FZ150 much more on EZ settings and telex

Started Oct 28, 2011 | Discussions thread
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GeraldW
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FZ150 much more on EZ settings and telex
Oct 28, 2011

Well, well! When I got up this morning it was overcast; but by 10 o'clock we had sun. So I did a matrix of shots using EZ zoom settings and my Raynox 1540 Pro telex at ISO 200, 400, 800, and 1600, and EZ settings of 12 MP, 8 MP, 5 MP, and 3 MP, and with and without the telex. About 45 shots in all.

So what did I learn from all this? First, the FZ150 is quite usable at ISO 1600 in moderate to good light and it's good enough that you can use a moderate amount of digital zoom (AKA, EZ). I'd print the 8 MP EZ shots at 8.5" x 11", and the 5 MP would be OK at 8" x 10", even with a little cropping. There is noise; but it's fine grained and printing would smooth it out some more. A magazine cover? No, but you could put it in a frame on the mantle and people would think it was nice looking.

I also found that Power OIS is good enough that 1/100 is fast enough for sharp shots at at 5 MP EZ setting, which is equivalent to 938 mm or about 3 stops, hand held. Even 3 MP (1172 mm, equivalent) is reasonably sharp.

OK, so then I put the Raynox 1540 Pro telex on the camera. Now the light started to vary a bit. So a shot a series with 2 different scenes. The first was the same cluster of Dogwood leaves that I used for the non-telex shots. But now I started at ISO 200 and immedaitely found that 1/40 second is too slow - everything had jiggle blur. Not too surprising at 924 mm. ISO 400 was better; but still blur was evident at 1/100. At ISO 800 I was getting a better hit rate; but 1/200 is marginal and I was getting about 50% good shots. Then at 1600, I was geting consistent sharp shots at 1/400 second. Noise is fine grained and looks smooth; but cropping is limited.

The second set with the telex was some maple leaves in better light. Now, ISO 400 shots were at 1/400 and detail was sharp on 12 MP shots. 8MP was just about as good, and even 5 MP was usable. but that's 1440 mm equivalent, and just about the limit, hand held. The ISO 800 shots were as good with smooth backgrounds where noise tends to be more visible. They look pretty printable.

At ISO 1600 with the telex and the better light, shutter speed was up to 1/1000. At 12 MP, the color and contrast were good, and I could crop by 50% and still get a good image. At 8 MP, IQ is still good; but you can't crop as much, maybe 30%; and at 5 MP, it would print OK; but with very limited cropping.

After all this, I'm left with an anomaly. Without the telex, the FZ150 does quite well at 1/100 second with better than a 50% hit rate. But put on the telex and the hit rate is under 25% and doesn't get good until 1/400. I suspect it has something to do with the dynamics of the long asembly with all that extra weight out front; but I don't quite understand it. When i was in college I shot on the varsity rifle team. The experience there was that the longer the barrel, and the more mass out front, the more stable it was since the polar moment of inertia is increased and small muscle tremors have less effect. The results with the FZ150 seem quite opposite. A while back, I also had similar results using a Canon 70-300 IS lens on a Canon XTi. The same lens on the larger and much heavier 30D body gave much better results.

Also, the general pattern I found with the G7 is continued with the FZ150. That is, as the ISO increases, the amount of useful digital zoom is reduced.

The EZ settings are just a refined form of digital zoom (DZ for short), very similar to what Canon calls a digital tele-converter. Comparing a hardware tele extender (telex) to a DZ there are a couple of things to consider. DZ does not change the depth of field (DOF); but a telex does. A telex does not change the cameras F#; but because they add extra glass for the light to go through, there are transmission losses and the lens will act as if the aperture was a little smaller. It's about a 1/3 - 1/2 stop loss with my Raynox 1540. Because of the extra glass, the telex will reduce contrast. Probably not noticeable in bright light; but visible in lower light and flat light. On the other hand, using DZ reduces resolution and makes the noise more visible. Whether DZ or a telex is used, the effective focal length is increased and higher ISO settings may be needed to keep the shutter speeds high enough to minimize jiggle blur and give the OIS a chance. The FZ150 still shows fine detail and good edge definition at ISO 800 and 1600 is stil amazingly good. Throughout the tests, 8 MP images look as good as the 12 MP at all ISO and with the telex or not.

Lastly, you need to know how my camera was set. I do use internal setting for sharpening, saturation and noise reduction. So sharpening is at +1, saturation at +1, contrast 0, and NR -2. For fall colors I set the WB to cloudy to intensify the colors. All shots were hand held, all shots were at maximum zoom (600 mm), and all shots were wide open at f/5.2. All my judgements about image quality and noise were done on-screen on my 20" monitor in Canon's Zoom Browser; which allows full screen viewing; but also allows convenient on screen cropping to look at details and noise. Judgements about printing are based on the dozen or so 8.5" x 11" prints I have made of FZ150 images and how they correlate to what I see on-screen.

The results are by far the best of any SuperZoom camera I have owned, and very competitive with my G12.

Be happy to answer any questiona and give opinions; but that's probably the end of testing for me. Time to go put this to use and take some real pictures.
--
Jerry

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