Unfortunately, only Fuji is producing compacts with good low light (high ISO) capabilities. You might want to look at reviews of Fujis latest offerings..
An alternate would be an entry level dSLR. They have much better low light performance than compacts and some can now be had for something approaching your price range. Nikon D40, Pentax, Olympus..
It strikes me that something more telephoto, rather than more than 3x. The zoom range really tells you nothing about the focal length of a lens. My point being that you could end up with a 4x compact that has no more telephoto reach than your 3x. I think you need to look at the 35 mm equivalences of the lenses, not the zoom factors..
Thanks for that - is there somewhere that explains the equivalencies? As I mentioned, I can't go DSLR due to shooting in music venues that don't allow it...
Thanks for that - is there somewhere that explains the equivalencies?.
It is just the ratio of the 35 mm film frame compared to the sensor size, then multiplied by the actual focal lengths..
Most review sites give focal length equivalents for each compacts lens, this sites reviews for example. Most manufactures do too, but they are often buried in the documentation. Certain resellers do, B& H for example, on their specification page with each camera. When focal lengths are stated, they are now more often in 35 mm equivalents than actual focal lengths..
Compacts have problems with wide angle, so they generally start with only a moderate wide angle at focal lengths of 28 mm or 35 mm (in 35 mm film equivalence). So a 3x that starts at 28 mm would be about 85 mm at the tele end. A 3x that starts with 35 mm at the wide end, would give you 105 mm at the tele end..
Since wide angles are more difficult to achieve, they are generally more sought after, and often get better reviews. A camera that only does 35 mm at the wide end, would normally have that listed as one of the cons at this site, but in your case it would probably be an advantage..
You may also want to look for cameras that take accessory lenses. Some compacts are threaded to take tele convertors and wideangle convertors. Many compact shooters use the Olympus TCON 17, which multiplies the focal length by 1.7. A 1.7x convertor would change a 3x, 35-105 mm to a 60-180 mm lens; not too far removed from the standard 70-200 mm lens for dSLRs..
So in that case, the G9 with 35-210 and the potential to add a lense would be a good choice for me? Although would the low light performance be worse than my old F10?..
The Canon G9 certainly seems to have excellent specs, but I havent used one and I havent seen a review of one, so I have no idea how bad the high ISO images will be. In all probability, ISO 400 at best is what you can expect. F10 was good at ISO 800 and usable in some situations at ISO 1600. If that is the case then you are probably losing a stop (the Canon lens is a little faster f/2.8-f/5 for the F10 and f/2.8-f/4.8 for the Canon, but the f/4.8 is at 210mm compared to a f/5 at only 108mm for the Fuji).
One stop or half the speed; can you afford to be shooting at half the shutter speed?.
In honesty, I don't think I can - looking at all my best recent images, the EXIF is showing ISO 800 is what they were shot at, which effectively puts me back to square one..
Is it really Fuji or nothing for low light compacts? Not that I object to Fuji at all, I've been very happy with the F10 but the F50fd doesn't sound like it would give me much more than improved megapixel count, IS and face detection, and from what you said earlier (and thanks for your patience!) the 35-105 of the F50fd is worse than my current 36-108 on the F10 and a couple of the reviews suggest that the F50 might be a step back in terms of high iso performance...