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PostPosted: Wed Nov 27, 2013 1:14 am 
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Hello - I've been looking around this site and reading Gordon's awesome reviews, and they have been very helpful. I'm looking for a new camera for our family, although my wife will be the primary user. The criteria I have (from her) is fairly vague, and includes "no 'lag' between shots", "good pictures inside", and that it double as video camera. MY criteria is to stay under $500. :)

More specifically, I can tell you we have three kids and this would be a camera that would be used everywhere and for many purposes. Foremost would be the usual birthday parties, Christmas celebrations, wedding receptions, school events/plays, etc. Second would be "family outings", such as trips to the zoo, farm, parks & hikes, etc. And finally, it would be for capturing our kids during their sporting events, which right now are primarily football, baseball, and swimming (both indoor and out).

I've probably read a thousand reviews, including both professional (like Gordon's), those which I would consider 'knowledgeable', and amateur stuff like on Amazon (sometimes those can be helpful). I've strongly considered the Panasonic LX7, the Canon SX50, Sony DSC-HX300, and Nikon P520, but have ruled each of those out for various reasons.

Right now, I've narrowed my choices down to the Canon S120 (@$400) and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 (@$450). I keep revisiting the SX50 and LX7 just because they get great reviews, but the other two seem to offer more. With the S120, it seems like it would be a great "point and shoot" style camera, small form factor, great indoor shots and video, but may lack much zoom for those longer-range shots. The FZ200 offers a pretty wide range, lots of zoom, and room to learn/grow (which she has expressed interest in), but my concerns are that it may not be as good for indoor parties or family moments, and I've read a lot about Panasonic's getting dust in the lens and the interface being awkward.

For those who have a lot more experience than me, can you advise which may be the better option to suit my requirements? Any opinion is valued and appreciated. Thanks for your time!

Mike


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 27, 2013 6:29 am 
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Seems to me like you've done a very thorough job researching, and I think your decision is going to come down to exactly what you said:

Supermike wrote:
With the S120, it seems like it would be a great "point and shoot" style camera, small form factor, great indoor shots and video, but may lack much zoom for those longer-range shots. The FZ200 offers a pretty wide range, lots of zoom, and room to learn/grow (which she has expressed interest in), but my concerns are that it may not be as good for indoor parties or family moments

Or to rephrase/reframe your thoughts slightly:

Would you rather take better pictures at "birthday parties, Christmas celebrations, wedding receptions" or "football, baseball, and swimming (both indoor and out)" (and school plays from the back of the theater)?

And welcome to the forum - Mark


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 27, 2013 3:44 pm 
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Thanks Mark. You've re-framed my decision well... so I guess I need to determine which will function best 'overall'. i.e., will the S120 have just enough zoom to be serviceable, or will the FZ200 take quality indoor shots (translate: non-grainy/noisy) that it's a non-issue.

I wish I could just ask her which she would prefer, but this is a Christmas gift. 8)

Thanks for the feedback!

Mike


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 27, 2013 5:23 pm 
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And as if to make my decision more difficult, Amazon just dropped the FZ200 to $437! :shock:


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 28, 2013 2:17 am 
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My personal feeling is that the FZ200 would do a better job taking indoor family gathering photos than the S120 would do taking sports photos. I say this because:

1) the FZ200 is only a little more than a stop slower than the S120 -- f2.8 vs f1.8 -- and this is only with the S120 zoomed all the way out (widest possible setting). As you zoom in on the S120, the lens slows way down to f5.7 which is nearly two stops slower than the FZ200 at the same focal length. (Actually, at any focal length since the main selling point of the FZ200 is the constant f2.8 lens.)

2) the FZ200 zooms 5X more than the S120 -- 600mm (full frame equivalent) vs 120mm -- so it will get you much closer. Or looking at it the other way, I don't think the S120 will be "serviceable" for a sport like football where you can easily be 60 yards (or more) away from your subject. At that distance, the S120's frame will be around 55 feet wide by 35 feet tall. Not very serviceable for capturing a 6 foot tall person IMO. Whereas the FZ200's frame will be around 10 feet wide by 7 feet tall.

But yes, when both cameras are zoomed all the way out, the FZ200 will be more noisy/grainy than the S120.

Mark


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 02, 2013 8:52 pm 
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Hey Mark,

Just thought you might like to know how this played out. I decided to take your advice and "focus in" on the super zooms vs. the S120 or LX7. This was aided by a visit to a local store to hold and play with a few cameras, where I quickly decided the 5x-range zoom just would not be enough for what we will be using the camera for in a lot of cases (school events, football, swimming, etc.).

After reading (and re-reading) closely Gordon's reviews as well as many other online reviews and opinions, I opted for the Canon SX50. I was strongly considering the FZ200 -- I really wanted to like it and I liked the idea of the f2.8 throughout the focal length -- but I was simply not that impressed with the images. A lot of reviews referenced excess noise, and I could see it in the examples. Many others referenced the camera body feeling 'cheap' and issues with Panasonics getting dust in the lenses. I don't know how valid those claims are as I could not locate one locally to test, but they were mentioned frequently enough that it was a concern.

I also strongly considered the Sony HX300 and HX200. The HX200 could not be found anywhere that was not "gray market", and while the HX300 also took some great pictures and also starts at f2.8, I had to then consider price (currently $398.00 on Amazon).

So it finally came down to price to performance. I went through Amazon because of their liberal return policy and the fact that I had $55 in gift cards. The FZ200 was selling for $437.00 on Amazon, whereas the SX50 was going for $329. To me that $100 difference is fairly significant. The Canon also has slightly lower noise at high ISO's and a slightly faster 1/2,000 shutter speed vs. the 1/4,000 on the FZ200. I also considered the SX40, because I really do not see myself needing the full zoom on the SX50, but in most cases I could not find it anywhere for the same or similar price as the SX50. B&H is selling it for $329, as well, but I do not have gift cards for B&H. :wink:

So "out of pocket", I got the SX50 for $275. With a bit of learning, I think my wife will enjoy it much more than her current camera and it will also perhaps take the best video of the group. We will likely not be printing anything bigger than 8x10, and most will be 4x6, so the noise levels inside should not be significant enough to cause concern.

Thanks for the feedback here - it was very much appreciated!

Mike


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 03, 2013 1:41 am 
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Thanks for the update, Mike. A very well thought out and thoroughly researched decision. I'm sure it will serve you well. But since you mentioned the concern about noise with the FZ200, for anyone else who might come across just this thread, I'd like to point out the following snippet from Gordon's SX50 review:

Quote:
The more you zoom in with the SX50, the more of a difference there is in its low light performance compared with the FZ200. The SX50's maximum aperture drops to f4 at 38mm - a one stop difference from the FZ200, and at the 185mm mark it closes down to f5.6 - a two stop difference with the FZ200 at the same focal length. Effectively that means at 185mm you'd have to shoot at 1600 ISO on the SX50 HS whereas in the same situation you could choose 400 ISO on the FZ200 for the same shutter speed. And even at the FZ200's maximum 600mm telephoto you can still shoot wide open at f2.8

Not to imply that you should switch to the FZ200 since there are other factors that weighed into your decision. e.g. the $100 price difference you noted.

Congrats on your purchase - Mark


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 03, 2013 10:15 am 
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Mike, don't be overly concerned about `noise`, because printed images never look as bad as on screen.
(there are noise reduction software too, if you wanted to go down that route)

Happy shooting. 8)

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 03, 2013 3:44 pm 
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Thanks for the continued feedback. I did note that comment that you brought out, Mark, but I don't anticipate using the zoom too incredibly much in low-light. Most of my son's football games are daytime games right now. Some of the indoor pools have some strange lighting but, considering how the video came out on my iphone 5, any camera has got to perform better (and it wasn't really that bad).

Unfortunately, very few sites that review cameras show photos of what the average P&S consumer takes pictures of -- namely, people sitting on couches eating food. haha! (just kidding... sort of). :D

I really wish I could have gotten my hands on the FZ200, but in the end it was the cost advantage and my wife's familiarity with Canon's menus and functions that sold me on the SX50. Hopefully it serves us well!

For anyone else reading this as a comparison, I would strongly recommend you look closely at the Panasonic and, if possible, get your hands on one and see which feels best. Also, in considering the P&S cameras, I think they have their place in the right situations. It probably would have made a lot of difference if they had sported at least a 10x optical zoom, but as they stood (for me) that was a very limiting factor.

Thanks all!
Mike


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