Panasonic fz200 - *constant* f2.8 superzoom

Started Jul 18, 2012 | Discussions
PaulRivers
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Panasonic fz200 - *constant* f2.8 superzoom
Jul 18, 2012

I'm just posting this here because I know the reason I'm in the Canon forum is because of low light compacts.

Panasonic announced the fx200 today - a superzoom with a constant f2.8 aperture, which is - amazing . For years people have been asking "what's a good camera for concerts", and for years the answer has been "nothing is really great" - until now (obviously a dslr with expensive glass will still be better) - but this is a major leap forward in this kind of camera.

On the forum, phrases like "blown away", "night and day difference", "major leap in technology" etc etc are usually used for extremely minor differences that are just barely apparent, things you have to squint at test shots at 100% to see (like the difference in resolution between full frame and crop, the supposed difference between the s90 and g11, etc etc etc).

But this is the first camera that is actually a "night and day difference" from previous zooms at the long end of the zoom.

Amazing.

(Though it would be a little more amazing if, as dpreview wrote, "in 2002 the 12x FZ10 had a maximum aperture of F2.8 across its entire zoom range" then after that suddenly you stopped seeing superzooms with a constant aperture range - and people try to say there's no conspiracy/collusion that suddenly everyone stopped making them - right).

While I realize the sx40 zooms a little further, this Panasonic really does "blow away" cameras like the Canon sx40's f5.8 at the far end of it's zoom range. I'm just so excited to have something to actually find exciting in camera announcements, rather than the usual "slight improvement over last years models" stuff we usually see.

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voz
voz
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Re: Panasonic fz200 - *constant* f2.8 superzoom
In reply to PaulRivers, Jul 18, 2012

Yeah, it's pretty cool. Much thanks to faster processors which allows for advanced in-camera distortion correction. This is only the beginning.

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Ken53
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Re: Panasonic fz200 - *constant* f2.8 superzoom
In reply to PaulRivers, Jul 18, 2012

F2.8 all the way to 600mm. Quite an accomplishment. That certainly will put it in a class by itself.

Thanks for the post Paul.

Ken

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Not to burst your bubble
In reply to PaulRivers, Jul 18, 2012

Paul, fast lenses have their place. A constant f/2.8 across a wide zoom range has its place, no doubt; however, the point I keep coming back to with the speed of lenses that many people completely gloss over is the actual quality of output produced by these lenses.

It is a well known fact that lenses with a long zoom range produces very different detail reproduction at various points within the zoom range. It is also a well known fact that lenses have a sharpness sweet spot in their given aperture range and that this sweet spot is very, very rarely anywhere near the fastest aperture. So, what you've got is a lens with an extremely wide zoom range with a fairly large constant maximum aperture.

All of these facts taken separately aren't in any way meaningful, or at least no more meaningful to this camera than any other camera or lens. Combining these variables does imply that there will be a very complicated relationship between focal length, aperture, and sharpness. And I don't think the importance of this relationship can be overstated. What happens when you zoom all the way in (usually the softest focal length) and have the aperture wide open (usually the softest setting other than they really high f-numbers)? I'll tell you what happens: blurred, useless photographs.

It's great the Panasonic kept the zoom somewhat reasonable. I'd imagine the image quality will be better than Canon's super-zooms. Having the speed of an f/2.8 lens is also great. Thinking that a long zoom and fast aperture is going to produce the super-zoom camera to end all super-zooms is presumptuous and short sighted.

I recently took a series of long exposure photographs with my 10-22 EF-S. Going from the sweet spot in the aperture of f/8-f/6.7 down to f/3.5 turned a crisp, clear bridge and foliage (the parts that weren't moving in the gentle breeze) into a much blurrier shot...too blurry for a large print. It was no failure of my technique. The same happens every time lenses go from their sweet spot to their largest aperture, to varying degrees.

Desperation or depth of field concerns may force some decisions and its good to have flexibility, but "constant f/2.8" is not equivalent to "amazing, wonderful, perfect lens."

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Greynerd
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Re: Panasonic fz200 - *constant* f2.8 superzoom
In reply to PaulRivers, Jul 18, 2012

I found it impossible to believe. I would think a lot of people are going to happily lose the extra focal length to get that aperture. The Panasonic have always been nice cameras anyhow. This might steal custom from the fast lens compacts like the Olympus XZ-1 and the Samsung EX2 as their limited zoom range is starting to look a bit restricted in relation to the extra aperture gained. This could be a bit of a game changer.

PaulRivers wrote:

I'm just posting this here because I know the reason I'm in the Canon forum is because of low light compacts.

Panasonic announced the fx200 today - a superzoom with a constant f2.8 aperture, which is - amazing . For years people have been asking "what's a good camera for concerts", and for years the answer has been "nothing is really great" - until now (obviously a dslr with expensive glass will still be better) - but this is a major leap forward in this kind of camera.

On the forum, phrases like "blown away", "night and day difference", "major leap in technology" etc etc are usually used for extremely minor differences that are just barely apparent, things you have to squint at test shots at 100% to see (like the difference in resolution between full frame and crop, the supposed difference between the s90 and g11, etc etc etc).

But this is the first camera that is actually a "night and day difference" from previous zooms at the long end of the zoom.

Amazing.

(Though it would be a little more amazing if, as dpreview wrote, "in 2002 the 12x FZ10 had a maximum aperture of F2.8 across its entire zoom range" then after that suddenly you stopped seeing superzooms with a constant aperture range - and people try to say there's no conspiracy/collusion that suddenly everyone stopped making them - right).

While I realize the sx40 zooms a little further, this Panasonic really does "blow away" cameras like the Canon sx40's f5.8 at the far end of it's zoom range. I'm just so excited to have something to actually find exciting in camera announcements, rather than the usual "slight improvement over last years models" stuff we usually see.

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Pete4
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Re: Panasonic fz200 - *constant* f2.8 superzoom
In reply to Ken53, Jul 18, 2012

this camera has about 2 f-stops advantage over other super zooms, especially on long end so yes, it sounds pretty good on paper, however I have not seen any pictures yet and would wait until quality could be evaluated. For starters, many lenses wide open look very soft and need to be step down, if that's the case here, it could not be so amazing after all. Also what's the price? There had to be some reason why this hasn't been done before, so did Panasonic had a breakthrough, or did they just compromise one thing for another? it will be interesting to see how this develops and have more choices, however from my own experience the light is not always the problem and if it is I would use flash at closer distances, or maybe use tripod or wait for better light when using telephoto. It's the quality of the picture, the noise, distortions, sharpness that very often is not that good even at ISO 100 and that's hard to overcome. I hope this is the camera to get, but let's see the pictures first.

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Ken53
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Price will play a big part.
In reply to Pete4, Jul 18, 2012

Pete4 wrote:

this camera has about 2 f-stops advantage over other super zooms, especially on long end so yes, it sounds pretty good on paper, however I have not seen any pictures yet and would wait until quality could be evaluated. For starters, many lenses wide open look very soft and need to be step down, if that's the case here, it could not be so amazing after all. Also what's the price? There had to be some reason why this hasn't been done before, so did Panasonic had a breakthrough, or did they just compromise one thing for another? it will be interesting to see how this develops and have more choices, however from my own experience the light is not always the problem and if it is I would use flash at closer distances, or maybe use tripod or wait for better light when using telephoto. It's the quality of the picture, the noise, distortions, sharpness that very often is not that good even at ISO 100 and that's hard to overcome. I hope this is the camera to get, but let's see the pictures first.

Right on. As always we will have to see results rather then just numbers.
One site had it at 499 pounds which comes out to $780.
If this is true, I pass.

Ken

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Ken53
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Re: Not to burst your bubble
In reply to howardroark, Jul 18, 2012

howardroark wrote:

Paul, fast lenses have their place. A constant f/2.8 across a wide zoom range has its place, no doubt; however, the point I keep coming back to with the speed of lenses that many people completely gloss over is the actual quality of output produced by these lenses.

It is a well known fact that lenses with a long zoom range produces very different detail reproduction at various points within the zoom range. It is also a well known fact that lenses have a sharpness sweet spot in their given aperture range and that this sweet spot is very, very rarely anywhere near the fastest aperture. So, what you've got is a lens with an extremely wide zoom range with a fairly large constant maximum aperture.

All of these facts taken separately aren't in any way meaningful, or at least no more meaningful to this camera than any other camera or lens. Combining these variables does imply that there will be a very complicated relationship between focal length, aperture, and sharpness. And I don't think the importance of this relationship can be overstated. What happens when you zoom all the way in (usually the softest focal length) and have the aperture wide open (usually the softest setting other than they really high f-numbers)? I'll tell you what happens: blurred, useless photographs.

It's great the Panasonic kept the zoom somewhat reasonable. I'd imagine the image quality will be better than Canon's super-zooms. Having the speed of an f/2.8 lens is also great. Thinking that a long zoom and fast aperture is going to produce the super-zoom camera to end all super-zooms is presumptuous and short sighted.

I recently took a series of long exposure photographs with my 10-22 EF-S. Going from the sweet spot in the aperture of f/8-f/6.7 down to f/3.5 turned a crisp, clear bridge and foliage (the parts that weren't moving in the gentle breeze) into a much blurrier shot...too blurry for a large print. It was no failure of my technique. The same happens every time lenses go from their sweet spot to their largest aperture, to varying degrees.

Desperation or depth of field concerns may force some decisions and its good to have flexibility, but "constant f/2.8" is not equivalent to "amazing, wonderful, perfect lens."

Right Howard, numbers are just that, numbers. IQ is where the rubber meets the road (-:

Time will tell....

Ken

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PaulRivers
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Re: Not to burst your bubble
In reply to howardroark, Jul 18, 2012

howardroark wrote:

What happens when you zoom all the way in (usually the softest focal length) and have the aperture wide open (usually the softest setting other than they really high f-numbers)?

It's true that one doesn't really know how well it will work until the camera is out and people have a chance to look at the pics taken at f2.8 at the far end of the zoom.

It seems like these effects are much, much larger on a larger sensored camera though. At wide angle, the difference between f2 and f4 is practically imperceptible.

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/readflat.asp?forum=1010&message=37095754

However - granted, that is at wide angle, not the far end of the zoom. From it seems like smaller sensors suffer from this less than lenses on larger sensored cameras like the ones you mentioned.

I'll tell you what happens: blurred, useless photographs.

It's very difficult for me to believe that the camera would produce "blurred, useless" photographs at f2.8 at the far end of the zoom. A little softer, perhaps, and we won't know until we see actual shots from the camera at the far end of the zoom, but "blurred, useless" I find difficult to believe.

Like I said, it seems to me like noticeable softness happens much less because of aperture on smaller sensored cameras than it does on larger sensored, interchangeable lens cameras where the effects seem more pronounced.

No debate that you'll continue to get sharper pics from a good lens on a dslr - superzooms have never been known for their tack-sharp quality. But I personally think (and it's just an opinion, obviously the camera isn't out yet) that slight softness will have a tiny effect compared to the difference between like iso1600 and iso6400.

It's great the Panasonic kept the zoom somewhat reasonable. I'd imagine the image quality will be better than Canon's super-zooms. Having the speed of an f/2.8 lens is also great.

Thinking that a long zoom and fast aperture is going to produce the super-zoom camera to end all super-zooms is presumptuous and short sighted.

Well I don't think I said it's the superzoom to end all superzooms, but I did say something like it's the superzoom to end all concert/middling light/low light superzooms.

I mean of course I expect that everyone else will come out with a similarly spec'd model, and it won't be "the one and only" any more, at some point.

But yeah, personally, I think it's one of the few major advancements in the category, like the s90/s95/s100 it's a really huge step forward in usefulness.

Actually...come to think of it...it might be in birding to, because of the shutter speeds you need to capture the bird/wildlife still...

Hmm....

Like you said, we won't really know until it's released and real reports come back about it's image quality at f2.8 at the far end of it's zoom. But actually, the more I think about it, the more I kinda feel like it might be the "superzoom to crush all other superzooms".

I mean if your current one works well for you great, stick with it, but 2 stops better is huge, and nothing anyone offers now comes close without interchangeable, large, expensive lenses.

I recently took a series of long exposure photographs with my 10-22 EF-S. Going from the sweet spot in the aperture of f/8-f/6.7 down to f/3.5 turned a crisp, clear bridge and foliage (the parts that weren't moving in the gentle breeze) into a much blurrier shot...too blurry for a large print. It was no failure of my technique. The same happens every time lenses go from their sweet spot to their largest aperture, to varying degrees.

I'm not expert on this particular topic, but I believe those wide angle lenses are particularly subject to different results based on aperture.

I've seen that kind of stuff on interchangeable lenses, but not nearly as much on compacts.

Desperation or depth of field concerns may force some decisions and its good to have flexibility, but "constant f/2.8" is not equivalent to "amazing, wonderful, perfect lens."

I agree that it doesn't mean "amazingly sharp" or anything like that. It's not like Canon L-level f2.8 constant glass - that stuff is sharp because of other factors.

But I do think it's amazing for a superzoom lens. I mean, as repeated again and again, we won't know for sure until it's out and people can test it. I don't disagree there, no one knows for sure right now.

But if it's decent, that's amazing, and frankly borders on being a "game changer" - if there doesn't turn out to be a significant drawback that only shows up once people have the camera, like you said.

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GeraldW
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Re: Not to burst your bubble
In reply to howardroark, Jul 18, 2012

Howard,

What you say about sharpest aperture is true for full frame and APS-C lenses; but with small sensor cameras, the reverse is often the case and the sweet spot is either wide open or 1 stop down. The reason? Very small lenses get into diffraction problems a lot sooner and often begin to lose sharpness noticeably at f/5.6 or f/8. There have been several articles about this posted on review sites - with examples.

There are no full reswolution shots with the FZ200 that I know of; but several sites have reduced resolution images that look quite good at f/2.8 and 600 mm. CameraLabs probably have the best.
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GeraldW
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Re: Panasonic fz200 - *constant* f2.8 superzoom
In reply to Greynerd, Jul 18, 2012

I think you're right about this being a game changer. It already has my 55-250 f/4-5.6 IS lens shaking in its boots. It knew it was secure against my FZ150; but it's not so sure about a 600 mm f/2.8. 50% longer and 2 stops faster. Plus, with my tele extender, it's 1020 mm at f/2.8.

So far, nobody has mentioned the new LX7 which has a 24-90 mm f/1.4-2.3 lens. That also undercuts just about everything else out there in it's class.

It's going to be very interesting to see what the competition's responses are. Since the FZ200 is $600 in the USA, there's a lot of room for lower price cameras below it. So I can easily see two tiers developing.
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Greynerd
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Re: Panasonic fz200 - *constant* f2.8 superzoom
In reply to GeraldW, Jul 18, 2012

The LX7 is head on with the Samsung EX2F. I fyou are looking for a one stop camera the FZ200 could entice some people away from these 2 with their very fast but much shorter zooms. I think it is clever of Panasonic rather than upping the zoom, to up the aperture in such an unexpected way. Few people believed this when it was first announced.

GeraldW wrote:

So far, nobody has mentioned the new LX7 which has a 24-90 mm f/1.4-2.3 lens. That also undercuts just about everything else out there in it's class.

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Ken53
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$599 USA… Borderline price….
In reply to PaulRivers, Jul 18, 2012

It looks like $599 at B&H for the FZ200.

That’s $207 more than the SX40, and, only $110 but less than the G1X.

It could possibly work for Panasonic at that price.

It will be interesting to see if Joe Public will shell out $600 for a small sensor 600mm compact, to gain two stops.

Ken

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Ken53
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In reply to Ken53, Jul 18, 2012

Ken53 wrote:

It looks like $599 at B&H for the FZ200.

That’s $207 more than the SX40, and, only $110 but less than the G1X.

It could possibly work for Panasonic at that price.

It will be interesting to see if Joe Public will shell out $600 for a small sensor 600mm compact, to gain two stops.

Ken

The second sentence should read:
That’s $207 more than the SX40, and, only $110 less than the G1X.

Sorry about that. (-:

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PaulRivers
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Re: $599 USA… Borderline price….
In reply to Ken53, Jul 18, 2012

Ken53 wrote:

It looks like $599 at B&H for the FZ200.

That’s $207 more than the SX40, and, only $110 but less than the G1X.

It could possibly work for Panasonic at that price.

It will be interesting to see if Joe Public will shell out $600 for a small sensor 600mm compact, to gain two stops.

To be fair though, that's it "just released, full retail" price. The sx40's full retail price is $430, so it's a $170 difference between retail prices, rather than $207. I just mean that if you preordered the sx40, you'd be paying the full retail price to.

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PhilM oz
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I wonder how Panasonic will market this?
In reply to PaulRivers, Jul 18, 2012

Certainly an exciting announcement and hopefully will shake things up a bit - I'm sure it will be a hot topic on DPreview for many weeks.

Although gearheads all over the world will be wetting themselves waiting to get their hands on the camera and see the image quality, AF speed, handling etc - what does this mean to the average punter?

If you've ever tried to explain aperture or DOF to a friend/relative, and seen their eyes glaze over, you'll know what I mean

I'm curious how Panasonic will market this to the unwashed masses?

Megapixels people understand (even if it's a boneheaded measurement), zoom range is easy to comprehend; but aperture?

With the price being quoted here how attractive will this be to average camera buyer - 24x zoom compared to Canon's 35x and Nikon's 41x zoom?

Phil.

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PaulRivers
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Re: I wonder how Panasonic will market this?
In reply to PhilM oz, Jul 18, 2012

Well, the Canon s90/s95/s100 have all been huge sellers for Canon, if their constant presence in the top 10 selling cameras list is any indication.

Every week someone comes in and want to know what camera they should get for taking pics at concerts, or their kids plays, etc etc.

You tell them that it's far, far better for taking pics in indoor or stage lighting once you start zooming than any other superzoom.

That's not to say I don't get your point. But non-camera people seem to understand "when you zoom a lot it's a lot better for indoor lighting".

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gail
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Pany FZ3
In reply to PaulRivers, Jul 18, 2012

PaulRivers wrote:

Panasonic announced the fx200 today - a superzoom with a constant f2.8 aperture, which is - amazing . For years people have been asking "what's a good camera for concerts", and for years the answer has been "nothing is really great" - until now (obviously a dslr with expensive glass will still be better) - but this is a major leap forward in this kind of camera.

But this is the first camera that is actually a "night and day difference" from previous zooms at the long end of the zoom.

It has a predecessor: Remember the Panasonic FZ3 (which I owned); not a superzoom by today's standard but it did have a constant aperture throughout the zoom:

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/panasonicfz3/

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gail
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In reply to gail, Jul 18, 2012

gail wrote:

PaulRivers wrote:

Panasonic announced the fx200 today -

I've already put it in my shopping cart!!! If it lives up to expectations, I will most likely sell my DSLR and three lenses since they have become a chore to lug around since my injury.

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jimr
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In reply to gail, Jul 19, 2012

With the FZ150 as its pedigree, we can hope that the FZ200's IQ is at least as good.

We shall see. If it is, Panny will have set a new standard for superzooms.

IF is the operative word...

Hopefully we will be seeing full size sample images soon.....

Has anyone found any yet?

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