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Old Apr 4, 2007, 11:00 AM   #11
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I'm also curious about the no xD card requirement.

I've seen some complain that they're "proprietery"; but all of the major formats are proprietery, including MSPro/ProDuo, and SD. As for MSPro/MSProDuo, I see no practical advantage over xD, unles you already have the Sony cards or a reader which reads them.

As for SD, it does have the advantage of being more popular, as well as cards being a bit less expensive, and higher capacity cards available. So that can be a real advantage, especially if you want to move cards easily between other devices.

For me, none of this mattered when I bought my Fuji F30, as I was only buying 1 card, and it won't ever leave the camera (I transfer images using the USB cable, not a reader).

The write times may also be slower on xD cards, but I'd prefer to judge the overall timings of the camera; I don't think there's a hard and fast rule there for point and shoots. The Fuji F30 for example is very responsive while using xD. For shooting in RAW, however, I do think the larger capacities available and quicker write speeds of SD would tend to more consistently produce a noticeable advantage. But most of the cameras you are looking at don't even have RAW modes.

So there's no right or wrong answer for how much this should matter; like many other things, it depends on how you intend to use it. If you are like me, then all it means is initially payig an extra $10 or so for the less popularr card, which isn't a deal breaker. If you intend to buy many cards for storage, to transfer between different supported devices, use a card reader, already have invested in another card type and reader, etc, it could be a more significant factor.

Unfortunately, there is no perfect camera. Even just looking at 3 criteria, memory card type, IS, and high ISO performance, there's no one that has all you want. If you limit yourself to SD cards, you're pretty much limited to Canon, Panasonic, and Kodak, none of which are particulaly good right now at high ISO for superzooms. The Canon S3 is maybe the best choice there, but it's getting a bit long in the tooth.

The clear leader in high ISO performace for digicams is Fuji, but there you have to accept both the xD format, and no IS.

The TZ3 that's been suggested is a 10x zoom, covering from 28mm-280mm. But you say you want more zoom. If you really need much more zoom than that, than you should also be looking at the Olympus SP-550, which is the leader in this area (28-504mm), with good build, outstanding handling and ergonomics, outstanding lens quality, image quality comparable to the Sony H5, and an effective IS. But it uses xD cards, and doesn't focus quickly in low light. And it's a bit pricey.

I would suggest yuou weigh image quality, handling and convenience, performance, and build quality first, along with your actual photographic needs, and consider other features and specifiacations secondary. And set a reasonable budget based on your needs.

And, since you want--
a) Low noise/low light/indoor quality
b) Long telephoto for outdoors
c) no need for movies
--you may find you are better off with a dSLR than a superzoom if you get into comparing the high priced models.

So how much telephoto do you really need (you might need alot for wildlife, especially birds)?
Do you plan on much action shooting (like sports)?
How important is camera weight (a lighter camera can be a lot more convenient)?
Do you have any experience with postprocessing?
Do you just want good images out of camera shooting jpeg without processing?
What previous camera experience do you have (which might help understand your expectations)?

If a 300mm equivalent is enough, then you have more choices, and might even get into a dSLR for not much more than the price of one of the more expensive bridge cameras.

If a long zoom at a low cost is a must, convenience is important, and shooting conditions aren't too demanding, then a superzoom digicam might be your choice.

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Old Apr 4, 2007, 1:53 PM   #12
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I bought a Sony H5 last year and added the 1.7x TC soon after - the image quality is very good and it gives acceptable results at ISO400. THe H-5 + TC combination is brilliant for birds but you still need good light in order to allow shutter speeds of >1/200 (for hand held shots). At lower shutter speeds, many pictures are not sharp . You will have to spend a lot more money for a DSLR + fast telephoto lens combination which gives the equivalent 600+ focal length and lens quality.

For casual indoor use without flash (and outdoor wider angle use), I've recently bought a D40 with kit lens at $600 dollars (£320) and consider it a bargain. ISO 1600 shots are great for indoor use without flash, but at present, I don't intend to duplicate the H5 zoom capabilities with an expensive zoom, e.g., 18 - 200 mm which has image stabilisation but less reach.

The people who recommend DSLR's for the best results are correct, but you have to be prepared to pay the high cost, plus carry the much larger heavier lenses required to get the same optical performance when a large zoom is required. The super zooms such as the H5, S3-IS, FZ7, 550UZ may have small sensors with higher background noise which limits ISO, but these small sensors allow low weight fast lenses of good quality plus image stabilisation to help at high magnification.

For around £700, I am now able to deal with the situations that I am interested in - if I wanted to take action shots in low light with zoom, some more money would be needed for a suitable lens for the D40! At least I've got the camera body!
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Old Apr 6, 2007, 11:12 AM   #13
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I'd second Greg's comment with a small modification.

A D40 (rather than D40x) with kit lens sells for less than $600 (depending on where you look), and you can get the new Nikon AF-S 55-200 f/4-5.6 DX VR lens for another $250 (rather than the non-VR version for $50 less).

Granted, the total of around $800 is about double what a super zoom costs, and it's not a single lens solution, but it's got great image quality, and VR on the long lens.
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Old Apr 6, 2007, 11:59 AM   #14
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The Bac's suggestion is an excellent one. The Nikon D-40 kit with the addition of the Nikkor 55-200mmVR lens would certainly be a top quality answer to the ultra sharp high zoom camera question.


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Old Apr 8, 2007, 2:01 AM   #15
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I was in the same boat as you when looking and due to an iminent trip to Kenya wanted a camera which could take pictures of animals at a distance.

I opted for the FZ8 due to price/weight/sd cards/zoom/picture quality and battery life (RAW was nice but not a deal breaker for me).

By no means perfectthe FZ8 ticked all of the boxes I needed and am very happy indeed with my purchase. I did find it hard to get information but there is some out there. I have also posted a load of pictures on the Panasonic forum on here so if you want a novice view check it out.

I will be buying an add-on zoom lens as well though as I'd like to get even closer to the subjects. An SLR would need to have a massive lens to compete with the 700mm or so this would give you.

With the regards why no xD here's why:

Expensive/small size/slow/SD in the popular standard hence widely supported.

I bought a 4gb 150x SD Card including delivery for £12.99 about $23 bargain from ebay !!!!

Happy hunting


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Old Apr 8, 2007, 2:05 AM   #16
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sorry not meaning to go fanboy bashing but the SP550 has been reviewed and the quality at full 18x zoom is rubbish so this is certainly no reason to buy.

Ergonomics on the other hand is completely subjective.

My advise is read the specs online and reviews etc, then go to your local camera shop ... try them out for size weight etc etc if the price is good buy it there as the service with be superior otherwise ebay is dirt cheap !!


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Old Apr 10, 2007, 11:39 AM   #17
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thanks for the replies. I just ordered an FZ8. Pantsuk, I will check out your pictures, since I am very excited about it.

I wasn't considering XD cards, since I have SD cards(which are cheap too). I wouldn't mind memory sticks since I can get them for 10 USD for 2 GB. XD cards cost 3-4 times as much.

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