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  1. #1
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    Sep 2004
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    Best camera in $500 - $600 range??

    After researching digital cameras, I'm more confused than ever. I used to tote a Canon AE-1 and A-1 everywhere, and still have them, so I initially thought I wanted the digital Rebel. I'm not the serious amateur I once was, so now I think I just want something that's small, compact and takes great snapshots. I'd be hesitant to lug the Rebel around. My prints will typicaly be 4x6 & 5x7 -- maybe an occasional 8x10. I take my photos into Photoshop to clean them up, crop them, etc., so I need the resolution to do some cropping. Like many, I've been thinking I needed the most megapixels for the money, so I just brought home a Canon S70 7.1 megapixel from Best Buy. The sales guy sold me on it, but I wanted to do some more research before I opened it. No reviews out on it yet, and have been reading some negative stuff about the S60, so I'm thinking about returning it. Also, a friend suggested that that kind of resolution is overkill for my needs -- he suggested the Canon S1 IS, but I think 3.2m is pretty low these days. I'm guessing I need at least 5 megapixels .. ???

    I really need some input from someone other than a sales person. What would you suggest in the $500-$600 price range?

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by keys
    After researching digital cameras, I'm more confused than ever. I used to tote a Canon AE-1 and A-1 everywhere, and still have them, so I initially thought I wanted the digital Rebel. I'm not the serious amateur I once was, so now I think I just want something that's small, compact and takes great snapshots. I'd be hesitant to lug the Rebel around. My prints will typicaly be 4x6 & 5x7 -- maybe an occasional 8x10. I take my photos into Photoshop to clean them up, crop them, etc., so I need the resolution to do some cropping. Like many, I've been thinking I needed the most megapixels for the money, so I just brought home a Canon S70 7.1 megapixel from Best Buy. The sales guy sold me on it, but I wanted to do some more research before I opened it. No reviews out on it yet, and have been reading some negative stuff about the S60, so I'm thinking about returning it. Also, a friend suggested that that kind of resolution is overkill for my needs -- he suggested the Canon S1 IS, but I think 3.2m is pretty low these days. I'm guessing I need at least 5 megapixels .. ???

    I really need some input from someone other than a sales person. What would you suggest in the $500-$600 price range?
    I'm a Nikon man. I used to "lug around" about 2 stone weight of Nikon equipment. These days I prefer to carry either a compact digital or my S1. They're much lighter and more versatile.

    I did wonder about the lens on the S1 as to whether it's long enough. Then I checked my 35mm lenses. My longest is currently 300mm with a 2x teleconverter. As the S1 has a lens range of about 38mm to 380mm, it would seem I have a lot of that range covered.

    I'd ignore the negative stuff and go with what your experiences are. I read loads of negative things about the S1 and found most of them to be either complete fabrications or based on errors made due to their operation of the camera without reading the manual.

    3 megapixels is all you need for 10 x 8. 5 or 7 megapixels is overkill for 10 x 8. But 7 megapixels allows you to print to a much larger size, if you wish.

    I'd say stick with the S70 since you have it. I was 60:40 over whether the 3mp S1 was better than the 5mp Nikon 5700. In the end, what swung the matter was the camera is smaller and has a better video mode. I quite like my S1 even though, based on reading reviews and seeing other people's comments about it, it seemed like junk.
    Last edited by Rhys; 09-04-2004 at 04:32 PM.

  3. #3
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    Thumbs up Re: Best camera in $500 - $600 range??

    Quote Originally Posted by keys
    After researching digital cameras, I'm more confused than ever. I used to tote a Canon AE-1 and A-1 everywhere, and still have them, so I initially thought I wanted the digital Rebel. I'm not the serious amateur I once was, so now I think I just want something that's small, compact and takes great snapshots. I'd be hesitant to lug the Rebel around. My prints will typicaly be 4x6 & 5x7 -- maybe an occasional 8x10. I take my photos into Photoshop to clean them up, crop them, etc., so I need the resolution to do some cropping. Like many, I've been thinking I needed the most megapixels for the money, so I just brought home a Canon S70 7.1 megapixel from Best Buy. The sales guy sold me on it, but I wanted to do some more research before I opened it. No reviews out on it yet, and have been reading some negative stuff about the S60, so I'm thinking about returning it. Also, a friend suggested that that kind of resolution is overkill for my needs -- he suggested the Canon S1 IS, but I think 3.2m is pretty low these days. I'm guessing I need at least 5 megapixels .. ???

    I really need some input from someone other than a sales person. What would you suggest in the $500-$600 price range?
    If you want the sweetest 5 megapixel camera in this price range, check out the new Panasonic DMC-FZ20. It has longer zoom reach than the S1, a manual focus ring, great image stabilizer, and if you come from a Canon AE-1, you'll love the SLR-like "feel" of the FZ20, though it's smaller and lighter than SLRs. They're just introduced, selling right now from Circuit City On-line for $539, right in your target budget range. I've used one myself, though I have the predecessor, the FZ10, I was quite impressed with the FZ20.
    Last edited by John_Reed; 09-04-2004 at 06:21 PM. Reason: screwed up
    Let a be your umbrella!

  4. #4
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    Aug 2004
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    Why not, for a couple of hundred more, go for the Canon Pro1 or the Sony F828? Even though 8MP might be overkill, don't those cameras offer a lot more than the FZ20?

  5. #5
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    Re: Best camera in $500 - $600 range??

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnBrowning
    Why not, for a couple of hundred more, go for the Canon Pro1 or the Sony F828? Even though 8MP might be overkill, don't those cameras offer a lot more than the FZ20?
    I guess you're thinking that because those two cameras have 8MP sensors, they offer "more" than the FZ20. Well, the jury is still out on fixed-lens 8MP sensors, but preliminary findings show that they're much more fraught with noise issues than are the "lesser" 5MP and 4MP sensors like the ones used by Panasonic. Aside from the noise issues, neither of the cameras you mentioned has a lens with anywhere near the zoom range (36-432mm equivalent), the lens speed (f2.8 over the entire zoom range) and optical image stabilization to boot. So how much "more" do those two cameras offer than the FZ20? Not to mention his original desire to fall within the $500-$600 price range, which must have been important, or he wouldn't have imposed the limit in the first place.
    Let a be your umbrella!

  6. #6
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    Sep 2004
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    4

    Thanks for the input -- A couple more questions

    A lot of my confusion comes from the reviews from users -- always mixed, no matter what brand or model. Seems one man's treasure is another's junk. (I see a lot of posts complaining about Nikon's color rendering, for example, and I always thought Nikon was the top of the heap.) The reason I decided on the $500-$600 range is that I think, for my purposes, I can find something that will work for me. And the cash register doesn't stop ringing there -- once Best Buy got me for a 512mb card, a card reader, case and $80 extended warranty, the $600 became $900. It's not that I wouldn't spend more -- I was going to go with the Digital Rebel -- the question is, do I really need to. Like I said, my friend is a avid -- almost rabid -- shooter. He has the Rebel and uses the Canon S1 IS to throw in his pocket for snaps, and says he's happy with the results. I just think 3.2mp might be too low-res -- hence my S70 purchase.

    Questions:
    • Stick with the S70? -- Even though it's too new for any reviews, and I've seen some real bad raps on the S60?
    • How important is image stabilization? Should I make sure that's a feature? What about the ability to save in raw and not just jpeg? Do you really want to start with a lossy format if you want to play in Photoshop?
    • Go with the S1, based on the mostly positive comments I've read?
    • You've got me considering the Panasonic FZ20 -- though Panasonic never occurred to me -- Nikon, Canon and maybe Sony were the only ones in my list of possibilities. Does Panasonic compare with those in features, image quality, reliability?
    • Bear in mind I want something convenient to carry around -- probably the main reason I started thinking away from the DSLR's and even the bulkier fixed-lens digitals. Yet I wonder how comfortable and stable some of the real small, sleek models are to handhold with no handgrip, etc.
    • Is mail order hassle-free? I've een warned about about grey-market stuff, warranty and return hassles, and generally just dealing with problems when you can't just walk into a store and return it.
    • What about the extended warranties the stores push? A lot can go wrong with a camera, and they claim they'll replace it as long as it doesn't look like you smashed it with a hammer.


    I really appreciate your input, thanks. And I'm open to any suggestions regarding model/make. There's just so much out there that it's overwhelming for the person just jumping into digital. Bottom line for me is: High quality images, no dearth of features, ease of use, small enough to take anywhere -- and won't be in the shop a month after I buy it. Price is really the last consideration.

    Thanks again.

  7. #7
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    Thumbs up Re: Best camera in $500 - $600 range??

    Quote Originally Posted by keys
    You've got me considering the Panasonic FZ20 -- though Panasonic never occurred to me -- Nikon, Canon and maybe Sony were the only ones in my list of possibilities. Does Panasonic compare with those in features, image quality, reliability?
    Panasonic, for some reason, hasn't frequented the normal retail channels, so you won't find it at very many local camera shops. Ritz Camera, Wolf Camera, Fry's Electronics, Circuit City, at least, seem to carry them. The FZ20 has just been introduced, and as far as I know, only Circuit City On-line has them for sale. So many people, like yourself, haven't even heard of Panasonic digital cameras, but those of us who've "discovered" them are pretty happy with our little "secret." I've watched these boards for years, and I'd say that, per capita, I've heard fewer complaints about build quality and reliability on the Panasonics, than, for example, the Canon cameras or those from Konica Minolta. As for features, as I mentioned in a related thread, you won't get much more "bang for the buck" than the FZ20 offers, with 5MP, f2.8 36-432mm (equiv.) stabilized Leica zoom lens, controls ranging from fully automatic to manual mode, replete with manual focusing ring, and other cool features. Check out the Panasonic thread of this forum, which is accumulating some pretty happy users of this camera.
    Let a be your umbrella!

  8. #8
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    Aug 2004
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    John -- actually, I didn't mean the 8MP v. 5MP, I meant the overall features of those cameras (which are the absolute top of the line non dSLR offered by Canon and Sony). However, to address your point, the Sony and Canon stuff 8,000,000 pixels into a 58 square milimeter area, while the FZ20 stuffs 5,000,000 pixels into only about 23 square milemeters (a very tiny CCD used mostly on compact digital cameras). So, although the FZ20's CCD is 39% of the total size of the Sony/Canon, it is putting 62% of the pixels into it.

    But, seriously, don't the top of the line Sony and Canon offer more than the FZ20 can offer?

  9. #9
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    Angry Re: Best camera in $500 - $600 range??

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnBrowning
    John -- actually, I didn't mean the 8MP v. 5MP, I meant the overall features of those cameras (which are the absolute top of the line non dSLR offered by Canon and Sony). However, to address your point, the Sony and Canon stuff 8,000,000 pixels into a 58 square milimeter area, while the FZ20 stuffs 5,000,000 pixels into only about 23 square milemeters (a very tiny CCD used mostly on compact digital cameras). So, although the FZ20's CCD is 39% of the total size of the Sony/Canon, it is putting 62% of the pixels into it.

    But, seriously, don't the top of the line Sony and Canon offer more than the FZ20 can offer?
    John, I really was being serious. I don't think that those "top of the line" cameras offer as much as the FZ20 does. Here's a couple of comparison shots that someone put up on dpreview's forum a couple of months ago, the first shot from an FZ10 (the FZ20 wasn't out yet) and the second shot with a Sony 828, both shot at the same time, under identical lighting conditions:

    Granted, both shots are over-exposed, but which one would you say was better? You can believe, if you want to, that because the Canon and Sony cameras have higher brand-recognition, and their cameras cost more and have more megapixels, that makes them "better," but when you come right down to the basic features that each camera has and compare them, if you still believe the FZ20 is the "weak sister" in the group, then so be it, go buy one of those, and live with your choice. The FZ20 certainly isn't perfect for everyone, but those who have it are already becoming a bunch of happy campers, from all I've seen. Go over to dpreview's forums, and check out Canon, and Sony, and Panasonic's pages. Just see for yourself how many users on each page love their cameras. I'll bet you'll find the biggest percentage of camera lovers on the Panasonic page, but I'll welcome your findings to the contrary.
    Let a be your umbrella!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
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    5

    FZ20 YeeHaaa

    Yes the FZ20 is a sweet camera and I second John's opinion. Its a keeper and at $539 or $599 its a steal either way. Took a couple days but I wouldn't trade it in even for a rebel, well unless I could sell the rebel and buy another FZ20, cuz then I could afford the camera, two cards, a wide angle lens and an extra battery. Seriously though it is a pleasure to use, very light, has a great lens, outstanding battery times, good flash, AF lamp, simple menu, and quality build. It does produce some noise in dim light, but I have not had any problems cleaning it up. It reminds me of my first SLR and gives alot of options with the manual settings. Movie mode is kinda blah but thats not so important for me. Good luck in your quest.

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