Panasonic TZ3
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ian wright
(ianwright) - F

Locale: Photo - Mt Everest - 1980
Panasonic TZ3 on 06/12/2007 07:06:38 MDT Print View

Poor ol' me is turning 50 next month, the only benefit besides a lot of back slapping and pity is everyone is throwing in some $'s and I can use it to buy a new camera. And hopefully a spare battery and 2 big memory cards.

I am leaning towards the TZ3 as it has the features I want and seems to be quite a good point and shoot stick it in your pocket type camera.

I'm sure it's not the PERFECT camera but then again is there a perfect compact camera?

If you think I should consider other options let me know.

TZ3

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: Panasonic TZ3 on 06/12/2007 10:04:12 MDT Print View

Hi Ian,

Congratulations on your forthcoming milestone (note: not spelled "millstone" :-)

Specwise, the Panny looks good, with--most importantly for backpackers--a true wide angle lens, which is a Leica to boot. It's got modes aplenty to handle a variety of settings and situations. It's compact and light for a camera of this class.

I'll caution about a few things as well. There's no viewfinder, so make very sure you can see the LCD panel in direct sunlight (test it outdoors with the sun coming over your shoulder), and that your eyes can focus on the viewscreen for careful composition. Personally, this limitation would be a deal-killer for me. There's no RAW mode, which is important to folks who want maximum image quality and to bypass in-camera processing, for which Panasonic has a historically heavy hand. There's no image stabilization, which limits the long tele lens' usefulness in less than perfect conditions, and will have you reaching for a tripod or other camera support in dim light. This is exacerbated by the relatively slow lens. Finally, there's no manual control of several key camera parameters, which again will bother more advanced shooters. [correction: it does have IS]

In sum, I'm certain it can produce wonderful images given the Leica heritage. But it likely won't be the best camera for spotty shooting conditions or for advanced photographers. In any case, I'd definitely try before buying to ensure you're comfortable with composing and focusing in actual field conditions.

Happy shopping!

Edited by halfturbo on 06/13/2007 18:47:25 MDT.

Steve .
(pappekak) - F

Locale: Tralfamadore
Re: Re: Panasonic TZ3 on 06/12/2007 10:25:53 MDT Print View

Just to clarify about the lens. Panny actually uses a Panny lens build to Leica specs. The lens is not actually build by Leica.

That said, I've found the quality of the lens on my Panny FZ3 to be excellent.

For me a viewfinder and image stabilization are a must.

If I were looking at a compact I would go for something like the Canon SD700 although I don't think it has a wide angle mode.

Canon also makes some compact models that accept wide angle and teleconver lens which is attractive to me.

ian wright
(ianwright) - F

Locale: Photo - Mt Everest - 1980
TZ3 on 06/13/2007 06:14:55 MDT Print View

Thanks for you imput.
The lack of viewfinders these days is hard to justify and annoying for a lot of people.
My sister who recently bought her first ever camera and it has no viewfinder takes a high percentage of out of focus photos. Holding the camera against your head is so important !
I have the talent to 'compose' good photos but realistically am happy with a good quality camera that can go into the pocket as opposed to a high quality camera, like an SLR, though of course would love one.
Isn't it interesting that you can read about so many cameras that have most of the features you want but there's no one perfect camera !
Then again, imagine what they should be like 5 or 10 years from now.

I'll go look at that Canon. Thanks.

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: TZ3 on 06/13/2007 11:17:15 MDT Print View

Ian,

While I'm hesitant to suggest specific cameras (from the flood of available product) I'm not shy about sharing cameras I'm considering for myself.

As I've posted in another thread, the Ricoh GX100 has been on the street for a month or so and is getting very favorable user response coupled with some very impressive work (no formal professional review has yet been published, to my knowledge). It's unique in offering a 24-72 equivalent zoom in a subcompact digicam and in an industry first, a removable, tiltable electronic viewfinder. It also has IS and RAW, and an optional wide angle converter (19 mm eq). It can take AAA batteries in a pinch, important for long trips with no possibility of recharging. In short, a superior tool for landscapes but definitely not for wildlife (unless you're very sneaky, or they're very tame).

The only way to match these specs is through an slr or rangefinder system, obviously at many times the weight and bulk.

I patiently (ahem) await comprehensive reviews before deciding whether to take the plunge. I also still hold out hope that Sigma will release the DP1, another potential dark horse high-end landscape digicam. I have no other #2 choice at the moment.

Major shortcomings are Ricoh's limited distribution and the brutal fact that it's two or three times the cost of the Panny, and easily twice the Canon. But you're only fifty once!

Edited by halfturbo on 06/13/2007 11:18:42 MDT.

kevin davidson
(kdesign) - F

Locale: Mythical State of Jefferson
Ricoh GX100 and such on 06/13/2007 11:51:30 MDT Print View

Ricoh ought to offer a quality teleconverter/aux. lens to extend it's max. focal length.

You are aware, Rick, that the Sigma has a fixed focal length lens? But a full frame sensor... hmmmm. This has been a much delayed camera.

I would have sprung for a Panasonic LX2 if it had an optical finder.

One compact digicam w/ a 28mm lens and an optical finder worth exploring is the Canon SD800 IS.
http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/specs/Canon/canon_sd800is.asp

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: Ricoh GX100 and such on 06/13/2007 15:32:20 MDT Print View

Hi Kevin,

It's not impossible that Ricoh would offer a teleconverter, but their history would have me guess they won't. They've carved a niche with their compact wide angle cameras going back to their film days, and the digital offerings seem a continuation of the same strategy. It's probably worth noting they only offer a WA converter for the FFL GRD.

The DP1 has kicked up quite the controversy since its first unveiling at Photokina last summer (they since addressed some of the obvious shortcomings). Most prominent has been the lens, loudly derided for being both FFL and relatively slow.

A lens-maker first and camera maker second, I'm willing to give Sigma the benefit of a doubt that the DP1 lens will be a stellar performer. The rub could be the Foveon's historically noisy high-ISO performance coupled with an f/4 maximum aperture. (BTW, the sensor is 20.4 x 13.8, placing it between four thirds and APS-C.)

If Sigma does their development homework, the DP1 has the *potential* to be the best half-pound landscape camera ever. Conceptually it reminds me a bit of the Hasselblad SWC.

Steve .
(pappekak) - F

Locale: Tralfamadore
Re: Re: Ricoh GX100 and such on 06/13/2007 16:08:50 MDT Print View

Rick, are there any sample pictures from the DP1 floating around the web? I haven't found any :(

kevin davidson
(kdesign) - F

Locale: Mythical State of Jefferson
Sigma DP1 on 06/13/2007 16:23:53 MDT Print View

Yes, Rick, you're right about the sensor size but it's still humungous for a compact camera.
I used to use a SWC for architectural photography. Helluva camera and an absolute classic.

Do you know how much the digital H3D39 from Hasselblad is running? Makes for a great bedside horror tale. But 39 real functional megapixels!

Edited by kdesign on 06/13/2007 17:00:48 MDT.

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: Ricoh GX100 and such on 06/13/2007 16:52:20 MDT Print View

Hi Steve,

Regrettably the DP1 remains vaporware. You may join me and my puddle of anticipatory drool here:

http://www.sigma-dp1.com/

The best I can suggest is to search for Sigma SD14 images, which at least demonstrate what's possible using the same chip and engine. A lens set at around 17mm will be the closest possible equivalent. Here are a couple of talented SD14 users, whose work amply demonstrates the big chip's appeal over the miniscule ones in our compact digicams:

http://www.rytterfalk.com/

http://www.pbase.com/ianvermeer/sigma_sd14

The DP1 will be a significant investment. My guess: the viewfinder and hood will put it well over a kilobuck. Think of it as two or three very nice sleeping bags.

Steve .
(pappekak) - F

Locale: Tralfamadore
Re: Re: Ricoh GX100 and such on 06/13/2007 18:25:18 MDT Print View

I won't be picking one up any time soon, being strictly an amateur.

It has been frustrating that camera marketeers (Panny included) keep pushing the mega pixel factor instead of larger sensors.

ian wright
(ianwright) - F

Locale: Photo - Mt Everest - 1980
TZ3 - Image Stab on 06/13/2007 19:45:49 MDT Print View

Hi

Rick you mentioned that the TZ3 does not have image stabilisation but on dpreview they say it does.
If it does then that's a nice feather in its cap.

I've done a bit more research and the TZ3 is still the one that best suits my needs (read: wants !). Having a bit of a zoom lens is a feature I like, the typical 3x zoom on most cameras is a bore.

Another question I'll ask now but try and research . . .
is the battery of the TZ3 removeable? I like the idea of having a spare battery that I can swap over.

kevin davidson
(kdesign) - F

Locale: Mythical State of Jefferson
TZ3 battery on 06/13/2007 19:54:20 MDT Print View

Removable battery? Yep. You might even be able to find a cheaper 3rd party Li-Ion xtra battery for it. Sounds like some users of the camera complain about short battery life between recharging :-(

Edited by kdesign on 06/13/2007 19:56:29 MDT.

Steve .
(pappekak) - F

Locale: Tralfamadore
Re: TZ3 - Image Stab on 06/13/2007 20:14:40 MDT Print View

I use Lenmar batteries in my FZ3. Have three of them. Amazon has a version for the TZ3.
http://www.amazon.com/Lenmar-1000mAh-Panasonic-CGA-S007-Equivalent/dp/B000GYW936

Beware of getting batteries on Ebay from overseas sellers. They often have a poor fit in the camera and charger.

NewEgg usually has very good prices on SD memory cards. I have two KingMax SDs that are fast and were inexpensive. Transcend also makes good cards.

DCResource has a forum for Panny junkies I visit from time to time. Lots of good info there.

Steve .
(pappekak) - F

Locale: Tralfamadore
Re: Re: TZ3 - Image Stab on 06/13/2007 20:30:03 MDT Print View

The TZ3's 10x zoom is sweet. Here's a mod I did to my FZ3 that takes my in camera 12x optical to 19x (670mm equivalent).
FZ3+TCON17

Unfortunately Panny noise will make image quality unusable at ISO 400 for an 8x10 :(

But Panny image stabilization is really good. Here's a hand held shot using the built in zoom. And a tripod shot at 670mm with my FZ3.

Edited by pappekak on 06/13/2007 20:41:24 MDT.

kevin davidson
(kdesign) - F

Locale: Mythical State of Jefferson
TZ3 at work on 06/13/2007 21:01:35 MDT Print View

Great shots, Steve. Yes, Panasonic is using some great Leica optics but I sure wish they'd deal with the noise issue. Interesting lens mod---want to tell us what that's all about? What ISO and what size print can you get from the Heron shot?

cheers.
KD

Steve .
(pappekak) - F

Locale: Tralfamadore
Re: FZ3 at work, not TZ3 on 06/13/2007 21:31:59 MDT Print View

The Heron was shot at f4.0, 1/125s, ISO 200 and prints out nicely at 8x10 (printer limitation). The FZ3 is only 3MP so I doubt it would go much larger than 8x10 anyway.

I modified the FZ3 by unscrewing the plastic support around the lens and replacing it with a custom adapter from Japan. The adapter is strong enough to support heavier 55mm converter lens like the Olympus TCON 17 (1.6x teleconverter) or my Schneider-Kreuznach XENAR (.7x wide angle) and an Olympus B Macro (+2.5 diopter) that I haven't used yet.

The teleconverter takes the camera to the equivalent of 670mm and the wide angle to 24.5 mm. Here's a shot of the Maroon Bells and some fall colors with the wide angle.

Pretty much a poor man's way of getting a lot of photography options.

Edited by pappekak on 06/13/2007 21:54:41 MDT.

kevin davidson
(kdesign) - F

Locale: Mythical State of Jefferson
FZ3 then on 06/13/2007 21:46:26 MDT Print View

Cool.

ian wright
(ianwright) - F

Locale: Photo - Mt Everest - 1980
TZ34ME on 06/14/2007 03:55:09 MDT Print View

That'll do, I'm sold !

You owe that dragonfly a beer !

I've seen 4GB memory cards and extra batteries as well.

Just hope my very generous friends contribute copious
amounts of $$$'s!

I'll buy the extras myself if I have to.

Thanks for your imput.

I'll add to this thread sometime after july 15th and let you know how it faired.

Steve .
(pappekak) - F

Locale: Tralfamadore
Re: TZ34ME on 06/14/2007 06:02:36 MDT Print View

Ian, remember the shots I posted are from a different camera: the now extinct FZ3 and not the new TZ3. Can't speak for the images out of the TZ3 but I'm sure you can find lots of samples online.

Happy shooting :)

Edited by pappekak on 06/14/2007 06:07:32 MDT.