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Old Nov 26, 2005, 11:50 PM   #1
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This is my first post but I've been reading some great information here. Thanks!

I'm down to three long zoom cameras but need help deciding which is the best choice. This will be a Christmas gift for my bird-watching point-and-shoot wife. Primarily, but not exclusively, outdoor daytime use. Simplicity is initially important but capability will become important with experience. I understand that the Konica-Minolta Z6 is basically a Z5 with more memory (true?) and the Z5 gets mixed user reviews (LCD and zoom mechanical problems). The Olympus SP-500 is a little pricey for my $300 budget but still affordable. The Fuji S5200 has the best user reviews but it's only a 5mp 10x camera compared to 6mp and up to 12x. I know that 6 is better than 5 and 12 is better than 10, but are those significant differences?

Decisions, decisions.

The only advice I've gotten was second hand from a friend of a friend who works at a brick and mortar camera store. She categorically recommended the Konica-Minolta over the Fuji because the Fuji is "slower" (not sure what that meant), has fewer pixels and lower zoom power for basically the same price. I can read the specs, too. What I need is an educated opinion.

Is there anything that sets these three apart for my intended use?

Thanks again.





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Old Nov 27, 2005, 2:18 AM   #2
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Is $300 your spending limit?The cameras on your list all cost a bit more than that - the S5200, the SP500 UZ and the Z6 allhave an MSRPof around $400 US, althoughyou might be able to find a Z5 for less because it's now an 'old' model.

I've owneda Fuji S5200for a few months now andI really like it. I think it's the best camera for the money, but the choice is yours. Here are some links toreviews you might find useful.

Good luck and keep us posted, OK?

http://www.megapixel.net/reviews/oly.../sp500-gen.php

http://www.megapixel.net/reviews/minolta-z5/z5-gen.php

http://www.photoxels.com/fujifilm-s5200.html

http://www.steves-digicams.com/2005_reviews/z6.html

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Old Nov 27, 2005, 6:44 AM   #3
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Thanks, Toshi.

Yep, those are some of the reviews that helped me narrow this down to three cameras. I'd really like to see Steve's review of an S5200/S5600.

You're right about the list prices.And $300 is not a hard stop but a desired limit. In fact, for $300 (give or take $10), I can only buy the S5200. The SP-500 gets me closer to $350. The Z6 falls somewhere in between. That's all based on online pricing from companies that ResellerRatings gives a score of at least 8 (IBuyPlasma, ProfeelVideo, BuyDig, etc.). I expect to spend at least another $100 on batteries, a charger, a 512Mb card and a case, although eBay looks real attractive for those items. Of course, I need to decide on the camerafirst.

I'm pretty set on the S5200 because it looks like the most bang for the buck and becauseI haven't found many userswho are disappointed in owning one (or its European counterpart, S5600). I can't say that about the Z5. On the other hand, I don't want to buy the Fuji THEN learn that the others would have been better for my wife's needs. I'd rather spend another $50 for the right camera, but only if I have to.So, I guess what I'm really asking is if the S5200 is as good and as appropriate as I think it is or if I should exclude one of my three finalists for some reason. You seem to agree that I'm on the right track.

Thanks for taking the time to respond. I appreciate the help.
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Old Nov 27, 2005, 7:08 AM   #4
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RaymondW wrote:
Quote:
bird-watching...
I think in this case that bird watching is very important word, because birds are small and getting closer to them is quite impossible so the longer the tele (that latter mm number) is, the better.
Also focusing time would be very important aspect, according to Dpreview whole KM's Z-serie has been almost exceptional in that. Maybe focusing speed is what he meant about that Fuji.

Pretty much only difference between Z5 and Z6 is one megapixel. (and later's lack of 640x480 video) So they're really quite equal, but from budget point of view Z5 would be definite winner.
(one megapixel doesn't mean much, unless it happens to be one megapixel "between 1 and 2 megapixels")

Also Panasonic DMC-FZ5 would be really worth of checking. It has considerably bulkier outlook/size but its lens is really fast at tele end making it very strong competitor.


Daylight use means that higher ISOs aren't so necessary for using tele's full reach. (you definitely don't live near arctic circle)
And in low light non moving target photography (like landscapes/sceneries) image stabilisation beats higher ISOs.
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Old Nov 27, 2005, 1:25 PM   #5
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I have to disagree with ET. The Panasonic FZ5 does have a lot going for it, including a very good Leica 12X lens and Image Stabilization, but it's MSRP is $599 US and it's pictures are noisier than average, especially at higher ISOs.

On a purely bang-for-the-buck basis, the S5200 is the clear winner. It may not have IS per se, but it does have extremely high ISO capability - up to 1600 - that's amazingly useful and in some cases better than IS. It allows higher shutter speeds which is better for stopping action.
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Old Nov 27, 2005, 4:10 PM   #6
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toshi43 wrote:
Quote:
but it's MSRP is $599
What about real price?
Here in Finland its price is very close to KM Z5 and cheaper than Z6. And according to reviews its noise doesn't really differ anyway from its class.

"Postcard size" photos doesn't proof anything, any digicam is capable to very clean postcard sized photos at it's maximum ISO. (maybe except some toys/el cheapos)
I haven't yet seen any proofs are Fuji's claims any true! Sure F10 has quite nice capability although higher ISOs are clean because of "watercolor" filtering but in S9000/9500* they added more megapixels and it really doesn't live up to its advertised capability and 800 and 1600 look anything else than clean if you look little closer. For S5200/5600 they slightly lowered megapixel count but on the other hand decreased sensor size one full step.
So could you take shots with different ISOs (like starting from 200) and take some full size crops from couple parts in every photo like in this test?
(unless you have something against closer look)

*=Isn't it lovely that they use different model number in different continent?

PS. I would advice against embedding oversized images directly to post, there might be people still with analog modem... and that image should go to about half of its current size without getting JPEG artifacts.
(so post result using this for example and put images behind links)
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Old Nov 27, 2005, 5:14 PM   #7
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The pics I post are all under the limit set by the site administrator, which is 250,400 bytes, or about 24Kb. Even a dial-up shouldn't have too much problem with files that size.

If you want proof of the high ISO performance of the S5200, here it is. These shots were both taken at ISO 800.
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Old Nov 27, 2005, 5:16 PM   #8
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If the use is for birding, I would think the Panasonic (FZ5) would be the better deal. I read nothing that beat the FZ5 zoom in daylight conditions. A tad more but the FZ20 might be even better. It is larger, but that creates a slightly more stable platform when tele-out all the way. I ended up settling on the S5200 (It should arrive this week), paid $304 with shipping. I went with that one because I like to do existing light shooting as well as telephoto, ect. The Fuji seemed a good all around camera for the type of shooting I do. I also didn't need more than 5 or 6 MPs. The FZ5 can be had for about $330 with shipping. I dropped the sp-500 from my list because it does NOT have diopter correction for it's viewfinder, and I don't always take my reading glasses with me (ok, I never take them). I never really read a good review about the Z5/Z6's, not bad either, but for the price some of the other cameras beat them hands down.
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Old Nov 27, 2005, 5:16 PM   #9
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Here's the second pic, again, shot at ISO 800. Not so bad, huh?
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Old Nov 27, 2005, 6:43 PM   #10
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toshi43 wrote:
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* The pics I post are all under the limit set by the site administrator, which is 250,400 bytes, or about 24Kb.
Divider is 1024, not 10240 so those are quite big for modem users (max speed 5 kBps), especially if there's multiple pics in page.


toshi43 wrote:
Quote:
Here's the second pic, again, shot at ISO 800. Not so bad, huh?
Well... isn't that what downsized image should always look?

Visible noise levels at various print size show that the A2 is perfectly suited at ISO 200 (or less) up to 25" wide and at ISO 800 up to 12" wide.
http://www.neocamera.com/feature_dslr3.html
And pretty much all reviewers considered Sony's sensor used in A2 as noisy... :roll:

So could you take crop from original full resolution image, from that lower left part with that "open water"+grass and from right side middle where those twigs are visible.
And have you tried ISO 1600?

But looks like advantage is about two (maybe little more) "steps" when compared to camera's with same sensor size... might be propably about half achieved with very high processing like in other Fuji models.
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