zoom lenses on them. Ok, it's probably mostly the latter
(the lenses). But I do pride myself in learning as much as I can about my
cameras, and then figuring out ways to get even more out of them through the
available settings under certain circumstances and ambient conditions. The
Sony had a 14x stabilized optical zoom and the FZ1 has a 12x stabilized
optical zoom. People should quite buying the lame 3x optical zoom cameras
with 20 megapixel resolution, and realize that without good optics, the
camera is going to stink -- I don't care how many megapixels it is.

So keep on taking great pictures with your FZ1! I've taken over 7,000
pictures with mine since May 2003, and still love it and I'm still learning
about it and improving the end quality of the pictures all the time. I've
also reduced my frustration and explanation time by just not telling people
about my FZ1 when they approach me. I answer very basic questions, but then
just try to ignore or move away from them. I'm tired of defending 2.0
megapixels to people who are obviously snagging that huge megapixel bait
that the BestBuy salesmen are dangling in front of them. If they want to
learn more about the FZ1, then they can join our Yahoo Group so I only have
to lecture them once, like via this message in the archives! Haha.

(END OF RANT WARNING -- THANK YOU FOR YOUR COOPERATION!)

-- Chris




Well, I agree with everything you have said and I am amazed to
find someone else who shares the same opinion as I do regarding
megapixil numbering and the categorization thereof. I find it
interesting that this category came into existence since it has very
little to do with picture taking and much to do with selling more
cameras at higher prices. What is even more amazing is that somehow
the advertising groups have switched the average person's thinking
about cameras from lens quality to megapixel counts. When you look
at camera ads, very rarely, if ever, do you see mention of the lens
being used, or even if it is glass or plastic. None of that seems
to matter. This method of finding the comparison point of items and
then focusing on it exclusively, is not a new concept. Motorcycles
have done it for years. Suzuki used to sell two identical four
cylinder bikes except one had a 550cc engine and the other a 750cc
engine. The price difference was between $500-$900 dollars yet when
you analyze the manufacturing cost difference of a few cents, how
wider is the bore of the four cylinders to create the 200cc
difference. Cars are the same. You still get an engine,
transmission, 4 tires etc. Are the differences worth the $10,000 to
$30,000 difference. I guess that it comes down to marketing and
those who research and understand the game and those that do not.
I have come across the same exact people who marvel at the
pictures, are amazed at how "well the camera takes the picture" but
blanch when I tell them the pixel count. In response, I usually tell
them about the Leica lens and they begin to semi smile and then I
get into the image stabilization and tell them that I could not have
taken that picture at 12x, hand holding the camera. By that time,
their eyes are glazing over and I stop speaking before I go on a
shutter lag discussion. They really don't believe me. Pixel count
wins again! It is only the camera, with the most features and
costing the most money, that takes the best picture. The
photographer's contribution is just to press the button. I have
seen some terrible pictures created with very expensive cameras.

On the plus side, this is all very good since those of us, who
understand the marketing hype, get to win. Several weeks ago, I
bought my camera from NewEgg for $299, shipping included. In the
following week the price went up to $360. I don't know why. But
since the FZ10 came out and everybody is running to buy that camera,
I guess I profited. I do not need manual controls in a digital
camera. I have rarely used them in all my years of 35mm
photography, even when I did have the opportunity. I don't
understand the review complaints against a camera which does not
have extensive manual controls, yet no reviewer has ever complained
about the auto mode. How many people use manual controls? Who has
the time when a photo opportunity emerges? I want to shoot as
quickly as I can and as rapidly as I can. Is that not why "auto" was
invented in the first place? If the camera chooses the incorrect
settings, I can always modify with several photo editing software
packages. That is why they made them. I also find it funny that
those with manual controls are usually editing their pictures with
Photoshop. I guess they should switch from manual to auto mode. I
find that I don't need to edit most of the pictures I take with the
FZ1 which only tells me that I really don't need manual options and
that I can concentrate more on setting up the picture and less on
apertures and speed combinations. I guess I am therefore not a
photographer.

I carry my camera wherever I go and take many pictures. Some are
garbage, some are good, and there are those that I find to be very
pleasing and I have somehow captured the essence of what I was
trying to show and translate from my eye to another medium. Some
macros amaze me and I realize that I somehow missed the essence of
the image when I first viewed it, before taking the picture. I know
that this is what gives me the satisfaction of photography. Seeing
something twice, the second time, the camera view, frozen in time
and allowing me to repeatedly see it in a different light.

Sorry for my diatribe but it had to be said!

George



I have found that I use some of the manual settings/adjustments very
infrequently. For example, I will put the camera in spot mode to correct
problems with backlighting, glare, or to pinpoint the focus. I will also
adjust the exposure up and down a couple of notches when necessary. White
balance is another thing I manually adjust at times. However, again, all of
these are very infrequent, and only when I'm "playing photographer" and
basically have a lot of time to setup a picture. The fact is, if you're
taking spontaneous shots, you have to be a DARN good photographer to predict
what manual settings you need, quickly set them, and then snap a picture of
the scene before it's gone/changed. As a matter of fact, you'd have to be a
walking/talking human version of the instantaneous Auto mode built-in to
modern cameras. In other words, it's not going to happen.

My favorite thing about some of the reviews for the FZ1 is that they talk
about the EVF (electronic viewfinder) being too dark to frame a picture in a
dark room. Now, first of all, I have to again ask my question, "Who takes
pictures in the dark?", but above and beyond that, it's obvious the reviewer
did not have the ISO in auto mode or you can easily frame a subject in a
very dark room through the EVF. So, the reviewers complaining that the
camera doesn't have any manual settings, but yet the ISO is in a manual
setting (probably set at 50 ISO since the EVF is "too dark"). They need to
make up their minds -- either the camera is only fully automatic or it has
some manual settings...which is it? And if they're going to truly test an
"automatic" camera, then why don't they test it in full auto mode instead of
setting things manually, which is doing nothing but allowing them to predict
or manipulate the final outcome of the review. There are also some sample
pictures that are just atrocious as well because they do stupid photography
things like take a picture with the camera facing the sun, and other big
no-no's of photography. Then they complain about harsh shadows. These guys
are supposedly "pros"? That's why I say it's better to get USER or OWNER
reviews rather than even professional reviewers' opinions. They typically
do not take the time or do not have the time to really get to know the
camera or show the cameras features, so they're opinion is usually very
jaded and pretty much a waste of time. Not to mention, if these guys are
pro photographers, then why would they be interested in reviewing consumer
level automatic digicams? All they would see is limitations compared to
their pro equipment.

Like I said before, I've pretty much given up on educating the "megapixel
ignorant." My latest response that I just told a neighbor yesterday when he
found me taking pictures at the beach was pretty short/cold -- "The number
of megapixels is pretty much irrelevant. Search the internet for 'Figure of
Merit' and then do the math on various digicam models available and you'll
quickly discover that the optical lens is what matters -- not the number of
megapixels." That usually shuts them up real quick and who knows? Maybe
they'll actually go look up that info on the internet and educate themselves
instead of just repeating the nonsense they learned from the electronics
store employee who is trying to earn a commission off a high megapixel
(read: "higher priced") camera sale.

Thank you in turn for confirming my sanity!

-- Chris




:lol:
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Old Dec 10, 2003, 12:28 PM   #2
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What can we say? Rant aside, all good sense, and most FZ1 owners would agree.

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Old Dec 10, 2003, 1:02 PM   #3
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I largely agree with you and have had the same argumant on another forum. As a result of which I undertook to measure the resolution of the current printers at that time. (About a year ago.)
Briefy, what I found was that most printer's resolution could be reached with just over 2 (good) megapixels. What I did not recognize at the time was that a 2 megapixel camera does not in fact produce a genuine, good, 2 megapixel image because the count is for each of the three primary colors. Therefore to make the printer the limiting factor you need 3 or 4 megapixels in the camera.

Having said that, I've taken over 20,000 shots with the 2 megapixel Uzi (C2100uz) and made hundreds of excellent 8 x 10 prints. I have in fact bought the FZ10 recently and can report that the quality of the edges of objects in an 8 x 10 print is noticably improved. (Not counting the chromatic aberration when you see that ;-)) But the photographer's eye is more important than the difference in resolution.

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Old Dec 10, 2003, 1:35 PM   #4
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Yes, people are very quick to brag about megapixels. My 2MP camera takes sharper and more properly exposed pictures than a 3MP Nikon I use at work. A 10 or 12x zoom on a 2MP camera will get you much better telephoto shots than a 5MP camera with a standard 3x zoom. The one thing you all need to acknowledge, however, is that you have much more flexibility for cropping with a larger MP camera. For the average Joe who never prints over 8x10, the camera that records the best image quality on the media should be the camera to choose, not the one with the most megapixels!
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Old Dec 10, 2003, 10:08 PM   #5
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well i'm not going to rant. i will thank you however. i have been asking these very same questions in trying to determine what digicam to purchase (my first). i kept running into a brickwall. this post has answered all my questions. i think i'll be getting the fz10 because of this post. thanks again.
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Old Dec 11, 2003, 11:01 AM   #6
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Default Megapixels

A couple of months ago I bought UZI considering the arguments for 'another features than resolution' similar to those from the above posts.
My experience:
1. Although the need for cropping is much reduced by the 10x zoom, it's not completely eliminated. There is very little space for cropping in 2Mp picture if I need to print.
2. I actually print not more than 10 per cent of shots and if I print (I use digilabs rather than a personal printer) I'm happy with 10cm (4 in) wide pictures. If I need larger print, I need to choose the proper picture without much details (fall nature sceneries etc. are really not suitable for large - if any - printing).
3. But I heavily use the manual controls not found on Panasonic FZ1. Aperture priority is almost my primary shooting mode. Night shooting is impossible without manual mode. I know FZ1 can simulate aperture priority by the creative modes... :roll:
4. FZ1's flash seems to be very weak even comparing with much lower positioned compact cameras. Without the external flash connector it's a bad limit.
5. Very small FZ1's CCD appears to result in higher noise above 100 ISO.

My concluding opinion is:
1. Magapixels are not everything, especially when high resolution is "crowded" in a small CCD.
2. 3 to 4 mp seem to be optimum, 2mp enough for printing.
3. Not all 2mp cameras are equal: Except outstanding lens FZ1 doesn't seem to be the replacement for the old (about) 2mp stabilized long zoom cameras like Olympus 2100, Canon PRO90 IS or some of the Sony Mavicas.

Martin
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Old Dec 11, 2003, 11:51 PM   #7
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Default Re: Megapixels

Quote:
Originally Posted by MartinCZ
A couple of months ago I bought UZI considering the arguments for 'another features than resolution' similar to those from the above posts.
My experience:
1. Although the need for cropping is much reduced by the 10x zoom, it's not completely eliminated. There is very little space for cropping in 2Mp picture if I need to print.
Maybe the extra 2x (total of 12x) with the FZ1 is just enough, because I have found no need for cropping any shots. I think it's one of those things where if you need to get any closer than 10x or 12x, then you probably shouldn't be taking the picture because you're just too far away.

Quote:
3. But I heavily use the manual controls not found on Panasonic FZ1. Aperture priority is almost my primary shooting mode. Night shooting is impossible without manual mode. I know FZ1 can simulate aperture priority by the creative modes... :roll:
I have no trouble at all with taking night shots of the moon, Christmas lights, spot-lighted monuments, etc., with the FZ1. "Nightmode" on the FZ1 works great every time I've tried. Admittedly, I do "trick" the FZ1 to do what I want to do at times -- like use Nightmode and then popup the flash (but cover it or block it) which sets the aperture at 2.8 and the shutter at 1.0 second. If I want a longer exposure, I just keep the flash down in Nightmode which gives me an aperture of 6.5 and the shutter at 8.0 seconds. I usually find the first scenario more useful. I'm probably showing my amateur level here, but I have personally found using cameras with full manual mode that I will typically screw up a picture if I'm not limited on the settings. Although a full-auto camera, the FZ1 provides me with just enough manual settings and work-arounds for me to get what I need out of it. I would just have a lot of screwed up pictures if I had kept any of the full manual cameras I tried.

Quote:
4. FZ1's flash seems to be very weak even comparing with much lower positioned compact cameras. Without the external flash connector it's a bad limit.
Again, no problem here for me. Using a tripod, manually setting the white balance (or it will turn out too yellow), and setting the flash on "Slow Sync", and the FZ1's flash puts out more light than the onboard flash on any other digicam I've tried or heard of. I discovered this by accident when "dinking" with my camera, but it works very well, and will light up a subject 30' away from me without issue.

Quote:
5. Very small FZ1's CCD appears to result in higher noise above 100 ISO.
Haven't noticed this myself and I frequently keep the ISO setting at Auto, but picture quality is purely opinion/perspective, so....

Quote:
My concluding opinion is:
1. Magapixels are not everything, especially when high resolution is "crowded" in a small CCD.
2. 3 to 4 mp seem to be optimum, 2mp enough for printing.
3. Not all 2mp cameras are equal: Except outstanding lens FZ1 doesn't seem to be the replacement for the old (about) 2mp stabilized long zoom cameras like Olympus 2100, Canon PRO90 IS or some of the Sony Mavicas.
Hmmm...don't know about your #3. I love Olympus cameras, but I'm getting much better pictures with my FZ1 than my friend is getting with his 2100UZ, and even he freely admits that. I know from owning a Sony that the FZ1 is head and shoulders above the Sony Mavicas for quality of picture, if for no other reason than the higher compression on the Mavicas to get the maximum number of pictures on a floppy disk as possible. The Sony FD97 and CD1000 are the only Mavicas that allow for lower compression storage on larger capacity media (FD97 has a MemoryStick slot and the CD1000 stores on mini-CDs), but the majority of reviews of those two cameras tell it all when they say that the pictures frequently look more like digitized video snapshots rather than dedicated digital camera pictures. The lens in the FD91, FD95, FD97, and CD1000 is not anywhere close to the quality of Leica lens on the FZ1, and Sony's own advertising campaign for these cameras boasts that they used their knowledge of big zoom lenses in their video camera lineup for their line of superzoom digital cameras. Unfortunately, when Sony went with the Zeiss lens in their subsequent CD Mavica models, the optical zoom also dropped to an anemic 3x, and Sony has completely dropped out of the superzoom market. Not many other manufacturers are producing cameras with more than a 10x zoom, and the vast majority of those are not stabilized so they're pretty much worthless over 6x.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but without question, the FZ1 is a camera to be reckoned with, regardless of it being "just 2.0 megapixels" and being automatic with limited manual settings. It was the FZ1's popularity alone that has fueled such a craving and anticipation for the FZ10, which is even more impressive when you consider Panasonic's typically poor marketing in North America. The FZ1 was a real sleeper of a camera, and just when everyone started taking notice of the FZ1, the FZ10 was announced and it became (and still is) the talk of the consumer photography world. Even the upcoming Sony F828 hasn't displaced the FZ10 chatter on the message boards.

My conclusive opinion is that on a camera with an excellent quality and big zoom lens (like the FZ1), anything over 2.0 megapixels is just a waste of memory card space. If you find yourself needing 3-4 megapixels, then you probably don't have a good lens, need more zoom, aren't doing something right, or you're buying into the "more megapixels is better" line of thinking.
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Old Dec 12, 2003, 3:52 AM   #8
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Default Re: Megapixels

Every camera with some kind of manual controls obviously has a point and shoot mode. It might not be for every day shooting but I find at least aperture priority very useful and don't like workaround hassle. At this point FZ1 seems to be crippled by the marketing strategy: really fantastic lens and on the other hand just lower point and shoot features. Panasonic FZ2, which is not marketed in the USA, seems to be a better choice having some of the semi-automatic controls. (I - living in Europe - was thinking about it but being limited by my budget I finally decided to go for a used cheaper UZI, moreover I was able to use my SM cards and NIMH batteries from my compact Olympus).
Quote:
My conclusive opinion is that on a camera with an excellent quality and big zoom lens (like the FZ1), anything over 2.0 megapixels is just a waste of memory card space. If you find yourself needing 3-4 megapixels, then you probably don't have a good lens, need more zoom, aren't doing something right, or you're buying into the "more megapixels is better" line of thinking.
I don't only need more than 2 Mp because of "simulating" zoom. I'm experimenting in macro photography with the reversed lens, where slight vigneting occurs - and cropping makes the picture better. Next - as I said before: we can't print satisfactory prints of high detail scenes like autumn landscape in less than 200 dpi, which becomes true at 6 inch width of the picture. That's why I'd appreciate 1 maybe 2 more extra mp for more present and future flexibility. More is definitely a waste of memory.
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Old Dec 12, 2003, 10:18 AM   #9
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It's only a matter of time before the firmware upgrade that is currently available in Japan (which basically turns the FZ1 into a FZ2) is available in North America. Whether or not I'll buy it depends on the price, because I just don't have the need for manual features with the FZ1, although I would appreciate the nice manual focus ring on the FZ10, but that's not something a firmware upgrade will get me.

The FZ1 has an excellent macro mode without the need for additional attachments (although I'm sure close-up or macro filters wouldn't exactly hurt the end product). I've taken some great macros of diamond solitaire rings that look like they were taken under a microscope. I was even able to handle the lighting by turning the FZ1's onboard flash into a bounce flash with the ol' index card trick. When I sold the rings and earrings on eBay, bidders thought I was a jeweler because of my pictures.

I think my object to the criticism of the FZ1 being "too automatic" is that the situation can easily be viewed from the opposite perspective -- the FZ1 does not need manual settings because it does so darn good in full-auto. I owned a 2100UZ for a couple of weeks before selling it to the friend I mentioned previously and then waiting another year before trying another digicam. In my experience, the 2100UZ required manual settings in order to get as good a picture as my Olympus 35mm superzoom camera (which is full auto). I found that extremely disappointing and it resulted in my being disallusioned with digital cameras at that time, so I just continued with my wonderful Olympus film camera. My friend still owns the 2100UZ that I sold to him, and he is also disappointed in the end product, but he's lazy and doesn't want to shop for another camera so he just keeps on using it. Not wanting to pay the big bucks for upgrading to the FZ10, I decided to try something somewhere inbetween the FZ1 and FZ10 -- a Minolta DiMage Z1. It offered resolution inbetween the two Panasonic models, as well as offered a better video mode and full manual mode/settings. Unlike with the 2100UZ, I was able to compare the FZ1 and the DiMage Z1 side by side, taking pictures of the same subjects, under the same conditions, with the same settings (both in full auto). I was doing this to see if I really wanted to upgrade to the Minolta or just keep the FZ1 and return the Minolta. The FZ1 outperformed the DiMage Z1 in every single shot. When I wrote up that "mini-review" in Minolta forum on this same website and some other sites, I was a little amused by some of the responses/explanations I received from DiMage Z1 owners. They pretty much all told me the same thing -- basically, I needed to tweak this setting or that setting manually and then it would take a good picture under those conditions. However, my FZ1 took an excellent picture in full auto mode every time in the same conditions.

So...should I look at it that the FZ1 is "crippled" by not having manual settings or should I look at it that the FZ1's auto mode is so much better than the competition that it doesn't seem to need manual mode?
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