Looking for advice on a sub-$500 point-and-shoot (requirements in post)

Discussion in 'Digital Discussion & Q&A' started by Zithras, Nov 23, 2008.

  1. Zithras

    Zithras TPF Noob!

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    I want to buy a good digital camera for my mother. My budget is fairly high - anything $500 or less will be okay. She knows very little about photography, so it will have to be a point-and-click camera, rather than a low-end SLR. Here are my requirements, in order from most to least important.


    1. Size - the camera has to be pocket-sized and easily portable. I need it to be something that you can carry around on a vacation, take it your of your pocket, snap a few quick photos, and put it back. One of those thin rectangular cameras would be ideal. Something a bit larger, like the smaller Canons, might be okay, as long as its easily pocketable and substantially better than the thin rectanglecameras.

    2. Picture rate - The main complaint she has about the current camera she's had forever is that it takes too long for it to take a picture. She takes it out, presses the button, and waits there for over 10-15 seconds before the camera decided to take the picture, by which time the people in the picture are complaining, and the shot she wanted is long gone. Any replacement camera must be able to quickly take a picture as soon as the button is pushed. Waiting a few seconds for the flash to charge is okay - waiting thirty seconds for a non-flash picture after you tell it to shoot is not. A welcome bonus would be the ability to take several pictures in a row if the camera button is held down (I forget the technical term for this ability)

    3. Image quality - Image quality is quite important to me. By this I don't mean how high the resolution is, but rather how good the image looks without any editing. CCD size and quality I suppose would be the biggest factor in this, as well as the number of levels detected by the CCD (although finding those specs can be difficult - another reason to post on forums), but reliability, brands, and other such concerns would fit under here too.

    4. resolution - The camera should have at least a 7 MP resolution. More is, of course, better, as long as picture quality isn't compromised. I know resolution definitely does not equal quality, but 7 MP seems to be on the lower limit for adequate cropping, printing and/or enlargements to be done to a picture. Luckily, pretty much all the newer cameras seem to fit this requirement (cell phone/kids' cameras obviously not included)

    5. storage - Ideally, the camera would be able to take pictures and store them to a SDHC card, as these seem to be the larges and cheapest storage media available. SD cards and and compact flash are okay too, if that's what's available in a camera that satisfies #1-4. As far as storage medium, being able to select between raw/tiff or jpg would be nice, but not a deal breaker. I doubt she'll notice much of a difference anyways except in the few pictures she wants me to do basic image adjustments on.

    6. Other features - As long as #1-5 as there, the more features the better, as long as I can set it up for her without the need for her to understand some of them (or even set up several presets for her to use). Some sort of image stabilization will be a must, as her hands are quite shaky when taking pictures. (something that can add people's heads back in after her average picture is taken would be nice too - but that's a loooong ways off - and she IS getting better - slowly.) Redeye reduction would be nice, but not absolutely necessary, as she seems to take mostly outdoor, or well lighted pictures anyway. A decent zoom feature would of course be preferred, but is really not as important as #1-5 as long as SOME zoom is present so she can take decent pictures and headshots of family/friends), I'm sure there's plenty more options out there than what I've already talked about, but I think I've hit the most common/important stuff

    Summary: $500 or less, good small, point-and-shoot, fast, 7+ MP, SDHC camera with zoom and image stabilization

    Anyway, what is out there right now (there seem to have been many advances made since the 6 years ago when I last shopped for a digital camera...). What cameras would you all suggest that fit my requirements (or at least fit the first couple and come close on the rest?)

    Thank you for your advice,
    Zithras

    (this message has been crossposted on several photography forums since I don't know which forums are active)
     
  2. Zithras

    Zithras TPF Noob!

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    After looking through several cameras, I have narrowed the list to 5 possibilities: (arranged in approximate order of my assumed image quality)

    1. Canon G10 - wide lens, great resolution, large ccd, excellent LCD, good battery life...this seems to have everything but a large optical zoom. Image quality seems exceptional. My only concerns are that it might be a bit too big (maybe not pocketsized, but perhaps purse sized? and that it may be too complex to use, even if I set it up first)

    2. Lumix FX150S - not quite as good in as the G10, but similar resolution. Possibly the best of the compact cameras from the technical specs, and a farily new offering in the Lumix line, although I have not heard any reviews on the image quality of this camera

    3. Canon G9 - like the G10, but less. No wide angle lens, but same great CCD, better optical zoom, and good resolution. Image quality isn't as widely praised as the G10, but I assume it's almost as good. Best of all, it seems just a bit bigger than the compacts.

    4. TZ50S - this seems to be exactly the same as the highly praised TZ5K, but with wireless picture upload capability. If this is not the case, please tell me. The TZ5 is said to have amazing image quality, and though the resolution is a bit low, and the CCD a bit smaller, it has an amazing zoom, a great LCD, and a wide lens. (How much does the lower resolution and smaller CCD impact image quality? - everyone says this camera takes amazing images out of the box). It doesn't shoot in RAW mode - but really, who cares (not buying for a photographer).

    5. Lumix F228K - this seems like Panasonic's answer to the G9, although the G10 still seems to me to be a better camera. This has an even wider lens, and an absolutely rediculous (in a point and shoot) 18x optical zoom (plus 4xdigital). However, it has a larger CCD, lower resolution than the G9, and seems to be about the same size as the G10, but with a lens that awkwardly sticks quite far out. All in all, unless the buyer is obsessed with highpower zoom lenses, the G series seems a better choice.

    Anyway, those are my first impressions on the current best point-and-shoots for my needs on the market, based upon reading reviews, forums, and technical specifications. Unfortunately, very little of the discussions focused on average auto-setting image quality (instead of technical details of the cameras), so if anyone has used these cameras, or is familiar with them, please could you reply with which of these 5 are preferred and why? (Also, IS the TZ50 just a TZ5+wireless access?) Sorry about the late reply, but looking into all of the suggestions I was given and narrowing them down took a few days.

    Thanks again for the help,
    Zithras
     
  3. BeemerPhotography

    BeemerPhotography TPF Noob!

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    Sony DSC-W300 13MP Point & Shoot
    http://cameras.pricegrabber.com/dig...=sony dsc-w300/qlty=n/sort_type=price/st=sort

    http://www.sonystyle.com/webapp/wcs...10151&langId=-1&productId=8198552921665309162

    Just purchased one for my Dad. My whole family loves the Sony point & shoot digital cameras, they take great pictures.
     
  4. viridari

    viridari TPF Noob!

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    Keep in mind the G9/G10 are awesome cameras but probably bigger than what OP is asking for.
     
  5. Drake

    Drake TPF Noob!

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    I've bought a Canon SD880 IS 2 weeks ago and it has become my new friend, goes everywhere in my pocket. It has everything you mentioned in your post. And I am sure your mother will like the 3" LCD a lot, at least mine does :D It makes viewing your photos so fun. I can't image a better pocket camera.
     

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