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BrianO
03-19-2009, 08:15 AM
Budget $400 +/-
First, thank you for this great site... I've been lurking for a while and have learned a great deal... I am a true amateur and I have learned a lot by reading your posts.. so to the questionnaire:
Size Would prefer compact size
Features would like

10 x ++
Wide angle
reasonable macro
OIS

How important is “image quality” to you? (Rate using a scale of 1-10)
6 (would like good to very good P&S quality not expecting DSLR quality)
Do you care for manual controls? Do not use what I have now on Nikon Coolpix 5400
Will you be making big prints of your photos or not? typically 4x6 - 5X7.....occasionally 8x10 max based on past usage
Will you be shooting a lot of indoor photos or low light photos? yes 50-60%.... but a P&S has served me reasonably well in the past
Will you be shooting sports and/or action photos? NO

Miscellaneous Are there particular brands you like or hate? Not overly in love with my Nikon Coolpix 5400
Are there particular models you already have in mind? Canon SX200IS, Panasonic ZS3, & TZ5.... Also considering Canon SX10 /Nikon p90/Panasonic Ultrazooms but see below...

General Usage * What will you generally use the camera for?
I am a forensic structural engineer and I use a camera on every assignment documenting building damages to be included in written reports. My typical photos include things like overall room views to allow perspective (need wide) and then zoom in to detail of damages such as cracks in drywall/tiles (decent macro) or water staining.. I also regularly find myself climbing ladders, roofs to document exterior damages (longer zoom and smaller size will help here), or crawling on my belly under a building to document structural damages.

I currently use a Nikon Coolpix 5400 (purchased due to wide angle and OK macro) with reasonable success but it is on its last legs. However, I find that more often than not I leave the camera home when on a hike or fun excursions with the family due to size... I was originally drawn to to larger ultrazooms but given their size realized that it would sit home when not at work... I then saw the TZ5 and learned of the ZS3 and SX200IS and was intrigued... I think either would work OK and size would allow personal use as well... Many camera wise friends say go Canon... but review of sample photos show no significant IQ (for my purposes) differences and the ZS3 has better features.. your input would be appreciated here on these 3...

Presently I am shying away from ultrazooms due to bulk and inherent P&S qualities (that I've read about) that would likely render similar images and have similar weakneses as compacts, unless their strengths are much greater than the compacts. I would rather buy a compact now and save for an entry-mid level DSLR for a future (1-2 year) that will give me the better low light usability, better IQ, & more flexibility... unless larger ultrazooms offer significantly better IQ or low light abilities..

Sorry for the long-wided post...

Thank You,

Brian

AndyfromVA
03-19-2009, 09:43 AM
I'd select the TZ5 over the SX200is. The TZ5 is being phased out so it's likely a lot cheaper than the SX200is, which has just come onto the market. Also, the flash on the SX200is pops up whenever the camera is on and it's very vulnerable to damage. You might want to look out for Panasonic's newer compact ultrazooms, the ZS1 and the ZS3. They have even a wider wide angle than the TZ5 and you might be able to get them at a good price.

BrianO
03-19-2009, 11:27 AM
Thanks Andy your advice it is greatly appreciated... I made an inquiry on the panasnic website and they advised that the ZS3 will be available in Approx 2 weeks in the northeast US... Now is it worth $150 +/- than the TZ5? Wider is nice...

Do the larger ultrazooms offer any considerable increase in quality, low-light operation? Or am I wiser get a compact and to save for a entry level DSLR?

AndyfromVA
03-19-2009, 12:18 PM
Do the larger ultrazooms offer any considerable increase in quality, low-light operation?

I don't think so. The compact ultrazooms (Panasonic TZ5, Canon SX110is, Sony H10) may be a bit noisier than their larger counterparts (Panasonic FZ28, Canon SX10is, Sony H50), but not by much.

Screenclutter
03-22-2009, 09:35 AM
I also regularly find myself climbing ladders, roofs to document exterior damages (longer zoom and smaller size will help here), or crawling on my belly under a building to document structural damages.


Seems to me a more rugged camera is what you are looking for.

The Canon D10 or Panasonice DMC-TS1 are dustproof for example.

BrianO
03-23-2009, 05:48 AM
The thought came to mind but the wide angle and longer telephoto are more important for the majority of shots. I was thinking of adding a less expensive rugged camera for those times (maybe last years models... B&H has an older olympus @$200) to use as a backup...

ksva
03-23-2009, 11:26 PM
Thanks Andy your advice it is greatly appreciated... I made an inquiry on the panasnic website and they advised that the ZS3 will be available in Approx 2 weeks in the northeast US... Now is it worth $150 +/- than the TZ5? Wider is nice...

Do the larger ultrazooms offer any considerable increase in quality, low-light operation? Or am I wiser get a compact and to save for a entry level DSLR?
I own both the TZ5 and the FZ-28 and the FZ-28 is considerably more capable than the TZ5, but it may not be worth the trade off in size. I would not want to deal with the larger camera crawling under buildings, etc.

To answer your question about the ZS3, they're always most expensive when they first come out and pricing usually drops after a few months. Do you want to wait? Looking at how you're going to be using it (a work camera) I'd go for the better price.