ZS20 with Teleconverters, part 3


Hand-Held shots with the ZS20
The long-standing “Reciprocal Rule” in photography says, in essence, that to achieve a sharp image when hand-holding a camera without any image stabilisation system it is usually necessary to use a shutter speed equal to, or faster than, the reciprocal of the focal length (35mm camera equivalent).  

In the case of the ZS20 at maximum zoom (480mm equivalent) it would be predicted by the reciprocal rule that if there were no image stabilisation, then a shutter speed of 1/480 sec or faster would be needed to achieve a sharp image when hand-holding the camera.

However, the ZS20 has a very effective OIS which enables much slower shutter speeds to be used than predicted by the reciprocal rule.  In addition, the ZS20 has a high speed burst mode of 5fps, where the AF system refocuses for each image of the burst.

I have found by using the burst mode together with the OIS that I have been able to obtain sharp shots (despite not having particularly steady hands) at a full 3 stops slower than the reciprocal rule predicts.  That is, in the above case at 480mm equivalent FL, I have achieved sharp images at a shutter speed of 1/60s. There are likely to be some unsharp images in a burst of images at that slow shutter speed, but there will usually be very sharp images as well.

Using this technique I found that I could also successfully obtain (in good light) sharp images when using the ZS20 hand-held with TCs attached, and even with stacked TCs.  Because the ZS20 is small and lightweight, even with the lighter stacked TCs attached, it is easily held by hand.  Therefore, I carried out some hand-held tests using the smaller and lighter weight TCs on a communications tower at a distance of 200m.

Testing of Teleconverters on the ZS20 at a 200m
I tested the shortened Nikon E15ED; the Olympus C180 and C210; and C180 stacked on the E15ED.
All the tests were carried out hand-held using the 5fps burst mode and 5MP image size setting (that is, 5MP EZ zoom, which is a centre crop of the 14MP image).  

The image below shows the ZS20 with the stacked E15ED+C180 attached.  The total weight of the camera plus those stacked TCs is 400g.  By comparison, the FZ200 camera without any TC weighs 588g. 

Above: ZS20 with stacked shortened Nikon E15ED plus Olympus C180 teleconverters

Below are reduced sized images of hand-held shots of the tower from a distance of 200m (click on the image for a larger view).  The full sized images can be downloaded from my DPR gallery here.

Above: ZS20 at 480mm FL (equiv.) without any teleconverter

Above: ZS20 with the shortened Nikon E15ED

Above: ZS20 with the Olympus C180

Above: ZS20 with the Olympus C210

Above: ZS20 with the C180 stacked on the shortened E15ED

I compared 100% crops from the above images side-by-side to evaluate the relative performance of the TCs.  I downsized the C180 image (using bicubic) to the same magnification as the E15ED image; and I upsized the image taken without any TC attached to compare it with the stacked E15ED+C180 image.   The resulting images are shown below; the images are labelled in the headers (click on the image for the full sized view).

Above:  E15ED (full image) vs C180 downsized

Above:   E15ED (lower left) vs C180 downsized

Above:  E15ED (upper right) vs C180 downsized

Above: Stacked E15ED+C180 (lower left) compared with the upsized shot without TC

Above: Stacked E15ED+C180 (upper right) compared with the upsized shot without TC

The TCs performed similarly to the tests on the power pole in the previous section.  The E15ED gave the best IQ with the least CA of the TCs tested at 200m but it also it gave the lowest magnification. The C180 revealed about the same amount of detail as the E15ED, as shown in the side-by-side crops with the C180 image downsized: its advantage in magnification was offset by its somewhat poorer IQ/greater amount of CA.

The stacked E15ED+C180 combination gave a high magnification (2.45x) compared with the ZS20 alone at 480mm FL (equiv.) and also, as can be seen in the above crops, gave a very worthwhile increase in the amount of detail captured in the features on the tower.  This combination appears very useful, giving an effective FL of about 1150mm (35mm equivalent), and it’s also a lightweight setup that can be carried around easily.

In the following section I have tabulated the magnification data for the TCs and the minimum focus distances.

Continue to Magnification Factors and Closest Focus Distances

Return to Testing of Teleconverters on the ZS20 at 30m

Return to Setting Up the ZS20 for Teleconverters