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Old Jan 28, 2011, 5:51 PM   #1
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Default ZS7 isn't going to work for me

I got my ZS7 the other day. I've played around with it quite a bit and decided it's not going to work for me. I was expecting less than stellar low light performance, but I honestly didn't think it would fare worse than my 5 year old canon powershot a520. The images are not acceptable to me. I love the zoom...and ironically, even the indoor, low light zoom shots turn out pretty well, if the subject is something other than a person. For some reason, details on people seem really washed out....much more so than my old camera. The outdoor shots were good, which I expected. If it was equal to my a520 indoors, I'd be okay with that. I'm really surprised...the a520 is 5 years old and only 4 megapixels...I thought every camera on the market today would outperform it!

So, now I'm back to square one. I still want more zoom than I currently have (which is 4x), but I want something that is at least equal to the a520 indoors. Any suggestions? I'm thinking about the Canon sx130. I've read a lot about the Panasonic FZ35 and 40, but I'm a little leery of Panasonic now.

Most of my pictures will be of my kids/dog/husband, etc. Most of the time, they will be outdoor shots, but I do live in Minnesota, so during the long winters, I tend to take a fair amount of indoor shots as well. I don't need something that excels indoors...it just needs to be adequate, if that makes sense. I don't take a lot of pictures of flowers, trees, etc. I'd love to hear feedback and suggestions.

Thanks!
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Old Jan 28, 2011, 7:50 PM   #2
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What is your budget? The Canon SX130 at $179 to $199 is a good candidate, and roughly the same size as your old A520 while providing 12X (28mm to 336mm) of optical zoom. It is a good family camera. With its very good built-in flash unit it will also provide good image quality indoors as well.

I am a SX130 user and like the camera a lot. I have attached a sample photo from the SX130. It is a good Panasonic alternative, if you have some qualms about Panasonic.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Jan 28, 2011, 8:35 PM   #3
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The sx130 is definitely in my budget. I would even go up to $300 or so for the right camera. I'd like something that I can use for the next 4-5 years and be happy with. The one hesitation I have about the sx130 is the batteries. I'd rather have a rechargable battery than use AA's, however, it's certainly not the most important feature. It would be nice, but it's not a deal breaker.

From what I understand, there are not any point and shoots that produce good indoor shots and also have a big zoom. Is there anything that has a medium zoom (around 8x), that also does well indoors? It would still beat my a520's zoom, but also give good indoor image quality. Just curious.

Thanks for the help! I really appreciate it!
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Old Jan 28, 2011, 10:07 PM   #4
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Finding a reasonably long zoom, good indoor image quality, and lithium ion batteries is a tough order. That is what led me to the SX130, as the best compromise. I even purchased a used Canon S-5 (AA batteries again), but that was too large and not really a good solution.

My other solution which I really like a lot that does have good indoor image quality, and a lithium ion battery is the Panasonic FZ40. But that will not work for you as yopu dislike Panasonic.

I have really searched and, at least for me, these are the two best possible cameras.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Jan 28, 2011, 11:26 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acscoggins View Post
I got my ZS7 the other day. I've played around with it quite a bit and decided it's not going to work for me. I was expecting less than stellar low light performance, but I honestly didn't think it would fare worse than my 5 year old canon powershot a520. The images are not acceptable to me. I love the zoom...and ironically, even the indoor, low light zoom shots turn out pretty well, if the subject is something other than a person. For some reason, details on people seem really washed out....much more so than my old camera. The outdoor shots were good, which I expected. If it was equal to my a520 indoors, I'd be okay with that. I'm really surprised...the a520 is 5 years old and only 4 megapixels...I thought every camera on the market today would outperform it!

So, now I'm back to square one. I still want more zoom than I currently have (which is 4x), but I want something that is at least equal to the a520 indoors. Any suggestions? I'm thinking about the Canon sx130. I've read a lot about the Panasonic FZ35 and 40, but I'm a little leery of Panasonic now.

Most of my pictures will be of my kids/dog/husband, etc. Most of the time, they will be outdoor shots, but I do live in Minnesota, so during the long winters, I tend to take a fair amount of indoor shots as well. I don't need something that excels indoors...it just needs to be adequate, if that makes sense. I don't take a lot of pictures of flowers, trees, etc. I'd love to hear feedback and suggestions.

Thanks!

It has nothing to do with the brand and everything to do with recognizing a given camera's limitations. You don't have to look much further than the specs to at least get a general idea of low light performance amongst various cameras. To keep it simple: lower numbers are better for both pixel density and aperture in terms of low light performance.

Canon A520 = 16 MP/cm² w/ an aperture of F2.6 at the wide end
Panasonic ZS7 = 50 MP/cm² w/ an aperture of F3.3 at the wide end
Canon SX130 = 42 MP/cm² w/ an aperture of F3.4 at the wide end
Panasonic FZ35 = 43 MP/cm² w/ an aperture of F2.8 at the wide end
Panasonic FZ40 = 50 MP/cm² w/ an aperture of F2.8 at the wide end
Canon SD4000 = 35 MP/cm² w/ an aperture of F2.0 at the wide end
Canon S95 = 23 MP/cm² w/ an aperture of F2.0 at the wide end
Panasonic LX5 = 24 MP/cm² w/ an aperture of F2.0 at the wide end

The FZ40 shares the ZS7's pixel density but has a slightly brighter lens. Low light performance will be equally abysmal. The SX130 isn't going to provide much low light improvement over the pair either and will perform slightly worse than the FZ35. The S95 and LX5 are obviously the best choices for low light out of the cameras listed, but the SD4000 is worth considering in order to stay within your $300 budget.

btw, if you are using iA mode on the ZS7 (or if you have intelligent ISO set to ON for any other mode), the camera attempts to detect movement and raises the ISO accordingly. Indoors, the camera will already default to a higher ISO; when shooting moving subjects, it will raise the ISO even higher so it can utilize a faster shutter speed. This would explain why moving subjects look even worse than still subjects indoors.

FYI, I own the ZS7 and in my experience, you nearly always need to use a flash indoors unless you are shooting still objects using a slow shutter. I have my ZS7 set to a maximum of ISO 400. As I shoot a lot in low light, I gave the ZS7 to my wife and purchased a Canon S95.

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Originally Posted by acscoggins View Post
From what I understand, there are not any point and shoots that produce good indoor shots and also have a big zoom. Is there anything that has a medium zoom (around 8x), that also does well indoors? It would still beat my a520's zoom, but also give good indoor image quality. Just curious.

Thanks for the help! I really appreciate it!
There are physical limitations which make that impossible without making the camera larger. Check out the Nikon P7000 which has a 7.1x zoom. It has received some mixed reviews in terms of usability issues but it has a sensor similar to the S95/LX5 in size (for low light improvements).
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Last edited by FiveO; Jan 28, 2011 at 11:29 PM.
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Old Jan 28, 2011, 11:38 PM   #6
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zoom and low light do not go hand in hand especially with tiny sensors. So if you do think you will be taking allot of indoors stuff. 4X is about the best you can do, olympus xz1, expensive but very bright lens for indoors even when the lens is at 4x it is still only 2.5 match with a larger sensor. But it is expensive.

Any of the current digicam in low light will not be that great if you do not have a 1/1.63 or 1/1.7 sensor.
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Old Jan 29, 2011, 9:24 AM   #7
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Thank you so much to all of you for your advice. I would be willing to give the Panasonic FZ35 or 40 a try, Sarah. Do you think those cameras are better indoors than the Canon SX130? I'd also be willing to spend $400 on the Canon S95 or Panasonic LX5 if they could give me what I want. For that money, though, I would want a marked improvement on indoor quality, because I'd be losing my zoom.

After looking at the chart that Five-O posted (thanks for that great info, by the way), I believe these are my options:

I could keep my ZS7 and use it for outdoors only, and use my trusty little Canon A520 for indoors. I will need to take some shots of the kids outside with the ZS7 to see how they turn out...which I will do IF the sun ever shows itself in Minnesota again!!! Because if pictures of the kids look weird even in the outdoor shots, I will know this is definitely not the camera for me. I'm wondering if this camera is best suited for taking shots of scenery rather than people.

Next option is to take the kids with me to the camera shop, and take some indoor photos of them with the FZ35/40 and the Canon SX130 (maybe the SX30, too???) and see which images turn out most to my liking. I'll give the S95 and LX5 a try, too...though I feel less compelled to buy one of those, since the zoom is important to me.

Sorry...I know my thinking is all over the place. For me, this is a big decision...it's not a small amount of money, so I want to be happy with my purchase. I'm keeping an open mind to all my options, and hopefully something will stand out when I go to the camera store.

Thanks again to all of you for being so helpful.
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Old Jan 29, 2011, 10:33 AM   #8
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The LX5 or S95 would be better, but not by a huge measure at all. Likewise the FZ35 or FZ50 will only be better by a small measure. So you see "better" is really a relative term.

If you go to the LX5 or S95 the gain is really small camera size.

If you go to the SD4000 the gain is also a very pocketable camera.

If you go to the FZ35 or Fz40 the gain is really extra zoom.

The SX130 still represents a very good compromise while keeping the price lower.

All have very good image quality.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Jan 29, 2011, 12:11 PM   #9
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I sympathize with your concerns about a new camera. I've tried several including the Canon 130 and have been surprised and disappointed that my people shots indoors (with and without flash) have been soft. Especially if I were trying a group shot. I also got artcfacts or halos around faces on some candid group photos of my knitting group.
I am beginning to think that auto face recognition is the culprit. Or maybe it is the longer zoom!!!
You will probably go thru a lot of trial cameras before you find one that suits your photographing needs. At first I was embarrased to keep returning cameras but as I read the threads here I've gotten courage to keep trying and not settle for something less than I want.
My latest one is a Sony HX1. I haven't downloaded photos yet so I can't comment about it.
My old digi camera continued to limp along and take better shots but it is kaput now.
One of my requirements is a camera I can hold in my arthritic hands. So several smaller cameras are not on my list too try.
Good luck.

I will keep reading this thread to see what you might choose.
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Old Jan 29, 2011, 12:39 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FiveO View Post
It has nothing to do with the brand and everything to do with recognizing a given camera's limitations. You don't have to look much further than the specs to at least get a general idea of low light performance amongst various cameras. To keep it simple: lower numbers are better for both pixel density and aperture in terms of low light performance.

Canon A520 = 16 MP/cm² w/ an aperture of F2.6 at the wide end
Panasonic ZS7 = 50 MP/cm² w/ an aperture of F3.3 at the wide end
Canon SX130 = 42 MP/cm² w/ an aperture of F3.4 at the wide end
Panasonic FZ35 = 43 MP/cm² w/ an aperture of F2.8 at the wide end
Panasonic FZ40 = 50 MP/cm² w/ an aperture of F2.8 at the wide end
Canon SD4000 = 35 MP/cm² w/ an aperture of F2.0 at the wide end
Canon S95 = 23 MP/cm² w/ an aperture of F2.0 at the wide end
Panasonic LX5 = 24 MP/cm² w/ an aperture of F2.0 at the wide end

The FZ40 shares the ZS7's pixel density but has a slightly brighter lens. Low light performance will be equally abysmal. The SX130 isn't going to provide much low light improvement over the pair either and will perform slightly worse than the FZ35. The S95 and LX5 are obviously the best choices for low light out of the cameras listed, but the SD4000 is worth considering in order to stay within your $300 budget.

btw, if you are using iA mode on the ZS7 (or if you have intelligent ISO set to ON for any other mode), the camera attempts to detect movement and raises the ISO accordingly. Indoors, the camera will already default to a higher ISO; when shooting moving subjects, it will raise the ISO even higher so it can utilize a faster shutter speed. This would explain why moving subjects look even worse than still subjects indoors.

FYI, I own the ZS7 and in my experience, you nearly always need to use a flash indoors unless you are shooting still objects using a slow shutter. I have my ZS7 set to a maximum of ISO 400. As I shoot a lot in low light, I gave the ZS7 to my wife and purchased a Canon S95.



There are physical limitations which make that impossible without making the camera larger. Check out the Nikon P7000 which has a 7.1x zoom. It has received some mixed reviews in terms of usability issues but it has a sensor similar to the S95/LX5 in size (for low light improvements).
Five-O...a question for you...I have set my ISO at max400. Is there a way to decrease the amount of pixels it uses? Because wouldn't that decrease the pixel density and result in somewhat better images? Not sure if it's possible or not, but since you own the camera, I thought you might know. Thanks!
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