Which P&S to carry when no dslr is around

Artful Dodger

macrumors 68020
Original poster
This would be a gift for the girlfriend and I've been looking at two choices at this point. The Canon SX120IS or the Panasonic DMC-ZS3. At this point it would be to carry every where and not so sure manual modes would be needed but of course would also be nice to have.
Does anyone have either of these cameras and how do you like them thus far? I know the Canon has manual features and the Panasonic doesn't and battery life on some reviews is up in the air for both. I seem to be use to having Raw as my format of choice and both have jpeg so no real one up over the other. I must say that the wide angle on the Panasonic is making me lean that way but all my P&S have been Canon's and I've had great photo's from them. No real world experience with the Panasonic so I'm leaving it to those that have used them before.
Thanks for any and all input and or any photo's that show the quality of either model would be great!
 

splitpea

macrumors 65816
Oct 21, 2009
1,009
241
Among the starlings
As a DSLR user I find myself very frustrated trying to get the shots I want out of a P&S without halfway-decent manual controls, and Canon's cameras tend to be by far the best in that area. If that isn't your greatest concern (i.e. you're really planning to use this camera just for snapshots), Panasonic's cameras are also supposed to be very good. You probably can't go wrong with either.

IIRC, dpreview does occasional point-and-shoot roundups -- the ones you're looking at might be covered.
 

wheelhot

macrumors 68020
Nov 23, 2007
2,080
249
Hmm, well the higher end Lumix does has full manual control and so does Canon as you have known. Well for me, currently if IQ is of greater important then the ability to zoom. I would say the Leica X1 :D
 

jampat

macrumors 6502a
Mar 17, 2008
682
0
I have heard great things about the Lumix. Check out the Canon Hackers Development Kit (CHDK) for the Canon's. I don't think it works yet for the S90 or SX120, but it allows you to shoot raw and do a ton of other stuff (almost all the settings you get in a DSLR).
 

Roy Hobbs

macrumors 68000
Apr 29, 2005
1,804
105
I carry the Canon SD780 IS when I can't have my DSLR with me. Great IQ, very small, and shoots 720p HD video when needed.
 

Artful Dodger

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Thanks for the input so far :) Like I mentioned it is for the girlfriend and mostly when the dslr isn't around. Of course that's when it seems like one of us wishes a camera was in the car or on us so while I do like the higher end Canon unit's, the cost isn't worth it unless I find a buyer for one of my 2.0 Nikkor lenses I have that I never use :rolleyes:

Thanks for the links and I looked at dpreview but not at the upper P&S units. Too bad the 4:3 units are so pricey at this point, would be a nice in between for size and function…
 

bcgflow

macrumors newbie
Oct 25, 2009
8
0
I carry the Panasonic TZ5 which is similar to the Panny you listed. I've been pretty happy with it. The pictures come out pretty good although its best outdoors
 

jg900ss

macrumors newbie
Nov 28, 2009
26
0
Europe, and Florida
My fav P&S when the DSLR is too much....

...is the Canon A650IS. It didn't do so well in the market but it is a treasure of a device. SD card, tilt/rotating LCD for those awkward shots, 12MP, movies (albeit non HD), 6X zoom, full custom settings possible. I have the Canon 450, and the 5DMk2 with various lenses, filters, etc. and granted they are super at what they do, but daily freight?...nope. The A650IS is my preference, replacing a well-used, but still quite good, Powershot Pro 1, 8MP gem.
More info:
http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/A650IS/A650ISA.HTM
http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/read_opinions.asp?prodkey=canon_a650is
http://www.photographyreview.com/mfr/canon/above-10-megapixel/PRD_410797_6447crx.aspx
 

Pikemann Urge

macrumors 6502
Jan 3, 2007
276
0
melbourne.au
I see that one or two of you are suggesting compacts which are hardly 'compact'. The whole point of a P&S is that while it doesn't have all the quality of an SLR, it doesn't have all of the bulk, either. The real value compacts are those which have the right balance between size and quality.
 

mscriv

macrumors 601
Aug 14, 2008
4,916
594
Dallas, Texas
...is the Canon A650IS. It didn't do so well in the market but it is a treasure of a device. SD card, tilt/rotating LCD for those awkward shots, 12MP, movies (albeit non HD), 6X zoom, full custom settings possible. .... The A650IS is my preference, replacing a well-used, but still quite good, Powershot Pro 1, 8MP gem.
I have owned a Canon A650IS for over a year now and love this camera. We have a Nikon DSLR, but my wife wanted something more compact and easy for quick pictures of the kids. After all of our research we decided on the Canon A650 and couldn't be happier. It is sturdy, offers great flexibility, and takes quality shots. I'd highly recommend it as well.
 

El Cabong

macrumors 6502a
Dec 1, 2008
620
339
Third vote for the Canon S90. It has better handling than any compact I've ever used (which is many), even rivaling entry-level DSLRs. It has a bright lens (on the wide end) and a decent zoom. The only downside might be that it doesn't shoot HD video, but otherwise, it's great.

Another option might be the Panasonic LX3/Leica D-Lux 4. It has a faster and wider lens, though a shorter zoom range. It also has 720p HD video. I have the D-Lux 4 and am very happy with its image quality and usability, but think that the controls on the S90 blow it (and every other compact on the market, including the G-series) out of the water, making the S90, imho, the superior choice for a DSLR stand-in.
 

pdxflint

macrumors 68020
Aug 25, 2006
2,407
14
Oregon coast
I have used the very cheapest (no longer available) Panny Lumix LZ8 which I bought for $99 for the very reason that you mention - a camera that I'd always have with me. It has fully manual controls, dozens of programmed "style"s, face recognition, wide-screen video (standard def, but surprisingly decent,) hi-speed burst shooting at reduced resolution (10 fps,) decent image stabilization (works good in video mode) takes AA batteries, has a fairly wide angle compared to the competition... and in a size that fits in my pocket. I mostly shoot it aperture preferred with some form of exposure compensation (really easy to adjust on the fly, even with video.)

Having said that, I really have loved the little Panny. It was so cheap I bought a second just in case it ever failed - it hasn't. It has taken really decent pics, as long as you get to know it. Controls are pretty intuitive. I know the Canons are always the most popular cameras in the p/s category, and many for good reason, but consider the Lumix series as well, because they're well executed little cameras and generally have a much wider angle lens on the wide end than the comparable Canon, if that matters. I'm sure if you checked the current versions you could find one with some form of manual controls.

Anyway, just my $0.02 regarding your original question. I'd look hard at the Lumix series if I wanted wide-angle, wide-screen (16x9) video, well made cameras, and I wanted something just a little different than the typical Canon.
 

Keebler

macrumors 68030
Jun 20, 2005
2,944
191
Canada
our older Canon broke so we're on the same boat. I'll probably wait for Christmas/Boxing Day sales, although, there seems to be some great deals on now.

I'm looking at the Canon SD1200IS and the Canon SD280 or something like that (it does HD video so i'm leaning towards that one).

In general, I don't think you can go wrong with any smaller camera. They all seemed to be packed full of options.

Our goal is to simply have a decent enough camera to grab those moments for when I don't have my SLR with me. Nothing dramatic with it.

ie. I wish I would have had a small one when we saw Star Wars in concert b/c the kids got to stand beside some of the ppl dressed in costumes and while I love my iphone, a lack of flash means crappier pictures (aside from not having the same type of optics as well).

Good luck,
Keebler
 

AsterixGM

macrumors newbie
Jun 30, 2009
28
0
I carry the Canon SD780 IS when I can't have my DSLR with me. Great IQ, very small, and shoots 720p HD video when needed.
Another vote for this one. Have thrown it in my jacket pocket and pants pocket when I knew I couldn't take my D90 with me.
 

akdj

macrumors 65816
Mar 10, 2008
1,164
58
Alaska
Are the Canon G series cams too big for you? I had the SD1100 and then the 1200 (Wife's purse cam) and then picked up a G9 a couple years ago. I love it, picked up a G10 last year...I haven't bought a G11 because of the lack of HD video...but the G9/10 are bargains on the used market, IMO. Very functional manual control without having to get into the settings like so many other P&S cams...also, pretty decent 480p video.

They're a bit bigger than the smaller ones S90, 1200, etc that have been suggested, but it'll fit a flash if you need (has a hot shoe)...there are lens adaptors, you can use filters with it, and it just seems a bit easier to me to keep steady...I have a hell of a time with the little, tiny cameras;)

J
 

Artful Dodger

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Well not too big for me but it's going to be for my girl so for her to carry around all the time in her purse, most likely. I know it would be great to have manual functions but for her and the wish a camera was around needs, the smaller ones will be much better. I think I might try the Panasonic which has a wide lens and ease of use but the Canon is still what I may go with in the end. I've had great luck with Canon P&S cameras before so to get manual control and a good zoom, Canon might win on this one. I don't have to worry about the future because she will end up with my D50 by spring for the better offerings it just seems there are times when "if only" or "why didn't we". You know how that goes…
 

cdcastillo

macrumors 65816
Dec 22, 2007
1,059
406
The cesspit of civilization
My vote for the Canon SD30.

It is really compact and has some of the best controls in available in P&S. And since you are not carrying a dSLR but a P&S because of it's compactness and not because of it's ability to take amazing pictures, why not accentuate on the "easy to carry" factor?

Just my 2 cents.
 

cdcastillo

macrumors 65816
Dec 22, 2007
1,059
406
The cesspit of civilization
As a DSLR user I find myself very frustrated trying to get the shots I want out of a P&S without halfway-decent manual controls, and Canon's cameras tend to be by far the best in that area...
...Check out the Canon Hackers Development Kit (CHDK) for the Canon's...
... The whole point of a P&S is that while it doesn't have all the quality of an SLR, it doesn't have all of the bulk, either...
+1

And the CHDK works with the SD30
 
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