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Old Mar 13, 2010, 1:02 PM   #1
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Default Help with buying a compact P&S with good zoom

Hi,

I am planning on buying a compact point & shoot for a gift and I needed help on that. I am an SLR user and P&S domain is a little unfamiliar to me. So let me spill out the essentials in what I am looking for in the camera:

1) Inexpensive (around $150-$300)
2) Good Image Quality
3) Decent optical zoom (8x +)
4) HD video recording (preferably with the ability to zoom while recording)
5) Good resolution (preferably above 10 MP)
6) Small dimensions
7) Manual aperture/shutter control is something I like but not a must.

So based on this criterion, I've narrowed myself to the following 4 options (arranged in order of preference):

1) Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3: Only con is that its got no manual aperture/shutter controls.
2) Samsung HZ15W and Samsung HZ10W: Only con is that its got no manual aperture/shutter controls.
3) Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS5: Only negative is that its $300. But I can adjust if its worth it.

Canon PowerShot SX200 IS, Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5, Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZR1 were also considered but I thought my above 4 choices were better.

Also since I want to get it in the next 2-3 weeks, I've ruled out other interesting cameras like Samsung HZ30W, Samsung HZ35W, Fujifilm FinePix F80EXR as they haven't been released yet.

So here are my questions:

1) Do you think it is worth waiting for these new cameras? I will then need to find a good excuse for giving a late gift.

2) Are there any cameras (that are already released) that must be in my choices?

3) If my choices are good, what are your thoughts on each individual camera? (as specs don't reveal the whole picture)

Thanks for the help,
Nev
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Old Mar 13, 2010, 1:39 PM   #2
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Nev -

My #1 choice would be the Samsung HZ15W. It has 12mp, 10X optical zoom, a very nice 24mm wide angle, and it does HD video and you can zoom while filming.

My #2 choice is the Panasonic ZS3. Yes, basically no manual controls, but 12X optical zoom, 12mp, a 25mm wide angle and a very good HD video which allows you to zoom while filming. It also has an enhanced LCD screen, that the ZS5 does not have.

My #3 choice is the ZS5. It is the stripped down ZS7, but I question the need for the increased mp count. This is a reluctant choice for me.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Mar 13, 2010, 2:24 PM   #3
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Hi Sarah,

I agree with you on choice #3. I don't think that extra 2 MP matters in a P&S. For quality pictures, I'm gonna use my DSLR anyway. Also for the same reason, I won't need the manual aperture/shutter control that this camera has.

However, the reason I chose Panasonic ZS3 is because it had good reviews (at least on CNET). From the specs alone, its got 2x zoom more and slightly smaller dimensions when compared to Samsung HZ15W. CNET says the image quality of the Samsung camera is not that great. What is your feedback?

Are there any other cameras I should consider?

Thanks,
Nev

Last edited by nevjac; Mar 13, 2010 at 2:25 PM. Reason: for clarity
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Old Mar 13, 2010, 2:58 PM   #4
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nev-

If you have no need for a high ISO capability (the ZS3 tops out at ISO 800), the ZS3 already has the wide angle and the improved LCD screen, so it becomes the #1 choice.

I have attached an ISO 200 photo sample.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Mar 13, 2010, 3:10 PM   #5
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Hi Sarah,

The picture looks very crisp. This is the sort of quality I am looking for. This camera having a low ISO is a little bit of a bummer but are there other cameras (in the same class) that have a good ISO? The reason I would like a good ISO is because the places one would end up taking this P&S is places where you don't want to lug around your DSLR - mostly places like dinner parties, clubs, etc where there is low light. But if I don't have many choices, I think I am pretty pleased with this panasonic camera. I think I can get one on Amazon for around $235. I think I am okay with that price (although the Samsung is less than $200)

- Nev
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Old Mar 13, 2010, 3:25 PM   #6
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Also do you own the ZS3? Any pros and cons from your personal experience when compared to other cameras?
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Old Mar 13, 2010, 3:28 PM   #7
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Actually I just noticed that Samsung HZ15W is only $188 on Amazon. Do you think ZS3 is worth the extra $50?
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Old Mar 13, 2010, 4:11 PM   #8
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nev-

Here is the long and short of it. I own and use both cameras. That is how I could post the ZS3 photo:its my own.The ZS3 is held back by its small, weak built-in flash unit. In contrast, the Samsung HZ15W has a very normal built-in flash unit. Both have HD video and you can zoom while filming. The ZS3 has a longer zoom than the HZ15W.

However, the HZ15W can be pushed to ISO 1600, so that gives it an edge. I do not think that the ZS3 is worth $50 extra.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Mar 13, 2010, 4:25 PM   #9
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Hi Sarah,

I appreciate your honest opinion. The only reason I was holding back on Samsung HZ15W was because CNET said that its image quality was mediocre. But since you are recommending it to me, I assume that the IQ on both cameras are almost the same.

Some additional questions:

1) Are both equally user friendly?

2) You mentioned ZS3 had a poor flash. But according to dpreview, ZS3's flash range is 5.3 m and that of HZ15W is 4.7 m. So what quantifies a poor flash?

3) And one unimportant question - which camera looks better? ZS3 looks better in pictures

- Nev
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Old Mar 13, 2010, 4:40 PM   #10
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Additional question:

4) I thought HZ15W does not have manual aperture/shutter controls. But in the picture, I see that the mode dial has A, P, S and M modes! Thats more interesting that the ZS3!
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