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Old Mar 31, 2005, 11:50 AM   #1
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I plan on purchasing either the Panasonic FZ5 or the Canon A95. I know that the zoom on the FZ5 far exceeds the A95. However, I am mostly concerned about noise levels and picture quality. Can anyone tell me if the Panasonic's on a whole are more noisy and have less picture quality?

Thanks so much.
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Old Mar 31, 2005, 12:33 PM   #2
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The picture quality is quite good on the FZs and they seem to have a little less purple fringing than the A Canons. The noise is acceptable IMO unless you want to shoot at ISO 400. I was pleasantly surprised at the FZ5 noise in Jeff's new review: http://www.dcresource.com/reviews/pa...ew/index.shtml Compare his standard night shot in the A95 review and it seems the FZ5 has better noise characteristics. Also compare the sample photos and see what you think of the overall image quality.

I don't consider noise a big factor until it starts degrading the image. There is good noise reduction software that will allow you to make large prints, although 13 X 19 becomes a little marginal with 5Mp. Not because of noise but just that you are down in the 135 PPI range. I see no particular reason to view an image 100% just to be scandalized by any noise I can find. If it doesn't show at normal screen size and I can get the prints I want, the fact that one camera is a little noisier than another isn't that big a deal if the slightly noisier camera has the features I want.

Panasonic continues to refuse to gain up the view in low light. The A95 doesn't either but you can use the optical finder. The FZs focus fine in low light but it can be difficult to frame properly in very low light.

Even if you never zoom past 3X the stabilization is a great feature. People seem to think it is a feature only for long zooms, but you can do some great available light work at wide angles without using the flash.


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Old Mar 31, 2005, 1:39 PM   #3
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Thanks so much for your reply. I am leaning towards the FZ5, however my main concern was image quality. I know the A95 has a larger sensor, thus allowing it to be more noise free. So I was thinking this would make a better picture. I plan on making a majority of my images 4x6s. Do you think I would be able to tell the difference, noise wise, between the Canon or Panasonic's images?

Thanks again.
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Old Mar 31, 2005, 2:08 PM   #4
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Maybe you didn't cross-reference the reviews. The A95 has more noise in Jeff's test photos. You won't see noise from either one shooting at ISO 100. And you won't see much noise at higher ISO in 4 X 6 prints except maybe night shots.

Everyone wants "great image quality". Any major brand name camera is capable of great image quality – especially in 4 X 6 prints. You can usually make adjustments in the menu to have them come out exactly as you want if you don't like to mess with post processing. If you plan on pushing the ISO, noise does become a factor for larger prints or small crops.

Pick any camera at random from Steve's reviews. Go to the sample photos and download one at random. Print it at 4 X 6 and it will have great image quality. If it is over 3Mp you can print it at 8 X 10 with great image quality.

Stabilization is advertised at 3 f-stops. I think it might be a little less, but it is certainly more than 2. So a shot you would need ISO 400 to handhold with the A95 could be handheld at ISO100 or less with stabilization. That doesn't include subject motion though – stabilization doesn't help for that. You will get sharper shots in many more lighting situations with stabilization – guaranteed. It isn't magic. You can't shoot without a flash in low indoor light. But you can handhold in bright indoor light and get decent shots. You can't do that consistently without stabilization.

Go for the features you want.


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Old Mar 31, 2005, 4:01 PM   #5
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I took a look at the photo gallery for both cameras, and it just seems like the A95's images are slightly less noisy than the FZ5. But maybe I am not looking for the right thing? I have been looking at the blue skies in each photo and the FZ5 just seems to have more noise up there for some reason. What do you think?

Thanks again for the help.
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Old Mar 31, 2005, 5:31 PM   #6
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Steve and other reviewers differentiate between noise and grain in the sky. It has to do with internal processing and I don't know why some cameras with good noise characteristics have a grainy sky.

Are you viewing the images 100% so you have to scroll around to see the entire picture? If so, what might that have even remotely to do with normal use of the images? Download the image and show it on your image viewer at screen size. That is probably the largest it is ever going to be. If I just click on the image to view it regular size I see so many JPG artifacts in the sky that it is hard to tell what is going on. He has too much compression. At 100% I do see more sky grain in the FZ5 images, but the exposure is different. Even so the sky looks good compared to many cameras viewed 100%.

I downloaded the full image of the Cathay House and printed it 8 X 10 on photo paper at photo quality. The print is beautiful and the sky looks fine. If I were doing a 13 X 19 I would smooth out the sky with a couple clicks of the mouse in Photoshop with Grain Surgery. But I usually do that with most photos I print very large.

If you plan to view the images 100% and grieve over the sky not being perfectly smooth blown up then I suggest you buy the A95. My preference would be the FZ5, but I don't usually view the shots 100% for critique. I have to work a little with all of my cameras for a 13 X 19, but that is because the largest I have is 5Mp. For smaller print sizes I don't think you will see a grainy sky.

I did look in the shadow areas for noise and don't see much to choose between them. And that was blown up well over 100% in Photoshop. My Minolta D7i is noisier than either and I don't have problems getting nice prints.



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