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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Posts
    12

    ultracompact, is, great image quality--input?

    Budget
    Preferably something under $350 but I'm willing to go a little over-budget for an exceptional camera (but it absolutely most be under $400).

    Size
    Ultracompact would probably be best for me, since I need something portable.

    Features
    -megapixels ?
    Not too picky about this, since I don't plan on blowing my photos up--I guess as long as it's over 7?

    -optical zoom?
    standard or ultra, not a huge concern for me.

    - “image quality”? (Rate using a scale of 1-10)
    9-10, with 10 being the best. Image quality is the most important camera quality for me, restricted by camera size and my budget. So for the camera size I'm looking for and the budget I have to work with, I would like to find the camera with the best image quality.

    -manual controls?
    Not necessary, but some options would be nice.

    General Usage

    * What will you generally use the camera for?
    Indoor shots of friends, indoor parties, nighttime shots, travel shots, street photography

    * Will you be making big prints of your photos or not?
    No

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

    Will you be shooting sports and/or action photos?
    Probably not

    Miscellaneous
    Camera history: Canon A40 (six years later and still going strong; gave it to a family member), Canon A80 (it broke), Canon SD700IS (recently lost in a taxi with a scary, angry cab driver in Marrakesh)

    Are there particular brands you like or hate?
    If you look above, you'll see that I've exclusively owned Canon digital cameras. I sometimes think that their colors aren't as vibrant and their photos aren't as sharp as I would like. But I've been too afraid to spend money on another brand. However, I would be willing to try a new brand or stick with Canon. I'm open to anything.

    Are there particular models you already have in mind?
    I've done some research but feel overwhelmed for the most part. Canon SD790, SD 800IS, SD 1100IS, Lumix FX-500, Fuji F500fd, and some Sony Ws. I don't know if these are the best to look at? I'm a little lost.

    (If applicable) Do you need any of the following special features? (Wide Angle, Image Stabilization, Weatherproof, Hotshoe, Rotating LCD)
    -Image Stabilization is a must. And a well-built camera that will hold up with time is another requirement. Something that starts up relatively quickly and doesn't have a huge lag time between photos. The less noise, the better.

    (thank you for reading this!)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Posts
    4,173
    As I always say in these threads, if you want a '10' image quality and don't want to use manual controls you will occasionally be disappointed. There are shots where you must take over control from the camera to get things properly exposed or with the right effect, and you won't have that with a pure P&S ultracompact.

    But, having said that, let's move on. The Canon SD-series is quite good for your needs and you have some experience with them. The SD890 looks promising and gives you a bit of extra zoom in the process. I have the SD800 and it's a nice camera but it's big draw is the wide angle lens. Do you want/need a wide angle lens?

    Of the others you mentioned I think the Sony W-series is quite nice, but then I'm very much inclined to like cameras with optical view finders. The Panasonic FX55 and FX500 give you the wide angle lens as well, and are good all around cameras, however without view finders.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    western US
    Posts
    1,218
    I had the Canon A40 also. Now I have my first Fuji. Camera produces good images. But the controls and software are quirky. As an all around package I would say Canon's reputation is deserved. If you don't mind quirky this or that, then other brands can sometimes get you better results. Your list is just a start, may want to add a few other models, plus Nikon. As for top IQ, expect to spend lots of time reading reviews and downloading sample shots. Ultracompacts just are not the natural choice for photos that are crispy from corner to corner. It's all a compromise, one way or another.

    Kelly Cook

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Lexington, KY
    Posts
    364
    The Canon SD1000 or SD1100 IS are my picks. Any of Canon's SD series are good choices, but the two mentioned above are among the fastest from power on to first shot in their class.
    Canon 5D Mark II (Canon 35mm/1.4L | Canon 24-70 f/2.8L | Canon 135mm/2L | 430EX II | Gitzo G1125 + 494RC2)

    flickr


    I bought a new camera. It's very advanced - you don't even need it. ~Steven Wright

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Posts
    12
    Hi, everyone, thanks for your responses.

    David Metsky -- I understand, I think what I meant to say was that I am looking for a camera that will produce the best quality images WITHIN my self-imposed size/budget/control restrictions. Also, I'm confused as for why a person would want/need a wide angle lens other than to fit more into the photo? Pros/cons?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    western US
    Posts
    1,218
    It's common to see posts about wide angle being a must-have. But I really think this is a personal call. Which will depend on what subject matter is important to you. I'm not thrilled with a 38mm WA, 32mm would be my personal sweet spot, 25mm seems like a gimmick to me. Lens design is always a compromise. Going to the extreme in any aspect, whether it's WA, or zoom range, or f/ratio, or compactness, means some aspect of the IQ has been sacrificed at some point. A modest zoom design has no excuse to not deliver top IQ.

    Kelly

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Posts
    4,173
    Wide angle lenses are great for when you are indoors and can't just back up to get the whole room in the shot, for landscapes where you want to take in the full scene, or street locations where a 35mm lens is too limiting. I hike and ski a lot, so the wide angle was important for me to capture broad expanses of terrain.

    But it comes at a cost. The edges of most wide angle zoom lenses are soft. The SD800 and SD850 are pretty much the same camera only with the 800 having the 28mm lens. The SD850 definitely is sharper all around, but I really needed the wide angle so I got it instead.

    I find having a lens that goes below 35mm to be extremely useful, but you may not find it worthwhile.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Orlando, FL
    Posts
    285
    As a Realtor I am continually taking pictures of homes, interior and exterior, for posting on MLS and websites as I market the property. A wide angle lens is a must in situations like that and I obtain expired unsold listings by comparing my photos to what their former Realtor did as one of the reasons can better serve them. I cheat - I also use a DSLR rather than the P&S that 99% of my competition uses. Also, with their lack of photographic knowledge, they go out an buy the more plentiful 35mm equiv models which give me advantage as I eliminate the road and sidewalk while still having the front of the house in the frame with more house detail, and less distracting detail.

    The reason I bring that up, it comes down to your needs. If you are taking landscapes or interiors, then you need wide angle. If that is not an issue, then the more plentiful 35mm models may suffice. In theory, with software and planning, you can always stitch two shots together to make it wide for the occasional time you need it. While some optical issues were noted in another post above, it varies from camera brand and model which hopefully will be noted in reviews. More important is the impact of the focal length. Wide angle P&S that I have seen usually have a reduction in the telephoto focal length. For example, comparing two close models, Canon SD870is and SD850is, both are "4x" zoom, but the wide 870is is 28-105mm while the 850is is 35-140mm equivalent.

    The question then becomes, which do you meed more - wide angle or telephoto?
    Last edited by tizeye; 05-23-2008 at 07:35 AM.
    Digital: Nikon D40; Nikon D90; Nikon D7000 Nikkor 18-55; Nikkor 55-200VR; Sigma 10-20; Tamron 17-50; SB-600; SB-900; Pocket Wizards
    Film: Canon AE-1; T70; FD 28mm 2.8; FD 50mm 1.8; FD 135mm 3.5
    Wish List: Unlimited! Let's not go there.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Posts
    12
    Hello, again! All right, so I decided that a viewfinder is absolutely necessary, because sometimes I want to sneak pictures without people noticing. Also, I find a viewfinder helpful if I know that I'm going to run out of battery soon and want to conserve as much power as possible while still taking pictures.

    SO, I've narrowed my list down to these four (in no particular order):

    Canon Powershot SD770 - This camera is both less wide and tall than my old SD700 -- but it is slightly thicker. But... okay, fine, I think the back is kind of ugly and that I will miss having a rotating wheel. I'm having some trouble finding extensive reviews on this one.

    Canon Powershot SD890 - I've read that it's an upgrade of the sd850, which was an upgrade of the sd700 that I so dearly loved. That said, the plastic body is a bit of a turn-off and it is oddly shaped. Also, given its dimensions, it is slightly larger than the sd700. I was hoping for something a tad smaller, but I suppose that's a minor complaint. It's still ultra-compact.

    Canon Powershot SD950 - Well, I don't need 12 MP. The camera seems to have all I want (and in some cases, costs less than the SD890), except reviews complain of lag time. The camera seems slow and is larger in every way than the SD 700, which makes me hesitate. However, it has the largest sensor of the bunch--which means better image quality/less noise (or am I completely off base)?

    Sony Cybershot DSC W170 - I've only used Canon in the past, so I added this camera with some hesitation. I think the camera itself is beautiful. Although taller and wider, it is also much thinner than the others. From what I've read, it has received good reviews. Maybe I'm crazy, but I find that cybershot pictures turn out more vibrant than those from a canon. I've been having trouble finding reviews that discuss its photo quality, which is an important quality to me (I found one review that calls its photo quality "decent," which isn't great considering the Canons are almost all lauded for their "excellent" photo quality).

    Of these four cameras, which would you choose?
    Which seem to take the best indoor photographs (sans flash)?
    Have I overlooked any that fit my needs?

    Thanks again

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