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Old Dec 31, 2008, 1:12 PM   #11
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Jess-

You trashed our board this morning, a real BAD!

However, had you just taken the time to read more of this thread, you would understand that the Canon SD-880 is inappropiate for the OP's use as he is really looking for high ISO performance with some zoom to use on vacations.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Dec 31, 2008, 1:21 PM   #12
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Jess,

If you're going to quote someone here, include the whole statement they made. I don't think Sarah was stating a preference for the SD-880 here.

It's apparent that you are a real Canon fan, and that's OK - they make some great cameras. However, a Canon may not always be the best solution for an individual's particular needs.

the Hun

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Old Dec 31, 2008, 1:44 PM   #13
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Thanks, Rinnie-

People who trash the board get me steaming! Happy New Year!

Sarah Joyce
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Old Dec 31, 2008, 3:06 PM   #14
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What weird world we live in. I couldn't make up my mind in the store and the salespeople were unwilling to help me out, so I bought 3 camera's to try out at home.

panasonic dmc-fx35 199.99
panasonic dmc-tz4 269.99
canon sd-880 248.99

Not great prices, but that's about as good as it gets for us Canadians.

Please keep in mind that my opinions and observations are that of an amateur p&s enthusiat.

I have only had time to play with the dmc-fx35 so far, but what I can say is the build quality of the panasonics is much better than the Canon. The Canon has very flimsy switches and flaps compared to the Panasonics and the Canon also has a lot more plastic on the body.

The extremely flimsy plastic flap covering the av/digital out is especially worrying. I see that as being the first thing to break on any of these three cameras. The sliding mode switch on the Canon is probably the second thing that will break on any of these cameras and the plastics used on the Canon's buttons also feel very cheap in comparison. I like the way the battery sd-card compartment opens on the Canon vs the Panasonic. On the Canon the entire cover slides over, then up, while on the Panasonics you have to unlock the compartment and then it pops open.

Of the 3, the FX35 is by far the best built and the only thing which feels a little cheap is the mode dial, which feels a little too light and plasticy. Other than that, it's a very substantial feeling little unit. I'm sad to say that so far the photo's do not impress on it. It's not like the pictures are bad, but they don't seem much better than my old Konica Minolta Dimage X50 and my wife's current Casio Exilim EX-Z4. It shoots nice video, but you cannot zoom while shooting the video. So far I've only taken pictures in our apartment and this camera definately displays noise at all iso levels. I've read that this is the cameras worst area of performance and I believe it. I don't know if this makes sense, but when I zoom in colours and quality of picture seems less crisp and washed out. The camera seems on the slow side between shots and on startup, but I cannot stress how built this unit is. Everything is steel, even the built in less cover. I was able to get this in blue as well and it looks very nice. The 25mm wide lense gives a nice wide view, but I've seen evidence on the internet that the corners of pictures from this unit all exhibit softening in them. I'm impressed by the lense, but I'm looking forward to trying out it's siblings 10x zoom as this camera only has 4x optical. The unit also doesn't seem very good at handling the flash as objects get washed out or too dark very easily. The LCD screen is nice and easy to use. The battery power doesn't seem so great as it's already gone down a notch after 119 pictures and 2 short movies. In fairness, many pictures were taken with the flash, but it seems to be draining too quickly for my tastes.

I cannot emphasize enough how well built this unit is, but except for the 25mm lense wide angle ability, there doesn't seem to be a lot going for this little unit on the picture quality side of things. Maybe I'm expecting too much and I'll find out as soon as the batteries for the other two cameras are charged and I get to play with them a little.

The build quality of the DMC-TZ4 is clear cut number two in this group. Why the lense cover is such a cheap plastic is a concern to me. I also do not understand why the tripod mount is cheap plastic. I also do not understand why the tripod mount on both Panasonics is so far to one side of the units. The position of the steel tripod mount on the SD880 is much better. While the body and much of the TZ4 is plastic, it doesn't feel too cheap. I wish Panasonic used the same standards on the TZ4 like they did with the FX35, but this is obviously not the case. Being the biggest of the 3, I find the TZ4 easiest to handle, but Panasonic doesn't seem to take advantage of the extra size of this camera but I find the menu buttons etc unecessarily crammed like they are necessarily on the FX35. Hopefully the TZ4 will be to picture quality as the FX35 is to build quality.

The Canon SD880is has a very nice feel to it and if it wasn't for the very flimsy feeling flaps, switches and buttons I would put this as number 2 for build. I think the body of it feels of higher quality than the TZ4, but the flaps, switches and button plastic are unacceptably low in quality. The screen on the Canon seems to mark up very easily, as it is already covered in smudges and streaks after taking it out of the box and not using it yet. I'm looking forward to using it though, as the 3 inch screen looks much, much larger than the 2.5 inch screens on the panasonics.I like the button, dial and switch placement better than the Pannys. They're more space out and much larger even though the unit is a fair bit smaller than the TZ4. I find the FX35 by far the hardest unit to handle, but there the SD880is is only fractionally harder to handle than the TZ4 even though the TZ4 feels much more substantial, the crammed buttons etc give up some of the size advantage the TZ4 could have used to it's benefit by using larger, more spaced out buttons. The shiny covery around the lense also marks and smudges very easily. This camera will not look new for long. The lense cover is also a very cheap plastic.

To sum, the FX35 is of tremendous build quality but fails to impress me so far when it comes to picture quality and capabilities. The TZ4 is too big to be called pocket size IMO, but I think it's a perfect size. If it had the build quality of the FX35 it would be a lot, lot better. The buttons, flaps and switches feel better than the SD880is, but it's lense cover and tripod mount are both very cheap. Too cheap IMO. The SD880is is closer to being of the same build quality of the FX35, but it's short comings are much worse than the TZ4's IMO. The quality of the plastics used are much lower to my feel than the Panasonics, except for the tripod mount and lens cover on the TZ4.

I know my statements aren't very professional and I'm not trying to be, but hopefully it will help some people out. From what I've read the Canons performance when it comes to on/off between shots etc cannot be touched. I've also read that the 10x optical zoom on the TZ4 is of very good quality. Since what I read about the FX35's poor quality photo's (Poor in that they don't seem much better than our 5 year old cameras) seems to be true I'm looking forward to finding out how much better these other units turn out to be and see which one I'll keep.

I didn't bother trying out a TZ5, because from what I've read, the only major plusses are:

- it can take HD video
- 3 inch much better LCD
- takes actual 16:9 photos and doesn't crop them like the TZ4
- 1 more megapixel
- deals with red eye in the camera
- allows you to pull pictures from video better in camera

None of these features are worth an extra $60 for me as the best price I could find around here is 329 for the TZ5. If you wanted some of those above features, then $60 more wouldn't seem like a lot, but none of them are desirable to us and I have read a couple reviews where people say the TZ4 has less noise reduction. Who knows.
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Old Dec 31, 2008, 3:46 PM   #15
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VooDoo-

Thanks for your camera test post. That is a good approach.

I don't believe that the Panasonic FX-35 was recommended in the thread. I did not recommend it because I knew its image quality

Its just my opinion, but I think that the TZ-4 offers you the greatest number of features applicable to your vacation needs. However, you apparently have not taken any photos of any kind with the TZ-4. None the less you make comments about the TZ-4's image quality. is that based on your actual photos, or what? I am sorry, but that issue is unclear to me.

There is no doubt that the Canon SD-880 is a good camera. However, like you I have some qualms about the doors and switches. Have you taken any photos with the SD-880? To me one negative for the SD-880 is its lack of zoom.

I will be looking forward to seeing some photo samples from the TZ-4 and the SD-880 and your further comments.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Dec 31, 2008, 4:08 PM   #16
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"I also do not understand why the tripod mount on both Panasonics is so far to one side of the units. The position of the steel tripod mount on the SD880 is much better."

Try changing the battery or the memory card on the SD 880 while it's on your tripod.

Voodoo, You seem to fixated on build quality, and appearance. That's OK, but but I think most people who post here are more concerned with image quality and features. Maybe you should have stated in your OP, that you are most concerned with build quality.

I think you are expecting a lot for entry level, ultra compact cameras. Most people who buy them are only concerned with size, weight and price. Plastic is light and cheap...there you go.

the Hun

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Old Dec 31, 2008, 7:14 PM   #17
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Hi Sarah,

You're right the FX35 us a camera I picked up to try because it was just a good price and the build quality, feel of the unit made it warrant a test. I hadn't researched the unit before and if I had I probably wouldn't have bothered picking it up.

I want to make it clear I hadn't taken any pictures with it at that time and only made a comment that I had read the lens on it was very good and that for some reason a couple reviews said the some people might prefer the TZ4 over the TZ5 because they thought it had less noise reduction.

Hi The Hun,

I know I focused on build quality, because as I had stated I hadn't had time to try out the other two cameras in any way yet.

"I have only had time to play with the dmc-fx35 so far"

I didn't state build quality as the most important thing to me in my original post, because it isn't, but it's all I could comment on at this time while I was waiting for the batteries to charge on the other cameras.

I tried to write up on some things that would have been helpful for me while I was doing research. While image quality is most important, what does it matter if the camera breaks down all the time? An Alpha Romeo is a great car, but I'd rather have a car which doesn't require it's own private mechanic:-)

These might be entry level cameras, but to me anything which costs you several hundred dollars should be built to last some time and there is no need for the cheap parts found on the TZ4's tripod mount, lens cover or the 880is' mode switch etc.

If I was able to pick up a TZ4 for under $200 like in the US I would for sure expect less from the build quality, but here the best price I could get was $300 after tax. To me that isn't cheap entry level in price range.

That's a great point you raise about taking the battery our while the tripod is mounted on the 880. I am able to easily do so, but I use a very small cheap tripod, I can see where a bigger tripod would block you from doing that. Good point.

I hope my intentions are more clear now. It's so easy to misinterpret the written word, because only the original author knows what they mean.

We've now had time to try out all 3 camera's goofing around in our apartment. I can see right away that the TZ4 has a great lens. It is noticeably clearer and has less noise than all the other cameras. It's amazing how the picture seems to suffer no degradation on full zoom. The TZ4 is also the biggest and heaviest. I personally find it the most comfortable to handle.

I was surprised to find that the Canon is not noticeably faster in a showdown. Numerous times; alternating the cameras we were using; we would count down 3-2-1 go and see who could power up their camera and take a picture the fastest. All camera's seemed about the same, but for some reason the FX35 seemed fastest, even though the reviews I've read and comparison sites I've seen rate it the slowest. We weren't doing it in a technical time environment, but we were interested to learn that the FX35 or TZ5 were always faster than the 880is. Even when we took powering up out of the equation and went head to head by going 3-2-1 go and just pushing down the shutter button. Nothing scientific, but still fun.

When then tried several tripod pictures using the timer and found the TZ4 a little unstable because of the size of the camera and with the tripod mount being so much to the side. For how we use the camera on our vacations this could be an issue. We have a little tripod much like a gorilla one and we often put our camera on a tripod in a tree, on some rocks or a wall so we can have pictures of us both. The Canon is definitely nicest for us and the way we use it and the Canon has one feature we really like where you don't have to worry about running back in front of the camera while the timer counts down, you can use a face recognition timer which doesn't start counting down until press the shutter button, get into position and then look at the camera. That is a very nifty feature.

For picture quality in our somewhat dimly lit apartment the ranking goes like this:

1) TZ4
2) FX35
3) Casio Exilim EX-Z4
4) Canon SD880is

This is because the flash on the Canon is complete garbage. If you aren't within a 5 foot radius of the camera there seems to be no chance for a good picture and the amount of noise is extremely pronounced. I find that noise in low light seems less pronounced with our old Casio and the FX35 because of heavy noise reduction. Especially on the old Casio, but the reason I'm mentioning the Casio, is because this 5 year old camera beats the Canon handily in this type of situation and that's ridiculous. Whomever approved that flash on the 880 should be sent to their room without dinner. I could see someone using their new 880 for the first time in a dinner party environment and being devastated with the results.

All this is more for interest than anything for us, because what's most important for us is the camera's ability to get great pictures of landscapes etc outside. I'm very excited to see what the TZ4's lens can do outside and I'm sure I'll quickly learn why Sarah recommended this camera to us. So far the only major thing in favor of the Canon is the face recognition timer for holiday tripod pictures with both of us in frame.

Unfortunately it's very cold here in Toronto and we live in a drab neighborhood, but I hope we can get out tomorrow in the -20 celsius weather and snow and conduct some tests to see the varying the quality of these cameras in the outdoors.

**and like I said before these are only my own personal opinions and if I agree with you or not isn't important, all that is important is that we can discuss and learn from each others points of view.
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Old Dec 31, 2008, 7:41 PM   #18
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VooDoo-

You have done an excellent job in evaluating these three cameras, with your own personal needs in mind. You really stuck with the testing, so that you managed a very honest evaluation. I think other Forum members will certainly profit/gain from your testing, and for your willingness to also put it into the Forum. Thanks a lot for that extra effort.

The only final tests that I can think of are two in number. (1) Take that little gorilla type pod that you use on your vacations and mount the TZ-4 on it for a test. Check to see if it is well balanced or not. (2) Take some outdoor photos, out the window if required due to the Toronto weather and ascertain if the TZ-4 does as well outside as it does inside. I think that it will, although you may have to use a bit of minus exposure compensation to overcome the glare off of the snow.

The difference between camera prices in Canada and in the USA is more dramatic than I realized. With that in mind, I can certainly understand your feelings about build quality and value.

Just let me know how I can help you further, VooDoo. Thanks to you efforts, this has become a very interesting thread. I am also glad that we could help you before my husband and I go to sea once again lecturing. We will leave in early January and not return to June 15th. We will first be on a World Cruise, and then doing European cruises. Happy New Year!

Sarah Joyce
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Old Dec 31, 2008, 7:55 PM   #19
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Thank you Sarah, I greatly value your posts.

We are definitely going to try to test the TZ4 in the ways you suggest. Thank you.

Canada is a very expensive place to live when compared to the states. For example, a Toyota Prius will cost you $10000 more after taxes in Canada vs the US. Many cars are like this. Supposedly; on average; everything is a minimum of 16% more in Canada vs the US and we also have far less selection and variety on most fronts.

I waited a long time to embark on my world traveling as I could find no one to travel with until I met my wife, but since I met her I have finally begun to enjoy the exhilaration of wandering the globe.

Have a great time on your long cruise. I'm jealous and I don't say that often. I trust you will have time to enjoy yourselves between lectures?

Barring incident, we're going to be going to Egypt and Jordan next February for a couple of weeks and are very excited. We've had an amazing year as we have somehow managed to go to Cambodia and Peru since February. Japan is a vacation for me as well, but not my wife as she was born there.

We have worked to hard to be able to travel like this that it makes it just that much sweeter. Congratulations on also earning this privilege, whenever I read about other peoples travels I get excited and want to learn more about the various people and places on this world!

Have a great safe time on your cruise and a Happy New Year!
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Old Dec 31, 2008, 8:18 PM   #20
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Voodoo-

My husband and I have lectured professionally for 26 years. We began as University lecturers, in the 1980. We switched to cruise ships in the late 1990's, and we have been as busy as we want to be. Since I retired as a Boeing 747 Captain for Transworld Airlines in 1991, my husband, a nationally recognized Clinical PSYchologist, also retired, and we have been on the go ever since.

Some years we have cruised 11 out of 12 months, but we have pulled back from doing that, as we actually do need some time at home. When we leave in January we will be beginning our 598th cruise!

So it sounds like we both have been bitten by the very same "travel bug." Travel is a wonderful experience.

Thanks for understanding. Happy New Year!


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