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jmfwiltshire
04-10-10, 03:05 PM
Hi, I am looking for a replacement for my pocket Panasonic DMC-TZ3 which is over three years old.. I have been fairly pleased with this camera for outdoor shots, but inside it has not been great. When the flash is used the pictures are usually over exposed. I also now have a 2 year old, so I'm looking for something that has a very fast autofocus, and a short time lag between pressing the button and the picture being taken. I rarely use the 10x zoom function, but the Wide Angle (28mm eq) is important. Would be happy to spend around 150-200. Any advice please?

Nigel Atherton
05-10-10, 02:36 PM
The TZ series is actually one of the best of its kind so the normal advice would be to suggest the newer version of the same camera, the TZ10 or slightly cheaper TZ7.
You say you don't use the 10x zoom much so perhaps you'd like something a bit smaller? On the other hand your 2 year old is just getting to the running around/playing football etc age, so you might regret losing that longer zoom just when it might start becoming useful.
One option is the Canon Powershot SX210 IS (http://www.canon.co.uk/For_Home/Product_Finder/Cameras/Digital_Camera/PowerShot/index.aspx). Its just under 200 (http://www.warehouseexpress.com/buy-canon-digital-ixus-210-is-black-digital-camera/p1519456), still has that 10x zoom but starts at an even wider 24mm. Importantly it also features what it calls Smart Flash Exposure, for more natural flash results.
The Fujifilm F80EXR (http://www.fujifilm.co.uk/consumer/digital/digital-cameras/advanced-compact/finepix-f80exr/Features) also has something called 'Super Intelligent Flash' and its EXR sensor is also great for low light shooting, so you won't need the flash so often. It also has a 10x zoom starting at 27mm and is about 165 (http://www.warehouseexpress.com/buy-fuji-finepix-f80exr-black-digital-camera/p1519352).
Sony's latest generation high end compacts (the ones wit Exmor sensors/Bionz processors) are also good in low light. The WX1 is just above your budget (http://www.warehouseexpress.com/buy-sony-cybershot-wx1-black-digital-camera/p1033218) but has a 24mm wideangle and high quality f/2.5 lens.

Regarding the flash, most compacts deliver poor results with auto flash in low light, with washed out subjects with overly dark backgrounds. But there's a lot you can do to improve flash quality just by choosing the right settings. Firstly raise the ISO. ISO 400 is fairly safe image-quality wise (you can try going higher but noise will become an issue). Then set the camera to slow sync flash, which will try to balance the flash exposure with the background. You'll get a slow shutter speed so this won't work well with fast moving subjects and its best to support the camera if possible to avoid camera shake, but the higher ISO will mean the shutter speed won't be as slow as it would be with the camera at ISO100.
As for shutter lag this is a perennial problem with compats. They get better every year, so this current generation of cameras should be better than your TZ3 though. One way to minimise this is to pre-focus where possible by half-pressing the shutter, then hold in position till you're ready to shoot.