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Old Feb 22, 2007, 5:18 PM   #1
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I got the polarity wrong on a self-made battery pack and blown my old Sony "CDMavica" CD200 (thank you Sony for not using standard barrel plugs and polarity protection).
I'm looking to replace it, but I don't know with what. What I do know is it'll be a prosumer, and it very definitely won't be another Sony.

What I need is, in no particular order:
-A powerful flash that doesn't make everybody look like zombies
-At least ISO400; more would definitely be better, but 400 would do
-Decent optics; low f-numbers would be good, as I tend to take lots of pictures in not very brightly lit areas
-Good autofocusing in the dark; the CD200 accomplished this with a powerful LED illuminator, which was good, but it'd be better if it was IR; the CD200's was orange and tended to make people close their eyes to avoid being dazzled
-SD or CF storage
-Ability to manually choose f-number, aperture time and ISO (which is probably inherent in the "prosumer" concept, but better safe than sorry)
-At least 3x zoom; what I'd love would be a huge 10x or something, but I can picture hundred-euro bills flying away as I type that, so I'll probably stick to 3x
-Decent portability. The CD200 wasn't a joy to carry around; I don't need a subcompact, but I would like something smaller
-Decent movie mode. Super resolution isn't required, but a better frame rate than the crappy 15fps many old digicams have is

What I do not need:
-Shiny new hotness. If it's something I can find cheap secondhand on eBay, that's a definite plus
-A humongous LCD display
-Monstrous resolution. 4 megapixels would be pretty good
-LiIon battery. If I can use good old NiMH AAs I'll be happier
-xD storage; I'll live with it if the only digicam that suits me uses them, but I'd prefer not to

What I absolutely do not want:
-DSLRs. I do not have the patience nor the space to carry around various lenses and change them as needed.
-Anything by Sony, as mentioned above

Sooo... what will my digicam be?
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Old Feb 22, 2007, 8:10 PM   #2
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That camera doesn't exist!

One thing there aren't so many of today are prosumer models. The DSLRs are getting so cheap that prosumer digicams don't sell as much. Another thing is that most of the models today don't have is real low maximum apertures. I don't know why it is they can't have f2 anymore on digicams, or a fixed f2.8, but it's rare to see that anymore.

On the other hand there's been progress in a couple of areas. One is there are some that will do a decent ISO 400. Another new thing you might be interested in is image stabilization. In your low light shooting, it will allow you to use a slower shutter without blur from camera shake. Also, it doesn't really seem to cost much more now for more zoom. It's more of a tradeoff with what size camera you want to carry.

First s****tion Canon A710IS:
http://www.steves-digicams.com/2006_reviews/a710.html

Not sure it's even called "pro-sumer", but there's nothing lacking in it's capability and features. Maybe it's a bit small to be "pro-sumer". 6x zoom (35-210mm). Does very well focusing in low light, has IS and very usable ISO 400. SD, AA, and compact (210g).

Next, probably not worth paying the price difference, but take a quick look at the Canon G7:
http://www.steves-digicams.com/2006_reviews/g7.html

That's technically Canon's "pro-sumer" model, but you don't get that much for the additional price, especially since you don't need the 10MP. But worth a look for comparison. Also, if you decide to go the older model/used route, the Canon G6 would be a good choice.

Next Fuji S6000:
http://www.steves-digicams.com/2007_...i_s6000fd.html
This 10x zoom (28-300mm) has a bit more of a pro-sumer look and feel to it. One very pro-sumer feature is the manual focus and zoom rings. May be a bit larger than you'd like (610g), and has the XD memory and LI battery you don't need. Also lacks IS, but worth a look for it's unique high ISO abitility for your low light shooting. Also, these big superzooms tend to have a nice pop up flash. The S9000 has more MP, takes CF memory, and has a flash hot shoe, but may not be worth the extra cost for your purpose.

And another superzoom, the Canon S3IS:
http://www.steves-digicams.com/2006_reviews/s3is.html
12x zoom (36-432mm), fairly lightweight (410g), reasonably fast glass (f2.7-3.5), IS, not great at ISO 400, good low light focus, SD, AA, and a nice flip out screen. If you want to look on ebay, the previous model, the S2 IS is very similar.

Finally the Panasonic FZ7:
http://www.steves-digicams.com/2006_reviews/fz7.html
Another 36-432mm zoom. Really not good above ISO 200, but very good below that, and the IS is good enought to be usefull in low light. Lightweight (310g) , with fast f2.8-3.3 glass. Some good prices on this.
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Old Feb 22, 2007, 8:47 PM   #3
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In your situation I'd start reading Steve's reviews with your criteria list in hand (maybe make a formal chart.) Once you narrowed down the list then start asking questions in this forum. Some of your criteria are conflicting so you'll have to consider trade-offs. For instance, "A powerful flash that doesn't make everybody look like zombies" to me means most likely an external bounce capable flash and there aren't any 3x 4MP cameras that currently handle an external flash. Actually I don't think there are any 3x zoom cameras in the 5-8MP class that take an external flash.

If you relax the requirement for external flash the Kodak Z612 (12x IS zoom, 6MP) is available from two sources in the US for $200 which it isn't terribly expensive. The downside is that doesn't handle an external flash although I'm satisfied with built in flash. Going above that in priceare cameras fromKodak, Canon, Panasonic, Sony (oops) and Olympus that can use an external flash. Going below that in price gets a compact styled camera with a 3-5x zoom. Most current digicams above $150 or so can shoot 640x480 video at 30fps. There are differences in what they'll do in the video mode so Steve's reviews will help sort out the options. The Z612 will shoot 640x480 30fps video for as long as you want until you fill up the memory card.
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Old Feb 23, 2007, 11:21 PM   #4
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The Fuji 7000... now 9000.... take an External Flash.... have a 2.8 lens though not constant through zoom range.

They also do true NTSC quality 640x480 video at standard 30fps.
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Old Feb 24, 2007, 6:19 AM   #5
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After a lot of careful consideration, I've singled out the Kodak Z612 (thank you ac.smith) and the Canon S2 IS.
The only reason why I haven't ordered a Z612 (which seems rather smaller to me) yet is that I'm a bit worried by the chromatic aberration... there's quite a lot of it in the sample pictures with trees...
What do you all think about the S2 IS? Is it much worse than the newer S3? It sure costs a lot less...
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Old Feb 24, 2007, 11:26 AM   #6
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Most reviewers and users seem to suggest that the S3 is only a small, incremental upgrade over the S2.
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Old Feb 24, 2007, 2:46 PM   #7
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I really can't help you on the S2 but it's probably very good. To some extent chromatic aberrations are a fact of life for 12x zoom. I personally don't think it creates a problem in most situations. I will post some pictures made with my own Z612 so you can make your own judgments. The original exif data should be intact. The first shot, in each casewill be the full reduced image and the second will a 100% crop. The first two sets were hand-held, available light, wide-open aperture, ~160mm eq. focal length and 1/10 sec shutter. The last set used fill flash, 1/200 sec. shutter, wide-open and 420mm eq. focal length.
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Old Feb 24, 2007, 2:48 PM   #8
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100% Crop.
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Old Feb 24, 2007, 2:54 PM   #9
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2nd Shot. Does illustrate the usefullness of IS as 1/10 shutter speed is extremely slow for 160mm eq. focal length
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Old Feb 24, 2007, 2:55 PM   #10
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100% Crop
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