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Old Feb 12, 2008, 4:25 AM   #1
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We have been saving to go on a special holiday to Disney. I want a camera that will help to capture all the magic of the holiday - the characters and the children's faces.

I have been looking at the Panasonic range - The TZ3 and the FX18.

I like the zoom capability of the FX18 and would look to get unposed pictures of the kids enjoying themselves. I think that this camera would be a good stepping stone into a growing interest of photography.

My wife would like a camera that can be easily stored (in a bumbag) so that it does not stop us worrying aboutstoring it whilst riding the attractionsand therefore prefers the TZ3.

Can you help two amateurs?

Thanks
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Old Feb 12, 2008, 8:21 AM   #2
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The FZ18 is a nice camera, but has some image issues. You can read this blog on the FZ18 to discover lots of pluses and minuses. Especially read the Issues link.

http://www.digicamhelp.com/camera-logs/9/index.php (FZ18 blog)

The TZ3 has lots of good reviews, and it is more compact in size, but lacks the manual controls of the FZ18.

http://www.digicamhelp.com/camera-logs/7/ (TZ3 blog)

I would personally prefer the Canon S5 IS. It is also popular, and has a better image reputation than the FZ18. It has all sorts of manual controls. In the long run, as you learn more, you will appreciate a camera that gives you the flexibility of the manual adjustments.

http://bmannconsulting.com/blog/bman...ll-my-favorite (S5 IS blog)

Here are camera reviews on all three cameras from Megapixel.net, a site not often mention on other sites. I provide them because this Canadian site spends more time on the RAW feature of the FZ18. I also used the same site for all three to give a consistent viewpoint.

http://www.megapixel.net/reviews/pan...8/fz18-gen.php (FZ18 )

http://www.megapixel.net/reviews/pan...z3/tz3-gen.php (TZ3)

http://www.megapixel.net/reviews/canon-s5is/s5-gen.php (S5 IS)

It's also nice to see what other people do with these cameras too. So here are links to Flickr and shots taken with these cameras.

http://www.flickr.com/cameras/panasonic/dmc-fz18/ (FZ18 )

http://www.flickr.com/cameras/panasonic/dmc-tz3/ (TZ3)

http://www.flickr.com/cameras/canon/powershot_s5_is/ (S5 IS)

One final comment. All of today's current crop of point and shoot cameras suffer from megapixel crowding on to a small CCD image sensor. As a result they all get criticized for noisy images, especially as the ISO values increase. Camera manufacturers compensate by applying various methods of noise suppression. Some of these methods tend to result in smearing or detail loss in the images. Canon is known for "less is better" at noise suppression. Their results are more grainy, since less noise has been suppressed, leaving you room to apply some more controlled noise suppression on your own. The FZ18 can shoot in RAW mode, so you have more control to correct images after you have taken the shot. Every camera has it's good and bad points. You have to try to figure out what is good, and can I live with the bad (and is it really bad?). Have fun deciding.
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Old Feb 12, 2008, 8:53 AM   #3
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I've had a lot of fun with my TZ3 over the past several months. Here are some images I've uploaded..

http://gmchappell.smugmug.com/galler...qatr#253505809

While there are few controls per-se, the ones that are there, if used, dogive much better results than just using the camera in a point & shoot fashion. I use the exposure compensation and spot metering options quite a bit to get the results I get with my TZ3. I also see a lot of people who get very discouraged because they can't hold it steady enough at the longer end of the zoom, and don't know the principles behind what exposure compensation is and what using different metering options other than the camera's default setting can do.

If I were to make a recommendation of a camera for a strict point & shooter, I'd tell them to get a Canon Digital ElphSD870. It gives very consistent out-of-camera results with little input from the user.You get the 28mm wide angle view...not as wide a zoom range, but a good enough 4x zoom. It can be more difficult to use a 10x zoom than some think. By the time you are shooting at magnifications like you have at 250-280mm with a camera like the TZ3, even with image stabilization, you've got to be fairly careful in your hand-holding to get good, sharp images.


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Old Feb 12, 2008, 8:55 AM   #4
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Thanks to both of you for responding so comprehensively. I will certainly take a look at the models you recommend.
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Old Feb 12, 2008, 3:14 PM   #5
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Whatever camera you get, get it well in advance of your trip and use it enough that you become very familiar with it. You really don't want to spend your vacation puzzling your way through the manual. Or come home and find that you have all the setting wrong.
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Old Feb 12, 2008, 6:47 PM   #6
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If at all possible, try to go a real photographic store. Identify someone who knows what they're talking about, and explain your requirements. Hold a few different cameras in your hands, take some pictures outside the door and inside the shop, and inspect the results. Buy something that feels right in your hands.


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Old Feb 13, 2008, 9:37 AM   #7
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You might also want to investigate the Canon A650 IS. It has 12 MP. image stabilization, and a 6x zoom. This gives you a compromise between the 4x zoom suggested, and the 12x zoom of the S5 IS. It also has all the manual controls, and is closer to the size of the TZ3 than the S5 IS or FZ18. It would fit in a fanny pack. Also, the swivel LCD (like the one the S5 IS) would help you to capture more unposed shots of the kids.
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Old Feb 13, 2008, 4:36 PM   #8
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One big advantage the FZ18 has over the TZ3 is its electronic viewfinder, which will be very helpful in the bright, sunny Florida weather, when it's very hard to see the LCD.

I recently bought two cameras with optical viewfinders, and I use them more than I thought I would.
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