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Old May 22, 2005, 1:47 PM   #1
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Having read the long thread on 640x480 30fps video, I have narrowed my choice down to the following 4: Dimage Z2, Canon S1 IS, Fuji S5100 or Olympus C-770. I would like the high quality video and the 10x zoom. Based on all the reviews I have read, I perceive the following trade offs:

Dimage Z2: Positive: 800x600 15 fps video, super macro mode, changes zoom mode silently; Negative: noise at high ISOs, optical viewfinder difficult to use with eyeglasses.

Canon S1 IS: Positive: Image stabilization, uses inexpensive CF card, Microdrive capable; Negative: 3.2 MP, no macro mode, shortest flash range

Fuji S5100: Positive: Auto Focus assist light, RAW format for images, may be used as webcam; Negative: Uses expensive xD card, difficult controls

Olympus C-770: Positive: Largest LCD, Tiff format for images, Silent zoom; Negative: xd Card, Proprietary battery instead of AAs



Please help me with the following questions as to how much I should weigh each feature.

1. When would I want to use 800x600 15fps video instead of 640x480 30 fps video? When would I want to use 320x240 video?

2. Am I correct that the RAW and Tiff images would only be useful if I intended to use complicated image editing software?

3. Which is a more valuable feature, an Auto Focus assist lamp, or image stabilization? I have no idea whether, over time, I will take more zoom pictures and video requiring image stabilization or more low light pictures requiring auto focus assist. It seems that all four of these cameras are given poor grades for operation in low light.



The Dimage Z2 and the Fuji S5100 have current $50 rebates. The best web price, after rebate is $215 for the Z2 and $225 for the S5100. The best web price for the S1 IS and the C-770 is about $295 which is my budget limit. These prices do not include a larger capacity, high speed memory card.

Which one hasthe best combination of price and features?

Thank you.
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Old May 23, 2005, 5:58 AM   #2
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Seems like you would be better served with the purchase of a camcorder. The cameras you listed are designed to be still cameras, but have the added feature of short duration video capture - they are not video cameras, and they will not perform up to your expectations.

As an example, using the S5100 with a 256 MB xD card, you can take over 250 high resolution pics in the 4 MB mode, but only about 3 and 3/4 minutes of video in the high resolution mode. In addition, the video capture is rather poor in low light situations, and you can't zoom while shooting.

I'm not knocking the S5100 - it's a great camera... I own one and I love it - but it's not a camcorder, and I don't think any of the other three you listed would be much better in the video department.

Having the ability to take a short video clip is a great feature, but it's not the prime function of these cameras.

the Hun
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Old May 23, 2005, 7:15 AM   #3
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Thank you for the suggestion, but I do want a still camera. I want one with good quality video (for a still camera), even if it is just short video segments.

My question remains. Which of the features of the 4 listed cameras make it the best buy for the price?
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Old May 23, 2005, 10:49 AM   #4
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Have you tried a buying guide? This website has one, as do www.dpreview.com and www.imaging-resource.com. they'll help make you more aware which cameras are best for you. New cameras have also come out, but if the price is really a real limiting factor then you'll most likely end up with a camera that's been around for a while.
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Old May 23, 2005, 10:58 PM   #5
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stususs,

I think the AF assist lamp is an extremely valuable feature if you plan on taking any low light pics. IS cannot help your camera focus. AA batteries are a definite plus, since they are always available. 4 MP, 10X zoom, good quality video, excellent battery life...at $225, the S5100 gives you the ability to purchase some accessories and still stay within your budget limit.

I don't consider the "expensive" xD cards to be a valid arguement for two reasons. One is, the prices for them have come way down, and in some cases are even cheaper than other types. And two, the difference between the media is only a couple of dollars. You wouldn't bat an eye at spending $70 more for a camera, so I don't think you'd mind spending $10 more for an xD card.

Regarding the other negative (difficult controls), I don't have any problem locating or operating any of the controls on my camera.

Hope this helped.

the Hun
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Old May 24, 2005, 5:13 PM   #6
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I recently used the S5100 and can vouch for its quality... I was often frustrated though by its shutter lag. I can't say if it's better or worse than the others you list.

I can also add that several days ago I was at B&H Photo (the big camera store in NYC) and a salesman there suggested the C-770 as a great camera at a great bargain price.

To answer one of your questions, you don't need complicated software to work with TIFF images, but you might need complicated software to work with RAW images.

The TIFF will come out of your camera the same way a JPEG will (already processed), it just won't be compressed, which means it is good for retaining quality without loss while editing and saving, but -- like RAW -- will take up much more room on your storage media in your camera and elsewhere. Because the files are larger it will also mean for slower write times...

I think... :-)

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Old May 27, 2005, 7:23 AM   #7
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I have not received as much advice as I hoped this forum would provide.

The basic question I have is this. Which is a more important feature, image stabilization, or an Auto Focus lamp and a good review for focus ability in low light? None of the cameras in my price range (and with 640x480 30 fps video) have both features.

The Konica Minolta Dimage Z3 (now added to my list) and the Canon S1 have image stabilization features, but no AF lamp and the reviews say they have difficulty focusing in low light situations. The Fuji S5100 has an AF lamp, but no image stabilization which runs the risk of blurry images when the10x optical zoomis used.

In your experience which is a more significant problem, low light issues with the Konica or the Canon, or blurriness with the Fuji?

Thanks.
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Old May 27, 2005, 11:38 AM   #8
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I have had very little problems with blurry pics with my S5100. The only time I really experience that is when I try to take low light photos without the flash...and do something dumb.I take max zoom pictures outdoors all the time, and rarely have a blurred image.

I don't think the IS will guarantee you sharp pictures in low light situations, without AF assist. The pics may be blurry due to unsharp focus, rather than camera shake.

If you want more advice, just peruse the existing threads in this forum. The pros and cons of IS have been beaten to deathhere.

the Hun


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Old May 27, 2005, 2:00 PM   #9
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Frankly, with your budget you'll just have to compromise.

I think the biggest hindrance to people helping you is that you said yourself:

"I have no idea whether, over time, I will take more zoom pictures and video requiring image stabilization or more low light pictures requiring auto focus assist."

We don't, either. Thus, we can't tell you which is more useful. For myself, IS is more important, as I almost exlusively use my FZ3 (has an AF-Assist Light, also, but crappy video and might be out of your price range) outdoors and a different camera indoors. Otoh, if the camera is your only one, you might find that you'll use it mostly for indoors pictures at family functions. Only YOU know that, and no one can help you with that. I would stay away from the Z2, but any of the other three will make nice cameras, I'm sure, with their own limitations.

If you save up a bit of money, you could go for the S2 IS (out in Canada, apparently).
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Old May 27, 2005, 10:53 PM   #10
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stususs wrote:
Quote:
I have not received as much advice as I hoped this forum would provide.

The basic question I have is this. Which is a more important feature, image stabilization, or an Auto Focus lamp and a good review for focus ability in low light? None of the cameras in my price range (and with 640x480 30 fps video) have both features.

The Konica Minolta Dimage Z3 (now added to my list) and the Canon S1 have image stabilization features, but no AF lamp and the reviews say they have difficulty focusing in low light situations. The Fuji S5100 has an AF lamp, but no image stabilization which runs the risk of blurry images when the 10x optical zoom is used.

In your experience which is a more significant problem, low light issues with the Konica or the Canon, or blurriness with the Fuji?

Thanks.

Well, I have an older Sony Mavica FD91 (image stablization and 10X zoom) and a Fuji S5000 (older version of the S5100) and I can tell you from experience that image stabilization won't keep you from getting a blurry shot, although it can help, for sure. That said, I've not had any trouble with shots coming out blurry with the S5000 at all, I love mine and would buy it again in a heartbeat.

The best advice I can give you is to narrow it down to 3 or 4 different cameras as you have, then take your list and go to a Circuit City or Best Buy or some shop where you can get your hands on them and compare the feel of them and check them out for yourself. When I bought my S5000, I had narrowed it down to either the S5000 or the Kodak DX6490, which is also a good camera (and you might want to consider it's newer brother, too, as a possible camera for you, although I don't know if it does video or not), and I decided on the Fuji after checking the two side by side at our local Best Buy store.
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