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Old Aug 11, 2007, 1:04 PM   #1
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I currently own a Canon Digital Rebel SLR, Canon PowerShot s80, Nikon CoolPix 950, and of course Nikon 35mm film SLRs.

What would you recommend, here's what's most important to me
  1. Image Stabilized[/*]
  2. SuperZoom (optical)
    [/*]
  3. High megapixel[/*]
  4. Fairly small and easy to use (so my wife can shoot as well)?
    [/*]
When I say small, I would love something the size of the PowerShot S80 but I think something larger will probably be more likely. I would love raw output but it's not crucial.

I appreciate any suggestions.

Thanks,

David


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Old Aug 11, 2007, 1:48 PM   #2
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On a Safari, you will be on a jeep or w wheeled vehicle a lot, so there the ride will be very rough. It will definitely affect your picture taking if you vehicle iis moving. Having image stablization will help a lot. You will probably take picture of animals from far away, so a camera with super zoom is an a-must. If you are looking for a new camera for the wife, there is nothing better than a Canon S3 IS or S5 IS, since you already own Canon equipment and have SD cards.
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Old Aug 11, 2007, 2:29 PM   #3
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David-

Mingsdad is really correct. A superzoom, especially in view of the fact that most of these photos will be taken outside, could be a real assist for this trip. You did not mention if you are using an external flash with your XT, but it might be able to be used on the Canon S-5IS as well, thus giving you flash interchangeability if you opted for the C-5IS rather than the S-3IS.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Aug 11, 2007, 2:54 PM   #4
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You aren't too clear on what you mean by small. If you want something with a superzoom you can slip in your pocket the Panasonic TZ3 might be worth considering. It is reasonably pocketable and has wide angle to capture those wide vistas.

The Panasonic FZ8 is about the smallest camera with an eyelevel viewfinder. It has an extremely good lens and outputs in raw if you use that. Raw is a good option as it allows you to bypass the camera's noise reduction. It probably has the best viewfinder of all the superzooms. After a DSLR they are all going to look poor to you, but the FZ8 will look a little less poor.

If you think you might use external flash the Canon S5 is an excellent camera if you aren't looking for really small. The articulated LCD is a feature I like.

You can put any of them in program mode and hand it to your wife. All she has to do is frame and press the shutter.

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Old Aug 12, 2007, 2:26 AM   #5
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Thank you all, I will check out the Canon. But I am leaning now toward the the FujiFilm s8000FD or the [sup][sub]Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18[/sub][/sup]will be release in time for me to get one of them. They both have even greater lenses true wide angle (27mm or 28mm) to tru telephoto (486mm or 504mm). I appreciate your suggestion and if these are not available by the time I leave, I will probably select the Canon S5IS.

By the way, if anyone know anything about either of these (good or bad) or how to get them by September 10th, I'd appreciate it.

Thanks again,

David
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Old Aug 12, 2007, 2:04 PM   #6
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The cameras will probably be out but good reviews might not. Without reviews I would probably go with the FZ18 over the Fuji.

Some things you can probably count on. Both will be noisy and the Fuji will likely have better in-camera noise reduction.

Both will probably have good optics. The Leica designed lenses on the Panasonic FZ series have been superb, and I would anticipate the FZ18 might have a little better purple fringing and corner sharpness.

The Panasonic will probably have the better burst mode. The Venus engine has given great JPG burst rates for a non-DSLR, but it doesn't have a raw burst. I don't see the Fuji has raw output at all.

You can be certain the stabilization in the FZ will be excellent. Every review of the Sony H series in dpreview has included the remark in the conclusion that the stabilization didn't test as effective as the Canon and Panasonic systems. They found the Casio CCD shift system to be almost totally ineffective. Stabilization is new to Fuji and it might be great or poor – we won't know until someone runs some good comparative tests. With 18X you want good OIS.

Raw is a practical option with Panasonic. Cycle times in the 3 second range make it useable in most situations. Raw completely bypasses the in-camera noise reduction along with most other settings. I find I do a lot better with a good plug-in that a camera can do. And starting with the maximum dynamic range the camera is capable of capturing there is a choice of whether you want to forfeit highlights or shadows to boost the contrast.

Fuji doesn't have that great a track record stuffing lots of pixels into small sensors. The S9000/9500 had noise in the raw output about as high as Panasonic. Dpreview said that even ISO80 raw shots could use some noise reduction. But the in-camera noise reduction for JPG output was very good compared to other cameras. The S8000 is putting 8Mp in a 1/2.35 sensor. They might work another miracle like they did with their great 1/1.7 sensor, but I would want to see some good reviews before even hoping for that.


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Old Aug 13, 2007, 2:36 PM   #7
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You have gotten a lot of good advice from some very experienced and knowledgeable photographers.

Here are my two cents:

Get a Canon S3IS or Panasonic FZ8. They have been out for a while, have good reviews, and are generally thought to be very good at up to ISO 200, maybe even 400. You can get either of them from good, reputable etailers for much less than $300. You can get them now, practice taking pictures with them and be prepared when you depart for your safari.

I don't think you will use a hotshoe for an external flash on your safari. At least, I hope not, unless you have a really fast vehicle.

The FZ18 and S8000fd might be good cameras. There is discussion about whether either of them can overcome the technical challenges inherent in a digital camera with such a long zoom lens and so many pixels on a relatively small sensor. I have the Olympus SP-550 and like it although it has its limitations, especially in hazy conditions.

So you know you will get a good camera with a 12X optical stabilized zoom with the S3IS and the FZ8. If you come back from your safari and you find out that the newer Panasonic and Fuji superzooms are dynamite, you can sell your "older" camera on ebay, maybe lose $80 (which is not bad for several months of "renting" such a good camera) and then buy the FZ18 or S8000fd.

Whatever you decide, have fun on your safari and please post some pictures here.
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