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Old Oct 20, 2009, 2:42 AM   #1
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Default please help me to choose the right camera

Would anyone please help me to choose a P&S camera? I had a Sony Cyber Shot DSC P-10 for almost 6 years and am really ready to get a much better camera. I will use this camera mostly for my two children (1 year old and 4 year old) , to record their everyday life. I hope to have
1. Excellent quality pictures both indoor and outdoor, good noise control for the indoor pictures.
2. High quality movie, preferably can zoom in while recording movie.
3. Least shutter lag, too often my children moves away before the camera responds.
4. Image stabilization
5. At least 10x optical zoom
These are basic requirement for the camera. Since I know I will stick with this camera for several years, I would like it to have more features as:
1. Maybe also wide angle (although I donít know how useful it is)
2. Able to add external flash (Is it true that if hot shoe is not available, a slave flash can always be used?)
3. My 4 year old just started taking ballet class, so I will need to consider taking pictures of dance recital. Is there a P&S camera capable of this? I really do not want to learn dslr yet.
4. reliable auto performance which is what I will use for most time, I also would like it to have manual function so I can learn from it. I think I will get an dslr a few years later, if I succeed in using the manual control first.
5. Hope to learn to take good ďartisticĒ pictures like landscape, macro, zoomed close-up. Iíve seen many stunning pictures in the photo gallery which really inspired me to go further from taking just everyday life pictures.

My budget is around $400. I heard some good thing about Panasonic fz35, Canon sx10 and Canon sx20. But they all seem to have noise problem with indoor pictures. The Canon S90 seems to deal with noise really well, but Iím not sure if it fits my other needs. Please help me to choose the right camera.
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Old Oct 20, 2009, 10:18 AM   #2
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Bai Hui-

My goodness but that is a very complex request. Let's see what we can do. We will begin with one of the more complex portions of your request:at least 10X optical zoom with a wide angle position on that lens.

Well, two point and shoot cameras currently on the market today can fill that requirement: the Panasonic ZS1/ZS3/FZ-35, the Canon SX-10/SX-20 and the Fuji F-70EXR. Except for the two Canon cameras which do have a hot shoe, the only way we can use an external flash with the other cameras is to make use of a slave flash. But you must keep in mind that a slave flash, or a separate external flash, represents an additional investment ($110.00 to $230.00 depending on the brand selected) and the slave flash is an extra item to carry, as well. So, although the Panasonic ZS1/ZS3 and the Fuji F-70EXR are fairly small cameras that could easily be easily be slipped into a pocket or a purse, the addition of that slave or external flash will probably require a small camera bag. I guess carrying a camera bag is a personal sort of thing. My purse happens to be my camera bag, as I always take a camera and external flash with me everywhere.

Several other notes of importance: (1) The Panasonic ZS1 and ZS3 cameras have a very small built-in flash unit that has very little power. The ZS1 or ZS3's built-in flash unit realistically has a flash range of 8 feet or less. Therefore, a slave flash is a must to achieve normal flash operations with those two cameras. However, the ZS1 and ZS3 cameras have a wonderful 25mm wide angle position on their lenses which is wonderful, as well as 12X optical zoom, so adding the slave flash, at least for me, is no big deal. (2) the difference between the ZS1 and ZS3 cameras is the type of video clip featire that is available. The ZS1 has a very standard video clip feature, while the ZS3 camera has a HD video clip feature and you can zoom the camera during the video clip. (3) Please understand that the Fuji F-70EXR camera is a pretty complex camera when the EXR feature is utilized. Many inexperienced camera users find the F-70 EXR difficult to operate. The F-70EXR does have 10X optical zoom and a standard video clip feature.

So if by "High Quality Movie," you mean a HD video clip feature, then your only choice among the cameras discussed so far, is only the Panasonic ZS3 camera.

All of the cameras discussed so far have minimal shutter lag, at least 10X of optical zoom, a wide angle position on their zoom lens, a fully automatic operational feature and can be used with a slave or external flash.

With your daughter taking part in dance recitals, taking photos of those dance recitals ideally should be done while using the slave or external flash unit. Photos taken without flash, while using a numerically higher ISO setting with point and shoot cameras lack a lot in overall image quality. Photos without flash using numerically higher ISO settings is reall best done with a DSLR camera.

Please keep in mind that with your budget of $400.00 you are very close indeed to the cost of an entry level DSLR camera. If HD vieo is a real priority for, you will not find it in a DSLR camera until you reach the $650 price level.

Have a great day. As always we will be here to continue this discussion and to answer any and all questions that you might have. I have also attached a photo sample taken with my own Panasonic ZS1 using a slave flash. That will allow you to see the expanded area that can be lighted in a photo through the use of a slave or external flash.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Oct 20, 2009, 10:03 PM   #3
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Default still need help

Sarah, thank you very much. I think I still need more help in making a decision.

First, about HD video. Iím not sure if I really want it. Do you know if HD video looks much better than standard video when played back on a computer? I donít care about HDTV. If there is big difference, then I will make HD my priority. Or else I will have no problem to accept standard video.

You didnít mention anything about image quality, which is the first priority that will influence my decision. With my old camera, I am not satisfied with indoor pictures. With flash on, either my children often looked surprised in the picture, or there will be a shadow on the background wall/furniture. I would prefer not to use flash with indoor pictures. Then what camera has best performance in making least noise in the picture? Also I have too many pictures that are not usable because of blurred hands/feet. This is also what I would like to eliminate with my new camera. Please help me to understand what feature in the camera I should be looking for that deals with these problems.

I know I might have to adjust my other requirements in order to give image quality the highest priority. I think I can go with a shorter zoom (5-6x optical zoom), and forget about zooming in video making. Image stabilization is a must, because I often need to give the camera to untrained hands to take picture for me. Now about wide angle feature, I would like to have this feature. But if there is a camera that is really excellent in image quality, I may consider it despite it doesnít have wide angle.

Iím sorry for changing my mind so much. Itís in the discussion process that I fine tune my expectation. Thank you in advance for your kind help. Have a good night.

Bai Hui
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Old Oct 20, 2009, 10:25 PM   #4
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Bai Hui-

The changes you have made cause no problems at all. So, please not to worry!

As you can already see, the Panasonic ZS1/ZS3 camera will most probably give you the best image quality. You might be wondering why I have bypassed the Canon SX-10 and SX-20. Unfortunately, these Canon cameras are ISO limited cameras. By that I mean that with the SX-10, when the ISO setting is numerically increased higher than ISO 400, image quality begins to deteriorate very rapidly. The SX-20, die to pixel density is even worse. You may decide otherwise, but in my opinion, if image quality is your highest priority, then we drop the SX-10 and SX-20 off the list.

But as a side note, and in the spirit of total fairness, I have to tell you that the very best image quality is going to be captured by an entry level DSLR camera.

Ok, with that being said, let's make an measurable effort to reduce your out of pocket cost. Instead of the ZS3 you can select the ZS1, with standard video clips, and save money, just as I chose to do. You saw my photo sample. It was taken with the ZS1.

I really do not feel that you gain much by going to the Panasonic FZ-35, as long as you are not really interested in manual camera settings. it is my opinion that the Fuji F-70EXR is unnecessarily complicated and complex. i am a professional digital camera instructor and I have to use the F-70EXR with the camera instruction book in hand to be sure that I am taking advantage of all of its many features.

But it is up to you Bai Hui. You take a careful look at the Panasonic ZS1, and then you decide. Have a great day.

Sarah Joyce
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