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briman Mar 21, 2006 9:07 AM

This will be used for family photos - indoor/outdoor of our 2 and 4 yr old girls. The 4 yr. old will be playing soccer in the fall. The reason I'm considering a new camera is that my Olympus D510 is a bit slow, has only a 3x opt. zoom and is only 2.1MP.

Looking for a 10x - 12x zoom that's 4MP - 6 MP. I think we would need IS.

In order of importance:

1. Speed - power up, shutter lag and shot 2 shot. This is most important

2. Easy to use. We really only need/want a point & shoot. The wife is technically challenged. I may play a little but don't see myself having much time.

3. Viewfinder - we don't want to use only an LCD screen

4. Compact - smallest we can find.

5. AA batteries. I will buy rechargeable but it's nice to use alkaline in a pinch. If the right camera has proprietary battery then so be it.

Cameras I've been researching - Canon S2IS, Panasonic FZ5/FZ7 and Sony H1. Something like the Nikon Coolpix S4 would be perfect if it was faster and had a viewfinder. Waiting for the Panasonic TZ1 to come out and be reviewed but it doesn't have a viewfinder. Leaning towards the Canon base on what I've read so far . . .

Any input would be appreciated, especially regarding which cameras are easiest to use for our needs.


mtclimber Mar 21, 2006 10:04 AM

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Please keep in mind that ultra zoom cameras with zooms in the 10X to 12X range do not use optical viewfinders, instead the use EVF's. An EVF is an electronic viewfinder, which you can usefor eyelevel viewing, but technically, it is a second LCD screen, not really an optical viewfinder.

The only 10X to 12X ultrazooms that use AA sized batteries and have IS are the Sony H-1/2/5 and the Canon S-2/3. There are two more cameras, The Panasonic LZ-3/5 that use AA batteries but they only have 6X zoom.

That leaves your choice between the Sony's and the Canon's. I personally own a Canon S-2 and like it very much. I like the articulated LCD, the use of 4 AA batteries, and SD chips, as well as S-2's ability to capably go from super macro mode to a full 12X of optical zoom while still giving me IS.

The H-1 users are equally enthusiastic and like the Sony's extreme sharpness, and the fact that it uses just 2 AA batteries.

Both the S-2 and the H-1 have received excellent reviews and very pleased users. For me the fact that the Sony H-1 used just 2 AA batteries was a negative point, because it increased the flash recycle times. The use of the Memory Stick in the H-1 was also a negative point to me, because they are more expensive and the H-! uses 2 different varieties of memory sticks.

So please keep in mind that by requiring AA batteries and IS, your camera choice necessarily becomes rather limited very quickly. I have attached a Canon S-2 sample photo.


briman Mar 21, 2006 10:58 AM

Thanks for the response!

The use of AA batteries is not a requirement but rather a nice to have - if it came down to two camera's that could be adeciding factor.

I'm much more concerned with speed and ease of use. I don't want a camera that my wife won't use because it's hard to use or hard to learn to use.

I understand the viewfinder is an LCD in the ultra zooms and that's OK. I think it's more of a preference of holding the camera up to her eye.

Does one of these camera's (canon, sony, panasonic) stand out as being easier to use or have a better point and shoot mode?

mtclimber Mar 21, 2006 11:36 AM


Without a doubt the easiest cameras to learn and use are the Kodak Z740, and the Z-7590. The Z-740 even uses AA batteries, neither has IS but they are extremely easy to use with a very simplified menu system, a very small form factor and 16 scene modes. has had the Z-7590 on sale for $239.99+shipping which is an excellent price, and more than $100 less than the Canon S-2.

The Canon S-2, the Panasonic FZ-5/7,and the Sony H-1 are a bit more capable, but also more complex to use.

You can always find the camera boot-up time and the shutter lag for any camera by just going to any of Steve's Reviews and looking at the Conclusion Page.


briman Mar 21, 2006 1:02 PM

MT - lots of great info, thanks!

How important is IS? From reading reviews and msg boards I get the feeling it's a big drawback not to have this with an ultra zoom. On the other hand there seems to be quite a few ultra zooms that don't have IS. I stopped looking at the Olympus SP500 because it didn't have IS. The Kodak seems like a really good fit for usbut no IS.

If I am not going to be using a tripod will I have problemswithout having IS?

michael1973 Mar 21, 2006 1:26 PM

Take the Canon IS2. You can't go wrong with it.

mtclimber Mar 21, 2006 1:38 PM


I teach digital camera for both our local Community College and the State University. So I own and use a lot of cameras. Keep in mind that we have yet to see the first dSLR camera with IS. IS is much more for shooting a low shutter speed than at max zoom. Yes, it is effective at max zoom but how often are you going to be using the max zoom?

In fact, a study funnded by Canon, found that while camera users may own an ultra zoom digital camera in the 10X to 12X range, they use the max zoom range only about 30% of the time. So having a camera without IS is not a big deal. Lots of folks have cameras without IS and are perfectly happy with their photos.

Therefore, if doing without IS is an option for you, you havein the non IS category the Olympus SP-500, The Fuji S-5200 and S-9000, the Kodak Z740 and the Z-7590, the Nikon S-4.


briman Mar 21, 2006 1:54 PM


You've been a tremendous help. In expanding to non-IS camera's do you still think the Kodak's are the easiest to use? Any other comparable to the the kodak with respect to ease of use?

michael1973 Mar 21, 2006 3:32 PM

@mtclimber: I don't have your experience by far. Actually I'm a novice, but don't you think that a cam like the Fuji S9000 is a bit too much of a serious camera for briman? He wants a camera which is easy to use. I have a Fuji S9000 (9500 in Germany) and the cam is awesome, but I wouldn't say it is easy to use . I can compare it to my old Canon Powershot G6. This cam is easier to handle, especially because the automatic mode is very reliable. How do you think about it? Is the Fuji S9000 a camera which is easy to use?

mtclimber Mar 21, 2006 7:43 PM


That was during our discussion of what cameras are on the market. So I simply listed all of them.


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