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Old Jan 13, 2008, 1:54 PM   #1
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I broke my A2. I'm inclined to believe that it's not worth trying to fix, and probably not worth replacing with another A2; it's getting a bit old. It's been partially replaced by by a Canon Rebel XTi with an adaptor that lets me use some old Olympus OM lenses, but I think I need a replacement "super-zoom" for convenience as well (and I'm having a hard time manually focusing the XTi :-( )

One of the features on the A2 that I particularly liked was the EVF "magnify mode" for maual focus; perhaps just cause it's autofocus wasn't very good, but I'm loathe to give up good manual focusing ability. This means two things to me, I think:
1) relatively high res EVF display, with some kind of manual focusin aid such as a magnify mode.
2) focus ring on the lens, rather than motor-driven focus. I don't know how anyone can follow even slow action using overshoot-prone motor-driven focus. Shudder. (I'm less sure about zoom; I liked the zoom ring on the A2, but I'm not sure I need it.)

Other desirable features, most important first (approximately):
3) eye-level viewfinder. Some modern cameras are doing away with these in favor of a larger LCD panel, and my wife and kids prefer those. But MY eyes are getting old and can't focus on both real life and a close-up LCD screen with the same pair of glasses, so I want optics that cast my viewfinder image out at infinity where it belongs. :-)
4) low light performance. Shouldn't be any worse than the A2 (which got pretty noisy at it's top of ISO800.) It'd be nice if it were better. (Yeah, I read the other thread where good low-light photos need a DSLR and fast lenses. Some of that is where the XTi fits in, but in general I'm not willing to pay for the 28-200 f2.8->3.5 zoom equiv on a large sensor camera.) I'll be shooting school drama and sports, plus the typical gamut of family photos. Representative photo's here: http://picasaweb.google.com/westfw,

5) CF or SD flash memory. There's a limit to how many different formats of flash memory I'd like to support in our family, and I've already got a bunch of CF and SD cards. (Or is this silly, with the falling price of flash?)
6) Lithium-ion battery. I hate-hate-hate the (lack of) shelf-life of NiMH compared to Li-ion, and I really want to be able to take my camera out of its case after a month or two of idleness and be able to use it. Li-ion has been GREAT for this. But the newer cameras seems to use AAs. I don't get it. I do have some eneloops, but I don't trust them yet.
7) at least 8MP.
8) some anti-shake? I haven't been able to tell how important this is; usually subject motion has been more of an issue than camera motion. I think.

So reading the reviews, this list seems to narrow things down to a very small number of cameras. Likely candidates seem to be the Fuji S9000/S9100 or the Panasonic FZ30/FZ50. Any particular comments on those? Are those the only choices that come close to meeting my list?

Thanks!

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Old Jan 13, 2008, 2:19 PM   #2
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I had the S9100. It was a good camera. It has no optical image stabilization, though and it does use your hated AA batteries. I think the recent hybrid rechargeable AA's have made them more reliable between charges.



The FZ-30 and FZ-50 do have optical IS and do have proprietary batteries (not AA's). From what I have read (I don't own either), they are decent cameras if you use ISO 200 or under. Otherwise, people complain about noise in the images.

The Fuji S6000fd has manual focus, very good high ISO images, but has four strikes against it in your view: 1. no optical IS, 2. it uses AA batteries, 3. it is a 6 megapixel camera, and 4. it uses only xD cards.




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Old Jan 17, 2008, 12:20 PM   #3
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Huh. I hadn't considered that lower resolution would mean lower noise as well. Are there other cameras in the 6-7MP range that I should think about?

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Old Jan 18, 2008, 12:56 AM   #4
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If you want a zoom of 6X or greater, I think the Fuji F6000fd was the undisputed champion among digicams. Unfortunately, it's hard to get now and expensive.

I have have an Olympus SP-560 and had the SP-550. I almost bought a Panasonic FZ-18. These are all superzooms. None of them is great in low light.

Rumor has it that Fuji is coming out with a successor to the S6000fd in the very near future. I might wait till then.
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