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Old Apr 25, 2004, 7:43 AM   #1
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Default z2 or something else?

Ok... I had an S1 for a couple weeks but returned it cause of excessive image noise and poor low-light focus. From what I've read here and other places the Z2 seems to be much better in those areas (judging by pics I've seen from the Z1 at higher ISOs that camera is quite good).
SO.... I would like a long telephoto zoom range, and am willing to use a teleconverter I already have (a 2x, but I wish I had a stronger one) if necessary.
Also, I would like something that's good in low light. While I understand that no prosumer 10x cam with a 1/2.5" or even a 1/1.8" or 2/3" sensor (if I go for a different camera than a superzoom) is going to come close to a dSLR, I'd like to know which of the superzooms is the best in low light without a flash? I've heard good things about the Minolta Z2, and had heard image noise issues about the Panasonic FZ10 which concerned me, but when I took a couple test shots with one at Fry's, the high ISO shots suprised me at how good they were (could have been the shooting conditions, and I sure hope it wasn't the specific camera).
So... for low-light focus, and semi-fast shutter speeds in low light (even if i have to crank up the ISO) which do you think is better, a Z1 or Z2?
Another camera I've been looking at, though, (which would REQUIRE a good teleconverter for some of the things I'd like to do with it) would be the Sony DSC-V1 or the Sony DSC-F717. Although I almost can't stand the idea of using a memory stick, the main thing that's possibly attracting me to those cameras is their nightshot capability, which I would probably find myself using in low or no light conditions to take candids.
If I decide to go for the Z1/Z2 anyway (leaning toward the Z2 cause of the slightly larger sensor, extra .8mp (gives me a little extra edge for cropping later), better movie mode, and a couple other things I can't think of right now), is there any kind of IR lamp that is powerful enough so that at night in near total darkness I can get pics from as far away as 20 feet that would be at least EV 10 or 11 on this chart? (or at least 13-15 stops brighter than the one Sony uses for their nightshot system) I don't want it to be a hazard, though, cause I'll be taking pictures of people with it, not just inatimate objects. What is my best option?
btw I have a somewhat limited budget - $500 from the return of my S1, plus whatever I can get for a 2 month old Canon A80, and (assuming I don't get a camera that takes compactflash) a 1GB Sandisk, 512MB Sandisk, 256MB SimpleTech, 128MB Dane-Elec, and 64MB 12x Lexar CF cards.
I'm also considering getting a photo wallet/viewer (I'm eyeing the Archos Jukebox Multimedia 20 or AV120 because of the color LCD - anyone know of a less expensive one that is as good with a color screen?), and for in-camera memory I would like enough to take either at least 8-10 minutes of video at the highest quality/framerate/resolution setting, or 150-200 shots at the highest quality/resolution (not counting uncompressed) setting. (but not so much that I'm paying an exorbitant price for the memory - for example if a 512MB card is $70 and a 1GB card is $175 (and a 256MB card is $45) I'd go for the 512MB card (depending on how much I can afford to spend based on the other accessories/camera I end up getting) because it's the lowest price per megabyte. (this is assuming the cards are all the same brand and speed)

So..... should I see about picking up a Minolta Z2? Would there be anything wrong with going to a store and buying one there temporarily, if only to return it a week later, get the check from the store, and order it online (I've been looking at ebay) where I am fairly sure I could get a much better price?
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