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Experience with Lumix DMC-ZS30 (TZ40)?

Discussion in 'Panasonic Planet' started by koksie, Jun 12, 2013.

  1. koksie

    koksie Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Willemstad, Curacao
    55
    1
    8
    Hi all,

    My old TZ5 is slowly dying on me after 4,5 years of loyal service, so I am looking for a new camera. I mostly shoot stills, with the occasional video when I spot a nice subject, maybe one video per 2 dives on average. I was quite happy with the camera performance, although I never made the killer shots I was hoping for (but I am afraid that it is rather me and not the camera that is to blame there).

    I can get a nice deal on a second-hand Canon G12 but I am also very interested in the ZS30 (TZ40 in Europe) due to my good experiences with the TZ5. Does anyone have experience with the ZS30/TZ40 under water? One of the things I missed on the TZ5 were the manual controls, but I understand that from the TZ10 onwards, the series has those.
    I am a bit worried on the high noise levels and the softness of the images that pop up in some internet reviews of the camera, as well as the performance in low-light conditions, but since these reviews are all topside, I wonder what the underwater performance is like. So far, I have found nothing on the underwater performance of this camera. I am very interested to hear your opinions and experiences.

    If there is someone with experiences with both the Canon G12 and the ZS30 / TZ40, then I am very interested in some comparison. Which one is the better camera and why?

    Of course, other tips and your opinions are welcome!

    Thanks in advance and greets,

    Jeroen
     
  2. Greenjuice

    Greenjuice Nassau Grouper

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    I have experience with the TZ30 which is similar and found the upgrade from the TZ5 a significant improvement, but an easy one to make because I wasn't changing manufacturers.

    You need an external strobe for best results and these models are well supported by Inon for wet lenses. I now shoot in manual mode all the time and like the versatility of switching to HD video (with an L&M light) or being able to from super-macro with close-up lenses to almost fisheye with the Inon lenses on the same dive. In this situation, the camera itself then becomes one of the cheaper (and therefore replaceable/upgradable components of the system.

    I like these Panasonics for the combination of what they offer both topside and under, in a fairly compact and light travel kit, even with these accessories!

    I often shoot in the 'Vivid' setting and nearly always at ISO 100 where noise has never been a problem. Most of my best keepers don't need Photoshop now, which saves me a lot of time during and after trips!

    I have no experience of the Canon compacts but am aware that they dominate the market deservedly in the high-end SLR ranges.
     
  3. koksie

    koksie Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Willemstad, Curacao
    55
    1
    8
    Thanks for your info Greenjuice.

    I am using an Inon S2000 and a D2000 at the moment with my TZ5. The TZ5 has no manual controls, so I am shooting it on automatic now. Since I use the strobes, I don't use the underwater scene. I am hoping that the upgrade from TZ5 tot TZ40 will be easy, since UW housing and general button lay-out of the camera itself haven't changed that much.

    Do you feel that picture quality of the TZ30 is much better than that of the TZ5? One of the advantages of the Canon is it's macro mode, it can focus <1 cm whereas the TZ40 is rated at 3cm or more. You use wetlenses with your TZ30 you said, but after buying an new cam and housing, my budget won't allow for that for quite some time I'm afraid:). How do you find the macro without the wetlenses, is it do-able or is there no real possibility without the lenses? With my TZ5 the macro is not great, small shrimps are hard to get good shots of. I don't know the macro mode focus distance of the TZ5, I'll check that later tonight.

    Thanks for your information so far, if you have anything else that might assist me in my decision, I'm happy to hear it:).
     
  4. Greenjuice

    Greenjuice Nassau Grouper

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    I think the macro without the close-up lenses is definitely do-able, but this might depend on what you consider as 'macro' (or even 'supermacro').

    Even with my single strobe, I sometimes find it awkward to get closer than 3 cm, let alone 1 cm without affecting the subject, like nudis retracting their gills. I would suggest trying out a few small objects in a bath or kitchen sink to see if those few cm are that critical or can't be compensated for by cropping.

    Here is an example taken without the wet close-up lens. It was taken with either the TZ30 or TZ20. I can't remember because it was the liveaboard when mine flooded and luckily my wife had her TZ20 which she is learning on and gave that to me for the rest of the trip! You can see that the manual mode offers you much better control of the darkness or the background.

    View attachment 157323

    I find the wet close-up lenses allow me to get the same or better result from slightly further away and actually mostly use two of them (UCL-330) stacked together, if I use them at all, because the macro without them is versatile enough for most situations. Here are a couple of shots using these lenses. The blenny and the hairy coral crab are too skittish if I need to get 1-3 cm away. I am about 10 cm away.

    ImageUploadedByTapatalk1371368954.866184.jpg
    ImageUploadedByTapatalk1371368984.619145.jpg

    I should also say that I am still experimenting with these wet lenses. I did everything without them with my TZ5 and strobe and also initially with the TZ20. I was only able to afford (and justify) adding these accessories once I could see the creative flexibility that full manual control can give you. So beware, whether you go for the Canon or Lumix, this could be a slippery slope!
     
  5. Greenjuice

    Greenjuice Nassau Grouper

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    I don't think I responded to all you points in the post above.

    I also used the automatic or P mode when I had the TZ5. In my opinion the TZ30 is significantly better overall for travel/underwater use, because it is slightly better on each of the following:

    1. Yes, I am convinced that picture quality is better. It has a more advanced image processing method (called Venus, I think) which gives better results at higher ISOs up to 800. I rarely shoot above ISO 100 but it's there if needed. It's personal preference, but I have also moved to shooting in 'Vivid' mode as it gives me results closer to how I remember them.

    2. Higher pixel count gives a greater range for cropping if needed. This is more important to me as I don't always get the perfect composition underwater.

    3. It is smaller and lighter.

    4. It is quicker and appears to be better at battery usage (so long as you din't use GPS!).

    5. Larger screen (important as I get older!)

    6. HD video is much better. Not as dramatically creative or artistic as stills, but much better at story-telling.

    7. The high speed slow-motion capture is a fun option for those retracting Christmas-tree worms or other worms.

    These are the main points that come to mind. My setup is based on achieving the simplest, lightest and most compact travel system that gives me a wide range of options when underwater and the minimum need for photoshop work after!
     
  6. koksie

    koksie Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Willemstad, Curacao
    55
    1
    8
    Greenjuice, wow, great posts and many thanks for the information and your willingness to share!

    I too experience difficulties with my rig, especially since I added the second strobe, to get close enough to the smaller critters, like shrimp, gobies and blennies. However, occasionally I find some cleanershrimp out in the open like last Saturday, and am able to get very close with the camera, without disturbing them. Still, I cannot get good shots, they are not sharp and if I move further away, they are sharp but the subject is too small in the pic. Cropping does not work that well either. I hope a wetlens can help me get closer without losing sharpness or help enlarging the subject more, or staying further away and still get a nice image. I found in the specs of my TZ5 that the macro focus range is 5cm, for the TZ40 it is 3cm so that will also make a difference, I hope.

    I have started looking around for some second hand Inon UCL-165 lenses and I might find a few that seem affordable, so I am looking into that as well. Are your wetlenses M67 and do you connect your UCL-330s direct to the Inon M67 mount? How easy are the lenses to detach from the housing when you want to do more wide-angle shots? Are they easy to unscrew and screw back again later?
    The second hand UCL-165s I saw are AD, so I will have to use an adapter from the M67 Mount for the UW housing to the AD lenses. Do you have any experience with that, or are your lenses M67?

    As you see I am already too far on the slippery slope to return, that started when I decided to get my first certification years ago:).

    Thank you also for your insights on the comparison with the TZ5. Seems to me that the TZ40 will be an improvement that will be worth the money, also since it will give me manual operation on top of the enhancements you summed up. I am convinced that it is worth the money to upgrade, thanks.

    I am also looking for a set-up that is usefull to travel with. Since we live on Curacao, we do a lot of our diving here, but also in the region. And since we live on an island, that means every holiday involves airtravel with bagage restrictions etc. etc.
    Initially we bought the TZ5 for its 10x zoom because we were going on safari in Africa. When I later found out there was an UW housing for it, I bought that. So then topside photography was the primary concern. Now it is the other way around, UW is primary concern (well, for me it is, not for the missus) but topside will be a good secondary concern.
    Another possibility is buying the Canon for UW and the TZ40 for topside, the deal I can get on the Canon makes that financially possible. However, the Canon is much bigger and heavier than the TZ40 so less ideal for travel, when we would have to take both camera's on a holiday, including chargers, spare batteries, etc. etc.. On the other hand, the Canon seems better for UW use.

    Choices, choices...:). Thanks very much for helping me going through the decision process!
     
  7. Greenjuice

    Greenjuice Nassau Grouper

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    Amazing similarity here. I also got my TZ5 initially for an African safari trip!

    Yes, I use the M67 mount and you are correct to be aware that the screw mount does pose an important drawback. It is going to be slower in use than a bayonet mount and you have to be patient not to rush or you might damage the thread which makes it even harder to get that important first turn started.

    However, last time I looked, Inon weren't offering the AD bayonet mount as an option for the Lumix.

    I have put a little silicon grease on the screw thread to help with this underwater. Not sure if it is the best solution. This aspect can be frustrating and I've had to practice a lot to overcome it.

    It appears to be dependant on how the thread is machined, so I might have been unlucky. The thread on the lenses and the strobe arm lens holder are all fine and quick to use. It holds well even without having to screw all the way in. The thread on the housing port for the TZ30, and presumably TZ40, is split into four parts each located at a corner. Also, the metal used seems rather softer.

    If you can, I would recommend trying it out yourself in a shop to see if your patience is going to be tested! Do try it yourself, as for mine it could have been the enthusiastic salesman demo that first messed with the thread.
     
  8. koksie

    koksie Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Willemstad, Curacao
    55
    1
    8
    Ha ha, the 10x zoom probably makes it a favourite camera for getting a pic of a hunting lion from a safe distance:), that must be why we bought the same cam.

    Inon does not offer a mount for AD for Lumix, that's true, but my UWphoto shop offers an M67->AD adapter for approx. 20 dollars, so I can use the Inon mount, then the adapter and then the wetlens. According to the shop, that is possible with both the TZ5 and the TZ40.

    Only issue that I have then, is when I want to remove the lense underwater, I would like to be able to remove only the lens and leave the mount and the adapter in place. Otherwise, I would still have to unscrew the adapter from the mount and that would still not offer ease of use.
    I also saw pics of the Inon mount where it seemed that you are supposed to take the whole mount+lens of the front of the housing. How do you remove your lens underwater, do you indeed unscrew the lens from the mount or do you unclick the front part of the mount with the lens, like in the bottom pic: INON M67 Lens Adapter Base MCTZ7/TZ5 v. Panasonic DMW-MCTZ7

    Seems to me that it is impossible to store the lens in a lens holder on a strobe arm with the mount attached to it, so with M67, you always have to unscrew the lens to store it, am I correct?
    Do you notice any interference with the remaining mount in your pics, assuming that you leave it on after you remove the lens? Or does it not show up in the pics?

    I saw a good deal on 2 used UCL-165AD lenses incl holders, so I might take it, buy the mount and the adapter and play with them on my TZ5 till it dies. On the other hand, I might just wait untill I buy the new cam, since those Inon mounts are quite expensive as well.

    Thanks for your helpfull post again and greets!
     
  9. Greenjuice

    Greenjuice Nassau Grouper

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    The M67 mount wraps around the white part of the camera housing like a lens cap. It has a rubber O-ring on the inside to provide some friction. It is then fixed in place using two small rear facing screws to a base plate that is in turn screwed to the underside of the housing. You can see the two small screws in those photos.

    Those screws are really easy to lose (I've done it!) so I would not recommend removing the mount as shown in the lower photo if you don't need to. If you have the AD mount, I would imagine that it would be quickest to simply remove the lens from the AD mount.

    I would suggest keeping the lens on the strobe arm if there is a AD mount holder available for it (I don't know as I have no experience with AD mounts)

    [I previously DID need to remove the M67 mount because I used to use a Dyson warm filter for video which also wraps around the white part of the housing.]

    The TZ30, and presumably TZ40, housing is sufficiently different from other housings that a different M67 mount is needed. These are held by 2 screws which screw upwards to the base plate (not rearwards as for the TZ5). These little screws are also really easy to lose, but for this model they provide you with a spare one on purchase!

    [My Dyson filter now no longer fits, so I have started to train myself to white balance underwater, which is apparently what most UW videographers do]

    With the AD mount adaptor, I suspect you will catch the edges of the lens in the picture frame if you have the camera at maximum wide angle. This is not a problem as it helps to have a little zoom set anyway, to get 'closer' while still being able to focus from a safe distance.

    These cameras have a 'zoom resume' setting which I use to save time.

    Which reminds me of another benefit of the TZ30, and presumably 40, which is that it has up to 4 camera setting presets. One of these is selected just from the rotating mode dial at the top. You can have pretty much any configuration of the camera prepared in advance to these presets and access them by rotating the dial. I have presets for Macro and CFWA and wide angle.
     
  10. HenrikBP

    HenrikBP Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: New Mexico
    5,163
    865
    113
    I've been eyeing the TZ40 / SZ30 for awhile. Great to hear that you're both happy with the camera.

    Question: it sounds like you're using the Panasonic housing - is that correct?

    Thanks,

    Henrik
     

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