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Old May 9, 2005, 12:32 PM   #1
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Having a hard time deciding amongst these three. The bonus about the Lumix is that is has optical stabilization, which probably will give me a higher success rate of long-zoom photos over the other two.

But as of right now, I can get them for:
Olympus C-765 --> $425 CDN, then add extra battery ($25) and 256MB xD ($49) = $499
Fujifilm S5100 --> $454 CDN, 8xNiMH AA's ($25) and 256MB xD ($49) = $528
Panasonic DMC-FZ4 ---> $530 CDN, extra battery ($15) and 256MD SD ($30) = $575

The bonus about the Olympus is that there are a ton of really inexpensive lens/filter accessory kits on Ebay for around $100 CDN (includes wideangle/telephoto lenses, and UV/polarization/FL filters with some other minor extras). Bonus about the Fujifilm is that it uses standard AA's, and looks probably the most rugged of the three. Money is definitely an issue, but if the extra cash of the Lumix for the optical stabilization is worth it, then I would most likely go that route.

Is it really difficult to take 10X optically zoomed images with normal shutter speeds? From my understanding, at 10X optical zooms, you generally need more exposure since the flash isn't going to be of any use.

Any advice would be appreciated!
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Old May 9, 2005, 1:32 PM   #2
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Rhombuss wrote:
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Is it really difficult to take 10X optically zoomed images with normal shutter speeds?
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A normal shutter speed would be the one that would be the minimum needed for any particular focal length. Therefore, as long as you have enough shutter speed, then it doesn't matter what level of zoom you are using. Of course, you won't always have enough light to get a normal shutter speed, which is where IS comes in. For more on the subject of IS, just read the previous threads onthis forum, as the subject comes up about every third day. Basically, IS lets you handhold shots that are several stops lower than would you could normally do without. Whether or not you need this feature depends on what you are shooting, and how much light you have.
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From my understanding, at 10X optical zooms, you generally need more exposure since the flash isn't going to be of any use.
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Why would the flash be of no use? As long as you stay within the flash's range, you should be fine, regardless of the focal length being used.
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Old May 9, 2005, 1:47 PM   #3
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Well, generally my intentions for this camera are going to be for trips/vacations shooting typical nature shots, buildings etc.

I stated the flash wouldn't be of much use at 10X optical zoom in my instances, because subjects would more than likely be over 75-150 meters away, outdoors.

Thanks for the comments though, any suggestions on the listed cameras?
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Old May 9, 2005, 4:54 PM   #4
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Is is very important feature when useing zoom above 4x.The dedicated battery that is with modern digitals are very good which makes aa's not much of a feature as they add weight to camera.The fuji can be bought threw the internet with good dealers for less than $250. with rebate
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Old May 9, 2005, 6:33 PM   #5
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I used to own the C-740, and now have the FZ3. The C-740 definitely felt better in my hands (was built better, too), and I probably liked the colors better.

However, IS really does make a difference. Consider that you're gaining between 3-4 stops between the Pany and the Oly (2-3 from IS, almost 1 from the faster lens at full telephoto), that's between 1/8 and 1/16 the light necessary for the same shots. If you're going to take mostly pictures in great light or with a tripod, the IS isn't worth it, but otherwise, it's a serious consideration. And great light really means great, if you take pictures in the shade or on an overcast day, the lighting might already not be sufficient for a full telephoto shot.

Having said all that, IS is no panacea, and you'll get lots of great pictures with any of the three cameras. Heck, I've taken some nice pictures at 380mm equivalent with 1/80s, and I've botched a bunch with camera shake at 35mm equivalent with 1/20s (both with no IS).

Also, a note about the inexpensive lens kits on Ebay--I've bought one before for my 740, and trust me, there's a reason they're so cheap. Try to stick with Oly lenses (or some trustworthy third-party lenses), otherwise you might regret it.

I've held the S5100 in a store, and I loved the grip, but I'm not a fan of the zoom buttons in the back (prefer the zoom lever on/by the shutter).
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Old May 9, 2005, 7:09 PM   #6
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thebad - thanks for your comments.

Just came back from the local Henry's, I think I'm going to go for the Panasonic. I could tell just from going max telephoto with all three cameras that the stabilization in the Panasonic really makes a difference. With the Olympus and Fujifilm the LCD was showing very jerky motion, and the images weren't always 100% clear. The Panasonic's LCD motion was very smooth, and images always crisp. Albeit the place was well lit and didn't have any exposure problems, but just from seeing how the stabilizer smooths motion at high telephoto pretty much convinced me to go with the Panasonic.

The Olympus had the nicest LCD screen, not so nice EVF. Fujifilm had the worst LCD of the three, but best in-your-hand fit imo (definitely agree with your there). Panasonic had a decent LCD and the best EVF of the three, the plastic did indeed feel solid, so less concern about the build quality.

About the lens kits, I probably wouldn't buy additional lenses if I went with the Panasonic, since telephoto obviously isn't a problem and I generally don't shoot many grossly wide-angle shots. What I might purchase however are the UV/polarization filters. Is there much difference in quality from specific filters made for this camera or Panasonic Lumix lenses, or other generic filters with same diameter threads?
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Old May 9, 2005, 8:18 PM   #7
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Actually, I need to clarify two things. I forgot that the FZ4 actually has a slightly slower lens than the FZ3 at full telephoto (still faster than the C-765/C-740, though), so the advantage is 2.5-3.5 stops, rather than 3-4. The point still stands, obviously.

Also, one thing I miss about the 740 is the low-compression SHQ JPEG mode. At its 3MP setting, the file size came out to about 1.5-2MB, whereas at the 3MP setting on the FZ3, files are right about 1MB on the best quality setting. I could swear that sometimes JPEG artifacts are visible, but since I cannot test that, I haven't really been able to verify that. It's a minor issue, anyway. TIFF, unfornately, is not practical on either camera.

As far as filters, UV and Polarizer are definitely good ideas. I don't know that much about them--just that Hoya multi-coated are a good kind to stick with (Tiffen are supposedly OK, also). Others have said that you risk image degradation with cheaper filters, but I bought Hoya, so I have no way of testing that. I can definitely say that my images looked worse using cheap conversion lenses for the 740, though. Bottom line, you don't have to buy the Lumix-specific ones (I didn't know they existed), but others have said that you should stick with name brands (if you really have lots of money to spare, well, first buy a DSLR :-), get some of those German made filters (B+W, Heliopan)). As long as they are 55 mm, they will fit.
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Old May 11, 2005, 12:13 AM   #8
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Actually ended up settling on the FZ20 today! A friend of mine who can get electronic supplies couldn't stock the FZ4 or FZ5 in time for a vacation I'm taking next week, so I bit the bullet and ordered the FZ20 instead. It had a little under $200 CDN premium over the FZ4, but gave me an extra MP CCD, much larger lens, larger LCD, manual focus ring (a really big plus imo), hot shoe, more powerful flash. The good thing was when I calculated all the tax amounts, it came out to about $160 less than what Henry's was selling it for, so all-in-all I think it was a good decision.

Will post photos from my trip to Alaska upon return!
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