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Old Sep 6, 2007, 9:40 PM   #1
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Hello all,

I have been researching digital cameras for the last week or so and I must say it can be a bit confusing. I first started with the local stores such as walmart, best buy, etc... After listening to the sales folks I went to the internet to learn the terminology a bit.

Background on the camera we have: Pentax IQZoom60....so 20+ years old?
Never owned a digital camera. But have decided to move up in the world to digital.

Here is what we would like in a camera:
1) Optical zoom is one of the higher priorities - 10X or greater
2) Image quality as everyone else best that can be had for money being spent
3) Good optical stabilization due to the zoom ability
4) Ability to print out quality pictures from 4x6 to 8x10 or larger....We do not want to
just keep them on the computer...want to frame and hang them on walls. For this purpose I suppose I want 6+ mp?
5) Would not mind the ability to snap a few shots in a row without to much lag time.

Type of photos we would take:
1) Outdoors...woods, landscapes, our dogs, water....etc..
2) Would like to be able to go as broad spectrum of light as possible and weather conditions.
3) Of course vacation photos...we like to go to parks (thus the outdoors) but also to cities such as San Antonio or New Orleans.

The first budget set was $400 or less +/-

Cameras I am considering:

1) Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ8

2) Panazonic Lumix DMC -FZ50 - Upper limit of budget but is becoming my favorite of the group?

3) Canon Powershot S3 IS....vs the S5 IS - Seems for overall package these are good but image may not be the best of the bunch?

4) Kodak Z712 or 812 - may be the least desirable but may be the cheapest to get into the game.

5) Briefly considered Fuji S600fd but worried about the lack of good stabilization. One reason I looked at this one was the manual controls. Read that the rocker zoom switches are a bit touchy.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50

Now as I look more into this subject do I need to go to DSLR. Although I have no real experience with photography other than aiming and pushing a button. Also now the cost goes up not only on the camera but now I need more accessories?? Such as multiple type lens to get the same as ultrazoom.

One DSLR I came across that was close to budget was the Pentax K100D. Which from many reviews looks like a nice camera for images. I did not research the lens yet but I imagine it is not a long zoom.

I would appreciate any advice if I should look more into DSLR vs. the ultrazooms. Or will one of the UZ that I have looked at will foot the bill...or another UZ that I missed?
If DSLR are there others in the budget as the Pentax K100D? Course I will still have to convince the wife to go higher!


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Old Sep 6, 2007, 10:13 PM   #2
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Firstly, based on your previous experience, I would forego the DSLR strategy. The reason is simply that the Pentax K-100D with the 18-55mm lens might be inexpensive but to get you into that 10X optial zoom and above category lens, which would equate to 300mm to 400mm is going to cost you some big $$.

So, let's take a look at the ultrazooms. The Panasonic FZ-50 is an excellent, but physicall a very large camera, but to get excellent photos you are really going to have to hone your photographer skills and be sure that you stay in good outdoor light. If you want to go inside it is going to take an Olympus FL-50 flash setup which all by itself costs around $(US) 350+.

I would be more comfortable seeing you with the Canon S-3IS or Canon S-5IS with a good external flash setup. The learning curve will be much more easy to master and the cameras are top notch. By purchasing on the internet from a retailer with high reseller ratings, you will save some money as well. You do realize that the S-5IS has fallen to around $(US) 350.00, making it an excellent buy.

So, the discussion is open and the ball is in your court. Where would you like to go from here?

Sarah Joyce
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Old Sep 6, 2007, 10:17 PM   #3
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Welcome to Steves!

In looking at your stated uses and in your desired features I really don't see where a DSLR is going to get you more bang for the buck - and believe me I'm one of the first to chime in if I feel a person's shooting requirements need the abilities of a DSLR. But for outdoor photos, vacation photos etc, nothing jumps out as requiring the added abilities of a DSLR (and the added weight, size, cost and additional lenses).

I'll let other chime in on the digicams you're considering as I'm predominantly a DSLR user.
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Old Sep 7, 2007, 6:09 AM   #4
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I agree with mtclimber and JohnG, i also have a 400D but find myself using the Canon S3 IS more, the S3 IS, S5 IS are great UZ that have excellent IQ
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Old Sep 7, 2007, 6:37 AM   #5
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I agree as well.

There are reasons to go with a dSLR, but you haven't mentioned any of them. And while the Pentax K100D is within your budget, once you add the lenses that will allow you to do what an ultrazoom will do, you'll have shot past your budget in a big way.

I will say that the Ultrazooms you're looking at don't go very wide, and for cities ...

dm67 wrote:
Of course vacation photos...we like to go to parks (thus the outdoors) but also to cities such as San Antonio or New Orleans.
... (and for indoor shots, btw) you might want something wider.
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Old Sep 7, 2007, 1:54 PM   #6
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I would look again at Fuji S6000fd just because of it's goodlow-light performance and a wider lens.

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Old Sep 7, 2007, 6:04 PM   #7
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I recently made the same decision on upgrading from the S2 and I ended up with the S5.My basic reasons for not going dSLR were: (1) I'm only in this hobby about 18 months and I think I need more time and better technique to justify it; (2) I'm lazy and like the one lens setup with less to carry; (3) Unlike most other people I like the EVF showing me approximately what the exposure looks like and (4) I ended up with the S5, lensmate tube and filters and an external 430EX flash for a bit less than the E510 two lens kit I was considering and about the same as the XTi base kit.

Having had the S5 for 2 months now I'm pretty happy with it. I'm not recommending or pitching it to you, just suggesting that a really top end UZ like the S5 or the FZ50 will give you about 80% of a dSLR for a lot better budget that you can spend on other gear to learn on.

If you want to take a look at some S5images, take a walk to my site at http://www.pbase.com/johngalt_ny The Canada, NYC dawn, Lake George and S5/S2 are all S5 images.

Whatever you decide, good luck.


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Old Sep 7, 2007, 8:48 PM   #8
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Thanks a bunch guys for all the information and advice.

I believe I will drop the DSLR for now until I learn more about photography and I develop more than a casual use. Although I did show my wife photos taken by a Nikon 40d before I showed her the Ultrazooms....she thought the Nikon was the best :twisted:.

Now to the tough choice of choosing without hands on experience of seeing actual printed photos.

However, from what I have seen and your thoughts it looks like the top 3 are:

1) Fuji S6000fd or the S9000.

Advantages: Seems to have the better image quality from sample photos from different places. As Algold mentions looks like better image at low-light. The manual zoom helps focus better than the autozoom?

Disadvantages: No Optical stabilization just the picture mode...Says this degrades image quality but I do not know by how much. Any one have an idea? Didnt see a hotshoe listed if needed?

2) Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50

Advantages: Reading reviews seems to have good image quality and has fast response

Disadvantages: According to one review there are a lot such as soft 8x10 and the low light photos are not the best as suggested by mtclimber with flash indoors. The reviewer was saying even with all the disadvantages this is still an excellent camera

3) Canon Powershot S3 or S5 IS

Advantage: Basically good all around cameras. Perhaps not the best images according to some reviews but look good to me but perhaps not as good as the others. I suppose this could be how the camera was setup or subject. JGs photos looked good.

What kind of flash setup would I be looking at for the Canon?

As far as cost the FZ is the highest end, then the S3, followed by the 6000 and finally the S5 and 9000 are about the same.

I believe the FZ will fall out due to cost and some of the disadvantages and what mtclimber suggested...btw I do not mind the size of the cameras as a deterrent.

So it is down to the Fujis or the Canons. Sort of leaning towards the Fujis but will weigh some more.

One more topic:

What do you suggest for accessories: Just the bare bones if possible - 1GB card (Do either of the cameras have negatives in this area), Camera bag, different batteries, etc... I will also need to look into a better printer than my Deskjet 812C...Hehe the never ending hobby!!! :-)

Side note....I tend to write long posts...if they are too long let me know and I will try and make them shorter.

Thanks once again

....hmm ball back to you mtclimber :lol:
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Old Sep 7, 2007, 9:26 PM   #9
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Thanks, dm67 for your very detailed reply-

It was not too long for me, at all. BTW, dm67 I am Sarah, not really a mountain climber. Let's first look at the FZ-50 equation. To get comparable photos form the FZ-50 is going to take learning some photo techniques. If you started right away, you would have time to accomplish that, if the wedding details do not overcome you. The second factor with the FZ-50 is the external flash. I have a FZ-7, not a FZ-50 so, as I understand it, and I could be wrong, the best flash to use with the FZ-50 camera is an Olympus FL-50 flash which will cost around another $(US) 350.00. as far as chips go I would be taking anywhere from 5 to 10gb of photo space. So, with camera, flash and chips you looking at around $(US) 875.00 to $(US)900.00.

The Fuji S-6000 outfit will cost (camera-$(US) 325, Flash $(US) 150, cards $(US) 150)
Total cost around $(US) 625.00 But no image stabilization which would really be a biggie for me when you consider that you will be shooting from a moving, bouncing Land Rover vehicle. Also only a slave flash, instead of a fully coupled flash that is able to communicate with the camera.

The Canon S-5IS outfit will cost (camera $(US) 350, Flash $(US) 120, cards $(US) 125) Total cost= $(US) 595.00 The hot shoe on the S-5IS is huge advantage. It couples the flash and the camera together so that they are able to communicate with each other and work together to get you much better flash photos. You do get full image stabilization + an external flash that works hand in glove and is able to communicate with the S-5IS camera.

The Canon S-3IS outfit will cost (camera $(US) 280, Flash $(US) 150, cards $(US) 125.00) Total cost=$(US) 555.00. You do get image stabilization, but only a slave flash, instead of a fully coupled flash that is able to communicate and work with the S-3IS camera.

The Sony H-2 outfit: camera $(US) 200.00, Flash $(US) 150.00, Cards $(US) 150. Total cost= $500.00. Yes, you get image stabilization, but only a slave flash.

Please understand that I am rounding $$ in coming up with these cost estimates. In short, they are approximations.

The Canon S-5IS , the Canon S-3IS, the Sony H-2 and the Fuji S-6000 all use AA batteries instead of Lithium Ion battery which powers the FZ-50. That would make you far less dependent on a battery charger while on a safari, where electrical power is hard to come by and will probably require plug adapters as well.

There is less $(US) 100.00 difference between the Sony H-2 (a used camera without a manufacturer's guarantee) and the Canon S-5IS outfit. The S-5IS has more MP, a less expensive, but fully coupled flash, and less expensive (SD cards) media. You have viewed John Galt's online albums and you have seen what good photos the Canon S-5IS can take.

I am going to stick to my guns, to me, the Canon S-5IS offers a bigger bang for the buck. it will be also easier to learn and to become photographically skilled in using it.

So I will toss the ball back in the court and let somebody else have a go at it.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Sep 7, 2007, 10:02 PM   #10
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If you started right away, you would have time to accomplish that, if the wedding details do not overcome you.
Hmm wedding? no wedding for me....have been married for 10 years! :-)

Thanks for the feedback mtclimber...I will have to digest this tomorrow. Time for me to head off to bed!
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