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Old Nov 29, 2009, 11:44 AM   #1
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Default Powershot SX20 vs Lumix FZ35

I have heard from others that the FZ35 works better at higher ISO settings. Would this make the lumix better than the canon even though it is a little less zoom and the video codec is not as good as the canon. The canon has a hotshoe feature and records stereo video. The canon has the LCD screen that moves and uses AA batteries. Do all of these features combined make the canon better or is the quality difference in the ISO of the lumix enough to sway the purchase of it. I am not an expert and need help deciding which one to buy.
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Old Nov 29, 2009, 1:01 PM   #2
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linkinyeah-

Welcome to the Forum. We are glad you dropped by.

If it were my choice, I would select the Panasonic FZ-35 without hesitation. Why you might ask? The FZ-35 can produce far better image quality at numerically higher ISO settings, topping out at ISO 800. In contrast, the SX-20 has that hot shoe for a reason, it is ISO limited, after ISO 200, the noise becomes very visible as you move upward on the ISO scale. The FZ-35 uses a proprietary battery. AA Batteries are problematic and self discharge quickly. The vidio on the FZ-35 is also stereo. The codex is easily changed with software. Both camers take wonderful photos outdoors.

In the end, it is a personal choice, based mostly on the kind of photos that you take.

Have a great day.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Nov 29, 2009, 5:25 PM   #3
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The fz35 uses mpeg4 just like the canon for HD video as well as AVCHD lite
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Old Jul 16, 2010, 6:57 PM   #4
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well, using the search tool brought up countless threads about this conundrum, so I'm glad I'm not the only one flummoxed by these two cameras. I figured rather than set up (yet) another thread about the same thing, I'd just take this one and bump it.

Hi, by the way, I'm matt...I've been reading steves-digicams reviews since 2001 or so when I had my first digital camera in high school...the Ricoh RDC-5000...anyway...

I'm posting in a last-ditch effort to see if something can sway me one way or the other.

I've been reading countless reviews of both, spent many late nights over the last week...you'd think a week isn't very long, but the amount of reading I've done, it feels like it's been a month or longer.

Some background on me. I currently own the Canon Rebel XTi, 18-55mm IS lens (the kit lens from the SXi) for still, and the Canon Vixia HG10 1080p 40GB HD camcorder for video. It's a great setup , and I like it a lot. Unfortunately, times are very tight right now, lost my job awhile back and all that. So I'm looking to downsize. My dslr is just gathering dust since I sold my longer lenses, I feel like my creative spark has dried out with it. I'm not a pro, but you might call me an advanced amateur at photography. So given the strain on my wallet these days, I decided to sell both the HD Camcorder and DSLR, and get a cheaper, lower-quality AIO camera to cover video and stills, then pocket the extra cash. I *know* it's going to be a noticeable step-down in quality, but at the same time I'm getting kind of excited to try out these great, fast, ultra-zoom lenses on the newest crop of superzoom/bridge cameras.

I started my search gung-ho for the Fuji HS10. But the more I read about it, and the more videos I found and downloaded, the more I became a non-fan of the 1/2.3" CMOS sensors they use. Same goes for the Nikon P100, and Sony HX10...in fact I have begun to think that all three employ the *same* sensor, but that's neither here nor there. I don't think I'm that happy with the rolling shutter employed for video, with the jello/wobble effect that leads to at times. Additionally, it seems that these sensors are prone to noise, and as a result of the NR, they lose a lot of detail. Going from a DSLR, I'm already going to notice the drop in quality, so I don't want to exacerbate the problem.

To make a short story long, I decided to forego those cameras despite the 10fps burst, 1080p video, etc, and settled down between the Canon SX20 and the Panny Lumix FZ35.

Here's my pros/cons list, that right now tips toward the Panasonic:

Canon SX20:

Pros:
• Articulating Display FTW! That looks just plain *FUN* to use! And I like the way the screen turns inward toward the body for protection when not in use.
• OIS and USM: I loved these features on my higher-end canon EF lenses, and I have an affinity in my heart for canon as a rule. I trust the fast, silent motor.
• 20x zoom is a little better reach than the Lumix, though only marginally so.
• AA Batts...for me, this is a pro, though I know some like their LiIons, I have many sets of 2500 mAh AA rechargeables left over from my battery grip on the XTi, so I'm already stocked up there.
• Video. The bitrate @ 720p is around 23-24mbps AVCHD! This is like, out-of-this-world good. On the SX1 it's closer to 40mbps @ 1080p...we're talking nearly blu-ray bitrates here. Very impressive. My Vixia HG10 only does 15mbps AVCHD @ 1080p/24 max.
• Hot Shoe
• A little more spread between the stereo mics, and the mics are positioned front-facing instead of on top. I'm a heavy breather at times, and on my HG10, I can't count the number of clips I've ruined by getting my mouth-breathing on the footage because of the top-positioned mics
• Size/weight/Looks/Aesthetics- I prefer the Canon's curvature and size. I'm used to holding the XTi with a battery grip, WITH 6 AA's, so I like a lot of heft. I'm used to it.

Cons:
• NO RAW MODE! Ugh! Do not like.
• Sub-Par High ISO performance (>400)
• Video...the recording time is limited to 29 mins (I guess so they could issue the same model in Europe and avoid the VAT tax treating it as a "camcorder"...as opposed to making a distinction between model numbers) or 4gb.
• Video...the bitrate is almost wastefully high. It's going to eat up memory cards like nobody's business. That's the trade-off you have to make for high-quality though, so it's only tentatively in the "cons" list.
• No Superfine in JPG mode, just fine and standard...Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems like the file sizes bear out the fact that it's not just superfine "renamed" to fine, but really is more compressed than prior models.


Panasonic Lumix FZ38:

Pros:
• Faster, sharper Leica lens. The f/4.4 @ the telephoto end is pretty appealing, it's about one stop faster over the Canon's tele. I'm not entirely sure it's fair to say the lens is "sharper" than the canon's it's a subjective observation I've made from browsing flickr and reading reviews, basically. But I stand by it. It seems a tad sharper.
• Better OIS. The canon's gives around a 3 stop advantage, everything I've read about the Panasonic's new Power OIS (doesn't that actually sound Inferior to the former, "Mega" OIS? But that's marketing for you) is nothing short of incredible. Seems like you get a full 4 stop advantage.
• Better control of image noise above 400. This is probably subjective to how each camera handles the data, but combined with the faster lens and better OIS, seems like it's better for handheld low-light shots than the canon.
• In-Camera CA/Fringing treatment. Looking at side-by-side reviews on gordon's site, I was very pleased with how well the software defringing is performed in-camera. Saves work in post if I don't feel like shooting in RAW.
• RAW mode. It has it. I don't know how much I'll use it or not, but I like to know it's there, you know? I shot raw a lot with my DSLR, but going back down to an AIO P&S, I might just get lazy and use JPG more often.
• Flexible video modes. You can choose MJPEG for easier editing, or three levels of AVCHD quality, as you feel appropriate. I like that this conserves cards, and the 17mbps top quality mode should still be plenty to prevent artifacting for the most part. Doesn't quite live up to the canon 24mbps AVCHD, but should be livable.
• No file length limit in AVCHD mode, shoot till your card runs out of memory.
• Size and Weight. Though I'm used to the heft, I think I could get used to the camera being smaller and lighter, easier to carry around on hikes and such.

Cons:
• No Hot Shoe mount for an external flash
• Proprietary, "Chipped", Lithium Ion battery. From what I understand, the camera doesn't lock out generic batteries...yet. But they could in a future firmware update. I hate that aspect in any company, when they force something proprietary on you.
• top-mounted stereo speakers. I understand this gives presence to the soundstage, but as mentioned before, the way I shoot, it usually means you can hear me breathing while filming.
• Bigger display, but non-articulating. Canon wins on this one, I think. Though it's nothing close to a dealbreaker, because I'm used to the fixed 2.5" on my XTi right now. Heck, it will be nice just to have live view again. My eyesight isn't perfect and I actually prefer to frame shots using the LCD.

That's about all I can think of off the top of my head, but this is quite maddening!!

I also wanted to confirm, because I haven't read it in the specs anywhere. The Panasonic, does it have an ultrasonic motor of any kind for the zoom and focus? I read it has to slow down the zoom in video mode so it's not as loud, does that mean it uses a standard micromotor? The clips I've seen seem to indicate the zoom noise is barely picked up on camera, if at all, and the zoom speed seems to indicate it's an ultrasonic motor. Since I'm literally replacing a HD Camcorder with this, I want it to do the best of both worlds...as well as possible, anyway.

Help!

*edit*...I should also note, that my main uses for the camera will be outdoors...landscapes, maybe some birding, that kind of thing, if I can swing it. So I'm less concerned with indoor shots, per se. Just when I think I might settle on the Lumix, I go back tot he canon's articulating LCD and better video, and again, I become torn.

Last edited by matt314159; Jul 16, 2010 at 7:21 PM.
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Old Jul 16, 2010, 7:34 PM   #5
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matt-

Welcome back to the Forum. We're please that you dropped by.

The Panasonic FZ-35 is the better choice for it HD Video with dual channel stereo sound. Its ability to use up to ISO 800 while still maintaining image quality, and its better lens.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Jul 16, 2010, 7:35 PM   #6
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Hi Sarah, thanks for the quick response and warm welcome! The canon also has dual-channel stereo sound, though, plus has about 25% higher bitrate on the video. Therein lies my problem. I want the best video, but I have a lot of love for the FZ35 as well even though I think canon wins in that dept.
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Old Jul 17, 2010, 7:19 AM   #7
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Hi Matt,

I was in precisely your situation earlier this year, unable to decide between these two cameras. I opted for the FZ35 (FZ38 here) and it is a wonderful lightweight and compact camera, brilliant especially for landscape photography, and the video quality is also very good. Why did I choose the FZ38? Because it is 25% cheaper than the Canon here in the UK, and seemingly a lot more popular too!!

Remember that if you are looking for functionality and versatility from one unit, there will be compromises - all the superzooms are versatile, but "jack of all trades, master of none" is most definitely applicable. Be prepared to make a compromise!

For what it's worth, things like ISO/RAW on a superzoom are meaningless to me; it's as if these hobbyist cameras are pretending to be enthusiast or semi-pro level equipment, which they are not. In my opinion, anybody concerned about ISO and RAW should be getting a dSLR, which is precisely why I no longer have the FZ38 and now have a Canon 50D.
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Last edited by Davi; Jul 17, 2010 at 7:21 AM.
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Old Jul 17, 2010, 2:57 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Davi View Post
Why did I choose the FZ38? Because it is 25% cheaper than the Canon here in the UK, and seemingly a lot more popular too!!
I wish I had something like that to steer me...actually I do, the FZ35 is retailing for $314.99 @ B&H while the SX20 is $369 at the same site, but I'm the kind of person who's not afraid to pick up a refurb on eBay, which puts them both in the same league, around $300 USD for my intents and purposes. It's what makes this so hard!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Davi
For what it's worth, things like ISO/RAW on a superzoom are meaningless to me; it's as if these hobbyist cameras are pretending to be enthusiast or semi-pro level equipment, which they are not. In my opinion, anybody concerned about ISO and RAW should be getting a dSLR, which is precisely why I no longer have the FZ38 and now have a Canon 50D.
The only thing I could see the raw being good for is maybe to tease more detail out of highlights or crushed blacks in a pinch, but I think the Dynamic Range of these sensors is such that there's probably not much recovery to be done in the first place, compared to my 400D/XTi.

Believe me, I'm going to miss my DSLR, and the very serious thought has crossed my mind of selling the HD camcorder, Selling the XTi, and then buying the T1i w/ kit lens @ $600 USD (if I could scrounge up a good deal) but that doesn't leave much money back in my pocket, which was the goal in the first place.

Not for nothing, but in the 3-4 years since I've been out of the P&S world, it sure seems like the P&S's of yesteryear had clearer, sharper photos. I can't put my finger on it, but with these ultra-megapixel cameras, they sure look softer and grainier than I remember, lots of NR and sharpening going on all the time that I don't remember seeing when I pixel-peep my old photos shot with, say, my Fuji S9000 that I had back in 2005. I wish they'd lay off the pixel count a little.
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Old Jul 18, 2010, 5:52 AM   #9
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w00t, I think I've finally settled on the FZ35. The faster lens (2/3 stop brighter at full telephoto), faster AF, better OIS, in-camera defringing, more flexible video recording (shutter priority and aperture priority), lack of time limit on the AVCHD-lite recordings, were what finally sold it on me. I'll get a couple generic battery packs and hope they don't lock them out some time down the road. I really only plan on using this as a stop-gap measure. I'd like to think a year down the road, I'll be upgrading to the T1i, and get back some of my old lenses that I sold off from the XTi (Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 and my 70-200 f/4L, to be precise) and be back in business. Provided I find a job by then

Now I just sit and wait for my current gear to sell (c'mon, craigslist!)

I also plan to get a ND filter for the FZ35 to be able to force it down into a wider aperture in bright daylight and help mitigate the CCD blooming that appeared to be less well-controlled in the FZ35 over the Canon.

Thanks for the responses, folks, I think just talking it through with you guys, plus reading, reading, and more reading, helped me finally make the decision. Now it's time to STOP reading before I talk myself out of the decision!

Thanks again!
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Old Jul 18, 2010, 11:50 AM   #10
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Matt-

I glad that we were able to help you. You might check out my reply to kewl_head above where I discuss the replacement model for the FZ-35 that is to be announced in three weeks or so.

Sarah Joyce
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