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Old Nov 2, 2005, 4:19 PM   #1
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Hello,

to start with: I want to upgrade from non-digital cameras to my very first digital one.

Now I am close to purchase the Fz5 because of its pretty good image quality, its great zoom range in combination with IS, and the manual modes it offers. Its very compact size is also an important factor to me, since I want to have a "mobile" camera to take with me even in the city or just when taking a walk in the woods. For this purpose I dont like to carry around big camera bags. The Fz20 of cause has better specs concerning hot shoe and manual focus ring, but its simply to big for my needs.

But there is one thing I realy wonder about the Fz5: is the lack of a manual focus option a serious thing when it comes to nature photography?

As I already mentioned, I am a rookie when it comes to digital photography. I read quiet a lot of reviews, and
the Fz5 AF seems to work both fast and accurate. But really under all conditions? I don´t talk about low-light and such stuff.

An example: lets say I want to take a shot of a elk (moose) - I live in scandinavia - but it is behind some branches of a tree. It is fall, and there are no leafs left. Would the spot-AF be able to get through without being distracted by the branches (wind makes the branches moving around)? Would the image-result be that the branches are just perfect and the elk blurred? Would the only get-around be to focus on something else exactly at the same distance as the elk, repoint and shoot?

To make a long tale short: to all Fz5-owners - what is your opinion about the Fz5 AF? How often do you really miss the manual focus option? How big is the approx. percentage of bad shots due to wrong focusing? 10/100 or 2/100....

I learned that there are cameras in the same price and size range as the Fz5, which do have manual focus options. Any opinion about the Fuji FinePix 5500 (in the US called 5100) I know, it does not have IS. But anyway.

Any other cameras you can recommend, which would fit my needs?

Thanks for your assistance in this matter.

Frank (SWE)
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Old Nov 2, 2005, 6:37 PM   #2
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hi Frank, and welcome to the forum!

i have the FZ20, not the FZ5, buti can tell you that for the kind of work you're talking about, the manual focus is seldom really necessary. if you use spot mode, the focus "target zone" is small enough that you should be able to get a clear focus lock on your moose/elk/critter even through branches, as long as there aren't any leaves in the way. i use AF in spot mode with my FZ20 for most of my photos, and only resort to manual focus if there's simply no way around it, such as when i'm waiting for a bird to return to its nest, and i need to be 'pre-focused' and ready to snap the shot when it arrives. for pretty much everything else, the FZ series AF function seems to work pretty well.

i've also used the FZ1, which is the same as the FZ5except that it'solder, only 2MP, and without some of the features on the FZ5. there have been times when it has focused on the wrong thing, but usually only when using the larger, "1-area" focus mode, or when trying to focus on something that's hidden behind fairly dense obstructing objects. i've also had it do the reverse, and focus on the background when i wanted the other way 'round. but if i'm careful, and use the spot-mode, it seems to work pretty well.

hope this helps. by all accounts, the FZ5 is an excellent camera, and i suspect that FZ5 owners like Fmoore and others will agree that the lack of manual focus isn't a huge problem for them.
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Old Nov 2, 2005, 7:09 PM   #3
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hi squirl,

thanks for your answer. Thats exact the information I am looking for. I think this will make my decission for the Fz5 easier. It is quiet hard to "degrade" to a camera with AF only, when you come from a non-digital SLR and used to fumble with a focus ring.

And for the case that the AF wont lock at the right thing I still have the manual mode to force the camera to go for a higher DOF. But this could be hard to achieve when you are already at full zoom.
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Old Nov 2, 2005, 9:52 PM   #4
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Frankyboy wrote:
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hi squirl,

thanks for your answer. Thats exact the information I am looking for. I think this will make my decission for the Fz5 easier. It is quiet hard to "degrade" to a camera with AF only, when you come from a non-digital SLR and used to fumble with a focus ring.

And for the case that the AF wont lock at the right thing I still have the manual mode to force the camera to go for a higher DOF. But this could be hard to achieve when you are already at full zoom.
i know what you mean.i got into puhotography years ago with a Pentax ME Super 35mm SLR, and the whole idea of autofocus was a little strange for me, but the FZ seems to do it very effectively. there are very few times when it has any difficulty, though it does need contrast within the focus area to get a lock. for instance, it won't focus at all if you just aim it at the sky, unless you point it at the edge of a cloud or something. the manual focus would be handy for that sort of thing, but not many people are desperate to take pictures of the sky...

setting the camera to manual ("A" mode) and stopping down will indeed increase your DOF. the FZ's have a pretty wide DOF at minimum aperture, though as you mentioned, it's not nearly as much at 12x. for instance, if you're 100ft (~ 30m) from your subject, at 12x, the DOF will be about 15 feet (5m). if you're closer to your subject, it's even less. but back off on the zoom a bit, to 8x, for example, and your DOF at 30m expands to 10m or so. the best solution is to use spot mode and try to aim the focusing reticle at the subject without overlapping any other obstacles (branches, etc.).
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Old Nov 3, 2005, 1:18 AM   #5
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I want to learn more about the features of the Fz5. More than what one can learn from online-reviews. Does anybody know where to get a download of a Fz5 or Fz4 manual?

A link would be great.
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Old Nov 3, 2005, 7:41 AM   #6
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Get the manual here

http://www.panasonic.co.uk/customer-...24&fmt=pdf



And is this what you mean ? my wife took this with a FZ10 but she does not know there is a manual focus.
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Old Nov 3, 2005, 10:19 AM   #7
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Hi Gene,

Ok. I am convinced. This is a fine example of the Panasonic AF capabilities. By the way - greetings to your wife - its a great shot. I hope she does not made this picture at wide angle? You never know what this animals get in their minds when you get to close. Or is it taken in a kind of zoo?
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Old Nov 3, 2005, 1:37 PM   #8
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I have the FZ20 and rarely use the manual focus. I ditto the idea of using the spot focus, and the auto focus will work quite well.

That being said, if you plan to take a lot of inside shots with flash, a Panasonic with an external flash will give you much better results. Keep in mind that the Panasonics have some limitations in low light due to noise that creeps in at higher iso settings....which can be corrected with Neat Image or other program.

My wife has the FZ1 which is really an antique....but even that camera takes some great pictures!!
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Old Nov 3, 2005, 3:43 PM   #9
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Even if I´m not concerned that much anymore, I still think the absence of a manual focus on the Fz5 is a pitty with such a fine camera. This and a hot shoe would be my dream. But this is certainly marketing. Would get the Fz5 to close to the Fz20. Maybe the Fz6, whenever it may come, has at least a kind of "software" manual focus, as the Canon S2 IS has.

Yes, I agree with you that the internal flash of the Fz5 is not suitable for all indoor-situations. But I found this picture on the net. Does anybody know where to get such arms. Any brand names of producers? Maybe the arm is a bit bulky.

How is it with the slave flash itself? Do I have to take care of any details when using it with the Fz5. Are there any incompatibilities? I think about slave flashes which might fire to soon, together with the anti-red-eye pre flash of the fz5.
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Old Nov 6, 2005, 3:55 AM   #10
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While the 'manual focus' on these digital cameras is not manual at all - it is merely assisted electronic focus - I still would never consider buyinga camera that did not have some sort of manual focus.

If you get the FZ-5, I can just about guarantee that there will come a time eventually- a day; a special moment - where you desperately wished you had a manual focus.

Think long and hard about this one.
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