Good high-end point-and-shoot with powerzoom?

Watertown, WI(Zone 5a)

Greetings! I'm new to this forum but not to Dave's. I'm starting to get a little more serious about my photography hobby and I'm looking to invest in a high end digital point-and-shoot with a decent zoom. While I enjoy doing macro photography, I also like to capture nice shots of scenery, my family, and pets, so I need a camera that will handle all of those things with ease. I want some advanced features that let me start exploring the capabilities of a camera, but I want it to be dead easy when I need it to be.

My research turned up the Panasonic Lumix FZ40 and the Canon Powershot SX30 is. I'm looking at both and trying to weigh my options. Neither seem to have stellar low light capability, but that's not high on my priority list. I'd love to get some feedback from people who own perhaps the earlier models, the FZ35 or the SX20. How have your cameras performed when it comes to shooting landscape images, macros, people, fast moving subjects (like my dogs!), etc.?

I'd love any other advice anyone could provide to assist me in my camera shopping. I've explained just what I'm looking for, but I should probably add that $400 is about the top of my budget (and less is better if performance is still good.)

Thanks in advance!

Lucas, TX(Zone 7b)

I've never had any of the models you have mentioned, but have been shooting with a Sony DSC-5H for 3 years now. It has an excellent lens with a 12x zoom and the macro settings allow you to get within an inch or so of your target. You can use it in auto mode or dive into controlling the camera like a SLR. The image stabilization works well also.

Watertown, WI(Zone 5a)

Thanks, jewoldsen! I'll take a look into that camera (or the most current model in that line). A good auto mode for everyday shots is important to me, and I do want to be able to control the camera like an SLR when I want to, so it sounds like one to check out. :)

Ellendale, DE(Zone 7a)

I use a Sony DSC H3 which works nicely for macros and overall usage. Before the Sony, I had a Panasonic Lumix but could not get clear photos with it on macro--not like my Sony can. Moreover, the Panasonic Lumix was a bear to get a decent shot on any setting. My Sony is much nicer, much less work to get a good photo. Both are considered point-and-shoot.

I get lots of great feedback even though I am an amateur with a point-and-shoot.

If you purchase the Canon or a Sony, get to know your camera--try manual, program, and auto on macro and non-macro settings, with flash and without. Try different white balance settings and different focus settings.

Here is example of what my Sony DSC H3 can do on macro. This is a portulaca flower head bursting with seeds.

A good eye will make itself evident no matter what quality camera you have. Thanks to the digital age, you can take 100 shots and delete 99 if you want. The one that you saved is the one folks will rave about. Know what I mean? Little do they know that we take tons of shots and then delete, delete, delete 'til we have a winner.

Thumbnail by timmijo
Lebanon, GA

Since the last post was a month ago, I'm assuming you've already purchased your new camera. That said, I have to give huge props to the entire Panasonic Lumix line. I have their FZ20 and FZ35 -- both are excellent cameras. Their TZ models are also excellent.

My only beef with the FZ35 is that it doesn't have a hot-shoe for an external flash.

And as timmijo says, photography has ALWAYS been about taking tons of shots to get only one or two good ones. Back in the film days, there would be one or two good shots from a roll of 24/36. With practice, and the instant results you get with digital, it won't take long until you get 50% good shots on your memory card.

It's all about the art of seeing, not the camera.

Watertown, WI(Zone 5a)

Thanks, all! I haven't purchased my camera, but I'm definitely leaning toward the Panasonic Lumix FZ40. My current camera is a 6.1 megapixel Kodak that was very decent in its day...but it's getting a little aged, which is the way with all electronics. It has taken some great photos for me, but I'd really love to see a better zoom (for the pictures I take that aren't macros. It sure would've come in handy at my stepson's graduation) and image stabilization.

I've been told not to buy myself a camera just yet so...I'll wait for Christmas. ;)

Here's a shot I got with my Kodak last spring.

Thumbnail by KaylyRed
Lebanon, GA

Well.... since you've not bought yet, I can keep talking **rubs hands in glee**

I'm assuming your research led you to DPReview.com? It's a great place to learn about camera features. Another site I love to check out is pbase.com/cameras -- pbase.com is an online photo gallery site with over 1.5TB of photos available to view. Their "cameras" page lets you select a camera from the list and see shots that others have taken with the camera. Users on the site range from ordinary to professional, and are from all over the world, so you get a good sampling of photos.

This picture gives you an idea of what the FZ20 could do... Took this in 2009


Thumbnail by fiwit
Talihina, OK

I use a dslr but 2 of my friends have the Lumix and I have had many chances to compare pix taken with the slr and the lumix at the same subject/same time/same distance and the lumix is a superb camera I am thinking that both of theirs are FZ 28s if that sounds right anyway the lumix gets top marks from me ..Just a tad slow for bird pix which is my main interest..

Whiteside County, IL(Zone 5a)

Late to the discussion, but here's a link of interest.

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/q110superzoomgroup/

Watertown, WI(Zone 5a)

Thanks, Mrs. Ed!

As it turns out, my husband got me a Panasonic DMC FZ40 for Christmas! So far, I love it, but I've only taken photos indoors. I really can't wait to get outside with it and get some flower and other nature shots. Exciting stuff!

Whiteside County, IL(Zone 5a)

'congrats!!! It's amazing how quickly they are improving.

Cleburne, TX(Zone 8a)

Quote from grits74571 :
I use a dslr but 2 of my friends have the Lumix and I have had many chances to compare pix taken with the slr and the lumix at the same subject/same time/same distance and the lumix is a superb camera I am thinking that both of theirs are FZ 28s if that sounds right anyway the lumix gets top marks from me ..Just a tad slow for bird pix which is my main interest..


grits, what kind of camera do you have, Im trying to decide whitch one to buy it is hard. A sample of yours pictures would be great thanks

Larry

Talihina, OK

Hi Larry here is a bird pic that was taken just yesterday the camera is a Nikon D-40 plain no frills camera the lens is a Nikor manual focus 70-300mm

Thumbnail by grits74571
Talihina, OK

carly here is a shot taken with a lumix by my nephew taken from the Louisiana side of Toledo Bend shot toward Texas the boat house is according to the info supplied 400 yards

Thumbnail by grits74571
Talihina, OK

Larry this is a better pic taken with the same camera but with a very short lens The bird is an Inca Dove

Thumbnail by grits74571
Cleburne, TX(Zone 8a)

Grits, thanks more to think about.

Talihina, OK

yesterday went to Wal mart and just looked at Cameras and there was a Nikon that would likely fill the bill of a high end $398>> point and shoot with power zoom 36X It was just so light and handy feeling with optical viewfinder which for me would be a nessesitty(SIC?) I probably weighed less than half of my DSLR

Cleburne, TX(Zone 8a)

Do you remember whitch one it was they all go by a Number?? I'll go take a look at it.. Thanks

LEW

Whiteside County, IL(Zone 5a)

I'm guessing the P500

http://www.dpreview.com/news/1102/11020909nikonsuperzooms.asp

This message was edited Mar 18, 2011 5:57 PM

Cleburne, TX(Zone 8a)

Quote from Mrs_Ed :
I'm guessing the P500

http://www.dpreview.com/news/1102/11020909nikonsuperzooms.asp

This message was edited Mar 18, 2011 5:57 PM


Thanks for the info I'll take a look.

LEW

Watertown, WI(Zone 5a)

I have used the P500 (coworker has one) and it's an impressive camera. Despite some of the things I've read, I was most impressed by how capable it is in low light settings. My coworker used it at a convention where the lights were dimmed much of the time and got some fine shots--better than my other coworker's much more expensive DSLR took.

That said, I still prefer the image quality of my Lumix FZ40 better in outdoor settings. This is an image I caught with the FZ40 in Intelligent Auto mode with no tripod (auto image stabilization) at max optical zoom. I did tweak the contrast a bit in Picasa, but other than that and cropping the image is unaltered.

Thumbnail by KaylyRed
Cleburne, TX(Zone 8a)

Thanks your pix is great, still can't make up my mind whether to get a DSLR or point and shoot. I'm real happy with
your pixs quality. Just have to decide how much money I want to spend. Thanks.

LEW

Whiteside County, IL(Zone 5a)

Lew,
If you don't want to spend much, get the point and shoot. because even if they are evenly priced right now, eventually you'll want more lenses, LOL. That's kind of like me now. I love my DSLR. I like to take bird pictures. I just can't get the reach I want with the DSLR lenses that I can afford. Thankfully, lenses are rentable.

Cleburne, TX(Zone 8a)

Quote from Mrs_Ed :
Lew,
If you don't want to spend much, get the point and shoot. because even if they are evenly priced right now, eventually you'll want more lenses, LOL. That's kind of like me now. I love my DSLR. I like to take bird pictures. I just can't get the reach I want with the DSLR lenses that I can afford. Thankfully, lenses are rentable.


Very good point. The DSLR I want with the lens I want is over a 1000 bucks hard to justfiy right now. But the PS is around 500.

Whiteside County, IL(Zone 5a)

Although you can rent DSL bodies and lenses, I've yet to find a place that rents these point and shoots so that I could test them out.

Watertown, WI(Zone 5a)

The FZ40 (last time I checked) is $400. Not a bad price for such a capable high end point-and-shoot. :)

I sound like a salesperson, but I really do love my camera.

This message was edited Mar 21, 2011 6:16 PM

Cleburne, TX(Zone 8a)

Quote from Mrs_Ed :
Although you can rent DSL bodies and lenses, I've yet to find a place that rents these point and shoots so that I could test them out.


You are right. Big camera stores in DFW area only rents Canon and Nikon big cameras and lenses. I checked 3 mo back when
I first found out about PS cameras with supper zoom lenses. It would make picking one so much easier.

Cleburne, TX(Zone 8a)

Here is my problem. No one that I've found stocks FZ40s in our area (Dallas/Ft. Worth). I'm not going to order on line and not have anyone to ask for help or return if it was a lemon or I did not like it. So may have to choose from cameras in stock.

Whiteside County, IL(Zone 5a)

I'd recommend B & H video online. They are awesome with returns. But they "say" that the FZ40 is discontinued.
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search?Ntt=Lumix+FZ40&N=0&InitialSearch=yes


What about the Panasonic FZ35?

This message was edited Mar 21, 2011 5:48 PM

Watertown, WI(Zone 5a)

Quote from Mrs_Ed :
I'd recommend B & H video online. They are awesome with returns. But they "say" that the FZ40 is discontinued.
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search?Ntt=Lumix+FZ40&N=0&InitialSearch=yes


What about the Panasonic FZ35?


FZ35 is the older model and still a very nice camera. I think the reason it's listed as "discontinued" is that Panasonic usually announced the predecessor (next step up) in the summer of the following year. So...either they opted to just push the FZ100 and leave the FZ40 out of production (which would be sad, because so many people think the FZ40 is either better or just as good for a lower price), or they're going to halt production and sell out the current model to make room for the next one. Just a guess, though.

But still, if Lew wants to purchase a camera locally (which I can completely understand)...then that's that. :)



Whiteside County, IL(Zone 5a)

It's odd that B&H has the FXZ35 though. ah well anyway.

Cleburne, TX(Zone 8a)

Thanks you'all have been a great help in pointing me down the right path, to finding a good camera. I knew FZ100 was
the new model but had heard to many bad things about it thats why I had ask so many questions. Thanks again I'll keep reading and looking.

Whiteside County, IL(Zone 5a)

Don't forget DP review. and also I find Amazon reviews helpful.

Talihina, OK

Lew the best place i have found online is Amazon their return policy is the best a friend returned a Canon that he bought and simply was unhappy with it they took it back and he was so pleased with the service that he promptly ordered the Lumix from there and no I do not own stock there but have a couple of friends that work for Amazon in Fernly Nevada...

Cleburne, TX(Zone 8a)

My other reason is if you buy at local camera store you get a digital camera class free that normaly cost 50.00. Back in mid 70's I had Canon AE1 35 mm, so I need mental upgrade to. Anybody can go to class and bring their camera but it cost and I like the idea of it being FREE. They sell at same price as Best Buy.Thanks

LEW

Whiteside County, IL(Zone 5a)

Oh that's nice that they offer training.

Cleburne, TX(Zone 8a)

Mrs_Ed, and all who took time to help me pick a camera Thanks, I've decided to go with Canon T3i, I like it the best for the things I want to do. Just hope its not to hard to learn how to use. Thanks again. Have not picked a lens yet. Hope that is not as hard.

LEW

Whiteside County, IL(Zone 5a)

Congrats!

Watertown, WI(Zone 5a)

Congratulations, Lew! Enjoy it!

Lebanon, GA

Lew, have fun with your new baby!

For anyone else who might be considering cameras... another good online source is newegg.com They have fantastic prices, a reliable rating system, and a good return policy. I've been a happy customer of theirs for probably 15 years. They're primarily computer stuff, but have electronics and home stuff, too

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