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Old Nov 12, 2007, 4:24 PM   #1
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I have a Fuji S5200, and while I feel I made an informed decision at the time, now it seems I need a different camera.

Of course, the S5200 has no IS, and although I have a nice Manfrotto Bogen tripod I bought, it limits me to one spot or limits my mobility and staying inconspicuous when trying to photograph people "doing their normal activities." I'd like to be able to move around a bit more, so I know the IS feature is necessary for this. My research has eliminated the Kodak S712/812 due to proprietary battery and the fact it's IS system isn't 100% reliable like the Canon S3 IS is. I've also elminated the S5 IS as a contender, since it's output is noisier than the S3 b/c of its higher MP count and its sharpening isn't as good as the S3. Before I get much further, let me say what I need/have and what uses I employ a camera for.

I have this:

2 1 GB xD cards b/c of the Fuji memory needs.

Excellent Manfrotto Bogen tripod (IIRC, 728B)

High output NiMH rechargables, 2 sets of 4 (Energizer 2500 mAH/PowerEX 2300) + excellent charger (from Thomas Distributing)

Already bought 1 Kingston 2 GB SD card (standard speed); not adverse to getting a high-speed SD card (BestBuy has PNY 2GB 133x SD card for $29.99 and Staples/CC has Sandisk Ultra II [60X speed IIRC] for $29.99 this week) if the 'camera candidate' would do better with it

I want/need this:

Better zoom than Fuji (so at least 12x, like S3 IS)

Excellent camera for low-light photos (in museums, where flashes/tripods prohibited, therefore IS needed and even inside venues where I could still take pics w/o flash, but where lighting is better) of pictures/sculptures in subdued lighting. I know having a larger aperture of 2.8 or better would help with this (vs. the 3.2 the Fuji has)

Camera that takes pics with lower noise even up to 400 ISO (this was the lowest ISO I could shoot in that I could use/take shots with) that still keeps colors well saturated

Camera that uses NiMH batteries I already have, not proprietary ones (so I don't have to spend more on batteries)

A camera that excels at taking pictures of nature, like close-ups of flowers (getting those colors right in regular sunlight, too), pictures of landscapes, beaches, birds in trees, etc.

My research seems to indicate the Canon S3 IS is still better than the S5 IS (look at comparison here) in sharpness and detail (I don't see I need a 8 MP camera, at least in the S5 IS comparison here b/c of this). The Fuji 18x review wasn't as encouraging as I'd hoped, so I'm not leaning towards it; the Sony line is out because of over-aggressive noise reduction (from same review comparison photos above) and I haven't trusted Sony's Q/A since last years 5+ million battery recall... Steve's review of the newer Olympus SP-560 UZ seems to have some really great photos--even at 400 ISO (but they are in far better light than my museum photos, so don't know if that's a proper benchmark for me to use). I like the idea of having an 18x zoom (and Steve said it seems to have few distortions at full 18x). However, the 550 UZ's saturation was off compared to the Canon S5 IS (which I don't like knowing that)--while the 550 UZ had slightly better corner sharpness. The Panasonic reviewed in the same DPReview I have above shows bleeding of colors, which the reviewer attributes to problems with the Venus III processor, so for me that eliminates Panasonic as a choice...

So it seems I come back to either a Canon S3 IS, or MAYBE the Olympus SP-560UZ is a equally noteworthy contender? This is where I'm confused, since the pics w/the 560UZ were in better light, so I can't compare them with the noise my Fuji S5200 generates at the same 400 ISO. The fact I want better than the 10x my S5200 has (plus the need for a good IS system, since w/o a tripod my hands still aren't 'tripod steady' enough to shoot a long shutter speed shot in low light). Also, while I could get the S3 IS online for $284, I would have no objection to paying more for the 560 UZ--but ONLY if it could take convincingly better shots in a low-light museum than the S3 IS. Of course I like the idea w/the 560 UZ I'd already have 2 1 GB xD cards to use w/o spending more, + using NiMH--and perhaps a brick and mortar store might put a heck of a sale on it after Thanksgiving or b4 Xmas to get it to about the same online price of an S5 IS ($340). I don't know if there's another 'contender' out there somewhere, but I at least need someone's well-experienced second opinion to kind of untangle this mess. If I could see low-light photos of the 560UZ comparable to museum lighting w/no flash, that would also go a long way in showing me if I should pay a little more for the Olympus and get it (in spite of the fact it may still produce less saturated photos than the Canon).

What say you? Please chime in and don't hold back...I want as much info/input as I can give to help me nail down which way to go for sure.

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Old Nov 12, 2007, 8:44 PM   #2
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fotografo35 wrote:
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...so I know the IS feature is necessary for this. My research has eliminated the Kodak S712/812 due to proprietary battery and the fact it's IS system isn't 100% reliable like the Canon S3 IS is. I've also elminated the S5 IS as a contender, since it's output is noisier than the S3 b/c of its higher MP count and its sharpening isn't as good as the S3. Before I get much further, let me say what I need/have and what uses I employ a camera for.
...I want/need this:

Better zoom than Fuji (so at least 12x, like S3 IS)

Excellent camera for low-light photos (in museums, where flashes/tripods prohibited, therefore IS needed and even inside venues where I could still take pics w/o flash, but where lighting is better) of pictures/sculptures in subdued lighting. I know having a larger aperture of 2.8 or better would help with this (vs. the 3.2 the Fuji has)

Camera that takes pics with lower noise even up to 400 ISO (this was the lowest ISO I could shoot in that I could use/take shots with) that still keeps colors well saturated

While IS is helpful in low light photography it is primarily useful in photos of stationary subjects as it corrects only for camera movement, not subject movement. Moving subjects require high(er) shutter speeds, with or without IS.

Where do you get the info that the IS on the Z71/Z812 is less reliable (whatever that is) than the S3/S5? I have not seen that comment by any knowledgeable. My experience with my Z612 is that IS works exactly like it's supposed to work.

While it is true that the S5 crams more pixels in the same size (1/2.5) sensor technology has advanced and it is no noisier at equal ISOs than the S3 and maybe less so. None of the cameras you're considering are really low light marvels.

I do take museum photos with my Z612 at ISO 400. Since the subjects are stationary IS is useful and the Z712, Z812, S3 or S5 would perform much the same. The shutter speeds will still be quite slow so good technique will be required.

Dpreview's S5 test show the 8MP sensor of the S5 squeaks a bit more resolution out ofthat lens compared to the S3's sensor.
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Old Nov 12, 2007, 10:21 PM   #3
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On the side-by-side comparison with the shots given at DPReview, I share the reviewer's conclusion that the S5 is not a major upgrade to the S3, and when I saw the photos taken at the same ISO settings, I saw the clear edge (from what my eyes saw) went to the S3. Now, if someone absolutlely needs the hotshoe, the better LCD resolution and larger video (4 gb) filesize, then the S5 IS a better choice than the S3. However, considering the S3 is also SDHC compatible, unless those other items are needed, I echo the conclusion that the S5 isn't a revolution from the S3 (in fact, the memory being in with the batteries miffs some who reviewed and bought it).

I have at least one Z712 review that states the IS system doesn't work as smoothly as it should and that other people buying the camera have noticed the same trouble. I'm not saying the Z712 is junk or that it's IS system is worthless, but I've yet to read a single comment about problems with the S3 IS system (or any Canon with IS), but I have read independent comments about the Kodak IS having some kind of glitch or something. Even if the Z712 didn't have these comments about it from my reading, the proprietary battery would keep me from buying it.

I don't want to get sidelined from my question, which was would given the parameters I listed, would the S3 IS or Olympus Sp-560 UZ be the same, or would one be a better choice than the other? If none of the ones I listed are low light marvels, then would there be some other model with at least a 12x zoom that has a good IS system on it and would be excellent in low light, with low noise up to 400 ISO? My limit would be ~ $350 by the way... So if someone can say definitively one way or the other about one particular model I've listed or some other that matches my needs, then please let me know.


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Old Nov 13, 2007, 8:54 AM   #4
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fotografo35 wrote:
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I have at least one Z712 review that states the IS system doesn't work as smoothly as it should and that other people buying the camera have noticed the same trouble. I'm not saying the Z712 is junk or that it's IS system is worthless, but I've yet to read a single comment about problems with the S3 IS system (or any Canon with IS),
Do you have the links tothose "reviews". Most complaints I've seen regarding IS, that's everybody's IS is from people that try to take picture's of moving subjects with too slow a shutter speed and then blame the IS for their blurry pics.

Below is a link to both hand held stationary subjects a subjects in motion using panning, both with IS engaged. No IS issues here:

http://forums.steves-digicams.com/fo...mp;forum_id=18

Airshow shots with the older P850 with IS engaged:

http://forums.steves-digicams.com/fo...hlight=airshow

If a proprietary battery is a deal breaker, so be it but I going to suggest that IS comments are off base.

S3 vs. S5, you pay your money, you take your choice but after reviewing dpreview's shots for a third time I'm inclined to agree with their analysis. My summary, Canon sqeaked the last bit of performance out of that lens with the S5 and added a very useful hot shoe. I'm jealous of the S5 owners over that hot shoe but if you don't see ever having a requirement for an external flash then the two are more even.

You might also want to check the follow but comparisons are difficult because the site changed their standard scenes between their S3 and S5 tests.

http://www.digitalversus.com/duels.p...=2118&ph=1

The Fuji Finepix S6000fd(S6500fd) has long been considered the king of low light performance in super-zooms if that's a major factor but it doesn't have true IS.
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Old Nov 13, 2007, 8:18 PM   #5
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Well, the Fuji 6000fd is out, since it doesn't have at least a 12x zoom, but thanks for the recommendation.

I might check out the link regarding the S3/S5 comparison, although no guarantees, since the DPReview that already compared both settled my doubts between the two. I don't disagree a hot shoe for a flash is nice on the S5, but only if you have the money for the flash--if my eyes didn't deceive me, I saw ~ $380 for the Speedlight flash (the lowest price of the series) that could be put there. Even if that got down to $300, I don't have that kind of cash (and to others, that could buy another decent camera). I just won't be needing an ultra-powerful flash; the few times I'll need a flash, I'll be within the flash range to sufficiently illuminate the subject(s). I could get a slave flash for the S3 IS if I really needed it and get that under $100, so really no major pull for the S5 on that front, either.

I appreciate the explanations regarding what IS is good for (camera shake), although I understood that. That's precisely what I need it for, since if I need a longer shutter time for low light, I need the IS to give me a little more help to even assist my rather steady hands (but at 1-2 second shutter speeds, even the relatively steady hands need some help).

Regarding the review on Kodak's IS system, it is here. Out of about 15 bookmarks, this one was not bookmarked and was originally linked to by Buy.com. While I stand corrected on that it doesn't speak of the z712 directly (and this review is on the z812), it does mention Kodak's IS isn't as good as Canon or Panasonic's IS systems. It also mentions even with IS engaged, a shot can sometimes still turn out blurry--which was the point I was trying to make before; if that seems off base, then that's a problem of the reviewer in the above link (and if you feel so compelled and have proof, try to contact said reviewer to refute his statements). I had read some occasional/inexplicable focusing problems with the z712 IS from Circuit City customer reviews, and this one corroborates what I read at CC. The fact even proprietary batteries don't last long in the z712 and that you have to buy (or I would have to) buy another charger strictly for that and that regardless, the consensus is that the z712 'eats batteries' is enough for me to avoid it. I hope that satisfies your query (I knew I wouldn't have said those things had I not read them somewhere, as I remembered the "Canon and Panasonic" combination explicitly). Aside from that, I have no vested interest in "knocking" Kodak, as I'm getting absolutely nothing from it. For the people that have a z712 and haven't had those issues and are happy with it, great and wonderful, and may their purchase be a consistent performer for years. However, I and others should be allowed to contribute information in a responsible way (as I feel I've done). I won't go digging for 2 hours again on a regular basis...especially when I could have been editing some pics I needed to get done instead of doing that. I concede it's fine to question someone about statements that may seem unqualified, but I personally don't make statements lightly nor irresponsibly (as that statement I made was only arrived at after about 2 months of research at least).
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Old Nov 13, 2007, 10:23 PM   #6
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The reviewer undoubtably stands by his analysis but I'd like to suggest an alternate cause of blurry photos. It is possible to "beat" the auto-focus with fast moving subject where the movement changes camera/subject distance on almost any P&S (and DSLRs) in the gap between focus-lock and shutter firing. Without seeing any examples of the reviewer's pictures there is no way to judge what he was seeing.

In general point source reflections that simply are not points indicate focus, points that show a movement pattern would suggest uncorrected camera movement.

Can't say what the Z712/Z812 battery life might be but I can get 300-350 shot per charge with KLIC8000s without flash. Alan T reports good life with his Z712 and rechargeable CR-V3s.
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Old Nov 13, 2007, 10:36 PM   #7
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I agree regarding whatever the reviewer saw on the Z812 that some pictures illustrating what he saw would have been incredibly helpful, since it seems obvious to me you would have been able to say 'yay or nay' to if what he concluded was correct or not. As for the z712 battery life, one site reported about 275 photos was what one place got. I'm sure another verified. Of course, while I would assume the reviewers did testing under normal conditions (not too cold, for example), it seemed odd (especially from customers speaking of 'typical battery life' for it that so many had such short-lived battery experiences. That said...

I'll admit I've got a lot to learn about photography. While my strength is generally research and I feel confident in that, I look forward to getting your input on other matters, as perhaps you can explain some things I don't understand when at some point in the future I might post some photos to have critiqued for improvement on how to shoot them better. Right now, it's very late and I have to shower and get up VERY early.

thanks again
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Old Nov 14, 2007, 3:42 PM   #8
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fotografo35 wrote:
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Right now, it's very late and I have to shower and get up VERY early.

thanks again
Understand sleep. I'm working two jobs at the moment.

I have one other issue with the Digital Camera Review Z812 review that really calls into question the value of the judgements made bythat reviewer. He make several comments about the operational speed of the Z612, calling the slowest in its class and slowest of its generation. That just isn't so. I've attach a zipped spreadsheet of operational speed drawn from the Face-to Face site. While I haven't done a point by point comparison with Steve's and DPReview's data that which I've checked seems to by on the same order as Face to Face. As this table shows the Z612 beats the class average on every measured parameter except telephoto focus time and if the FZ7 and S3 data had been listed it might have beat the average there as well. I've also included a table of "current generation" super-zooms and it beats the class average telephoto focus for newer super-zooms. I really wonder on what he based his judgments. By the way, while I have not done formal speed tests on my Z612 Face to Face's results do correlate with my feel.





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