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Old Dec 27, 2005, 4:53 PM   #1
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I finally got my FZ30 this Christmas and have been playing with it constantly since. I wish the weather was nicer so I could get some prettier looking pictures, but in the meantime I'm making do with what's available to familiarize myself with the camera.

Here's one of the first photos I took:

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This was at my parents' house, taken in awful lighting at 12x zoom, ISO 200. I was able to take it at a 1/8 second exposure handheld while sitting thanks to the IS. After a bit of noise reduction and a levels adjustment, it would make a decent 4x6.



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Here's a little Talos statue. You might recognize him if you've seen Jason and the Argonauts. He was lit by a single 60 watt bulb.



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A decorative dagger, I took this shot under the 60 watt lamp with the camera in one hand and the dagger in the other. If I tried to do that with the Digital Rebel I use at work, I probably would have had to use ISO 1600 so that I could use a fast enough shutter speed to overcome the camera shake. From what I've seen, ISO 1600 on a Digital Rebel is about the quality of ISO 200 on the FZ30.



I've been very impressed by the interface of the camera. All the important controls are very easily accessible so that operation in manual mode is perfectly comfortable. The LCD screen and viewfinder are extraordinary, especially the viewfinder. I wasn't expecting the viewfinder to be so comfortable to use all the time, especially since I wear glasses. Although an optical viewfinder has an edge in comfort and for use in bad lighting, I think this viewfinder has an edge when it comes to manual focusing on far away objects and getting a proper exposure. I love the live histogram. Basically, I find it easier to take good photos with the FZ30.

As far as image quality is concerned, it's certainly better than a typical digicam. Compared to a DSLR, I'd say that as long as you get a good exposure at ISO 80 or 100 you get very comparable image quality. The DSLR has a pretty big advantage when you take pictures in poor lighting that are either underexposed or shot with a high ISO. Compare the cameras on tripods or by giving the DSLR an IS capable lens (probably at least as expensive as the FZ30 itself), then the DSLR will certainly blow the FZ30 out of the water. For a walk in the park at day time though, I'd much prefer to have the FZ30 with it's incredible zoom lens than to have a DSLR with a bag of lenses.

Here's a demonstration of the zoom and the stabilization. These shots were taken handheld from my parked car. None of them had any Photoshop work done other than resizing.

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OK, I cheated a little bit. The last photo was taken using the 3mp EZ mode. It was quite sharp though.

I did notice some chromatic aberration in some of the shots. A little bit in the fully zoomed out view, a very noticeable amount in the completely zoomed in view, but none in the in between view. Here are some 100% crops;

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Oddly, another picture taken at full zoom did not show the same aberration;

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The only difference here was that EZ mode was not used, and the shutter speed was 1/40 instead of 1/30. I don't know much about what causes chromatic aberration, so perhaps someone can explain this to me.

I walked over to the nearby cemetery and took a few images. It was far too cold to stick around long with what I was wearing, but this one was pretty decent;



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I shot this one slightly underexposed to bring out the trees in the background, then used curves to bring up the detail of the statue.

All in all, I really enjoy this camera. I think it's perfect for the amateur photographer who wants a lot of control and flexibility, but doesn't want to shell out thousands for a DSLR and lenses. I especially recommend it if you don't mind taking your favorite photos into Photoshop for a little cleanup, since a little noise reduction goes a long way with some of these photos.

I also recommend that anyone who takes lots of pictures download Picasa http://picasa.google.com/index.html It's probably the best image viewer you can find and allows for quick adjustments of photos that are actually useful, like adding a fill light to underexposed images (similar to increasing exposure on a RAW image).

Any and all comments are welcome, keeping in mind that the majority of these images were only meant as tests of the camera's capabilities and not really as good photos.
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Old Dec 27, 2005, 5:11 PM   #2
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hey corpsy, given your last pic i now understand the nickname :lol:

seriously though, as an amateur on the road to better pics thanks to the fz30, i'm thrilled to have your in-depth and detailed viewpoints to learn from. i'm not doing anything to my photos in photoshop yet (but sitting with cs2 which i use for web work anyway) so the more you have to share about what it is you do to pics the better - and some before and after shots along the way would be great.

looks like you're already having fun with the cam and can't wait to see what else you have to share as you venture outdoors soon enough ...

:|
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Old Dec 27, 2005, 8:39 PM   #3
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I think that even indoor WB is very good on FZ30. Something which needs a lot of fixing on FZ20. I hope next model will be a further improve (except for pixels number)
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Old Dec 27, 2005, 10:28 PM   #4
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Jaseyboy, thanks for the feedback. I think I've gone long enough without a good quality camera of my own and it's about time I got out there and did something. I look forward to getting creative with the images in Photoshop, but for now I'm content to just explore the capabilities of the camera itself.

Narmer, I definitely agree about the white balance. I've already taken hundreds of pictures with the camera while practising and while I certainly have a lot of bad photos in there, none of them are bad due to poor white balance. It seems that as long as there's a decent amount of light, the camera knows what to do.
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Old Dec 27, 2005, 10:33 PM   #5
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While I can not give a definite answer to the CA problem you will find the the larger the aperture the more chance of CA and the poorer the focus the better the chance.



I do not know if you would like these settings but I have settled on low for NR and contrast and standard or high for the other settings ..I am still not sure about sat and sharpness they work fine on high but I do not mind doing that in PS so I leave it on standard mostly.

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Old Dec 28, 2005, 12:11 AM   #6
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I use low on all the settings, this gets the purest image, though not necessarily the most attractive. I enjoy tweaking in Photoshop, so that's what works best for me.

I almost never use sharpening, except a bit of unsharp mask on slightly out of focus pictures (I did a bit on Talos). I can usually spot digital sharpening pretty easily and I don't really like the harsh look of it. I notice a lot of overly sharpened photos in these forums, but I think it comes down to personal preference so I don't criticize anyone for it.

To anyone who reads this, just remember that sharpening doesn't increase or enhance the detail of your image, it adds details that weren't there to give the appearance of enhanced detail, so you're actually losing some of your original detail. I'm not saying don't use it, I'm just saying to keep that in mind.

I've attached an image that demonstrates what the sharpen more filter does to an image. I believe sharpening is one of the most commonly misunderstood functions.

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