If you've got the money to purchase a 3- or 4-megapixel digital camera, you'll be so much more pleased with the output than if you buy a 2-megapixel offering. In that vein, it's hard not to consider Panasonic's Lumix DMC-FZ10 4-megapixel camera ($599) as a solid choice for entering the realm of digital photography.
The FZ10 shoots a variety of still images up to 2,304 x 1,728 pixels as well as a digital video in motion JPEG or Quicktime formats -- 30 frames per second or 10 fps with audio -- and will capture up to 10 seconds of audio for notes on still images.
It's impressive that the Leica lens looks nothing like the tiny lenses on nonzoom digitals. The zoom is awesome and stable in motion. You get a 12X zoom that ranges from 35 mm to 420 mm in a 35 mm equivalent lens. And it has a constant F2.8 aperture, so that you can shoot in some lower-light situations.
A popup flash is convenient, but you'll probably prefer to use the external flash if you have one available.
In the box was a 16-megabyte secure digital card, which didn't hold many pictures. You'll want to get more secure digital or multimedia cards if you plan to shoot more than a few photographs before downloading them to the a computer via a Universal Serial Bus cable.
My only complaint was that this is another camera with a proprietary lithium ion battery. (I prefer regular or rechargeable AA and AAA batteries.)The lithium takes about 90 minutes to charge up for 120 minutes of use if you don't turn on the LCD screen. But I never found myself running out of juice while shooting. Moreover, an AC adapter can be used with the camera when the juice begins to fade.
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