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Old Feb 25, 2007, 8:07 PM   #1
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Yep, the subject line really sums it up for me!:? My very first digital camera was a Nikon Coolpix 775 (2.1 MP), which I still own. I amin the midst ofa very expansive landscaping project and I want to document every phase. I don't take many pictures, almost none in fact (the 775 was mostly used for eBay auctions). My price ceiling is $250 and I want at least a 6+ MP camera with a 2.5" display and a minimum 4x optical zoom (4x or more is better).

I used a Fujifilm FinePix F20 for a week and I was moderately happy with it but I kept going back to Steve's review of the Canon A550 - more MP, 4x zoom (vs. the F20's 3x), hand grip, optical viewfinder etc. Since the A550 was the same price as the F20 I exhanged cameras. Now I find out that Canon is releasing the A560 in a month and that it has virtually the same specs as the A550 but with a 2.5" display. I could live with a 2.0" screen but after using the F20's 2.5" display, well, bigger is better!

I need some recommendations other than the A560. What about Panasonic? The DMC-LZ7S is a 7.2 MP with 6x optical zoom (but no optical viewfinder). Please give me some more ideas!:-) Thank you for looking.
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Old Feb 26, 2007, 12:26 PM   #2
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I answered your post on dcresource, but I'll copy that answer here.

Don't know too much about the Panasonic since it's a brand new model. Panasonics tend to have more noise in their images than competing brands, even at lower ISO's. At higher ISO's, depending on the model, there is either more noise vs. other brands, or more agressive noise reduction, resulting in blurry details. But if you don't print your photos at large sizes, it might not be an issue. And the Panasonic does have IS, which should limit the times you'd have to rely on high ISO to get your shot. It also has longer telephoto reach than the Canon A550 or the A560.

The Canons that you mentioned (on your dcresource post) are all good. Image quality is similar across the entire A-series. The A630 has the rotating LCD going for it. It is bigger and heavier than the others due to using 4 AA battieres for power, but battery life is better. The A710 IS has 6x zoom and image stabilization, which should come in very handy for you if you shoot without a tripod. There is also the new A570 IS which has 4x zoom and IS. I think that it will sell for slightly less than the A710 IS when it hits the store shelves, but its lens is slower at longer focal lengths - f/5.5 vs. f/4.8 - which would make it somewhat less effective in low light shooting. The other A-series cameras that you mentioned (the A550 and the A560) don't have direct control over aperture and shutter speed, which I personally would prefer in a camera.

Stephanie

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Old Feb 26, 2007, 5:37 PM   #3
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For a landscaping project, I would think you might want some wide angle ability. Take a look at the Panasonic Lumix FX01 (6MP) and FX07 (7MP).

http://www.steves-digicams.com/2006_reviews/fx07.html

And less recommended, but maybe worth a look if the price is right, as it meets most of your criteria, the Olympus FE200:

http://www.steves-digicams.com/2007_...fe200_pg5.html

I think a better choice though is a slightly older model, the Fuji E900, which is currently available for right around $250. 9MP, optical viewfinder, 32-128mm zoom, nice grip, and good features:

http://www.steves-digicams.com/2005_reviews/e900.html

The Canon A series and Fuji F series models you've already looked at are also very good.

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Old Feb 26, 2007, 9:34 PM   #4
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sjseto wrote:
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I answered your post on dcresource, but I'll copy that answer here.
Stephanie,

Thank you very muchfor the advice.Right now, I amleaning towards the A630 because my local Staples has it for $219 after a $50 rebate. Is there a successor model to the A630 coming out soon that will have Canon's DIGIC III?
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Old Feb 26, 2007, 10:27 PM   #5
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Kenbalberi,

Thanks for the recommendations. After reading about Panasonics being generally "noisy" I am somewhat hesitant to try one. I don't like that there is no hand grip or optical viewfinder on the FX07. Plus, it uses a lithium-ion battery and I would rather use the new Sanyo Eneloops. As for the Olympus FE-200, it also lacks a hand grip and optical viewfinder and uses aproprietary lithium ion battery. Steve's comments on Page 5 of the review really turned me off:

"Bottom line - While the Olympus FE-200 has the ability to capture nice photos, includes several user-friendly exposure modes, and offers a 5x optical zoom with a nice wide field of view, shooting performance is comparable to the speed of a snail at full sprint, which really turned us off. I was disapointed to see that there were not more advanced controls offered for novice users, however this model is aimed more toward the complete novice. At about $249 or less, the FE-200 doesn't offer the greatest value, we suggest you take a look at other manufacturer's entry-level models before making a final decision."

The Fuji E900 is a very impressive camera! The one thing that I wish it had is a 2.5" display. One reviewer at Amazon complained that it was constantly over-exposing every subject (she said that it needs a 1600 ISO). I do like that the E900 uses xD memory cards (I bought a 512 MB for my F20) vs. SD in the Canon A630 (I'll have to buy a new card). The E900 is more expensive than the A630 and I would probably have to order it and pay S&H. CameraAddict.com has it for $246 plus $10 shipping (a guess) while Staples has the A630 for $219 after a $50 rebate.
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Old Feb 26, 2007, 11:02 PM   #6
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alton krenslok wrote:
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Stephanie,

Thank you very muchfor the advice.Right now, I amleaning towards the A630 because my local Staples has it for $219 after a $50 rebate. Is there a successor model to the A630 coming out soon that will have Canon's DIGIC III?
Canon recently announced several new cameras but a new A6xx was not among them, I believe. So if there is to be another one, it might not be released until the summer or fall, before CES or Photokina.

Whether or not to wait depends on how badly you need a camera right now. There is always something new around the corner, but not necessarily better in terms of what you really need. For example, more megapixels is not necessarily better. Most compacts have reached the point where they have more than enough for just about everyone's needs.

The Fuji E900 is a good suggestion. It's lens starts at 32mm which is slightly wider than normal, but it still has the 4x optical zoom that you said you wanted. Yeah, too bad about the 2" LCD, but I have to chuckle a bit because I can remember when we were all used to 1.5" LCD's! And at least it still has an optical viewfinder. But if you place a lot of importance on how useable the LCD is, you might want to note that the resolution is only 115,000 pixels, and Jeff Keller over at dcresource thought that it wasn't that visible in low light. As for overexposure, I'm not sure how having ISO 1600 is supposed to help with that. What does help is simply using a setting of -1/3 EV exposure compensation. I do that with my F30 quite often.

Stephanie

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Old Feb 26, 2007, 11:38 PM   #7
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sjseto wrote:
Quote:
But if you place a lot of importance on how useable the LCD is, you might want to note that the resolution is only 115,000 pixels, and Jeff Keller over at dcresource thought that it wasn't that visible in low light. As for overexposure, I'm not sure how having ISO 1600 is supposed to help with that. What does help is simply using a setting of -1/3 EV exposure compensation. I do that with my F30 quite often.

Stephanie

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My Fujifilm FinePix F30 and F10 galleries
Interesting that A630's 2.5" LCD resolution is the same as the E900: approx. 115,000 pixels. The Fuji F20's 2.5" display is 153,000 pixels (included for my ref.). I wasn't sure what to make of the Amazon reviewer's comments and I didn't want to quote her at length - I can provide a link to the page if you'd like.
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Old Feb 27, 2007, 6:06 PM   #8
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Just another one to consider...

I have an Olympus SP-320. I got it last summer at Circuit city for 199 (regularly 299), and no matter what the reviews say (not sure never looked), that camera is awesome for the price.
7.1 mpx
Big bright viewfinder
Also a decent optical viewfinder
640x480 video
Many quality modes including raw
Great super macro mode
Pic quality is really very good with it
Tons of preset scenes and modes (along with full manual, shutter, apeture priority, etc)
Image stabilization'
Pictbridge for printing
I just looked and there is a nice review on this site
http://www.steves-digicams.com/2006_reviews/sp320.html


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Old Feb 27, 2007, 8:03 PM   #9
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The SP-320 recommended by Highway does look like a better suggestion than the FE-200 anyway. At least is has the grip and viewfinder. The catch there is, while image quality is very good, and exposure and white balance work very well, the camera is slow. Battery life is also a problem with NiMH rechargeables.
The Olympus SP cameras really do much better with lithium CRVs. Maybe the Sanyo Eneloops would be OK, as they do hold their voltage a bit better than other NiMH batteries, but I think they still might be a bit weak for that camera. It is a pretty nice value under $200 though.

As for the screens, the better 2.5" screens have resolutions of over 200,000 pixels. They tend to not be found on the budget cameras though. The Fuji F30 for example, has a 230,000 pixel screen and a much better battery than the F20, as well as better controls. But maybe a bit out of your price range.

The Canon A630 sounds like it still might be your best bet though. It has the grip and viewfinder you want, and should work well with your Eneloops. It only has 115,000 pixels on the screen, but it's also a flip out screen, which not many other models have. It's also only 6 months old, so you wold likely have to wait until at least fall for there to be a replacement. They wouldn't be replacing a model like that as soon as PMA.

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Old Feb 27, 2007, 8:50 PM   #10
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Your right it is slow, especially with the flash. Outdoors it's not super bad.. but if your trying to snap a shot of something moving you better shoot ahead of where you think it might be LOL



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