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Old Sep 15, 2005, 9:58 AM   #1
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I need some help choosing a high zoom digital camera (not SLR). I have been considering a number including the Nikon 4800 but rejected it simply because the reviews have been somewhat less than enthusiastic. I am now thinking about the new Nikon Coolpix S4 but I am wondering whether I should buy it before any detailed reviews have been published. I am also thinking about another new camera that hesn't been released yet, the Fujifilm Finepix 5200. I know that there have been questions raised about the 5100 because it lacks image stabilization. The 5200 has what they call a non-blurring feature that reduces blur caused by movement of the subject. Does anyone know if this is different from image stabilization and if it reduces blurriness caused by a very slow shutter speed? I am getting the camera to use on a safari to Africa and want a camera that will accommodate movement by the subject but also my shakiness when taking pictures in a low light situation (on evening game drives). I would appreciate any thoughts or advice.
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Old Sep 15, 2005, 1:55 PM   #2
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I can only speak about the Panasonics FZ series and the FZ5 in particular because I chose this one over the other possibilities and I just love it. You did not say what your budget is or if the size of the camera matters to you or not, but I do not think you can do much better price-wise than the FZ5. The Leica lens delivers great image quality; battery life is superb; it is user-friendly; has image stabilization; is compact and can be carried easily; and the price, well - see below:

In Black: $347.00 or in Silver: $356.00 at www.6ave.com plus just .06 shipping! I cannot imagine a better deal for such a high quality 12x UZ camera.
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Old Sep 15, 2005, 2:08 PM   #3
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Justinian,

Thanks very much for the feedback. I want to keep the price of the camera below $400 if I can which is why I targeted the models that I did. If I can ask you a couple of specific questions. Have you found it difficult to frame pictures in dim light? i.e., are you able to see much through either the viewfinder or the lcd? Also, have you bought any extra batteries other than the one that is supplied with the camera? I am particularly interested in knowing whether any of the non-Panasonic batteries work well or if I should just spring for another Panasonic battery if I buy the camera. Thanks very much for the feedback.
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Old Sep 15, 2005, 2:57 PM   #4
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NeilLarry,

OK, I'll try to answer your questions as best I can.

(1) Low light shots: there has been some complaints from other users about the limited low light ability of the Panasonic FZ series. I have not had this problem. I have taken many indoor shots and most turned out very nicely. If a photo was too dark, I deleted it and then adjusted the manual controls accordingly and was more than satisfied with the outcome.

(2) I use the EVF (electronic viewfinder) for all my shots, rather than the LCD. Personal preference and habit. I find it is a pleasure to use and it frames close to 100% of the shots. The LCD is bright and has 130,000 megapixels, so if you wanted to use just that, you could, but I prefer to use the EVF.

(3) I purchased one extra genuine Panasonic Li battery on eBay from the Accessory Genie eBay store for just $16.75 + shipping. Here is a link for the same battery:

http://cgi.ebay.com/NEW-Panasonic-CGA-S002-LUMIX-DMC-FZ20K-FZ1-FZ10-Battery_W0QQitemZ7546855519QQcategoryZ43447QQrdZ1Q QcmdZViewItem

I don't know if a generic brand battery will work as effectively. It probably will, but I prefer to stick with a genuine brand, if possible. Since the Panasonic brand was so cheapon eBay, Iplan to stick with this vendor.

Having said that, I have not yet had to use extra battery, but I bought it to have one just in case I needed it. I have recharged the original battery once, and the battery life is great - about 300 shots per charge. This is vastly superior to my older Olympus digital that takes AA batteries, which were forever losing power quickly.

All the best in your search, and if there is anything else I can add, please just ask.
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Old Sep 15, 2005, 4:00 PM   #5
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Justinian,
Thanks very much for the detailed reply and all the information. I really appreciate it. I think that at the moment the Panasonic FZ5 is at the top of my list, but I am not going to buy anything until after the Nikon Coolpix S4, Fujifilm Finepix 5200, and Olympus SP500 have come out and I have had a chance to see them.
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Old Sep 15, 2005, 5:13 PM   #6
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NeiLarry-

The "anti-blurring" feature of the Fuji S-5200 and the S-9000 is not IS. It is an auto increase in ISO setting to engage a higher shutter speed. IS is primarily useful when shooting in very low light level conditions with very slow shutter speeds. It does not stop any subject movement at all. Instead it stabilizes the digital camera against any movement made by the camera user.

IMHO I would suggest the Fuji S-5200 or the S-9000 which are capable of using ISO speeds up to ISO 1600. Thereforethe S-5200/S-9000can operate much better in low level lighting conditions with measurably faster shutter speeds and much better photosthan the Canon S-2, the Sony H-1 or the Panasonic FZ series which are limited to a maximum ISO setting of just 400.

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Old Sep 15, 2005, 5:16 PM   #7
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NeiLarry-

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"To give you an idea of what increased ISO can do for you. Here is a sample photo made with the Fuji F-10 at ISO 1600.

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"Sarah Joyce
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Old Sep 15, 2005, 6:05 PM   #8
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Justinian, I understand the FZ5 body is plastic. How sturdy is it?
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Old Sep 15, 2005, 6:25 PM   #9
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Sarah,
Thanks so much for explaining the difference between IS and anti-blurring. As I think I mentioned in one of my messages to Justinian, I am going to Africa on a safari and anticipate taking some pictures when it is almost (or actually) dark with no artificial lighting. I sort of thought that I would have to take pictures with a wide open camera at a very slow speed. But I think you are saying that I will have better luck with the Olympus anti-blur feature than with IS. Am I right? I really appreciate the feedback and the help.
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Old Sep 15, 2005, 9:14 PM   #10
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I`ve owned a Panasonic FZ20 for about 6 months now, and over all, I`m really impressed. The image stabilization works really well. However..., I am indeed also impressed with the Fuji products. With panasonic, the 12x zoom is indeed very handy, but inlow light situations Panasonicdoes indeed leave much to be desired. In good lighting, the Panasonic is great!

Have fun with whichever you choose, JH
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