More FZ200 Testing

Started Sep 2, 2012 | Discussions thread
VincentR
Regular MemberPosts: 124
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Re: FZ200 looks great to me
In reply to quezra, Sep 7, 2012

quezra wrote:

VincentR wrote:

I did think a few weeks ago of buying an FZ150, which is readily available and at a significant lower price, and comparing that with my Canon 50D and 100-400 zomm. If I found the FZ150 seriously lacking in image quality at 600m and the same fast shutter speeds I use with my 100-400 at 400mm, I would return the camera, or sell it, or give it away, and save myself the extra expense of an FZ200, on the basis that the FZ200 would be only marginally better than the FZ150 in terms of fundamental image quality.

If you're a really nerdy type (like me) you might want to check Roger's blog on sensor size ( http://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2012/02/sensor-size-matters-part-2 ). It won't answer the questions on image quality directly, but it will explain just why there is such an enormous gulf between the APSC-sensor DSLR and the typical sensor of the compact. APSC sensor by surface area is nearly 10x the 1/1.7" sensor of the Canon S100. The FZ200 apparently has a 1/2.3" sensor which is even smaller. So it's going to suffer in every department as a result, and that explains why they can make a fixed f2.8 25-600mm lens for a tiny sensor when doing the same for even micro4/3 would be a gigantic behemoth.

That said, if you look at amateur photography books from the 1980s (pre photoshop, pre digital, pre autofocus, etc), you'll find today's compacts can shoot better than their best 35mm film in terms of image quality (you won't beat composition though!). And so most people think, well these photos look just fine. And they are. But not everyone is "most people", and that's where our DSLR-using buddies pipe in to diss the superzoomers and compact users.

Absolutely true. I have no illusions about the quality of the small sensor compared with the larger sensor. Small sensors are definitely noisier in proportion to the degree that they are smaller. The DXOMark site contains a mine of information about the qualities of sensors, in terms of SNR, DR, Tonal Range and Color Sensitivity.

The FZ200 sensor is about 1/9th the area of the the Canon cropped-format DSLR sensor, such as my 50D, after cropping the 50D frame to the same 4:3 aspect ratio as the FZ200. In other words, a full exposure at the base ISO of 100 on the 50D, will gather 9x more light than a full exposure with the FZ200 at base ISO.

However, let's consider what happens when we raise ISO on a camera like the Canon 50D. At ISO 200 its sensor receives half the amount of light. At ISO 400 its sensor receives 1/4th the amount of light. At ISO 800 its sensor recieves 1/8th the amount of light.

Now we're in the same ball park as the small FZ200 sensor, except the smaller FZ200 sensor with its smaller componentry, shorter distances for electrons to travel, and its advantages of being a more recent design than the 50D, produces slightly better results at ISO 100 than the 50D at a real ISO 800. A real ISO of 500 would be a better match, equal to the nominated setting of ISO 640 on the 50D. But let's not quibble.

When comparing cameras we should never forget that the lens is just as important as the camera sensor or camera body. You can't take a photo with a camera without a lens, and you can't take a photo with a lens without a camera body containing either film or sensor.

The 600/F2.8 lens fixed to the FZ200 is the main attraction. Small sensors are two a penny.

When I use my Canon 100-400/F5.6 zoom on my 50D at 400mm for shooting birds, and wildlife in general, the camera is usually set at ISO 400 to 800. Sometimes ISO 1600, and more rarely ISO 3200. Usually when I try ISO 200 with a slower shutter speed, hoping to reduce noise, I find the resulting image is rarely as sharp as it could have been.

For me, the big question is, how does the FZ200 at 600mm ISO 100 and f2.8 or F4, compare with my 100-400 at 640mm equivalent on the 50D, at F5.6 or F8 at nominated ISOs between 500 and 1000, bearing in mind that the ISO values on the Canon are slightly exaggerated.

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