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Old Jun 7, 2006, 12:33 AM   #1
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Gosh darn, I have to replace my trusty Kodak digital camera due to the camera suffering from concrete impact disease.

I am on the fence as to what camera to purchase.

I currently own a 3meg Kodak with 36-144 mm optical zoom and an older (20+ years) FILM SLR Minolta with a wide variety of lenses.

The Kodak died. I would like to replace the Minolta.

I really would like to only purchase ONE camera.

Since I purchased the Kodak, about 70% of my total pictures are what I describe as grab and shoot. The pictures could be best described as casual snap shots of family and friends (indoors and outdoors) as well as interesting things about the neighborhood. The Kodak did the majority of these pictures fairly well, though there was some graininess to blue skies, details were sometimes lacking and jpeg artifacts could be seen on many pictures when viewed at 800x600. At the native resolution (1280) on my LCD screen the pictures pretty much sux'd and full size looks like dog droppings to me. On the positive note, the Kodak flash was almost always adequate or even exceeded my needs.

20% of my pictures are landscapes and animal photos at the zoo. The Kodak tried, but alas most of the pictures were only good for a low res email or web posting limited to smaller than 5-600 pixel if I did any cropping. Because of the limited zoom, and short telephoto range of the Kodak, most of the time I would end up carrying the Minolta and 4 lenses for these types of pictures. And then I would complain because I could not crop and resize the photos as I could with the digital Kodak. And half of the lenses would not get used, so my shoulder would ache from carrying the camera bag for nothing.

Up to 10% of my pictures are critical quality pictures such as product pictures for use in my business (primarily close ups or group shots … not macro's) for full screen web presentation and basic B&W print material. Picture quality is imperative for these pictures. And most of the pictures had to be taken with the Film SLR and converted to digital because the Kodak just lacked user controls, wide enough wide angle, big enough zoom, or the quality was not up to my expectations or desires. Then there were the last photo of the family while granny was still with us… does anybody think I would take that picture with a 3meg digital camera?

I REALLY, REALLY would like to buy just ONE camera. And if I could retire the Minolta I would be happy, very happy. I just really liked the ability to slide the Kodak into a jacket pocket and run about my daily chores with a camera always at the ready.

Money is not a limitation. Ok, money is a bit of a limiting factor. Keep it under 2K, or better yet, under 1K, and the wife will be happy.

I do own a significant investment of SD cards, so a Canon or Panasonic would be a logical choice, but if I just HAD to change storage formats it would not kill me.

What am I looking for? One camera that will do EVERYTHING!

A decent Wide Angle would be nice. But I have never really used my 14mm fisheye, so I doubt I really need anything really drastic for wide angle. In fact I seldom have shot much wider than 28-30mm in the past 20+ years.

Zoom is important. I love 300 mm distance, but in 20+ years the big 300 mm zoom really has only been used maybe 50 times at max distance. Realistically 200-220 mm is all I ever really used in a zoom lens. And the Kodak zoom was mostly used (about 75-80% of the time) in the 1.4x to 2.5x range (or about 50 to 90mm).

Low light ability is important, but it is not that important with the exception of some pictures. Obviously with my Film SLR there was a tripod added to my storage closet for use when needed, and in the last year I have been using the tripod with the Kodak with fair results.

Ability to shoot in something other than Jpeg would be nice, but not a critical must have. I am familiar with TIFF's and Corel Paint Shop due to the product pictures than I receive from my manufacturers. Never played with RAW, but Paint Shop does support the format.

Tons of program modes, or better yet, manual controls would be nice. Manual focus is desirable, but not a deal breaker.

Pocket ability, or near pocket ability is really a big draw for me. BIG DRAW. I just love the grab and shoot pictures with the Kodak.

Picture quality is important. Would love to shot, perform some basic to moderate cropping and still display at 1280 pixels on screen without having to worry about quality.

Oh, and something that is big enough for my thick fat man fingers, which means nothing much smaller than the Kodak (109mm x 38mm x 64.5mm).

dSLR would be nice, but I think I have pretty much talked myself out of a dSLR due to extra lenses and body & lens size issues.

I have spent countless hours researching cameras. Local purchasing is pretty much limited to CC, BB, OD etc. No local camera shop. CC and BB have been reasonably cooperative in letting me "try" the cameras (yeah, like they are really going to let me try out the demo cameras in my favorite jacket pocket).

What are my suggestions and thoughts?

Canon A620 would be a near direct size replacement to the Kodak, though with some serious upgrade points. A700 would add a longer zoom, though losing a megabyte. But these two Canon's have limited stops in the zoom. A rough focusing zoom could be a major problem for me. The Kodak seemed to run smoothly from 36 to 144. There might have been some internal stops, but I was unaware of most of the stops, except for a jump from 1.9x to 2.2x which I barely tolerated. And wide angle for the Canon's is not as wide as I desire.

The Canon S80 seems like a fine camera. Real wide angle may be weak, but I think I my 30-34 mm stuff might work with the camera. Limitation obviously is the short telephoto range. But with 8 meg of digital material, 50 ISO and some serious cropping on the ‘puter, I might pull off some pictures that appear to be about 150-200mm.

Panasonic LX1 compares up well with the S80 on paper. A wee bit longer zoom range. TIFF and RAW ability are nice. All the other features look great. Zoom range is a bit short for a single replacement camera, but it is a well bit better than the S80. And then there is that issue of noise. But the LXI does have image stabilization.

The Panasonic TZ1 sounds nice. 350 mm is long enough zoom for me. But the TZ1 loses manual focus from the LXI, drops a meg off the sensor, loses the TIFF and RAW and the wide angle is only 35mm. And the folded lens system seems like it would be prone to durability issues. Durability is going to be an issue with me when I must replace a camera due to concrete impact disease.

Moving up to the Canon S3 and Panasonic FZ7 seem like legitimate possibilities. Both have a big zoom that is more than I need, but wide angle is a bit lacking. Then there is the size and weight issue. S3 is just too darn heavy for a jacket pocket, and single handed shooting is approaching impossible for me when loaded with batteries. The FZ7 is lighter, maybe tolerable for a jacket pocket, and I can handle the camera with one hand fairly well. Of course the FZ7 suffers from the noise issue.

Then there is the much forgotten Kodak P800. Good wide angle and adequate zoom range (for my basic needs). But the camera is HUGE compared to the other cameras on the list. Sure it is slow, but I don't take action pictures, so shooting speed is not an issue for me. But this camera is HUGE. I might as well get the Panasonic FZ30 or a dSLR if I really started to seriously consider this size camera.

So where does leave me? The Panasonic's have great specs. The LXI might just be a good compromise camera. But then there is the issue of noise. Or is the Panasonic noise issue really an issue for me? Most of the sample pictures on the internet have been outdoors with bright sunlight. I have down loaded the pictures, resized the pictures to 1280 native resolution and spent hours studying the pictures. Yes there is graininess to blue skies that I can readily detect. The graininess is not as bad as my Kodak when viewed at 800 pixels. But what generation of jpeg picture am I viewing? Saved and resized on my computer, and gosh darn resaved how many times on the computer of the website that hosted the picture, I would be surprised if I didn't see some defects. Maybe I am just too picky. Most people do not normally handle 1280 pixel size pictures like I do so would the average person really see what I see? For most part, my customers are impressed by 800 pixel size pictures from the Kodak. The indoor pictures that I have seen have been, for most part, have been at higher ISO's. Yes, the noise is readily apparent. Would the noise still be present at 80 or 100 ISO and shot at a slow speed on a tripod? Would a B&W mailer really be undesirable if the pictures were shot with a Panasonic consumer camera?

If I had the ability to design the perfect camera it would be a dSLR the size of the old Pentax A1 (or something like that) with the FZ7 lens modified to 24 to 288mm. Way back when I was in high school everybody I knew had big Canons, Nikons, Olympics, Minoltas or whatever. But one dude had this tiny little Pentax A1. His girl friend carried the camera in her purse. I would love to find a dSLR the size of that Pentax. But then I would lose the ability to shoot video. Oh well.

Final question…anybody have a suggestion as to what camera I should purchase?

Or maybe I should just buy two? Which two?

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Old Jun 7, 2006, 4:29 AM   #2
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So it should have manual controls, the more the better... then it should be big enough to get good grip from it...
And it should fit to pocket and be light.

IMO those are quite much mutually exclusive features.
Pocket cameras rarely have good handgrip, also controls tend to be heavily behind (uselessly) slow and awkward menu surfing. Also good old mechanical zoom won't fit into very small camera.
And bigger size means always more weight... they can't make cameras from aerogel.

There are few pocket Ricoh's with 28-200mm but those don't have propably much any well usable manual controls except shutter button. Other pocketables fall short on either one or both ends of zoom range. Those ones with working manual controls don't fit to small pockets. Then those 10/12x "super/ultra"zooms lack wide angle according to me-too standard of makers which also requires button zoom and menu surfing controls. Also these aren't anymore really well pocketable.

Unfortunately we're in that lousy situation that we can't have perfect camera so looks much like you really need two cameras for fulfilling more than half of requirements... at least if you intended to let Minolta SLR to retire.
Something like KonicaMinolta A200 (stabilized 28-200mm F2.8-3.5) would fill quite well requirements you mentioned except that pocketable/light part. (compared to SLR with lenses for same range its still light)
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Old Jun 7, 2006, 6:51 AM   #3
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Canon PowerShot G6 is not the perfect camera, but a good fit for you.

Image quality comparable to DSLRs, but smaller in size.

Somewhat pocketable, and it comes with the remote control that is used on Canon EOS cameras.

Considered a compact camera.

One weakness - it is a bit slow for action photos.

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Old Jun 7, 2006, 11:07 AM   #4
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For absolute versitility, any lens you desire, best possible image quality, and unlimited user controls, you want a dslr. BUT, that's not going to fit in your coat pocket.

An ultrazoom digicam would give you a lot (probably enough) of those qualities, and barely fit in a large coat pocket, maybe.

A standard/compact digicam will fit quite well in a pocket, but will not likely give you the long telephoto or wide angle you desire (similar to you kodak). Some have plenty of user controls and in well lit conditions most have very good image quality. They generally all suck in low light, to varying degrees.

You didnt specify if you minolta was manual or auto-focus, they have two different mounts. If AF, then your lenses will work with the 5d (hard to find now that its out of production), the 7d (a steal right now, on clearance), and the new Sony DSLR's (shipping in a couple months). If your minolta setup is manual focus then your starting from square one anyway.

You could still put together a nice kit with an entry level dslr, a couple lenses, and an ultra compact digicam for $1500-2000. Then you'd be really covered. Buy the compact camera first and see if it meets your needs, maybe skipping the larger setup altogether. If you commit to the ultrazoom (a big investment at $500-1000) as your do-it-all camera, you have to be careful to weigh the compromises (wide angle, telephoto, low-light, size, etc).

You say you want 28-200mm, with the 1.5x crop factor of a dslr this means a lens 18-135mm. This is an easy range to cover, lots of lens choices. Watch out that your 28mm film lenses wont give you the wide angle view anymore, you need 18mm now.

The panasonic lx1 would probably be a great choice. Noise should only be an issue when you crank up the iso setting to take pictures in dim light without a flash (or tripod). I've found that noise is a complete and total non-issue when using black and white. I use iso3200 in B&W on my dslr and like the slight grain effect.

If you think a compact camera will do it all, then go for it. I think you might find that its just not quite enough when it comes to the more demanding situations, or that while it works its a pain to coax it into compliance. If your really concerned about it not fulfilling your every dream, it might be worth considering the two camera aproach still. If you consider that, it may cause you to buy a smaller digicam with a few more compromises than if you tried to get an all-in-one setup. The significance of this is that if you buy the all-in-one and it dosent work out, buy a second camera, now the small one dosent so well fit the small role anymore. Food for thought at any rate, you can of course keep the film slr as a backup too.
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Old Jun 7, 2006, 5:57 PM   #5
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The Minolta Film SLR uses the older manual lenses. Shucks, darn, can't use the old lenses with a new Minolta dSLR.

The more I think about the issues, the more I am inclined to purchase a wider angle pocketable camera, such as the Canon S80 or Panasonic LX1. Both are relatively expensive, thus pulling money out of the budget should I also opt for a dSLR, but quality and usability of thecamera many be such a driving force that I forgo a less expensive pocket camera. And besides, at the moment these two cameras seem to offer the best choice if I was to purchase only a single camera.

Questions regarding the S80 or LX1. No reviews that I have found mention problems withinternal stops on telephoto lens. What mechanism are these cameras using to drive the lens smoothly, or are there fewer lens stops than other pocket cameras?

Does anybody remember seeing a low ISO picture (50/10/100) in low light conditions for comparison between these cameras? Obviously would be a landscape or interior picture on a tripod. Not looking for a 200 pixel email picture, but something that I can downsize to my 1280 native resolution.

What would happen if I waited a few months?????? I do have the film SLR, so it is not like I am camera-less and I could wait to make the purchase (pant, pant, barely wait).Is there anything up and coming on the market that maybe, just maybe, be better?

There is the new Sony (Minolta) coming on the market. How long from the time of the announcement until we can expect the camera being released to CC/BB et al for sale to the public? I would assume this June announcement was so the camera would be on the shelves around Labor Day so as to take advantage of the early Xmas buying season.

Obviously the new Sony is going to cause changes in the market, 10 Meg sensor and more built in play toys. I would not expect Nikon or Canon to go bonkers over Sony's entry into their market, but at the same time I would not expect them to sit on their thumbs while Sony steals their market share(and Sony is going to be a much bigger force than Konica/Minolta, for no other reason than just the Sony name).

Are we destined to see new models of other camerason the market by Labor Day?

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Old Jun 7, 2006, 6:09 PM   #6
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StevieDgpt wrote:
There is the new Sony (Minolta) coming on the market. How long from the time of the announcement until we can expect the camera being released to CC/BB et al for sale to the public? I would assume this June announcement was so the camera would be on the shelves around Labor Day so as to take advantage of the early Xmas buying season.
Sonystyle.com is reporting that it should be shipping on or before July 28th.

Sony Alpha 100 DSLR Body at Sonystyle.com

Sony Alpha 100 DSLR Kit including 18-70mm Lens at Sonystyle.com

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Old Jun 7, 2006, 9:51 PM   #7
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In dslr's I wouldnt hold my breath for anything, canon and nikon arent due for any new cameras and were starting to see some fairly mature technology now.

With pocket cameras there will always be a new one tomarrow, how long do you want to wait?

Here are some random Panasonic LX1 pictures and Canon S80 pics

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Old Jun 7, 2006, 11:02 PM   #8
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Thank you for the links.....

The pictures have been most helpful.
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Old Jun 8, 2006, 4:07 AM   #9
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StevieDgpt wrote:
such as the Canon S80 or Panasonic LX1...
And besides, at the moment these two cameras seem to offer the best choice if I was to purchase only a single camera.
That's again question of what features are most important to you and what you're ready to let go... in these it's longer than short tele and well usable controls which go down from toilet
There just isn't such thing as perfect camera, only best compromises.

Adjustments might be easier to do than in many superzooms because of scrolling control dial but then again small size propably makes ergonomics not good.

Remember LX1 has 28mm only in abnormal 16:9 aspect ratio. (newer model FX01 has 28mm in digicam standard aspect ratio)
Damn... that's lot of noise for lowest ISO:

So looks like it's S80's lower noise and lack of stabilization against LX1's stabilization with noise creeping in already in lowest ISOs... but LX1 again lacks optical viewfinder and using LCD amplifies handshake.

StevieDgpt wrote:
Questions regarding the S80 or LX1. No reviews that I have found mention problems with internal stops on telephoto lens. What mechanism are these cameras using to drive the lens smoothly, or are there fewer lens stops than other pocket cameras?
9 steps in S80, 19 in LX1.
Reviews of DCResource seem to mention those for button zoom cameras.
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Old Jun 8, 2006, 10:39 PM   #10
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I saw the post about KM Maxxum's on special buy sale at Wally, and that got me thinking.

Thinking can be dangerous,especially for people like me that have a V-8 size brain with only 3 cylindars firing, but that is a topic for another day.

Somewhere in my brain I remembered CC having some close out dSLR's.

The brain was really engaged. Hmmmmm, what if, maybe, would it work.

Drove as fast as I could to CC. Sure enough, KM 5D on closeout. Kit lens and body for a paltry sum of $535. Only had ONE boxed 5D in store stock.

Darn, I was prepared to spring for a P&S for nearly the same sum of money. And the high end P&S would only truly accomplish 95+% of my wants and needs.

A decent dSLR and a solid qualityP&S with basic controls for pocket use would solve all of my wants, desires and needs.

Sure I could do some shopping around. Except I know that CC has taken KM off their website, BB is showing 0 inventory on 5D's on their website, Wally is only listing the 7D at a higher price, so my chance of easily buying the 5D is becoming limited at best.

My local CC is now out of 5D's.

To Tim, thanks for the links...I checked the links and after comparing some real world pictures Iknew the Panasonic LX1 wasnot going to meet my quality demands as noise was definitelya problem at even ISO 100. I also realized that theCanon S80 was much better on noise control, BUT interior pictures, especially close up pictures (such as people's audio equipment) were not 2.5x better than my old Kodak (I say 2.5 as the Kodak was 3 meg, and the Canon has an 8 meg sensor), and I would expect a strong improvement based upon the senor and camera quality.

But 6 meg KM, Nikon and Canon dSLR pictures were performing as I desired. And that made the decision process much easier.

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The kit lens with the 5D is 18-70, converts to 27-105mm. Just about an ideal lens length for me. My wide angle, 30-34 mm, stuff will be covered. And I was using the Kodak heavily at 1.4x to 2.5x (50 to 90 mm), so my normal shooting range is covered as well. One lens to cover my basic shooting range.

If anything, Iwill mostly like want to add a "short" telephoto lens to the 5D.

CC has a KM lens on close out. 75-300 mm length for about $150. Seems to be a fair price (the new Sony lens of the same size is going to be about $230). Anybody use this lens? I am not professional. I just want to take a nice picture of a tiger at the zoo without having to get into the cage with the tiger. 300mm x 1.5 would be 450mm, or more than enough for my needs.

The battery charging light just turned off. Now it is time to play with the new toy. When compared to the old film Minolta, the camera body is narrower,height is just a wee bit taller, depth is more (due to the power grip), and lens is less compact than my old lens. But the good news is the camera is lighter.

Tommorrow I go looking for the new P&S.

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