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Old Mar 31, 2008, 12:19 PM   #1
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I have had a few digicams over the years, starting back with a kodak dc215, then a 240, a dc5000, and currently I think a c443.

As you can see I have had a lot of Kodaks. The problem I am having is that I "upgraded" from the 2.1 mp dc5000 to the new 7.1mp camera and feel like the picture quality took a major dive. The average file size is about the same on each camera, yet the image size is vastly larger on the new camera... so if the amount of data is the same, but the image is bigger, it must be losing some detail right?

Anyway, the wife loves the new camera since she can just drop it in her pocket and be done with it. I hate it. It takes horrible pictures, even on a tripod in good light. The images are always blurry or have horrible iso noise.

I am trying to take my "hobby" up a notch and start taking some nice shots and so in May I will be buying a better camera.

I will not buy another Kodak unless someone can convince me otherwise.
My inlaws have a canon a530 that takes pretty ok shots, but not really any better than the old kodak. My brother has an s3is that he likes a lot, but he really only uses it for catalog shoots for his job (controlled lighting, etc), and my best friend has a sd870is that he loves, but I can't deal with how small it is or the lack of zoom.

The three main contenders at this point are the canon s5is, the panisonic fz18, and the fuji s8000fd. All are within a few bucks of each other (although their is currently a $50) rebate on the fuji. I do not care about megapixels or max zoom as much as I care about IQ. I do prefer the wide angle of the fuji and panny as I take a lot of landscape shots. I do want at least a 8x optical zoom, beyond that is not a deciding factor.

Most of the shots I do are of my family, indoors, in normal household lighting, or outside, generally in the daytime. Iwould like to be able to do some night shots such as of cityscapes, and I am not afraid of taking it out of auto mode to do so.

The three cameras all seem to review favorably to each other and I am pretty sure that I would not be disappointed with any of them in the long run...

I have also looked at the fuji s700 and the panny fz8s, although I have heard bad things about the s700's image stabilization. Any thoughts on these.

Thanks.
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Old Mar 31, 2008, 12:35 PM   #2
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I'd keep an eye out for user reports about the new Fujilm S100FS after it starts to ship (anytime now in most regions).

It's got a larger sensor compared to most non-DSLR camera models (although it's a shame they're stuffing that many pixels into it). ;-)

With the older camera models like you've used, you had much larger photosites for each pixel (because you're not trying to stuff in as many photosites into the amount of space). Anymore, most sensors are even smaller (especially with most "ultra zoom" type cameras), with more pixels stuffed in (meaning a smaller surface associated with each photosite for gathering light).

Of course, we have seen advances in things like microlens design to amplify the light hitting each photosiite, as well as more sophisticated image processing techniques. So, there are pros and cons to the advancements made so far.

You may also want to consider one of the entry level DSLR models instead.

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Old Mar 31, 2008, 12:55 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply. I probably should have put this info in the first post but I have a max budget of about $350 u.s. Anything more than that and I figure I might as well start looking at an entry level slr like you bring up. I would love a dslr, but I don't think I can justify the expense.

Most of the negatives I see associated with the panny are in noise at even very low iso... I have not seen this complaint as frequently with the fuji, but it seems like the panisonic is a more widespread camera. Any comments on that?
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Old Mar 31, 2008, 12:56 PM   #4
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Fuji has the best non-DSLR models for lower noise as ISO speeds are increased right now.

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Old Mar 31, 2008, 1:14 PM   #5
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Looking at a random sampling of images taken in the last year, none of them have gone above iso 200 (in auto mode). I am not sure how this works... I know my camera supports much higher iso settings, so is it just that my shots are not requiring anything above the 80, 140, or 200 that the pictures are being taken at? If that is the case and I can assume that generally I will be shooting at iso 200 or lower is there going to be any appreciable difference between the three main competitors (ie: does noise generally not become an issue until 400 or higher)?

Thanks
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Old Mar 31, 2008, 1:35 PM   #6
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jdonnell wrote:
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Looking at a random sampling of images taken in the last year, none of them have gone above iso 200 (in auto mode). I am not sure how this works... I know my camera supports much higher iso settings, so is it just that my shots are not requiring anything above the 80, 140, or 200 that the pictures are being taken at?
That depends on the camera model. Many non-DSLR models just don't use ISO speeds much over ISO 200 in Auto ISO, because of image degradation due to noise (or smoothing of detail due to noise reduction).

That's usually OK in very good light outdoors. But, in lower light conditions, or if you wanted to try shooting non-stationary subjects indoors without a flash, higher ISO speeds can help to reduce motion blur from subject movement. Each time you double the ISO speed, a camera can use shutter speeds twice as fast for the same lighting and aperture.


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Old Mar 31, 2008, 2:51 PM   #7
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Today (03/31) is the last day to take advantage of the $(US) 50.00 rebate on the Fuji S-8000. As has already been mentioned, ultrazooms, as a class, do best when used at ISO 200 and below. The Fuji S-8000 and the FZ-18 do a bit better at higher ISO settings, but at ISO 400 NR creeps in and causes the smearing of fine detail. The Canon S-5 has a great video mode but it has to be held to ISO 200 and below.

Sarah Joyce

Here is the FZ-18 at ISO 400



Here is the FZ 18 at ISO 200



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Old Mar 31, 2008, 5:50 PM   #8
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Sarah,

Your husband has to be the most photographed person on the internet.
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Old Mar 31, 2008, 7:42 PM   #9
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I have done some more digging and ended using the comparison tool at www.imaging-resorce.com. I had my wife randomly open up the same image, 2 at a time, on the canon, the panny, and the fuji. I consistantly picked the panasonic as the more pleasing to my eye. I did think that at higher iso, it sacrificed some detail, but overall I liked it the best.

Like I said I know I will be happy with any one of the three and there are reviews and information on each with pros and cons. With having picked the panasonic in the taste test I guess I might have a winner and can move on to debating memory cards and software.

Thanks for the information everyone and by all means feel free to keep the ideas and suggestions coming.
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Old Mar 31, 2008, 8:00 PM   #10
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The Pansonic Fz-18 is not a bad choice at all. However, in all fairness I must let you know that for about $(US) 100.00 to 120.00 more you could get a highly rated consumer level DSLR Camera.

Sarah Joyce
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