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Old Dec 8, 2005, 9:27 AM   #1
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I am hoping all you kind and knowledgable people can help me with my "which camera" question. I have decided to upgrade from my Oly 3040. I've really enjoyed it but wanted to take advantage of the advancements over the last 4 years, higher res. longer range, less noise etc. I shoot mostly nature and macro, with occasional social function or vacation trip. I have purchased a KM 5d thinking that it would fill all my needs. Just pop a 18-200 lense on there and I've got the best p/s camera avaliable.

However after reading this and other forums for the last few weeks I am getting the sense that it's not that simple and that DSLR photography takes more comitment to being a "photographer" and learning your tool than the p/s cameras do, to get an excellent result. I do want to be able to controll my DOF and shutter speed on occasion. but in general, i don't want to have to "work out" every shot.

I guess my question is, if I use my 5D in primarily the auto mode will I still get superior results to a bridge camera?(I'm considering the Panasonic FZ30) If i'm not a committed photographer, am I getting in over my head? I've read a lot of posts from new users who are very frustrated and I don't want to end up giving up photography due to frustration. Thanks in advance for your imput.
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Old Dec 8, 2005, 10:38 AM   #2
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First of all, welcome to the forums.

Your C-3040z is a very nice camera.

It has one of the brightest lenses you can find (NO current non-DSLR models have a lens as bright at it's widest zoom setting-- none of them). Whatever you do, hold on to it (or at least, I would).

As a result of this camera's excellent lens design, moving from this camera to another non-DSLR model tends to be frustrating to some users (especially those that like to take photos in less than optimal lighting conditions and/or without a flash).

Many users mistakenly think that more megapixels=better quality, without taking other things (like lens brightness or noise levels) into consideration.

I've recommended this model (C-3040z) to forum members in the past (suggesting they try to find one on Ebay), when their primary concern was existing light photography, and budget didn't permit a DSLR.

To get a zoom lens that bright with it's focal range in a DSLR would be virtually impossiible, without it being very large and heavy (they don't make zoom lenses this bright for a DSLR).

To put this in perspective, the aperture range (in one stop increments) goes f/1.0 (with theortically larger apertures since it's only a ratio between the focal length and the aperture iris diameter), f/1.4,f/2.0, f/2.8, f/4.0, f/5.6, f/8.0, f/11, f/16, f/22, etc.

With each one stop move to a smaller aperture (represented by larger f/stop numbers), only half as much light reaches the sensor, requiring shutter speeds twice as long for proper exposure.

The amount of light hitting the sensor also impacts AF reliability (the camera can "see" to focus better with a brighter lens).

Most point and shoot cameras have lenses that don't start out until around f/2.8 (and your Oly's lens starts out at f/1.8, which is more than twice as bright). Most point and shoot models also lose a lot of brightness as more zoom is used (sometimes stopping down to around f/5). Your Oly's lens only stops down to f/2.6 at full zoom (which is still brighter than most cameras, even at their widest zoom position).

Some of the Panasonic models (like the one you're looking at) are much better than most when using more optical zoom (they can maintain their f/2.8 brightness throughout the focal range). But, they are the exception versus the rule.

A lens like the 18-200mm you're looking at is going to lose a LOT of brightness as more zoom is used, too. That's why a lens with a constant f/2.8 aperture is much larger, heavier and more expensive (and you won't find one with this much focal range for a DSLR).

Now, a DSLR has the advantage of higher ISO speeds to help offset the differences, and you can get some very high quality lenses for one. There are tradeoffs when going to a DSLR (especially from a model like your C-3040z).

That's another thing to look at when making decisions -- higher ISO speed usability. Most non-DSLR models are going to have much higher noise levels compared to your Olympus C-3040z (or if they don't their noise reduction algorithms will result in more loss of detail as ISO speeds are increased).

That's because the sensors are smaller in most newer models. That's why they can introduce "super zoom" models (the sensors are smaller, which means a shorter "actual" focal length lens can be used for any given 35mm equivalent focal length).

In addition to using smaller sensors, you've got more megapixels. This means more photosites in the sensor, which means the photosites need to be smaller to fit more of them into the same area.

As a result, they don't have as much surface areas, requiring more amplification of the signal for equivalent ISO speed sensitivity (resulting in higher noise levels). In low light, this can be like trying to turn up the volume on a radio tuned to a weak station; only instead of static, hum and hiss, you get image noise.

More megapixels does not necessarily means better image quality, especially in less than optimum lighting.

The dramatically larger sensor used in a model like the KM 5D is one reason you can use higher ISO speeds with it compared to non-DSLR models. Each photosite is larger, so more photons hit each photosite, producing a stronger signal.

Also, many users have both types of cameras, using one in some conditions, and another in different conditions. There are pros and cons to both camera types.

There are some types of shots you just can't get with a point and shoot model, and when you see "3D" looking images from using lenses with larger apertures to let your subjects stand out from distracting backgrounds, you'll really appreciate the benefits of a DSLR more. Ditto for when you want to take photos in very low light.

I've also got this camera (KM 5D), and I've used it at ISO 3200 in candle lit bars, with shutter speeds as slow as 1/4 second using a very bright 28mm f/2 lens on it. IMO, those types of hand held shots would be impossible to get with any other camera (including other brands of DSLRs).

Yes, there is a learning curve associated with going to a DSLR. But, I've seen more than one Panasonic FZ series user make the switch (and they are happier with the 5D).

For starters, read an article titled Don't Be A Bozo by Peterri Sulonen.

Our forums software does not like the direct URL to it. You'll see it under the Essays menu choice if you go to the main site at http://www.prime-junta.net

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Old Dec 8, 2005, 11:01 AM   #3
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JimC wrote:
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Some of the Panasonic models (like the one you're looking at) are much better than most when using more optical zoom (they can maintain their f/2.8 brightness throughout the focal range). But, they are the exception versus the rule.
Generally excellent advice, but this particular point is wrong. The FZ-30 is no better than most ultrazooms on the aperture across the zoom. It is worse than both the FZ-20 (which does have a constant 2.8 aperture across zoom) and the FZ-5 (which drifts up to 3.2 if memory serves at longer zooms). This is one major way that the FZ-30 was a big step backward from its predecessors. In most other regards, it was an improvement.


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Old Dec 8, 2005, 11:17 AM   #4
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tclune wrote:
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JimC wrote:
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Some of the Panasonic models (like the one you're looking at) are much better than most when using more optical zoom (they can maintain their f/2.8 brightness throughout the focal range). But, they are the exception versus the rule.
Generally excellent advice, but this particular point is wrong. The FZ-30 is no better than most ultrazooms on the aperture across the zoom. It is worse than both the FZ-20 (which does have a constant 2.8 aperture across zoom) and the FZ-5 (which drifts up to 3.2 if memory serves at longer zooms). This is one major way that the FZ-30 was a big step backward from its predecessors. In most other regards, it was an improvement.
Thanks for the correction, I didn't even glance at the specs (although something in the back of my mind was urging me to do so, since I do remember it stopped down a bit more than previous models). It looks like the largest available aperture is f/3.7 on the long end of the zoom range with the DMC-FZ30.

That's still less than one stop difference in brightness between the widest and longest zoom position (which is much better than most non-DSLR models)

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Old Dec 8, 2005, 2:00 PM   #5
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I wouldn't keep long tele ultrazooms as best ones for sutbstituting DSLR, they lack good wide angle...
I think most used lenses of DSLRs are those with zoom from good wide angle to short/medium tele. (except those who shoots lot of animals)


Here's really good comparison around this same issue you have.
http://www.neocamera.com/feature_dslr.html
One of the biggest differences is that you won't see effect of changing exposure and those. (you have to check it after taking the shot)


Here's opinions of one professional who chose prosumer for light vacation camera.
http://www.luminous-landscape.com/re...location.shtml


If you do low light action photography then DSLRs are pretty much only option, but for low light landscapes non-SLRs fit as well if you just use tripod.
Considering DOF all non-SLR's have much much deeper DOF and you can't get much blurred background... but in macrophotography DOF is extremely short with DSLRs so in that deeper DOF of non-SLRs actually helps.

And for me video ability of non-SLRs is big plus...
without it I wouldn't have gotten pretty much any material from summers best thunderstorm. (downpour and wind gust of downburst are impossible to capture to still photo and we see enough rain without still photos of it)


JimC wrote:
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The dramatically larger sensor used in a model like the KM 5D is one reason you can use higher ISO speeds with it compared to non-DSLR models.
That larger sensor is pretty much only reason and only way for really high ISOs...
Peltier cooling systems just wouldn't work in digicams like they do in astronomical photographing.:G
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Old Dec 8, 2005, 6:50 PM   #6
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Jim, Thanks so much for the comprehensive response. You're very generous.

You're right, the 3040 is an amazing litle camera. It is not uncommon for me to go on a trip and take175 pictures and not have one that wasn't spot on. If I could just figure a way to slip a 6 or 7 mp sensor in there....

My experience with that camera is the reason I am even considering the Panasonic. I had origionally written it off because of the high ISO noise issue in almost all of the reviews. Interestingly, except for Steve's. He didn't make a big issue about it. Anyway, I started reading the reader reviews and most of those gave it very high ratings and didn't seem to feel the noise was a problem. I started to evaluate the way that I use a camera, and most of what I do is daytime scenery and macro (flowers etc.) with an occasional sunrise or sunset. None of those really demand high ISO. The occasional family party, the 3040 handles fine. The only pictures I would consider enlarging to 8x10 or larger, are scenery or macros. I hang them in my office. In these circumstances, say up to 12x14, is the dSLR going produce photos that are substantially better whenprinted than those from the the FZ30. I am really concerned that the aditional complexity of using a SLR will discourage me, and so far the responses I have received have enphasized the technical superiority of the SLR but have not assuaged my concerns complexity of using it. Thanks so much for your time.
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Old Dec 8, 2005, 6:54 PM   #7
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E.T. Thanks for your opinion. May I ask what prosumer camera are you using? Do you also use a SLR? Given the choice of keeping one or the other, which would you chose and why? Sorry if this sounds like a school assignment, but you were one of the only people to present an argument in favor of the prosumer type camera. Thanks again.
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Old Dec 9, 2005, 2:59 AM   #8
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I have KonicaMinolta A2 mentioned in those articles. (EVF with 4x resolution compared to EVFs&LCDs of all other cameras)
I don't have (D)SLR because I don't do low light action photography and in many aspects they would be like film cameras. (but from DSLRs my choise would be KM... stabilization "in" every lens would be major plus)
Sure A2's tele end is limited (28-200mm) compared to ultrazooms but I do general nature photography, lanscapes, thunderstorms and sky's "twilight phenomenons" and take propably almost 1/4th of photos at wider than 35mm while ratio for shots taken at 150mm/longer is propably around 1/10th. And in "user interface"/manual controls it beats all other digicams, even many (cheaper?) DSLRs... two control dials, all settings needed in ordinary photography can be done without menus... unless you count things like flash control/mode to those. (and tele macro gives distortion free image from 6cm wide area)
Unfortunately production of A2 was discontinued really prematurely about year ago because low end DSLRs growing up from every crack of tarmac were more media sexy and easier to sell than feature rich all in one general camera.
So finding A2 now wouldn't be easy... and its "successor", A200, was made more for "Point&Pray" with standard low res EVF and dumbed down, "standard" user interface.


Here's some shots which could be said to be more demanding.
F/A-18 fast and low
BAe Hawk MK51s

Night scenery. (1, or was it 2am... don't remember)
Noctilucent clouds... and what it looked in reality at the time of previous shot.
(although eye saw ground better thanks to its phenomenal dynamic range)

So tripod makes wonders in low light stationary target photography.

And here's nice sunset as example from field of views...
Taken with 28mm +0.8x coverter, ~22.5mm.

For getting 38mm field of fiew take away one third from height and width. (much over half of the image's area)
28mm is slightly over 1/6th narrower and as you can guess 35mm is just slightly wider than 38mm.


So I don't have any need (or hurry) for going to DSLR, at least until they became "more digital" and even then for my normal use they would be much less convenient.
(and way like other non-SLRs are, neither I'll change to other from A2)


jdldds wrote:
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The only pictures I would consider enlarging to 8x10 or larger, are scenery or macros. I hang them in my office. In these circumstances, say up to 12x14, ┬*is the dSLR going produce photos that are substantially better when┬*printed than those from the the FZ30.
Visible noise levels at various print size show that the A2 is perfectly suited at ISO 200 (or less) up to 25" wide and at ISO 800 up to 12" wide. The outstanding Canon 20D produces perfectly usable prints up to ISO 1600 even at 25" wide. This demonstrates that even though the A2's noise levels are higher at all ISO sensitivities, for most common print sizes (up to 9"x12"), its full ISO range remains very usable.
http://www.neocamera.com/feature_dslr3.html

I think most macroshots are taken in good light and for sceneries IS/AS helps and tripod enables them in really low light.
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Old Dec 9, 2005, 8:21 AM   #9
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jdldds wrote:
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Jim, Thanks so much for the comprehensive response. You're very generous.

You're right, the 3040 is an amazing litle camera. It is not uncommon for me to go on a trip and take175 pictures and not have one that wasn't spot on. If I could just figure a way to slip a 6 or 7 mp sensor in there...
Well, I'm not sure most users really need 6 or 7 Megapixels. I've got lots of 8x10" prints from 2 and 3 Megapixel cameras that look just fine.

I got a KM 5D not long ago. But, to be frank, I came VERY close to buying an old Kodak DCS Pro 720x not too long before that when I saw one come up on Ebay (they wanted about $800 for it, which is more than you can buy a brand new DSLR from multiple manufcturers for). Of course, this model sold for over $7,000 when new.

That's a 2 Megapixel "Boat Anchor". So, why in the world would I consider an old 2MP model like that?

It's got usable ISO 6400 using modern noise reduction tools like Neat Image or Noiseware, that's why (not to mention great Dynamic Range)! It's only calibrated to ISO 4000, but I've heard about users pushing it to ISO 16000 with no trouble using good noise reduction tools (underexposing and pushing it back up using Kodak's raw conversion)..

Even Rob Galbraith's ISO 6400 samples clean up nicely with modern tools (and they were underexposed, making the effective ISO HIGHER than ISO 6400).

Check out how much detail you've got in the the photos look from this old 2 Megapixel model in it's reviews here (keeping in mind that the image processing tools used are 4 years old, and software has improved a lot since then). Compare the amount of detail captured to newer cameras for the same subjects.

Look at dynamic range (how well did it handle the highlights and shadows without losing detail). Look at things like the wires in the dish on one building (the dish is gone now, but try to see them in a lot of newer cameras before it was removed from the building). Look at things like the gold letters on the door at the Restaurant. It was a super camera (and Steve apparently had the contrast bumped up when processing the images, too, so even more detail was possible with changes in PP).

http://www.steves-digicams.com/2001_...x_samples.html

That was before they started trying to stuff more megapixels into the same size sensor. Yea, I came to my senses before I pressed the Buy Button (I thought about lugging it around). ;-)

OK, not everyone needs high ISO speed peformance (I do, as the clubs around here have very low light, basically a few candles scattered around the bar area). That's one reason why I went with the KM 5D. I can use it at ISO 3200 with careful exposure (you don't want to underexpose ISO 3200, or noise would be like shooting at even higher ISO speeds).

With a bright prime, I can hand hold it at shutter speeds well below what you could do with other cameras without using a tripod in the conditions I want to shoot it. I've needed to use shutter speeds of around 1/5 second with it in one club here, at f/2.5 and ISO 3200 (and I get usable photos that way, with a hand held camera).

I did notice this one comment from you (your first post to this thread):

Quote:
I do want to be able to controll my DOF and shutter speed on occasion. but in general, i don't want to have to "work out" every shot.
Well, the 5D has some scene modes designed for new DSLR users. To be frank, I have not tried them (even though I've been using this camera for the past couple of months). So, you'd need to experiment to see what they do. But, they are designed to optimize the settings for you for different types of scenes. I'd give 'em a shot and see how well they work.

But, even the P mode should get you some pretty good pics in most conditions. Also, you may want to bump up the sharpness and saturation a notch to get the images closer to a point and shoot. Personally, I shoot almost exclusively in raw, or raw+jpeg. That gives me better images (with far more control of the ouput than you'd get from the camera produced jpeg).

Also, this camera (KM 5D) blows away other current DSLR models in the Dynamic Range area (ability to capture a wider range from dark to light), IF you shoot in raw. I can vouch for that. I've seen highlight areas totally blown in the JPEG images (by at least a stop -- probably closer to 2 stops), that I could recover the detail from shooting in raw and converting (shooting raw+jpeg and comparing the images).

You can't get that kind of dynamic range (which is far more important to me than resolution) shooting with a high megapixel point and shoot camera.

Check out Dave Etchell's Imatest Results for Dynamic Rangeshooting in raw with the 5D.

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Old Dec 9, 2005, 11:33 AM   #10
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I'm certainly no expert, but I bought a FZ30 on Friday and had a chance to play with it while my Sony F717 is still working (it has some intermittent problems and doesn't reliably work in the cold any more).

I didn't get a dSLR not because of the learning curve but because I got really tired of always having the wrong lens on the camera and carting around all the extra equipment I had. It was too much for hiking, so a dSLR wasn't even considered.

I wholeheartedly agree with JimC's comment that more pixels do not mean better resolution. I found that when the 8 MP Panasonic was left to itself, it "overprocessed" the picture and the ones taken with the 5 MP Sony had a bit more detail (it wasn't a huge amount, but when viewed side by side, it was noticeable). Also,the FZ30doesn't seem to have the dynamic range (if I understand that concept correctly) that the Sony does - the Sony captures details in the shadows of a high contrast photobetter.I didn't do any scientific test, this was just my personal opinionwhenlooking atphotos taken by both cameras at the same place and same time. Besides, I never felt "pixel-deprived" when using the 5 MP Sony.

I'm not saying that the FZ30 is a piece of junk - it's a very nice camera and I'm keeping it. However, I wouldNOT be replacing the old Sony if it didn't have some problems. I've discovered shooting in raw captures the details that the camera proceses out when it converts the file to jpg, so I'll be using that for my flowers and landscape pictures. It has features the Sony doesn't, which is nice, but it isn't a huge step forward for me.
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