Ultra-Compact or Ultra-Zoom digicam. Thoughts?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by Applespider, Sep 26, 2005.

  1. Applespider macrumors G4

    Applespider

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2004
    Location:
    looking through rose-tinted spectacles...
    #1
    I have a somewhat elderly Canon Powershot S30 which has been through such a lot that it's lost a few screws and has a large gouge (not by me) in its screen. It's mildly bulky, 3.3 megapixels and 3x optical zoom. It's starting to feel very slow in terms of focussing and occasionally just turns itself off for no reason so I'm considering a new camera.

    I'm tempted by the range of ultra-zooms (primarily the Panasonic FZ5 - I can't justify spending more than a few hundred pounds so a even a bad DSLR is out) since the most frustrating thing with the S30 has been the 3x zoom when you just can't get closer to the action.

    My current phone has a 2 megapixel camera (and by next year, will probably have a 3/4 megapixel one) which probably covers 90% of those 'spur of the moment' shots where having the ultra-compact could be handy. Then again, in most places where I'd drag out a larger camera, I've got my new camcorder which takes 3 megapixel shots and has a 10x zoom.

    My problem is that the review sites rarely compare one range against the other (for obvious reasons I guess). I've read that the ultra-zoom's give very poor lowlight results but can't really get a sense of how this would be compared with the ultracompacts (the Fuji F10 apparently goes up to 1600ISO and appears to have great lowlight capability even at 200/400 without much noise).

    So... any thoughts on which route would be best? My main focus ( :rolleyes: ) will be on holidays. I'm going back to Vegas this year where the S30 produced pictures which were often blurred and/or very noisy when trying to get shots of the Strip. I'm currently swinging towards the ultrazoom since while I'm likely to be content with phone 'fun' images, if I've spent lots of resources to get somewhere, I'm more likely to want better quality than the camcorder will provide.
     
  2. lopresmb macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2005
    #2
    I'm partial to the ultra-zoom, not only because you get the telephoto capability, but also because you generally get more in terms of manual controls (its usually a bit easier to control aperature and shutter, focus, ect....).
    I love the camera I have in my sig and I imagine you could get it pretty cheap now (Approx $250) and it's not too too big. There is also a newer version of it with a new image processor, 5MP, 12X zoom, and a few more features, which is prob. around the $400-500 range. Check it out...

    my only real problem with it is that it sometimes doesn't like to focus in lower light and there is no AF Assist lamp, but such is usually the case with point and shoot cameras
     
  3. budugu macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2004
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    #3
    If it is going to be vacation specific i would suggest you go with ultra-zoom. I think FZ5 is a very good and capable camera. But if you are one of those shy people and if it is going to be family pictures then i suggest get some thing like a really ultra compact (pentax optio X, Canon SD300 or Sony DSC L1). I have always seen that the maximum amount of pictures are taken with the smallest camera possible. In short the answer is both. One thing you might want to note is the shot to shot timing especially with flash! I was used to my SLR and i really had a tough time learning to use a compact.
     
  4. rickvanr macrumors 68040

    rickvanr

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2002
    Location:
    Brockville
    #4
    I'd recommend a something with a big zoom. I got a 10x optical zoom Kodak DX6490 a year or two ago and its good. Zoom is nice. I've had a smaller digital camera and sure its nice having small, but they're limiting. If you can afford it, I'd recommend a digital SLR.
     
  5. katie ta achoo macrumors G3

    Joined:
    May 2, 2005
    #5
    I would not cgo ultra-compact if you have even the SLIGHTEST bit of a shaky hand.

    Ooof, not good.

    Not good at all!
     
  6. yenko macrumors 6502a

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    Aug 29, 2005
    Location:
    SouthWest-USA
    #6
    The Panasonic FZ5 is great with Leica optics. I'm very happy with mine. At the longer end of the telephoto range, make sure you have OIS turned on to eliminate the "shakes" or use a tripod. The macro feature is excellent, too.:)
     
  7. Applespider thread starter macrumors G4

    Applespider

    Joined:
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    #7
    Eeessh... and after looking at lots of F10 shots yesterday, I'd almost swung myself back to the compact. Although most seem to say that although it can give amazing results, you really need to use the manual settings to get them.

    How's your FZ5 in darker conditions (without the zoom out to 10x)? Have you taken any shots outside in the evening of cityscapes etc?
     
  8. yenko macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2005
    Location:
    SouthWest-USA
    #8
    Do you mean the FZ-10?

    All cameras will produce noise in the higher ISO settings.
    What I like to do is keep the ISO low, say 100, use a tripod or a steady hand and shoot. Action shots are a different story. Images will be blurry at the low ISO forcing you to go higher and of course, more noise. Experiment....you'll find a happy medium and you can always photoshop the noise out. If you can't afford photoshop, you can always use iPhoto. The exposure control is really cool.

    If you're an experienced photographer, the manual settings are the way to go if you're looking for total control. I've rarely had to go there to get excellent results. :)
     
  9. Applespider thread starter macrumors G4

    Applespider

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2004
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    #9
    No, I've narrowed it down to two cameras depending on whether I go for the ultra-zoom (the Panasonic FZ5) or the ultra-compact (the Fuji F10). The reason for going F10 over the Canons etc out there, is that they appear to have astounding ISO capabilities (goes up to 1600 which is apparently usable at 6x4 size). Some of the test shots at 1600 look as good as the other P&S compacts at 400. And the shots at 200 have virtually no noise - again though, as you said, most message boards suggest that you have to shoot manually though to get the most benefit from the camera.

    The trouble is that I've seen more people praising the Fuji for its excellence in lowlight conditions but it has a relatively poor lens and some purple fringing problems whereas the Panasonic has the excellent lens and little fringing but people bang on about poor lighting. What I'm curious about is whether the lowlight performance is only poor on auto or is actually a bigger problem. And, of course, my initial decision of whether I should go zoom or compact!

    The Fuji is £210, the Panasonic is £260... decisions, decisions!
     

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