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Old Dec 3, 2005, 5:16 AM   #1
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Please be gentle, since this is my 1st post here and because I know next to nothing about photography.

I want to give my wife a digital camera for X-mas (this will be her first). When she has the spare time, she loves photography, but the limitations (and annoyances) of a traditional film camera have convinced me it's time she had a nice digicam. Right now, she lugs around an old Canon AE-1, with a 80-210mm telephoto lens attached to it. She hardly ever uses a normal 35mm lens, because she says it doesn't get her shots close enough to see well. Anyway, this thing is a beast (a few pounds, by the heft of it). Plus, she would like to share her photos online with family, and the annoyance of waiting for development and scanning the pics once she gets them back has kept her from doing so.

I've researched and read as many reviews as I could find in the last couple of weeks, looking for the right camera for her. Since I don't have the budget to go DSLR, I finally settled on the FZ line as having the right balance of features and price.

I have already purchased the FZ5, and it arrived yesterday. It's still new in the box, and I'm wondering if I should send it back and spend the extra $70 or so for the FZ20. I've read that some prefer the FZ5 to the 20 because of its more compact size, but after using the "beast" for a number of years, I don't think the 20's size would concern her in the least. Now, we've been together for 11 years now, and I can count the number of times she has used an external flash on both hands, which is one reason I chose the FZ5 in the first place, since I didn't think she would miss it. Now, I'm not so sure there won't come a time when she wouldn't miss it if she didn't have that capability.

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but after doing some reading it seems as if the 20 is better able to accomodate aftermarket lenses and filters than the 5 is. If this is true, then I suppose the decision on whether to spend more for the 20 is a simple one.

I would appreciate any insight you guys could give me. Thanks.
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Old Dec 3, 2005, 9:13 AM   #2
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Your last statement about adding lenses may be your deciding factor but she may not need any extra lenses. And I wonder what she thinks of the size difference. Also does she enjoy manual focus.



Those really are the only 3 differences of the cameras...the FZ5 can focus a little faster but its not a great difference.
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Old Dec 3, 2005, 11:55 AM   #3
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Filters aren't as big a deal with digital as they are with film. If your wife currently uses a polarizer she would probably want to continue using it, and graduated neutral density filters are sometimes useful – again probably not a factor if she isn't already using one after all these years with a SLR. Some people get into infrared. But the color and haze filters commonly used in film and especially with B&W can be easily duplicated in post processing with more control over the amount and effect. The FZ5 will take most 55mm shallow thread filters without an adapter. And aux lenses for telephoto and wide angle, usually with an adapter. The FZ20 takes larger filters, so she is more likely to be able to use her current polarizer on the FZ5. You get vignetting if you step down.

The FZ20 flash is good to around 23 feet at full telephoto and the FZ5 is good only to 8.5 feet in telephoto. That is a pretty severe limitation at 12X zoom with the FZ5. At full zoom you could fit only a head and shoulder shot in the picture. The FZ5 flash goes up to almost 14 feet in wide, which is decent. But the flash is useless at an event where you have to use the telephoto to get close. A good zoom auto-flash unit costs under a hundred bucks and will take the FZ20 out over 60 feet. And with a diffuser or bounce, an external flash will make a shot look much better. Flash is a limitation with the FZ5.

The FZ5 is around a half-stop slower at telephoto. That can make a difference shooting at telephoto ranges in limited light.

It is hard to make really critical focus decisions on the EVF, even with the center of the EVF zoomed. Neither camera has a very high resolution EVF. I still find the manual focus handy at times, and the control is one of the few on the camera really well designed.

The FZ20 is bulky but light for its size. The FZ5 is much less bulky and also light for the size. If she carries a fairly large purse she would be more likely to carry the FZ5 along. If price were the only difference I would consider the FZ20 a no-brainer. But there is a big difference in size and that could be significant.

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Old Dec 3, 2005, 6:37 PM   #4
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As you are aware, the fz5 is significantly smaller than the fz20, which I prefer. If your wife is used to a larger camera, the larger fz20 might be better for her. Others have found that to be the case.

As to add-on lens, the fz5 comes with an adapter that accepts 55mm filters/converters. The adapter design leaves something to be desired, but for smaller filters (uv, polarizer, nd) it is sufficient. The fz20 adapter,on the other hand, is a huge 72mm and places the filter too far from the camera lens. Thus, the fz20 requires the further expenditure of a third party adapter for 'normal' sized add-ons.
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Old Dec 3, 2005, 7:39 PM   #5
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Thanks for the input, guys. If the FZ5 accomodates lenses and adapters just as easily as the 20, then I guess I'll just keep it. I've seen some of the shots people have posted on here with the FZ5, and they're pretty impressive.

Are there any filters that you guys consider must-haves for the FZ5? I may as well get them now, if need be, so that they'll be ready for X-mas. Also, how good, in general, are the quality of the FZ5 compatible batteries that I can get for cheap on Ebay?

Thanks alot for all your help. I'm hoping this will come as a nice suprise for my wife on X-mas.
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Old Dec 3, 2005, 10:14 PM   #6
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Necessary filters

1) Multicoated 55mm uv filter for lens protection. Leave adapter and uv filter on at all times.
2) An acromatic (ie, dual element) macro or close-up lens.The fz5 macro capabilty is limited. It does nicely at 1x from as close as 2cm. It does very nicely at full 12x ("tele-macro" featuure) which is unique to the fz5. Above 2-3x the fz's in general have poor macro function. The addition of a close-up lens greatly enhances the fz macro capability. Best deal is a Nikon 4t, which has 52mm threads and requires a 55mm-52mm step down ring. Adorama has both for about $50 shipped.

Batteries best deal is hereon ebay. I got two delivered for $14 total. Work fine.
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Old Dec 3, 2005, 11:23 PM   #7
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fmoore wrote:
Quote:
Necessary filters

1) Multicoated 55mm uv filter for lens protection. Leave adapter and uv filter on at all times.
2) An acromatic (ie, dual element) macro or close-up lens.The fz5 macro capabilty is limited. It does nicely at 1x from as close as 2cm. It does very nicely at full 12x ("tele-macro" featuure) which is unique to the fz5. Above 2-3x the fz's in general have poor macro function. The addition of a close-up lens greatly enhances the fz macro capability. Best deal is a Nikon 4t, which has 52mm threads and requires a 55mm-52mm step down ring. Adorama has both for about $50 shipped.

Batteries best deal is hereon ebay. I got two delivered for $14 total. Work fine.

Thanks alot for your help, fmoore.

1. Will the UV filter work with the stock adapter that comes with the FZ5, and do you leave it on even when shooting? Is something like this lens filter what you had in mind: http://www.adorama.com/HY55UVP1.html? Is there a particular brand you would recommend?

2. Thanks for the recommendation on the Nikon lens and step-down ring. I'm not even sure if I'm asking the right questions, and you guys are more helpful than I had hoped for.
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Old Dec 4, 2005, 8:48 AM   #8
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MLoot wrote:
Quote:
1. Will the UV filter work with the stock adapter that comes with the FZ5, and do you leave it on even when shooting? Is something like this lens filter what you had in mind: http://www.adorama.com/HY55UVP1.html? Is there a particular brand you would recommend?
The uv filter has esentially no effect on quality. I keep oneon almost all the time and mount other filters to it unless that extra thickness causes vignetting as in the case of a wide angel converter. You will notice that the fz5 adapter has about 1mm of unthreaded plastic at the front. This interferes with a securethreaded connection with an add-on lens. Many users have simply removed that 1mm or so of plastic by rubbing the front of the adapter against fine grit sandpaper placed on a hard flat horizontal surface. Keeping a metal uv filter on will not only protect the lens but will provide 55mm metal threads, which are much prefered over plastic.

The $18 hoya multicated uv filter shown here is good enough. That's what I use.


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