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Old Dec 5, 2006, 7:18 PM   #1
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[Obligatory length warning.. I'm obviously very confused:? thanks so much for any help!]

I've been digging up digital camera reviews for about 2 weeks now, and each time I think I've come to some kind of conclusion, I read another article or post, or see another photo that changes my mind. Any suggestions would be great..

My experience:
I'll start by saying I've never had a digital camera before, and as far as manual controls, I have only had limited time, many years ago, playing with my mom's old (film) SLR. The only camera I have owned myself was a hand-me-down, no-manual-options Canon that has been very dependable, albeit quite boring, and I'd like to move up to an amateur/enthusiast digital camera where I can start learning more. My grandfather was a professional photographer, and I've always wanted to give it a shot.

What I want it for:
I spend most of my time outdoors, so this would be a camera to take on hikes (nature and people), rides (horses/people), and other miscellaneous adventures (architecture, pets, miscellaneous).

In other words, I don't think I need to be too concerned about the low-light capabilities of the camera. The only low-light setting I can imagine myself really wanting to take pictures in is at a recital or concert (I am also a cellist and teacher), but with stage lighting, I don't believe this would be too much of an issue (though please correct me if I'm wrong!)

What I've considered:
No dSLRs. I am okay with a big camera, but with lenses, etc. that is a lot to add to my hiking supplies or to take on a ride. After I've gained some experience, I might consider crossing this line. I'm also trying to come in at ~$300 at this point, no more than $400 max.

Main contenders (subject to drastic change): Canon S2-IS, Panasonic DMC-FZ7, or Sony H2

I really got onto this trend by looking at the A710 IS, then realizing I could get the S3 for the same price.. or get the S2 for even less. Then I started looking at the S2's competitors, which sent me down the path of "long zoom" cameras. Now the "long zoom" isn't really on my list of necessities, so I feel a little awkward browsing this category.. could someone tell me if I'm in the wrong aisle of the camera store?

Of these three, I'm leaning towards the Canon or the Sony, and think it would come down to what "feels right" once I get my hands on them. (Any ideas on which company has the best reputation for reliability? This seems rarely mentioned in reviews..) But first I'd just like to make sure there isn't a great (set of) camera(s) I'm not just completely overlooking.

Now.. one more camera that I have glanced at..
Canon G7 - I know it disappointed a lot of people, but as someone starting out from scratch, its actually pretty appealing. First of all, it seems to qualify as a considerably nicer version of the A710 IS, which is what got me into this mess in the first place! It also seems to have just about everything (I think/thought) I would want, is a nice size, has an optical viewfinder, lots of manual controls, IS, and has been said to have a very good build quality (I like things that last a long time). The price, on the other hand.. ack! I could wait until after the holidays and see if they come down, but at twice the cost of the S2, I can't justify it at all right now. Are there any other similar, hopefully slightly more reasonably priced, cameras (other than earlier G-series that would seem hard to find) out there that I have simply overlooked?

Thank you so much if you've managed to make it through all that! Hopefully you will have a few words of wisdom for me
:bye: Thanks!
Jana
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Old Dec 5, 2006, 7:32 PM   #2
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Jana-

Many thanks for your descriptive post. It does cover a good deal of area. Just for the record. In your stage lighting photo of a concert: Is the camera to be hand held or on a tripod. I'll also asume that this is a no flash, stage lighting only kind of photo. That could be done with a Canon IA-700 IS, if one was not to picky regarding visible noise in the photo.

It seems that a compact camera, no larger than the Canon G-7 is desired. You also mention the Canon S-2 as well. How much zoom is preferable? The S-2 has 12X optical zoom while the A-700 IS and the G-7 have 6X optical zoom. How much zoom is ideal for you.

The cameras most mentioned are Canon cameras and Sony cameras. So here are a few possible choices to get the discussion going.

How about?

Canon A-700 IS

Canon S-2

Sony H-2

Sony W-100

MT/Sarah
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Old Dec 5, 2006, 7:48 PM   #3
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I think you have done your research very well Jana, both the Canon S2 or Sony H2 would fit your needs and tolearn photography as both have most of the settings to play with including Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority as well as manual.

I went for the Sony H5 when the shops here did not have the H2 in stock, the reason for Sony's was a slightly better low-light performance, but I did like that swivel lcd on the S2.

Get an image-editor as this will improve your shots out of either camera.

Good luck with whatever you choose.

Regards Wirraway
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Old Dec 6, 2006, 11:11 AM   #4
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Jana-

Wirraway has provided some good information for you. I would agree that the Sony H-2, the Canon S-2, or the Fuji S-6000/S-6500 are excellent possible choice. To determine which or these, or to include an additional choice, examine a bit more closely what you photographic expectations might be and how each of these camera might help you complete your expectations.

MT/Sarah
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Old Dec 10, 2006, 11:03 AM   #5
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Thank you all for the advice and the suggestions!

I suppose I wasn't very clear on my size and zoom expectations. I will be happy with anything that will fit comfortably in my hiking bag with everything else I always take along. This really leaves plenty of room for a good sized camera. Alternately, this camera should also be a camera that will compliment the dSLR that I will theoretically be able to afford some day. Maybe that means it should be small to contrast the dSLR, but I feel like I'd prefer a slightly 'sturdier' camera in any instance.

My zoom requirements also aren't really high. It would be nice to get at least a good 4x or 6x, and while I'm sure 12x might come in handy on occasion, it is certainly not on my list of requirements.

-- warning: tangent begins here --

This is why I was a little confused when I found myself comparing "super zoom" models. I feel like that's the wrong label for my intended purpose, (even though I am pretty excited about the H2 at this point). In doing more research, I think the aisle I'd rather be on is the one with all the "prosumer" cameras, but unfortunately, this section seems to be filled with a lot of discontinued models. Everyone seems to love their old Pro 1, and the reviews and test shots for the Olympus 8080wz were quite impressive.. but these can only be found slightly used, at best, on Ebay. I guess I need to work on my timing!

So what does today's 'prosumer' bin look like? Well, forum talk seems to point me towards the G7, and maybe the Panasonic LX2 that I've heard a little bit about.. but these don't really seem to be in the same class as cameras like the Pro 1. So maybe the super-zooms really are the prosumer class today.. and maybe I'm just over-analyzing the situation and rambling online :O.. I guess I'll stop digging and just keep looking at the options I've got available to me.

The trip to the local electronics store to compare the H2/S3/G7 (and anything else that strikes my interest) comes later this afternoon Thanks again!
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Old Dec 10, 2006, 11:31 AM   #6
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Jana-

In all honesty, the Canon Pro1 was not a camera that I would have enjoyed. It hunted and took way too long to finally achieve focus. I did own an Olympus C-8080 which was a great camera. Do you realize that the Canon A-700IS and the Canon G-7 have very similiar specifications? That is why the Canon A-700 IS is often called "...the poor man's Canon G-7..."

Go to a shop and check out these cameras then we can chat so more.

MT/Sarah
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