Kodak Z812 isn't cutting it...which camera should I get instead?

Discussion in 'What Camera Should I Buy?' started by stuman74, Dec 2, 2007.

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  1. stuman74

    stuman74 Member

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    I just got a Kodak Z812 IS yesterday that I was really excited about. However, I used it today at a well lit indoor holiday party and frankly, the pictures look like crap. Granted, I had less than a day to play with the tweak features, but for 95% of the photos, I had it at 8MP in auto-mode with the auto-flash on. The main issue seemed to be focus and clarity. Yes, I know how to lock in the focus zones and everything...I've used cameras for decades like most of you.

    The HD video was also unimpressive and the audio on it was absolutely horrible!

    Hence, I am back to the drawing board. I am not looking to go all the way up to a dSLR so I think my main contenders are:

    Canon SX100 IS
    Canon S5 IS
    Canon G9
    Nikon P50
    Nikon P5100

    My first thought as a comparable replacement for the Z812 is the SX100. Seems about the same, just 10x zoom instead of 12x, but my key is great picture quality with some decent video from time to time of the kids.

    I'd appreciate some of the forum members feedback before I pick. Thanks!



    Budget

    $200-$350

    Size

    Doesn't matter

    Features

    8MP or more

    Desired optical zoom > 10x, required optical zoon > 6x

    Image quality = 9+ (per my judgment of course)

    Do you care for manual exposure modes (shutter priority, aperture priority, manual)?

    Not required, but most have these anyway.

    General Usage

    * What will you generally use the camera for?
    Pictures of the kids (indoor and outdoor)

    * Will you be making big prints of your photos or not?
    Rarely 8 x 10 or 11 x 14, usually 4 x 6 or 5 x 7.

    Will you be shooting a lot of indoor photos or low light photos?
    30%-40%

    Will you be shooting sports and/or action photos?
    5-10%

    Miscellaneous

    Are there particular brands you like or hate?
    I don't like Kodak anymore. Not big on Panasonic per other electronic device failures.

    Are there particular models you already have in mind?
    Canon SX100 IS
    Canon S5 IS
    Canon G9
    Nikon P50
    Nikon P5100

    (If applicable) Do you need any of the following special features? (Wide Angle, Image Stabilization, Weatherproof, Hotshoe, Rotating LCD)
    No
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2007
  2. E.B.E.

    E.B.E. Well-Known Member

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    Hi,
    In reply to your last "no", perhaps image stabilization will help with indoor settings?

    I have the G9 and it's not great in low-light conditions (noise issue like most p&s cameras). Also it has only 6x zoom and it's a bit out of the budget.
     
  3. Ben Stafford

    Ben Stafford Site Admin

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    Your zoom requirements pretty much rule out the two Nikons, so that would leave the Canon S5 IS and Canon G9.

    It's hard to really point OP in a particular direction since it's hard to tell what happened with the Kodak shots. If things weren't in focus, it sounds like the camera was focusing on the wrong thing, or conditions weren't good enough to get a good focus. It's possible that something is wrong with the camera. I'm also not sure what is meant by poor "clarity".
     
  4. stuman74

    stuman74 Member

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    Thanks for the reply. I know I said >10x but I really meant greater than or equal to. I went to CC today and picked up a SX100 IS. I've been doing a bunch of side-by-side photos between the two today (plus with my older Kodak V530). All shots indoors since it's been snowing/raining where I live. I do have to say that there is a bit of an improvement with the Canon. Colors seems to be truer than with the Kodak and certain details on kids toys and my son's hair aren't as, how do I say this, fuzzy I guess? They are focuses, but when zoomed in, I can see his strands of hair on the Canon, but the Kodak has the jpeg kinda blurred.

    I also held the cameras right next to each other and recorded video simultaneously. Did 640x480 on both. The video was about the same, but the mono sound on the SX100 IS was way better than the supposed stereo sound on the Z812 IS. The Kodak was often crackly and on playback sounded like a blown speaker at times.

    From the party yesterday, the lighting was fluorescent so maybe that had to do with it, but pretty well lit in the party room. If I had more time with it prior to shooting the photos, I maybe would have learned some manual settings better that would have helped. But I just want the point and shoot that should be good out of the box on the auto settings.

    I am probably leaning towards returning the Z812 IS at this point and keeping the SX100 IS. They were only $5 different and I think are in the same class for comparison sake. Definitely wish the Z812 IS worked out though. Looks great on paper (specs) and feels good in the hand when taking shots, but for me the photos weren't that great.
     
  5. Ben Stafford

    Ben Stafford Site Admin

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    Wow - excellent side by side tests - certainly it's a great way to test cameras if you can. Thanks for letting us know how it ended up.

    As far as the blurriness/softness, it may just be that the Kodak lens/sensor combination can't resolve the details that you're seeing with the Canon. Kodak typically does an excellent job with colors, but Canon images do typically have nice sharp shots.
     
  6. stuman74

    stuman74 Member

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    Quick question on an auto-focus setting that each of these cameras has...Is it better to have it set to "single" or "continuous"?

    The Z812 IS was set by default to "continuous", but the SX100 IS was set by default to "single".

    Just wondering if that could have been part of my issue with the shots yesterday. Though, with a bunch of kids that are always moving, intuitively, I would think that continuous would be better.
     
  7. CalebSchmerge

    CalebSchmerge Super Moderator/Reviewer News/Review Writer

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    Continuous is better if your subjects are moving. If you are doing portraits, then you would probably want to use single. I have my D70 set to continuous focus because I spend a lot of time photographing animals, which are often times moving, so continuous is better. For kids, I would pick continuous, unless there is an "automatic" setting, like on some newer Nikons (DSLRs, I'm not sure about P&S cameras).
     
  8. Ben Stafford

    Ben Stafford Site Admin

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    I definitely agree with Caleb on the stationary vs moving subjects, but I also wonder if the continuous AF is not as accurate as the single AF (at least on the Z812). It's definitely worth a try to see if single AF gives you any better results.

    With point and shoots, I rarely use continuous AF since I always do a partial press anyway - which goes ahead and gets a focus lock. The continuous AF also seems to be slower than I want to shoot with anyway.
     
  9. stuman74

    stuman74 Member

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    Yeah, I always do a partial press as well and then fire. I guess that makes "continuous" kinda pointless then since that should make "single" at least as effective as "continuous" anyway.
     
  10. CalebSchmerge

    CalebSchmerge Super Moderator/Reviewer News/Review Writer

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    I doesn't entirely render continuous pointless, because if you press the button to prefocus, it will focus and then lock the focus, so if your subject moves between prefocusing and firing, then continuous will be helpful.
     
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