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Old Aug 24, 2004, 4:59 PM   #1
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Hi,

I take pictures (w/ a regular brick shaped 35mm)of my children's birthdays, our vacations, and occasionally I try to catch my kids in an innocent moment around the house or yard. I'd love to get a nice upclose shot of my son's faceto print in B/W (is Macro mode best for that or only for smaller objects?). Having checked various sites for prices and then coming back here for reviews, I've been learning about some of the features available. What I'm unable to figure out is if I really need 4MP to be able toget nice quality (let's say 8x10 max) prints. Would a high quality lens on a 3.2MP create a better image than on a lesser 4MP?

The idea of extended zoom apeals to me very much, but is it a waste w/o image stabilization? My budget is at about $300, thus IS looks out of my reach unless I go with 3.2 MP. I don't really care if the cam has 30 fps movie modewith audio, not that it would upset me.

After all of the researching, I'm becoming much more interested in getting a camera I can grow into and actually turn off the "Auto" mode a few times so I can learn how to take some nice pics. So far it looks like theCanon SI IS, the Kodak DX6490 (when it's on sale), theDX7440,the Z10and thenew Fuji S3100 are all possibilities. Has any body used the S3100 yet, I'd love to hear some opinions. It almost looks like it's under priced ($230? I don't get it).

Obviously image quality is my #1 priority.

I guess deep down I want A Z3 but can't afford it.

Thank you for any and all of your opinions!!!!!
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Old Aug 25, 2004, 9:39 AM   #2
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First to answer some questions:

- macro is for very close work on small objects, to get close up of kids you need a long telephoto.

- Long zooms have been around for a long time without image stabilization, you just need a tripod, monopod or something to brace the camera against. IS is great but if it is not in the budget don't worry, just adapt. A longer zoom is definitely not a waste.

- The image quality difference between 3.2MP and 4MP will not be noticed in 4" X 6" prints and barely noticed in 8" X 10" (a good 3.2MP camera will give better 8X10s than a lower quality 4MP since lens sharpness and other factors are also part of the equation)

As for the cameras you have listed the Canon S1 IS is probably the most expensive because of the IS, it is one of the best 3.2MP cameras out there. The LCD is articulated but somewhat small.

The Kodak DX6490 has a great lens and 4MP but it uses a compression scheme which sometimes (but rarely)shows up on prints. This is also a very good camera but no IS. A big plus is that it can add an external flash. Itrequires a proprietary battery which you may consider a plus or a minus. It also has a very large LCD.

If the Fuji S3100 carries on the tradition of the 2800Z, 3800 and S3000 it will offer excellent image quality but very little manual control. I like these cameras but they do not offer much room for growth due to the control limitations. The new S5100 coming soon may be worth a look but there is a great deal of controversy over the S5000 vs new S5100.

The Konica Minolta Z10 shows the greatest promise for your criteria, it is a very fast camera (quick start up and minimum shutter lag), Has a decent 8X zoom and is priced about the same as the Fuji S3100 despite having much more exposure control.

On a budget, with kids to photograph I like the Z10 (on paper at least). I wish I could say more but I have only had experience with the Canon, Kodak and the earlier Fuji 2800Z (a 2MP model). These are all good cameras but the K/Minolta (on Paper) sounds like the winner.

Do not base your purchase on this alone, read Steve's conclusions for each model and check out the sample images.

Ira


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Old Aug 25, 2004, 2:05 PM   #3
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Thanks Ira!

I've been using Steve's reviews often. I noticed that I can get the Z1 and the Z10 for the same exact price,the 10x zoom is enticing but the Z10 looks like there's improved movie mode features (like audio). I'm not as interested in shooting movies as I am in good pictures. So is the Z1 a better choice, or are there other differences that make the Z10 a better choice? Thanks again!

Adam


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Old Aug 25, 2004, 2:47 PM   #4
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The Z1 had some picture quality issues that were solved with the Z2, I think it would be reasonable to assume that the Z10 would be at least as good in picture quality and make up for the shorter zoom by providing more speed.

Just think about it, the typical two zoom, high quality, 35mm SLR kit probably only covers 28mm to 200mm, the Z10 by itself covers 36mm to 290mm and there is an accessory wide angle lens that extends that to about 26mm (I think). Most wildlife photographers usually only use a 300mm. A typical pair of7 power binoculars are the functional equivalent to 350mm. As you can see, an 8X zoom is pretty impressive, especially for the uses you have noted.

Ira
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Old Aug 25, 2004, 4:56 PM   #5
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Thanks again.

So judging by what you've said, I can get the nice 8'' x 10'' prints I want from a good 3.2 MP camera. This leads me to thinkthatI should also be looking into the Olympus C-740, Pentax Optio MXand other 3.2 MPextended zoom cameras.

Also, I was wondering what the controversy was regarding the Fuji S5100 vs. S5000. Can You elaborate?
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Old Aug 26, 2004, 7:22 AM   #6
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Hi

About the Fuji S5*00, here is a brief history of the issue, reading the reviews of the S5000 and the specs for the upcoming S5100/S5500 (name changes depending on where you are) gives this general impression.

About a year ago the S5000 was introduced as a very professional "looking" digicam. The performance looked impressive on paper, 3.1MP super CCD HR with 6MP interpolated, 5 frame burst mode (with continuous EVF viewing), RAW capture, AF assist beam,10X zoom lens, etc... Then the reviews started, the Super CCD HRhad a minimum ISO of 200 and displayed lots of noise, add to that the fact that there was no control over compression and the result was overcompressed images (less than half the size of image files for my Pentax) only the interpolated RAW (doesn't that sound like an oxymoron) format was available uncompressed. It is a good camera but it could have been great.

This year Fuji is launching the S5100/S5500 and it has addressed many of the shortcomings of the original design. The biggest change is that the Super CCD HRis gone, replaced by a conventional 4MP CCD, this has resulted in lower ISO values available and they now have quality settings for compression (instead of the single value used in all but the interpolated mode on the S5000). On the negative side the new chip has resulted in slower processing and the burst mode is now only 3 or 4 shots. This sounds like a better camera to me, Fuji cameras with conventional CCDs have always given good results, however, to many of the Finepix faithful this appears to be a step backwards. Fans of the S5000 have been hounding Fuji for a firmware upgrade for their cameras which would fix the compression issue (the real problem since it was an unfortunate design decision on the part of Fuji) instead Fuji abandons the Super CCD HR (in this model at least) and brings out a new camera. Many saw this as a lack of customer support from Fuji, maybe it was, or maybe the problem couldn't be fixed in firmware.

My take on the whole issue is simple, the S5000 is a great camera, but don't expect DSLR results just because it looks like a DSLR. It has a very well featured set of manual controls (except for the control over compression) and is an absolute joy to use. For the posers out there it also has a professional look. I would buy one if I could afford it. Having said that I think the replacement is even better, I like the idea of a RAW mode which is not interpolated and the smaller burst capacity is not an issue unless you use it alot (I rarely use it on any of my cameras, film included).

If there are any Fuji fans reading this you can express your opinion, mine is only based on my readings.

One last comment, the S5000 is so popular in some markets that it has its own web site with forum http://www.s5000.net/ which is sometimes difficult to load, like the camera it appears to be a little quirky at times.

Ira
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Old Aug 26, 2004, 3:23 PM   #7
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OK thank you.

It just so happens that the S5000 is on sale this week and now falls in my price range (the top of it). How does it stack up vs the Z10? I'm wondering if I should jump on it. ($299)

I don't reallly understand what a "3.1MP super CCD HR with 6MP interpolated" means to/for me (remember ignorant & poor). If it's a 6mp sensor then why isn't it a 6mp camera? I'm lost...sorry ifI'm annoying you.
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Old Aug 26, 2004, 5:14 PM   #8
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Lots of folks here on forum that are Kodak 6490 owners speak highly of its pics and performance.

You may want to visit the Kodak topic on Steve's forum.

Good luck


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Old Aug 26, 2004, 6:14 PM   #9
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Miggy wrote:
Quote:
I don't reallly understand what a "3.1MP super CCD HR with 6MP interpolated" means to/for me (remember ignorant & poor). If it's a 6mp sensor then why isn't it a 6mp camera? I'm lost...sorry ifI'm annoying you.
It's not a 6 Megapixel Sensor, it's a 3 Megapixel Sensor.

Fuji is interpolating the output up to 6 Megapixels. Interpolation is a method of adding pixels to the image that were not captured by the sensor, by looking at the values of adjacent pixels. Interpolation does not increase the detail captured -- it only adds pixels based on the values of adjacent pixels (which can be helpful for large print sizes).

It resolves no more detail compared to other 3 Megapixel Models on a resolution chart with equivalent lenses and image processing.

You can accomplish the same thing using software later (Interpolation) with images from other cameras (if you really need to increase the resolution for very large prints to prevent pixelation). I use a free software package called Irfanview for interpolating images (which I don't need to do very often).


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Old Aug 27, 2004, 9:09 AM   #10
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Thank you, digcamfan and JimC!

The DX6490 looks nice and my friend has an older model from 2 or3 years ago that he has taken some really niceshots with (not sure of the model but it's 10x opt and 4MP Kodak). Unfortunately at this time it's probably out of my price range (at $399 +need memory). However, I started this quest looking to stay under $180 for a 3MP and have since "expanded" my criteria (about $300 limit). Who knows, by the time I make up my mind prices may have dropped (or I'll have saved more $$)!

JimC - thanks for the explanation. After posting my question I was searching around and noticed you have clarified this issue before, feeling like a broken record yet?

Anyway, thanks again.
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