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Old Jun 28, 2006, 2:00 AM   #1
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I've been meaning to comment on this for ages, now that the FZ30's been discontinued and it's too late to change anything I guess I can post the following :-). It's a couple of minor things I'd have liked to have changed on the FZ30 if I had a chance, one design flaw and two nits:

Design flaw: The position of the <^> control and the speaker are reversed. As you normally hold the camera, your thumb covers the speaker holes, but on the other hand is nowhere near the <^>, where it needs to be quite a bit of the time (for things like exposure comp.setting, and re-setting any custom options you've enabled, see below). The speaker-hole location is just a minor nuisance, but having to move your whole hand to allow your thumb to get to the <^> is a major pain. Fix: Swap the positions of the two.

Function reassignment: The stabiliser mode button next to the shutter release is pretty much pointless, this is probably one of the least-used options on the camera: You set it once when you first get the camera, and that's it. This could be replaced with a desperately-needed reset-settings facility that resets burst mode, auto-bracket, exposure comp, flash comp, etc in one go, instead of having to hunt through a pile of menus to do this. I don't know how many times I've been shooting with some custom setting and then either quickly needed to reset to defaults and missed the shot because it takes too long to fiddle with the various options, or been distracted by something (for example moving to a new location) and then messed up the next shot because I'd forgotten that I had some specialised custom setting enabled. Conversely, when you do remember to reset things, it's a painful hunt through a pile of menus to manually back out of any custom settings you may be using.

(It's a pity that Panasonic don't supply an SDK and don't do firmware updates, this is probably a trivial software change from toggleStabiliser() on button-press to resetSettings()).

Function reassignment: The thumbwheels are underutilised, and the exposure compensation (probably the most frequently-used option on the <^> control) is a pain to set. Only one of the thumbwheels is ever used in any mode except manual, it'd be better to always use the rear one for the variable parameter (program shift/aperture/shutter speed, depending on the mode), and then free up the front one to allow easy setting of exposure compensation. The one exception to this is manual mode, where you need both thumbwheels, but since you're using manual control you can't use the exposure comp. facility anyway.
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Old Jun 29, 2006, 11:29 PM   #2
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These complaints do seem like nitpicking at this point. Very few people really complain much about the camera.

I completely agree with your points however. There's no doubt those would be useful improvements, especially the last one.
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Old Jul 4, 2006, 3:26 AM   #3
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The fact that they're so minor is an indication of how happy I am with the camera otherwise, you really have to look hard to find anything to complain about.

I saw a comment in another thread about a better way of handling the useless stabiliser-mode button: Have two user-definable buttons that work like the current user-definable scene modes, where you have a bundle of options and can choose the two you like best to assign via the usual menu system. In the other thread the person who suggested this was after a "Shoot the next photo in RAW mode instead of what I've selected now", which would be another extremely useful option for people who don't normally use the storage-intensive RAW mode - every now and then you'll want to capture a particularly amazing scene in RAW mode for extra flexibility, and have to spend forever getting there and back via the menu system.
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Old Jul 4, 2006, 10:11 AM   #4
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If only manufacturers would listen to their customers they could build better products.
It seems you can never find the perfect anything, they will add some great new feature and then mess up something else for the sake of cost I suppose. Oh Lord, how I would love to be able to buy these expensive dslr's but not able right now.
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Old Jul 4, 2006, 10:31 AM   #5
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pilgrim4jc wrote:
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If only manufacturers would listen to their customers they could build better products
Hmm, can you imagine the typical customer-driver digicam? It'd run Linux, take 8 minutes to boot (after scrolling 300 lines of driver diagnostics on the LCD display), be configured via a sendmail.cf-like script (that changes in the next version to Perl, then to Python, then to JavaScript), have a built-in full ASCII keyboard to control it, try and run bootp over 802.11 when you power it on, and have 37 different skins for the user interface, but when you wanted to change the exposure comp you'd have to go to the command-line and rebuild the kernel to have it take effect.

Sometimes it's better when the vendors don't listen to every user request...
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