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Old Jun 5, 2006, 12:16 AM   #1
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I just bough an FZ20 and this morning I went out in the backyard and took some random shots using my Sony DH17581.7x tele converter. Ibought the Raynox 52mm adapter RT5264P just so I can also use the Raynox DCR 6600PRO WA converter.Also, I have the Fotodiox extra thing 52mm-58mm step up ringso the tele can be attached to it. Although I bought the Sony tele primarilybecause of my H1, I find it to be an awesome lens. It works perfectly not onlywith my H1 butmy S2 (which I sold) and now the FZ20 as well.Despite having it attached to a 52mm adapter + step up ring, at full zoom (12x - 72mm) I noticed absolutely no vignetting.

Unfortunately, I amnot that impressed with the FZ20 (the Sony H1 is by far a much better camera, despite the fact that it does not carry the Carl Zeiss lens). After shooting over 100 pictures changing the metering setting from Matrix to Center weight (and vice-versa) and exposure compensation from normal to -0.3 (and vice-versa - I did not use anything above 0 since I noticed that at 0 some images were already over exposed). I took many pictures of birds and it was a mixed bag (actually, more pictures were bad than good). I tried spot focus and single focus. I found spot focus when using the tele hand held (which was the case here)to bevery difficult since the AF areais a tiny square at the center of the EVF.

The last thing I want to mention is that I did not shoot in TIFF format. I had the camera set to its highest MP and finest compression. The ISO was set to 80 at all timesand WB setto AUTO. I used the EVF rather than the LCD. No flash was used.

Here's what I didn't like:
  • Noise. Even though, as I stated, I had the camera ISOset to80, I found visible noise in many pictures, specially if cropping. It was a very bright morning and there was plenty of sunlight. [/*]
  • The camera makes a clicking noise every time the amount of light going into the camera changes. It has something to do with the LCD/EVF dealing with light. Is this normal or the camera has a problem? My H1 and the S2 do not make any noise at all. It can be very aggravating. [/*]
  • The metering mode is very inconsistent. I shot many objects setting switching between center weight and matrix but could not come up with a definite pattern. What does that mean? Well, if you want the best quality picture, you must take double shot of every subject, one with each setting and then pick the best. NOT! [/*]
  • Battery life is certainly a problem. OK, I've used the menus quite a bit, changing settings and such. However, I did not use flash or LCD, I took a little over 100 pictures and the first bar on the battery icon is already gone. Now, I don;t know if the Panasonic battery icon is very accurate, meaning that I truly have two thirds of the battery left, in which case, it's awesome. My experience with camera battery icons is that it takes along time before the first indicator bar is gone and then, the battery dies not long after that. I also dislike proprietary batteries forthey become a necessary extra expense. I haven't bought any spare batteries until I decide to keep the camera. We'll see. [/*]
  • Flash does not pop up automatically. Greatfeature of the H1. I don't understand the rational behind such a design (the S2 is exactly the same). If you set the camera to auto flash, the camera should make the flash pop up automatically whenever needed and that's all there is to it. [/*]
  • EVF located on the far left is not that practical (OK, perhaps I'm too used to my H1 EVF being around the middle). I find it easier to get the horizon crooked because of that (maybe it's just me).
What I liked:[/*]
  • Colors are good and accurate (as long as you don't use the "color effect=warm" for it will destroy your images). [/*]
  • Good response, no shutter lag considering that this model is almost two years old). [/*]
  • Menu is easy to navigate. [/*]
  • Buttons in the back of the camera are placed away from your thumb, so you won't press anything by mistake while taking a picture (that's an advantageby having a bigger body - there's plenty of room to place the control buttons). [/*]
  • Manual focus. Although I haven't used it yet, it was one of the main reasons I decided to buy the camera. Most other camera's MF system are cumbersome to use, to say the least. [/*]
  • Hot shoe. Again, I haven't had a chance to use external flash but this is another feature that helped with my decision.[/*]
OK, now let me show some of the shots I took. I'll comment onthem a little bit. Since there are too many, I'll post multiple topics.

Let's start with birds shots. This first picture turned out pretty decent, with great amount of detail (I can see thespider web on the plant). However, I find it very noisy.
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Old Jun 5, 2006, 12:18 AM   #2
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Again, good detail but very noisy for a bright sunny day (you can see the sun shinning on the edge of the leaves).
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Old Jun 5, 2006, 12:20 AM   #3
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Need I say anything? This time the noise is not even in the dark areas but on the blue sky!
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Old Jun 5, 2006, 12:23 AM   #4
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Now this is an OKshot. Too bad the bird was hidden between so many leaves.
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Old Jun 5, 2006, 12:25 AM   #5
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Sillhouette...I would expect this picture to be very noisy as well but...NO. It actually looks very clean. This is what I mean by inconsistencies.
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Old Jun 5, 2006, 12:28 AM   #6
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Last bird shot. Even though I cropped quite a bit, the picture looks clean. Once again, lots of details.However, using metering set to center-weight over exposed the image a bit.
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Old Jun 5, 2006, 1:11 AM   #7
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Tullio,

that's quite a laundrylist of things you don't like. perhaps coming from another superzoom, you're not as impressed with the FZ's optics, but the Leica lens on the FZ20 is capable of some truly amazing things. i don't know about the teleconverter you have... not all TC's work well with all cameras.the Sony is a reasonably good quality TC, but by far the best one for use with the FZ20 is the Olympus TCON-14B.

it seems noise is a big concern for you. i don't know how noisy the H1 is, but did you shoot side-by-side shots for comparison? i know the FZ20 can be a bit noisy, especially in shadows (and yes, in clear blue sky), but it's really no worse than average for its class.

battery life isn't the FZ's strongest suit. expect about 220-240 shots per charge... which coincides nicely with the number of shots you can fit on a 512MB SD card! spare batteries can be had for $10-$15 on eBay, and i've used them for over a year with no problems. it's not terribly expensive to keep a couple of spares, and toss them in your kit bag when you head out for a day's shooting.

true, the flash doesn't pop up automatically. but hey, it doesn't do that on my $1400 Canon 30D, either! it ain't that hard to push the button, and i found that i seldom use the flash on my FZ20 anyway, except on rare occasions as a fill-flash.

the clicking noise you hear is the camera metering. has nothing to do with the LCD or EVF, but it's perfectly normal. you get used to it. metering can be a little tricky, but i found that using single area or center-weighted metering works well, and spot metering for those times when you need to meter on a specific object. i use the 1-area focus mostly, and spot focus when i'm shooting subjects in a "busy" background. for the most part, it works pretty well.

like i mentioned in my post on the other forum where you mentioned your initial disappointment with the FZ20, give it time. learn how to use it, and how to make the most of what it can do. since you already have a superzoom (your H1 is also 12x, isn't it?), you won't find that a novelty, and you may decide you only need one and sell the FZ, but don't shortchange it before you give it a chance. that Leica lens can do wonderful things, if you know how to use it.

just to show you what the FZ20 can do, here are a few shots i've taken with mine. most have had some PP done, either sharpening, cropping, or perhaps a bit of a boost to contrast, and many have been run through Neat Image (but then, i even do that for some of the shots from my Canon! if you look, you can find noise in ANY digital image... ), but the end results look pretty good in print... so don't give up, and don't sell the FZ short. like any camera it has good points and bad, but overall, it's one of the better ones in its class...
















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Old Jun 5, 2006, 2:41 PM   #8
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Hi Squirl, thanks very much for your comments. I can't argue with you when you post such beautiful pictures taken with your FZ20. However, based on what you said, there's quite a bit of PP done to them so we can't really compare your PP shots with my out-of-the-camera shots (OK I did crop them some). You're right, noise is a big factor for me and, no, I did not take the same exact shots with my H1. However, I dohave plenty of similarshots taken with it and I can tell you, virtually no noise at all at the lowest ISO in good light condition. I also agree that not all teleconverters work equally on every camera. Perhaps this is my problem. The Sony tele is awesome and it works very well with the H1 as it did with the S2. But, with both cameras the tele was attached directly on the 58mm adapter. With the Pana, I have a 62-52mm adapter and then a 52-58mm step up ring, which places the tele further from the camera lens and that could be the source of the problem. I was thinking about buying the Pamaraal 62-58mm adapter, in which case I could eliminate the need for the step up ring but was hoping I did not have to carry two different adapters, one for the tele and another for the WA. I guess if I keep the camera I will have to buy the58mm adapter to, if nothing else, makesure the tele works OK with the FZ20.Yes, the H1 is also a 12x zoom.

Unfortunately, I don't have very many pictures here at work but I found some I took with my H1, which can give you an idea of image quality it produces.

This first one was taken in the middle of the afternoon. No visible noise in the blue of the sky or on the blacksilhouette of the trees. No PP at all.
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Old Jun 5, 2006, 2:45 PM   #9
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This bird was sitting in the middle of lots of leaves and branches. Lighting was limited so I used metering center-weight. Again, no visible noise and no PP except for cropping.
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Old Jun 5, 2006, 2:47 PM   #10
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This one against the blue sky. The bird was pretty far away so I had to crop quite a bit. The branches have incredible detail.
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