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In this page I will place all of my comments and messages sent out during last weeks, about Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ20.
Duh, I received an e-mail from Sony, including a bunch of information on their new camera, with pretty much the same specifications as the FZ20...
Sony comes a little later on the 12× line ;-)
Sony CyberShot DSC H1 has 12× zoom but it's F2.8-F3.7 (the F2.8 along all zoom range still remains a Lumix exclusive feature).
Also, the DSC H1 uses those ugly and pricey Memory Stick Pro.
Finally, it has a Sony lens group (instead of a Carl Zeiss lens group as in previous serious models).
I've compared Nikon 8800 with FZ20 on my site (sorry, in Italian only); 10× vs 12× is not actually a true issue, but noise levels (quite higher on the 8800), barrel distortion in wideangle (quite higher on the 8800), photo saving speed (more than three seconds on the 8800 using a Sandisk Ultra II compactflash card, about one second on the FZ20 using a Sandisk Ultra II secure digital card) make the FZ20 win again (and -also- the 8800 is F2.8-F4.9, ouch! my old Kodak was even better).
Not to talk about some other "minor" but useful features (they focus at 50-60cm, but the FZ20 does better: 30cm; the FZ20 internal flash is very effective compared to their internal flashes; etc).
The FZ20 audio comments are WAV files, aren't them?
No. The photo audio comment it's not a WAV file; it's actually a MOV file containing a fake video stream (of only one frame, at "0.25fps", of 640×480, just a black frame and a fake "fps" speed) and an audio stream (mono, 8000 Hz, not compressed). An audio comment has the same name of the photo, but with .MOV extension.
In a Linux environment, I can play those .MOV comments with
MPlayer (which also can play .MOV video recordings);
to play a comment I just use "-novideo" option:
mplayer -novideo p1000143.mov
The lens adapter included in FZ20 package is 72mm; I should then buy 72mm filters, shouldn't I?
Well, smaller filters are cheaper. But there is actually an issue: the distance of the filter from the lens on the camera. When you install filters, they should always be mounted as close to the lens as possible. If you mount 72mm filters on the lens hood adapter, then you are mounting it a considerable distance from the lens, and this may cause lens flare and reflections from the lens to the backside of the filter... which will show up in your pictures! This seems to me unacceptable. I'm searching for a smaller adapter (needed anyways to mount some lens converter) to not to buy 72mm filters.
How can I do "panorama" shots using my beloved FZ20?
Er... I didn't actually investigated this yet. But I can tell you some things you will need to know to go on.
First, the barrel distortion almost disappears between 1.5×-2× zoom (no barrel occurs up to 12×, but you need maximum non-distorted wide angle to shoot out panoramas).
Second, you must use a tripod (you need stability). You shouldn't use filters (because they could make different sky colours for different areas). You should use the "grid mode" of the display (I happen to use it for lots of wide-angle shots: it's one of those "small features, excellent features"!). You absolutely mustn't shift vertically the camera.
Third, while taking photos, you need to choose every time for easily identifiable objects (so that you will have correct setup points).
Finally: as for every interesting subject, take always two series of shots. It won't cost to you; your in-camera disk space is quite large, isn't it? And if you use the same identified points of before, you will be able to substitute some possible bad shot.
Well, I finalized for the FZ20, but... er, uhm... I heard some rumors about an upcoming FZ20 replacement...
Oh, again a I finalized on X; is there any X+1 out there? guy... :-)
"X+1" is not always better than "X". And, for your use, having a bunch of extra megapixels won't mean "absolutely better quality".
BTW, the best is "buy X a few days after X+1 comes on the market".
You will get excellent quality ("X" came out only 8-10-12 months ago) at an excellent price (ultra-rebates on "old" models & high prices on "top notch" models); it's quite rare having on the market an "X+1" model far better than "X".
When I "finalized" for the FZ20, it was because I just found that the FZ20 rocks! At least for me, because it has everything I think a camera should have (and some even better than expected: shot-to-shot speed, for example).
Having 1400-2500 kbytes JPEG files also means that you can't burn a data CD with more than 300-400 photos on it (due to its speed, I always shoot more than needed, to be able to choose at home the best images and select the best views... but I often save more than one excellent view).
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