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Megazoom vs DSLR photo quality

by Gregor56 / October 7, 2009 2:06 AM PDT

I'm very new to the hobby and purchased the Panasonic fz-28 megazoom a few months ago and have loved it. It does a little bit of everything which is perfect for what I like. I've liked it so much, however, that I'm tempted to step up to the next level. I'll have an extremely tight budget so my options will be limited to an entry level or maybe low end mid level SLR. Learning curve aside, how much of a bump in image quality(over the softer images from my Panasonic) can I expect if I go for something like the Nikon D3000 or the Canon XSi with the kit lense?

Thanks

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alot will depend on the photographer
by kalel33-20416052469708587370302374692233 / October 7, 2009 7:24 AM PDT

If you shoot auto modes with a kit lens then you will not see much difference between the superzoom and the DSLR, except for a thinner depth of field. The more you are able to control the camera and learn about photography then you will see how a DSLR can surpass a superzoom. Also, to get the reach of a superzoom will cost you a lot more money. I believe to get the reach of your camera now would take the Canon 70-300IS(based upon you saying you would get the T1I). That lens alone will run you $550 online.

A superzoom cannot touch a DSLRs ability with a nice fast prime lens, coupled with the knowledge of how to take a good photo.

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One Step at a time
by High Desert Charlie / October 9, 2009 6:38 PM PDT

Hi Gregor,

I've been a photographer for 35 years (some pro but mostly for my own enjoyment). I've owned a lot of cameras in that time, and I've found something good about every camera I've ever owned. The size, weight, ease of loading, type of viewfinder and the list goes on...

For your situation, you've chosen a starting camera that is strong in some areas and not as strong in others. I always find that it's good to learn the strong points of a camera first so I can take advantage of them. If a camera has weaker points, I'll learn how I can work around them and mark that up to something I need to address in my next camera. Simply put, your current camera is known for it's Soft Images. So remember that there are many instances where soft images are desirable and warranted. But you aren't going to get the same shot at the Grand-Prix on a low lit day with a car traveling at 150mph, that you'll get with the Canon XSi or the Nikon 3000.

Before the digital age (now I'm showing my age) we had to deal with film. With film cameras great pictures required great optics. Canon and Nikon have both then and now consistently developed great cameras for every level from beginner to professional. Canon and Nikon also produce lenses of particularly high grade optics to compliment the rugged, intuitive bodies as the years have gone by. Of course, their prices range from $200 to $10,000.

I've always told people who've asked what kind of camera they should buy to ask a few simple questions. What kind of pictures do you take? How often do you use your camera? How much can you afford to spend for a camera? In your case Gregor, I think you've asked these questions since you're looking at high quality entry level cameras developed for the hobbyist or aspiring professional. These cameras
(either one of them) will give you a noticeable boost in sharpness, contrast, and color saturation over your FZ-28.

If I were in your shoes here's what I'd do. First, I'd decide just how dedicated and committed I was to my photography endeavors. Remember that you can spend thousands of dollars on photography even as a hobby and still not have the gear you need to go pro.

Next, I'd use my Panasonic to take as many different types of pictures I could so you can learn simple photographic tenants like depth-of-field, use of hyper-focal distance, how changes in aperture and shutter speed work together with and without flash. The really great thing about digital photography is that you can take as many pictures as you want. Then you can correct your mistakes after you take the pictures (some of them). So take advantage of the full array of features you have with your Panasonic FZ-28 Megazoom.

Once you've done that you'll know what you'd like to have more control over. You'll know how different lenses other than the fixed lens you have now will help you take better pictures. Then, when it comes time to buy that new DSLR, you'll be armed and ready.

I don't think there's anyone that would argue that Canon or Nikon are both great choices. I'm a Canon guy, but that's just because I started with Canon. Remember that once you make your choice it's hard to change because you have an investment in lenses and accessories for the camera you start out with. I would find it hard to sell off all of the great Canon Lenses and bodies I've collected over the years, but it didn't stop me from exploring with other cameras when I had the opportunities.

Gregor, if you truly have a passion for photography all you need to do for now is keep taking pictures. Eventually the pictures will tell you what to do next.

Good Luck

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(NT) Thanks Charlie - Well Said
by snapshot2 Forum moderator / October 10, 2009 1:03 AM PDT
In reply to: One Step at a time
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Excellent advice
by hjfok / October 13, 2009 5:24 AM PDT
In reply to: One Step at a time

One important aspect of photography is how to use and modify/compensate available light. You can tweak your camera settings and you can also use external lighting when available light is not adequate. You should also invest some time in learning how to use softwares like Photoshop to do some postprocessing. Learning how to adapt and overcome the weakness of your current camera will make you a stronger and more knowledgeable photographer. Get some external flashes, studio lights, gels, reflectors, backdrops, etc, to expand your range of photography. These accessories can be as useful as an upgrade of the camera.

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New Camera
by mwooge / October 10, 2009 3:13 PM PDT

My general advice is to get a camera that uses AA batteries. Last thng you need is for your camera to go dead and you can't put in new batteries because it uses an internal battery which can't be removed.

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'Scuse?
by SX10 IS / October 14, 2009 9:28 AM PDT
In reply to: New Camera

Spare battery pack?

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Wow!
by Gregor56 / October 17, 2009 12:00 AM PDT
In reply to: 'Scuse?

I thought this thread had run its course but have come back to some really great advice. Thanks Charlie and everyone. I've heard and read to invest in lenses over camera bodies, but since I'm so limited in funds, I've decided to take my time and am scouring Craigs list for deals. Until I pick something up, I'll keep at it with the camera I do have. Oh, and where else is a good safe place to look for used camera/lenses?

Thanks,
Greg

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fz35 vs Nikon vr lenses
by bbells1 / August 19, 2010 3:47 AM PDT

I have been a pro for 35 years and have some info that may be worth reviving this thread. I just tested the Panasonic fz35 against both the Nikon 55-200 vr, and the Nikon 70-300 vr (on a 10mp d80). Here is what I discovered - with the fz35 zoomed all the way out and the others cropped to match. All were shot with the same iso and shutter speed:
1) The 70-300mm Nikon was unbelievably sharper, had better contrast and color than the fz35. Just like Ken rockwell said, it is an excellent lens.
2) The cropped 55-200mm was significantly less sharp than the 70-300, but the color and contrast were as good. Again, Ken Rockwell was right, this is an excellent lens - But it starts to break up when cropped to ~500mm (of course).
3) The FZ35 was slightly fuzzier than the 55-200mm, but had severe chromatic aberration that affected the pic to a larger degree than the fuzziness.
Personally, I will use the fz35 when space and weight makes the Nikon unusable (Plane trips, long hikes, etc,). I would make sure it is never zoomed all the way out - Like most lenses the negatives are most visible there. And, I would shoot it on raw all the time.

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SLR lenses vs fz35
by bbells1 / August 19, 2010 4:00 AM PDT

This might help:
I have been a pro and animal photog for over 35 years and have some info that may help. I just tested the Panasonic fz35 against both the Nikon 55-200 vr, and the Nikon 70-300 vr (on a 10mp d80). Here is what I discovered - with the fz35 zoomed all the way out and the others cropped to match. All were shot with the same iso and shutter speed:
1) The 70-300mm Nikon was unbelievably sharper, had better contrast and color than the fz35. Just like Ken rockwell said, it is an excellent lens.
2) The cropped 55-200mm was significantly less sharp than the 70-300, but the color and contrast were as good. Again, Ken Rockwell was right, this is an excellent lens - But it starts to break up when cropped to ~500mm (of course).
3) The FZ35 was slightly fuzzier than the 55-200mm, but had severe chromatic aberration that affected the pic to a larger degree than the fuzziness.
Personally, on a trip to Africa I would leave some clothes and other things behind and bring a Nikon SLR with an 18-70mm vr, and a 70-300mm vr - Plus an extra battery with a charger - I always bring my AA battery pack on trips to the 3rd world, $80 on ebay. I now will only use the fz35 when space and weight makes the Nikon unusable (Plane trips when I need to bring the laptop instead of the netbook, long hikes, etc,). I would make sure the megazoom is never zoomed all the way out - Like most lenses the negatives are most visible there. And, I would shoot it on raw all the time. Since the other megazooms are rated lower in IQ than the FZ35, I would not buy one unless you can shoot in raw.

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