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Old Feb 7, 2005, 6:46 PM   #1
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:angry: <--- this is kinda how I feel shopping for a camera.

I've been thinking for some time about getting a digital camera and started looking a couple weeks ago. I'm a novice with very little digi cam exp. From time to time I've thought about photography a hobby and I'm certian I would enjoy it. The problem is what camera do I start out with? For what ever reason I've been most interested in the Kodaks. I began looking at $200 ones and they looked decent, 4Mp and 4X optical. I believe it was a dx7440. Then I saw the 7630 (6MP, 3X) for about $325. I then stopped in a camera shop and the owner suggested higherzoom. His reasoning was since I have young children,I would want the zoom as they become involved in various activities (gymnastics and such). So that got me thinking about the 7590 (5Mp, 10X). At about $400 with mail in rebatethat is a little more than I wanted to spend. So then I started reading in this forum and someone had wrote that 10X zoom is about worthless without an image stabilizer (the 7590 doesn't have one from what I gathered).

I seems several here recommend the Panasonic fz 15 or 20. It looks like a great camera but man thats a lot of cash for a small hobby. Yes, quality photos of the youngins will be priceless years from now but I cant see spending quite that much.

I guess I'm asking what others think about the necessity of an image stabilizer for a 10X camera. I could use a tripod at times but would be inconvient at other times.

What do some of you think about just going with a 4Mp, 4X camera? I know I've read here that one should buy the best that they can reasonably afford. But would this type camera be satisfactory? Does the ability to crop a good portion of a 6Mp pic kinda "make up" for having less zoom?

By the way I expect I would use this camera for a little bit of everything--the kids, wildlife, nature, sporting events and whatever else comes along.

Thanks for reading all of this and Thanks for any words of wisdom.


1 last thing, I'm not real concerned about the ability to make movie clips.
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Old Feb 7, 2005, 7:05 PM   #2
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Hello,

There has been much debate here at times about image stabilisation (IS), so you might get quite differing views. I feel that it isn't always necessary, since it will only help when your shutter speeds are too low to handhold the camera. However, the longer the zoom, the more likely this is to happen, particularly in lower light levels. Since it really doesn't cost any more to have IS (depends on the brand you buy), why not get an IS camera and have it when you need it. Zoom is somewhat like this too - you won't always need it, but it sure is nice to have when you do.

You can get the smaller Panasonic FZ3 for under $400 - probably under $350 if you look around. It has the same 12x zoom w/IS as the 15 and 20, but is smaller in size and in megapixels. This is quite an amazing camera, and I cannot think of any other camera with a zoom lens that is a fast, for anywhere near this price (excepting the other Panny's, of course). This camera does have aperture/shutter/full manual modes as well. It does not have as many mp's, but it does have enough to make prints up to 8x10. Take a look at the reveiws and also look at the prices.

A few other cameras that combine big zoom and IS is the Canon S1 IS, and the Minolta Z3. I think both are more expensive than the FZ3. A few big-zooms without IS are the Olympus 765 and Fuji 5100, and a few from Minolta.

PhilR.
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Old Feb 8, 2005, 12:10 AM   #3
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Ohioben,

This is my take on the situation. It sounds like you want a digital camera but you are not sure what kind of photography you will do. Thus, you do not know what kind of camera you should look for. Because of that, the store salesmen are leading you to buy more camera than what you need.

In my opinion, if you are not sure what to get, you should start out with a general-purpose camera. Something compact size, 3-4 Mpixel, 3x-4x optical zoom camera from a well known manufacturer. For example, Canon A series, Sony P series, Olympus Stylus series, etc. These cameras have the middle of the road specs, performs reasonably well, and priced very competitively.

As you take photographs with the camera, you will notice limitations and shortcomings of your equipment. Now you know what to look for when you upgrade. Will it be more manual controls, ultra zoom or ultra compact size? By then you will have it figured out.
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Old Feb 8, 2005, 12:36 AM   #4
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My advice is just pick one. Decide what your $$ cap is and go from there. Regardless of what you buy today, it'll be "obsolete" tomorrow. Figure on spending money on memory and at least a spare battery if propriatary. If not, figure on spending some money on good rechargable AA. Digicams EAT alkaline batteries as fast as you can load them. Don't believe the myth that more megapixels always translates to better photos. You can get fantastic results from say a 2mp camera. In some cases, it can also translate to noisier photos.

I have a Panasonic FZ20. I bought it because I wanted the 12x, f2.8 lens. I wanted a camera with external flash capabilities. I wanted a camera that fit my hand and not just my fingertips. I've found that the image stablization is nice, especially at long zooms (48x total) but it isn't the end all solution to blurry pictures. Be advised, the camera is like carrying around a 35mm SLR. It doesn't fit a pocket and there's a learning curve in getting use to it. If you have film experience and like to fiddle with controls you would like the panasonic FZ line. I would suggest going to the panasonic forum here and chatting with some of the users there.

My last digital was a Fuji 1.3Mp (top of the line for its day) so I can't speak about quality of the other cameras out there.

Good luck,
Jeff
:G

Edit: I thought I would add this photo in case you are wondering about the Zoom on the FZ line.. It was taken about 20 feet away, Handheld with IS on, 12x plus 3.1 Digital Zoom, total 37.2x. What it is, is my window screen. The 2 large horizontal bands are my window blind. This is cropped AND downsized from a much larger photo.

Just to confuse you more,
Jeff
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Old Feb 8, 2005, 9:11 AM   #5
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Panasonic FZ20 is a high-end ultra-zoom... if you are budget conscious, you should look at something like Panasonic FZ3...

Assuming size doesn't matter, I think you should go for one of the prosumers (as opposed to consumers, like ultra-compacts). Prosumers basically have all the manual controls (except possibly manual focus), have good strong flash, good lens, good performance, and so forth.

You basically can take one of two paths:

(i) go for a low-zoom prosumer: low zoom with high megapixels and good general pics eg. Canon G6, Sony V3 (or older ones like Canon G5, Sony V1 ,etc)
(ii) go for an ultra-zoom: high zoom but noisy (compared to low-zooms) eg. Panasonic FZ20, Konica Minolta Z3 (or newly announced Z5), etc.

Since many amateur photographers consider zoom to be "fun", I suggest that you go with an ultra-zoom over a low-zoom UNLESS you really don't use zoom and/or you really want good low-light performance and/or need high megapixels (for very large prints).

I value image stabilization a lot. If you don't care about video, I would recommend the Panasonic FZ3; if you care about video then consider something like Konica Minolta Z3 (or newly announced Z5) or Canon S1 IS...

Cameras similar to Panasonic FZ3 will cost around US$300 to $400 (with total of around US$400 to US$450 after memory card, bag, etc).

I was in a similar situation as you (didn't want to spend too much, wanted manual stuff, etc) and I went with the Canon S1 IS. I narrowed it down to Panasonic FZ3 and Canon S1 IS and I went with the S1 IS because I wanted decent video. Most people, who don't generally care about video, would pick the FZ3. The only downside is the low megapixels (3 MP) but that's good enough for average 8"x10" prints (I hardly ever print anything beyond 4x6 so megapixels don't matter much to me).

Quote:
I guess I'm asking what others think about the necessity of an image stabilizer for a 10X camera. I could use a tripod at times but would be inconvient at other times.
I HIGHLY value image stabilization, especially for ultra-zooms where handshake is more evident at high zoom. I don't carry around a tripod (don't even have one) so IS is invaluable to me. It isn't going to solve all the problems (low-light pics will still come out blurry) but anything to help is well worth it IMO...

Quote:
What do some of you think about just going with a 4Mp, 4X camera? I know I've read here that one should buy the best that they can reasonably afford. But would this type camera be satisfactory? Does the ability to crop a good portion of a 6Mp pic kinda "make up" for having less zoom?
Ability to crop 6MP doesn't compare to 10x zoom. The zoom is far better. But the real question is, how often are you going to use zoom? If you plan to use it a lot (eg. pics of animals like birds, sporting events, etc) then that is what you should go for.

Where the low-zooms will be better is with low-light ability. Some good cameras like the Canon G6 (G6 is beyond your budget but you can pick up an older model like G5 or Sony V1 or whatever) have aperature of F2.0 at wide-angle and that will help with low-light pics if you don't zoom. Also, the low-zoom cameras tend to have better ISO performance. You can increase the ISO without producing as much noise as the ultra-zooms. Ultra-zooms have smaller sensors so they are very noisy.

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Old Feb 8, 2005, 6:45 PM   #6
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I respectfully disagree with one of the posts. I am a mother, dog mom and scrapbooker. I have a 2MP Sony cybershot. The pictures are good for a 2MP camera but 2 is just not enough. When photographing children and animals it is not always easy to get them naturally in a "nice" asthetic places. One of the nice features of a digital is the ability to crop the images to remove the toy, dog poop etc. I can't crop a 2 MP on any of the commercial self printing kiosks or at home without the warnings coming up that I don't have the resolution. You do see grain if you try to blow up a nice shoteven an outside shot (not noise). I would go with at least a 4 MP camera because sometimes your child is adorable but there is a basket of dirty clothes nearby.

I too am looking for a new digital but I'm going crazy trying to find advance features in a medium sized camera. I drop things easily due to lack of feeling in my fingertips and a little larger is better. I also need good red eye because of our blue eyed family. I like the Sony W1 (read the reviews) and the price is great because the W3 is coming out (very little difference) but my husband wants shutter priority and it only has auto or fully manual. If you don't care check it out.:?
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Old Feb 8, 2005, 8:30 PM   #7
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doglady wrote:
Quote:
I respectfully disagree with one of the posts. I am a mother, dog mom and scrapbooker. I have a 2MP Sony cybershot. The pictures are good for a 2MP camera but 2 is just not enough. When photographing children and animals it is not always easy to get them naturally in a "nice" asthetic places. One of the nice features of a digital is the ability to crop the images to remove the toy, dog poop etc. I can't crop a 2 MP on any of the commercial self printing kiosks or at home without the warnings coming up that I don't have the resolution. You do see grain if you try to blow up a nice shoteven an outside shot (not noise). I would go with at least a 4 MP camera because sometimes your child is adorable but there is a basket of dirty clothes nearby.
You can get equally lousy pics from a 4 or 5 MP camera. It isn't the resolution that always matters. It's glass, sensor size, software, and post processing choices that affect things. Go over to the panasonic forum and see what some people do with the 2mp Panasonic FZ-1. As far as the toys, dirty clothes, and dog mess, cropping isn't the only choice. There are many other ways to "clean it up".. Before I bought the FZ20 I had a Fuji 1.3Mp and got gorgeous results from it. The only reason I replaced it is that after 8 years, it gave up on me.

Jeff
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