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Old Sep 9, 2008, 7:01 PM   #1
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I need help choosing a new camera and want the capabilities of a superzoom (at least 12x optical -- more is great, but not at the expense of quality and responsiveness) My faithful Canon Powershot S30 (3.2 MP, 3x optical zoom)died on me last week (won't power up, lens won't retract, something inside is rattling, batteries are fine, no buttons do anything; I took the three body pieces off to look at the insides and whatever is sliding around is deep inside) after nearly seven years of service. My wife has been remarking on the image quality of DSLR's for the last year, but neither of us want to tote around a big bag full of lenses or spend that much money on the camera (we haven't used our old SLR in 5+ years) and I've been casually looking at the superzoos over the last year, with the canon S5 IS at the top of my list. The recent loss of the S30 prompted me to really start researching and the end result is that I have to compromise, so I made a short list and added and subtracted based on reviews and forums only to realize that I need help narrowing it down to two or three.

I can wait a month or two (want to buy before December), so that will let a couple of these contenders become available. Barring any unforseen tragedies, I expect to keep using it for 5+ years, so I'm okay paying MSRP (if I have to) to get what I want. I take mostly scenic and architectural (including close-ups of interesting interior and exterior features) shots and pictures of our kids (holidays, at play, etc.), so need indoor and outdoor capabilities in varied lighting conditions. Here's the narrowed/broadened list:

Canon S5 IS
Fuji Finepix 8100fd
Kodak Easyshare Z-1012 / Z-1015 (thanks for pointing me to these, mtclimber)
Nikon CoolpixP80
Olympus SP-570 UZ / SP-565 UZ
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18 / FZ28
Sony Cybershot DSC-H50

Here's what's important to me in the camera:

Critical:
Image Quality!!! (I don't plan onmaking large prints -- rarely over 5x7)
$500 or less
Comfort (very subjective... once I've narrowed down the list I'll hit the stores)
Responsiveness (power-up, recycle time, zoom control, focus time, etc.)
Ability to limit ISO step-up'sin sensor-based image stabilization as a permanent/saved function (not lost after power-down)
USB 2.0 high-speed connectivity
Ease of use/good layout of buttons
Built in flash quality (I'm not going to buy an external flash)
Panorama capability
Low light/night scenics (I can use a tripod to deal with long shutter times)
Good macro capability
Decent bundled image editing software (I'm not going to buy full versions or aftermarket software and don't need to do slideshows, etc. -- I'll use my old stuff where I can)

Desireable, but not a deal breaker if it isn't there:
Wide angle
Adjustable LCD
SD/SDHC capable (micro SD acceptable)
Able to use AA NiMH batteries
Fill flash
Red-eye reduction in camera
Shadow compensation in camera
RAWimage capability
Ability to add filters
multi-shot bursts (reduction to 3 or 5MP is okay as long as the image quality remains high)

Don't care if it's there or not (and, frankly would rather not have these things clutter up the dials, buttons and menus, but alas, most seem unavoidable):
Movies/videos (we have a camcorder for that)
Sound recording
Multiple language support (as long as it has English, I don't need any others)
Flash hot shoe (as nice as an external flash can be, I'm just not going to carry one around)

With what's out now or with what there is info on, I'm leaning toward the SP-565 UZ and the S5 IS. Recent threads indicate that Canon will be coming out with the S5's replacement (S6 IS, SX1S or SX1 -- official name seems uncertain) later this month and if the limited info I found on it is accurate that may be my best choice.

For those who endured this really long post and offer their advice on which of these to absolutely consider and/or not worthy of considering for my needs, thank you!
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Old Sep 10, 2008, 2:13 PM   #2
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The perfect superzoom doesn't exist yet (though I'm hoping that the new Canon will be the one). Here are my preferences, based on what I've read and my own experience playing with the cameras at the store:

1. Canon SX1 IS (the new superzoom).
2. Sony H50 - best picture quality
3. Panasonic FZ18, FZ28 - best performance
4. Fuji S8100, S8000 - good all around
5. Olympus SP570UZ, 565UZ
6. Canon S5IS
7. Nikon P80
8. Kodak Z1012IS
9. Fuji S2000, S1000
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Old Sep 12, 2008, 5:26 PM   #3
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I'm also interested in similar cameras, but am having a tough time deciding.

I want a camera with...
- minimum 6x optical zoom, sick of the 3x zoom
- quick focus / least amount of shutter lag so I can get better pics of my active son
- good auto mode for general use
- manual control to learn with
- take videos, which is a given with non-dslr

I'm not ready to invest in a dSLR, and I want something relatively portable (it doesn't have to fit in my pocket, but I don't want to be weighed down with lenses, etc)

Budget wise, $300 to $400 is in my range, I'll shop around and find a good deal once I decide which camera I want.

I'm planning on keeping this camera around for a long time (I am still using my old s230 elph), so I don't want to cheap out and regret it.

I'm thinking possibly the fz28, but haven't seen too much information on it yet. Maybe the H50, but I've read mixed things about it, it all depends on the review site.

Any input is welcome!
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Old Sep 12, 2008, 10:19 PM   #4
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I am in the same boat as well. I have a Canon 20D and love it but my wife likes to shoot and we need something quick at times around the house. There is a helpful thread in the Sony section on the H50. I am leaning that way. It seems the have a quicker AF than the Panasonics. I read an article on the FZ28 saying it wasn't a groundbreaking improvement butknow that the FZ series have been strong performers though and that is only one opinion.



Happy Shopping!


Trique Daddi
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Old Sep 13, 2008, 10:28 AM   #5
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MrGreg wrote:
Quote:
I'm also interested in similar cameras, but am having a tough time deciding.

I want a camera with...
- minimum 6x optical zoom, sick of the 3x zoom
- quick focus / least amount of shutter lag so I can get better pics of my active son
- good auto mode for general use
- manual control to learn with
- take videos, which is a given with non-dslr

I'm not ready to invest in a dSLR, and I want something relatively portable (it doesn't have to fit in my pocket, but I don't want to be weighed down with lenses, etc)

Budget wise, $300 to $400 is in my range, I'll shop around and find a good deal once I decide which camera I want.

I'm planning on keeping this camera around for a long time (I am still using my old s230 elph), so I don't want to cheap out and regret it.

I'm thinking possibly the fz28, but haven't seen too much information on it yet. Maybe the H50, but I've read mixed things about it, it all depends on the review site.

Any input is welcome!
You might want to try to find a Canon A650 IS before they all disappear. It meets the minimum 6x optical, and is basically a lower priced G9. If you add the CHDK hack, then you can add the RAW feature and a whole lot more.

Prices are beginning to climb, due to supply/demand, so shop around, and make sure you buy from a good dealer.

Dennis
G9
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Old Sep 14, 2008, 10:05 PM   #6
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denncald wrote:
Quote:
MrGreg wrote:
Quote:
I'm also interested in similar cameras, but am having a tough time deciding.

I want a camera with...
- minimum 6x optical zoom, sick of the 3x zoom
- quick focus / least amount of shutter lag so I can get better pics of my active son
- good auto mode for general use
- manual control to learn with
- take videos, which is a given with non-dslr

I'm not ready to invest in a dSLR, and I want something relatively portable (it doesn't have to fit in my pocket, but I don't want to be weighed down with lenses, etc)

Budget wise, $300 to $400 is in my range, I'll shop around and find a good deal once I decide which camera I want.

I'm planning on keeping this camera around for a long time (I am still using my old s230 elph), so I don't want to cheap out and regret it.

I'm thinking possibly the fz28, but haven't seen too much information on it yet. Maybe the H50, but I've read mixed things about it, it all depends on the review site.

Any input is welcome!
You might want to try to find a Canon A650 IS before they all disappear. It meets the minimum 6x optical, and is basically a lower priced G9. If you add the CHDK hack, then you can add the RAW feature and a whole lot more.

Prices are beginning to climb, due to supply/demand, so shop around, and make sure you buy from a good dealer.

Dennis
G9
We had looked at the A650 earlier, but my wife and I decided that a bit longer zoom would be fun and useful in some situations. She also likes the body styles that are similar to an slr, as opposed to compacts. I also prefer lion batteries (not a big deal though), and the wide angle is a bonus with the fz28.

Anyways, from reading and not actually trying the cameras, the fz28 seemed like a good choice for us. I saw it at jr.com for $320, and 6% live cashback brought it down to ~$300. Seems like a good price to me, which was another reason to get it instead of the h50.

Thanks for the help
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Old Sep 16, 2008, 3:12 AM   #7
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I agree the Panasonic FZ-28 with its Venus 4 processor and enhanced flash is a good choice, However, The Sony H-50 is no slug, andit willwork quite well with excellent IQ in every photo. The H-50 deserves a very comprehensive look. It may indeed offer the best economy choiceof all the ultra zooms.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Sep 16, 2008, 10:13 AM   #8
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GomersPile wrote:
Quote:
Ability to limit ISO step-up'sin sensor-based image stabilization as a permanent/saved function (not lost after power-down)
I have a definitions problem here. Optical image stabilization can be accomplished by using either movable optical elements or a movable sensor to compensate for camera motion. That is the motion compensation can be either optics based or sensor based but the results are essentially the same. The Kodak Z*12 series have used movable optics but with the advent of the Z1015 have switched to a movable sensor.

Digital image stabilization also has two general methods that involve analysis of the sensor image. In general terms on method uses a frame size less than the sensor size and adjusts the frame location on the sensor to compensate for camera motion. The alternate method is to examine the pixel output to determine the valid edges and use the output that represents the valid edges. The general drift I perceive is that digital stab. works reasonably well for video but causes detail loss on stills.

Finally there is the specialized scene mode that raises the shutter speed, often raising the ISO to permit those higher shutter speeds. While some camera marketing calls this "stabilization" there is no compensation for camera motion. Other manufacturers simply call this a sports mode. The high shutter speed simply minimizes the effects of both camera motion and subject motion but it is nothing that can't be accomplished directly through other control on most upper end P&S camera and all DSLRs. This method does control motion blur at the expense of noise/resolution loss but it's not really stabilization.

Don't confuse sensor based optical stabilization with scene mode solutions.

A. C.


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Old Sep 16, 2008, 10:27 AM   #9
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I;d forget the Fuji 8100 and look at the Fuji S9100.

dave
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Old Sep 16, 2008, 1:13 PM   #10
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I am the same boat ( researching for my 'optically cahllenged'friend, he is not blind just not interested in all the technicality)and have checked all of them on various forums and found that the best combination of performance, IQ, lens qualityand overall features is given by FZ18 and FZ28. I compared the images of sony H50 with those of FZ18 at 400 iso at imaging-resource.com and found that FZ-18 IQ was better. Ditto with S5 IS, the image quality of FZ-18 was better.

I am thinking of getting either FZ18 or FZ28.
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