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Old Nov 25, 2004, 10:29 PM   #1
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I'm looking for a camera mostly to shoot my kids on the soccer fields, occasionally at their concerts, and vacations. My Canon A40 succumbed to the dreaded E18 errorand I'd like to upgrade. I know I need a zoom > than 3. How many MP would I need? I'm not quite sure of the specs that would let me get the shots I want. I like to print to 4x6, 5x7 and maybe an 8x10 if I could ever get adecentcloseup shot. I would also lke to keep the price well below $400, since prices are falling this season. I've been looking at the Konica Z2, Fuji 3100, and various Nikons. Any suggestions?

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Old Nov 25, 2004, 11:37 PM   #2
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Your needs aren't out of the ordinary, so lots of good choices out there. Fuji, Nikon, Canon and Olympus have cameras in your price range. I think an excellent choice for your needs would be the Panasonic FZ3, which has 12x zoom w/image stabilisation, manual control, and enough mp's to do 8x10's. Canon also has the 1S, which if I remember correctly has 10x zoom w/image stabilisation.

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Old Nov 26, 2004, 3:41 AM   #3
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First it is easy to worry about the megapixel issue but there is no need. Just ask yourself how big are your photos going to be? Up to A4 or letter size, a 4/5mp camera will do fine, but going to A3 then you most probably will need more. Having the printer to do enlargements isn't in everyone's budget either.This enables you to buy "yesterday's" camera much cheaper than the existing model with no loss of resolution. A prime example is the Sony P100 and P150 - not cameras for your needs, but this will give you an idea as to the difference in price for not too much.

Moving to sports photography, lack of instant shutter response is a problem with the prosumer range, and You'll need to search around very carefully in Steve's reviews to check this out. I am a motor racing journalist, so I fully understand the need for shutter speed, and in my experience only an SLR will give you what you really need, but then budgetary reasons constrain. I took the time to have a brief look at the cameras available that would, I feel, suit your needs, and I would comment that for sports you will need at least a 200mm and preferably 300mm lens at maximum zoom. I came across the Minolta Dimage Z2 which has 4mp, a 38/380 zoom lens, and I quote an extract here from Steve's review, which you should read in depth yourself:-

"The Z2's shooting performance is very good. From power up to the first image captured measured approx. 2.7 seconds, most of which is required to extend the lens. Shutter lag, the delay between depressing the shutter and capturing the image, was an impressive 1/10 second when pre-focused, and 4/10 second including autofocus time. Shot-to-shot delay averaged around 1 second in single frame mode. The Continuous and Progressive modes captured five shots in an average of 2.5 seconds. These results were obtained using a Sandisk Ultra II 512MB SD memory card with the camera set to 2272x1704 image size and Fine quality. Sports shooters will enjoy 2 modes of rapid shooting: Continuous, which is a standard burst capture mode, and Progressive, which captures images continuously at about 2 frames per second but saves only the last 5 frames when the shutter is released. When shooting in either continuous mode, record times will vary depending on lighting, ISO speeds, etc. Unfortunately, the viewfinder blanks out momentarily inbetween each frame captured which often made it difficult to follow fast-moving subjects.
The vast majority of our test images were sharp, well exposed and properly saturated. You'll get great results in auto or "P" mode and the pre-programmed scene modes will help you out in special situations. The Z2 has a moderate wide-angle field of view, and its builtin flash has a powerful range (when in Auto ISO) of up to 20 feet. You won't be able to illuminate an entire dance floor, but your indoor living room shots and group portraits should please you. If you need more range than the built-in flash provides, you can attach the Minolta Maxxum Program Flash 5600 HS, Flash 3600 HS or 2500D to its top-mounted flash hot shoe"

Steve liked it, it is in his preferred list of 10X zoom cameras, it is good for sports and has a good flash, and in Steve's review is for sale for as low as $310. I don't think you can do much better. Happy snapping,

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Old Nov 26, 2004, 11:41 AM   #4
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Thanks so much! I was leaning towards the Z2, and you convinced me.
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