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Old Jul 27, 2005, 6:06 PM   #1
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OK, I know there have been a number of posts on here, and I have just spent a couple of evenings trawling through reviews.

I am heading off travelling for 2 months to South America, and have decided to get a new ultra-zoom digital camera - will give me plenty of scope for photographing wildlife and landscapes.

I had been looking at the Nikon Coolpix 8800 - but have decided that I don't really need the 8mp - 5mp should suffice for A4 size prints (more than sufficient for me). Hence, the extra £150 is not worth it.

I am undecided mainly between the Panasonic FZ5 and FZ20 - I would have loved to have gone for the FZ30, but I am leaving before it is released.

I have also looked at the Canon S2 IS and the Sony DSC-H1.

What are people's opinions between the FZ5 and FZ20 - it seems to me, that the FZ5 does pretty much everything that the FZ20 does, but is lighter and cheaper. I might decide to flog the camera to my dad when I get back and go for the FZ30 which looks like it will be the "dogs doo-dahs",

Are there any other issues I should be aware of? Or does anyone strongly suggest I take another look at the Canon or Sony?

Thanks for any suggestions.

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Old Jul 27, 2005, 8:56 PM   #2
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All I can tell you is that I chose the FZ20 over the FZ5 for one reason: I wanted manual focus. If this isn't something that matters to you, the FZ5 may be a better choice, especially if you are trying to travel as light as possible.

I should also point out that I rarely use the manual focus ring, but most of the time my camera stays in "manual focus" mode. That means that I have control over autofocus. I can hold the focus mode switch down and force the camera to focus on a subject whenever I want, then I'm free to shoot that subject as many times as I can, without having to wait for focus on every shot. I think Panasonic calls this feature "one-shot autofocus," which is confusing, since it's really "one focus, many shots". I just call it focus lock, and I consider it very important. I think the FZ5 offers something like this; you can move the focus trigger from the shutter release to an auxillary button. If this feature is important to you, please check with some actual FZ5 users (perhaps asking in the Panasonic forum) to find out more.
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Old Jul 27, 2005, 10:45 PM   #3
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The FZ5 is considerably smaller and lighter than the others. If I were taking a camera on a 2 month trip that would be a big consideration. It has less CA than the S2 and H1 but the resolution is just a tad lower. You probably wouldn't notice either unless you were making a very large print or view it 100% onscreen so you have to scroll around to see the whole thing. Some people do that just to annoy themselves with imperfections, but they willall give you excellent photos.

The S2 is like having a camcorder with you. It has high quality movies with stereo sound and you can use the optical zoom while you record. It is a heavy camera once you put the four NiMH batteries in it, but it is lighter than a camera and a camcorder. The movies aren't MPEG4 so they require a large card. I also like the control setup on the Canon better. The flip out LCD is handy for odd angles and seeing over things, and it protects the LCD when you store it with the LCD in.

The H1 is a little slow for lag at full telephoto. And it has no burst mode. It is the heaviest of the lot even though it carries only 2 batteries. It takes excellent photos like the others.

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