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Old May 6, 2005, 12:55 PM   #1
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I will be travelling to Costa Rica and to England this summer and need a good camera for taking pictures outdoors. I am interested in a superzoom camera with at least 4mp resolution. Picture quality is top priority, but ease of use is a close second. I want to avoida camera that tends towards 'brightened' exposures in the auto mode (I don't know how else to describe it--my Nikon 35mm had this tendency). I prefer richer coloring.Also, how important is it to have image stabilization when taking outdoor shots? I have read many of the discussions on this forum about IS, but there doesn't seem to be a consensus about it's relative value. Is it worth spending, say, an extra $100 for it? The cameras I am looking at are the Oly C-765, Kodak DX6490, Fuji S5100, and Panasonic FZ-15. The first three are all in the same ballpark pricewise--would it be worth spending the extra $ for the FZ-15? I'd appreciate your thoughts.
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Old May 6, 2005, 6:33 PM   #2
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My first thought when I read the title of your post was the Olympus C-765 or 770. They're noted for superb image quality. I'm always surprised they don't cost more.


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Old May 6, 2005, 7:34 PM   #3
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or the olympus c-8080 wide zoom which takes really impressive pictures.
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Old May 6, 2005, 7:57 PM   #4
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zema,

Before I bought my camera, I had narrowed it down to a similar field as you have. I also had the Canon S1 IS and the Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z3 in the running. They all looked really nice, and I played with them in stores. I studied reviews, and looked at a lot of pictures - they all seemed pretty good. I decided that I would rather use AA NiMH batteries than the proprietary Li-Ions that some cameras require. Since I already had a good supply of NiMH's around, plus a few chargers, I felt that was the way to go. I also felt that in a pinch, I could always beg, borrow or steal four AA batteries from someone. That brought it down to the S1 IS, Z3, and the S5100.

I opted for the S5100 because it had all of the features I was looking for, and the price was right. I felt it had a lot of value for the money.

I'm very happy with the camera, and am pleased with its performance so far. I probably would have been happy with any of the other cameras too, but because of the price of the S5100, I think I would have disliked myself if I had spent a lot more money for a similar quality level camera.

Good luck.
the Hun
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Old May 6, 2005, 9:35 PM   #5
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Superzoom category - no choice, one of the Panasonics. I bought the FZ15 but the FZ20 is 5 MP with a few more features. The FZ5 has a similar lens in a smaller package. How important is IS. None at all if you have enough light every time you want to use the long zoom. My 15 gives me 2 or three more stops before I need to worry about shake. And the 15 and 20 have lenses that are 2.8 througout the zoom range. The 15 can be had for less than 400 and the 5 or 20 can be had around 500. Superzoom, no choice.
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Old May 7, 2005, 11:33 AM   #6
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zema wrote:
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Picture quality is top priority, but ease of use is a close second.
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Picture quality takes a bit jump when going from fixed-lens p&s to dslr. Since you seem to be looking at the fixed-lens price range, it would seem that dslr would be out of the question for you. Therefore, don't sweat the picture quality issue too much, as long as you stay with a camera from a respected manufacturer. All of the digicams you might consider will have an automatic mode, where it will do the thinking for you. Most of the megazooms however will have manual modes too, which is nice to have if you decide to learn how to use them.
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I want to avoida camera that tends towards 'brightened' exposures in the auto mode (I don't know how else to describe it--my Nikon 35mm had this tendency). I prefer richer coloring.
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The beauty of digital photography is that you can manipulate an image in any way you can think. Therefore, you can darken them, lighten them, saturate or de-saturate them, twist, turn, invert, flip -- you get the idea...
Quote:
Also, how important is it to have image stabilization when taking outdoor shots? I have read many of the discussions on this forum about IS, but there doesn't seem to be a consensus about it's relative value. Is it worth spending, say, an extra $100 for it? The cameras I am looking at are the Oly C-765, Kodak DX6490, Fuji S5100, and Panasonic FZ-15. The first three are all in the same ballpark pricewise--would it be worth spending the extra $ for the FZ-15? I'd appreciate your thoughts.
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Actually, I think there is a concensus on IS, and it is that IS is very helpful in certain situations, but not absolutely necessary. IS only helps when the light levels are too low for you to be able to handhold the shot. Therefore, it won't help on every shot, but it is quite handy to have when you do need it. Only you can decide how much that extra 1-2 stops is worth. If you are going to be doing a lot of shooting at the long end of the zoom (such as wildlife photography) or in low light, then I would easily consider the extra $100 for the FZ15 to be worth it, especially since it has other features as well that the first three cameras don't have. One thing that you should consider however is that the FZ15 is a large camera by today's standards. Personally, I did not want such a large camerawhen travelingand went with the smaller FZ3, so that I could have the best of both worlds. If you decide that you want IS and want a camera closer to the size of the others you mention, you should consider the Panasonic FZ3/4/5, and the Canon S1/S2 IS, and the Minolta Z3/Z5.
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If you decide that you don't need IS, then the other three would serve you well. Realistically, you wouldn't go wrong with any of them. I would prefer the Oly just because it is slightly smaller, but as Ihave cameras from both companies, Icould easily live with the Fuji as well. The Fuji's AA use might be quite handy for you. I wouldn't like the Kodak because of it's poor ergonomics in my hands, but that is a purely subjective observation.
hth,

PhilR.
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Old May 7, 2005, 10:03 PM   #7
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Alisande, terry, rinniethehun, Shiny Top and Phil,

Thanks to you all for your help in answering my questions. It looks like any one of these cameras will be a good choice. Since nobody had any specific strong points on the Kodak, I think I'll drop that one from my list and put the Fuji in its place, especially because of the good price and with the advantage of the AA batteries--although I'm not too sure how much of an advantage this is. The Oly cameras have the advantage of a smaller size, while still having the features I want. (I'd love to get the C-8080, but it's really out of my price range.) Right now I'm leaning towards one of the Panasonics because there's a good possibility that I'll be taking some long zoom shots in low light, and the IS feature would be valuable for that. Iguess at this point I'll just have to find someplace where I can give each of them a try.

Thanks again to all of you.

zema
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Old May 7, 2005, 10:23 PM   #8
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zema wrote:
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because of the good price and with the advantage of the AA batteries--although I'm not too sure how much of an advantage this is.
AA's can be an advantage for someone who will be away from electricity for some time. You can carry extra alkaline or lithium AA's to use in case your rechargeables run out of juice and you can't recharge.

Otherwise, the only advantage is that it is easier and cheaper to buy a spare set of AA rechargeables. If the choice is between two cameras whose only difference is battery type, I would certainly go with the AA choice. However, I also feel that in reality this situation is quite rare, and I would not make battery type a major criteria for the purchase decision...

PhilR.
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