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Old Jul 4, 2007, 12:13 PM   #1
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Hello, Am an ex-SLR user looking for a digital camera use in the high zoom end. Use isfor holidays, animal safaris and people. Not looking at D-SLR range as not likely to use a camera often enough to justify expenditure. Nonetheless want flexibilty of zoom range, macro and functionality for blazing sun and in-house shots equally . Am comparing theFZ50, the Canon S5, the Olympus 550 UZ, etc. as these are often classified together. Strengths and weaknesses (e.g. at high ISO) noted.

My questions: are electric zooms now as good as manual zoom? Are they good enough to outweigh the size and weight of the FZ50 in comparison? Why doestheFZ50 belong in this group or not above it?

Would like the S5 as feels good in the hand and has more than adequate functionality.... but the FZ50 has manual zoom... My thanks for any thoughts,

an old SLR user who cannot get his head away from manual zoom
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Old Jul 5, 2007, 12:47 AM   #2
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Going strictly on the "manual vs. electric zoom" basis, no matter how good the electronic zooming gets, it will never be as smooth/fluid, with as many possible settings as the manual zoom ring, PLUS with the manual zoom ring you use no battery power in simply zooming from one setting to the next.

I own two of the three you are looking at, the FZ50 and Olympus SP550UZ. The Olympus zoom mechanism/AF systemis slow and no competition. Image quality is very good, but responsivness is simply not there with the SP550UZ.The Canon zoom mechanism is based on their USM technology and is extremely fast, but not as easy to tweek to that "optimum setting" like you can get by manually zooming the extremely fluid ring on the FZ50. A friend of mine recently purchased an S5is. In the hand, it feels very, very nice, but doesn't seemso much smaller than an FZ50 that size would be any only reason to decide on it vs. an FZ50.

Look at the Fuji digicams with the manual zoom rings, too. Their exterior flash hot shoes are not TTL like the Panasonic, but they performe better at higher ISO settings, particularly the S6000fd...


If the next generation of this Fujicamera has a hot shoe, image stabilization and ability to use SD cards, it'll be high on my upgrade list.

The S5, to an extent, fixed one big reason why I would never consider buying one from that series in the past....no hot shoe. The problem probably (still)is, they havemost likely done nothing to enable some of the features you get with their flash units when used on a DSLR that have always been crippled on their past G-series cameras,which have always had a hot shoe. If the exteriorflash issue is no realissue for you, none of that should affect your ultimatedecision.

Have you had an FZ50 in-hand? Having used DSLR's for a few years now, and still having a "small" DSLR outfit, in terms of physical size and weight, in no way does the FZ50 come anywhere near what that type camera weighs or requires in terms of storage spacein a bag to include both a body and a set oflenses that equal the focal lengths (and lens speed)youget withan FZ50. The DSLR body I have and just the normal 28-108mm (35mm equivalent) lens weighs well over twice what an FZ50 and its 35-420mm f2.8-3.7 lensweighs. In terms of DSLR-like handling/exterior flash compatibility and performance/features offered, the FZ50 is in it's own league, with cameras like the Canon S5 somewhere justunderneath.

As to whether the size difference is worth getting a camera with an electronic-type zoom mechanism, that's a decision you'll need to make yourself. Everyone has their own opinion about what'sworth what.I also own a digicam with an electronic zoom, a Panasonic TZ3. It's a true pocketable camera...something you'd never be able to do with an FZ50, Canon S5is or Olympus SP550UZ. Something that's pocketable is absolutely worth having and putting up with electronic zoomingdue to the substantial difference in size and ability to carry it, literally, anywhere.

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Old Jul 5, 2007, 1:35 AM   #3
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I agree with Greg. An electronic zoom, no matter how good, just can't compare with the fluidity, speedand precision of a manual zoom. Another consideration is that manual-zoom cameras usually have larger diameter lenses, so they gather light better. Thismeans you generally have more options for any given lighting condition, especially in low-light, and it's themain reason DSLRs and prosumer cams out-perform the smaller point-and-shoot variety. Larger lenses and sensors equals better pictures. I currentlyhave a Fuji S-9100 and it's by far the best camera I've ever owned.
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Old Jul 5, 2007, 10:48 AM   #4
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[suP]Thank you very much for the extremely complete and fair reply. I have indeed had the FZ50 in the hand and you are you right, it weighs a lot less than a conventional (read "old") SLR! And given that theS5 and the FZ50are the same price, in Europe at least, the FZ50 is the better choice. Until now, I have only used an external flash, as had no built-in, so this was also a factor for me.[/suP]

[suP]Toshi and Greg, thank you for the Fuji reference. I'll take a closer look at these. No image stabiliser, however, would be a deterrent - given that it is available elsewhere, and at longzooms, a necessity. I think you have clarified for me the thought that anything less than the FZ50 would leave me dissatisfied. As you say, the difference in size does not make the argument complete, when neither fit into a pocket anyway![/suP]

[suP]My thanks,[/suP]

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