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Old Nov 1, 2005, 10:16 PM   #1
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i'm trying to decide on my very first digital camera. my main concern is image quality, but optical zoom is also a relatively important factor. i'm not too worried about IS (which is to say, i'm happy to carry a tripod around). my first big adventure with the camera will be a trip to new zealand, so good landscape capabilities are a must. night shots, portraits, and macros are also up there, along with the general candids.

i'm set on having a model with manual controls - including manual focus - that i can grow into. i won't be able to afford a replacement for a few years, so high build quality is pretty crucial.

i have very limited funds - the sp500 is currently retailing for around 570$AU at the moment, which is the absolute ceiling as far as money goes.

ideally, i'd love a low-end dslr, but since that is way out of my league, as are the prosumer level cams, the fuji 5200 (5600 here in australia), olympus sp500 (i've read that this does and doesn't have manual focus - any clarification?) and the olympus c-55 are what i'm looking at. canon is a no-go because i simply can't risk an e18 popping up just as my aeroplane to new zealand takes off!

the fuji 5200 is top of my list at the moment, however i have concerns over its noise-reduction - does it significantly reduce detail even at lower ISOs? in the sample pictures i've seen around, distant foliage seems to be a vaguely green-coloured mush. is this common to the majority of digital cameras, or is it a characteristic of the 5200 in particular?

any thoughts on what might be the go for me would be greatly appreciated! please feel free to suggest any models i may have overlooked (i have considered the panasonic x12 zooms - too expensive; the sony equivalent that i can't remember the name of - likewise, too expensive; and the various canons, along with the 4mp olympus uzs). i don't think i'm asking for the world, although it may sound like it - i'm aware that with my budget i'm not going to be getting anything mind-blowingly amazing, but i'd like to get as much as i can i've read a few of the threads comparing the 5200 with the sony, panasonic and canon equivalents, which were helpful, but i suppose what i'm really asking for are comparisons within the lower price bracket that the 5200 falls into (around the SP500 level).

thankyou in advance!

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Old Nov 2, 2005, 9:24 AM   #2
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Hi josie: Yes, the Olympus SP-500 has amanual focus option. Here is a quote from Olympus:..." A variety of focusing options, from iESP autofocus through to spot and multi-spot AF and manual focus, allow photographers to dictate the level of control they require...."

The SP-500 would certainly filll your requirements.

However, if cost is a consideration, and you don't have to have a 10X zoom, you can save money by dropping down to the Oly C-5500 sport zoom. A great value for the money, it isabout a$100 cheaper than the SP-500. It is 5MP,5X optical zoom, lots of manual control options, including manual focus, lots of scene modes for different situations, and it uses 4AA batteries. While it does not have the super zoom capability, it seems to meet your listed requirements, and it is getting great comments from its' owners.

The review here onSteve's web site said it gives a great "bang for the bucks".

Good luck on yourselection.

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Old Nov 2, 2005, 9:50 AM   #3
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I can't recommend any model of olympus's c-series, because all the models seem to be discontinued. There will be only the sp-series (and of course the dslrs) of that brand

(because of economic reasons).

Regards Peter
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Old Nov 3, 2005, 5:21 AM   #4
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steven -

thanks for the rec! i actually found the sp500 on sale today for only 60$ more than the c-5500, and decided to go for it. i'm VERY pleased with it, and that's an understatement admittedly it's a little noisy in low-light, but on a 6mp compact, it's not a major issue, and the rest certainly makes up for that.

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