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Old Oct 13, 2005, 3:58 AM   #1
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I have to say foremost, I love the camera. It's great to turn on the switch, and in the milliseconds it takes me to put my finger on the shutter, the camera is ready to go. It really looks instantaneous. I also love the flip screen, esp. cause when you store it you can flip it backwards so the screen is facing inward, thereby not exposing it. What had happened to me with my Canon 20D was that I was charging AA batteries for the flash (580EX) and I had my camera bag with my 20D on the floor, it was a holster type bag so the LCD screen was facing upward, being exposed. I had the camera bag opened b/c I was going to put the batteries in there. The charger was on my dresser (the bag on the floor directly below it). I pulled out the AA batteries out of the charger, one of them, in a spring loaded fashion, leaped out of the charger up into the air, down onto my open camera bag landing on the lcd screen, cracking it. I spent the next hour in disbelief that a AA battery travelling only a few feet could crack a "professional" camera. I couldn't believe that it wasn't more durable. It was a nightmare. I was on my way to a professional shoot where I was to photograph Governor Pataki. Luckily the crack was towards the bottom and I did the shoot. So...making that long story even longer, I love the fact that I can keep my lcd protected. Since I just got the camera, I can't say too much about the picture quality. The lcd screen and evf look like an improvement over the 20. The grip is as good as everyone says. For me, I have little hands with long bony fingers, so no camera ever feels right in the shutter button department, but it is definitely better than the FZ20. I checked the continuous frame shoot and in high mode it seems faster than the 20. In the infinity setting it seems about the same, maybe even a little slower, but that is just an eyeball assumption (I am using the new high speed Panasonic cards with that, as well). Everything is almost exactly the same when it comes to the menu, which is great for all of us FZ20 users. The other thing that is vastly improved is the manual focus. I could never manually focus the FZ20, I just couldn't, when I thought I did, the pic was out of focus. The FZ30 can clearly be focused easy with the manual focus ring.

Now on the con side. First off, remember that I do love the camera, I am just playing devil's advocate plus I don't take to change to well, and I just started using the camera about an hour ago (I also say this b/c my fiance was practically thrown off of this forum a little over a year ago speaking his mind about the FZ20 and within months all of the complaints that he had were legitimized by hundreds of posts). Ok, first thing I don't like, it is a little more plasticky feeling and looking than the FZ20. It feels too light for a camera this size. This is of course my observation, and coming from a Canon EOS 20D owner. I noticed also that the camera from a birdseye view (looking at all of the controls) looks less professional than the FZ20. I think that reason is b/c the FZ20 looks more like metal b/c there is a roughness (non smooth) that is more pronounced with the FZ20 than the 30. I know this is merely cosmetic, but I am just observing and keep in mind I have a Masters degree in industrial design, so I do this for a living (looking at and designing products).On my FZ20 I also use the Phayee adapter which is metal and looks and feels great!I also don't see a need for a button for the anti shake. I think most of us use it in mode 2, or we shut it off. Having a button for this seems like overkill. Plus there are so many features that all of us access more often. Another little thing that I am sure I will get used to is that in viewing mode, I was used to hitting the zoom button to zoom in on the photos, here u have 2 use that dial in front of the shutter, and it doesn't seem as smooth and it is taking me longer, but of course I am sure I will get used to it, and may even find it better. Remember these are only initial observations. My main complaint with this camera and the FZ20 was that they really could have gone to the trouble of making a ttl flash. It seems ridiculous to me that they didn't. The makers of the Panasonic Fl-28 (I believe) are the same makers of the flash for the Olympus digicams (if you put them side by side they are practically identical, knobs design and all), and the Olympus flash is a ttl flash, and works great, btw. Panasonic knows that this is pretty much used as a professional camera, or someone making the leap from amateur to professional, they have the technology. I just think it is laziness on their part. I always seem to get the feeling that Panasonic puts these cameras out without really going over their prototypes. It would have been so easy for them to make the FZ20 better, and they could have easily made the noise problem (everyone's biggest complaint) better on the FZ30. Plus I hate the way I have to really research the accessories for the camera and then have trouble finding them online. Like the batteries for instance. Why doesn't Panasonic have their batteries for the FZ30 available? It is despicable that third party batteries are available and Panasonic's official batteries aren't. Esp. being that if there was ever an electrical (or any linking) problem with the camera and you had a 3rd party battery, Panasonic would void the warranty. Also, way b4 the camera was released they advertised the DMW-LT55 -the telephoto lens (they also advertised a wide angle) and you can't find it anywhere, I believe they haven't even released them. They were also advertising their 1 gig high speed cards, and they are nowhere tosbe found. Does it bother anyone else, as well, that such a big company like Panasonic, doesn't have their act together? We are pouring tons of money into their business by buying their cameras, praising their cameras on forums like these and the least they could do is distribute their cameras so we can all get them easily (ex: why doesn't Circuit City carry the FZ30s when it carried the FZ20s - they aren't consistent). And distribute their accessories, at least make them available on their website. You can buy certain things but other things aren't available, why? It's their website, for chrissakes! They should have all of their products available for purchase.

Ok enough ranting, those are my pros and cons, so far. And about the noise issue, I look at it this way. The FZ20 had a pretty bad focusing system, even though it has 5 megapixels the quality was barely equivalent to my 4 mp Olympus 770uz. It had some great features, was a revolutionary camera which really started a new breed of cameras as a legitimate prosumer/begininning professional piece. But ultimately, you couldn't always get a great picture, esp. if you were shooting candids (which is what I usually do). So I have no problem trading in my FZ20 for my new FZ30 even if noise is a bit greater. The most important thing is the final pic. If an FZ20 pic was out of focus, or the focus was their but the skin tones were off b/c the FZ20 really didn't handle skin tones well, then the picture was suffering. It was harder to get a good pic. Getting a good picture even with the best camera, as all of us know, is an art, it takes years of practice and experience, so we need a reliable camera. I believe the FZ30 is that camera. So (didn't forget about the noise issue) if the noise is a bit greater, but I got the pic, the expression on the person's face that I needed, or a stop action photo b/c the focus was dead on, then the noise can be cleaned up. And even if it can't be cleaned up perfectly now, I am sure better software will come out next year, or 5 years or 10 years from now and I can always reprint the picture then. Plus, for me, now I view most of my pictures on my monitor and I transfer them to DVD slide shows, so I don't really see the noise unless I print, and I assume that in the future there will be less and less printing. This is just my 2 cents (spread out in a loquatious and boisterous manner, hope I didn't offend anyone). If anyone has anymore questions or comments, feel free to pm me. Nancy
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Old Oct 13, 2005, 11:51 AM   #2
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Thanks for taking the time to put your thoughts down Nancy. I really value all the actual customer impressions of the fz30 (especially ones who stepped up from the 20). Helps me a lot more than reviews.

Can't wait to hear your impressions of the actual performance and quality of the pictures.
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Old Oct 13, 2005, 2:20 PM   #3
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Hang on Eddie, I am about to take it out on the town. But it is a really dreary day here in NYC. Will post pics late tonight when I get back. Hang on!
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Old Oct 13, 2005, 9:05 PM   #4
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It's funny what bothers some people, eh? :-)

I agree that it's a shame it's so hard to find official Panasonic add-ons (especially something as essential as spare batteries). I agree it's a crying shame they don't have a TTL flash yet. Really quite puzzling.

On the other hand, I don't see anything wrong with the look, feel or weight (except that less weight is always good if you carry it all day) of the FZ30. That may be an advantage of *not* having a degree in industrial design.

As for niggles like the new way of zooming when reviewing photos, I'm sure that's a matter of practice. I'm almost certain now that I'm going to get the FZ30 as a step up from my FZ10, and I think I'll get used to the little wheel.

I'm starting to think the noise isn't any worse than my FZ10 (I can find plenty of noise there when I look). And there's more detail in the FZ30 shots.

But the last thing, with your "little hands and long bony fingers", do you have any trouble pressing the shutter button all the way? I found I had to curl my finger tightly and press with just the pointy tip of my long but not bony fingers. If I get the FZ30, I'll probably stick something on top of the shutter button to raise it enough that I can press it with the flat of my finger. But that's just me I suppose.
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Old Oct 14, 2005, 1:52 AM   #5
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The shutter button feels a little weird to me but I have to shoot with it more. And honestly, guys, I miss the electronic zoom. I have a manual zoom on my "pro" camera". I like the fact that the FZ20 was so gadgety, it was like something from a 70's spy comedy like Get Smart, or mission impossible. I think someone was talking about how high the "fun factor" was on the FZ20. Don't get me wrong, the manual zoom feels very solid and professional, I just miss the electronic zoom. I liked the fact that the FZ20 was a consumer cam and not a pro cam. That is the beauty of it, pro like features in a consumer like body/function. That's just me!
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Old Oct 14, 2005, 7:19 AM   #6
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Thank you for (in my view) the most helpfulreal-world review of the FZ30 yet.

I'll stick with my 20 for now while I build some chops, but I do look forward to one day stepping up to the 30.
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Old Oct 14, 2005, 3:37 PM   #7
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At this point you might want to wait for the FZ40. I was taking pictures yesterday, when the rain let up, for a bit, and it was overcast, but the camera was shooting at 1/30 sec @ f3.2 (b/c I was zoomed in a little) and the ISO was automatically set at 200. The pictures were blurry, probably cause of the zoom but the point is I couldn't really shoot in overcast weather. I guess I could have shot @ ISO400 but I am very leary after everyone complaining about the noise. And I think complaining is good, so that the FZ40 won't have the noise and maybe even higher ISOs. Right now this camera, for me, is an outdoor camera. Indoors the response time seems a bit slower using the flash with the FZ30 than the FZ20 but I haven't shot much with it.
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Old Oct 14, 2005, 4:10 PM   #8
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Thanks for the good review. I agree with your points about noise. Too many people obsess about their equipment to the detriment of their photography.
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Old Oct 15, 2005, 3:59 PM   #9
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Haven't tested this out, but a problem on the FZ20 was when using the external flash, you could only fire three shots (if I remember correctly), and I remember u need to set it correctly. Now I have the 580EX (the dedicated flash for the Canon EOS) and it can fire a couple of frames per second, which would mean I could fire continuously with the FZ30 as long as the FZ30 doesn't have the limitation that the 20 did. I will check this out later, or when I get back. I will be going upstate so I hope to have some great pics using my new FZ30!
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Old Oct 16, 2005, 1:06 AM   #10
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Two more things about the cam, unfortunately, negative. For one, the flash seems to overexpose everything, but that is no biggie cause u can always set the flash compensation. The one thing that seems like a really bad feature - no doubt due to the fact that now you have a manual zoom - is the digital zoom. If you set the digital zoom, it automatically magnifies everything. This sucks b/c you have to turn it on only when you use it. On the FZ20 when the digital zoom is turned on it only works after you've zoomed in to the 432mm then it kicks in, and that was great. For some people that shoot nature and still lifes this doesn't present a problem, but I shoot candids, and I just don' t see how I can easily use this feature. Of course, now the camera has the ability to lower the mp to 5,3 and 1 so that the zoom becomes greater which seems like it would yield greater quality than digitally zooming. You see, here is a use for a button on top of the camera, the digital zoom button, so if you need the added zoom you can hit it on the fly. Or have the conversion from 8mp to 5 (and 3 and 1) on a button on top of the camera. Usually, the situation arises that you need added zoom. It usually isn't a planned thing. If it was you could just walk closer to the subject unless there was an obstacle. Now, you are either stuck at 5mp or stuck having everything digitally magnified.Or having to scroll thru the menu to set the cam, which in my line of work, I will probably miss the shot I am after. I am taking the camera out tomorrow I will see what kind of problem this presents, but this is definitely a design flaw!
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