FZ200 as a birding camera - my moment of truth

Started Mar 29, 2013 | Discussions
Rodger1943
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Re: FZ200 as a birding camera - my moment of truth
In reply to Ruth Lipnick, Mar 30, 2013

Ruth Lipnick wrote:

LOVE these images.

Did you feel any need to zoom closer?

I just purchased the FZ200 for a fall safari and am practicing on birds but I'm not getting the zoom I want.. Rather than fool with izoom, I'd like to know what teleconverter is recommended for this camera. I just posted the question on a new thread.

Is there a downside to using the teleconverter?

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Hi Ruth, I don't use a TC, but I have seen some fine images form those who do. The biggest downside to using one is having to take it on and off, plus the good ones (ie most expensive) are usually quite big lumps of glass, which makes them heavy and harder to transport and store. I find that the izoom gives quite good results. I also like setting the camera to 8mp file size and that then gives 30x optical zoom, with excellent results.

You also have to be aware that not all TCs are equal and some give worse results than using izoom. I have one like that, the izoom is actually sharper and clearer than my old Sony 2x TC and easier to use.

While the results don't match the best of the TCs out there, they aren't too bad either, here is a comparison. One shot taken at 24x the other 48x.

24x

48x using izoom

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Panasonic FZ200

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sherman_levine
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Re: FZ200 as a birding camera - my moment of truth
In reply to DaveyB, Mar 30, 2013

David,

I have much admiration for your knowledge of birds, and your ability to get those very special images of them. You have a very unusual skill set.  At the risk of becoming the grinch at this party, however, I think you are under-utilizing the camera and could get far better results with it.

The iZoom feature yields images which look decent when they're small, but look like a painting when they're enlarged (click to see it full size and you'll see what I mean).

All you need to do to avoid this is to save your images as RAW+JPG and do some simple postprocessing of the .RW2 files (which aren't affected by the in-camera settings) when you get home.  I think you'll be impressed by the improvement, and the very small amount of effort involved in the processing.

Safari pictures in particular benefit from RAW+JPG, because subject is typically so far away and you can't help but try to get as much magnification as possible out of the camera.

Sherm

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Bill Vincent
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Re: FZ200 as a birding camera - my moment of truth
In reply to DaveyB, Mar 30, 2013

David....They look great !! Thanks for sharing.

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DaveyB
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Re: FZ200 as a birding camera - my moment of truth
In reply to Ruth Lipnick, Mar 30, 2013

Hi Ruth, I've always felt that the toughest but most important aspect of bird photography is that of getting close to your "quarry".  Whether, by using bait or a water drip to attract birds, or a hide or just by using field skills to stalk closer using available cover.  I'd like more zoom (wouldn't we all!) but you get a trade off with camera shake, atmosheric shimmer etc.  Ideally you'd use a tripod with a converter on the FZ200 but my birding is too mobile to allow this, so I tend to use the "stalking" approach.

Cheers   David

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David
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DaveyB
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Re: FZ200 as a birding camera - my moment of truth
In reply to in_focus, Mar 30, 2013

Hi In-focus!  These were all shot last week inThe Gambia, where the birds are colourful and approachable - to get an equivalent set in the UK might take me a year!!

Cheers     David

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David
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DaveyB
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Re: FZ200 as a birding camera - my moment of truth
In reply to sherman_levine, Mar 30, 2013

Couldn't agree more Sherm!!  I was wishing I could have shot them in RAW and then sent them to you for processing!!  Seriously, I had a little play with Silkypix pro before I went away and couldn't make head or tails of it, despite reading several of the threads on it.  What I might do is take some sample shots, have a play and then come back for advice.

Thanks     david

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Cheers
David
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DaveyB
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Re: FZ200 as a birding camera - my moment of truth
In reply to Bill Vincent, Mar 30, 2013

Thanks Bill - very encouraging!

Cheers    David

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David
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antoineb
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Nice shots!
In reply to DaveyB, Mar 30, 2013

DaveyB wrote:

I've just come back from leading a birding trip to the Gambia for eight people.  I've been mulling for a while over whether to ditch my DSLR and take the FZ200.  I don't need ultimate quality, just need to be able to illustrate the trip report with some reasonable images and post some to my Facebook page.  I also don't have either the photographic skills or the pp'ing skills of many people on this site, as birding is the main focus - so, just jpegs, with often heavy crops, using izoom and often in harsh, contrasty light.  I know these won't stand up to any pixel peeping but I think I've found the best tool currently available for my personal needs!

A Whimbrel, one of the commonest wintering waders in the Gambia

An Osprey, again a common wintering bird

An immature African Fish Eagle

Grey Woodpecker on a mangrove stump

Blue-bellied Roller

Wire-tailed Swallow

Hooded Vulture

Pearl-spotted Owlet

Squacco Heron

Hamerkop

Little Bee-eater

Bronze-winged Courser - a good bird to find !!

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David
LX3, FZ10, FZ200 and Nikon D80 + 18-200VR + 70-300VR

Thanks for sharing!

I have owned two generations of Panasonic superzooms, fairly old ones now as the last one I bought was back in 2007 already.

Since then I have "moved on", as people like to say, to a DSLR.  But I regularly miss the compositional flexibility (not just the long zoom but also the macro end), not to mention the relatively light weight and small size.  And so I have regularly played with Panny superzooms in stores - but unfortunately they have gone massively up in size and weight which has made them increasingly inconvenient for my various activities (even if they remain small given the zoom range).

Thanks for your shots!  I really enjoy the compositions.  I guess I would want sharper detail but again, all lenses have their limits, and this is pretty good for such a small sensor.

Well done!

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eagle_I
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Re: FZ200 as a birding camera - my moment of truth
In reply to Ruth Lipnick, Mar 30, 2013

Ruth Lipnick wrote:

LOVE these images.

Did you feel any need to zoom closer?

I just purchased the FZ200 for a fall safari and am practicing on birds but I'm not getting the zoom I want.. Rather than fool with izoom, I'd like to know what teleconverter is recommended for this camera. I just posted the question on a new thread.

Is there a downside to using the teleconverter?

-- hide signature --

Glad to see you've selected the FZ200!  Yeah, in general CLOSER is always desirable!

I just connected my old Oly TCON-17 (via 55mm to 52mm step down) yo my FZ200 and have been enjoying the extra "zoom" ... to a point .... as I find it VERY challenging to hold it steady enough.  The OIS just can't compensate for my old man shakes.  High shutter speed and good light helps and of course f2.8.  Sharpness is acceptable when camera movement is overcome, but it's not the best.

For TOP GLASS ... the glass with class ... for front of the lens is the Nikon TC-E17ED.  I think it was in this forum I saw not long ago a fellow post examples from his on a FZ200.  If you can find one it'll most likely cost you more than the camera.  But IT'S GOOD!

As for shooting without added glass ... try the "EV" mode.  Yeah I know it's just a built-in crop, but I like it A LOT as it gives a much better view of the subject and for me it enables better focus and when reviewing quicker confirmation I got what I wanted in focus, composition, and exposure.  The FZ200' JPG's are sharp enough to take a good crop ... even with 8M EV magnification.

I'll look for your other post and add a few samples from my TCON-17 on the FZ200.

Mark

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eagle_I
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Re: FZ200 as a birding camera - my moment of truth
In reply to DaveyB, Mar 30, 2013

DaveyB wrote:

.... One day I'll get into using RAW....

GREAT set of images!  Thanks for sharing them and your comments about using the very convenient and capable FZ200.  It's a new camera for me and I'm WOWed by it and the JPG's it produces.

I'll say, "Yes, try RAW someday but ALSO see what can be done with the much more handy to shoot and handle (like the camera) JPG files."

I PP with Photoshop all my posted or printed JPGs and have been very happy with the results.  I've tried RAW and found only small improvements over what I've come to expect from JPG enhancement.  But .... each to their own!

Mark

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Ruth Lipnick
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Re: FZ200 as a birding camera - my moment of truth
In reply to Rodger1943, Mar 30, 2013

Thank you. This comparison was helpful.

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Ruth Lipnick
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Re: FZ200 as a birding camera - my moment of truth
In reply to DaveyB, Mar 30, 2013

DaveyB wrote:

Hi Ruth, I've always felt that the toughest but most important aspect of bird photography is that of getting close to your "quarry".  Whether, by using bait or a water drip to attract birds, or a hide or just by using field skills to stalk closer using available cover.  I'd like more zoom (wouldn't we all!) but you get a trade off with camera shake, atmosheric shimmer etc.  Ideally you'd use a tripod with a converter on the FZ200 but my birding is too mobile to allow this, so I tend to use the "stalking" approach.

Cheers   David

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Cheers
David
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Sounds like your way is more fun if you don't mind muddy boots!

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Kriekira
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Re: FZ200 as a birding camera - my moment of truth
In reply to DaveyB, Mar 30, 2013

DaveyB wrote:

Couldn't agree more Sherm!!  I was wishing I could have shot them in RAW and then sent them to you for processing!!  Seriously, I had a little play with Silkypix pro before I went away and couldn't make head or tails of it, despite reading several of the threads on it.  What I might do is take some sample shots, have a play and then come back for advice.

Well, there's your problem  .  Silkypix is an excremental piece of software.  Try Aperture (if you're on a Mac) or Lightroom (available on both Windows and Mac).  Each is excellent -- in almost every way the opposite of Silkypix.

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sherman_levine
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Re: FZ200 as a birding camera - my moment of truth
In reply to DaveyB, Mar 30, 2013

DaveyB wrote:

Couldn't agree more Sherm!!  I was wishing I could have shot them in RAW and then sent them to you for processing!!  Seriously, I had a little play with Silkypix pro before I went away and couldn't make head or tails of it, despite reading several of the threads on it.  What I might do is take some sample shots, have a play and then come back for advice.

Thanks     david

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David
LX3, FZ10, FZ200 and Nikon D80 + 18-200VR + 70-300VR

The kicks you give yourself are always the most painful ones

Think of RAW as cheap insurance - You can always erase the files if you don't need them.  Sure - take some pictures with iZoom and save as RAW+JPG.  Those are the ones where the difference will be most obvious.

Sherm

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bilbod
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Re: FZ200 as a birding camera - my moment of truth
In reply to DaveyB, Mar 30, 2013

May I ask, were all these taken without and tele adapters? just the zoom built in?

Thanks,

Bill

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Chato
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In reply to mistral2, Mar 31, 2013

mistral2 wrote:

Excellent shots!

Shows what the camera is capable of in good hands.

A wonderful series of shots.

But one can tell at a glance, whether an image was shot from a P&S or an SLR.

Dave

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spigot
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Re: FZ200 as a birding camera - my moment of truth
In reply to DaveyB, Mar 31, 2013

DaveyB wrote:

Thanks Rodger, yes I'm convinced by the FZ200 and am now taking more images with it than any camera I've owned, as I now carry it every time I go out.  Just hope Panny keep developing the concept of a fast, constant aperture, super-zoom and go for improving sensor quality rather than getting back in the megapixel race/ridiculously long zooms!

Cheers    David

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David
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imo a better jpeg processing engine with better nr/sharpening and an option for having both manual and motorized zoom (even without any other improvements) would be a worthy upgrade to this camera.

Unfortunately, what we are most probably going to get is bigger zoom/mp and no constant aperture.

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LTZ470
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Re: FZ200 as a birding camera - my moment of truth
In reply to Ruth Lipnick, Mar 31, 2013

Ruth Lipnick wrote:

LOVE these images.

Did you feel any need to zoom closer?

I just purchased the FZ200 for a fall safari and am practicing on birds but I'm not getting the zoom I want.. Rather than fool with izoom, I'd like to know what teleconverter is recommended for this camera. I just posted the question on a new thread.

Is there a downside to using the teleconverter?

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It does add some size and weight Ruth, but an excellent set up as you do not lose any light...

There are several that would be slightly smaller and good for Safari, etc...Panasonic LT-55, Olympus TCON-17 (55mm rear thread)...Nikon TC-E15 is the lightest and cheapest option...the best option is Nikon TC-E17ED...

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DaveyB
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Re: FZ200 as a birding camera - my moment of truth
In reply to bilbod, Mar 31, 2013

Hi all and again thanks for the feedback and constructive advice.  Just to confirm that they were all shot as jpegs, almost all using izoom and then cropped, some heavily.  No teleconverter was used.  One of the trip members was using an FZ150 + the bespoke Leica 1.7 TC but gave up taking shots after a couple of days as, handheld he wasn't getting any sharp shots. My inclination is to take Sherm's advice and start shooting jpeg +RAW and start down the road of trying to up the quality of my post-processing, which might also be slightly de-grading the images I've got.  I do think that if Sherm, or many of you others on this site, had started with my jpegs, we might be seeing a little more detail than I've obtained. If I can't get on with Silkypix, I'll have to try one of the recommended alternatives.

As for the comment that you can tell they aren't shot with an SLR - I'm sure that's true too but I don't think I'm up for carrying a telescope, tripod, binoculars, rucksack, heavy DSLR and spare lenses in high heat any more!! So, this is the camera for me for now, until someone betters it, which will be one hell of a camera when they do.

Thanks again.

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David
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elemenoP
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Re: FZ200 as a birding camera - my moment of truth
In reply to DaveyB, Mar 31, 2013

You guys are really killing me. I'm a birdwatcher and a photographer. I have a Nikon D90 and Nikon 70-300 lens (not the VR version... the cheapo crap version with purple AND green fringes). I never got a single keeper with that lens and I gave up bird photography entirely. I always assumed that I would have to buy a very expensive, very heavy lens in order to get better results.

I started hanging out here because I was interested in the LX7. I have since bought one and I LOVE it. I don't regret my choice for a second... but now I ALSO want the FZ200 for birding!!!! I wonder if it would be enough reach... and I wonder if I could hand-hold it well... I wonder if I would mind carrying it all day...

Argh. Must not buy another camera. Really.

eP

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