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Old Nov 15, 2005, 6:22 PM   #1
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Hi,

After spending a few days reading through digital camera magazines, and reading reviews and user opinions here and on dpreview, I'm still confused.

I currently have a basic film SLR which I got at the insistence of my tutors at architecture school. I really like the way it works, and the control I have when using it. However, I take far more pictures with my fathers Fuji Finepix S3000 - its just so much cheaper. I must have taken over 10000 pictures with it which would have cost a fortune on film.

However I don't find it to be a very good camera. It doesn't give me enough control (over things like aperture and shutter speed)- I don't like the way it tries to automate everything. The pictures it takes are sometimes noisy. There is a noticeable bend in lines which should be flat (important when photographing buildings!). Photos taken in low light (like electric lighting indoors) are often blurry - I find I need to use a tripod to get them sharp.



Here is what I would use the camera for:

1. Photographing Sites - Outdoors mostly, hundreds of photographs of a single place at a time

2. Photographing Models - Often from very close up (the finepix wasn't good enough at this - it couldn't focus close enough to the camera).

3. Photographing Social Occasions - Often in low light, indoors - photos of friends and family.

I want to spend less than 500 dollars US on the camera. Unfortunately this seems to rule out even the cheapest digital SLR, which looked like the best option otherwise.




My short list had on it:

Canon Powershot G6 - for the f2 lens, high resolution, good quality pictures, RAW format option

alternative: Sony DSC V3 - comparable to G6 but with a slower lens

Canon Powershot S2 IS
Sony Cybershot DSC H1
Kodak Easyshare 850


- all of these have image stabilization, which would help in the low light situations. I don't think I would use the massive zooming abilities. Only the Easyshare offers RAW format option - unfortunately due to its newness there aren't too many (trustworthy) reviews of it online.

Konica Minolta DiMAGE A200 - for the SLR-like control combined with image stabilization

I ruled out the Panasonic DMC FZ30 because of the noisiness of the pictures.



What do you think? Do any of those shortlisted camera's seem suitable? Should I be considering others? Is stabilization that important? Would the fast lens on the g6 compensate for lack of stabilization in low light conditions?

Thanks for your help!
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Old Nov 15, 2005, 6:45 PM   #2
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I think you should be looking more at a camera with capabilities of high ISO and low noise over image stabilization, as it is meant for heavy zoom in medium light IMO.

The G6 is nice due to it's fast lens, but remember, the faster the aperture, the smaller your depth of focus, which may be bad for shooting archetecture. After checking photos on that camera, I noticed the ISO400 has a great deal of noise, and the ISO200 mode is not to great either. Canons are great cameras, but I have to see a nonSLR Canon with good high ISO capabilities, which is why I stick with modern Fuji's with the Super CCD.

Also, how important is wide-angle? Some people who shoot archetecture find it very important, and is it more important than long zoom ranges? I would say the F10 is a good choice, but lacks the manual controls you want, though it has very good low noise capabilities and very little barrel distortion. Maybe someone else will be able to shed light on the perfect camera for you? I'm just afraid that canon won't be the low-light camera your looking for without sacrificing focusing depth.
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Old Nov 16, 2005, 3:56 PM   #3
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Thanks for your reply Carskick.

The F10 does sound good, and the high ISO/ low noise seems excellent. But the lack of manual control is a deal breaker for me. I definitely need it. I would prefer an intuitive SLR-like mechanical zoom/focus/apeture ring, but I must have them in some form - even if its only buttons.

Do other Fuji cameras (S5600, S7000 S20 Pro) have similar abilities? The fact that they don't seem to be lauded for them while the F10 is suggests it is special in this way. (I just checked - it seems to be the only Fuji taking full-res pictures at ISOs above 400)

You are right about the wide-angle issue. Wide-angle would definitely be more useful than long zoom ranges. Zoom is not really important to me - the reason why I have some high-zoom cameras in the shortlist is for their image stabilzation abilities. Though, from the sounds of things, I should be targeting high ISO over I.S. anyway.

On my shortlist, the DiMage A200 has the widest angle lens, at 28mm.

What do you think of the Kodak Easyshare 880? It has a wide-angle lens at 24mm, a zoom-ring to for control, and (according to a review I just read) relatively low noise at it's higher ISO settings.




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Old Nov 16, 2005, 4:15 PM   #4
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Just checked Fuji website - they have an F11 listed there, which seems to be the F10+Manual controls? Also, the S5600 (apprently known as the 5200 in the states?) has an ISO1600 mode - is this as good as the one on the F10?
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Old Nov 16, 2005, 4:34 PM   #5
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woodface-

Yes, I am a very happy and pleased Fuji S-5200/5600 owner and the camera is a great digital camera. You will really like the 10X optical zoom instead of the 3X optical zoom found on the F-10/11 cameras.

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Old Nov 16, 2005, 7:50 PM   #6
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I beg to differ about the 5200 series. While it really is a great camera, it begins at a 38mm wide-angle, which is a killer when photographing archetecture. I know, as I often have to photgraph closets and cabinetry, and my old Fuji2650 with 38mm is killer. The F10 is a little better at 36mm. The FujiFilm e550 may be an alternative, which is what I had before my F10. Mine had a reoccuring spot on my pictures, and Fuji was out of e550s when they sent me a new camera, so they offered me the F10. I really do miss the e550s manual controls, which was a main reason I bought it, plus it had 32mm wide angle and 4x zoom. If you get a defect free model, it's a fantastic cam, though it's low light capabilities cannot match the F10, but are much better than most.

The F11 would be great, as it is an F10 with revisions such as shutter/aperture priority and a higher resolution LCD, but they have yet to bring it out in the US.

The e900 is out, and does allow for 9MP pictures up to ISO800, and is supposed to have less noise at all ISOs than the e550, in addition 2 3MP more. Other than that and a few more manual options, it is a very similar camera. Hopefully it has some manufacturing quality revisions as well, as the e550 where a somewhat troublesome line. I think Fuji has gotten better since then, though. From what I saw on an e900 review, there is relative little noise through ISO400, and the ISO800 picture is usable. Noise is noticable at 100%, but at 9MP, an 8x10 would still look pretty good.

http://www.photoxels.com/fujifilm-e900-review.html

The e900 is more expensive than the F10 and e550.
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Old Nov 18, 2005, 11:34 AM   #7
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woodface wrote:
Quote:
1. Photographing Sites -* Outdoors mostly, hundreds of photographs of a single place at a time
Then I suggest forgetting anything with worse than 28mm wide angle.
And that means really big chunk of all digicams is out of question because of "unwide-angle".

Also considering model shooting A200 is quite excellent.
While it's closest focusing distance is 13 cm you can use tele end of lens which gives image from about 6 cm wide area, it also means there isn't any distortions (like with very close shots using wide end of lenses) and camera doesn't shadow target so much.


That Kodak 880 has 8 megapixels in small sensor which means noise or very heavy processing. (also it tells something that over 400 ISO is made possible only with smaller resolution images)


Considering noise capability of Fuji's 9MP sensor here's some comparison between Panasonic's FZ30 (with IS) and Fuji S9000/S9500.
http://www.videozona.ru/photo_tests/...Z30_page05.asp
It's quite clearly evident Fuji screwed up high ISO capability of sensor by cramming too much megapixels more into small sensor.
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Old Nov 18, 2005, 11:55 AM   #8
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ET-

Perhaps its time to think about alow costdSLR such as the Olympus E-500.

MT
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Old Nov 18, 2005, 6:43 PM   #9
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Carskick wrote:
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I beg to differ about the 5200 series. While it really is a great camera, it begins at a 38mm wide-angle, which is a killer when photographing archetecture.
That was my first thought, too. But woodface has been using a Fuji S3000, which appears to have the same limitation.

What do you think, woodface? Do you need more wide-angle coverage than the S3000 provides? If so, the 5200 is probably not a good choice for you, and you might do well to follow Sarah's advice and look into entry-level dSLRs. You might find something in your price range if you watch for closeouts.

But if you can get by with the 5200's zoom range, it still sounds like a good and economical choice for you.
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Old Nov 18, 2005, 7:46 PM   #10
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Stabilization gives nearly 3 f-stops at any focal length. While it is touted for telephoto work is equally effective at wide angle in limited light. With a 28mm lens you can shoot at very low shutter speeds using stabilization. I have seen some great museum shots with the A2, and the A200 should be just as effective.

Burst mode also helps when trying to shoot at very low shutter speeds. You increase your chance of hitting a null moment in movement.

Good stabilization at ISO 100 gives about the same handheld capabilities as ISO 800 without stabilization. They both give the same advantage throughout the zoom range. ISO 800 images on a Fuji will be noisier than ISO 100 images from the A200.

Everything doesn't necessarily favor stabilization over high ISO though. Stabilization works only for hand movement and doesn't help for subject movement. Since shooting at higher ISO gives you higher shutter speeds, the Fuji approach is better for subject movement.

The A200 is a great camera and seems perfect for your intended architectural use. And as E.T.pointed out, the A200 ability to maintain its close focus distance with zoom is unique. That allows for much easier lighting without the lens almost against the mode.

For an overall camera the Fuji S9000/9500 would be hard to beat though. It also has wide angle and a manual zoom ring. There are trade offs between high ISO and stabilization. Overall I prefer stabilization, but I don't do much action photography. Too bad Fuji won't pay some patent fees so we could have both. They might also pay a MPEG4 fee while they are at it.

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