Canon S2 IS versus Panasonic DMC FZ7

Discussion in 'Panasonic Lumix' started by Karen Selwyn, Feb 9, 2006.

  1. Karen Selwyn

    Karen Selwyn Guest

    I'd love some advice before buying either the Canon S2 IS or the
    Panasonic DMC FZ7. (I know that the Panasonic FZ7 won't be available for
    a couple of weeks.)

    I'm looking at those two cameras for their high zoom and macro
    capabilities. I've read reviews that suggest both camera have problems
    focusing at high zoom. This matters to me as I am more likely to take a
    photo of an architectural detail than a photo of a whole building. Also,
    is the zoom feature continuous? I read a site (now I remember neither
    the site nor the camera) which praised the continuous transition of the
    zoom. (It may have been the Kodak P850 which I rejected on the basis of
    lesser picture quality.)

    I don't expect to use either the creative settings or the movie mode. I
    want the best result in auto mode.

    I have tiny hands so, in a perfect world, the best camera will be the
    smallest and lightest. Ultimately, the photo quality matters more than
    weight. I'm currently using an Olympus Stylus 10X which weighs 10
    ounces. The Canon weighs 14 ounces and the Panasonic weighs 11 ounces.

    Recommendations please! Thanks!

    Karen Selwyn
     
    Karen Selwyn, Feb 9, 2006
    #1
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  2. I have the FZ5, the camera that the 7 will replace, so I can give you
    some feedback.

    In anything approximating good light, I've never had a problem focussing
    at full zoom. In low light, the autofocus can sometimes hunt somewhat,
    but generally gets to the right place eventually.

    The zoom is not truly continuous, but there are something like 20 or 30
    steps in it, so it feels pretty close to continuous. If you want a real
    continous zoom, you'd have to get an FZ30 with its manually-powered
    zoom. I've never been limited in framing by the zoom step size; the
    steps are small enough that you can jog the zoom slightly without
    trouble.

    Auto mode works pretty well until the light levels get low; then you
    have to switch to one of the manual modes. For some reason, the longest
    shutter time in auto is 1/4s. However, I believe that the FZ7 eliminates
    that particular bit of silliness.

    Some examples of pictures I took using the FZ5, in a range of situations
    (zoom, wide angle, low light, etc):
    http://ri22.uchicago.edu/~dmsilev/hawaii/

    To be fair and complete, I should note that people I've talked to with
    the Canon have also generally been happy with their camera. Both models
    give good results.

    -dms
     
    Daniel Silevitch, Feb 9, 2006
    #2
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  3. Karen Selwyn

    SleeperMan Guest

    as owner of S2, i never experienced any problems focusing in any position,
    and that includes max zoom mode. I even have extra adapter which also works
    quite well. Zoom is continous or not, as you set in settings.
    I guess you alreasy know that you can't have all...small and light camera
    and big zoom at the same time. S2 is bigger and heavier, but it's quite
    excellent camera. But, i guess to be sure it's best that you hold them both
    in your hands, if you will have option maybe do some test shooting and then
    decide. some test shots i have on my web page for viewing:
    http://www.protoncek.com
     
    SleeperMan, Feb 9, 2006
    #3
  4. Karen Selwyn

    SMS Guest

    I think I'd go with the Panasonic. The FZ7 will probably have the same
    noise issues as the FZ5, but the S2 is noisy too.

    At least with the FZ7 you get the the Li-Ion battery. For $350 it's a
    pretty good deal, the Canon is about $75 more.
     
    SMS, Feb 9, 2006
    #4
  5. Karen Selwyn

    SleeperMan Guest

    not good idea...to start with battery again...not long ago a biiiig thread
    resulted on this topic...meaning which one is better...
    like i said...it's best to wait, hold it, take or at least see some shots
    and first reviews and decide. It maybe a good deal, it may be a bad either.
    It happened before that a good product was corrupted in next model...
     
    SleeperMan, Feb 9, 2006
    #5
  6. Karen Selwyn

    Karen Selwyn Guest

    I'm a complete novice; this will be my first digital camera. As a
    result, I'm confused by your comment and, generally, overwhelmed by the
    whole array of choices and issues!

    You appear to be saying only one of the models uses batteries. Are you
    drawing a distinction between renewable batteries and ordinary
    batteries? If so, which camera takes which type? What do you recommend
    (or was the thread name obvious so I can go to Google Groups)?

    IIRC, the Canon runs on AA batteries so it has the option of operating
    on widely-availble, conventional batteries if something goes wrong with
    the charger or the re-chargeable batteries. I don't remember what the
    Panasonic uses.

    Thanks.

    Karen Selwyn
     
    Karen Selwyn, Feb 9, 2006
    #6
  7. Karen Selwyn

    ASAAR Guest

    Several years ago digital cameras used so much power that for many
    of them the use of alkaline AA batteries was prohibitively
    expensive. Batteries had to be replaced far too often Even if NiMH
    AA batteries were used, battery life wasn't very good, sometimes
    being as low as a couple of dozen shots per charge. At that point,
    cameras that used rechargeable lithium batteries were good choices
    because they provided decent (if not great) battery life. They also
    have a better "self-discharge" property than NiMH batteries that can
    sometimes be an advantage, but not always. If you're not familiar
    with that term it just means that even if the batteries are not
    installed in a camera, they'll slowly lose their charge, so if NiMH
    batteries are needed and it's been a month or two since they were
    last charged, they'll have lost a good amount of their full charge.
    Lithium batteries can go several months longer before needing to be
    recharged. In this respect, alkaline batteries have a *excellent*
    self-discharge rate, since they'll retain most of their charge many
    years after they were purchased.

    Many cameras designed within the last couple of years have solved
    the battery problem *completely*, primarily due to being designed to
    use much less battery power. As an example, Canon's A610 and A620
    can easily take more a couple of thousand shots using AA batteries.
    If the flash (which uses a great deal of battery power) is used for
    many of the shots, these cameras can still take 1200 shots using
    alkalines or 1500 shots per charge using NiMH batteries if the
    viewfinder is used instead of the LCD display. These cameras use
    4AA cells and I don't know how many the Canon S2 IS uses. If it's
    only two, then you could assume it would take slightly less than 1/2
    the number of shots per battery set/charge. Even if it's only good
    for 300 or 400 shots, that's still not too shabby. It would be
    enough for me to go at least several days before the batteries would
    need to be replaced or recharged.

    Even if you prefer AA batteries (you're right - they're cheap and
    easily bought 24 hours/day, almost everywhere), if you really like
    the Panasonic cameras (which I assume use rechargeable lithium
    batteries) don't let that stand in the way of getting one. They're
    good cameras too, but I'd have one qualm. When I saw them in a
    display case they looked very boxy and uncomfortable to hold.
    Obviously many people think they're just fine, but if I was faced
    with the choices you are, I'd want to try one is a camera shop first
    to see if the camera "feel" is better than appearances indicate.
     
    ASAAR, Feb 9, 2006
    #7
  8. I would say that if your hand is big enough to curl around the grip
    without stretching, the camera will be comfortable to hold. That's the
    sort of thing, of course, that needs to be experienced first hand. She
    said she has small hands, so that's something that needs to be checked.
    The FZ5 is somewhat blocky, but it's small (compared to e.g. the S2IS)
    which makes it less of an issue. From the previews I've seen, the FZ7 is
    considerably less blocky than the 5. It's hard to tell from the preview
    pictures, but the grip seems to be about the same size.

    And yes, the FZ series uses lithium batteries.

    -dms
     
    Daniel Silevitch, Feb 10, 2006
    #8
  9. Karen Selwyn

    SMS Guest

    The noise issue is significant with these small sensor, high megapixel,
    CCD cameras because the pixel size is so small. You have to accept that
    you really can't use anything higher than ISO 200, and often even the
    ISO 200 is noisy. Panasonic seems to constantly get panned for noise
    issues, but it may be simply because their cameras are so compelling in
    other ways and the noise spoils what would otherwise be an outstanding
    product line-up.
    Yes the advantage of AA batteries is the ability to use conventional
    batteries in a pinch. However there are significant advantages to Li-Ion
    as well. You can read about the trade-offs between the two types of
    batteries at "http://batterydata.com". It's a site I put together to
    bring together all the issues in the battery debate in a clear and
    unbiased manner.

    As someone else pointed out, it may be unwise to rush out and buy a FZ7,
    prior to some independent reviews. It is quite possible that the FZ7
    will be worse than the FZ5, because the increased resolution will mean
    more noise. You might be better off with the FZ5.

    If the noise is the same on both, go with the Panasonic for the lower
    price and the Li-Ion battery.
     
    SMS, Feb 10, 2006
    #9
  10. Karen Selwyn

    ASAAR Guest

    Thanks. Or you're welcome. Or something. :)
     
    ASAAR, Feb 10, 2006
    #10
  11. Karen Selwyn

    ASAAR Guest

    From the beginning I've liked the appearance of Panasonic's
    cameras, but that was based on seeing photographs. I never
    appreciated their "blockiness" until I actually saw them in a
    display case. But even then, they might handle wonderfully, but I'd
    want to hold one before making a purchase. But that applies to all
    cameras, because one that looks ergonomically well designed might
    handle poorly too. In a way, though, with enough practice and use,
    almost all cameras should present no long term problems. I learned
    quite early (via pianos and later with guitars) that hands and
    fingers can be stretched and contorted to amazing degrees, and
    perform quite nimbly and accurately, even with eyes closed. Cameras
    should present a much less difficulty, with the less comfortable and
    harder to operate models only requiring more frequent use before
    their operation also becomes "second nature" and discomfort
    disappears. It's another matter if the camera will be used
    infrequently. Then the "feel" becomes much more important.
     
    ASAAR, Feb 10, 2006
    #11
  12. Karen Selwyn

    John H Guest

    I had an S1 before my present FZ30 and found that I needed to have about
    4 sets of batteries plus a fast charger when I was on holiday, when
    opportunities for charging may be 'irregular'. The S1 and presumably the
    S2 eats batteries without mercy, or the AA NiMH don't last anywhere near
    as long as the LiIon cells in the Panasonic.

    You should factor extra sets of batteries (and charger for the Canon)
    for both cameras.

    I liked the Canon's full tilt & swivel viewfinder, can be very useful.[/QUOTE]

    Did that Canon have a built in hand warmer? ;-) I have the
    S2. To speculate that the S2 eats batteries is nonsense. Battery
    life just isn't an issue.

    John H
     
    John H, Feb 10, 2006
    #12
  13. Karen Selwyn

    SMS Guest

    It isn't the cost of AA batteries, as much as it is the inconvenience of
    the shorter battery life, the swapping of four cells versus one pack,
    keeping three or sets of AA cells separate and charged (use different
    colored Sharpie markers and mark each set), the need to keep them warm
    (I do a lot of XC skiing), and the self-discharge if there are long
    periods between use. My son has a previous generation Canon A series,
    and I finally gave up on the NiMH and just stuck some alkalines in
    there. He probably uses the camera once a month or so, but invariably
    we're rushing out the door to go on a hike or something, and the NiMH
    cells would be flat from self-discharge. OTOH, I can grab one of my
    Li-Ion powered cameras that might not have been charged for several
    months, and have no problems with the battery.

    The reason that such a big deal is made of the fact that you can buy AA
    cells anywhere, is that those individuals have been using using NiMH AA
    cell powered cameras have frequently been required to buy disposable
    cells when the NiMH cells are exhausted. The people that have always
    been using Li-Ion, don't understand what the big deal is, because
    they've never been in the situation of having a flat battery with no spare.

    There's a reason why cell phone manufacturers, PDA manufacturers,
    camcorder manufacturers, laptop computer manufacturers, etc., have all
    moved to Li-Ion. The only reason that you can even still get AA powered
    digital cameras is because the manufacturer has seen the opportunity to
    cut $5 or so out of their manufacturing cost, by not including a battery
    and charger.

    Steve
    http://batterydata.com
     
    SMS, Feb 10, 2006
    #13
  14. Karen Selwyn

    SleeperMan Guest

    i guess you already got the answer...but still... not long ago a big
    conversation went on about what kind of batteries is better.. NiMH (AA) size
    or Lithium ones. Lithiums are more expensive, soe claim they last longer,
    are lighter. NiMH are cheaper, if in emergency you can always buy normal
    alkaline ones and put them in for a few shots. No result was found, and
    never will. It's not an issue for buying a camera, if you ask me. I also
    confirm that the one who wrote that S2 is battery eater, wrote complete
    rubbish. I can easily make 500-600 shots with one charge, and shots are well
    mixed with flash. My old ex Olympus C310 - that one WAS eater...since
    batteries were empty after 150 shots...
     
    SleeperMan, Feb 10, 2006
    #14
  15. Karen Selwyn

    SMS Guest

    This is the major problem with NiMH batteries. OTOH, I grabbed my old
    Canon G2, which I hadn't used in about a month, as I ran out the door
    tonight to a concert. The battery was still almost full. It's just one
    less thing to worry about, in a world of too much technology and too
    many things with rechargeable batteries.
     
    SMS, Feb 12, 2006
    #15
  16. Karen Selwyn

    SleeperMan Guest

    True, but I found that every time I took the S1 out, the battery red
    flag would be flashing and often the spare cell sets were
    partly-mostly discaharged. It's almost as if you have to leave the
    batteries permanently in the charger, to keep them topped up.

    I had no complaints about the Canon's number of images taken in a
    couple of days ...[/QUOTE]

    wrong...
    you said that S1 and S2 are battery eaters...... Don't spit on quite good
    camera because of something else. i could start to think that you are paid
    by panasonic :)
    This as you describe is just what NiMH are. If you bear in mind that they
    loose 1% per day of it's capacity, you'd know that they will loose over 30%
    in a month. So, it's best (as you suggested) that you leave them in the
    charger as long as you need them. Ok, here Li wins...but, on the other hand
    when use Li, you never actually know if you have full, partly full, near
    emtpy...batteries, while if you have NiMH in charger, you always know when
    you need and insert them, they are full. If you take this procedure, nothing
    bad can happen.
    BTW...you did have 4 sets of batteries...how much did you paid for them ? I
    bet it was cheaper than buying on single lithium spare set...and don't say
    it's not needed because of longer shelf life and more shots taken...they DO
    die once...then you DO need a spare one. NiMH are simply cheaper. Also when
    you're out of NiMH, you still have last chance by going into nearest store,
    get a set of Alkaline's and throw them in. You have quite a number of shots
    then if you don't use flash much. In Li case, all you have remaining is to
    have photographic memory and start looking and trying to remember all scenes
    while otheres are shooting... ;-)
     
    SleeperMan, Feb 12, 2006
    #16
  17. Karen Selwyn

    SMS Guest

    Sure you do. With Li-Ion, you charge them at the end of the day, or
    week, and stick them back in the camera. You're ready to go. On some
    older cameras, i.e. my G2, you can leave the camera plugged in with the
    battery inside, and it will stay fully charged, but it's really unnecessay.
     
    SMS, Feb 12, 2006
    #17
  18. Karen Selwyn

    SleeperMan Guest

    like i said...this could go on for days--.--
     
    SleeperMan, Feb 12, 2006
    #18
  19. Karen Selwyn

    SleeperMan Guest

    it's just that everyone will grace what they have. I have NiMH, so it's best
    and period.
    Like when i have S1 and CF card, i said it's the best, since it's cheap,
    commonly available etc...blablala....
    Now i have S2 and SD card, and now i say SD is the one, small, almost same
    price...etc....blablabla... ;-)
     
    SleeperMan, Feb 13, 2006
    #19
  20. Karen Selwyn

    SMS Guest

    The key is to be able to look objectively at the pros and cons of each
    technology. That is why I created http://batterydata.com, to counter the
    misinformation being promulgated by people who mindlessly defend
    whatever they use.

    A CF versus SD site would be shorter, but the advantages and
    disadvantages of each type of card are well known,
     
    SMS, Feb 13, 2006
    #20
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