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A few years ago I decided to setup my own business as a print designer. I was already int his line of work full time and this was intended to supplement my income.
One of my first clients was a chaing of coffee shops who served a variety of hot food and drinks etc. Whiole working for them it became very obvious to me that I needed a decent digital camera for taking product shots etc.
As I didn't have a digital camera for personal use either, I decided to find something which would be suitable for both jobs.
I wanted something with a good zoom as in the past I have found it very frustrating to not be able to take the photos I wanted to take because I couldn't get close enough to the subject, either physically or because I didn't have enough zoom.
I also wanted something that would allow me complete control of the camera, ie a fully manual mode allowing me to control aperture, shutter speed, white balance etc.
I knew that a digital SLR would give me all the options I could ever want but at that time the gap between the prices of SLRs and point and click cameras was really quite huge still.
After reading a lot of reviews, I narrowed the options down to a short list. After this, I popped along to my local camera shop and had a play with a few different models. Fortunately, the camera that had stood out in the reviews, also turned out to be the one I liked most in operation, the DMC FZ20, so I purchased it.
I have been using for about 4 years now and am still very impressed with it. The optical zoom is amazing and means that I am seldom unable to bring a subject close enough, thus allowing me to get the shots that I want.
The wealth of options and control I have means I am able to capture the images I see, as I see them which is something I have ofte found frustrating with cheap cameras I had as as child. You'd would seem something amazing and not be able to capture it, instead ending up with a dready photo.
For use as a camera for taking product shots, I have also been very impressed.I have a very basic set up including a light cube and a few lights but I have been able to take some wonderful photos which have left my clients extremely pleased.
As well as the zoom beign amazing for things that are far away, the macro abilities of the camera are wonderful for things that are very close. I have taken some lovely close up shots which have captured textures, and colours extremely well. I have also got myself and adaptor ring and a macro lense which allows me to capture even greater macro shots as it allows me to use the full range of the zoom to get some extreme close ups.
Are there any downsides to the camera? The answer is yes however, none of them are so bad that I had considered changing to soemthing else, I still love the camera and intend to keep on using it for a long time to come.
The downsides in my opinion are:
The weight/size. As the camera has a big lens with a good zoom all built in, this is a fairly sizeable camera and has a bit of weight to it, which means that if it is taken on a day out, compared to your typical point and shoot camera, it is a bit cumbersome. I do however forgive this the moment I see a something I want to take which is quite a distance away as I can zoom and get what I want with ease whereas with a smaller camera I would miss the shot.
In dull, grey conditions, it sometimes has trouble focusing. This has only happened a couple of times but for some reason it can struggle to autofocus on really dull grey days. This can easily be overcome by using the manual focus but it can lead to the odd missed shot which the usually fast auto focus would have been able to get.
Reds. For some reason, in some lights this camera has a little trouble with capturing reds. For example if you were to take a photo of a red flower, although you might be able to see numerous very slightly different shades of red, sometimes (and I really do mean sometimes) the FZ20 will struggle to capture the subtle differences. Again this is not something which has bothered me too much, nor has it been a real problem but I thought I should mention it.
Noise: when using high ISO speeds, the images can be a bit overly noisy/grainy, which can be a bit of a problem. I have foudn though that as the lens has a good aperture range I can set it lower ISO speeds and even in fairly dark conditions the pictures are fine.
On the whole I would say this is a fantastic camera, and one that would be absolutely perfect for someone who wants that bit more than an everyday point and shoot will give! It has been succeeded by (I think) 2 models which has upped the features count etc but as you can pick one of these up second hand for very little money indeed, I would certainly consider this if I was in the market for a camera!
THIS MACHINE IS WHAT MADE ME A PHOTOGRAFH LOVER, I ALREADY HAD MANY DIGITAL CAMERAS FROM SONY, KODAK, ALL WITH QUALITY PICTURES BUT THE PANASONIC FZ20, HAS ONE THING THAT BEATS THEM ALL, THE BEUTY LENTS OF LEICA, 12XZOOM ITS A DREAM, THE LENTS ARE FAST AND THE QUALITY OF THE DAY LIGHT ARE PERFECT, THE MACHINE LET ME CHANGE AND THE MANUAL OPTIONS, LIKE EXPUSER, ISO, LIGHT ETC THAT LETS ME HAVE A FULL CONTROL OF THE MACHINE, THE BODY IS RESISTENT, AND YOU HAVE THE OPTION OF UPGRADE YOUR LENTS WITH A LENT ADAPTER, EASY TO FIND ON EBAY OR MAIN STORES, THE BATERY HAVE A GOOD LIVE ABOUT 350 TAKES USING ZOOM, YOU ALSO CAN FIND CHEAP GENERIC BATERIES ON SALE BUT THEY HAVE A SHORTER LIVE ABOUT 290TAKES.
THE ONLY PROBLENS I FIND WITH THIS MACHINE WAS, SOMETIMES I GOT SOME OUT FOCUS, AND NIGHT SHOTS WITH ZOOM ARE GRAIN FREE DIFICULT, I THING ITS A COMMUN PROBLEM ON ALL CAMERAS THAT USES HIGH ISO BUT I CAN ONLY TALK ABOUT THIS ONE, AND THE LOCATION OF THE MEMORY CARDS COULD BE PLACED ON THE SIDE, BECAUSE IF YOU ARE USING A TRIPOD YOU HAVE TO UNMOUNT IT TO CHANGE THE CARD.
IN OVERALL THIS MACHINE GETS BEUTIFULL PICTURES, HAVE TOTAL CONTROL ON OPTIONS AND EXCELLENT RESPONSIVE LENTS, I TRIED THE NEW FZ30 AND IT DOESNT SUPER THE FZ20, BECAUSE OF THE BIGGEST PROBLEM .....GRAIN PHOTOS AT NIGHT.....WITHOUT THIS PROBLEM THIS IS A 10 ON 10 CAMERA!
I HOPE PANASONIC GUYS ONE DAY CAN MANAGE TO FIX THIS.
This is a great digital camera, I would definately recommend it! It is easy to use and easy to hold and takes great pictures. You can record films on it for as long as your SD card will hold, there is no limit on the camera. There is a fully automatic setting as well as a full manual setting or you can change the shutter speed and it will adjust the aperture to fit it and vice versa. You can focus manually or automatically so you can do everything a film SLR camera can do but more as it's digital. It is light to hold considering it's size. I would recommend getting quite a large memory SD card though as the pictures are good quality, so take up quite a lot of memory. The only disadvatage I'd say is that the pictures can be very slightly more red that you might expect, but this isn't really noticeable unless you're looking out for it. Don't let this put you off because it's only very slight.