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Discussion Starter #1
I am considering a two camera purchase.

Primary camera will be a Lumix DMC-FZ100:
https://panasonic.ca/english/audiovideo/camerascamcorders/digitalstill/DMCFZ100.asp

Seconary camera - for rough times, for skiing, etc, will be a Lumix DMC-TS2:
https://panasonic.ca/english/audiovideo/camerascamcorders/digitalstill/DMCTS2.asp

This is partly due to the use of Leica optics, partly due to the Consumer's Reports conclustion that Panasonic Lumix cameras have the highest reliability, partly due to the feature set of each camera, and partly due to the negative reviews of competing cameras.

Does anyone have any experiences with either of these? Any comments, advice, etc? For me, this is a lot of $$$ for hardware that needs to last a while, and I would like to do what is possible to ensure an informed decision is made.
 

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I don't own the newer Panasonic cameras (the older cameras, at ISO higher than 200 they were useless - at that time Canon and Nikon have useful ISO 400) but I can say that the statement that Pana camera is more reliable than any other brand is bunk. Pana's point and shoot tend to be more expensive so people take better care of them, and when you take care of your gears, it does last longer.

Also just because it says Leica on it, it doesn't mean the lens is made by Leica. Mostly the lens are designed by Leica. It's just like buying an external hard-drive that claims to be Porsche Design or Monster Cable that is Ferarri Designed.

Last but not least, Consumer Report is great for appliances, not so much for consumer electronics. I read an issue once that states a Canon 20D is WORSE in overall quality than Rebel counterpart. At the time I had both, and a semi blind person can tell than the 20D is leaps and bounds in picture quality, reliability, built, ergonomics, speed than its Rebel counterpart.

I have to admit that I'm a Canon fan. However, even a client of mine (who is an authorized Panasonic dealer) asked me to get him a Canon camera. He is now currently using the "older" Canon 50D.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I have to admit that I'm a Canon fan. However, even a client of mine (who is an authorized Panasonic dealer) asked me to get him a Canon camera. He is now currently using the "older" Canon 50D.
Interesting point of view - thanks for the comments!

The Canon SX30 is the alternative to the Lumix DMC-FZ100. The Canon has a longer zoom lens, but only does 720p. Which is more important? For me, the video, since a lens that long really needs a tripod, and I won't be carrying one.

The catch is that all the reviews I can find of the SX30 rate it poorer for image quality - at best, a match at low ISO and worse as the ISO goes up.

The reviews I like, but do not trust 100%, are the user feedback on various retail sites. These are very consistent in slamming the SX30 for image quality. Some are also slamming the SZ100 for image quality and saying it is best to get the discontinued SZ35, which I find very interesting.

After that, good review sites like dpreview.
 

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I have the TS2. I used to have the Olympus 8000. Both are great. I upgraded since the TS2 has HD video and uses SD cards.

I did find, last month in Cuba, that the lens of the TS2 fogged up (inside) due to extreme humidity. This happened when I went into the water. Keeping it underwater for a few moments helped.

Other than that, it's a nice solid camera that does what it's strong at.

Panasonic had a decent sized booth at last weeks camera show at the International Centre.
 

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My spouse has a two-year old Panasonic model. The photos taken on it in Hawaii were very impressive and a great alternative to lugging the Nikon D70s around.

So impressive that I purchased another one for myself a few months later. I had a lot of issues with that one. In retrospect, I always did and should have returned it immediately but didn't. The two-year old one is still going strong so when it was time to get another P&S a few months ago, I purchased Panasonic once again. This time an FH22. It really is the best P&S camera I've ever owned, and I've owned Nikon and Canon over the past 6 years. My SLRs and dSLRs were/are Nikon.

The two year old model has the Leica lens, the new one does not. I can't say I notice a difference at all.

The photos are very sharp. There is little, if any, lag time when taking a shot. The iA mode is surprisingly good. Having the ability to take HD video is a nice little bonus. We're not really video people but it's handy once in awhile. The battery life is quite decent although less than the older model. Of course, the new one is taking larger mega pixel photos.

The one thing I don't like about it, which may not be of concern to you, is they have changed the battery ever so slightly (a notch in the new one) so the battery we have for the older model will not fit at all. Very annoying to have to buy another backup battery when we have three sitting around. If it was a huge difference I wouldn't mind so much but this is literally a notch where there was not one before.

I will recommend taking a bunch of shots when you get the camera and keep an eye on the quality. If you're not happy, take it back. The one I was unhappy with had focus issues from the start... even though it was the same model we already owned.
 

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The reviews I like, but do not trust 100%, are the user feedback on various retail sites. These are very consistent in slamming the SX30 for image quality. Some are also slamming the SZ100 for image quality and saying it is best to get the discontinued SZ35, which I find very interesting.

After that, good review sites like dpreview.
My friend just bought an SX30 and currently am teaching my friend on using the camera. At ISO 400, it is still more than useable. Of course, any camera with tiny-sized sensor any ISO beyond 800 is utterly useless.

As far as video goes, I absolutely hate using digicam as a camcorder. The camera holding style of a camcorder and digicam are completely different. That physical difference makes me hate doing both using a single camera with the exception of Sony NEX-VG10, but it's more of a camcorder than a digital camera (although on the digital camera side, the picture quality even at ISO 1600 is amazing and equivalent, IMO, to Rebel XS or XSi)
 

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Panasonic ZS5

I have the ZS5 and its a great little camera. As mentioned above the ISA mode (auto mode) works well. I can remove the SD card and watch the pics via a slide shown on my panasonic plasma in HD. The only disappointment is that the movies don't play from the card on the TV. They have to be recorded in AVCHD format which the upgraded camera models (ZS7 and above) can do. Right now I have to convert the movies to MKV format and run them from a USB stick thru my Oppo BD player. Converting to MKV decreases the resolution unforutunately....
 

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Discussion Starter #8
My friend just bought an SX30 and currently am teaching my friend on using the camera. At ISO 400, it is still more than useable. Of course, any camera with tiny-sized sensor any ISO beyond 800 is utterly useless.
Understood, and agreed.

How is your friend liking the SX30? It is a lot cheaper than the SZ100.

As far as video goes, I absolutely hate using digicam as a camcorder. The camera holding style of a camcorder and digicam are completely different. That physical difference makes me hate doing both using a single camera with the exception of Sony NEX-VG10, but it's more of a camcorder than a digital camera (although on the digital camera side, the picture quality even at ISO 1600 is amazing and equivalent, IMO, to Rebel XS or XSi)
I have an SD camcorder, but have not used it since we got a 7 megapixel Canon camera a few years ago. Carrying two cameras just isn't realistic, and the Canon actually provided better video. For nonprofessional uses, the convenience of having one device that does both stills and video well is sufficient to encourage one to overcome other drawbacks, IMHO.
 

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So far my friend is liking it. Thr AiAF is pretty accurate so he doesn't have to learn centre-focus-then-reframe. The Auto everything is rather accurate too. He claims the camera feels nice in his hands (this I have to disagree with him). Bottom line, he feels that his purchase is fully justified and more.

Both he and I have never tried the SZ100. I can not comment on something I've never personally tried.

Your argument of carryin one unit is very valid hence my suggestion for NEX VG10 because it's a video camera and an extremely good still camera. Due to its weight distribution, even someone who likes to nitpick like myself will be okay using the camcorder as a still camera.
 

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Just wondering Rfielder, if you finally chose a camera model and what your thoughts were...What about the Sony HX5V?
 

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I have had a GF1 for over a year now. I also own the first generation Canon digital rebel. The GF1 is the best camera I have ever used. I have the stock 20 mm lens and it one of the best lenses I have used. I would buy this camera again.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Just wondering Rfielder, if you finally chose a camera model and what your thoughts were...What about the Sony HX5V?
Tanta - thank you for asking!

No purchases made yet. Partly because our fridge is in need of replacement, and that kind of takes priority.... :)

I am still leaning towards the Lumix line, a DMC-FZ100 and a DMC-TS2.

The TS2 is for two reasons. First, because we do some activities where we would like to carry a smallish camera that is tough and weather resistant, such as cross country skiing and hiking. Second, because we really need to have two cameras.

The DMC-FZ100 looks and reviews really good, if you allow for the small sensor.

The DMC-GH2 is temping, but I have been there before with system cameras - you can get caught up in buying toys beyond what you need. More lenses, accessories, etc, etc, etc, and you end up focused on the toys and not the photos. Also, the GH2 with it's larger sensor is a larger, heavier camera with much larger, heavier lenses that have much shorter zoom ranges. It is beyond what we are looking for in a camera just now. Not to mention that the GH2 with 14-140mm lens is almost 50% more expensive than the combo of TS2 and FZ100, which puts us back at having only one camera again.....

I have tried finding a good comparison of the final image quality between different sensor sizes, but no luck. Much anecdotal talk about how much better a larger sensor is, but no A-B comparisons. Having a metric to quantify the difference helps one understand the magnitude of difference, which can be compared to the magnitude of difference in size, functionality, etc, to see if the trade offs are going to matter to how the gear is being used.

Also - surprisingly - I have found the best price for the TS2 is at Aden Cameras, and the best price for the FZ100 is at Newegg, and both are non-sale prices! I wonder how well Futureshop will price match.....
 

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Thanks rfielder; I'm looking around at compact cameras as Christmas gifts...There always seems to be some trade-off - long zoom/average image quality vs short zoom (3-4x)/better image quality. It is hard to discriminate among brands and models that are below 250$. Things get more interesting above the 300$ range, but a bit on the expensive side as a Xmas gift.
I can understand the fridge priority; not that much snow in Brampton! ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks rfielder; I'm looking around at compact cameras as Christmas gifts...There always seems to be some trade-off - long zoom/average image quality vs short zoom (3-4x)/better image quality. It is hard to discriminate among brands and models that are below 250$. Things get more interesting above the 300$ range, but a bit on the expensive side as a Xmas gift.
Panasonic has a second weatherproof camera that is a bit cheaper - not sure how much, but if that is a factor....
 

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I'm a little late to the party, but I recently went through the pains of choosing a new digital camera. I ended up getting the FZ100. Others I seriously considered included the Fuji HS10 (my original "first" choice) and the Canon SX30 IS.

The HS10 had bells and whistles galore but some of them apparently didn't work very well. For example, the feature to remove motion from a scene (e.g. take a picture of a building and it removes the people walking in front of you) was reported to not work very well. And the 1000 fps super-fast video was unwatchable (240 fps was quite good, anything above, not so much). Ultimately the HS10 had a low-res LCD (230 k pixels) and was not fully articulating (tilted up/down).

The Canon lacked the high continuous mode rates (up to 11 fps for the Lumix, only 4.2 fps as a reduced size for the Canon) and IIRC the Canon's LCD was also lower res.

The FZ100 is not perfect, nothing is. One thing that it gets slammed for is the image quality. More specifically, noisy (even at ISO200) and reduced detail. However there was a firmware upgrade in late November (not sure if it helped in that regard or not) and I've seen some really good pictures posted -- the "trick" apparently is to turn NR down -2 and turn up sharpness +1 or +2. What the FZ100 is really good at is colors -- and as we all know that is more important than resolution (detail) at producing great pictures.

I don't plan on doing a lot of 8x10 or bigger and, frankly, with the recommended settings I saw some pictures that had enough detail (for me) at even 100% crop.

I ordered mine (FZ100) online yesterday after failing to find one in any stores (admittedly, I was looking at stores that would match the great online price). I should have it in 4-6 days.
 

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The Canon lacked the high continuous mode rates (up to 11 fps for the Lumix, only 4.2 fps as a reduced size for the Canon) and IIRC the Canon's LCD was also lower res.

The FZ100 is not perfect, nothing is. One thing that it gets slammed for is the image quality. More specifically, noisy (even at ISO200) and reduced detail. However there was a firmware upgrade in late November (not sure if it helped in that regard or not) and I've seen some really good pictures posted -- the "trick" apparently is to turn NR down -2 and turn up sharpness +1 or +2. What the FZ100 is really good at is colors -- and as we all know that is more important than resolution (detail) at producing great pictures.
IMO, burst mode is overrated. If one knows how to anticipate, 3 fps is more than enough. Most film cameras were like that and people get amazing shots all the time. This is just a personal opinion, of course.

Lower res LCD, since I've been using digital camera from more than a decade ago, never really bothered me. It's something good to have (high-res) but not a deal breaker.

Picture quality (noise, especially) is the main thing, obviously. Even after the firmware upgrade, the FZ100 sensor will take the same image, just with different image processing algorithm. In 2010, not being able to make a clean ISO200 (something that Canon have been doing in their pocket cameras since about 8 years ago) is just not aceptable.

Now in terms of colours, that's also a matter of software processing. You can adjust saturation, contrast, sharpness either in camera or Photoshop with unsharp-mask.
If you start with neutral picture, you can add anything you want, but if you start with a (say) saturated colours, it will be more difficult to de-saturate the colour back to its natural-colour state.
 

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One more quick comment:

With a superzoom you definitely want to get a tripod or unipod. Taking pictures of your kid playing soccer/hockey/whatever, nature photography -- pretty much anything except quick, candid indoor shots, you'll want that, and a cheap one can be had for $20 or less.

One of the complaints about the HS10 was that it had a plastic tripod mount. I honestly don't know about the other cameras, but I'd never seen that complaint about them, either.

Also, I've heard really strong recommendations for the Canon SD9000 as an absolutely great camera if you'r looking for a pocket compact. The zoom is only 4x but, frankly, that's all you need for a pockey camera, and the aperture of f/2.0 is pretty impressive (all these other cameras discussed here are f/2.7 to f/3.5 at the wide-angle end of the zoom range).
 

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100% concur with the plastic tripod mount. My first Canon SLR (Canon Rebel F, back in 1991) had plastic tripod mount and I used it for about 12 years with no problem. And back then I used to use tripod a lot.
 

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I don' tget it, Dave, you had a plastic mount that lasted 12 years with no problems. I felt the plastic mount was a negative.
 
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