Low end DSLR or High end P&S

Discussion in 'Digital SLR' started by dmedhora, Mar 29, 2006.

  1. dmedhora

    dmedhora Guest


    Please forgive this dual post but because of the nature of the question
    I need to get
    varied opinions again, please. I am quite stumped now having read two
    exactly opposite
    reviews for a high end P&S. That is confusing isn't it especially if
    you don't know anything
    about digital photography. I'm purely a film SLR person who nows wants
    to go electronic.

    So how exactly is a low end d-slr better than a high end p&s ?

    I specifically only need to print out photos in 5x7 print sizes. Thats
    all. Is the photo quality
    of a high end P&S still worse than a low end D-SLR for that? If I were
    to take a picture on auto mode using both types of cameras at the same
    time or the same wide angle, Fstop and
    shutter speed on both cameras and click ( you know what I mean ), then
    what would be
    the difference in a 5x7 print ?

    I ask this because I'm really confused ( as you can make out :)

    DSLR owners:- Why is a HE P&S like the Fujifilm S9000 not better than
    even the
    cheapest DSLR ? Look at its features! The only problems I see are lack
    of IS and
    more noise. - But thats only if you don't use a high shutter speed for
    the former and need
    prints bigger than 5x7, for the latter. Am I right?

    P&S owners:- If you know about SLRs and/or have owned one then why go
    for a
    high end P&S ? Have they caught up by now? If you were to raise shutter
    speeds for the
    same ISO 100 would that not make up for lack of IS on an SLR?

    I mean if I can get a HE P&S that has:-
    an optical viewfinder, manual, shutter and aperture priority, a good
    zoom with wide angle,
    ability to take good pictures ( as per claims I've read ) in lowlight
    etc etc then where can
    I go wrong? If I just want to take max 5x7 digiprints ? :)

    Thanks plenty.
    dmedhora, Mar 29, 2006
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  2. dmedhora

    tomm42 Guest

    It all has to do with sensor size, the larger the physical size of the
    sensor, the better the camera is. So even $500 Dslrs will make better
    images than more expensive HE P&S. One notable exception is the Sony
    RD-1, which uses an APS size sensor. The camera is a little limited by
    the lens range, the 35mm equivelent of 24mm-140mm. The big problem with
    other HE P&S is that the small sensors get noisy, above an ie of 100,
    most reviews say they are unacceptable at an ie of 400. I seem to
    remember that the Fuji 9000 is better than most, but I would bet that a
    DSLR of any stripe would beat it out image quality wise. The other
    thing is that in general through the lens optical finders are easier to
    use than electronic viewfinders.
    If you are able to use an ie of 100 and you are only printing to 5x7,
    almost any digital camera above $500 would work. Look into the Sony
    RD-1 if you like a single lens camera.

    tomm42, Mar 29, 2006
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  3. Faster and more flexible.
    Even at 5x7 a DSLR will often make a nicer print.
    Actually, there is a place for both and many folks own both. For a
    one-camera family, simply list all the things that are important. The
    ability to change lenses, change ISO, response time, buffer size, and those
    kinds of issues often make the DSLR look better. Small size and weight,
    ease of use, and general simplicity often make the P&S cameras look better.
    Charles Schuler, Mar 29, 2006
  4. dmedhora

    C J Southern Guest

    The simple answer is "A point and shoot" is capable of taking nice photos,
    but it's les tolerant of tricky conditions"

    Perhaps a good analogy might be between a 2 wheel driave and a 4 wheel drive
    vehicle - both do a good job on the highway, but as soon as you go off road
    it's a different story.

    With the P & S you've also pretty limited to what's built into the camera,
    whereas with an SLR you can swap lenses to make the camera far more
    versatile - you also have far more control over the camera.

    My suggestion would be if you're only wanting to take typical photos to
    remember the occasion then probably the P & S will be all you need - on the
    other hand if you enjoy photography and want to develop your hobby then an
    SLR is the only way to go. Or to put it another way - if you're buying a
    car, is it because you want to get from A to B (get a 4 door saloon) or do
    you just want to enjoy the ride (get a Ferrari).
    C J Southern, Mar 29, 2006
  5. dmedhora

    Slack Guest

    I struggled with the same issue you are. I flip flopped back and forth for
    months, but it all boiled down to the one thing I absolutely had to have:
    interchangeable lens. Without that option I was limited in what I could
    do with the camera. There was one other issue that drove me nuts, shutter
    lag time on the P&Ss.

    Now that I have a DSLR, I'm only limited by my credit card ;-P
    Slack, Mar 30, 2006
  6. P&S should be renamed P&W&W&W&W&S: point and wait and wait and
    wait and wait and shoot! The shutter lag is awful on most.
    Good analogy. If you use lowest ISO the P&S can make beautiful photos.

    Roger N. Clark (change username to rnclark), Mar 30, 2006
  7. Digital Cameras: Does Pixel Size Matter?
    Factors in Choosing a Digital Camera

    That said, you can still get beautiful photos from a P&S.
    I have both P&S and high end DSLRs. I prefer the DSLRs
    whenever I can carry the bulk and weight.

    Roger N. Clark (change username to rnclark), Mar 30, 2006
  8. dmedhora

    fishfry Guest

    As a film slr user, did you enjoy the control of an SLR? Or did you put
    it on "automatic everything" and fire away?

    Either is ok ... it's up to you. P&S's are pretty darn good these days
    .... nothing wrong with using one. They do everything for you and life's

    Even a simple DLSR has so many features and buttons and controls that
    you have to spend time actually reading the manual and playing with the
    camera. Some people love that stuff, others don't want to be bothered.

    By the way, you can get your film scanned onto a CD. That will let you
    learn digital photography without buying a digital camera. It turns out
    that a big part of digital is learning Photoshop. Sad but true ... you
    can't get away from the darkroom, all you can do is get away from the
    fishfry, Mar 30, 2006
  9. Schuler's points are well taken. Many of us film old-timers chanced the
    digital waters with a simple P&S first... in my case after a half-century
    enjoying Leica, Nikon and Rollei gear. After going thru increasingly
    better P&S cameras, last year I graduated to a Pentax DSLR and indeed
    began to feel like a born-again "real" photographer. Regardless of your
    favorite print size, working with even a low-end DSLR will revive your
    photographic juices and keep you from lapsing into the P&S snapshooter

    A DSLR's low noise is fantastic compared to any P&S... I never hesitate
    to use ISO 800 or 1600 when appropriate, and even ISO 3200 can be
    processed to appear noisless in your 5x7 print.

    And you can still also use a much cheaper digital P&S as a second camera
    when that suits better... why drive your monster SUV to the supermarket
    when your other car is a Mini-Cooper? Even 2 megapixels (hard to find
    with today's escalating sensor wars) can be very satisfying at the 5x7
    level. And something like a Canon digital Elph is a size you can wear on
    a neck string or slip in a pocket rather than lug around. Size does
    matter... but it cuts both ways.

    When you really go digital, perhaps to the point of skipping prints, the
    DSLR will yield better slideshows on your monitor... I view mine on a
    42" Sony HDTV and get blown away by how fantastic my shots look.

    If you are anywhere near my age, I'd advise going first class with a DSLR
    right now and not handicap your remaining years with a less "serious"
    Charles Gillen, Mar 30, 2006
  10. I found that an SLR with its array of lenses, flash guns etc. etc. was
    getting too much to carry around, and resulted in me leaving the camera at
    home and not getting pictures.

    The facilities in the two non-SLR cameras I now have (Nikon 8400 - 8MP
    24mm wide-angle, and Panasonic FZ5 - 5MP image stabilised 36 - 432mm zoom)
    are greater than I ever had on the hoof with my Nikon F3 SLR. It feels
    like my whole outfit is lighter than the F3 with one lens! I no longer
    need to worry about the expense of interchangeable lenses (some lenses now
    don't cover the full 35mm frame, and will be obsolete when full-frame
    sensors are available for the brand).

    Yes, I can't use ISO settings above 400, but image stabilisation helps
    with the more stationary subjects I take. No I can't change the lenses,
    but nor do I have the problems with dust entering the camera. The images
    from the cameras are fine for 10 x 8 inch prints, and would certainly more
    than suffice for 7 x 5 inch prints, although most of my image display is
    now on the computer screen.

    I feel I have now broken out of last century's SLR-only perception, and am
    taking more photos, and enjoying my photography a lot more. Of course,
    that's for my needs. For you, perhaps some the strong points of DSLRs
    will outweigh their disadvantages.

    David J Taylor, Mar 30, 2006
  11. dmedhora

    w.beckley Guest

    The basic question is one of workflow. If you like using an SLR, and
    you like reflex viewfinding, and you don't mind the size, then why
    would you even ask?

    If you've got a problem with an SLR, then you need to weigh the
    options; they've been made clear to you.

    But I started in digital with a Canon G5 and quickly found that I
    needed a DSLR, so I jumped up to a Nikon D70 (and a little over a year
    later, I changed to a Canon 20D, but that's another story). My decision
    to upgrade to a DSLR (I started out with film SLRs, like you) was based
    on the following:

    1. Unacceptable Optical Viewfinding - Optical Viewfinding in a small,
    non-reflex viewfinder is useless.

    2. Insufficient Focal Length Options - When you can't change lenses,
    you need to be sure you've got everything you could want. I didn't.

    3. Shutter Lag - You press the button, and moments later an exposure is
    made. SOmetimes it doesn't matter, but sometimes it does.

    4. Zoom Lag - When zoom is controlled electronically, it can be hard to
    precisely compose shots, especially on the fly.

    5. Unusable ISO over 200 - My D70 was useful up to 800 ISO, and,
    without lowering those standards, my 20D is useful up to 3200 *at
    times*. This was the real dealbreaker. The 400 ISO on my G5 was
    considerably worse than the not-worth-using 1600 on my D70.

    Maybe these problems have been fixed in the few years since I had my
    G5. But I doubt they've been fixed to the point of being worth skipping
    a DSLR. If you haven't got a problem with the SLR form factor, then I
    think you only need to decide which SLR to buy.

    If you must go digicam, everyone is right... the larger chip of the new
    Sony makes all the difference. But at that size, you might as well just
    go DSLR.

    w.beckley, Mar 30, 2006
  12. dmedhora

    l e o Guest

    A P&S is really just P&S. There are lots of controls but in reality, all
    you can use is the <shutter priority>. Other people here can explain to
    you why there's no need to bother with ISO, aperture etc. due to it's
    small sensor. And SLRs have faster processors and bigger buffer - that's
    just marketing decision. Focusing speed is due to different types of
    techniques though.

    It's a good idea to get a SLR for creative and serious photography and a
    slim P&S for casual outings. Or you maybe like David who is more than
    happy to have just a single ZLR and live with many limitations.
    l e o, Mar 30, 2006
  13. dmedhora

    Ben Brugman Guest

    Important points when choosing a new camera :

    1. What does the system cost.
    2. How much do you want to cary.

    1. If money is no object buy both. Most Dslr owners have
    a point and shoot to cary around.

    2. If you have enough money for a Dslr (see 1) and do not
    mind carying it around. (Or lugging the system around) the
    DSLR is the way to go.
    But remember a smal point and shoot is better than a DSLR
    which is at home when you are not.

    For most needs both a point and shoot and a DSLR will
    produce good pictures. But is most cases a DSLR will be
    at least as good or better than a point and shoot.
    When fotograving it handles better, in difficult situations the
    quality is better. And I must say working digital is a joy, and
    working DSLR is a great joy.

    But point and shoots can be better as well. They are more
    discrete, make less noise, it's easier to cary around all the
    time where you don't notice, but more important where the
    others don't notice you are carying a camera.
    Also a point and shoot has an advantage when taking macro's.
    Because of the smaller sensor size you get more depth of field
    than with a DSLR and with macro's this is often an advantage.

    In most of the other cases I consider more depth of field a
    disadvantage, but some people do disagree.

    So for pictures (even good pictures) only a point and shoot will
    often be enough.
    For the fun of making pictures a DSLR is a great way to go.

    ben brugman
    Ben Brugman, Mar 30, 2006
  14. l e o wrote:
    I find that I have used both aperture setting and manual shutter speed on
    my non-SLR. With the longer focal-length zooms, there is quite an
    opportunity for creative out-of-focus backgrounds, although obviously
    substantially less than with the larger sensor camera. Unlike today's
    fashionable view, I don't mind a little grain (noise) in some shots - it
    can actually add atmosphere!

    For me, the benefits of the non-SLR camera outweigh the drawbacks of the
    DSLR. In effect, I can get my photography done with /just/ the "slim
    P&S". I have learned how to live with the limitations rather than fight
    against them. I get short movie clips as well, which can often explain
    more than a still photo.

    Obviously, my choice wouldn't suit everyone.

    David J Taylor, Mar 31, 2006
  15. dmedhora

    dmedhora Guest

    Thank you all for your replies, Everyone's contribution certainly has
    improved my perspective.

    I was, as you know stuck between buying either a

    Panasonic Lumix FX01 ( the wide angle P&S ) , Fujifilm S9500 (ZLR),
    and the cheapest d-SLR.

    I agree with all the points made by everybody and it seems like if I
    want to have just 5x7 prints then
    any of the above are great.

    The Panasonic P&S for its portablity, the Fujifilm for its zoom and the
    d-SLR for its versatility.

    I don't want to brave starting another conversation about which is
    better:- the ZLR or SLR (but that would be kinda interesting as well:)

    Based only on what I've read about ZLRs, My observations are:-

    Similarities between a ZLR and SLR
    1) Same look, feel, size and weight
    2) Program and Manual controls, just like the SLR ( though a bit
    limited for e.g aperture closing to F11 only which is F16 - F22
    equivalent of SLR)
    3) Not much shutter lag
    4) Not pocketable
    5) Both expensive

    Differences between a ZLR and SLR
    1) SLR has larger sensor = meaning better pictures, rather, less noise
    2) ZLR has image stabilization ( though the ZLR model I like which is
    the fujifilm S9500 doesn't have that and the minolta 5D SLR does have
    3) ZLR can zoom to 300+ whereas its a fortune to buy even 200mm zoom
    lenses for an SLR
    4) SLR can interchange lenses, though I don't like that because it
    means more weight to carry
    5) SLR has better quality even for 5x7 prints because of its bigger
    sensor and quality lens.
    6) SLR still has a quality picture at ISO 1600 or more..
    In that regard is Image Stabilization on an ZLR equivalent to a Higher
    ISO and Higher shutter speed on an SLR ? Is it the same thing?
    7) ZLR has no optical viewfinder - That's enough to make me turn the
    8) SLR has depth of field preview
    9) ZLR can do movies.

    I believe, like many others in this group, that the camera is not more
    important, rather its the photographer behind it that is.
    However I also think that the photographer should choose his tools
    right. :)

    I do take effort in composing my pictures with quality content taken at
    the exposure level, shutter speed and aperture that I think would be
    However because my current camera being film I cannot preview anything
    nor can I keep on clicking away because that would cost me a fortune.

    Thats why i decided to go digital, and so this post.
    dmedhora, Mar 31, 2006
  16. dmedhora

    Paul Furman Guest

    If your subject is moving, fast glass and high ISO is more important
    than stabilization.

    6.5 SLR is capable of shallow depth of field (for isolating the subject
    from distracting backgrounds) and large apertures (for low light and
    high speed action). ZLR has more depth of field.
    Paul Furman, Mar 31, 2006
  17. wrote:

    May I pick up on a couple of points?
    ZLR: The Panasonic FZ5 is just 326g with lens, battery and memory card.
    Not sure any DSLR can match that. (A Pentax model starts at 565g without
    the lens).
    Panasonic FZ5 is about US $300-350. Not expensive.
    Depends on the ZLR model.
    No, image stabilisation reduces the visible effect of camera shake on the
    image. For static subjects, you can to some extent have a lower ISO on
    the ZLR and use the image stabilisation to allow a longer exposure. The
    DSLR will produce a better quality image at the higher ISO, and thus not
    /need/ the image stabilisation. However, if you are interested in objects
    at some distance, and need to hand-hold a 200-400mm lens, having image
    stabilisation is an advantage wither you have a DSLR or ZLR.
    The ZLR provides an electronic version of the viewfinder, which has the
    same advantages as an optical viewfinder in terms of accurate framing even
    when the subject is near the camera. However, may viewfinders provide a
    poor image and framing is about all you can do with them. A better
    viewfinder would be the my first wish in a ZLR. The best is the (now
    discontinued) Minolta A2 which was a very pleasant finder to use.

    If you get the chance, try handling both, and imagine having to carry them
    round all day.

    Are you trying to take any particular kind of 5 x 7 inch pictures? That
    could make quite a difference to what I would recommend.

    David J Taylor, Mar 31, 2006
  18. Today commented courteously on the subject at hand
    "Disclaimer" to my comments: my opinions are strictly through
    personal experience, not through in-depth study nor the
    evaluation of a large number of cameras over the years.

    Size and weight are highly variable, particularly when you
    consider that the weight of a EVF (ZLR) is always a constant
    while the all-up weight of any DSLR depends to a very large
    extent on the lens mounted at the time.

    Keep in mind also that if you intend to do flash photography,
    all-up size, weight, and cost will increase dramatically once
    you add somebody's external flash. Built-in flash units have a
    maximum range at ISO 100 of only 10-12 feet, sometimes a bit
    more, sometimes less.

    At the risk of a making sweeping generalization, any realistic
    EVF will be much smaller and lighter in weight than all but
    the most compact DSLRs. Example:

    My Canon Rebel XT kit lens is very light, my Sigma 18-125mm is
    also quite compact and light. My Canon 17-40mm is fairly large
    and weighs about a pound and my Canon 24-70mm is /very/ large
    (to me!) and weighs over 2 pounds (I think 33.6 oz.). And, my
    Canon 430EX external flash, the mid-size one, adds another
    pound. So, when I am shooting in a car museum, the total
    weight I'm lugging around (not counting extra lenses in a bag
    or cart) approaches five pounds. Check the specs for the
    weight of what you're actually considering to be certain.
    Highly depended on model, either EVF or DSLR. The availability
    of photometric controls and "manual" can vary widely, but the
    only thing that really matters is what /you/ think is needed
    or desirable.
    DSLRs will always have much less shutter lag than an EVF.
    Depending on what kind of photography you do, the amount of
    shutter lag may be a minimal annoyance (if you shoot things
    sitting still, as I do) or a fatal flaw (if you shoot sports,
    animals moving around, auto racing, etc.).

    My daughter has a very exhuberant Chihuaua. When I am shooting
    pictures indoors with my Rebel XT, even it's minimal "lag" is
    problematical. What is really going on, though, is the time it
    takes for the AF mechanism to lock onto a rapidly moving
    subject. My "solution" for this, such that it is, is to shoot
    at more mega pixels than I need so I can stand farther
    back/more wide-angle, which increases depth-of-field so I
    don't have to be as concerned about an accurate AF lock.
    Again, it is what /you/ think is important that matters here,
    not mine or anyone elses.
    Depends. The price range for EVF and low-to-mid DSLRs overlaps
    considerably. Some people might define EVFs for under $300
    several times that amount, while entry level or "pro-sumer"
    DSLRs usually have body-only prices in the $600-900, if you're
    buying locally at list.

    Again, though, once you buy an EVF - whatever model at
    whatever price - it never changes (unless/until you buy an
    external flash). However, the more lenses you buy for the
    DSLR, the higher your total investment obviously increases.
    There is a floor but no ceiling. Whether increased cost is or
    is not justified depends on your expectations for quality,
    mega pixels, features, etc. It is quite hard to generalize
    DSLRs can have IS either on the body or some lenses or both.
    The importance of that again depends on the kind of pictures
    you intend to shoot. I assume you're interested in at least
    some form of low-light situations and want to avoid shake at
    lower shutter speeds. But, much depends on how steady you are
    and how much pressure it takes to push the shutter down all
    the way.
    Definitely true. My Sigma zoom was around $400 while my two
    Canon zooms totalled over $2,100. And, as I commented on
    above, size of DSLR lenses go up quite rapidly with longer
    focal lengths/zoom ratios. Having said that, if you're buying
    for utmost sharpness/detail, you should expect the number of
    glass elements and groups to be higher than the normally
    compact EVF zoom lenses, which costs size, weight and money.

    I bought the Sigma zoom first because I was impressed by its
    modest size, weight, and price and the good things I'd read
    about it. I do not regret it. It is a fine lens and the one I
    take if I want to have a reasonably long telephoto and mimimum
    weight. But, compared to either Canon "L glass" lenses I
    bought later, the Sigma is quite soft. I guess it is still
    true that you get what you pay for.
    This is a big issue for me, as well. However, after 3 EVFs
    which performed quite poorly for my main subjects, cars, I
    finally bit the bullet and bought the Rebel. I do not regret
    that at all, although I was totally unprepared for the very
    steep learning curve for flash - a big part of what I bought
    it for. And, I still get an occasional mild out-of-focus image
    even though I am sure I had an AF lock.
    You may well think you only want 5 x 7 today but tomorrow you
    may want 8 x 10, 11 x 14, 16 x 20, or poster size. DSLR
    qualities extends from sensors to firmware to mega pixels to
    features and ditto for lenses.

    I generally shoot at 4 mega pixels which is plenty for me, as
    I no longer print anything larger than 8 x 10. However, I do
    often shoot at the full 8 MP to gain detail and to create what
    amounts to a "digital zoom" by cropping the main subject out
    of the middle of a bigger image when I just can't get close
    enough at max telephoto. I seldom save finished JPEGs larger
    than 1400 x 1050, but I /always/ keep the unedited image in a
    sub-folder under the folder I store the finished images. That
    way, should I change my mind later and want to print large, I
    can go back to the full-size image and reasonably quickly re-
    Hardly. This depends highly on whose DSLR you buy and which
    model you choose. I bought my Rebel XT because it was about
    25% smaller and lighter than a Nikon D70S (the other camera I
    was most considering), and because everybody had told me that
    the Rebel's noise is quite low even at ISO 1600.

    However, Popular Photography rated the Rebel noisy above 200,
    which my testing confirms. I can shoot at 400 OK, noise at 800
    gets pretty bad, and 1600 is almost useless to me. Noise,
    though, is highly subjective to many people and depend on many
    factors besides the obvious. For an easy example, the more
    underexposed an image is, the more noise will likely result.
    This is an apples-to-oranges comparison, again, IMHO.

    Is it
    I very much like the electronic viewfinders of the two EVFs I
    owned and another I evaluated, but whether you want to see
    what the lens sees or a reduced resolution view of what the
    sensors see is a matter of what is imporant to you.
    Yes, but much more limited in practical terms than a film SLR.
    But, by definition, you cannot preview a just-shot image in
    the view-finder to see if you did or did not get enough DOF,
    you must rely on the LCD which is pretty useless for anything
    other than general composure and general exposure
    considerations. This may or may not be an issue for you.
    Yes, but they are /not/ movie cameras.
    Two pieces of advice I would offer you that can be of
    paramount importance:

    1) Pick up, handle, and experiment with /all/ the cameras you
    are considering to see if you like the feel, ergonomics,
    features, etc. There simply is no substitute for actually
    trying what you're considering.

    2) Buy from a store that will let you return whatever you buy
    if you just plain don't like it or are in any way dissatisfied
    with it. You really won't know if the features, quality,
    noise, IS or not, etc. do or do not meet your needs and wants
    without doing some real-world test shots typical of what you
    think you may encounter.

    Good luck!
    All Things Mopar, Mar 31, 2006
  19. dmedhora

    ian lincoln Guest

    zlr have improved since my fuji 2800. Shutter lag was the biggest problem.
    picture quality was excellent even up to borderless A4. The fuji auto
    exposure system was better than my 20D. So there wasn't much need for
    things like exposure compensation. Still for pocketability i went with a
    hp707 for small and convenient use. For quality stuff that required thought
    and wide or long zoom then the slr comes out.

    I would look at the 5x zoom pentax pocket ones rather than zlr. Zlr are too
    much of a compromise and are neither as pocketable as the compacts or have
    the image quality and range of a proper DSLR. Get the minolta 5d that way
    you can have cheapish body, Image stabilisation and great glass. Soon the
    market will be flooded with stuff now that sony have taken over.

    For convenient carrying an upmarket compact with image stabilisation or one
    with extra wide zoom 28mm equivalent. Something like the canon S70 or
    something smaller.
    ian lincoln, Apr 1, 2006
  20. dmedhora

    dmedhora Guest

    No I am just planning to take normal print size 5x7 pictures which I
    currently do with
    my film slr as well.

    The price you quoted is dollars whereas I am in the UK where its more
    Besides, the panasonic Z5:- I'm sure it doesn't start with a wide angle
    of 28 atleast.

    Also I'm not sure how an EVF is better than an OVF. But I'll need to
    try both out as
    you suggested ofcourse. Thanks
    dmedhora, Apr 1, 2006
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