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Old Apr 20, 2006, 12:04 AM   #1
rat
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please bare with me...

i have always loved photography and i love takin pictures...a bundle of them. now i have many hobbies and i usually strive to get the best right away instead of reselling and buying the best later on.

i have come to terms that DSLRs are probably not suited for me. I would love to own one, but i do not picture myself investing in multiple lenses and lugging around a huge backpack just for camera stuff.

i was suggested the fz30 from by a friend. i have spent the last 2 weeks and countless hours every night researching this camera.

i will be taking pictures of everything....whether it be flower macros from my back yard or family pictures at gatherings, to landscapes or scenery and animals....

throughout my research, i have discovered 4 possible things that are the only reason why i have not bought the camera as of yet.

1) the evident noise issue
2) the fact that the lens may not be good enough for wide angle shots (scenery)
3) the possibility that the macro function may not be the best around.
4) low light pics are lacking


what bothers me is that some reviews complain about it such factors as noise, while others say that these claims are unfounded because most cameras in that category will get similar noise at "X" ISO level....

now, my current camera is a 4MP canon digital elph, just so you know where i currently stand....and i have gotten some great shots from it...

i know that it is not a dslr....but is it worth it.....any pics you guys can take at low light or in different situations would help me.

please help me...lol

thanks!
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Old Apr 20, 2006, 5:09 AM   #2
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Multiple lenses and such definitely take away lot of fun.
Also non-SLRs have good videomodes... some things are jsut impossible to capture with still camera.


If you don't photograph much wild animals/birds you would be much better with camera starting from 28mm wide angle, like Fuji S9000 or KonicaMinolta A200.
Good wide angle is also usefull when taking group shots of people, especially inside. Also it gives more flexibility for general nature shooting.


I myself take general nature photos, landscapes, sky phenomenons and keep 28-200mm stabilized lens of KM very good for that. (~6000 shots to this day)
But if you would take more animal shots than that occasional shot when you happen to be accidently close (like on the other side of window) S9000 has 300mm tele which isn't anymore much shorter than FZ30.
(remember that doubling magnification would require doubling focal lengths)
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Old Apr 20, 2006, 6:12 AM   #3
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id just like to add multiple lens' adds to the fun for me
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Old Apr 20, 2006, 7:01 AM   #4
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rat wrote:
Quote:
1) the evident noise issue
2) the fact that the lens may not be good enough for wide angle shots (scenery)
3) the possibility that the macro function may not be the best around.
4) low light pics are lacking

thanks!

Hi

As i messaged you earlier. i can answer all this for you in short

1) the evident noise issue
Yes this camera has noise in its shots. Personally i only think it becomes an issue at its max iso400 setting. Iso200 is very much usable


2) the fact that the lens may not be good enough for wide angle shots (scenery)The lens is 35mm at widest angle. It depends on what sort you are doing.


3) the possibility that the macro function may not be the best around.
I figure when your talking about macro function your talking about how close. Yes the Pana doesnt seem to get as close as some other i have played with. Depends how macro you want to get. For flowers etc its close enough. If you want more a small investment in a close up filter with hi diopter value will do the trick. I have currently bought a +3 and +2 diopter close up filter off trade me together for $12NZD. Cheap as chips. I will shot some with and without when i get time. This should bring the macro focal alot closer.


4) low light pics are lacking
This links back to hi iso problem.

I will try take some shots for you, just got to give me a litte time.

ken
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Old Apr 20, 2006, 7:17 AM   #5
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Pana FZ30 is a great advanced prosumer all-in-one camera, capable of producing high quality images. As all cameras (including DSLRs) it has limitations.

I agree with E.T here, you might be better off with a KM A200 or Fuji S9000/9500. Their wider 28mm lenses are much more useful than a longer telephoto end of FZ30. Even 28 mm is limiting for indoors and landscape shooting.

The whole issue of noise in Panasonic cameras is a bit exagregated IMO and partly this is the price we pay for a superzoom camera with a small sensor.

The Pana's macro may not be the best around as you say, but it is very good. You can see a lot of examples in Panasonic forum.

About low light pics (again this is just my personal opinion). No IS system and other technological advances can replace an old sturdy tripod and low ISO settingin low-light photography.

I don't own an FZ30, but this camera was on my short list together with KM A200 and Fuji S9500. At the end the handling (once again, for me and my hands)and 28mm lens of the S9500 have won. It would have been an A200, but because of our crazy taxes KM was US$100 more than Fuji and Panasonic.

Here are several examples of what Fuji S9500 is capable of:

The whole flower diameter was about 4cm.








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Old Apr 20, 2006, 9:54 AM   #6
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i have noticed that in many threads concerning the FZ30, you are pretty much against it due to the wide angle issue.

here is a question. if i purchased a wide angle lens as an attachment to the fz30, would you still choose other brands over it?

what attracted me in the first place to the panasonic, was the numerous rave reviews that i have been hearing about it. mostly that it has great features (zoom , stabilization, accurate colors etc.)


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Old Apr 20, 2006, 10:51 AM   #7
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I have the FZ20, but the issues are pretty much the same. While the 30 has many nice improvements on user interface, it made a noticeable step backward by replacing that wonderfully bright lens with a much darker one. All-in-all, I think the changes add up to a wash.

Anyway, the things that are problematic with the 20 are pretty much what you indicate. I have often found the lack of a decent wide angle limiting. You can work around it by framing the shot differently than you wanted to, or by finding a further back place to stand most of the time, but you really do need to work around the camera on this point. On the other hand, the long lens is more useful than ET seems to give it credit for. It isn't just for birding -- a lot of ordinary shots can be frames from where you stand with a decent reach. And the Pannys have that in spades.

The wide angle would really be useful, too, though. I think ET has this exactly right. The Pannys tend toward noticeable barrel distortion at the wide angle end already, so slapping a wide angle lens in front of it is not an ideal choice. This issue isone that makes me envy my dSLR compatriots. And, if you're going to add an adapter lens with all its attendant problems. why not just opt for an SLR in the first place? Why not get the advantages if you're going to subject yourself to the hassles, unless you're already stuck with a camera that you're trying to make do?

The second issue is also a biggie -- lack of decent high ISO. This is a problem with most prosumer cameras, so I'm not bashing Panny here. But you are caught between a rock and a hard place with low ISOs. You can either have low noise (I keep my FZ20 set to ISO 100 and have no noise problem) or you are unable to capture images that involve any motionin relatively low light without flash. I have opted for the second problem, but it's a real pain. Relatively low light means indoors on a sunny day, outdoors starting around twilight, on a well-lit night game football field, etc. There are lots of pics that just can't be taken at ISO 100 without bright artifical light from one source or another. I've taken 200 and 400 shots indoors with my Panny, and the noise is horrific (and the speed still inadequate -- and that's with a lens that is a lot brighter than the 30, remember).

The noise is not just luminance, but chrominance noise, which is hard to clean up. There are good noise reduction programs available, like Noise Ninja. If you opt for a prosumer ultrazoom, you will have to become intimately familiar with thier use.

A third really unpleasant aspect of the ultrazooms that you didn't mention is the EVF. They just can't compare to optical viewfinders in any sense except that they allow you a WYSIWYG view of the photo -- both in terms of 100% field of view and in terms of the exposure you will end up with. If I could have the clarity and resolutionof an optical viewfinder and the "real-time feedback" of an EVF, I would be a happy man.

Other limitations of an SLR relative to the prosumer camera include,as you noted, lugging and changing lenses is a pain. Also, if you care about such things, the lack of a movie mode might be a limitation for you, too. And, finally, they cost through the nose.

Other things that I find very useful on the Panny include a hot shoe for external flash (although, again, an SLR will have more sophisticated flash control, including TTL exposure control and ability to choose front-porch or back-porch slow mode), support for external triggering (which I find absoultely essential when using a tripod), and a filter adapterthat is included as standard equipment.The camera focuses reliably in my experience and does a very good job with exposure settings.

Aspects of the camera that aren't exactly "features" but are noneetheless things I value include the ability to set the color saturation to something that doesn't look garish (why is this so rare?);the ability to select a noise reduction setting that doesn't introduce Gibbs effects to suppress all noise at the expense of image quality (again, this should be universal, ISTM); and a lens that is to die for -- very uniformly bright and sharp across its whole surface at all zooms, free of chromatic aberration, and virtually devoid of distortion at all but the widest angle setting.

One thing that I have found less useful than I expected to was image stabilization. If it isn't a nice bright day, you still really need a tripod. Given that you need to lug one around anyway, I wouldn't make a buy decision based on the presence or absence of IS if I were buying another camera. This was a surprise to me, as IS was one of my non-negotiables when I was looking at ultrazooms.

The macro mode, BTW, is more than adequate for anything I can envision. It is true that you can put an object right against the lens on some cameras, but why would you want to? Lighting is an issue with macro to begin with. I find that taking a tele macro is often the perferred shot anyway,both for lighting and to allow better control over DOF.

I really think that, all-in-all, this was the right camera for me. However, you should give careful consideration to ET's alternatives -- he's just trying to make you aware of an important limitation that you don't have to subject yourself to unless the trade-offs on other matters seem wrong for you.


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Old Apr 20, 2006, 10:58 AM   #8
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How is this for macro from the original panasonic FZ1 which is only 2MP. hand held using B-macro lens on my FZ1v2.



Nice thing with these cameras is that you can use zoom in macro mode. Not all models allow max zoom with close focussing required in macro mode. You can also buy olympus close up lens but DOF will get quite small and focussing can be pain. People have great luck using Nikon 6T.

Regarding low light, I never understood, what people trying to shoot with their cameras? What's wrong with using flash? You got hot shoe on that FZ30, isn't it. Buy a cheap flash and learn how to use it and your pictures will be much better. Even with dSLRs, shooting in typical room with natural light is hard. You need f1.8 and ISO 800.

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Old Apr 20, 2006, 4:47 PM   #9
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rat wrote:
Quote:
...if i purchased a wide angle lens as an attachment to the fz30, would you still choose other brands over it?...
The Pana's wide angle lens is about US$250, which brings the total size and cost very close to the size and cost of something like a two lens Olympus E300/E500 kit or a Nikon D50 with 18-200mm Sigma or Tokina lens, and you do get better quality pics with DSLRs especially in low-light and action/sport shots, although you loose macro and video.

FZ30 and S9500 are great and capable cameras, you just have to decide which one suits you better. Generally, with distant subjects you can get a bit closer to your target, crop the final image (8 or 9MP allow for this)or use a digital zoom as you last resort. Indoors you usually can't back up if your lens is not wide enough, although you can stitch several images (not the best option IMO, but it works quite well in panoramic landscapes). I've found myself many times in a situation when my 24mm lens on a film SLR wasn't wide enough for indoor shooting.

The startup and lag time of both cameras and their focus speed are better than most of P&S and SLR-like cameras. Manual zoom and focus controls are just great. Sadly, both cameras lack external TTL flash connection. With Fuji noise is not a big issue up to ISO400, images at ISO800 are good after noise removal up to A4 print size, ISO1600 is not great, but usable with 10x15cm prints.

The LCD of FZ30 IMO is better than Fiji's and it's shooting speed both in JPEG and especially RAW format is faster.

If for any reason you don't want to go the DSLR route, you can't really go wrong with any of these two cameras, you just have to sort out your priorities.

Good luck,

Alex

P.S. image stabilization won't help you with movingobjects.



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Old Apr 20, 2006, 5:03 PM   #10
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Alex-

Your attached photos were wonderful.

MT
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