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Old Oct 17, 2005, 2:51 AM   #1
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Once again, I would like to start off by saying that I do really like the camera. And my comparisons will be with the FZ20. I have just started to shoot "professionally", and while I have little pro experience, I have been involved with photography and art since college (about20 years - please fellas don't figure out my age, I am feeling old enough as it is, and my b-day is coming up at the end of Nov!)For a woman, I find myself loving technology almost as much as let's say a techie for a professional studio (be it video, photography or even audio). Of course, I have my limitations, and I am sure this review won't be as scientific as others, I usually shoot from my gut and try to tell it like it is (keepin' it real!). Some might know me for about a year, being I used to post all of the time on this forum when I got my FZ20 and I have made a lot of friends, and you guys (and the two gals, I believe) are really a spectacular bunch of fellows, I really love you guys! For those of you who don't know me....I purchased my first "pro cam" a few months back, the Canon EOS 20D which I like, but I do like the FZ20 more, primarily for the fun factor and the fact that it is more versatile (the things I don't like about the FZ20are the poor focus, the image quality/color cast esp. in skin tones). I like to shoot candids and event photography. Honestly, I got into the pro photo biz in the late winter and then my business (consulting) picked up to the point where the pics I just posted are the second time that I took pics in months - so I am a bit rusty.

Getting to the review: As I stated in another post my two favorite things with )the FZ30 (over the 20) are the swivel screen (took a great shot of the pumpkin patch - in other post - where I was able to put camera on the grass to get the low angle, using the flip screen so I didn't have to lay on the ground. The angle reminded me of that 80's movie 3 O'clock High - loved all of the extreme angles in that movie, and I always try to go for a different/weird angle when I do a shoot) and the start up time which seems to be instantaneous. Also, the obvious, the image quality improvement. I tend to crop so with the FZ20 couldn't crop very much btw noise and 5mp quality I would lose too much resolution. While the FZ30 does seem noisier than the FZ20 (I see it primarily when I get into image editing -but then for the pics that I just posted when I rs you don't see the noise at all). This doesn't bother me but I can see it, I know it is there. Panasonic needs to address the noise issue, it is their Achilles heel!

What I don't like about the camera: I had mentioned this in another post that the digital zoom on this camera, when you turn it on, it automatically doubles or quadruples (depending on your setting) the image. With the FZ20 it wouldn't turn on until you hit 432mm then you could continue to zoom if the dz was enabled. I always had it on b/c it wasn't working unless I went beyond 432mm and the FZ20 had this nifty feature where the camera would stop zooming at 432mm andif you had your finger on the zoom button, then if you kept pressing it would go into digital zoom. So it stopped at 432mm, so you wouldn't accidently go into digital zoom if you didn't need it. Unfortunately, due to the manual zoom ring (I am just guessing here) you can't do that so the digital zoom is on all of the time. So if you are all the way zoomed out at 35mm, when you turn the dz on to 2x, lets say, it automatically becomes 64mm and your image quality is degraded. This is virtually unusable to me. I had also stated b4 that the buttons on top of the FZ30 esp. the anti-shake, seem to be overkill. It would be perfect if you had the digital zoom as a button on top of the camera - ARE YOU LISTENING PANASONIC???? Or have the button that converts the image from 8 megapixels to 5, 3, or 1 on the top of the camera. It is annoying and sometimes impossibleto scroll thru the menu (when time is a factor), esp when you are tryiing to shoot as in candid photos.

Ok, here is what I noticed yesterday when taking it out for the first time. The camera overexposes everything. My flash exposure comp is at -2/3 (and picsstill tend to be a bit overexposed)and my regular exp. comp has been problematic. It usually is a bit overexposed in the normal setting (no exp comp). I know it is better to be under than over so I keep moving my ec (exposure compensation) anywhere btw -1/3 and -1. Also the exposure is inconsistent. I always keep the burst mode at infinity. While my finger was on the shutter release and I was snapping off photos of one scene (in other words, I didn't move, at all) each picture would change exposures, slightly but they were noticeable. Now maybe the camera's internal meter is just very sensitive, but this makes it inconsistent. I tried shooting in different modes. I always try the camera on Auto (sometimes called program on some cameras - I know that this camera has both). I do this b/c my first digicam was the Olympus 2100uz (a 10x optical zoom camera) which til this day is my favorite camera. Why? B/c consistently every picture looked great, from focus to exposure, it was always dead on, unless an extreme situation. So when I first got the FZ20 I put it on Program (there was no auto) and I was extremely dissapointed. Photos where out of focus, they were blurry (due to the fact that the auto/program function would never choose ISO 400 when it needed to, due to lower light, b/c of the camera's inherent noise problem). So I tried the FZ30 in auto mode and while a definite improvement over the FZ20, it still didn't give me the percentage of good pics that the Oly 2100 (and the 770 which I have, too btw) gave me. Maybe they will get it perfect by the FZ40. But my Canon 20D wasn't as good in that respect either. I hate inconsistencies. Esp. b/c I know the technology is out there.I also have the camera's picture adjustment set to standard, with the exception of noise reduction which I have on low (b/c of a post a while back on image quality, someone suggested to keep the nr to low and reduce noise in pp).

Another problem: Some of the pictures, and it seems to be random, come out way too contrasty. I can take one picture, refocus and take another of the same exact thing/subject and one will be contrasty and the other will be normal (usually perfect- don't get me wrong I got some amazing shots with this cam, already- being that I have only taken roughly 500 shots since I got it!). Don't know why this is, and owning enough (too many) digicams, I really don't think there is anything wrong with the camera. And as with the FZ20 there is a learning curve, and I do know that I will be able to use this camera professionally getting great results with it, but it will take practice, I do know this, but I feel what I am describing to you guys is worthwhile being that you should know how it will go down when you first get the cam, if this review doesn't steer you away from buying it. Now, comparatively, the AF is slower than the FZ20 in the normal mode. I did a side by side comparison. But now in the FZ30 you have the hi-speed AF and it is definitely faster. What I want to know is, why bother putting the slower focus in at all? This doesn't make any sense to me.(It's like having a choice in your car between higher gas mileage and lower, who would choose lower gas mileage???). The 9 point focus is slow, and I didn't realize that I can choose just one of the boxes (out of the 9) until after my shoot, so I don't know if that would make it faster.

Now the infinity burst mode is slower than the FZ20 (I am using both Panasonic's high speed cards, as well as the Sandisk Ultra II and the Kingmax - which is as fast as the Panasonic - I think that is do to Panasonic's write speed). I believe it to be slower being that you are now writing an 8mp image, roughly 3mb, as opposed to the 5mp image. I still think that this should have been improved upon. The technology is there. The Canon 20D shoots at 5 fps, and it can do it indefinitely with an 80X card. Now I know the cam isn't as expensive, so give us at least 3fps, or 2.5. But the FZ30 is definitely slower. The manual says approximately 2fps, but it is more like 1-1.5 and I might be being generous with that figure. Now this is with the infinite burst mode. The hi speed mode works like they say, but with my line of work, I just need to keep shooting.

If you saw my post on the purple fringing, you can see that there is plenty of it. Wasn't this cam supposed to have some sort of way that it minimized purple fringing??? Something with it's computer (or that venus II engine)? Either way, it is there, and definitely seems to be more pronounced than the FZ20.

Now the focusing. Be it the high speed, or regular focus, there still seems to be a % of my pics that are out of focus. Somewhere in the realm of about 30%. I am sure I will bring the # down as I get more used to the cam, but I think it is still pretty high. I had remnants of the feelings I had when I took out the FZ20 (unpleasantly surprised). I guess when I read the reviews I just was expecting the camera to take great pics with little or no effort (assuming the cam was set to Auto). This is the case with both of my Olympus cams. It is just a bit disappointing, but as I mentioned, my Canon EOS isn't great in auto either. I just like the idea of knowing that this camera ultimately is a consumer gadgety camera, and it definitely should take great pictures, for a pns-er, esp. for novice users---the manual even states that the auto feature is for novice users ("Even beginners can easily take pictures")! Hell, we paid enough for the camera. We praise it, we buy accessories etc. Panasonic has the means. And please, all of you FZ30 lovers don't take offense, I do love the camera too, but can't a gal want it all (hey fellas, you know it is always the case with us, right???). And like i have mentioned, I have taken some great shots. By this I don't mean shots that can be hung in an exhibit. I mean shots that are perfectly exposed, sharp (non-blurry) etc.

For the next generation of camera (I assume they will make an FZ40) they have to deal with the noise problem, I know that if it isn't sunny outside, and I have my Canon 20D, I set the ISO to 400, sometimes even higher (I think the FZ30 set at an ISO of 80 is equivalent to the Canon EOS 20D at either ISO 800 or 1600 -doesn't this seem a bit crazy to you all???). You need to have the speed. When I was in Hawaii, the camera took great pics (FZ20) B/c it was always sunny. If you are in that situation it is by far the best camera ever made (and I assume the FZ30 will be even better- I should be going to Maui in Jan. so I will keep you posted -pun intended!). If not, well, like most you just have to deal. And this is where Panasonic at least could have had the courtesy of making a TTL flash, so that indoors, or even outdoors in overcast weather you could shoot at ISO80. I am so mad at Panasonic for not making a TTL flash (and the FL-28 is made by a company other than Panasonic, who also make flashes for Olympus - the olympus flash is called the FL-20, and it is TTL, and it works flawlessly, I am so impressed being that I have been working with professional cameras since 1985. So...if the company that makes the flash has the capability of doing TTL, it is Panasonic's laziness, shall I call it, that has prevented us from having TTL, and it is a crying shame!). Also, with the flash, Panasonic limits the consecutive number of pics to be taken to 3 in burst mode. I have the 580ex flash (dedicated for the Canon, but it will work non TTL on any camera) and that baby can shoot at like 2fps for about 10 shots. But because of the limitation I can only shoot 3 shots, then I have to wait and refocus/meter etc.

In sum, as much as I have said negative things about the camera, they are relatively small, being that you can get great shots with the camera. You just have to know its limitations, and of course, it makes itself quite clear as to what they are. I am ashamed of Panasonic (is Matsushita still the parent company???) because they could have improved on the FZ20 more. As a consultant, if I worked for Panasonic and they handed me the FZ30 and the FZ20, I would have never let the FZ30 go into production. I don't know who they have working for them. On the flip side, they probably are a lot smarter than we think, and they are holding back the technology, only so we can all go out an buy the FZ40 next year. Capitalists would call them brilliant, but I am just getting impatient. And if Canon comes out with a great lens that covers (more or less) the focal length of the FZ30, my Panasonic will be given away as a X-Mas present. But being that this won't happen (in the near future). I will learn to (try to) master the FZ30. On its own, it is a great camera, with great image quality. I do know this. There is no other camera that comes close, and I believe it was rated the best camera in its class (Ultra zoom, I would assume - remember that Odd Couple episode??). And I do agree. Technologically it is a marvel. I just know it could be better, and I think so many of us in the forum know that, as well, which is why a lot of you won't buy this camera and are holding off for the FZ40 (or equivalent). I think this is a good strategy. For me, the improved start up time and the swivel screen will allow me to get shots that I couldn't with the FZ30. And if/when I get the hang of the focusing (which was really godawful on the FZ20 when you come to think about it - plus I have my Canon to compare it to, as well - the difference between shooting a bullet and throwing it!!!!) this camera, for me will far surpass the FZ20, plus I do have the improved image quality (8mp)which is also a big plus for me.

Please don't hate me for speaking my mind. I am sure I will have a lot of people refuting what I said, but this is just what I noticed, and I am sure I will be able to take great pics with the cam on a consistent level. But I think it is our duty, and our right, to complain to Panasonic to fix the issues that we don't like about the camera. I hope they are listening! Yours truly, Nancy
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Old Oct 17, 2005, 11:48 AM   #2
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Old Oct 17, 2005, 11:59 AM   #3
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Everyone is entitled to their opinion..

I am wondering if your camera may be faulty

The main things that I do not find to be the same as my findings are

1. I see almost no fringing, not that I saw a lot with the FZ20 but I see less with the FZ30

2. While I always shot with aminus compensation with the FZ10 and 20, I see no need for that with the FZ30.

3. And while a matter of opinion I really see no problem with the noise but then I am not trying to sell any photos.

4. I also think the burst mode is as fast as the FZ20..not as fast as the FZ10 but on par with the FZ20. (have you formatted the cards lately?)

5. And I do not find any inconsistency with the exposure but I do not like that auto mode,I use program mode a lot and get better results.

6. and the focus.. I use 1 area fast focus and the camera never misses. I went one stretch with a teleconverter on and shot 343 photos with only 1 not in focus.

Thats just my take on the subject.




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Old Oct 17, 2005, 1:12 PM   #4
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I just formatted a card in the FZ30, pulled out the 20, set them both to manual (f2.8 @ 1/250second) and manual focus, so these would be constants. I put my finger on both of the shutters, and while it is slight, the FZ30(in infinity burst mode) is moving just a bit slower than the 20. If I shot for 10 seconds the fz30 would fire off about 19 and the fz20 btw 21 and 22. Very close but the fz20 is faster. I also used the same brand of card (kingmax) in both. And I didn't format the FZ20 card. I didn't time the high and low speed burst mode, but those sounded closer to me, i.e. they were shooting as fast as each other.
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Old Oct 17, 2005, 3:45 PM   #5
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Nancy, Nancy, Nancy, I can't believe your having all these "problems" with the FZ30! All the faults or problems you mentioned I have never experienced, not once! The purple fringing, I have not seen a hint of that in the over 1500 pictures I've taken with the camera! Regarding the digital zoom, I too feel it's wasted on this camera or any other. However you indicated that you liked it on the FZ20 because it would stop at 12x until you pushed the zoom button again. Actually if you watch the viewfinder or lcd you will see what your zoom is in the lower right side of the screen, and with the manual zoom ring you can acturately control it! More than you could with the auto zoom button on the FZ20! Regarding the foucus, if the settings are properly set in the menu you should experience NO problem with the focus! I have never seen a camera which can focus this fast and acturately, shot after shot. Yes I have used several brands of cameras, including SLR's and DSLR's! I haven't experienced ANY "contrasty" pictures to date! Is it possible that in the menu under Pict. adj, your "contrast" is set to high ? I keep mine set to low and as I stated I have never had a problem with the contrast!? Anyway I'm really sorry that you are finding all these faults, as I still think it's a great camera and I wouldn't hestitate in recommending it to anyone. I only hope those that are in the market to buy one won't be turned away by the "problems" you have indicated. Best regards, Jim
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Old Oct 17, 2005, 4:47 PM   #6
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Jim have you seen my post on the purple fringing? Why is the catchlight purple then?
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Old Oct 17, 2005, 5:38 PM   #7
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Nancy, If your referring to the enlargement of the girls eye, I think that's more like a
"red-eye" type problem , where the flash is reacting to the blood vessels in the back of the eye causing the discoloration. That's only my theory because what I see there is not what I would call a normal purple "fringing"! Jim
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Old Oct 17, 2005, 5:48 PM   #8
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Oh, Nancy. While we applaud your enthusiasm, you do puzzle us with your findings. I am repeating myself and others but....hey, the digital zoom thing is an area that you don't even have to get into. Seriously. There has to be something wrong with either your camera OR what you're doing with it. If you haven't already done so......R U N...don't walk... over to Tiger98's post and check out his contribution on zoom for this camera. After seeing that you have to scratch your head and say to yourself ..."digital zoom? what's that a new kinda cereal or somethin?" You DO NOT NEED IT!!!!! Your focus problems are unique too. Just doesn't happen with mine. ARE YOU SURE you've got your fingers off the focus and zoom rings (if you are in manual mode) when you press the button? It can screw up the focus big time if you even twitch them as you shoot manually. Hmmm...can't say as I have a problem with purple fringing either. If after checking all the variables, these problems are still an issue, I'd have to wonder if you have a lemon there. Best regards,

KennethD
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Old Oct 18, 2005, 12:57 AM   #9
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I know I don't need the digital zoom. I was just making a comment that a fairly useless feature has become completely useless, and if they (Panasonic) wants to make it useable, they should put a button on top of the camera to activate it. I do agree with you, you don't need a digital zoom. One of my pet peeves is framing a pic properly, and sometimes, even if I lose the image quality, I would dip into my digital zoom on the FZ20 so I could get a perfectly framed pic. I know, I could crop later with better results. Ok enough about the digital zoom, it isn't a big deal, I was just making an observation on how Panasonic messed up.

As far as the focus, I had my camera on autofocus the whole time, but I might have moved the focus ring, could that have affected it?
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Old Oct 18, 2005, 1:06 AM   #10
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Nancy, If your camera was on autofocus the focus ring would have been disabled so moving it accidently would have had no effect. Jim
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