Need advice on High-end digital compact

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by mfacey, Mar 3, 2007.

  1. mfacey macrumors 65816

    mfacey

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2004
    Location:
    Netherlands
    #1
    Hi all,

    Its time for me to throw my first digicam (Nikon Coolpix 3100) to the side and replace it with something that allows some more creativity.

    I'm not willing get a DSLR because they're above my budget and I'm still want to be able to do some point and shoot from time to time. They're also just too big for now. I also want to figure out whether the more hands-on approach to photography is for me (I think it is!).

    So with all the new cameras coming out in the next month or so, I've narrowed the list down to these three:

    Canon Powershot G7
    Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ8
    Sony Cybershot DSC-H7 or H9

    What I'm looking for is above average zoom (so 6x or more), really great photo quality (much more important to me than a gazillion megapixels). Speed of the image processor and plenty of manual features that have to be easily accessible. I really don't want to have to dig through endless menus to adjust settings.

    The Panasonic and Sony are both large lens and big zoom cameras (12x and 15x respectively). The Canon has a lesser zoom, but has a very high quality lens nonetheless.

    As far as which one to choose... I'm sort of stuck. The prices don't differ all that much. I'm expecting the Sony to be similar in price to the Canon. The Lumix is slightly cheaper.

    What do you guys think? Any experience with these models (or in the Sony's case, its predecessor)?
    Any other suggestions or advice?

    Thanks!
     
  2. Over Achiever macrumors 68000

    Over Achiever

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2002
    Location:
    Toledo, OH, formerly Twin Cities, MN
    #2
    Each camera has their strengths and weaknesses, the Canon is compact, Panasonic has a fast stabilized lens, Sony has great reach. Have you also considered the Olympus SP-550 (18x zoom) or the Fuji S6000/S9100 (great in low light)?
     
  3. Lovesong macrumors 65816

    Lovesong

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2006
    Location:
    Stuck beween a rock and a hard place
    #3
    From what I've heard the G7 is a nice camera, and although this really isn't all that compact, the S3 IS is supposedly really good as well. I've owned a Lumix (FZ20), and they are great as well.
    As Over-Achiever said, there are pluses and minuses to each camera. If you're looking to become more involved in photography there really isn't any better way than a DSLR. The D40, or even a D50, is going to cost you roughly the same as the G7, or a Sony, and for what they do, they are fairly compact (meaning you can put a D40 with a cheap 50mm lens into your pocket).
    I know you said that you don't want an SLR, but at least from my experience it is quite difficult to get creative with a point and shoot. The menus on the Lumix I had, made you push awkward buttons to do something as simple as changing the aperture. You're likely to just get frustrated with it, and end up using the camera in full-auto, in which case you really aren't expanding your creativity. Remember that a good picture can be taken with a disposable camera, but the development of a good photographer requires that you have something that pushes your abilities. Just my 2 cents.
     
  4. mfacey thread starter macrumors 65816

    mfacey

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2004
    Location:
    Netherlands
    #4
    I want to use this camera to find out whether I really want to move into SLR territory with my photography. An entry BODY costs about the same as what I'm planning on saving. I really don't believe its worthwhile to get a DSLR and then go cheap on the lens. That's like buying a Ferrari and putting el-cheapo tires under it :rolleyes:
    If I go the DSLR path I want to do it right, and at that point I would adjust my budget adequately.
    Your point about a lot of the functions being hidden in the menus is a valid point though! Thats on of the reasons I'm leaning towards the Canon G7. It has a lot more buttons, which isn't necessarily good but it does give you a lot more functionality at your finger tips. The advantage of a compact is also that I can use it as a point and shoot if I'm not in the mood for manual adjustment. This is also one of the main reasons for me not investing in a DSLR.
     
  5. Grimace macrumors 68040

    Grimace

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2003
    Location:
    with Hamburglar.
    #5
    Almost all DSLRs have an "Auto" mode which turns the camera into point-and-shoot mode. ;)
     
  6. mfacey thread starter macrumors 65816

    mfacey

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2004
    Location:
    Netherlands
    #6
    Like I said, a good DSLR setup is way above my budget.
     
  7. G4scott macrumors 68020

    G4scott

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2002
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    #7
    Those must be big pockets! :eek:


    I have a PowerShot G7, and I would recommend it for what you're looking for.

    I carry mine around with me in my backpack every day, and it doesn't take up much space. It's not really a pocket camera, but with an unobtrusive retractible lens, it's quite portable for its size.

    As far as picture quality, the tiny 10mp sensor can be really noisy above ISO200, which a lot of people find annoying, but it hasn't bothered me much at all. Other than that, the photos are pretty good looking.

    It also has a ton other cool things, like a hot shoe, custom button, face detection AF (nothing special for a dSLR, but cool for using it as a p&s), 6x IS lens, the ability to use lens adapters, a built in ND filter and some other things I'm probably forgetting to mention.

    My favorite feature is when in program mode, you can push the * button, and select your exposure/aperture combination from a range of what the camera finds acceptable, instead of just using the highest possible shutter speed... It's not full control like you have in the Tv/Av/M modes, but it gives you greater flexibility when you just want to use program mode.

    I find the button layout and feel to be quite nice. I can easily change what I want without looking at the buttons, and the scroll wheel is my new favorite thing. I don't think I'll be able to buy another camera without a scroll wheel on it. It make changing the aperture/exposure/shutter speed feel more natural than any other non SLR camera I've used.


    Anyways, I hope this helps. I recommend going to a camera store (a real store where the pros go, not Best Buy), and playing around with the models you like to get a feel for them before buying. Good Luck!
     
  8. mfacey thread starter macrumors 65816

    mfacey

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2004
    Location:
    Netherlands
    #8

    Awesome! Its good to hear some real world experiences from a G7 besides just the various reviews online.

    I've already played around with a few different cameras (as well as those I mentioned above, older model in the case of the sony). I'm pretty indifferent between the 3. The differences are mostly in design. The Sony and Canon have the best feature set. Did you consider any alternatives before purchasing your G7?
    Also, what kind of SD card are you using? ...if you don't mind me asking :D
     
  9. G4scott macrumors 68020

    G4scott

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2002
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    #9
    I had also looked at the Canon S3IS, and some panasonic models (not sure which one). I went with the Canon choice because my previous camera was a S50 which held up quite well, and I felt they were generally better designed cameras.

    I have 2 memory cards, but I only use one. One was the one that came with the camera, and I don't trust it, but the other one I have is a 1GB SanDisk Ultra II USB Plus card. It's an SD card with a built in USB port, so I just take it out of my camera, and plug it into my PowerBook. It works quite nicely, but you have to be careful with it, because it can break easily.
     
  10. mfacey thread starter macrumors 65816

    mfacey

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2004
    Location:
    Netherlands
    #10
    I've been considering that card. Also the Extreme III which is supposedly faster. How's your experience with the speed of the card? Do you ever find the card has trouble keeping up (like in burst mode)?

    I appreciate your info and help!
     
  11. G4scott macrumors 68020

    G4scott

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2002
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    #11
    The card works fine for me, I don't use burst mode very often, but when I do, I have no problems with it.
     
  12. xfiftyfour macrumors 68030

    xfiftyfour

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2006
    Location:
    Clemson, SC
    #12
    I don't have any experience with those, but as a somewhat cheaper option, I went for the Fujifilm e900. Excellent little camera - RAW support, 9MP, fully manual options, VERY fast to startup times.

    I did a lot of reviews of the high-end digital cameras before I bought mine (I couldn't afford a DSLR, but I wanted close to same feature set), and that kept coming out on top, especially when considered on a price to feature ratio.
     

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