YV136C From Venezuela, joined Mar 2003, 198 posts, RR: 0 Posted (8 years 10 months 2 weeks 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 4464 times:
I've been up and down all over the internet wanting to buy a 5MP digital camera, basically for my own spotting pleasure since I work at FLL but also for taking pictures of the kids, hurricanes etc. I don't want to go over $300 or $350 either. Ah! and It should have that real camera look and feel that you can actually grab, not a small flimsy thing like most...
I've been eyeing a Konica Minolta Z20 and the Canon Powershot S2 IS. Any opinions? Ideas? Good website to buy on (ebay??)
I used a Konica Minolta Z3, a 4 megapixel camera. Although it was a good, relatively cheap camera, I did find it produced images that were a little soft for Airliners.net use. The IS was excellent however and focussing was very fast. I wonder if softness has been improved with the Z20? Something to check out before you buy.
I upgraded to a Panasonic FZ20, which I found to be excellent for an all-in-one camera with long zoom at a reasonable price. My acceptance rate went up dramatically when I started using it. The main caveat is that it has quite a bit of noise in the images, but this affects all cameras in this class, some are worse than others. It was possible to cope with the noise at ISO 100 by using software (Photoshop Elements 3.0 for example), but ISO 200 and higher were too noisy for many shots. I have upgraded to a Canon 350D (arrived today!) but will definitely be keeping the FZ20 as a backup, especially as I do not have any money for long reach lenses yet! I give the FZ20 an overall thumbs up for aircraft photography if you need a low cost all-in-one camera - just remember it isn't perfect and you will need to work round the flaws. It was very good at capturing detail such as panel lines, rivets etc. This is important as it allows you to use that noise reducing software without damaging the detail in the image too much. With the FZ30 now out (8 MP but the noise problem is worse and a tad expensive, probably best avoided) you should be able to pick up FZ20's cheaper than the official price if you look around. I have also heard very good things about the Canon S2 IS, though I have not used one, so would recommend you weigh up these two. Remember, they will both require good editing work to make acceptable uploads here, but it is possible. If any FZ20 users need any tips drop me a line via my profile.
A few examples of my FZ20 output (edited) that may help:
AeroWeanie From United States of America, joined Dec 2004, 1609 posts, RR: 52
Reply 2, posted (8 years 10 months 2 weeks 6 days 2 hours ago) and read 4421 times:
I first bought a KonicaMinolta Dimage Z5 and took roughly 1500 airplane pictures with it (in six months). I finally got fed up with the noise I was getting in the images, so I bought a Canon S2 IS. I've only shot about 500 images on the Canon, (in a week!), but the images appear to have far less noise and to be sharper. The Z5's noise is mostly in the red channel and the images have a strange cast to them that I have to remove in Photoshop. There is none of this with the Canon.
With all that said, does anyone want to buy my Z5?