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Old Feb 18, 2007, 10:53 AM   #1
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Hello! I need some advice on buying a digital camera. Here is what I am looking for:

-A lot of zoom
-Image stabilization
-No AA batteries
-Good automatic feature

Megapixels and size are not a concern. I own a dSLR (Canon Rebel XT) as well, so this will mostly be for vacation and holiday pictures. I have been looking at the Panasonic Lumix FZ7. Any suggestions?



Thanks!!

Natalie



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Old Feb 18, 2007, 11:45 AM   #2
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Well,

Since you opted out of AA's, you've just about eliminated all of the most popular megazoom cameras (S3IS, H2, S6000, etc.). As a matter of fact, that just about leaves the Panasonics. The FZ7 meets your stated requirements, however it's prone to noise at ISO above 100.

Do you really hate AA batteries that much?

the Hun


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Old Feb 18, 2007, 11:57 AM   #3
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Natalie-

The Panasonic FZ-7, and for that matter the FZ-8, which is just coming out and is not a big change from the FZ-7 is small and quite a capable camera. The key to keeping the noise monster at bay is to obey one simple rule when taking handheld, low light level shots, without flash.

Keep the ISO setting at ISO 200 and below. That is it. Beyond that, all you have to do is to develop your technique. Outside the FZ-7 is great without any problems. I am attaching a sample photo to show you that the technique does work well.



MT/Sarah
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Old Feb 18, 2007, 11:57 AM   #4
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The camera will be used mostly by my mother-- and she really doesn't like the shortened battery life of the AAs. Which camera would you reccomend that does use AAs?

Thanks,

Natalie
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Old Feb 18, 2007, 12:04 PM   #5
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Sarah--

Does Panasonic have more noise problems than most other digital cameras? It seems to be a common complaint in their reviews. Can you pick your ISO on these cameras when shooting in full auto?

Thanks,

Natalie
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Old Feb 18, 2007, 12:08 PM   #6
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Natalie-

Because you Mom will be the primary user of this camera, might we ask if most of the photos will be taken outside or within the normal flash range? Do you want a camera that is fairly simple and easy to use?

If that is the case, perhaps you would want to consider the Kodak Z-612 which uses the Klic-8000 that combines the best feaures of the AA battery and the Lion battery.

MT/Sarah
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Old Feb 18, 2007, 12:13 PM   #7
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Natalie-

The so called "noise problem" is really not a problem at all. That was what I was attempting to show with the photo that I attached to my post. If you carefully control your use of ISO to ISO 200 and below on the FZ-7, you won't have a problem.

The FZ-7 now being price below $300 is quite a bargain for the quality of lens and its various features.

MT/Sarah
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Old Feb 18, 2007, 12:17 PM   #8
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Sarah--

I've taught my mother a fair amount about cameras, so the camera doesn't have to be "idiot-proof". She will use some of the manual features. However, it does need to be able to take good pictures in automatic mode because she will be using it mostly for holiday/vacation type pictures.

I doubt she will shoot in many difficult lighting situations (no concerts or sporting events). Mostly outdoor and indoor people pictures and some landscape. Her last camera had a flash that over-exposed EVERYTHING, so she avoids using flash now unless she absolutely needs it.

That Kodak looks great! I don't know how I missed it. Steve's review is also pretty good. I'll definitely look into that one further.

Thanks,

Natalie
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Old Feb 18, 2007, 1:20 PM   #9
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Hi!

Why not a Sony camera? It is very easy to use, it has beautiful colors and a great performance. No AA batteries. For the purpose, which you have mentioned here, it could be of a great choise.

PS. My eperience is Sony DSC-V1 (you can call it old by now). The newest Sony cameras are improved in all aspects considering mine (which I still love). I just feel I have grown out of it's capabilities.
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Old Feb 18, 2007, 1:30 PM   #10
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The zoom range of the FZ7 and similar stabilized cameras is better for wildlife than general vacation photography IMO. A wide angle that lets you get larger scenes into the image and get group shots in limited space is at least as handy as a super zoom for general vacation photography.

I would think that since you already have a large camera you would want something that would fit in a pocket or purse as a second camera.

You might look at the Panasonic TZ2 and TZ3. You get 28 – 280 zoom with stabilization in a camera that will fit in a very large pocket or purse. It has a wide sensor that lets you capture 3:2 or 16:9 images without cropping losing pixels like you do with most non-DSLR cameras with a 3:2 capability. Since your Canon photos are in 3:2 it might make things more standard for you. You would probably have to wait a few weeks before they are available, and the prices will likely be high at first. I personally don't much like having the LCD as the only viewfinder, especially with a long zoom. But some people don't mind at all.

Going from a SLR viewfinder any electronic viewfinder is going to seem awful. Some are less awful than others, and the new Panasonic FZ8 seems to have upgraded the EVF to where it is much better than the FZ7 and probably better than any other superzoom. B&H says they will have it available in March. There is a full review from dpreview and they gave it a "highly recommended". Two new features I like are the ability to shoot raw and to lower the in-camera noise reduction for JPGs. The cycle times for raw images make it a practical option – some cameras take too long to cycle a raw shot and it can be used only in static situations. All Panasonics are on the noisy side.

The FZ7/8 are the smallest super zooms available with an eyelevel viewfinder. That in part is due to using a proprietary lithium battery rather than AAs. I have cameras with both and prefer the proprietary batteries, but I wouldn't exclude a camera I wanted just because it uses AAs.

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