FZ20 "died" - which camera to replace?

Started May 25, 2011 | Discussions thread
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tiksom
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FZ20 "died" - which camera to replace?
May 25, 2011

For the past few years I used my FZ20 and was very happy with it. Camera worked without a trouble and delivered over 15 thousand photos at quality that was satisfying for me.

What I liked?

  • form factor; it was larger that your typical p&s, but very convenient to carry around and ergonomic to hold.

  • slide on/off switch; gave positive feedback compared to a push button, as I often operate camera without looking at it.

  • 12x zoom 36-430mm; wide enough for landscape shooting, tele range helped to get many details I just loved, or to "blur" background when shooting at a fairly close range with F2.8.

  • F2.8 througut the range; it gave enough "blur" thanks to low F number, and more extra light at the highest tele than any other camera.

  • excellent OIS; I was easily able to take satisfying pictures handheld at 1/4s and longer exposures in dimly lit interiors at low ISO.

  • one-time focus button; it was in use 99.9% of the time, except when shooting single-handed.

  • manual focus ring; allowed for fine-tuning when autofocus got it wrong.

  • controls; ISO, WB and Flash were at a press of a button

  • viewfinder; good enough to be used 95% of the time, except for close-ups/"macro".

  • 5Mpix is by far enough for me.

  • performance (time to focus etc) was good enough, maybe except startup time that sometimes seemed too long.

Suddenly, from a day to another, it partially "died" (no bump, drop or other such event!). Camera is no longer capable of extending or hiding external lens on power on/off. They do extend/hide when aided by a hand, but you can imagine that this is very unconvenient for daily use. Disassembly revealed that plastic guide rails on the lens have deteriorated (scratched edges) to the point where motor does not have enough torque to push/pull lens out of the edge position. This doesn't seem to be easily repaireable or replaceable.

I'm trying to decide what camera to get now. Decision is not an easy one.

DSLR would be a good upgrade, but I'm a huge fan of a large zoom without exchanging lens. DSLR kit is also too large for me to casually carry around.

Cost of a second-hand FZ20 locally is around 170$. Obviously these would have a high mileage and susceptible of developing the same problem, so this is probalby not the best option. A brand new modern superzoom is about 500-600$.

FZ100 would be probably the easiest step (familiar design), though people seem to be disappointed with its performance: too many Mpix, slower lens (F5.6). I could not find good comparison with FZ20 though.

I've read dpreview forums, as well as "superzoom review" here:
http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/q110superzoomgroup/

and still can't decide. Except for FZ100, also FZ35, Fuj iHS20 (next-gen HS10) and Canon SX30 seem to be good choices depending on ones particular preferences.

I understand this is not the wisest things to ask, but if someone here has gone through a similar exercise recently, and values similar FZ20 advantages as me, I'd appreciate comments. Please, no non-Panny bashing, think positive

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