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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Anchorage, Alaska
    Posts
    38

    FZ30 Day One: Performance in Low Light

    I opened the box of a new FZ 30 last night. After one day of trying out my new FZ30 in A-B comparisons with my trusty FZ20, here are my initial impressions:

    Weight: Somewhat heavier than the FZ20, the FZ30 is a two-handed or tripod operated camera. The additional depth of the grip helps to compensate for the extra weight. I am interested to see how my wrists feel after a long session of handheld shooting.

    Size: A little larger – but a familiar feel. The lens barrel is about the length of a fully extended FZ20 with a couple of filters.

    Zoom Ring vs Zoom Toggle: It’s been a long time since I’ve used a zoom ring. I’ve become accustomed to the W/T toggles. It will take me some time to get reacquainted.

    Complexity? While the FZ30 can be used for point and click right out of the box, enjoying the full benefits of this camera will take some study and practice. This camera has a moderate learning curve – and I am just at the beginning of it. The zoom and focus rings guarantee that your left hand will do more than just support the camera’s ample lens. As I said before, this is a two handed camera – two active hands. Photographers who use SLR’s or DSLR’s are going to feel right at home with the FZ30. While the function buttons and menus are intuitively designed and similar to the FZ20, there are a couple of new dials that I have yet to play with. Additionally there are several new preset modes to explore. Access to the Macro mode is via a switch on the lens barrel, not on the Mode Dial.

    Low light: Low light operation and photos are the FZ20’s Achilles’ heel. The FZ30 offers significant improvement. At identical settings, the FZ30 produces a much brighter low light photos without flash than the FZ20. The auto-focus light is now in a location where your hand will not block it. The LCD and EVF can “see in the dark” compared to the FZ20. The shutter stays open as long as a minute compared to only 8 seconds on the FZ20. You will be taking handheld pictures well into dusk.

    Picture Clarity: I cannot yet report about shots in full daylight as, thus far, I have shot in low light only. In low light, the improvements in clarity are easily apparent throughout the camera’s 1MP - 8MP resolution range. Ditto on color rendition. The auto white balance seems to be getting it right thus far. My FZ20’s auto white balance in low light was not always correct. The LCD and EVF are much sharper – another big plus in low light situations.

    Quick to the Shot: While I never complained about the FZ20’s agility, this new camera’s speed is something to behold. Instead of the FZ20’s five-second turn on and shut down time, the FZ30 is ready for you by the time you get the camera to your eye – one second. There is no discernable shutter lag. The focus speed is remarkably snappy too. In this important regard, the FZ30’s performance has become similar to an SLR or DSLR.

    What about Noise? I have yet to shoot in full light so I am hedging my report a bit. Having read many comments posted here I expected the worst. I am relieved: The noise level of the FZ30 is about the same as the FZ20 - with one advantage for the FZ30 - read on: I shot at ISO 80 and 400 in low light with both cameras. In low light conditions there was no apparent noise at ISO 80 on the FZ30. At ISO 400 there was noise on both cameras – akin to using ASA 400 film. Here is something that makes ISO 400 usable on the FZ30 (I never use it on the FZ20): ISO 400 noise is greatly reduced when the shots are taken at settings below 8MP. At 3MP the noise is much reduced – low enough to clean up sharply with Neat Image. At 1MP there is virtually no noise. Remember: my shots were in low light; low light shots produce the worst noise. If this is the worst this camera does, I’ll be a happy camper.

    Extended Zoom: Contrary to a few comments I have read, the extended optical zoom, (available when shooting at less than 8MP) really does provide clearer shots than digital enlargement. The 19x optical enlargement at 3MP is pretty impressive. For kicks the camera can then multiply that 19x by 4x digitally (similar to enlarging with Photoshop) and give you an eye-popping 76x! I can’t wait to try out the FZ30's Leica optics on a clear day.

    Battery life: So far, so good. Not an issue. I purchased a spare. Recharging is very quick.

    Flash: Like the FZ20: Good to 20+ feet.

    Fit and Finish: Tight tolerances, smoothly operating rings and dials. Similar to the FZ20.

    Price: $530. Same price I paid a year ago for my FZ20. For today’s best price Google: Lumix FZ30 price

    That's my first day. A good start. I hope you find this helpful. I'll post more as I gain experience with the FZ30.
    Last edited by frumious; 10-06-2005 at 08:15 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    western pa
    Posts
    2,334
    Now that is exactly the way I see my FZ30, I am glad at least a few of us got good FZ30s.
    And I can assure you the results in good light are at least as good.
    It is really a great camera.
    It would have been better with less noise, but for most of us the noise is not a problem.
    The FZ10 was a good camera, the FZ15 and 20 were better and the FZ30 is another step ahead.


    .
    .






    Gene
    http://grc225.zenfolio.com/
    http://imageevent.com/grc6
    one of these days I'll understand!

    Panasonic FZ20 & FZ30,FZ18
    D50 -- D80

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Anchorage, Alaska
    Posts
    38

    Thank You Genece

    I have enjoyed reading your posts this past year. I trust your posts and those of John Reed not only because they are consistently accurate but because they are of a generous spirit that is encouraging to those new to the cameras and forum. I am very glad that you purchased the FZ30. I know I will have a fabulous "consultant" and compadre.

    Best to you.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Posts
    25

    Thumbs up

    frumious.........

    Thank you for your very insightful post. Very well written and extremely comprehensive!

    It will be a huge motivator for the fence-sitters.

    IMHO, your post deserves a 5-star rating......which is what I gave you.
    PALADIN

    HAVE DIGICAM.....WILL TRAVEL.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Los Altos, CA
    Posts
    2,635

    Thumbs up Thank you, Frumious...

    Quote Originally Posted by frumious
    I have enjoyed reading your posts this past year. I trust your posts and those of John Reed not only because they are consistently accurate but because they are of a generous spirit that is encouraging to those new to the cameras and forum. I am very glad that you purchased the FZ30. I know I will have a fabulous "consultant" and compadre.

    Best to you.
    Hmmmm....Do I detect a hint of Lewis Carroll in your screen name? (Something about a Jabberwocky?)

    I'm glad that you've been able to draw on this forum as a resource, and to have been a part of your resources. Now you are one yourself, and thanks for your post! I agree with you and Gene, this is one impressive camera!
    Let a be your umbrella!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Sydney, Australia
    Posts
    4,425
    Frumious: Thanks for the journal. I will be first in line to buy the novel when it comes out.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Anchorage, Alaska
    Posts
    38
    Paladin, John and Tim -

    Thank you for your positive feedback. I enjoy and learn alot from this forum. Only sorry that I have not posted more.

    John - Yes, Lewis Carroll's "Jabberwocky" is the correct source of my screen name. If you encounter a "Bandersnatch" online, that is me as well. The poem is a family favorite: http://www.jabberwocky.com/carroll/j...bberwocky.html

    Today I started experimenting with the FZ30's front and rear dials - new features not on the FZ20. What a great idea. This makes it so much easier to experiment with Depth of Field. This weekend a friend and I are going to take our cameras out for a day of scenic shooting. He has a Canon Rebel. I'm sure that we will be trading off cameras, comparing shot quaity, ease of use, versatility, etc.. I'll let you know how the camera's compare in the field. I am going to try the RAW mode. I purchased a copy of Adobe Photoshop Elements and downloaded the new Camera RAW3.2 plug-in.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    259
    The only thing this story needs is pictures.
    Driftwood floats after years of erosion
    Incoming tide touches roots to expose them
    Quicksand steals my shoe
    Clouds bring the f-stop blues

    --Jack Johnson

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Los Altos, CA
    Posts
    2,635

    Jabberwocky FZ30 challenge:

    Gimme a photo of a JubJub Bird, pronto!
    Let a be your umbrella!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    259
    Here's one of my cat. NOW it's a five star thread.
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Driftwood floats after years of erosion
    Incoming tide touches roots to expose them
    Quicksand steals my shoe
    Clouds bring the f-stop blues

    --Jack Johnson

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