Advice on compact digital camera

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by iceblade, Jan 18, 2009.

  1. iceblade macrumors member

    Jun 17, 2008
    I'm sure some of you remember my threads asking about DSLRs... Well, I have decided on that, I think. However, I'd like a compact camera for snapshots. Ease of carry, robustness, and inexpensive price would all be other things I'd want, but I understand those often do not come all in one package. If I was to go to amazon and purchase a camera right this minute, I would buy a canon a590 IS, but there are a few negatives I've heard about it (Battery life. Camera is kind of fragile, although I myself am a careful user...), so I'm not 100 % sure on that one. Thus, why I'm asking for advice.

    I know you guys probably think "Wow, does he do no shopping himself?" Well, I have, but I'm afraid I may be overlooking some lesser known cameras that are only known (mostly) to the photography community.

    Thanks for the advice!
  2. geerlingguy macrumors 6502a


    Feb 11, 2003
    St. Louis, USA
    For a casual snapshot camera, my money's on the Canon SD1100IS - a good camera for a great price! Just don't drop the thing like my Mom did!

    Also, almost any camera you pay less than $400 for will be fragile as heck. I've owned about 6 compacts - 3 of them had their lenses get stuck at some point, so I just sold them on eBay 'as-is' and bought another. That's why I wouldn't spend more than a couple hundred on a compact. If I want picture quality, I pull out the D90!
  3. volvoben macrumors 6502

    Feb 7, 2007
    nowhere fast
    I bought an A570is for this purpose, which is essentially identical to the A590is. Battery life depends on your batteries. I love rechargeables, but for this camera I eventually just sucked it up and bought lithiums. They last forever, I keep the camera in my work bag in an $8 case for those "wish I had a camera" moments, and I've had the same batteries in there for almost 6 months. This has included a few "girlfriend forgot her camera and used mine to get awful facebook bar shots all night" uses, as well as my usual once weekly "ooh, pretty" uses. Feels cheap and plastic, because it is cheap and plastic. Not terribly fragile, mine has fared better than mother's/girlfriend's/sister's canon SD series cameras (stupid lens extension issues).

    *Price; cost me $140 with 2gb card a year ago
    *Image quality - as much as one could expect for this price, and with enough light/low dynamic range it can produce files identical to my old D100 and D70 bodies in prints
    *Customizable RAW, live histogram etc with CHDK (see below)
    *Some decent manual control if you're caught in a "shoulda brought the real camera" situation
    *IS isn't useless, but it doesn't make up for the lack of ISO performance worth beans over 200
    *Auto-ISO is handy for the kind of shots I use it for
    *It's small enough to shoot through chain link (like any compact really)
    *With my tiny gorillapod it can get low light shots...dynamic range is minimal, but it can get the shot plus let you choose shutter speed and aperture without menus

    *lens range is awful for me; Lumix LX3 would have been a better (and much more expensive) fit in that regard. If you'd use a 35-140 or equivalent lens on your SLR you're set, but I use ultrawides for at least half my shots
    *Flash is slow to charge compared to SD series with their better batteries, and the flash doesn't expose faces in dark rooms without overexposure very often (luckily there's some adjustment available)
    *Not pocketable except in jackets, the SD series are more expensive and have no real manual control but you can literally stuff them in your pants...assuming you don't wear really really tight pants...

    CHDK is a little firmware addition you put on your SD card which allows you to customize a million things (too many really, but it allows raw shooting and a live histogram which I enjoy). They have instructions on their main page here, but it doesn't screw with your real firmware at all, and although you have to convert the finished raw files to dng with another program (there's a mac port) to use them (actually a few converters work, just read the page) I still find it worth the trouble for any shots I'll care about.

    In reality you aren't going to see a huge difference in quality from raw files. They're only 10-bit to start with, but I like the control, particularly in noise reduction. My raw files always end up noisier than camera-processed jpegs, but they have more detail and I prefer them.

    I bought an SD1100is for my sister (yes, pink) this christmas, and suggested them to 3 others who also bought them. Great cameras, and fantastically portable, but if you want any control they're not the ticket. The SD880is has a nice wider range if you're considering the 1100.

    Sorry for the novel, hope it's at least mildly helpful!
  4. Cliff3 macrumors 68000


    Nov 2, 2007
    SF Bay Area
    I've had good luck with Canon point & shoots. FWIW, an old S10 rode out a mountainous bicycle crash in my jersey pocket that sent me on a 50 mile ambulance ride and into the hospital for two surgeries. Other than a dent on one corner, the camera was fine. I think the SDxxx Elph camera line is the current incarnation of the Sxx line of cameras from Canon.
  5. Namnorkimo macrumors member

    Oct 11, 2008
  6. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    Head over to and read reviews.

    Personally I have a Canon SD750 that's seved me very well for a year now.
  7. geerlingguy macrumors 6502a


    Feb 11, 2003
    St. Louis, USA
    The general consensus that I always seem to pick up in threads like this is that people tend to like Canon compacts a little better than others. I, for one, have had some of my best experiences with Canon; of course, I use Nikon for higher-end gear, but Canon has a great price/performance ratio for the low end.
  8. jaseone macrumors 65816


    Nov 7, 2004
    Houston, USA
    I agree, I have always preferred Canon P&S's, my little SD800IS is still going like a champ (although it did need repairs at one stage as the lens had some issues).
  9. gkarris macrumors 604


    Dec 31, 2004
    "No escape from Reality..."
  10. pdxflint macrumors 68020


    Aug 25, 2006
    Oregon coast
    Just to be contrary, I'm going to suggest Panasonic Lumix or Sony Cybershot models - both have slim, pocketable models and that funny sense that you've stumbled upon something that's just a bit different from the usual Canon obvious choices. :cool:
  11. jakfrost macrumors member

    Mar 13, 2008
    Ontario Canada
    I have 2 'point and shoot' cameras, one of which is with me almost every time I leave the house...definatly if I leave the house to do more than take out the garbage ;).

    One is the Canon SD870IS and the other is the newer brother, the SD880IS.

    They both have the widest angle around in that class, both have 'optical' not 'digital' image stabilization, have 3" screens, are relatively intuitive to use and have 8Mg and 10Mg pixels respectively, IF you are into the 'more pixels are better' thinking...

    They are great value for the money...and easy to find :).

  12. butterfly0fdoom macrumors 6502a

    Oct 17, 2007
    Camp Snoopy
    I'd say Canon or Panasonic as far as pocket cameras go, they both have good image quality and good interfaces. Panasonics usually have wider lenses than most, so that's a plus in Panasonic's favor.
  13. Lissa22 macrumors newbie

    Dec 30, 2008
    Canons are good, I've used them for a while never had a problem.

  14. Indydenny macrumors 6502


    Jan 5, 2002
    I have had five Canon P&S "PowerShots" and taken --no kidding -- nearly 40,000 pictures in the last 7 years.

    My current one, is an SD850 IS. I think they all take great pictures. (Several hundred of my pictures from the Canons can be viewed here:

    I just bought my first DSLR (Nikon) and am learning how to use it. But I'll keep carrying the Powershot!
  15. XianPalin macrumors 6502


    May 26, 2006
    I'm liking Nikon for DSLRs, however for a point and shoot I think Canon wins hands down. I've had a couple different ones and they always shoot much better pictures than any of the cameras my friend's have. I have a friend that always buys Sony point and shoots, and his pictures are always terrible :)

    Also had a friend that got a brand new Nikon point and shoot (S560 I think) for Christmas. I was expecting high quality from that after getting my Nikon DSLR and becoming a fan of the brand, but it just didn't hold up to my Canon. It seemed like by default the first thing it did every time on Auto was to jack the ISO up as high as it could go, and then adjust other things, so every picture looked like crap because of the high ISO. He turned that down manually and it did much better, but it still puzzled both of us as to why it always jacked up the ISO.

    Anyways, for point and shoots... I'd say Canon.
  16. CTYankee macrumors 6502

    Jul 18, 2002
    I was looking for a P&S recently. I own a 1DmkII and a 30D with all kinds of lenses (including a 200 1.8L) so I know a thing or two about cameras and quality. I was originally looking at the Lumix or Fujis. Then I saw the 590IS. It had the features I wanted (manual everything, even FEC!!). Good quality, the IS does make a difference, good high ISO performance (not great like Fuji). So that is what I got. So far I am still very happy. Battery life is not an issue if you use good rechargables. I use the Eneloops and it lasted all day in NYC in 30f weather with constant LCD chimping. I think we got 400 shots on the batteries over a few days? Being AA batteries is actually an advantage since you can get those anywhere. With proprietary batteries you are done when the battery is. Yes it is a plastic body, just be careful!
  17. ChrisBrightwell macrumors 68020


    Apr 5, 2004
    Huntsville, AL
    I'd go with the latest Canon PowerShot or the new G10.
  18. filmweaver macrumors regular

    Dec 13, 2008
    Point and Shoot Camera

    Another thing to consider is the time it takes to be ready for a shot when you first turn the camera on. Since you are used to working with the Nikon DSLR like myself, you are used to having a fast up time. This can be a factor in the point and shoot world.
    I bought a Sony Cyber-shot 10.1 Mega Pixel model, for a point and shoot it does the job, and fast.
    Just another opinion. Good Luck

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