which (portable) camera?

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which (portable) camera?

Postposted on Sun Jan 20, 2008 12:22 am

My Fiancee's camera went kaput a few weeks ago and she wants a new one. No DSLR or anything, she wants something compact. The only advice I could give her (which may be out-dated) is to only buy cameras from companies that made good film cameras; Nikon, Cannon, etc.

Is this advice good? The interface, size, and screen on the sony cybershot T200 she tried are all really nice, but the pictures seem to have a fair amount of compression, which I wasn't able to turn off in the 5 minutes I played with it, and I didn't find a way to adjust it online, either. 8 megapixels seems kind of pointless if the pictures are compressed to hell anyways, but I don't really know much about cameras, so this could be par for the course for all I know.

So, any suggestions?
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Postposted on Sun Jan 20, 2008 12:30 am

If you want a tiny compact camera that drops into your pocket, then the Canon ELPH SD800IS, SD850IS and SD870IS offer great photos in a small package. In a larger package, the PowerShot A570IS and A720IS are worth a look, especially if you want to use manual settings.
http://www.usa.canon.com/consumer/contr ... goryid=113
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Postposted on Sun Jan 20, 2008 1:39 am

I would also go with an ELPH, I love mine for the times I just want a little camera in my pocket and don't want to haul around my dslr.
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Postposted on Sun Jan 20, 2008 2:19 am

On the compact front, Canon gets my business. I'll third the recommendation for the ELPH for your fianacee. ELHPs are small, easy to use, and most of all take excellent pics. The ELPH series is up to the SD950 now, but you can probably still find the SD8xxx series which'll be almost as good, but less expensive.

For something more versatile, the A6xx and A7xx series (both with manual controls) is worth a look.
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Postposted on Sun Jan 20, 2008 2:30 am

I recommend the SD870 IS since it has the wider 28mm "equivalent" wide angle, perfect for group or vacation photos. I have used the 28mm on a Panasonic and I can appreciate the extra width. You lose the optical viewfinder though (you can get the SD950/850 IS with the optical viewfinder, though you "drop back down" to 35mm wide).

Sony's ultracompacts produce pictures that look more processed. Great for just downloading and emailing, but atrocious if you want more "natural" colours. They are thinner though and the latest model have a big ass touchscreen which is cool.

No matter what you choose, don't let them auto-pick high ISOs or you will get water colour like pictures. Remember size does matter, you are making some compromises for choosing ultracompacts. The folded optics in the Sony T's may make it a bit worse, but I'm sure they have improved from their previous attempts.
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Postposted on Sun Jan 20, 2008 3:46 am

I faced this dilemma a little while ago, and I ended up settling for the Canon Ixus 75 (I'm not sure what the US model number is). As the others have said, with portables it's wise to keep the ISO levels down, but for a portable, I honestly can't fault the 75. Good performance in all the conditions I've thrown at it, good battery, good levels of control, love the screen too (great angled visibility).

Image Noise isn't there below 400 ISO, and really if you leave the device to it's own "Auto ISO" setting, don't set it to "AUTO ISO HIGH" unless as previously mentioned you want watercoloured pictures.


And the Face detection is a very handy feature.

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Postposted on Sun Jan 20, 2008 12:09 pm

Thanks for the advice everybody. the ISO option on the sony is burried in the touchscreen menus :( That alone may make it a little clumsier than I thought.
stoydgen wrote:And the Face detection is a very handy feature.

in case you can't find faces yourself?

the smile detection is really weird. It works while taking pictures of her, but it doesn't detect my smile very well. Maybe I don't have a soul or something.
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Postposted on Sun Jan 20, 2008 12:48 pm

Oh, another thing with ultracompacts is battery. With those big ass LCD screens and flashes the battery can be drained pretty fast. If you will be going on trips or (almost) all-day wedding events, another battery is a must.
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Re: which (portable) camera?

Postposted on Sun Jan 20, 2008 1:35 pm

SpotTheCat wrote: The only advice I could give her (which may be out-dated) is to only buy cameras from companies that made good film cameras; Nikon, Cannon, etc.

Is this advice good?


Not really. The SLR and digicam departments are separate, and even when they do communicate, what is good for a film/slr camera is not neccessarily good for a compact.

For instance, the Fuji Finepix F60 was one of the best compact cameras around, despite fuji not having much presence in the 35mm world (they did have a presence in 645 medium formats, though).

The interface, size, and screen on the sony cybershot T200 she tried are all really nice, but the pictures seem to have a fair amount of compression, which I wasn't able to turn off in the 5 minutes I played with it, and I didn't find a way to adjust it online, either. 8 megapixels seems kind of pointless if the pictures are compressed to hell anyways, but I don't really know much about cameras, so this could be par for the course for all I know.


Actually, the resolution and size of the sensor directly impacts how much noise will be in the picture, even if saved in uncompressed format.

The problem is that in the 'spec war' between manufacturers, companies are pushing higher density sensors at the expense of noise and image fidelity. The aforementioned F60 bucked this trend, using a large, low resolution sensor, and too great pictures as a result, but unfortunately, succcumbed in the end to market forces, and the replacement F80 is just as bad as any other compact out there.

So, any suggestions?


Here's a useful rule of thumb for compact digicams: they all suck.

I'm not being facetious, none of them will be anywhere near as good as a DSLR, and they all have atrocious low light performance (due again to the small sensors).

Once you realise that they all suck, it's time to weed out the ones that suck less, or at least whose relative strengths complement what you're after.

If you're after landscape/architecture/street photography, the Ricoh GX100 (I own one) is a good SLR/rangefinder substitute, as long as you realise it'll never be as sharp as a DSLR.

If you're after portrait photography, see if you can find a second hand F60 on ebay or something. 3 years on, the quality of the sensor is still unmatched in the market.

If you want superzooms (10x+), forget it. This is where the suckage exceeds the escape velocity of light, and you will simply be paying $$$ for a bulky, unwieldy mess that puts out abstract shots that makes Monet look like HDTV.

If you want sports/underwater photography, Olympus makes a range of ruggedised waterproof cameras. Do not underestimate their usefulness, especially if you ever go on a holiday to a beach/snorkelling resort.

At th end of the day, it is important to remember that a compact is a lifestyle choice, not a photographic tool. Commodity cameras from most of the big guys (Sony, Nikon, Panasonic, Olympus, Minolta, etc) will all be of roughly equivalent quality. Some have certain quirks (like Panasonic's love for excessive blur filter), but there is no real standout in terms of quality.

My $0.02
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Postposted on Sun Jan 20, 2008 2:14 pm

I recently bought this for a point and shoot compact.

Ultra small, great LCD. I used it like crazy on my resent vacation in December. Considering I was on a cruise it slipped into a pocket and I took it everywhere. I would recommend it or any small ELPH for a everyday camera.
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Re: which (portable) camera?

Postposted on Sun Jan 20, 2008 11:20 pm

got the SD870 I think. Her dad bought it for her as a gift, but if it were me I would have gotten the 750 too, it's smaller, has similar features, and is $100 cheaper.
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Re: which (portable) camera?

Postposted on Mon Jan 21, 2008 12:07 am

SpotTheCat wrote:got the SD870 I think. Her dad bought it for her as a gift, but if it were me I would have gotten the 750 too, it's smaller, has similar features, and is $100 cheaper.

Trust me the 28mm is well worth the $100 difference. 8)
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Re: which (portable) camera?

Postposted on Mon Jan 21, 2008 12:09 am

Flying Fox wrote:
SpotTheCat wrote:got the SD870 I think. Her dad bought it for her as a gift, but if it were me I would have gotten the 750 too, it's smaller, has similar features, and is $100 cheaper.

Trust me the 28mm is well worth the $100 difference. 8)

I'll second that (but of course one of my favorite lenses is a 15mm equivalent, so I may be slightly biased.)
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Re: which (portable) camera?

Postposted on Mon Jan 21, 2008 4:21 am

The SD870IS also has image stabilization. This makes it more useful for capturing still subjects in low light.
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Re: which (portable) camera?

Postposted on Mon Jan 21, 2008 8:22 am

JustAnEngineer wrote:The SD870IS also has image stabilization. This makes it more useful for capturing still subjects in low light.
The 750 has IS and Digic III w/ Face Detection too, but with a different lens since it cannot do 28mm.
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Re: which (portable) camera?

Postposted on Mon Jan 21, 2008 8:31 am

Flying Fox wrote:
JustAnEngineer wrote:The SD870IS also has image stabilization. This makes it more useful for capturing still subjects in low light.
The 750 has IS and Digic III w/ Face Detection too, but with a different lens since it cannot do 28mm.
Look at the technical specifications to see that the models with IS have optical image stabilization. This compensates for camera shake on long exposures, making it possible to shoot hand-held with 1/15 second exposures. This won't freeze the action of a moving subject, but it will prevent the blur caused by camera vibration.

870 IS:
http://www.usa.canon.com/consumer/contr ... chSpecsAct

750:
http://www.usa.canon.com/consumer/contr ... chSpecsAct
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Re: which (portable) camera?

Postposted on Mon Jan 21, 2008 8:37 am

JustAnEngineer wrote:
Flying Fox wrote:
JustAnEngineer wrote:The SD870IS also has image stabilization. This makes it more useful for capturing still subjects in low light.
The 750 has IS and Digic III w/ Face Detection too, but with a different lens since it cannot do 28mm.
Look at the technical specifications to see that the models with IS have optical image stabilization. This compensates for camera shake on long exposures, making it possible to shoot hand-held with 1/15 second exposures. This won't freeze the action of a moving subject, but it will prevent the blur caused by camera vibration.

870 IS:
http://www.usa.canon.com/consumer/contr ... chSpecsAct

750:
http://www.usa.canon.com/consumer/contr ... chSpecsAct

Odd. The title of the web page said "750 IS". Must be a copy and paste error there then. I stand corrected. Then IS+28mm certainly makes up the $100 difference. I don't think for Ultracompact they are using mechanical IS though. It's probably software. But the results still look better than no IS, so I guess I'll take it.
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Re: which (portable) camera?

Postposted on Tue Jan 22, 2008 1:24 am

mattsteg wrote:
Flying Fox wrote:
SpotTheCat wrote:got the SD870 I think. Her dad bought it for her as a gift, but if it were me I would have gotten the 750 too, it's smaller, has similar features, and is $100 cheaper.

Trust me the 28mm is well worth the $100 difference. 8)

I'll second that (but of course one of my favorite lenses is a 15mm equivalent, so I may be slightly biased.)


Thirded. My Ricoh GX100 spends most of its time at the widest 24mm equiv., and I have the optional wideangle adapter that takes it to an eye-stuffing 17mm.
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Re: which (portable) camera?

Postposted on Sun Feb 17, 2008 2:23 pm

The Canon ELPH SD850IS is just $200 at your local Staples during the holiday sale:
http://www.slickdeals.net/?permadeal=11 ... deal_11666
http://forums.slickdeals.net/showthread.php?t=736758
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Re: which (portable) camera?

Postposted on Sun Feb 17, 2008 2:54 pm

dpreview has a review of the 850. The IS is optical, not digital, btw. Given the slickdeals price, the biggest negative (relative to its peers) appears to be battery life.
Voldenuit wrote:If you want sports/underwater photography, Olympus makes a range of ruggedised waterproof cameras. Do not underestimate their usefulness, especially if you ever go on a holiday to a beach/snorkelling resort.
Note that you can get a dive housing from Canon for many of its compact cameras for about $150, good to ~130ft. There are also "baggy" style protectors for less than $20. Of course if you're only worried about splashing around waterfalls or on boat trips or something, that's overkill.
Voldenuit wrote:
mattsteg wrote:
Flying Fox wrote:Trust me the 28mm is well worth the $100 difference. 8)

I'll second that (but of course one of my favorite lenses is a 15mm equivalent, so I may be slightly biased.)

Thirded. My Ricoh GX100 spends most of its time at the widest 24mm equiv., and I have the optional wideangle adapter that takes it to an eye-stuffing 17mm.
I agree. I spend a huge amount of my time shooting below 28mm. I'll trade 40mm at the zoom end for 4mm at the wide end every time.
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Re: which (portable) camera?

Postposted on Sun Feb 17, 2008 8:02 pm

After using the 870 IS a good bit, I can say I really like it. It takes good pictures without a tripod, great ones with a tripod, and I didn't realize how important the wide angle lens is indoors.
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Re: which (portable) camera?

Postposted on Sun Feb 17, 2008 8:30 pm

I'm still shooting with my Fuji F30, and I still love it. If it weren't so capable, I definitely would have ditched it by now. That being said, if I were in the market for another compact camera right now I'd be leaning towards the Canon SD870 IS although the Panasonic Lumix FX55 is probably worth a look as well.
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Re: which (portable) camera?

Postposted on Wed Feb 20, 2008 7:19 pm

I'm going to see how good the IS works tonight with the red eclipse tonight.
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