Can't decide - need ultra-ultra compact, zoom, IS, under $300?
First the template answers:
I'd like to stick to <=$300, but it may not be possible.
(Note: This is a backup camera - will explain below)
Front jeans pocket, otherwise known as "ultra-compact". The smallest camera the better.
The minimum megapixels is fine with me. Not a high priority since I never print, and only view on TV or PC. If anything, printing an 8x10, which would be a rare framed pic, would be nice.
* What optical zoom will you need? (None, Standard = 3x-4x, Ultrazoom = 10x-12x, Other - Specify)
Ultra-zoom! Herein lies a dilemma. I want the max zoom, with great quality, that fits in my front pocket, and isn't a fortune. Is this possible?
* How important is “image quality” to you? (Rate using a scale of 1-10)
10 (who doesn't want good quality images, even if you only view on a PC or TV???)
Do you care for manual controls?
Don't care at all.
* What will you generally use the camera for?
I will specifically use this camera for taking pictures at events that don't allow video-cameras. In fact, if it weren't for this one factor I wouldn't need a dedicated digicam. I own a gorgeous Sony Handycam, and with only a 3megapixel still camera inside it (albeit it only takes stills at under 1mp), it takes some of the nicest pictures I've ever taken. To put it into perspective, I've taken 1000's of pictures with it, and maybe 3 hours of video. While I do love the dual-purpose of the video camera, it's just not allowed in venues that say "no video" and I've been stuck with NO pictures of events since I had nothing else to bring in...
* Will you be making big prints of your photos or not?
Never. No prints at all.
Will you be shooting a lot of indoor photos or low light photos?
Yes! Based on my Handycam explanation above, I can see this camera being used mostly for indoor shots. Albeit, if I buy a digicam I might never use my vid-cam ever again!
Will you be shooting sports and/or action photos?
Since I consider bodybuilding a "sport" I would say yes, but to answer the question (which I believe you're getting at is more of the "action/motion shots") I would say "no".
Are there particular brands you like or hate?
I like Sony. Sticking with Sony would allow sharing of memory sticks. I've found Sony quality up to par with previous Sony gadgets I've owned. I also like Canon, not that I've owned one, but all the reviews seem to always point to Canon.
Are there particular models you already have in mind?
Canon CD870 IS
Panasonic DMC TZ-3
Sony DSC-T200 or T100
(If applicable) Do you need any of the following special features? (Wide Angle, Image Stabilization, Weatherproof, Hotshoe, Rotating LCD)
1) I would LOVE wide-angle
2) I MUST have image stabilization
3) I would LOVE a rotating LCD (since I am accustomed to taking several wifey and me self-portrait shots with the Handycam. The rotating wide-screen LCD is perfect for this.
Ok, now for the choices.
I absolutely need to stay under $400. That unfortunately leaves out some cool choices like the Canon TX1 (which I mostly like because of the rotating LCD).
So the real choices I see are as follows:
Canon SD870IS - I like the wideangle, but only 3.8x zoom. No view-finder shouldn't be an issue (only since they claim the LCD can be seen anywhere/anyangle). No built in memory which isn't a big deal, but it's nice that in a pinch you could resort to a few more shots with the built-in when in a bind. Face-detection and red-eye removal tool in camera are nice features. I have a concern of accidentally turning it on in my pocket and the lens trying to force it's way open, breaking the gears...
Panasonic DMC-TZ3 - I LOVE the wideangle AND ZOOM on this camera. Is it too bulky/heavy for me to pocket in the front? I don't care about slow USB - that is what memory card readers are for. Cost is lowest of the 3. If it was a half inch or more skinnier it would probably end up the winner. No face detection or red-eye removal built in. Same concern above about accidently turning it on in my pocket and the lens motors breaking...
Sony DSC-T200 - I love the LCD touchscreen (same as my Handycam) and am used to it. No problem there. And you can't beat the style and pocketability. I'd settle for the T100 to save a few $$. But - no wideangle and only 5x zoom on both. Is that zoom enough for me? This one has face-detection and red-eye removal built in. Plus, no accidental lens motor breaking since nothing sticks out of the camera...
From the reviews I've read it seems image quality are generally the same, with the Canon probably being the best in a nit-picky way.
If I were to weigh my criteria for the "perfect" digicam I would probably prioritize as:
1) Pocket sized - the ultra-smaller the better
2) Zoom (the point of this camera is to take shots in arenas where I don't always have an up-close seat, but I'd probably end up using this camera for everything and storing the camcorder for holidays.) Zoom has got to be the coolest feature on any camera.
3) Cost (around or under $300 would be nice, around or under $200 would be VERY nice. The cheaper the better in case I break it or loose it I won't feel as bad )
It's too bad that they don't let me take my Handycam into events or I wouldn't even need another camera.
Is there another camera out there that I have yet to see which is??:
1) Under $300
2) Nice ultra-zoom
3) Image Stabilization
4) Wideangle perhaps (yes I've seen the Canon SD850is, but for $50 you get wideangle, and a bigger LCD with the 870IS) since I can see a lot of use for wideangle shots.
5) Pocket sized??
(P.S. I should note that I played with a Sony DSC-T100 at Circuitcity and I could not take a zoomed picture without a tremendous amount of blurriness from movement. It was like the IS system wasn't working. I played with many menu's and it appeared in all cases to be on. Tried many flash options, etc, and just could NEVER in probably 30 test shots get it to take a single non-blurried shot)
Thanks in advance!
Last edited by stevehurwitz; 09-21-2007 at 02:08 PM.
I think the TZ3 is the smallest ultra-zoom you'll find...
And I've carried it in my front jeans pocket many a time, so I know it's at least "pocketable." The problem you'll face is you need good performance at high ISOs for the kind of photos you want, and I'd say you'd want to go no more than ISO 400 with the TZ3, although I've gotten some good results as high as ISO 640, with flash that is. It seems you're basically trying to fool the event guards into thinking you're not carrying a camera into an event, and this one comes the closest, but maybe not close enough?
be your umbrella!
Thanks and keep the responses coming!
Thanks for the reply.
To be more specific, video camera's are typically not allowed at events where they want to later sell you a professionally produced version (like the upcomming Mr Olympia in Las Vegas).
But, non-professional camera's are allowed.
Of course, there is such a blur nowadays between "camera" and something that can capture "video", that they will either start letting anyone take pretty much anything in, or they'll have to ban cameras, cell-phones, etc.
Right now the security guards just look for things that "look" like camcorders, i.e. take tapes and are held more upright like a camcorder (hence it would be tricky to convince them the Canon TX1 isn't a camcorder because it "looks" so much like one... I'd bet I'd even have a tough time with the Nikon S10.) And of course don't expect to take a DSLR in their either.
As John said, TZ3 is as close as you're going to get. But it's bigger then a "true" ultracompact. Shooting video with a still camera is certainly possible, but it's not the most ergonomic, it's a pain after a while. Low light will be your biggest problem.
Thanks for the reply.
Stills are most important. I'm trying to find the balance between size (Sony winning), zoom (Panasonic winning) and image quality (which I believe is a toss up but the Canon nails the best ratings from what I've seen).
Grading all 3 such that:
Zoom = 1-5, Size = 1-5, Image = 1-5
(higher numbers meaning hitting the mark)
Sony = 3+5+3 = 11
Panasonic = 5+3+3 = 11
Canon = 2+4+5 = 11
See the dilemma?
Why wouldn't you be able to take a DSLR in? It's the only thing that doesn't actually take video.
Originally Posted by stevehurwitz
I could tell you but I wouldn't want you to get all pissy if it's the wrong brand
They consider a DSLR/SLR a "professional" camera, and they ban it because you need to be considered "press" to take pics inside these events.
It's all about making $$$....
TZ3 Concert photos...
Here are some threads I found with concert photos at dpreview:
In the first thread, looks like some photos were taken of the monitor, others of the players on the stage.
be your umbrella!
Hands on testing...
Hey thanks for the pointer to those shots. Guess I should look for more similar concert type shots from all 3 cameras...
Just got back from CircuitCity. Looked at all 3 cameras:
1) Panasonic. Ok, if size is truly a consideration, and for my fellow readers to get something out of this, the TZ3 is not only bulky, it is absolutely NOT a pocketable "ultra-compact" camera. That said, for the similar cameras in this size range, it's probably got the best feature set. It's definately heavy, but feels VERY solidly built. Cheaper than the Sony and Canon it's still in the running, but...
2) Canon. I wasn't overly impressed with the look and feel of the SD870is (in fact the SD850is "feels" better built). In fact, this camera is "stretching" (pardon the pun) the use of the term "ultra-compact" as well. I would be embarrased to have that thing in my front pocket. IF cargo-shorts with the sides pockets are your usual attire, this wouldn't so as bad as the TZ3, but it's really not well shaped. Funny curves all over the place. Definately NOT a front-pocket camera either. With a wide-angel but only 3.8x zoom, its out of the running.
Unfortunately BOTH cameras had no power so I'm just going on observations, and "feel". And, no, the CircuitCity helper couldn't supply power. Need to try them out at Bestbuy perhaps.
3) Sony. by FAR the sexiest camera on the floor. Almost NO buttons at all. That sliding on/off screen cover is pretty solid, and looks great too. The LCD is beautiful and there are literally no buttons on the back. Everything is touch screen. I DO like the touch screen, and within minutes I think I hit every option it had. Wouldn't take long to get used to it. Still very cool in the gadget factor. No buttons means no buttons to break, or get stuff spilled on, or whatever. I wonder how it works if it's really cold or hot (snow or beach weather?) Or humid for that matter? Anyhow, it was the only one I got to play with and the 5x zoom is pretty nice while I couldn't take a zoomed out shot without....well every one was perfect no matter what I did. I don't have the steadiest hands, and the IS on this thing was magical. Works perfectly and all the shots appeared very nice on the screen. But, for $400 (the most expensive of the bunch) it'd better look like a Lamborghini, which compared to the others it appears to be. Note: this Sony is the largest of the T's that CircuitCity had. For some reason Sony added a very large wrist-strap holder protruding out that gives it an extra 1/4 inch on that side. Hmmm....
However, I was enticed by at least 5 other tiny, and I mean TINY, cameras that I would truly call "pocket sized". The Sony was definately an "ultra-compact" but if there were a ultra-ultra-compact term, there were others, like a Nikon and Olympus that fall into that itsy-bitsy category. I noticed IS is on these microscopic cameras, but alas only 3x zoom, no wide-angle, etc, etc, etc, etc....There are some half the price of the Sony also.
Lastly, the Sony is enticing since I can use my existing MemoryStick Pro DUO cards in it, and swap with my camcorder. That's a savings (not having to buy SD sticks) in itself.
Time to go find a store where I can actually play with the TZ3...and reconsider how much I need that extra zoom...
(P.S. I am going to the Mr Olympia show in 8 days. I need a camera before then, even if I end up buying one and returning it after the show. I anticipate taking MANY shots in the hallways or expo with the bodybuilders. i.e. close/flash shots, as compared to a few that I'll probably actually take at the show itself. Like I said, maybe I should rethink the zoom issue. Sony looks like it could be the winner.)
Last edited by stevehurwitz; 09-22-2007 at 02:31 PM.
I don't know what size YOUR pockets are, but I've carried my TZ3 in the pocket of my Levi 501s many a time. I wear "standard fit" jeans, and the camera fits in there handily, and doesn't feel like a bulky thing, for that matter. And it also slips easily into the pockets of my jackets, when I'm wearing them. If you're looking for the absolutely smallest camera, fine, but for concert shots, personally, I would think the TZ3's zoom would come quite in handy? If you've got a smaller camera than the TZ3 with 280mm of zoom reach that you can stick in your pocket, I'd like to know which one it is? I don't care that much which camera you choose, just surprised to hear you say the TZ3's too big for the job?
Originally Posted by stevehurwitz
be your umbrella!
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