>3x Zoom >4MP Prosumer Digicams with movie capabilities <$500

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by freebird, Feb 20, 2005.

  1. freebird macrumors member

    Dec 1, 2004
    Yes, another of these topics where you help me choose a digicam.

    I'm finally going to replace my aging Powershot A40 this summer, and although that's 3 months from now, I want to get a head start and choose a camera (or a camera series/brand) now.

    Here are the requirements, listed in order of importance:
    4MP or higher
    superb image quality
    greater than 3x optical zoom (4x is fine)
    price: $500 or less
    good movies: at minimum 3 minute 320x180 with sound, 640x480 at 30 fps is definitely preferred
    easy to use manual controls
    smaller is better
    RAW (iPhoto RAW capability definite plus)
    SLR is nice, but are there any with movie abilities?
    Image Stabilization
    Swivling (sp?) LCD and remote are definite pluses

    Here is the list so far - none is perfect:
    Canon PowerShot A520
    Canon PowerShot G6
    Fujifilm FinePix S5100 Zoom
    Kyocera Finecam M410R
    Sony DSC-V3
    Sony DSC-V1
    Canon PowerShot S500
    Equivalent Olympus offering

    Note: Nikons, as far as I can tell from pictures, seem too bulky and expensive at the prosumer level.

    Any brands or cameras that fit a lot of my requirements you recommend? Should I stick with Canon? How's Sony? Are other brands worth looking at?

    (PS: My apologies if you see this thread twice in two different forums)
  2. ksz macrumors 68000

    Oct 28, 2003
    San Jose, CA
    Tough question. The field is crowded and yet I didn't find exactly what I was looking for, but I settled on the Olympus C7000. I'll explain my reasons in a moment. There are a lot of choices as a brief visit to various websites will reveal:

    1. Canon 24 point-and-shoot models, 7 SLRs.
    2. Nikon 16 and 4.
    3. Olympus 24 and 2.
    4. KonicaMinolta 10 and 1.
    5. Sony 18, 0 SLRs.
    6. Pentax 13 and 2.
    7. Panasonic 17, 0 SLRs.
    8. Kodak 18, 0 SLRs.
    9. Fuji 13 and 3.

    This gives us 153 point-and-shoot models and 19 SLRs.

    In your case there are several good choices including the ones you listed plus selections from Olympus (the entire C-series, particularly the 6 and 7 MP models), Panasonic (with Optical Image Stabilization on several 5 and higher MP models), and KonicaMinolta with Anti-Shake in the A-series, Z3/Z5 and Maxxum 7D.

    My dilemma was to find a 6MP or higher (preferably 7MP) point-and-shoot model that is:

    1. Compact enough to take little space inside a briefcase.
    2. Two-inch or larger LCD with high pixel count and readability in daylight.
    3. Panorama mode (ability to stitch a sequence of images).
    4. Wide-angle lens (preferably 28mm at the low end).
    5. At least 4X optical zoom (I don't use digital zoom).
    6. Preferably SD or Compact Flash memory cards because of their high capacities and low prices.
    7. Enhanced movie modes that are not limited to a silly 30 seconds at 15 fps. I missed a great opportunity recently because of the 30 second limit of the Canon PowerShot G-series.
    8. Fast image processor (Canon Digic II or Olympus TruePic Turbo for example).
    9. Image stabilization, but since I've been photographing for more than 10 years without the aid of image stabilization, this is of relatively less importance for a travel-size model.
    10. Great, vibrant image quality with extremely low noise up to ISO 200 and very low noise at ISO 400. Also, very high color accuracy.

    After much agonizing I thought I found exactly what I wanted in the brand new Olympus C-7070. It has 4X optical zoom from 27 to 110, Compact Flash and xD Picture Card slots, excellent image quality, TruePic TURBO processor, all the shooting modes anyone would want, a tilt-swivel LCD display readable in daylight, etc. BUT, it turns out to be quite large and has a 1.8-in LCD. Size, however, is the ONLY serious reason I had to pass on it...and I was almost heartbroken to do so. It would have been perfect -- the ONLY camera to fit the bill -- if it were a little smaller in all dimensions. Ultimately I chose the Olympus C-7000 which has a 5X zoom (38-190, not quite the 28mm wide angle I was hoping for) and a brilliant 2-inch LCD (fixed, not swivel). The C-7000 only supports xD which is only available in sizes up to 512MB. But the C-7000 has a great zoom lens, 7.1 megapixels, a slick semi-transparent menu, excellent picture quality, panorama mode, decent movie modes with QuickTime support, a compact form factor, and a limited-time $100 mail-in rebate.

    I paid about $460 online. Couple that with the rebate and the net cost will be $360. In the final analysis, I will miss the wider 28mm focal length, but for $360 it's one hell of a bang for the buck.
  3. freebird thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 1, 2004
    Wow! Thanks!

    The specs on both of the cameras you mentioned sound great, but a large part of the camera is image quality and ease of use. How is the C-7000?
  4. freebird thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 1, 2004
    The Nikon Coolpix 5400 is added to that list, as well as the Sony DSC-V1 if it's not already there. Anyone have any experience with those two?
  5. vtprinz macrumors 6502

    Nov 30, 2004
    Here is my advice, as concise as I can make it:


    You'll figure it out for yourself quickly ;)
  6. jared_kipe macrumors 68030


    Dec 8, 2003
    I really like the Panasonic Lumix lines of consumer cameras, great zoom, image stabilization. You can read reviews or all those canera's you were interested in on dpreview.com .


    I seriously considered those cameras before deciding on a Canon DSLR, the 300D/Rebel, because of its extreamly low noice and fast response time when compared to other consumer cameras.
  7. debroglie macrumors 6502a


    Aug 19, 2004
    Philadelphia, PA
    Make sure to look around for prices for awhile before you purchase a camera. You will often get a (much) better deal on cameras online than in an actual store.

    My suggestion: shopping.com
  8. jared_kipe macrumors 68030


    Dec 8, 2003
  9. freebird thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 1, 2004
    Don't worry, I will!

    However there are two small problems:
    1. You don't know what kind of image quality you're getting
    2. Some cameras I'm interested in (that are still available online) have been discontinued and can't be found in store. Example: DSC-V1, maybe even the Powershot G3.
  10. jamdr macrumors 6502a


    Jul 20, 2003
    Bay Area
    Why not one of the soon-to-be-available Canon SD series cameras?

    Canon SD500
    7.1 MP
    3x Optical Zoom
    $499 @ amazon

    Canon SD400
    5.0 MP
    3x Optical Zoom
  11. freebird thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 1, 2004
    Zoom isn't good enough. 3x zoom is just plain weak and I've found it to be incompetent for my neads.

    All the 10x zoom cameras seem to bulky to me, but I haven't seen many of them in person.

    I've increasingly leaning towards a Canon Powershot G6 or Sony DSC-V3 right now. I'm a big Canon fan, but the movie mode on the G6 sucks and it has pretty significant shutter lag. The DSC-V3 covers all the bases for me, except it needs to be cheaper. I've seen it for $450 on dealmac, but I missed that deal.

    Plus... I was intending to buy this summer. It's hard to wait!

    BTW, anyone know when the Canon G-series will be updated?
  12. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

    Dec 25, 2003
    Northern Virginia
    Image quality should not be a major concern with most any major brand. Most any decent shop will allow you to take some pictures with the camera that you are interested in and get some prints made from them, so you can decide for yourself.

    Keep in mind that Canon should have the A530, the replacement to the A95, sometime this spring. No, I have no inside info on this, just commonsense since the A75 and A85 have been replaced by the A510 and A520.
  13. ksz macrumors 68000

    Oct 28, 2003
    San Jose, CA
    I had just gone through the frustration of trying to find the perfect high-end travel size digicam when I replied. My order for the C-7000 was one day old at the time and yesterday, after re-thinking everything, I canceled the order. I have a Canon G2 which is going to last me a little longer until I've had a chance to get my hands on some of the latest models just announced or just released. I took a look at the Olympus C-5060 which has the same form factor as the just-released C-7070 and, although slightly larger than my G2 in all dimensions, the C-7070 comes closest to fulfilling all of my requirements. I'll wait another month before making a decision (I was hoping to take the new camera on my overseas business trip next week).

    I think the Canon Pro1 is due for an update. If Canon can address the little quirks that owners have complained about (slow auto-focus, no focus-assist light, built-in flash creates slight shadows at the bottom of the picture when using a filter [with lens ring], zoom mechanism not very smooth, LCD washes out in daylight and does not have fast refresh [i.e. jerky]) while keeping the form factor at least unchanged, it would be my #1 choice hands down. The complaints I've listed are all practical issues that Canon can fix quite easily. It will probably be priced around $900 but I would expect online prices to come down to $700-$750, well within the attractive range for a real prosumer camera.

    Finally, I agree with you that the devil is in the details and these details are generally hard to discover with 15-20 minutes of fooling around in the store. The best information comes from owners and expert reviewers (dpreview.com is a fantastic site).
  14. Stratification macrumors regular

    Jan 17, 2005
    Spokane, WA
    Another good site for reviews is Steve's Digicams. The site isn't much to look at, but the reviews are thorough and for each camera reviewed he takes photos of a variety of subjects in a variety of circumstances. It's helped me in a few camera purchases anyhow.
  15. freebird thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 1, 2004
    For point-and-shoots, image quality is not as important, but if you're getting a prosumer level camera it is more of a factor. (In fact, CNET weighs its reviews differently for prosumer cams)

    An A530 would be interesting - anyone have any ideas or inklings when a G6 successor will be out? Same time, perhaps?
  16. rickvanr macrumors 68040


    Apr 10, 2002
    I would recommend a Kodak DX6490

    4 MP and 10x optical

    I love mine.. its no digital SLR, but hey..

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