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Thread: Panasonic Lumix FZ 200 Question

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    Panasonic Lumix FZ 200 Question

    Hello, I am new to the forum. I live in Alaska where I like to do outdoor photography. The light here is often diffuse and not bright. I am considering getting a Panasonic Lumix FZ 200 because it has a 24X zoom that allows you to maintain a constant aperture of 2.8. Kind of an unusual feature for a bridge type of camera.

    Does anyone have any experience with the Lumix FZ200? I would really appreciate hearing what you think of its ease of use and image quality.

    Thanks a lot,
    Anita

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    Re: Panasonic Lumix FZ 200 Question

    Anita, I have not used the Panasonic FZ-200 but was researching a camera of this type for my son-in-law and the FZ-200 seemed to have all the bells and whistles I would want on a small camera. The reviews that I read have run hot and cold but. I really don't pay a lot of attention to reviews...

    BTW: My son-in-law finally chose the Canon SX50. He was impressed with the enormous zoom of this camera, even though the lens does stop down considerably. Another reason he chose the SX50 was that the local COSTCO store had it in stock and he could play with it before buying.

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    Re: Panasonic Lumix FZ 200 Question

    Hi Richard,
    Thank you for your impressions - mine are the same. I tried the SX40, but indoor WB was an issue and the auto focus was slow to grab images. Because of the already dim light we have up here, the zoomed-out shots could have been helped by a lens that let in more light. Of course, these issues may be a result of my shortcomings and not the camera's. But I thought I'd ask others about the FZ 200 before buying one. Unfortunately it isn't a shelf model in the limited # of stores up here, so I can't test drive it.

    Crutchfield discontinued carrying the FZ200, but they have no bad tech notes on it...so they couldn't say why. Do you have any online stores you like to use?

    Thanks for responding,
    Anita

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    Re: Panasonic Lumix FZ 200 Question

    To get started with I think it will be fine for you. There is one key area where the Panasonic DMC-FZ 200 like it's predecessor has problems with namely the poorer image quality once you get above ISO 400. Noise is apparent at ISO 400 but becomes much more obvious at ISO 800 along with smearing of fine details, with the fastest speed of ISO 1600 being something of a last resort. Just keep this in mind.
    Last edited by Melkus; 2nd January 2013 at 06:53 PM.

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    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Panasonic Lumix FZ 200 Question

    Our first non-point & shoot digital camera was the Lumix FZ20 superzoom and it was a delight to use, so I've always had a soft spot for the Panny cameras. It did not survive our trip to Machu Picchu, where it encountered a leaking bottle of Gatoraide. My high end semi-pro video camera is a Panasonic and it is a great tool. My 8-1/2 Panny point and shoot still works, in spite of its age. I have no issues at all with their products.

    I have three issues with this camera, and the first has always been a problem with small sensor cameras, like cross-overs; noisy images at all but the very lowest ISO settings.

    The second is the relatively useless long end of the lens. I regularly shoot with a 400mm and a 500mm lens on a regular and on a crop-frame DSLR. It is very difficult to properly frame and shoot when hand holding these cameras. The weight and length of the camera and lens actually help steady it, but a tripod is really required to properly frame and shoot. A f/2.8 600mm lens has a razor thin depth of field, so accurate focus will be critical. Given the relatively noisy sensor, and these issues, the long zoom range is more of a marketing gimmick that something that is truely useful.

    My last issue is that you are paying the same money as an entry level DSLR with kit lens. You have a lot more "room to move" with a DSLR, once the camera gives up the ghost. The built-in lens represents a large percentage of the overall cost, and when you move on some day, that money is thrown away.
    Last edited by GrumpyDiver; 2nd January 2013 at 07:29 PM.

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    Re: Panasonic Lumix FZ 200 Question

    I started with Panasonic with the FZ20 which also had a constant f/2.8 lens and think it kind of strange how still photographers put up with this silly business of the lens loosing light as you zoom out ... something which would not be tolerated by a film maker....I used to have a x10 zoom with a constant f/2 by Angenuiex on my Bolex H16RX.

    So I was delighted to learn that Panasonic had returned to their roots, so's-to-speak, and re-introduced the constant lens.
    Trouble for me was they took too long doing it and I had changed to their G3 now GH2 camera with the 28-280 zoom. The size of the sensor enables me to crop to get the same angle of view as the FZ200's full zoom and I have a much wider range of tolerable ISO ... up to 12800 ISO with the GH2 ... which I would think advantageous in difficult conditions in Alaska ... not been there but that is my impression of such places.

    I still keep my FZ50 and my Raynox 2020 to have 950 reach at f/4.5, but of course I cannot rack up the ISO with that camera.

    You can point out that my M4/3 lens is f/4-f/5.8 and I will smile a wry smile but plead that the ISO potential compensates ... now if only Lumix would bring out a constant f/2.8 for M4/3 we would be cooking A little jiggling with the FZ200 lens's design ?
    Last edited by jcuknz; 2nd January 2013 at 06:49 PM.

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    Re: Panasonic Lumix FZ 200 Question

    Thank you. This information is very useful. I tried out a Canon SX 40 and had the same issues with depth of field being razor thin on zoomed-out shots. Mountain ridges and craggy rocks were absolutely flat and there was indeed a lot of noise. I thought perhaps the constant f2.8 on the Lumix 200 might help there. Have you had an opportunity to shoot with one?

    Alaska has so much eye candy, but the diffuse low light conditions present challenges for a good part of the year. And for wildlife shots - keeping your distance is a for real safety concern. Hence, the initial attractiveness of a zoom with an aperature like the Lumix FZ200. One lens was also a nice thought since changing lenses in very cold temps is a big issue with cold fingers.

    Do you have any alternate camera model suggestions that would not present the issues you identified with the FZ200? Any ideas you have are most appreciated.

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    Re: Panasonic Lumix FZ 200 Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Buckeye View Post
    Hi Richard,
    Thank you for your impressions - mine are the same. I tried the SX40, but indoor WB was an issue and the auto focus was slow to grab images. Because of the already dim light we have up here, the zoomed-out shots could have been helped by a lens that let in more light. Of course, these issues may be a result of my shortcomings and not the camera's. But I thought I'd ask others about the FZ 200 before buying one. Unfortunately it isn't a shelf model in the limited # of stores up here, so I can't test drive it.

    Crutchfield discontinued carrying the FZ200, but they have no bad tech notes on it...so they couldn't say why. Do you have any online stores you like to use?

    Thanks for responding,
    Anita
    Just like to add that most of my gear I get from B@H Photo, good fair price and great folks to work with if you have a problem or need to return something

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    Re: Panasonic Lumix FZ 200 Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Buckeye View Post
    Thank you. This information is very useful. I tried out a Canon SX 40 and had the same issues with depth of field being razor thin on zoomed-out shots. Mountain ridges and craggy rocks were absolutely flat and there was indeed a lot of noise. I thought perhaps the constant f2.8 on the Lumix 200 might help there. Have you had an opportunity to shoot with one?

    Alaska has so much eye candy, but the diffuse low light conditions present challenges for a good part of the year. And for wildlife shots - keeping your distance is a for real safety concern. Hence, the initial attractiveness of a zoom with an aperature like the Lumix FZ200. One lens was also a nice thought since changing lenses in very cold temps is a big issue with cold fingers.

    Do you have any alternate camera model suggestions that would not present the issues you identified with the FZ200? Any ideas you have are most appreciated.
    Lack of DoF and flatness comes with using the longer lens, the longer the more/worse it is.
    The problem for me with all the super-zooms is that these days they start from a wide angle of around 28mm whereas my earlier FZ20/30/50 cameras all had 35mm and even though only x12 zooms went out to 432mm AoV and with the Raynox 2020 got me 950mm AoV ... where as the current FZs though x24 only give you 600mm AoV ... why I sat on my pat when the FZ100 came out plus the lens trombones and lost light much worse with the zoom. Even the Canikon's only go to around 1000mm AoV and I have 950 with my old FZ50 There is dam all difference despite the numbers looking impressive. 432 or 600 and 950 or 1050 etc.

    With my G3/GH2 and Lumix 14-140 I can tolerate the closing down of the lens with zooming becuase I am not adverse to a reasonable amount of noise ... I'd like that x10 f/2 or f/2.8 constant but it is not made yet ... it might be becuase the G and GH cameras are noted for their video performance and here I am talking as an ex-film maker. Personally one basic lens is a great idea ... the 'bridge' camera with the bonus of being occasionally able to change the lens and a larger sensor permitting higher ISO to boot is what I got with my change to m4/3. I didn't mention that I have added both my Raynox 2020 telephoto adaptor and my Olympus TCONx1.7 to the Lumix 14-140 ... lens thread sizes make this simple. The Raynox wasn't satisfactory but I was happy with the TCON which gives me just under 500mm angle of view, and if one is far away and cropping not too bad. The possible snag in 'low light Alaska' is I end up with f/10 as my maximum opening ... one little plus is that my contrast detection snaps into focus with this combo at that aperture where I have heard frequently phase detection might not.

    While I am happy with my combo the alternative for you could be the m4/3 with one of the longer lenses such as the Panasonic Lumix G Vario 100-300mm F4-5.6 OIS . to help keep you safe ...I have hoped for a 'bear' shot on two visits to Colorado but inwardly I know I am happy not to have got that close except in a wildlife park I scared myself in reflection of my behaviour with a short tailed bobcat on my first visit .. stupid naive tourist

    Another alternative is an Olympus camera with IBIS* and Sigma 50-500mm F4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM but to me it is a lot of money for not that much more reach, there are more expensive options on the same page at dpreview * You might not need IBIS if OS works separately from the camera, you would need a m4/3 to DSLR adaptor which means working manually ... I have something like that set-up with a legacy lens and prefer to use less reach automatically rather than more reach manually ... my fad [ 280 v. 460 AoV ] A decade of automation has spoilt me for manual working, bad I know

    EDIT Just noticed the Panasonics start from 25mm AoV ... YUK!
    Last edited by jcuknz; 4th January 2013 at 03:37 AM.

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    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Panasonic Lumix FZ 200 Question

    Hi Anita – A few more thoughts for you.


    For the money you are looking at spending, the FZ200 is probably going to be as inexpensive a solution as you are going to be able to find. That being said, there are going to be some drawbacks, versus higher end equipment, some of which I mentioned in my previous post.

    At the far end, the lens I shot this with (80-400mm) on my crop frame camera will give you the same magnification as the camera you are considering, i.e. a maximum of 600mm equivalency, so for wildlife shooting, you will have the range. Just as an aside, the equipment I was using for these shots cost me about 3 times what you are looking at spending and both the camera body (Nikon D90) and the lens (Nikkor f/4.5 - 5.6 80-400mm) are viewed as medium price range gear.

    Panasonic Lumix FZ 200 Question

    Based on the metadata, these two bears were around 46m / 150ft away (and I was shooting at 340mm, not the full 400mm). The problem that you will find with the lens on the camera (as with any of the lenses with such a wide range in focal length) is that the lens designers will have made some fairly significant quality tradeoffs to get the extended focal range. You will likely have some fairly serious distortion, ranging from pin-cushion to barrel as you rack through the focal range. This means that things near the edges will look unnaturally curved. Pro lenses never go above 3x in their zoom range to prevent this from happening.

    You say that you want a fixed lens camera to shoot in the cold, because changing lenses with cold hands is going to be problematic. If it gets too cold to change lenses, you are going to have lots of other issues too. While I’m sure you get worse temperatures than we do, I do a fair bit of cold weather shooting (we hit a low of -25C / -15F yesterday).

    First of all, your camera is not designed to shoot when the temperatures drop that low (check you manual). Battery life drops dramatically, the lubricants in your camera become very viscous and your focus and zoom may not work and any moisture from the warm inside air from your home or car will turn into ice crystals as the temperature of your camera body drops. When you head back inside, the camera and lens bodies will be so cold that condensation will form on the outside and inside. Yes, to some extent you can work around some of these issues, but if it gets too cold to change lenses, you do have other shooting challenges too,

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    Re: Panasonic Lumix FZ 200 Question

    In all these discussions one reads about this, that and another fault when the designer has made compromises to give us a x24 zoom with a constant f/2.8 and I really wonder where these faults become noticeable ... certainly not in the kind of shot that Manfred posted ...I'm looking at the bears not the edges of the photo to see if the grass and foliage bends It is hard perhaps buying sight unseen until it arrives by mail order so one needs to be aware from reviews of problems with lens with greater range but then ask yourself if it will really matter to you. I occassionally notice barrel distortion at the edges of my 14-140 and could be there are other things I have not noticed ... but is it important to me? NO, and I can live these small defects for the convienience of a reasonable zoom and not having to change lenses very frequently ... adding on a tele-adaptor is so easy that to me it doesn't count as a lens change same as when I add a close-up lens for tight framed shots. Two 'add-ons' and that is all I need. The TCON x1.7 gives 476 AoV on the 14-140 but becuase I have to crop at least to get rid of the distorted edges I think of it as a 500 AoV combo. Thuis is the test shot I did just holding the adaptor in front of the caamera lens before I organised matching threads ... the TCON is 55mm and the 14-140 is 62mm so these days I have a stepdown ring permanently mounted on the 14-140 which also suits my two dioptre CU lens, which thanks to me gluing on a step down ring gives me the option of 55 one way and 62 the other side But it is easier to standardise to the 55mm thread as the 14-42 kit lens is 55mm ... why Lumix had to change is beyond me.
    Panasonic Lumix FZ 200 Question
    Hardly one of my better shots but included to give you an idea in soft smokey Denver atmosphere last summer, but for all that the combo worked well if I had used it better.
    Panasonic Lumix FZ 200 Question
    Camera lens wide open at f/5.8 1/800 160 ISO [Base level] with TCON x1.7 Sharpened but contrast left at the low setting of the camera second shot is whole frame. Flower slightly cropped and edited to remove surrounding blooms.
    Last edited by jcuknz; 5th January 2013 at 04:53 AM.

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    Re: Panasonic Lumix FZ 200 Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Buckeye View Post
    Hello, I am new to the forum. I live in Alaska where I like to do outdoor photography. The light here is often diffuse and not bright. I am considering getting a Panasonic Lumix FZ 200 because it has a 24X zoom that allows you to maintain a constant aperture of 2.8. Kind of an unusual feature for a bridge type of camera.

    Does anyone have any experience with the Lumix FZ200? I would really appreciate hearing what you think of its ease of use and image quality.

    Thanks a lot,
    Anita

    Here's a review of the two. I have no "dog" in the fight, but it really looks like the Canon has better IQ than the Panny in this review? Forgetting the 2.8's ability to blur backgrounds, doesn't the Canon look sharper??? The reviewer never mentions it, oddly.

    Also, the Canon has twice the range, at effective 1200mm, which is something to consider.

    http://www.cameralabs.com/reviews/Pa...mix_DMC_FZ200/
    Last edited by Scott Stephen; 5th January 2013 at 05:23 AM.

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    Re: Panasonic Lumix FZ 200 Question

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumpyDiver View Post
    Hi Anita – A few more thoughts for you.


    For the money you are looking at spending, the FZ200 is probably going to be as inexpensive a solution as you are going to be able to find. That being said, there are going to be some drawbacks, versus higher end equipment, some of which I mentioned in my previous post.

    At the far end, the lens I shot this with (80-400mm) on my crop frame camera will give you the same magnification as the camera you are considering, i.e. a maximum of 600mm equivalency, so for wildlife shooting, you will have the range. Just as an aside, the equipment I was using for these shots cost me about 3 times what you are looking at spending and both the camera body (Nikon D90) and the lens (Nikkor f/4.5 - 5.6 80-400mm) are viewed as medium price range gear.

    Panasonic Lumix FZ 200 Question

    Based on the metadata, these two bears were around 46m / 150ft away (and I was shooting at 340mm, not the full 400mm). The problem that you will find with the lens on the camera (as with any of the lenses with such a wide range in focal length) is that the lens designers will have made some fairly significant quality tradeoffs to get the extended focal range. You will likely have some fairly serious distortion, ranging from pin-cushion to barrel as you rack through the focal range. This means that things near the edges will look unnaturally curved. Pro lenses never go above 3x in their zoom range to prevent this from happening.

    You say that you want a fixed lens camera to shoot in the cold, because changing lenses with cold hands is going to be problematic. If it gets too cold to change lenses, you are going to have lots of other issues too. While I’m sure you get worse temperatures than we do, I do a fair bit of cold weather shooting (we hit a low of -25C / -15F yesterday).

    First of all, your camera is not designed to shoot when the temperatures drop that low (check you manual). Battery life drops dramatically, the lubricants in your camera become very viscous and your focus and zoom may not work and any moisture from the warm inside air from your home or car will turn into ice crystals as the temperature of your camera body drops. When you head back inside, the camera and lens bodies will be so cold that condensation will form on the outside and inside. Yes, to some extent you can work around some of these issues, but if it gets too cold to change lenses, you do have other shooting challenges too,
    WOW!!!!

    Good shot Grumpy!!

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    Re: Panasonic Lumix FZ 200 Question

    This is the shot I would like to have got if I had been closer, a 100% crop and certain amount of work in editing.
    Panasonic Lumix FZ 200 Question
    Last edited by jcuknz; 5th January 2013 at 06:37 AM.

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    Re: Panasonic Lumix FZ 200 Question

    Quote Originally Posted by jcuknz View Post
    In all these discussions one reads about this, that and another fault when the designer has made compromises to give us a x24 zoom with a constant f/2.8 and I really wonder where these faults become noticeable ... certainly not in the kind of shot that Manfred posted ...I'm looking at the bears not the edges of the photo to see if the grass and foliage bends
    The place where these issues tend to be evident are in shots with strong vertical lines; trees, brickwork, fences. building columns, etc. I remenber some (now lost) pictures of the Alhambra in Grenada, Spain where a wide-angle attachment on my Canon Powershot S40 and got some really strange bowed looking images. For this shot I used a DSLR and 80 - 400mm lens, i.e the a 5x zoom factor, so the level distortion is not a significant, rather than a wide focal length crossover camera would show .

    I included the image more to provide a view of what one can to with an equivalent of 600mm lens would provide in a situation when you do not want to get too close to the wildlife (I was sitting in the estuary in an inflateable boat when I took the shot, steading the camera on the gunwhale (i.e. inflatable tube)).

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    Re: Panasonic Lumix FZ 200 Question

    It is a nice shot Manfred ... do bears swim? I have a rubber ducky but last time I used it several years ago i nearly 'died' from the pain in my back sitting in it ... it wasn't completely blown up and the cold water contracted the air inside .... BAD SCENE!

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    Re: Panasonic Lumix FZ 200 Question

    Do any of you know how the adapters work for the panasonic Lumix FZ 200. I just ordered the lens's for it. I have the adapter and not sure how to use it yet? Thanks in advance.

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    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Panasonic Lumix FZ 200 Question

    Quote Originally Posted by jcuknz View Post
    It is a nice shot Manfred ... do bears swim? I have a rubber ducky but last time I used it several years ago i nearly 'died' from the pain in my back sitting in it ... it wasn't completely blown up and the cold water contracted the air inside .... BAD SCENE!
    Thank you. Yes, bears definitely can swim, but being out of their land environment, I'm told by the experts that they are much less of a threat.

    Panasonic Lumix FZ 200 Question


    Panasonic Lumix FZ 200 Question

    There are two bear cubs with the mother bear.

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    Re: Panasonic Lumix FZ 200 Question

    Hi Manfred,

    Which camera, lens and setting did you use to take these photos of the bear cubs with their mom? These are stunning photos. It looks like that might have been a sunny day. How do you think the same equipment would have performed if it had been overcast and low light? What do you think your settings might have been under those circumstances?

    And thank you and everyone else very much for all the helpful information which you all posted in response to my initial question. I am learning a lot from all of you and sure appreciate it.

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    Re: Panasonic Lumix FZ 200 Question

    I shot all the bear images with a Nikon D90 using a Nikkor f/4.5-5.6 80-40mm lens. I was shooting at ISO 2000 because 100% of the shots were taken from a Zodiac (i.e. inflatable boat) out on the Khutzeymateen Estuary. I was usually shooting at maximum focal length but got to cut back a lot with the swimming because we really were fairly close. I was trying for fast shutter speed, because of the long lens and bouncing boat, so I chose to use an ISO value that I normally would not use.

    In general, that part of the world is mostly cloudy and rainy, so I was shooting with a rain cover on my camera and lens, but the sun did manage to break through. One of those times is when the mother and her two cubs went for the swim, and you can see the specular highlights on the water. We kept maneuvering quite quickly, to ensure that we did not stress the mother bear; the cubs were curious about us and she plainly did not want us around.

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