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Panasonic FZ30 vs Canon 350D - dpreview

 
 
l e o
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      09-20-2005, 02:31 AM
....OK, so the FZ30 image is noisier (though in prints it's not enough to
cause concern), and has marginally less detail and a narrower dynamic
range, but perhaps the most surprising thing here is how well the FZ30's
image stacks up against a camera with a huge sensor and a razor-sharp
50mm F1.4 lens. If you compare the FZ30 against a 350D with a cheaper
zoom lens the sharpness difference is far less stark.

....If you ever wanted a stark example of why people buy a digital SLR
for high ISO work these comparisons will do the job. One of the reasons
image stabilization is so popular with big zoom cameras is that they
simply cannot produce acceptable results at anything over ISO 200,
whereas Canon's CMOS sensor is producing results at ISO 1600 - two stops
more sensitive - that have almost as little noise as the FZ30's ISO 80
images. This somewhat negates the argument that to compare 'like for
like' you need to look at very fast image-stabilized lenses when
comparing a super zoom camera with a DSLR.

Conclusion:
* Noise is even an issue at ISO 80, a real problem at ISO 400 or in
very low light
* Very occasional exposure problems
* Max aperture at long end of zoom only F3.7
* Limited dynamic range, highlight clipping in JPEGs
* Pointless RAW converter produces worse results than JPEGs
* Focus at extreme telephoto sometimes hunts, occasionally misses
* Images can look a little soft viewed at 100%

In many ways the FZ30 is everything the FZ20 could (and maybe should)
have been, and Panasonic must be applauded for implementing a huge raft
of handling and control improvements, as well as speeding up overall
performance. On the other hand you cannot help but wonder how much
better this camera would be with a less noisy chip - the 7MP Sony CCD
used in models such as the SD500 springs to mind (not that Panasonic
would be caught dead using a Sony sensor of course!).

On the positive side this is as near as you'll get to a digital SLR with
the equivalent image-stabilized lenses, without the cost or bulk, though
also without the low light capabilities. Handling and control
particularly have been improved almost beyond recognition, and for this
alone the FZ30 can be considered a worthwhile upgrade from its predecessor.

But if the FZ30 represents a quantum leap in terms of handling and
control it is little more than a tiny step forward in terms of image
quality. Yes, there's more detail, but there's also more noise and a
less effective image stabilization system. If you want a camera that can
beat all the 5MP super zooms (including the FZ20), you'll be happy, but
if you actually need the additional pixels to produce larger prints you
may well be disappointed - it simply isn't that much better. The one
saving grace is that ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) is - with a little tweaking
- capable of getting far more out of the FZ30's RAW output than either
in-camera JPEGs or RAW files converted using the stunningly useless
utility supplied in the box (we have heard rumors that Panasonic is
working on a better RAW converter, let's wait and see).

So, in the end this is a camera that improves on its predecessor in
almost every aspect, and one that makes most of the current crop of 5MP
super zooms look like toys in comparison, but it's also one that is
frustratingly disappointing for anyone looking for a significant
improvement in image quality over the (admittedly class-leading) FZ20.
Buy one for it's handling, control, features and sheer class, but don't
buy one if you want much better image quality than an FZ20 in anything
but very good light, as you simply won't get it. A stunning camera, but
not a perfect one.
 
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Rich
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      09-20-2005, 03:39 AM
On Mon, 19 Sep 2005 22:31:17 -0400, l e o <(E-Mail Removed)>
wrote:

>...OK, so the FZ30 image is noisier (though in prints it's not enough to
>cause concern), and has marginally less detail and a narrower dynamic
>range, but perhaps the most surprising thing here is how well the FZ30's
>image stacks up against a camera with a huge sensor and a razor-sharp
>50mm F1.4 lens. If you compare the FZ30 against a 350D with a cheaper
>zoom lens the sharpness difference is far less stark.


The FZ30 is a joke. It's noisier than some P&S cameras that were
brought out five years ago. Obviously, Panasonic did what was
expected, gave the idiot masses all the CRAP they wanted, and ignored
the most important part. P.S. It's not hard to make lens to produce
good results when your sensor is the size of a baby fingernail.
-Rich
 
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David J Taylor
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      09-20-2005, 07:26 AM
Rich wrote:
[]
> The FZ30 is a joke. It's noisier than some P&S cameras that were
> brought out five years ago. Obviously, Panasonic did what was
> expected, gave the idiot masses all the CRAP they wanted, and ignored
> the most important part. P.S. It's not hard to make lens to produce
> good results when your sensor is the size of a baby fingernail.
> -Rich


I wish too that instead of more megapixels, Panasonic had used the larger
sensor to improve on noise performance.

I do not agree that that the lenses are any easier to produce, as the
mechanical tolerances alone are, perhaps, one fifth of those for a 35mm
lens. Much greater precision.

David


 
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measekite
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      09-21-2005, 05:48 PM


Rich wrote:

>On Mon, 19 Sep 2005 22:31:17 -0400, l e o <(E-Mail Removed)>
>wrote:
>
>
>
>>...OK, so the FZ30 image is noisier (though in prints it's not enough to
>>cause concern), and has marginally less detail and a narrower dynamic
>>range, but perhaps the most surprising thing here is how well the FZ30's
>>image stacks up against a camera with a huge sensor and a razor-sharp
>>50mm F1.4 lens. If you compare the FZ30 against a 350D with a cheaper
>>zoom lens the sharpness difference is far less stark.
>>
>>

>
>The FZ30 is a joke. It's noisier than some P&S cameras that were
>brought out five years ago. Obviously, Panasonic did what was
>expected, gave the idiot masses all the CRAP they wanted, and ignored
>the most important part. P.S. It's not hard to make lens to produce
>good results when your sensor is the size of a baby fingernail.
>-Rich
>
>


No the FZ30 is not a piece of crap. Yes according to reviews it is
noisier than the FZ20. And yes it should have a larger sensor. It also
should have a cheaper price.

The real issue is that if you are going to carry around that size and
weight you might as well find a smallish DSLR. The Nikon D50 is
relatively small, light, balances well and at 6mp will produce better
results than the FZ30. For the best choice in a point and shoot one
should consider the Panasonic FZ5 and the Canon S2. The big drawback
about the Canon is the sluggish focus most pronounced a long zoom. The
FZ5 seems to have more substantial features while the Canon just has
many more features and a movie mode that is superior.
 
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