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Old Sep 28, 2004, 1:13 AM   #1
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Hi,

I am keen on buying an ultra zoom digital camera (in fact my first digicam ). I will be using the camera for nature, people and macro photography.

I have narrowed down to the Panasonic FZ3, the Canon S1 IS, and the Minolta Z3. The advantage of the the minolta is 4 MP and that it goes upto 1cm for macros. The Panasonic has been reviewed to be the best of the lot (in the 3MP range at least). The Panasonic Z10 is also an option (being 4 MP), but its more expensive and a bit bulkier.What I like about the canon is the stitch assist facility, the cool design and the fact that the LCD can be safely tucked away. So I am unable to make up my mind

Also as I am new to digital photography, I dont know what features I will find useful down the line and what are the things to really look out for. So please advise me on the above 3, and of course suggestions outside the 3 are also really welcome.

Thanks a lot in advance!
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Old Sep 29, 2004, 8:09 PM   #2
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Partial to the Z-3 myself. I think you're overweighting megapixels, don't worry so much about the megapixels. This camera will produce stunning 8X10s. The Venus II engine enhances resolution well beyond the megapixel rating, and the difference between 3 and 4 megapixels is insignificant imho. The 12X optical zoom is great for nature photography, I wouldn't want one with less than that (10X). I always zoom to 12X, couldn't imaginge less. You won't be disappointed. It's a great outdoor camera, and the internal flash has been improved to 17 feet (don't quote me, though.)

They're all good choices, though. Good luck.
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Old Sep 30, 2004, 1:06 AM   #3
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Hi Nick,

Thanks for the view point. I have more or less made up my mind. Just waiting for the price to fall a bit though. Here in the netherlands it is still a bit pricy. I just hope that they dont consider stopping production soon!
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Old Sep 30, 2004, 3:06 PM   #4
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Hi Sid (hope you don't mind the nickname : )

Which camera have you decided on, the FZ-3? If cost is a major consideration, don't knock the FZ-1. It can be had corrently for $250 US. You can upgrade the firmware to improve resolution and give you manual control (upgrade is a free hack available on the web...) over shutter and aperture. This makes the camera same as the FZ-2.

This is the camera I use. I am 110% satisfied with it. It produces EXCELLENT 8X10's, despite being only a 2 megapixel camera. It has the best fixed lens on the market, designed by Leica.

Good luck with your camera. And bundle up! Getting cold over there right about now...

Nick
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Old Sep 30, 2004, 4:06 PM   #5
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Here's a link about megapixels and resolution...
very good site, informative, opinionated:
http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/mpmyth.htm

Here's a link about the FZ-1 by a pro photographer who works for the Washington Post that I thought you might find interesting:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv...per/030807.htm
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Old Oct 1, 2004, 12:52 AM   #6
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Hi Nick,

I have decided on the Panasonic Z3. I am currently not very camera saavy.. so buying a Z1 andupgrading the firmware may be too technical for me right now ...anyway I really love the features offered by the Z3 (except for making panaromic photos, something that I found only the canon S1). But will surely read upfrom link you suggested.

Cheers,

Siddhartha
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Old Oct 1, 2004, 2:27 AM   #7
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One of the top UK photography magazines did a head to head test with the Canon S1, Mintola Z3 and Panasonic FZ-10 in their current issue, and concluded the Z3 was the best buy of the three. Though how that compares with the Panasonic you're getting I have no idea
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Old Oct 1, 2004, 9:11 AM   #8
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I'm on the other end of the spectrum when it comes to pixels. I have a good wide format photo printer and like large prints now. 8 X 10s just get lost on the wall. I have a FZ10 and find the 4Mp to be marginal trying to get good 13 X 19 prints of some subjects. I wouldn't likely have a great shot from the FZ10 blown up professionally to 16 X 20.

I take a lot of panoramas and don't use the stitch feature on the cameras that have it. Different stitching programs require different overlaps. I have software that will work with minimal overlap and software that evens out exposures and requires a lot of overlap. Most panoramas can be taken with a fixed exposure and require very little overlap. I like having a panorama mode that fixes the exposure with the first shot, but all panorama modes don't do that. I don't have a Canon so I can't comment on that feature. With the FZ10 I shoot most panoramas in manual mode, which is very easy to use. I would probably use manual on the S1 if I had one.

The Minolta Z3 stops down well more than a full f-stop at 12X zoom where the Panasonics stay at f2.8. Stabilization is considered to give 2 f-stops, so the Z3 defeats most of the purpose of having the stabilization for long shots in limited light. The S1 goes only to f3.1, which is almost as good as the Panasonic.

I do like the flip-out LCD. Many people prefer a larger LCD like the one on the FZ10. I make my settings in the viewfinder of any camera with an EVF, so I would personally prefer the flip-out LCD. It is good for shooting at odd angles like over your head or near the ground. It is also good for getting candid shots – if you aren't standing behind the camera aiming it at people they tend to be more natural. What would be nice would be a 2.2 inch flip-out LCD, but I don't think anyone is making one. I much prefer a larger LCD on a camera without an EVF so I can see the settings easier, but all of the long zooms have EVFs.

The FZ10 has some features I don't like, but it is excellent for telephoto photography. The flash is weak, but it has a standard hot shoe, so you can get an inexpensive automatic flash unit and get much better shots than any camera with an internal flash. There are some excellent flash units with bounce flash capability in the $30 range.

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