Pocket/Ultrazoom/Digital SLR - Oh My!

Discussion in 'What Camera Should I Buy?' started by Kanga2Roos, Feb 3, 2009.

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  1. Kanga2Roos

    Kanga2Roos New Member

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    Hello! So glad to have found this site. I am a mom who loves photos and has a really good eye, but no knowledge of most manual functions on cameras or of anything beyond auto on an SLR. I have an approx 4 year old Canon SLR that I have been using exclusively as I never really thought that digital photos were good enough quality for me to justify making the switch...that is, until now. I am having a hard time sorting through all of the info. Here's what I've seen / tried.
    A friend recommended the Canon SD850 (she saw consumer reports had it hightly rated). I grabbed it on impulse at Costco and was fairly pleased w/ it, but saw a number of complaints on the web that the lens tended to freeze up and with that being a $200 plus repair I was concerned that the 1 year manufacturer warranty wouldn't be enough.
    I then visited some local camera stores and tried a few.
    1) the Nikon P80. I loved the zoom (except for moving targets) but felt that the indoor shots lacked the crispness of the Canon. I am open to the somewhat larger size of the ultrazooms, but wonder if there's one w/ more crispness for closer shots.
    2) the fuji F100. Tried this since a friend of mine is really into cameras and swears by Fuji and their F series. She really likes the F50 for image quality and low light handling. I missed the zoom somewhat, though most of my photos wouldn't be using it, but mainly felt it was a very pricey option considering that the F60 is still out there for about $140 less.
    3) The Fuji F60. After trying to sort through the choices again at a local shop (and being disappointed that the canon SX110 was sold out) we decided to try this. Unfortunately we had sick kids and lots of travel time in the car so I really didn't get to try this one out. Seems to not be as sharp in image quality as the Canon, but I'm not sure. We're hoping to take this back to the camera shop tomorrow.

    Here are the answers to the questionnaire. Thanks in advance!
    Budget

    - Within reason, I'm willing to spend and even buy 2 cameras if necessary. A pocket and a digital SLR? I've heard of some folks (only camera shop employees, perhaps) who buy all 3 types of cameras. I'd love to keep it to 1 if possible, but it may not be.

    Size

    I'd love to be able to get a pocket that has the features I want, but I'm open to the ultrazoom as I carry a large purse. The digital SLR really doesn't seem to be an option for taking w/ me as I go around w/ the kids. Maybe for more special events it would work as a 2nd camera option if I can't get really good quality w/ a smaller camera.

    Features

    How many megapixels will suffice for you? I'm not sure how to evaluate this. I care a great deal about image quality. That is a "10" for me. I may be content w/ the standard zoom, but once I got the nice shots from the P80 using the zoom perhaps I've been spoiled.

    * What optical zoom will you need? (None, Standard = 3x-4x, Ultrazoom = 10x-12x)

    * How important is “image quality” to you? (Rate using a scale of 1-10)

    Do you care for manual exposure modes (shutter priority, aperture priority, manual)?
    I'd love to have these options, but I don't know how to use them yet.

    General Usage

    * What will you generally use the camera for? Mostly family shots, but I like to experiment. I would like photos that I can display in nice albums and put on walls in frames. The main reason I want a smaller camera is so that I don't miss so many shots that I have missed in the past.

    * Will you be making big prints of your photos or not? Not many - 5% perhaps.

    Will you be shooting a lot of indoor photos or low light photos? Yes.

    Will you be shooting sports and/or action photos? Now necessarily, but my boys are young and like sports. One issue I have found is that my kids move so much it is hard to get a good shot of them and the digital cameras seem to have more trouble catching a good shot than the SLR. Is this my imagination?

    Miscellaneous

    Are there particular brands you like or hate? No.

    Are there particular models you already have in mind? Please see the above. I was intrigued by recommendations I've seen on this site for the Canon SX10is and the SD770 is and also the panasonic TZ5. I've had the Canon SX110, Nikon S550, Olympus 1020 recommended to me.

    (If applicable) Do you need any of the following special features? (Wide Angle, Image Stabilization, Weatherproof, Hotshoe, Rotating LCD)
    I think that w/ the kiddos I need Image stabilization. Not sure about the others.

    Thanks so much in advance! I'd love to be able to shoot some black and white too. Is this an option?
     
  2. Andy Stanton

    Andy Stanton Super Moderator Super Moderator

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    Canon digital cameras can sometimes have problems, but so can other brands. Canon cameras are no more prone to breakdowns than any of the others.

    Based on your post, I'm assuming that you're interested in an ultrazoom and possibly a smaller camera, perhaps selected from the cameras you identified in your post.

    For ultrazooms, you mentioned the Nikon P80, Canon SX10is. These look like small SLR's, though the Canon is larger and heavier. They both have very long optical zooms (18x for the Nikon, 20x for the Canon). They both have full manual controls and viewfinders. The Canon has received better reviews by both professional reviewers and users. Other SLR-like ultrazooms that have received good reviews are the Panasonic FZ28 and the Sony H50.

    You mentioned the Panasonic TZ5 and Canon SX110is. These are smaller, pocket-sized ultrazooms, both of which have 10x optical zoom. The Panasonic has a wider angle of view. The Canon has full manual controls, which the Panasonic lacks. Neither camera has a viewfinder. Another good small ultrazoom is the Sony H10.

    Among the small cameras, you mentioned the Fuji F100fd, F60fd and F50fd. These three Fuji's are better at low light shooting than most small cameras, with the F100fd the best of the three.

    The Canon SD770is is a very good small camera with a viewfinder. The SD1100is is another very good small Canon with a viewfinder that's less expensive than the SD770is.

    The Nikon S550 is an attractive small camera but it appears to have focusing problems. The Nikon S560, which was recently reviewed here at DCR, seems to be a much better camera.

    The Olympus 1020 is a good small camera as well.

    Other reasonably priced, small cameras to consider are those made by Sony (the W120, W130, W150 and W170 are very popular, for good reason) and by Panasonic (the FS3, FS5 and FS20 are good cameras).

    In good light, most digital camera focus fairly quickly, some better than others. Focusing is going to take more time in lower light, though.

    Yes, all digital cameras have that ability.
     
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