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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2006

    Need compact digital for family trip to UK

    Under $350

    Compact to ultracompact

    Don't know crap about megapixels, but figure it's like horsepower, the more the better?

    Standard zoom? Guess that's good.

    Image quality is TOPS for me...just want the best image I can get for the dough.

    Don't ever use manual controls..point and shoot mom.

    Taking a trip to the UK, packing needs to be light...am a scrapbooking mom, just want good pictures of the kids at sites across England. Won't be enlarging anything...shooting mostly outdoors..but it does rain a lot in England. No action photos...unless someone mugs me then I'll need a good action focus.

    Would like a good battery, as I hate putting 6-8 batteries in the Nikon Coolpix a friend loaned me...great camera but whew hope they've improved upon that!

    Have always bought Canon....friend loaned me a Nikon...don't have any that I absolutely must have!

    Weatherproof is not necessary..although I expect rain I won't take pictures in it..but the skies will be gray/grey (never know) there so need a camera that will work.

    Whew!!! You guys are great if you can fulfill my fairy list!


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    I'm going to break down my recommendations between a few models, each with pro's and cons. Given your price range, I am going to assume this is for the camera itself, and you are willing to purchase a card on top of that. If not, please adjust accordingly.

    1. Fuji F30 ~$339
    Compact camera with class leading low light performance. Take photos without a flash while the kids are in churches, castles, museums, or other indoor situations. Battery life is above average to say the least (approx 500 shots per charge). Downside is that it uses xD cards which are a little pricey ($30 on Outpost.com for a 1gb card)

    2. Canon SD630 / SD600 - $290 / $250 if you catch a deal on Amazon.com
    SD630 has a beautiful 3" screen, good sensor, and fits in a purse or pocket easily. The SD600 is the same camera with a smaller screen + tiny optical viewfinder. Great ultra compact cams for taking with you.

    3. Canon A620 - $215 @ Costco.com
    Probably the best compact camera offered under $350 by Canon at this time. Uses AA batteries and will last 500 shots per set of rechargeables, or 750 - 1000 shots with a set of Lithium batters (~$5 per set). Offers a very cool swivel LCD so you can take self portraits (just like many camcorders).

    4. Panasonic FX01 - ~$250
    This camera offers a wider wide angle @ 28mm. What this means is that you can fit more into each picture. It also can take 16:9 images, allowing you to do panoramics of the scenery. Very small, very nice little camera. Not as good as the Fuji (best) or Canons (good) in low light situations.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    I would like to point out that, although this is not about cameras this might be helpful:
    I live in England, and it is not at all true that it rains all the time and the sky is always gray (thats the one). You would not necessarily need anything with weatherproofing, and also make sure your camera can handle bright light, because when it gets hot in England, it gets HOT.

    Hope that offered some helpful domestic advice .


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    I own the Fuji F30 and the Sony DSC-P150. The current evolution of the P150 is the P200 - $330. I heard it was discontinued but you can find them new, especially online. They are excellent.

    I'd leave the Fuji at home for reasons below, but your requirements may differ.

    You will find reviews here at dcresource.com and dpreview.com for the Fuji and the Sony. If you don't see the P150 review, see the P200 review, they're the same camera w/ subtle changes (P200 has larger LCD, the mic is moved...)

    The F30 is underrated for outdoor shots, though purple fringing can be seen, and it's overrated for indoor shots where it's so highly touted for having clean image quality in the higher ISO range, thus enabling you not to use the flash. It has clean ISO at 400 (800 isn't bad either), I try to stay away from anything higher, and thus must often use the flash for indoor child shots of my 2 year old. Problem is the flash is located too close to the lens, like most compacts, so I get red eyes of my subject unless I use red eye reduction - which in turn ruins the spontaneity of the shot. If that's not an issue, consider the Fuji. It should give you nice photos in castles, museums, theaters and cathedrals without the disruptive flash that bugs other people, may not be allowed, and can make one self conscious. The Sony can't compete in this area w/o flash, and even so flash (in either camera) has limited reach.

    However, both Sonys don't have the red-eye problem ~95% of the time because they are a bit longer and less tall ("stretched" if you will, but not awkwardly so). Sony designed them to have enough distance between the flash and the lens that you can permanently disable the red-eye. You will get very good shots in ISO 100 to 200. Virtually no red-eye of people indoors or when using flash (accidentally or not) as fill flash outdoors.

    This may not be an issue if all your subjects are adults, but if you're bringing a kid, consider the Sony for the reason above.
    Many folks don't mind using software after the fact to get the red out. I don't like to do that (understatement). I consider it to be a waste of time caused by bad design. If Sony can do fire a flash without red-eye reduction enabled and not produce red-eye most of the time, so can others. Canons (I've had Canon A80, used the S500) are deficient in this area. I'm dying for a Canon where the flash is set far enough away from the lens.

    Back to the Sony, it's also lighter (+), doesn't weigh down in my shirt/short pocket, doesn't flop around like the Fuji, which is like a heavy pack of cigarettes. I wouldn't have even thought of the Sony until I noticed my daycare provider was churning out great shots of kids in her care. The shots caught the true essence of the kids in the moment, using flash and no red-eye reduction. The Sony is excellent for landscape shots.

    Both have slow shot to shot times (-). Both have excellent battery life, squeeze more from the Sony by disabling red-eye reduction (+). Both use proprietary batteries as opposed to AA (-), both use proprietary memory (-) as opposed to Compact Flash. The Sony allows you to change the setting for sharpness, saturation and contrast, but just use the defaults, I think you'll be quite pleased. The Fuji on the other hand does not have a sharpness control and many think the images by default are on the soft side, me included.

    So what's your pleasure for the indoor portion of your shots: photos of indoor things in the UK, or the people you bring with you? I'm assuming it's a tie as far as outdoor shots. Do you want to point and shoot, then email or print w/o lots of software modification on your computer afterward or do you like to spend time on your computer making up for what the camera didn't give you or what you'd like to see? Personally, I like to resize, crop if needed and print or email. I don't like to engage in noise reduction, red eye removal, picking up shadows, dialing down highlights, bumping saturation, unsharp masking, layering, etc, for informal shots. I like good "out-of-the-camera" image quality for those, subjective as that may be. Doesn't mean I won't post process, but the vast majority of shots should be acceptable w/o it. It's how one chooses to spend one's time.

    Good luck, hope this helps, and I don't mean to rankle anyone or start a debate, these are my .02.
    Last edited by dotbalm; 08-23-2006 at 09:04 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2006

    Your post was enlightening, informative, and refreshing to read. I am a big fan of the Fuji Super CCD sensor, but I sometimes get tired of Fuji owners who brow beat everyone on how superior their sensor is while neglecting to consider the other factors such as ergonomics, lens, interface, and memory card format. It was a pleasure to read your post, as you presented a very level headed analysis of two cameras that you own and know well.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    You guys are GREAT!!! I wish I had the smallest level of knowledge about cameras....I buy a new one about every 3-5 years and have only pointed and shot it...while they can do so many other things...one day I'll take a class...

    For this trip, (thanks sweet Jack, I realize England is very sunny...and we CAN'T wait to be there in 3 weeks!!!) I opted for the cheapo Canon...I got a great deal at newegg where I paid only $8 in shipping and got a free 512 MB card....can't find how many pictures I'll get with that...I don't understand all the sizing and fine/basic type pictures...I like good pictures and in 4X6 size...figured this would do me....I got the whole thing for $246..Costco had $25 shipping and the only upgrade card they had was $64..probably too much for what I'm using it for.

    On the England front, I only mentioned the grey skies because some cameras do better in outdoor light than indoor and wanted a tough camera to handle the bursts of rain if they pop out. I had read some cameras had rust on the inside and had never been immersed in water just used in light rain...so I wanted to make sure the body of the camera was built well.

    Thanks all for the great tips!! I hopefully will figure out how to use it now!


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