Finding a digital camera I can live with

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interplanetjanet
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Finding a digital camera I can live with

Post by interplanetjanet »

I think it's finally time for me to join the 21st century proper and get a digital camera. I've done a lot of photography in the past but dropped out of it about ten years ago.

I'm looking for something smaller than most SLRs: <1lb, small enough to stuff in my purse, and good low-light performance would be nice. Interchangable lenses are interesting but not really a priority if there are cameras with very good dedicated lenses out there. I expect to be buying used but in good condition, budget is around $300-500 for a body+lens.

I don't really care so much about megapixels and minutae, what I want is a camera that will not frustrate me. Frustration comes in many forms but things that top it are shutter lag, autofocus performance, and a difficult to use UI - probably in about that order. When I push a button I need a picture now, not half a second from now. I want to be able to set an aperture and ideally get a depth of field preview without too much work.

I'm getting some different recommendations from friends, one is a big advocate of "micro 4/3" cameras, specifically the Olympus E-P1/2 and the Panasonic GF1. These fit just within my weight limit when equipped with small lenses, and the 20mm f1.7 lens that came with some GF1's seems like it would be great for low-light situations.

On the other hand there are cameras like the Canon G11 which are quite a bit lighter and reasonably compact. I've handled a G10 and was unimpressed by the responsiveness, I think I would be frustrated with it at times. I did love the portability.

So those of you who've looked at small cameras lately, what impressed you about some of them?

-janet
DaveS
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Re: Finding a digital camera I can live with

Post by DaveS »

Nikon Coolpix is my favorite. You can find em at Walmart. I find the ones where the lens rolls out break in a year or two. I take em hiking and on motorcycle trips. Since I wear them out, I have used several brands. The Nikon is easier to use, and has less quirks than the others. Note you want one that will charge through the USB cable while plugged into your computer. The Sony's I have seen need to be plugged into a wall socket. I have not shopped for one in a while so I don't know the latest gizmos and models. Dave
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Midpack
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Re: Finding a digital camera I can live with

Post by Midpack »

I have a Nikon D90, I love it but it's not what you're looking for. We also have an older Nikon CoolPix, a handy alternative in many situations. To me it's ideal to have a DSLR and a small point and shoot. We just don't need high-res and advanced features for all situations.

Most of the reviews I read suggest Nikon has the best DSLRs and Canon the best smaller point and shoot cameras - but you really can't go wrong with either brand. I'd check current reviews and go from there...
Last edited by Midpack on Mon Jan 23, 2012 8:33 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Watty
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Re: Finding a digital camera I can live with

Post by Watty »

one is a big advocate of "micro 4/3" cameras,
Good advice. To get the good low light perforance you want you will really need one of these or a DSLR but I doubt that any DSLR would fit your size and weight requirments with a lens.

You should go to a camera store and check these out to see which feels best to you. If it feels good to you then any brand should be fine but you can check out the reviews at;

http://www.dpreview.com/

To see if there are any big problems with that model. If you are buying used you should likely also buy a new battery because they get weak after a while and the used one with that comes with the camera may work OK but not last as long as it should.
LifeIsGood
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Re: Finding a digital camera I can live with

Post by LifeIsGood »

I've had a Canon 50D DSLR for a couple of years and love it but got tired of the space/weight it took up when on trips. For my last vacation I bought a Canon S95 (now replaced by the S100). While it took fairly decent pictures, I was constantly wishing I had my SLR.
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Re: Finding a digital camera I can live with

Post by midareff »

Weight, responsiveness and the ability to access and use manual settings limits the market. I have used Canon SLRs, the Canon G10 and 11, S90 and 95 and the Panasonic GF-1 with viewfinder and four lenses. The results I liked the best (outside the SLRs) were from the G series. Canon just announed a new G series with an X designation promising much better speed and low light resolution. http://www.dpreview.com/news/2012/01/16 ... ple_Images

The link should work for some picture samples and a preview.
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Re: Finding a digital camera I can live with

Post by BigFoot48 »

I like my pocket Panasonic with a 12x zoom, HD video, and an "automatic" setting that takes care of 90% of picture situations. Their latest model in this series, Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS8, has a 16X zoom. A video I made with the camera mounted on my bicycle helmet can be viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzzhmvEH ... AAAAAAADAA I also have a video of a train passing by in YouTube made with the Panasonic.
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Re: Finding a digital camera I can live with

Post by The Wizard »

interplanetjanet wrote:I think it's finally time for me to join the 21st century proper and get a digital camera. I've done a lot of photography in the past but dropped out of it about ten years ago...
Given your statement here, one option might be to get something simple & cheap(er) first, to come up to speed on how things work now. The Canon Elph point&shoot series comes to mind. Then after you absorb the full complexity of what passes for a "simple" camera nowadays, you'll be smarter when/if it comes to spending big bucks...
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GregLee
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Re: Finding a digital camera I can live with

Post by GregLee »

I just bought my wife a Panasonic Lumix FH27 (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004NT ... 00_details) for about $160. It's very easy to use -- touch screen, automatic scene detection, anti-shake, fast autofocus. No viewfinder. Leica lens. Video performance is lackluster. On low light performance, reviews are mixed (and I haven't experimented with low light shots yet). Tapping the screen to pick a subject for the camera to follow for focusing on is neat.
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gatorman
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Re: Finding a digital camera I can live with

Post by gatorman »

I think you may have specified a camera that does not currently exist. If you want low shutter lag, you probably will need to go with a DSLR, but even the Nikon D3100 weighs in at ~27 oz. with the 18-55mm zoom lens, battery and memory card, so is over your weight limit. It is also slightly over your cost limit at $535 used and $599 new on Amazon. I do think the cost issue is addressable as you could probably find a used specimen on Ebay for under $500, and there is nothing wrong with buying used so long as the Seller will accept a return. I bought most of my lenses that way.

Shutter lag is a tougher problem. We've never had a point and shoot that was good at capturing action, which you get in abundance with kids and pets, so I think that area is where some accomodations need to be made. Either you accept a little extra weight or you accept some shutter lag. Perhaps one of the 4/3 cameras would solve the shutter lag problem, but most of the ones I've seen seem to sell for a good deal more than $500.

Personally, I think the extra 11 ounces is a worthwhile trade-off to get the versatility of a DSLR, but your thoughts may differ.

Good luck,
gatorman
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Midpack
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Re: Finding a digital camera I can live with

Post by Midpack »

gatorman wrote:I think you may have specified a camera that does not currently exist. If you want low shutter lag, you probably will need to go with a DSLR, but even the Nikon D3100 weighs in at ~27 oz. with the 18-55mm zoom lens, battery and memory card, so is over your weight limit. It is also slightly over your cost limit at $535 used and $599 new on Amazon. I do think the cost issue is addressable as you could probably find a used specimen on Ebay for under $500, and there is nothing wrong with buying used so long as the Seller will accept a return. I bought most of my lenses that way.

Shutter lag is a tougher problem. We've never had a point and shoot that was good at capturing action, which you get in abundance with kids and pets, so I think that area is where some accomodations need to be made. Either you accept a little extra weight or you accept some shutter lag. Perhaps one of the 4/3 cameras would solve the shutter lag problem, but most of the ones I've seen seem to sell for a good deal more than $500.

Personally, I think the extra 11 ounces is a worthwhile trade-off to get the versatility of a DSLR, but your thoughts may differ.

Good luck,
gatorman
And the OP mentioned low-light capability. That gets very, very expensive and heavy - I would not consider a D3100 w 18-55mm low light at all, though otherwise a great recommendation.
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Re: Finding a digital camera I can live with

Post by JMacDonald »

gatorman wrote:I think you may have specified a camera that does not currently exist.
Hi,
I have to agree with gatorman. I have a Nikon D40 and a Canon PowerShot SD800 IS. I am happy with both cameras. The Canon would be a good choice. It will fit in your bag easily and take good pictures. I carry it with me all the time. The Nikon I use when I am traveling. But the Nikon is a bit too big for it to fit in your bag. Good luck in your search.
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Re: Finding a digital camera I can live with

Post by mr.ajandkj »

I just went through similar research, so hopefully this may be helpful. I narrowed it down to two different cameras and so far I am happy with my choice. I'm into hiking, backpacking, etc, so wanted something smaller than a DSLR but better than the typical P&S (point & shoot).

My two choices were the Fuji X10 (rangefinder style fixed lens, $599) and a Sony NEX-5N ($699 with 18-55mm kit lens). The benefit of the Sony for me was interchangeable lenses, and with inexpensive (~$25) adapters, nearly any old SLR lens can be used with it. The Sony NEX series is a mirrorless camera, with a sensor the same size as your typical DSLR but in a body the size of a P&S. The only downside to the Sony for your criteria is it may be slightly larger than what you want, in that case the Fuji would be perfect. If you are interested in the Sony but it's a bit too expensive, there is a NEX-3 and a NEX-5(last years models) that you can find in your price range.

Where to buy: lots of choices out there...I went with Crutchfield.com...the benefit was they have a 60-day no-questions-asked return policy. It also helped that they sell open-box units for 10%-off retail with full warranty.

Here is an excellent article that may help you make your choice. http://www.theverge.com/2012/1/2/266346 ... yers-guide

Cheers!
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Re: Finding a digital camera I can live with

Post by englishgirl »

OK, this is probably not what you want to hear if you're interested in photography as a hobby, but I've been very impressed with the camera on my iPhone. It actually takes good pictures, especially close up. The autofocus is very good. And you can easily switch to video to capture action. Seriously, playing around with the camera to get super closeups of plants/flowers has shown me how versatile it is. The zoom is not good, as it degrades picture quality a lot, but otherwise it works just fine for me.

So, if you want something that you can carry around in your bag to have on hand all the time that will get you in the habit of taking more pictures, think about a smart phone. And then buy a better DSLR for when you want to take more serious shots.
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Re: Finding a digital camera I can live with

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GregLee
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Re: Finding a digital camera I can live with

Post by GregLee »

Midpack wrote: And the OP mentioned low-light capability. That gets very, very expensive and heavy - I would not consider a D3100 w 18-55mm low light at all, though otherwise a great recommendation.
I got a 50mm f/1.8D AF lens for $129 for my D3100 that does very well in low light, though I have to focus it manually. I see that Cameta Camera has a refurbished Nikon D3100 body for $440. So that might be worth thinking about.
Last edited by GregLee on Mon Jan 23, 2012 7:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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gatorman
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Re: Finding a digital camera I can live with

Post by gatorman »

Midpack wrote:
gatorman wrote:I think you may have specified a camera that does not currently exist. If you want low shutter lag, you probably will need to go with a DSLR, but even the Nikon D3100 weighs in at ~27 oz. with the 18-55mm zoom lens, battery and memory card, so is over your weight limit. It is also slightly over your cost limit at $535 used and $599 new on Amazon. I do think the cost issue is addressable as you could probably find a used specimen on Ebay for under $500, and there is nothing wrong with buying used so long as the Seller will accept a return. I bought most of my lenses that way.

Shutter lag is a tougher problem. We've never had a point and shoot that was good at capturing action, which you get in abundance with kids and pets, so I think that area is where some accomodations need to be made. Either you accept a little extra weight or you accept some shutter lag. Perhaps one of the 4/3 cameras would solve the shutter lag problem, but most of the ones I've seen seem to sell for a good deal more than $500.

Personally, I think the extra 11 ounces is a worthwhile trade-off to get the versatility of a DSLR, but your thoughts may differ.

Good luck,
gatorman
And the OP mentioned low-light capability. That gets very, very expensive and heavy - I would not consider a D3100 w 18-55mm low light at all, though otherwise a great recommendation.
The VR lens, which I had in mind and which would be the one to buy, not the older non-VR version, is worth ~2-3 stops, so can be used in some low light situations. Of course, if what you are shooting is moving around a lot, the VR feature won't help. In that case, one might want to get the 35mm f/1.8G lens or the 50mm f/1.4G, both of which will focus on the D3100 body, but which also will blow the budget if purchased in addition to the 18-55mm. Alternatively, if she is willing to forego the zoom feature, the D3100 body with either the 35mm f/1.8 or 50mm f/1.4 lens might do the trick and would be slightly lighter than the 18-55mm VR zoom and probably could be purchased within her budgetary limitation, at least in the case of the 35mm f/1.8.

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Re: Finding a digital camera I can live with

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Re: Finding a digital camera I can live with

Post by Trestles »

interplanetjanet wrote:I'm getting some different recommendations from friends, one is a big advocate of "micro 4/3" cameras, specifically the Olympus E-P1/2 and the Panasonic GF1. These fit just within my weight limit when equipped with small lenses, and the 20mm f1.7 lens that came with some GF1's seems like it would be great for low-light situations.
I own the Panasonic GF1 and the 20mm f1.7 lens. It is a fantastic camera and the pictures it takes are nothing short of extraordinary. I personally never use the flash -- even in low lit indoor settings I can get by without it. In those circumstances I try to take 3 or 4 shots and I will usually find one with a lot of character.

The only downside to this camera is that it is not a point and shoot. It has a very small depth of field so you must always pay attention to the auto focus or use manual focus if the camera is not reading your mind. Of course you can switch the lens if you are looking for a different style of photography.

Feel free to ask me about it!

Trestles
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interplanetjanet
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Re: Finding a digital camera I can live with

Post by interplanetjanet »

englishgirl wrote:OK, this is probably not what you want to hear if you're interested in photography as a hobby, but I've been very impressed with the camera on my iPhone. It actually takes good pictures, especially close up. The autofocus is very good. And you can easily switch to video to capture action. Seriously, playing around with the camera to get super closeups of plants/flowers has shown me how versatile it is. The zoom is not good, as it degrades picture quality a lot, but otherwise it works just fine for me.

So, if you want something that you can carry around in your bag to have on hand all the time that will get you in the habit of taking more pictures, think about a smart phone. And then buy a better DSLR for when you want to take more serious shots.
I've been carrying smartphones for many years and have an iPhone from work. I use these all the time to take quick pictures when out and about, and even used them on my last couple of vacations to take some nice pictures (one of a forest of bleached manzanita blew up tolerably well to 18x24 and is on my daughters' wall). What I'd like a dedicated digital camera for is to capture action better, to deal well with low light and to get a bit of a wider field of view. I have taken some good pictures with mine but it leaves me wanting more.

I'm not really interested in photography as a hobby so much as capturing moments that interest me. No interest in equiment collecting or keeping up with whatever the latest and greatest technology is, I just want something that will work with me and not against me when I want to take a picture (hence the "won't frustrate me" qualification). I don't expect to carry whatever camera I get all the time, but perhaps a third or half of the time when I go out - the rest of the time, if something interesting comes up I can pull out a cameraphone.

-janet
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Re: Finding a digital camera I can live with

Post by frose2 »

I strongly recommend the websites by Thom Hogan, which are bythom.com and sansmirror.com. For low-light capability, consult dxomark.com.

Don't know what your threshold would be for "good" low-light capability so it's hard to say what your bottom line should be. I tend to agree with gatorman who suggests you're asking for something that doesn't really exist.

DOF preview is not very useful on any digital camera I've used due to poor viewfinder quality (and you can only get a real viewfinder on a DSLR). I have not used professional DSLR models where DOF preview may be useful for people with better eyesight than mine.

Some options in order of increasing low-light capability: Canon S95/S100, Panasonic LX5 (better than Canon S95/S100 only at telephoto due to faster lens), Nikon 1, Panasonic G3 (micro 4/3), Nikon D5100 (DSLR), Nikon D3s (DSLR). The differences in low-light capability are about a factor of 30 in signal to noise ratio up to the D3s. Only the first two are within your budget, and you can get a refurb micro 4/3 E-PL1 within budget too (somewhat worse low-light capability than the G3). Do not get a lesser compact than the Canon S95 if you want low-light capability.

You may need to learn postprocessing of digital files, so it may make sense to get an S95 or S100 or LX5 and learn that way and then decide what you really want.
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Re: Finding a digital camera I can live with

Post by frose2 »

interplanetjanet wrote:I'm not really interested in photography as a hobby so much as capturing moments that interest me. No interest in equiment collecting or keeping up with whatever the latest and greatest technology is, I just want something that will work with me and not against me when I want to take a picture (hence the "won't frustrate me" qualification)
I have a compact, an E-PL1 (micro 4/3), and a fancy DSLR. The fancy DSLR is by far the least frustrating to capture moments that interest me, and that in large part because of its low-light capability (also because of some UI features, an OK viewfinder, etc.). For me, the other two cameras are just for packing on airplanes; problem is, I would never put the DSLR in checked luggage, and would even be afraid of gate-checking it, so what winds up being taken on trips is the E-PL1.
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Re: Finding a digital camera I can live with

Post by porcupine »

interplanetjanet wrote:[...]No interest in equiment collecting or keeping up with whatever the latest and greatest technology is, I just want something that will work with me and not against me when I want to take a picture (hence the "won't frustrate me" qualification). I don't expect to carry whatever camera I get all the time, but perhaps a third or half of the time when I go out - the rest of the time, if something interesting comes up I can pull out a cameraphone.

-janet
Depending on how much shutter lag you can tolerate, I would recommend the Canon SX series. I have an SX-100IS but I believe they are upto SX-140 or so now. I paid about $200 or so for it.

- Porcupine
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Re: Finding a digital camera I can live with

Post by mr.ajandkj »

The Fuji X10 and Sony NEX are both excellent in low-light situations. The Sony has some really nice features built into the software to make the most of low-light, such as a "Handheld Twilight" mode.
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Re: Finding a digital camera I can live with

Post by EagertoLearnMore »

+1 for Panasonic Lumix with Leica lens. Costco usually has good sales on them. Mine came with case and 4GB chip. This is the second Panasonic (first is still working but handed down to family member).
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Re: Finding a digital camera I can live with

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gatorman wrote:Personally, I think the extra 11 ounces is a worthwhile trade-off to get the versatility of a DSLR, but your thoughts may differ.
Maybe I should give a bit more backstory.

I carry a couple cameraphones at all times, so I always have something that can make some kind of picture in good light, if things stay still, etc.

If I'm willing to haul equipment around, my family has a stable of 35mm and medium-format film cameras handy. They take beautiful pictures but I have to plan ahead to take one, and obviously the costs/hassle of dealing with film aren't going away (though I did teach my daughters how to develop and print film last year, while it's no longer a practical solution for taking photographs in any kind of quantity there's an "oh wow" factor as the image leaps onto the paper that you don't get with a printer).

What I really want is something in between. Something I can put in my purse or pack when going out and not really feel the extra weight, or worry about an extra bag, or feel dumb if I don't use it. I carry a 1lb palmtop now about half the time, so I think a 1lb camera would work well for the other half - an extra 11oz and a larger size would definitely make things harder for "casual carry". I've thought about small "point and shoot" cameras, but don't see them offering enough over what I get now with my cameraphones.

I had a rangefinder film camera from the '70s I'm trying to remember the name of now. It was just under 1lb, with a fast f2.0 or better lens (1.9?) and I could carry it just about anywhere. It seems like there's a market for this, somewhere. Looking at the Fuji X10 and X100 is very interesting, too - though expensive, but I bet they'll fall with time.

I may still want to get a DSLR at some point, but I can't convince myself yet that I need one. Depending on what I can find to fill an intermediary purpose I may be able to hold off getting one for a while (or then again, maybe not).
Good luck,
gatorman
Thanks!

-janet
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Re: Finding a digital camera I can live with

Post by Fletch »

Canon S95 (previous model) or S100. Check them out.

Full disclosure: I have an S95 - awesome camera.

See http://www.steves-digicams.com/ for camera reviews, might help with specs that are important to you. Best wishes in your quest!!



... Fletch
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Re: Finding a digital camera I can live with

Post by FrugalInvestor »

I have a Panasonic DMC-TZ3, it is a couple of years old and was very highly rated camera when I purchased it. The shutter lag drove me crazy.

So I purchased a Nikon S9100. The speed is much better but still not SLRish. It also doesn't have as much manual control as you'd like (i.e. depth of field preview).

I'm now looking at the micro four thirds cameras. I'll eventually go that direction and you would probably be more satisfied with one of them too.
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Re: Finding a digital camera I can live with

Post by Mudpuppy »

This has nothing to do with the model selected, but you might want to wait until the impact of the Thailand floods has minimized in order to find a good bargain. Sony, Nikon, and Canon all were impacted by the flood to some extent or another. This has driven up prices, just like hard drive prices have gone up due to the flooded HDD factories.
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Re: Finding a digital camera I can live with

Post by BigFoot48 »

EagertoLearnMore wrote:+1 for Panasonic Lumix with Leica lens. Costco usually has good sales on them. Mine came with case and 4GB chip. This is the second Panasonic (first is still working but handed down to family member).
I have a Panasonic ZS3 and looked on Costco and saw the current version, the ZS10 for $270. A camera with a 24-384mm lens that fits in your pocket - with GPS as a bonus! Amazing times we live in.
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Re: Finding a digital camera I can live with

Post by gatorman »

Mudpuppy wrote:This has nothing to do with the model selected, but you might want to wait until the impact of the Thailand floods has minimized in order to find a good bargain. Sony, Nikon, and Canon all were impacted by the flood to some extent or another. This has driven up prices, just like hard drive prices have gone up due to the flooded HDD factories.
You make a very good point. I bought a Nikon D7000 last year, paid ~$1100 for the body, maybe ~$1200, I really don't remember, but it was in that range. Now they are selling for ~$1450, because of the flood. As soon as production picks back up, I expect the price to go back down to the old price. Now is not the time to buy if price is a major concern.
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Re: Finding a digital camera I can live with

Post by gatorman »

interplanetjanet wrote:
gatorman wrote:Personally, I think the extra 11 ounces is a worthwhile trade-off to get the versatility of a DSLR, but your thoughts may differ.
Maybe I should give a bit more backstory.

I carry a couple cameraphones at all times, so I always have something that can make some kind of picture in good light, if things stay still, etc.

If I'm willing to haul equipment around, my family has a stable of 35mm and medium-format film cameras handy. They take beautiful pictures but I have to plan ahead to take one, and obviously the costs/hassle of dealing with film aren't going away (though I did teach my daughters how to develop and print film last year, while it's no longer a practical solution for taking photographs in any kind of quantity there's an "oh wow" factor as the image leaps onto the paper that you don't get with a printer).

What I really want is something in between. Something I can put in my purse or pack when going out and not really feel the extra weight, or worry about an extra bag, or feel dumb if I don't use it. I carry a 1lb palmtop now about half the time, so I think a 1lb camera would work well for the other half - an extra 11oz and a larger size would definitely make things harder for "casual carry". I've thought about small "point and shoot" cameras, but don't see them offering enough over what I get now with my cameraphones.

I had a rangefinder film camera from the '70s I'm trying to remember the name of now. It was just under 1lb, with a fast f2.0 or better lens (1.9?) and I could carry it just about anywhere. It seems like there's a market for this, somewhere. Looking at the Fuji X10 and X100 is very interesting, too - though expensive, but I bet they'll fall with time.

I may still want to get a DSLR at some point, but I can't convince myself yet that I need one. Depending on what I can find to fill an intermediary purpose I may be able to hold off getting one for a while (or then again, maybe not).
Good luck,
gatorman
Thanks!

-janet
Ken Rockwell has an extensive, and very positive, review of the Fuji x100 on his website. It seems like a very nice camera, but it still wouldn't meet your requirement of minimal shutter lag. it also retails for ~$1,100, so is more than twice what you want to spend. The x10 is a small sensor camera and so the low light level performance probably wouldn't meet your criteria, although otherwise it looks like a very nice camera as well. The Canon S95, mentioned by several posters, might be your best bet, a fairly fast f/2.0 lens, small form factor, and from all reports, fairly high performance. Plus, it is in closeout, so can be purchased for under $300. It would still suffer from shutter lag though, as do all the smaller cameras. But, if you bought the S95, it might make a good bridge camera to use until the manufacturers come out with one that has all the features you want. You wouldn't be getting quite what you want with the S95, but then you wouldn't have a huge investment in it either.
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MossySF
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Re: Finding a digital camera I can live with

Post by MossySF »

gatorman wrote:Perhaps one of the 4/3 cameras would solve the shutter lag problem, but most of the ones I've seen seem to sell for a good deal more than $500.
First generation micro 4/3rds for $380.

http://www.costco.com/Browse/Product.as ... US&topnav=

I paid $550 a year ago for this camera ... without the 40-150 zoom lens. For what the OP wants, it's an OK solution. Still a bit larger than I'd like to be truly take everywhere at all times but does a good enough SLR-like job for low light and no shutter lag.
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Re: Finding a digital camera I can live with

Post by GregLee »

BigFoot48 wrote:I have a Panasonic ZS3 and looked on Costco and saw the current version, the ZS10 for $270.
Iirc, from reading user reviews, the ZS10's CMOS sensor has gotten some bad notices -- too much noise.
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frose2
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Re: Finding a digital camera I can live with

Post by frose2 »

MossySF wrote:First generation micro 4/3rds for $380.
Actually, you can get them new for $299:

http://www.amazon.com/Olympus-Interchan ... 319&sr=8-1

You can get a refurb from Cameta Camera for $229:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/ ... efurbished

I like the kit lens on this camera very much. Sadly, a Panasonic 20 mm f/1.7 would cost a good deal more than the camera did!
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Re: Finding a digital camera I can live with

Post by PaddyMac »

I go thru a new camera every couple of years. I don't like the iPhone camera as the battery is too often near-death and I need to take bunch of pics quite often (at workshops etc).

I've been most happy with Canon cameras over the years. I've bookmarked the Canon S100 to research for my next pocket camera, which is a few months away.
http://www.cameralabs.com/reviews/Canon ... dict.shtml

I found that having a camera that shoots in low light in restaurants without a flash is important to me, as well as being able to shoot in RAW mode and change the exposure later in Photoshop.
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Re: Finding a digital camera I can live with

Post by gatorman »

MossySF wrote:
gatorman wrote:Perhaps one of the 4/3 cameras would solve the shutter lag problem, but most of the ones I've seen seem to sell for a good deal more than $500.
First generation micro 4/3rds for $380.

http://www.costco.com/Browse/Product.as ... US&topnav=

I paid $550 a year ago for this camera ... without the 40-150 zoom lens. For what the OP wants, it's an OK solution. Still a bit larger than I'd like to be truly take everywhere at all times but does a good enough SLR-like job for low light and no shutter lag.
That might work for her if she is willing to forego taking photos of moving objects under low light conditions. The lenses are slow, but the camera has built in IS, so one should be able to take scenery or architectural shots under low light conditions hand held. Anything that moves, like kids or pets, wouldn't be a good subject for candid photos with this camera under low light conditions.
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Re: Finding a digital camera I can live with

Post by MossySF »

gatorman wrote:That might work for her if she is willing to forego taking photos of moving objects under low light conditions. The lenses are slow, but the camera has built in IS, so one should be able to take scenery or architectural shots under low light conditions hand held. Anything that moves, like kids or pets, wouldn't be a good subject for candid photos with this camera under low light conditions.
gatorman
Hmm? ISO to 3200, force Shutter to 1/30 and turn on continous shooting mode -- and then pow pow pow pow as I follow the action -- 10+ photos which I then keep 2 or 3 of the good ones and retouch with GIMP.

Or are you saying compared to a full blown $1000 DSLR that weighs 5lbs, it can't take these type of photos with a perfect shot each time at maximum resolutions? Well obviously but it's still comes way closer than any P&S can. You'd be lucky to even take a single blurry shot with a P&S.
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Re: Finding a digital camera I can live with

Post by bungalow10 »

another vote for the Lumix. I'm on my 3rd one, I think (one lost, one broken - my fault). They are great. I've recommended them to a few people and all have really enjoyed them.
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Re: Finding a digital camera I can live with

Post by gatorman »

MossySF wrote:
gatorman wrote:That might work for her if she is willing to forego taking photos of moving objects under low light conditions. The lenses are slow, but the camera has built in IS, so one should be able to take scenery or architectural shots under low light conditions hand held. Anything that moves, like kids or pets, wouldn't be a good subject for candid photos with this camera under low light conditions.
gatorman
Hmm? ISO to 3200, force Shutter to 1/30 and turn on continous shooting mode -- and then pow pow pow pow as I follow the action -- 10+ photos which I then keep 2 or 3 of the good ones and retouch with GIMP.

Or are you saying compared to a full blown $1000 DSLR that weighs 5lbs, it can't take these type of photos with a perfect shot each time at maximum resolutions? Well obviously but it's still comes way closer than any P&S can. You'd be lucky to even take a single blurry shot with a P&S.
Let me start out by saying I haven't shot the camera myself, so all I have to go on is what others say. CNET's reviewer said this:

Sigh. The E-PL1's lack of speed simply makes me sad; the whole Pen series does in that respect. If you're a manual focuser it's much less depressing, though there are still non-focus aspects of the camera's performance which disappoint as well. It wakes and shoots in about 1.8 seconds, which isn't bad. But in optimal conditions it takes 0.9 second to focus and shoot, and it takes 1.4 seconds in low-contrast conditions--slower than all but Olympus' other models, and just slow by any absolute measure. Shot-to-shot time is about 2 seconds, sluggish in comparison to all but the Canon PowerShot G11, but not as problematic in practice as the slow autofocus, and it bumps to 2.7 seconds with flash enabled. Though the burst performance is a quite class-competitive 3.3 frames per second, the autofocus system can't keep up, and, like with the E-P2, just isn't very good for shooting basic kids-'n'-pets-type action.


Read more: http://reviews.cnet.com/digital-cameras ... z1kNW9CLbr

You may have figured out a way to get around the limitations noted in the CNET review.

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Re: Finding a digital camera I can live with

Post by Lbill »

I've had a Fuji F30 for a few years now, and a couple things I love about it is that the battery lasts forever and it has very good low light performance. The battery lasts so long that I forget it needs to be charged. The low light performance has allowed me to take photos in settings where a flash would be intrusive and I've often found the non-flash pics look more natural than the on-flash pics. One review of the Canon S-series cameras indicates the battery life isn't great, which is kind of a negative for folks like me who want to take a camera on an extended trip or backpacking hike and not have to screw with the cost and hassle of multiple back-up batteries. I've only needed the one in-camera battery for the Fuji all these years. I'm wondering if anyone out there knows which current cameras (Fuji and others) compare or exceed the F30 in battery life, low light resolution while still being very compact, high quality point and shoot digicams? It also seems to have a little heft and the body is either metal or a good imitation.
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Re: Finding a digital camera I can live with

Post by GregLee »

Lbill wrote:I'm wondering if anyone out there knows which current cameras (Fuji and others) compare or exceed the F30 in battery life, ...
I don't know, but I thought I'd mention that some after-market batteries may help with battery life. I bought a Wasabi battery for my wife's Panasonic camera, on the strength of reviews. It is much cheaper and lasts considerably longer on a charge, supposedly. Wasabi also makes batteries for Canon, Fuji, and I don't know what else. (The Lumix camera manual warns not to use any batteries not made by Panasonic.)
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Re: Finding a digital camera I can live with

Post by lj3jim »

interplanetjanet wrote:I'm looking for something smaller than most SLRs: <1lb, small enough to stuff in my purse, and good low-light performance would be nice. Interchangable lenses are interesting but not really a priority if there are cameras with very good dedicated lenses out there. I expect to be buying used but in good condition, budget is around $300-500 for a body+lens.

I don't really care so much about megapixels and minutae, what I want is a camera that will not frustrate me. Frustration comes in many forms but things that top it are shutter lag, autofocus performance, and a difficult to use UI - probably in about that order. When I push a button I need a picture now, not half a second from now. I want to be able to set an aperture and ideally get a depth of field preview without too much work.
My wife was looking for essentially the same thing (I use a DSLR myself). For my wife, an optical viewfinder was manditory. We looked at the Nikon P500, the Canon G12, and the Canon SX40. We chose the Canon SX40 (about $400). The G12 didn't have enough zoom. The P500 and the SX40 probably have too much (both about 35x), but too much is better than too little. The SX40 takes great shots in "Automatic" mode, but it also gives you as much (or as little) manual control as you wish. We ended up choosing the Canon SX40 over the Nikon because my DSLR is Canon. A member of our camera club has the Nikon P500, and she is very pleased with it as well. I would encourage you to check out both of these models.

[Edit] The SX40 also has an optional filter adapter for 67mm filters. My wife takes a lot of outdoor shots, and she wanted the ability to use a polarizer.

Regards, Jim
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Re: Finding a digital camera I can live with

Post by GregLee »

More on the Panasonic Lumix FH27/FH25. I just re-read the CNET review, and here are a couple of relevant excerpts:

"If you need something for great low-light shots, this isn't your camera."

"While I wouldn't recommend the FH25 for regularly shooting active kids and pets, the camera is pretty quick for its class, especially in terms of shutter lag and autofocus. The time from off to first shot is very good at 1.3 seconds. The shutter lag in bright conditions (how quickly a camera captures an image after the shutter-release button is pressed) averaged 0.3 second in our lab tests and just 0.6 second in dim lighting."

from: http://reviews.cnet.com/digital-cameras ... eviewPage1
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Re: Finding a digital camera I can live with

Post by actor10 »

Canon S100. (i have the s95 and my wife has the s90.)

I also have a Nikon D300 and if it isn't fast moving wildlife, I can't tell the difference.
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Re: Finding a digital camera I can live with

Post by not2late2learn »

Check out the Panasonic LX5. Its in the "enthusiast" high-end group. Key features are a fast 2.0 lens, wide 24mm (equiv) wide angle, super construction, easy to use with lots of manual control possible, but not required, will shoot raw (for when you want to play), aspect ratios use full sensor (not just cropping). The lens is what makes this camera. Downside is only 90mm (equiv) max zoom, but if you aren't automatically looking for a big zoom range..... Besides, big zoom ranges in compact cameras by definition mean compromises in f-stop and lens quality. Many compact cameras start at 28mm - the 24mm wide really makes a difference, if you like that kind of shooting.

My son shoots with a Canon 5dII - I gave him a LX5 for Christmas and he didn't put it down for 3 days. Teased him about the weight of his 5dII....... But we both loved the results - fabulously detailed, lots of resolution, crisp photos.

Also recommend the micro 4/3, if you want smallish, but build into a system of interchangeable lenses. Other postings in other threads go over the 4/3 system.

Some reviews of the LX5 vs Canon S95, S100, g12 and others:
http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/Q42010h ... pactgroup/

http://www.dpreview.com/articles/433317 ... ct-cameras

Lots of good info on the dpreview forums - use their search capability. Many good posters there (but some flame wars and fanboy wars.)

I evaluated the Canon S100 vs LX5 when purchasing for him. Key differentiator was the LX5 lens - stayed wider (f3.3) at max zoom, where the Canon bumped quickly to a smaller f-stop (5.6 range?) at its max zoom (120mm?) The control ring around the S100 is a nice control feature.

LX5 selling at about $370 at Amazon nowadays. It has been out for a year+, so people talk about a replacement sometime, but nothing announced. Any replacement will likely be a $450+ camera, where the LX5 was priced a few months ago.

Good luck, let us know what you purchase.
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Re: Finding a digital camera I can live with

Post by interplanetjanet »

Well, I took the plunge last month and picked up a Panasonic GF1 with the 20mm/f1.7 for around $500.

Overall I have to say that I'm extremely happy with it. The level of manual control it allows for is a real help and in cases where you can set up your shot beforehand it is just lovely - my son did a drama performance last week in a dark theatre with a lit stage. I zone focused on the stage and did a couple test shots early on to work out the exposure and from then on I didn't even need the display on - I just raised the camera, hit the shutter and put it back down. Every shot came out well enough to be able to crop pretty far down and still make for reasonable prints. ISO 400, 1/60th @ f2 (depth of field was large enough that far off).

I took it with me this last Sunday when I went to see an annular solar eclipse, not for taking pictures of the sun so much as for the scenery. To my delight I found that it slipped into the pocket of my shorts. If it had been half an inch larger in any dimension I think it might not have made it.

I thought that the lack of a viewfinder would be a real limitation, especially as presbyopia is starting to set in. I ordered a ClearViewer lens (basically a glass planoconvex lens for use as a display viewer) and fashioned a hybrid foldable eye-level viewfinder with the addition of an LCD shade, some black closed-cell insulation foam and some stretchy swimsuit nylon. It's worked far beyond my expectations and not only does it provide an excellent image but it also allows for my forehead to help stabilize the camera body. I have no problems doing manual focus now, which is great - a lens adaptor I'd ordered (micro 4/3 to Fuji-X) has let me use a couple of older Fujinon lenses I had around, and my 50mm lens has been a joy to use outdoors.

Anyways, I am thoughly satisfied with my purchase at this point. By waiting so long to get into digital I think I've managed to skip a number of generations of technology, making what's currently available more impressive to me - but I am impressed! The shutter is nowhere near as loud as I'd grown to expect based on reviews, though my idea of "loud" is a Pentax 6x7 so I guess almost anything nowadays would be quieter.

There are little niggles, auto-ISO and auto-shutter speed don't work quite how I'd like them to. However, it's really not that much trouble to set things up a bit more by hand if you have any kind of clue as to what light you'll be shooting in. The ability to switch it to "auto" and hand it to someone is a nice touch, too.

-janet
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Re: Finding a digital camera I can live with

Post by gatorman »

I took a look at it on Amazon, a very nice camera. You got an excellent price too, Amazon is selling them for ~$600 more than you paid. I'm glad you found something to meet your needs.
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