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spiegelcjs Mar 17th, 2007 11:04 PM

Final Camera Decision-Help
I went shopping again today for a camera. I really liked the feel of the Panasonic DMC FZ50. It has 10.1 megapixels and a 12x leica zoom lens. Uses SD memonry and a rechargeable battery. I would rather have had AA but not sure if that should be a deal breaker.

Does anyone have any experience with either this camera or one of the earlier models. This camera is large as compared to the Sony H5 and Canon SI3. More of the size of a dSLR. I really liked the new Sony H9 but it will not be available until Mid May according to Sony whom I called, and we are leaving at the end of May. Not enought time to get comfortable. My husband will be taking a video camera so that is not a major cosideration.

Once I finsh with this decision, and as we are getting closer to the finish line I am sure I will have some final questions.

As always thanks to all of you

KayeN Mar 18th, 2007 12:24 AM

Hi spiegelcjs

I have had the FZ30 since Nov 2005 and been away on a few safaris and do a lot of photography at home, taken 43000 photos in that time, and I am very happy with it. I am not a real camera person by any means, but I do love taking photos. My last photos would be here somewhere if you call up my screen name I am sure you should find them.

Kind regards


jasher Mar 18th, 2007 06:51 AM

Hi Spiegel,

Before switching to DSLR I had a Panasonic FZ20 which was an excellent camera -- not as many megapixels as the newer ones but you could keep the lens at f/2.8 at full tele which was great. The IS is excellent and the Leica lens is of very high quality.

There were some complaints amongst pixel-peepers about noise (digital, not audio) with the Panasonic cameras, but I didn't notice this to be a huge problem.

I did notice that I went through batteries a lot faster with the Panasonic than I do with my current camera (Canon 20D). This seems to be a characteristic of the super-zooms in general, probably because the zoom is built into the camera body and uses up a lot of power, so regardless of which one you get I'd recommend getting at least two and ideally three extra batteries. I actually had four for awhile. You can have three fully charged ones with you and leave one or two to be charged in camp.

I haven't owned the Canon S3 IS but I spent quite a bit of time playing around with one on my last trip (there was a fellow guest who had bought it right before leaving the US and asked me for some tips on how to use it). They both seem to be good cameras.

You can also look at reviews on

I think the most important factor is to choose the one which feels most comfortable to you and has an interface that works well for you. Personally I prefer to have a lot of the functions accessible by buttons rather than menus as it's a bit faster, but this is a personal thing. The other thing is to spend a lot of time with the camera before you go, which it sounds like you're planning on doing.

Good luck!


OnlyMeOirish Mar 18th, 2007 07:41 AM

Last year before my safari I had the same decision to make as you. I spent MONTHS trying to figure out which camera to buy and ended up buying the Panasonic FZ30. I had read that I needed extra batteries and bought two spares but I have to say, I could have done with just one because I charged after each gamedrive but I would not have been comfortable with just one so two would be my choice.
I LOVE LOVE LOVE the FZ30. I am not a 'camera person' either and I found it easy peasy to use and the pics turned out great, even in 'Auto'. DH who NEVER uses a camera even took a fancy to it :o

If I were buying again I would opt for it although one thing, for me, it's not really an 'everyday' camera that I would take to weddings etc - it's a little large to have to 'mind' when there is alcohol being consumed ;)

Either way though, it is a fantastic camera and one that I will be taking on any and all future trips.


atravelynn Mar 18th, 2007 07:51 AM

A Sony H9?

I saw something about an Olympus with 18x zoom also.

These cameras are proliferating like spring hares!

I have the Sony H2 (very similar to H5, came out a month or so before) and it is perfect for me. Have taken it on safari and other trips and loved the results. I don't moonlight for National Geographic, though,

The AA batteries were deal breakers for me. I don't want to be forced to recharge because some places I go that can't be done.

Also don't like the idea of requiring available electricity in wild remote places. That is more philosophical than photographic reasoning.

As mentioned, whatever you get, don't just order it online. Try it out. I was ready to get the Canon but did not like its feel and liked Sony.

Your departure is coming up!

buzztechie Mar 18th, 2007 09:43 AM

I have a FZ20 and it will be my backup camera when I head to Botswana this May (main camera is a digital SLR). I have been very happy using my FZ20 and I especially love the f/2.8 through the entire 12x zoom.

Like jasher said, the Panasonics have been knocked for noise, but I only notice it on mine in extreme low light/high ISO shots. I recently used my FZ20 in both Carlsbad Caverns and Lehman Caves in the US without flash and the photos came out very nice.

I don't seem to have battery problems with mine. They last quite a long time.

tooafricamad Mar 18th, 2007 09:51 AM

Have you guys EVER wnodered what its like to ACTUALLY LIVE IN AFRICA??

tooafricamad Mar 18th, 2007 10:03 AM

NO, And you never will. You will just visit and enjoy and go back home and ask me again to prepare a safari and thats what I have been doing for 14 years. Will you come and settle in a land of the rainbow nation. I WONDER. What do you think Selwyn.

ddlovestravel Mar 18th, 2007 02:46 PM

I bought the DMC FZ50 Panasonic about 3 months ago and I am very happy so far and will be taking it along on my safari (first time) in June. About 3 1/2 years ago I searched for a digital camera (my first) and at that time chose the Panasonic DMC-FZ1 (12x optical zoom also but only 2 mega pixels). I was very happy with it but felt I wanted more pixels and other upgraded features. I like the manual zoom and focus on the DMC FZ50. I took pictures of the recent lunar eclipse and showed them to an astronomer who also teaches photography and he was impressed! I couldn't find anywhere near where I lived that had the camera in stock so I did order on line - found it for about 450 - a couple places had it cheaper but I didn't feel good about the feedback I got from them. After using the smaller Panasonic for several years, I felt the DMC FZ50 was a little big but after using it only a short time, it doesn't seem big anymore. I think it has a great feel and am not disappointed with the pictures so far. If you use all the mega pixels - be prepared to buy really big SD cards and have lots of room on your computer, etc. I haven't been on a trip since buying it so I can't tell how long the battery is going to last - but that depends upon several factors, i.e., using the display vs view finder, reviewing the photos, etc. I plan to purchase a second battery and also to take my other Panasonic as a backup. My only complaint so far is that the lens cap does not have a strap (as my ealier Panasonic did)so I feel I will end up losing the cap.

spiegelcjs Mar 18th, 2007 03:37 PM

The Sony H9 is there newest camera introducted at the PMA show in March. I called Sony and they will not be shipping until Mid may. I really like the H5 so I thought I would wait but no can do. I also looked into the new Olympus with the 18X zoom but it uses XD memory and I do not know if I want that memory. I have a camera with compact flash and a small Nikon that uses SD so it makes sense to stick with one of those memories.

Regarding size of camera it is much more like an SLR in body and feel. YOu move the zoom just as your would on an SLR which I liked. I just shot off a few pictures with a standard SD card and I think the time between shots was acceptable. Where I purchased I have 15 days for return or exchange so this week I am going out to really check it out.

We are leaving May 28 and getting so excited.

blackwell Mar 24th, 2007 06:48 AM

I have a nicon d70 .i only have to recharge the battery once a year. zoom is more emportant than megapixels. my wife has a fujifilm5000 with 22xzoom.when i went comera shoping i did som serious reserch. i found out that when you get your film picturs developed they are procesed at 3 megapapixels. so all the extra megapixels dont do anything . enless you are going to enlarge your pictures to 20x20 and i dont think so . wy wifes and my camera are 10.1 mg but we take pictures at 3mp becouse their being developed at 3 mp and ide put our pictures up againet anyone

cary999 Mar 24th, 2007 07:32 AM

blackwell if i may ask are you from the usa.seems so your address is bellsouth.did you got to school here. why do you use such strange punctuation that makes what you write difficult to read.if english is not your first language then i sympathize with your difficulty in using it.but still no excuse not to use simple proper punctuation in sentence structure.i would like to suggest you practice on it out of courtesy for we here who try to read what you write.thanks.
regards - tom

atravelynn Mar 24th, 2007 08:41 AM

Blackwell, I read you just fine. I'll have to check about processing at 3 megapixels. I never heard that before but then I'm not up on all the latest photo stuff.

cary999 Mar 24th, 2007 02:10 PM

Well, so, new member blackwell has settled the RAW question once and for all. Good. Also, what is a nicon d70? Is it a new brand, I'd like to have a camera that has a battery that lasts a year. How many mega pixels is its zoom? Do you prefer a camera with a LCD or ISO type of sensor? Thanks.
regards - tom

safarichuck Mar 24th, 2007 03:30 PM

Hi Tom,
Just read your posts regarding Blackwell and did a review of his/her other posts. I think soeone is playing with us here. Some of these posts seem to be written by a youngster (the one you refer to in this thread) while other appear to be well thought out and contain helful information. It's kind of funny really. Perhaps we have multiple personalities. Do you thin one uses a DSLR and the other a point and shoot

safarichuck Mar 24th, 2007 03:33 PM

Sorry again, "someone-helpful-think". My wireless keyboard battery is giving out.

safarichuck Mar 24th, 2007 03:43 PM

Hey Tom,
A bit more info. It seems the Fuji he refers to was reviewed bu Digital Photography Review in 2003. It's a 3 Mpix camera (not 10.1 Mpix), it has a 10X zoom lens and uses 4 AA batteries. I think they are pulling our chain.

cary999 Mar 24th, 2007 03:51 PM

I don't know. But I was hoping to get some more photographic advice from blackwell. "Atravelynn" seems to find her/him legitimate, perhaps even refreshing in his/her writing style.
regards - tom
ps - ok, Chuck, now tell me about that nicon d70, n-i-C-o-n

atravelynn Mar 24th, 2007 04:31 PM

Tom, is that right about developing at 3 megapixels regardless of what it is shot at? Never heard that before.

I just don't want to criticize anyone's writing style if they are genuinely trying to communicate on the forum.

If the photo advice Blackwell given by Blackwell or anyone is bogus, please expose that.

DJE Mar 24th, 2007 05:23 PM


I have just recently purchased the Leica V-lux 1 which is basically the same as the Panasonic and am very pleased with how the camera is performing so far. The versatility with the 12x zoom is terrific and even at full zoom the pictures are impressive. I too like the overall feel of the camera and don't find it bulky at all.

As jasher pointed out, the batteries are not terribly long lasting but I will make sure to purchase a few more to keep charged and on hand.

Overall I think it has been a good purchase and offers me much more flexibility than my previous camera.

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