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miked2372 Oct 16, 2006 5:27 AM


I am looking to upgrade my standard p&s to a camera that will give me a lot more flexibility aswell as expandability for the future as I would like to look into photography in more detail. I looked at the standard H5, S3 FZ7 etc but a while back I was in Jessops and the guy showed me an FZ30 and I just loved the feel of it!!

Now the FZ50 has come out and I wanted peoples input as to if I should just go straight to the 50 or buy a 30 as my local Jessops has one on sale for £299!!

Another camera I was thinking about was the Sony R1 as I have seen one for £399 but Iam not sure if I want to sacrifice the zoom range of the Panny even though the Image quality is that much better.

The other option is a budget DSLR but I am not certain that I want to carry lot's of kit around. I have seen a refurbed Olympus E500 with 12 months warranty for £299 and that really caught my eye but again I am wondering about further expense re new lenses etc!!

I have been reading up here for a while and am really impressed with everyones pics and just so you have some background on what I would use it for, it would be mainly for pics of my 2 year old/holidays/days out/family gatherings/in the garden etc but as I said before, I would love to expand my knowledge of photography more.

Thanks in advance for any replies, they are much appreciated.


milrodpxpx Oct 16, 2006 9:01 AM

it sounds like you'll be doing a fair amount of low light/indoor portrait and family shooting, with some outdoor stuff. having owned a panasonic fz30 and now a pentax *istDL, if you are interesting in learning about photography and expanding your knowledge (and it sounds like you are) i would definitely go the budget DSLR route.

The Prosumer camera models (FZ30/50, sony h5 etc.) are really just glorified point and shoots. manual functions are at your fingertips, but you're still using a tiny sensor for your images, and the quality suffers as a result, especially in low light. i loved the zoom of the fz30, but superzoom really is just a gimmick. if you're taking lots of family/indoors/portrait type photos you'll never use it anyways.

after having a DSLR for a few months now, i've discovered the wonder of fixed (no zoom!) lenses - it is a wonder where your feet can get you! and it also makes you think about framing the shot more, which gives you the time to compose and make sure all your settings are correct as well. While i did enjoy the FZ30 while i had it, the more i learnt on it, the more i realized what i was missing. get the DSLR, you'll be happy in the end!

oh, if you do go the dSLR route, don't limit yourself to a particular brand because of cost. make sure you actually go to the store and try out each camera to get a feel for what you like, and consider the system you're buying into. Pentax did happen to be the cheapest camera at the time, but i'm really enjoying it and the lenses can be found very cheaply due to their excellent backwards compatibility. others will recommend other brands too, so give them all a shot and see what you like you can't lose with a dslr if you're willing to learn!

miked2372 Oct 18, 2006 7:27 AM

As an update, the FZ30 option I have passed on as the £299 one has gone and I that and the FZ50 are roughly the same proce on the net as far as I can see.

I think I have to pass on the SLR for now aswell as even though I can get a budget DSLR with kit lens for roughly the same price I do not have the funds to expandon lenses at the moment and I think that will frustrate me if a certain picture opportunity comes up and I do currently have a lens that will fit the requirements. I know I can get decent lenses for not that much that should cover most bases but I am narrowing my options at the moment and if I do want to grow more into photography then I will have to save to be able to purchase a nice SLR kit!!

So, the fz50 or R1 it is!! Is the image quality on the R1 that much better to forego the extra zoom and expense or should I pass on the image quality issue (especially as as far as I can see the FZ is a great camera!!) and use the more expandable (and cheaper) FZ??

mtngal Oct 18, 2006 5:20 PM

You've asked a hard question, and there isn't a "right" or "wrong" answer to it. I bought the FZ30 and sold it after a month because the image quality issue bothered me way more than my personal dislike for carting around extra weight. However, the person who bought it from me still loves it and the quality isperfect for her - she has no desire to get anything else.

I had originally owned a Sony F717 and loved it, but always wanted a longer zoom. That meant that there was no way I was going to be happy with the R1, which isn't as long as the F717,but it is wider. Lots of people could care less about telephoto, but would really appreciate the wide angle. So it comes down to what compromises you are willing to make - if you are interested in birding, get the FZ50. If you're going to take pictures of your kids in the backyard and the FZ50's quality will drive you nuts (it might or might not), then get the R1. If you want both higherquality and a long lens, then you are going to be looking at a dSLR.

Just remember, quality is relative and depends on the person looking at the results.

wolfroolz Oct 19, 2006 6:50 AM

I owned a FZ-30 for about 3 months and then decided to sell it and upgrade to a "budget" SLR. I put "budget" in quotes, because even at those prices they arent really fitting into a low budget. Still however, and especially if you want to get more into photography I would try to see if you can swing a DSLR. I know now that I regret buying the FZ30 as its now costing me more in the long run, and putting off my purchase of a second lens.

However, I am not knocking the FZ-30, it is a great camera. I loved the controls, the weight for what it did was great, and the no extra gear thing was a blessing. I took some really great shots with it too. If you have good light and you can bring that zoom lens out ot play it is just pure pleasure. The fallback to it though is that it has noise issues. Even at its lowest ISO setting I usually ran it through a noise reduction program at very light settings, at anything over than that you run into heavier post processing. At 200 iso, it will swing a 8x10. Not at quiet the clarity I hoped for, but definitly decent. At 400 iso, even with post processing, I would not go anything over a 4x6. IF you are mainly gonna shoot in good light then I would highly recommend the FZ-30. In fact I actually have a quam about selling mine because I don't have a lens yet that will cover that zoom and I know it can do some really great shots. This is just more of a buyer beware post. Even after reading the reviews, and knowing about the noise issues, I didnt think it would be that big a deal since I am very comfortable in photoshop and enjoy the post-processing. But anything in low light, or even in dim light but action, you are going to run into issues that post-processing can not fully compensate for.

Don't have much insight into the R1. I have never used it/read reviews about it.


miked2372 Oct 24, 2006 4:16 AM

Looking into this further how much zoom range doeseveryone feel theaverage user really needs?

I will be shooting mainly pictures of my 2 year old son in whatever situations, and also pics of family and friends, holiday photos which would include landscapes etc and phootos of plants and animals on days out.

The zoom range of the FZ is really hard to beat on an SLR unless you are willing to part with a lot of cash but is that range really necessary unless you are shooting wildlife? I have seen the E500 twin lens kit for £500 and I believe that gives a range of 300mm in 35mm equivalent (please correct me if I am wrong on this!!).Do you thinkthat would be enough to cover me for the majority of situations I may find myself in?

Also, how do you translate the mm zoom range to the x factor that compacts use ie 3x optical zoom??

Thanks for the replies

Mark123 Oct 24, 2006 9:13 AM

Mike, where did you see the R1 for £399, as I may be interested in one at that price.

miked2372 Oct 24, 2006 9:29 AM


Have a look at your local Jessops as I have seen them there for that price!! I think they are getting rid of their stock!!


JimC Oct 24, 2006 9:35 AM

miked2372 wrote:

Also, how do you translate the mm zoom range to the x factor that compacts use ie 3x optical zoom??
When comparing non-DSLR models, the manufacturers usually give the "35mm equivalent" focal range in their specfications, even though the actual focal length of their lenses is much shorter.

So, you will typically see numbers like 35-105mm or 28-85mm in their specs.

That's what you want to look at. The x numbers (1x, 2x, 3x, 4x, etc.) don't tell you anything about the amount of optical zoom you have. They're only telling you the difference between wide and long.

For example, a 35-105mm is a 3x lens (35mm x 3 = 105mm)

A 100-300mm lens is also a 3x (100mm x 3 = 300mm). Yet, one offers 3 times the apparent magnification on the long end versus the other one. ;-)

Some lenses start out wider than others. So, you really need to look at the 35mm equivalent focal range in the specs to get a better idea of how they compare.

With a DSLR, it's a little more complicated, since these models usually have the actual focal lengths listed for their lenses. As a result, you have to mulitply the focal length by some value to see how their angle of view compares to the same focal length lens on a 35mm cameras.

For Nikon, Pentax, Konica Minolta and Sony DSLR models (these all use the same size Sony sensor), use 1.5x (a 50mm lens would have the same angle of view that a 75mm lens on a 35mm camera would have, since 50mm x 1.5 = 75mm).

For entry level Canon DSLR models, use 1.6X

For Olympus DSLR models, use 2x (these models have the smallest sensors of any of the popular DSLR models, so you'll have a narrower angle of view/more apparent magnification for a given focal length lens with them).

Here is a handy chart that you may find useful. Note that it assumes a lens is being used on a 35mm camera (so compute the 35mm equivalent first if shopping for DSLR lenses). If you click on a focal length at the bottom of the graphics and watch what happens to the angle of view (longer focal length = more apparent magnification = narrower angle of view):

kenbalbari Oct 24, 2006 9:48 AM


Also, how do you translate the mm zoom range to the x factor that compacts use ie 3x optical zoom??
You simply divide the maximum by the minimum zoom. So the Olympus kit lenses, which cover 14-150 (28mm-300mm equivalent) cover a 10.7x zoom range. And a typical point and shoot covering 35mm-105mm equivalent would be 3x.

This is not the same as telescopes or binoculars that show a magnification of 4x or 6x.

To determine that, treat 50mm as "normal". So the typical 3x zoom point and shoot is really only about 2x magnification. Whereas 300mm is really 6x magnification, and 400mm about 8x magnification. But the marketing on cameras will not tell you this number.

My suggestion for your purposes would be to combine a Pentax K100D with a Sigma 18-125mm lens (about $240). That would cover a 27mm-180mm range. Then add the Pentax 50mm f1.4 (under $200) for when you really need a lower light lens and your set for most of your shooting.

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