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Old Apr 10, 2008, 6:34 AM   #1
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Hello all. I am a new member and I believe this is the best place to seek advice for my dilemma.

I have been researching for SLR-like cameras and have come down to 2 models/brands: Canon S5 IS and Panasonic FZ18.

I am an extreme amateur who owns an Olympus IR-300 point and shoot and I am interested to learn photography. I feel I am not qualified for a DSLR yet for the reason that I have no budget to buy one AND the features may be overwhelming for a beginner like me.

Well anyways, what I am looking for in a camera is just the photo quality and ease of using the features as I will be learning Photography 101 from the extreme basics. I would also want a camera that is durable.

I am sorry to say I don't know much about Panasonic's quality and/or performance as most of my friends use Canon Point and shoots and they give high praises for Canon's picture quality. But I found that the Canon S5 IS has faulty battery covers, lens cover that easily falls off, and I prefer Lithiom Ion batteries over AAs. I am looking for Panasonic's major flaw but can't find anything substantial. But I am not convinced about the brand name.

So, which one do you is best for me? Please help. :?

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Old Apr 10, 2008, 9:51 AM   #2
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If you can wait a little while, Nikon just annouced the release of its superzoom, the P80, with 18x optical zoom and Nikon's image stabilization system.
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Old Apr 10, 2008, 10:38 AM   #3
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Have no fears regarding Panasonic digicams, mitchwah. Panasonic has made a good name for themselves. The Leica lens might be the best in its class.

The Panasonic is far more versatile than the Canon, in that you can take wider angle shots and zoom further.

The downside, from what I have read, is that Panasonic is too aggressive in applied built-in noise reduction. As the ISO increases over the base setting, the Panny will smear photo detail in order to remove noise.

The Canon S5, on the otherhand, will smear less detail than the Panny, and leave in more noise. Personally, I prefer this, but other people may disagree.

Canon is Canon, and many casual shooters will recommend it based on the name.

Others he should be able to give you better advice than I. My general opinion would be that if you are primarily shooting outdoors, especially nature/wildlife shots, the Panasonic FZ18 will do a beter job because it can bring distant subjects closer and grab wider landscapes. OTOH, The Canon S5 is more of a general purpose camera, capable in many areas, and probably better once the light dims a bit.

The upcoming Nikon P80 is looking like a rehash of the Fuji S8100/Olympus SP560. I wonder what twists Nikon has in store.
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Old Apr 10, 2008, 1:02 PM   #4
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Mitch-

A good starting point would be for us to know:

(1) Your budget?

(2) If you need a hot shoe for an external flash?

(3) What percentage of your photos are:

(a) Outdoors?

(b) Taken with flash?

(c) Taken in a low light environment?

(4) When taking flash photos how far are you usually from your subject?

(a) Do you usually take flash photos at a distance of 15 feet or less?

(b) Do you take flash photos of groups?

With this data, we can do a better job of finding the right camera for you. Thanks!

Sarah Joyce
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Old Apr 10, 2008, 3:35 PM   #5
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Mitch-

If you budget is on the low side, here is another camera you might want to consider.

It is the Kodak Z-712 with 12X optical zoom IS both automatic and manual controls. The good news is that this camera is selling right around the $(US) 200.00. That is a full $(US) 100.00 less than the Canon S-5, and the Panasonic FZ-18.

Here is a photo sample from the Z-712. It was taken at nearly full zoom, 395mm. And you will notice that the camera was easily able to dampen all camera movement with it IS system. The photo is very sharp at nearly full zoom and you have typical Kodak colors.

Sarah Joyce



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Old Apr 10, 2008, 4:06 PM   #6
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Mitch-

Here is a photo sample from the FZ-18 at full 18X optical zoom (504mm). The man fishing out on the rocks was almost a half mile from me. Once again you can see that the IS sytem worked well, and the quality of the Leica licensed lens used on the FZ-18 shows off nicely in this full 18X optical zoom photo.

Sarah Joyce


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Old Apr 10, 2008, 4:39 PM   #7
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Mitch-

One of the nice feature of both the FZ-18 and the Fuji S-8000 is that they both feature a true wide angle view at the short end of their zoom.

This photo was taken with the Fuji S-8000, another of the 18X optical zoom cameras, and I think it also should be a possible camera on your list.

Sarah Joyce


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Old Apr 11, 2008, 3:49 AM   #8
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Thank you all very much for all your advice. Very much appreciated.

AndyfromVA, yes I am willing to wait and currently listing all the models and brands you all have suggested. I am reading about them now.

brokenbokeh, thanks for your reassurance on Panasonic digicams.

mtclimber (Sarah Joyce), thanks much for your photo samples, they are all great. Well, any camera probably would be great if handled by you. And I tried to answer your questionaire as best I can, here it is (thanks for the guidance):

1) Your budget? < $350

(2) If you need a hot shoe for an external flash? not really, never tried this ever as my cam is an obsolete Olympus IR-300. But it would be interesting to learn and shoot shoot with external flash.

(3) What percentage of your photos are:

(a) Outdoors? 70%

(b) Taken with flash? hmm.. 10%?

(c) Taken in a low light environment? 20%

(4) When taking flash photos how far are you usually from your subject?

(a) Do you usually take flash photos at a distance of 15 feet or less? Yes, 15ft or less would be about right.

(b) Do you take flash photos of groups? - yes


Again, thanks very much!

Mitch


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Old Apr 11, 2008, 5:56 AM   #9
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Looking closely at the photo samples from your camera models, Sarah, the one from Kodak seems to have the best quality. The one from Panny seems very noisy? (is that the right term?) but I guess that is to be expected for shooting half a mile from the subject. Fuji S-8000 seems okay, too.

Now I have 2 more models to look into. haha.

I am looking for submitted photos using these models in flickr. Panasonic FZ18 and Canon S5 IS seems to have invidual strong points and delivers exceptional photos if used correctly. However, brokenbokeh said that the S5 is probably better once the light dims a bit. Question: Is the Panasonic really that bad for dim lights?

Choosing what camera seems to be the hardest task to accomplish. LOL.

Thanks for all your help.
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Old Apr 11, 2008, 8:06 AM   #10
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You should be aware that the Kodak Z712IS can only focus down to 13cm (5 inches) in macro mode, if that's important to you.

I agree that it has excellent picture quality.
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