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Old Jan 4, 2006, 9:33 PM   #1
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If you had the choice between these 2 prosumer digital cameras - which one would you go with and why?

PANASONIC LUMIX DMC-FZ20 (5 megapixs) or NIKON COOLPIX 8400 (8 megapixs).

I'm a first time digital camera user. I've been taking pictures with a 35mm SLR for 9 years. I would prefer a DSLR, but the prosumer brands are the price range i'm stuck in right now - and i figure since i'm new to the digital world, these type of cameras will be a good intro to the digtal world.

My dilemma is this, i like the Pansonic FZ20 strictly for it's lens - the f2.8 ALL the way through.

But i like the Nikon 8400 strictly for it's wide lens - i'm partial to wide lenses with 35mm.

But overall performance and picture quality, if you had your choice between these 2 cameras, which one would you go with?

Thanks.
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Old Jan 4, 2006, 9:55 PM   #2
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Frank-

I own BOTH cameras! And honestly I believe they address really different aspects of photography. The FZ-20 is a great ultra zoom digital camera with a great lens. It does not do well with low light level shooting and when using high ISO settings. But outdoors it is great.

The Nikon 8400 is really targeted at landscape photographers with its unusually wide 24mm (in 35mm terms) lens setting. It is SLOW, but produces great photos.

MT
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Old Jan 5, 2006, 2:07 AM   #3
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mtclimber -

Thank you for your reply, i appreciate it. Amazing you own both cameras! Like you said, they are definitely 2 polar opposite type of cameras - which has made the decision tough for me and it's an awkward comparison/ question.

Interesting and very helpful note about the Pansonic not doing well in low light situations - even with it's f2.8 setting. Does the same go for the Nikon in low light situations?

Would you say there is an advantage to either camera when taking pictures of PEOPLE? That is mostly what i shoot. (and even with wide lenses)

Do you feel the widest lens on the Panasonic is a good enough wide lens and works well?

Even though there is more telephoto power in the Panasonic - with the Nikon 8400, at 50mm and onwards - especially at 85mm - i figure i'll still get a decent picture when shooting people/ portraits?

I know this may be a repeat of a question and again awkard - but in general, do you prefer the image quality in one of these camera over the other? Just in a "general" sense?

(even though the Nikon will take the better landscape picture and the Panasonic will take the better telephoto picture - due to their lens.)

Thanks again.
Frank.
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Old Jan 5, 2006, 3:15 AM   #4
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I agree with mtclimber. The two cameras address very different areas of photography and supplement each other nicely. I own a CP8400 and 70-80% of my shots with this camera are made with 24 mm focal length. It is also very suitable for indoor photography, not only because of the 24 mm wide angle flash but also because of the exceptionally powerful flash, which works reasonably well even at 24 mm. It is not very user friendly, though. For instance, to access certain functions you have to press a button with one hand and with the other you have to turn a dial simultaneously and of course you need a third hand to hold the camera. Image quality is great, especially if you use the raw format, but it is slow in many respects (saving a raw picture to the memory card takes almost 10 seconds, during which you can do absolutely nothing) and too noisy for my taste if iso is greater than 100.

I would first buy an ultrazoom like the FZ20 as an allround camera and if you then feel the need for a wide angle lense, you may go for a camera like the CP 8400.
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Old Jan 5, 2006, 5:33 AM   #5
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frank booth wrote:
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Do you feel the widest lens on the Panasonic is a good enough wide lens and works well?
I wouldn't prefer these unwide angle ultrazooms for anything else than wild animal/bird photography but that's what you have to decide, is there always enough space behind you for taking steps backwards and such.

Are you locked to buying from certain store or why you're looking only these cameras?
There are other cameras with 28-200mm zoom which gives enough tele for anything else than wild animals/birds. (quite perfect range for general photography)

As example of field of views here's photo taken with 28mm+0.8x coverter. (~22.5mm)

For getting that 36mm FOV take away one third from height and width... meaning half of image's area.
And 28mm FOV again is little over 1/6th narrower.
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Old Jan 5, 2006, 12:57 PM   #6
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Frank-

I believe Kassandro raises a good point. The first step most probably should be the ultrazoom. An ultrazoom is very useful with candid people photos.

I use my ultra zoom the most followed by my wide angle.

MT
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Old Jan 5, 2006, 1:51 PM   #7
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Why not buying an ultrazoom cam + a wide converter?
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Old Jan 6, 2006, 6:06 AM   #8
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Thank you all - mtclimber, kassandro, E.T, shutterbuggy - for your very helpful advice and tips. I appreciate it.

I ended up going with the Pansonic Lumix DMC-FZ20.

The situation was this: i got the Panasonic as a Christamas gift. Having not done any research prior to getting the gift, i was impressed by the Panasonic but not entirely confident it was the right one. After doing some research and finding out about other models in the FZ20 price range/ prosumer market, i discovered the 8400 and was impressed strictly by it's wide lens, because i am fond of wide lens photography.

It's true what every review says or any forum advice - best thing to do is to go to the store and check the cameras out for yourself, hold them and test them out - which is exactly what i did and it helped immensly to make a decision.

So MY first tip to anyone researching a digital camera - besides joining this fantastic site and asking experienced pros like yourselves, and reading over every review you can get your hands on - next best thing to do is to go to the store and check out the models themselves and test out.

As kassandro and mtclimber mentioned, i felt it would be wise to pick up an ultrazoom first - THEN later down the road pick up the 8400. At least the ultrazoom is an all purpose type of camera and good to have just in case of certain situations.

Also, with my 35mm SLR work, i've never gotten into telephoto - so with the Panasonic, this will be my chance to try out.

I was very impressed though by the 8400's wide lens, it looked great. But overall, the Panasonic impressed me more so - both from a technical point of view (the f2.8 Leica lens/ image quality/ faster operation and more user friendly) and just the physical feel of the camera itself. The 8400 felt like a toy? Even the viewfinder seemed to small?

However, i am new to the digital world and i am making my comparisons to the 35mm world - and no disrespect to the 8400 for it's wonderful 24mm lens - i still may pick this up in the future. But as a first time digital camera user - i just felt better and more impressed going with the Panasonic.

This is a great site, i'm sure i'll be using it in the future.

Thanks again everyone.
Frank.
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Old Jan 6, 2006, 11:17 AM   #9
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frank,

You mentioned trying the cameras out in the store first. Where did you find an FZ20 at a store to try out? I have been searching all over for the FZ20 and I can't seem to find it. The closest I got was the FZ5 at Circuit City (IIRC).
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Old Jan 6, 2006, 6:49 PM   #10
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Nizidramanii -

I'm from the Great White North (Canada), in particular, Ontario. There is a Canadian chain of camera stores called HENRYS here, that's where i got the FZ20 and tested at the store, along with the Nikon 8400.

However, i have no idea if they are only located in Ontario? From what i know, they started in Toronto and just last year branched out to other citys.

Check out their web-site:
www.henrys.ca or www.henrys.com

You can order from them - i know that's not going to let you test the camera out - but i know the FZ20 is definitely available to order. You can pay in Canadian or US dollars.

It's funny you mention Circuit City, cuz i called them and many other stores and asked their advice about the FZ20 and everyone of them said they've never heard of the FZ20 or do not carry it.

Just so you know, i didn't test it out as far as getting a print made. They had an in-store model and let me play around with it in the store.

However, i've been told that certain stores (if you ask) will let you take pics with the camera - as long as you bring your own memory card - and sometimes the store themselves will print it out for you, or you just take it home and print or to a lab.

Frank.
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