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Old Aug 8, 2005, 5:30 PM   #1
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I'm ready to purchase my first digital camera. I'm overloaded with search info and in shut-down mode.

Criteria sought:

*great Zoom

*low lag time

*quality indoor action shots

*Priced under $200

I will be taking halftime performance pics from the football stadium stands and dance routines from indoor gyms (these shots always come out yellow).Frequent fast-shooting, lots of pics. I have no need to do any enlarging beyond <maybe> a rare 8 x 10.

My old Pentax Zoom90-WR finally kicked the bucket and I'm motivated to discover digital. BTW, how do digitals fare when exposed to certain vacation elements (beach sand, water, wind, etc.)? Do they make a Weather Resistant digital?

Thanks for any suggestions.






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Old Aug 8, 2005, 9:09 PM   #2
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Unfortunately, no water resistant long zooms that I know of right now. Only 3X optical zoom models.

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Old Aug 8, 2005, 9:19 PM   #3
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I don't think you're going to find the camera you want at the price you're willing to pay. "Quality indoor action shots" are a challenge few digital cameras can handle well. The standard solution is to spend a lot more money on a DSLR and a long zoom.

It's possible you might stumble across a used or refurbished Panasonic DMC-FZ1, FZ2, or FZ3 in your price range. These cameras have reasonably bright, long zooms with image stabilization. I don't think they're great at ISO 400, but they may be satisfactory for your purposes.

The Olympus C-5500 "Sport Zoom" might also be worth considering, but it has only half the zoom range of the Panasonic offerings, and the lens is more than a full stop darker at the long end. It seems to be selling for a bit more than $200.

There are a number of ultra-zoom digital cameras available, and I am by no means familiar with all of them. It's possible that some others may suit you better than the Panasonics. In many cases, the lenses are quite dark at the long end (unlike the Panasonics), and most of them produce somewhat noisy images at higher ISO settings. Of course, the optics are complex, so these cameras usually cost more than similar models with more modest zoom ranges.

In short, your specifications are contradictory, like wanting to buy a car that is big enough to carry six supersized adults comfortably, gets better than 50 miles per gallon in the city, and sells for less that $12,000.

Still, with luck and diligence, you may find a camera that you can compromise on. Good luck! Or you may decide to stick with film.
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Old Aug 8, 2005, 11:47 PM   #4
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Agree with Robb. You'll have to compromise; however, a refurbished Panasonic FZ3 can be bought for less than $250 on eBay, and it's a heck of a camera.
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Old Aug 9, 2005, 2:11 PM   #5
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I might be able to spend a bit more, but am wary and somewhat unsure of how much I must expect to spend in <only the necessary> accessories.

Two questions:

1. What is meant when reviews mention a camera's noise level in a picture?

2. Any comments on the Minolta Dimage Z10?

I really appreciate all the info as it's helping me in my research.
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Old Aug 9, 2005, 9:54 PM   #6
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jxopf wrote:
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What is meant when reviews mention a camera's noise level in a picture?
Noise is part of the image that doesn't belong. It wasn't present in the original scene, and it's not the result of optical errors in the lens. It is extraneous data generated by the camera's sensor.

Here's a reasonably good explanation with some basic examples:

http://www.digicamhelp.com/what-is-noise-reduction/

To understand this better, take a look at some of the sample images included in camera reviews here at Steve's. Compare images recorded at high ISO settings with those captured at low ISO. High ISO images usually have more noise, expect when they have been subjected to aggressive noise reduction, which can remove details along with the noise.

Noise that is glaringly obvious when an image is viewed at 100% may not be a problem when the image is resized to fit the screen or printed at 4x6.
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