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Old Dec 30, 2007, 7:20 PM   #1
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I've spent ages trawling through review sites (though I use this site as my benchmark) in search of my next SLR-style consumer super/ultra-zoom. I've decided what I want, but I can't find a model to fit the bill. I've laid out my shopping list below. Am I being too unreasonable?

1. Reasonable CCD. I don't want to settle for anything smaller than 1/1.7". Most of the newer cameras have pointlessly small sensors e.g. 1/2.5" and the resulting images show tell-tale noise. Why spoil a great camera with noisy images? Surely it makes no sense?

2. Flip-up LCD. Why would anyone want a fixed LCD when they can have a flip-up one for viewing from different angles e.g. when shooting over the heads of a crowd, or down near ground level?

3. Movie mode with zoom available during capture. I can live without the zoom, but it's a great bonus.

4. Optical stabilisation. Why have Fuji produced a relatively recent super-zoom without one? Are they mad?

5. Face-detection. It's nice to have.

6. 10x optical zoom or greater, beginning at 28mm (35mm equivalent).

7. 8 megapixels or greater.

8. AA battery support so we can use NiMH rechargeables and save the planet.

Many of the higher-rated cameras offer some of these specs, but I can't find one that offers them all, yet I think they would combine to make a total winner.

The Fujifilm FinePix S9600 has the right image quality, but no optical stabilisation and no face detection, whereas the Canon PowerShot S5 IS is nearly there (if I overlook its lens starting at 36mm at the wide-angle end), BUT it uses asmall sensor and the images suffer as a result. My five year old Minolta (4 megapixel model) produces images with less noise. Who wants bells and whistles when the resulting images aren't that good?

Am I asking for too much? Have I got it all wrong? Would all those features together make the cost impractical?

I can't afford to buy a proper digital SLR, and besides, I don't want to have to mess around swapping lenses etc. But if I could find a camera matching my shopping list then I'd buy it right now!

Cheers,
BeyondPeru
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Old Dec 30, 2007, 7:31 PM   #2
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You are basically after the same thing that I am after and I use the fuji S-9100. The image stabilization as you mention is not all their but their is an anti shake mode that work pretty well. Also one thingI added to my list is that the camera has to be able to use a hot show flash and the S-9100 can do that. I have heard from 3 sources that Fuji is making a replacement for the S-9100 that should be out in the spring.

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Old Dec 30, 2007, 7:46 PM   #3
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sorry to sound like a broken record... people are going to start hating me because all I seem to do is mention the Canon S5 IS since i've started posting again... LOL!

I believe the S5 meets all your requirements except the 1st one, the sensor size... But I believe I could put a check by all the other items... except maybel also the IS system... Not sure if the S5 IS is an optical system...

I have been doing photography for over 20 years... I bought my first digital camera around 10 years ago, when cameras were LESS than a Megapixel! I've owned a number of cameras since then including my Canon 20D... I bought the S5 as a "Family" camera to use around the house for the quick point and shoot moments... And I most say I grab a lot more shots with the S5 than I imagine I ever thought I would! Pictures have been great! And more importantly I'm grabbing shots I might not have bothered with if I had to lug the 20D around! LOL


oops... just seen Photo 5's post... the S5 also has a hot shoe which is nice since my old canon 420EX flash works with the S5.

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Old Dec 30, 2007, 8:58 PM   #4
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one thing that drove me to the fuji S-9100 was that I already had a huge colelction of xD cards. I have since sold half of them since I use CF cards most of the time.

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Old Dec 31, 2007, 2:31 AM   #5
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I totally agree with you. My sister bought Canon S2 or S3 and thought she'd take amazing pictures... she actually did, but in low light it's not that great. Also, she has a hard time carrying the camera around.

I wish they'd come up with a perfect compact camera too hehe


And by the way, are you from Peru?

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Old Dec 31, 2007, 5:30 AM   #6
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No, not from Peru, but from the UK.I once had a fantastic adventure trekking across Peru.

The Canon S5 IS ticks nearly all of the boxes, but I'm still not happy with a couple of issues:

1) The wide angle is only an equivalent of 36mm. When you compare this to 28mm many other digicams offer, you're left wishing you could get a little closer when taking group shots and a little more of the picture when taking landscape scenes. And I really don't want to fork out $100 for the wide angle attachment, then have the bother of attaching/removing it on a regular basis. I would much rather lose a little off the telephoto end and gain it at wide angle.

2) The small sensor just doesn't cut the mustard. Check out the Canon S5 IS sample photos on the PhotographyBlog web site (click on Reviews, then scroll down to Canon Powershot S5 IS19th September 2007, or click here: Canon Powershot S5 IS). Examine a few of the 100% views. They've not been touched up, and some of them leave a lot to be desired. They look ok on my small laptop display, but on my 19" LCDscreen I see plenty of noise, chromatic abberation, and some of them aren't even in focus. Check out the one with two women sittingtogether. I'd be really disappointed if I had taken that.

I'm taking my family to Disney in six weeks, and I'd like to pick up a replacement for my old 4mp Minolta so I can get good pictures and record movie clips. I suspect I'll be better off buying a small compact to tide me over, then buying my ideal camera if/whenany of the majormanufacturers get their act together later this year. May be I'm out on a limb here. Perhaps their research suggests they've already nailed the perfect camera. Perhaps I should be willing to settle for "almost".
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Old Dec 31, 2007, 5:49 AM   #7
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Quote:
Examine a few of the 100% views. They've not been touched up, and some of them leave a lot to be desired.
You realise that at 100% you are looking at the print equivalent of about a 3 feet wide image from a distance of a few inches?

Here's the thing: all small sensor cameras have rubbish high-ISO performance. Comparing them to each other is basically just a comparison of the noise reduction algorithms in use. Model A is grotesque, whereas model B is merely revolting. These cameras have to be used at ISO 100 or below.

So use a tripod or a flash in low light.

Moving past that I agree that a wide angle end for the zoom is very important. That only leaves you with two manufacturers of superzooms with 28mm equivalent, Ricoh or Panasonic.

The obvious choice is the pana FZ18.

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Old Dec 31, 2007, 6:10 AM   #8
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Thanks peripatetic for your advice. I agree with your POV that a 100% view is too close, but it helps to appreciate the quality, or otherwise, of a given image. When you look at 100% views of images taken with digital SLRs that use significantly larger CCDs, they are beautiful and smooth by comparison. No obvious noise at 100%.

I love the lens on the Panasonic Z18, but I have found a few review sites that describe the shortcoming of the Z18'ssmall 1/2.5"sensor when capturing scenes with high contrast. There is a tendency for bright areas are burnt out e.g. the sky, or places where the sun strikes with brilliance. Additionally, the Z18 doesn't permitzooming in video mode (although OIS ispossible), and it doesn't have a flip-up screen, and ituses a proprietarybattery. Those are all gripesfor me,sothis camera would be a compromise, which is a shame.

Am Iexpecting too much?
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Old Dec 31, 2007, 6:23 AM   #9
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IMO everything you buy is somewhat of a compromise. If you wait for the perfect camera you'll never buy anything. Just buy a camera that meets MOST of your specs and take pictures! If you've been shopping & reviewing for "ages" and still haven't found a camera to buy, maybe you need to set your sights more realistically. Buy a camera, start taking pix and enjoy it for what it is, not what it isn't. Just one man's opinion.
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Old Dec 31, 2007, 7:04 AM   #10
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Thanks ronsec, but I don't know which of my "must-haves" I should abandon. It's like trying to decide which of your children to give away.

OK, so the Panasonic is a great compromise; its huge lens with 28mm wide angle makes it worth it. And I can live with buying a couple of replacement proprietary batteries, and I can even grit my teeth and forget that I ever wanted to zoom in/out whileusing the movie mode. See, I can compromise.

But the omission of a flip-up screenmay be too much to bear. When you've had one you'll always want one. And the possibility of light areas being burnt out when taking high contrast images. Who would want that?

I don't know how to choose which unacceptable feature I most want to live with.
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