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Old Mar 19, 2004, 4:33 PM   #1
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Hi guys, I thought I would post some observations on my 1-day old FZ10!

My previous camera was a Pentax Optio S, which I think I pushed to it's limits... if you want to see any of my shots with this camera, check out http://dpchallenge.com/profile.php?USER_ID=8522.

I wanted a camera that would give me a lot more control.
Enter the FZ10... great zoom, aperture/shutter/manual modes... in short a step up from a beginner camera to an intermediate camera. Or so I would have thought.
Where are all the useful metering choices? My Pentax gave me seperate control over focusing and exposure. For example, I could have average exposure metering with spot focusing, and vice versa. I could even move the focusing spot within a grid seperately to the exposure settings. All the FZ10 gives me is spot everything, or not spot everything. This is not what I call control. It seems that Panasonic has a tendency to hold back on features to their customers in case they are too stupid to use them properly (ie, compression levels, etc.). I'm sure I'll get used to this lack of control, but it was not what I was expecting. I'm surprised that I've not come across anyone else mentioning this.
Everything else is great though... apart from low-light focusing which I've seen mentioned a lot. This doesn't really bother me, but I have to say that my Pentax completely outperforms the FZ10 in this department.
And I will miss the Panorama Assist feature that my Pentax has. Now that I have a camera that will have a constant exposure, I don't have a Panorama feature anymore! *Sigh*.
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Old Mar 19, 2004, 5:41 PM   #2
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The panorama mode on my S4 is basically useless. You can do better with the FZ10. The panorama mode on my Oly C50 fixes all of the parameters with the first shot. I often pre-meter on a place in the photo that has average light or spot meter something. The panoramas are organized and stitch very quickly in the Oly software and turn out very well. With the Pentax I have to use the very slow Panorama Factory that requires too much overlap if I want a smooth transition between shots. The problem of course is that the S4 has no manual exposure mode and I havenít found a way to fix the exposure. With the FZ10 I have manual exposure and can take the shots the way I want. The panos donít get numbered, but if I take a 360 or something with a lot of shots in the pano I just put the lens cap on and take a low resolution shot at the end of each pano so I can sort them quickly. The Pentax is basically useless for a 360 pano unless there is very flat lighting from a heavy overcast -Ėsomething you donít get that often in Florida.

The manual focus works well on the FZ10 in good light. It is less hassle to use manual focus with various metering modes than mess with both in the menu for each shot.

One complaint I have with both the S4 and FZ10 is that I have to screw around in menus to set spot metering. It is faster with the FZ10 though and easier because you donít have to remove your eye from the EVF. My other cameras including the small C50 have a separate control for spot metering. I also donít like having to screw around in menus to change the EV correction in the FZ10 Ė much better designed on the S4 and everything else I have. Same for flash modes and macro. If I used the FZ10 every day I could probably learn to do things just as quickly Ė the menu design isnít bad. It isnít my only current camera and I use it primarily for nature photography, so I havenít settled into it as well as I might if it were my only camera.

One comparison that is silly is that the little S4 has a SHQ JPG. The 4Mp shots from the S4 are a full Mb larger than a shot of the same scene with the FZ10.

There was an interesting comment in the Luminous Landscape review of the Minolta A2. He commented on how refreshing it was to use a camera that was obviously designed by engineers who were also photography enthusiasts. The only photography enthusiast who came near the design of the FZ10 worked for Leica. It was designed on a budget and maybe the bean counters just overruled anyone who wanted some decent controls, modes and compression on the camera. But within the limitations of a totally menu driven camera it is useable.
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Old Mar 19, 2004, 8:48 PM   #3
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I agree with most of your points... I NEVER got a decent panorama with the Pentax, due to the inability to fix the exposure. Just saying now I have control over the exposure, a panorama assist would be really useful.

And the menu system... again Pentax has a strong edge here. EV adjustments should be controlled by buttons on the camera. Being forced to delve into a menu for this is crazy.

And I'm sure there are ways around the annoying metering limitations, but how does a 1 year old point and shoot 3MP camera have more features (apart from A/S/M modes) than this 'Prosumer' camera?

As a last gripe, why have we (the UK) had to wait almost half a year behind the rest of the world for this camera? When I phoned up Panasonic UK in November, I was told point blank that the camera would be out before Christmas. I am not regretting my purchase at the moment, but all these issues add up to my distrust with Panasonic.
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Old Mar 19, 2004, 9:28 PM   #4
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Okay, I'm a bit happier now...
there's an undocumented feature with the switch on the left of the camera that selects manual focusing. My left thumb can happily sit over that switch, and if you pull the lever down from it's manual setting, it will force the camera to focus automatically.
This way, with everything set on spot metering, I can quickly work this lever with my thumb, and get the exposure I need, and compose the shot with the shutter release held halfway.
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Old Mar 20, 2004, 12:43 AM   #5
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Ha, you beat me to it. That's exactly what I was going to point out. I had about the same reaction as you did to this lack of metering and focusing modes, then I realized how easy the manual focus/one shot autofocus switch is and I wasn't much bothered at all. Of course, I still would like to see a dedicated spot mode toggle button....
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