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Old Jan 2, 2006, 9:40 PM   #1
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I have been reading and researching about which camera to buy for a long time now and I keep going back and forth between the DSLR (Nikon D50) and the SLR-like cameras (Nikon 8800 and Panasonic DMC-FZ30). On the one hand I see the benefits of the D50 b/c of its sensor size and quality. On the other hand, I see the benefits of the SLR-like cameras b/c of the zoom and macro features built in w/o having to purchase more lenses to do all of this. I have had several people say that if I am putting that much money into this, I should get the D50 b/c of the photo quality that comes from the SLRs but I am hesitant b/c I'll have to buy more lenses (and carry them around) to do all I'd want to do...zoom and macro. When it comes to the "cons" of the SLR-like, I know the FZ30 has been reported to have noise and that the 8800 has been reported to be slow at times. I am just wondering if as a non-professional, will I notice these things. Is the noise of the FZ30 that noticeable to the untrained eye? Will I really notice the 8800 being slow?

Will someone give me some input on this? In the midst of all of this research, I am missing out on having a fun camera b/c I keep putting off making a purchase b/c I don't want to put this kind of money into something (which is a lot for me), and later wish I had bought something else. Thanks for any advice out there.
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Old Jan 3, 2006, 1:03 PM   #2
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jiaozi-

There isvalid logic involved in considering a fixed lens digital camera rather than a dSLR camera.

Personally I would recommend the Fuji S-9000/S-9500 over the FZ-20/FZ-30 or the Nikon 8800. The Panasonics are especially noisey, and yes, you will notice it, and the Nikon 880 is very paifully slow. With the Fuji S-9000/S-9500 now down to around $(US)500 on the internet it is the better buy and clearly the better camera.

Most dSLR buyers will spend around $(US) 1,000.00 after they purchase the Camera body with the kit lens, and then one other accessory lens, and a flash unit. The only exception is the Olympus E-300/E-500 two lens kit, but you will still probably need the accessory flash.

The decision is yours. The Expense is very real.

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Old Jan 3, 2006, 5:01 PM   #3
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Thanks for your reply MTClimber...

You're not the first person to mention the Fuji S9000 to me. One thing I have heard that is a great feature is vibration reduction, which isn't part of the S9000. Do you have any thoughts on that? Maybe I'm being too picky and looking for the "perfect" camera.
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Old Jan 3, 2006, 6:37 PM   #4
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Yes, the Fuji S9000 is less noisy at higher iso, but it achieves this only at the expense of loss of details. All reviews I read about this camera show that Fuji's statements about antiblur etc. is simply noise to conceal that Fuji cannot built an ultrazoom with image stabilisation. On the other hand if you look at the reviews and user reports of cameras with optical image stabilisation, there is no doubt that image stabilisation is not a hoax like Fuji's antiblur. If you really want a camera with excellent low light performance, you should go for the Konica Minolta 5D. It is a 6 MP DSLR, but unlike similar DSLRs from other manufacturers it has a image stabiliser which works with virtually any lense. Because of the huge pixel size all cameras in the 6 MP DSLR class have excellent noise performance up to iso 800 and acceptable noise performance up to iso 3200. Now if you add image stabilisation you get unthinkable low light performance. You virtually never need a flash or a tripod with that camera. Look at JimC's enthusastic reports and the very good reviews of the KM 5D. Prices should come down further, when this model is replaced by a successor with more pixels and perhaps I buy one then, although I deeply hate the very untimely mirror OVP technology.
If shooting fast action scenes with low light, is not of primary importance, then the FZ30 is certainly the best choice. The Coolpix 8800 is truelly not a bad camera, but the FZ30 is better in most aspects. It is much faster and the lense is better, although the CP 8800 lense is certainly quite good as well. Unlike the CP 8800 the FZ30 lacks a pano assist mode, which is very important for me. I do have a CP 8400, which has the same CCD and the same image processor as the CP 8800. Thus both cameras have identical noise performance and it is not great at iso > 100 - about equal with the FZ30. But with raw shooting and a powerful software like Nikon Capture you can achieve reasonable high iso results comparable with the Fuji. The Nikon Capture software also has an excellent tool for adding more light to shadows. It is called D-Lighting and is far better than any other software for similar tasks. Unfortunately Nikon Capture costs additional money. Only a 30 day test version is free. Also the CP 8800 is a very robust metal camera built for eternity, while the FZ30 is a cheap plastic camera. Thus the CP8800 has its advantages over the FZ30, but it is not noise performance.
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Old Jan 3, 2006, 6:39 PM   #5
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There isn't such a thing as a perfect camera - it's always compromises. The Fuji S9000 is slower at full zoom than the Panasonic FZ30. The Fuji's pictureshave less noise, but more in-camera processing and the sample photos I've seen looked that way. Much of the noise in the Panasonic's photos can be processed out (as much or as little as you want) through software on your computer - something you may or may not want to do. Both cameras can take outstanding photos in the hands of someone who has figured out how to use them to their best capabilities (something I have not mastered in the couple of weeks I've had my Panasonic FZ30). It didn't seem to me that either one was significantly better and I wanted the extra speed of the Panasonic's lens.

My other choice would have been one of the Pentax dSLR cameras - I have some very nice, old, manual lenses that will work on one. However, I can no longer hike with all the extra weight I used to be able to carry and so have no desire to go the dSLR route.

It seemed to me that the only fixed lens camerawithbetter picture qualitythan the Panasonicor the Fujiis the new Sony R1, and that has 2 hits against it as far as I was concerned - first, the zoom wasn't as big as I wanted (I wanted a minimum of 200 mm equiv.) which would mean adding a tele-converter (more stuff, ugh) and most importantly, it was way out of my price range.

Bottom line - buy either the Panasonic (and good software)or Fuji and accept their limitations along with their strengths, or else get a dSLR.
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Old Jan 3, 2006, 8:04 PM   #6
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MtGal-

Your post is excellent. There is no perfect digital camera in the market place today. All you can do is work with what is available. I tried the FZ-30 and felt there was just too much noise. I sold that camera.

The Fuji S-9000 gave me better results, but not as good as my Pentax 1st DS. The S-9000 was pushing its max, and breathing heavily at ISO 1600.

I can use ISO 3200 on my Pentax 1st DS and it works much better.

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Old Jan 3, 2006, 8:48 PM   #7
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Yeah, I realize there is no "perfect" camera. I guess I was just dreaming there! I'm like you, Mtngal, in that I am trying to avoid having to carry so much equipment. I really would prefer a dSLR b/c of the larger sensor size, but I travel a lot and also do some hiking and am trying to figure out how to get the best camera with the least amount of stuff to haul around. As I am reading these replies, though, I still feel torn and confused, especially as I read contrasting opinions about the FZ-30. I was seriously considering that one for a while until I read review after review about the noise. That's why I asked in my first posting about how much would a "non-professional" eye notice this. Sounds like I would from what mtclimber has said. That's a bummer. Mtngal, does the software to remedy this come with the camera? Also, have any others of you heard anything about the antiblur feature on the Fuji S9000? I really haven't looked much at the reviews of that camera b/c I've been looking more at the FZ-30 and Nikon 8800 so I am not as familiar with that one.
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Old Jan 3, 2006, 8:48 PM   #8
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Yeah, I realize there is no "perfect" camera. I guess I was just dreaming there! I'm like you, Mtngal, in that I am trying to avoid having to carry so much equipment. I really would prefer a dSLR b/c of the larger sensor size, but I travel a lot and also do some hiking and am trying to figure out how to get the best camera with the least amount of stuff to haul around. As I am reading these replies, though, I still feel torn and confused, especially as I read contrasting opinions about the FZ-30. I was seriously considering that one for a while until I read review after review about the noise. That's why I asked in my first posting about how much would a "non-professional" eye notice this. Sounds like I would from what mtclimber has said. That's a bummer. Mtngal, does the software to remedy this come with the camera? Also, have any others of you heard anything about the antiblur feature on the Fuji S9000? I really haven't looked much at the reviews of that camera b/c I've been looking more at the FZ-30 and Nikon 8800 so I am not as familiar with that one.
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