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Old Friday 12th September 2008, 07:33   #1
ostling41
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Digiscoping with the Panasonic Lumix G1

Well, not yet, but perhaps soon. The new G1 is the first electronic viewfinder camera with interchangeable lenses. It is smaller than the Olympus E-420. Here is the first preview of this Micro Four Thirds camera: http://www.dpreview.com/previews/panasonicG1/
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Old Friday 12th September 2008, 08:19   #2
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Looks interesting and could well be one to keep an eye on. There will be no mirror slap to worry about and the fully rotatable lcd display would be handy. I presume being four thirds it will still be a 2X crop factor. Just hope the image quality is good and the high ISO noise reduction is as good as dslr equivalents and it comes out at an attractive price.

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Old Friday 12th September 2008, 10:52   #3
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Looks interesting and could well be one to keep an eye on.
I agree. The sensor is surely better than any current P&S-system - without being "too"* large like the DSLR sensors.

I expect Micro 4/3 "pancake" lenses like the 20mm f1.7 to suit very well for digiscoping.

Ilkka


*) Large sensor -> large aperture & long focal length -> long lens barrel -> ER of the scope eyepiece may not be enough for the exit pupil to reach the lenses entrance pupil -> vignetting
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Old Friday 12th September 2008, 16:32   #4
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That family seems to be the ideal family of cameras for digiscoping.
I'll wait for an Olympus version of the micro 4/3 format. I already have the adapters for a 52mm thread filter. The X2 crop factor is a blessing.
Great!
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Old Friday 12th September 2008, 17:51   #5
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guess this camera closes the discussion if any view screen can be made to equal an actual view finder,, many think the refresh rate would not allow following a fast moving object,, can't imagine the camera having any lag when looking through the viewfinder wehich is now a LV screen,,

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Old Friday 12th September 2008, 19:48   #6
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Downside will be - worse noise. You are packing a pixel density equivalent to a 48MP full frame sensor in those puppies. Combine that with the high ISOs often needed for digiscoping, and personally, I'd rather go with a Canon XS, which is not that much bigger than the G1.

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Old Friday 12th September 2008, 22:01   #7
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Downside will be - worse noise.
Not necessarily. It is true that the pixel density is higher in a 4/3 sensor, but since the image is projected on a smaller area, those smaller pixels get correspondingly more light. The advantage of the 4/3-sensor over the 1.6x crop is more than one aperture stop - about the same as the sensitivity advantage of the Canon sensor.

I doubt that an 80 mm scope can produce more than 6-8 Mpix worth of "details", which means that both Canon and 4/3 systems should easily exceed the scope's capacity, but the shorter 4/3 lenses should be less prone to vignetting.

Best regards,

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Old Saturday 13th September 2008, 14:31   #8
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will wait till the jury votes on the noise issues,,

we continually see improved sensors as well as internal software handling for noise reduction,, just think a few years back when an ISO of 1600 was a wished for setting in a below $5000 camera,, now it is fairly common and even some of the P&S cameras are starting to handle it fairly well,,

if the improvements continue linear I would imagine any decent camera will be in the 3200 and 6400 ISO very easy in a couple years,,

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Old Saturday 13th September 2008, 15:14   #9
vkalia
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Not necessarily. It is true that the pixel density is higher in a 4/3 sensor, but since the image is projected on a smaller area, those smaller pixels get correspondingly more light. The advantage of the 4/3-sensor over the 1.6x crop is more than one aperture stop - about the same as the sensitivity advantage of the Canon sensor.
I am not sure I buy that logic. If so, then the really small digicam sensors would have a correspondingly greater noise advantage over DSLRs.

And I have seen the images from 4/3rd cameras (Oly) and there is no way they have a 1-stop sensitivity in noise compared to APS-C sensors from Canon and Nikon.

I am looking at interest for the next-gen M4/3 body, actually - a more rangefinder like body with a couple of fast primes (14/1.8 to go with the 20/1.7 they've already promised) and I am first in line to get one.

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I doubt that an 80 mm scope can produce more than 6-8 Mpix worth of "details", which means that both Canon and 4/3 systems should easily exceed the scope's capacity, but the shorter 4/3 lenses should be less prone to vignetting.
But for something like digiscoping, where one is already saddled with a large scope and a tripod, I'll go with lower noise/higher ISO any day of the week. I dont think shaving 20-30gm and a few millimetres on either side is worth the tradeoff.

The only exception would be - as you pointed out -reducing vignetting. The smaller image circle should help there, for sure.

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Old Saturday 13th September 2008, 15:19   #10
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will wait till the jury votes on the noise issues,,

we continually see improved sensors as well as internal software handling for noise reduction,, just think a few years back when an ISO of 1600 was a wished for setting in a below $5000 camera,, now it is fairly common and even some of the P&S cameras are starting to handle it fairly well,,

if the improvements continue linear I would imagine any decent camera will be in the 3200 and 6400 ISO very easy in a couple years,,

Derry
True. However, as the bar gets raised, so does the gamut of what is possible... and soon, the photographer's needs starts pushing the ceiling of what is availalble. In my film days, ISO 800 was the highest I used... and when it got too dim for that, it was time to put away the gear. Now, ISO 1600 is a given in low light, and I am eagerly awaiting ISO 6400 or even 12800 in the forthcoming 5D replacement.

For something like wildlife, my mantra is - can never have enough high ISO. So while I may get by with ISO 1600 now (just as I got by with ISO 800 in the form of Provia 400F pushed a stop), I would prefer to have the most ISO possible. And for now, that is the province of Canon and Nikon.

Just a personal observation - not a put-down of the MFT. As I mentioned in my reply to Ikka, I am going to buy a M4/3 body as soon as someone puts out an affordable, fast WA prime. It is what I have been waiting for in a street/travel camera. I just wont be using it for wildlife.

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Old Saturday 13th September 2008, 18:04   #11
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But for something like digiscoping, where one is already saddled with a large scope and a tripod, I'll go with lower noise/higher ISO any day of the week. I dont think shaving 20-30gm and a few millimetres on either side is worth the tradeoff.
A large scope on a heavy tripod is certainly conducive to getting the best image of a bird, once set up and aimed on it. But sometimes a lightweight setup is necessary, to get the equipment to the bird (which may be far from the road where you parked your car).

I just weighed my Leica M3 with collapsible Elmar -- 2.0 pounds. A half century of paying attention to 30gm weight savings has paid off -- I hope the effort does not abate.
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Old Saturday 13th September 2008, 21:18   #12
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I am not sure I buy that logic. If so, then the really small digicam sensors would have a correspondingly greater noise advantage over DSLRs.

And I have seen the images from 4/3rd cameras (Oly) and there is no way they have a 1-stop sensitivity in noise compared to APS-C sensors from Canon and Nikon.
Vandit,

I agree that small sensors have no *noise* advantage over DSLRs, but in afocal coupling they do have *aperture* advantage, which is precisely why small digicams work as well as they do - even at low ISOs.

Let us take - as an example - a Swarovski ATS80HD with 30x eyepiece and put different cameras behind it:
1) Nikon P5100 compact
- zoom at widest 7.5mm f2.7 the physical aperture is very close to the exit pupil of the scope meaning that the "digiscope" works at 225mm f2.8 and the crop factor taken into account => 1052mm f2.8(!)
- zoom at 17mm => "true" 510mm f5.7 => film-eq: 2385mm f5.7

2) Panasonic/Olympus 4/3
- 20mm f1.7 prime: 600mm f7.5, 2x crop: 1200mm f7.5
- 25mm f2.8 prime: 750mm f8.9, 2x crop: 1500mm f8.9
- they could make eg. a 40mm f2.8: 1200mm f15: 2400mm f15

3) Canon 450D
- 28mm f2.8: 840mm f10.5, 1.6x crop: 1344mm f10.5
- 35mm f2.8: 1050mm f13.1, 1.6x crop: 1680mm f13.1
- 50mm f1.8: 1500mm f18.8, 1.6x crop: 2400mm f18.8

Canon DSLR sensors may very well have that one stop lower high-ISO noise than the 4/3, but my point was that since the 4/3 is about one aperture stop "faster" than the 1.6x-crop DSLR (and P&Ss 3-4 stops faster) it can be used at lower ISOs and actually may not suffer from worse noise. I hope my calculations are correct enough and that this has made my logic a little more understandable.

Best regards,

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Old Saturday 13th September 2008, 22:20   #13
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Hi Ilkka -

Ok, I think I understand your point now. One clarification: how are you arriving at the aperture numbers for the 4/3s and the APS-C? Are you using the exit pupil as the effective aperture for the system?

I was thinking in terms of prime focus earlier, but I see your point re. afocal coupling and agree with your assessment.

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Old Saturday 13th September 2008, 22:51   #14
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Are you using the exit pupil as the effective aperture for the system?
Yes - I used the value 80mm/30x = 2.67mm.

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Old Sunday 14th September 2008, 03:25   #15
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I feel that this will be the Nikon 8400 "killer", it has evrything that the 8400 has and more.

If you are able to wait until "spring 2009" a newer version will be available, a G1 HD, which you will be able to shoot HD video with autofocus, this something the Nikon D90 can't do.

A detailed review of the G1 can be found at

http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/DMCG1/DMCG1A.HTM

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Old Sunday 14th September 2008, 07:56   #16
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Yes - I used the value 80mm/30x = 2.67mm.
Ilkka
Gotcha.

To be honest, I dont know enough to comment on whether or not exit pupil can be used as a proxy for real aperture, but I assume you do, so the argument works for me :)

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Old Sunday 14th September 2008, 12:51   #17
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The review that Bob posted the link to said that early photos from the G1 at ISO1600 looked surprisingly clean so it's fingers crossed for the final product. They also said that the dual core Venus chip may lead to better processing power and in turn better noise reduction without loss of detail.

I'm more interested in using this camera for prime focus on my astro scope but it could be a good candidate for all types of digiscoping.

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Old Sunday 14th September 2008, 16:04   #18
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my main problem regardless of how great the cameras are is their continued attempt to get smaller,, I know there are benefits but there are also negatives,, I have large hands and fingers and even now the buttons can become an issue and with gloves on in cold weather they become a problem,,

if your outside in all weather conditions the mfgs need to keep that in mind,, all the settings in the world are of little value if ya can't get to them when needed,,

I'll also would like to see 15 or 20K ISO,, guess we just have to wait,,

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Old Sunday 14th September 2008, 22:38   #19
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Derry,
It may be that the target market for Panasonic with the G1 is women. I am seeing more women out there with DSLRs but still only 1 for every 100 guys ( I'm just guessing here based on what I see in Asia ). With different colored bodies and small size it may encourage more of them to upgrade from the little digicams that they all have now but can't see images on the screens in sunlight.
I also carried the Olympus E420 around my neck all day on my recent trip to South Africa ( I was mainly shooting with a D3 plus 500/4 on a monopod ) and I appreciated the light weight. Try hanging bins and a full sized DSLR camera around your neck all day. Neil.
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Old Monday 15th September 2008, 02:08   #20
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agree with ya there Niel, right tool for the job,, these days I don't lug the 50 pounds of gear around (most times) and select what I need to serve me the best,,

good point on the ladies as I know my wife sure likes the little ones,,

even my P5000 is a pain in the rear trying to press the buttons,, I study classical guitar and have a long thumb nail so it gets the work out on the buttons,, I know they will not see my $$$ for a body I cannot depress buttons easily that I need to operate in the field,,

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Old Monday 15th September 2008, 14:39   #21
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agree with ya there Niel, right tool for the job,, these days I don't lug the 50 pounds of gear around (most times) and select what I need to serve me the best,,

good point on the ladies as I know my wife sure likes the little ones,,

even my P5000 is a pain in the rear trying to press the buttons,, I study classical guitar and have a long thumb nail so it gets the work out on the buttons,, I know they will not see my $$$ for a body I cannot depress buttons easily that I need to operate in the field,,

Derry
Derry,
It's a big problem that I have with the Fujis. Not only small buttons but you have to go into the menu to change most things which is very fiddly.
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Old Tuesday 16th September 2008, 01:48   #22
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I think that the G1 will be a milestone in the history of photography. However, I am not so sure about the 4/3 lens format. A 2X sensor crop factor is nice for birding but not so nice as a wide angle lens.
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Old Sunday 12th October 2008, 22:52   #23
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I am very interested in this camera for digiscoping, but reading the above posts, am I right in reading, that there are no prime lenses suitable for digiscoping available yet that will fit the G1.
The lens would have to have auto focus and exposure link to the camera.

As a matter of interest I hand held an old canon A1 film camera, with 50mm lens, up to the Nikon 30x DS eyepiece on my Nikon ED82 scope. And was able to get a vignetting free image from it.

EDIT
Having thought about the above, I guess it is no indication that a 50mm lens on a 4/3 camera would also be vignet free.

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Old Sunday 12th October 2008, 23:07   #24
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I am very interested in this camera for digiscoping, but reading the above posts, am I right in reading, that there are no prime lenses suitable for digiscoping available yet that will fit the G1.
Malc,

The current "pancake" 25mm f2.8 http://fourthirdsphoto.com/preview/e-420_10.php should fit the G1 with the Micro four thirds adapter. I don't think vignetting should be a problem with 50mm primes, but 2x crop of the 4/3 makes the FOV quite narrow.

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Old Monday 13th October 2008, 00:49   #25
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I am very interested in this camera for digiscoping, but reading the above posts, am I right in reading, that there are no prime lenses suitable for digiscoping available yet that will fit the G1.
The lens would have to have auto focus and exposure link to the camera.

As a matter of interest I hand held an old canon A1 film camera, with 50mm lens, up to the Nikon 30x DS eyepiece on my Nikon ED82 scope. And was able to get a vignetting free image from it.

EDIT
Having thought about the above, I guess it is no indication that a 50mm lens on a 4/3 camera would also be vignet free.

Malc
Malc,
As Ilkka confirmed the Olympus 25/2.8 pancake lens should work on the new format. Have a look at this thread for some tests with this lens
http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=116135
This is not the sharpest lens I've used for digiscoping but it let's in a lot of light and will AF . My Nikon 20/2.8 D and Nikon 35/3.5 are sharper but may not work on the new system (the 35/3.5 wont work on the Nikon D90 ).
A 50 mm lens on the Micro 4/3 rds would give you 2000 mm on a 20x eyepiece and 3000 mm on a 30x .
I can't wait to get my hands on one, Neil.
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