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Old Oct 17, 2009, 1:21 PM   #1
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Default [Recommendation] First camera for a newcomer.

Hi all,

How are you? I'm new to photography and I'm looking to purchase my first digital camera, so I am hoping you can provide me with insights and advice for me to make the correct purchase.

Budget
- USD $300.

Are you new to cameras?
- Yes.

Where do you plan on using this camera?
- General everyday photography - as this will be my first camera, I would prefer an all-rounder of a camera. Examples would be:
- face portraits shots
- scenery/landscapes
- group photos (e.g. at the dinner table)
- during travels with my girlfriend
- outings (e.g. to the beach, butterfly farm, light house)

Do you plan on using this camera indoors or in low light?
- Yes, I will be using it indoors and in low-light conditions (at home, at restaurants) I would like a camera that can work well with and without flash.

Do you plan on taking lots of sports or other action photos?
- No. If I do, it will be photos of my shih tzu puppies and golden retriever.

Will you want manual settings and lots of features?
- Full auto/easy mode is essential, as I am new to photography, this will help me get my feet wet. It will also come in handy for my mom/others to easily use it.
- However, as I want to learn and appreciate better photography, some manual control will be important too, so I guess at the very minimum I should include aperture and shutter priority.

How much will you need to zoom?
- High about 4-8X, as I guess it will come in handy for face-up/head portrait shots, and also gives me that zoom option during travels.

How large will you need to make your prints?
- I don't think I will be doing much printing, may be the occasional normal prints (4x6) and may be an odd large one or two.

Size
- I won't be putting it in my jeans pocket, as it'll end up in a waist pouch or slung across my shoulder, so anything smaller than a DSLR is fine. Something ergonomic and not too bulky. And I have big hands.

How many megapixels will suffice for you?
- Not particular but sufficient enough for normal or large prints if required.

How important is “image quality” to you?
- High - isn't that what photography is all about - to capture the moment?

Do you need any of the following special features?
- Wide angle: Preferably, but not necessary - I suppose I can buy a wide angle lens upgrade/attachment if required?
- View finder: Preferably, but not necessary as I can live without it.
- Image stabilization: Yes please.

Are there particular brands you like or hate?
- Neutral.

Are there particular models you already have in mind?
Based on what I have read on the forums, I think these fits my requirements? Please correct me if I am wrong:
- Sony DSC-H20
- Fujifilm Finepix F70EXR
- Kodak Z-1012IS

Phew - that's outta the way. Would appreciate it if you can share your insights, opinions and advice to me. Please feel free to ask me question too! Thank you in advance

Justin.
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Old Oct 17, 2009, 2:27 PM   #2
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Justin-

Welcome to the Forum!

Your three listed cameras all have positive points. They all follow your desire for more in the zoom department. let investigate each camera individually for the sake of clarity.

The Sony H-20 camera has a lot to recommend it. It has the best built-in flash unit of all the three cameras on your list. However, it does not have a wide angle lens position on its lens. The lens zooms from (in 35mm terms) 36mm to 360mm.

The Sony H-20 does not produce as good an image quality when using just existing light. However, it can do the job. Overall the Sony H-20 is a very versatile camera. However, some users do not like have to frame all shots using the H-20's LCD screen, especially in bright sunlight.

Please continue to the next post, Justin.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Oct 17, 2009, 2:30 PM   #3
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OK Justin-

Now we get to look at some photo samples. These two photos were taken with my Sony H-10 which is virtually the same as the H-20, as my H-20 is out on loan. The first photo is taken with the camera's built-in flash unit. Notice that the exposure is right on the money and we get a pleasing amount of sharpness. However, we do get some shadowing. The subject is my ever patient husband, Bradley. God Bless him.

Please continue to my next post, Justin.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Oct 17, 2009, 2:36 PM   #4
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OK, Justin-

Here is a photo sample taken without flash, and using a numerically higher ISO setting. You will notice as the ISO setting numerically increases, we got rid of that shadowing, but we also lost some sharpness.

At this point, I have to fix lunch, but I will continue after lunch. We will go through with photo samples from each camera, because I own all three of your listed cameras.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Oct 17, 2009, 4:07 PM   #5
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OK, Justin-

Lunch is finished and the dishes are done. Let take a look at the Fuji F-70EXR, a pretty new camera. As you may or may not know, Fuji over the last decade has pretty much held on to the high ISO capable compact camera title. However, the brand new Canon S-90 is taking a shot at Fuji's crown.

The Fuji F-70EXR incorporates a lot of new high ISO technology in the camera. Unlike the H-20, the Fuji F-70 does indeed incorporate a wide angle setting on their lens. In 35mm terms, the lens on this camera zooms from 27mm to 270mm optical zoom.

The built-in flash on the F-70EXR is not quite as powerful as the flash found on the H-20. In our first photo sample we will take a look at a photo taken with the F-70's built-in flash unit. Just like the H-20, you will see some shadowing. But the F-70 photo appears a bit better exposed and sharper than the H-20 sample with flash.

Please move to my next post for the next F-70 photo sample, Justin.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Oct 17, 2009, 4:15 PM   #6
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OK, Justin-

Here we go to look at the no flash or existing light produced by the Fuji F-70EXR camera. Please keep in mind that like the Sony H-20 the F-70EXR has no optical viewfinder, therefore, all photos have to be framed on the LCD screen.

You will notice that the no flash/existing light photo sample from the Fuji F-70 actually looks better than the one we saw from the H-20. The Sony H-20 was set to Auto ISO and it selected ISO 800 to take the H-20 no flash sample.

In contrast, the F-70, using Auto ISO, selected ISO 1600 so that we would have a faster shutter speed that captured a better no flash sample and because we did not use flash, we have no harsh shadows.

Go to the next post to begin the Kodak Z-1012 camera.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Oct 17, 2009, 4:50 PM   #7
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OK, Justin-

In this post and the next post we will take a look at the Kodak Z-1012 camera. keep in mind that the Z-1012 includes an EVF or an electronic viewfinder, unlike the two previous cameras, the Fuji F-70 and the Sony H-20.

In 35mm terms the zoom range is 33mm to 396mm, so the Kodak Z-1012 does not have a real wide angle position on its zoom lens The Z-1012 is also physically larger in size than the other two cameras, if physical size of the camera is a priority for you.

Here is our first photo sample, Justin with the Z-1012 camera. Just like our other photo samples, we will lead off with the flash photo of Bradley. The Z-1012 flash photo sample looks pretty good and there is very little shadowing. All in all this is probably the best flash photo that we have seen among the three cameras.

Please move to the next post for our Z-1012 camera's no flash/existing light photo sample.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Oct 17, 2009, 4:58 PM   #8
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Ok. Justin-

Here is our second sample photo from the Kodak Z-1012, which is the no flash/existing light photo. With the Z-1012 set to Auto ISO, the Z-1012 camera, like the Fuji F-70 selected ISO 1600 to take this photo to keep the shutter speed high enough to hand hold. It is just my opinion, but I think that of the three no flash/existing light samples, the F-70's photo sample looks the best.

Please keep in mind that Kodak is longer manufacturing the Z-1012 camera. They have replaced it with the Kodak Z-950 camera which does not have an EVF, but then it costs less as well. Preliminary samples from the Z-950 look pretty good.

Here is how the Z-1012 did on the no flash/existing light photo test.

Please move to my final post, Justin where we will compare results from all three cameras. Thanks!

Sarah Joyce
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Old Oct 17, 2009, 5:20 PM   #9
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Here we go Justin-

This is the summary of our mini tests on these three cameras: the Sony H-20, the Fuji F-70EXR, and the Kodak Z-1012. It is probably not surprising that the best camera of this group of three cameras is the Fuji F-70EXR. I say not surprising, as it is the newest camera of the group and it incorporates the latest technology.

All three cameras are priced quite closely together around $235.00 to $240.00. That is true for the camera that replaced the Kodak Z-1012, the Kodak Z-950, as well. I don't own the Z-950, but from the few photo samples that I have seen from the Z-950, it looks pretty good.

So Justin, in my opinion only out of this group of three cameras, the Fuji F-70EXR looks to be a bit better. You might also want to take a look at the Kodak Z-950 as well for a good comparison. But keep in mind, the Kodak Z-950, like the Z-1012 camera is physically larger than the Fuji F-70EXR.

I hope this has helped, Justin. Of course, we welcome any questions you might have as well about any of these cameras.

We are often asked another question. How do these posted no flash/existing light photos look in comparison to what an entry level DSLR camer can do? I am attaching a photo I took this morning of Bradley with a Pentax K-2000 using a Sigma 30mm lens.

Have a great weekend.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Oct 17, 2009, 6:47 PM   #10
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Justin here are two more photo samples-

The first photo sample was taken with the fuji F-70EXR using the built-in flash.

Sarah Joyce
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