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-   -   Who Needs a DSLR when the Panasonic FZ30 is this good? (

kriptone Feb 25, 2006 6:28 AM

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Greetings from the UK

There is a LOT of talk around about to take "serious photographs" you need a DSLR!

Well, sorry to disagree but you don't. All it takes is a decent "compact" with (my preferences admittedly) a superzoom lens, image stabilisation, decent mp range, and a good macro capability.

With such a beast, and in my opinion they don't come much better than the FZ30, you can get some stunning results,. Of course an eye for a good picture helps!

To start the ball rolling I have posted what I consider to be a decent picture, of course YOU may disagree and please, feel free to do so. A "virtual" prize will be awarded to the first person who can identify the make and model of car in the icicle!

My thanks go to fellow FZ30 fan RaymondK who inspired me to start this forum and who takes some cracking pictures himself!

Please feel free to post your own comments opinions, pictures etc, and comment on mine. All monetary donations welcomed (JOKE) allthough if if you have got a few pence/pounds spare, do me a favour and send them to the Association for Spina Bifida And Hydrocephalus and/or a Cancer Charity of your choice.



squirl033 Feb 25, 2006 11:58 AM

welcome to the forum, Tony!

as a long-time FZ user (i've had my FZ20 for over a year, and gotten some excellent results with it), i concur in most respects with your comments. a good compact superzoom like the FZ20/30 will produce some stunning photos. the main downfall of these compacts, in terms of image quality, is noise - which is quite visible in the pic you posted. cramming 8 MP onto a tiny (relatively) 1/1.8" sensor in the FZ30is a recipe for lots of noise, and although lots of people aren't bothered by it, and in most cases it can easily be removed by using NR software like Neat Image or Picture Cooler, it is a problem that's far less noticeable with DSLR's.

in addition to cleaner images, DSLR's offer other advantages too... much faster AF, virtually no EVF/LCD freeze-upbetween shots, and the ability to set focus based on distance, rather than guesswork. the EVF freeze-up is a problem for panning shots, because the FZ's black out for up to a full second between shots - long enough to disrupt your tracking. that's why some folks have mounted red-dot gun sights on their FZ's to aid in tracking moving "targets". unless your first shot is right on, with an FZ, it's hard to make subsequent shots come out well. DSLR's black out too, but it's on the order of milliseconds... the blink of an eye... and you cantrack and take successive photos much more easily.

one of my pet peeves with the FZ's is there's no way to judge focal distance. is my lens focused at 30 feet? 100? 500? i have no way of knowing, and for many kinds of action photos, that's a critical piece of information to aid in locking in the focus so my subject - when it passes that point - will be clear. i can guess, and as often as not, my pics come out acceptably well because out to about 200 yards (beyond that it doesn't much matter)i'm a fairly good judge of distance, but with a DSLR, there's no guessing involved.

DSLR's also offer a much greater range of ISO settings, and you can take good low-light shots at ISO400 or 800 that would come outso noisy they'd be spoiledif you tried them with the FZ's. i've made some pretty nice low-light shots with my FZ20, but only at very long exposures, and i've had to clean them up quite a bit every time. to get good, reasonably clean images, the FZ is limited to ISO80-100, while a good DSLR can produce sharp, smooth photos at ISO400 or 800 all day long. this extends your ability to take shots in low light significantly.

now... all that said, please do not take it as a condemnation of the FZ's. long-time members of this board will tell you i'm as big a fan of the FZ series as anyone, and i love my FZ20. it's a terrific camera, with incredible optics, and it's capable of amazing things if used within its limitations. but sometimes those limitations are a problem, and the only way to get around them is to use a DSLR. i don't have one yet, though i'm definitely looking into getting one, but even when i do, my FZ20 will remain in my kit, and will surely getits fair share of use. it's just much toogood a camera to leave on the shelf!

KENNETHD Feb 25, 2006 12:42 PM

I always smile when I read another good account of this fine camera. No matter how many other great cameras are out there, and with respect to Squirl, who's opinions I agree with, this is still one very nice bit of work. I've owned, and used other digital cameras and I find the FZ 30 made me forget about the faults and annoyances that irked me too often when using other digicams. Ya, ya...I too wish it would somehow magically transcend the gap between dslr and prosumer. It won't. But there are S O M A N Y wonderful features that you can count on to perform right every time, that for me, at least, it will stay as my primary camera for a good while longer.


Tazzie Feb 25, 2006 3:27 PM

I fully appreciate your exuberance and love of the FZ. They wonderful, magical, and a bit mystical. That was a very nice pic that you posted, but don't try this at home.


Puddock Feb 25, 2006 9:38 PM

This is one very happy FZ30 owner, however if money were no object I suspect many FZ30 owners would opt for a DSLR sooner or later. I know I would.

A good friend of mine manages one of Sydneys top photographic stores.

They are agents for the likes of Leica

His advice is toavoid DSLRs in the Entry-Level category.

You get what you pay for.

With an FZ30 you are close to the top of the Prosumer League.

With an Entry Level DSLR you are at the bottom of the DSLR league

You may not NEED a DSLR, but if you want to know the advantages of a DSLR over say the FZ30, this link pretty much says it all.

Just be prepared to spend $$$$

kriptone Feb 26, 2006 4:46 AM

A HUGE Thank you to everyone who has so far replied to my forum topic. Some very good points have been raised, some of which I had not thought about and some which got me thinking!

Anyway, now to address your individual posts:

Squirls point about the ability to see on the lens the distance it is focussed at when in manual mode is very good - it rather depends on the type of photography one is doing though would you not agree?

KennethD - another satisfied owner I take it, I look forward to seeing some of your work Sir. When I get time I will look at your other posts and see if you have submitted any pictures, in the meantime, why not post some here?

Tazzie, could you please explain exactly what shouldn't I try at home? Taking a photograph like the one you posted? Is that you in the picture? Whoever it is I have but one thing to say; "Oh for the chance!! ;) when one looks like I do, they don't come around too often!"

Puddock - that was an excellent link you posted, very informative, well written and thought provoking. I guess the best way to be able to enjoy photography to the max and try out lots of different equipment is to open a camera shop! In your opinion what IS the top of the prosumer league?

Aside from the issues raised by all my new friends here, one thing for me about using a Prosumer camera rather than a DSLR with a bag full of lenses that I did not initially raise is the sheer convenience of not having to lug an expensive and hefty load with you all the time. This can be a pain for anyone able bodied but when one uses a wheelchair to get around, the ability to get from wideangle to really long lenses all in one is a major plus point. albeit a compromise in other areas. It is a no brainer to suggest that the ideal camera is one that has yet to be made as different people will have different priorities. The trouble is that one can spend too much time deliberating on the different choices available rather than taking photographs! It's good fun though!

Thanks again, and keep 'em coming


Tazzie Feb 26, 2006 10:30 AM

You would need to look at the exif data to see the point. The iso is 3200, F5.6, 1/4 second, 6 pm, -1.3ev... hand-held, near a southwest window, heavily overcast sky, no lights on, its after sunset. Noise is very acceptable. With a miniscule sensor noise will continue to be a problem for all such cameras.

I didn't read the link as I'm past needing help deciding what I need. Until you have a camera, an FZ or DSLR you don't know what its really like. You can read every article and view others photos all you want, but you won't know what its like untill you're there and use it a lot. I'm amazed at Gene just now dealing with his FZ's manual focus concern. I mentioned that the first week I got a FZ about this time last year. No one said a thing. Meanwhile I've taken thousands of pictures which I cherish. I didn't trade, sell or give my FZ away. I love it. Quite a tool.

Unlike a DSLR the FZ electronic view finder shows you the picture as it will be... the color, contrast, light and so on. 100% magification and capture. Some future DSLRs will do the same. DSLR's viewfinders are often only a shadow of what their SLR fathers were.

Other than lack of noise the main thing about a DSLR is speed. Again, those reading the word "speed" who have never used a DSLR will only think they know what that means.

I'm not responding to diminish FZs. I celebrate them. I doubt there are but few here that appreciate the lens on the FZs more than I do. Crisp clean exceptional. All systems are compramises.

For me, right now, its speed for low light, very low light. I love, as many do, the morning and evening light to the very end.

The most important thing is to shoot what you love as much as you are compelled. Study the results and work on improving the capture. The rest will come.

kriptone Feb 26, 2006 11:25 AM

Hi Tazzie,

Thanks for your reply, sorry if I got the wrong end of the stick. Typical bloke eh?

I am relatively new to Exif data, having just recently found out about it and downloaded a program to show it, Panda I think it is called, quite interesting and saves me noting down all my exposure details separately.

Anyway, thanks again and sorry for being so thick!


forestcat44 Feb 26, 2006 12:28 PM

I have a question for those fortunate enough to have extensive dslr experience/equipment knowldge as well as a lot of familiarity with the fz30. I definitely agree with the post stating that all things equal, many of us would opt for a dslr funds permitting.
Firstly, I'm well aware of the low-light limitations of the FZ30, noise, no burst mode for raw, etc. I'm also very aware of just how much punch & versatility Panasonic has managed to pack into a sub $500 (street price) camera. I agonized a lot over this purchase, looked at every other sub $1000 digital (including dslr) & this was my choice.
Here's why:
1. I don't feel it has any competition in the P&S world in terms of features, usability & ergonomics. That's personal, of course & YMMV
2. This point I'm a little less clear on & welcome correction. Assuming that it even exists, I'm assuming that an autofocus, image stabilized 35mm lens that _matches_ the specs of the fz30 lens would well exceed the cost of the fz30. I'll put it another way:
For less than $1000, I have an fz30, a Raynox 2020, 6600, & 505. That gives me >900mm for the far away stuff, 18mm for the fat stuff, & 27x mag for the tiny stuff. Allright, now I want minimal noise at >400ISO, burst mode for raw, more light than f3.7 at 420mm. I want focal distance display ( I do, really). But I want to keep all the things we love about our FZ, especially the EVF features, data, etc.

AND, I don't won't to deal with new devils, i.e., compromises made in low end dslrs.

Can that be done for under three grand? I honestly don't know. I looked a bit & it didn't seem to be doable under $2000, or I would have. Most of comparisons I've seen, such as
(Really good, BTW...)

pit the FZ30 against kits in the $5000 range before I see results that look _way_ better. But I could be wrong...
Please don't misunderstand. This is not a knock of dslr's or other point & shoots. And I really hate the fact that Panasonic couldn't splurge an extra $50 wholesale for a better sensor. Everyone here would have gladly spent $100+ more at the checkout for a sensor that matches the caliber of the rest of the camera. But it is what it is. And warts & all, that is still one heck of a digicam.


kriptone Feb 26, 2006 2:41 PM

Hi Neil,

Thanks for your reply. Also for the link to the Canon v Panasonic article, what an excellent read.

Talking of excellent, your picture of gulls only goes to prove the title of this forum topic!!

Unfortunately, due to illness, I do not have the benefit of being able to get to the sea at the moment but to say I am inspired to is an understatement. Absolutely, Undeniably Brilliantly, Stunning!


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