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Old Nov 13, 2004, 9:31 AM   #1
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Does anyone have an opinion between the three cameras listed above? :? Ireally have my heart set on the FZ20, but have alsohad the other two highly recommended to me, along with a few others. I am very confused, and just want to make the right choice. The things that are most important to me:

Most importantly-good quality, excellent image pictures. I prefer a greater zoom, but any zoom will do. I like the stabilization feature of the Z3 and FZ20. I like that the Z3 will date stamp on my pictures. I also like that the Z3 will print in color, b/w and sepia--I am unsure if the other two will or not, or if it simply takes a photo computer program which I do plan on purchasing. I have kids in sports and am looking for a good camera in that area as well.

I really appreciate the time that each of youtake in helping me out. I really appreciate it. I really want to purchase the right camera and am not sure which camera that is. If I have not listed a camera here that you believe would work well for me, please let me know. I am very open to suggestions. Thank you all so much.
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Old Nov 13, 2004, 10:30 AM   #2
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loriehall wrote:
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I like that the Z3 will date stamp on my pictures.
If you date stamp a photo and want to print it to larger sizes later, the stamp can be distracting. As long as you save the original images, the date and time the photo was taken is stored inside of the EXIF (a header in the image file) anyway.

You can also use software to stamp the date and time on photos later, if this is something you really want to do.

One free package that can do this is EXIFER (via it's watermark feature). You can download it from here:

http://www.friedemann-schmidt.com/software/exifer/

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I also like that the Z3 will print in color, b/w and sepia--I am unsure if the other two will or not, or if it simply takes a photo computer program which I do plan on purchasing.
I haven't checked their specs. But, you're probably better off shooting in color, then using an editor to change to B&W later anyway (regardless of which camera you choose). That way, you'll have a choice of which way you want to print an image (and more control over the conversion to B&W).

If you shoot in B&W or Sepia, you won't have a choice of color later.

Many printer drivers even let you specify B&W (print Grayscale) without converting the image at all.

There are a multiple ways to do a conversion to B&W. One is a simple gray scale conversion (which is what most cameras are going to do with their B&W mode).

One free editor that can do this is is Irfanview. You can download it from http://www.irfanview.com. Then, download the free plugins, too.

You can either convert one image at a time (under Image, Convert to Grayscale), or you can convert multiple photos using Batch Mode. To use Batch Mode, go to "File, Thumbnails" and select a folder. Then, use the "File, Start Batch Dialog with Selected Thumbnails" menu choice. You can add more photos to the ones you want to process then.

Make sure to select a different output directory so that you don't overwrite the originals (especially since you don't want to ruin them if you make a mistake). Also, make sure to select the "Options" button by your file format you're saving in (which will default to JPEG), so that you can select the desired JPEG Quality.

Then, select the "Advanced" button, and you'll have lot of options (including resizing, converting to grayscale, etc.).

The better way to convert to B&W is by using a channel mixing feature. Here is a tutorial on the subject:

http://luminous-landscape.com/tutori...w_better.shtml

You can also get actions using different techniques to do this for you. Here is an example:

http://www.thelightsright.com/Digita...Conversion.htm

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I have kids in sports and am looking for a good camera in that area as well.
This is a difficult area for most models -- unless the sports are in very good light. Indoor Sports and Night Sports in a well lit stadium are a "different beast".

Although this type of lighting appears to be bright to the human eye, it's not to a camera. You'll need to shoot at higher ISO speeds, with a bright lens. Otherwise, the shutter speeds needed for proper exposure of an image will be too slow to prevent motion blur.

A DSLR model is usually your best bet here (these can shoot at much higher ISO speeds with lower noise compared to the non-DSLR models). But, cost, size and weight will be much higher (especially for a bright lens with a longer focal length -- which can cost more than the DSLR itself).

In the "Ultra Zoom" models, the Panasonics (DMC-FZ3, DMC-FZ15, DMC-FZ20) would be a better bet for getting faster shutter speeds when using zoom, compared to a model like the Konica-Minolta Z3.

This is because the Pansonics maintain their f/2.8 brightness throughout their focal range. The Konica-Minolta Z3 has a lens that loses brightness as more zoom is used. It stops down to around f/4.0 at a bit more than half zoom, and down to f/4.5 at full zoom. Note that f/2.8 (as in the Panasonics' lens) is twice as bright as f/4.0 (allowing shutter speeds twice as fast for the same lighting conditions and ISO speed if you are using much zoom.

Now, if you're talking indoor or night sports, you may still be very dissapointed with the results. You'll need to shoot at higher ISO speeds (which will add noise -- which is similar to film grain), and you'll still have a lot of shots with motion blur (due to the slower shutter speeds needed for proper exposure).

It will also take a lot of practice working around autofocus lag issues. So, you'll need to take lots of photos in order to get some "keepers", use software to reduce the appearance of noise later, and your print sizes will be more limited in lower light shooting conditions from image degradation caused by the higher ISO speeds.
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Old Nov 13, 2004, 11:07 AM   #3
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Thank you so much for your help! I cannot tell you how very much I appreciate it. I would really like to find a very simple, easy to use camera, that takes outstanding pictures, but there are soooo many choices. Any suggestion on which camera is best?
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Old Nov 13, 2004, 11:20 AM   #4
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loriehall wrote:
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I would really like to find a very simple, easy to use camera, that takes outstanding pictures, but there are soooo many choices. Any suggestion on which camera is best?
Well -- no one camera is "best" for every user and shooting condition, just like no one vehicle is "best" for every driver and road condition.

I'd read the reviews here, paying close attention to their Conclusion section (where you'll see things like Autofocus Speed and Reliability, Image Quality, Cycle times between photos, etc. critiqued).

Steve has a "Best Cameras" list here:

http://www.steves-digicams.com/best_cameras.html

I'd also try out the cameras in a store, to see which one you're more comfortable with (size, weight, ergonomics, viewfinder usability, control layout, speed of operation, etc.).
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Old Nov 14, 2004, 4:50 PM   #5
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JimC wrote:
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Well -- no one camera is "best" for every user and shooting condition, just like no one vehicle is "best" for every driver and road condition.

I'd read the reviews here, paying close attention to their Conclusion section (where you'll see things like Autofocus Speed and Reliability, Image Quality, Cycle times between photos, etc. critiqued).

Steve has a "Best Cameras" list here:

http://www.steves-digicams.com/best_cameras.html

I'd also try out the cameras in a store, to see which one you're more comfortable with (size, weight, ergonomics, viewfinder usability, control layout, speed of operation, etc.).
I'd very much agree with JimC on this one.

I own a Olympus C770UZ & it has its own advantages/disadvantages when compared to the others.

I love it because of the features (good pics, hotshoe, MPEG4 movie) in a compact size (some of which the FZ3 doesn't have). The lack of IS initially made me hesitate, but then I figured that I can use a tripod if I need to, BTW IS only helps reduce but doesn't cure camera shake.

Anyway, have a read around, compare the features, make sure you can live with any shortcomings in the camera, and you should be ok. And learn to overcome the shortcomings through practice too.

Just remember, there are no "perfect camera" yet out there.

Thon
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Old Nov 14, 2004, 9:44 PM   #6
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JimC wrote:
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Now, if you're talking indoor or night sports, you may still be very dissapointed with the results. You'll need to shoot at higher ISO speeds (which will add noise -- which is similar to film grain), and you'll still have a lot of shots with motion blur (due to the slower shutter speeds needed for proper exposure).

It will also take a lot of practice working around autofocus lag issues. So, you'll need to take lots of photos in order to get some "keepers", use software to reduce the appearance of noise later, and your print sizes will be more limited in lower light shooting conditions from image degradation caused by the higher ISO speeds.
JimC, thanks for your informative replies. My wife is looking to move up from a low-end Canon digicam, but we don't have the money for a good DSLR yet. We're looking with much interest at the Panasonic FZ20. However, it appears that one of the main tradeoffs between a DSLR and a less expensive ZLR is that the DSLR can handle lower light conditions better. The issues you mention above are unacceptable to my wife.

Since the FZ20 has a hot-shoe for a flash unit, we were wondering if using a standard ISO flash unit with the FZ20 would effectively alleviate some of the difficulty we would have in high-action, low-light conditions, such as capturing our toddler indoors. I'm wondering if the autofocus mechanisms would recognize the flash and allow fast shutter speed (and less lag?) accordingly. Or perhaps it would be more cumbersome to use the flash to best advantage. Do you have any insight here?

Thanks,
-Hans



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Old Nov 14, 2004, 10:21 PM   #7
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Hans:

I was talking about typical indoor or night Sports (where you'll be outside of the flash range).

Shutter speeds are not as critical using flash. This is because the flash itself has the effect of freezing the action, and most models set the shutter speed higher indoors with flash on, compared to the shutter speeds needed for proper exposure inexisting light without a flash.

In most (but not all) lighting needing a flash, the subject is not exposed well enough to see any exposure by the ambient light (as long as you don't bumpup the ISO speed or use shutter speed/aperture combinations that let too much light in).The exception is if you have a lot of ambient light coming in through windows insome daytime conditions (but you could always use a little faster shutter speed to help out there with models that let you set it, if the factory defaults aren't fast enough with flash).

Since the flash duration is very short (usually 1/1000 to 1/10000 second, depending on the flash design, subject distance, and aperture), the flash freezes the subject movement (since the subject is usually only properly exposed for the short flash burst duration in most indoor lighting conditions requiring a flash).

BTW, the internal flash is relatively powerful on the FZ20 if you go that route (almost 23 feet). Autofocus lag is likely going to be your biggest challenge catching photos of arapidly moving toddler.

I'd test drive models you consider in a store to get a better feel for their behavior. To be safe, it's probably a good idea to buy from a vendor that has a good return policy, too (so you could returna cameraif not satisified,despite your best efforts to find a good match for your needs).
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