Monday, July 30, 2007

Canon Powershot S5 vs. Panasonic DMC-FZ8

I've been in a bit of a quandary ever since I went ahead and ordered the Panasonic DMC-FZ8 in time for my first New York trip even though I heard that Canon was coming out with a new Powershot High-Zoom camera soon after I would return. Today, I finally got around to reading Digital Photography's review of the new Canon Powershot S5 paying particular attention to the comparisons of ISO-Sensitivity and noise levels since my most demanding work is produced in museums without the benefit of flash or tripod. DPReview didn't provide a side-by-side comparison of Canon vs. Panasonic so I had to improvise:

My eyes are getting older these days but it looks to me like the Panasonic suffers from less noise than the S5 although there is a slight loss of detail. Actually, to be honest, the Sony DSC-H9 & Sony DSC-H5 seemed to have roughly the equivalent level of noise of the Panasonic with a little more detail than the Panasonic. All three appear to me to outperform the Canon S5 in this category.

As a former financial officer I also can't help but think about bang for the buck. The Panasonic cost me $269 compared to the Sony's $369 and the Canon's $469. The Panasonic is the only one of the three that can output in Raw format, has about twice as many scene modes, and weighs a mere 310 g compared to the Sony's 407 g and the Canon's 450 g. For someone like me with a problem with familial tremor, 100 -150 g can make a big difference especially if you couple that with one of the industry's leading image stabilization systems.

So, I guess I made the right choice for me based on my needs. I just wish Panasonic would be able to approach the High ISO quality output of the Fuji F-30. I have governed the Panasonic down to ISO-800 in my settings because the noise level is just totally unacceptable at the Panasonic's ISO settings higher than that. So, I keep my Fuji F30 with me too for those really dark exhibits.
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