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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.


algold Mar 22, 2006 3:45 PM

mtclimber wrote:

...Keep in mind that we have yet to see the first dSLR camera with IS. ...

Sorry for off-topic, but I think you own one - KM 5D

mtclimber Mar 22, 2006 6:52 PM


I tip my hat to you. You are precisely correct. I apologize for the wayward thought. That is what happens to me when I teach three classes in a single day and drive 320 miles to do.


slipe Mar 22, 2006 7:34 PM

With the choices and prices available I see no reason to get a camera with a 10-12X zoom lens without stabilization. My FZ10 maintains F2.8 all the way to 12X with only the FZ20 as fast. On a bright sunny day I often generate 1/30 second aiming at something in the shade. It takes a steady hold and burst mode for me to hope to get a sharp image at 12X zoom using type 2 stabilization. It would be a waste of time to try the shot without stabilization.

I often find it handy indoors without flash as well. I can get shots I wouldn't even attempt with either of my cameras without stabilization.

Stabilization won't help for action like the soccer shots though. For that you need high ISO. There isn't anything available IMO in a superzoom with high ISO that compensates for not having stabilization. The Fuji F10/11 and probably the F30 are amazing at higher ISO. But they have a relatively large sensor to go with Fuji's great in-camera noise reduction and are only 3X zoom. The other Fujis aren't as good at high ISO. The S9000 would be better for the soccer shots than a stabilized camera though.

The FZ5 & I presume the FZ7 are a little faster than the S2 for both full shutter press lag and cycle times. But the S2 is fast in both categories. I haven't seen numbers for the S3. The S2 is a little bulkier and heavier with the 4 AA batteries installed, but it is still reasonably compact. FZ5 movies are hardly worth shooting but the FZ7 is up to full VGA. So is the S2with stereo wind buffered mics.

I agree with your preference for an eyelevel viewfinder in a long zoom camera. I also agree with your preference for the S2, but you aren't going to fit it in your pocket. The camera you have with you is infinitely better than the great one sitting at home.

briman Mar 23, 2006 7:34 AM

Thanks! I feel like I'm getting closer to a decision. What I'm considering:

IS cameras - Canon S2, Panasonic FZ5/FZ7

Non-IS cameras - Kodak Z7590, Olympus SP500

Seems the Kodak is the easiest to learn and use. How much harder are the Canon and Panasonic? I've read reviews where some say the Canon is easy and some say it's not so easy. Maybe someone can tell me on a scale of 1 - 10 where these four cameras rate on ease of use?

mtclimber Mar 23, 2006 11:24 AM


We really don't know what your experience level really is. I am a digital camera intructor and can pick-up and use just about any camera without any problem. So knowing where you are coming from is important. Therefore, I will grade these cameras on the basis that the buyer is purchasing their very first digital camera. 1 will equal easiest and 5 will equal hardest. Please keep in mind that these judgements are very subjective and variable. All are good cameras.

Kodak Z7590 - 2

Olympus SP-500 - 4

Canon S-2 - 3.6

Panasonic FZ-5/7 -4

Of the four cameras on your short list, if the choice were mine, I would opt for the Canon S-2 due to it's IS, better video clip mode, folding LCD screen, and it macro and super macro modes. I also feel that it also offers thebest cost to value ratio. But please read the reviews closely. These represent only my personal preferances.


briman Mar 23, 2006 1:19 PM

Thanks again MT.

I have been leaning towards the canon for the reasons you and others havelisted. I won't have a problem learning, I just need to motivate my wife to learn. She's capable but won't if she doesn't have to. We have had an Olympus D510 for 4 or 5 yrs so we have been using digital but only point and shoot.

We plan on getting an small camera as well, the Sony p200 or T5. Sony because we earn Sony points on our CC, so it won't cost us any $ for the camera.

Tinkerbell 2002 Mar 23, 2006 7:45 PM

hi briman. did you every choose your camera? i am in same boat debating between canon s2 or s3 (only would wait on that b/c of increased lcd size, 1.8 is so tiny) & panasonic fz7.

i am playing w/a fz7 right now thanks to circuit citys 30 day return policy. i already traded back a kodak p850 b/c of time between shots & flash recycle time. but it was easy easy to use. i miss that about it.

if you chose one i'd liek to know which & hear your feedback. thanks!

mtclimber Mar 23, 2006 7:49 PM

Well, Tinkerbell-

Please tell all of us in detail your analysis of the Panasonic FZ-7. How are the lipstick colors when the prints are produced by Sam's Club? Is the camera easy to use? Are you using all of the FZ-7's many features, including the low light level shooting capability?

What did you pay for your FZ-7 at Circuit City? Your analysis would be greatlyappreciated. Thanks!


mrb Mar 23, 2006 8:41 PM

I too am in the same boat deciding which cam to purchase. The posts here are very helpful and much appreciated!

Tink - I would love to hear any of your feedback. Did you purchase the FZ7 from a local Circuit City retail store? My local store had the FZ5, but said theydid not stock theFZ7 (but it is avail from Circuit City online for $335 +tax).

vwmom Mar 23, 2006 10:41 PM

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I also have a 2 yr old and a 4 yr old. I own the Canon S2 IS and it's been perfect.

The video is outstanding, as well as other camera options. I've had excellent shots from sports and usual toddler/ preschool activities. I've found the rotating/ flip lcd to be one of the best features on the camera. This is what made it stand out from the others. When you're in the back of a classroom for a concert or want that cool ground shot.. or even for holding the camera backwards (being a single mom.. i do this a lot).. it's priceless.

There are only a few users in this forum that have kids and are using their camera for this is the main purpose... It's this point I say, that taking photos of nature, buildings, etc.. is quite different than indoor photos of kids in action.

Here are a couple of shots from my S2. The colors compared to Sony and Panasonic (in my opinion) are surpassed with this camera.

vwmom Mar 23, 2006 10:42 PM

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Action shot indoors.. lowlight.. my 4 yr old breakdancing.

vwmom Mar 23, 2006 10:43 PM

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Example.. playing with 'my colors'.. also not found on other models.

briman Mar 24, 2006 7:31 AM

I have not officially chosen yet. It's looking like the Canon S2. I will most likely go play with the cameras this weekend. I didn't realize that Circuit City had a 30 day return policy. What I'll compare is the size and feel of the Panasonic, Kodak and Canon.

Is the S3 available yet? I might consider waiting for the S3 to come out in hopes that I can get a better price on the S2.

briman Mar 24, 2006 7:34 AM

Thanks vwmom. It's good to hear the perspective of someone with kids since that's our main purpose.

Everyone here has been very helpful - especially MT.

dequardo Mar 24, 2006 8:11 AM

I'd highly recommend you wait a few days. S3 will be out today.

mrb Mar 24, 2006 8:48 AM

Dequardo - Where will the S3 be available today? Everything I have seen has said it will be out in May?

mtclimber Mar 24, 2006 9:35 AM


For what it is worth, the Canon S-3 website located at:;modelid=13077

says that the S-3 is scheduled for release in May 2006, so you are correct in your dates. The estimated MSRP is $460 to $475, which is a good deal more expensive than the S-2, considering that the new features added are notexactly revolutionary.

Take a good look at the official Canon S-3 website and you may be able to determine if it is worth the wait and if the added features justify the extra $130.


mrb Mar 24, 2006 10:01 AM

I have looked at the Canon website for specs on the S2 vs S3. I don't think the small improvements are worth the extra $ for me. I assume that it may be several months before the S3 is under $400, and the S2 probably won't go much less than $300 for a while. Is there anyone else with thoughts on the prices ... someone more knowledgeable about the market than I??

mtclimber Mar 24, 2006 11:23 AM


If it were me making the decision, I would go with the Canon S-2. It will save money, it is a well reviewed camera with many very positive user comments, the S-3 does not offer $100+ worth of improvement and it is not yet available.

As a state university Instructor I have many cameras, including dSLR cameras, the camerathat travels most often in my purse is my Canon S-2. It is an ideal all in one solution that performs very well indeed.


dequardo Mar 24, 2006 11:44 AM

I understand and appreciate those thoughts. If it were me I would wait for the S3

mtclimber Mar 25, 2006 9:11 PM


Could you please give me 5 specific reasons why I should wait for the S-3. You of course know, that you have already been incorrect, not once but twice.


dequardo Mar 25, 2006 10:03 PM

mtclimber wrote:


Could you please give me 5 specific reasons why I should wait for the S-3. You of course know, that you have already been incorrect, not once but twice.

Sure though it requires me to stoop to your level.

Hmmm. Ignorance plus arrogance. An interesting combination. OK, Ms. full of yourself;

1) Black. Gun Metal gray for you before youcorrect that also.

2) Larger LCD

3) 6MP

4) New sensor

5) Higher ISO available

6) Additional shooting modes

7) Widescreen mode

That's seven since you are keeping score.

Now, care to explain how you dare challenge what I said was an OPINION?? I SAID, if it were ME, I'd wait. And I would. And the OP certainly should also. FURTHER, you state an opinion as FACT. "Will not offer $100+ of improvement". Really? Do tell from your extensive review. I must have missed it.

Good riddance.

vwmom Mar 25, 2006 11:27 PM

mtclimber has a LOT more posts, and has more knowledge on this level.

dequardo.. You have been very rude on a few posts (thus the reason I am saying something). and you have also been wrong and led people down the wrong path a few times. Firstly.. this poster didn't ask about the S3.. he/she asked about the S2. Secondly.. for you to pop in an announce a camera that is still a few months off will be out 'tomorrow', you're bound to raise question on your knowledge.


As for the S3 compared to the S2... Yes there are some changes, but you can also take into consideration of this...

The S2 has been out for a year... Any complaints and / or praise of this camera has beenwell aknowledged.

In the same regards... The S3 has NO users yet, and is simply unknown. It often takesa manufacuter a few weeks/ monthsor so after production to weed out any problems. I'm not saying there will be fore sure, but it's still unknown.

In regards to price. The S2 gets cheaper and cheaper as the new model comes closer (as we've all seen). If someone was to want to spend an extra 150$+ on a camera that is very similar.. and want to wait another 2-3 months, then that is their choice, yes.

Now enough of the rude / attacking posts.

dequardo Mar 25, 2006 11:33 PM

'Rude' as in when you stated several times that the sensor in the S3 was NOT new and I finally corrected you?

vwmom Mar 25, 2006 11:37 PM

The sensor is not new.. It's the same 1/1.5"

There is a difference in mp only.. a jump from 5 to 6.. not really much in terms of technology.

The S1 was 1/2.7".. the S2 is 1/1.5".. the S3 will be 1/1.5" aswell.

Stating facts is not rude. Lying, calling people names, and taking 'shots' is.

vwmom Mar 25, 2006 11:38 PM

Didn't want to edit my last post.. so I'll state RIGHT of the specs.

Effective Resolution: 6.0 mp

Sesor Size: 1/1.5"

Sensor the same, resolution upped.

mtclimber Mar 26, 2006 12:25 AM


I know what you are saying. The S-3 is just not worth $150 more than the S-2, at least to me. We all have different needs.


dequardo Mar 26, 2006 9:28 AM

Nice try. Still wrong. May want to get FACTS straight when you quote them. Sensor size. Tell me, who looks more foolish now?

dequardo Mar 26, 2006 9:33 AM

mtclimber wrote:


Let the scum go. He does not amount to anything. We cannot beat that type. So just forget it.


Nice description there. Now please tell me who is being rude? Please don't confuse witticism and facts with rudeness. If you can't stand the heat pleasedon't challenge me. Youchallenged me with questions which I met and then some. You lost. Accept it and move on. Knowledge of members here isn't always measured in postcounts. You prove that. Also wise counsel to VWMOM. We all know you love your S2. Great. The fact you post about that several times per day makes me wonder whether you doth protest too much.

mtclimber Mar 26, 2006 10:01 AM


You are correct that I was rude, and for that I will offer my personal apologies to you. Have a good day. But I am still not sure that the S-3 is worth $150+ extra to get those features.


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