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Lumix DMC-FZ20 vs. DMC-FZ5 (1 Viewer)

Doug Greenberg

Well-known member
I'm an inveterate gadget freak, I confess, and I've become intrigued by the idea of getting a Panasonic Lumix camera as a "walkaround" and travel camera for when I don't want to take my full DSLR rig. With the 12x Leica zoom lens, it seems like it's possible, at least, to get some decent bird photos "on the fly" so to speak, without toting a lot of equipment.

I've investigated, and having done so I cannot at this moment decide between the "top of the line" DMC-FZ20 and the smaller, lighter, slightly less expensive DMC-FZ5. The advantages of the former seem to be that the lens is very slightly faster at full zoom and includes an ED element. Also, there is a flash hot shoe (which I would be unlikely to use much) and available manual focus. But on the other hand, it weighs twice as much as the DMC-FZ5.

The bottom line for me would be a comparison of performance. If the photos taken with the DMC-FZ5 were as good as the larger camera's, particularly at 432 mm., I'd go with the smaller one. I've done some research and found contradictory opinions on this matter. One web review claims that the photos are virtually identical. Another review, however, states that the image quality from the DMC-FZ5 is discernibly inferior to the DMC-FZ20.

Has anyone out there used either or both cameras in the field? Any thoughts, reactions, opinions, regrets? Again, if it were clear that the DMC-FZ20 produces better results at full tele (e.g., for bird photos), its extra size, weight, and cost would be tolerable. But if the difference is marginal or nonexistent, the smaller size of the DMC-FZ5 would win the day.

Thanks for any replies.
Doug
 

Snappy

Well-known member
I had the FZ20 and changed to the FZ5 three weeks ago, the FZ5 has the same image quality but is slightly faster than the FZ20 although its a bit light, it is very well built and well worth the £284 I paid for it. I use the FZ5 as a back up for my DSLR's and for occaisions when I don't want to lug heavy equipment around with me. The Leica image stabilised lens is of excellent quality I am sure that you would not be dissappointed with this camera.
 

Keith Reeder

Watch the birdie...
AAMOI,

Snappy, is it possible to attach the TCON17 teleconvertor (and the like) onto the FZ5?

My understanding that you couldn't, which was why I bought an FZ20 - the idea of 734mm, f2.8 and image stabilisation in such a small package is very appealing!

;)

I just mention this in case it would be relevant to Doug's deliberations...
 

Doug Greenberg

Well-known member
So do you use a standard step-down ring to attach this teleconverter to the lens? And how much is the image degraded as a result of the additional optic?
 

Keith Reeder

Watch the birdie...
Hey Doug,

I use the Pemeraal PA55H adaptor: adaptor onto camera, Tcon onto adaptor.

I've not noticed any quantifiable image degredation Doug, though I've never done any on/off comparisons using my own camera, but I can say that with the Tcon in place, more light gets into the camera than when it's off the camera.

Good to know, given that the FZ20 has f2.8 throughout its zoom range.

Using the Tcon might be one reason to buy the FZ20: the ED lens elements in the bigger camera might be more critical to the image when you've brought another optic into the equation...
 
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Doug Greenberg

Well-known member
Apparently, there is no Pemeraal PA55H adaptor that fits the FZ5. This makes me wonder a few things. First, is there anyone out there who is using a DZ5 with a teleconverter? If so, which one(s), attached how? Second, can anyone show me a sample of a bird photo taken with the FZ20 and the Tcon converter?

Of course, one problem as I see it is that by the time I put together a FZ20 plus TCon teleconverter plus adapter, I'd end up with a rig that is just about as large and heavy as my DSLR plus 80-400mm. VR lens. I have to think through the issue of just when I would want/need to use the Lumix and consequently how important size/weight are as factors.
 

Keith Reeder

Watch the birdie...
The Pana + Tcon is much lighter, and slightly more compact than my D70 + 70-300mm, Doug.

And remember that you've still got 432mm + IS without the Tcon...
 

Keith Reeder

Watch the birdie...
Some info, Doug...

You mention that an FZ20 + Tcon is getting perilously close to the bulk and weight of your dSLR + lens.

Maybe not...

;)

I've just done some checking and:

the Nikon D70 + Sigma 70-300 weighs 3lbs 1oz,
the FZ20 + Tcon + Pemaraal adaptor weighs 2lbs 2oz,
the FZ20 on its own weighs 1lb 5oz.

You'll also see from the attachments that the Pana is a good bit less bulky than the Nikon.

The first image shows the Nikon/Sigma at 300mm and the FZ20 at 734mm,
the second shows the Nikon at 70mm and the FZ20 at 432mm,
the third is the Nikon at 70mm and the FZ20 at 734mm.

Not really much to carry to get 734mm!

;)
 

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Doug Greenberg

Well-known member
Thanks for the info and the comparison photos, Blyth. I still am scratching my head over this, as I need to envision how I want to use my camera(s) during various kinds of travel. The truth is that when I go out to do "serious" bird photography, I take at the very least my D100 and 80-400mm. VR zoom, which in terms of performance would still be preferable to the FZ20 plus teleconverter, I'm certain.

On the other hand, if what I "really" want is a very light, compact, simple unit that I can use to get a few decent shots during a trip where photography is really not an emphasis, it would (still) seem to me that the smaller FZ5 might be the way to go. Under those circumstances I don't know if I would want to bother with additional teleconverters, anyway.

However, the FZ20 seems like the more capable and versatile camera overall, and its build quality is undoubtedly better.
 

Steveal50

New member
You'll also see from the attachments that the Pana is a good bit less bulky than the Nikon.

The first image shows the Nikon/Sigma at 300mm and the FZ20 at 734mm,
the second shows the Nikon at 70mm and the FZ20 at 432mm,
the third is the Nikon at 70mm and the FZ20 at 734mm.

Not really much to carry to get 734mm!


Keith,

Can you handhold your FZ20 at 432mm or even 734mm with decent quality?

Steve
 

Keith Reeder

Watch the birdie...
Yep, you can Steve.

Even with the Tcon, the combination of a compact package, very fast (f2.8 through the zoom range) lens and image stabilisation do a great job.

The attached picture was from about 40 feet using the Tcon: "only" a swan, but the image quality is right up there, I think.
 

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IanF

Moderator
I have the FZ20 as well and use it with the Olympus Tcon-17. I haven't tried the DMC FZ5 but really my biggest concern would be the non-ED lens, especially if you did find a way to add a converter lens.

I do find there is very slight softening of the image at extreme zoom lengths which can be combatted by sharpening the image on the computer and using a smaller aperture. Most of the time now if the conditions are bright enough I use the camera set to 'A' which gives f8 aperture and whilst this can cause slight vignetting when using the Tcon-17 it can be cropped out. Whilst the autofocus works just fine, I find I'm more and more using the camera on manual focus especially for birds in flight.

If I was starting over again, I'd still be inclined to go for the FZ20 - though the quality of results are a far cry from those obtainable with a DSLR. However the lighter weight, lower cost, manual focus, fast sharp lens and very good image stabilisation all count in it's favour. As regards the query on the flash hot shoe, the built in flash on the FZ20 is pretty powerful itself and I have never needed to use external flash - yet!

Considering negative points of the FZ20, the main ones that spring to mind are the slow auto-fcous - I guess it's not really slow, but seems that way when you're trying for flight shots, though the manual focus is a dream and to a certain extent negates this point. Secondly, I find the lens has a tendency for CA if the camera is pointed in the direction of the sun i.e. on backlit subjects. I guess this in part is due to using the Tcon-17 which is virtually always attached to the camera meaning you can't use the lens hood, but really it's just something to be aware of.

Overall I'd still give the camera 9/10 - in the light of not having seen anyhting better to do the job I want.

The image stabiliser is very effective and I have never needed to use a tripod even when combining two teleconverters - the Tcon-14+Tcon-17.

A few photos attached, selected from my holiday shots in Scotland last week all 'optimised for web' which reduces file size and image quality, but all taken with Tcon-17 attached -

Barn Owl 45 yards - heavily cropped - focus slightly out, but it was a quick shot before it took off hunting again.
Barn Swallow 8 yards
Red Kite 35 yards
House Martin 30 yards full frame f3
House Martin as above cropped 50%
 

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birdeast

Well-known member
Ian,

How does the FZ20 lend itself to digiscoping? I know zoom much over 4x gets into problems with vignetting, but have you tried using it with a scope at magnifications under 4x?

I am trying to work out what is best for me in terms of a camera. I like the idea of having a camera as light as the FZ20 with so much zoom 'power' for casual birding trips into the forest or around the house. I would also like to 'tinker' with digiscoping with whatever camera I purchase.

Scott
 

IanF

Moderator
Hi Scott - the short answer is that 'it doesn't' ;)

The FZ20 is a nice closer distance camera to use on it's own but it's no use at all for digiscoping. Anything under about 6-7x zoom and the vigentting is too extreme - it's not just a question of cropping it out - due to the amount it greatly affects exposure and causes soft images. Of course anyhting over that and the vignetting does but the magnification is too powerful for the scope optics giving soft low contrast images.

For disigscoping it would be better to buy a small compact camera. Maybe the Canon A95 or the Olympus C7070.

Another 12x to consider is the Canon S2. I was having a look at one last week. I pefer the chunkier build of the FZ20, but in the brief look I had the photo reseults seemed as good if not better with the S2. Again though it wouldn't be much use for digiscoping.
 

condyk

Well-known member
Horses for courses ... why bother trying to semi-replicate your superb Nikon set up when really maybe you just need a small P&S style camera for the times you don't want the hassle of the big stuff. If that's correct go for the FZ5 and travel light.
 

almar

Well-known member
Right on Kondyk. Back to basics.What we all seem to want is a calling card size camera with all the bells and whistles and a 600mm lens with image stabilization.

The fz20 is not an advanced fz5. It is a different series, bigger and closer to dslr. However,hardly a match for your Nikon setup. May weigh less and take up less space and maybe you can get away without a tripod. But in view of what you have requested and what you already own I would forget the Fzs with double digit numbers like 10, 15, 20 and coming soon to a shop near you the 30.

The single digit FZs 1, 2, 3 5 are smaller and while only cargo pants pocket size ( too big for shirt pockets )are small enough to stow or carry anywhere you go.Doug, I have and use the FZ1 now out of production, a 2 megapixel camera and the first of the long lens panasonics and it is a superb instrument for my purpose and I think for the conditions you describe. Where can you find a 420mm leica lens and carry it in your pocket ? The camera has its shortcomings bad wwith whites and some indoors, slow focusing low on pixels etc but who cares. It does its job 80-90% of the time.I have never used the fz5 but it seems to be much improved witha lot more adjustment a lot more pixels and is faster on the draw. As for worrying about the TCons , my advice is don't.I have the TCon17 and use and enjoy it but it then becomes an entirely new game, a larger harder to carry and handle instrument, and maybe the need to carry a monopod or tripod and a camera bag and thus back to the equipment overload you want to avoid.

So as was said more succinctly by Candyk, if you dont want the hassle of the big stuff etc etc.

Random pc fz1 handheld attached
 

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