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Digital Cameras/Photography

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by Tokyo Slim, Nov 16, 2004.

  1. Tokyo Slim

    Tokyo Slim Senior member

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    I finally bit the bullet tonight and paid for the digital camera I've been saving up for/lusting after for about two months. Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ20k Anyone else have any experience with this camera, or anything similar? 10x or 12x zoom, 5+ megapixel, digital SLR types of digital cam? Any one here a professional (or experienced amature) photographer? Any tips or must-have filters, travel case, etc?
     
  2. jharrison

    jharrison Senior member

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    Anything I know, I've learned from DP Review. It's the most comprehensive and helpful resource for digital photography nuts.
     
  3. matadorpoeta

    matadorpoeta Senior member

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    i haven't gone digital, but i'm a good amateur photographer and cinematographer as well. the first thing you want to do is turn off that digital zoom. it will degrade image quality more than anything else.

    remember that all those shooting modes (landscape, portrait, etc...) are just the camera adjusting the aperture and shutter speed for you. pick up a book from the library and learn how cameras work, then you'll be able to adjust the aperture and shutter speed yourself, for total creative control. it's not complicated at all once you understand the principles involved.

    when shooting handheld try and steady yourself as much as possible, and use a wider angle on the lens. it makes a big difference.

    labelking and kai are also photographers, so maybe than can add some more tips.
     
  4. drizzt3117

    drizzt3117 Senior member

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    I personally use the Pentax Optio S5i. I think the Digital Rebel looks nice as well.
     
  5. FIHTies

    FIHTies Senior member Affiliate Vendor

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    Check out Short Courses for great info on cameras. I bought a 750 dollar camera and was getting mediocre shots till I bought the book. JJF
     
  6. Tokyo Slim

    Tokyo Slim Senior member

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    Which is why I really only looked at the cameras with the best optical zooms I could afford. I narrowed my choices down to the Konica Minolta Z-3 and the Panasonic Lumix because both of them are 12x optical, and both have some sort of stabilizer function. I went and played with both of them at a local retailer, and decided that the Z-3 was too small and looked too strange - defeating half the purpose of the camera. (which is to impress the ladies so much with my manly new camera that it makes their clothes fall off )

    Seriously though... the panasonic's humongous Leica lens makes the Minolta feel like a toy. I really liked the clarity I was seeing and its F/2.8 brightness throughout the entire zoom range is awesome. The manual focus ring is incredible, and it starts up really quickly.

    Yeah, I agree - and if I had the $679 to spend on the body, and about another $1000 to spend on a few pretty nice lenses, I might be inclined to get the digital rebel...but I basically have to settle for a $500 camera that will take very similar pictures... I'll give up the one megapixel for the $1200 it would cost me to get the camera and lenses to cover the same 35mm eqivalent range. (35-432mm) Plus the DigiRebel is SILVER. I'd have to wait for a black body model so that I wouldn't be laughed at.
     
  7. retronotmetro

    retronotmetro Senior member

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    I got a Lumix FZ-10, had it stolen, and replaced it with another one. Very good camera. IIRC, the FZ-20 is basically the same, except for tweaks to the firmware and the addition of a focus assist light, which the FZ-10 really did need as its low light focusing was slow and sometimes a little bit off.

    Make sure you use IS mode 2--it kicks the stabilizer on when you take the picture instead of keeping it on all the time. It provides greater stabilization at the moment of capture, which is what you probably want. Mode 1 has IS active all of the time, supposedly to make framing easier--it doesn't help that much and it drains the battery. Same for continuous AF--marginal advantage, big battery hit.

    I don't have a filter on mine, as the threading is kind of goofy compared to what I'm used to using on SLR lenses. I prefer to keep the cap and hood on, which is protection enough in most situations.

    Make sure you get high speed SD cards--if you shoot in burst mode the high speed cards speed up the image write time so that you aren't stuck with a locked-up camera waiting for the images to write. Also, when you find spare batteries in stock, BUY THEM. Panasonic batteries are very hard to find. Buy any case you want--the FZ-10 is damn close to an SLR in size, so you might want to look at SLR cases.

    The video mode on the FZ-series Panny cameras is great--decent quality, and a 30 fps frame rate so it looks very smooth when viewed back.

    The one issue I have with the FZ-10 is getting exposures dead-on, and I think the FZ-20 may be the same. It's a bit biased towards overexposure. Since the dynamic range of most digicams is pretty narrow, kind of like slide film, you may find that highlights get blown out. And on the tiny little screens, you don't usually notice the problem until you are looking at the final images on a full sized monitor. So when shooting outside, I often use -2/3 or -1 exposure compensation as a matter of habit, maybe more if there are bright and shaded areas within the frame.
     
  8. drizzt3117

    drizzt3117 Senior member

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    I have a couple issues with digital photography.

    I think the best pictures I've taken have been at times where I haven't necessarily thought about taking pictures, just spur of the moment, and I'm not typically willing to drag around a full sized camera and lenses in case I get the urge to take pictures. Thus, I normally carry my Pentax Optio S5i for normal photography. I will probably get a Digital rebel and nice lenses for more structured photography sessions, as photography is one of my bigger hobbies.
     
  9. Huntsman

    Huntsman Senior member

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    Another money-crunching hobby of mine. Since your post linked to Phil's review at DPR, you're already ahead of the curve. I haven't read up on new digicams since I got my Olympus E-10, oh, three years ago. Still serves me beautifully.

    I might add, try shooting in Aperture priority mode to control your Depth of Field. The full-auto mode, whatever it is called on the Pentax, is going to make your work as generic as possible. Another thing, the dynamic range of a digital captures shadow detail exceptionaly well, and you can 'pull' that detail out in Photoshop, but once you've overexposed any detail in the highlights is history. See if your camera has a histogram and learn how to use it.

    Just curious, drizz, what? I still prefer my SLRs, but I share so much more with a digital; that aspect adds to its value for me. Everything in its place (at least for me).

    Regards,
    Huntsman
     
  10. drizzt3117

    drizzt3117 Senior member

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    I think issues wasn't the right word, I meant that I need a small digital camera otherwise I wouldn't carry it, I don't like carrying alot of stuff around.
     
  11. Huntsman

    Huntsman Senior member

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    Oh, gotcha. Somehow I missed the context... [​IMG] Regards, Huntsman
     
  12. LabelKing

    LabelKing Senior member

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    I believe there are two versions of that Panasonic camera. It was created in collaboration with Leica, and the other model is a higher end camera. Leica also has its own version called the Digilux or something of that nature.

    My experience with digital cameras have never been much fruitful, and I do not use them save for eBay auctions.

    The regular camera(s) I use are a Leica IIIf from 1950, and a Rolleiflex twin lens from 1956.

    There is also a Canon AE-1.

    For the digital camera higher pixels does not neccesarily mean higher quality. The 5.3 is quite sufficent. Also if you have an affinity for taking still-lifes, and outdoor things a tripod is neccesary.

    I would use a UV filter on the lens since it would protect the lens, and it proves pragmatic in the outdoors.
     
  13. retronotmetro

    retronotmetro Senior member

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    You're thinking of the DMC-LC1, which has manual camera-style controls and an even faster lens (f/2.0-2.4) with a 28-90 zoom. That one is really nice but costs as much as an entry-level DSLR with a decent zoom lens, though the Panny is cheaper than the Leica-badged version. Personally I'd get a DSLR to use with my legacy lenses, or the Epson R-D1 rangefinder (uses Leica mount lenses), before dropping $1K+ on the DMC-LC1/Digilux.

    I use UV filters on all of my SLR and RF lenses, but I don't use one on my FZ-10. The filter threads for this camera are at the outside end of the lens hood, so using one increases the risk of lens flare or internal reflections from the inside of the hood. If you must use one, get a multicoated filter and not the cheap ones that mall-type camera stores sell.

    A tripod is very useful for night shooting, macro shooting and the like. Make sure you turn off the IS system if you use a tripod--unlike the Canon or Nikon pro-grade SLR IS/VR lenses, there is no tripod-compatible mode on the Panasonic cameras. I find a tripod unnecessary with the FZ-10 for most uses short of very long exposures or medium exposures at the longest zoom levels, because the IS system works pretty well.
     
  14. Tokyo Slim

    Tokyo Slim Senior member

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    Good info so far guys... any opinions on monopods? I doubt I'll be using a tripod much, and therefore don't want to be lugging one around (especially in Tokyo, upon my return) I was thinking that perhaps I could practice my monopod technique and maybe that would be an acceptable middleground. Good idea or bad idea?
     
  15. Huntsman

    Huntsman Senior member

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    They are a very good middleground.

    However, I think you'd only need a 'pod if you are shooting at night. And if you are shooting at night, it is no longer middleground, and I think you'll need a tripod. Between IS and the lack of an SLR mirror-slap, a digital can be handheld pretty slowly. I've handheld my E-10 at 80 ISO without IS at 1/10 sec. Ok, I happen to be a little better than average at that, but hey.

    Best thing to do is to shoot some at twilight and indoors and see how it comes out. Compare the results with how often you expect to shoot at those light levels and there you go.

    Have fun,
    Huntsman
     
  16. T4phage

    T4phage Senior member

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    I am thinking of buying a digital myself but cannot bear to not use my Lecia M6 or Contax G2, and my trusty T-VS (the first and in my opinion the best).

    I am/was considering the Panasonic DMC LC1 (over the same Leica due to the cost) or the Sony DSC V3. My one qualm about the Panasonic/Leica is the lack of an ISO 800 setting (which I use for taking flashless shots inside buildings), and the size of the thing compared to other digitals, also the price is quite a bit for a 5MP camera. On the plus side the camera is very intuitive and nice to hold. The Sony has almost everything that I would want, but the lenses (Zeiss Vario Sonnar) is not as good as the Leica Vario Summicron.

    Retro: That Epson beastie is almost double the price of the Leica, how can you justify that?
     
  17. retronotmetro

    retronotmetro Senior member

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    That's easy: I don't have the cash for either, so it's only theoretical. [​IMG] But if I had cash to spend on cameras now, I'd rather have an R-D1 (APS sized CMOS chip, ISO up to 1600 with low noise, interchangeable lens) than the LC1 or Digilux (small-format chip, fixed zoom lens). I love to do selective-focus, narrow-DOF photos, which you can't effectively do on a small-format digital. Plus, imagine the ability to put classic LTM glass in front of a 6MP chip--or use a Noctilux at ISO1600 on an APS-sized chip.
     
  18. retronotmetro

    retronotmetro Senior member

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    Tokyo always strikes me as a singularly bad place to use a tripod. It's a street photography paradise because of the density, but the density means tipped tripods as well. And even though some tripods can fold down really small, I like to get as compact as possible when taking the subways or trains.

    I'd try testing the limits of your handheld technique and the camera's IS capabilities. If you plan on doing a LOT of night shooting you probably need more than technique and IS, so a monopod sounds like a good idea. There are some monopods that have (short and flimsy) folding "emergency" tripod legs, which makes them a lot more stable than a normal monopod--not stable enough to prop a camera and walk away, but steadier than a one-point monopod. I keep telling myself I will try one of those someday.
     
  19. Tokyo Slim

    Tokyo Slim Senior member

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    thats what I was thinking... plus, I hate hauling too much crap around.

    Let me know if you see one online anywhere, I've never seen these at any of the local retailers...
     
  20. FIHTies

    FIHTies Senior member Affiliate Vendor

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    Try here for all things photo related. B and H JJF
     

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