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Old Aug 27, 2004, 12:29 PM   #1
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Hello all,

I have specific needs in mind, and I have been looking at cameras like the Canon S1 IS and the Minolta Z2 and Z10.

What I don't like about the Minoltas is no Image Stabilization.

I have the following needs:
  • At least 3.2 mpxl, prefer 4but not critical. I don't really needabove 4. [/*]
  • Zoom: 8x or more [/*]
  • Image Stabilization [/*]
  • Sturdy manufacturing; I don't want a flimsy or ultra-delicate camera [/*]
  • Fast auto-focus [/*]
  • Lots of manual-control options, I'm not a point-n-shoot kind of person. But I would like it to be good enough for quick point-n-shoot shots as well [/*]
  • Color quality - I can do all the post-processing I need in Photoshop which I do often. However, I want the image quality to be very good from the camera. The less processing I need to do, the happier I will be. [/*]
  • Long-lasting battery life. My old (VERY) Fuji eats 4 AAs in about 1 hour of use. [/*]
  • Reasonably fast startup time (up to3 seconds or so) [/*]
  • Reasonably fast time between shots (not more than 1 second) [/*]
  • Absolutely MUST be very good in low-light, indoors and out. [/*]
  • I may or may not end up printing a lot of photos in the future. I'm sure I will want to print the occasional 5x7, perhaps a lot more in the future if the camera is really good. I doubt I would need 8x10 except on rare occasion.[/*]
With regard to Video - I don't even really need it but every camera these days seems to do it anyway, so why not.

Price: I am not interested in spending more than around $400. This is quite a loose measure because I have seen plenty of cameras that retail for $400 I can find for barely over $300 so I can worry about price later. My point is a $600 camera is out of the question.

What I have liked so far:

Konica-Minolta Z2 & Z10 DiMAGE.
But they don't have IS, so I am not pleased with that.

Canon Poweshot S1 IS. I've read pretty good things about it. I have gotten recommendation for it. There are some image quality issues which are able to be adjusted for. The open-up type of LCD seems a bit weird, but for regular photo shots I usually prefer the optical viewfinder anyway. I suppose the LCD position is beneficial for doing video. Any thoughts on this?

Someone also suggested the PanasonicLumix FZ20. However, 1) I don't like Panasonic too much, and 2) it just does not seem to be exceptional in any one area at all, much less all areas.

Anyone who can offer me suggestions, I would appreciate it.

Some last thoughts:

One of the things I like in a camera is a well-thought-out design. One that is going to last a long time, without little minor design flaws that allow the camera to become damaged easily, etc. I'm not going to take the camera into a war zone or anything, but I've seen some camera's that have protruding lenses that are not properly housed when shut off. This, in my opinion, is damage waiting to happen. Things like that. I want this to be reliable and shoot quality images above all the bells & whistles.

I've also read on many camera specs that they have light-assistance for low lighting. I'm not sure I recall exactly the term for it, but the flash bulb helps illuminate dark shots during video. This would be helpful too.

Thank you so much for any advice you can give me.

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Old Aug 27, 2004, 12:58 PM   #2
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I've just read a bit about the KM Z3. Any opinions on that?
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Old Aug 27, 2004, 2:13 PM   #3
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The Z3 is f4.5 at 12X, so you are losing a good bit of the advantage you gain from stabilization. That is well over an f-stop less light than the FZ10 lets in. Stabilization doesn't help at all for subject motion, so it wouldn't be very good at telephoto for sports or action.

You might look at the S1 again. It is f3.1 at 10X and seems to take good pictures. The articulating LCD fits in the back just like any other for normal use. It is good for taking pictures over your head or near the ground. You can shoot around objects easier and they are great for getting candid shots of people. They don't tend to pose when you aren't standing behind a camera pointing it at them. It doesn't have an assist lamp but Steve says it focuses well in low light.

I'm not familiar with a built-in movie light in digital cameras. The better assist lamps anymore are red or IR so you don't get squinting subjects or have to turn off the lamp before taking the picture. That wouldn't be much good for movies. Even the white ones don't have an even enough light distribution for movies. There are some external flash units that have a light for focus that might be used for movies, but only the Panasonic has a generic hot shoe of the cameras you mentioned. The Z3 has a proprietary one but you have to use a pricey Minolta flash, and none of those have lights I know of.

I have a FZ10 and it isn't a sterling low light performer. The FZ20 has an assist lamp and might be better. I haven't seen a review yet, but the FZ20 seems to have rectified the problems. The flash is more powerful and it has an assist lamp. You say you don't see anything exceptional in the camera, but that Leica 12X lens that is f2.8 throughout the range is truly exceptional. I would wait for some good reviews before considering it though.

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Old Aug 27, 2004, 2:34 PM   #4
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The image stabilization I understand is not for moving targets. But the reason I want it is for moving me! I don't have the best steady hand, and just that little bit of stabilization that it will provide is exactly what I need.

I also recognize the issue that you mentioned with the high zoom. I won't likely go all the way to 12x so often. I really don't care about anything more than about 8x or 10x. The Z3 has it, so ok, it will be available. But I don't really expect the stabilization to be remarkable at that kind of mag.

I appreciate your info very much. I will look into the units you mentioned.

Thanks!
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Old Aug 27, 2004, 2:39 PM   #5
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All in all, between the Lumix FZ20, the Minolta Z3, or the Canon S1 IS, what would you recommend if my priority is quality shots, stabilization, battery life and good dark-environment shots?

Thanks.
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Old Aug 27, 2004, 3:23 PM   #6
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Looks like I am deciding on the Z3 because of one small teeny factor I had not realized:

The Lumix FZ20 is $600!

Thanks for all the help.
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