UPDATE:

2/22/06 Dpreview has posted information on the newly announced Canon S3 IS Camera which will be replacing the S2. The biggest difference is that it now has a 6 megapixel sensor but there are many other new features as well. You can read more at the site by clicking here

12/12/05 BoingBoing put up a blurb on the FZ5 today here with great praise. I’m surprised there was no mention of the Canon.

I ended up getting the Canon S2. You can get more info on it HERE. The dealmaker for me was the video mode of the Canon. The interesting thing is that my brother ended up getting the Panasonic FZ5.

I am about to buy a new ultra zoom digital camera and have been doing research on the current crop of contenders.

Here are the four current choices as I see it. There are other Ultra zooms, but only these provide what I believe is a required feature…Image Stabilization

I personally have limited my decision to either the Canon or Panasonic. The Panasonic has been out for a little while and has gotten great reviews. All of these cameras are priced similarly in the ~400-500 range. I was just about to pull the trigger on the Panny and then heard about the Canon. I’m waiting to see some reviews before I make my final decision.

Here’s a great side by side comparison of the Canon, Panasonic, Sony, and Konica
Link Here

I believe that the difference in picture quality between the Canon & Panny will be negligible and what’s important to me is the quality of the image stabilization (the Panny has this as well), the autofocus in ultra-zoom modes, and the shutter speed.

Some key advantages of the Canon over the Panny are:
* External Flash capability
* Manual Focus
* Slightly higher resolution (5.0 vs. 4.9)
* Much better movie clip ability (640×480 vs. 320×240)
* Batteries (4 AA’s vs. custom lithion rechargeable) a positive due to price but could be considered a negative as well due to additional weight (Canon 17.8 vs. Panny 11.5 oz) and shorter lifespan

Another thing to keep in mind is that Panasonic also has the FZ20 model which has the external flash and manual focus ability, but is somewhat larger than the FZ5 and should be dropping in price right now.

I’ve been watching these closely and hope this is helpful to anyone else considering an ultra-zoom camera.

Resources for top Ultra Zoom Digital Cameras
Item Canon Powershot S2 IS 5MP Digital Camera with 12x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom
Canon S2 IS
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ5 5MP Digital Camera with 12x Image Stabilized Optical Zoom (Black)
Panasonic FZ5
Sony Cybershot DSCH1 5.1MP Digital Camera with 12x \

Sony DSC-H1
Konica Minolta Dimage Z5 5MP Digital Camera with 12x Anti-Shake Zoom
Minolta Z5
Reviews dpreview.com
steves-digicams.com
Dpreview.com
Stevesdigicams.com
Dcresource.com
Steve’s Digicams coming
Pricing Pricegrabber.com Pricegrabber.com Pricegrabber.com coming
Product Page Canon Site Panasonic Site coming coming
Manual Canon Manuals coming coming coming

More Panasonic FZ5 Info
coming soon

Canon S2 IS Info
Quote from dpreview: “For fast action (where the focus system still isn’t fast enough), I’d go for the Panasonic FZ5”
Steve’s Digicams compares the S2 to the Sony H1 and neglects to mention the Panasonic which I find very strange.

Sony DSC-H1 Info
coming soon

Minolta Dimage Z5
coming soon

Update 6/21/05
I ventured to my local Circuit City today and they had the Canon S2 sitting right next to the Panasonic FZ5. After handling both for about 10 minutes I can easily say that the FZ5 is much nicer to the handle. The S2 is very big and bulky in comparison and weighs more. Between this and the quote I list from dpreview, I am starting to lean towards the Panny.

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