Narrowed it down to 3 digital cameras- any opinions?

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Dec 15th, 2005, 02:01 AM
  #1
J_A
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Narrowed it down to 3 digital cameras- any opinions?

I've read the other posts re: digital cams with big zooms and narrowed it down to 3. If anyone has any of them would love your feedback!

Panasonic DMC FZ30
Sony DSC H1
Canon S2 IS

Thanks!
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Dec 15th, 2005, 06:06 AM
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Hi JA,

The FZ30 is an 8mp, 12X zoom camera. The other two on your list are 5mps, 12X zoom. I'm curious why you didn't include the Panasonic FZ5 (5mp, 12X zoom) on your list? Jack
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Dec 15th, 2005, 06:19 AM
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Hi JA,
As a person who originally started with manual SLR - then onto an early model nikon coolpix 3mp - to as of recent,the Fz30. I've got to say that by far I love my Fz30 (paid 530. USD)the most.

I'm still in the beginning stages of practicing and making mistakes. I find that the mistakes are easy to identify and correct.

I recently took some amazing photos 1 mile away down the Cape and was thrilled at the detail. I've managed to get a handle on moving objects and closeups as well. To my surprise I'm happy with the video option as well. So for an fairly inexpensive, adaptable camera that can be a no brainer to use - I'm very happy with my choice.
Sherry
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Dec 15th, 2005, 09:56 AM
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There is a website www.dpreview.com that has reviews on cameras, side by side comparisons and sample images.
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Dec 15th, 2005, 11:13 AM
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JA -- aside from the resolution factor, be sure to take into account power management. The FZ 30, which I find to be a nearly perfect travel camera, uses a lithium ion battery. The others two cameras you mention use rechargeable AA batteries. Some prefer AA's because of the cost factor, but I have always felt that recharging a single lithium ion battery is easier than recharging sets of batteries, which must be kept together as you rotate use in the field.

I also find that a flip out viewfinder is critical, because it allows waist level shooting, which can be less intimidating to your subjects. Both the FZ 30 and the S2 have a flip out viewfinders. The Sony's viewfinder is fixed. You must hold the camera in front of your face to use it.

Good luck in your decision.

Phil
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Dec 15th, 2005, 05:28 PM
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We used a Panasonic FZ20 on our safari. The FZ30 would be our first choice of the ones on your short list.

The manual focus ring is key to photograph anything in tall grass or foliage. (any autofocus has trouble with it) The 12X zoom (and new extended zoom) allow you to do lots of artsy shots of birds, animal faces and extreme close-ups. The color reproduction was great.
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Dec 15th, 2005, 08:40 PM
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quote - I also find that a flip out viewfinder is critical, because it allows waist level shooting, which can be less intimidating

Well, the three of us on safari last Sept, each using the Canon S2 NEVER used the flip out screen for shooting. Why, because you can't see it in daylight, it is slow to use, and using it causes camera shake. We used the on-top EVF eye thing. Which I hate. I will be getting a DSLR just because of the viewfinder. We DID USE the screen for playback review of pictures but again difficult in daylight, easy at night. I can however see the flip out screen being useful for picture taking in some situations. But on safari the lions didn't really seem to care how we shot them - with our camera. If you haven't seen a sample of our photos, the three of us took over 4,000, 58 (yes only 58) are at this Kodak gallery.
http://www.kodakgallery.com/tdgraham/safari_2005
Again all photos with the Canon S2, some cropping as noted. We also enjoyed taking short, maybe 30 second, movie clips. The camera is geat for that.
Merry Christmas - Tom
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Dec 15th, 2005, 08:42 PM
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Thanks, Ericka, for making this important suggestion. Manual focusing can be critical in keeping the focus on the animal and not the grass or the leaves it may be hiding behind. I used the FZ-20 before I purchased the FZ-30, and must add one more tremendous advantage of the FZ-30. The zoom function on the FZ-20 was controlled electronically, and I found often found it difficult to frame the image exactly as I wanted to. It moved in jerky fits and starts according to the camera's agenda, not my own. The FZ-30, however, offers a manually operated zoom ring, just like the good old days of film cameras. I can place my frame exactly where I want it instantly and always.

I also must put a word in here for the extended zoom range of the FZ-30. It is comforting to know that I can always extend my telephoto reach from 420mm to 535mm just by reducing the resolution from 8 MP to 5MP -- with no loss of clarity. And, if push comes to shove, by reducing the resolution even further -- down to 3 MP -- I can get the equivalent of 668mm out of that very same lens, with minimal image deterioration. While I did not need to use extended zoom lengths during my first shoot with the FZ-30 in Mexico last month, I will certainly be testing it on actual wildlife subjects in Zambia's South Luangwa National Park later this month.

Phil
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Dec 16th, 2005, 08:24 AM
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I bought the Canon S2 IS and just returned from So Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe. Was thrilled with the results of my new camera. Now I have to figure out what to do next with my 1500 photos!$499 and Office Depot has a 10% coupon good until this Sat 12/17
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Dec 16th, 2005, 10:25 AM
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Tom,

My suggestion regarding waist level shooting was made regarding making pictures of people, not lions. It is much less intimidating.

Some flip up viewfinders can be more difficult to see in direct sunlight than others. It varies from camera to camera. I had great difficulty using the screen on my Canon G6, but find the screen on my FZ-30 is much brighter. I also try to cast a shadow on the viewfinder if possible. I also agree that EVFs are awful devices. I never use mine.

Good luck with your new DSLR -- it will solve the wash-out problem, but you will lose live preview in the bargain. It comes down to tradeoffs and dollars.

Phil
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Dec 16th, 2005, 11:07 PM
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CarlaM -
Printing photos - Costco will do 4x6 for 17 cents each. So 1500 would be about $250 (plus tax). Costco will also do 11x14 for $3. This is a really good deal. Only problem I've had, and a major one, is "off" color by Costco. Especially when they change paper rolls and do not check color calibration. A favorite trick of the Coscto near me (Fullerton CA).
Did you try movies? We get a real kick out of short, 20-30 second, scenes. I could never get used to using a full blown movie camera. It seemed like I was missing what was really going on. Anyway glad you are happy with the camera.
Merry Christmas - Tom
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Dec 17th, 2005, 01:51 AM
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I took the Sony with me through Africa and the Middle East and was quite happy with the results. I'm sure everyone has their preference and it comes down to what you're comfortable with, how the camera feels and what features are important to you.
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Dec 19th, 2005, 07:34 AM
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Hi Tom,

Went to the photo shop to burn the CD's of my photos and ended up purchasing the Canon photo printer. So now I can play around making prints in the comfort of my home. Have already had to replace the ink cartridges twice! This is not the most economical way to go but alot more fun. In the long run it should pay off.I took 3 movies, one of the jackass penguins at Boulders Beach, jumping into the ocean (the recording picked up their "donkey sounds"...incredible). Also a lion crouched down ready to pounce on an antelope mid day, but she changed her mind. I have her creeping along for a little ways. Very cool! Thanks for your input. PS, my friends on the trip were from Fullerton! small world
Merry Christmas, Carla
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Dec 19th, 2005, 07:54 AM
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I ended up purchasing the Canon photo printer the other day and have already gone through 2 sets of ink refills! It's fun to make your own enlargements but not cost savings. I did get a small movie of the jackass penguins at Boulder Beach and the sound recorded their "donkey sounds". Also got a small movie of a lion considering an attack on an antelope. Very cool!
Merry Christmas, Carla
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Dec 19th, 2005, 01:46 PM
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JA-

I would scratch the Sony off your list. I'm sure it's a great cam, but it will lock you into memory sticks, which seem destined to be more expensive than secure digital cards of the same memory size. It otherwise doesn't have much to distinguish it from the other two.

In choosing between the Canon and Panasonic, here are some trade-offs. (1) Size: You may get more non-safari use out of the smaller Canon. As wjsonl suggested, consider the Fz5 and if you can wait until Feb see if a new version comes out.
(2) Performance: Fz30 offers quicker focus and the new extended zoom modes. Handle both to decide which zoom you prefer.
(3) Movie mode: While Panasonic finally got with the program and upgraded to 640x480, Canon still has a clear edge. If you'd like the cam to double as a video recorder, Canon is the clear choice w/ advanced audio and zooming during filming.

-Matt
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Dec 19th, 2005, 08:14 PM
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CarlaM
I have a Canon i950 photo printer, been using it for over 1 year. I like it, fun to play around with. If you know something like PhotoShop you have infinite flexibility in changing/manipulating the prints. This can be a problem, i.e. over analysis leads to paralysis. Anyway, regarding ink, my i950 uses dye type inks which you can buy in bottles and then yourself refill the ink cartridges. Cuts the cost of ink by 90% or more. I use ink from - inkjetgoodies - but there are several internet suppliers. I agree, you don't really save any cost over using Costco or such. The only reason I have been using Costco is to make 11x14 prints (Canon will do 8x10). But their quality control frustrates me.
Have to agree with Matt-99mkw, the Canon does really nice movies, good picture quality, good sound, can zoom. You can also take a still picture while making a movie! BUT is interrupts the movie for a split second and makes a click.
Merry Christmas - Tom
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