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Old Apr 22, 2008, 3:29 AM   #1
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Hi all,

I am relatively new to photgraphy. I bought a second hand Lumix FZ-5 a couple of years ago and it still serves me well, but it doesn't do everything that I need as well as I need.

I spend much of my time photographing palm trees for my website. In larger, outdoor environments this is often quite easy, but I am frequently in glasshouses, and have to try to take photo's of mature trees that may be 50' tall or more, but I can't get more than 10' away from them. I appreciate that no lens, even fisheyes, would be wide angled enough to get the whole tree, but I would like to be able to get as much of the tree as possible into the shot. There have been occasions when I have ended up with a photo of a leaf.

That is the main dilemma, but there are other requirements. Sometimes, I have to take the photo's in fairly deep shade, because they are in amongst several larger plants. Sometimes, my only option is to take a photo with the sun immediately behind the tree and lots of shade at the bottom of the tree, which seems to cause problems, firstly getting colour into the tree and secondly getting any detail in the shaded areas.

There are other issues, but I'm sure you have probably got most of the picture of my requirements.

I assume I need a DSLR of some kind to get the kind of wide angle I would need, but which one would be best for my requirements.

By the way, I also need good zoom capability as well to get close ups of fruit and flowers that may be 50' or more up in the air.

Any help would be much apprecaited.

Thanks,

Corey.
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Old Apr 22, 2008, 8:42 AM   #2
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The FZ-5 you're using now doesn't go very wide (35mm film equivalent focal length of 35mm) and that's why you're having trouble getting shots of tall trees in confined spaces.

And as far as the low light problem goes, the FZ-5 has a maximum aperture of f/2.8 which is as good as it gets for a zoom lens of any kind. For faster lenses (lenses with a larger maximum aperture to let in more light), you'll need to go with a dSLR and fixed focal length lenses. That means you'll have to change lenses when going from shooting the tree to shooting the fruit or flowers.

Newer P&S digicams and bridge cameras can do better than your FZ-5 at higher ISO settings (lower light), but they rarely have lenses with maximum apertures as large as what you've got now, so I think that's a wash.

The FZ-5 has image stabilization, which allows you to use longer shutter speeds without motion blur due to camera shake, and if you replace it, that is something you should definately look for in a replacement.
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Old Apr 22, 2008, 10:20 AM   #3
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So I would need a DSLR to get the wide angle I would need. From what I've read they are much better than compacts in lower light anyway. I realize I wouldn't be able to do everything that I want with one lens, at least not well, but I still don't know which camera would be best and I don't know how much difference there is between 18mm, 14mm and 12mm focal lengths. Plus I assume I should look for a camera with the lowest possible lens multiplier in my budget to make the most of the short focal length.
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Old Apr 22, 2008, 1:00 PM   #4
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Neofolis-

I use both DSLR cameras as well a digicams regularly. I have had a very sage friend quantify DSLR and digicams, rather wisely. He said to me that a DSLR camera is a continuing investment program, whereas a digicam is a single investment.

I can suggest a digicam that will probably handle your problem quite well. I would suggest a Panasonic TZ-5, a rather amazing camera. It has two key features that would indeed be very beneficial for you. (1) a 28mm wide angle (2) a 16:9 format. By combining those two features together, you can achieve an effective 24 to 25mmspan in your photo. This is possible due to the larger sized imager the TZ-5 uses.

Here in the USA, the TZ-5camera is selling for less than $(US) 300.00. That is substantially less than any consumer level DSLR camera and the needed lenses. IMHO, it is a matter of choosing the right tool for the job, while keeping expense in mind. The TZ-5 is also a great deal smaller and much easier to transport than any DSLR camera.

Yesterday, I was helping a man who sells Recreational Vehicles on the internet. As you might expect, he has little room in which to take his photos. So as an experiment, I took a sample photo in our great room, in the landscape format, to see how much linear feet of wall span I could cover and how effectively would the TZ-5's built-in flash would light that span. In thetest shot, shown in the photo attached to this post, I was standing back just 8 feet from the wall on which I was attempting to get the greatest linear span. The photo spans almost 22 feet, measuring in a longitudinal plane, while standing just 8 feet from the test wall. I also attached another photo showing you how small the TZ-5 really is.

I hope this might be helpful to you. Have a great day.

Sarah Joyce




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Old Apr 23, 2008, 6:16 AM   #5
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Thanks again Sarah. The one thing that has illustrated to me is that I would need wider angle than that and I suspect as wide as I can get would still not be wide enough. I assume from what I have read that the 24-25mm you mention would be the same as using a 16 or 17mm lens on most DSLR's with the lens multiplier taken into account giving about the same 24-25mm.

I also assume 12mm would be my lowest option lens without using a fisheye and, short of spending several thousand, I would end up with a lens multiplier of at least 1.5x. I was wondering then, which would be my best camera/lens combination to give me the widest angle with the least distortion/barrel roll.

I notice the Kodak E510 ships with a 12-24mm kit lens, but that camera has a 2x multiplier. I don't need live view, but image stabilising would be nice, although I'm not fussed whether it is built into the body or the lens. I would definitely prefer an anti-dust system, but being able to fill the widest angle criteria is the most important factor.
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Old Apr 23, 2008, 7:36 AM   #6
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In your situation a P&S won't cut it. I would suggest any of the 1.5x - 1.6x crop cameras and a Sigma 10-20mm lens. This is going to be the widest on abudget that you will get.

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"There are lots of options on bodies so I would check out other threads here for info and ask anything else that you would like to know.
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Old Apr 23, 2008, 8:18 AM   #7
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Corey, for the kind of shots you describe I use the excellent Tokina 10-17 "fisheye" on my dSLR... and then I de-fish using either PhotoShop's various tools or a de-fishing-specific software such as PTLens. Results are excellent.
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Old Apr 24, 2008, 3:45 AM   #8
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Thanks everyone. Henry, would you be able to post a picture taken with the fisheye lens before and after being defished, so I can get an idea of the results that can be achieved.
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Old Apr 24, 2008, 8:56 AM   #9
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Sure will. I'm at work just now, and will try to remember to do so for you this evening.
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Old Apr 24, 2008, 10:49 AM   #10
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Thank you, I look forward to it. In the meantime I'll have a look for the PTLens website, as I guess that will probably show some examples.
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