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Old Oct 9, 2010, 6:09 PM   #1
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Default Upgrading but not quite ready for a DSLR?

Hi everybody!

I've been reading reviews and this forum and basically everything I can get my hands on for the last week and somehow I still feel a bit lost and could use some advice. I'm mainly looking for a camera with excellent image quality and don't have any need for video recording or super long zooming.

I had been thinking of getting an entry level DSLR but being a first-time mom to a six month old baby I don't think I have the time to really learn how to use it correctly and I'm afraid that I would just always have it on auto mode and never take advantage of all of the tricks it has to offer. (***Please reassure me that I shouldn't get a DSLR camera if I'm just going to use it on auto-mode)

A friend of mine suggested looking at the super-zoom class as she said those were a good level between traditional point-and-shoot cameras and the DSLRs. I temporarily decided on the Panasonic FZ35 but after thinking it over I don't think I have any need for that much zoom or for the video recording aspect. (We have a flipcam that serves it's purpose just fine)

I currently have a Canon SD1100IS and am pretty happy with the quality of our pictures as well as it's speed, but after comparing them to the pictures my friend takes with her DSLR I've decided to try to upgrade to something better. I realize I won't be able to take pictures that look like that, but I'm really hoping to find a camera that is a noticeable big step up form the SD1100IS that I have now.

I've narrowed my list down to the Panasonic FZ35, the ZS5, or the Canon SX20IS, SX130IS or S95.

Again, mainly concerned with picture quality and not so much with long zooms or video recording capabilities. I would like to keep the cost well under $500 but if there is a perfect camera out there for me I'm willing to spend more.

I would mainly be using this camera for taking pictures (printing 4X6s and a few 5X7's) of our baby around the house, at the park/zoo, family events etc. It would be great if the camera was fairly easy to use as right now I can mainly only manage things like zooming in/out, turning the flash on/off and switching to macro mode. I'd like to gradually learn how to take better pictures with adjusting options and things but right now i don't have a lot of extra time for experimentation.

Last thing... obviously smaller size would be preferred, but if it takes a larger camera to get better image quality then I'm willing to get a bigger camera. (though, I love the tiny size of our SD1100IS)

Thanks again for any advice or suggestions!
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Old Oct 9, 2010, 7:44 PM   #2
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Well... I just got my FZ35 yesterday and I have posted a handful of pictures in the Panasonic folder if you want to take a look at them ... so far they've all been taken on the automatic settings so yes, VERY easy to use 18X zoom sounds like a lot but it's not actually all that extreme - but it's definitely enough to zoom in across the yard or across the room and get a nice shot.
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Old Oct 9, 2010, 7:47 PM   #3
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Well... I just got my FZ35 yesterday and I have posted a handful of pictures in the Panasonic folder if you want to take a look at them ... so far they've all been taken on the automatic settings so yes, VERY easy to use 18X zoom sounds like a lot but it's not actually all that extreme - but it's definitely enough to zoom in across the yard or across the room and get a nice shot.
Thanks Kaaryn! That's good to know about the zoom... I'm not really familiar with zoom terms so I was thinking maybe the 18X was over the top. ;-) I was hoping to find a camera that didn't have the video recording extras, but I guess pretty much all of them come with that built in now.

Do you know anything about the other ones I mentioned? I'm wondering if they compare to the FZ35. I think I've read in places that often times cameras with bigger zooms don't do as well indoors. Not sure though.
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Old Oct 9, 2010, 8:29 PM   #4
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Kim-

The ability of a camera to provide better indoor image quality is more related to the size and power of the camera's built-in flash unit and the distance from camera to subject. The Panasonic ZS-5, and the Canon SX-210, have smaller and less powerful built-in flash units. The Canon SX-130 and the Canon S-95 have larger and more powerful built-in flash units. So therefore, with the camera to subject distances remaining within a distance of 10 to 12 feet, the Canon SX-130 and S-95 will provide better indoor image quality.

Another defining issue will be the camera's ability to make use of higher ISO settings while retaining image quality in lowly lighted photo environments. Here the Canon S-95 will be the winner. It uses a measurably larger imager with lower pixel density, while the FZ-35, ZS5, SX-210, and SX-130 use less efficient, more pixel dense, and physically smaller imagers.

The other defining issue will be zoom. The S-95 has more ISO capability, but less zoom than the other cameras you have mentioned. The best compromise camera choice, in my opinion, would probably be the Canon SX-130, followed by the FZ-35 which offers 12X and 18X optical zoom. The SX-130 has a most powerful built-in flash that will enhance indoor image quality, followed by the FZ-35 which has a slightly less poweful built-in flash unit.

Sarah Joyce

Last edited by mtclimber; Oct 9, 2010 at 8:35 PM.
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Old Oct 9, 2010, 8:32 PM   #5
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If you want great image quality, a larger sensor camera would be the best way. If you do not want to move up to a dslr, the larger sensor point and shoot bridge cameras are one option. Something like a canon g11/12 or nikon p7000. They will give much better image quality indoors especially. And since you do not need a big zoom. It will be a simple camera to use.


To get even better image quality, and great low light performance something like a m/43 camera would work nicely. About the some price of a g12 and p7000, the olympus epl-1. Again very easy to used in auto, iauto and scene modes. With the option to go full manual if you feel light progressing further.

The FZ's are nice, but it will really not give you any increase in IQ over what you already have, just more reach.
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Old Oct 9, 2010, 8:44 PM   #6
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Thanks so much for the explanation, Sarah! We will definitely be taking a good majority of our pictures indoors so that is really nice to know. Right now with my SD1100 I've been just trying to take my indoor photos near windows with lots of natural light to avoid needing the flash. Anytime I use the flash it makes the pictures look quite bad. Not sure if that is specific to this camera or to me since I don't have very good photography skills.

In your opinion, where does the FZ35 fall into the mix? I've been reading lots of posts about it and it sounds like it may be more complicated that I'm ready for. I'm afraid that if the camera is too complicated to use that I would be less likely to actually use it.

So, if I upgraded to the SX-130 do you think I would notice a big difference in image quality as compared to my current Canon SD-1100? That's sort of a big concern of mine that I'll upgrade and find that my non-photography-pro eye will not notice the difference.
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Old Oct 9, 2010, 8:48 PM   #7
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FZ will be in the same boat as your camera, you will need to accept flash wash for indoor shots. As high iso shooting will yield lower image quality. All the 1/2.23 sensor cameras really do not perform well past 800iso. So you will need to use a flash for indoor shooting.
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Old Oct 9, 2010, 8:54 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shoturtle View Post
If you want great image quality, a larger sensor camera would be the best way. If you do not want to move up to a dslr, the larger sensor point and shoot bridge cameras are one option. Something like a canon g11/12 or nikon p7000. The will give much better image quality indoors especially. And since you do not need a big zoom. I will be a simple camera to use.


To get even better image quality, and great low light performance something like a m/43 camera would work nicely. About the some price of a g12 and p7000, the olympus epl-1. Again very easy to used in auto, iauto and scene modes. With the option to go full manual if you feel light progressing further.

The FZ's are nice, but it will really not give you any increase in IQ over what you already have, just more reach.
Shoturtle, please forgive me if I have dumb questions... I am still learning what a lot of this lingo means. When you say that the FZ will not give much increase in IQ but just more reach... does that mean that my photos wouldn't be all that much better quality, but that I could just take them from farther away because it has bigger zoom capabilities?

I'm going to check out the ones you mentioned! Thanks for the suggestions.
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Old Oct 9, 2010, 8:56 PM   #9
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Actually its quite easy to use Kim. It can be as easy or as advanced as you want it to be. Its a bridge camera - falling right inbetween compacts and dslrs so you can use programmable auto mode (which is auto mode which lets you program a few things like not too much noise, you would prefer pictures with contrast or sharpness, etc) which works great when you don't have time to change major settings. However if you realize you have time, it has many dials which you can pick and choose the right setting for the situation. Also the best part is, it comes with 1 lens that you never ever have to change so you don't have to bother carrying a huge camera bag with lenses for the proper occasion.

It really does take great pictures. Here are some of mine: http://forums.steves-digicams.com/pa...orth-east.html

Also I suggest not getting scared with zoom numbers. Longer zooms can cause image quality problems at times. There will have to be a sacrifice made somewhere but the FZ35 seems to fall right at the sweet spot of image quality, price and performance. And you can always use it as a bridge to learning the more complex settings and get a dslr later. That's my plan anyways.
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Old Oct 9, 2010, 8:59 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shoturtle View Post
FZ will be in the same boat as your camera, you will need to accept flash wash for indoor shots. As high iso shooting will yield lower image quality. All the 1/2.23 sensor cameras really do not perform well past 800iso. So you will need to use a flash for indoor shooting.
"Flash wash"... I wasn't sure what to call it but that is definitely what my current flash on the SD1100 does indoors. Very disappointing especially if there is no sunny window nearby and I'm forced to use it. Completely distorts the whole picture.

Another question from a newbie... do you shoot at higher ISO if you are indoors with less light? Does the higher ISO allow you to have less need for the flash? But in exchange for using higher ISO you get lower image quality?

Would the cameras that you suggested still need flash commonly indoors?
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