How good is good enough?

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Tom

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I used to be considered an early adopter of technology, but have become less adventuresome (aka more conservative) in retirement. I've had a number of SLRs and digital still cameras (DSCs) over the years, but came to realize that most of the photos I take are point-and-shoot. I'm far more concerned about getting the shot than worrying about all the photographic technicalities.

A few years ago I bought myself a small Minolta 4MP camera that always hung on my belt and could be popped out to take a shot in short order. That camera had a lot of use, far more than the larger SLRs and DSCs I'd owned, and probably had some unintended abuse. While at Moab, the camera developed what appears to be a light leak past the lens and I resigned myself to buying a replacement camera for what it would probably cost me to get the old one fixed.

After some research and touch/feel, I chose the Panasonic Lumix FZ9, a 6MP camera which has some advantages and some disadvantages compared with the Minolta. (e.g. no viewfinder, larger LCD, smaller overall size, different menus, different features, etc).

Meanwhile, I've also missed the 14X and 10X optical zoom lenses on my prior Sony cameras. I ruled out a DSLR because of size, weight and the need to change lenses, not to mention features I probably would never use. I'd been researching possibilities and had the Panasonic FZ30 in my sights when discussion started here about that camera. When I finally got to touch and feel the FZ30 at a store, I realized it was larger and heavier than I'd imagined. That's when I decided to evaluate the Panasonic FZ7, which is a 6MP camera (vs 8MP for the FZ30) with a 12X optical zoom and is smaller and lighter.

I continued to vacillate between the FZ30 and FZ7, making several trips to stores to touch and feel. I bought the FZ7 and I'm currently trying to decide if I'll keep it or exchange it for the FZ30. One of the possible issues is the ability to "shoot in raw", which led to my question in this topic.

Another obvious issue is resolution (6 MP vs 8MP), but I'm not sure that would make a lot of difference to the kind of shots I take.

The lenses are quite different, although they're both made by Leica, as is the lens on the small FZ9. The lens on the FZ30 has a manual focus ring, but the one on the FZ7 does not.

What features do FZ30 owners feel are must-have's?
 

Bob Buchanan

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Tom said:
I'm not sure I wanted to hear that Bob as it might influence my final choice of camera. This message might explain a little more of my dilema.

Well -- my wording was not so good there. "I" wouldn't want to be without RAW as I move ahead into the DSLR world -- however, tons of shooters will be very happy without it.  And would imagine that tons that do have it, will never use it.

The FZ7 will adequately adjust most settings automatically (e.g, white balance or ISO). Even if shooting in Shutter or Aperture priority mode. So from what I see and what you describe of what you want to do with the camera, I would think the FZ7 would work fine for you. Now, if you "DID" set white balance and/or ISO manually (which I believe you can in that camera), and if you "DID" make a mistake, and if you really wanted that particular shot enough to make a change it the darkroom -- the RAW would be nice. However, would imagine it would rare if ever that that would happen in your world.

The FZ7 does just about everything the FZ30 will do otherwise. It's also 6 or so months newer. The trend in digitals is to add features to new models and sell them for the same price or less as the older model. So it looks like they added most of the FZ30 stuff to the FZ7 maybe. Here are some thoughts otherwise:

o Amazed that the Leica lens is almost the same as the FZ30. However, was not able to find the maximum FStop. The minimum is F2.8 -- same as on the FZ30. The max should be at least F11.0 and hopefully higher (Ansel shot at F64.0). That is critical for maximum depth of field on a scenery shot.

o The built in flash has only about half the power as the FZ30 flash. PLUS, if you found the need for a stronger flash there is no hot shoe on the FZ7. You "could" use a slave off camera flash that would be fired by the built in flash but that is a chore -- and TTL metering would not happen.

o The LCD display has only about half the resolution as the FZ30 LCD.

On the plus side is the weight. Panasonic does great advertising. Most everything I see in the FZ30 is in the FZ7. However, the FZ30 is much bigger and weighs almost twice as much.  ???  I read somewhere that the reason they did that was so the FZ30 would "look like" an SLR. When I bought my Oly2500, I was deciding between it and the hot Nikon at that time. But the Nikon didn't even look like a camera, let alone an SLR. So I bought the Oly instead. Hey, I couldn't let my pro friends see me shooting with that thing.  :eek:
 

Tom

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Hi Bob,

Thanks again for your comments.

.... from what I see and what you describe of what you want to do with the camera, I would think the FZ7 would work fine for you.

That's what I'm hoping, but I could be convinced to switch cameras if there was a large enough negative to the FZ7.

The trend in digitals is to add features to new models and sell them for the same price or less as the older model.

I used to work for a company that sold image capture chips, among others, to most of the camera manufacturers, but the rate of change still boggles my mind.

Amazed that the Leica lens is almost the same as the FZ30. However, was not able to find the maximum FStop.

With the two cameras alongside each other in the store, the lens on the FZ7 looks significantly different and is physically smaller than the one on the FZ30. I couldn't find the f-stop on the Panasonic web site or in the owners manual, but Steve's Digicams says it's 2.8 - 8. Sounds like a negative.

Good point re the lack of a hot shoe, although not a biggie for me. I missed the fact that the flash is lower power.

I read somewhere that the reason they did that was so the FZ30 would "look like" an SLR.

I think they succeeded, well almost. The FZ30 is a little smaller than an SLR, but quite a bit larger in the hand than the FZ7. I can see one handed operation with the FZ7, but definitely not with the FZ30.
 

Betty Brewer

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Tom said:
Another obvious issue is resolution (6 MP vs 8MP), but I'm not sure that would make a lot of difference to the kind of shots I take.The lenses are quite different, although they're both made by Leica, as is the lens on the small FZ7.

What features do FZ30 owners feel are must-have's?

Tom,
As  you may know I was a bit peeved at Terry for "having to have"  the FZ30 and would not contribute to  it's purchase at all .  I thought we had a camera already.  Well about an hour ago circumstances once again proved he was right to buy the new thing. We were driving  down the highway toward Fairbanks and I see a big moose along side the road on the left.  Terry pulls over the MH along the road a good distance from her. Terry gets lots of shots with the telephoto. I swear it acts as a telescope. Then he did things with the resolution as we had time to watch her from afar.  When we drive on slowly to get closer, the moose ran off into the bushes.  If we did not have that super zoom capacity, we would have missed the moose as the noise from our rig getting close scared her away.  If you're coming to Alaska you want a camera that will take pictures from far away.  I can compose photos but I am basically a point and shooter.  Just a non technical opinion from someone who doesn't even know the alternative camera you are considering. We like our  FZ30.  You can't put it in your pocket but you can hang it from around your neck! 

Betty
 

Tom

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Betty Brewer said:
If we did not have that super zoom capacity....

Thanks Betty. The two cameras in question have essentially the same zoom capability.
 

Jeff

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Tom:

I too have been lured by all the comments over new cameras to look at the FZ30 and also am not sure I would carry it as much because of its size/weight.

Does the FZ7 have image stabilization?
 

Tom

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FWIW I hadn't actually made the decision to buy either camera, but my daughter asked me for a recommendation to replace her Sony. I had no qualms about recommending the FZ7 and, when she asked me to pick one up for her, I told the guy "I'll take two".
 

Tom

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Tom said:
..... the lens on the FZ7 looks significantly different and is physically smaller than the one on the FZ30.

I should clarify that the lens on the FZ30 has a manual focus ring whereas the lens on the FZ7 does not. This is both a positive and a negative. Amongst other things, it means that the FZ7 can be used with one hand whereas the FZ30 requires two.
 

Jeff

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Thanks Tom. Have you had a chance to compare the delay time when taking pics compared to what the others have reported for the FZ30?
 

Tom

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Not really Jeff. But I noticed quite a delay when recording the 17Mb tiff file  ;D
 

Ron

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Tom said:
I should clarify that the lens on the FZ30 has a manual focus ring whereas the lens on the FZ7 does not. This is both a positive and a negative. Amongst other things, it means that the FZ7 can be used with one hand whereas the FZ30 requires two.

Yes the FZ30 does have a manual focus ring but also has auto focus thus giving you the option to manual focus or use auto focus as desired.

When researching which camera was the the right one for Ron I did a comparison with the FZ7, along with others,  since it was the latest model out.  Reasons I choose the FZ30 over the FZ7

Manual zoom ring allowing more precise and faster zoom adjustments. FZ7 does not. This feature was one that weighed very heavy on my decision.

Manual focus capability as well as auto focus. 

Adjustable flash output settings

8 Megapxel  verses 6

F stop 2.8 - 11.0  VS  2.8 - 8 As Bob mentioned higher like F22 would have been nice

Raw format 

Like I mentioned earlier only you can determine what is best for your use.

After using the FZ30 for a while now ff I were to make the choice again it would still be the FZ30 .  I am still amazed at the capabilities of this camera and am still learning.



 

rhmahoney

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My favoriet feature of the FZ30 is the manual zoom control. I leave it on aout focus all the time.
 

JohnSandyWhite

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:) Good question Tom. How good is good enough? We have had a Sony SLR 35mm to 120mm camera for years. Two years ago we bought a cheap 2 mega pixel digital camera. All our photos are now taken with this and put straight onto a computer. Judge for yourself:-

http://x11.putfile.com/4/9911310972.jpg

http://x402.putfile.com/4/11404390899.jpg

http://x402.putfile.com/5/12212514755.jpg
 

Ned

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If all you're going to do is view photos on a computer, then a 2 or 3MP camera is more than sufficient.  But if you want to print out 8x10 high quality photos, then 5MP is really a big improvement.  It's hard to tell the difference between a 5MP digital print and one from film without a very close examination, if the printer is up to the job.  Unless you're printing really large images, anything above 5MP is really overkill.
 

Tom

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I have taken thousands of photos with lower resolution cameras and many of them are fine for our use. I've also printed some of them on 8x10 and they were fine, although some didn't print too good at that size. Some folks say that you need at least 8MP to come close to film, but several years ago that magic number used to be 6MP.
 

Ned

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The number is presented by the camera makers.? We've printed beautiful images from a 3MP camera that are good enough for display.? The printer quality is a bigger factor than the image resolution once you get to the 3MP and up sizes.? If you're not shooting professionally for money or to win prizes, the simpler the camera the better for most of us.? More controls means more confusion and more opportunities to ruin (or miss) an otherwise nice photo.  Agonizing over the placement of zoom controls and sensor size is pointless for most people, just get out there and take pictures with a camera you like.
 

Tom

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No disagreement for the most part Ned. But I do pay attention to touchy feely stuff. If it feels good and does the job, it's the one for me. If it's awkward &/or unintuitive to use, forget it. Remember, I don't read manuals  ;D
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Nancy & I both love our Sony DSC-H1 (5.1 MP, 12x image stabilized).  She never looked at the  manual and I seldom refer to it either. It just shoots great pictures at most any distance or lighting without any effort on our part, which is the way we like it.  The Kodak P850 is very much the same sort of thing. The Sony & Kodak are smaller and lighter than the FZ30 but the new FZ7 is a bit smaller yet. Looks like a great camera (until the next new model comes along).

I don't see how a buyer could go wrong with any of these and the tradeoffs among the details is mostly a mater of personal preferences.
 

Ned

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That's my point, the camera has to feel right for you.  All the rest, MP, etc. isn't as important.
 
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