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Experience with Lumix DMC-ZS30 (TZ40)?

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

  1. HenrikBP

    HenrikBP Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: New Mexico
    5,163
    865
    113
    Koksie; I'm going through the same "mind gymnastics" as you wrt. camera these days;

    - I want a small UW set-up that I can slowly build on without everything getting big and cumbersome
    - I looked at the Olympus EPM-1, but with housing and lenses it got too big for UW - for my taste at least
    - The Sony RX100 and Panasonic LX7 would be great for UW, but the housing prices are prohibitive, plus the RX100 seems to *require* lenses for close-up photography.
    - I live where a long zoom would be a real plus for topside photography

    So I've been following your discussion here with interest. But I get the feeling that there is no perfect answer - at least not with "only" one camera :)

    Anyone looked at the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LF1? Too early to tell how it might do UW I'm sure. But on paper it has a lot of the S110 features, but with a bit more zoom (28 - 200mm) and a bit less wide angle.

    ---------- Post added July 3rd, 2013 at 07:47 AM ----------

    Here are some image quality comparisons from Camera Labs:

    Panasonic Lumix LF1 review | Cameralabs
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2013
    koksie likes this.
  2. koksie

    koksie Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Willemstad, Curacao
    55
    1
    8
    Interceptor121, thanks for your answer. True, off course there is a trade off, and using the camera topside is important to me as well. Since I have two strobes which I plan to continue using with my new camera, I am not too concerned about ambient light wide shots, I will use my strobes for wide angle, just like I do now.

    The distortion you show in your article is an eye-opener indeed. I can of course buy the camera, try it and buy the ZM80 lens later if I really find it disturbing, but that might turn out to be an expensive trial and error method. My current TZ5 is a 28mm and I never noticed anything like that, but it is not 24mm of course. On the other hand, my pics are mostly not of a grey square with a few lines on it, so I might not even notice so much of it with the TZ40.

    Another horse entered the race when I stumbled upon the Olympus E-PM1 offer on this forum, I saw a few webshops are offering the package for 500US$. That means I can buy that package for UW use and the TZ40 for land use. That would cost me a little bit more than the TZ40 and its UW housing, but when the PEN is really much better, I would think it is worth the extra costs. From what I read on here and at dpreview, the PEN really is a very capable camera.
    Downside would be the size of the UW package and of the camera plus lens on land, meaning I will still need the TZ40 for topside use, when I don't want to carry a big camera around. Furthermore, the need to carry two cams and all their accesoiries on holiday. Plusside, I hope, would be a better camera with a larger sensor.

    What do you think, is the PEN that much better UW than the TZ40? Are they at all comparable in IQ or is the PEN so far up there, that that comparison makes no sense? I read somewhere (was it your post?) that black backgrounds are very hard or not achievable with the E-PM1 due to the slow sync-speed of the flash, is that correct? Does the TZ40 do better there?

    Questions, questions...

    ---------- Post added July 5th, 2013 at 12:21 AM ----------

    Hi HenrikBP,

    Looks like we're in the same boat indeed! I have a prefference for a small set-up like I have now, and have very good uses for the large optical zoom range here on the island. We also like to travel around the region and this impressive zoomrange (my current camera has 10x optical zoom and I love that, cann't wait to have more!) will come in very handy on our holidays.

    However, housing prices on the other options, RX100 and LX7, are too high for me, I cannot justify them to myself and my girlfriend. The cost of the total package would be too steep for me. The only cheaper option is the Canon S110, which is supposed to be a good UW camera and comes with a Canon housing, making it far more affordable, even cheaper than the TZ40. Even the Ikelite housing is affordable when I buy the set, it will only be 20 euros or so more expensive than the TZ40 package. However, it does not match my topside zoom wishes.

    So yes, it indeed looks like there is no real one-stop-camera, it will always be a trade-off. The question I have to ask myself is, how much better is the S110 than the TZ40 at UW pictures and how much does it have to be for me to live with the smaller zoom (5x only). And actually, I have no idea:).

    As you see in my answer to Interceptor121, I stumbled upon the E-MP1 package and am seriously considering it. It is a personal thing as well. i have been taking UW pics with the TZ5 for 4 years now and will stay on this island for at least two more years. After that it is back to cold northern Europe and bye bye to diving, except for one week a year on holiday. So if I want to become more serious about UW photography and really learn to use of a more sophisticated package and get the most out of it, then now is the time.
    And for the 500US$ it is so affordable, that it is quite easy to justify money-wise. The only issue I am having is the size and weight of the rig. I'll have to search for the dimensions online and see how lage amd heavy it is, but I fear it is a big one. Luckily I do most of my diving here. But still, we travel to Bonaire and in the region at least twice a year and try to dive when there. And regional airtravel has some tight baggage restrictions.

    Ah well, I'll have a short night's rest now and see if that brings any clarification:).
     
  3. HenrikBP

    HenrikBP Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: New Mexico
    5,163
    865
    113
    Hi Koksie,

    I actually purchased the E-PM1 package back in May. Here's a picture of me holding the camera in housing with a tray and one grip. My left hand is supporting the right end of the tray, so the picture can be a bit deceiving. But it will give you an impression of how big that package is:

    [​IMG]

    For reference, I'm about 5' 10" on a good day, about 178 lbs and wear a size 42 Regular jacket.

    I ended up returning the E-PM1 package, as it was too big for me for UW use. I'd seen the camera in a camera shop, and it's pretty small by itself, but the housing is a lot bigger - probably because of all the dials necessary. The camera and the controls though are very nice. Using the Super Control Panel gives you fairly easy access to all the settings you'd want. And there is absolutely no doubt that image quality wise it blows the TZ40 and maybe even the S110 and LX7 (and surely the LF1) out of the water.

    Another reason I gave up on the E-PM1 package was the need for additional lenses and dome ports. I may not be correct on this, but it looked like I'd need a WA lens and a dome port to do any wide angle photography, and I didn't want to 1) spend the $$ and 2) carry it with me.

    Anyway, good luck on your search. Hope this helped a little.
     
  4. Interceptor121

    Interceptor121 PADI Pro

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    Any compact camera needs a wet wide angle lens anyway as field of view underwater with the flat port is tiny and suffers for pincushion distortion at 24/28 mm
    The difference is that some micro 4/3 only allow a dry lens and done inside the housing like a DSLR
    The tz40 is a zoom camera with a pretty dark lens quality wise can't compete with any of the lc7/s110/rx100 underwater but on land the extra zoom may be handy
    The canon g15 is in a way similar but has only a 140mm zoom still with a brighter lens and is a big camera too
     
  5. Greenjuice

    Greenjuice Nassau Grouper

    134
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    Just arrived in the Mediterranean for a spot of diving. Here is all my UW photo gear unpacked including chargers. The camera is there for scale. I travel with the parts packed separate places, strongest in checked luggage:

    ImageUploadedByTapatalk1373122391.885636.jpg

    Will post other photos after the kit is set up. Wifi here is a bit slow and intermittent.

    Much of the challenge in weighing up criteria like compactness, image quality, versatility and price is that they are so personal. What might be only a minor inconvenience for one person is a show-stopper for another.

    The fact that we are on this forum suggests to me that we may have similar expectations. Take a basic measure like 'image quality', for example, which no one would accept if poor. I presume you might be like me in thinking that image quality in these super zoom compacts is actually 'good enough'. They don't have full-frame sensors, a small aperture range, don't shoot in raw, etc. To some what I say is heresy. But for me, once I get to a stage where I have to zoom into images on my largest display device before I can see flaws and don't want to spend hours with Photoshop, is when the quality is good enough.

    From that point on, for me, the most important thing is to be able to 'get the shot'. From the perspective of a serious traveling amateur, I have seen this beat much more complex and expensive rigs, even those using film, simply because they were set up for wide-angle on dive that had good macro and vice versa or a situation that was ideal for video. Similarly, topside, the one camera that has consistently beaten my compact in 'getting that shot' is the one that is always in my back pocket in my phone!

    Probably because these super zoom compacts are not considered by professionals as serious contenders, there seems to be comparatively little written about them for underwater use. A zoom range of 24mm - 480mm would seem irrelevant for underwater use. The game changer here, I think, followed the introduction of Manual control and companies like Inon recognising the potential for these compacts.

    I use the close up wet lenses to allow close focus at a zoom level appropriate for the subject. The standard on full-frame kit is using 60mm or 100mm macro lens and the superzooms can achieve this range and more, while still being able to focus close with these diopters. The hairy coral crab on post #4 was only 1-2cm across. 'Part of nudi' shots are never easy, but yes you just zoom in! Is that not almost the same as putting on a 100mm macro on a full-frame (apart from price and quality)?

    Using wide angle, there is already a noticeable difference going from 28mm to 24mm both topside and
    underwater. No doubt that underwater the wider the better, but in my view you can get shots of most situations without a wide angle wet lens. You have to adapt your photography to suit what you have. I don't think the pincushion distortions at full wide are noticeable. Put another way, there are probably other things you would notice first!

    The ZM80 wet wide lens was designed for compact superzooms and gives 100 degrees wide underwater and 160 degrees topside, and which is actually achieved by setting the camera to 80mm zoom (as its name suggests). By coincidence this matches the width of the output from my S2000 strobe with diffuser. Inon also offer a dome port for this lens, which takes it even wider. That was one step too far for me at this time.

    However, don't forget that the TZ30/40s still have 400mm of zoom range still available to use from that 80mm setting. So once installed, I can still manage a less wide shot if I need quickly, by just zooming in, limited by the focus range.

    The ZM80 makes it much easier to get arty CFWA type shots:
    ImageUploadedByTapatalk1373122611.775605.jpg
    ImageUploadedByTapatalk1373122932.013602.jpg

    Or get really close to larger stuff to avoid back scatter:
    ImageUploadedByTapatalk1373124233.374061.jpg
    ImageUploadedByTapatalk1373124261.954819.jpg

    At 100 degrees it is not wide enough for a full Snell, but still enough to have the artistic effect:
    ImageUploadedByTapatalk1373122982.172112.jpg

    I have been surprised at the results these compacts can produce despite the theory and basic physics which seem to be against them.

    If you know your TZ5, you will know that even without the extra wide angle you can still get shots like these:
    ImageUploadedByTapatalk1373123205.978028.jpg
    ImageUploadedByTapatalk1373123320.005119.jpg
    ImageUploadedByTapatalk1373123661.036905.jpg

    The close-up lenses will open a new dimension for capturing something like these:
    ImageUploadedByTapatalk1373123494.007190.jpg
    ImageUploadedByTapatalk1373123595.801568.jpg

    So in my view, it is the flexibility of the whole package as much as the balance of how the individual components suit the subjects of your interest that matter.
     
    HenrikBP and koksie like this.
  6. Interceptor121

    Interceptor121 PADI Pro

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    I think greenjuice rig is the proof that accessories are equally if not more important than the camera body which is less than 25% of the investment
    A super zoom camera can be quite effective at super macro with a single diopter due to the huge zoom in fact the shots have high magnification
    The wide angle shots though look a bit coarse as you would expect from a camera with a 1/2.3" sensor
    All in all most of your accessories can be reused if you wanted to upgrade and right now the camera will be quite effective except in low light wide angle without strobes
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2013
    koksie likes this.
  7. koksie

    koksie Angel Fish

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

    Wow, that is a big one! I looked up the dimensions of the housing and it is big (and quite heavy at 1100 grams) indeed. Still, a picture sais more than a thousand words and from your picture it is clear that it is BIG. Well, compared to my current set-up anyway.

    When I first saw the picture you posted I was sure that it is too big for me, but after reading numerous reviews and user-experiences, I am not that sure anymore. Many people use it and are very happy with it, commenting that it is a small package for what it can deliver. Some of them are coming from DSLRs, so that explains that a bit I guess. Unfortunately there is no shop here that sells or rents these housings, so I have no way of trying it or actually holding it. From some tests I read, IQ is indeed much better than that of the TZ40, especially in low light. Not surprising of course, due to the dark lens of the TZ40. IQ of the S110 got higher marks in low light than the E-PM1 in a test of more than 200 digicams. But the S110 scored quite low on normal daylight IQ.

    As you see, there are a lot of trade-offs to consider:). Thanks a lot for your info, pic and experiece, it sure is a help for me.

    ---------- Post added July 7th, 2013 at 09:37 PM ----------

    Hi Interceptor121,

    Thanks for your info. I believe I read somewhere that there is a wet WA lens for the E-PM1, am I correct? Is the dome necessary for that, or only preferrable? I am looking for a solution that does not set me back another 1000US before I can make a decent UW pic. I read that supermacro van be achieved with the UCL-165, the same that I will buy for the TZ40, so these costs remain the same.
    For the TZ40 it is the ZM80 that is needd for WA, as Greenjuice wrote, so I know what that will cost me.

    I checked the G15 earlier in the process, but I don't find it appealing. Too big for a compact, not enough zoom for topside use, image quality on par with the S110 which is smaller and has 120mm zoom. Furthermore almost no control while recording video (have to check if that's the same for the S110). So if I'll take a Cannon, it will probably be the S110.

    ---------- Post added July 7th, 2013 at 10:12 PM ----------

    Hi Greenjuice,

    Thanks for your post! I really appreciate it that even on your trip you take the time and effort to share your information and pictures with us!

    The picture of the parts of your set-up look quite similar to mine and I like the small size of the package, it makes it so easy to pack it for travel or take it along on a boat. I love this size and with a bigger size, I'm afraid that I might not take it because it is such a hassle to transport. Since I have baby-twins, travel is enough hassle as it is. So the smaller and lighter the rig, the more chance I can take it. And you are right: the best shot is the shot that you got, not the one that you could have taken if only you had lugged your rig to the airport instead of leaving it at home.
    What is the part on the port of your UW housing? I can't quite make it out, since it is turned away from the viewer, is that the ZM80? I am curious what it looks like when the whole set-up is, ehm, well, set-up.

    You are right about the personal measure of the criteria. So far I have been quite content with the IQ of the TZ5, but that is also because it was my first UW cam, I bought it for topside use and was surprised that it actually performed quite well UW too. On the other hand, now I am looking to move up a bit and have the luxury to consider UW performance as a criterium too. Furthermore, I have off course some criticism of my results as well. Often, the images look good but when I zoom them to 100% on my laptop, I see blurred and unsharp edges. Of course, the camera isn't always to blame, it is also me:).
    Long story short, I am content with the IQ now, but not 100% satisfied. So if my next cam will have better IQ, then that is a big factor for me. I hope that manual exposure will also help to boost image quality. Since you already told me the IQ of the TZ30 is better than the TZ5, I have a feeling that it will be sufficient, but am not 100% convinced yet. That's why I am on the fence and am eyeing the E-PM1 package as well. But then size and flexibility and costs come into the equation and the whole thing gets difficult.

    So write that with the ZM80 you have 100 degree field of view, do you know what the field of view is without it? I cann't find it anywhere and I am curious how much the lens does.

    Thanks for your observations (and the proof in the pictures) on the flexibility of your set-up. With this range of lenses, taking supermacro to CFWA in one dive seems possible and that's a big plus in my opinion. Diving here is different every time and I don't want to limit myself to only macro or only WA for a whole dive.

    Food for thought.
     
  8. Interceptor121

    Interceptor121 PADI Pro

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    Yes both the e-pm1 and e-pl3 take that lens
    But you want to be careful with those models as they have the original sensor from olympus that is now over 3 years old
    Many cameras even compacts beat those models now
     
  9. HenrikBP

    HenrikBP Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: New Mexico
    5,163
    865
    113
    I found a shot of the camera and housing from an angle. You'll notice that the housing lens is fairly big too.

    [​IMG]
     
  10. koksie

    koksie Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Willemstad, Curacao
    55
    1
    8
    Hi Interceptor121,

    do you mean that the UWL-S100 ZM80 will fit the E-PM1 and E-PL3 too? I searched some more and found that there is another WA wet lens for the PENs, the Inon UWL-H100 28M67 Type II, according to the Inon website. I think that one is the one that most people use on their PENs.
    Is there a difference in quality between the two or will they yield approximately the same results? I am asking because price-wise there is a difference and the UWL-S100 ZM80 is almost half as expensive (289 US$ vs 521 US$ for the UWL-H100, prices from backscatter.com).

    I understand your statement about the sensors of the Oly's, but from tests I have seen they are still much better than the TZ40, because of their sensor size. So if the choice is between the TZ40 and the E-PM1 (and it currently is, budget-wise), do you agree that the E-PM1 has the better IQ?

    ---------- Post added July 8th, 2013 at 11:03 AM ----------

    Wow, big port indeed! Thanks for the pic HenrikBP, you are not making this any easier:).
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2013

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