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Old Jul 27, 2004, 5:40 PM   #1
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A Chapter of The Nature Conservancy is looking to purchase an affordable digital camera that:
  1. has zooming options, [/*]
  2. takes photos in low, med., and high resolution, [/*]
  3. compensates for shaky hands, [/*]
  4. shutter speed is fast enough to capture moving wildlife, [/*]
  5. user friendly, [/*]
  6. good storage capabilities, [/*]
  7. takes good landscape, moving wildlife, and people shots, [/*]
  8. something under the $700 price range.[/*]
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
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Old Jul 27, 2004, 6:06 PM   #2
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Kristy:

Right now, there are only 2current camera models on the market that I think would come close to meeting your requirements (given your budget).

One is the Panasonic DMC-FZ10.

The other is the new Canon S1 IS.

These both have stabilized zoom lenses (designed to compensate for camera shake).

These have much longer zoom lenses than most cameras (380mm equivalent on the Canon, and 420mm equivalent on the Panasonic). For wildlife type shooting, a longer optical zoom can be very useful.

Now, there are two more models with anti-shake technology. One is the Minolta DiMAGE A1, and the other is the Minolta DiMAGE A2. However, neither of these models has the longer focal length (amount of zoom) that the other two have. These both have a 200mm equivalent maximum zoom.

So, I think you'd probably want the longer zoom models for wildlife.

As far as storage capacity, almost any modern digital camera accepts some type of flash memory card for storage. The type of memory card used, will vary by camera model. For example, in the case of the Pansasonic DMC-FZ10, you can get Secure Digital Cards for it. These cards are available in sizes up to 1GB now.

The Canon S1 IS uses a type of card known as CompactFlash media. These are available in very large sizes.

So, make sure you budget money for the memory cards you'll need, as well as spare rechargeable batteries. The more photos you need to store in the camera, before you transfer them to a PC, the larger the memory card you'll need. The cards that ship with the cameras, will not allow enough photos to be useful. So, you will need to purchase something larger when you buy a camera.

As far as shutter speeds, this will depend on several factors. The most important is the amount of light available. The camera must keep the shutter open long enough for proper exposure of the image. So, even if a camera can take a photo at 1/2000 second shutter speed, in most lighting conditions, you'd end up with a black image (underexposed).

The next most important thing is lens brightness. The brighter the lens, the more light can reach the image sensor, so faster shutter speeds can be used. Other things like ISO speed come into the equation. This is the sensitivity of the sensor to light. If you increase the ISO speed, you are amplifying the sensitivity of the CCD (image sensor), so you can also use faster shutter speeds. The downside of doing this is increased noise (similiar to film grain).

In the long zoom camera models within your budget, they are all roughly equivalent in this area. To do signficantly better, you must step up to a Digital SLR. These use much larger sensors, so they can shoot at higher ISO Speeds. So, combined with a bright lens, they are able to shoot in conditions that you would not be able to with a non-DSLR model. The problem is that they are well outside of your budget -- especially when you factor in the lens cost.

I would read the reviews of these models, paying close attention to the review conclusion sections.

Canon S1 IS:

http://www.steves-digicams.com/2004_reviews/s1is.html

Panasonic DMC-FZ10:

http://www.steves-digicams.com/2003_reviews/fz10.html

BTW, if you are not in a big rush, there are some brand new models with anti-shake technology that should be entering the distribution stream shortly, from both Panasonic and Minolta. For example: the new Panasonic DMC-FZ20, and the new Minolta DiMAGE Z3.

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Old Jul 27, 2004, 7:18 PM   #3
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There are several new models on the horizon with anti-shake technology:

Konica-Minolta Z3

Panasonic DMC-FZ3
Panasonic DMC-FZ15
Panasonic DMC-FZ20

Note, these are new models and haven't been reviewed yet, or may not even be available for sale yet.
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Old Jul 27, 2004, 9:01 PM   #4
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I did a little research on this as I like zoom, and was quite taken with the specs on the Z3 - expect it out in early August. It has a better lens than the Z2 - 12X instead of 10, and image stabilization. Some other new features as well, and it won't break the bank. The Panasonic cameras are also good - especially with the Leica lenses. The ones mentioned in the other post should be killer as well. Wait about a month if you can, and check out the new stuff.
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Old Jul 27, 2004, 9:26 PM   #5
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toureasy wrote:
Quote:
I did a little research on this as I like zoom, and was quite taken with the specs on the Z3 - expect it out in early August. It has a better lens than the Z2 - 12X instead of 10, and image stabilization. Some other new features as well, and it won't break the bank. The Panasonic cameras are also good - especially with the Leica lenses. The ones mentioned in the other post should be killer as well. Wait about a month if you can, and check out the new stuff.

The FZ2 has a 12X (420 mm equivalent) zoom.

They both also have image stabilization. The Z2 and Z3 are the same camera except for a few obvious differences: 3.1 MP's on the Z3, and the new Venus II engine, with some other upgraded electronics.

However, the Z3 does not, AFAIK, have the manual features of the Z2.
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Old Jul 27, 2004, 9:48 PM   #6
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tacticalnuke
You may not want to refer to the Panasonic DMC-FZ2 and DMC-FZ3 as the Z2 and Z3, as these are Konica-Minolta models (DiMAGE Z2 and DiMAGE Z3).

toureasywas discussing the new Konica-Minolta DiMAGE Z3, when referring to the differences between the Z2 and Z3. The old Z2 was 4 Megapixel model with a 10x Optical Zoom. The new Z3 is a 4 Megapixel with a 12x Optical Zoomand anti-shake technology:

http://www.steves-digicams.com/pr/minolta_07072004_z3_pr.html

Themodel numbers are so similar that it'sconfusing enough. :-)
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Old Jul 28, 2004, 6:51 AM   #7
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JimC wrote:
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tacticalnuke
You may not want to refer to the Panasonic DMC-FZ2 and DMC-FZ3 as the Z2 and Z3, as these are Konica-Minolta models (DiMAGE Z2 and DiMAGE Z3).

toureasywas discussing the new Konica-Minolta DiMAGE Z3, when referring to the differences between the Z2 and Z3. The old Z2 was 4 Megapixel model with a 10x Optical Zoom. The new Z3 is a 4 Megapixel with a 12x Optical Zoomand anti-shake technology:

http://www.steves-digicams.com/pr/minolta_07072004_z3_pr.html

Themodel numbers are so similar that it'sconfusing enough. :-)

My bad, thanks for the correction. Sorry about that toureasy.
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Old Aug 15, 2004, 4:25 PM   #8
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toureasy was discussing the new Konica-Minolta DiMAGE Z3, when referring to the differences between the Z2 and Z3. The old Z2 was 4 Megapixel model with a 10x Optical Zoom. The new Z3 is a 4 Megapixel with a 12x Optical Zoom and anti-shake technology:


Ehhh are you confusing or what.

The K-M Z3 has 4 Mpixels and 12 X zoom.
The K-M Z2 has 10 x zoom.

The panasonic probably have cameras aswell... but I don't care.
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