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FZ30...birds no....selling...yes !

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Old Sunday 5th March 2006, 12:06   #1
advid
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FZ30...birds no....selling...yes !

..About a year ago I brought a little Panasonic FZ5 for my wife and we were both well pleased with it for 'general' photo taking (kids / views etc etc).

When the FZ30 was released I thought it would be a really good camera for birding (I'm an ex Olympus UZI (2100) user and already had a B300 (1.7x zoom) lens that would screw right on the front thread of the FZ30 to give me an enormous zoom range.....

I've had the FZ30 for about 6 months - it's a nice camera - well built - feels right - reasonably fast reacting - BUT for birds .... NO WAY..... The noise produced by this camera - even at ISO80 is BAD...

Zoom into blue skies taken on a bright day and you can see speckles and noise everywhere... zoom into a bird and it's detailed plumage and feather detail are simply lost in the 'quagmire of muck'.....

I finally decided to give up with my FZ30... it's OK for 'general' shots but that's what I brought the FZ5 for.. so I dont want it....

A few days ago I went for a Nikon D50 with kit lens and am quite simply gobsmacked with the speed and agility of this camera - and noise - WHAT NOISE - skies are absolutely clean and even with the 18-55 kit lens I can see detail in the few bird pics i've taken that is simply lost when I use the FZ30...
The REAL viewfinder is also a dream to use.. you can see the real thing not a dotty electronic picture in the EVF....

I intend to go for a decent zoom (300 or 400mm) when I've sussed out the choices and can't wait to see the results...

I'm not putting this message on here to slate the FZ30 - but do advise anyone thinking of buying a new camera for the hobby of 'birding' to think seriously about what to buy.... A Nikon D50 is about the same price as an FZ30 (I know you've got to put another lens on the D50 as well and this will bump up the price!) - The specifications of the FZ30 look ideal for a birder BUT Panasonics advertising department doesn't tell you about the noise problem. Don't make the mistake I made and have to change cameras...

Now that DSLR's are in this same price bracket I suggest to all potential camera purchasers - buy a DSLR, it's the only way to go if you want to photograph birds with any degree of 'quality'....

The Nikon D50 is the rock bottom priced SLR in the Nikon range -don't let that put you off - it's in a totally different league to an FZ30...

I want £325-00 for my FZ30 if anyone really wants to buy one (I will include postage and a spare battery with this.) - Mint Condition and will honour the outstanding 6 months warrantee to the purchaser....
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Old Monday 6th March 2006, 16:41   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by advid
...Zoom into blue skies taken on a bright day and you can see speckles and noise everywhere... zoom into a bird and it's detailed plumage and feather detail are simply lost in the 'quagmire of muck'.....
When you say 'zoom in' are you talking about zooming into the image once it's on the PC ? I use an FZ20 (usually set to ISO 80) and I don't find the noise is that bad. Perhaps the FZ30 is worse than the older model it replaces ?
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Old Monday 6th March 2006, 18:00   #3
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Yes.... I meant Zoom in with software....

When you say 'zoom in' are you talking about zooming into the image once it's on the PC ? I use an FZ20 (usually set to ISO 80) and I don't find the noise is that bad. Perhaps the FZ30 is worse than the older model it replaces ?[/quote]
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Old Tuesday 7th March 2006, 07:37   #4
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Thanks advid, that's very timely advice for me as I have just been reading about the FZ-30 in the latest Which magazine and was seriously thinking it might be a good bet for birding with that 420mm max lens. Now I'll look elsewhere. I see the Nikon D50 is available for £345 at Warehouse Express. Any idea what would be a decent 400mm or similar lens for it at a similar price?
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Old Tuesday 7th March 2006, 08:46   #5
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...just a suggestion but the Sigma 135-400 (with Nikon fit of course) looks OK and a fair price....


Quote:
Originally Posted by Aquila
Thanks advid, that's very timely advice for me as I have just been reading about the FZ-30 in the latest Which magazine and was seriously thinking it might be a good bet for birding with that 420mm max lens. Now I'll look elsewhere. I see the Nikon D50 is available for £345 at Warehouse Express. Any idea what would be a decent 400mm or similar lens for it at a similar price?
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Old Tuesday 7th March 2006, 09:01   #6
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Originally Posted by advid
...just a suggestion but the Sigma 135-400 (with Nikon fit of course) looks OK and a fair price....
Thanks. Just giving it a bit more thought, I think 500mm would be more useful. I've raised a query under the Sigma forum.
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Old Tuesday 7th March 2006, 09:30   #7
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Sigma 400mm & 500mm lenses - go here

http://www.7dayshop.com/catalog/prod...ducts_id=99548


Quote:
Originally Posted by Aquila
Thanks. Just giving it a bit more thought, I think 500mm would be more useful. I've raised a query under the Sigma forum.
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Old Tuesday 7th March 2006, 10:41   #8
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Before you give up completely on the FZ30, just go to the gallery and enter FZ30 in the search box. It'll bring up a lot of really nice photos taken with this model. An FZ30 is a lot easier to carry about than an SLR with a 400mm lens (that's why I like my FZ20).
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Old Tuesday 7th March 2006, 20:24   #9
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Fair enough advid, so we'll accept no more excuses for inadequately exposed tits
I think the major point to remember is that whatever kit you get, you'll need to come to terms with its limitations as well as your own and circumstances and try to devise technique for getting the best results you can. So I guess before buying you want to try to anticipate what you intend to photograph, how it will be displayed (web size, prints size?), how far you are prepared to go to master your stalking, hiding, technical photographic skill and lots of other things too probably (are you after bird in flight photos, how much muscle do you have...).
The nightmare scenario I suppose would be that having obtained a DSLR outfit one finds it doesn't have the "reach" one "requires" and that really digiscoping is "the route to go" after all
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Old Wednesday 8th March 2006, 10:36   #10
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I've been photographing birds for a number of years starting off (and still occassionally using) conventional SLR. Wanting to switch to digital and being no (affordable) Pentax DSLR body then available I bought an FZ20 initially as a stop gap but now I use it practically all the time.

I take bird photographs mainly for identification and, as such, I find the advantages of the FZ20 to me far outweigh any problems. Plus points are that I can hand hold (and carry) an f2.8 430mm lens thus allowing me to walk around looking for birds rather than being more hide-bound. One problem I do find with the FZ20 is that the auto-focus can be slow to lock but I do not have much concern with noise (at least to A4). OK the camera is set permanently at ISO 80 and I hear that noise is more of an issue with the FZ30 of which I have no experience.

Horses for courses I guess.

.
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Old Wednesday 8th March 2006, 17:02   #11
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From my experiences Panasonic have always produced very well specified cameras, the lens quality and IS are superb. They are also noted for noisy sensors. I've owned the FZ10 and still own the FZ20. Both cameras are good at their lowest ISO settings, but become noisy above it. The FZ20 is still likely the best of the range with the least noisy sensor. Over the last few weeks there hve bene several almost DSLR quality photos posted in the Gallery using the FZ20 - a search can be done for the model to see examples.

I was expecting the FZ30 to be an upgrade and perhaps it is for 'normal' camera use as advid mentions, but there has been a fair bit of discussion in other forums about the camera and the nise issue does seem to be a real concern. For bird photos when the camera is used at it's maximum reach and often at f2,8 then maybe it's not at it's best.
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Old Thursday 9th March 2006, 19:21   #12
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Wink Fz 30

I have an FZ 20 and did consider going DSLR, mostly for picture clarity. Not that the FZ 20 is bad, but am always striving for the best.

However, I have found that I can get very reasonable pictures from the FZ20. I use Google Picasa for the software enhancement,( free download ) and keep the camera on ISO 80.

The main reasons I have not gone DSLR are the stabilization system and no interchangeable lenses needed. I am however considering the lens extension for birding. (Once the spring comes )

As most of my camera use is either in a kayak or on snowshoes, inter changeable lenses, and a tripod are not to practacle.

I have thought or "upgrading" to the FZ30, but will wait until something better comes out that satisfies my need. Until then the FZ20 will do fine.
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Old Thursday 9th March 2006, 20:30   #13
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[quote=Med] I am however considering the lens extension for birding. (Once the spring comes )
QUOTE]

Which lens extension would that be?
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Old Thursday 9th March 2006, 22:37   #14
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FZ 20 lens ext.

Which lens extension would that be?[/quote]

I have not decided. I am favouring the Panasonic ext., but do not lke the price. I have heard quite a bit about the Tcon 17 here on bird forum, it is also a lot cheaper. Would be great to be able to try the two for a weekend, but do not have that luxury. If anyone can give me a hands on comparison would be grateful.
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Old Friday 10th March 2006, 08:40   #15
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You might want to check with Pemaraal whether they still manufacture the 55 adapter for the FZ20/Tcon as they were thinking of withdrawing this model.

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Old Friday 10th March 2006, 11:13   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Med
If anyone can give me a hands on comparison would be grateful.
Dr. Ching-Kuang Shene's excellent site should have the info you need. From here his reviews and comparisons of most of the suitable conveters available including Panasonic's own and Olympus TCON-17. Also info on adaptors. Don't forget if you're prepared to go secondhand the Olympus B300 converter is supposedly optically equivalent to TCON-17; think it may have more metal where TCON-17 uses plastic :
http://www.cs.mtu.edu/~shene/DigiCam...-10/index.html
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Old Friday 12th May 2006, 21:37   #17
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Pany Noise...

Quote:
Originally Posted by advid
Yes.... I meant Zoom in with software....

When you say 'zoom in' are you talking about zooming into the image once it's on the PC ? I use an FZ20 (usually set to ISO 80) and I don't find the noise is that bad. Perhaps the FZ30 is worse than the older model it replaces ?
[/quote]

Actually, the FZ30 is considered to be one of, if not the, best prosumer super zooms on the market when its used it its designed environment... Read the field comparison review between a 20D dSLR and a FZ30 at - http://www.firingsquad.com/hardware/...mera_shootout/

Having had my Pany FZ5 since last November and being a member of about a dozen digi forums, I can assure all that the oft repeated issue of noise in Panys in general, and the FZ series in particular, are bogus and not an issue. Yes, if one wants to pixel peep and zoom in on a 72-DPI PC image, you'll likely see 'noise' - probably even with a lot of entry level dSLR images. Most problematic noise issues in an image can easily be addressed with a number of free noise reduction software programs out there. It most cases, noise that one can see pixel-peeping on a PC are non-evident when printed out.

A good, representative example of photos taken with the Pany FZ series, including the FZ30 shot of this eagle taking flight -- http://trailhiker.smugmug.com/photos/68158501-O.jpg, can be seen in Steve's albums at: http://trailhiker.smugmug.com/

However, As one poster commented, do a search of images taken w/a FZ30 and you'll find there are a lot out there that will approach dSLR quality. With its Extended Optical Zoom (In-Camera metered crop; not digital zoom), the FZ30 can give one a 19X lens reach by the rotation of the zoom.. ~684mm. Add a Nikon 17ED or a TCON-17 and you have a range from ~68mm out to over 1,100mm with only having to add the teleconverter.

Since you are located in London, the FZ30 may have an issue to consider in that most all Pany FZ models are light hungry. Drab, overcast skies and poor lighting will affect the IQ of a FZ digi and may not be the best if you find you're shooting mostly in these conditions. But for the price, you'll probably be looking at multiple pounds in glass and thousands in Euros/$US to approach the FZ30's versatility.... IMHO -- Others may have their own opinion...
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Old Saturday 13th May 2006, 14:32   #18
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The FZ30 has gotten bad reviews from a number of sources because of its noise problem (I remember a Popular Photography review that said "noise, noise, noise"), so you are not alone in this complaint. Some other super-zooms are better in this respect, and the FZ30 seems to be one of the worst.
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Old Sunday 21st May 2006, 18:07   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by advid
[...] The Nikon D50 is the rock bottom priced SLR in the Nikon range -don't let that put you off - it's in a totally different league to an FZ30 [...]
advid,

Thanks for the info. I already own an FZ30 and have taken a few ID type photos and didn't think much about the noise.

Can you post a comparison of the two? A similar FZ30 shot along with the a D50? I'd like to see the difference.

I haven't taken too many shots yet. Here is one with the FZ30 of an American Kestrel. If you click on the Kestrel image you will see the image it was cropped from:

http://novahunter.blogspot.com/2006/...t-side-15.html

I bought the camera for basic ID shots and am pleased with it for that function so far.

Other images taken with the FZ-30 (click on images for larger/more detailed views):

Central Park - Sub-adult (1 year old) Red-tailed Hawk
16:9 Central Park's Reservoir - An Eastern Clearing
16:9 Central Park's Reservoir - Prelude to a Storm

Thanks again.

Ben Cacace
Manhattan, NYC

Last edited by bcacace : Saturday 9th September 2006 at 00:31. Reason: added images taken after initial post
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Old Friday 8th September 2006, 22:24   #20
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My experiences with the FZ-30

...... The pictures are amazingly sharp and detailed throughout the zoom range. far exceeding any DSLR baseline range cameras.

Thats the 'top line'...apart from I'm extremely pleased with the camera for bird photos.

The camera has many faults, but in comparison with its abilities, I can live with them all.

I have the fz30 swinging around my neck wherever I go, it gets knocked and bashed about but is so well built, its not had a hi-cup. I see a bird, zoom in on auto focus and within 1-3 secs I have a photo ......I've zoomed in before the camera is at my eye and half pressed the shutter.....and just click as soon as its in shot.......and at 420mm (35mm equiv) thats no mean feat.

......it rarely lets me down like this.

.......... I can't imagine wandering everywhere with a dslr & 420mm lens knocking about.

......A lot of places I have the fz30 and the tcon 17 coupled....not much extra weight and with 720mm ( 35mm equiv ) photo a couple of secounds away theres no way a dslr will even get close.
.......because the image stabilization on the fz30 is very good and I can take photos even in fading light that come out sharp and clear that are JUST handheld. I can even take pics with the 1.7x converter on at 1/15th sec handheld.

.........so many instances the fz30 will perform .

.........a problem........

it has to be the electronic viewfinder and the electronic manual focus....absolute rubbish. I don't bother to manual focus other than that finch thats in the middle of all those twigs. Its a real downer.
Its worse than useless.

........a delight

The intuitive controls........I've used many digital cameras but none come close to the fz30's ease of use. I even use the histogram

...a problem

......... auto exposure.........never quite does the job..........so I have the camera set on aperature priority and let it set its own speed and with this setting it seems fine.

.... A revelation

the lens, a leica lens that is stunning in its sharpness throughout the zoom range. its stunning. Its the reason I got the camera over a dslr and I feel its so worth it. don't underestimate how much sharp images will please you.


... a problem

....... noise........noise noise noise. yep its noisey...as the thread starter points out taking pictures of birds against a blue sky.... can be a problem for the fz30, but as I've found, is a problem for many digital cameras.
but it IS a problem with the FZ30.... if all you want to do is take photos against a sky of birds flying above you then don't get the fz30.... on iso80 the images like this are often noisey ( sometimes not ) .........but take note, images taken of a bird on a (ie ) fence have no noise.
......the problem may come from the sensor being smallish, a bigger sensor allows more light in........but for £300 odd pound, where are you going to find a 420mm pin sharp lensed camera and for a few pound more make it a 720mm or so.
I don't like the noise but honestly speaking, 80% of the time its no trouble....I have had better cameras noise wise, but the pics have been 'soft' 100% of the time...can't live with that for sure.
..

Going on a bit now.... so the bottom line is
bangs for bucks its worth considering ( as is the fz50 I rekon ) its a wonderful freind to have round your neck. Great for taking those quick little birds on long zoom. And your will NOT get any dust on the sensor!!!...( unlike dslr's, even those with vibration so I'm told ...... )


I know this is an old thread....but really
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Old Friday 8th September 2006, 22:41   #21
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Thumbs up Or you can go with the new FZ50...

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/panasonicfz50/

Quote:
And so, to sum up; for the serious user the FZ50 is without doubt the best equipped, best specified and best handling 'bridge camera' on the market today, and under the right conditions it produces superb output. It is a rewarding and enjoyable photographic tool that - once you've learned its quirks - offers a compact 'all-in-one' solution to anyone wanting a huge zoom range without all that lens changing and all that bulk.
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Old Monday 15th January 2007, 17:05   #22
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Newbie to the forum...glad to see that I am not a complete idiot with the manual focus on this camera. I kept thinking I should be able to manually focus BETTER or to a finer degree than autofocus, but my manual focused shots seem worse 80% of the time. Now I think I will try a new tactic...keep the camera on center auto-focus, point at the birds eye, and let the camera do the work.
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Old Tuesday 16th January 2007, 21:36   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by debntexas
Newbie to the forum...glad to see that I am not a complete idiot with the manual focus on this camera. I kept thinking I should be able to manually focus BETTER or to a finer degree than autofocus, but my manual focused shots seem worse 80% of the time. Now I think I will try a new tactic...keep the camera on center auto-focus, point at the birds eye, and let the camera do the work.
No way you'll do better or faster than the AF computer. However, you also won't make the egghead mistakes that the AF computer does, either, and can distinguish subject from foreground/background better. Tradeoffs...

I usually focus on the branch the bird is standing on and its legs, because the AF works much better on foliage and branches than on the (camoflaged) bird. Sometimes I have to pick a branch/leaf/flower near the same distance if I can't see the bird's feet. If I try to AF on the bird's head it's guaranteed to lock on foreground or background foliage instead.
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