Today we're going to review two cameras. Both are 8 megapixels. Both allow you to reach the "super telephoto" range of at least 400mm in 35mm equivalent measurement. Both represent fourth generation products within their company line-up. The catch is that one is a $600 all-in-one point-and-shoot camera and the other is an over $5400 digital SLR and lens/accessory package. It would seem to be an unfair fight, but we've all been told that it's the photographer that's responsible for good pictures, not the camera. How true is that statement? What does that extra cash buy you? What shots will be missed with the lower-end camera? What shots are missed with the digital SLR? This is an article for anyone interested in digital photography. It doesn't matter if you think you know the outcome, or even if your budget doesn't come close to this price range.
In this first "camera clash", we are comparing two cameras worthy of FiringSquad's Editor's Choice award, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ30 with a wonderful Leica DC 12x zoom lens that extends to 420mm at f/3.7 and the Canon EOS-20D, considered by many to be the pinnacle of the performance/price ratio in a digital SLR. For our test, we'll be pairing the EOS-20D with several thousand dollars worth of accessories.
Regular FiringSquad readers also know that we prefer using real-world tests whenever testing equipment. Digital cameras are no exception. Instead of the boring discussion on camera menus and what comes in the box, we're going to take these cameras on a photo safari to the island of Kauai and then to San Francisco's Fleet Week 2005. Our goal will be to capture the best images possible with the equipment. This will help you see what the equipment is capable of
and where the equipment becomes the limiting factor
. This approach will help you decide the best camera for you in a fashion better than a traditional review can. Nevertheless, we'll still start this article traditionally with an overview of digital technology and then take a closer look at why we chose these cameras for the competition. Once we get that out of the way, we'll move onto a diary-format to compare the two cameras.
The last bit of detail I want to impart is that all of our camera equipment was purchased at retail. You can rest assured that we have no conflict of interest with Panasonic or Canon – they did not supply us with any review equipment.
[Editor's Note: This is one of our longer articles, but it's definitely worth reading cover to cover. It's not your typical camera review.]