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Old Jul 6, 2005, 10:52 AM   #1
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Sorry about the repeat. Getting my feet wet in posting to forums.

I am buying my first Digital Camera.

I'm looking for a compact or ultra-compact point and shoot. I'm accustomed to having manual control on my old film cameras but I want the wife to be able to use the camera and a point and shoot with multiple scene modes is probably best for her.

While reading many reviews, two features I like the look of are Image Stabilization and Mpeg-4 Video. It is my understanding that image stabilization will lower my chances of a blurry picture especially in low light conditions. I also like the idea of being able to do some video recording with the camera and I like that mpeg-4 while high in quality at 640X480 – 30 frames/sec takes up less space on the card than conventional mpeg codecs.

Also a couple questions about image stabilization. In pictures am I giving up any quality by using this feature? And is the image stabilization feature available during movie mode??

Which cameras would you recommend that meet my needs and criteria???



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Old Jul 6, 2005, 12:05 PM   #2
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The only compact/u-compact digicams with IS are the FX and LZ series from Panasonic. As I do not use a photo camera for video, I don't pay attention to video mode stats, and therefore can't tell you of their video capability. However, you can read the reviews for these models, which will tell you about video mode.

IS doesn't have any effect on image quality, as that is more a function of lens quality, sensor size, etc.. IS does however affect your ability to get a quality image, by decreasing the odds of seeing blur from handholding the shot.

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Old Jul 6, 2005, 1:07 PM   #3
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Stabilization is a great feature but it doesn't help for subject movement. The only company I know of making mechanically stabilized pocket cameras is Panasonic. And they aren't doing a great job IMO. There is no viewfinder and the LCD doesn't gain up properly in low light. They focus fine in low light, but you can't see what you are aiming at.

They have announced the FX8 with much better battery life and high quality movies, albeit not MPEG4. If they fixed the LCD it might not be bad if you don't need a viewfinder. I don't know whether the mechanical stabilization works with the movies. You might have to wait for a review.

Cameras with manual ability are just as easy to use in auto modes as the point and shoots. You don't have to compromise there.

You might want to consider the Fuji F10. The movies are 640 X 480 at 30fps, but not MPEG4. That is exacerbated by having to pay for a large xD card. But the card price difference isn't that great and the F10 is reasonably priced. Their new sensor allows you to crank up the ISO with lower noise than others. That works about as well as stabilization for static subjects in limited light, but works much better if your subject is moving. It doesn't help with shaky movies though. It doesn't have a viewfinder and is P&S like the Panasonics. Not my cup of tea, but people like them.

Many cameras have digital stabilization for the movies and even still shots, but it degrades the image and I don't use it. Mechanical stabilization doesn't degrade quality at all.

I was hoping somebody besides Panasonic would make a pocket camera that was mechanically stabilized with manual modes and a viewfinder. I gave up waiting and bought a Casio Z750. It is a great little camera but not stabilized.

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