Tuesday, January 18, 2011

# 9: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH 20 k 14.1 MP Digital Camera with 8 x optical image stabilized Zoom and 2.7 inch LCD (black)

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145 of 146 people found the following review helpful: 5.0 out of 5 stars Exactly what I wanted - and expected, April 15, 2010 This review is from: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH20K 14.1 MP Digital Camera with 8x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 2.7-Inch LCD (Black) (Electronics) I purchased this camera specifically for a vacation to Rio de Janeiro. I also have a Nikon DSLR that I adore, but didn't want to risk carrying it around Rio. I wanted something I can easily put in my pocket and pull out to quickly take pics.

I investigated several different point-and-shoot cameras, and they all suffer that is pretty much standard issues with Point and Shoots - not dealing well with low light, blurry when compensating for low light, lag time, etc. These things are pretty much a fact with point and shoots.

After playing with a few different camera's, I opted for the Lumix DMC-FH20. The main reasons where the zoom - 8x optical, and then up to 32X digital with the right settings.

On my trip, this camera did not disappoint. Sure I had to play with the settings a little bit to get the desired effect, but I pretty much only used the Auto, Landscape, Nighttime landscape and Macro settings. All of these worked perfectly.

In low light, I had to stabilize the camera on a bench or fence, but that's expected, and not a downfall of the camera.

Overall, I love this camera and considered it well worth the price I paid (about $180us). I feel it far exceeds any other camera I have played with (around the same price point).

I would buy this same camera again - without question.

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373 of 395 people found the following review helpful: 5.0 out of 5 stars Memory Card - Make sure you buy the correct one!!!, September 5, 2010 This review is from: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH20K 14.1 MP Digital Camera with 8x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 2.7-Inch LCD (Black) (Electronics) This is not a review of the camera itself. Other folks have done that quite well. It's a good little camera for the money. I own one and use it as a supplement to a high end SLR that I also own.

What I'm commenting on here concerns the MEMORY CARD used with this camera. I thought it appropriate to post this review here, because without the right camera card, and without properly maintaining that card, the camera will not function correctly. All of which is explained below.

Special note: my initial reason in deciding to write this review was because Amazon was doing a disservice to its customers by listing a Kingston "Class 4" card in its "Frequently Bought Together" section of this camera. Kingston makes good cards. But a Class 4 card will only be good for shooting still photos with this camera. If you want to shoot video (which this camera does excellently), then you must absolutely use a Class 6 card or higher (better). Since I first posted the review, to Amazon's credit, I've noticed that they have since creased offering the Class 4 card with this camera. That's good news to folks buying the camera who are not sure which kind of camera card to buy. After thinking about it, I decided to leave the review as is, because of all the other helpful camera card and related information presented.

Although most of the information given here concerns the camera's card (there's some very important info about keeping your card healthy by reformatting it often), I've also included some insights into how the camera works as well. The info presented is based mostly on fact with some personal observations and opinion thrown in. All of which should help you out when buying a card. And you definitely have to buy a card, you don't have an option not to.


Here's a question you might ask yourself: do I even have to buy a memory card? And the answer is absolutely yes. That's because the camera doesn't come with a card. It does come with a battery and battery charger, and it has a USB connection cable to your computer. But no memory card! There is an emergency 40 MB (that's MB not GB) of "built-in" storage capacity (not a card, but built into the camera) that comes with the camera. It's there to use if your card becomes full and you want to shoot a few extra shots. But with a measly 40MB, you can only shoot about 15 to 20 extra shots. So you really don't have a choice in the matter and definitely have to purchase some kind of memory card.

CLASS (write speed)

So now that you know that you have to buy a card, let's talk about the speed of the card. It's called "CLASS" and it's important when recording video. This camera takes "SD" (Secure Digital) type memory cards, so of course, you have to buy that type of card. But beyond that, you also must purchase the correct "Class" of card if you want to shoot movies. Not to get too technical, but the "class" is the speed rating of the card and it measures the minimum sustained write speeds. Memory cards are available in different "Classes" (write speeds), i.e., Class 2, Class 4, Class 6, Class 10. The higher the number, the faster (better) the write speed. A camera designed to record to Class 6 media (this camera!) may suffer dropouts or corrupted video on slower media like Class 4.

So if you want to shoot video, PANASONIC RECOMMENDS "CLASS 6" TYPE CARDS FOR THIS CAMERA. This is from Panasonic's website concerning the specs of this camera: "Use a card with SD Speed Class 6 or higher when recording motion pictures." So look for "Class 6" cards. The class number will usually be included in the name of the card. Most cards will also have the class number printed on the actual card itself and it looks like a large "@" symbol, but the "a" inside the circle is replaced by a number. It represents the letter C (for class) and the number inside it is the class speed.

Note: you can use Class 4 cards if you only plan to shoot still shots and no video. But of course, when that stray UFO comes flying over the backyard, you may not be able to make a movie of it in all its glory with your Class 4 card. Yes, a Class 4 card will record the video, but there could be some problems, like skips and jumps in it. Makes it hard when you're trying to convince the government that your UFO movie isn't a fake.


Here's another question: what card size should you buy? As you probably know, card size (storage capacity) is the space on the card that stores your shots or videos. It's usually measured in GB (gigabytes). The more storage the better: 8 GBs is better than 4 GBs, 16 GBs is better than 8 GBs, etc. You pick the card's storage capacity depending on how many still shots you want to take, or on how much video you want to shoot, before the card fills up. You have to do some simple math to figure that out. The actual number of still shots or video that can be stored on any card depend on 2 things: the "size of the storage capacity of the card" and the "size of the jpg's shot or the length of the movie shot." Here are 2 guides (one for "still photos" and one for "video/movies") to help you out in choosing the right card size for your needs.


All photos taken with this camera are shot as jpg files. The jpg size of a photo is measured in Megapixels (Mega Pixels). You have the option with this camera to shoot in 7 different jpg Megapixel sizes: 14 M, 12.5 M, 10.5 M, 10 M, 5 M, 3 M, and 0.3 M shots. The largest Megapixel size this camera can shoot is 14, thus the camera is called a 14.1 Megapixel camera.

Here's a rule to remember: the higher the size in Megapixels, the sharper the image, and the better the quality of the photo, and thus the better the quality of the print. So when you want to print larger size prints (say 8 x 10 or 11 x 14 inches), shoot your jpg photos in the high Megapixel size range (10 M to 14 M). You'll get better quality prints. For instance: let's say you shot a 3 M photo (which is low in Megapixel file size) and made a 8 x 10 or 11 x 14 print (which is large in print size). The final print is not going to come out as good as it could have. For those larger print sizes, you'd get a much better print if you had shot in a higher Megapixel size of 10 M to 14 M, not 3 M. The formula is simple: shoot high file sizes to get large prints; shoot low file sizes when you only want small size prints. The 3 examples below show you the connection between megapixel file size and the final paper printed size.

For me, here's the rule I shoot by that's easy to remember:
without even debating what size print I will eventually make, or how I will use the shot, I routinely shoot at the higher megapixel sizes that I can (with this camera, that's 10 M to 14 M). If I want to make a smaller print from that file, no problem. The smaller print will be sharp. And if I want to make a larger good quality print, I have that option too! And you never know when you may want to do that. So the most sensible thing to do in my mind is to shoot all your photos at a high Megapixel size and give yourself all the best possible options for printing your photos. In time, if you find that the higher megapixel sizes are too high for your print needs, you can always adjust and down size accordingly.

Here's the only downside to this idea of shooting everything at a high file size, a very minor downside to my thinking:
shooting larger sized files will fill up your card more quickly. But honestly, I don't care about that. I just want to have the best quality print options on all the photos I shoot. So the fact of getting fewer total shots on my card before it fills up doesn't concern me. A card of 4 or 8 GB's gives you a tremendous amount of file capacity, even shooting at the high Megapixel sizes.

Using the 3 examples below as a general guide, you can figure out the best card size for your "still photo" needs. For instance, if you bought a 4 GB card and shot everything at 10 Megapixels, you'd get at least 1,080 photos on that card (4 GB x 270 photos = 1,080). For the reasons I just explained, when figuring out what card size capacity you need to buy, my personal choice would be to use the "10 Megapixel" example below as a guide. But that of course is up to you. Because measuring exact pixels is a very inaccurate deal, these numbers are approximate, but good enough for the purposes here. The examples below have been taken from the Panasonic manual, with my additional comments about print size enclosed by brackets ().

1 GB of card storage, shooting all photos at 10 Megapixels (which gives you a good 11 x 14 inch print) = about 270 pictures

1 GB of card storage, shooting all photos at 5 Megapixels (which gives you a good 8 x 10 inch print) = about 440 pictures

1 GB of card storage, shooting all photos at 3 Megapixels (which gives you a good 5 x 7 inch print) = about 600 pictures

By the way, in the settings mode, the camera has a nice handy guide that lists each of the 7 Megapixel sizes, and next to each, gives you the largest best quality print that can be made from that jpg size. So you have all kinds of options and an easy way to figure out what size jpg to shoot. By the way, as you shoot, there's a number that is clearly displayed in the upper right hand corner of the LCD display, that factors in the size jpg you have the camera presently set at, and tells you the total number of photos you can still shoot before your card fills up. Really handy info to know.


Using the 7 examples below as a general guide, you can figure out the best card size for your "video" needs... Read more ?

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