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Old Mar 28, 2005, 1:43 AM   #1
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-Olympus C8080 that is...

sorry for the long post. i tried to get the jist of it into the subject and description for anyone who doesn't have the time or patience to read it all.

i do a lot of hiking, and the large majority of it takes place @ night. i would be taking a lot of nature photo's, and also, some sunrise/sunset photo's. i'd like a nice optical zoom and a hot-shoe for difficult situations and/or patiently-taken pictures. i don't need an amazing in-camera flash, 'cause i've become quite efficient using my flashlights for camera lighting. i'm also looking @ $500 > camera's for now. i'd also appreciate a camera that could double as a decent point-&-shoot for family gatherings around the holidays and birthdays, etc. not really any kids in the family right now so action photography probly wont come up very often. and last, i would like something with good macro ability, 'cause during the day, that is most likely what i would be focusing on. not saying it has to be on par with a Nikon 4500 or anything, but something competent that'll impress. a black-&-white/sepia option would be cool to have for macro shots too.

camera's i've been seriously looking @ so far:
Panasonic FZ20 - seems to be a fairly ground-breaking camera from what i gather. excellent zoom capability with image stabilizing. those two stand-out factors are what gets it on my list. i've been very impressed by what i've seen on the Panasonic forums, especially by the gentleman who goes by "smac".
Canon G6 - seems to be one of the best bang-for-your-buck camera's out there, with a good amount of readily available accessories so i can get the lenses i need for very versatile nature photography. i see the swivel LCD as a welcome asset also.
Olympus C 5060 - it has alot of features i brought up, and compared to the other camera's i think it has an especially impressive macro ability. the ability to use multiple batteries would also be great on extended trips without readily available access to an outlet. can't complain about the price either.
Sony F717 - this is a camera i used to hear quite a bit about. i really think the laser assistance would be handy to capture a picture of an owl or some other shadowy night-thriving animal. i also like the ability the body has to swivel almost telescopically and periscopically, haha. i may have just made that last word up, please stick with me anyway! this camera also seems to be quite hard to find, however. especially @ a good price. is it definitely outta my budget ($400-$500ish)? looking @ the price of the F828 it seems it'd be available for $500, but being discontinued makes it hard for a novice such as myself to make that call.
Olympus C 8080 - doesn't seem to be quite as versatile as the other camera's, but yields quite impressive (maybe the most impressive on average) pictures. it also extends my budget by about $80 but i think i could swing it if it's justifiable. i've definitely seen it for under $600 from trustworthy dealers.

any comments on those camera's (i can read thru biases fairly well, so feel free to praise a particular camera/brand you're a fan of)? and are there add-ons and accessories that make the stock camera's into a picture closer to what i painted earlier? for example, i know the 6T lens can turn the Panasonic FZ20 into a very able macro photo taker.

bonus question: i also need (or @ least, in the future, will be needing), advice on accessories, especially software (is noise the main culprit for editing? etc). i'm not feeling rushed, since after i upgrade my memory and probly get a tripod, i'm going to do most of my screwing-around in-camera. then i'll probly start viewing things "full size" on-screen until i can get a natural feel for the improvements and tricks i could use. any other guidance by way of linking or directing would be appreciated.

DISCLAIMER*: i have no photography credentials. my father is a photographer so i tended to avoid his territory there. i can no longer stay away, however, so i figured going digital would be a good way to somewhat keep me from invading his hobby. up to this point in my life (i'm 20 years old), my experience is limited to Polaroids, disposables, simple point-&-shoots, and watching my father work his magic (only experience is with Canon, but to my credit, i'm a very fast learner and have already learned a fair amount about digital camera's simply from browsing these DP forums and Steve's Digicams). but heck, i could probly even use a rundown as to what all the abbreviations/acronyms stand for and what they do (but who has time for that?). what manual controls do what? what combinations of manual controls do what? etc. or if you have a short-version involving linking me somewhere or some other type of guidance, i'd appreciate that also! if there's an obligatory "go to this link and read everything" reply, sock it to me. and i figure the manual that comes with the camera should be a huge (if not the hugest) help also.

thank you in advance, for any and all help offered here. you might be molding a brilliant photographer here, haha. :love:

and also, thanks Steve for making these forums available on top of your primary review site.


*Ryan in Maine hereby reserves the right to take or disregard any and all advice given herein, within this post, @ anytime without warning or being subject to approval.
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Old Mar 28, 2005, 12:21 PM   #2
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Those cameras are all excellent. You have to decide whether things like a long zoom, wide angle, easy portability etc are important.

Generally a long telephoto is an advantage for nature photography. You don't always have time to set up a tripod and I find stabilization to be very desirable. I think the FZ20 is the long zoom of choice. The stabilization is also great for handheld available light photos at wider angles.

Wide angle is great for scenery and family type photography. For everyday use it is a more desirable feature than a long zoom in many situations. The Oly 5060 has a great wide angle, but the telephoto end is really lacking – 110 mm equivalent is about 2 power as would be measured in binoculars.

Portability is nice. The camera you have with you is a lot better than the one sitting at home. I would guess you wear a light jacket most of the summer up your way, and the G6 would fit in your pocket easily. It also has a f2 lens for lower light capability with moving subjects. I lived in Caribou for three years and remember one year I completely missed summer because I was away for a week. The natives were a lot tougher, but I don't remember being in shirtsleeves a lot.

The F717 is indeed a nice camera, but new ones are hard to find and go at a premium. The 828 is very capable as well, but it is really heavy.

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Old Mar 28, 2005, 4:08 PM   #3
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thanks for the advice. since you lived in Caribou you get the jist of the weather here. 8 months of winter, haha. you're right, it's wise to have a light jacket with you thru the summer. its common for the temperature drop from 70ºF+ during the day to 45ºF- during the night! it was 50ºF yesterday, and today we're getting an inch or two of snow, haha.

from your reply, i think it seems wise to narrow it down to the FZ20 and the G6. i wont be able to scrounge up a premium price for the F717. but i like the ability of the FZ20 and the versatility of the G6 and its accessories. hmm. thanks for helping me narrow things down to 2 camera's.

(besides, the Olympus C5060 was actually a fall back camera in case i come up short on funds) :G
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