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Old Feb 22, 2010, 3:15 PM   #1
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Default Need a new P&S

I am getting ready to replace a Canon SD400 soon. I have been happy with the Canon, but it is getting very laggy, plus it sometimes goes into movie mode when taking pictures. Very frustrating.

My Canon only has 3x optical zoom, and I am looking to move to something with AT LEAST 5x optical zoom. I won't be blowing up any pictures beyond an 8x10. And most of the pictures I will be taking will be of my kids, so I need a camera that will catch them in action.

I have been looking all over Amazon, Consumer Reports, and this site to try to find something. I have eliminated some of the Nikon's because their image stabilization is worse than other comparable cameras.

Costco has a good deal right now on both the ZR1 and ZS1, both going for about $180 (the ZR1 comes with a 2GB card and a case). I am also open to any other brands, but I am trying to keep the cost around $200.
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Old Feb 22, 2010, 4:18 PM   #2
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muley-

Welcome to the Forum. We're delighted that you dropped by.

Both the Panasonic ZS1 and the ZR-1 are good cameras producing excellent outdoor image quality. It is with the indoor image quality that things begin to head south. The cause of the declining indoor image quality rests squarely on the very small and weak built-in flash unit.

The ZS-1 model cannot deal with less than the optimal light output from the built-in flash unit so it under exposes, in a hope that the user will get the message that they have to reduce the camera to subject distance, measured in feet that is called "flash range." Adequate exposure is not obtained until the flash range has been reduced to just 5 to 6 feet.

The ZR-1 model was a "trial horse for Panasonic. It was the camera that was the very first camera to use the new and improved OIS (optical image stabilization) system, and it also attempted to create a "work around" kind of solution for the very weak, small built-in flash unit. The Owner's Manual calls for auto ISO to be used when the flash is used. In doing that you can take built-in flash lighted photos from a flash range greater than 5 to 6 feet. The camera just automatically increased the ISO setting as needed to achieve a workable exposure. The problem is this: as the flash range increases to over 10 feet, the elevated ISO setting has now gradually, and gradually increased. At 14 feet, in most cases the ISO setting is at ISO 1250. As you might expect, that, all by itself, has a very negative effect on indoor image quality. So yes, there is indeed a "work around" but it really does not address the problem very well at all.

I own both the ZS-1 and ZS-3 cameras. To recover indoor image quality, I use a Canon HF-1 Slave Flash. It actually works quite well. However, it is indeed, an added expense when shooting with those cameras.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Feb 22, 2010, 4:31 PM   #3
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Thank you so much for your help, Sarah.

In doing some further reading after my post, I did see that the ZR1 and ZS1 have a reputation for poor indoor picture quality. That will most likely eliminate those cameras for me, as about half of my pictures will be taken inside.

What other cameras would you recommend? I've seen the Canon s90 and Sony h20 talked about here, but those might be a bit out of my price range (plus the Sony looks to be a bit bigger than I would like).
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Old Feb 22, 2010, 4:48 PM   #4
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muley-

The best compromise of size and price right now is the Canon SX-120, priced at $199. It does lack a wide angle position on it zoom range, and it offers standard video in place of HD video, but it is a very competent 10X optical zoom camera, that is priced right and has a good built-in flash unit.

Another possibility would be the Samsung HW-15Z camera offering a wide angle, 10X optical zoom, a HD video, and the ability to zoom while you film. It has a problem locking focus in low light level environments. It is also priced at $199.00.

The Samsung camera is thinner and more pocketable than the Canon camera.

Sarah Joyce

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Old Feb 22, 2010, 5:58 PM   #5
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the h20 has been going down in price recently. i recommended to a friend recently, and i think she paid 220USD for it.
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Old Feb 23, 2010, 8:34 PM   #6
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Dustin-

The upcoming new models have caused some price reductions. The Sony HX-5 is forcing the H-20 price downward. So too, the forthcoming Samsung TL-350 has forced the TL-320 from $240 to $199. We are going to see even more price reductions I am sure as the new models arrive on dealer's shelves.

I expect the Canon SX-200 to fall as well as the SX-210 comes into stock.

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