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Opinions On Point And Shoot Cameras For Spotting  
User currently offline76794p From United States of America, joined Apr 2008, 361 posts, RR: 0
Posted (6 years 4 months 3 weeks 4 days 9 hours ago) and read 5318 times:

my friend told me about some good high quality point and shoot cameras on the market i want to know want other spotters think about them


There's always money IN the banana stand.
12 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineINNflight From Switzerland, joined Apr 2004, 3767 posts, RR: 60
Reply 1, posted (6 years 4 months 3 weeks 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 5297 times:

Well.......naming some of those would be a nice start, don't you think?  Wink


Jet Visuals
User currently onlineAloha717200 From United States of America, joined Aug 2003, 4524 posts, RR: 15
Reply 2, posted (6 years 4 months 3 weeks 4 days ago) and read 5287 times:

Hi there,

I myself just got done doing some extensive research into the best point and shoot models available for those of us who can't afford DSLR.

I compared all cameras with a zoom range of 4X or greater, and did not review any ultra-compacts. After all that research I can say that the top three models available are these:

Canon Powershot G9 - The best image quality of them all. Canon's flagship model is limited mainly by its 6X zoom and tendency to clip highlights, but otherwise it is a very good camera. Large sensor, good resolution, low noise, low noise reduction (preserving details), and array of nifty features. It is not perfect, but for perfect you have to go DSLR. It's as close to perfect as you can get with a point and shoot and is my recommendation at $450.

Canon Powershot S5 IS - This is the second best camera. Its images contain a bit more noise than the G9, and it too tends to clip highlights. At the tele end of the zoom, red chromatic abberation appears which can detract from the images, but overall the pros outweigh the cons as it has 12X zoom and excellent movie capture abilities..including two HQ speakers built into the camera, and the ability to use optical zoom during filming. It's versatile, can go anywhere, and get a shot of practically anything. But the G9 tops it simply because the image quality of the G9 is better. If you buy the S5 IS, and then purchase Neatimage and Photoshop to clean up your photos a bit before submitting them to a.net, then the S5 is the perfect camera for an a.net spotter. But without good image software, your images will fall below a.net standards if taken directly from the camera. Overall a very good choice.

Olympus SP-570UZ - This is a newer camera than the other two, and it's image quality is actually BETTER than the S5 IS....however, it only gets third place because its lens distortion is very noticable. You will get "level" rejections with this camera if you try to use it at wide angle or full telephoto, which reduces the appeal of its industry-leading 20X zoom lens. This camera also suffers from color fringing and a bit of shutter lag, and the occasional out of focus image, moreso than the other two, and haloing in high contrast areas. But still better than the other options out there and a solid 3rd choice. Plus, it preserves highlights better than the Canon cameras.


Sony just released the H50 and while it would appear to be a good camera, closer review of its image output reveals serious problems with softness, chromatic abberation, and noise reduction.

Panasonic is releasing the FZ28 which replaces the FZ18. This new camera is supposed to be fantastic, but it will not be for sale until September, so a full review is not available online, but it's feature list is an a.netter's dream. Whether the image quality lives up to the camera's features remains to be seen. I'm not betting on it as Panasonic tends to be heavy on the noise reduction, and that the sensor size of this camera remains small despite a 2mp increase in resolution, which inevitably means more noise and detail loss. But we will see.


Avoid anything by Kodak, and surprisingly, the Nikon Coolpix cameras fall very short of the others right now. The Canon SX100 IS is a pretty good camera, but the S5 is better. Panasonic's TZ cameras are okay but too small for a spotter, and their output is pretty much on par with the FZ18. Avoid Samsung.


Compare the specs side by side here:

http://tinyurl.com/Dpreview-Comparison


Compare test images here:

http://www.imaging-resource.com/IMCOMP/COMPS01.HTM

Use the dropdown boxes to select cameras to compare. Click the thumnails once for medium images, and click the medium images for fullsize to see the detail. I think you will agree that the G9 is the best.

[Edited 2008-07-27 04:13:28]

User currently offlineSpencer From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2004, 1635 posts, RR: 17
Reply 3, posted (6 years 4 months 3 weeks 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 5254 times:

I have the G9. It's brilliant. As for a spotting camera, well it's not bad but then I have a DSLR for that aspect of my photography. However I tend to use it for window views. Does the job.

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Photo © Spencer Wilmot
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Photo © Spencer Wilmot



Spencer.



EOS1D4, 7D, 30D, 100-400/4.5-5.6 L IS USM, 70-200/2.8 L IS2 USM, 17-40 f4 L USM, 24-105 f4 L IS USM, 85 f1.8 USM
User currently offlineLegoguy From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2006, 3313 posts, RR: 39
Reply 4, posted (6 years 4 months 3 weeks 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 5205 times:



Quoting Aloha717200 (Reply 2):

Hey Brandon. Great informative post regarding the high end point and shoot range. Unfortunately a week too late for me as I purchased a Panasonic DMC-FZ18 last week. I have only spent one evening plane spotting with it however so far I am pretty pleased with it. Whilst the photo quality is not A.net standard (thank-god for myaviation.net), the camera does produce some good shots. The 18x Optical zoom is decent enough and I'm now gutted to hear that there is a newer 28 optical zoom coming out in September.

I did consider the Canon Powershot S5 IS however I thought the x12 Optical zoom would not be as good as the x18 of the Panasonic. Today I have brought a telephoto x1.7 lens for the Panasonic FZ18, so (please tell me I'm right) I believe that will give me 30.6 Optical zoom (18 multiplied by 1.7?).



Can you say 'Beer Can' without sounding like a Jamaican saying 'Bacon'?
User currently onlineAloha717200 From United States of America, joined Aug 2003, 4524 posts, RR: 15
Reply 5, posted (6 years 4 months 3 weeks 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 5189 times:



Quoting Legoguy (Reply 4):
Today I have brought a telephoto x1.7 lens for the Panasonic FZ18, so (please tell me I'm right) I believe that will give me 30.6 Optical zoom (18 multiplied by 1.7?).

I believe that is correct.

Quoting Legoguy (Reply 4):
Hey Brandon. Great informative post regarding the high end point and shoot range. Unfortunately a week too late for me as I purchased a Panasonic DMC-FZ18 last week. I have only spent one evening plane spotting with it however so far I am pretty pleased with it. Whilst the photo quality is not A.net standard (thank-god for myaviation.net), the camera does produce some good shots. The 18x Optical zoom is decent enough and I'm now gutted to hear that there is a newer 28 optical zoom coming out in September.

Since it was only a week ago, does your camera have a return policy?

Remember that zoom isn't everything, as the farther you zoom out, even with IS, the greater the chance that the photo will be ruined by camera shake, chromatic abberation, pincushion distortion, and other issues. I'd say that 12X is more than adequate for most spotting. If the reach isn't far enough, at least the image quality will be better on the photos that you CAN take.

To reach a.net standards, the first priority for a camera should be image quality. All other features come second. If you can return your camera, I would, and go for the S5 or G9.


User currently offlineLegoguy From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2006, 3313 posts, RR: 39
Reply 6, posted (6 years 4 months 3 weeks 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 5184 times:



Quoting Aloha717200 (Reply 5):
Since it was only a week ago, does your camera have a return policy?

Remember that zoom isn't everything, as the farther you zoom out, even with IS, the greater the chance that the photo will be ruined by camera shake, chromatic abberation, pincushion distortion, and other issues. I'd say that 12X is more than adequate for most spotting. If the reach isn't far enough, at least the image quality will be better on the photos that you CAN take.

To reach a.net standards, the first priority for a camera should be image quality. All other features come second. If you can return your camera, I would, and go for the S5 or G9.

It was bought off ebay but still has a return policy. I'm half tempted to return it, however the aditional 6x optical zoom it has keeps me impressed. While not good for aircraft spotting, it comes in handy for other things such as wildlife, and just messing around  Smile

Also the Panasonic at 72x zoom (optical and digital) features a fantastic steady system which keeps the object in the distance pretty steady, despite camera movement. I think this camera will do me until I'm ready to move up to the SLR stage.



Can you say 'Beer Can' without sounding like a Jamaican saying 'Bacon'?
User currently offlineHernan From United States of America, joined Oct 2005, 93 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (6 years 4 months 3 weeks 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 5182 times:

Canon is the way to go, the S2 IS and the A720 IS are working great for me! I would expect great results from the G9 or the S5 IS!

User currently offline76794p From United States of America, joined Apr 2008, 361 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (6 years 4 months 3 weeks 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 5126 times:

the camera i have is a nikon coolpix and any opinions
i need an answer quick i leave for the airport in the early morning



There's always money IN the banana stand.
User currently onlineAloha717200 From United States of America, joined Aug 2003, 4524 posts, RR: 15
Reply 9, posted (6 years 4 months 3 weeks 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 5111 times:



Quoting 76794p (Reply 8):
the camera i have is a nikon coolpix and any opinions
i need an answer quick i leave for the airport in the early morning

Not the greatest. Shoot in the middle of the zoom range, keep your images in the finest quality setting, don't turn up the saturation, contrast or sharpness in your camera. Shoot "pure" images that you can edit later as they will all most likely come out below a.net standard. Post-processing might save most of them as long as you are careful to avoid distortions, overly contrasy scenes (like sunsets or aircraft with the sun reflecting off of them), and fast moving scenes. Gate and ramp shots are your best bet. Hope this helps.


User currently offlineZootSuit From United States of America, joined Jun 2008, 10 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (6 years 4 months 3 weeks 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 5097 times:



Quoting Aloha717200 (Reply 2):
At the tele end of the zoom, red chromatic abberation appears which can detract from the images

It only happens in certain situations though. I've taken thousands of shots with my S5 since I got it in May, and I can count on two hands the ones where abberations appear. This is also partly due to the fact that I rarely use all 12x in the zoom. Even at airshows, the 12x is fine, except when Extra 300s and the like are flying, but I'm less interested in them anyway.  Wink Abberations also tend to be absent on cloudy days, which always seem to be around when I'm at an airshow.  Sad Oh well, whatever will be, will be. It is a great camera though. Great to hold and good build quality (very solid, unlike some Sony's I held before deciding on this one). I just wish Canon had made it a bit faster, included RAW capability, and had a battery life indicator on the screen. I get a warning about 2 shots before the batteries go. The AA batteries themselves are acceptable; I've gotten 500 shots out of one set before I needed to change them. I don't know how much better a special battery would do. My AA's are quick rechargeables anyway: 15 minutes from dead to ready, not many dedicated batteries can do that.

Quoting Legoguy (Reply 4):
The 18x Optical zoom is decent enough and I'm now gutted to hear that there is a newer 28 optical zoom coming out in September.

I'd be wary of a P&S with 28x optical. The IS has to either be really good, or long range shots will be crap. Sounds almost too good to be true.

Quoting Legoguy (Reply 4):
I did consider the Canon Powershot S5 IS however I thought the x12 Optical zoom would not be as good as the x18 of the Panasonic. Today I have brought a telephoto x1.7 lens for the Panasonic FZ18, so (please tell me I'm right) I believe that will give me 30.6 Optical zoom (18 multiplied by 1.7?).

You'll rarely use more than 10x anyway. You will use it for the odd shot across the park or view from a tower, maybe even moon shots or planes at cruise from the ground, but that will be about it.


User currently offlineLegoguy From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2006, 3313 posts, RR: 39
Reply 11, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 5046 times:



Quoting ZootSuit (Reply 10):
I'd be wary of a P&S with 28x optical. The IS has to either be really good, or long range shots will be crap. Sounds almost too good to be true.

The IS with the x18 optical zoom is quite impressive and I have taken some interesting shots with it.

Quoting ZootSuit (Reply 10):
You'll rarely use more than 10x anyway. You will use it for the odd shot across the park or view from a tower, maybe even moon shots or planes at cruise from the ground, but that will be about it.

Admittedly I do like taking photos of random things far away, as well as aircraft at high altitude. Aircraft flying at altitude over my house has always had me wondering what aircraft/airline they are, and now I can use the camera to take poor quality pictures of the aircraft, from which I can determine the aircraft and airline. So far an AA 777 and LH A343 have been identified  Smile

I do have some money to waste so I can perhaps invest in a better point and shoot camera.



Can you say 'Beer Can' without sounding like a Jamaican saying 'Bacon'?
User currently offlineZootSuit From United States of America, joined Jun 2008, 10 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (6 years 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 5035 times:



Quoting Legoguy (Reply 11):
I do have some money to waste so I can perhaps invest in a better point and shoot camera.

It sounds like yours may be just fine. What you may want to do is get a smaller point and shoot, like credit card sized. The reason for this is that it is easier to have to take random shots because it will fit in your pocket. Maybe you are going to a street fair and don't want to lug your large camera around, here is your solution. Or you go to a concert, a smaller camera can be smuggled in easily. Smaller cameras are also easier to hide from FA's walking through the cabin before takeoff and landing. They can easily be hidden under a leg or in a seatback pocket. A larger camera is harder to hide, but it can be done. I'm missing my old Sony point and shoot because of this, though I wouldn't ever have both of my cameras on a flight with me.


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