Remember that there has been a tendency for 5 MP
cameras to show more noise than 3 MP
cameras, partly due to cramming in many more sensors in a similar sized detector. The individual detectors are therefore both smaller and closer together which can increase the noise. Seeing more noise with a 5 MP
than a 3MP camera has been a surprse to many, but is generally not as bad as it is sometimes made out to be. If you want truly low noise, you'll have to buy a 'real' digital camera
Anyway I have a Panasonic FZ-20 and love it. Good quality pictures straight out of the camera (for a compact, non-DSLR type, anyway), and good detail capture allow you to apply some noise reduction without smudging out details.
If you are serious about uploading to Airliners.net, I would consider more than 3 MP
, whatever you choose. I have had photos successfully uploaded here in the last 12 months (it's nearly my A.net first birthday!) using 2, 3, 4 and 5 MP
cameras. What that would lead me to say is that a high MP
count is very helpful in giving you that extra edge, especially comparing a 3 MP
to a 5 MP
. The extra size of the image will allow you more freedom to crop, rotate and downsize your images while retaining detail (and the Panasonic is good for detail capture as I said).
So although the reviews of the S1 are good (I have never used one), I couldn't recommend it over the FZ-20.
If it helps you decide, I also still have my old Fuji S602Z and while this is a superb 3MP camera (with excellently low noise now I look back at it) with which I achieved a number of Airliners.net shots, I wouldn't swap it for my FZ-20.
If you are really set on a Canon, get a 4 MP
or 5 MP
rather than a 3 MP
. If I was choosing between the two you have mentioned, it would be the Panasonic, although it is a big lensed beast.
I really enjoy using my Panasonic, the only drawback is that I can't blame the camera for the quality of the shots anymore
One other point you may want to consider, the Panasonic uses it's own Lithium-Ion batteries, so you won't be able to nip to the corner shop for more in a tight spot.
Whatever camera you decide to get in the end, enjoy using it and don't regret your choice. I chose between my Panasonic FZ-20 and a Canon 300D with L glass lens. The Panasonic won - no regrets from me. Sure it is not as good, but I was not (and still am not) at the point in my hobby where I wish to upgrade to DSLR. Saved some money too! I am able to produce images I am happy with and judging by the e-mails I receive, so are other people.
You are obviously looking to go DSLR at some point, but the Panasonic should serve to fill the gap in the meantime.
Have a look at some of my FZ-20 shots, all my 2005 shots have been with this camera:
or these by Nigel Day:
Thomas Andre Hjelmen also uses a FZ-20 although I won't link to any as I am not sure which ones were taken with it!