Canon A620 or Panasonic DMC-FZ7, is a large lens important?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Bart Wakker, Apr 2, 2006.

  1. Bart Wakker

    Bart Wakker Guest

    I'm doubting whether to buy the A620 or the Panasonic DMC-FZ7. In
    reviews they are pretty close, but I'm not sure if the two can even be
    compared to each other. The A620 is much more compact, especially it
    has a tiny lens like most compact digital cameras.

    The FZ7 seems to suffer from noise, apart from that it seems very
    good. However the noise measurement for the FZ7 and the A620 are not
    that far apart, somehow I have not seen any review on the A620 that
    mentions noise as a negative point.

    Is the larger lens of the FZ7? I don't know much about digital
    cameras, I used to think that the lens should be as big as possible to
    get enough light with moderate ISO settings (which offset the noise
    problem for the FZ7, since it might use ISO 100 where the A620 needs
    400 due to its tiny lens).

    However there seem to be add-on lenses available for the A620, which
    would cancel that difference between the two, except for image
    stabilisation. Is image stabilisation important? Is it of general use,
    or only if you intend to zoom 10-fold?
    Bart Wakker, Apr 2, 2006
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  2. Bart,

    I see these as models optimised for slightly tasks, with the Panasonic FZ7
    being great if the telephoto end of the zoom range is important to you.
    With its 432mm (equivalent) lens, the FZ7 will make objects appear about 9
    times as big as the Canon (three times the linear size), which could be
    vitally important to you if you take shots of distant objects, or are
    forced to be further away from the subject than you would like.

    The image stabilisation is important, as you will want to operate either
    of these cameras at a low ISO setting to minimise noise, hence you will
    want a longer shutter opening time, and hence you will need to hold the
    camera steadier. Image stabilisation helps you do that. I find it helps
    all the time, it's not just with the long zoom shots you benefit.

    I have the earlier Panasonic FZ5 and have been delighted with the camera
    and its capabilities. I was able to capture some great action shots at
    the Formula 1 motor race in Spain last year, despite being just a
    spectator (not press) and having to work from the grandstands. Noise is
    exaggerated - staying with low ISO settings it just isn't an issue for
    this camera - at least for me.

    The Canon has a simple optical finder, which means that at close distances
    it won't display the picture framing accurately (but the LCD on the back
    will). With the 12:1 zoom on the Panasonic, an optical finder is not
    economical, so it has an EVF (electronic viewfinder) instead, which you
    may or may not prefer. An EVF allows close-to-the-face use for even less
    camera shake.

    Why not see how each camera handles at your local photo shop?

    David J Taylor, Apr 2, 2006
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  3. I've found that image stabilization can be a big help even at moderate
    zooms. If I'm at 100 or so mm, the stabilizer lets me take reasonable
    pictures at shutter speeds up to about 1/10s. See, for example,
    for a shot made with an FZ5 at ISO 200, 160 mm, 1/10s. It's not perfect,
    but if I'd tried that without the stabilizer it would have been blurred
    into mush. And, for that shot, a higher ISO/shorter shutter wouldn't
    have worked; I _wanted_ the longer time to get the fire trail effect.

    The lens on the A620 isn't that that much smaller, in terms of
    light-gathering capability, than the FZ7. The FZ7 is f/3.3 at most
    zooms; the A620 is f/4.1, which represents about a 50% advantage for the
    FZ. The physical size difference is mainly due to the increased zoom

    But, as you say, these cameras occupy two different niches. If you think
    you'll want the long zoom range, go with the Panasonic (or the upcoming
    Canon S3IS, or similar models from Kodak/Sony/etc.). If the big zoom is
    not something that's important to you, go with the more compact (and
    somewhat less expensive) models like the A620.

    Daniel Silevitch, Apr 2, 2006
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