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dee
02-11-2010, 23:30
This post is in response to Payasam's post not about bicycles - and zooms.

I apologise for bringing SLRs into the picture - my 1st rangefinder , other than a less than sucessful episode with a Zorki 4 in the 70s , was in mid 2006 .
A late starter .

My first camera with a standard zoom was a Minolta auto focus 7000i which must have been around 1995 or thereabouts .

Prior to this a 50mm f 1.8 lens would effectively be thrown in with most SLRs , or would be a cost effective prime , permitting available light shots and selective focus through control of D.O.F .

Now standard lenses struggle towards f 3.5 , and are often reduced to f 4.5 - my Leica zoom at f 2.8 is enormous even at 4/3rds .

A 45mm f 2 pancake Rokkor is almost permanently mounted on my Panasonic L1 body , effectively a 90mm , and I have a couple of f 1.4s , now 100mm .
The 85 f 1.7 is just too unwieldy but was a fantastic lens on an XD7
The 35mm f 1.8 is most useable at an effective 70mm - close to my 50 on the M 8 .

OK , great value 50mm lenses are available for all cameras , but a pair of Zooms seem to be the norm these days and a return to comparitively ' slow ' max appertures .

I wonder if current generations may be missing out on the quality and flexibility of a prime lens on a digital SLR ?
Most I ask , don't even know what they are missing with her compact or DSLr .
As if an entire experience of photography - evn snapshooting [ ! ] curtailed .

Any thoughts ?

Krzys
02-11-2010, 23:42
Zooms are the norm.

My pet peeve is digital photogs talking about 'nifty-fifty' lenses on their hideous crop bodies.

kzphoto
02-11-2010, 23:48
I think there's a tendency towards 'newer' photographers to use whatever comes with their camera. IE kit lenses with horrible f/3.5,f/4.5 apertures. Also, some people see a prime lens as a drawback. Would you rather have an 18-200 zoom, or a 50/1.8? When you consider the options, the zoom doesn't look so bad.

kzphoto
02-11-2010, 23:49
As an aside, I shoot a 50 'lux religiously, and wouldn't trade it for the world.

pvdhaar
02-11-2010, 23:51
When I compare the output from a modern 18-55 DX kit zoom with a 50/1.8 prime, I can only come to a single staggering conclusion: the cheapy zoom beats the 50 prime on almost all accounts except shallower DOF.. even if you factor in that you're having to bump the ISO to get the same shutter speed at the smaller aperture, the kit zoom is sharper, more contrasty and has less chromatic abberations.

The 50 is obviously a double Gauss design from another century, while the zoom was designed from the ground up for use on a DSLR.

Sure, there have been recent introductions of 50/1.4 primes (Nikon/Sigma) that trump the cheapish zooms again, but these 50s are hardly cheap enough to be 'thrown in with the camera'..

kzphoto
02-11-2010, 23:56
When I compare the output from a modern 18-55 DX kit zoom with a 50/1.8 prime, I can only come to a single staggering conclusion: the cheapy zoom beats the 50 prime on almost all accounts ...

I own the 50/1.8 and a 18-70/3.5-4.5. The zoom lens is broken, after about 1 year of use. The 50, is still working after 4 years of use. I love zoom lenses, but the construction sucks -- even on the pro models. I'd rather take a few fast primes and forget about the zoom lenses. Besides, they're too heavy!

:D

250swb
02-12-2010, 00:10
Its horses for courses. I love my Leica primes, but equally there are days when the twin zoom setup and a DSLR can't be beaten for productivity.

I wonder if 'new' photographers truly appreciate the qualities of a prime nowadays, if they have been brought up purely on zoom lenses. But things move on, and they would probably wonder if I'm not missing out on the benefits of video built into a DSLR body. I think one thing is certain though, the lens (prime or zoom) does affect the style of image making (not necessarily the image itself, but often), and like Worzel Gummidge you have to 'change heads' to adapt to and accomodate each situation.

Steve

Chris101
02-12-2010, 02:05
I own the 50/1.8 and a 18-70/3.5-4.5. The zoom lens is broken, after about 1 year of use. The 50, is still working after 4 years of use. I love zoom lenses, but the construction sucks -- even on the pro models. I'd rather take a few fast primes and forget about the zoom lenses. Besides, they're too heavy!

:D

I also have a 50mm f/1.8 and a 18-70 f/3.5-4.5 DX. The 18-70 is the best lens to use on my IR converted D70, and I use it there extensively. On the other hand, the 50 gets lots of time on my N80, F5 and FG Nikons.

thrice
02-12-2010, 02:20
I have a bag of primes, but I only take 3 with me when I go shoot, one is always a 50.

As rangefinder shooters (the majority of us at least) we are forced into this situation. Many new SLR photographers are yearning for smaller and smaller setups and this often requires either primes or a smaller sensor or both. Unless they want to shoot film, or can pony up the bills for a digital rangefinder.

The other end of the spectrum are those who want bigger more impressive cameras to keep up with the joneses, these people aren't photographers though.

Arjay
02-12-2010, 02:21
I wonder if 'new' photographers truly appreciate the qualities of a prime nowadays, if they have been brought up purely on zoom lenses. ... I think one thing is certain though, the lens (prime or zoom) does affect the style of image making (not necessarily the image itself, but often), and like Worzel Gummidge you have to 'change heads' to adapt to and accomodate each situation.

Very true. As someone who has come back to film and RF cameras after shooting various digital cameras which of course were equipped with zoom lenses, coming back to using prime lenses is quite an eye-opener.

Whereas I adjustedfocal length when using a zoom lens, I find that with a prime, I have to use the 'sneaker zoom', i.e. I have to walk around to find the desired FOV.

Interestingly, this way of shooting pictures - while slower and a little less intuitive - gives me a lot more control over the perspective that is going to be visible in my pictures. Not just because focal length is constant, but because it forces me to be more precise in how I look at a scene and how I imagine bringing it onto film.

Not using an SLR viewer is more of a challenge in imagining exactly what I am going to capture and how I am going to differentiate in-focus and out-of focus image areas. In fact when using prime lenses on a RF camera, I feel I am forcing myself much more to consciously think about the picture I'm shooting than compared to when I use my DSLR.

The reward, however is that film gives me a very large 'sensor' with the possibility to play with much more clearly defined in-focus and out-of-focus areas. And those primes have so many aperture blades (my M-Hexanons have 10 as opposed to 7 or 9 on my Nikkors!), producing a much nicer bokeh.

Another benefit is that my camera doesn't blink - i.e. I can always see whether I captured the right moment or not. Try that with a DSLR or a digital P&S...

What's remarkable, the RF/prime lens experience is also influencing the way I am using my DSLR these days ...

But back to topic: A 'standard'lens is actually not defined by its focal length, but by its angle of view. So a true standard lens for 4/3 would probably be something like a 25mm lens, or for a crop camera like an Epson R-D1 it would be a 35mm lens. So, not having such a lens at one's disposal is making it a little difficult to understand the concept.

I guess one has to try it to get the idea, as the idea of a 'standard' lens probably is to produce a kind of perspective that most would associate with our natural vision.

Pickett Wilson
02-12-2010, 02:23
There are two advantages primes have, if you can live with a single focal length, and that's size and aperture. My EF 24-70 f/2.8L is as good optically as any prime I've owned in the focal lengths it covers. Better than many, in fact. But a 24 f/2.8 prime is much smaller and lighter. And, of course, a 50mm 1.4 is faster. And I own the primes in that range. Despite that, most times having every focal length from 24-70mm in a single lens with outstanding optical quality wins out and that's what's on the 5D.

Back in the day when primes came with the camera, things were different. Zoom lenses really weren't as good as primes optically. That has changed these days.

f/1,4
02-12-2010, 02:37
I "grew up" with a single 55mm lens only. Then followed a long period with film and primes. 21, 24, 35, 50 and 75mm. Helped to form a photographic vision.
Until recently, most zooms were of a lesser quality than the best primes from the same company. The cheap kit-lenses still are. The best of modern zooms like the latest Nikkor 24-70mm (and the 14-24mm) has changed this. They seem to outdo the current primes from that company. Even the German lens-makers should watch their back here. On this background, maybe the next level of skill required by the photographer is combining the experience and thinking from the prime lens era with the freedom of the zooms. After 6 months with the zoom, it is really hard to argue why I should carry around a set of primes instead. Size and weight is an issue though. Still carry an M or two with film when traveling light. 50 and 35mm. (The hardest prime to give up is the 24mm on the R8. More a question of film vs digital.)

Turtle
02-12-2010, 03:27
Some modern zooms are incredibly good and even those of five or ten years ago have some superb examples. Often one does not need a fast aperture (or want shallow DOF) and with the high ISO performance of the latest DSLRs there is a lot that can be done at f2.8 or f4.

I personally am not a fan of 50mm. It rarely fits with my vision and I tend towards 35mm for most, or even wider. Where I want longer, something over 50mm tends to work for me, such as 75-90. I would imagine that in the age of 'drama' few are attracted to simple lenses prefering lenses that allow either easier or more dramatic results. I have a 50 planar in my kit bag but is is used only about 10% of the time.

Ronald M
02-12-2010, 04:13
Zooms are ok for digicams for when you can`t control the situation, bad weather & sports say. Dust is always a problem with digi cams.

My D200 Nikon as purchased with the 18/55 as it was not purchased for serious work. Then i found out just how good it is and started buying Nikkor primes and got a fairly complete set before the price explosion.
The D700 gets used with mostly old Ai and AiS lenses, but i do have some non pro zooms for again where I can not control the situation. They work ok, and I am not about to invest $6000 in pro zooms that are no better than what I have in primes.

The primes make the zooms look pretty bad in areas like distortion and for ultimate sharpness. But I think there is room in the world for either.

I have come back to the standard lens after decade of not seeing its usefulness. 35/50/85 or 105 becomes my go to no brainer kit.

OurManInTangier
02-12-2010, 04:23
I grew up with prime lenses and this has led to the way I approach my subjects when composing. Even when using the latest Nikkor 18-35 or 24-70 on my D3 bodies, though it should be pointed out that for the majority of the work I do the flexibilty and speed of using two bodies with two zooms, covering 24-200 in total, is a personal must.

I still have, and use, primes for certain work. Usually to make them most of the shallower DOF or speed. With RF gear I only ever use 28, 35 and 50mm anyway and couldn't imagine using a Tri-Elmar or similar... though this may simply be because I've never had the opportunity.

Modern zooms are getting better and better, the most recent Nikkor 24-70 still blows me away compared to the older zooms I used to use. However I don't see them fully replacing prime lenses simply because they don't have the 'speciality' factor which keeps me using primes for specific jobs. For a 'pro-sumer' camera kit or basic kit I see no other option for camera companies than offering a zoom lens. Most users want the versatility to shoot family portraits, kids sports days & holiday sunsets etc.

Just as what constitutes a standard lens to each individual, what will work best for you in terms of zooms or primes is a simple case of 'horses for courses,' which is why I believe, and hope, that both can continue alongside one another.

Ewoud
02-12-2010, 04:46
After starting out with my first SLR AF Canon with a 28-90 I soon saved up for a cheap 50 1.8 that made me love my camera. Shooting with it made me walk up to my subjects and gave me the opportunity to shoot in lowlight that changed my life/photograpy.

I still don't own a longer lens then 135mm and love my bag of primes.

If a younger photog who shoots Nikon asks me what to buy I allways point them to the Nikon 35 1.8 for there dSLR. Hoping they will love this as well.

But for reportage work its more of the 2.8 zooms now a day, but I don't like the results as much... but it pays the bills.

Holiday for me is the Bessa with the Nokton 40 and some rolls of XP2 or TRI-X..

Avotius
02-12-2010, 05:03
[WARNING: pun ahead]

I hope we can look back on this time of slow zooms as "the dark ages".

sig
02-12-2010, 05:08
It is a couple of years ago when the standard lens quouted here was the standard lens..... I do believe it is called progress (some good and some bad)

The benefits of a zoom is bigger than the drawbacks..... at least that is what the market thinks. However I love my 1.4 50mm

jsrockit
02-12-2010, 05:12
I'm a big fan of primes... and wide angles. The only zoom that would interest me would be one that went from say 21-24mm to 50mm and had a constant aperature of f/2.8.

paulfish4570
02-12-2010, 05:17
35 to 50 for me, on a 35 mm. get closer, or back up. in the getting closer, and the backing - on feet - there is forced time to consider framing, composition. but hey, i am old and getting older ...

Keith
02-12-2010, 05:30
Aside from viewfinder dimness and inreased depth of field at maximim aperture, a slowish lens is not really a problem for the modern DSLR IMO. With accurate and rapid auto focus not to mention sensors geared towards high ISO a slow zoom should be adequate ... and that's without taking image stabilization into consideration!

oftheherd
02-12-2010, 05:48
I can't comment on DSLRs with primes or zooms. I don't own one. I do have a 35mm kit of a Yashica FX 103, an 18-28mm zoom, 28-70mm zoom, 75-150mm zoom, and a 50mm f/1.4. With care, I find those zooms, (even the 18-28 Sam Sung) quite alright. But note I do have the 50mm. I just can't let it go.

I am experiencing a yearning to return to prime use only. I think I am going to do some experimenting with that idea. I never really liked some of the early zooms I had. The primes seemed so much better. An 80-200 went with me an awfully lot, but really didn't get used that much. And when I did, I wasn't really happy with the results. But the newer zooms, even from "non-pro" firms seem nice.

Just my point of view.

rdeleskie
02-12-2010, 05:55
Interesting discussion. I use zooms on my DSLR for (working) speed and flexibility. But my move back to film has been all about primes. Shooting a 50mm f1.8 on a Nikon FM2n (and now a F90x), and then the Nokton 50mm f1.5 on a Bessa R3A helped me rediscover the elements of planning, choice and "selective vision" that drew me to photography in the first place. I love 50s because they are just a little longer, the DOF at large apertures narrower, than what I consider to be normal perspective. This forces me to select and abstract from real life - while staying within the range of recognizably "normal" vision - in a way that I personally find very appealing.

What's kept me away from the Leica M8s and the MFTs is the crop factor, in particular its effect on DOF. I guess I want my 50s to look like 50s (even if they are 25s or 35s). If I'm going to give up on that, I might as well shoot my DSLR.

Each to their own. Plenty of great work being done with zooms and cropped lens, of course! Thank goodness we're not all the same, or forced to use the same gear.

micromontenegro
02-12-2010, 06:05
I must have been using all the wrong zooms, 'cause I can't seem to find one that costs less than a house and offers the same optical quality as any good ol' 50/1.8.

emraphoto
02-12-2010, 06:30
i tend to agree. i have shot a lot of zooms and NONE of them matches what my ancient "made in japan" version of the nikkor af 50mm f1.8 could produce. not by a long shot.

antiquark
02-12-2010, 06:40
I wonder if current generations may be missing out on the quality and flexibility of a prime lens on a digital SLR ?

I think the current bokeh craze (http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=bokeh&w=all) will keep large-aperture primes in people's camera bags, for a long time to come.

charjohncarter
02-12-2010, 06:57
I shoot 50s most of the time with 35mm, and use 'standards' on my 120s too. If I change to anything it is wider, even though I have some short teles that I use at the end of a roll to see if anything 'good' will happen. My DSLR is fitted with a 35mm prime so it is close to 50. Yes, I like the look of a 50, besides as emrahoto says they are cleaner.

principe azul
02-12-2010, 10:49
Nice essay here by Gary Voth on the 50mm lens (http://www.vothphoto.com/spotlight/articles/forgotten_lens/forgotten-lens.htm)

ampguy
02-12-2010, 11:06
I have the AFS 18-70, and it's an OK travel lens for bright light outdoor summer shooting, and that's about it.

The new primes will give speed (35/1.8 AFS) and AF, but none of the qualities of early MIJ metal lenses like lack of distortion, build quality, MF accuracy, and sharpness.

dee
02-12-2010, 14:37
My Leica zoom [ Dig 3 ] is undoubtedly beneficial when chasing kids around , but for that special moment , nothing beats a 50mm manual Pentax K lens on the K 10D or a 35 mm Rokkor on the Dig 3 .
I am of course , spoiled for choice with my USSR cameras and my Minoltas ... odd , I had a Sigma 35 - 70 sr fit years ago and seldom used it . Lest we forget an f1.8 is a heck of a lot easier to focus on an SLR .
I posted this here , in Roger's place 'cos his writings in AP cover a whole world of musings embracing all aspects of photography ... I hope that it's OK again .

40oz
02-12-2010, 15:40
Zooms are heavy and slow. DSLR viewfinders are dim and tiny. Autofocus lenses make it very difficult to accurately focus manually, especially coupled with a DSLR.

Hooray for "progress" :/

I just wish people would stop buying garbage then acting like it's awesome.

Chris101
02-12-2010, 22:35
... The new primes will give speed (35/1.8 AFS) and AF, but none of the qualities of early MIJ metal lenses like lack of distortion, build quality, MF accuracy, and sharpness.

Not to mention that they are "G" lenses, which will only work on newer cameras - on older manual focus cameras, you cannot control the aperture. And AFS lenses don't manually focus very nicely either.

cirque
02-13-2010, 00:05
The funny thing is, some people are able to put those slow, cheap and crappy kit lenses and put most of the Leica crew to shame.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/4014100553/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/tmphotographyut/4351725555/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/4347982908/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/xarma/4348170725/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/rds08/4348608890/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/hpfilho/4344787148/

These were all taken with the Canon EF-S 18-55mm lens, which can be picked up for a price of less than one of those "it might work, but then again it might not"-Jupiter lenses that some people rave about.

Personally, I like the 50mm and 35mm focal lengths - but I have a sweet spot for what these kit lenses are able to do.

I can't see that the "standard lens" is dead, they just slashed the price and added more focal length opportunities.

gerikson
02-13-2010, 01:24
Manufacturers offered a 50/1.8 because it was cheap to make, not because they were concerned about image quality.

In the days before fast colour films (not that long ago!) you needed a fast ~f/2 lens to have a decent chance at a shot in many situations anyway. A 50mm was a decent compromise for a good price.

Once films became faster, and zoom construction easier (CAD, molded aspherics etc) more and better zooms were produced more cheaply, until we can get a 18-55 for as much as a 50 of old.

Nikon and Canon know that most people will never get another lens, so they do make the effort to make sure the kit lens performs well for its intended use. Low light is less of a problem, as most cameras have pop-up flashes.

Interestingly, both Panasonic and Olympus offer their m4/3 cameras in kits with primes. But they are obviously premium products aimed at a niche market.

I enjoy using primes, but I don't think they make me a better photographer. Their biggest advantage are size, so I can bring my camera everywhere. For travel or social settings I use a cheap zoom.

Sure, maybe the 50mm made some people better photographers by forcing them to adapt, but it also bored a lot more people, who left their SLR on the shelf. Zooms are more versatile, more fun, and have led to the SLR and then the DSLR to become a mass-market item, leading to more people shooting, and ultimately better photographers. That's progress, without quotes.

VinceC
02-13-2010, 04:45
Interestingly, the midrange zoom was the popular kit lens in Europe beginning late '70s-early '80s while same bodies in US sold with fasti-ish 50.

Agree that the 50 forced many beginning photogs to learn the craft of composition. I still have many images where I can't tell if it was shot with 35 / 50 / or 85.

Can't underestimate the importance of f/1.4 and f/1.8 in the Kodachrome era, especially from 1950s to '70s.

I do a lot of work-related shooting with D40, kit 18-55 plus a 55-200 VR (nearly always at 200) and a 35/1.8. Do a LOT of available light shooting with the 35/1.8. Also do a lot of available light with fast old manual-focus primes, using the green "in focus" indicator. I'm shooting a lot of boring stuff like speakers, which benefit from the sharpness of wide open prime and naturalness of available light.

My 2nd body is always a Nikon rangefinder, mainly for the combination of small, fast primes.

When I did more photojournalism, before becoming an office manager, I found that two bodies solved most of the problem of non-zooms - wrong lens at wrong time. Main setup was 24 / 50 / 85 / 180. Could cover everything but serious pro sports and with two bodies always had a reasonable if not ideal lens at hand, with ability to change to ideal lens within about 2 seconds.

In 1990s, most news photographers seemed to evolve from fast primes to carrying two bodies, one with wide zoom and one with long zoom.

craygc
02-13-2010, 06:15
[Rhetorical question ahead] Whats a zoom??? :bang:

aniMal
02-13-2010, 07:03
Nothing beats a real prime in my opinion, especially in the 80-135 range.

Years ago I used 135 2.0 and 85 1.2 on Canon for music and stage photography, these types of lenses lack nothing whatsoever in quality!

Part of the reason why I converted from Nikon to Sony, (dSLR-wise of course, my M8 is as good as ever) are the outstanding primes from Zeiss. The 85 1.4 is perfect in the studio or in low light, and I recently spent a few weeks with the 135 1.8...

Of ALL the optics I have used, which is quite a lot, this is THE best! Razor sharp from 1.8 upwards, and no flare or distortions that I can detect. Combine that with the in-house anti shake, and it gets real insane... I managed to do 100% sharp shots on 1/6th of a second - unheard of just some years ago...

I could not justify to own both an 85 and 135 though, and had to sell the 135 with a nice 10% profit :)

There will always be a place for primes like these, even when technology gets better. I suppose there are no real obstacles to making a 50mm 0.7 or 85mm 1.0 these days - and some time Leica, Zeiss or some other will do so I hope!

aniMal
02-13-2010, 08:41
...and just now I caught hold of a really cheap (230 euro) summicron 90!

I know, not standard lenses - but still fast primes...

NickTrop
02-13-2010, 09:44
My "zoom lens" is my old (by digital standards) hacked Panny FZ1v2. 12X ASPH optical with image stabilization and f2.8 throughout the zoom range "Leica" lens all in a compact body. Have no issues with the lens or its lowly 2 megapixel count (I have several 8X10's framed from this camera that look perfectly fine to my eyes...) No IR filter means it does double duty with an IR filter. That's my "zoom" lens, and I just love the fact that I have f2.8 throughout the zoom range, unlike the pathetic speed of most zooms. For everything else? I prefer fast primes.

This is an old Washington Post article by Frank Van Ripper lauding this camera.

FZ-1: A Pro-Level Digital Point & Shoot

By Frank Van Riper

Inevitably, the question of pixels will come up. At a flimsy 2.0 megapixels, the FZ-1 certainly sounds anemic. And, one might argue, this shortcoming is one reason Panasonic can charge so comparatively little for it (list around $450; street $375-99).

But I keep coming back to Bruce Dale's spectacular 8x10 images...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/photo/essays/vanRiper/030807.htm

The average price for this camera at the big auction site is "$12.71" with a 0 - $71 dollar range, obviously due to its low megapixel count. But I'm tellin' ya, Frank Van Riper is right about this camera. And if it gets the attention of seasoned pros - really, whatever advances come next doesn't really matter, does it? Proof is in the puddin' and this "outdated" digital produces excellent results (and doubles as an IR camera). I'll never part with it.

The camera itself is a point-n-shooter but there was a firmware hack out on the web (I assume it's still there somewhere), you get aperture and shutter priority.

Mention because that's my stratergy and if someone doesn't want to part with the $$$ for a good (and probably slow) zoom. Just buy a cheaper than dirt (literally, judging from the last time I actually bought dirt) used FZ1. Find the firmware hack if you want more manual control. It's small enough to bring along with you and it's very "SLR"-like in design, handles nicely - like a camera. Need a zoom (or want to shoot IR)? It's FZ1v2. Then a proper fast prime for everything else. There is no substitute for a fast 1.4, 1.7, 1.8, 2.0 prime - esp. a standard 50mm. Per. E. ud. :)

FS Vontz
02-13-2010, 10:42
I like primes because they make me work. I find that walking up closer to the subject doesn't look exactly the same as staying in my original position and zooming in. I don't know, maybe I just get nervous the closer I get.

ampguy
02-13-2010, 11:03
It's the 3MP FZ3 with fixed 2.8 glass Leica ASPH lens. Probably the best lens Leica has made or designed in the last 2-3 decades.

I've used it for wild bird and whale photos. 8x10s are incredibly sharp.

My "zoom lens" is my old (by digital standards) hacked Panny FZ1v2. 12X ASPH optical with image stabilization and f2.8 throughout the zoom range "Leica" lens all in a compact body. Have no issues with the lens or its lowly 2 megapixel count (I have several 8X10's framed from this camera that look perfectly fine to my eyes...) No IR filter means it does double duty with an IR filter. That's my "zoom" lens, and I just love the fact that I have f2.8 throughout the zoom range, unlike the pathetic speed of most zooms. For everything else? I prefer fast primes.

This is an old Washington Post article by Frank Van Ripper lauding this camera.

FZ-1: A Pro-Level Digital Point & Shoot

By Frank Van Riper

Inevitably, the question of pixels will come up. At a flimsy 2.0 megapixels, the FZ-1 certainly sounds anemic. And, one might argue, this shortcoming is one reason Panasonic can charge so comparatively little for it (list around $450; street $375-99).

But I keep coming back to Bruce Dale's spectacular 8x10 images...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/photo/essays/vanRiper/030807.htm

The average price for this camera at the big auction site is "$12.71" with a 0 - $71 dollar range, obviously due to its low megapixel count. But I'm tellin' ya, Frank Van Riper is right about this camera. And if it gets the attention of seasoned pros - really, whatever advances come next doesn't really matter, does it? Proof is in the puddin' and this "outdated" digital produces excellent results (and doubles as an IR camera). I'll never part with it.

The camera itself is a point-n-shooter but there was a firmware hack out on the web (I assume it's still there somewhere), you get aperture and shutter priority.

Mention because that's my stratergy and if someone doesn't want to part with the $$$ for a good (and probably slow) zoom. Just buy a cheaper than dirt (literally, judging from the last time I actually bought dirt) used FZ1. Find the firmware hack if you want more manual control. It's small enough to bring along with you and it's very "SLR"-like in design, handles nicely - like a camera. Need a zoom (or want to shoot IR)? It's FZ1v2. Then a proper fast prime for everything else. There is no substitute for a fast 1.4, 1.7, 1.8, 2.0 prime - esp. a standard 50mm. Per. E. ud. :)

bmattock
02-13-2010, 11:16
My "zoom lens" is my old (by digital standards) hacked Panny FZ1v2. 12X ASPH optical with image stabilization and f2.8 throughout the zoom range "Leica" lens all in a compact body.

Some nice photos here that seem to illustrate the capability of this camera.

http://www.flickr.com/cameras/panasonic/dmc-fz1/

bmattock
02-13-2010, 11:16
It's the 3MP FZ3 with fixed 2.8 glass Leica ASPH lens. Probably the best lens Leica has made or designed in the last 2-3 decades.

I've used it for wild bird and whale photos. 8x10s are incredibly sharp.

Nice:

http://www.flickr.com/cameras/panasonic/dmc-fz3/

NickTrop
02-13-2010, 11:50
@ampguy, glad someone on RFF appreciates these early Panny super zooms. And, yes, the glass on these things be it Leica or "Leica" - doesn't matter, simply awesome.
@Bill - I can vouch. Wouldn't part with mine. It's my zoom. Downsides is it goes through batteries - I bring 3 fully charged when I use it, old battery technology proprietary be cheap and easy to find. It gets noisy at 400 but when shooting my kids on stage, I use AP to keep it at f2.8 and let the IS take over at ISO 200. If I need another stop I bump it in Photoshop. The glass on these things is amazing for a truly laughable price. I prefer the FZ2 for its IR capabilities, Panny put that darned IR filter in after the 1st model. And, swear, despite 2 megapixels I have 8X10's from this thing that look great. Yep - that's my "zoom" lens, hasn't let me wanting for a zoom since I bought the thing in '04.

bmattock
02-13-2010, 11:53
@ampguy, glad someone on RFF appreciates these early Panny super zooms. And, yes, the glass on these things be it Leica or "Leica" - doesn't matter, simply awesome.
@Bill - I can vouch. Wouldn't part with mine. It's my zoom. Downsides is it goes through batteries - I bring 3 fully charged when I use it, old battery technology proprietary be cheap and easy to find. It gets noisy at 400 but when shooting my kids on stage, I use AP to keep it at f2.8 and let the IS take over at ISO 200. If I need another stop I bump it in Photoshop. The glass on these things is amazing for a truly laughable price. I prefer the FZ2 for its IR capabilities, Panny put that darned IR filter in after the 1st model. And, swear, despite 2 megapixels I have 8X10's from this thing that look great. Yep - that's my "zoom" lens, hasn't let me wanting for a zoom since I bought the thing in '04.

Were the models that came later any good (except for the IR filter part)? Like say the FZ5? I'm intrigued.

NickTrop
02-13-2010, 13:46
Were the models that came later any good (except for the IR filter part)? Like say the FZ5? I'm intrigued.

You have every reason to be intrigued - they're intriguing cameras! In answer to your question, I used to participate a lot on the "Steve's Digicam" forum, a few years ago. Lot's of folks shot with the FZ 3, 5's, 10's and 20's back then, with the 20 being the most recent at the time. Great forum, kinda "cult-like" in a good way, just lots of folks having fun with these remarkable cameras. They were all the same basic camera with some improvements, tweaks here and there with, essentially, the same great lens. I "think" (don't quote me) the 5 megapixel FZ 20 was the last model that had the "constant f2.8 through the zoom range" spec before they started using larger and larger sensors for higher megapixel counts but it was a bit larger than the other models. But to me, that's where they jumped the shark - when the cameras started getting a little bigger (the 1, 2, 5 are very compact cameras - look like miniaturized SLRs, handled like a real camera too) and they sacrificed that unique and useful spec of f2.8 though out the zoom range to accommodate the larger sensors. That's my opinion, however. I don't know what "FZ" number they're up to now but they're still highly regarded. Me? If I was interested, I would get a 3 or a 10 - one of the early smaller ones. These cameras are actually great street shooters but with an opposite approach... You shoot waaay over there and zoom in. The IS on these things let you hand hold down to 1/8th fully zoomed out. I'm not really a digital "hater", you see. I see no reason for DSLRs, digital rangefinders, etc. to me they're "in between" technologies in the evolution of digitals. But when they "get it right" I snap them up. This was the case with the early Panny compact super zooms, the Fuji Finepix 10, 20, 30 (high ISO capabilities), and it will (mark my words) be the case with the new Samsung NX10. The ability to shoot with a 2.8 throughout the zoom range, hand-held due to image stabilization with a small light camera is a thing of beauty. Google "Pansonic Lumix FZ review" - tons of reviews on these things. And, you don't have to spend hundreds on these things either, just wait for one of "outdated" early models to pop up. People bypass (the foo's) due to the low megapixel counts.

f16sunshine
02-13-2010, 13:59
It seems the normal is set to make a come back. The Pany and Oly m4/3 cams are offered with a Prime kit f1.7/20mm and f2.8/17mm respectively. It looks like the Samsung NX10 will also have such with a f2/30mm. The bokeh fascination by new photogs that has sent the price of some fast 50's from the late 60's through the roof should be well within Canikons radar. It may not be to far off in the future they offer a body/prime kit. They would have to charge a premium which would slow some casual shooter but not "move up'' amateurs.

bmattock
02-13-2010, 14:02
Google "Pansonic Lumix FZ review" - tons of reviews on these things. And, you don't have to spend hundreds on these things either, just wait for one of "outdated" early models to pop up. People bypass (the foo's) due to the low megapixel counts.

Thank you for that. I am going to start poking around a bit.

NickTrop
02-13-2010, 14:15
It seems the normal is set to make a come back. The Pany and Oly m4/3 cams are offered with a Prime kit f1.7/20mm and f2.8/17mm respectively. It looks like the Samsung NX10 will also have such with a f2/30mm. The bokeh fascination by new photogs that has sent the price of some fast 50's from the late 60's through the roof should be well within Canikons radar. It may not be to far off in the future they offer a body/prime kit. They would have to charge a premium which would slow some casual shooter but not "move up'' amateurs.

Samsung - full-sized sensor over the 4/3'rds, a little bigger than the 4/3's - not enough to matter (to me), built-in EVF, jpeg XR for HD vid (if it matters to you - it does to me), latest screen technology ("AMOLED") supposed to be an improvement in bright light. $699 at B&H with kit lens (not out yet, but B&H has it up on their site), a good bit cheaper than that the 4/3's cameras. Slap the 30mm f2 (approx 45mm equiv in 35mm - my favorite focal length) pancake prime on her, and there you have it. The first real digital "rangefinder" - and you don't have to spend $1000's. The only digitals worth a #%@* to me, are: 1. The early Panasonic compact superzooms. These are "must have" cameras. 2. The fuji Finepix with their Super CCD technologies - truly pocketable cameras with a perfectly usable ISO 800 and f2.8 lens at widest aperture. 3. The forthcoming Samsung NX10. Everything else in the consumer digital camera segment - including consumer DSLRs with their slow zooms and over-priced "weird" digital RFs is to me, frankly, pointless. Film cameras? Cheap up front costs for "full frame", great inexpensive fast (by today's standards) basic primes... "pay as you go" with respect to processing and printing costs. Plus the tactile pleasure over digital and the lack of automation forces you to actually think and learn photography.