Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ8 as cheaper alternative for Canon PowerShot S5 IS

Panasonic FZ8' cheerleadingThe colossal photographer’s interest in SLR-like cameras such as Canon PowerShot S5 IS (it’s much more than Canon XTi/400D) told me than two reasons such as:
- you don’t need to change lenses so sensor remains hermetically sealed and clean,
- you can compose real time on the LCD monitor or the LCD viewfinder (including a real time histogram),
are much more important for users than high speed, image quality and other SLR’s advantages. Unfortunately Canon S5’s price is abt. $500 and willy-nilly I’d like to look for cheaper ultra-zoom camera with the same abilities. I already was comparing a lot of SLR-like cameras. Look through:
- Choosing SLR-likes compare Panasonic DMC-FZ8, Olympus SP-550 and Fujifilm IS-1/S9600. Good, expensive and very expensive.
- Choosing Digital zoom cam: Canon PowerShot S5 IS can fight with Sony DSC-H9 or H7; Canon, you really can?
And I think that Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ8 for $300 is not bad alternative for Canon S5. Of course it has 7.1 megapixels compared to Canon S5’s 8MP. But it has the same 1/2.5 inch small sensor size and in my opinion it’s not a problem to have 3072 x 2304 maximum resolutions instead of S5’s 3264 x 2448. What about the main thing such as ultra-zoom lens, Panasonic FZ8 has 12x 36-432mm (35mm equiv) with image stabilizer and Canon has the same 12x optical zoom lens 36-432mm. But Panasonic FZ8 has some weak points and for good choosing we need to look into its pros and cons to solve what is more importantly: to save two hundred or to have optical zoom in movies.
The good:
- Excellent color reproduction and excellent exposure
- Fast auto focus
- Face tracking
- Remote shooting
- 12x Leica lens (equivalent to 36mm to 432mm on a 35mm film camera)
- Two speed zoom - great for accurate framing
- Good handling with a little rubber-clad grip
- Records RAW images this little camera process RAW
- Large viewfinder
- Excellent LCD screen combines visibility in daylight and indoors, color accuracy and image sharpness
- Convenient joystick control on the back of the camera handles the adjustment of the settings very easy
- Manual exposure controls
- Effective optical image stabilization with two modes: Mode 1 allows the stabilizer to function continuously while the image is composed, and at the moment of capture. Mode 2 only activates the stabilizer when the shutter release is fully depressed, stabilizing the image at the precise moment of capture. This mode provides a greater degree of stabilization and conserves power.
- Handy is the ability to extend zoom to 18x in 3 Megapixel mode, the so-called Extra Optical Zoom function and in combination with the digital zoom the total zoom reaches 72x
- Small size and low weight
Panasonic Lumix FZ8The bad:
- High noise levels over ISO 400
- Limited dynamic range
- Soft corners
- JPEG contains artefacts
- 220-shot battery life
- No optical zoom in movies
- Confusing user manuals
- Cheap plastic housing
- Slow zoom
Panasonic DMC-FZ8 captures movies with mono sound. Three frame sizes are available:
4:3 Ratio:
- VGA: 640 x 480 pixels at 30 or 10 frames per second.
- QVGA: 320 x 240 pixels at 30 or 10 frames per second.
16:9 Ratio:
- 848 x 480 pixels at 30 or 10 frames per second.
Of course Leica branded lens will yield sharp, vibrant colors but you can lose all the benefits with Panasonic FZ8 higher image noise. But I saw some Canon S5 users’ opinion such as: '800 and 1600 ISO are unusable’. Some noise at high ISO is normal if you cram so many mega pixels onto this tiny sensor. Anyway you can have really low noise images only with SLR. Telling the truth that in order to buy even a budget SLR (Canon EOS350/XT or Nikon D40) with the same optical range coverage (in lenses that you buy separate) you will need to spend at least much more money than you pay for Panasonic FZ8. And I think that for $300 SLR you can concede to some noise especially if you learn how to use FZ8 properly. In any case it’s useful try to take some test shots on your own SD card and take them home to review. Your own experience is much better than all of my posts reading.
I collect info about all digital cameras. Tell me what you need and we will find the one together. Feel at ease at Comments directory.


Tomyam said...

From what I have read the Canon S3 is better than the Canon S5. Sorry…

Anonymous said...

There are errors in your bad list:

The FZ8 DO support RAW. And the battery life is rated to 380-shots by CIPA standards which is very good.

Anonymous said...

The S5 IS has a hot shoe. That is very useful. Same on Panasonic.

I love my DMC Fz7 and wouldnt trade it for an S3, but maybe an S5 with hot shoe and movie zoom.

Anonymous said...

that is "shame" on Panasonic, not "same."

fototramp said...

Thanks for your remark about FZ8's RAW format. As for Canon S5,Panasonic FZ8 and other SLR-likes, look at the Fujifilm S100FS with 2/3-inch Super CCD HR sensor. In my opinion, this ultra-zoom is the best SLR-like camera now.
Fujifilm S100's key features include a large 2/3 inch 11 megapixel Super CCD sensor, all-new optically-stabilized 14.3x (28-400mm) manual zoom lens and a version of the 100-400% wide dynamic range and film simulation (hence 'FS') options seen on the FinePix S5 Pro SLR.
I'll be glad to see your opinion about this new Fuji camera.

neil said...

This is an excellent camera. Not just an excellent compact or point and shoot but an excellent camera period. While not a complete replacement for an dSLR, the FZ8 is pretty darn close. Given the current price in the low $200s, it is one of the best values in digital camera available.

dsi r4

John said...

I have a Pansonic FZ7 and a Canons S5IS.

The Panasonic is more user friendly in layout and use. (Even in the 35mm SLR, I sold my Canon and bought a Nikon for the same reason.)

The S5IS hot shoe is the only thing I really miss on the Panasonic. Neither camera's fill-in flash is all that great and the standard Canon flash isnt any better. However, bigger flashes are available.

If you take a lot of low-light photos, opt for the Canon S5IS and a serious flash. For putting in your pocket and having ez excellent images, save the $200.

To compare 1000s of images have a look at www.pbase.com and search by camera.