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Panasonic DMW-LMC52 52mm Protection Filter for Panasonic Digital Camera
Panasonic DMW-LMC52 52mm Protection Filter for Panasonic Digital Camera
Price: $29.95
2 used & new from $23.19

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fine Investment for the FZ-200, December 24, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Most filters are of little value in digital cameras, as most filters are part of the sensor / processor array. A non-multicoated protective lens destroys light transmission.

This protective lens screws on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 instantly, with no adapter needed. The lens cap still fits as before. It is multicoated, so it does not change light transmission noticeably: the additional light loss of 1/2 of 1% per multi-coated surface is negligible, just as it is with other optics.

It does nothing other than protect the lens of your camera: and that's a good thing.


No Title Available

2.0 out of 5 stars No evidence of "Miracles.", December 24, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Miracles are hard to come by, as this product demonstrates. It is no better or worse than other countless attempts to avoid the combination of nutrition and regular exercise that most people know does work.


Halcyon 1600 mAH Lithium Ion Replacement Battery for Panasonic Lumix FZ200 Digital Camera and Panasonic DMW-BLC12
Halcyon 1600 mAH Lithium Ion Replacement Battery for Panasonic Lumix FZ200 Digital Camera and Panasonic DMW-BLC12
Offered by DavisMAX
Price: $13.99
5 used & new from $4.70

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Superb Battery for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200, December 24, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Better capacity than the OEM battery, works perfectly with the Panasonic charger and the FZ-200. There is nothing not to like. Instead of paying over $40 for a Chinese battery with Panasonic stamped on it, $14 for this battery (with a better warranty) makes perfect sense. I bought two, as I do substantial video.

These batteries are great bargains compared to the OEM rip-off priced little gems.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 10, 2014 9:09 AM PDT


Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 12.1 MP Digital Camera with CMOS Sensor and 24x Optical Zoom - Black
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 12.1 MP Digital Camera with CMOS Sensor and 24x Optical Zoom - Black
Price: Click here to see our price
28 used & new from $299.81

40 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Confused About Bridge Cameras? You Should Be!, December 20, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Confused About Bridge Cameras? You Should Be!

Much of the entire camera review area is horribly redundant. By that, I mean you often have 1) a cut and paste of a Press Release followed by a "new article" 2) a "Hands on Preview" which once again regurgitates the press release, perhaps some add copy, and is a meaningless non-review. Finally, maybe, 6 - 8 months later you might have 3) a review, or not. Many cameras never make it to 3), for they are already discontinued and new models are announced, as in the case right now in several areas.

The bridge camera is supposed to bridge the divide between pocket cameras and system cameras, more or less. Yet, there is no consensus as to what that specifically means.

Right now, PC Magazine has the new $699 Olympus Stylus 1 camera as its Editor's Choice SuperZoom. It is called a SuperZoom, although it is only a 10.7x optical zoom camera. It replaced the Panasonic FZ-200 24x unit, that can now be had for $410 or even less. The Fujifilm X-S1 26x camera was beat out by the Panasonic. In October, 2012 (yes, way back then) the comment was "At close to $800 the X-S1 is prohibitively priced for many buyers, which prevents it from ousting the Nikon Coolpix P510 as our Editors' Choice superzoom camera." By the way, you can now pick up the Fujifilm XS-1 for $350 delivered, if not less.

This is one example of many sure to either bewilder people, or convince people that PC Magazine (and other sources) are completely bewildered. How can a 10.7x camera, in 2013, be a "SuperZoom" compared to a 24x, 26x, or 50x unit? How can a camera like the Fujifilm that retailed at $799 for a short while be overpriced, yet now the short-range Olympus is the best SuperZoom you can buy? As fast as you can change your socks, the best SuperZoom went from a 42x Nikon P510 to a 24x Panasonic FZ-200 to a 10.7x Olympus. A 10x zoom range camera is no super zoom: that range of non-versatility is handily exceeded by dozens of 20 - 24 x eight ounce pocket cameras.

WHAT IS A BRIDGE CAMERA?

The idea of a bridge camera is to give you more versatility, features, and flexibility than available in a shirt-pocket camera with one lens array: with less bulk, weight, and cost than going the D-SLR or other system camera route. One lens array means the sensor and processor can be optimized for that one lens. One lens means the unit is sealed to a certain extent, so no dirt will cover your sensor when changing lenses for example. A bridge camera should also net you an electronic viewfinder, better battery life than a point and shoot, and should be a lot more fun to carry than a system camera.

THE BETTER BRIDGE CAMERAS, AND WHY

Fujifilm X-S1

The Fujifilm X-S1 is better built than most all of them, with a larger sensor than the common 1/2.33 arena sensors, and better image quality, in general, than small-sensor cameras. Currently, it is a screaming deal at $350 street. You might wonder why I don't use one, currently? Its images can be quite excellent:[...] . The barrier, for me, is its 2.1 lb. or so weight, just more than I want to carry all day. But, that's what you get if you want a larger sensor, lens, and metal dials and a tougher build. If the weight is not an issue, and a manual zoom appeals: it may well be your camera. The EVF of the XS-1 is comparatively huge at 0.47-inch, approx. 1440,000 dots. Many other popular cameras have dinky .21 inch EVF's . . . and that includes the Canon SX-50 and Panasonic FZ-200. The X-S1 is a case of "be careful what you ask for, you just might get it." We say we want better build quality (more metal, less plastic) and we say we want larger sensors. The X-S1 provides both. The catch is, larger sensors require larger, heavier lens arrays, and better build quality means more weight as well. The XS-1 gives a lot of folks want they said they wanted, but it weighs about 75% more than some other bridge-class cameras . . . the additional weight and bulk being the main detriment, at least for my uses.

Canon SX-50

The Canon fills the frame when other cameras struggle. While the impressive 50x lens isn't the brightest, its sensor is spectacularly good for a small sensor: or at least the sensor / processor combination. Competitively priced currently at $329, its somewhat plasticy (also noisy and slippery) build makes the camera more fun to carry at about 1.3 pounds. The weight difference between this unit and the X-S1 is substantial, for the Fujifilm unit weighs over 60% more.

Panasonic FZ-200

A great, bright, constant 2.8 lens and blazing fast shooting performance is why you'd want this camera (now down to $409 as of this writing). Its 24x zoom range (600mm max focal length in 35mm equivalent) is less than half of the Canon SX-50 and the bargain-priced Fujifilm SL1000 50x camera ($250 or so), but 24x handles a lot of shooting opportunities and the digital "Intelligent Zoom" gets you to 48x if needed while still capturing quite enjoyable images. It is one of those rare cameras that is very good for both still images and video. I'm asked if the FZ-200 is "okay for birding" and wildlife. Vickie has answered that for us on Flickr. The LCD has a 3:2 aspect ratio. If you shoot in the "7M EZ" mode you have an image size good up to an 11 x 14 or larger, but now you can enjoy about a 30x optical zoom (actually, 29.4x) or a whopping 58.8x "intelligent zoom." That's a 735mm (35mm eq.) focal length that covers a huge range of shooting scenarios, without resorting to the smart zoom / pure view / intelligent zoom versions of interpolation. For an SLR, a 600mm lens Nikon 600mm f/4.0G ED VR II AF-S SWM Super Telephoto Lens for Nikon FX and DX Format Digital SLR could set you back $9K or more. Not exactly an easy to carry, affordable option.

CONCLUSION

All three of these cameras (X-S1, SX-50, FZ-200) can be considered excellent. It isn't that one camera could be rationally picked as an easy winner, for all of them have the ability to do a fine job under many conditions. Price is invariably a factor, for you can always squander the extra cash on food, clothing, and shelter.

If value is your primary concern, presently the $250 or so street price Fujifilm SL1000 is hard to beat. Its huge zoom range is the same as the bit more expensive SX-50, although the Canon is a slightly better unit for still images) if you need to fill the frame with a 1200mm 35mm equivalent focal length. The Fujifilm FinePix SL1000 16.2MP Digital Camera with 3-Inch LCD (Black) offers the most for the least dollars. In bright sun, there is no such thing as a truly great LCD. They all wash out to a certain extent, and an electronic viewfinder can save the day in those conditions. Surprisingly, the most inexpensive camera in this field, the Fujifilm SL1000, offers a 920K dot EVF and a 920K dot hinged LCD.

The Fujifilm XS-1 has the best image quality in the field, and the best build quality as well. Now available at $350, it would be called a "no-brainer" by some. While I understand that, its roughly 2.2 pound weight is more than I want to carry all day and as I do take a lot of video, the manual zoom of the XS-1 is a negative for my purposes. It is the closest thing to a system camera replacement, unfortunately including weight and bulk.

There is no right or wrong or "correct" answer for everyone, for you can have a lot of fun with all of these cameras. Although I still use a Canon SX-50 for stationary stills, the camera that does the most for me most of the time is the FZ-200. Here's why I prefer it.

The FZ-200 is substantially lighter than the X-S1, it locks autofocus in extreme low-light situations (deer after sunset feeding in a field) where the SX-50 struggles. While its EVF is not as good as the X-S1, though small (.21 in.) it is far sharper than the SX-50 with 1.31 million pixels.

The Panasonic FZ-200 spanks the SX-50 in video performance, focus speed, overall shooting speed and boot-up time, and has a panorama mode that the SX-50 (and Canon in general) refuses to implement. Its excellent video performance is complimented by excellent battery life (540 still shots). Video is invariably a big drain on batteries, as is cold weather, and both video and cold weather are common situations for me. The 120 fps 720p (lower HD) high speed video mode is superb. It is a 1/4 speed, smooth as glass, high-resolution playback. The same goes for the VGA (640 x 480) HS mode that is 240 fps: more than sufficient quality to analyze a golf swing with no post-processing.

The constant F2.8 lens of the FZ-200 is no joke and it gives this camera the ability to function where other super-zooms cannot. Under well-lit conditions, there isn't much difference in image quality. Under ridiculously poor light, there is a huge difference.

To compare, I took several pictures of an igloo-shaped doghouse in the snow after midnight using three representative cameras, all hand-held. A Panasonic FZ-60 lost its mind, and could not begin to focus. The Canon SX-50 whirred, clicked, struggled and told me to "raise flash." It took an unrecognizable, muddy black image of nothing discernible. The FZ-200, however, locked focus instantly and grabbed an ISO 1600 image of the doghouse, zoomed in to fill the frame, with no issues. In this somewhat contrived example, it was the difference between an instant, usable image and no image at all.

Not surprisingly, the demise of the digital camera market has been under-reported by most review sites, if it has been reported at all. Reuters summed things up on December 30, 2013, noting that Panasonic's camera sales have plummeted 40 percent from April to September. IDC expects a further drop in the market for compact cameras in 2014 of 40 percent. Whether you are selling hot dogs or hockey pucks, drops of 40 percent are not sustainable. Industry analyst Yu Yoshida mentioned, ""Only those who have a strong brand and are competitive on price will last -- and only Canon, Nikon and Sony fulfill that criteria." Panasonic with its tiny three percent and change of the market, along with Olympus and Fujifilm, are all considered vulnerable.

While smartphone sales have sizzled, camera sales have fizzled. Unfortunately, the Micro 4/3 system cameras have not gained much traction, another ominous situation for Panasonic and Olympus. Canon and Nikon own the SLR market, and powerful brand names (rightly or wrongly, perhaps sadly) is why many people buy what they do.
The FZ-200, introduced over a year ago, is one of those rare cameras that won't go out of style anytime soon. The constant F/2.8 25mm-600mm lens is ground-breaking in a camera of this type, and remains so. Its 1,312,000 dot EVF is best of breed for a camera of this type and its video performance remains class-leading as well. Its 540 shot CIPA battery life is far best than most in this class, more than double of some. It is fast enough in focusing, fast enough in boot-up and shot-to-shot speed, with a fast enough lens to be able to capture images where most all bridge-type cameras cannot.

It is the only camera that satisfactorily bridges three types of imaging devices: the simpler point and shoot, the system camera with multiple lenses, and the camcorder. Given unlimited funds, size, and weight you can of course find technically better imaging. Not so most could notice on a web page or an 8 x 10, though, and certainly not on shareable video files, either. It makes the FZ-200 its own class of camera: a very good class, to say the least. Though under many conditions, you can get quite pleasing images with several cameras, for a 1-1/4 lb. audiovisual standalone media powerhouse unit, the FZ-200 is the one to beat.

Copyright 2013 by Randy Wakeman and Randy Wakeman Outdoors.

For sake of completeness: I've always found Panasonic-labeled Chinese batteries to be a spectacular rip-off. I've been using Halcyon 1600 mAH Lithium Ion Replacement Battery for Panasonic Lumix FZ200 Digital Camera and Panasonic DMW-BLC12 and they are better than OEM. I also added the Panasonic DMW-LMC52 52mm Protection Filter for Panasonic Digital Camera multicoated protective lens.
Comment Comments (18) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 4, 2014 1:24 PM PST


Fujifilm FinePix F850EXR 16MP Digital Camera with 3-Inch LCD (Red)
Fujifilm FinePix F850EXR 16MP Digital Camera with 3-Inch LCD (Red)
3 used & new from $100.99

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review: FujiFilm FinePix F850EXR Compact Camera, December 12, 2013
Review: FujiFilm FinePix F850EXR Compact Camera

BACKGROUND
My last in-depth visit to the Fuji compact camera line was the F660EXR, a 15x zoom model with 300 shots CIPA standard battery life. It was and is a quite satisfactory compact still camera. The F660 Fuji has the ***worst*** video capability of any recent compact I've tested. It was and is really horrid and an embarrassment considering how good the rest of the camera operates. If taking video with your digital still camera is important to you, this glaring defect alone will be more than sufficient for you to go elsewhere. I'll leave it to you to grade the importance of the video in your own terms.

However, the Fuji F660EXR was and is sold as a digital still camera, not as a camcorder that can take stills. As a digital camera, it handles better than several Panasonic and Canon models, putting them to shame in terms of battery life, many still camera features, and in particular low light ("M" or 8M mode). When viewed and used as an "8MP" camera, the captured images from the Fuji are 3264 x 2448. That's more than adequate for an outstanding 8 x 10 print even with a moderate amount of cropping. It is also better than needed for very good prints up to 20 x 30, according to many. As tragic as the video attempt is on the F660EXR, it easily rates as a good choice in a long zoom digital still camera, with exemplary low light capabilities for the platform, at the time of its release. The included charger and inexpensive batteries, along with a low street price made it a very compelling compact travel zoom still camera.

The F850EXR pumps up the optical zoom to 20x, adds a faster EXR processor II, speedier performance, a better 3.0-inch, approx. 920K-dot LCD, but drops the battery life to 220 - 250 still shots. The F3.5 / F5.3 lens array isn't particularly bright on the wide angle side of things, but is brighter than most at full zoom. The F850 closes to F5.3, while the Canon SX260 / SX280 cameras share a F/3.5-6.8 lens, for example.

The F850EXR also adds more auto capabilities, detecting 108 shooting patterns translating into 64 scenes according to Fuji, faster .21 second autofocus, faster start-up, and peppier shot-to-shot performance. It also weighs a tiny bit more, 8.1 ounces: it is a lot of imaging horsepower in a half pound package.

FUJI VS. COMPETITIVE 20X MODELS: MAYBE
It is a crowded field, considering the Canon SX260 / SX280, Panasonic ZS-19 / ZS-20, the Nikon S9500 (22x), the Samsung WB800F (21x), the Olympus SH-50 (24x), and the Sony DSC-HX50V (a whopping 30x). Of these, the Olympus and Sony models are the heaviest and bulkiest, with the Sony at about 10 ounces and a hefty $449 retail price which is about $360 - $400 street price. The Canon SX280, Nikon, and Sony add features (GPS, Wi-Fi) that have nothing to do with a camera taking pictures, but some seem to want them, or at least the manufacturers want to sell them.
The Fuji, while certainly a name brand, is sometimes marketed incomprehensibly, offered with strangely high list prices and steep discounts. One common source for the Fuji F850EXR, in black, has a $299 "list" price and an actual delivered price of $208.44. In white, the same camera is $186.62.

Yet, if you shop a bit, you can find this (and other) Fuji cameras at astounding low discount prices. I did just that, buying my example of the F850EXR in white for $114.49 delivered. Yet, the F850EXR is a current, 2013 model, just announced at the beginning of the year. It does make it a bit more complicated to grade this model, for it is not easy to discern if it is "really" a $210 camera, a $180 camera, or a $115 camera. In my own case, it is a $115 dollar investment and there is no camera on the market that remotely competes with it at that price point, not even close.

For whatever reason, the color choice of the F850EXR can change the price drastically. It makes little or no sense, but that's the way it is. As a practical matter, I'm going to call this a $180 camera, for you can get it right now (October, 2013) at that level or less. Of the cameras listed above, most cost about 30% or more, up to twice as much more in the case of the Sony.

The 20x zoom that is relentlessly called "remarkable" is hardly that anymore, considering that more than a dozen pocketable cameras today offer that much range, or more, in the $250 price bracket. The spread in size and weight isn't huge, either, as the Nikon S9500 hits 7.3 ounces, this F850EXR is 8.1 oz., the Canon SX280 is 8.2 ounces. There isn't much point in debating the merits of less than one ounce in a camera, as far as I'm concerned.

STILL IMAGE QUALITY
Many reviews tend to say the same thing about compact cameras: "if it only had a larger sensor or a brighter lens." It is a fairly wacky comment, for a larger sensor means a larger, heavier camera, and a brighter lens means a more expensive camera. If you intend on selling your images, many stock photography operations do not accept anything from small-sensor cameras at all. It takes a Micro 4/3 or SLR platform acquired image as a requisite. Alamy, for example, normally wants JPEG files, minimum 24MB-48MB uncompressed in Photoshop, 8 bit depth, and upsizing is allowed only if done via Genuine Fractals. Other organizations, like iStock by Getty Images, have completely different requirements.

The F850EXR is at its best taking "8 meg" photos, half of the full sensor resolution. This is plenty of image size for 8 x 10 prints, more than needed for anything smaller. This is the "M" images size, or 3264 x 2448 pixels in the 4:3 aspect ratio that matches the three inch LCD. M mode also lets you shoot up to ISO 6400 and gives you 6 frames per second for about 7-9 frames in continuous shooting.

Used this way, the F850EXR in "EXR AUTO" mode is a very fast shooting, fast cycling camera: a "super duper point and shoot" with consistently good results. It also is either a very good value or an all-out screaming deal contingent on what you paid for it. Even at $200, it does well against the tragically flawed SX280, the Nikon, and the Panasonics that all cost 30 - 40% more.

While taking very good images for a camera of this class, the slightly larger 1/2 inch (vs. 1/2.33) sensor doesn't seem to make a huge difference, nor do the specialized shooting modes (Pro Low Light, Advanced Anti Blur, Pro Focus) offer anything that is remarkable.

VIDEO
The battery life is short in the F850EXR: not as bad as the Nikon and Canon, but still is a constraint on video use. The upside that the video itself is vastly improved vs. the Fuji F660, remarkably so. Yet, both the Olympus SH-50 and the comparatively expensive Sony DSC-HX50V are better in the video department, in general, though neither rise to the level of dedicated prosumer camcorders, nor should they be expected to do so. The most usable video mode of the F850EXR is the 720p / 60 fps mode, easily. The 60 fps is a puzzling choice, for 30 fps is full-motion video and that's what you'll end up with if uploading to YouTube or burning a DVD. 1080 x 720p 30 fps is HD video, after all, a broadcast platform, and the 30fps stuff is easier to edit and render, with smaller file sizes.

PROS
Faster operation and shooting performance than prior models, higher quality LCD, greatly improved video, and a bargain price. The battery life is better than I expected: the supplied, factory battery is a 1000mAh unit, the "NP-50A." However, the KD-KLIC-7004 battery is a common one, very inexpensive, and rated for 1400mAh or slightly better. I did get over 350 stills using this battery, right from the start. eForCity Kodak KLIC-7004 / Fuji Np-50 / Fujifilm x20/Pentax DL-I68 Compatible Li-Ion Battery is what I use, $1.25 ea. + shipping. I bought three of them.

CONS
Does not have the optical zoom range or the video ability of the latest crop of pocketable cameras, like the 24x Olympus SH-50 or the 30x Sony DSC-HX50V. Both of these models are a bit more bulky and significantly more expensive, though.

CONCLUSION
As an everyday, do pretty much everything type of take anywhere camera, it really is hard not to like the Fuji F850EXR. It does everything in the "very good plus" area, and if you aren't going to print larger than 8 x 10s, you can set it into "EXR AUTO" mode at the M (eight megapixel) setting and enjoy one of the fastest-shooting compacts around.

It is a massive upgrade over the F660, not particularly in still image quality, but in zoom range, LCD quality, the menus, and video ability. It feels great in the hands, it has an LCD as good as any ever put on a compact, it offers a 360 degree Panorama mode (Canon still has none at all), and there are several partial color modes and slow-motion video modes to experiment with.

The video is now usable, it comes with a plug-in charger that is faster than the el cheapo USB method and won't tie up your camera. You'll need a tripod for this, but the Fuji Intelligent Digital Zoom reaches to 40x in "EXR Auto" and a bewildering 69X in Program Mode at the "M" image size setting. It has the full suite of "PASM" controls and two user-programable buttons as well. Its pop-up flash does not produce the vignetting you often see in smaller, flush with the body type flashes in super-compact cameras, either. All in all, it is just a terrifically fun, speedy little camera to use. For the money, nothing I know of comes remotely close to comparing with the F850EXR. I am surprised, but in a very, very good way.

Copyright October, 2013 by Randy Wakeman and Randy Wakeman Outdoors. All Rights Reserved.


Fujifilm FinePix F850EXR Digital Camera (White)
Fujifilm FinePix F850EXR Digital Camera (White)
Offered by PIP GAMING
Price: $138.68
63 used & new from $112.00

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review: FujiFilm FinePix F850EXR Compact Camera, October 28, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Review: FujiFilm FinePix F850EXR Compact Camera

BACKGROUND
My last in-depth visit to the Fuji compact camera line was the F660EXR, a 15x zoom model with 300 shots CIPA standard battery life. It was and is a quite satisfactory compact still camera. The F660 Fuji has the ***worst*** video capability of any recent compact I've tested. It was and is really horrid and an embarrassment considering how good the rest of the camera operates. If taking video with your digital still camera is important to you, this glaring defect alone will be more than sufficient for you to go elsewhere. I'll leave it to you to grade the importance of the video in your own terms.

However, the Fuji F660EXR was and is sold as a digital still camera, not as a camcorder that can take stills. As a digital camera, it handles better than several Panasonic and Canon models, putting them to shame in terms of battery life, many still camera features, and in particular low light ("M" or 8M mode). When viewed and used as an "8MP" camera, the captured images from the Fuji are 3264 x 2448. That's more than adequate for an outstanding 8 x 10 print even with a moderate amount of cropping. It is also better than needed for very good prints up to 20 x 30, according to many. As tragic as the video attempt is on the F660EXR, it easily rates as a good choice in a long zoom digital still camera, with exemplary low light capabilities for the platform, at the time of its release. The included charger and inexpensive batteries, along with a low street price made it a very compelling compact travel zoom still camera.

The F850EXR pumps up the optical zoom to 20x, adds a faster EXR processor II, speedier performance, a better 3.0-inch, approx. 920K-dot LCD, but drops the battery life to 220 - 250 still shots. The F3.5 / F5.3 lens array isn't particularly bright on the wide angle side of things, but is brighter than most at full zoom. The F850 closes to F5.3, while the Canon SX260 / SX280 cameras share a F/3.5-6.8 lens, for example.
The F850EXR also adds more auto capabilities, detecting 108 shooting patterns translating into 64 scenes according to Fuji, faster .21 second autofocus, faster start-up, and peppier shot-to-shot performance. It also weighs a tiny bit more, 8.1 ounces: it is a lot of imaging horsepower in a half pound package.

FUJI VS. COMPETITIVE 20X MODELS: MAYBE
It is a crowded field, considering the Canon SX260 / SX280, Panasonic ZS-19 / ZS-20, the Nikon S9500 (22x), the Samsung WB800F (21x), the Olympus SH-50 (24x), and the Sony DSC-HX50V (a whopping 30x). Of these, the Olympus and Sony models are the heaviest and bulkiest, with the Sony at about 10 ounces and a hefty $449 retail price which is about $360 - $400 street price. The Canon SX280, Nikon, and Sony add features (GPS, Wi-Fi) that have nothing to do with a camera taking pictures, but some seem to want them, or at least the manufacturers want to sell them.
The Fuji, while certainly a name brand, is sometimes marketed incomprehensibly, offered with strangely high list prices and steep discounts. One common source for the Fuji F850EXR, in black, has a $299 "list" price and an actual delivered price of $208.44. In white, the same camera is $186.62.

Yet, if you shop a bit, you can find this (and other) Fuji cameras at astounding low discount prices. I did just that, buying my example of the F850EXR in white for $114.49 delivered. Yet, the F850EXR is a current, 2013 model, just announced at the beginning of the year. It does make it a bit more complicated to grade this model, for it is not easy to discern if it is "really" a $210 camera, a $180 camera, or a $115 camera. In my own case, it is a $115 dollar investment and there is no camera on the market that remotely competes with it at that price point, not even close.

For whatever reason, the color choice of the F850EXR can change the price drastically. It makes little or no sense, but that's the way it is. As a practical matter, I'm going to call this a $180 camera, for you can get it right now (October, 2013) at that level or less. Of the cameras listed above, most cost about 30% or more, up to twice as much more in the case of the Sony.

The 20x zoom that is relentlessly called "remarkable" is hardly that anymore, considering that more than a dozen pocketable cameras today offer that much range, or more, in the $250 price bracket. The spread in size and weight isn't huge, either, as the Nikon S9500 hits 7.3 ounces, this F850EXR is 8.1 oz., the Canon SX280 is 8.2 ounces. There isn't much point in debating the merits of less than one ounce in a camera, as far as I'm concerned.

STILL IMAGE QUALITY
Many reviews tend to say the same thing about compact cameras: "if it only had a larger sensor or a brighter lens." It is a fairly wacky comment, for a larger sensor means a larger, heavier camera, and a brighter lens means a more expensive camera. If you intend on selling your images, many stock photography operations do not accept anything from small-sensor cameras at all. It takes a Micro 4/3 or SLR platform acquired image as a requisite. Alamy, for example, normally wants JPEG files, minimum 24MB-48MB uncompressed in Photoshop, 8 bit depth, and upsizing is allowed only if done via Genuine Fractals. Other organizations, like iStock by Getty Images, have completely different requirements.

The F850EXR is at its best taking "8 meg" photos, half of the full sensor resolution. This is plenty of image size for 8 x 10 prints, more than needed for anything smaller. This is the "M" images size, or 3264 x 2448 pixels in the 4:3 aspect ratio that matches the three inch LCD. M mode also lets you shoot up to ISO 6400 and gives you 6 frames per second for about 7-9 frames in continuous shooting. Used this way, the F850EXR in "EXR AUTO" mode is a very fast shooting, fast cycling camera: a "super duper point and shoot" with consistently good results. It also is either a very good value or an all-out screaming deal contingent on what you paid for it. Even at $200, it does well against the tragically flawed SX280, the Nikon, and the Panasonics that all cost 30 - 40% more.
While taking very good images for a camera of this class, the slightly larger 1/2 inch (vs. 1/2.33) sensor doesn't seem to make a huge difference, nor do the specialized shooting modes (Pro Low Light, Advanced Anti Blur, Pro Focus) offer anything that is remarkable.

VIDEO
The battery life is short in the F850EXR: not as bad as the Nikon and Canon, but still is a constraint on video use. The upside that the video itself is vastly improved vs. the Fuji F660, remarkably so. Yet, both the Olympus SH-50 and the comparatively expensive Sony DSC-HX50V are better in the video department, in general, though neither rise to the level of dedicated prosumer camcorders, nor should they be expected to do so. The most usable video mode of the F850EXR is the 720p / 60 fps mode, easily. The 60 fps is a puzzling choice, for 30 fps is full-motion video and that's what you'll end up with if uploading to YouTube or burning a DVD. 1080 x 720p 30 fps is HD video, after all, a broadcast platform, and the 30fps stuff is easier to edit and render, with smaller file sizes.

PROS
Faster operation and shooting performance than prior models, higher quality LCD, greatly improved video, and a bargain price. The battery life (tested at 250 shots by Consumer Reports) is better than I expected: the supplied, factory battery is a 1000mAh unit, the "NP-50A." However, the KD-KLIC-7004 battery is a common one, very inexpensive, and rated for 1400mAh or slightly better. I did get over 350 stills using this battery, right from the start.

CONS
Does not have the optical zoom range or the video ability of the latest crop of pocketable cameras, like the 24x Olympus SH-50 or the 30x Sony DSC-HX50V. Both of these models are a bit more bulky and significantly more expensive, though.

HOW IT RATES TO OTHERS

Regardless of price, its image quality is as good as any JPEG 20x compact. Its flash picture ability is a notch better than the Nikon 9500, it doesn't suffer from the bad circuitry of the botched Canon SX280 that has been only partially addressed with a firmware upgrade attempt. In terms of shooting performance, autofocus and shot to shot performance is blazingly fast. Its weak spot would be the video, greatly improved but still a notch behind the new but bulkier Olympus SH-50, and the overpriced Panasonic ZS-30. For the money, the FujiFilm FinePix F850EXR can't be beat.

CONCLUSION
As an everyday, do pretty much everything type of take anywhere camera, it really is hard not to like the Fuji F850EXR. It does everything in the "very good plus" area, and if you aren't going to print larger than 8 x 10s, you can set it into "EXR AUTO" mode at the M (eight megapixel) setting and enjoy one of the fastest-shooting compacts around.

It is a massive upgrade over the F660, not particularly in still image quality, but in zoom range, LCD quality, the menus, and video ability. It feels great in the hands, it has an LCD as good as any ever put on a compact, it offers a 360 degree Panorama mode (Canon still has none at all), and there are several partial color modes and slow-motion video modes to experiment with.

The video is now usable, it comes with a plug-in charger that is faster than the el cheapo USB method (Panasonic) and won't tie up your camera. You'll need a tripod for this, but the Fuji Intelligent Digital Zoom reaches to 40x in "EXR Auto" and a bewildering 69X in Program Mode at the "M" image size setting. It has the full suite of "PASM" controls and two user-programable buttons as well. Its pop-up flash does not produce the vignetting you often see in smaller, flush with the body type flashes in super-compact cameras, either. All in all, it is just a terrifically fun, speedy little camera to use. For the money, nothing I know of comes remotely close to comparing with the F850EXR. I am surprised, but in a very, very good way.

Copyright October, 2013 by Randy Wakeman and Randy Wakeman Outdoors. All Rights Reserved.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 6, 2014 4:03 PM PST


Fujifilm FinePix F850EXR 16MP Digital Camera with 3-Inch LCD (Black)
Fujifilm FinePix F850EXR 16MP Digital Camera with 3-Inch LCD (Black)
Offered by ROSE traders
Price: $229.00
19 used & new from $148.50

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review: FujiFilm FinePix F850EXR Compact Camera, October 28, 2013
Review: FujiFilm FinePix F850EXR Compact Camera

BACKGROUND
My last in-depth visit to the Fuji compact camera line was the F660EXR, a 15x zoom model with 300 shots CIPA standard battery life. It was and is a quite satisfactory compact still camera. The F660 Fuji has the ***worst*** video capability of any recent compact I've tested. It was and is really horrid and an embarrassment considering how good the rest of the camera operates. If taking video with your digital still camera is important to you, this glaring defect alone will be more than sufficient for you to go elsewhere. I'll leave it to you to grade the importance of the video in your own terms.

However, the Fuji F660EXR was and is sold as a digital still camera, not as a camcorder that can take stills. As a digital camera, it handles better than several Panasonic and Canon models, putting them to shame in terms of battery life, many still camera features, and in particular low light ("M" or 8M mode). When viewed and used as an "8MP" camera, the captured images from the Fuji are 3264 x 2448. That's more than adequate for an outstanding 8 x 10 print even with a moderate amount of cropping. It is also better than needed for very good prints up to 20 x 30, according to many. As tragic as the video attempt is on the F660EXR, it easily rates as a good choice in a long zoom digital still camera, with exemplary low light capabilities for the platform, at the time of its release. The included charger and inexpensive batteries, along with a low street price made it a very compelling compact travel zoom still camera.

The F850EXR pumps up the optical zoom to 20x, adds a faster EXR processor II, speedier performance, a better 3.0-inch, approx. 920K-dot LCD, but drops the battery life to 220 - 250 still shots. The F3.5 / F5.3 lens array isn't particularly bright on the wide angle side of things, but is brighter than most at full zoom. The F850 closes to F5.3, while the Canon SX260 / SX280 cameras share a F/3.5-6.8 lens, for example.

The F850EXR also adds more auto capabilities, detecting 108 shooting patterns translating into 64 scenes according to Fuji, faster .21 second autofocus, faster start-up, and peppier shot-to-shot performance. It also weighs a tiny bit more, 8.1 ounces: it is a lot of imaging horsepower in a half pound package.

FUJI VS. COMPETITIVE 20X MODELS: MAYBE
It is a crowded field, considering the Canon SX260 / SX280, Panasonic ZS-19 / ZS-20, the Nikon S9500 (22x), the Samsung WB800F (21x), the Olympus SH-50 (24x), and the Sony DSC-HX50V (a whopping 30x). Of these, the Olympus and Sony models are the heaviest and bulkiest, with the Sony at about 10 ounces and a hefty $449 retail price which is about $360 - $400 street price. The Canon SX280, Nikon, and Sony add features (GPS, Wi-Fi) that have nothing to do with a camera taking pictures, but some seem to want them, or at least the manufacturers want to sell them.
The Fuji, while certainly a name brand, is sometimes marketed incomprehensibly, offered with strangely high list prices and steep discounts. One common source for the Fuji F850EXR, in black, has a $299 "list" price and an actual delivered price of $208.44. In white, the same camera is $186.62.

Yet, if you shop a bit, you can find this (and other) Fuji cameras at astounding low discount prices. I did just that, buying my example of the F850EXR in white for $114.49 delivered. Yet, the F850EXR is a current, 2013 model, just announced at the beginning of the year. It does make it a bit more complicated to grade this model, for it is not easy to discern if it is "really" a $210 camera, a $180 camera, or a $115 camera. In my own case, it is a $115 dollar investment and there is no camera on the market that remotely competes with it at that price point, not even close.

For whatever reason, the color choice of the F850EXR can change the price drastically. It makes little or no sense, but that's the way it is. As a practical matter, I'm going to call this a $180 camera, for you can get it right now (October, 2013) at that level or less. Of the cameras listed above, most cost about 30% or more, up to twice as much more in the case of the Sony.

The 20x zoom that is relentlessly called "remarkable" is hardly that anymore, considering that more than a dozen pocketable cameras today offer that much range, or more, in the $250 price bracket. The spread in size and weight isn't huge, either, as the Nikon S9500 hits 7.3 ounces, this F850EXR is 8.1 oz., the Canon SX280 is 8.2 ounces. There isn't much point in debating the merits of less than one ounce in a camera, as far as I'm concerned.

STILL IMAGE QUALITY
Many reviews tend to say the same thing about compact cameras: "if it only had a larger sensor or a brighter lens." It is a fairly wacky comment, for a larger sensor means a larger, heavier camera, and a brighter lens means a more expensive camera. If you intend on selling your images, many stock photography operations do not accept anything from small-sensor cameras at all. It takes a Micro 4/3 or SLR platform acquired image as a requisite. Alamy, for example, normally wants JPEG files, minimum 24MB-48MB uncompressed in Photoshop, 8 bit depth, and upsizing is allowed only if done via Genuine Fractals. Other organizations, like iStock by Getty Images, have completely different requirements.

The F850EXR is at its best taking "8 meg" photos, half of the full sensor resolution. This is plenty of image size for 8 x 10 prints, more than needed for anything smaller. This is the "M" images size, or 3264 x 2448 pixels in the 4:3 aspect ratio that matches the three inch LCD. M mode also lets you shoot up to ISO 6400 and gives you 6 frames per second for about 7-9 frames in continuous shooting.

Used this way, the F850EXR in "EXR AUTO" mode is a very fast shooting, fast cycling camera: a "super duper point and shoot" with consistently good results. It also is either a very good value or an all-out screaming deal contingent on what you paid for it. Even at $200, it does well against the tragically flawed SX280, the Nikon, and the Panasonics that all cost 30 - 40% more.

While taking very good images for a camera of this class, the slightly larger 1/2 inch (vs. 1/2.33) sensor doesn't seem to make a huge difference, nor do the specialized shooting modes (Pro Low Light, Advanced Anti Blur, Pro Focus) offer anything that is remarkable.

VIDEO
The battery life is short in the F850EXR: not as bad as the Nikon and Canon, but still is a constraint on video use. The upside that the video itself is vastly improved vs. the Fuji F660, remarkably so. Yet, both the Olympus SH-50 and the comparatively expensive Sony DSC-HX50V are better in the video department, in general, though neither rise to the level of dedicated prosumer camcorders, nor should they be expected to do so. The most usable video mode of the F850EXR is the 720p / 60 fps mode, easily. The 60 fps is a puzzling choice, for 30 fps is full-motion video and that's what you'll end up with if uploading to YouTube or burning a DVD. 1080 x 720p 30 fps is HD video, after all, a broadcast platform, and the 30fps stuff is easier to edit and render, with smaller file sizes.

PROS
Faster operation and shooting performance than prior models, higher quality LCD, greatly improved video, and a bargain price. The battery life is better than I expected: the supplied, factory battery is a 1000mAh unit, the "NP-50A." However, the KD-KLIC-7004 battery is a common one, very inexpensive, and rated for 1400mAh or slightly better. I did get over 350 stills using this battery, right from the start. eForCity Kodak KLIC-7004 / Fuji Np-50 / Fujifilm x20/Pentax DL-I68 Compatible Li-Ion Battery is what I use, $1.25 ea. + shipping. I bought three of them.

CONS
Does not have the optical zoom range or the video ability of the latest crop of pocketable cameras, like the 24x Olympus SH-50 or the 30x Sony DSC-HX50V. Both of these models are a bit more bulky and significantly more expensive, though.

CONCLUSION
As an everyday, do pretty much everything type of take anywhere camera, it really is hard not to like the Fuji F850EXR. It does everything in the "very good plus" area, and if you aren't going to print larger than 8 x 10s, you can set it into "EXR AUTO" mode at the M (eight megapixel) setting and enjoy one of the fastest-shooting compacts around.

It is a massive upgrade over the F660, not particularly in still image quality, but in zoom range, LCD quality, the menus, and video ability. It feels great in the hands, it has an LCD as good as any ever put on a compact, it offers a 360 degree Panorama mode (Canon still has none at all), and there are several partial color modes and slow-motion video modes to experiment with.

The video is now usable, it comes with a plug-in charger that is faster than the el cheapo USB method and won't tie up your camera. You'll need a tripod for this, but the Fuji Intelligent Digital Zoom reaches to 40x in "EXR Auto" and a bewildering 69X in Program Mode at the "M" image size setting. It has the full suite of "PASM" controls and two user-programable buttons as well. Its pop-up flash does not produce the vignetting you often see in smaller, flush with the body type flashes in super-compact cameras, either. All in all, it is just a terrifically fun, speedy little camera to use. For the money, nothing I know of comes remotely close to comparing with the F850EXR. I am surprised, but in a very, very good way.

Copyright October, 2013 by Randy Wakeman and Randy Wakeman Outdoors. All Rights Reserved.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 26, 2014 12:24 AM PDT


Canon PowerShot ELPH 330 12.1MP Digital Camera with 10x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom with 3-Inch LCD (Black)
Canon PowerShot ELPH 330 12.1MP Digital Camera with 10x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom with 3-Inch LCD (Black)
Offered by PORTABLE GUY
Price: $189.99
34 used & new from $169.00

38 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Canon PowerShot ELPH 330 HS Camera Review, October 22, 2013
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Canon PowerShot ELPH 330 HS Camera Review

The choices available today in digital cameras might seem bewildering. In many ways, they are, for cameras are often classified in random fashion. No one seems to know what a "pocket" camera is, what a long-zoom camera is, and what affordable might happen to be. There is no clear distinction from where "point and shoot" ends and "enthusiast" or prosumer-marketed cameras begin. It changes annually.

We hardly buy cameras based on image quality alone. As I write this, the #1 selling digital camera on Amazon is the Nikon Coolpix L820, a fairly large and heavy 30x unit powered by four AA batteries. On the same list, the #11 spot is held by the same L820 with a red case. While a lot of camera for the money (selling at the same $170 level as this Elph 330), the Nikon L820 wins no "best of the best" awards, but buyers think quite differently.

There are a lot of things to consider, if you want to be satisfied with your camera for the life of your use with it. Although volumes have been written about image quality, that isn't the main reason why folks are dissatisfied with cameras, much less the only reason. Here are a few of the most common concerns, interlaced with Elph 330 relevant comments.

BATTERY LIFE
Digital cameras with dead batteries don't work well. The current lithium-ion type of rechargeable battery isn't new technology at all. Batteries can be of most any capacity a manufacturer wants them to be, though few relish the prospect of running a digital camera with fork-lift batteries.

They are often small, for a battery enclosed inside the frame of a camera partly determines the envelope dimensions and weight of the camera. It is hard to get a light camera if it runs on four AA batteries, which at one time was common. Cameras are not totally redesigned annually, just re-marketed annually. Yet, when more features are added (better image stabilization, larger LCDs, etc.) battery drain goes up and life drops in concert. We don't want larger, bulkier cameras in general, and manufacturers like to build upon existing frames, so the quicker, more powerful zoom motors and bigger LCDs take their toll, as does advanced image stabilization arrays.

The Canon ELPH 330 HS (IXUS 255 HS in Europe) takes the NB-4L battery, and is good for about 220 still-image shots. For video, you'll do well to get 45 minutes or so, less in cold weather. As a rule of thumb, lithium-ion cells give 65 - 70% life at 32 degrees F. vs. 70 degrees F. Extra batteries are readily available and inexpensive: I always carry two fully-charged extras, in addition to the one in the camera.

ZOOM RANGE
You can't have too much usable zoom, but that of course comes with a price. The ELPH 330 has a 10x zoom (24mm - 240mm), something everyone will appreciate vs. the common 5x or 8x variety shirt-pocket cameras. Canon also has their "Zoom Plus" 20x mode, a digital zoom along the lines of Sony's Clear Image and Panasonic's Intelligent Zoom. All of these digital zooms do about the same thing. While they aren't as good as true optical zoom, they do produce far better results than older digital zoom attempts did. To say no loss of image quality isn't strictly true, but for 4 x 6 or 5 x 7 prints few could notice the difference.

SHOOTING PERFORMANCE
Waiting for a camera to autofocus or to save images to file is no fun. Canon's compact cameras have been sluggish in times past, including the SX230 that I eventually quit using in favor of a Panasonic ZS-15. Autofocus time and lag time is significantly reduced in the ELPH 330, about one third faster than their previous 310 and other models. It is a readily noticeable and welcomed improvement. Autofocus does do some searching, particularly when using zoom in low-light.

LOW-LIGHT
Invariably, when small sensors are overpopulated with super-dinky photo-sites, image quality suffers. How much it suffers is contingent on the camera's software and processor, but it does suffer. Unfortunately, mega-pixels sells cameras, and if it doesn't make dollars it doesn't make sense. Fortunately, Canon has stayed with the 12MP sensor, while others have succumbed to the large file, but lower quality nonsense.

Within its range, the ELPH 330 takes far better than average stills. It handily out-shoots several similarly sized pocket cameras at ISO 800. With low noise images to ISO 1600, less than 1.5%, it does as good or better than many cameras at base ISO.

VIDEO
Few compact cameras are ideally suited to video for reasons of battery life and image stability when not using a tripod. Enclosed batteries in small chassis make for a very poor heat sink as well. This Canon does just average in the video quality department, very dark in low light and just average quality otherwise. It isn't a resolution issue.

FOX and Disney (ABC, ESPN) broadcast in 720p HD, the rest mostly use 1080i. The hyped 1080p capabilities of pocket cameras make little sense, including this Canon as the harder to edit 1080p is at 24 fps per second, or film rate. Unless you plan on burning Blu-rays, using anything other than 720p is a waste of file size editing time, rendering time, and upload time with footage captured with a small-sensored still camera. It makes even less sense if the video is viewed on a Smartphone with a 3.5 - 4 inch screen for example.

WI-FI
Though a recent, loudly touted "feature" in cameras, it is one of very little value as far as I'm concerned. Sending pictures to yourself makes little sense, nor does spamming social media direct from a camera. Images of interest that are sent along invariably benefit from a bit of thoughtful review, light cropping, and so forth. The grand benefit of frenetically rushing to send an image of a bowl of oatmeal straight to Facebook under the guise of "sharing" somehow escapes me. While perhaps theoretically useful for professional engagements where you'd like to show images to clients immediately, it serves mostly as yet another way to needlessly drain the battery of a compact camera.

LENS
Jim Fisher, using Imatest to determine the sharpness of the Elph 330 lens, found that it scored 2069 lines, well above the 1800 lines required for a sharp photo, and dramatically better than the Panasonic SZ-7's 1563 lines. Jim Fisher also found the noise levels held under 1.5% at ISO 1600, rising to a still quite respectable 1.9% at ISO 3200. The Nikon P510 bridge camera scored 1,865 lines, while the Canon SX40 HS scored 1,836 lines. The Panasonic FZ-200 scored 1811 lines; the Panasonic ZS-20 scored a weak 1662 lines per picture height.

The Elph 330 starts out at F/3.0 at the wide angle end, fairly bright for a compact, but drops off to a small F/6.9 at the 10x end. The Elph 330's lens is demonstrably sharp, better than many more expensive cameras from many brands, including other Canon product. It betters both the premium 5x compact Canon S120 that managed 1897 lines at 24mm / F/1.8 and edges out the latest Canon SX280 that managed 1957 lines. While lens sharpness isn't the exclusive barometer for grading a camera, the Elph 330 is class-leading in this regard, and produces sharper images than several "enthusiast" level compacts that sell for more than double the price.

FLASH
The small flash unit of the Elph 330 is just average, not nearly as effective or as even (some vignetting) as the more substantial flashes found on larger footprint cameras. It is one of the compromises inherent in small, light cameras, and the Elph 330 is no exception. The best thing about the Elph 330's flash, as far as I'm concerned, is that don't need to use it as much as some super-compacts make you.

CONTROLS / HANDLING
This is a 5 ounce, very compact camera. With its diminutive form factor, less buttons, wheels, and smaller buttons in general are a consequence of retaining the small envelope dimensions. If you have moderately chubby fingers, you won't like this camera. I don't have chubby fingers, but the flush buttons and lack of a raised control wheel made using this camera in other than just full automatic, "hit the button mode" a chore.

CONCLUSION
This is a superb pocket camera, that does what a camera should do: take good images, and take them reliably. Its general no flash performance, for this super-compact class of camera, is good, despite its dark F.6.9 lens @ 10x. If you put a high priority on bulk and weight, and can live with the tiny flush button controls, it takes satisfying pictures for this light and small class of camera. If you can tolerate an extra few ounces, you'll be able to get far more out of the 7 oz. - 8 oz. class of pocket camera, though, with easier to use and more appropriately sized controls, along with longer focal lengths.

Copyright 2013 by Randy Wakeman and Randy Wakeman Outdoors.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 5, 2013 7:13 AM PST


Canon PowerShot SX280 12MP Digital Camera with 20x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom with 3-Inch LCD (Black)
Canon PowerShot SX280 12MP Digital Camera with 20x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom with 3-Inch LCD (Black)
Price: Click here to see our price
46 used & new from $144.88

24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Very Best Camera that You Might Not Want, October 19, 2013
Canon SX-280: Likely the Best Camera that You will Soon Regret Buying

Canon currently has two truly superlative small-sensor cameras, but this isn't one of them. While the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS 12MP Digital Camera with 2.8-Inch LCD (Black) and Canon PowerShot ELPH 330 12MP Digital Camera with 10x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom with 3-Inch LCD (Black) are both in the best of breed, best of class league . . . the SX-280 isn't.

The SX-280 is polluted with largely meaningless features: WiFi, GPS, Hybrid Auto / Movie Digest are all battery-sucking little monsters of dubious utility. What they do is serve to illuminate what has never been the strong suit of this line, battery life, and that includes my SX230 which also has a GPS, but 14x optical zoom.

What is worse is that some of the most-touted improved features of this camera (which IS both faster and slightly better in low-light than the 20x optical zoom SX260) are video-capability related. The reason this is so bad is that this camera, as released in April, is deeply flawed: with random video shutdowns and immediate low-battery (red light flashing) warnings in video mode. It should not have been rushed to release in this not ready for prime time condition at all, yet it was. A firmware fix was eventually cobbled together and finally released on the Canon website months later. While my example does not lock-up, the problems go well beyond what firmware can address. There are hardware systems flaws in this camera and no firmware can correct it. The firmware update is provided with the standard "it is all on you" Canon disclaimer: THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS" WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EITHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. THE ENTIRE RISK AS TO THE QUALITY AND PERFORMANCE OF THE SOFTWARE IS WITH YOU. SHOULD THE SOFTWARE PROVE DEFECTIVE, YOU (AND NOT CANON, CANON'S SUBSIDIARIES AND AFFILIATES, THEIR DISTRIBUTORS AND DEALERS) ASSUME THE ENTIRE COST OF ALL NECESSARY SERVICING, REPAIR OR CORRECTION. Few read the contracts they agree to, yes it is common language . . . but it is a long way from confidence-inspiring.

Nothing is perfect, how well we all know, and there are personal considerations such as control placement and button size that folks with smaller hands will find ideal, yet others will find unbearable to try to use. I get this, for there is no such thing as one size fits all. Nevertheless, of the SX230 / SX260 / SX280 line, the SX280 remains the only one of the three released with a blatant, serious flaw. There is no dispute about this, for Canon refers to it as one of their "high-level advisories." Under shooting conditions with good lighting, the SX260 is just as good of a camera without the headaches. Nevertheless, the speedier SX280 (although it has the same, 20x, F3.5 / F.6.8 lens array as the SX260) does do better in low light.

The SX280's retail price has dropped from its original $330, and it now is a bargain in this class at $239, or WOULD BE if it worked as promised. Already there are piles of lightly used and "as new" examples selling for $200 or less. Not a bad deal if video is totally unimportant to you, and battery life in general isn't, either. But, there are options: the Fujifilm FinePix F900EXR 16MP Digital Camera with 3-Inch LCD (Black)that has the same zoom range, even faster autofocus, and captures RAW. In the Bargain Class, still 20X zoom: Fujifilm FinePix F850EXR 16MP Digital Camera with 3-Inch LCD (Black) currently at $209 (less elsewhere), with a 920K LCD is hard to beat for the money. If optical zoom in this form factor is of prime importance to you, the SX280 is already outgunned by the 22x of the Nikon S9500, the 24x of the Olympus SH-50 iHS, and the whopping 30x of the Sony DSC-HX50V/B 20.4MP Digital Camera with 3-Inch LCD Screen (Black).

CONCLUSION

IF the SX280 performed as promised and worked as described by Canon, it WOULD be a 4-1/2 star + camera at a very good price. That's exactly what it doesn't do, so there is no way I could keep it, much less recommend it. It was to be only an incremental improvement from the SX260, even if it worked flawlessly, which it does not. The case size, sensor, lens, battery, basic layout are unchanged. It is essentially the "new DIGIC 6" processor that has been added, along with Wi-Fi. The HD Movie Digest and faster video frame rates just make the already very weak battery appear much weaker, with flawed circuitry that makes video attempts short, erratic, and unreliable.

Though smaller, lighter, 10x zoom, and less money . . the ELPH 330 HS is currently Canon's best pocket camera. That one is staying here, its images are superb, that is what I want a camera to do with no hassle: take excellent images. However, if the well-known video / battery issues don't bother you, feel free to ignore this review and take your chances on a SX280. Buying used makes sense here, for there is a quickly growing pile of them.

Of the current crop of competitors, the similarly priced Olympus Stylus SH-50 iHS Digital Camera with 24x Optical Zoom and 3-Inch LCD (Black) is, in many ways, the camera that the SX280 isn't. Better battery life (300 shots), 25% more optical zoom, full-resolution picture acquisition during video (not just scaled), 3 axis stabilization (five-axis in video), and a touch screen that lets you instantly change the AF object and take the image, and a Smart Panorama mode that Canon still(!) refuses to implement.

Copyright 2013 by Randy Wakeman and Randy Wakeman Outdoors.


Fujifilm FinePix SL1000 16.2MP Digital Camera with 3-Inch LCD (Black)
Fujifilm FinePix SL1000 16.2MP Digital Camera with 3-Inch LCD (Black)
Offered by Beach Camera
Price: Click here to see our price
25 used & new from $218.68

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Overlooked and Under Rated: Best Deal in its Class, Easily, October 14, 2013
Nothing competes with this camera at its current, stunning low price point of $250.

The 28.5 oz. SL1000, uses the slightly smaller 1/2.33 sensor (compared to the Fujifilm HS50), yet is still a 24-1200mm 35mm equivalent camera. It also loses 25%-30% of the HS-50's its price as well. No other name-brand camera gets you to the massive 1200mm range for $260 or less, actually $250 as this is written. No one shoots at 1200mm all the time, or even most of the time for that matter. If you want the capability to do so, the SL1000 gets you there the most affordably. It offers a larger, 3 inch 920K dot tilting LCD, a 920K EVF as well: a better treatment than several more expensive cameras in this class. Consider the Sony DSC-HX300/B 20 MP Digital Camera with 50x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 3-Inch LCD (Black) (about $400 at the time of this writing) that lacks RAW, and in general isn't as competent a camera, despite its comparatively high price.

If the end use is standard prints, the internet, along with 8 x 10s from time to time, you'll be happy. Give it plenty of light, try to shoot at lower ISOs, you'll be more than happy. It is no secret that more pictures are taken every day with cellphones than with any other device. It is also no secret that sales of the smaller point and shoot cameras have plummeted, but long zoom cameras have been in demand. The SL1000 does everything that your smartphone cannot, and that's a good thing.

There are a *lot* of choices out there, but not at $250. You can also spend $360 Sony DSC-HX50V/B 20.4MP Digital Camera with 3-Inch LCD Screen (Black) and more on pocket cameras, and more. You can spend a lot more on bridge-class cameras as well. The "Ultimate Compact Camera," according to some, is the Fujifilm X100S 16 MP Digital Camera with 2.8-Inch LCD (Silver). It is about $1300, though, with no optical zoom at all.

Just two years ago, no bridge camera with a 1200mm zoom was even available. And, whether we like it or not, two years from now there are going to be several more options that some will call significant. That's why the SL1000 makes sense. Anyone would call it a generally very good camera if you didn't know what brand it was. For $250, though, it is a screamingly good, outstandingly superb camera. It isn't necessarily the best bridge camera, it isn't, but it is the best for the least dollars. If you are willing to spend more, yes . . . the SX-50 Canon, the Fuji FinePix HS50EXR are all quite worthy of your consideration, as are the Fuji X-S1 and the Panasonic FZ-200. For the money, though, at this price point . . . the SL1000 is a lot of bang for the buck.

You'll probably want to drop twenty bucks for Pack Of 2 NP-85 Batteries And Charger Kit For FujiFilm FinePix SL240 SL260 SL280 SL300 SL305 SL1000 Digital Camera + More!! and Transcend 16GB Class 10 SDHC Flash Memory Card (TS16GSDHC10E) to get up and running. The 350 shot battery life is good, compared to the Nikon P520's 200 shots for example, but use outdoors in cooler weather nerfs that a bit, and even a small amount of video can run the battery down quickly.

It is a far better-featured camera than expected, with the EVF and LCD quickly putting the more expensive Canon SX-50 and Panasonic FZ-70 units both to shame. Scoring 2,773 lines per picture height via Imatest, it is one of the sharpest len arrays ever put on a bridge camera. Nor can most bridge class cameras match the 1080p60 video capability of this economical powerhouse. It should surprise very few that this camera likes a lot of light, and if you are going to spend a lot of time at the 1000mm - 1200mm area, a good tripod is your friend. I won't suggest that this is my favorite wildlife / outdoors camera, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 12.1 MP Digital Camera with CMOS Sensor and 24x Optical Zoom - Black is, a far better camera for my purposes with commensurately higher price tag to go along with it.

The SL1000 delivers solidly on its intended target: a huge zoom range for not huge dollars.

Copyright 2013 by Randy Wakeman & Randy Wakeman Outdoors. All Rights Reserved.
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