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Old Aug 11, 2005, 11:19 PM   #11
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Jim C.,
I would post photos, but I doubt its really necessary. You see, I've been unrealistic in my expectations. Instead of 40 feet and less for birds or 125 feet for deer with a TCON 14B attached. I've been going 50 to 150 yards for hawks, and 250 yards on deer. I don't even have the 14B. I currently reject digiscoping, although I love watching birds with a 24x80mm spotting scope on a tripod. If only I could pictures like what I see through that scope. I know that doesn't even begin to make sense. I'll settle for less yardage. I can get fair potos of small birds at 40 feet, but often the focus is off no matter how much time I have to focus on the little flitters. Birds are the hardest things to photograph, and you don't often have more than a second or two. I find I have to take a lot of shots to get one good one. Seldom a great one. Besides I often load the photos from the reader to Picasa which kills the EXIF.

I thought the larger sensor with 6 or 8 MPs and the focusing speed of a DSLR along with quickly accessable buttons (no running through menues for the necessary set ups for a shot), a real viewfinder that allowed quick manual focus when needed, maybe a Nikon AF VR Nikkor 80-400mm F/4.5-5.6D ED on a Nikon D70s would be the ticket for great 50 foot realistic shots with lots of feather definition. Jim, If 1.5x400=600mm and my FZ20 is 12x at 432, why is the Nikon only a 4.8 magnification. I guess the bigger sensor kills the magnification power. I don't understand that. Yes, $2600 later discovering it had 1/3 the ability of a FZ20 in magnification would be a total bummer, focus and set up speed aside. The FZ30 has a higher pixel density than the FZ20 which tells me it won't have any cleaner images at any ISO comparison of the two. The FZ30 does have a far better EVF and telephoto capability. But I probaby have $1000 wraped up in the FZ20 now, so why not get into a DSLR expect to spend $2300 or so and have a cleaner quicker capability? I don't eat much, and don't need the latest car. I'll just save for the camera like I did the FZ20 and its goodies. It adds up, but takes me a while.

No, I never use digital zoom. I do use a tripod, and remote release with IS off for the long shots. I guess they are just way to long.

I've PMed a couple people with Pentax Ds but no replies. The AA batteries and 300 shots along with short power storage period bugs me abou as much as fiddling with 4 batteries or 8, let alone trying to change them while the camera is on a tripod. I've been there and ain't going back if I can help it. So called propietary batteries are the way to go especially with the their immense number of shots and charge life in storage.


This second version should have EXIF data and no sharpening and I believe 5% compression of a crop.




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Old Aug 11, 2005, 11:33 PM   #12
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watercolor of what remained after the 6 pilated woodpeckers flew

This was 432mm equivalent at 45 yards or so with the FZ20 on a tripod and I believe with a remote release. Crop, no pp, 95% JPEG compression, from a 2560x1920 3.77MB original. settings normal, not low. I will try settings at low in the future. I've edited this picture's post three times, but can't get the EXIF.



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Old Aug 12, 2005, 6:16 AM   #13
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Tazzie

the 12X zoom on your Panasonic and the 4.8X zoom on the 80-400 does not refer to magnification, it is the zoom ratio, 5X 80 = 400 (not sure why this one was listed as 4.8X) the 6mm to 72mm (actual) lens on the FZ20 works out to 12X 6 = 72.

Magnification is a far more complex issue than that, in simple term 50mm in 35mm format is about natural viewing (no perceived magnification, for those who like to be specific it should actually be about 43mm, the diagonal of the 35mm negative) therefore we will work in 35mm equivalent. Your FZ20 zoom reaches 432mm now divide by 50mm and we get about 8.64 times magnification, the 400mm Nikkor, times the 1.5 sensor size factor is 600mm, divided by 50mm andgives us12 times magnification, much higher than the FZ20.

This is a gross oversimplification of magnification factors but it does give comparable numbers and I hope it now points out the difference between zoom ratio and magnification.

Ira

EDIT: PS don't forget that the size and weight of the Nikon outfit will truly dwarf the Panasonic. Added mass may help hold the camera steadier but will make it a real chore to carry around, not exactly the type of camera you take with you all of the time. The Panasonic is so much smaller and lighter that you are more likely to take it with you most of the time so that it is there to capture those birds which unexpectedly appear.

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Old Aug 12, 2005, 8:51 AM   #14
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IMO there is a new "super-birding" combo on the block.

Marry the Sigma 50-500 EX zoom lens with a Konica/Minolta 7D or 5D.

You get anti-shake from the body plus a 1.5x multiplier which makes it the equivalent of a 75-750mm lens on a 35mm camera.

That's nearly twice the zoom of your Panasonic, plus you're getting a much better camera with DSLR ISO performance.




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Old Aug 12, 2005, 10:24 AM   #15
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Tazzie wrote:
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I can get fair potos of small birds at 40 feet, but often the focus is off no matter how much time I have to focus on the little flitters. Birds are the hardest things to photograph, and you don't often have more than a second or two. I find I have to take a lot of shots to get one good one. Seldom a great one. Besides I often load the photos from the reader to Picasa which kills the EXIF.

Well, I saw a series of wildlife photos from Lin Evans comparing the DMC-FZ20 with the Canon EOS-1Ds. Lin was using L glass with the Canon.His comments indicated that both cameras tended to struggle some with AF in the conditions the photos were taken in (light was getting a bit low). But, Lin felt that the DMC-FZ20 really held it's own against a much more expensive camera and lenses.

So, I'd make sure there isn't something that you are doing differently that could be influencing your results.

Looking at your photos, it's hard to tell anything from the downsized versions (especially without the EXIF). I would make sure that a setting or technique problem isn't causing some of your difficulties before spending a lot of money.

IMO, the first photo's contrast is probably a little bit on the high side, but it looks pretty nice otherwise from what I can see. This is typical for non-DSLR models, since the manufacturers tend to want more "punch" straight from the camera. But, you can dial it down some. This may let you getmore detail in highight and shadow areas.

The second imagedoes look a little soft, and hasthe look of an image that's been compressed a little too much. Again, that's just a first reaction based on a downsized image.

Your comment on Picasa stripping the EXIF bothers me. I've got Picasa on my PC, and the EXIF is intact. Picasa doesn't even modify the originals on my PC. Even if you edit an image, it's storing the edits in a separate file, so that the original is intact. You have to export the photos from Picasa to even apply the edits to the images.

I don't use Picasa to transfer any images (I simply copy and paste them from removable media). But, it sure seems unlikely that it would be stripping anything from them during a copy from your reader.

Heck, even when I've played around with exporting the images from Picasa (with edits), the EXIF was retained.

I can remember a forum thread a while back from someone with a similar problem (not with a Panasonic). The poster was screaming loudly about how terrible a camera was.In the end, it turned out that the program he was using to transfer the images was resampling and recompressing them, causing image degradation.

So, I'd make sure that you're looking at original files (untouched by any editors) before jumping to any conclusions.

I'd also make sure to try turning the camera's Noise Reduction, Sharpening, Contrast, and Saturation settings to their lowest values to make sure the image processing by the camera is being kept to a minimum.

You can always increase these parameters later using software during Post Processing. But, once an image is processed too much, it's hard to recover from it. I'd also make sure to shoot in the highest quality mode. If you're not doing this already, I'd make sure to try using justthe center focus point, too (with most models, it's more sensitive). Your Panasonic allows you to set AF to to use only the center.

Quote:
I thought the larger sensor with 6 or 8 MPs and the focusing speed of a DSLR along with quickly accessable buttons (no running through menues for the necessary set ups for a shot), a real viewfinder that allowed quick manual focus when needed, maybe a Nikon AF VR Nikkor 80-400mm F/4.5-5.6D ED on a Nikon D70s would be the ticket for great 50 foot realistic shots with lots of feather definition.
I'd make sure to check the lenses forums here (we have separateforums for Nikon and Canon lenses)for advise on pros and cons of different lenses if you decide to go with a DSLR model.Even if you don't go with a Nikon or Canon model, you may still find members that use some of the third party lenses that are available in more than one camera mount (for example: lenses from Sigma, Tamron and Tokina).

Good Glass is important. You'd be surprised at how many posts I see from people that spend $1400 on a new camera, then wonder why their brand new 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 lens they paid $200 for is soft and hunts for focus at longer focal lengths (blaming the camera instead of the lens). ;-)

Just because you have a DSLR doesn't automatically mean fast Autofocus.

For one thing, the camera's AF sensorsneeds to "see" well enough to focus. The lens on your Panasonic retains an f/2.8 aperture throughout the focal range, and has image stabilization to help steady the image so that the AF works better. There can also be a big difference in the way a lens is geared for AF (and some are faster than others). Of course, manfuacturers have lenses designed to focus faster via built in motors (HSM from Sigma,USM from Canon, SSM from Minolta, AF-S from Nikon).

If you slap a lens onon a camera with a maximum available aperture off/5.6, then only 1/4 the light is getting through compared toa lens with an f/2.8 aperture (f/2.8 is four times as bright as f/5.6). This makes the viewfinder dimmer, and makes it more difficult for the AF sensors to work properly.

Another thing to consider is that your Panasonic has much greater depth of field for any given 35mm equivalent focal length, aperture and focus distance compared to a DSLR (since the actual focal length of the lens on your Panasonic is only 6-72mm). So, accurate focus becomes more critical with a DSLR model.

You can get a better idea of how this works here:

http://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.html

Quote:
{snip}

...so why not get into a DSLR expect to spend $2300 or so and have a cleaner quicker capability? I don't eat much, and don't need the latest car. I'll just save for the camera like I did the FZ20 and its goodies. It adds up, but takes me a while.
Again, I don't want to discourage you from buying a DSLR. They do have their advantages. I just wanted to make sure you're buying one for the right reasons, taking all things into consideration, including lenses (cost, size, weight, image quality).

Quote:
So called propietary batteries are the way to go especially with the their immense number of shots and charge life in storage.
Yep... I now prefer Lithium Ion batteries. They are easier to work with. But, I personally would not buy a camera based on the type of memory or batteries it used.

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Old Aug 12, 2005, 11:51 AM   #16
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peripatetic wrote:
Quote:
IMO there is a new "super-birding" combo on the block.

Marry the Sigma 50-500 EX zoom lens with a Konica/Minolta 7D or 5D.

You get anti-shake from the body plus a 1.5x multiplier which makes it the equivalent of a 75-750mm lens on a 35mm camera.

That's nearly twice the zoom of your Panasonic, plus you're getting a much better camera with DSLR ISO performance.

There is one downside to using this lens on a Minolta camera (versus a Nikon or Canon model)... Sigma doesn't offer this lens with HSM in Minolta mount. I don't know why not (Minolta has a couple of SSM based lenses, so they should be able to reverse engineer the interface). So, AF is reliant on the speed of the body's focus motor.

Hopefully, given the number of users that will probably buy the new 5D, we'll see third party manufacturers like Sigma begin to work more closely to integrate this type of technolgy in Minolta mountlenses, too. Konica-Minolta will have an intial production of 50,000 cameras per month with the 5D (a dramatic increase compared to the 7D). So, it looks like they are going to take the DSLR market very seriously.

I'm also hearing rumours (from sources that have been very reliable in the past), that Konica-Minolta plans on introducing a new line of SSM (Supersonic Motor) based lenses with the introduction of the 9D next year.

Actually, a KM DSLR is on my short list right now (but, I haven't made a final decision yet). Just in case I go that way, I've already started buying some lensesin Minolta mount: Minolta 28mm f/2, 50mm f/1.7, 100mm f/2, 135mm f/2.8; Tamron 20-40mm f/2.7-3-5 (so far). ;-)


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Old Aug 12, 2005, 3:23 PM   #17
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I used to ask the same question: which camera to buy? But then, it occured to me that it is like asking "which car should I buy?". Most of us don't ask that question. We go to local car dealers, look at the cars, test drive them, compare the prices and features and then decide on our own which car to buy. Well, it is not different with cameras. If there was one camera or a carthat beat all others, people would just have the same camera and drove the same car. Since we are all different, we like different things for different reasons, and that is why there are so many choices. People here can recommend you different cameras, but in the end, it is up to you to make the right choice.

Many reviews will tell you that Canon 20D is better than Nikon D70. But they will also tell you that the cheaper and smaller Canon 350D is very close to Canon 20D and the cheaper Nikon D50 beats D70 in terms of the image quality (e.g., lower noise at higher ISO). So, the real comparison is between Canon 350D and Nikon D50. But, here people start splitting the hair, and you may as well toss a coin.
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Old Aug 13, 2005, 10:50 AM   #18
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Jim,
The EXIF data is with the photo in Microsoft's "MY Pictures." EXIF is with the same picture on my Bloggerbot blog. I don't know why its not here, but it isn't. I've uploaded photos from My Pictures that were saved to My pictures from MS DIP and Picasa. Same results, no EXIF when it gets here. Any thoughts as to what I might try to resolve the problem?
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Old Aug 13, 2005, 10:56 AM   #19
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Tazzie wrote:
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Jim,
The EXIF data is with the photo in Microsoft's "MY Pictures." EXIF is with the same picture on my Bloggerbot blog. I don't know why its not here, but it isn't. I've uploaded photos from My Pictures that were saved to My pictures from MS DIP and Picasa. Same results, no EXIF when it gets here. Any thoughts as to what I might try to resolve the problem?
Nope... I guess it's possible the forum software here is stripping it out.

I'll have to try it later and see. Many users simply embed photos from their web site using the tool at the top of the screen you'll see when posting (versus using the browse button at the bottom and pointing to a local file on a PC).

That way,pointing to a url versus a local file, the forum software is simply displaying the image inisde of a post (versus trying to store the image the way it does when you use the Browse Button at the bottom of the entry screen to embed an image).

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Old Aug 13, 2005, 6:00 PM   #20
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Sharp focus is very difficult for me to achieve quick manually or at all with the FZ20's EVF. Sharpening in PP helps, but its not really the same thing, is it? There are times when I think I'd been better off in auto focus, but Its hard to trust with limbs leaves grass and a bird stuck in them. DSLRS viewfinders these days run from the bright ones with less ability to use in manual mode to dimmer viewfinders due to a coarser screens that allow easier manual focus. I would think FZ20s greater DOF would help me obtain sharp focus more easily than a DSLR.

Jim, I will try low on all settings. I have read the theory of more light hitting the FZs sensor than a dslr. Difficult for me to follow. The last time I did a dof calculation it asked for 1000 to 2000 mm for what I wanted, disappointing. I had read Lin's piece on the FZ20 and the DSLR outing. You never need to clean the FZs sensor!

A friend who films car racing with a *ist Ds said he got 2000 shots with a twin set of rechargabe's, that the battery meter was near worthless, that it quit one night for no known reason but worked later at home, and that he whish he had bought the D70s.

KM appear to have a QC problem. The KM 5Ds in body ISO is a money savor lens wise, but They have little to choose. Third part lens may need calbrated and or may not be fully functional at this time. The Pentax DSLR forum at present leads me to know I wouldn't want to deal with a Pentax Ds. Cannon is a slower camera to use with respect to settings and menue reading ability comared to the D70s. D50 and D70s don't have mirror lock-up. I see now why ruchai limped back toward the FZ-30 for birding.
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