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Old Dec 13, 2004, 2:36 PM   #41
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So...what about that Tamron 28-300 f/3.5-f/6.5 lens for a general-purpose lens?

http://www.tamron.com/lenses/prod/28300_di.asp

It's $378 shipped.

I looked at some of my recent club pictures with EXIF Viewer and it appears the focal length is from 6.0 to 70.3. On photos taken with the Minolta it's showing it as fractions like 117/16, so I guess I need to convert to decimal first. In that case, I'm seeing focal lengths from 7.31 to 27.56. I'm looking at the options for the program and the "focal length conversion" is set to a multiplier of "5.35211267605634". Where did that number come from? So are these focal length numbers in 35mm equivalent? Would I need to use a different conversion factor with each camera? I searched on dpreview and a bunch of other sites I found in Google for the "Focal Length Multiplier" for the Minolta DiMAGE S304 and that value is always blank, so what does that mean?

I'm also interested in that Pentax *istDS that was mentioned. Is there any reason to think it wouldn't be as good as the Canon EOS-300D Digital Rebel for low-light concert stuff? Or would it be better? It's just a little more expensive and it doesn't have the rebates but I suppose I could start with just the kit lens and a 50mm f/1.7 lens. I like the idea of a smaller camera if it's just as good...

What do you think?


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Old Dec 13, 2004, 3:57 PM   #42
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YourFace wrote:
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So...what about that Tamron 28-300 f/3.5-f/6.5 lens for a general-purpose lens?

http://www.tamron.com/lenses/prod/28300_di.asp
This lens is rated as sub-average (as you would expect, trying to get this much focal range into one lens).

You'll see it listed at some of the popular sites that rate lenses:

http://www.photozone.de/2Equipment/easytxt.htm#Zstd (under slow speed wide angle zooms)

http://www.photodo.com/prod/lens/tamron.shtml#Tamron

Also, keep in mind that you've got a crop factor of 1.6x with a camera like the Digital Rebel. So, this lens would have a 35mm equivalent focal range of 44.8-480mm (and you may find that 44.8mm is too limiting on the wide angle end of the scale, depending on what youare shooting).
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I'm looking at the options for the program and the "focal length conversion" is set to a multiplier of "5.35211267605634". Where did that number come from? So are these focal length numbers in 35mm equivalent? Would I need to use a different conversion factor with each camera?
The actual focal length of the lens on your S304 is 7.15-28.6mm (to give you a 35mm equivalent focal range of 35-140mm). So, you've got a crop factor with it, too. 35/7.15~= 4.895 or140/28.6 ~= 4.895. Since the sensor is much smaller than the sensor in a DSLR, the crop factor will be much larger (since a much shorter length lens can be used on the smaller sensor, for any given 35mm equivalent focal length).

So, I don't know where they're getting the 5.35... from (it's wrong for your S304). To see the 35mm equivalent focal length of the lens for a photo you took, multiply the actual focal length in the EXIF by 4.895 for your Minolta DiMAGE S304.

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I'm also interested in that Pentax *istDS that was mentioned. Is there any reason to think it wouldn't be as good as the Canon EOS-300D Digital Rebel for low-light concert stuff? Or would it be better? It's just a little more expensive and it doesn't have the rebates but I suppose I could start with just the kit lens and a 50mm f/1.7 lens. I like the idea of a smaller camera if it's just as good...
This Pentaxuses a Sony CCD. Steve already has a preview of this model up, and a review is in the works according to the breaking news page. So, it shouldn't take too long before we'll see some opinions on it.

http://www.steves-digicams.com/2004_reviews/istds.html


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Old Dec 13, 2004, 6:50 PM   #43
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Have just joined because I have fallen in love with the Lumixes, either FZ 10 or 15. You have NOT made my day with your remarks but looking at yoursamples (neat idea that...) I am sorry to say I don't understand that milieu and would have liked some outdoor shots and portraits (other than hard rockers). Your demands of this genre tell me that you're very experienced and thus demanding.

I hope I can have my ideas about the Panasonics restored because I want to retire my Sony Cybershot S-70 after 12,000 photos and upgrade to as much maganification as is offered by the Lumixes.

Thanks, guys!




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Old Dec 15, 2004, 3:19 PM   #44
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Birdy...everything I've read about the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ20 indicates that it's an awesome prosumer camera...EXCEPT that the 12x zoom coupled with a TINY sensor makes it REALLY BAD at low light photography. In my specific and demanding photo situation (hard rockers in small dimly-lit clubs), I got much better results out of the 3-year old Minolta DiMAGE S304. It seems that the best you can do with a "prosumer" camera in that case would be lower MP, lower zoom, and a big CCD...so the Canon PowerShot G3 or G5, I guess. OR the Sony DSC-F717 is reportedly not bad either.

All that being said, I've taken everyone's advice and I've come to understand that it's not really possible to do what I want to do with a "prosumer" camera and I'm just going to have to bite the bullet and get a D-SLR. Obviously the Canon EOS-300D Digital Rebel is the least expensive option, especially with the rebate deal going on, but the Nikon D70 and Pentax *istDS are not much more expensive and that Pentax is supposedly pretty small and perhaps more powerful than the Canon.

Good luck with your Lumixes; I'm sure they're great in just about every other situation than what I was trying to do.
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Old Dec 15, 2004, 4:40 PM   #45
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JimC et al,

I applied the 4.895 multiplier in EXIF Viewer and it appears that I use a 35mm-equivalent focal length range from 35.7mm to 134.9mm. How did you lookup the focal length multiplier for the Minolta? What is the focal length multiplier for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ20?

Oh...btw...when I used Noiseware, it made the files a lot smaller and it removed the EXIF information. Is there a way to get it to process the files without compressing them more or removing the EXIF information? If the JPEG files are about half the size after Noiseware processes them, then haven't I lost a bunch of information?
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Old Dec 27, 2004, 4:20 AM   #46
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I have been reading this forum and learning. Thank you YourFace and JimC in particular for your patience in pursuing this subject in such detail.

My needs are different from YourFace. I have decided that a DSLR is not appropriate for my needs because (a) I get the feeling that buying more and more lenses would require an endless supply of funds that I don't have and (b) while I do take portraits, I would prefer to have the depth of field in my landscape shots. I would prefer to buy a high end digicam that meets most of my needs. I realize from these forums that they just don't make one that does everything.

For the past five years I have been fairly satisfied with the results I have been getting with my Kodak DC 265. I have decided to upgrade for a number of reasons. I want to do more, ie have more flexibility and more control; I want to learn more about achieving this; I want to get closer to my subjects, ie I want a long zoom.

I had all but decided that the Panasonic FZ20 was the right camera for me until I came upon this forum. Now I am not so sure. Taking low light shots is perhaps a smaller part of what I do than it is for YourFace, but I would like to know if buying the FZ20 would be a move backwards in relation to this aspect of my photography.

I have posted some of my low light shots on this page http://homepage.mac.com/js63/NightSh...toAlbum10.html

The password to view the page is 'lowlight'

Most were taken at a village festival in north-east Thailand a little over a year ago. This was an open stage. Perhaps it was not as dark as some of the clubs YourFace visits. In some shots I have got up close and used the flash, in others I relied on stage lighting. For most I think I used a tripod but perhaps held the camera in my hand for one or two. I am happy with these shots. If I can get this good with an FZ20, I would buy it.

The shots on this page are as they came out of the camera. I have included samples of the bad along with the good.

The last two were taken more recently. I did not have my tripod with me. As the sun was setting I was getting shots with the beautiful lighting in the sky and on the lake. I got my two friends to stand in front of the lake to try to capture them with that background. Unfortunately without the tripod I was unsuccessful, as you can see. I know that with the tripod, this photo would have worked. What sort of result would I expect with an FZ20 in this situation?

The other camera on my shortlist is the Nikon 8800. I notice that it was also on YourFace's long list. No one commented on it as an alternative the the FZ20 for his situation. I would like comments also on how well the Nikon would handle shots like these.

Thanks. This is a great site.
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Old Dec 27, 2004, 7:52 AM   #47
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YourFace wrote:
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JimC et al,

I applied the 4.895 multiplier in EXIF Viewer and it appears that I use a 35mm-equivalent focal length range from 35.7mm to 134.9mm. How did you lookup the focal length multiplier for the Minolta? What is the focal length multiplier for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ20?
My apologies for the delay. Somehow, I missed your last post to this thread, and didn't see it until the post got bumped back up to the top again.

I didn't lookup the multiplier... I simply took the stated 35mm equivalent focal length from this model's specifications, then divided it by the actual focal length of the lens to come up with the multiplier. There are also some formulas around for doing this based on the size of the sensor, but using the manufacturers specs is easy.

Quote:
Oh...btw...when I used Noiseware, it made the files a lot smaller and it removed the EXIF information. Is there a way to get it to process the files without compressing them more or removing the EXIF information? If the JPEG files are about half the size after Noiseware processes them, then haven't I lost a bunch of information?
You've lost a lot of noise. Noise doesn't compress well (whereas large areas of a single color do compress well). So, noisy JPEG files are typically larger. ;-) BTW, you'll find a JPEG Quality setting under the View, Options menu choice.

The Noiseware Community (free) edition does strip out the EXIF. The other versions don't. You may also want to give Neatimage a try (http://www.neatimage.com).



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Old Dec 27, 2004, 8:20 AM   #48
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js63 wrote:
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The last two were taken more recently. I did not have my tripod with me. As the sun was setting I was getting shots with the beautiful lighting in the sky and on the lake. I got my two friends to stand in front of the lake to try to capture them with that background. Unfortunately without the tripod I was unsuccessful, as you can see. I know that with the tripod, this photo would have worked. What sort of result would I expect with an FZ20 in this situation?
Well, your shutter speed was only 1/2 second for this photo.

But, your Kodak has a fixed ISO speed of 100. So, each time you double the ISO speed, the shutter speeds can be twice as fast for the same lighting conditions. Most Digital Cameras have a way to increase ISO speed. The downside of increasing ISO speed is increased noise (which will be objectionable at ISO 400 on a small sensored model).

Although stabilization would have helped, 1/2 second is a pretty slow shutter speed. So, you would have needed to be shooting at around ISO 400, just to get shutter speeds up to 1/8 second (which is still pretty slow). Even if you can shoot at speeds this slow with a stabilized lens without camera shake, you'd still need to worry about motion blur from subject movement.

This type of shot would be borderline (and noise would be high if you increased ISO speed).... Of course, the nice thing about digital is that you can take lots of shots, in order to increase your percentage of "keepers".

Quote:
The other camera on my shortlist is the Nikon 8800. I notice that it was also on YourFace's long list. No one commented on it as an alternative the the FZ20 for his situation. I would like comments also on how well the Nikon would handle shots like these.
The Nikon 8800 has a lens that stops down to f/5.2 at full zoom. So, it would require shutter speeds several times as long as a camera like the Panasonic DMC-FZ20 at longer focal lengths, for any given lighting condition and ISO speed.

As for your stage shots, the ones without flash appear to be underexposed (as you would expect them to be) -- especially the ones at longer focal lengths (because not as much light reaches the sensor using zoom with your model). If you can get within the flash range, and can use a flash, then most models will work OK in these conditions. When you're outside of the flash range, you'll most likely need to increase ISO speeds, which will increase noise levels (you'll see a lot of colored grain in the photos that you wouldn't have with your Kodak). Each user will have a different perspective of quality. So, your best bet is to try and buy a camera from a vendor with a no-restocking fee policy if possible. Then, try it out to see if you find the results acceptable or not.


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Old Dec 28, 2004, 8:05 AM   #49
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Thinks for your reply, Jim. I think that you are telling me I would not expect a brilliant result with the FZ20 under these conditions and perhaps less so with the Nikon 8800.

I wonder if any members who have these cameras have posted, or can post shots they have taken with their cameras under similar conditions. Both YourFace and I have been prepared to post shots that are not our best. If others do the same, perhaps we can all learn.

I am not sure about return policies with camera shops here in Thailand. In any case, I will be travelling about 60 kilometers or perhaps further when I buy my camera. I am a long way out in the country.Returning it may not be easy, whatever the store policy. I would like to be fairly sure of what I want before I walk into the store.

Thanks again for your advice.
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Old Dec 30, 2004, 6:14 AM   #50
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In case you are wondering what it is like to buy a camera in upcountry Thailand...

I live in Mahasarakham, which is about 60 k from Khon Kaen, quite a large provincial city. I have to reach KK by public transport. To put it briefly, to get from my home to the camera shop takes 2—2 a half hours. So, this is virtually an all day expedition. This week I was obliged to take a trip further north to renew my visa, so I took the opportunity to check out the camera shops of KK on the way back.

A friend had recommended a chain that also sold through the internet. Another friend came along as my guide and translator. This was quite a small shop with a limited range of popular cameras and very few accessories. They had a Panasonic FZ20 which they would allow me to handle but would not put a battery in it. My friend asked if they had a returns policy. They said yes. You could return the camera up to a month from the purchase date. There was no refund but the amount would be credited towards the purchase of another camera—but only one from the same manufacturer. I liked the feel of the camera but they did not have a Nikon 8800 for me to compare it with, nor had they heard of it. Their price for the FZ20 was 24,000 baht, about $US614.

We found another camera shop downstairs. It had a better range of accessories. They had a Nikon 8700 but no 8800. They suggested it had not been released in Thailand. The price of the 8700 was 38,800 baht, $US993.28.

Later we went to another mall with a bias to technology shops including many selling pirate software and DVDs. There was another branch of the first shop we went to. They had more accessories but no FZ20. He said it was a hot seller that they couldn't keep in stock. They had the Nikon 8700 on their price list at 34,000 baht but none in stock. He agreed that the Nikon 8800 had not been released in Thailand and said I was wrong when I said it had a stabilized lens.

My friend then remembered another camera shop. It had a better but still limited range of accessories and both the Nikon 8700 and 8800 in stock. The 8700 was 38,800 baht. The 8800 was 45,000 baht, $US1,152.

They were very helpful and put a battery in the camera so that I could take a few shots. I preferred the feel of the Panasonic in my hands. I also found that there was a too much to learn to give the 8800 any real tests in the shop. But at least I did get to have a good look at it and see what the zoom can do. I checked the warranty and it said it only applied in the country in which the camera was purchased. So, if I take a trip elsewhere in the region and take that camera with me and it goes kaput, I would have to return to Thailand before I could have it repaired.

I expect to be in Bangkok in about three or four weeks. In the meantime I will be hunting through these forums to learn a bit more so that I can make sure I spend my money wisely. Any advice appreciated.
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