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estlast Jul 13, 2005 5:59 PM


I am looking to buy my first digital camera, and find myself going around in circles trying to make a decision...

The things I would like are...

- something that looks like an SLR but isn't!

- easy to use, but with enough features for me to advance my skills over time without having to upgrade too soon

- good picture quality to a reasonable size (of course!) - ideally to be able to occassionally print 14x11" or above

- good value for money - mid-price (about NZ$500)

I have taken a fancy to the Fujifilm Finepix S5500 for some reason, but would be grateful for some knowledgeable advice about whether this is the best option in that price range before I make the big purchase!

Thanks very much for your help

rinniethehun Jul 13, 2005 7:02 PM

Good choice, estlast...I don't think there is anything close to the S5500 in its price range. I have the S5100 (US version of the 5500), and love it. I'm not sure about making prints larget than 11x14, though. With 4 MP, I think that 11x14 is about the limit, if you expect a reasonable quality print. Other than that, it's a great camera, that's easy to use and has enough manual controls to improve your photographic skills.

the Hun

PhilR. Jul 13, 2005 7:09 PM

I might be mistaken, but I believe that the 5500 is the same as the 5100 here in the U.S.. If I'm right, then IMO although it is a very good camera, it doesn't have enough megapixels to do a consistently good jobat print sizes above 11x14 (even 11x14 is probably pushing it). I would pick something with at least 5mp, or more for 11x14 and above.

"SLR-like, but isn't" is a good way to describe the Panasonic FZ20. This model has a12x stabilized zoom lens (which the 5500 lacks), and manual exposure modes accessible via mode dial. It also has manual focus by turning the lens barrel, which is something seldom seen in fixed-lens cameras.

Perhaps an even better choice, but that might be out of your price range, is the Minolta A200.

There are good reviews here and at several other good digicam sites for these two models.


estlast Jul 13, 2005 8:51 PM

Thanks for the replies.

I didn't trust my own judgement (especially when I know so little about digital cameras!), so it's good to get some other opinions.

Printing at 11x14" is a bit of a dream, so maybe I'll curb that particular requirement. Might check out the other cameras mentioned - Panasonic FZ20 & Minolta A200 so I can compare.

Cheers, Esther :-)

PhilR. Jul 13, 2005 11:14 PM

If you keep the 11x14 requirement, then the Minolta A200 would be your best bet, although again it might be out of your price range.

If 11x14 is as high as you would go, then I would think the Panny FZ20 would be fine.

If you decide to drop the 11x14 requirement, then you have a few more choices. These include the Panny FZ10 and 15, which are the same size of the 20, but w/fewer mp's. There are also a few cameras that haver more or less the same general form of an slr, but are smaller than a dslr or the large FZ's. These include the Panasonic FZ3/4/5, and Fuji 5100/5500.

As you might have been able to tell, anything that is slr-like will most likely have a lot of zoom. If you don't actually need a lot of zoom, then you can get by with a much smaller camera, as long as you don't mind that it doesn't look "slr-like".


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