Some Puzzling Things About the FZ200

Started Oct 3, 2012 | Discussions
Stephen McDonald
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Some Puzzling Things About the FZ200
Oct 3, 2012

The first thing is the limited availability of the FZ200. It's been in stock at just a few online dealers and walk-in stores for a month and a half, but most places don't have it. There's no dealer in my region that even mentions it as a future item. A large store in my town where I usually buy cameras the first week they're for sale, has sold out their FZ150 models, but there's no new ones.

Another thing, is the very limited sampling of videos from it online. Usually, after a new camera becomes available, there soon are dozens or hundreds of videos on most hosting websites.

And why is it that out of almost 2,000 FZ200 photos posted on Flickr, there's very few that are good quality. One person has put up more than 1,000 photos and not a one looks sharp and most are overexposed. Many of the mediocre shots used F2.8, when a tighter aperture would have been appropriate. When people use it without knowing much about settings, the F2.8 capability throughout the zoom range, may be a bigger handicap, than a benefit.

If it weren't for a handful of people here who know how to get good results from this camera, I'd have a very different impression of it.
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ryan2007
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Re: Some Puzzling Things About the FZ200
In reply to Stephen McDonald, Oct 3, 2012

I think it is very strange to have a camera, a point and shoot type camera that has such a large zoom range and claims a 2.8 aperture the whole way. It does not make sense at the price point of $600 I think.

It costs over $1,000 for the Panasonic 12-35 2.8, Over $700 for the 45 2.8 macro. It almost seems this camera should cost $3,000 or something.

Interesting idea

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ANAYV
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Re: Some Puzzling Things About the FZ200
In reply to Stephen McDonald, Oct 3, 2012

I wouldn't read into it too much, Stephen.
flicker is never a good place to judge quality of a camera,IMHO.

FZ200 has really good IQ, fast operation, and a really good lens.

It's pretty sharp, even at full telephoto and f2.8

Here's a few @600mm f2.8:

Here's 600mm at f3.5

As far as video quality,,,I dont know...i rarely shoot video.

Wait....reviews will come out..

ANAYV

Stephen McDonald wrote:

The first thing is the limited availability of the FZ200. It's been in stock at just a few online dealers and walk-in stores for a month and a half, but most places don't have it. There's no dealer in my region that even mentions it as a future item. A large store in my town where I usually buy cameras the first week they're for sale, has sold out their FZ150 models, but there's no new ones.

Another thing, is the very limited sampling of videos from it online. Usually, after a new camera becomes available, there soon are dozens or hundreds of videos on most hosting websites.

And why is it that out of almost 2,000 FZ200 photos posted on Flickr, there's very few that are good quality. One person has put up more than 1,000 photos and not a one looks sharp and most are overexposed. Many of the mediocre shots used F2.8, when a tighter aperture would have been appropriate. When people use it without knowing much about settings, the F2.8 capability throughout the zoom range, may be a bigger handicap, than a benefit.

If it weren't for a handful of people here who know how to get good results from this camera, I'd have a very different impression of it.
--
Steve McDonald
http://www.flickr.com/photos/22121562@N00/
http://www.vimeo.com/user458315/videos

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ANAYV
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Re: Some Puzzling Things About the FZ200
In reply to ryan2007, Oct 3, 2012

Panasonic did this almost 10 years ago.

FZ1...FZ10, FZ20

FZ10 had a 35 to 420mm zoom range, at a constant f2.8

It's the small sensor size, that makes this happen...and the smaller lenses are way cheaper to make, than a m 4/3 lens.

ANAYV

ryan2007 wrote:

I think it is very strange to have a camera, a point and shoot type camera that has such a large zoom range and claims a 2.8 aperture the whole way. It does not make sense at the price point of $600 I think.

It costs over $1,000 for the Panasonic 12-35 2.8, Over $700 for the 45 2.8 macro. It almost seems this camera should cost $3,000 or something.

Interesting idea

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kryzt
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Re: Some Puzzling Things About the FZ200
In reply to ANAYV, Oct 3, 2012

I don't know why you can't have sharpen image at f2.8, it's more a problem with the photographer than the lens...

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alanmcdonley
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Re: Some Puzzling Things About the FZ200
In reply to kryzt, Oct 3, 2012

Kryst, perhaps your shot highlights one of the problems of putting an f/2.8 600mm zoom out which Stephen is bringing to discussion.

In your intense cat shot, the DOF is very shallow such that it appears to me that only one eye of the face is in the sharp field. Perhaps this shot would have still had a narrow DOF but contained both eyes if shot at 1/50th and f/4 instead of 1/100th and f/2.8 - (I'm making a comment/suggestion at a picayune level, not faulting your technique.)

This camera seems to be far, far from a point and shoot in the skill required to take pictures commensurate with the price. As a case in point, I offer the adventures of Rudy_Pohl who has recently decided that the JPEG engine of the camera gives him sharper photos than his workflow through Adobe raw post processing, even though one of the major sales points of the FZ200 is having RAW mode. For the record, I also feel my RAW denoising and sharpening skills are not better than the JPEG engine, so I cannot achieve the smooth sharpness (e.g. LTZ images) which I see the camera is capable of. (I am completely new to RAW processing, so my time learning to use the camera has been encumbered by time spent trying new to me workflows with SilkyPix as a converter to TIFF with PP in iPhoto, post processing directly with SilkyPix, and PP directly with LR4.2 rc. )

While my shots have not been as sharp as I would like, they have served well the purpose for which I purchased the camera - bird identification and having a camera with a view finder. This was the cheapest camera I could buy with a viewfinder which I could actually see what I was photographing. I think camera technology is in a big transition having serious image processing power in the camera. I was amazed to see the amount of lens correction (pin cushion particularly) evident between some folks' wide angle RAWs and JPEGs.

I grew up with non-automatic cameras and subsequently SLRs, and thought I already knew what is needed to use a $500 powerhouse bridge camera. I was surprised by the number of hours I have had to spend searching and reading about using this camera to get a picture better than my wife's P&S at half the price and a tenth the effort.

One of the reasons I decided to buy the FZ200 instead of the G5 was exactly the fact that camera technology is in such a period of rapid change. I feel better spending $500 now for a "throw away in three years" camera, than the $1500 I was considering to get a "big" sensor camera now. Three years ago I was buying 12x 720p HD, and this year it is 20x f/2.8 1080p with 120fps 720p HD. (With much, much less rolling shutter and compression artifacts due to increased processing speed.) I am pretty sure that Panasonic will put more computer into their cameras to allow a "big" sensor with a "small" sensor sized lens for the next big bridge camera break through in another three years hence.

I loved my "P&S" ZS3/TZ7 camera and the freedom to think about the video I was taking rather than the settings, but I sure missed a view finder. The FZ200 compromise is right for me, but I think Stephen is voicing the truth - this camera may have a relatively limited audience.

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morepix
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Re: Some Puzzling Things About the FZ200
In reply to Stephen McDonald, Oct 3, 2012

Stephen McDonald wrote:

And why is it that out of almost 2,000 FZ200 photos posted on Flickr, there's very few that are good quality. One person has put up more than 1,000 photos ...

Well, that explains half of it, right there!
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RudyPohl
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Re: Some Puzzling Things About the FZ200
In reply to alanmcdonley, Oct 3, 2012

alanmcdonley wrote:

This camera seems to be far, far from a point and shoot in the skill required to take pictures commensurate with the price.

You can say that again, but actually, if some kind of comprensive users manual or tutorial had accompanied the camera, it would not have been such a big deal to find and apply the needed settings and techniques.

What made the discovery process so stressful for me peronally was that I had a ticking clock hammering away at me called a trial period. I have 15 days to try out the camera which, with tax and card, cost me around $750. So I needed to make it work for want I wanted in a camera before the time ran out and I'm stuck with a $750 camera I don't like. Not really the best way to assess a new camera.

Rudy

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kryzt
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Re: Some Puzzling Things About the FZ200
In reply to alanmcdonley, Oct 3, 2012

alanmcdonley wrote:

Kryst, perhaps your shot highlights one of the problems of putting an f/2.8 600mm zoom out which Stephen is bringing to discussion.

In your intense cat shot, the DOF is very shallow such that it appears to me that only one eye of the face is in the sharp field. Perhaps this shot would have still had a narrow DOF but contained both eyes if shot at 1/50th and f/4 instead of 1/100th and f/2.8 - (I'm making a comment/suggestion at a picayune level, not faulting your technique.)

You see great alanmcdonley, i wanted only one eyes in focus and the eye nearest to me so i took f2.8 but for me it's exactly what i was looking for a narrow dof with sharpness around my focus point (left eye of the cat) and i'm happy with this result.

But i wanted to say this is not a problem with fz200 or an problem with this luminus lens, people think they can use fz200 like they used with fz150 and it didn't work the same...

i agree that is not a point and shot camera like fz150 do, and people get very frustred about that.... you must think before what you want to obtain in your mind, setup properly the camera and compose your shot, it much more demanding camera that fz150 and it can do much better with good setup for the shot.

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topshot61
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Re: Some Puzzling Things About the FZ200
In reply to kryzt, Oct 3, 2012

The Fz series of cameras or that matter the SX40/50/20 superzooms have more functions built into them than Canon 1100 or Nikon 3100 SLRs (entry level).

while many have commented on the small sensor/600 mm zoom hence it is cheap, all are overlooking the quality of the lens. it is not just a 2.8 lens, to get the same quality in terms of aberrational qualities and MTF, one needs to buy a IS2 cannon or AF2 nikkor lens, no tamron (cheaper) on any SLR matches the image quality of the this lens series.

In summary I may say that without any experienced PP like image stacking HDR, by itself it is a mid range SLR ( functionally) 12 MP with limited to ISO 640 for all practical purposes,
with a very very costly lens built into it.

Here pt. to be noted is that the wider end is beyond 28mm, which is the general limit of OTS SLR lenses.

I am not a Pana Salesman. I have been using FZ 50 for 6+ years, and will add the FZ 200 or the Canon Sx 50 ( or something like it may be with slightly faster lens) to my kit.

also there is a very surprise to many, these Super zooms are made originally in Japan only and not in any other country like low end DSLRs are, hence quality is a notch higher

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topshot61
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Re: Some Puzzling Things About the FZ200
In reply to topshot61, Oct 3, 2012

Forgot to mention the pics by ANAYV and Krvzt are both excellent.

the wildlife shots from ANAyv would even win some competitions, for their clarity and tack sharpness!

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alanmcdonley
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Re: Some Puzzling Things About the FZ200
In reply to RudyPohl, Oct 3, 2012

RudyPohl wrote:

if some kind of compre[he]nsive users manual or tutorial had accompanied the camera, it would not have been such a big deal to find and apply the needed settings and techniques.

Rudy, the users manual is already 220 pages that most folks admit to not reading until they discover the diversity of camera modes and settings is overwhelming.

I agree that the documentation on i.Zoom, i.Resolution, i.Dynamic, and even i.ISO are pitifully weak with better information in the footnotes than the body text. Panasonic would have needed to create a week long tutorial to cover all the modes and settings this camera contains, with an even more limited audience than the user manual.

What made the discovery process so stressful for me per[s]onally was that I had a ticking clock hammering away at me called a trial period. ... Not really the best way to assess a new camera.

Actually, since we are the early adopters (paying extra for that privilege, pounding 1.0 firmware, deciding without technical reviews), having a trial period is the best way. Really amazing to me that vendors offer these terms.

This camera seems to be the current ultimate full auto to "as manual as you want" bridge that could take years of learning to discover the sweet spot for every photo opportunity, at which time a new bridge will come into focus. Enjoy the journey.

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alanmcdonley
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Re: Some Puzzling Things About the FZ200
In reply to Stephen McDonald, Oct 3, 2012

Another thing contributing to the plethora of soft images might be coming from putting a 600mm lens in the hands of a new crop of folks used to the ease of hand holding shorter focal lengths on closer subjects.

I just looked at the original of an interesting but soft shot posted here and on flickr by a new FZ200 user. Pixel peeping the original exposes motion blur on rock edges in a 1/250s f/3.5 ISO100 -0.66EV shot. The photog obviously tried to follow the "current wisdoms": stop down a little if possible, use the lowest ISO consistent with situation, dial in some negative EV to avoid blowing out highlights; Then it all came down to how still can they hold the camera, how close can they get, and how much the image stabilization can do.

Hand holding 600mm to shoot 10 feet away is approximately 10 times less demanding than hand holding 600mm on a subject 100 feet away. (if y=image shift pixels, x is distance to subject, with a constant max angle from hand hold motion: tangent of the angular motion is y/x and 10y/10x.)

In another post I saw someone offer a "wisdom" of 1/FL for minimum shutter speed. I was unfamiliar with that one, but it might help sharpen up our handheld, full telephoto shots. If ISO 100, f/4,-0.xEV is showing less than 1/600 for the shutter don't libel this camera with another "soft" shot, give it more light, or more gain, or grab the tripod.

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Kevin Omura
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Re: Some Puzzling Things About the FZ200
In reply to alanmcdonley, Oct 3, 2012

I agree, I think a lot of people confuse camera shake for soft focus and with a 600mm and IS my guess is folks don't make the connection.

I was doing some test shots with a Canon FD 300 on my GF2 and noticed right away the difference between having IS and not. Almost went for my monopod, can't imagine hand holding a 1200mm even with OIS.

In terms of availability up here in Canada the supply isn't too bad. When it first shipped Henry's which is one of our biggest retailers in my area had several hundred but sold out of them almost immediately. A couple of weeks ago they got another shipment in and I believe some are still available.

A little birdie has told me though that Henry's might have a very good deal on these cameras next week to accompany a camera show they are sponsoring.

B&H I guess is closed till the 10th but they recently had them for $549, not as good as that quick sale at New Egg that sold out almost instantly but still not a bad price and as far as I know they still have them. I deal with B&H a lot but being able to try one out first is a real bonus of a local store plus being able to support them.

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alanmcdonley
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Re: Some Puzzling Things About the FZ200
In reply to alanmcdonley, Oct 3, 2012

I wrote:

Hand holding 600mm to shoot 10 feet away is approximately 10 times less demanding than hand holding 600mm on a subject 100 feet away. ...

In another post I saw someone offer a "wisdom" of 1/FL for minimum shutter speed.

Sorry, bad analysis on hand holding, I'll have to think more on that.

As for the 1/effective focal length - that guidance is minimum without image stabilization.  Supposedly the IS should give two to four stops advantage (2 stops: 1/150 -> 4 stops: 1/40th) so I have no clue why those solid rocks were "moving" at 1/250 in the person's photo.

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Stephen McDonald
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FZ200 Video and Fast-Motion
In reply to alanmcdonley, Oct 4, 2012

I found a bunch of FZ200 videos on a hosting website, but only one showed the kind of scene that I wanted to see-----fast-moving traffic. I'm hoping that it was shot in 60i instead of 60p, because the cars jerked and fluttered badly. There's no way to tell what the shooting mode was, as they're all played back in 25p and no downloading is permitted. This video looked just as bad as the 60i traffic video I posted on Vimeo from a Sony HX100V, to show the difference between that and the smooth 60p video of the same scene I put there. It doesn't matter so much if a video is played back with a slower frame-rate, it's what was used for shooting that's most important.

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Buzz Lightyear
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Re: Some Puzzling Things About the FZ200
In reply to kryzt, Oct 4, 2012

kryzt wrote:

alanmcdonley wrote:

Kryst, perhaps your shot highlights one of the problems of putting an f/2.8 600mm zoom out which Stephen is bringing to discussion.

In your intense cat shot, the DOF is very shallow such that it appears to me that only one eye of the face is in the sharp field. Perhaps this shot would have still had a narrow DOF but contained both eyes if shot at 1/50th and f/4 instead of 1/100th and f/2.8 - (I'm making a comment/suggestion at a picayune level, not faulting your technique.)

You see great alanmcdonley, i wanted only one eyes in focus and the eye nearest to me so i took f2.8 but for me it's exactly what i was looking for a narrow dof with sharpness around my focus point (left eye of the cat) and i'm happy with this result.

But i wanted to say this is not a problem with fz200 or an problem with this luminus lens, people think they can use fz200 like they used with fz150 and it didn't work the same...

I think this exchange is a wonderful example of how the FZ200 has incorrectly gained some initial bad press about its IQ capabilities.  Although I am quite sure that many FZ200 images posted here and elsewhere were not done with perhaps the same knowhow or intentions as shown by Kryzt -- I also want to say that this is not a problem with the FZ200, but perhaps a difference in aesthetics from photographer to photographer.

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