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Old Sep 20, 2005, 4:27 PM   #1
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I'm about to buy my first digital camera. I will taking pictures of people singly and sometimes in groups, mostly inside, but also sometimes outside, and I take many pictures of the sky and of nature. I will also be using it for taking pictures for on-line auctions and will need to be able to have fairly clear close ups (for things like seeing the signature on pottery). Clarity of image is a high priority anyhow. As I often do landscapes and skyscapes I expect I need a decent amount of wide angle. At least so far, I haven't taken done a lot of action shots—e.g. not shooting sports.
I want a camera that I can grow with, but I'm sharing it with my husband who is a technophobe and needs very easy point and shoot. I am likely to want more possibilities of experimentation once I've learned what the camera can do, but I'm certainly not a pro. My budget is in the $300- $400 range.
I also have very small hands and a slight tremor. I've learned to take stable images on my old 35 mm by exhaling when I shoot, but figure that with a zoom, some sort of stabilization is a necessity. I'd also like something not too large, although tiny is not necessary.
I have noticed a terrible greed factor in myself going through reviews and wanting better and better and more and more, but do have to stick to a budget and pay attention to what I actually do need. I also understand that I will have to compromise as no camera can serve every need.
After pouring over reviews and getting more than a little cross eyed I've been looking at the Panasconic FZ5, the Fuji S5100 , the Kodak 7590. I have also been pulled to the Panasonic FZ20 because in the side by side comparison it's pictures have seemed superior. But it's a little expensive for me and I understand it's a little large and heavy.
I have also read that the Fz's have problems with noise.
I've also looked at both the Olympus 7070 which is also tempting but a bit beyond my budget for its wide angle lens and the Olympus 5500 sport zoom.
These are on my short list but I'm open to other suggestions as well.
Any advise would be most welcome.
I also want to say what a truly helpful and educative site this is—well set up and full of useful information and friendly, knowledgable people.
Ruth Gilbert

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Old Sep 20, 2005, 5:55 PM   #2
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Ruth-

Yes, I agree with your analysis, the Panasonic FZ series do exhibit visible noise at high ISO settings. Currently the Olympus C-5500 offers the biggest bang for the buck. But the C-5500 and the Kodak Z7590 that you mentioned do not have IS.

The best choice that meets all of your requirements and has IS is the Kodak P-850 at right around $400. Everything else either lacks IS or is not suitable for a technophobe.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Sep 20, 2005, 7:16 PM   #3
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Sarah,
Thanks for your suggestion. The specs on the P850 sound wonderful and I hadn't seen it before, but I haven't been able to find any real reviews--more just descriptions--no evaluations and no sample pics. And the imaging resource site doesn't have it on their comparison list, so I don't know how the photos compare. Also, the price range seems to be $425--$500 range which is a little high for me--possibly do-able if I pull in my belt for the rest of my life. Do you know how big the camera is? And what do you think about some of the less expensive possibilities. As I said, my greed factor is higher than my purse and I know I'll probably have to compromise. It's nice to know something might actually does satisfy my criteria but I might have to accept less.
Ruth

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Old Sep 20, 2005, 8:52 PM   #4
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Ruth-

My Kodak P-850 arrived today. So I can provide some sample photos. As to size, the P-850 is just a bit larger than the Fuji S-3000 or the Kodak DX-6490. It ius a small, handy size. The first photo is of my husband while we were packing this afternoon. We leave tomorrow to conduct a digital camera workshop on board the Diamond Princess. It was hand held, and taken with a flash from about 12 feet. I used the Flash Compensation feature at EV-0.7, because the flash was too powerful.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Sep 20, 2005, 8:55 PM   #5
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Ruth-

Here is the second photo sample from the Kodak P-850. It was taken off our back deck. I used the Exposure Compensation set at EV-0.3, the photo was hand held and the Exposure was: 1/500th at F2.8. Please keep in mind that the image size has to be greatly reduced to just 600 X 480 to be able to post these photos. These are NOT full resolution samples, as all the normal photos are 5mp images.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Sep 20, 2005, 11:51 PM   #6
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Thanks for the photos Sarah. Nice looking colors. And spectacular backyard! Wow.
Have a good trip. I look forward to seeing the photos you return with.
Ruth
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Old Sep 21, 2005, 9:51 AM   #7
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Hi Ruth,

I am sure that the Fuji 5100 (I have a Fuji F10 myself as my pocket/indoor camera) and the Kodaks are excellent, but as I haven't used those, I cannot comment on them myself.

However, as a FZ5 user I can quite recommend this camera - the zoom is terrific, image stabilization seems to work rather nicely (although at full zoom, the burst feature is very useful to make sure at least some of the pics come out great) and the colours are beautiful. I have rather small hands even for a woman, so it fits my hands better than most other ultrazooms would.

I would say that the FZ5 is better outdoors than indoors (I would guess that most current ultrazooms are by their nature already geared towards outdoor use - not much use for that 10x or 12x zoom indoors after all), but it seems to be rather capable indoors too. Image stabilization comes in handy there, as I've got usable pictures also with 1/6-1/8 s exposure time. And its flash pictures seem quite decent to me, too (not that I've taken many indoor pictures with flash with the FZ5, as I got the Fuji F10 just a couple of weeks earlier).

As a couple of examples, here is an indoor picture (tricky lighting - a few morning sun rays shining right on the cat) as well as an outdoor macro.




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Old Sep 21, 2005, 1:06 PM   #8
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Thanks yapyap. Lovely pictures. I have been impressed with the quality of image of the FZ5. I've heard that it was an outdoor camera but I also take a lot of indoor pictures so it's good to see that it can function inside as well. And since you have both, how does it compare to the F10?
Ruth
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Old Sep 22, 2005, 12:58 AM   #9
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F10 is of course usable without flash in much less light, due to the high ISO options. I don't think I could have taken this picture with the FZ5 without flash (Fuji F10, ISO 1600, inside a church):



But then of course, F10 isn't a superzoom (although for a 3x zoom camera, I've found it very capable also outdoors as I've taken some nice landscapes and macros with it). If you can wait until the Fuji 5200/5600 is out, with its 10x zoom and high ISOs (I believe the Fuji 5100/5500 only goes to ISO 400?), I would see how the reviews are, since it would seem to be capable of good indoor as well as outdoor performance at least theoretically, and shouldn't be very pricey either.
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Old Oct 6, 2005, 1:46 AM   #10
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I am still researching and pondering. Speaklightly, who recommended the Kodak P850 says she is disappointed in it over in the Kodak forum, so I'm back to staring at the Panasonics because of how good they are when they are good. I live in the Pacific Northwest, and so my outdoor photos are mostly taken on cloudy days and often of clouds. I know the Panasonic is supposed to be not good in low light, but how low is low? Would it be ok on cloudy days? Yapyap? Anyone?
Nice picture yapyap. The Fuji F10 really does look like it takes good shots. I wish it were less limited.
Any other suggestions for cameras in my price range or thereabouts. Anyone heard anything yet about the Fuji 5200?
Ruth
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