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View Full Version : High Quality $300-$500 camera (SD memory)



ciprian24
05-28-2007, 10:06 AM
Budget
$300-$500 (maybe even $600 if it would give me a significant increase in quality)

Size
I would prefer compact because it's easier to carry while traveling, but I am not sure their quality is as good as the bigger cameras. Maybe you can suggest me both compact and bigger cameras;

Features
- How many megapixels will suffice for you? Not really sure (hopefully 7mp+)
- What optical zoom will you need? at least 10x zoom
- How important is “image quality” to you? (Rate using a scale of 1-10) image quality is very important 11
Do you care for manual controls? don't care about manual controls

General Usage
- What will you generally use the camera for? I am not a professional photographer, I plan to take pictures to share with friends and family and also make prints for them. Most of the pictures will probably be static, but I might take some action pictures of friends playing (not that important though). I will take pictures both in daylight and evening/night.
- Will you be making big prints of your photos or not? I am not sure what you mean by big prints, but I don't plan to make big posters too much
- Will you be shooting a lot of indoor photos or low light photos? Probably 50% of pictures will be indoor or low light.
- Will you be shooting sports and/or action photos? No sports pictures

Miscellaneous
- (If applicable) Do you need any of the following special features?
Image Stabilization would be cool, not sure if it would fit into my price range.

Summary: Most important thing is image quality. I would prefer a compact / medium-size if the drop in quality is small, otherwise I would go with the bigger cameras. It really needs to be good in all situations: outdoors/indoors/low-light. And I like big zooms (like 10x).

toriaj
05-28-2007, 10:56 AM
The Canon S3 is a great camera, for a great price (and will get even cheaper when the S5 comes out.) It might be too big for you, though -- go to the store and play with the cameras, see how they feel to you. If you find another one that you like, just make sure to do your homework to make sure that it has the quality and features that you need.

ciprian24
05-28-2007, 11:46 AM
The Canon S3 is a great camera, for a great price (and will get even cheaper when the S5 comes out.) It might be too big for you, though -- go to the store and play with the cameras, see how they feel to you. If you find another one that you like, just make sure to do your homework to make sure that it has the quality and features that you need.

The Canon S3 seems pretty good for what I want, but ... I looked at image samples for indoors or low light and they are pretty noisy, which is one of the things I really care about (I want good quality); though the outdoor pictures seem really nice.

Actually I been looking at memory cards cost and seems XD cards are pretty cheap too, so I don't think I'll mind just using different memory cards than SD.
So something like the Canon S3, but better indoor image quality will be perfect. Any suggestions ?

Thank you

toriaj
05-28-2007, 12:09 PM
Have you looked at the "Some S3 pics" thread here? http://www.dcresource.com/forums/showthread.php?t=21728
You can see a variety of shots.
Here's a few indoor/low light ones:
http://www.dcresource.com/forums/showpost.php?p=139850&postcount=66
http://www.dcresource.com/forums/showpost.php?p=140160&postcount=102
http://www.dcresource.com/forums/showpost.php?p=148006&postcount=503
http://www.dcresource.com/forums/showpost.php?p=151406&postcount=655
http://www.dcresource.com/forums/showpost.php?p=165515&postcount=1712

You could post there in the S3 pics thread, or make your own thread in the Canon forum, and get some replies from knowledgeable users of the S3.

The S3 is an excellent camera, I wouldn't rule it out based on noise. I suspect that compact cameras that yield less noise do so with in-camera processing, which often isn't as good as processing you can do to the photo yourself on your computer.

I'm not very familiar with other cameras ... maybe someone else could chime in?

ciprian24
05-28-2007, 12:53 PM
I've been looking for sample pictures for Canon S3 and although most of them seem great, this the kind of picture what worries me:
http://www.dpreview.com/gallery/photo.aspx?gallery=Canon_s3IS_samples&photo=4
an interior picture with not that great lightning and looks very noisy.

Another example, now from the thread is: http://www.dcresource.com/forums/showthread.php?t=21728&page=43
The blue sky has a bit of noise in that picture.

Of course, it could be that the settings were not that good.

ciprian24
05-28-2007, 12:56 PM
Hmm, the indoor pictures you showed me look great actually and like almost no noise. I wonder if they use some program to take out the noise. If you can easily take out the noise afterwards it's fine with me.

toriaj
05-28-2007, 01:04 PM
Glad to see you're doing your homework! :)

That first shot has the settings info listed. Notice ISO 800. That is extremely high ISO, and most people choose ISO 80-200 on the S3. It's available in case you have a very challenging lighting situation, but it's well known that a high ISO will introduce a lot of noise. Keep in mind that you will always have the option of using low ISO to minimize noise. It is also possible to use noise-reduction programs. There are several free- and low-cost programs available to download. It is unlikely that you would need to use a noise-reduction program for a shot less than 200 ISO, unless you had significantly lightened the shot on your computer first.

I'm not sure which shot you're referring to in the 2nd link -- neither of the ones on the page look noisy to me :confused:

John_Reed
05-28-2007, 03:03 PM
Hmm, the indoor pictures you showed me look great actually and like almost no noise. I wonder if they use some program to take out the noise. If you can easily take out the noise afterwards it's fine with me.The "indoor" cameras of highest repute seem to be the Fuji series, for compact cameras the F30/F31d, and then if you want an ultra-zoom with good indoor/outdoor capabilities, the S6000, I think it is. Other from their lack of image stabilization, these cameras deliver indoor photos second to none in the non-DSLR class of cameras.

Or, you might consider buying TWO cameras, namely the Fuji F30 or F31, AND a good UZ for outdoor usage, like the Canon S3, or one of the Panasonic cameras which I tote about, like the DMC-TZ3, or the "top of the line" FZ50. (My bigger camera is an older FZ30)

ciprian24
05-28-2007, 03:35 PM
I really like the quality of Fujifilm FinePix S9100 for indoors and low light, though it does lack image stabilization.

So I pretty much narrowed my search to:
1. Canon S5 (when it comes out in July): has image stabilization, but more noisy indoor pictures.
2. Fuji S9100: no image stabilization, but better indoor pictures.

Any advices on how important is image stabilization? Right now I have an old digital camera with only 3x zoom and really had no issues with keeping it steady, but at 10x zoom, it might be a problem.

John_Reed
05-28-2007, 10:32 PM
I really like the quality of Fujifilm FinePix S9100 for indoors and low light, though it does lack image stabilization.

So I pretty much narrowed my search to:
1. Canon S5 (when it comes out in July): has image stabilization, but more noisy indoor pictures.
2. Fuji S9100: no image stabilization, but better indoor pictures.

Any advices on how important is image stabilization? Right now I have an old digital camera with only 3x zoom and really had no issues with keeping it steady, but at 10x zoom, it might be a problem.OIS means "Optical Image Stabilization." Younger folks with steadier hands than some of us older, shakier types might not even feel a need for OIS, but frankly, to me it's indispensible at any focal length, not just the long ones. With it, I've been able to shoot long-zoom and any other focal length shots without using a tripod, down to very slow shutter speeds. I use Panasonic cameras for this observation, but I recently borrowed a friend's Fuji F11, sans OIS, and discovered that though I'm able to shoot sharply at shutterspeeds approaching a second with OIS (depending on focal length), I could not get a sharp shot under ~1/40 using the Fuji. But I've seen others do quite well at 1/6 of a second with the Fuji F30, so I know it's possible, just not possible for me.

There's the well-known "1/Focal Length" rule that says that if your focal length is a certain number in 35mm equivalent terms, you won't be able to handhold a shot lower than 1/FL shutterspeed. So if you're shooting at 500mm equivalent focal length, better not be shooting slower than 1/500 of a second without a tripod. OIS is supposed to buy you ~2 f-stops of improvement over that breakpoint, but some think the Panasonic OIS is good for ~3 f-stops (notably, Simon Joinson, dpreview's reviewer, who has said that the Panasonic OIS is the best one out there).

How well does that work for me? I never carry a tripod, so far so good. :cool:

ciprian24
05-29-2007, 06:48 AM
Well, I decided to take out the Fuji from the list mainly because I think I would really like image stabilization. The main reason is that many times I ask others to take pictures (so I get in the picture :) ) and I do remember that many of them with my old camera were blurry because of camera shake.

But on the other hand, I found 2 more cameras that seem around what I want, so now the list is 3 cameras I have to choose from:
1. Canon Powershot S3
2. Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H9
3. Panasonic DMC-FZ50

Any advice on between these 3? All of them have image stabilization.

moreno_iv
05-29-2007, 08:31 AM
I recently purchased a Fuji S6000 and have been pleased with it. I was also worried about the lack of OIS, but I have found out that I am able to hold the camera pretty steady at reasonable shutter speeds ( up to 1 second). However, I have not used a camera with the OIS, so maybe I'm not the best resource on this.

I can tell you that the S6000 does take excellent low-light shots and indoor shots with flash. I don't think anyone has posted the links to the S6000 thread, so I will. This link will take you to some pics that I posted there the day that I got the camera. They aren't the greatest, but you can see what low-light photos can be taken with the camera right out of the box. The thread has some really great shots that others have taken as well, so be sure to peruse the whole thing:


S600fd Picture Thread (http://www.dcresource.com/forums/showthread.php?t=26764&page=42)

ciprian24
05-29-2007, 03:00 PM
Well, I'm really leaning towards the Panasonic Luminix DSC-FZ50. The 10MP and leica lens are kind of big sellers for me. From what I read those 10MP are not a little "forced" and can't really compare with a dSLR 10MP, but should offer plenty of quality. Most reviews say its image quality is really good, except low light, which I guess I'll just have to live with lots of flash usage for indoors/low light.

Now on another note, some type of photos I really liked are the over saturated ones (using velvia film) which should be good to impress friends and family :)

Some examples of photos I liked (from photo.net):

http://gallery.photo.net/photo/3035373-lg.jpg

http://gallery.photo.net/photo/1140615-md.jpg

I know I'll need a polarizer and use photoshop at least. But ss that enough and are these kinds of photos (very vibrant colors) possible with the FZ50?. I looked in the sample pictures thread for FZ50, but there aren't many pictures and I haven't seen any similar with these. Maybe I should post this in the Panasonic forumm.