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Old Jan 23, 2006, 8:39 PM   #1
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Chiapas, Mexico.

I'm planning yo undwertake research on the neotropical otter here in Chiapas, Mexico as part of a masters degree.I want to take some good photoes of the otters in the wild. As i have limited funds I have decided for the moment to buy a digital super zoom (non slr). After weeks of reading reviews I have decided on either the Panasonic FZ20 or the Canon S2 IS. Most of my photoes will be in good light although some taken at dusk or sunset will be in lower light conditions. I plan to produce prints, most of 8x10 although some may be of 11x 14 or larger. (ones taken in good light conditions). I am looking for good clear images, relatively easy to download and possibilites of buying a 1.7x or 2x converter of a cost of between 100-200 dollars. Which camera (the canon or panasonic) produces the best images and lowest noise levels? Now I see there will be a new Panasonic FZ7 so maybe this will be even better than the above models! Any help for my final decision is welcome!


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Old Jan 24, 2006, 9:03 AM   #2
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For your stated use I think the FZ20 is the better camera. It will generate about half again as much shutter speed as the S2 when zoomed, and that could be significant for limited light.

The FZ7 will not have the f2.8 all the way to 12X like the FZ20, but will be a tad better than the S2. You can get relatively inexpensive automatic zoom flash units that will extend the range of the FZ20 to 80 feet zoomed out. I don't know whether that will fall within your possible shooting range in dark or dim light, but the FZ7 has no provision for an external flash. It is a more compact camera than the FZ20.

Many of the better tele extenders will fit either Panasonic without modification, although some people find an aftermarket adapter to be superior. Canon makes a tele extender, and it as well as others will fit the S2 directly.

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Old Jan 24, 2006, 10:49 AM   #3
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Hi there

I've been researching a similar thing for a while now wnd have used three superzooms over the past three weeks. First was the Sony H1, second the FZ5 and now the Canon 2is. I've shot over 500 pics with each.

It has been an interesting experience and each camera has it's own positives and negatives. I stay in a beautiful part of africa so have predominantly shot fauna and flora.

My finding of the Fz5 versus the Canon is that the panasonic is far more comfortable to carry around one's neck all day, by a large margin. It's size is really nice. The quick focus is useful in capturing birds as is the rapid burst mode. The exposure button is a pain as I shoot mainly in m mode an use it often. The use of a lithium iron battery means it's light and compact but not readily available. Although i found the battery life good. i only shoot through the evf. The evf on the panasonic is far superior to the Canon imho.

The Canon dissapointed me somewhat. it's a camera i really wanted to like because it looks and feels so good. The ergonomics are good too. but the focus was notably slower and it has an irritating macro mode. You have to switch to "supermacro" to get close and then the lens is locked. The Flip out lcd is useful in theory but in bright light it is pretty poor.

The Sony H1 is the best of these three cameras in imho. I loved the ergonomics. the exposure dial on the front is a pleasure to use and the large lcd clear even in bright sunlight. The focus is almost as fast as the panasonic but as an added bonus you can move the focus point in the screen very easliy. the output was also very good. Capturing notablu more detail than the canon and almost as much as the panasonic. it also showed less noise than the panasonic which showed noise at all iso's but has a fine grain like quality.

So of the three I would choose the H1, Fz5 and Canon in that order. but all three are great cameras.

HOWEVER. the FZ7 seems to have addressed the only real weaknesses of the FZ5 namely the exposure button has been replaced by the toggle lever, the screen has increased in size and there is slightly more resolution and hopefully less noise. I would buy the FZ7 without hesitation. the improved moveie mode and wide angle mode is a bonus as is the extra optical zoom.

As for the FZ20. it's very heavy and now almost two generations old. get it only if you can pick it up really cheaply?

Hope this helps!!

This is my first post here!!

Warm regards
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Old Jan 24, 2006, 2:27 PM   #4
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I bought two fz5 a month ago and couldn't get either to focus on the moon. Returned both and got canon s2. What a difference. I find the canon images to be sharper at max zoom. The swivel lcd is a life saver for bugs and flowers. The movie mode must be seen to believe. Also had the kodak p850. Too slow to focus. The fz7 sounds good. I like you, after reading every review, got the fz5. It just didn't fit for me.
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