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SAdProZ
Oct 1, 2005, 04:05 PM
Hello World,

I'm looking for a great digital camera. The perfect one. It should be small enough for a pocket, have long lasting battery, EXCELLENT IMAGE QUALITY (sharpness, contrast, color, no distortion), and durable enough to be treated like cr*p in a backpack. Extra lenses a plus.

So far ive found:
-Fujifilm FinePix F10 Zoom ($300)
-Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX9 ($400)
-Canon PowerShot SD500 Digital ELPH ($400)

But there must be better options out there. There always is. The Catch? I can't spend more than $400. Can it be done?

PS. I'm a graphic design student and my craft is heavily graded, so impeccable image quality is a must, at high resolutions i might add. I know that a $1000 SLR would accomplish this, but no can do. Whats the closest thing under $400? There are some really smart and resourceful people on this forum so of course I come to you!



g^3
Oct 1, 2005, 06:29 PM
Hi,
I used to work at a camera shop in the DC area and have some knowledge of the digicams. I've always found the image quality and duribility of the prosumer Canon cameras to be the highest. A good general use camera is the canon A610 or A620, it is not the smallest but will give you the most bang for your buck. I also reccomend setting aside $100 for the flash card, a good case and a card reader. If you tell me what you are using this for I might be able to give you better info, ie...what types of pics you will be taking.
hope that helps

SAdProZ
Oct 1, 2005, 06:44 PM
Hi,
I used to work at a camera shop in the DC area and have some knowledge of the digicams. I've always found the image quality and duribility of the prosumer Canon cameras to be the highest. A good general use camera is the canon A610 or A620, it is not the smallest but will give you the most bang for your buck. I also reccomend setting aside $100 for the flash card, a good case and a card reader. If you tell me what you are using this for I might be able to give you better info, ie...what types of pics you will be taking.
hope that helps
I like how the A620 has full manual mode. What type of pics will I be taking? All types really. I will have to go out and take pictures of buildings and objects and scenes and action shots etc. I will prob take a picture of a spa, indoors, for a website. I want my photographer friends to want the camera I have. Thats how you know you have a good camera.

MacAztec
Oct 1, 2005, 06:58 PM
Well, your friends aren't going to be really "oohing and ahhhing" over any camera that is on your list, unless you get a Rebel or something High end.

I would get the Canon SD500.

alex_ant
Oct 1, 2005, 07:00 PM
In short, in the requirements you list, you are asking more of a camera than current technology can provide you with. You want the perfect camera for not a lot of money... and it just isn't gonna happen. If you get a compact digital and take the kinds of photos you say you will be taking, they will look terrible. If you were an experienced photographer who knew how to work around the limitations, they would look better, but still not as good as a camera more suited to the task.

Compact digitals (or even any digital in that price range) have many limitations. Not all have full manual mode, which you will want if you intend to take anything artsy-fartsy. None have fast lenses, which you will want if you intend to shoot portraits, indoors, or in low light. All have an annoying amount of shutter lag, bad for active scenes. You say you want to take pictures of the interior of a spa - have fun doing that with a 35mm maximum wide-angle and severe fisheyeing. You may be able to buy a wide-angle add-on lens, but it will come to more than you are able to spend.

If I were you I would get a used entry-level film SLR on eBay with an 18mm lens. Film is extremely unfashionable at the moment which is depressing prices. It won't be pocket-sized or cool at all, but it will do the best job for your needs for $400. Your photographer friends are not going to be impressed by any $400 camera... period... and that shouldn't be your goal anyway. Taking good photos should be your goal.

Applespider
Oct 1, 2005, 07:06 PM
Wait a month for the Fuji F11.

You won't get the extra lenses but it's got some of the manual adjusts that the F10 is lacking while keeping the F10's great ability in low light. The samples shots I've seen at 400/800 ISO are amazing considering its size. I'm considering the F10 (since I need it before the F11 is out) although what's putting me off it having to do manual since the auto is apparently poor.

I assume you've checked the test images at dpreview et al? Another place worth checking out is pbase.com since they have a wide selection of images taken from lots of cameras in real life. Since most of their users attach the EXIF data, you can get a bit of sense of how they function in reality.

SAdProZ
Oct 1, 2005, 07:11 PM
In short, in the requirements you list, you are asking more of a camera than current technology can provide you with. You want the perfect camera for not a lot of money... and it just isn't gonna happen. If you get a compact digital and take the kinds of photos you say you will be taking, they will look terrible. If you were an experienced photographer who knew how to work around the limitations, they would look better, but still not as good as a camera more suited to the task.

Compact digitals (or even any digital in that price range) have many limitations. Not all have full manual mode, which you will want if you intend to take anything artsy-fartsy. None have fast lenses, which you will want if you intend to shoot portraits, indoors, or in low light. All have an annoying amount of shutter lag, bad for active scenes. You say you want to take pictures of the interior of a spa - have fun doing that with a 35mm maximum wide-angle and severe fisheyeing. You may be able to buy a wide-angle add-on lens, but it will come to more than you are able to spend.

If I were you I would get a used entry-level film SLR on eBay with an 18mm lens. Film is extremely unfashionable at the moment which is depressing prices. It won't be pocket-sized or cool at all, but it will do the best job for your needs for $400. Your photographer friends are not going to be impressed by any $400 camera... period... and that shouldn't be your goal anyway. Taking good photos should be your goal.right. i agree with what your saying. almost. Im trying to get the best camera $400 can buy. Ill settle for some limitations (cant get everything i want, i know). But a film SLR means I have to 1. Spend $5 a roll to get developed 2. Get it developed at some dopy place (who knows how it will turn out, CVS sucks) 3. Scan it to pull it into photoshop. 4. Cant take a billion pictures and choose the best there of. 5. Cant carry in my pocket everywhere I go 'case I get the sudden urge to point and shoot.

I accept the quality limitations of a compact digital. But my question is, given those limitations, which camera is the least limited. Im sure i'll be happy with whichever camera I end up with. I would just like to feel confident that I got the best that I could.

Every month tons of cameras are released. Maybe someone in MacRumors land knows something I dont.

SAdProZ
Oct 1, 2005, 07:26 PM
Wait a month for the Fuji F11.

You won't get the extra lenses but it's got some of the manual adjusts that the F10 is lacking while keeping the F10's great ability in low light. The samples shots I've seen at 400/800 ISO are amazing considering its size. I'm considering the F10 (since I need it before the F11 is out) although what's putting me off it having to do manual since the auto is apparently poor.

I assume you've checked the test images at dpreview et al? Another place worth checking out is pbase.com since they have a wide selection of images taken from lots of cameras in real life. Since most of their users attach the EXIF data, you can get a bit of sense of how they function in reality.will the Auto mode in Fuji F11 be improved if it sucks with the F10? Or is it pretty much the same? But yeah, maybe Ill wait. That site PBase makes me so jealous of the Digital SLR owners. their shots were so clean and nice. You couldnt even tell it was digital. But every non-SLR looked so digital.

homerjward
Oct 1, 2005, 07:28 PM
maybe something used (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=NavBar&A=search&Q=&ci=2891) from b&h?
an e300 body (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=productlist&A=details&Q=&sku=800435306&is=USE&addedTroughType=categoryNavigation) is $479 then you'd need a 4/3 system lens.
edit: although the same body with a 14-45 (28-90 35mm equiv) and a 40-150 (80-300 35mm equiv) is only $710 this weekend at newegg, normally $760 (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16830111157)

alex_ant
Oct 1, 2005, 08:53 PM
right. i agree with what your saying. almost. Im trying to get the best camera $400 can buy. Ill settle for some limitations (cant get everything i want, i know). But a film SLR means I have to 1. Spend $5 a roll to get developed 2. Get it developed at some dopy place (who knows how it will turn out, CVS sucks) 3. Scan it to pull it into photoshop. 4. Cant take a billion pictures and choose the best there of. 5. Cant carry in my pocket everywhere I go 'case I get the sudden urge to point and shoot.

I accept the quality limitations of a compact digital. But my question is, given those limitations, which camera is the least limited. Im sure i'll be happy with whichever camera I end up with. I would just like to feel confident that I got the best that I could.

Every month tons of cameras are released. Maybe someone in MacRumors land knows something I dont.
In that case, if you really must have a digital, I would spend some time searching a site like www.dpreview.com for cameras that are a few years old, and buying one on eBay. You're really looking at no more than a $300 to spend on a camera once you factor in batteries + charger + memory card. That won't buy you any more than an entry-level new camera, but you can find used mid-range cameras that are better than entry-level new cameras if you know what to look for (again, digital camera sites like dpreview.com will help). I'm thinking along the lines of Olympus C-4040Z, Canon G2, Nikon Coolpix 5000. These are good jack-of-all-trades master-of-none cameras. You can find smaller, but you will trade off capabilities and battery life.

g^3
Oct 2, 2005, 01:33 AM
if you are taking pictures of architecture and inside spaces a wide angle lens is a must. go to the local ritz camera in DC, they should be able to show you some good cameras and they also have sample pics from each camera. in your price range you wont be able to find a small, flashy that will do everything you want. remember to factor the cost of accessories the purchase of this camera.

ZoomZoomZoom
Oct 2, 2005, 02:42 AM
I doubt that you'll be able to find a camera in the price range that will do exactly what you need for your purposes with the quality that you might be looking for. Extra lenses is impossible with an ultra-compact camera, at least to my knowledge. There will definately be distortion, especially if you do macro shots. And for indoor shooting, you'd probably want a DSLR anyways, because you'll want the better quality with higher ISO - and it'll be required if you're doing indoor action photography.

That being said, I think that the camera that meets your needs the best would be the Casio EX-Z750. I have no knowledge of the Fujifilm camera, but Fujifilm has a good reputation for having low-noise pictures, so that's definately worth looking into.

The Casio has about double the battery life of any other competitor. It has manual functions. And the image quality is good. It happens to be very compact, but still sports a beautiful LCD screen. It's under $400, and I think the cheapest price is probably from buy.com with a 10% off coupon.

Panasonic's LX1 seems to be a very versatile digital camera. The prototype's pictures, however, were not impressive at all with the noise levels. However, if the final production model has the noise problem fixed, then the LX1 would be a strong all-around digital camera. It is about $600, though, if I remember right.

SAdProZ
Oct 2, 2005, 06:51 PM
Well, your friends aren't going to be really "oohing and ahhhing" over any camera that is on your list, unless you get a Rebel or something High end.

I would get the Canon SD500.I think im either gonna get the Canon SD500 or the Fuji F11. There doesnt seem to be anything better in its price range that maintainis that compact size. But im still holding out for another week or so. Just hoping...

bshell
Oct 2, 2005, 09:03 PM
I am in the process of checking out a bunch of new cameras with the view of purchasing one. I've had several in the past. My current one is the venerable Canon A75. Nice, but I want something newer. Your list of three are good choices. You obviously narrowed it down to the best. I have just spent the weekend using the Fuji F10 side by side with the Panasonic Lumix FX9. I've taken dozens of pictures of the exact same thing with both cameras set exactly the same (as close as I can get it) and I've viewed the results side by side in iPhoto on my Mac, zoomed in to the max. Here is my conclusion: get the Fuji F10 (or F11 if you can get it).

In my experience, you will rarely use all the bells and whistles on your camera. The *number one* thing you need is good quality in low light. That is what I have found over the years. In your price range the Fuji F10 is the undisputed leader in this area. To see the results side by side is just amazing. There is no contest. The Fuji F10 simply produces nicer pictures. Clean, higher resolution, and very very little noise.

I must say, I like the Panasonic Lumix FX9 better for it's styling, it's just beautiful in black, and Also the FX9 has better macro focusing and sharpness. The FX9 also produces sharper pictures in good light. But good lighting is often hard to find in my experience. Taking shots in ordinary room light of ordinary things and especially faces produces amazing results with the F10. That's the one I would recommend. But personally, I'm going to give both these cameras back and wait for the F11--mainly for the improved macro quality.

I have to tell you in all my years of photography, I've never used the various custom settings on my A75 which is fully manual--even focusing. There is no need for it. All you really need is a very steady hand and good lighting. I would not make the manual features of a camera be the important decision point. Just go for high sensitivity. This will eliminate the need to worry about manual settings which are really only necessary in very bizarre lighting conditions.

The F10 is a bit bulky and is no beauty. It does not match the mac or the iPod for design. The Dx9 is nice though. I wish I could have the CCD of the Fuji in the DX9, but if I had to choose I'd go for the Fuji. By the way, you will see reported that the Canon you picked out performs only average in low light. The F10 will eliminate that problem.

yippy
Oct 2, 2005, 09:10 PM
If it is not to late, the Canon SD550 just came out. It is basically the SD500 only with a bigger LCD, slightly better auto modes, a few spec tweaks and the bugs worked out. I would go for that over the SD500.

SAdProZ
Oct 2, 2005, 11:15 PM
I am in the process of checking out a bunch of new cameras with the view of purchasing one. I've had several in the past. My current one is the venerable Canon A75. Nice, but I want something newer. Your list of three are good choices. You obviously narrowed it down to the best. I have just spent the weekend using the Fuji F10 side by side with the Panasonic Lumix FX9. I've taken dozens of pictures of the exact same thing with both cameras set exactly the same (as close as I can get it) and I've viewed the results side by side in iPhoto on my Mac, zoomed in to the max. Here is my conclusion: get the Fuji F10 (or F11 if you can get it).

In my experience, you will rarely use all the bells and whistles on your camera. The *number one* thing you need is good quality in low light. That is what I have found over the years. In your price range the Fuji F10 is the undisputed leader in this area. To see the results side by side is just amazing. There is no contest. The Fuji F10 simply produces nicer pictures. Clean, higher resolution, and very very little noise.

I must say, I like the Panasonic Lumix FX9 better for it's styling, it's just beautiful in black, and Also the FX9 has better macro focusing and sharpness. The FX9 also produces sharper pictures in good light. But good lighting is often hard to find in my experience. Taking shots in ordinary room light of ordinary things and especially faces produces amazing results with the F10. That's the one I would recommend. But personally, I'm going to give both these cameras back and wait for the F11--mainly for the improved macro quality.

I have to tell you in all my years of photography, I've never used the various custom settings on my A75 which is fully manual--even focusing. There is no need for it. All you really need is a very steady hand and good lighting. I would not make the manual features of a camera be the important decision point. Just go for high sensitivity. This will eliminate the need to worry about manual settings which are really only necessary in very bizarre lighting conditions.

The F10 is a bit bulky and is no beauty. It does not match the mac or the iPod for design. The Dx9 is nice though. I wish I could have the CCD of the Fuji in the DX9, but if I had to choose I'd go for the Fuji. By the way, you will see reported that the Canon you picked out performs only average in low light. The F10 will eliminate that problem.awesome!!!! very very helpful advice. thanks.