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Old Jan 22, 2005, 2:06 PM   #1
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I'm trying to work out what I'm better off getting. Go for megapixels or optical zoom? Most photos taken will be of my two young boys so lots of candid unposed photos there... I wont be enlarging many photos, but would like the option to be there if I get a great photo and want it up on the wall in a big frame (wouldn't do it bigger than 8 x 10). I like to use the zoom function on my old camera. Not wanting to spend more than $700 (australian). One thing I don't like about most digital cameras is that there is a time delay b/n pushing button and the picture being taken, so I'd like a camera with a fast time. Camera will be used indoors and outdoors. Looking at the sony cybershot DSC W1 for 5 megapixels and 3x optical zoom, or the Canon Powershot S1 IS with 3 megapixels but 10x optical zoom. I don't have very steady hands and am aware that higher optical zoom creates more hand shake, which the canon S1 IS takes into account. Have read about the panasonic DMC FZ 20, but it's out of my price range.

What should I buy? Either of the above mentioned cameras or something else?
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Old Jan 22, 2005, 6:52 PM   #2
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Panasonic DMC FZ3 is the one that is similar to the Canon S1 IS and has similar price (FZ20 is the highest-end version). If you don't care about video, the FZ3 is better.

The Sony W1 is better if you care about compactness. If size is not an issue, a slightly larger camera will generally be better. The slightly larger ones may have less red-eye, stronger flash, etc. For example, the ultra-zooms (eg. Canon S1 IS, Panasonic FZ3, etc) have pop-up flash which is likely better than the built-in non-pop-up flash of the ultra-compacts and compacts. The smaller cameras (such as the W1) also have less manual controls--but you may not care about this.

You can print 8"x10" ("=inches) with 3 megapixels without any cropping (cropping is when you cut out a portion of the pic). Extra megapixels will give you more cropping room and/or let you print bigger prints. For example, if you want to print bigger than 8"x10" then 4+ megapixels is desired (although it should be noted that you can print larger prints with 3 megapixels but the quality won't be as good).

I personally value zoom more than megapixels. I actually bought the Canon S1 IS a few months ago even though it was only 3 megapixels because I don't really crop that much and I rarely will print 8"x10" (they are too expensive; I'll print the standard 4"x6" 99% of the time). So for me, the extra megapixels is next to "useless".

Furthermore, zoom allows you to take pictures that you can't without zoom. For example, you can take pics of far away objects (eg. your children playing soccer in a field, or something) whereas the low-zoom cameras can't take those pics. Yes, blurriness due to camera shake is a problem at high zooms but it depends on the situation. For example, it is extremely difficult to take 10x zoom pics at night even with image stabilization (without a tripod); but, I have almost zero problems taking 10x zoom pics during daylight. So it depends on the light level and stuff like that. Also, it is harder to take moving objects (at high zoom or not) than stationary objects.

So I think it all comes down to what type of pics you will take. If you need zoom (eg. far away objects) then you really have to get a high-zoom camera--there is no substitute for having zoom. But if you will mainly be taking close-up family pics, or whatever, then zoom isn't that benefitial. Based on what you are saying it seems most pics will be candid pics and family-type pics so I think the W1 is perhaps best for you. W1 has larger LCD, smaller, etc so you can carry it easily in a large pocket, or a sizeable purse, or whatever. The ultra-zooms are kind of big and less convenient to carry around...

I am thinking that the Sony W1 is best for you.... you might also want to look at its competitors like the Canon A line (eg. Canon Powershot A95, A85, A75) (note: Canon announced the new 2005 models so if you can wait several months you may want to wait, but price will be higher).
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Old Jan 22, 2005, 7:48 PM   #3
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Thanks for the info. After reading that I'm leaning towards the Canon S1 IS or the Panasonic FZ3 or FZ15, rather than the sony. I'm not worried about the size of the camera, I want a camera based on what it does rather than its size or look. I would certainly be using the zoom, it will be amazing to use such a huge zoom after being used to 35 to 80mm on my old film camera. I think the FZ 15 has 4 megapixels, so I'd be more than happy with that.

Are you happy with your canon S1 IS? Do you know how it compares to the panasonic?

Thanks again for your insight. It has been really helpful.
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Old Jan 23, 2005, 12:04 AM   #4
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sandra i wrote:
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Are you happy with your canon S1 IS? Do you know how it compares to the panasonic?
I'm cool with my Canon S1 IS. I only bought it a few months ago so it's still somewhat new for me. I made the right decision and I think it's the best camera for me. Basically, the Panasonic FZ3 and Canon S1 IS are quite similar and compete against each other. The FZ3 is clearly better than the S1 IS if you don't care about video. The key things that FZ3 has over the S1 IS include:

* 12x zoom vs 10x on S1 IS
* AF-assist lamp (S1 IS has no AF-assist lamp and this is one of its major flaws. This lamp helps the (short-range) camera focus in low light such as indoors or during the night. Lack of the AF lamp means the S1 IS is poor in low light)
* better pic quality (FZ3 has better pic quality out of the camera. The S1 IS pics are soft and generally require sharpening. S1 IS also has purple fringing issues, although I haven't noticed it on my pics so far (it should be noted that the FZ3 has a red chromatic abberation issue too but that's less serious it seems)

Where the Canon is better is video (S1 IS has one of the best videos in any digicam), more stylish (at least I think so ) and other minor things like the use of AA batteries (FZ3 uses proprietory), better software, etc.

So overall, the FZ3 is better if you don't care about video.

Quote:
Thanks again for your insight. It has been really helpful.
You are welcome
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Old Jan 23, 2005, 5:03 PM   #5
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I went out yesterday and bought the Panasonic FZ 10, I'm not fussed about having the video, we have a digital video camera for that.We saw the FZ3 and 10 and chose the 10 as it had the extra mega pixel. I would have loved to go to the FZ 20, but couldn't affort the extra $200(Aust), and the FZ15 doesn't seem to be out in Australia (yet???) I was pretty impressed with the camera and am looking forward to getting to know how to really use it. That's the great thing about digital photography, you can learn a lot quicker as you can see the results immediatly and you can take heaps of photos without paying a fortune for developing.

Thanks for your info. I had to buy the camera yesterdayasI had the option of buying 4 years interest free and that offer was ending today.I really didn't know too much about them,I would have gone for mega pixels but a friend said to go for optical zoom over mega pixels so that put me in a real state of confusion and so had to do some finding out what would be best. This is a fantastic site and this forum is a great idea,it meant that I was really confident in our decision on what we would buy, especially when you are spending that sort of money.I really appreciate your help:-)
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Old Jan 23, 2005, 5:19 PM   #6
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Have fun snapping pics :|
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