Considering those cameras

Back in November 2015 I posted about trimming down all the weight I carry. One of the items that I couldn't let go of was my Leica/Lumix FZ-18 and its 18X zoom. It takes good photo's, mainly used for wildlife, but also uses up a lot of room in my backpack. Then there's my really old FX-10.
After 20 months of umming and aahing over it, I finally took the bull by the horns and decided to do something about the cameras I carry.

The last year has seen me using my Samsung Galaxy S2 smartphone camera and getting publishable results. Nearly all the photo's, except for the Pamplona Walls, were done using it. The walls I did with my Leica/Lumix FX-10. A couple of hikes (like the Dreary Winter walk) I had the FZ-18 with me for images.

What about the DMC FX-10?

  • The camera is ideal for my purposes, even though it's 10 years old.
  • It fits into all my pockets easily.
  • It is very light.
  • I save a lot of room in my backpack.
  • ... and it takes very good photographs.

Four and a half years ago I saw it in a shop window, along with a bunch of other used junk and grabbed it for the princely sum of 24 UKP. This was while I had the old Torn Dot blog, a lot of it's imagery came from the camera. It just took great photo's. Then the screen did a nasty on me so I bought the FZ-18.

A foray into London to a speciality camera repair place, saw the FX-10 raised several slots on the scale. The guys there examined the lens first, to see if the thing was worth repairing, "Whatever you do, don't lose this lens!" It had a 100% optically perfect lens, no wonder my images came out nice. This is very rare in mass produced lenses, I've been told. I had the entire unit overhauled and have not regretted it one little bit.

Surely the FX-10 is no good for wildlife?
Well, almost. I only have 3x zoom. However, if I zoom out a little at 3mp, 2X zoom and crop it, then I have an equivelant of 8X zoom (12X zoom if the camera is at 3X zoom). That's passable for me. But then wildlife is not really my thing. Should I go somewhere knowing that I will shoot some animal shots, then I would use the FZ-18.

... and the FZ-18?

Even though bulky, it takes good photo's.
  • The 18X Zoom is stable and gives me nice clear shots.
  • It does not have bits folding out that could be broken easily, like the later models.
  • Not heavy and very comfortable to use.
  • I can use filters on it.

My photographs are for a blog, not for a magazine or TV. They are never huge, because I want them to load fast.

Suppose I have the best of both worlds

I decided to try out a Panasonic Lumix DMC TZ60. It too has a Leica spec lens and zooms to 30X. Fits in my pocket okay and would take up just a little more room in the pack than the FX-10. There's not a huge amount of difference in the TZ60-TZ80 range. Looking at all three, the 60 has a larger viewfinder, cam3.jpgbut other than a few megapixels (which often don't make that much difference), they're pretty much the same—and my budget is limited.

Is the TZ60 worth it?
Immediate downside to the TZ60 is the battery charging. I can only charge it in the camera. It takes 3 hours and says you'll get around 250-300 shots max per charge. I almost rejected the thing right there and then because of that. Everything is just too fussy on it for me and the image quality is not up to spec. Reviews had said that, but then you could have 5 of the same exact camera and all of them have different quality.

A test (Set at Scene and 3mp image)
Trafalgar Square is a good place to check out this kind of camera (but watch out for the thieves *). You have a lot going on and things like women's hair is a good test of the clarity on a zoom. I had to do more work than normal on these pics and still they are a bit down on the overall quality side for my liking. I processed them my usual way.
No zoom
About 16-18x zoom (wasn't paying attention)

Max zoom, useless. No matter how I processed it, this is the best I could get—it's awful.
The Lens is fine, the zoom starts to falter on higher settings. Plus the other stuff that kills it for the TZ60. The back right hand side of the camera has too little room left after the buttons and dial, one handed shots are almost out of the question (I do a lot of those in places like this). The power button turns on way too easy, I nearly broke the camera putting it into a protective bag because of the thing turning itself on. Final straw was that I cannot delete images on the camera from my laptop (big time and power saver), deletion could only done on the camera. I doubt I would get more than 100 photo's from a fully charged battery doing shots like this. Oddly enough, on another test, my Galaxy SII gave me better images than it. I got a refund.

* Camera thieves

Just after these photo's 3 Africans (by their accents) decided to try and steal the camera. First they split up, the third one hanging back as two walked toward me. The guy and girl passed me asking me to take his photograph, moving so my back would be toward the second guy. I said No, turning into open space, as the third one was closing on me. The camera was in my pocket by then and he walked by, taking a swipe at me. So there you are, this is one way a camera heist takes place—remember it when you are out and about.

. . . . . . . .

As for usage on the road

I'm back to where I was and have decided to stick with my old cameras (if it works—leave it alone). The FZ-18 will be used more, bulky or no. On really long trips, the FX-10's carried.
Jul 03, 2017

latest comment at top
Because the FX-10 has such a great lens and is so small I've decided to just use that. The FZ-18 is now packed up to sell - hard choice that was Pete.
Jul 09, 2017 at 1127
Hi Ted, I love the Lumix range for their versatility and usability. A friend has a LX100 and she let me borrow it for the weekend. Lovely camera. Sorry you didn’t like the TZ60.
I shoot with a Sony RX100 and I love that it fits in my pocket. I backpacked with a big SLR for 6 months and I don’t think I could go back to using one on my travels.
You mentioned thieves. That’s another great reason to have a pocket camera. I honestly feel much safer without any electronics hanging off my neck in some of the dodgier locations.
Jul 09, 2017 at 0253

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