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Old Dec 14, 2004, 2:06 AM   #11
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I bought an FZ10 some months back from Butterfly Photo. I was concerned about the many reported shifty business practices concerning dixcount mail order houses, so I checked their customer ratings online and they seemed to come out looking okay, so I gave it a shot.
Their price was very good, they shipped it to me in 5 days (all the way to California!) and they didn't call and harass me to buy any extra accessories. Based on this transaction, I would buy from these guys again. And I'm pretty darned happy with the FZ10, too.
Robert:
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Old Dec 14, 2004, 9:18 AM   #12
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Jering...

No, ibuydig.com was completely uneventful (i.e. no hassles, no delays, no problems). I was a bit worried since I don't really like to order stuff online... my first purchase (just a year or so ago) I was completely burned. But I would definitely order from ibuydig again.

Didn't really know about the infared thing... although for my purposes, it doesn't even come into my realm of thinking.

Ya know... whatever FZ you decide, you'll have a fabulous camera. But as a wife and busy mom, I can't help but be partial to the FZ3! :-)



Good luck!

Maryanne
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Old Dec 14, 2004, 3:10 PM   #13
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maryanne wrote:
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Ya know... whatever FZ you decide, you'll have a fabulous camera.* But as a wife and busy mom, I can't help but be partial to the FZ3!* :-)Good luck!Maryanne
If I was buying the camera for my wife, who wants a nice camera but isn't that into it, and had around $325 to spend - FZ-3 hands down due to the AF assist and stronger flash. She doesn't want to "think" about workarounds and just wants to take pics, whereas I actually like to find solutions to constraints when they arise as part of the fun.

If I had to buy it for myself, I would replicate the current set-up. FZ-1 (around $200 if you shop around), FZ-2 upgrade (free), DF200 (powerful slave flash that can extend to the full length of the FZ 12X zoom, around $60), Olympus C-210 $50 (doubles optical zoom capability), and the Hoya IR filter - around $30.

So, for around $325, (+/- $10), I vastly extend the capabilities of my "digital capture system". I "up the resolution" of the camera using software when I need to for prints, so the extra megapixel(s) don't matter to me.

Couple side notes:

About AF assist... never had a problem focusing in normaly room light in daytime conditions - even usually at night. "spot focus" mode works well here. The only issue, thus far, where AF light would have been nice was at a wedding in the darkened reception hall. It's not that the FZ-1 CAN'T focus in dimmer light, it just doesn't have an assist light.

I think AF Assist lights are somewhat overrated. I HATE being in pictures when the shooter has an AF light, red-eye reduction flash, white balance preflash, then the main flash. No wonder people blink all the time! Camera's spouting distracting lights like the spaceship on Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind. They also drain the batteries quicker, of course. Some users wish that the feature could be turned off, as evident in this article from the Camera Hacker's site. http://www.camerahacker.com/disable_AF_aid/index.html which goes to great lengths to illustrate how to actually disable the AF assist on a Canon.

IR Capability...
The FZ-1 has NO ir blocking element. Take my word, you can not have too much light when shooting ir. The FZ3 appears to have an ir blocking element that lets "some" ir light in, (blockers usually block around 70% of ir light, so 30% or so gets in, i most all cams) so you can take photos with an ir filter but I imagine you would have to double or triple exposure times, which would increase problems with motion blur. Most digital ir shooters would greatly prefer a camera with no ir blocker at all, as taking a good ir shot is challenging enough already. If you think you're going to do a lot of ir, get a camera without any ir blocker.

So, in conclusion, if you are looking to spend $325 to $$350, ->MY<- take is you're budgeting for a "digital image input system", and the most bang for the buck for your system is a FZ-1v2 with a nice digital slave (way, way more powerful than FZ-3), and some nice teleconverter lenses or filters to expand capabilities. My "system" can do IR, 24X optical zoom, and outstanding flash capabilities when I need it. I can do this with negligible perceptable loss of image quality over the rest of the line... In my case my goal was to optimize the capabilities of the "system", while maintaining image quality. I've achieved this with my system for the same street price of the FZ-3.


The question is never, "which camera is best". The question is, "which camera best meets the unique needs of this particular user".
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Old Dec 14, 2004, 4:10 PM   #14
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Nick,

Thanks again for your insightful posts. I totally agree with most of your assessment, especially: "which camera best meets the unique needs of this particular user." This is still the question as I am not sure my wife would want to mess with the extra "stuff" to carry around no matter how useful.

Tell me more about how your "slave" flash works. I looked it up and saw the picture of it but there was little explaination of how to use it. Do you use the built in flash, too, at the same time? If your FZ1 does not have a hot shoe did you need to get an extra bracket? How easy was that to use? Also, do you go with the normal flash settings and let the flash monitor itself?

Didn't know you'd that many questions back, did you?

Jering
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Old Dec 14, 2004, 5:04 PM   #15
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Jering wrote:
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Tell me more about how your "slave" flash works. I looked it up and saw the picture of it but there was little explaination of how to use it. Do you use the built in flash, too, at the same time? If your FZ1 does not have a hot shoe did you need to get an extra bracket? How easy was that to use? Also, do you go with the normal flash settings and let the flash monitor itself? Didn't know you'd that many questions back, did you?
The slave flash is triggered by the internal flash of the camera. So the FZ-1's little flash goes off, and that fires the big flash. The FZ's use something called a whitebalance pre-flash - a quick burst two(?) miliseconds before the main fires, so there are only a few slave flashes that work with the Lumixes. The best "bang for the buck" is the Vivitar DF 200 imo. This model comes with a metal bracket that attaches to the tripod socket on the camera and has a "coldshoe" on the other end to hold the flash. However, I use an L bracket that holds the flash above the camera... this really helps get rid of the red-eye, and provides a nice sturdy grip.

If you've ever used non-TTL flashes on 35mm, you know that it can be hit or miss. The beauty of digital is that I know if my settings are right or wrong by taking a few "test shots". I usually control this via shutter speed/flash power setting - 1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8 on the flash itself to control instead of aperture, which I keep at the sweetspot of f-4. Takes a little practice and varies a bit shot to shot.

Flash photograph is a skill unto itself and it takes some time to develop a sense for the settings. (Unless it's TTL which does all that for you... but you sacrifice some control.)



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Old Dec 14, 2004, 8:21 PM   #16
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Once again, great information, Nick. Do all the FZ's have this "pre-flash"? I am wondering if there is equipment that will take advantage of that with my FZ20. Like I said I have a Sunpak 422D which so far is absolutely wonderful, but I was curious for future reference with off camera slave flashes (if there are some available) Do you know of other flashes with this capability?

Jering
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Old Dec 14, 2004, 8:39 PM   #17
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Jering...

Here are some pics (from the FZ3) taken by users in another forum:

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/re...ssage=10795075

And more: http://www.pbase.com/cameras/panasonic/lumix_dmc_fz3


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Old Dec 14, 2004, 11:51 PM   #18
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With all your generous input and advice, I have ordered the FZ3 from Butterfly Photo for $314 (+14.98 for express saver shipping) which seems to be the best price right now from someone I trust. I have now ordered 3 cameras from them and if this camera comes as it should, that will be three for three. It has already shipped and I'll get it in time to charge the battery before I have to wrap it for Christmas.

The FZ3 seemed like the better camera for a longer time period, especially if my wife learns to use it well. It will be nice as well to be able to share batteries and memory.

So I am looking forward now to being a (2) FZ camera family and taking pictures happily ever after. :-) (at least until the FZ30 comes out anyway, lol)

Thanks again everyone for all your help and info.

Jering
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Old Dec 15, 2004, 12:13 PM   #19
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Woo HOO Jering! She'll love it!


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Old Dec 15, 2004, 12:39 PM   #20
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maryanne,

Thanks a bunch for your input. Along with the others it made the decision much easier. Sorry you don't like the portrait. I really am a nice guy!:-)
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