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Old Dec 26, 2002, 6:46 AM   #1
jww
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Default Help With New Purchase

Still considering a purchase, but have backed my timeframe to 3-6 months from now. We recently bought a mini-dv camera with a digital still camera feature and learned from first hand experience that DSC on video cams aren't all they are advertised to be.

Am considering (in no specific order) the following:
1. Oly c730
Lots of options with scene modes, appeture and shutter priority, as well as manual & noise reduction. Love the thought of dual media - especially the new xd card. Am enamoured with that honking huge zoom. A little concerned about overall quality - doesn't seem too solid in the hand. LCD is a bit small to really utilize all the viewing features. This camera appears mostly to me as a c4000 with a big zoom and a few less pixels.

2. Fujifilm S602 Zoom
Not as long a zoom as the 730, but definately a solid looking camera. Fully-featured except, I haven't heard if there is a noise reduction feature. I like the 1600 ISO setting, but am confused at the 160 ISO setting. Why doesn't Fuji offer 100 ISO like other manufacturers? Also - TIFF or RAW features are limited in picture size. Like the idea of the 6MP - even thought it's interpolated. Like the 730 dual media is possible - but microdrives are pretty expensive still - so I would probably stick with compact flash or smartmedia (is SM really on the way out??). Some ergonomic features I really like are the evf hood that surrounds your eye, the double-control wheel features as well as that nice big and clear LCD on the back. 6X zoom is pretty good, although the 730 at 10X would be better - so long as I get my tripod out - I don't have surgeon-like stability in my hands. The test shots I have seen with and without flash are excellent. I can't quite figure out why this is the most expensive of the group yet - expecially with the somewhat limiting manual focus (what - no distance metering display???).

3. Olympus c4000
Dollar for dollar, probably the best all round buy feature-wise, but zoom is very important to me - possibly the key feature I am looking for - and I really don't want to go with add-on lenses. Too much cost and bother. Like the Fuji - I like the larger LCD here as well. The menu system, although getting plenty of grief in reviews seems pretty intuitive to me. No sound on the video is a bit annoying - even though we have the video camera for moving pictures and sound - I can see some value to ripping off a quicktime movie and sending it out as is via email to family and friends.

Over-all I like the size of the Olympus products - and both seem to be something that my wife wouldn't shy away from using. The Fuji does look a bit daunting to use (mind you I have downloaded the manual, and it's not too bad to figure out).

I do want to be able to do panorama, and the Olys both have an assist feature built in - so long as you use Oly memory cards. The Fuji doesn't -I guess I could buy software for that, but if I can get something with a hardware feature, I would prefer it.

I would appreciate hearing from users of all 3 cameras - especially in terms of pushing the cameras beyond their limits with either sports, landscape, portrait, or night shots. I have looked at the Cannons - but they really don't turn my crank, and are a bit on the high-side price wise. I hear that prices usually go down again around the time of the next big photo-show in Florida (can't recall the name) as well - isn't that set for sometime in February/March this year?

Thanks for any help. ...jww[/u][/b]
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Old Dec 28, 2002, 12:14 PM   #2
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Of the ones you mention I think the 602 is the best. I own a 730 and initailly I was disappointed with the pics it took. It took me some messing around with hot pixel mapping to get this beast to take decent photos.

OK, why am I reluctant to recommend it. Well, I hear others haven't been so lucky as me with hot pixel mapping to get rid of the noise otherwise I'd say buy it.

I've been lucky, you might not be!
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Old Dec 31, 2002, 7:48 AM   #3
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Quote:
I do want to be able to do panorama, and the Olys both have an assist feature built in - so long as you use Oly memory cards. The Fuji doesn't -I guess I could buy software for that, but if I can get something with a hardware feature, I would prefer it.
Since you seem to know how to use and want a camera with manual settings, the assist mode isn't at all needed. The best panorama software is free (http://www.path.unimelb.edu.au/~dersch/ - mirror site) though it is also the most difficult to install, to learn, and to use. Well worth the effort.

The feature to look for if you are interested in panoramas is a wide-angle lens and/or the ability to put a high quality wide-angle add-on lens. Being able to stitch with fewer shots will make life much easier than any assist mode.
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... but microdrives are pretty expensive still
I haven't looked in the 8 months since I bought my 1G microdrive for $240 when 256M cards were going for about $200, but I'd bet microdrives are substantially cheaper than the same amount of solid state memory because they wouldn't be able to sell them otherwise. If you are going to shoot panoramas, you are going to want a really big chunk of memory.
Quote:
is SM really on the way out??
SmartMedia isn't on the way out - there are to many cameras using it for SM to vanish. However it does seem to be limited to 128M. Keep in mind that a one row, 360 degree panorama with a 35mm (equiv) lens will use 12 individual pictures. Since a 3Mpixel camera's images are roughly 1.3M each, a 128M SM card will hold about 100 pictures. Or about eight panoramas. Fewer with higher resolution or shooting RAW. You do want lots of memory and/or wide angle if you are going to shoot panos.
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Old Dec 31, 2002, 9:03 AM   #4
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Many Newbies seem concerned about 'SM going out'. When PC133 DRAM memory dropped in price like a stone, I bought buckets of it and still have a capable pc for my photo work, doing lots of multi-tasking and rendering with reasonable speed.

Think memory and cam together. If you buy large expensive xd now in big lumps, thinking you're future proof, the increasing Mpix cams will likely blow your old cards away on size.

The only caution on the 602, which I have, is CF seems a variable feast on speed/performance - so your upgrade thinking should be SM to microdrive. BUT SM is consistently fast, so cheapest generic brands are compatible. If you're thinking 'I want to shoot raw TIFF' then even with SM and the flash re-cycle time, you might not like the cams speed. Great cam at 3Mpix though! I keep a CF card in the slot as emergency, in case I fill the SM.

Thank you Bill for the tip on wideangle for shooting panos!
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Old Jan 1, 2003, 10:28 AM   #5
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Another panorama issue is a remote shutter release - the electronic cable release. It is possible to shoot without it, but life is much better with it. Any time you are going to shoot off a tripod (Do it often for better pictures, not just panoramas), a remote is really nice to have. Seems a lot of cameras don't have it included or don't have a cheap/easy way to add a remote release.
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