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Old Mar 17, 2010, 3:01 AM   #1
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Default Another P&S thread ... (long'ish one)

Hi,

I am looking for a new P&S for $300 or less. I view my photos on a Panasonic 1080p plasma so the photos need to look good at 1920x1080. I will be using this cam for everything - from hiking to museums to pics of my dogs in the house. I already haul my Panasonic HDC-TM250 camcorder with me hiking so I don't think I want to haul something else bigger than pocket size with me. However my old Canon SD870 sucks taking dusk shots on the trails so I definitely need something better in low-light (larger sensor) and I wouldn't mind a larger aperture range either if possible - particularly on the wide end. I primarily want something P&S but I wouldn't mind some manual controls being available if they were absolutely necessary to get a decent shot.


I have looked at the following:

- Panasonic DMC-ZS3: Seems like a great all-around camera but I'm not too keen on the image softness. I also have some gripes about the poor AWB on my Panasonic camcorder and I am guessing their cams have the same problem. The video capabilities are great for a P&S pocket cam and the zoom is great also. About $240 now.

- Fuji F70EXR: Great reviews for image quality but it's sparse on the options. Video capabilities are crap but hey, this is a camera and I already have a pretty good camcorder. It doesn't seem to have many (any?) manual controls either. The price is right at under $200.

- Canon PowerShot SX200: This one doesn't offer quite the options of the Panasonic but it pulls ahead in image quality. It seems to fall behind the Fuji in that area though. The main issue here is that nearly everything Canon has made in the last few years below the DSLR level is junk (including their high-end consumer camcorders) in terms of build quality. I speak from experience but this is also the prevailing opinion amongst professional reviews so please no fanboy defenses. My old Canon SD870's battery life was fantastic though and it took some nice daytime shots, though the color was a bit over-saturated in true Canon fashion. (new models may have a Neutral option like their camcorders?). The price on this one is considerably higher last I checked though.


Any other recommendations? (new models?)
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Old Mar 17, 2010, 4:32 AM   #2
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That is a wide variety of shots that you will be taking. What is your knowledge in photography? The Fuji 70EXR is a very good camera in the hands of someone who knows its limitations. It will deliver far better photos in the dynamic range and in low level light situations then the SX200 or ZS3. However there is a price. To get the most out of the 70EXR you will be reducing a 10MP camera to a 5MP camera. If you can live with that and follow some of the guidelines and presets in this forum, then this is the route to go. I think the Panasonic ZS3 is a better camera then the SX200. Took test shots with both cameras and the IQ on the ZS3 was better then the SX200 (I sell cameras at a retail store). Every review that I have read, favors the ZS3 over the SX200. From my results, both Panasonic and Canon had soft images, however the ZS3 had more detail. A little unsharp mask and the ZS3 images were sharp and crisp. In summary, the ZS3 is a very good camera. Keep the ISO setting at 200 and below and you should have no problems except one. Those dusk shots you were talking about. Low ISO = slow shutter speeds = tripod. Thus we make a full circle back to the 70EXR. Far better DR = less clipping of highlights, more details in shadows, and better low light capability (higher ISO setting)....
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Old Mar 17, 2010, 12:14 PM   #3
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Thanks for the quick reply Ancientritual. My knowledge in photography is slightly higher than your typical P&S user - so pretty low.

Have you found the Panasonic to have AWB issues like their camcorders? For example, greenish skies, bluish snow and yellowish indoor shots are common when using anything but manual mode on my Panasonic camcorder. I noticed they weren't too impressed with the WB on the LX3 even.

I have also considered the Fuji F80EXR as there are a few slight improvements over the 70. Any other recommendations if we put price aside for a second? I looked at the S90 and LX3 but the halved zoom range would be a deal breaker as it's something I use frequently outdoors.
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Old Mar 17, 2010, 1:50 PM   #4
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One camera that has sparked my interest is the Ricoh CX1. A 9.29 MP camera with a CMOS sensor. This camera is built like a tank with its all metal body. Good for hiking. Zoom range is 28mm to 200mm. What is unique about this camera is the DR. It will take 2 photos and fuse them together without the reduction of MP's. Very positive reviews on this camera. If you can wait a few days I will be posting test shots and my views about this camera in the Ricoh forum here. Just bought one. The price I paid for the camera is in your range (229.00 USD) with free shipping.
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Old Mar 18, 2010, 4:08 AM   #5
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Sounds good. I'm looking forward to the test shots.
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Old Mar 22, 2010, 8:26 PM   #6
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I've been doing a lot of reading and checking image sample and I see that Panasonic's ZS3 struggles with AWB just as most (all?) of Panny's cameras and camcorders do. I really find this unacceptable for a P&S. I don't want to set manual WB every time the camera can't get it right which I know is often from my high-end consumer Panny camcorder.

The Fuji F70EXR and F200EXR both look like good options. Though the F200 has the bigger sensor and less purple fringing/CA, I did notice the images are darker than they should be and it is quite obvious when you put the images from both cams side by side. My dilemma here is whether I would notice the CA/purple fringing issues when viewing the photos at 1080p on my 50" plasma. (?) I am also a bit concerned about the IS on the Fuji cams as I have seen a lot of complaints about it.

I really like the Canon S90 as well but atm the price is way above both Fujis and I don't really know if it's justified when compared to the F200EXR in terms of IQ.
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