good safari camera

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Mar 28th, 2006, 09:36 AM
  #1
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good safari camera

After eventually decideing on an itinerary, it dawned on me that I actually do not own a half decent digital camera for which to record my trip! I have done much surfing on the internet and have decided to opt for a "point and shoot" for 2 reasons; 1. I cant afford a decent SLR and 2. I would have no clue (and no time to learn) how to properly use an SLR.
I'm wanting to spend $1000 max, so wondered if anyone had any opinions on what would be suitable. I've had a look at the Panasonic Lumix FZ30 so far, which seems suitable. Anyone any thoughts on this or any similar camera? Cheers!
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Mar 28th, 2006, 09:47 AM
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There have been several Fodors threads on cameras, some with over 200 posts.

The Panasonic Lumix FZ30 has gotten rave reviews. It is what I will purchase soon when I make my switch from a film SLR camera to a high zoom digital.

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Mar 28th, 2006, 02:12 PM
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Last September we (me, wife and cousin) went on safari and each of us had the Canon S2. It did a great job. I have a small gallery of photos at - http://www.kodakgallery.com/tdgraham
All photos taken with S2, we took about 4,000 total. The Canon S2 is a super zoom like the Panasonic and this capability is perfect for safari. Both cameras will also take video movie clips with sound which is fun. The Canon S2 has just been replaced by the S3 (new one every year of course). You can find the S2 for $350 now.
regards - tom
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Mar 28th, 2006, 03:03 PM
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Tom - with your recommendation, we bought the Canon S2 IS camera for my dad for Christmas and it's a great camera. He has loaned it to my kids for our safari in June and they are looking forward to using it. (Too bad the price didn't drop before Christmas - we paid $150 more!)
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Mar 28th, 2006, 03:59 PM
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Cary999 and sundowner

Thanks for the headsup on the Canon. Both have image stabilizaton and 12X zoom. That's what I was looking for.

Darn it, now I have more research to do since I plan on making a purchase in about 2 weeks.
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Mar 28th, 2006, 05:17 PM
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sundowner
Happy to hear you like the S2. The only problem I can see with letting the kids use it is that they may very well fight over who gets to use it! And also, don't show them the movie mode because that'll make it even worse!
atravelynn - yes, and Sony makes a very similiar one, super zoom. Panasonic also makes another model FZ7, super zoom. Costs about $150 less than the FZ30. You'll be happy with any of these, try and find them and feel what each is like.
regards - tom
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Mar 29th, 2006, 07:54 AM
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So it seems we are all in the same boat - the panasonic FZ30 or the Canon Powershot S3 IS?
Hopefully, this thread on dpreview might be of some help...

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/re...ssage=17609925
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Mar 29th, 2006, 08:49 AM
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Yeah, Kernel Decker beat me to the punch but wanted to let you know that the S3 is coming out or has been released! I understand these have great movie modes. Personally I like the feel of the Panasonics better. But I'm carrying two 20Ds with me so you can see that I need a hefty camera that feels "right" in my hands. Good luck Lynn and Kernel!
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Mar 29th, 2006, 04:55 PM
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I also bought the Canon S2 for my Nov 2005 trip and have been very pleased. I'm taking photography classes in the evenings from the camera shop where I purchased it, tonight is on Photoshop.

Hey cary999, where is that CD you were going to send me? I am going to purchase Photoshop in the next day or so and there is a new version for videos. Do I need this since I have the movie mode on my camera?

I highly recommend taking these classes before you trip, I just didnt' have the time and taught myself the basics before my trip. Now I can't wait to go back and shoot some more!
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Mar 29th, 2006, 05:07 PM
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Thanks Kernel for the question and for everyone's replies. I think you swayed me to the Canon S3.

The Canons takes just regular AA batteries, which I prefer.
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Mar 29th, 2006, 09:14 PM
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I got the rechargeable batteries with an extra set, which was perfect. One set was always charging while the other was in the camera. The charger was dual voltage too.
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Mar 29th, 2006, 10:56 PM
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As I'm sure you know, you do not need any other program/software to make movies with the S2. Just push the button. The movies are in the AVI format and play back on the camera LCD or on a computer. (As I'm sure you know, this just to inform others). What you need a program for is to take those AVI files and put them together and/or convert to a CD or DVD format.
Photoshop? The version I use is for working with still photos. They (Adobe) do have video editing programs that Iím not familiar with. A word about Adobe products. They are excellent but can also be difficult to learn to use. Before buying talk with someone about how ďuser friendlyĒ it is. Do you mean "Pinnacle"? Pinnacle is used to edit videos and make DVD programs, much like ProShow Gold. I have not used Pinnacle but it is very good (and complicated?). ProShow Gold was easy for me to learn and I taught the basics of it to a friend in a couple of hours.
If I remember, I offered to send you a copy of the DVD I made of our September safari. I made it using ProShow Gold (www.photodex.com). It is a combination of still photos and short movie clips, plays on a regular DVD player for 23 minutes. I'm rather proud of it, especially it being my first attempt at such. Of course all photos on it are from the Canon S2. If you still want it, send me a mailing address. My email "cary999" is an address I use to absorb spam. Itís legitimate, but I donít look at it often. Use - [email protected]. But remove the "SSS" first. (Another spam thing when publishing addresses like this).
Hope all this helps some. I have a feeling you asked me "for the time" and I told you how to build a watch.
regards - tom
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Mar 29th, 2006, 11:16 PM
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Oh, and one more thing. This email spam thing drives me crazy, so your email to me may still get lost in my spam trap If you don't hear back, send me another or ask me again here at Fodors. I'm sorry it's so screwy, wish it weren't.
regards - tom
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Mar 30th, 2006, 01:55 PM
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I couldn't resist weighing in on the Canon vs Panasonic issue. There are several good reasons to choose Canon over Panasonic, but I don't think they are laid out in the dpreview thread that was linked above. The Canon S3 is supposed to be available in May, so folks considering that have some time to mull things over. DCresource wasn't too excited about the S3 press release, since so little seemed improved from the S2 (similar story w/ Fz5 to Fz7). The only improvement on the S3 specs that caught my eye was the promise of lower noise at higher ISOs. I am intrigued but quite skeptical; many manufacturer's were making such claims this year and none stood up to the test of reality. Maybe Canon has some magic up their sleeves but it seems like a matter of brute physics: only digicams with huge sensors like dSLRs and the Sony R1 can really manage high ISO levels. As I said in the run-up to the release of the Fz7, I would wait for a few professional reviews before investing in the S3, especially with the steep premium over current S2 prices.

Since nobody has really tested an S3 yet, I decided to compare what's been written about the Canon S2 vs Panasonic Fz7 vs Fz30:

Price: Right now in the US, it's roughly $325 for an S2, $350 for an Fz7, and $500 for an Fz30 (S3 is prjected to be $500 as well). Even adding in memory, etc if the original poster is ready to spend $1000 then they could get a decent entry-level dSLR package with much more power and flexibility (though of course you give up convenience, portability, and movie mode).

Size/handling: The smaller size of the Fz7 and S2 mean most people would get more general (ie non-safari) use out of them. My Fz20, which was smaller than the Fz30, was still too big to bring along for a lot of more routine occasions. It was a real bummer to have spent several hundred dollars on a camera that I only used a few times a year. On the flip side, users coming from film SLRs may prefer the heft and handling of the Fz30 (especially manual zoom and focus).

Batteries: Fz7 and Fz30 are both pretty good, but Canon is excellent with about 60% more shots per charge. Many people also like the AAs on the Canon, but I think too much is made of that since those emergency alkalines would give such poor performance in a digital camera. No matter what camera you choose you should use the EVF as much as possible. Not only does it conserve energy, but the camera is more stable when you hold it up to your eye.

LCD: All three are supposed to be decent in various lighting conditions, but Fz7 ranks third for it's fixed LCD. Choosing the Canon's side swivel versus the Fz30's bottom swivel is a matter of taste, but the Fz30 does have almost twice as many pixels.

Lens/optical zoom: The maximum aperture at full 12x telephoto is 3.3 for the Fz7, 3.5 for the S2, and 3.7 for the Fz30. I'm not sure there would be a noticeable difference between even 3.3 and 3.7, but I mourn the disappearance of the constant 2.8 of the Fz10 and Fz20. All three cameras have beautiful lenses and I see little reason to split hairs. The Panasonics do have the advantage of extended optical zoom. For the Fz7 4mp picture at 14.7x/529mm, 3mp picture at 16.5x/594mm. For the Fz30, it's a 5mp picture at 15.3x/534mm and a 3mp picture at 19.3x/668mm. Some people say this is no different than cropping the picture later on but I think it has an advantage: You can actually see the objects at the center of the frame better.

Manual Focus: Fz7 and S2 are basically tied, but the Fz30 has two huge advantages. First, the vast majority of people love the SLR-like manual focus ring. Second, and perhaps more important, the electronic viewfinder (EVF) on the Fz30 has almost double the resolution of the other cameras. This gives you a better chance of being able to distinguish if something is actually in focus. With my Fz20, which had an EVF resolution similar to the other two, the grainy image made it a challenge to tell if I was in the correct plane of focus.

Speed of operation: The two Panasonics have an edge in autofocus speed. Perhaps a more critical issue is start-up time, since it is frustrating to see an animal, hit power, and watch the animal vanish as you wait for the lens to extend. The Fz7 is the loser here at 2.2 seconds compared to the Canon's 1.2 seconds. Since the Fz30 lens doesn't extend at all it is the fasted at 1 second flat.

Burst mode: Despite comments in that dpreview link, there isnít that much difference among the cameras. I will say that burst is key when you are pushing the limits of the image stabilization. By holding the shutter down and try to stay as still as possible, I have gotten sharp pictures in a dark arena at full 12x zoom with 1/25 exposures.

Movie mode: The Panasonics have narrowed the gap (it was a chasm) by finally getting 640x480 resolution, but Canon is still superior with its zooming during filming, stereo sound, and more seemless integration of video and still modes.

Sensor/Noise: This topic has launched a thousand angry posts. To those who say Canon is far superior, I say check out at the head-to-head S2 vs Fz5 in DPreview's review of the Canon S2. Look for a head-to-head comparison of the S3 and Fz7 when DPreview gets their hands on the new Canon. For the Fz30, download some full size files from one of the review sites and have them printed on a nice printer or by a photo lab to see if the noise bothers you.

Summary: If you want your digicam to substitute for a camcorder instead of just taking little video clips, get the Canon. If you are accustomed to the handling of a film SLR you might like the Fz30 best (but consider a budget dSLR). If you see yourself shooting above ISO 100 more than in the occasional emergency, get a dSLR or the Sony R1. Everyone else should handle the cameras and pick the one that feels best to them, as Tom already suggested.

-Matt
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Mar 31st, 2006, 06:13 AM
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Great info that I can actually comprehend.

You've sent me back to the drawing board!
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Mar 31st, 2006, 06:41 AM
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I found something else on the drawing board. What do you knowledgeable people think about Sony DSC-H5 Cybershot? Not out yet.

Maybe this bit of info can help you direct your response to me and people like me. It looks like Kernel Decker is about where I am photographically. The camera I've relied upon for 11 years of wildlife pix has been an SLR Minolta 350si with 2 lenses. Not top of the line but plenty good for me. It was simple so I could spend my time watching wildlife and not fiddling with settings etc. I like simplicity. This is what I need to replace by June 1 with a digital.

Thanks!
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Mar 31st, 2006, 08:06 AM
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These decisions often come down to Canon vs Sony vs Panasonic. I haven't read much about the successors to the Sony H1 but I will look around and get back to you.

One comment about Sony cameras in general. My first digital was a Sony P&S. It served me well and continues to do so today. The BIG disadvantage to Sony's is that they lock you into the memory stick format which Sony owns. Even when you get Lexar or Sandisk memory sticks Sony takes a cut and this translates into higher prices than secure digital and compact flash. What's worse, you will limit your choice of portable storage devices or be stuck with a card adapter for the MS media. All of those devices take CF cards, but SD (which the Canon and Panasonics use) is rapidly overtaking CF and has dedicated slots on many storage devices.
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Mar 31st, 2006, 09:15 AM
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A few quick notes on the new Sony H2 and H5. It looks like the 6mp H2 is available now for around $400, while the 7.2mp H5 is slated to ship next month for $500. It looks like that extra hundred dollars gets you little more than a bigger LCD with higher resolution. The CCD sensor is the same size (1/2.5") for both, so there could be more noise in the 7.2 H5. Also, the max aperture at full zoom is 3.7.

They will actually use the MS Duo format, which at this point is around the same price as the regular MS. As of today, you can get the 1 gb Sandisk Ultra II for around $53 online for both compact flash and secure digital, but the MS Duo version in that size is around $72.

Similar to the Canon S3, they promise usable ISO 800 and 1000 with a high sensitivity mode with their "Clear RAW noise reduction." Jeff at DCresource just reviewed the point and shoot W50 from Sony with the same technology (and I assume the same 6mp chip that the H2 will use). He found pretty good results up through ISO 400, but 800 and 1000 were unacceptably noisy.

Thinking back on the Canon S3, it seems unlikely that they could muster ISO 800 with a CCD chip of the same size. Nevertheless, if Sony and Canon can deliver reasonable pictures at ISO 200 and 400, that could give them a big leg up on the Panasonics. Time will tell.
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Mar 31st, 2006, 01:29 PM
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99mkw

What a generous offer that you'll do some checking and get back to me. My own personal camera purchasing assistant!

Not that I'm not also checking (just got off the toll-free Sony number) but I am not as good at interpreting the facts I uncover.

For example, one of your statements:

"You will limit your choice of portable storage devices or be stuck with a card adapter for the MS media. All of those devices take CF cards, but SD (which the Canon and Panasonics use) is rapidly overtaking CF and has dedicated slots on many storage devices."

Would I be able to connect the Sony camera to my PC in the USB port as I do my Nikon Coolpix to transfer photos? Or must I buy something else to be able to transfer pictures?

I am not taking my digital images anywhere with portable storage. Some images will become photos on long lasting paper in an album and most will be saved on my computer and CD and flash drive.

Thank you for your help and I am sure your Uganda gorilla pictures will be lovely.


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Apr 1st, 2006, 07:47 PM
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Does anyone know anything about the Samsung Pro 815?
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