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Old Nov 4, 2006, 11:59 PM   #1
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I am considering a Panasonic fz7 or the Canon S3

Since I can't ask a dealer to let me takethe S3outside in the bright Florida sunshine or even a dark room, I was wondering from owners out there what kind of experiences you have had.

I read that the viewfinder is very hard to see in bright sunshine. If true, this would rule out the S3 for me in here in Florida (go figure).

Also how isthe LCD or viewfinder in low light?

thanks

gregg


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Old Nov 5, 2006, 3:58 AM   #2
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Hello Greg.

Iv'e never been much impressed with lcd screens in bright light particularly as I use bifocal specs(try a shot of an aircraft on a bright dayusing an lcd), most lcd's are 110000 or so pixels and to be really clear double that would be good but not many cameras have that number.

I'm at loss why few cameras now come with viewfinders, surely there can't be a more stupid way of taking pics than by lcd screens. Even the A710 IS is let down by only having an 80% view.

I'm using an A710 is at the moment and have had a Pana FZ10 and an OLy C700 UZ, all the lcd's were much the same.

So, I think you are stuck with it, butmy preference is an EVF as beingthe best of a bad lot even if the low light performance is not that good.

The FZ 7 will be much the same as the S3, both take good pics though.

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Malcolm
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Old Nov 5, 2006, 12:21 PM   #3
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thanks malcolm

I have two olympus cameras c-3040 and c-5000 with optical viewfinder...here in florida I can use a hoodman over the LCD...but....I heard that the electronic viewfinder in the S3 is awful and pretty useless in bright sunshine while the panasonic fz7 is pretty good, gains up for low lightand has a high angle mode. Iam hoping to hear some stories from canon S3 owner to see if the reviewers were exagerating the EVF problems in bright light.

http://www.hoodmanusa.com if you are interested...bought mine from a local camera store though...about $20

gregg

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Old Nov 5, 2006, 1:29 PM   #4
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Many LCD screens can be seen in bright sunlight if you actually point them towards the sun. This is not useful for taking pictures, though, but at least you can change settings and preview (to a limited extent) pictures already taken. I had a Kodak camera that the LCD supposedly had some reflective surface behind just for this purpose. My cell phone seems to be the same way too.

Just tried with my current Canon camera in the bright afternoon sun (Puerto Rico's sun is similar or brigther than Florida's :-)) and the LCD is remarkably good even when the sun is shining directly on it when pointing to a subject away from the sun. I say it is perfectly usable for most situations. My camera is an A610 and the A710 probably uses the same LCD screen. The LCD is not reflective like the Kodak was but seems to be bright enough to be usable.
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Old Nov 5, 2006, 3:41 PM   #5
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Thanks Juana. Your 710 is a great camera, but I believe your viewfinder is optical (like my two olympus models). Canon refers to it as "Real-image optical zoom viewfinder." Most optical viewfinders behave the same way and vary little other than % of coverage. On the other hand, Electronic viewfinders for long zoom cameras varysubstantially...not just brand to brand but from model to model within a single manufacturer..from pixel count, to refresh rate, to using it in bright light and low light situations. Some have a hard time following a subject, others freeze for an extended period of time after you take the shot, and some are completely unusable in very low or very bright light.

It can be frustrating trying to compare a camera's EVFwhen there is no way to try itunder these circumstances unless I buy it. So I have to rely on the reviewers observations, forums like these, photo samples all over the internetand then go with my gut feeling. Of course then the price comes in. I'm on a very tight budget. The panasonic FZ7 is the lowest price long zoom with image stabilization. The canon S3 has been dropping in price and comes very close at #2 in price.

gregg
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Old Nov 7, 2006, 5:22 PM   #6
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I had the A540 for about a week (returned it). Optical (edit: viewfinder) was nice, but inaccurate on decades of film cameras (on purpose). Optical might have been accurate on the 540, but I didn't check reviews.

Bought the S3, I've had it for 2-3 weeks now. There is a day and a night setting, which change the LCD and EVF brightness together (use one or the other, not both simultaneously on S3).

I haven't had a lot of super-bright sunshine yet, but no problems with LCD or EVF. If the LCD gets to be as hard to read as my cell-phone's LCD, I'll have to use EVF. These things aren't perfect, but I'm okay with it. (I've heard the "hoodman" isn't as helpful on S3 as it is on other models.)

At night, the "gained up" image on the LCD and EVF looks worse than the highest ISO setting (in final picture), and brightness (preview after each shot) might bear ZERO resemblance to the actual pic on the SD card. And if there's just no light, well, the LCD/EVF won't be very helpful before the shot.

I suspect all LCDs are like this, even on 2 MP pocket point - and - shoot models from 5 years ago.

The EVF doesn't show all the "fine details" that my brain expects, but it works for composition and *_some_* details. I assume all EVFs are this way. I think you can get an optical viewfinder on a 10X or 12X optical zoom, but only on a dSLR, out of my price range.

I can only recommend lots and lots of practice -- and have fun! Experiment with long exposures at night, whether it is city skylines or festive christmas lights on houses in the coming weeks. Practice = experience.

If you try the Canon and the Panny in a store, the darkest place might be between / behind two big-screen TVs (Best Buy, CC, Wal-Mart).

Personally, inaccurate battery life gauges on proprietary batteries sent me into the NiMH AA camp. Really, you should be pleased with either model. Grab an extra battery (or set of them) and HAVE FUN!!!!!

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Old Nov 7, 2006, 9:15 PM   #7
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thanks, saturn dude

although many stores have their cameras chained to the display and you can't move anywhere beyond the wire's 3 ft length. Circuit city refused to let me try a clearance olympus (over a year ago) in their dark car stereo area or an office area (where he could dim the lights)or anywhere else in the store for that matter. The sales guy even took it in a strange direction andoffered to put it in a camera case, put a penny in there and then set the timer and close it.

I left and purchased it elsewhere

gregg

PS...I'm leaning toward the fz7 because of the price andI already have 52mm filters from my olympus which will mount on the barrel that comes with the fz7 and Ihave a very goodolympus wide angle converter that would mount on it with a step up 55mm ring or a barrel wider at theend

on the other hand, I'd love the swing out lcd, the computer remote, the self timer "burst" mode on the S3

so we'll see


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Old Nov 7, 2006, 10:24 PM   #8
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I guess all I can think of is to throw a sweater over the area in front of the camera. Or put the camera under an overturned copy-paper box (or other box). But this might look strange.

Besides, if they really wanted your business, they would help you out more. They could hold on to your wallet or something while you examined each model.

Lensmate has a nice 52mm and 58mm adapter for the S2/S3, but if you've got 55mm stuff, well.... Whatever you do you'll be happy I think.



P.S. My Honda CM400T wouldn't stand a chance against the GSX-Rs, etc. I saw last time I was in Clearwater, but at least I've got something!

(My favorite Florida experience involves hearing "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas" right after Thanksgiving. Seemed oddly out of place down there.)

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REMEMBER: 1. Preserve Nature. 2. Always wear a helmet.
3. Ride carefully. 4. Read owners manual carefully before riding.
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