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Old May 19, 2005, 6:11 PM   #1
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I've decided to shelve my old SLR for a digital camera. I'm not a great photographer and probably don't need a digital SLR.

I'm considering getting one of the super zoom cameras because I encounter a lot of wildlife on my trips. I'm a backpacker and often climb in the Rockies and would like better pictures from the top of mountains, etc. Batteries could be a concern as temperatures sometimes drop quickly at high elevation. I'm not overly concerned about size or weight, but it is somewhat of a consideration.

Can anyone give me some advice about what the right kind of camera might be? I'm considering a Panasonic DMC-FZ5. I'm not sure if I can lug around a tripod though. Or should I get a DSLR and take lessons if necessary? Or should I just get one of those super compact cameras?

Thanks in advance for any advice.


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Old May 19, 2005, 9:44 PM   #2
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Most likely you wouldn't need a tripod for the FZ5, since it's image stabilization system is designed to let you handhold at lower shutter speeds.


You might consider getting something that uses AA's, and keeping an extra set of lithiums with you. From what I understand, they will work at lower temps where the average rechargeable will poop out. A few to consider are the Canon S1 IS (and probably the coming S2), the Fuji 5100, and the Minolta Z2/3.

If you want to shoot wildlife, then don't get a "super compact". You'll be kicking yourself the first time you use it for wildlife photography. In your case, having the extra 7-9x makes a world of difference.

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Old May 20, 2005, 4:57 AM   #3
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The FZ5 is a good camera. You may want to opt fopr the FZ20 though, if you want to be able to manually focus, ie a bird in a tree surrounded by branches...

The other thing is I personally think the 20 feels much sturdier than the 5 - something you may want to think about if you're going on a trek.

the 12x is superb (432mm in 35mm equiv), there is also a further 4x digi zoom on it as well, but I can't comment on the quality of that.

regarding batteries. DO NOT buy the genuine Pana ones. They will cost you an arm and a leg!. There are many 3rd party ones out there at a fraction of the cost and they all seem to do as well as each other.

The one BIG problem with a DSLR is the fact that you HAVE to take various extra lenses about with you. Which isn't ideal if you're going half way up a mountain, you will be more knackered than before!

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Old May 20, 2005, 7:40 AM   #4
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ukwoody wrote:
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The FZ5 is a good camera. You may want to opt fopr the FZ20 though, if you want to be able to manually focus, ie a bird in a tree surrounded by branches...

You mean like this?...taken with the autofocus only FZ3...

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Old May 20, 2005, 2:40 PM   #5
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Personally I don't think what the big deal is about the ability to manual focus. I use to use spot focus on my FZ1 in the situation described and never had any issues. On most p&s, viewfinder is not that greatto help youmuch manually focus. For macro, you just move the whole camera back & forth. Now external flash would be good, particulary if you can attach something like better beamer to it. This will extend the flash range of your fill shots.
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Old May 20, 2005, 7:23 PM   #6
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There is a lot of good information and advice here, I appreciate it. I won't get a DSLR or a super compact. Thanks much.

THe Panasonics sound great, however should I be concerned about the proprietary batteries? I'm sometimes out for 3 to 4 days at a time, or longer, and if temperatures drop at night will I have to carry several charged 3rd party batteriesand keep them in my pockets and/or sleeping bag? I can do that, but it would be a drag to wakeup half way through a trip and discover I don't have a working camera. This may be a dumb question, but I've always had an old SLR that doesn't use much power.
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Old May 20, 2005, 8:20 PM   #7
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i think with a few spares you should not run into any serious trouble..

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"enjoy, dustin
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Old May 20, 2005, 11:11 PM   #8
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outdoorsy I will be in Glacier Park and Yellowstone(late Jult/Agust)this summer and am looking at a decent landscape/wildlife camera. The FZ5 is at the top of my list, but I am concerned about the proprietary battery as well, even for things like car camping.

"Here are some interesting points I realized about the proprietary battery and national park/wilderness/even car camping stuff:

1. what happens if you lose the charger?

2. what happens if it gets to cold?

3. Panasonic sells spares for 50$, and you can get generics for $30.



The ideal thing would be to have a couple batteries and a charge rin your car, but the Panasonic battery charger only plugs into wall type jacks in your home, not car jacks. So, you will need to buy a car adapter that lets you plug in two proged power cords. This will cost around 30$. the spare battery wil be 30-50$ and another 30-50 if you want another one -but will they work in the cold?



So now looking at the prices, I see that the REAL cost of the FZ5 with a spare battery and charger for national park/camping/wildernesswould be 390$ + 50+ 30. That comes out to about 470$.And add to that you have to worry about losing the charger, misplacing batteries, getting them wet with no replacement, etc. Want to ruin a day of your trip driving tocivilation to *maybe* find a replacement? Or how about driving a few miles to the nearest gas station which you know will have AA's?


And guess what will be outinJune?The Sony 12X IS camera, and the Canon 12X IS camera, both 5 megapixel - and BOTH take AA's, and both will be 499-480$.


I'd wait until the S2 comes out and see how you like it.

The FZ5, IS2 and new Sony 12x are at the top of my list. But I may just end up getting the Fuji e550. Why? Well it uses AA's, is 250$, takes great pix, has 5.6x zoom at 6 megapixel, and 8x zoom at 3 mp, and 10x @ 2 megapixel. It has one of the first useable digital zooms where you dont lose picture quality, but you do lose MP in order to maintain that quality. It is also rated VERY highly in it's actual resolution, so it's 3mp pix are just as good, and may be better than many 3mp cameras.
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Old May 20, 2005, 11:56 PM   #9
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Montana500, you say you don't lose resolution with the e550's digital zoom, but remember, in digital zoom mode, it uses a 12MP picture as it's basis and crops it. The 12MP is just an interpolated 6MP picture. Don't get me wrong, I have the identical camera an love it, but for someone who is taking pictures of wildlife, a super zoom may be a better choice. If superzoom is not needed, the e550 is great. I can get over 300 shots all with LCD and some flash on 2 AA Ni-MH Duracell 2050Mah batteries, which is fantastic for me. I got a great case for it a little while ago at ritz camera, and I can keep a mini-tripod, extra batteries, and extra XD chips with me at all times.
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Old May 21, 2005, 12:54 AM   #10
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"Montana500, you say you don't lose resolution with the e550's digital zoom, but remember, in digital zoom mode, it uses a 12MP picture as it's basis and crops it. The 12MP is just an interpolated 6MP picture. Don't get me wrong, I have the identical camera an love it, but for someone who is taking pictures of wildlife, a super zoom may be a better choice. If superzoom is not needed, the e550 is great. I can get over 300 shots all with LCD and some flash on 2 AA Ni-MH Duracell 2050Mah batteries, which is fantastic for me. I got a great case for it a little while ago at ritz camera, and I can keep a mini-tripod, extra batteries, and extra XD chips with me at all times. "







Good points. But the E550 could capture a very nice 8x 3mp or 10x 2mp image of wildlife if you needed it. That's better than cropping a 5 or 6 mp image on a 3x zoom camera to get it in close. While a superzoom with IS would be better, it is nice to know the e550 CAN get wildlife shots at good quality up to 10x if you need it. And since the e550 is rated so high in it's resoultion, the 2mp and 3mp would not be very weak. Also, the e550 has a better wideangle than the superzooms. It seems to be a very versatile camera, right? Also to be considered is the much lower noise on the e550 compared to the 5 mp super zooms.
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