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Old May 25, 2006, 4:56 PM   #1
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Having my FZ5 since last November, I'm seriously considering adding an entry-level dSLR to my arsenal. My reasoning are the usual dSLR v Fixed Lens Prosume suspects - more resolution/detail, predictive AF, DOF, availability of higher ISOs/lower noise for problematic lighting, capability to retrofit better/longer lens et al.

For those who follow my postings, I'm very much (primarily) into Raptors, BIF and occasionally Macros/landscapes/interesting subjects. I'm getting to where I'm fairly capable of obtaining good images but feel that having an 8-MP dSLR with a 'fair-good' 300-400mm-effective lens on a dSLR will afford me better/heavier cropping of images w/more detail than my FZ5+TCON17 has been able to produce (given the distances I'm usually able to approach my subjects). The prospect of carrying my FZ5+TCON17 and a dSLR w/ one telephoto lens doesn't (currently) present an issue to me for my forays.

Of course, the biggest 'bang-for-the-buck' is at play here as the wife will wonder why spend that much more $ when I have the FZ5+TCON17 (~$425 new) -- so I'm somewhat limited in the budget availability/approval factor.

Knowing that a lot of this forum's diehard Pany members have/had dSLRs and/or wish/anticipate obtaining one at some point, I'm asking for insights, guidance and opinons. I know there are those that have the KMD5, Nikons D50/D70, *ist, Canon 350/D20/D30 etc

Currently, I'm considering either an Oly E-300 or a E-500 4/3 system with the 2-Zuiko lens kit -- 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6 and the 40-150mm f/3.5-4.5 zooms as a low priced way to go (Assuming that the new 4/3 dSLR players and pending Pany's L1 will entice a broader range of follow on telephoto lenses going forward).
Cameta
$320 E300 body only - demo/delivered (40-150mm lens is going for ~$200...)


Body+2-lens systems available, delivered, as Factory Demo kits w/1-year warranty going for between:
$500 (E-300)
$620 (E-500).


B&H has the E-500 2-lens kit, after rebate, delivered new at $713. I haven't found the E300 w/2-lens kits available new...

I'm somewhat hesitant on the E-300 system as it appears the E500 has improvements on the AF metering and other improvements but the demo pricing is attractive.
My requests are these:
1. Am I deluding myself on the possible image improvements with the entry dSLR?
2. Anyone w/experience/ opinions on the E300/E500 systems being considered?

3. Given the possible pricing on a demo system, is the ~10-15% discount for a demo w/1-year warranty versus a new system appropriate?

4. Would I be better off going w/a FZ30 for ~$500 and forgo the dSLR lust? I hesitate going this route as there would be little reason for keeping the FZ5. My thought at this time is that the FZ5 would compliment the dSLR range/capabilities. (Of course, ideally, I'd sell the FZ5 and buy both the FZ30 and the entry dSLR but...)
argh, decisions, decisions...
Thanks in adavnce for the valued responses...!
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Old May 25, 2006, 7:44 PM   #2
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Hi Tele

Hey an interesting dilema and one that quiet a few of us are having to face. I had the crazzy DSLR itch for months and it was driving me nuts. I've got over it for now and am patiently waiting for the L1 DSLR to show and read the reviews before commiting to any upgrade.

The FZ's are and have been pretty spectacular with the image quality, lens quality and at the price point . As a learning tool I have found my FZ10 fantastic and because i have learned like many others to work around the cams limitation to produce some really nice images - I posted the shoots from my 1hr shoot the other day for critique at the dgrin forum where nearly all of them are DSLR, mostly Canon users and they have not been able to tell that the shots I posted have come from a 1.5 year old 4MP digicam. However, like many others I want to be able to do low light photography, get that extra detail, be able to have more control over DOF, etc and that does mean having to look at a DSLR unless the FZ40 is able to keep all of the best features of the FZ's and add a larger sensor with very clean ISO's. Theres also the Sony R1 but that suits my style of shooting and is a different beast.

I think everything will come down to your shooting style and what you want to shoot. For, example I hardly go past 6x optical zoom, mostly working 1-3x zoom with my FZ. So I'd be happy even with a Sony r1/R2 or the DMC L1 with the 14-50mm Leica. I think you need to say ok, how much do I have to spend and then see what fits within that budget. The Oly E500 2 lens kit is a cracking buy - the zukio lenses, even the kits lenses are superior to the Canon and Nikon versions and size wise slightly smaller. Noise wise the OLy E500 is pretty good, not as good as the Canon 350XT but its pretty close indeed. Not sure on the E300 - all the reviews show that the the E500 is the better cam and with the E500 you'd also be able to get that Leica 14-50mm lens at a later stage. The Canon/Nikon low end I think pretty much will be replaced in the next few months so you may be able to get some pretty decent deals although not with a good quality 300-400mm zoom lens. Also there will be a new Sony DLSR with inbody IS - basically the KM5D replacement so yo may want to seriosuly look at that - lots of nice high quality KM glass on the 2nd hand market and you get IS for free and with every lens.

I won;t add any more as its pretty confusing as it is. You may want to find out from Squirll (30D), Raynier (Rduve - KM5D) and the others that have switched over to DSLR.

Cheers

HarjTT


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Old May 25, 2006, 8:11 PM   #3
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Harjtt-

Thanks! Your commentsconfirm that you knowwhere I'm at, coming from and am trying to get to...

;-}
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Old May 27, 2006, 12:04 AM   #4
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Hi,

I can only recommend the upgrade to dSLR. I traded up from a FZ10 to the Canon 350D and love it!
There are a number of reason why I went dSLR and why the Canon 350D.

Why dSLR?
-Depth of field: I just picked up the Canon 50mm f1.8 and when combined with the much larger sensor on the 350D you have a really shallow depth of field making it great for portraits
-Dynamic range: Again with the large sensor and CMOS detector the dynamic range is better than the FZ series which means less blown highlights.
-Speed: Faster startup, faster focus, faster burst
-High ISO performance: With the 350D at least the images are still quite usable at ISO 1600!
-Optical viewfinder: while smaller than SLR viewfinders it is still a big improvement over EVF's.
-Lens choice: You have so many choices with Canon/Nikon lenses, great fast long primes or real wide angle lenses like the sigma 10-20mm. You just cant go wide on the Fz series.

Why the 350D.
-Canon is the biggest company with the largest lens line up and I doubt it will be going bankrupt any time soon.
-Again on the lens from I was considering the Nikon D50 but I couldnt find the lenses I really wanted in the Nikon range (no 70-300 IS lens).
-Best image quality of any entry model dSLR, although some others are pretty close.

Of course there are down sides to dSLR and cost is one of them. If you want the best possible image quality you do need to spend a lot of money. But you can still get great images from cheaper lenses. I will be getting the Canon 70-300 IS lens and the sigma 17-70 lens and combined with the 50mm f1.8 costs about $1500 AU but you do end up with 27-480mm in just two lenses. Then there is the problem of carrying all this equipment but I havent had a problem with this as I got a Crumpler camera/laptop back pack so the camera goes where ever I go.

So I would recommend going to dSLR and especially Canon but it all comes down to finding the best tool to fit your needs.

PS. I should also add that I am heading to Africa (Botswana, Zambia, Namibia, Sth Africa) for almost two months and wanted the best camera that I could afford to take so it made spending the money on the camera a bit easier to justify.

Cheers

Treemonkey


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Old May 27, 2006, 1:26 AM   #5
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Unlike the others Dave, I would recommend the FZ30 ! I've taken close to 18,000 pictures with mine and at this point in time wouldn't trade it for any DSLR ! I don't care to have to be cleaning the dust from the sensor everytime I changed the lens etc. I have found the only limitation of the FZ30 to be noise issues above 100 ISO, and that hasn't been any problem for me! I think you would see a major improvement in the FZ30 from the FZ5......and you would save a ton of money! Jim
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Old May 27, 2006, 7:19 AM   #6
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Tele

here's an interesting thread on dpreivew's Pana forum (applies to this one):

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/re...ssage=18445141

Regards the FZ30, we all know that in good light the FZ's can get some cracking shots and with the TCON17 you would be getting a lot of reach and we all work with the ISO limitation already. I would wait to see what the FZ40 is like before deciding on what to do. If the 40 gets a larger sensor, a bigger faster lens (in diameter and apeture) a 0.5MP EVF then it would be a contender for me as well.

Cheers

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Old May 29, 2006, 11:14 PM   #7
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tiger98 wrote:
Quote:
Unlike the others Dave, I would recommend the FZ30 ! I've taken close to 18,000 pictures with mine and at this point in time wouldn't trade it for any DSLR ! I don't care to have to be cleaning the dust from the sensor everytime I changed the lens etc. I have found the only limitation of the FZ30 to be noise issues above 100 ISO, and that hasn't been any problem for me! I think you would see a major improvement in the FZ30 from the FZ5......and you would save a ton of money! Jim
I owned an FZ30 and trying to take pictures in less than perfect light it just doesn't cut it.I'll go one further and state that I found it usable at 200 ISO. As for cleaning sensors every time you change lenses... that just isn't true unless you change your lens in a dusty condition. Also if you buy the right lens with the right range you hardly ever have to change it. The FZ30 is a great ultrazoomcamera, but the 100-200ISO limitation isn't a realistic option for most people.


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Old May 29, 2006, 11:51 PM   #8
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Meanstreak, I have to disagree with your statement about not having to clean the sensor unless you change lens in a dusty condition. I believe Spy and Squirl found dust on their sensors when they received their cameras! Regarding the 100 - 200 ISO limitation I quess it would depend on how you were going to use your camera as to whether that would be a deterant ! I was aware of the ISO factor when I bought my camera and have no regrets. In fact after having the camera for about 9 months and taking 18K pictures I would buy it again and recommend it. I certainly wouldn't say the 100 to 200 ISO would make the camera not a realistic option for most people.
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Old May 30, 2006, 10:56 AM   #9
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Interestingly enough, I have wound up purchasing a new FZ30 over the weekend. Doing my due diligence, I came to the realization that, for my main interests, it would be cost prohibitive to go the dSLR route at this time and get the lens reach/IQthat I want to maintain at the high end of the focal range.

As Jim/Tiger points out, its well established that the Pany FZ series are designed for lots of light and favor low noise reduction to maintain the detail aspects that a small sensor will inherently have. Its also well known that low light and the need for the higher ISO ranges are not its strong points... so what? I have Neat Image and PSE4 for those ocassions when I'm pushing up against those issues as I don't expect to be taking many photos of Raptors after dusk...

Its amazing how one's perspectives can sometimes bepainted with such a broad brush to apply to any and all. I'm just not ready to state that what features I'm looking for are what everyone else should desire and purchase.

At any rate, FWIW,many thanks to those that chose to offer their valued perspectives and suggestions! If I had been able to find a dSLR/lens combo for my budget that offered me the reach/IQ approaching that of the FZ30, I would have gone that route. Sure, give me 6-months or so and I'll probably pick up a Nikon D50 as Genece recently did. And, yes, like he's posted, will fast get the itch to spend the big $ to get the lens reach/IQ and knownadvantages that it offers.

For $600-700, I could have got the D50 w/ a 40-200 lens to get me to the 350mm length but I found the next step above that would be mucho $'s. But, as I realized, my current budget isn't there yet and the FZ30, despite its known limitations, has those features/advantages I'm looking for... and for <$500.
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Old May 30, 2006, 12:02 PM   #10
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Tel

Well done mate! Just glad we could help - its a tough decision to make and we all need some kind of advise if were unsure. I was going to reply earlier abotu the noise issue - its a non issue in good light - we all know that to get the best shots out of the FZ's has to be at ISO50-100 and possibly ISO200 and have learned to adapt. If its low light and I'm shooting at ISO50-100 I'm quiet often having to take the shot at -1EVF and more than often at -2EVF or even lower and then push the image in PSHOP and it works at least 50-60% of the time. For the kind of pictures that you want to take (outside in good light) I think the FZ30 has shown that it is more than good enough.

If you need to shoot without flash and indoors 6months from now then theirs always the D50/KM5D/350XT/OlyE500 + a nice fast prime lens.

Cheers

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