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Old Aug 5, 2010, 4:48 PM   #1
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Default Next best option for speed & zoom, after DSLRs?

Hi, I've been researching for a new camera... and getting myself thoroughly confused in the process! Part of the problem is that I have very limited technical knowledge about cameras and photography, and so even though I'm trying to do the research, much of the info is pretty meaningless to me.... I'm hoping you guys might be able to shed some light and help me out with some suitable suggestions

I currently own a Sony DSC N1. It has 3x optical zoom, 8.1MP, and I'm not sure what the specs are in terms of shutter lag/speed.

I take my camera almost everywhere, and use it nearly ever day, merrily snapping away at my three lively toddlers - both indoors and outdoors. I never fiddle with manual functions, I just point and shoot - and hope I haven't missed the moment due to shutter lag! I rarely print bigger than 6x4.

The main priorities for my new camera:

SPEED
I've been reasonably happy with my Sony, but I've had it for nearly 5 yrs so I would assume there are faster cameras out there now - in terms of start up, taking a single shot, and successive shot to shot. Or am I mistaken about this?

ZOOM
I'm finding the 3x optical zoom a bit inadequate... but I'm not sure how much bigger a zoom I should be looking at? Mostly need the added zoom for school concerts, the odd bit of safari (we live in South Africa), school sports, etc. Will 10x be sufficient? Will it be a noticeable improvement over my current 3x, or will the difference be negligible? Or should I rather consider 20x?

I've played around on a Canon 550D and LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the speed and responsiveness! BUT, I've decided not to go the DSLR route, because (a) the manual functions will be wasted on me (not due to lack of interest, but with three busy toddlers, I really don't have the time right now...), and (b) they are just too big for me - I don't feel comfortable walking around with something so bulky... need something a bit more compact and portable for every day use. (Note: doesn't have to be super small, but not DSLR big either.)

So, having ruled out DSLRs, what's the next best thing in terms of speed and zoom? (Budget not really an issue.)

My research is throwing all sorts of new concepts at me: bridge, EVIL micro 4/3.... Do these type of cameras offer more speed/responsiveness than a P&S?

I've also been reading up about how bigger zoom = slower responsiveness/poorer IQ (unless there is a big enough sensor)... Given my fairly amateur status, will any of this be relevant to me? Will I even notice? And it seems that the cameras with the bigger image sensors often don't have much zoom - Canon S90/G11, Pan LX3/5?

I'm basically looking for something that is going to be a noticeable improvement over my current camera - in terms of speed and zoom capability; the best I can buy, short of a DSLR. Any suggestions??

Many thanks in advance!
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Old Aug 5, 2010, 5:42 PM   #2
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BWP-

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

To begin to sort this out for you we have to ask some questions:

(1) What is the budget that you have for this new camera?

(2) How much zoom do you desire?

To help separate camera classes, cameras like the S-90/G-11/LX3/LX5/EX-1 fall into a class called "prosumer cameras Super zoom cameras like the FZ-35/SX-20 fall into a class called super zoom or bridge cameras. EVIL/m4/3 fall into the same broad class of cameras. However, in large measure, price also separates these classes of cameras.

One camera that has received good reviews is the Kodak Z-950 which sells for around $130 and offers 12mp, 10X optical zoom, and HD video and yes, you can zoom while filming.

P+S cameras generally do not produce good image quality at high ISO settings. Cameras with a larger than normal imager do somewhat better in a low light level photo environments. Those cameras would be the S-90/G-11/LX3/LX5/EX-1, but that have limited zoom capabilities, which might not work for you.

EVIL/m4/3 cameras in some cases, can utilize higher ISO settings. For example, the Olympus EPL-1, quite like a DSLR, can utilize ISO settings up to ISO 2000. However, these cameras are correspondingly more expensive to purchase.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Aug 6, 2010, 2:02 PM   #3
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Thanks for your reply. Budget is not really an issue. I'm willing to pay top dollar to get the right camera for my needs.

Main priority is speed/responsiveness and improved zoom - but not sure how much zoom I'll need? School concerts, school sports, the odd bit of safari shooting? Will a 10x optical zoom be sufficient, or will I need to look at bigger "super zoom" cameras - or will that be an overkill for my needs? (I currently only have 3x optical zoom.)

Any further suggestions will be much appreciated - thanks!
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Old Aug 6, 2010, 3:34 PM   #4
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BWP-

Thanks for clarifying things for us. Based on your response, you might consider the Olympus EPL-1 camera. If you purchase the EPL-1, all you need to add is the Panasonic 40-200mm lens and you have would have more than 14X optical zoom, along with the capability to go to ISO 2000 to handle those school play shots.

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Old Aug 6, 2010, 4:08 PM   #5
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The next best things is a EVIL camara like the olympus epl-1 as an example.
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Old Aug 7, 2010, 2:22 PM   #6
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Thanks for the info. I will definitely try to get my hands on the EPL1 and see how it feels, etc.

Any other suggestions? Would really like to have a few more to compare...

I've been researching for about a week now, and it feels as if I'm going 'round in circles Half the problem is that I'm not sure what 'group' camera I should be looking at - top end P&S, travel zoom, super zoom, bridge, EVIL, m4/3???? All I've established in a week of research is that DSLRs are ruled out because they are too bulky (and the manual functions will be wasted on me - I prefer to shoot in auto mode).

I'm still not clear on what sort of zoom range will be adequate for my needs? (school concerts, school sports, odd bit of safari - bearing in mind I am currently using only 3x optical zoom!) Am I right in assuming that anything from about 10x will be suitable... or do I need to look at 20x?

And I'm still not clear on this issue: are bridge, EVIL, 4/3 generally quicker than P&S (in terms of taking a single shot.... and also shot-to-shot)?

I don't have budget restrictions, but I still want to be sensible about this... no point in getting a camera with all the bells and whistles, if it's an over-kill for my needs.

I just want something that's:
- reasonably compact (doesn't have to be super small)
- noticeably faster than my Sony DSC N1 (i.e. noticeable to me, the amateur!)
- with suffiecient zoom to cope with the odd bit of travelling, school concerts and school sports

So many questions! Feels like I could ask another hundred more ;-)

Thanks for your patience!
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Old Aug 7, 2010, 3:02 PM   #7
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BWP-

As speed seems to be the recurring theme in your posts, I think it is time to look at entry level DSLR cameras. Take a look at the Pentax Kx, the Canon T-1i, and the Nikon D-5000 or D-90 cameras. That will be a good place to start looking.

DSLR cameras have some of the fastest set-up for a shot times, shot to shot times, and burst modes.

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Old Aug 7, 2010, 3:28 PM   #8
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If keeping the size or the camera down, you can also look at the panasonic GF1, but it is not as good in low light, toping out at 800iso.

Then there are the APS-c EVIL's like the samsung NX10, which is a little bigger, it a decent camera, and offers allot of control.

And then there is the sony NX's they are new, but are a bit of a pain to uses with the gui, and the lenses are not quite up to par with the m4/3 evil's or the samsung.

The 2 smallest compact dslr to also look at is the olympus e620 and the pentax k-x. But they are larger options, but are faster in the AF department as Sarah mention

shot to shot is about the same with entry level dslr about 3fps in burst with the evil cameras. And about the same with a entry level dslr on first shot speed once focus is acquired
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Last edited by shoturtle; Aug 8, 2010 at 3:39 AM.
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