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What about a PANASONIC LUMIX DMC-FZ30 for digiscoping?

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Old Tuesday 27th December 2005, 10:01   #1
Melproudfoot
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What about a PANASONIC LUMIX DMC-FZ30 for digiscoping?

Dear All,

See the review of the DMC-FZ30, Review

While not a obvious choice, given all the negative experience with long zoom ranges. This camera does seem to have some other interesting attributes.

1. Both the focus and zoom is internal - the lens does not move
2. The lens is threaded, 55mm
3. The screen can be moved to different angles
4. Both focus and zoom are manual controls
5. It has a remote release
6. Quite fast lens (f2.8-3.7)

I understand, from these pages, that one of the good points of the Nikon 4500 was the internal focusing and zoom.

The only, potential, downsides is that its physically big and the 12x zoom is way over the 3x that most successful cameras seem to have.

Anybody know why a large zoom range is, in itself, a problem? I would have thought that having a longer range would give more possible positions to get a good image, as long as the lens does not physically move.

If this would work through a scope, the other benefit is that one would have a image stabalised 668mm lens - using extended optical zoom (where it uses part of the CCD to extend the zoom range) for none scope pictures.

regards

Mel
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Old Tuesday 27th December 2005, 10:37   #2
ermine
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55m lens is way bigger than the exit pupil of the scope. The mismatch will mean at best you will lose lots of light by not using the full diameter of the lens, at worst you will get depressing amounts of vignetting to boot meaning you will not be able to use the full resolution of the camera. Losing both that lovely wide aperture at large zooms and losing the lovely 5MP resolution at one go is not a good way to use this cam.

You will (probably) get less vignetting at the high end of the zoom but your overall magnification will then be really high, the image will be soft, as your scope is tuned to the magnification of a standard human eyeball rather than effectively adding the mag of your bins behind it, magnifying any distortions your naked eye couldn't see through the scope directly, and the whole rig will be difficult to hold steady - vibration will add to the softness.

This way leads to pain IMO :(

OTOH the cam is a superb piece of kit of middle-distance shots, and the addition of a good teleconverter to the front will give you a great, rapidly deployed birding cam. Those birds you get that fill more than a quarter of the frame will usually result in much better photos than digiscoped shots and you will get more keepers. You'll only have about a quarter of the reach, however. Digiscoping works not because it's necessarily the best way to photograph birds, but it gives you good results at a range most of us can't afford any other way. If you want to get into digiscoping because you need the reach, you need a camera will a lot smaller lens diameter to match the scope better, and a lot less zoom, so the telescope doesn't end up with too much magnification behind the eyepiece.
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Old Tuesday 27th December 2005, 11:07   #3
IanF
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No use at all for digiscoping due to the wide (55mm) lens and also the zoom power.

Due to the long range of the zoom, you'd need to zoom up to 8-9x in order to remove vignetting but at this magnification it's way too powerful leading to very soft grainy muddy images. Anything less and vignetting is extreme causeing soft images and incorrect exposure. I have the FZ20 with similar lens - likewise no use for digiscoping.

The camera complements digiscoping as it's ideal for those closer birds - but for digiscoping you really need a 3x optical zoom camera.
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Old Wednesday 28th December 2005, 17:01   #4
Melproudfoot
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IanF, Ermine,

Thanks for the advice, good points. I have decided, after much thought and research to go for a Canon A620 - even with the less than positive comments for scoping in other links. If it turns out to be useless for scoping at least I will have a camera that works well going on by the basic camera reviews.

regards

Mel




Quote:
Originally Posted by ermine
55m lens is way bigger than the exit pupil of the scope. The mismatch will mean at best you will lose lots of light by not using the full diameter of the lens, at worst you will get depressing amounts of vignetting to boot meaning you will not be able to use the full resolution of the camera. Losing both that lovely wide aperture at large zooms and losing the lovely 5MP resolution at one go is not a good way to use this cam.

You will (probably) get less vignetting at the high end of the zoom but your overall magnification will then be really high, the image will be soft, as your scope is tuned to the magnification of a standard human eyeball rather than effectively adding the mag of your bins behind it, magnifying any distortions your naked eye couldn't see through the scope directly, and the whole rig will be difficult to hold steady - vibration will add to the softness.

This way leads to pain IMO :(

OTOH the cam is a superb piece of kit of middle-distance shots, and the addition of a good teleconverter to the front will give you a great, rapidly deployed birding cam. Those birds you get that fill more than a quarter of the frame will usually result in much better photos than digiscoped shots and you will get more keepers. You'll only have about a quarter of the reach, however. Digiscoping works not because it's necessarily the best way to photograph birds, but it gives you good results at a range most of us can't afford any other way. If you want to get into digiscoping because you need the reach, you need a camera will a lot smaller lens diameter to match the scope better, and a lot less zoom, so the telescope doesn't end up with too much magnification behind the eyepiece.
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Old Thursday 29th December 2005, 11:19   #5
ermine
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That one is probably more suited to digiscoping. I had a similar Canon - the Ixus 500, which was a great little cam, and with a LCD you can actually see in daylight unlike my secondhand Nikon CP 995 which is only any use in hides.

What you MUST watch with, with Canon digicams, is that the zoom lens moves in and out as you fire it up. If you experiment with handholding, you MUST NOT let any pressure come on the camera lens surround as it wants to come out - say by jolting it on the eyepiece surround in the heat of the moment...

Otherwise your Canon will be no more, and turn into the expensive paperweight my Ixus has become :(
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Old Thursday 29th December 2005, 19:05   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Melproudfoot
IanF, Ermine,

Thanks for the advice, good points. I have decided, after much thought and research to go for a Canon A620 - even with the less than positive comments for scoping in other links. If it turns out to be useless for scoping at least I will have a camera that works well going on by the basic camera reviews.

regards

Mel
Mel

Can you let us all know what you think of the A620 when you have tried it out for digiscoping. I have one and find it ok for what I want, but it could be prudent to get other experiences of it on the forum.

Thanks

Paul
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Old Thursday 5th January 2006, 04:09   #7
BillboHants
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Wink Wide zoom blessing in disguise

I would like to agree with you and add a couple of points that might be of use to absolute beginners as to scope/camera suitability. I had a long and "interesting" intro to digiscoping. My Nikon 4500 has now made its last noisy attempt to focus, to be replaced by my insurers with a Nikon 8800, would not have thought of it, obvious no digiscoping here, but from day 1 pics. were impressive, with surprising number needing, "no Photoshop tweaking", great colour and focus. Have now got a 1.7 tele. lense, certainly renewed interest in the whole business. Sorry, to the point, I would say the Nikon for mid-range, and a point and shoot for "record" scoping shots. Digiscoping leads to a lot of "euphamistic record shots". If honest, with my pathetic efforts I would be very lucky to get 5 really good shots out of 60 taken, but I do mean good, I know it's not film, but I have trouble justifying the time lost and ground not covered. I suppose to be brutal about it, are you a person who likes to watch and find birds and sometimes takes pics or a photographer enthusiast with birds as his subject. Have tried 3 Coolpixes, even the wife's party snapper 775 is as good as the others in good light if you dont mind the vignetting. By modern standards the 8800 is slow, where does that leave the "Ye Olde Nikon 4500", lots of shots where a bird used to be, and who says the Japanese have no sense of humour, having to put your coat over your head to see the screen in sunlight and their cable shutter release is one of the few Nikon products you can call "utter rubbish". Lastly the Contax 300???T, got some reasonable pics with this apart from the farcical battery life, iffy plastic "filter" adaptor which broke, temperamental start up/close, occasional screen freakout when only taking battery out would shut it down and last but not least the useless 3.? mp. Just try and take a distant record shot of an osprey across a valley which has to be cropped tightly to make out it's a bird at all. Could always join up the distant pixels with a pencil. Sorry for the rant, don't let me put anyone off, it's a laugh a minute and the time just flies by, and of course you'll be fit, carrying your Swaro 80 on, of course, a pretty heavy tripod/head, the 3 litres of water in a bottle to hang from the middle, which after opening the tripod legs so scope is 3ft above beach, you will just start to get some semblence of stability.

Quote:
Originally Posted by IanF
No use at all for digiscoping due to the wide (55mm) lens and also the zoom power.

Due to the long range of the zoom, you'd need to zoom up to 8-9x in order to remove vignetting but at this magnification it's way too powerful leading to very soft grainy muddy images. Anything less and vignetting is extreme causeing soft images and incorrect exposure. I have the FZ20 with similar lens - likewise no use for digiscoping.

The camera complements digiscoping as it's ideal for those closer birds - but for digiscoping you really need a 3x optical zoom camera.
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Old Thursday 5th January 2006, 04:20   #8
BillboHants
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Thumbs up Probably the usual curates egg

I think the A620's faults are probably exagerated, its speed is getting some good comments. And at the price if one shops around I don't think you will have a disaster. This last bit is definitely not a plug, I have sold it boxed/untouched/not grey, for 150 complete.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Jarvis
Mel

Can you let us all know what you think of the A620 when you have tried it out for digiscoping. I have one and find it ok for what I want, but it could be prudent to get other experiences of it on the forum.

Thanks

Paul
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