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Old Jan 15, 2007, 12:06 PM   #1
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OK, I cannot make any great claims as a photographer! But i'm hoping for some advice regarding a new camera. Currently, I have a 4MP Canon IXUS, and it's been fine most of the time. Occassionally I've wished for greater zoom, or faster operation, but in the main it's pretty good. However, I've just booked a safari (Kruger) in the summer, so you can guess why I'm thinking of a new camera!

My main requirements (I think) are decent zoom, fast operation, image stabilization and good performance in low light (early morning/evening safaris). An initial bit of research has me thinking along the lines of Sony H5, Canon S3 or Fuji S6500fd. But will I be left wishing I'd paid the extra money for a D-SLR?

So, what do you think? I'd rather stick to the H5/S3 budget (which one?), but might consider D-SLR if they're really not up to the job!

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Old Jan 15, 2007, 2:26 PM   #2
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I'd suggest the Fuji S5200, 6000fd, 6500fd or Fuji S9000 depending on your needs. All of them are excellent cameras. I use the S5200 myself. They all have a 10x optical zoom lenses.

Also don't forget to get several 2GB xD cards and the several sets best AA rechargeable batteries you can afford (such as CTA brand 2700mHa from BandHphotovideo.com)

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Old Jan 15, 2007, 3:11 PM   #3
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I personally believe that you WILL be wishing you had gotten a DSLR. Before you buy any fixed super-zoom digital camera, I strongly suggest that you test out the speed with which the camera can focus and fire at the longest telephoto settings. My experience, although it is not with the newest generation of fixed lens digicams, is that they all have focus+shutter latencies that are significantly poorer than any DSLRs - even entry level ones. And when shooting wildlife, AF performance is often critical.
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Old Jan 15, 2007, 6:24 PM   #4
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DougJGreen wrote:
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I personally believe that you WILL be wishing you had gotten a DSLR. Before you buy any fixed super-zoom digital camera, I strongly suggest that you test out the speed with which the camera can focus and fire at the longest telephoto settings. My experience, although it is not with the newest generation of fixed lens digicams, is that they all have focus+shutter latencies that are significantly poorer than any DSLRs - even entry level ones. And when shooting wildlife, AF performance is often critical.
Doug is right, and depending on what you expect to get at the end of the safari you will probably be disappointed by a super-zoom rather than an entry dSLR with some reasonable glass. However as usual it will come down to budget but here is areasonable package to consider (pricing approx as I'm in the UK but guess you are in the US).

Nikon D50 $449 (or $599 with 18-55mm lens)

Tamron 200-500mm $879

Apart from slow focus and shooting, I doubt you would get the focal lenght that you need for good shots with a super-zoom thus a lot of what you want to capture will be pretty small in the frame.
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Old Jan 16, 2007, 5:28 AM   #5
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Thanks Mark. Ooops, did I sound American? I'm in the UK too.

So I guess I'd be looking at around £1000 total in the UK? I might be pushing my luck to ask for that as a birthday present!

That's kind of what I was fearing. I've not had any education in photography but have picked up the odd tip here and there. I enjoy using the Ixus, but don't normally take it seriously enough to justify that kind of outlay. But it would be a shame to return from safari with so-so pictures! Oh well, food for thought. Maybe they'll develop a new breed of super super-zoom in the next 3 or 4 months!
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Old Jan 16, 2007, 5:43 AM   #6
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Don't worry you don't sound American, just that most people here are lol.

Based on UK prices this is what you would be looking at:

D50 + 18-55 £389

Tamron 200-500 £670

Then memory and case so going to push the £1000 a bit.

There is always an interesting option..... buy from ebay second hand so you get a good price and then sell it again when you return.... I bet you would lose little or no money if you were able to do this!!!! (Food for thought!)
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Old Jan 16, 2007, 3:48 PM   #7
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I agree that you are likely to regret not getting a dSLR, but if you do get one, you are likely to regret hauling about the bulk of the camera and several lenses. Your bank manager might add to your regrets.

Whatever you decide, decide fairly soon. It takes some time to figure out any camera - you don't want to spend your time on vacation reading a manual. You also want the time to figure out how much memory you want to take along, and how many extra batteries.
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Old Jan 16, 2007, 3:49 PM   #8
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We had a recent long holiday in Australia and I took the opportunity (excuse!) to buy a new camera with a good zoom for wildlife, mainly birds. We have two Casio compacts which we have been very pleased with for general holiday photos. I read many reviews and followed all the forum discussions of DSLR vs Superzoom and eventually decided that I probably didn't have the need for a DSLR.

For distant action shots in low light, all the experts seem to agree that you need a DSLR + a fast lens, which means a lot of money! A friend had come back from safari and used a compact digital camera with medium zoom and said they got right on top of the animals so he didn't need a big zoom!

I chose the Sony H5 and got some great bird pictures and many normal holiday shots. If we went on safari, I would be confident with the H5 - you can use Smart Zoom (with decreased resolution) to go up to at least 18x, and I personally found that ISO800 was acceptable. The IS works well and there is the bonus of decent video - comparable with my Sony camcorder, and you can optically zoom. The H5 sufficed for both video and stills, and several friends have cheerfully suffered the resulting holiday video (accompanied by Waltzing Matilda and other Aussie songs!)Video consumes card space very quickly so I took aportable 40Gb picture archive with me. The current price of the H5 makes it a bargain compared to the DSLR route (but I reserve the right to buy a DSLR in the future)

Have fun choosing your camera and enjoy the safari.
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Old Jan 24, 2007, 4:19 PM   #9
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I bought the Fuji S5100 two years ago. It's a great little camera with 10x optical zoom and manual controls. I've taken over 6000 photos with it and still enjoy it.

BUT....

I wish I bought a DSLR!

There are so many times when I miss a shot or can't focus on a fast moving object because the auto focus is so slow (the manual focus on this model is all but useless when you're in a hurry).

I'm looking for one now, two years later. Cost is always an issue, but if I would have purchased a decent DSLR body two years ago, I would probably still be happy (only adding glass as I wanted it).


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Old Jan 24, 2007, 7:39 PM   #10
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Based on the fact that an African Safari is, most probably, a once in a lifetime event, if it were my choice, I would opt to purchase a very easy to use camera such as the Nikon D-40 coupled with the Nikkor 70-300mm VR to grecord those precious images.

MT/Sarah
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