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  1. #1

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    Default Digital Camera Suggestions

    I'm in the market for a new compact digital camera to replace a 10 year old Kodak. Budget is probably up to $300. I'm looking for a solid all-around performer for family use indoors and out, but I'm not an expert in camera technology. I know Nikon and Canon are popular and I've heard good things about Panasonic. I started my search at Costco, because they have some decent deals right now (for a few more days). Here's what I've found I like there:

    Nikon S9300

    Panasonic DMC-ZS19

    Panasonic DMC-SZ7

    Thoughts on these? Any other brands or models I should consider? Specific things I should look for?

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    I'm a big Nikon fan on the slr side, but honestly I prefer canon for the compact types.
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    Quote Originally Posted by AsSiMiLaTeD View Post
    I'm a big Nikon fan on the slr side, but honestly I prefer canon for the compact types.
    What makes you prefer Canon? Any particular Canon model?

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    You can check out Sears Outlet. They carry Sony, Nikon, and Canon. For $300, you might be able to find some of the entry level SLR's near you and get a heck of a deal. I preferred my Sony A230 to the comparable Nikon/Canon models when I bought might.
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    I bought a Canon Sureshot that does an incredible job and the ONE feature I'd highly recommend is image stabilization. It's an A570IS, the manual is approximately a half inch thick and the camera can do bunches of things that I'll never bother with. I'd think that whichever model replaced it would be in your range and give you great pics. (and video) The reviews were what sold me on it, as I'd always bought Nikons prior to this camera.
    http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canona570is

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    I am a Canon DSLR shooter and have a couple of Canon P&S as well. That said I would recommend the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS10 which is right in your price range. Another thread here at CP had a couple of folks talking about it not being as good as some earlier ZS models. The issues with the ZS10 is the CMOS sensor which has been used to give higher burst rates for still photos and better performance for video. Some feel this may have caused a slight degredation of the still images. From everything I've seen, unless you are "pixel peeping" or trying to print something larger than 30" x 24"...you will probably not notice any softness...if at all. I ended up buying a ZS8 for my wife...which is essentially the same camera without the 1080 HD video, stereo mikes, limited touch screen functions, GPS, 3D imaging and a less resolution for the LCD. These were things that were of no real value to her. What she really wanted was the reach of the lens which is 24-384mm range for both cameras in a small easy to use camera. I still believe some of the Canon P&S have better image quality (like the S95 and S100) but they don't have the focal range of the Lumix. Lumix has been the leader in the P&S super zoom category for quite some time...and I think they still are at the top. I am sold on them. My wife loves hers.
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    They're the ones sporting Leica lenses, right ? (Panasonic)

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    Quote Originally Posted by gdb View Post
    They're the ones sporting Leica lenses, right ? (Panasonic)
    Yes, and that's why my point and shoots are panasonics. They also offer a bit faster (read let more light through) lenses than some others in the price range. I think you'll be happy with the performance of either of the panasonics you mentioned. If you want to really look at the tech side of things in your comparisons, I'd recommend researching http://www.dpreview.com/.

    You'll find as you search for things it will boil down to features, optics and the CMOS. I usually don't look too critically at the features, just because I'm an old school film guy and I'm not going to use most of them. It also seems that most of the CMOS's are about the same when looking at cameras in the same price range. This leaves the optics and I usually start the elimination process there.

    The cameras with the best and fastest optics make the first cut, then I start rejecting the others based on features that are important to me and CMOS differences. I might also bias my decisions a bit as I have usually come to the conclusion I'm going to get another Panasonic, when buying point and shoots.

    Hope that helps a bit,
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    That was weird....

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    Quote Originally Posted by AsSiMiLaTeD View Post
    honestly I prefer canon for the compact types.
    Ditto. The last 3 compact point-and-shoot cameras I've purchased have all been Canons, and each time it was time to purchase said camera I researched it without giving any preference to Canon. However next time I'll just save time and go straight for a Canon. For a compact point-and-shoot they take really great pictures. For me the biggest selling point was the quality of the indoor pictures since most of the pics I take are indoors.

    I prefer the Digital Elph series. IMO a compact camera should be, well, compact, otherwise you end up not having it with you when you want to take a picture. I also prefer lithium-ion rechargeable batteries to AAs. Buy a spare Lenmar battery from Amazon for dirt cheap and you're set.

    I'm also a proponent of less is more when it comes to megapixels, especially in a compact camera. Some people still buy into bigger numbers = better, but in a compact camera it can have just the opposite effect, cramming as many pixels as you can into a tiny sensor. You can see this trend in the reviews of compact digital cameras. Check it out on Amazon. The newer the camera, the higher the megapixels, and the more complaints about picture quality you see in the reviews. I'd look for a Canon between 6-10 megapixels, possibly a refurb. The last one I bought was a refurbished SD1200IS. Very good camera. I also have an older SD600 I still use. It's 6 megapixels, but that's still enough for 2816x2112. Bought the SD1200IS mainly for the image stabilization and other features, but the SD600 still takes very good pictures.

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    just bought a Samsung HD at Best Buy for right at $250

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    I bought a Canon SD1300 IS ( Digital ELPH) at Radio Shack about a year ago for $120 on sale. It takes amazing pictures. This was taken on the Macro setting.

    Attachment 71243

    I use it at work every day and it has been issue free.

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    Canon SX130 here. Love it. It`s my second Canon and will certainly not be my last.

    If you're going to up your budget and get a bigger unit and begin to get into lenses, stick with one manufacturer. Canon, Nikon, whatever. Because lenses are not cross compatible so do your research.

    I believe the current model is the SX150 now. You may want to look into it.

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    Pay more attention to the glass/lens than the features on the Camera.

    If you can stretch your budget a bit, the Canon S95 is fantastic optically and could arguably outperform an SLR with a standard kit lens. I've got a friend that takes awesome shots on one of these (better than a lot of other people I know who are using DSLR's). It has a rather limited focal length, so might not be a good choice if you need a lot of reach..... but if you're like the typical point and shoot user and are primarily shooting landscapes and portraits (wide shots and shots of people at close to medium distance) the larger aperture (f2.0) will allow you to shoot with a shallower depth of field (more background blur), and provide better low light performance. The glass on the s95 has about 4x the light gathering ability as most other point and shoots (which are typically around f3.5)


    edit: refurbished S95 for $279

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    Last edited by mystik610; 06-01-2012 at 09:08 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mystik610
    If you can stretch your budget a bit, the Canon S95 is fantastic optically and could arguably outperform an SLR with a standard kit lens. I've got a friend that takes awesome shots on one of these (better than a lot of other people I know who are using DSLR's).
    This is simply not true. The S95 is one of Canon's best P&S and an excellent camera, but the Canon Rebel T3i with the 18-55 kit lens will produce better images. I have used both. The glass in the 18-55 is better than the S95 or the newer s100.

    For a P&S the S95 is an excellent choice (and I said so in my earlier post)...but it still has it's limitations compared to even an entry level DSLR. Move up to something like the Canon GX1 or G12...then you are talking basic DSLR quality photos.
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    Quote Originally Posted by shack View Post
    This is simply not true. The S95 is one of Canon's best P&S and an excellent camera, but the Canon Rebel T3i with the 18-55 kit lens will produce better images. I have used both. The glass in the 18-55 is better than the S95 or the newer s100.

    For a P&S the S95 is an excellent choice (and I said so in my earlier post)...but it still has it's limitations compared to even an entry level DSLR. Move up to something like the Canon GX1 or G12...then you are talking basic DSLR quality photos.
    What I meant is that in the hands of a good photographer, the S95 can outperform an entry level DSLR + kit lens in the hands of your typical entry level DSLR user. The sensor and the optics are good enough and allow for enough flexibility in composition to actually shoot creatively (as opposed to your typical point and shoots, where your ability to compose a shot is literally held back by the limitations of the hardware, and there's little reason to step outside of the greenbox mode).

    The G1X is as close as you'll get to a DSLR in a point and shoot form factor, but its also very close in price and size to an entry level DSLR or mirrorless camera. Provided you don't need a real long focal length, the S95 & S100 are as close you get to a DSLR within the realm of "true" point and shoots, IMO (as in something you can stick in your pocket, and is <$500).
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  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by mystik610 View Post
    What I meant is that in the hands of a good photographer, the S95 can outperform an entry level DSLR + kit lens in the hands of your typical entry level DSLR user. The sensor and the optics are good enough and allow for enough flexibility in composition to actually shoot creatively (as opposed to your typical point and shoots, where your ability to compose a shot is literally held back by the limitations of the hardware, and there's little reason to step outside of the greenbox mode).
    This is true. If a S95 or S100 is producing consistantly better images than even an entry level DSLR...it is the photographer...not the camera.

    Quote Originally Posted by mystik610
    The G1X is as close as you'll get to a DSLR in a point and shoot form factor, but its also very close in price and size to an entry level DSLR or mirrorless camera. Provided you don't need a real long focal length, the S95 & S100 are as close you get to a DSLR within the realm of "true" point and shoots, IMO (as in something you can stick in your pocket, and is <$500).
    A couple friends of mine who are excellent potographers just got back from an extended tour of Europe and used a G11 and G12 rather than lug all their DSLR gear with them. They took some excellent photos with these cameras which truly rival what they could have done with a basic DSLR. Again...the photographers had a lot to do with that.
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    Looks like a lot of Canon fans. Guess I need to find a local Canon dealer too. Using all your responses for research...I really appreciate it. Right now, I'm leaning in the direction of the Nikon I posted above simply because of price and convenience of purchase. Any thoughts against that particular model?

    Do different companies report the "optical zoom" of their cameras differently or is there really a range of 3x to 20x in this price/quality/size camera?

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    i just saw a used "like new" Canon A570IS on amazon for $90. for that price....you could just leave that one in a vehicle etc.

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    For my $0.02, optical zoom on my Powershot is good, the electronic zoom is bad. YMMV.

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    Digital zoom on just about any camera will be bad compared to optical. If you know how the digital zoom works it's fairly obvious why.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gdb View Post
    For my $0.02, optical zoom on my Powershot is good, the electronic zoom is bad. YMMV.
    Quote Originally Posted by Syndil View Post
    Digital zoom on just about any camera will be bad compared to optical. If you know how the digital zoom works it's fairly obvious why.
    Exactly why I want to make sure I'm getting the most optical zoom for my money. Seems to be quite a range, but not much in the middle of the range. It's 3 or 4 and then 18 or 20. Unless those claiming the higher numbers are including some kind of digital/optical combo in the number to make theirs look better?

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    Usually they will specify optical zoom or digital zoom. For a compact point-and-shoot, 3x optical is the norm. You can squeeze more into a compact camera but it is often at the sacrifice of optics quality (barrel distortion, etc.).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Syndil View Post
    Digital zoom on any camera will be bad compared to optical. If you know how the digital zoom works it's fairly obvious why.
    FTFY. Besides, if you really want to "digitally zoom" or crop, you can do a better job in photo editing software later on.

    Canon gets my vote as well. If you do go with one of the higher-level optical zoom cameras (4x+), make sure to get one with optical image stabilization; it really does make a difference at the telephoto end and on macro shots.
    Last edited by BeefJerky; 06-02-2012 at 05:57 AM.

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    So the models I've mainly looked at have 10x-20x optical zoom...including the Panasonics. Should I be concerned that I'm going to lose pic quality because of the lens?

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    Both the Nikon and Panasonic models you mentioned have actual optical zooms and the Panasonic has NO digital zoom feature. (digital zooms are nothing more than in-camera croping) I am very familiar with the Panasonics having owned/used a ZS3, ZS5 and a ZS8. The optics are very good. I could find no credible reviews of the S9300 but there are several reviews from sources I respect of the S9100. It's weaknesses were that it tended to slightly overexpose outdoor shots (too bright), flash was weak (typical of P&S), high ISO performace was poor (again typical of P&S) and battery life was just average. Optics, processor, video, etc were given good marks. I would assume the S9300 would continue in that vein. It appears to be the smallest of any of the cameras you are considering or others have mentioned, if that is a factor. Any of the cameras mentioned in this thread should give you a pretty good level of performance and take nice pictures.
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    Actually from what I've read of the Panasonics, they use some sort of distortion correction in the processing to correct for the optics, so apparently they have found a way around the problem. However sample photos appear a bit soft (lacking in sharpness) and colors appear a bit flat to my eyes. Some of that may be a result of the distortion correction.

    I'd head on over to http://www.imaging-resource.com/camera-reviews and start reading reviews. They post sample photos.

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    It's my "gut" feeling that the more compact models have to sacrifice pic quality in a trade-off for size. Bigger lenses give better results in the better makes of cameras is my hunch. (unless you're a spy)

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    Quote Originally Posted by gdb View Post
    It's my "gut" feeling that the more compact models have to sacrifice pic quality in a trade-off for size. Bigger lenses give better results in the better makes of cameras is my hunch. (unless you're a spy)
    Your gut feeling is correct, though there is another key component. Larger cameras may also have larger size image sensors which will increase picture quality as well.

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    I just remember the lens "acreage" on a pro friend's Hassleblad !!! (sp?) That was a film camera though.

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