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Old Feb 4, 2010, 6:01 PM   #1
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Default I made the wrong decision...help (again)!!

I've had such great input and advice from a number of you on these boards, that I felt I had to post again..... a few posts back I was wondering whether I should 'buy now' or wait, and with pros and cons to both options, I couldn't contain myself, and ordered up a Panasonic FZ38.

Once the battery was charged, I excitedly gave it a whirl, but there was no 'wow' factor. I tried to see it's good points (and it has lots), but I couldn't help but focus on what it was missing. I've learned my lesson - the FZ38 was bought on spec, as I didn't have the opportunity to try it locally, and I won't do that again on paper, it was everything I wanted, but in my hands, it just wasn't a match made in heaven!

Those of you who urged me to wait were also correct - no sooner do I drop the cash, than a bunch of other stuff gets announced which made me feel worse - in particular, the new TZ8 (and 10) and Fuji HS10 - so, I've decided to send the FZ38 back, and need some direction again.... I'm hoping you will all be as helpful as before, as I really appreciate being able to use these forums as a sounding board for input and advice, before I make another wrong turn.

To recap my experiences and general feelings:

I now know that handling is more critical than I thought it would be, so I'm just going to have to get myself into Edinburgh or Glasgow to what is hopefully a better stocked outlet to try a few things in person. I'm no gorilla, but the FZ38 really was too fiddly, with the space between the grip and lens barrel too small for me to be comfortable for my hands. Ergonomically, I didn't like the unresponsive buttons on the top, and the joystick, whilst effective, was hit and miss for me. Buttons though and dedicated controls, I do like.

I also prefer my photography "flash-free" (shame the iPad doesn't have a camera then!!! Sorry.), and a lot of it is indoors, so a fast lens and/or stellar high-ISO performance is important too. The FZ was f/2.8 but it liked keeping the ISO low so flash was needed and didn't perform well, and at high ISO's it suffered noise and over-processing like many small sensor cameras do.

I did really like the video capabilities of the FZ though. I work in digital media, and I can see me getting more and more into this side of things - both for fun, and as an extension of my design business. Full HD would be good, as would aperture control and stereo audio.

I'm not sure if it's just my eyesight (I do wear glasses), but I did find being able to compose images on a screen much more comfortable than with a viewfinder. I know that might sound weird, but trust me, I struggled to see properly after spending a while shooting with my old 40D. The FZ38 screen was OK, but I see there are higher-resolution and larger options in the marketplace (and no doubt in mind for the FZ48 when it appears!).

Finally (for now) - "wherefor art thou, shallow depth of field?" I miss you already.... OK, so I know that a compact isn't going to perform anything like a 40D with 50mm f/1.8 lens, but I'm a big fan of bokeh and I need it back in my photographic life.

So, is there an 'ultimate' non-DSLR, low-light-loving, long-zooming, high-def video shootin', background-blurring, 3" LCD bearing beast of a camera out there for me, or am I looking for something that doesn't exist..?

What would you try? If you were spending 500 what would you buy, and why?

Help (again) please!!
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Old Feb 4, 2010, 6:09 PM   #2
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Just know that even though they announce these new camera, we will not have to much first hand knowledge of how good they are until it hits the consumer pipelines. So with the new cameras we are going with paper specs only.

There is no way a mega zoom or a point and shoot can match a dslr or even a m4/3 in low light. The physics of the smaller sensor will prevent it. It can be okay to good, but never be equal to a dslr. Also I do not think any of the bridge camera has a aperture larger the 2.8. So getting that bokem to the extent that you are uses to is going to be harder.

But we can see what else is coming, PMA has just begun.
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Old Feb 4, 2010, 6:17 PM   #3
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mrmacmusic-

It might be the Sony HX-5 due to arrive on dealer shelves here in the USA i mid March. But I do caution you to await the professional reviews of the camera, before flipping out the credit card.

I purchased the Sony HX-1 (that I have written about in the Sony P+S folder) used on E-Bay and I have only had it a short time, but its performance is impressive, and I will be posting more sample photos from the HX-1 in the weeks ahead.

I am currently shooting with the Canon SX-10, the Panasonic FZ-035, and the Sony HX-1. The HX-1 clearly leads the pack, closely followed by the FZ-35, with the SX-10 a good ways behind. I sincerely do not want to leave readers of this post with the impression that any of these camera are a DSLR replacement, as they are not. Photos without flash and in difficult lighting environments where wide aperture and high ISO settings are really where the DSLRS's shine much more brightly than amy super zoom camera.

I regularly shoot with a Canon XSi and a Nikon D-90 so I certainly can observe the difference in image quality and performance from a lot of experience.

Have a great day.

Sarah Joyce

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Old Feb 4, 2010, 6:29 PM   #4
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if you enjoy available light no-flash photography. and you enjoy shallow depth of field, or selective focus, and speedy performance, then really you are not going to be terribly wow'd by any small sensor digicam.

however, you are not happy with the dslr's from a weight, and viewfinder perspective.

that really leaves us in the realm of the micro 4/3 or the EVIL systems. they let you compose on the LCD, do much better in low-light than any digicam, though not quite up to what you were used to with a 40d, and are smaller/lighter than your 40d was.

the first thing that comes to mind is the new E-PL1 that will be released in March, it will eventually sell with a 14-150 (x 2 crop factor so 28-300mm equivelent) lens, though i am not sure when that lens is available. but bear in mind with this lens, the E-PL1 will cost you more than any bridge model. but may be worth saving up for considering your desires in a camera.
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Old Feb 4, 2010, 6:42 PM   #5
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Also with the EPL-1 it is capable of full HD at 1080, not just 720
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Old Feb 4, 2010, 8:06 PM   #6
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Also have you looked at the more compact DSLR, the D40 is large compare to the XSi and e620.
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Old Feb 4, 2010, 9:58 PM   #7
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mrmacmusic-

Here is a no flash photo taken this evening with the Sony HX-1 using the Twilight Mode. It is not DSLR stuff, but somewhat close to what you might be seeking.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Feb 5, 2010, 5:02 AM   #8
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Thanks everyone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hards80 View Post
if you enjoy available light no-flash photography. and you enjoy shallow depth of field, or selective focus, and speedy performance, then really you are not going to be terribly wow'd by any small sensor digicam.

however, you are not happy with the dslr's from a weight, and viewfinder perspective.

that really leaves us in the realm of the micro 4/3 or the EVIL systems. they let you compose on the LCD, do much better in low-light than any digicam, though not quite up to what you were used to with a 40d, and are smaller/lighter than your 40d was.

the first thing that comes to mind is the new E-PL1....
I think that's the problem - I'm after DSLR-like quality (within reason, I'm award of the limitations), but without the viewfinder, bulk and financial commitment. Micro 4/3 is interesting - I preferred the look of the GF1 to the 'classic' E-P1, however if the E-PL1 gets it's auto-focus up to scratch (I think the P1 was slower than the GF1?) then I'll definitely put it on the shortlist. EVIL? Well, maybe. I'd prefer NVFL - i.e. no viewfinder, fixed lens!

Quote:
Originally Posted by mtclimber View Post
mrmacmusic-

It might be the Sony HX-5 due to arrive on dealer shelves here in the USA i mid March. But I do caution you to await the professional reviews of the camera, before flipping out the credit card.

I purchased the Sony HX-1 (that I have written about in the Sony P+S folder) used on E-Bay and I have only had it a short time, but its performance is impressive, and I will be posting more sample photos from the HX-1 in the weeks ahead.

I am currently shooting with the Canon SX-10, the Panasonic FZ-035, and the Sony HX-1. The HX-1 clearly leads the pack, closely followed by the FZ-35, with the SX-10 a good ways behind....
I had spotted the HX-5 on the horizon Sarah, and it will be interesting to read the reviews. It's definitely a 'compact' though, and I couldn't call on the ergonomics without getting it in my hand.

I wonder what your impressions of the HX-1 can lead us to conclude (at this early stage) about the possible performance and quality of the forthcoming Fuji HS10, as I think the sensor is very similar.

Quote:
Originally Posted by shoturtle View Post
Just know that even though they announce these new camera, we will not have to much first hand knowledge of how good they are until it hits the consumer pipelines. So with the new cameras we are going with paper specs only.

There is no way a mega zoom or a point and shoot can match a dslr or even a m4/3 in low light. The physics of the smaller sensor will prevent it. It can be okay to good, but never be equal to a dslr. Also I do not think any of the bridge camera has a aperture larger the 2.8.....
...and we're back to a larger sensor again. Maybe I should look at the Canon G11/S90 and Lumix LX3, although neither of these can compete with the E-P(L)1 or GF1...... Neither can the Fuji HS10, but that's still firmly on my radar.

Quote:
Originally Posted by shoturtle View Post
Also have you looked at the more compact DSLR, the D40 is large compare to the XSi and e620.
...yes I have, and I don't think my wife will let me go down that route again!! I'm not a Canon 'fan' per-se, but having gone from a 400D to 40D I'm familiar with them - they somehow always felt better (to me) than their Nikon counterparts. A 500D with 18-200 lens might well fit the bill (with a 17-55 f/2.8 being even better), but to be honest, this just comes back to the viewfinder and financial commitment issues again.

Maybe Canon have something up their sleeves along the EVIL (or NVFL!) lines. Maybe I'd be happy with an HX1/5 or HS10. Maybe the GF1 or E-PL1 is the perfect solution..... I'm also not averse to looking at the second-hand market, although I suspect that with technical advances in the digicam field, I'd be better looking at 'new' or 'coming soon'.
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Old Feb 5, 2010, 8:54 AM   #9
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mrmacmusic-

One has to carefull analyze imager size. We are still in the time frame where there will still be camera introductions. Canon is indeed rumored to have an EVIL (electronic viewfinder-interchangeable lenses) camera ready to introduce. And the Samsung NX based on an APS-C imager is also waiting in the wings, so as to speak.

I shoot with super zooms, as I like them a lot as well as DSLR cameras (Canon XSi and Nikon D-90) and they are indeed different in character. The Sony HX-1 is a very capable camera. However, it stubbed its toe by being priced too high at $(US)499.00. I wonder it that will not be the case for the Fuji FS-10, which is attempting the same price point. The HS-10 will only succeed by price discounting as that (IMO) price is too close to the entry level DSLR cameras.

Have a great day.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Feb 5, 2010, 11:32 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrmacmusic View Post
...Maybe I should look at the Canon G11/S90 and Lumix LX3,
You are going all over the place. First you should decided whether having the long focal length (long zoom) is a MUST or not. By doing this quick exercise, you'll eliminate a bunch of possible contenders from one side or another. The three cameras you just mentioned are great but have very short FL (less than 5x). The LX3 is probably the best because it has a very fast and excellent Leica lens (since you are somewhat limited on the FL, might as well get the fastest lens possible). Its price has dropped significantly in the past couple of month. This camera could not be found for less than $480 not too long ago. Today Amazon is selling it for less than $400 and you can get an used one on eBay for just about $300. The reason for the drop? The increased popularity of m4/3 (both from Panasonic and Olympus). They are great cameras and if you choose to take that route, I'd suggest the G1/GH1. They are slightly bigger but offer an EVF, flash,swivel LCD and great kit lenses.
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