More FZ200 Testing

Started Sep 2, 2012 | Discussions thread
VincentR Regular Member • Posts: 124
Re: If I got a series of "test shots" like that too...

I don't see how anyone can make a sensible comparison between the FZ200 and a DSLR. For a start, one can't take a photo with just a DSLR. You need a lens also.

Any comparison between the FZ200 and a DSLR must therefore include a specific lens attached to the DSLR, and the results of any comparison will depend on the type, focal length and general quality of that lens.

Since there are no zoom lenses for the DSLR with a range of 25-600mm, the FZ200 has an advantage in that respect. Since there are also no 600mm/F2.8 lenses available for DSLRs, that's another advantage for the FZ200.

There are 600/F4 lenses available for DSLRs, and there's no doubt that such a heavy and expensive lens used with a DSLR is likely to produce significantly sharper, more detailed and smoother results than the FZ200 at 600mm and F4, as also would a Canon 400/F2.8 prime on a cropped-format DSLR.

On the other hand, at apertures of F2.8 and F4 the DoF is much shallower on a DSLR. I've never used a 400/2.8 or a 600/F4, but I imagine the DoF would be so shallow at those apertures, the average shot of a bird sitting on a branch would look like a macro shot of an insect; everything out-of-focus except its left tentacle.

If those are the sorts of shots you prefer, 90% of the image out-of-focus, then that's an advantage to the DSLR. However, if you want a good DoF which clearly shows the bird's beak, eyes and most of its feathers in sharp focus, then the FZ200 has the advantage.

It seems to be a common problem when people compare images from different size formats, that the photographers rarely get everything equivalent. They may get the focal length and FoV equivalent. They may even get the point of focus the same with both formats, but when it comes to shutter speed and DoF they will usually not put the larger format at such a disadvantage as to equalize both DoF and shutter speed in both shots.

Let's consider what's involved if we were to equalize both shutter speed and DoF when comparing the FZ200 with, for example, the Canon 50D, using a 375mm lens which gives a more exact equivalence to 600mm full-frame.

First, the aspect ratios of the two formats are different. The FZ200 (at full resolution) is 4:3, the Canon 50D, 3:2. Let's crop the 50D sensor to a 4:3 aspect ratio. At least this will make the pixel count of the two sensors closer, and the crop factor between the two sensors becomes a round number of 3x.

So, let's say we take a shot with the FZ200 at 600mm, ISO 100 and F4, which looks at this stage as though it's the sharpest aperture. I set my Canon 100-400 at 375mm for the exact same Field of View (after cropping to 4:3 aspect ratio in post-processing).

The question now is what F stop and ISO do I have to use with the 50D in order to get the same DoF and shutter speed? The 3x crop factor is all I need to determine this.

For equal DoF I need to use 3xF4=F12. Call it F11. And in place of ISO 100 I need to use a real ISO of 800. Since the Panasonic models, specifically the FZ150, have exact ISOs, whereas Canon usually exaggerate their nominated ISOs, we need to set the 50D at ISO 1000 to get the same shutter speed, or underexpose by 1/3rd of a stop at ISO 800.

I think we can appreciate that at such settings the 50D might lose much if not all of its advantage. Even if the lens were a good quality prime, F11 is F11 and all lenses are equally soft at such an aperture, on a cropped-format DSLR. Also, the image quality in terms of noise, dynamic range and color sensitivity etc will be no better on the 50D at IS0 1000, and in some respects slightly worse than the FZ200 at ISO 100.

It's a pity the FZ200 is not yet available in Australia. If it were, I could order it on the basis of a no-questions-asked return policy within 7 days, compare it with my 50D and 100-400 zoom under the conditions described above, then return the camera if it didn't match the quality of the 50D under those conditions.

In the meantime, perhaps someone who already owns both an FZ200 and a similar DSLR to the 50D, with 375mm lens, or Nikon DX with 400mm lens, would be good enough to carry out the comparison.

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