I’m a keen amateur photographer with a Nikon FE manual-focus film SLR and an Olympus mju2 fixed focal length (35mm) film compact. I’m looking to replace the film compact with a digital that gives me more creative control, with the eventual intention of replacing the SLR with a digital one later.

I use 28mm, 50mm and 135mm fixed lenses with my SLR, and much prefer the 28mm wide-angle to the 35mm of my compact. Less concerned with the telephoto end, as most can offer at least 100mm which is fine.

I’ve always been one to go for optical quality, lens speed, build quality etc. over gimmicky features, and so good optics, large sensors and usable high ISO ratings are all features that interest me.

Budget

$450-600 but keen to get the ‘right’ camera, rather than the cheapest one that will do.

Size

Preferably pocket, but ‘large pocket’ OK. I’ve used my company’s Nikon 5400 a lot and find it a bit too big for even the largest pocket.

Features

How many megapixels will suffice for you? – 5+

* What optical zoom will you need? Standard, preferably down to 28mm 35mm equiv.

* How important is “image quality” to you? (Rate using a scale of 1-10) 8

Do you care for manual controls? Yes.

General Usage

* What will you generally use the camera for? Social occasions, gigs, short holidays, work (architect). I’m not looking for SLR performance, but as a keen photographer I’m after a ‘serious’ compact with either (preferably) decent manual controls, or if not, programme modes which are responsive and intuitive to an experienced photographer.

* Will you be making big prints of your photos or not? Not that often, but would like the option.

Will you be shooting a lot of indoor photos or low light photos? Yes.

Will you be shooting sports and/or action photos? Occasionally.

Miscellaneous

Are there particular brands you like or hate? Like Nikon film cameras, but also happy with my Olympus compact. Don’t have much handle of who I ‘rate’ for digitals.

Are there particular models you already have in mind? Canon S70 (question over soft images?), Ricoh GX8 (question over image quality?), Sony DSC-V3 (only 34mm though), Fuji F10 (only 36mm and fewer manual controls), Olympus C7070 (bit bulky); and interested to see Panasonic announce the wide zoom DMC LX1

(If applicable) Do you need any of the following special features? (Wide Angle, Image Stabilization, Weatherproof, Hotshoe, Rotating LCD) – Wide angle as mentioned. Hot-shoe would be nice. Build quality and durability important, but less so true weatherproofness.