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Old Sep 20, 2008, 1:54 PM   #1
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Since this posting isn't confined to any single brand, I figured this was a good a place to post it as anywhere. I certainly hope someone who works a major camera company sees it.

I have a DSLR - a Pentax K200D - and some very high-quality lenses to go with it. I love my Pentax outfit. But I also have a Canon S3 IS because, frankly, megazooms can still be highly useful and a whole lot of fun in the right circumstances.

That said... Canon's just-announced SX1 and SX10 are very disappointing. Things like the continued use of a 1/2.3 sensor and an aperture of f/5.7 at the long end of the zoom lens's range are deal breakers for me. To add insult to injury, rumor has it that the SX1 - with its 4 fps (at full resolution) burst speed - isn't coming to the U.S. But the SX10 - with a 1.6 fps burst speed - is.

Okay, so Canon isn't giving me a reason to upgrade from my S3 IS. But it's not just Canon. Virtually every camera brand offers a megazoom that is attractive in many ways but somehow still disappoints at some important level. Fuji's S100fs comes close - but is plagued by serious chromatic aberration.

So... if you had a panel of marketers and engineers from Canon, Nikon, Sony, Pentax, Olympus and Kodak at your disposal for 10 or 15 minutes, what would be your wish list for the ideal megazoom camera? Here's mine - and I would be willing to pay a price that exceeds the cheapest entry-level DSLRs:

1- Compact size and great ergonomics (my S3 IS is about right - but would be willing to go A BIT larger to allow for a larger sensor, if necessary. The handling of the Olympus SP-570UZ is even better.
2- Sensor in the 1/1.9 or 1/1.7 range at a minimum. A 2/3 sensor or micro 4/3 would be fantastic.
3- A high-quality lens without noticeable fringing and distortion that is at least a 28mm equivalent at the wide end. A 500mm-plus equivalent at the long end is very nice, but I would be willing to shorten that by 100mm in order to preserve image quality if necessary.
4- An aperture range of nothing slower than f/2.8 at the wide and and nothing slower than f/4 at the long end. f/3.5 at the long end would be even better.
5- Image stabilization - either lens or sensor based.
6-A burst mode of 3 fps at full resoluton at a minimum - 4 fps would be fantastic.
7- A user option of selecting a genuine 4:3 or 3:2 aspect ratio - not achieved by just cropping down the 4:3 to get 3:2.
8- A high-resolution electronic viewfinder with a very fast refresh rate and good low-light performance.
9- An articulating LCD screen - also with high resolution, a very fast refresh rate and good low-light performance.
10- Megapixel count isn't that important to me. But since most megazooms offer 10mp these days, that's fine. Don't raise this figure until you can offer a larger sensor and LESS noise to go with the higher resolution.
11-Excellent battery life.

That's my list... perhaps I'll add to it as things occur to me. What do you think? Feel free to poke holes in any of my suggestions.
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Old Mar 6, 2009, 9:05 PM   #2
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My Lumix FZ30 is pretty close to your request, except for its 35mm
(equivalent) widest; the FZ50 didn't expand that, and there hasn't
been an FZ60 (though the lower-end FZ28 does have a 28mm
wide angle). And it appears that Panasonic has given up on the
higher-end FZs, putting all its eggs in the G1 (and now GH1)
basket. Too bad, because the FZ30/50 are great cameras.

One thing you didn't request, which both the FZ30 and FZ50
have, is a manual zoom ring on the lens barrel, where it belongs.
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Old Mar 7, 2009, 3:04 AM   #3
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You mentioned micro 4/3 as an option, and along with that f/2.8 at the wide and nothing slower than f/4 at the long end (say 400-500mm equivalent).
Micro 4/3 and regular 4/3 have the same sensor size.

So it's not possible with that configuration to have 4/3 sensor along with f/2.8 at 28mm equivalent and f/4 at 400mm equivalent, on a Megazoom.

The camera would be around 30cm (one foot) long in the lens area, which defeats the purpose of a Megazoom camera.

Perhaps a 2/3" might be realistic, with the camera being maybe 15cm (about 6") long.
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