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Old Oct 16, 2007, 6:51 PM   #1
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I am really at a bit of a loss. I have begun throwing information into an Excel spreadsheet to help me narrow down my decision but that is not helping a whole lot, so I figured I would seek out some suggestions to give me a bit of a boost.

I'm not a photographer in any sense of the imagination and I do not pretend to be. I simply want a good, solid camera for family pictures and the occational nature shot or so, should I feel so inclined. That said, maybe choosing between these is like splitting hairs.

There are a few things that are important to me, though:

Video: I want solid video. I'm well aware that these are intended to be still photo cameras and not to expect anything superb, but I also do not want to be burdened carrying multiple devices around. I want to be able to play with my nieces and shoot video at inopportunte times when they do something I want to record. The 720p advertised for the Z812 got me very interested, but the video on the others do not appear to be terrible. I love the idea of being able to take still pictures while recording on the S3 (despite a bit of a hiccup in the video) but that is not a necessity.

Manual Controls: Honestly, I'm a point and click type of person. That said, I am very interested in learning a bit more about photography. It is not a passion so much as I just want to get the best pictures I can, and I would imagine that the manual controls would give a bit better control over that. I know that the S3/S5 offer some manual control and I believe that the FZ8 does as well. I am more than willing to spend some time reading the manual (or a book of some sort) to get the handle on some of this, but I really need it to be accessible to beginners so I can get 'er going out of the box.

Price: The Z812 is what got me really flying toward getting a camera and I found a place online where I can grab it for around $250. I may be able to push myself up toward $300 but that would probably be my limit. (I believe the S5 extends past that, but I figured I would still throw it on the list)

Quality: It goes without saying that I'd like the best quality possible, but I do not need very fine prints. I would like the ability to print these pictures, but do not have any plans of blowing them up into something enormous. The camera I bought a few years ago is a Kodac C330, and I'm sure any one of these would be a huge upgrade from that, but I'm not a rich man and I want to make sure I'm getting the most bang for my buck. (Which reminds me, Amazon.com mentions that FZ8 comes with a battery charger and battery pack? Certainly a plus from a money point of view..)

I'm not sure if there are any other things that I need to consider and I figure I've thrown enough out there for now. I obviously do not expect someone to make up my mind for me, but if there are any small things y'all know about that might point me in one direction or another I would be very grateful for the pointers.

Thanks a ton for any advice y'all can throw my way.
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Old Oct 17, 2007, 12:45 AM   #2
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I'm in the same spot as you, am deciding between the S3, S5 and the z812. I went to the store to try them out and still am unsure.

Prosfor the z812: size, quite a bit smaller than the S series, cheeper and just felt like a good fit in my hand, hd video (one of the main reasons I'm buying a new camera is to take better videos of my toddler - the 320 x 240 video on my current cam isn't cutting it for me).

Cons: It does do alot of refocusing (I read about this on another forum) which is annoying, no flip screen, not a canon (I have an A80 that has served me well, so I'm a bit attached to the brand), no professional reviews out yet, and a minor thing, but it doesn't take AA batteries.

Pros for the s5: Canon brand, great reviews, can probably do more with this one if I ever learn more about photography,and most importantly the flip screen. It is a great thing to have when you have kids and don't want to kneel on the floor to get a good shot.

Cons: Bigger, heavier, lower res video (though I've heard it is quite good...otherwise it wouldn't be on my shortlist, more expensive, you have to pull the flash up in order to use it...overall less intuitive to use. I couldn't figure out how to take a video in the store. I put the dial on movie mode, selected 640x480, and pushed the shutter and it took a pic instead of a video. I tried a few other buttons , but none of them work. I'm sure it would take 10 seconds to look this up in the manual, but that along with having to pull up the flash makes the z812 the better camera to just hand to someone to take a pic or video of your family, kwim?

I'm leaning towards the z812, am mainly trying to decide if I can live without the vari-angle lcd and am waiting for a real review to see if the video is all its cracked up to be.
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Old Oct 17, 2007, 6:33 AM   #3
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Your video needs sway to the S3/5.

For everything else it's the FZ8 all the way. Good luck.
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Old Oct 17, 2007, 2:22 PM   #4
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Thanks for the reply, slmulkey.

I really liked the z812 right off the bat, but as you mentioned, the lack of a full review is abit scary. I am very diligent about researching things to death (and beyond at times) before purchasing them, and not having any reviews to look over is worrisome.

The refocusing issue on the z812 is another thing that scares me away some. I had thought perhaps it was operator error or poor shooting situations, but it has been reported on so many times by so many different people, there must be more to it.

I'm not worried about the flip screen, but to be fair, I've never had one, either.. so perhaps I just don't know what I'm missing.

Unfortunately, unlike you, I'm not sure I'm leaning any direction at the present time. Each time I think one is leading the pack something brings it back and another jumps to the front of the line.

One question if I may: What differences have you found between the S3/S5? Although there is not a huge bump in price, I'm a bit extended on my budget at the S3 price and the S5 may be a bit out of range.

Thank you very much for all of your input.
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Old Oct 17, 2007, 2:24 PM   #5
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dequardo wrote:
Quote:
Your video needs sway to the S3/5.

For everything else it's the FZ8 all the way. Good luck.
The FZ8 really came on late to the party. I spent a few hours last night pouring over reviews and took some time on the FZ8 toward the end of it and I believe that if I were forced to purchase one at the end of that session, the FZ8 would have been the one.

Would you say that video is a liability with the FZ8 or simply not as strong as the S3/5?

Thank you for your imput.
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Old Oct 17, 2007, 2:37 PM   #6
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Not a liability for me but I've used both (and back to the S2) and the Canon's viedo IS 'state of the art' for digicams. But for me the primary feature of a camera is IQ and I think the FZ8 shines there.
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Old Oct 17, 2007, 3:41 PM   #7
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dequardo wrote:
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Not a liability for me but I've used both (and back to the S2) and the Canon's viedo IS 'state of the art' for digicams. But for me the primary feature of a camera is IQ and I think the FZ8 shines there.
It would figure that the choice can't be too easy.

You have certainly given me some more to think about.

Thank you again for your help.
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Old Oct 17, 2007, 11:02 PM   #8
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Regarding the flip screen, you probably won't miss it too much if you don't have kids, or animals that you take pics of. Over half of my shots are taken at a low level, and not only is kneeling/sitting on the ground a pain to do to frame the shot, it also has the tendency to make my son and my dogs come towards me, which doesn't make for the greatest shot. If I didn't have a flip screen, alot of my pics would be taken at a downward angle which wouldn't make for the greatest pics. I tried taking pics today with the screen folded in, and it drove me nuts, so I still really haven't decided. If I were more patient, I would wait for a camera with a flip screen that does HD video to come out. Yes, I know the Canon TX1 fits that bill, but its pretty expensive, so freaking tiny and the reviews on the IQ and ergonomics aren't that great.

There are several differences between the S3 and the S5. Only real biggie for me is that the S3 can't record a long video. I think it maxes out at 1 gb. That would probably be enough for me, but I would hate to run into that limitation down the road. The screen is also smaller and it doesn't havea hotshoe.

BTW, amazon is having a deal where you get a $50 rebate if you buy a canon camera and printer.I may take advantage of that as my DHneeds an all in one printer for hishome office. That along with the fact that I would need to buy a charger and extra battery for the z812 actually makes the S5 cheeper for me.

I'm also curious about the sound quality of the video on the z812. I know that the canon sound is supposed to be really good, but haven't heard about the kodak.

Good luck deciding. I research this crap way too much too






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Old Oct 18, 2007, 12:16 AM   #9
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If you want good video but don't want to get a true video cam, then the S3 or the S5 is the way to go.

The Kodak Z-series videos suffer from two shortcomings - when you zoom while on video, the focus is lost and the audio is muted. Not so with the S3/S5. This, to me, is key to my getting the S5.

Another feature of the S5 is the ability to snap a still photo even while on video mode. So if you are on video then decide you want a still copy of the scene, just press the shutter and you've got your photo.

The S5 has 2 advantages for your needs of photos of the family:
1. Face Detection - allows for faces of subjects always clear and not dark as is many times the case with digicams without this feature unless you do some manual adjusting

2. External Hot Shoe - allows for an external flash that brings out softer people photos. A direct-on flash shot using the onboard flash usually results in harsh face shots, specially when the subject has some moisture on their face off which the flash reflects. A bounce flash of an external flash softens the face. Very nice.
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Old Oct 18, 2007, 1:45 AM   #10
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I've had a Fuji S700 for 4 months now and it's a great little bridging camera with full manual features for the money. I really like the movie mode where the 10x optical zoom is fully functional during shooting and the continous AF seems pretty good. The camera is very compact with a nonextending lens and has great battery life (~ 600 shots on a charge).
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