FZ9 – the classic FZx –- What do you think???

Started Aug 15, 2008 | Discussions thread
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Mikedigi
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FZ9 – the classic FZx –- What do you think???
Aug 15, 2008

To consider the FZ9, let's start with the FZ8.

Many things have been said about the FZ8. To quote a few:

Nothing as small, light and cheap does it as well or better. (courtesy of Ehrik)

It's the Mini-Cooper, the Lotus Super Seven.

It's one of those rare products where the whole is more than the sum of its parts.
It's a walk on the wild side.

You can hate the bad bits, but it's still exciting.

It's a superb camera desperately seeking a better sensor/processor.

I love it but I could live without the 100 ISO frogspawn.

For me, basically, I've handled several competitive cameras alleged to be in the same "class" and frankly, after the FZ8, they always remind me of house bricks.

The FZ18/FZ28 series will become great, I've no doubt – but the FZ28 is 23% bigger and 23% heavier than the FZ8, so it has departed from FZ8 territory.

Furthermore, if the FZ28 line is destined to overlap into ex-FZ50 territory, it may become even bigger and heavier – manual zoom ring, hot shoe, swivelling LCD . . . who knows? That's great, but it's not FZ8 territory.

And Micro 4/3 . . . great, but again, it's not FZ8 territory. There's enough being written about that elsewhere . . . not here, please!!!!!

So, here's my mock-up of what the FZ9 should look like:

Looks like the FZ8? Yes, exactly – "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!" It's a timeless design and a masterpiece of elegant simplicity. The FZ9 should be the same body, and the same size and weight.

(It should not be made smaller, either, by removing the projecting right hand finger grip - which works very well single-handed, provided that fingernails are well clipped!)

SENSOR/PROCESSOR:

Still the 1/2.5" sensor to avoid increasing the size/weight.

But Panasonic are now telling us:

"The old formula equating pixel count with image quality does not always hold true." (surprise, surprise)

and that the "cool" pixel density for 2008 is 24 MP/cm2 (LX3).

Comparative pixel densities are:

FZ5 (5 MP): 20 MP/cm2
FZ7 (6 MP): 24
FZ8 (7 MP): 29
FZ18 (8 MP): 32
FZ28: (10 MP): 36

So if Panasonic are now really grasping the nettle and promoting image quality, not pixel count, they should presumably put a 5 MP to 7 MP sensor in the FZ9, with 6 MP (like the FZ7, with 24 MP/cm2) perhaps being the favourite.

And if Venus IV can cope with the output from higher pixel densities like the FZ18/FZ28, presumably it can be tweaked to get excellent results from 5, 6 or 7 MP in the FZ9.

The PRIORITY should be to get clean, crisp JPEG's in "FZ conditions", i.e. 100-200 ISO. With the 5.76 x 4.29 mm sensor, it's no good expecting miracles over 400 ISO (though we can dream!).

Many users claim that in these "FZ conditions" the FZ5 (5 MP) is the sweet spot in the series for image quality – see recent thread:

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/readflat.asp?forum=1033&thread=28899488 .

LENS:

Dpreview were less happy with the FZ8 lens than with the FZ5 and FZ7 lenses. If that's right (and Panasonic should know), this could be sorted out in the FZ9.
36-432 mm zoom range is fine by me in this size/weight of camera.

FEATURES:

Nothing that would make the FZ9 bigger or heavier than the FZ8, or screw up the body design.

Therefore no manual focus ring, no hot shoe, no swivelling LCD, etc.

The FZ9 could inherit some of the better new software features of the FZ28, especially Intelligent Auto to replace "Simple" (FZ8), which could have been called "Unintelligent Auto".

Tracking AF – especially if it works (!) and if it is Predictive and does not use massive battery power.

Faster and more extensive Burst Mode options.

And also:

Auto ISO to have selectable ISO ranges (like the F20)

Much easier access to important settings like Contrast, Saturation, Sharpness, NR and Colour Effect.

Graduated Colour Effects, especially for the Warm setting, for more subtlety.

A remote control would be nice (especially for birders etc.) if it did not add size or weight (e.g. a small plug-in device).

But I won't go on and on about detailed features here – the main priorities are under "SENSOR/PROCESSOR" and "LENS" above.

Just a personal niggle – when I switch the camera on, I don't want to see the DATE across the spot where my f stop and shutter speed should be. I know that I can get rid of it by half-pressing the shutter button, but why should I have to? I don't switch the camera on to find out the date.

COMMENT:

All the above does not constitute a massive development programme for Panasonic. Most of the FZ8 is brilliant – once again, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it".

But refining the above areas could make the FZ9 the classic camera of the FZx series.

Comments, criticisms, corrections, accusations, abuse and trolls welcome! These are only our toys, after all – it doesn't matter if we throw them out of the pram!

Mike

EffZedEight

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