Superzoom - bridge camera

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by davethewave, Feb 5, 2008.

  1. davethewave macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2007
    Location:
    Trieste, Italy
    #1
    Hi folks.
    my wife and I would like to change our point&shoot camera with something better. Actually we got a Canon Powershot A530, that is quite good for us, but we like to have more MP to print bigger pictures.
    I see that the Superzoom models of cameras has some features that we like: these have good or very good lenses (even on low light), optical image stabilizators, raw format, and these are light and "almost pocket size". I liked the most the Panasonic FZ18 thanks to the Leica lens pack.
    But I have some thoughts: it has only a 8 MP sensor, that it is not such a big improvement from a 5MP that we have.
    What do you think of FZ18, it is a good deal now?
    Do you knows when Panasonic use to show new camera models? I have to wait for new models or to try some other cameras? (I know that waiting...)
    Any help is appreciated, thanks
    Davide
    (sorry for my english... :rolleyes:)
     
  2. danson macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2006
    Location:
    Cork, Ireland
    #2
    Difficult choice...

    I think that for everyday photography in good light the Panasonic cameras are great. I had an FZ50 for about 6 months - It's 10MP and so you can get large prints out of it. The reason why I sold it and bought a DSLR is that the photos are not really much good at anything other than 100 iso - lots of smearing from the noise reduction, even with the setting on 'low'. For the best quality you can shoot RAW, but have to wait 7 seconds between each shot!

    The TZ3 seems to be popular http://www.dcresource.com/reviews/panasonic/dmc_tz3-review/index.shtml
    - it's got a 10x zoom in a relatively compact body.

    Have a look also at the Canon S5 IS
    http://www.dcresource.com/reviews/canon/powershot_s5-review/

    (unfortunately neither of these have a RAW option)...

    Good luck!
     
  3. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2003
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    #3
    How about the Canon G9?

    One thing to remember is it's not just megapixels, but the quality/accuracy of those pixels. There are 6 MP cameras (like a Nikon D40 DSLR) that will produce much better big prints than a 12 MP tiny point and shoot with a 1/2.5" sensor.
     
  4. davethewave thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2007
    Location:
    Trieste, Italy
    #4
    thanks danson and miloblithe for your help.
    I have some question for you:
    @danson:
    - 7 second to write raw file? :eek:
    - TZ3 seems a good choiche for p&s camera. good review. but it is only a 7MP. maybe DMC-LX2S it's better, 10MP, wide angle 28mm. it's about 440€, when FZ18 come with me for a little less than 400€, same price of S5IS.
    @milobithe: canon g9 is very good but it is too expensive, starting at 499€.
    I know that quality/accuracy of the sensor is a central factor, but we can't compare a dslr with a p&s.

    any tip about new models?
    thanks, DaVe
     
  5. jalagl macrumors 6502a

    jalagl

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2003
    Location:
    Costa Rica
    #5
    I would seriously consider both the Canon G9 or the S5. A coworker bought the G9 after his Digital Rebel XTi was stolen, and he is extremely happy with it. The shutter lag is minimal, gives you plenty of manual control, pictures are really sharp, and is small enough to fit in a (somewhat large) pocket. The only downside is the price.
    You can read an interesting writeup about the G9 here.

    I've used a friend's S3, and I like it a lot. I seriously considered the newer model, the S5, before getting an DSLR. I like the zoom capability, and the IS is great for taking sharp pictures at the long end of the zoom.
    You read a review here.

    I have a small FX3 Panasonic camera, and a coworker had a TZ1. We can both relate to your issues - the amount of noise reduction it tries to do really degrades low light images. You can read a review here, and check out this quote from the last page, specially the last paragraph:

    Hope that helps you make up your mind. :)
     
  6. danson macrumors newbie

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    Location:
    Cork, Ireland
    #6
    Yes 7 seconds - you don't want to be in a hurry with the RAW files!

    The other thing I forgot to mention is that I bought a second hand Nikon D70s with the money I got from selling the FZ50 (+ a bit more). As you probably know the D70s is 6MP as opposed to the FZ50's 10MP. However the quality of the pictures produced by the D70s (with the kit lens) is imho much much better, none of the noise reduction problems, jpeg artifacts and instant RAW files.

    But in good light the Panasonics are great intuitive and fun to use... It's a difficult choice.
     
  7. davethewave thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2007
    Location:
    Trieste, Italy
    #7
    thanks all for sharing your thoughts.
    you're right danson, it's a difficult choice.
    I plan to wait a bit hoping in new models before springtime.
    Now the situation is like this:
    panasonic fz18 - pro: lens pack, ois, raw, price - cons: 8Mp, propr. battery, high noise
    canon s5is - pro: sensor quality, AA battery, price - cons: no raw, 8Mp, lens not as good as Leica ones
    canon g9 - pro: sensor quality, 12Mp, raw - cons: not superzoom or superwide, price, propr. battery

    talking about high noise, does post-producing raw shots be a solution?
    thanks again
    DaVe
     
  8. Grimace macrumors 68040

    Grimace

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    Feb 17, 2003
    Location:
    with Hamburglar.
    #8
    8MP is not a con! You DO NOT want anything higher than that in a small camera. Putting 10MP on a DSLR sensor vs. a much smaller P&S sensor are totally different. I would take an 8MP DSLR any day of the week over a 10, 12, or 16MP P&S. (jamming too many pixels on a small sensor can be disastrous.)

    You don't need anything above 6MP unless you are printing 20x30 images.
     
  9. Stratification macrumors regular

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    Jan 17, 2005
    Location:
    Spokane, WA
    #9
    I'll just chime in here. We've got an S3 IS that is an outstanding camera. And if you ever want to dabble in Macro photography, the shots you can get with it are just stellar. Being able to take a shot of something that is actually touching the lens and have it come out perfectly sharp is great. Especially when you can go from that to the 12x optical zoom for telephoto shots. I'd definitely give the S5 a look, and not worry at all about the megapixels.
     
  10. Gelfin macrumors 68020

    Gelfin

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    Sep 18, 2001
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    #10
    I've had an FZ18 for about a month now, and it's possibly the best camera I've ever owned. I don't geek out quite enough over photography to dive into DSLRs, so keep in mind I have no point of comparison there.

    I tend to agree with the sentiment that you really don't need more than 8MP. That's definitely larger than any screen you own, and how big are you really planning to print anyway? I can get great looking prints at 13x19 from 8MP. Besides, the problem with more megapixels in cameras is that the sensor is still roughly the same physical size. Just cramming more pixels onto the sensor is one source of noise in your images.

    The FZ18 is a little noise-prone, but no more so than any other camera I've owned (mostly Sonys in varying form factors), and especially no more so than any of the other superzoom cameras on the market (I did a lot of research before buying). Once you hit ISO400 things start getting a little noisy. I've sort of used the threat of noise as an excuse for improving my understanding of exposure so I can use the lowest ISO possible for any given shot. The flash seems to work pretty well, but really I never use the thing, so my judgment is limited.

    I'm not especially thrilled with the in-camera noise reduction (kind of muddy), so I take everything in RAW and tweak the noise myself after the fact. The FZ18 is nowhere near as slow in RAW as the 7 seconds danson mentioned for the FZ50. The small delays (maybe as much as 2s at worst) I experience probably happen because I'm still using a standard SD card. The FZ18 does support the newest fastest high-speed SD cards on the market. I'll probably eventually try one to see if I get better response time storing RAW images. In fact, the overall reaction time of the camera (startup, shutdown, zoom, shot-to-shot, etc) seems quite fast, though I've got a limited range of experience to compare it to.

    Interface-wise, it's pretty easy to use. Much easier to just pick up and explore the features on this camera than on a Canon IMO. Your fingers will remember where the buttons are after fairly little training, and the buttons are generally compatible with my stubby digits. The camera is almost too jammed with features. In my brief experience with it, a significant fraction of features will never get used, but which features depends on the photographer. I'm not especially qualified to tell you how well the FZ18 works as a full-auto P&S simply because I don't use it that way, or haven't so far.

    However they managed it, the FZ18 is lighter than you'd expect a camera with that monster lens to be, but also feels plenty solid. Battery performance is much better than what I've come to expect from Sony products, but that isn't necessarily saying much.

    Not sure what else to say. Like I said, I've only had it about a month, and I pretty much agonized over the decision beforehand, but I've been really happy with it overall.
     
  11. jalagl macrumors 6502a

    jalagl

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Costa Rica
    #11
    This is something to consider as well when you buy the media for the camera. I use Sandisk Ultra II or Extreme II cards, and they make all the difference in the world with the responsiveness of the camera (picture-to-picture, write times, etc). Other brand's fast cards should work as well.
     
  12. davethewave thread starter macrumors member

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    Trieste, Italy
    #12
  13. -hh macrumors 68020

    -hh

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2001
    Location:
    NJ Highlands, Earth
    #13
    Personally, I don't think that I'd go for the Panasonic.

    From all that I've read & seen, its noise levels at higher ISOs are problemmatic, and for them to extend the claimed range up to 1600 when noise problems start cropping up by 400 is indicative that they're willing to claim specs that "Sound Good" as opposed to really being useful.

    On a slightly different level, I'm a bit reluctant to embrace the idea of a bridge camera. In general, the appeal of a P&S is that it is easily pocketable, whereas these bridges aren't, which pragmatically makes them little different from a dSLR except that they lack the removable lens capability of a dSLR. Sure, they are somewhat smaller than a dLSR, but not small enough that they really (comfortably) fit into a pocket.

    Finally, on superzooms, I've not been particularly impressed with their real-world performance, particularly under "less than full daylight" (and more common) conditions where the noise from cranked-up ISOs come into effect. I've also found found with my current P&S (it has a 11x total zoom) that the ergonomics of a small camera body, which includes a lens barrel that you can't hold onto, makes for a not-particularly-stable shooting platform that's both harder to frame the camera on subject (particularly moving objects) as well as to hold still enough to get a good 'shake-free' snap.


    -hh
     
  14. zdobson macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2007
    Location:
    Indiana
    #14
    I agree. Many people overrate megapixels. I have two 8.2MP Canon 20D's and I shoot professionally. I've printed 20x30's (with help of genuine fractals) and even had photos on billboards with no problem.
     
  15. Gelfin macrumors 68020

    Gelfin

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2001
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    #15
    To each his own, really. I specifically want a camera that performs better and allows me more control than my pocket P&S (I still own and use one for some purposes), but doesn't require me to invest thousands of dollars acting like the professional photographer I have no intention to ever become. I'd like to indulge in the hobby of taking pictures, not the hobby of collecting photographic equipment.

    Not saying you're wrong or that you have to like bridge cameras. Could be that you are not the target market. All I'm saying is, there is a target market and I find myself pretty comfortably within it.

    As to your concerns with image quality and ergonomics, at risk of sounding overly defensive of my own choice, I have encountered none of those ergonomic issues with this particular camera, and there are enough knobs to turn that I'm not wanting for ways to turn out pictures I'm satisfied with, even in less than full daylight.
     
  16. -hh macrumors 68020

    -hh

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2001
    Location:
    NJ Highlands, Earth
    #16
    Agreed; it is a matter of choice. Insofar as control, my P&S has full manual settings, so I don't really see any difference, other than it lacks a RAW format mode (or as much of a focal range).


    I've been tempted by them for awhile. If one offered a really good super-wide angle, I'd probably buy one, as that's the area that my P&S is most wanting in right now...be nice to have something down around 20mm equivalent.

    I've noticed a difference in performance between a posture of using a camera in the "classical film" style of using the optical viewfinder, versus the increasingly common "hold at arms length" that is facilitated by LCD screens. Human body resonance is ~1.6Hz (Hertz frequency) and invariably, the less support or bracing that your camera hold has, the more effect it will have.

    From a photographic purist sense, we should always shoot only from tripods, but the reality is that we compromise for sake of convenience. YMMV on how much compromise we each are willing to live with, which includes how much care we take in our setup, which can include not only bracing, but also breathing, for example. If a factor such as breathing sounds a bit odd, simply be aware that the factors that promote steadiness have been studied for decades in firearms, and many of these observations & techniques are readily transferable to photography.


    -hh
     
  17. Gelfin macrumors 68020

    Gelfin

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    Sep 18, 2001
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    #17
    RAW format counts for a lot for me. I had actually told myself I wouldn't get a new camera without it. I might be able to find a pocket P&S that has similar features (and my Sony T100 has many of them), but it seemed easier after a point to just have one camera for "serious" photography (as serious as I get, anyway) and another for "casual" photography.

    Wouldn't it though? I'm not sure anything on the market gets that wide out of the box. I did a quick search at dpreview and didn't find anything wider than 27mm, though their search returns a maximum of 10 results, so I had to jiggle with other features to probe around the result set piece at a time, and still may have missed a super-wide camera in there somewhere.

    At 28mm, the Panasonic is still wider than anything I've owned previously by a fair margin, and it has a thread so if I really found a pressing need for something wider I could get something like this.

    Agreed. In addition to the ergonomic features you mention, I think there's a strong psychological advantage to restricting your own field of view to only what the camera is going to capture, and although the digital viewfinder is less than ideal (a screen that size can't help but be very low resolution), it's still adequate for framing shots and I almost always use it instead of the LCD. It does at least give me the same non-parallactic view that an SLR would.

    I really do fear that I'm going to begin sounding like a salesman in this thread, which I very much don't want to be, but I did spend a very long time poring over details like these before taking the plunge to buy this camera. I was aware of the potential for noise issues and accepted that before purchase on the strength of the other features. I've found in practice I can get around noise issues fairly well.

    For that matter, what I saw in reading reviews for several cameras was that noise seems to be a larger problem in pretty much every modern P&S than it was in the past. Manufacturers are just more and more often pushing the limits of what those sensors can realistically do, and I'm still not prepared to commit to a very cumbersome and expensive SLR to get around that.
     
  18. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #18
    This is probably about optimum for most people. Pixels are a trade off more of them means you can record more detail (If the lens is good enough) but smaller pixels always means less sensitive pixels which translate into more noise. The only why to have it all is to have lots of big pixels which means a big camera, like a dSRL or the even larger digital MF cameras

    One more think do not worry about the total pixel count in "mega pixels" Think instead about the count of pixels along the long edge of the frame. Devide that number by 300 and you have the size of the largest print.

    If you do the math, you see that if you want a print twice as large you need
    4X as many pixels. (Prints that are twice as wide are also twice as tall)
     
  19. puckhead193 macrumors G3

    puckhead193

    Joined:
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    Location:
    NY
    #19
    i have a nikon 8800 i think it is ok. i would prefer going with a DSLR looking back. Going size for size a DSLR is better in the long run.
     
  20. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    Redondo Beach, California
    #20
    Look at Leica

    The last time someone said that here this camera was suggested and he actually bought it.

    http://www.dpreview.com/news/0609/06091408leicadlux3.asp

    The Panasonic version comes in a different body with very slightly different firmware and sell for less money.
    http://www.dpreview.com/news/0607/06071904panasoniclx2.asp

    It's fun to look at the M8 too. It is the only compact camera that has a very large size CCD sensor (larger than most DSLRs) and makes images that can be as good or better than a SLR. but this is a very "special" camera and not many people have them

    http://en.leica-camera.com/photography/m_system/m8/
     
  21. davethewave thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2007
    Location:
    Trieste, Italy
    #21
    hey folks! :)
    I finally got it! brand new Panasonic FZ18.
    Yesterday i spent the afternoon trying the new camera. it's amazing!
    it's a big leap from the p&s cam that i had previously, so i'm quite happy.
    this evening i will try to take some city/sea shots with low light. i live in Trieste, Italy, and i work about 50m from the sea, so it's quite simple to reach one of the most beautiful target in the world, the sunset on the sea =D
    I will post my results tomorrow, if you are interested in.
    so, thank you all,
    DaVe
     
  22. davethewave thread starter macrumors member

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  23. ezekielrage_99 macrumors 68040

    ezekielrage_99

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    #23
    I recently bought myself a Canon S5 IS and I would recommend it.
     
  24. joeybagadonutz macrumors member

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    Aug 18, 2007
    #24
    Until I saw your Trieste picture, I was also considering a superzoom. Now I am blinded by jealously. No dslr will change my land locked view at 50m. Perhaps I should save my weak dollars for a trip to Italy with an old p&s. Have fun with your new toy.
     
  25. davethewave thread starter macrumors member

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    Location:
    Trieste, Italy
    #25
    thanks joeybagadonutz!
    I hope you can have a holiday trip in italy!
    If you are a "first time" tourist in italy, I suggest you smaller town instead of bigger ones. I liked most. Rome is always Rome, Venice, Milan and Naples are quite nices, but Mantua, Verona, Bologna, Florence are worth a visit.
    good luck! bye Davide
     

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