Good compact digital camera

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by 53x12, Dec 17, 2009.

  1. 53x12 macrumors 68000

    53x12

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2009
    #1
    I am in the market for a new camera and wan't a nice compact p&s camera. I am going on a trip to Argentina (Patagonia and Buenos Aires) in a few months and want a new camera to shoot with. The camera I have been using is an old dog that I have had for a good 5-6 yrs, an old Minolta 3.2 megapixel camera. It is really hard for me to tell based on just playing with the cameras for a few minutes in the store which one I will be happy with. I'm hoping that some of you guys with experience could offer some good advice.

    I am still a newb when it comes to digital photography. Here are just a few of the specs that I would prefer in a new camera:

    - At least ~10MP-12MP camera
    - Want a camera with a high quality lens and sensor
    - Small enough to carry in coat pocket and while skiing/hiking
    - Priced under ~$400
    - Ability to shoot some HD video shots is a bonus (but the more I think about it the more I want the camera to be a great camera, I can always use a camcorder if I am planning to take extended clips)
    - Prefer a wider lens, 25 or 28mm??
    - Want a good sized, quality LCD screen
    - Good user interface with easy to use buttons/functions
    - Don't want micro-SD
    - Value photo quality and clarity over gizmos in general (i.e. face recognition, smile recognition...etc.)

    Through my initial research I have come across two cameras that I like. I'm leaning towards the Panasonic.

    Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3

    [​IMG]


    Canon PowerShot SX200 IS

    [​IMG]


    What recommendations do you guys have?
     
  2. Dennisk macrumors newbie

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    Oct 25, 2009
    Location:
    Denmark
    #2
    One of my friends has the SX200 and its not very good in low light settings.
    I don't know that much about the ZS3 (TZ7 in my country). Only that it should be VERY good in video mode.

    I own a Panasonic LX3 myself and is very satisfied with it! If you can do without the super-zoom, I think you would be happy with the better pictures from the LX3 even though I know that it is a bit more expensive.

    Do a "sx200 vs zs3" search on dpreview.com - that would probably help you a lot.
     
  3. 53x12 thread starter macrumors 68000

    53x12

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2009
    #3
    You know, the one thing that annoys me about the SX200 is that the flash pops up and you can't close it; it is in a really bad location. I'm sure I could get use to it, but still I just don't like the idea.

    You know what is funny, I have recently looked at the Panasonic DMC-LX3 as well. I'm just not sure that I could live without the zoom. I'm sure that I would get use to it eventually. How do you like it so far? Any complaints? Good quality pictures I assume?
     
  4. jalagl macrumors 6502a

    jalagl

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    Jun 5, 2003
    Location:
    Costa Rica
    #4
    Try the Canon Powershot 780IS or 940IS. The 940IS has a 28mm equivalent lens. My parents have the 780IS, it has an optical viewfinder and takes great pictures - I'm thinking of getting (or the followup model) once my Panasonic P&S bits the dust.
     
  5. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #5
    The problem is that these two specs are at odds with each other. The quality of the sensor is determined by the physical size of the individual pixels. The more finely divided the sensor the smaller each pixel gets. There are two way to address this (1) have fewer pixels, like say 6MP or (2) make the sensor larger.

    Camera makers have to balance a tight rope here because the average un-informed consumer thinks more MP is better and smaller is better and both of these harm low light performance and add noise to the image. But this is what the public wants.
     
  6. El Tel macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2006
    Location:
    Malawi
    #6
    I've been using a Panasonic DMC-TZ6 for the past six months or so and it's remarkably good for an easily pocketable camera costing well under GBP 200 in UK. The 25mm Leica lens setting is a proper wide angle, and the x12 zoom is useful. I believe the TZ7 is identical apart from HD video, which I wouldn't use.

    My only criticism (of both) is that the screen sits proud of the rest of the back of the camera, so is easily scratched unless you protect it. Oh, and the mode dial is a bit too easily moved (but the camera warns you if it's 'not in the proper position').
     
  7. 53x12 thread starter macrumors 68000

    53x12

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2009
    #7
    Thanks for all the help and thoughts guys. I really appreciate it.


    Yeah I guess I can't have my cake and eat it too. I just wonder if there is a fair compromise somewhere in between, but then I guess it would be a compromise.

    Several friends have recommended to me the Panasonic DMC-LX3 just like Dennisk did. It sounds like a great camera and everyone I have talked to really likes it and speaks highly about it. I will have to do some more reading.

    Can I ask you how you like the DMC-LX3? Are you happy with it so far?
     
  8. Westside guy macrumors 601

    Westside guy

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    Oct 15, 2003
    Location:
    The soggy side of the Pacific NW
    #8
    Look at the Canon S90 - it's right around $400, and people are raving about it. That camera seems to hit all your points, except its "movie mode" is SD rather than HD.

    If I had the money for a compact right now, that's what I'd buy (and FWIW I'm a Nikon dSLR shooter, so it's not like I'm a Canon fanboy).
     
  9. TuffLuffJimmy macrumors G3

    TuffLuffJimmy

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    Apr 6, 2007
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #9
    i hate to hijack a thread, but I think it would be silly to start a new one since our questions are so similar and they can both be answered easily.

    I have $150 to Amazon.com. I wouldn't mind spending a little more or a little less. I'm looking for a point and shoot that I can take to parties, so I don't have to lug around my SLR. It's been a while since I looked into cameras so I'm not really up to date with the latest camera gear. What would be a good camera for me? I would like a thin one since I'd like to carry it in my pocket. I don't care for recording movies (I have a video camera for that). I would like something that takes good low light pictures.
     
  10. cdcastillo macrumors 6502a

    cdcastillo

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  11. jackerin macrumors 6502a

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    Jun 29, 2008
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    Finland
    #11
    Whenever I hear "compact digital" and "good low light" I instantly think of the Fujifilm F100fd. (Alternatively F30/31 or its successors, but they will probably be hard to find.)
     
  12. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2009
    #12
    I suppose you could also consider what you want to shoot. If you're looking mainly for landscape high res shots, maybe the higher MP camera will work better for you because you will either be shooting in brighter light or will use a tripod. If you intend to take more indoor/low light shots, maybe consider sacrificing some MP for ISO performance. Also consider your output. If you are only going to end up with 800x600 images to throw on Flickr, what good is a 12MP camera? OTOH, if you want to make larger prints, maybe the extra MP will be worth it.

    Lastly some general advice- do not wait too long to get the camera! You probably read here all the time that the operator is in most cases the biggest determinant of image quality from any equipment, and it is true. If you get that brand new camera a week before you leave your shots will suffer as you fumble the controls and don't know how to optimize that camera's performance. Ideally you want a few months to familiarize yourself with new equipment before you leave on a big trip. Many pros or experienced shooters even put a 6-month cap on their purhcases, giving them a full half a year to learn to get the best of the equipment they have before they go on a big trip. I'd suggest trying to buy sooner rather than later if possible to give you the most time to maximize your effectiveness with any new equipment.
     
  13. ukuleleman macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2009
    #13
    Yep, you're right!

    I have this camera, a lovely little machine, small, yes it does have face recognition, but don't let that put you off.

    One of the problems with high megapixel cameras (as I understand it) is that the sensor often 'out resolves' the lens, in other words it gathers more information than the lens can handle so image quality is not what you might expect from the pixel count, guys on this forum tell me that the Fujifilm F100 fd is one of the better cameras in this respect and my results bear that out.
     
  14. El Cabong macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2008
    #14
    I own an LX3 (it's actually a Leica D-Lux 4, but let's not split hairs - they're the same camera, really) and am very happy with it. However, I don't think it is the right camera to take on a vacation because of its restrictive zoom range. The selling points (at least for me) for the LX3 are its low-light capabilities due to its large aperture lens and superior (for a small-sensor compact) high ISO processing, which translates to nicer/faster hand-held low-light shots. It is a great camera.

    However, since during your travels I highly doubt you'll be in many situations where you'll need to take a quick closeup snapshot in low light without a flash (rather, you'll probably be able to set up a lot of nice landscape shots on a tripod, negating most of the advantages of an LX3), I would recommend the ZS3. The zoom range will be much more useful for your purposes than that of the LX3, which will most likely leave you wanting for telephoto reach. The ZS3 also has better video capabilities, recording in the ready-to-go AVCHD Lite format instead of the more archaic and space-hogging Motion JPEG. It also has the ability to zoom during videos, which the LX3 lacks.

    In summary, get the ZS3 and forget all this LX3 nonsense, because the ZS3 is at the top of its (the compact superzoom) class, and suits your needs better than any other camera, including the LX3.

    @Ruahrc: Regarding getting the camera ASAP - totally agree. The worst camera is the one you don't know how to use.
     
  15. jackerin macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2008
    Location:
    Finland
    #15
    I can think of one off the top of my head: museums. Flash is usually prohibited and carrying a tripod along isn't always feasable to bring along at all times.

    I once took some shots in a dark exhibition room with my Powershot, aperture wide open at 2.8 and iso at 400 (the highest I want to go) and I was still looking at exposure times where I had to be really careful not to flinch.
     
  16. El Cabong macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2008
    #16
    Original Post:
    Here's the thing - and maybe it's just me - when somebody mentions the words "Patagonia", "skiing", and "hiking", I don't immediately think: "MUSEUM!" See, I was under the impression that when traveling to one of the most beautiful places in the world that one would want to, predominantly, take pictures of things outside rather than inside a museum (where flashes and tripods are usually prohibited due to archival and ownership issues, and I'd imagine that restrictions in Argentina are more relaxed). But again, maybe it's just me, or maybe that's the impression one would get from paying more attention to the OP than the thread hijacker.

    Your questions are not similar, apart from seeking compact camera advice. The OP has a spending target of ~$400, whereas yours is ~$150. $250 makes a big difference when it comes to compacts (which should be obvious since it's nearly double your budget). You're concerned primarily with low light capabilities, and you say video is irrelevant, whereas the OP doesn't mention low light at all, and would prefer HD video.

    Here's a title for your thread: "Best low-light camera for around $150?" It'll be more helpful to you when people know just what advice to give upon looking at the title, and more helpful to the OP, so that people stop confusing responses to your question to those responding to the original post.

    For what it's worth: http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/Q408budgetgroup/

    It's a comparison of sub-$150 cameras from last year, so more recent models won't be discussed, but it's probably a safe bet that the updated models will compare similarly, and if nothing else, it's a good place to start.
     
  17. Westside guy macrumors 601

    Westside guy

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    The soggy side of the Pacific NW
    #17
    Shows what you know - Patagonia is famous for its museums on skis.
     
  18. El Cabong macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2008
    #18
    You're right. They're famous for their skiing/hiking/otherwise mobile museums. I found a picture of its Museum of Natural History:

    [​IMG]

    I'll bet it's gorgeous inside.
     
  19. jackerin macrumors 6502a

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    Jun 29, 2008
    Location:
    Finland
    #19
    I was not trying to discredit your post, merely posting an example. But thank your for making it abundantly clear how wrong I was.
     

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