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Old Apr 7, 2010, 12:32 PM   #1
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Default Please help me choose a compact ulrazoom

Hi !
I need your help in choosing a compact with extra zoom. My requirements are as follows:
Need not be ultracompact
Preferably no disposable batteries ( unless the camera is outstanding in comparison to others)
Optical zoom 8-12 X
8-14 MP
HD recording
At least fair low-light snaps ( cameras I have listed below i think all take good snaps outside)
Manual controls at least some (but not that important)
Price 180-250 USD ( cheaper preferable)
Preferred models:
Panasonic FH 20 Panasonic ZR1
Sony H55 Sony H20
Canon Sx 120 ( though has disposable batteries, but no problem if it is more outstanding than others)
Canon SX 200 ( but not in my budget?)
Fuji ?? ( no personal experience with Fuji at all)

I am inclining towards FH 20 by Panasonic but a bit wary about low light results. If they are uniformly average with all of above shall definitely prefer that as is cheapest of the lot. Is it better than ZR1 which on forums is told to have issues with low light?
Also Sony H55 seems a good bet, but just released and no reviews available.
Thanks a lot for all the help
Vivek
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Old Apr 7, 2010, 1:16 PM   #2
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vivek-

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

Here in the USA the Sony H-20 gives you the best value for the money. The H-20 is price currently at $(US)199. It has the best automatic mode and the best built-in flash in the compact zoom class. It also does HD video and you can zoom while filming. There is no compact zoom camera in your price range that is really high ISO capable.

The HX5 from Sony sells for $(US)349.00 and it will do ISO 1600.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Apr 7, 2010, 1:33 PM   #3
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Default Thanks

Dear Sarah,
Thanks a lot for this prompt opinion.
I am indeed getting the camera from US only ( somebody will pick it up for me at yale) . However I do not see any site on net selling it for USD 199. if indeed it does please let me know.
H20 had been my initial choice but I saw that H55 ( newer version) was selling for same price at H20. Another point: H20 has no wide angle as compared to panasonics or H55. I am a novice so want to know if this really matters.
Would like your opinion about ZR 1 results in low light as I noticed that you have used that camera.
Any views on FH 20 by the way?
Thanks
Vivek
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Old Apr 7, 2010, 3:16 PM   #4
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Vivek-

The user reports on the Sony H-55 have not been good. The 14mp reduces the image quality substantially. I like the Panasonic ZR1 but it can only go to ISO 800 and keep its image quality. At ISO 1000, the image quality is decreasing. I have no experience with the FH20. Sorry.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Apr 8, 2010, 11:52 AM   #5
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Default Zr 1

Sarah,
Thanks for the reply. Overall I am thinking for going towards FH 20 or ZR1. Cons for FH 20 are no zooming during video and it being a non-leica lens. Plus the camera is new hardly any reviews around.
ZR 1 seems like a good buy. I understand your point about nine of these cameras being too good for low-light situations. But how does ZR 1 behave in lighted indoors ( bright and average?). What about the battery life ( per usage and overall). I shoot occasionally only so do I need to buy a n extra battery as well? Also how does the LCD behave in very bright sunlight, (there being no viewfinder)
Thanks
Vivek
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Old Apr 8, 2010, 12:46 PM   #6
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Vivek-

Yes, the Zr1 is a very good camera. You do have to add a Slave Flash to add flash power and return the indoor image quality to normal, which is an added $15 to $20 expense.

But the 8X optical zoom and the camera performance of the ZR-1 is excellent. I have attached an indoor photo sample showing how the slave flash improves the image quality.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Apr 14, 2010, 1:16 PM   #7
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Default still confused

Hi Sarah ( and others as well!),
Since your last helpful mail, I had kind of decided on zs3. Unfortunately around the same time it just started vanishing from the shelves and within two days i think, the prices have gone upto 300 USD and unfortunately outside my budget.
SO back again to searching. I am inclined toward zr1 , but is there a problem of closely spaced knobs and dials as well as loose mode dial? The other cameras I am considering are zs 1 ( still below 200), but am scared and confused about some discussion about scarce batteries for zs 1/zs3 recently. The other camera , though 70 $ more, is zs5 ( and it has got some good reviews). Any suggestions on this?
Thanks a lot
Vivek
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Old Apr 14, 2010, 2:04 PM   #8
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vivek-

I actually like the ZR1, as it is currently a very good buy at Costco for $170. Just remember the Slave Flash that I mentioned. I have no problem with the controls on my own ZR1 at all.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Apr 16, 2010, 12:41 PM   #9
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Default one quick last question

Sorry Sarah for bothering you again!
I have kind if made up my mid about zs1 or zr1. I think hd video is not so important to me as wvga of zs1 in sample videos is as good. That leaves 4 x extra optical zoom in zs1 and a newer ( perhaps better?) OIS in ZR1 besides zr1 being slightly smaller. In terms of image quality, especially indoors I suppose both are equal ( and would require slave flash as you pointed out).
SO if leaving out HD video and smaller size, is there anything else which makes it worthwhile to buy zr 1 over a bigger optical zoom of zs1?
Thanks once again
Vivek
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Old Apr 16, 2010, 1:15 PM   #10
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Vivek-

The bottom line, at least for me, is simply this: I much prefer the image quality of the ZR1 and the 2nd generation OIS to the image quality provided by the ZS1, and I own both cameras. Deciding between the two cameras is really a personal choice. For what it is worth I have stated my feelings.

I personally think that to begin chasing more optical zoom is fruitless chase. In actual practice I find that I do not use the 8X to 12X portion of the zoom all that much. I would much rather have the improved/increased image quality and the much better OIS.

Sarah Joyce
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