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1. Posted by george1979 (Full Member 101 posts) 9y

Hi guys,

Sorry to be a pain but i am really hoping for some help. I recently posted an enquiry re the Olympus SP510UZ - i am sorely tempted to buy it due to reasonable price, features (mainly image stabilization, x10 zoom and the fact it runs on AA batteries) but am hesitant as i don't know that much about cameras and don't want to end up with an unreliable piece of crap that takes rubbish photos. Anybody able to help this ignorant budding traveller? I will be forever grateful .

P.S. I have read reviews on dpreview after reading other posts here but it hasn't helped as they seem to be aimed at people who already know what they are doing.

2. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4808 posts) 9y

It doesn't really have image stabilization. If you look carefully, its description will say it has "Digital image stabilisation mode", which means that it has a high-iso mode (that it automatically switches to?), which is not completely useless, but is basically something every single camera has (or should have), and which for compact cameras like these leads to either lots and lots of grain, or to loss of detail if the camera is too agressive in trying to fight back the grain.
Real image stabilization intelligently and physically moves the lens or the CCD to counteract unintended hand-movement. Dpreview recently posted a slam at camera manufacturers using such confusing labels for things that aren't real image stabilization.

I don't know anything about this specific camera. However, dpreview gave the previous generation of the same camera (the SP500UZ) a rating of above average, which in dpreview terms means "stay far away from this". You'd want a camera with at least a "recommended" rating, and if you can, a "highly recommended" one.

If you go to dpreview's features search, you can fill in that you want a price of < $300, a zoom of 200 mm+ (not quite 10x that, but "lots"), and real image stabilization. (Can't search on aa-batteries, unfortunately).
You then end up with 10 cameras that you can look further into (four of which with prices below $200, and several more just above). The Kodak Z612 that I see in your other thread that you were also looking at is listed amongst them. (Unfortunately unreviewed, while comparable Kodak cameras hover between "above average" and "recommended", so it's hard to say how good this particular one would be.)

Now, this isn't a market segment I know anything about, but all those from that selection which have an "in depth review" have a rating of at least recommended, and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ3 actually has "highly recommended" (it's $299 though, but with 12x optical zoom, image stabilization that's described by dpreview as "very effective" and "good battery life", I think that's the one I'd be looking at; do note however that it's two years old at this point, so perhaps harder to find, and since it's only 3MP, its images are only good for printing at regular size, not for enlarging).
Looking further, if your budget stretches a bit further (reported street price is $311, but shop around), there's a 5MP successor, the FZ5, which also got a rating of highly recommended.

I hope that helps.

[ Edit: Edited on Jan 12, 2007, at 12:17 PM by Sander ]

3. Posted by george1979 (Full Member 101 posts) 9y

It does help Sander - thanks very much. Appreciate your help. i had no idea about the "Digital image stabilisation mode" - i'll keep that in mind. I'll have a look at the Panasonic you mentioned. Just as well i didn't but the olympus then eh? :)

4. Posted by Anzxio (Budding Member 69 posts) 9y

Buy a Canon. Seriously. :)

Anyway, never buy a camera without going to a shop and trying it out first, you might hate the feel of it, or the menus.

If you can afford it, get a Canon G7, a superb camera :)

5. Posted by Dezafinado (Respected Member 177 posts) 9y

george -

Anzxio makes a good recommendation but if you can't afford the G7, go for the Canon A640. It deliver very similar Image Quality as the G7 and costs less. Here's a review:

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canona640/

6. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4808 posts) 9y

Dezafinado: No offense, but that camera has only 4x optical zoom, no image stabilization, and a (for compact cameras totally useless) 10MP resolution, which'll fill up memory cards in no time.
I mean, yes, it's a very capable camera, but almost the only thing it does which george was looking for is take AA batteries...

7. Posted by Hien (Moderator 3906 posts) 9y

AA-size batteries? Get the Canon S3 IS (4x AA, 6 Megapixel, 12X optical zoom, Image Stabilization).

I have an older model - Canon S1 IS (3.2MP, 10x zoom), it's a great camera. :)
It's a bit bulkier than most point-and-shoot though.

8. Posted by Hien (Moderator 3906 posts) 9y

Or take a look at the Canon A710 (2x AA, 7MP, 6X optical zoom), the "perky little brother to the Canon S3 IS" (as the reviewer calls it).

9. Posted by Dezafinado (Respected Member 177 posts) 9y

Quoting Sander

Dezafinado: No offense, but that camera has only 4x optical zoom, no image stabilization, and a (for compact cameras totally useless) 10MP resolution, which'll fill up memory cards in no time.
I mean, yes, it's a very capable camera, but almost the only thing it does which george was looking for is take AA batteries...

No offense taken.

I know it's not what george has in mind but A640 is an excellent camera. Ultra Zoom digicams are widely popular but optics is questionable on most models in the lower price range. IS is necessary for long zooms; A640 is manageable. Resolution/size can be lowered to allow for more exposures per card. As for battery, I'd rather take a high Amp Li-Ion than AA. Used properly it's still cheaper in the long run... unless the AA batteries are rechargeable.