FZ200 image quality/aperture test @ 24X Zoom (re-done with focus chart)

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nicodimus22
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FZ200 image quality/aperture test @ 24X Zoom (re-done with focus chart)
4 months ago

Introduction

Hello folks. I am re-shooting this test from yesterday:

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/53493441

The same parameters from the previous shoot apply, but with a couple of changes. I am using a focus chart taped to the wall this time, for more uniformity and to eliminate the potential DOF issues from the previous test with the Braveheart artwork. Also, this time I shot 3 images at each aperture with the camera's self timer, and selected the best one of the 3 to use for comparison to ensure that no 'bad shots' made it into this test.

When comparing these images in Lightroom, I zoomed in to 2:1, and looked at many different areas of the image for comparison. (In the last test, I was too fixated on the center.)

Test Images

Here are the images from today's test, if you would like to compare them yourself:

And now, with the LT55 teleconverter attached:

And a couple of quick comparison images that I stitched together for easy comparison:

Observations

This time around, I was able to more easily notice a difference when viewing the images at normal size, although it still might not be noticeable to the casual viewer unless they were viewing the image at fit-to-screen size or better, and they were looking for it. Looking all over the images, I saw the same general trend that I saw in the previous test: Both with and without the LT55, the image quality of the FZ200 peaked at f5.0, and dropped off as you headed in either direction.

When I zoomed in and examined the images at 2:1, the difference was night and day this time, especially at the f2.8 setting. It looks awful, to be honest. It's quite blurry, and plenty of chromatic aberration is evident. Even at f3.2, the image quality looks much better. Keep in mind that the two f2.8 images are not bad shots that made it into this testing...I picked the best out of 3 images for each aperture for this comparison, and they still look that bad.

Conclusions

The FZ200's selling feature to many people was its ability to maintain a f2.8 aperture throughout its zoom range. However, if you cared enough about image quality to buy the FZ200 instead of a cheap point-and-shoot camera, I recommend that you avoid using f2.8. It really degrades the quality of the image quite a bit. Use f3.2 instead, when you have DOF and/or shutterspeed considerations. The difference between f2.8 and f3.2 is only 1/3 of a stop, which isn't all that much. I think the camera produces pretty good image quality from ISO 100 to 400, and you'd be a lot better off bumping up the ISO slightly and using a little noise reduction later if you felt the need to. I also don't think you'll see a drastic DOF difference between f2.8 and f3.2, so I'd just stick with f3.2.

The sweet spot still seems to be f5.0 for this camera (at least at maximum optical zoom) based on this test and the one I did yesterday. Use f5.0 and ISO100 for the absolute best quality when the situation allows, and change to f3.2 and ISO 200 or 400 when you need to increase your shutterspeed and/or narrow your DOF. Thanks for reading, and have fun shooting!

Edit: I may do a similar test on image quality/aperture with the FZ200 using the Canon 500D and 250D filters, if there are macro-loving folks that would like to see it.

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"If I handed my 5-year old daughter my iPhone and asked her to take a picture of that, would your photo look any different from hers?" -Scott Kelby

 nicodimus22's gear list:nicodimus22's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200
Canon EOS 500D (EOS Rebel T1i / EOS Kiss X3) Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200
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