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Old Nov 25, 2005, 12:36 AM   #1
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Hi there,

I enjoy following the forums very much - a lot of knowledge and opinions.



I'm going to Japan next week and thought that would be a good time to upgrade my digital camera ( a compact Pentax Optio S4i). I did use to have better cameras ( a Sony F707 and later a F717) which I sold in a fit of temporary insanity.

Here is how I take pictures:

- In-house: of family and friends

-In-house: of things that go on eBay (watches and pens mostly, so I need good macro and I do not have that good lighting)

- In-house: childrens school-end-of-term-theatre-torture (long-shots-in-house)

- Outside: I also travel a bit and need the crisp landscape and zoom-detail-photos (like interesting detail on a building or view from the roof-top-bar in Tokyo)

- Lastly, but not leastly my only digicam is slowly dying, so I'd like VGA 30fps video in as well (which if I understand it really counts out the dSLRs)





* The camera should cost under 1000 $, Cameras are so expesive here in Finland, that I'd rather spend 200$ more on a camera I really like than be dis-apointed and have to upgrade later



Some poits to make:

* I don't really want to do any post-processing

* I don't take any prints larger than 4*6"

* I don't have any media-cards lying around that I could use, so media-format makes no difference in hat respect

* Size makes no difference (none of these are compact party-cameras anyway)



It seems the cameras listed in the heading are all well-though-off (at least by some), however - the more I surf the reviews and opinions - the more confused I get. The main cons &pro's from my point of viev of the above cameras seem to be:

S2 IS

Con: soft pictures

Pro: the ISO seems to be pessimistic, i.e. a reported 400 is in fact around 640 (if I understand dpreview correctly)

H1

Con: grainy at higher ISO, i.e. will it be good-enough at x-mas-dinner-photos?

Pro: good picture-quality, good all-around



S9000

Con: No image-stabilization, noise at hig reolution

Pro: ISO up to 1600 (albeit grainy at those levels)



DSC-F828

Con: Chromatic noise

Pro: Night-shot



FZ30:

Con: Grainy pictures

Pro: meets all specs



So, can anyone dissolve my signifficant confusion and tell me weather the cons of the cameras that many seem exist are really relevant for small prints and the kind of normal-person-photos I expect to take). Have I missed some excellent alternative?



best wishes, Staffan
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Old Nov 26, 2005, 4:33 AM   #2
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If you're not going to print anything bigger than 4X6 you'dbe wasting your money buying a camera with more than3 or 4mp - in fact, even a 2 mp cameracan make decent4X6 prints. Theonly real reason I would go with ahigh-resolution cam like the S9000 or DSC F828 is if I wanted to make large, high-quality prints. If I were you, I'd look for something like the 3.2 mp Canon S1 IS. It's 10X stabilized zoom lens should suit your purposes and it'll cost a lot less because it's an 'old' camera that's no longer in production. It also uses cheap CF memory cards and has quite good picture quality.
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Old Nov 26, 2005, 5:55 PM   #3
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But, it's nice to be able to crop images before printing...unless you've taken the perfect picture first time through.
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Old Nov 26, 2005, 9:58 PM   #4
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I would suggest your considering a cheaper Fuji Super Zoom - the S5600, which has the same generation sensor as the S9000, but it's only 5 megapixels
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Old Nov 28, 2005, 12:14 AM   #5
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Agree with previous posts that high MP count is not a strong consideration if your prints will be small.

Have seen reviews that indicate Canon S2 IS is not as good as its predecessor.

I would not buy and "prosumer" zoom camera that did not have IS, so that rules out the s9000.

Truth in advertising - I have owned a Panasonic FZ-20 for a little over 1 year.

The "noise issue" you mention on the FZ-30 is due to the fact that they raised the MP count to 8M on this model, without increasing the CCD size.

Agree with previous posts that is is better to buy slightly older model, versus latest, so I would recommend Panasonic FZ-20 or FZ-5.

Both are 5MP, no noise issues, great Image Stabilization, low noise, and well reviewed by ever professional magazine / website. The lens is really good, and the features are easy to use and understand. Works very well in PROGRAM (Point and Shoot) mode.

I have a CANON I-9900 printer and have been getting excellent prints (even with a resonable amount of cropping) up to 13x19"

FZ-20 has a few extra features. Both should be in the $400 range. FZ-20 has stronger flash. I get good results with flash power (eV) turned down, which greatly reduces red-eye.
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Old Nov 28, 2005, 9:41 AM   #6
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ssevon wrote:
Quote:
- Outside: I also travel a bit and need the crisp landscape and zoom-detail-photos


* The camera should cost under 1000 $, Cameras are so expesive here in Finland...
For landscape shots you need good wide angle like 28mm... 38mm just isn't anything else than unwide angle. But good wide angle and very long tele are pretty much mutually exclusive.
So you have to decide are you ready to sacrifice wide angle for getting that longest tele available or is general photography more important than getting "close" shots from wild animals.

Also good wide angle is very useful inside, walls of rooms really effectively limit how much you can walk backwards.


And why buy from Finland? I haven't bought anything associated to photography from here.
I could tell many good shops from central Europe and couple ones I've used myself. (last time two weeks ago)
If you're worried about warranty that's continent/Europe wide at least with bigger manufacturers.


Quote:
I don't take any prints larger than 4*6"
That means every camera's highest ISO would be useable.
(unless camera is exceptionally bad like apparently some El Cheapos/toys, or it's in cellphone)


If wide angle for architecture/landscapes/indoors is more important than longest reach of tele, which is apparently so because you have F828 in your list...
Then KonicaMinolta A200 would be very strong candidate. Highest ISO is 800 and Anti-Shake gives two-three steps longer shutter times for non moving targets like architecture and landscapes. Distortion free tele macro can give image from 6 cm wide area, 640x480 (800x600 at 15fps) video mode is included.


ddg_in_va wrote:
Quote:
The "noise issue" you mention on the FZ-30 is due to the fact that they raised the MP count to 8M on this model, without increasing the CCD size.
Actually they increased size of CCD to one step larger size... It's just that CCDs used in ultrazooms are very small. (smaller than in most digicompacts)
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Old Nov 28, 2005, 1:27 PM   #7
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The three best cameras for movies are the S2, S9000 and FZ30. The Canon has wind buffered stereo speakers. All three have optical zooming during recording but the manual zoom ring on the FZ30 and S9000 is nicer for that. The flip-out LCD on the FZ30 has a higher resolution but doesn't have the range of movement as the one on the S2, and the S9000 is even more limited in movement. The Canon is more compact with the S9000 in the middle. Pretty much a wash IMO. I think having stabilization active during movie recording give the S2 and FZ30 the advantage in movies.

The S2 was "Highly Recommended" at dpreview and is on Steve's Best Cameras list and is a Dave's Pick at Imaging Resource. It is a highly though of camera by the reviewers. The FZ30 & S9000 just got a "Recommended" at dpreview. Steve didn't include the S9000 in his Best Cameras and I don't think he has tested the FZ30. Everything is relative, and you won't see more noise in the movies or in small prints. Keep in mind that reviewers view the image 100% where they have to scroll around to see the entire image on a large screen. They are analyzing an 8Mp and 9Mp image really blown up. It doesn't necessarily reflect your use if you are considering noise.

For travel landscapes and group shots in limited spaces a wide angle lens can be helpful. The S9000 and F828 both offer wide angle, but the F9000 has a better telephoto range. For limited light shots stabilization is better than the faster lens on the Sony and higher ISO on the Fuji for still subjects. Stabilization doesn't help for subject movement though.

Someone linked this site with a comparison of the FZ30 and S9000 shooting available light. It is in Russian I think, but the settings aren't. Most manufacturers are advertising 3 f-stops advantage for stabilization, which is close but might be slightly optimistic. So if you were to shoot handheld at 100ISO with stabilization you would need ISO800 for the same shot handheld in limited light without stabilization. You get less noise with the stabilization, but the high ISO lets you capture movement better. I personally prefer stabilization, but I don't shoot a lot of action in limited light. http://www.videozona.ru/photo_tests/...Z30_page05.asp
I thought this shadow crop was the most telling:


The S9000 is hard to beat for your purposes in a lot of ways. It has a great zoom range with wide angle and can take very good action and low light shots if you aren't going to blow them up a lot. My personal preference would be the S2, but the S9000 might be a more versatile camera for your stated uses. I don't think you would be unhappy with any of the cameras you listed, but since you listed movies as a consideration I would suggest sticking with one of the three that let you zoom during movie recording. And stabilization is an advantage for movies.

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Old Nov 28, 2005, 1:34 PM   #8
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The FZ30 is probably going to be your best bet. While it does have a little more noise than the rest, it has a few nice features the rest don't, and fixes some of the FZ20's shortfalls. And if you're only printing at 4x6, you probably won't see any noise, even with ISO400 images.

The S9000 would be extremely nice too, but you trade tele for wide angle. And you trade IS for higher ISO.

Good luck.

ddg_in_va wrote:
Quote:
Have seen reviews that indicate Canon S2 IS is not as good as its predecessor.
Not sure what reviews you've been looking at...
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Old Nov 28, 2005, 6:16 PM   #9
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slipe wrote:
Quote:
The S2 was "Highly Recommended" at dpreview and is on Steve's Best Cameras list and is a Dave's Pick at Imaging Resource.* It is a highly though of camera by the reviewers.* The FZ30 & S9000 just got a "Recommended" at dpreview...

And stabilization is an advantage for movies.
Comparing marks of cameras from entirely different classes directly to each other isn't very good method. Despite of how much manufacturer's BS... PR/advertising departments have been trying to sell every menu surfing, unwide angle camera as prosumer/SLR like. (and which has been quite completely swallowed by reviewers)


Image stabilization is quite big advantage in videos, it really helps to calm down that "nausea causing" fast jerkyness at longer focal lengths than wide end.
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