Camera for daughter: DMC-FX9 vs. DMC-FX01

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Frnak McKenney, Jun 22, 2006.

  1. Help?

    I've managed to talk my daughter Heather into letting me give her a
    camera for her birthday (a few weeks away). I'm in a position I
    suspect many of you can empathize with: I'm only beginning to
    understand what to pay attention to and what to ignore when
    capturing an image, and, lacking a Vulcan mind-meld, I can't simply
    transfer what little experience I _have_ managed to gain directly to
    her. She'll have to gather her own experience, and about all I can
    do is try to reduce some obvious areas of frustration and hope
    she'll call me from Pittsburgh when she gets stuck rather than put
    the camera aside to "get back to some day".

    Her previous experience in photography is limited to some "110"
    Instamatic-class units and a 35mm whose viewfinder image never
    seemed a good guide to what the camera was actually capturing. When
    I spoke to her on the telephone earlier this week, the two areas she
    mentioned as having caused the most frustration were color
    differences (her eyes vs. prints), and the 35mm's inability to take
    good close-up photos.

    Based on a strong recommendation from my niece Sophie, I decided on
    the Panasonic DMC-FX9. It's small and light enough to be carried
    comfortably on a bike or bus, much more responsive than my
    (admittedly aging) Canon G1, and the 2.5" LCD will make focussing on
    small things much easier. I started looking at the 'FX9 specs in
    more detail... and noticed the 'FX01. After reading the specs on
    both cameras, there are a couple of areas I'm still fuzzy on, and
    any comments from users would be appreciated.

    1) Aside from the wider-angle lens, the 3.6x zoom (vs. 3.0x), and a
    few additional video modes, are there any obvious differences
    between the 'FX9 and the 'FX01?

    Put another way, is the 'FX01 better in every way than the 'FX9,
    or are there reasons why I might want to buy the 'FX9 instead?

    2) How good are the 'FX9 and 'FX01 at close-ups? And is there any
    difference between them? My daughter would like to be able to
    snap recognizable images of the insects sharing her vegetables
    so she could look them up in the local library's collections.

    Maybe a better way to express it is, at minimal focal distance,
    how large an object does it take (can it take) to fill the
    screen and still be in focus? A full-sensor-width 1/4" Ladybug
    sounds unlikely (if a really nice feature <grin!>).

    3) When I'm taking close-ups with my G1, the viewfinder is useless.
    I have to use the LCD screen, which lacks sufficient detail for
    my aging eyes to really tell when I'm in focus. Will either the
    'FX9 or 'FX01 let you "magnify" the LCD image when focussing?
    That is, can one expand a portion of the sensor output
    sufficiently to ensure that one is actually focussing on the
    object one really _cares_ about?

    4) Both units seem to use an in-camera charger, which means that
    my daughter won't be able to charge the batteries while she's
    shooting. How long _does_ the battery seem to last with/without
    flash? B&H (and presumably other vendors) offer an external
    charger; my only question is whether to add one and a spare
    battery pack (roughly $50 for both) in _this_ package or hold
    off for (say) Christmas?

    5) Both the 'FX9 and 'FX01 come in different color cases. Black
    seems a little less obtrusive than silver, but what's odd is
    that some stores quote different _prices_ for different colors.
    Is there some non-intuitive reason why a different color would
    affect the price? Or is this just a hiccup in the vendor's

    6) Trivia: The reviews at mention the 'FX01 as a
    replacement for the 'FX9. Is the former's name simply a
    marketing typo that has been propagated so widely that no-one
    wants to change it? That is, was the original name DMC-FX10?
    (Inquiring Minds Want To Know! <grin>)

    Any feedback will be appreciated.


    Frank McKenney, McKenney Associates
    Richmond, Virginia / (804) 320-4887
    Munged E-mail: frank uscore mckenney ayut minds pring dawt cahm (y'all)
    Before drawing conclusions from _any_ poll, it it absolutely vital
    to read the questions with greast care -- and that goes double for
    summaries released to the press, and triple for headlines based on
    the handouts. This is especially true when the poll was commis-
    sioned by a campaigning organization and even more so when the
    results were not what the sponsor hoped for,
    -- Pete Shanks / Human Genetic Engineering
    Frnak McKenney, Jun 22, 2006
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  2. Frnak McKenney

    ASAAR Guest

    If you *really* want to know, and both cameras don't have full
    reviews on the usual review websites, download the manuals from the
    manufacturer's website. It won't take much time skimming through
    them (usually PDF files), and you'll find out more than even most
    owners know.

    They don't really have to be very good at closeups if in playback
    the cameras allow their LCD displays to really zoom in. My Fuji
    doesn't have an impressive macro capability, but I've used it to
    shoot a bug or two, and even with its modest 4mp sensor, there's far
    more than enough resolution to see a large, detailed view of a small
    bug that doesn't come close filling the screen. This is due to its
    very nice zoom in playback which is a bit more than 14x. This way
    your daughter wouldn't even need to have prints made, and often
    prints are the weak point when color fidelity is important.

    I've only seen a few displays that allow magnification, and it's
    been for what you want, magnifying the central part of the image
    (not the entire frame) and is used to aid manual focusing.
    Unfortunately this has been a feature I've only noticed in *large*
    P&S cameras, such as Fuji's S9000. You'd be better off looking for
    a camera known for accurate focusing than to find one that makes it
    a little bit easier to tell when it fails. With digital cameras you
    can easily check a magnified view immediately after taking the
    picture and try again if the focus was slightly off, which is not
    quite, but nearly what you're looking for.

    That would be enough for me to rule out those cameras. Many don't
    charge using the camera, but provide an external charger. I prefer
    cameras that use AA batteries, and external chargers for those are
    pretty cheap and available everywhere. One such is Canon's A610 and
    A620, which also has an articulated LCD display, which could make it
    much easier to get the camera in proper position to photograph bugs
    that are unwilling to come out and pose for your daughter. :)

    When there's only a choice been a choice of black and silver,
    black is sometimes more expensive. Possibly because going back
    decades, smaller numbers of black 35mm cameras were made (usually
    for pros) and probably cost manufacturers more to make. With
    today's P&S cameras that are designed to appeal to those with a
    "style" gene, there's probably little difference in pricing, but I
    might be wrong. If there are differenced, it's probably due to
    marketing, not a hiccup.

    Don't know. Maybe there have been many FX models. FX1, FX3 . . .
    FX9, and instead of continuing with FX10, FX11, etc, they started
    over with FX01. Check back with dpreview, but in the camera
    section, not the review section. When the first popup list shows,
    go to the bottom where the last item is "more". That takes you to a
    graphic view of cameras that you don't want. At the top, click on
    "alphabetic" or something like that. That should show you many of
    the previous model's names going back several years.

    One reason why immediately springs to mind. <g>
    ASAAR, Jun 22, 2006
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  3. The first page of the dpreview review of the FX01 has a table
    summarizing the details:

    The big difference seems to be the 28mm wide angle on the 01, vs 35mm on
    the 9. It's a significant difference; if it were me, I'd say it would be
    worth some extra money for the newer model (though a price-check at B&H
    showed that the FX-01 as being actually $10 _cheaper_ than the FX-9).
    The price check I did had the same price for all four colors. $290,
    available in white, silver, pink, and black.

    Daniel Silevitch, Jun 22, 2006
  4. ASAAR.

    Thanks for replying.

    I've done this for my own camera and others; wonder why my mind went
    blank _this_ time? Thank you for reminding me.
    Ah. I hadn't considered this -- expanding the image _after_ it has
    been taken. You're right, and I'll have to play with this on my own
    camera in my CopiousFreeTime(tm). Thanks.
    Which suggests a segue' (but not a Seg-Way <grin>): are you aware of
    any research on how well digital camera LCD panels match "real"
    colors? I know people spend fortunes (smaller fortunes these days,
    fortunately) to ensure that the colors going into their cameras and
    being displayed on monitors match what gets printed, but I don't
    recall any mention of how well-calibrated camera LCD panels are.
    What you say is true, but in a hand-held situation you wind up moving
    the camera out of position to check the results. Since you then have
    to move the camera back into your best guess at the "correct" position
    about all you can learn is that you didn't succeed on the previous shot.

    Ah! Increasing the "display after shooting" persistence setting would
    let one get a better look at the previous results _without_ having to
    move the camera! (Don't pay any attention to the loud thumps coming
    from behind that screen over there -- that's just me once again
    seeing "the obvious").
    OR... I could get her a Bug Training Manual so she could teach the
    suckers to pose for the camera. Muse be one around somewhere, else
    how would Flea Circus owners ever learn their business? <grin!...?>

    Your point about the batteries is well-taken, but the specs on the
    DMC-FXnn series seem close enough to what I think will work for my
    daughter that I'll live with the "one size fits one" battery pack.
    Well, they had a DMC-FX7, an 'FX8, an 'FX9, and now the... 'FX01?
    Hey! Perhaps it's an "overflow" problem with their model numbering
    system! <grin!>

    Anyway, I guess it's time to get one shipped and see how well it
    actually works. Thanks again for your comments.

    Frank McKenney, McKenney Associates
    Richmond, Virginia / (804) 320-4887
    Munged E-mail: frank uscore mckenney ayut minds pring dawt cahm (y'all)
    The first Zen master in Japan to write extensively on good and
    evil was Dogen Zenji... Dogen was one of the most adamant of
    those who rejected the widespread use of Buddhism for social,
    political, and material power; and he was driven out of the
    capital area for his trouble.
    -- Thomas Cleary / The Japanese Art of War
    Frnak McKenney, Jun 22, 2006
  5. Daniel,

    Thank you for taking the time to respond.

    Even stranger, the "list price" on Panasonic's 'web site for the 'FX01 is
    _$50_ less than the FX9!

    It's not that I really _want_ to pay more <grin!>, it's just that I'm
    cautious about the dental condition of gift equines.

    I did check the DPreview specs, but it wasn't clear exactly what effect
    the wider angle lens on the 'FX01 would have on close-ups. If little
    or none, then it's all a bonus; if it makes them much worse, then I'd
    go with the older model, the 'FX9. The information I want is probably
    _there_ but not in a form that makes sense to me.

    Ah, well. The download for the 'FX01 manual just completed. Time to
    go read it (and maybe spend some money).
    Hm. I'd better check again. After a couple of hours' 'web-viewing my
    eyes tend to blur a bit. Okay, a bit _more_. <grin?>

    Thanks for the comments.

    Frank McKenney, McKenney Associates
    Richmond, Virginia / (804) 320-4887
    Munged E-mail: frank uscore mckenney ayut minds pring dawt cahm (y'all)
    Frnak McKenney, Jun 22, 2006
  6. Frnak McKenney

    ASAAR Guest

    That suggests a segue? Wheelie? :) Even if the LCD displays are
    not perfectly calibrated they're more or less consistent, whereas
    prints can vary wildly, even prints within the same print job.

    One other point I just thought of. I accidentally noticed that if
    I copy previously taken JPG files to folders on a memory card, my
    Fuji S5100 is able to display them, superimposing the folder name in
    small print over the image. This feature would be useful for your
    daughter, allowing her to bring even older shots into the library
    and be able to view them with the just the camera. No extra,
    expensive display device would be needed, although their larger
    screens would be nice. Finding out if one of the cameras you're
    considering getting can also do this would take a bit of extra work,
    since despite what I previously said about checking the camera's
    manual probably wouldn't help, as this feature wasn't mentioned in
    the manual.

    If you want to test this and it's not too much work, if you don't
    already have one, you'd have to get the type of card the camera uses
    and copy some JPG files to it. Some cameras will only display
    images files taken with the same or a closely related camera. To
    get them you could either make an extra trip to the photo store,
    taking a few pictures with each camera, or download some JPG files
    taken with the same cameras if they're available on review (or
    other) websites. Then copy them to one or more new folders on the
    card and return to the camera shop for testing.
    ASAAR, Jun 22, 2006
  7. Segways? Like these?

    (otherwise known as "why you should always carry a camera, even if you
    don't think you're going to need one".)

    Daniel Silevitch, Jun 22, 2006
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