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Old Apr 1, 2006, 5:35 PM   #1
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Hello everybdoy. Few weeks ago my dear old Olympus C2100-UZ had its 4th anniversary, but I consider getting something new. I already did a lot of reading and I am a bit biased towards the FZ-30, but since that makes you blind I would even more like to hear other opinions and points I might have overlooked

Since I do have my 2100UZ for such a long time I do have some certain expections when buying a new camera. Maybe it's a psychological thing, but I do have the requirement, that any new camera should have nothing in which it lacks in comparison with the old camera. Image stabilization for example grew very dear on me, so it's a total MUST HAVE for any new camera. The Fuji S9000 sure looks like a great camera, but I know I wouldn't be happy with it. At one point I would take pictures with the tele and think: Hey, my oldtimer did this much better, how can it be that the new camera I spent much money on makes worse pictures. For this reason I would love to hear especially from who had previously also 2100-UZ and what experiences they made, where they for example were disappointed with a new camera.

I want to point out right at the begin, that at this point I won't buy DSLR. Among the reasons are the (usually)missing live view and video capabilities. True, I don't use them often, but I still want to have the capability, just in case. Last year for example while visiting a Russian monastery I learned that the patriarch Alexej was present. Standing in a huge crowd of people and being only 1.70 m tall I was very glad to have overhead view. Those situations don't come often, but I would want to have the capability, just in case. And not say later "I wish I had my good old 2100-UZ with me. So DSLRs are for the moment out of the picture, we'll see what in 5 years will be.

On the standard question, what I would actually want to take pictures of: The main usage of my camera will be to document and preserve memories from trips to distant places. Unfortunately this means a lot of different things.
It is about 50:50 between vast landscapes and architecture in cities. It means pictures outdoors with so much sunlight, that some cheap cameras failed, and inside dark churches and museums. Nature would also matter and being able to take pictures of an eagle high up in the air with a long tele should be possible. Among the few things that I can rule almost out are portraits and sports fotography, I usually don't have that fast moving objects. Though a fast trigger time is definitely a plus, annoys me on my old camera. Well, anyways, looks like I need a camera with a zoom from 20 mm to 1000 mm and ISO from 50 up to 3200. And it should fit in the pocket of my jacket ;-) Well, I am aware that there has to be some compromise if the usage is that wide. A good wide angle is among the shortcomings of my previous camera and would be really a huge plus, however there seems to be not much choice here. The wide-angle Oly C-8080 of 28 mm is nice, but the 140 mm tele is way too short, I would miss the 380 mm of my 2100-UZ too much. Same for the Kodak P880. The 200 mm of the KM Dimage A200 are about as low as I think I would go in terms of tele, so that camera is among the ones that look interesting to me.
Since there are not many cameras with good wide-angle and at least a bit of tele I am prepared to go for a 10-12 ultra-zoom and deal with a wide-angle adapter lens, that is what I am currently doing.
I do posess a tripod, but I don't really want to depend on it, when travelling it is often really invonvenient and not allowed in some places.

My pictures are usually watched on computer screens with resolutions of 1200x1600 or less, when doing a presentation on video beamers with even lower resolution, when putting them on web pages, way less. I hardly to printouts. And I always look at my pictures full screen, not at 100%. In the past 4 years I have done practically no cropping, I use the zoom to zelect the object. And with 2 MPixels there is not much to crop. But I don't expect to change that habit in future. So I think I NEED an effective resolution of about 3 MPixel, so far the 2 MPixel of my camera have served well, but it's on the lower end. Of course when buying a new camera it should have way more than 3 MPixel, but what I am saying is that this famous noise of the Panasonic (or any other small-chip prosumer camera without excessive de-noising) when viewed at 100 % doesn't matter to me. What counts for me is, what camera gives the best pictures when viewed at a resolution of about 3 Mpixel. I think good color rendition is here more important for me, since that affects the picture even when watched in full screen.
I am looking mostly at cameras with 8-9 MPixel simply because it is state of the art. And because I don't want my grandchildren in 50 years when they watch my pictures on a huge high resolution tv to ask me why I was still using only lousy 3 MPixel when everyone else had 8 MPixel.
But for now a good picture viewed at about 3 MPixel matters most, the rest is just bonus. I might consider a 5 MPixel camera if it has a considerable advantage compared with the 8 Mpixel ones.

Some kind of video function is almost a must have. I do presentations about the trips I made, so a short video clip is a great way to loosen up the whole thing. Quality isn't that important here, the whole thing is viewed from afar on a beamer anyways. The 320x240 videos of the 2100-Uz are horrible, but even they do serve the purpose. But of course with a new camera it should be 640x480. I would prefer video function of unlimited length, but videos of only 1-2 minute lenth would also be ok, it would serve its purpose in presentations.
The video function is to 99.5% a requirement for me. My father has a digital camcorder and I might borrow this for long distance trips, so the video function of the digicam becomes less important. If a camera that has no video is so incredibly much better than any camera with video I might get convinced. But it is very very unlikely, if the cameras are somehow similar video is definitely a must.

I haven't set myself a fixed budget. Pretty much any non-DSLR I have seen so far would be ok. Entry-level DSLRs too, but not with all the lenses I would want to get. But currently I am not interested in DSLRs anyways. When looking at the price for me less the absolute value matters than the "bang for the buck". So I am willing to buy a more expensive camera if it offers much better quality and functionality.

So what are the cameras I should look at?
The fz-30 is so far on top of my list. I don't care about the noise issues many complain about, when looked at at full-screen that should be hardly an issue, on the video beamer even less. If necessary to shoot a picture I would use this camera even at ISO400. Sure not great, but if the question is no picture or a noisy picture I won't hesitate to give it a try, and when giving a presentation no one cares about noise anyways.
The only real drawback is the wide-angle of 35 mm. Better than the 38 mm of my 2100-UZ, but still not really satisfying, so getting a vonverter lens is definitely calculated in, maybe even the one I use on the Uzi works (Sony VCL-MHG07). But getting a wide-zoom camera like the Oly-8080 and trying to improve it's tele with an adpater lense doesn't seem to be a better way.

The KM Dimage A200 also looks interesting to me, as long it is still available. Wide angle and a 2/3 CCD compensate for the short tele.

The Fuji S9000 fails on the image stabilization. Same for the Samsung Pro815.
The KM Dimage has only 5 MPixel and seem to offer no real advantage, also small chip. Same goes for the Sony DSC-H1. And I don't like memory sticks.
Sony R-1 has no tele.
The other Panasonics seem to have no real advantage over the FZ-30, price is not an issue in this range and I don't care that much about weight.
The Nikon Coolpix 8800 is among the ones I look at closer.
Any cameras I missed so far?
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Old Apr 1, 2006, 5:53 PM   #2
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Missed the Canon S2 IS
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Old Apr 3, 2006, 12:02 PM   #3
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The Canon S3 IS has also been announced: http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/spec...sp?dontcount=1

I expect you'll have to wait a while for reviews though. Some websites you may want to keep an eye on: the afore mentioned dpreview.com, imaging-resource.com, megapixel.net, dcresource.com and of course this website. On the home page of this site you can find the button Digicam-Related Sites. Placing the mouse over it causes a menu to appear. Clicking Digicam Web Sites takes you to a webpage with a list of sites to check out, including sites such as the afore mentioned dcresource and dpreview.

The Canon S2 IS is well known as a hybrid (camcorder and still camera in one) and can make use of optional wide- and teleconvertors. The same goes for the S3 IS (according to the press release).
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Old Apr 3, 2006, 12:32 PM   #4
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With the soon to be relaeased Canon S-3, the prices on the S-2 have dropped, making it an excellent buy.

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Old Apr 3, 2006, 3:33 PM   #5
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uz-guy wrote:
The only real drawback is the wide-angle of 35 mm.so getting a vonverter lens is definitely calculated in, maybe even the one I use on the Uzi works (Sony VCL-MHG07).
What I checked FZ30 has 55mm filter thread and that converter has 52mm thread (37mm/52mm/58mm - with supplied converters for 37 mm and 58 mm) so without testing it would be hard to say would that work well, any benefit of wide converter becomes quite questionable if there's any vignetting.

Basing to your use you would want to keep wide converter on most of the time which could seriously limit use of longer tele, wide converters are optically designed to work at wide angle and they don't work well with zooming. (without degrading image quality)
Plus I can quarantee that screwing on/off converters is really royal pain in the neck if you don't have too much time.

It just happens to be unfortunate fact that real wide angle and long tele are optically very hard, almost impossible combination, if lens' size has to be kept on convenient level and maker doesn't have really big budget.
Myself I've been using 28-200mm for three years (two with Minolta 7i and one with KM A2) and while longer tele would be sometimes nice it ain't worth of sacrificing wide angle, especially because in most cases were longer tele would be needed even that 400mm wouldn't be really enough... best animal/bird photos are taken when you happen to be close to it by accident/on other side of window. (just week ago got "full frame" shot of Ural Owl/Strix uralensis by later method)
As to what I photograph, it's mostly general nature, sky phenomenons and thunderstorms.
Some examples: 1, 2 (including frozen landscapes when there's chance)

Here's some low light architecture examples what can be gotten from sensor/lens combination:

Actually tele of Fuji S9000 is such "dim" that its somewhat better high ISOs aren't enough to well overcome disadvantage... for example A200's tele is nearly one stop brighter, and for stationary targets (low light architecture/landscapes) AS would enable two-three stops longer shake free exposures.

Image stabilization for example grew very dear on me, so it's a total MUST HAVE...

Some kind of video function is almost a must have.
Video clips are actually area were image stabilization is extremely usefull... without it any longer tele video becomes "nausea causing jerky" unless you have really stable hands!
And all current digicams take higher resolution videos than what VHS recorder is actually capable to resolving. (roughly 320x240)
Actually even A2's 544 x 408 resolution video was enough to fool few stormchasers considering what I used to take them.

Well, anyways, looks like I need a camera with a zoom from 20 mm to 1000 mm and ISO from 50 up to 3200. And it should fit in the pocket of my jacket ;-)
Now didn't you forgot HDTV (1080p, not some interlaced crap) resolution video mode...
Wouldn't it be nice if we could have even just half perfect camera?

And it just seems to be going to other direction, I bought used A2 as spare because no other camera has even remotely equal features. (now I'm dedicating it behind this combination)
In general "non-DSLR" cameras are just more and more point&"shoothesized" to button zoom, menu surfing point&prays while DSLRs are still in crawling age when it comes to how far those are in digital age....
Sure really wide angle zoom lenses of DSLRs would be nice in stormchasing but without video ability I wouldn't have gotten any material from last summer's best thunderstorm.
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Old Apr 3, 2006, 4:50 PM   #6
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On the Canon S2 IS:
I don't see any real advantage in comparison with the FZ-30: They both have almost the same focal range 35-420 vs 36-432. Both have IS, both have unlimited video up to VGA 30 FPS. The S2 IS only 5 MPixel and has similar noises issues as the FZ-30. Also, the Chip with a format of 1/2.5'' is really tiny, if my calculations are right it has 4 times the pixel density of the FZ-30.
Anything I overlooked? Any reason why the S2 IS might be competitive with the FZ-30? Ignoring prize and size, which are not that important to me. The AA batteries are nice to have but no deciding factor.

E.T wrote:
What I checked FZ30 has 55mm filter thread and that converter has 52mm thread (37mm/52mm/58mm - with supplied converters for 37 mm and 58 mm) so without testing it would be hard to say would that work well, any benefit of wide converter becomes quite questionable if there's any vignetting.[/quote]
In know, I am very well prepared to get a new converter. I read on one site that my filter works with the FZ-30, but I don't count on it.
The Olympus WCON-07 should work according to several reports.
So my current top candidates are the FZ-30 in combination with a WCON-07 (gives focal range of 24.5 - 420 mm) and the Dimage A200 with a tele converter like the Olympus TCON-17 (gives focal range of 28 - 340 mm). While FZ-30 has still a wider focal range they both cover pretty much what I want.
I totally agree with you E.T, that wide-angle is much more important than tele and used more often. It's much less of a hassle to use the few times I need a long tele a converter than the many times I need the wide angle. Also in terms of imaga quality, which doesn't get better with a converter.

So currently the A200 tops the FZ-30 on my list. Also because I like the idea of having a 2/3" chip and higher ISO-levels.

However, I do have some questions concerning image quality. In contradiction to what everyoen seems to write and to my knowledge of the bigger chip of the A200, the FZ-300 seems to make better pictures, even with ISO-400: DP-Review has a side by side comparison of FZ-30 and A200 http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/pana...z30/page10.asp
To me it looks like the FZ-30 has the better picture. Even the noise leves seem to me be higher with the A200. I am not sure how representative the test is because the lights were different, but I was a bit surprised. Any other opinions on this comparison, is it just my impression?
Another comparison I found were those pictures from the geram site digitalkamera.de:
Again the A200 seems to me to be the noisier one. I don't care about noise seen at 100%, but when viewed at full screen with the A200 I see some greyish stuff in the black field on the left side of the picture, and with the FZ-30 not. The FZ-30 did expose a bit darker though, so that might be the explanation.
Does anyone have more information on a direct comparison of FZ-30 and Dimage A200?
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Old Apr 3, 2006, 5:49 PM   #7
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You overlooked that S2 has button zoom.
(after you once use manual zoom button zooms are out of question)

Considering difference in pics between FZ30 and A200 big part of that comes from incamera processing.
FZ30 does more noise removing, noise removing (+sharpening) shows in shot with different color squares.
Also FZ30's internal processing seems to be really good considering resolving details.

As to what can be gotten from that 8MP 2/3" sensor...
Here's quickly Noise Ninja -post processed (few clicks of button) SIO400&800 noise test shots from Steve's A2 review:
http://rapidshare.de/files/14515406/...essed.exe.html (self extracting RAR-archive)
A2 has slightly worser incamera noise reduction than A200 but nevertheless incamera processing is very light and post-processing can save lot.

(BTW, without effective noise removing S9000 doesn't have such low noise as advertised)

Actually these (Konica)Minoltas are at their best when bypassing average incamera processing with RAW and using good converter which gives much sharper results:
http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/koni...200/page12.asp (zoom to 200% to see difference better)
Free RawShooter Essentials would do same as PS+ACR.
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