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Bridge camera with best auto mode?
Hi everyone.

My dad's had a Minolta Dimage 7i for 6 years or so and he's been getting some problems with the lens and image focusing recently, so he wants to get a new camera. He's looking for something similar to the Minolta - a bridge camera with a long zoom, good image quality and a good auto mode..

He'll be using it almost exclusively for photos for his work. He's an environmental engineer and needs it for shots of water treatment plants, both outdoor and indoor. He won't really have time to make any adjustments when he's taking the photos which is why a good auto mode is important..

I've been looking at a few models like the Fuji 8000fd, Fuji S9100/9600 and Panasonic FZ18. Most discussions of them don't really focus on the auto capabilities though. Does anyone have any suggestions?.

Thanks..

Comments (11)

Most bridge-cameras nowadays, delivers very accurate exposures and white balance. This is why there isn't that much focus on this area anymore; it's quite normal for digital cameras to deliver in this area..

My suggestion is primarily the FujiFilm S9600, for it's high-ISO capabilities and manual-like way of handling. Also, the wide-angle coverage of the S9600 is a most desirable thing - IMHO. .

Also, the more expensive (and now outdated) Sony R1 is a very good choise, but yes we're talking a different price tag here, and the camera is hard to get now....

The Canon S5 IS also does a very good job, especially in the video capturing area, where it delivers a truly class-leading performance..

Http://www.fotostart.dk << tutorials, guides etc.http://www.jakobdam.dk << my portfolio..

Comment #1

I've recently got the fz18 and found it more than satisfactory..

I'm pretty new to digital photography and learning every day with the manual stuff but I have to say that I do tend to shoot a lot in intelligent auto mode and the results are, more often than not, outstanding..

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Comment #2

Having enjoyed using a D7i myself and then 'upgraded' to a DSLR, I then 'downgraded' to using a Fuji 9100/9600 (see Back to the Bridge Camera link below). This now gets almost the same amount of use as the DSLR..

However, there is a new Fuji coming out soon the S100FS. This will have image stabilisation, more megapixels, a longer 18x zoom starting at 28mm (equiv), flip out LCD and a slightly larger 2/3 sensor (same as the old Minoltas). That I think would be the one to go for..

For potentially even better image quality (due to much higher ISOs being usable on a larger sensor) he could look at Sony's recently announced Alpha 350 DSLR which offers live view on a flip out LCD. He would need two lenses (perhaps 3) to match the Fuji though..

John.Please visit me at:http://www.pbase.com/johnfr/backtothebridgehttp://www.pbase.com/johnfr/digital_dartmoor..

Comment #3

Thanks for the replies. I was originally all set on the S9600, but then I did a bit of looking and found lots of users saying that it wasn't really a point and shoot camera and that you had to mess around a bit to get good results. There's a lot of people saying the auto mode works well though so it's kind of hard to know what to think....

I like the sound of the Intelligent Auto mode on the FZ18, sounds like exactly what my dad needs. The lack of a manual zoom is a bit annoying though. Still, I think the Panasonic might suit my dad's needs best..

The S100FS looks pretty amazing - the specs seem pretty much perfect. I especially like the idea of the 2/3" sensor. I know it's not out yet but I presume it would be safe to assume it would have a good auto mode? Surely it couldn't go too far wrong with specs like that! The only thing holding me back from it would be the wait - Amazon have it listed for April and my dad would need it before then. So basically I have to decide between the FZ18 now and the S100FS sometime in the next few days/weeks/months. Decisions, decisions.....

Comment #4

Auto modes are pretty good on the Fujis, but it is so simple to use Aperture Priority and dial in +/- EV as necessary. The live preview will show if it's working well enough..

It would be a good idea to buy a camera without a flashgun hot shoe and also provision for a remote cable release..

The Minolta d7i was a fully-equipped camera, you Dad may still need something as leat that well specified. Have you asked him to list the things he considers to be vital in a camera?.

John.Please visit me at:http://www.pbase.com/johnfr/backtothebridgehttp://www.pbase.com/johnfr/digital_dartmoor..

Comment #5

He won't really need a huge amount of features beyond the basics of image quality and zoom really. A manual zoom isn't a requirement but would certainly be nice - it's one of the reasons I'm hesitant about the FZ18. Features like a good movie mode, continuous shooting, accessory support would be good to have but they're not at the top of his list. Basically he needs a camera an effective auto mode, very good IQ, a decent zoom and good handling..

I've done a bit of looking at the Panasonic FZ50. This looks closer the the DiMage in terms of shape and handling - I'd say he's prefer it over the FZ18. Is the intelligent auto mode on the FZ18 much of an improvement over the FZ50's auto? If not I think I'd definitely be leaning towards the FZ50...

Comment #6

It would most definitely be a good idea to buy a camera with a hot shoe and cable release socket. One of my old Olympus cameras had a wireless one which was great..

Did your Dad ever get to use all the features on the D7i? Features were the reason why so many of us bought it. You're saying he doesn't need features like that now? Doesn't need 28mm wide angle for instance (that would be a minus point for the Fz50)?.

John.Please visit me at:http://www.pbase.com/johnfr/backtothebridgehttp://www.pbase.com/johnfr/digital_dartmoor..

Comment #7

I wouldn't get an FZ18 personally there have been a few reported with a blue noise issue. I just got the FZ50 and love it. The Auto mode works very well.F as in Frank Z as in ZebraFifty..

Comment #8

Not to throw a wrench in here but why not have your dad look at a Minolta A2 (updated 7hi). I am not sure if there are any new ones left on eBay but I am sure he could get a good used on on there or from some place like B&H or Adorama. It would be just like what he is used to using but with a few new features (including anti-shake), 8 megapixels and an great EVF (over 900,00 pixels if I recall). He doesn't seem to need all the fancy features on some of the newer cameras and it would be an easy step up for him...

Comment #9

John farrar - My dad never really ended up using the more advanced features of the DiMage. When he was using it for work he just really pointed and shot, and he isn't that into photography outside of work so he didn't use any of the more creative features and settings. Wide-angle was nice but not really a necessity for his purposes..

ViCorp - The DiMage A2 is certainly an interesting option, I'll look into it. I think my dad would prefer not to get a used camera so I'm not sure it's a runner..

I think I'm pretty much settled on the FZ50. A local camera shop sell it so my dad can try it out there before buying, but it seems like it's exactly what he needs. I'm still not sure if he should wait for the Fuji S100FS, but I suppose it might be overkill and it mightn't be out for a long time...

Comment #10

Aidoscuz wrote:.

John farrar - My dad never really ended up using the more advancedfeatures of the DiMage. When he was using it for work he just reallypointed and shot, and he isn't that into photography outside of workso he didn't use any of the more creative features and settings.Wide-angle was nice but not really a necessity for his purposes..

ViCorp - The DiMage A2 is certainly an interesting option, I'll lookinto it. I think my dad would prefer not to get a used camera so I'mnot sure it's a runner..

I think I'm pretty much settled on the FZ50. A local camera shop sellit so my dad can try it out there before buying, but it seems likeit's exactly what he needs. I'm still not sure if he should wait forthe Fuji S100FS, but I suppose it might be overkill and it mightn'tbe out for a long time..

The soon to be released Fuji is probably the only cam that'll threaten the Fz50 for DSLR-like handling combined with all the better P&S features but it's probably gonna be close to twice the price, considering the Fz50 can be had for around $450 on-line (I got mine for $412 delivered just last month) & it's been reported the Fuji will be intro'd in the $$800-900 range & probably will take quite a while to get down to $500 if ever... The fugi is also gonna be a tad larger especially @ full zoom where that extending lens stretches out... The size of the 50 never changes bcause the lens is a non-extending & fully contained in a rigid barrel & I believe it's faster @ F/2.8 @ 35mm-3.7 @ 420mm while the fuji will be F/5.3 @ 400mm on the lesser long end, so much of any possible better hi Iso will be cancelled out when zoomed... The leica glass is probably some of the best.. fuji glass has had a few sporadic glass issues in the past with some samples having whole sides of the frame being soft.. Not quite as prevalent as the blue banding issue as the littler Fz18 but the 50 has never had lens or banding issuesThe Fz also has pretty fast & accurate auto-focus throughout the whole zoom & that won't change much until the light gets pretty low...



But if you say he'll be able to handle one prior to buying, that'll surely seal the deal cause it's a tighter more well built cam than the D7i... I remember handling one back-in-the-day & the 50 will immediately, upon contact will evoke positive feellings....

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Comment #11

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