Ménage à trois – the Lumix, a finepix & the dandy NV24

Posted: April 4, 2008 by ralliart12 in Technopia
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ever since the demise of my Konica Minolta Z3 (due to my negligence, left the batteries in for an extended period of time & mercury leakage ensued), I’ve been searching high & low for another worthy successor. Furthermore, Konica Minolta’s digital still cameras division has been sold to Sony; so I couldn’t get another KM anyway.

However, even though whipping out a hefty-sized snapper makes you look pro, it often discourages me to pack the camera in my backpack 24/7 and hence my portfolio suffers. Therefore a quest for a compact camera with manual features begins…I know it is a tall order, but I do wish to improve (& perhaps even “formalize” my learnings), so an “Ultimate” camera must be found to suffice this ridiculous demand.

When I first heard of the Fujifilm Finepix F100fd & its Wide Dynamic Range capability, and limited manual capabilities, I was quite certain this was it. WDR, simply put, means that the camera (sensor) is able to detect finer granularity of color range and distinguish the details in your blacks & whites. What this means to say is, for typical shots, should the sky be too bright, beyond a certain shade of blue, everything else will be treated & recorded by the camera as white. Same goes for the blacks, beyond a certain darkness shade, any details darker than that(but NOT black) will be recorded as black. WDR capability extends this range & perhaps put me in a position to learn how to do HDR photos, which I will draft a post about, in another entry,

So at that time to me, F100fd = manual features + WDR, + compact + Finepix F-series’s legendary high ISO(but low noise) capability. The ol’ school conservative look struck a chord with me too. But recently as it surfaces in Singapore, for a super cheap price (~$500 with 2 * GB SD card), issues began to spread from other international owners. While I will like to elaborate on them issues, a quick summary will probably be more appropriate for the random reader:

  1. pink band is captured at left side of photo with shots above ISO800, rendering high ISO capabilities moot
  2. black sets are made in China, no good ol’ Fujifilm Japan heritage
  3. Conflicts with Transcend SD cards
  4. Manual features do NOT have aperture & shutter priority modes

So I actually tried out the F100fd in Singapore and I was able to easily recreate the pink band issue, multiple times, within a casual store lighting setting, no need for total blackout of surrounding light sources to exaggerate the effect. the pink band is definitely there. In my face. So if I anyhow anyhow can recreate this flaw, then it’s a definite no-go. Despite the wide-angle, despite the incredulous-face detection 3.0, despite the true 12MP, & ISO128000(@ 3MPmax) capabilities, if the camera can NOT even take a completely proper/correct photo, then what’s the point? It will just devolve into a regret that I have to leave with everyday. The Fujifilm F100fd dream is over.

A good friend of mine then recommended the Samsung NV24HD. I’m a heavy user of Samsung products (X11 notebook + U600 cellphone + Samsung portable HDD) & my impression of their durability is less-than-optimal. Besides, Samsung seems to be an unheard-of player in the digital camera scene. My parents even have a Samsung low-end digicam, which I’ve handled and tried and at best, it is a piece of trash. but for those who are more than adventurous, I shall highlight the NV24 HD key features:

  • 24mm (better than 28mm) Wide-angle lense
  • 3.6x Opt. zoom
  • face detection & smile/blink shot-trigger
  • physical image stabilization
  • 720p HDmovie recording with stereo sound
  • touch screen
  • slide-show playback

So for those of you who insist on giving this Samsung snapper a try, please head down to Alan Photo this coming week. I heard first-hand from a bespectacled tall Chinese staff it’s arriving. Beware of the staff at Alan Photo, Funan. Apparently if you are dressed in shorts, tee & a baseball cap they are less than enthusiastic to engage your business. Another thing to beware of is the existing NV30 & NV40. The Samsung NV24 HD is newer & offers HD movie recording, while the other 2 does NOT.

So I kinda didn’t really wanna try the Samsung NV24, & I’ve heard of the Panasonic TZ5 being compared against the Finepix F100fd, & finally I decided to check it out. It turns out to be quite a pretty device, as you can see:

Specs are more than incredible for a compact camera, as follows:

  • 10x Opt. zoom
  • 9.1megapixels
  • HD video recording (720p, same as NV24 HD)
  • the famous Mega O.I.S., as found in their FZ-prosumer series
  • 3.0″ LCD display (currently the best in the market is Sony’s T-series’ 3.5″)
  • fancy slide-show playback as well
  • I tink it has face detection

As you can see clearly, good looks and superior specs. I actually tried out the device at a Panasonic roadshow in IMM shopping mall. the physical device is slightly larger than it looks on websites. On the other hand, zooming into a taken shot reveals the noise inherent in the capture. the same goes for the FX36 which I tested at the roadshow also. So if it is like that, then die liao lor…

At this point I wanna say to the PnS/compact devices division of Fujifilm & Panasonic: “You throw anymore of these oh-I-have-all-those-features-except-one-just-so-I-am-not-100%-perfect” products at me, and I’ll go ahead and get the one below then:

For those who knows the above, well, I need not elaborate further except re-iterate the fixed focal length (read: no optical zoom). For those who dunno, you dun need this kinda camera. For those who dunno AND keen to throw their money down the drain, click here.

Even though the gorgeous TZ5(btw, it’s known as TZ15 in Singapore, confirm, cos got public announcement in Panasonic Japan) seems to fall short with image quality (noise), I found a superior hidden gem in the Lumix line-up, the Lumix FX520! Instead of repeating all the god-damn details, I’m just gonna opint ut the differences between it and the TZ5/15 which I’d already described above:

  • “only” 5x opt. zoom as compared to TZ5’s 10x(which I still tink is remarkable engineering in a compact shell)
  • 25mm (TZ5’s 28mm) wide-angle lense (again, this number is the smaller the better)
  • 10.1MP (as compared to TZ5’s 9.1MP)
  • 3.0″ Touch-screen with point-to-fix-subject-focus capability (akin to Sony T-series)
  • Complete manual features!!!!! Aperture AND shutter priority modes, DULL Manual mode. And u know what’s so cool? U fine-tune those settings using touch-sliders on-screen
  • Of course, 6 million other scene modes (like Finepix F100fd) for us, “mediocre” photographers
  • AF tracking (for those who dunno what this feature this, just click on this feature’s elaboration in this FX520 link. See how the “cross-hair” stays on the grouse’s head even though it’s cocking its head here & there? for those who dunno what a grouse is, click on the same link too)
  • Face detection, HD movie recording, same good stuff as the TZ5
  • Ol’ school conservative design partial reason why I fell for Finepix F100fd)

So I’m gonna try out the FX520 once it hits our shores, and if the image quality (which is the most important point when considering a camera model; and fujifilm ppl, pink band = fail) manages to pass my discretion…this is the top contender for the moment.

Links as follows:

Fujifilm Finepix F100fd

Pink band issue

How to test for pink band

Samsung NV24 HD

Panasonic TZ5 review

Panasonic TZ5 official site

Panasonic FX520 official site

Sigma DP1

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