In Search of the "Holy (digital camera) Grail" - Top 10 reasons why...
My wife and I are looking for a good, compact, digital camera with the following requirements: 3+ megapixel w/3X optical/3X digital, movie mode (with sound), 1.8" color LCD, good battery life, video out, macro, and good picture quality/camera performance. Why these requirements are important to us...

Comments (10)

You've obviously done your research and know what you want. I have a couple of suggestions. First, throw away your "digital zoom" requirement. This does not gain you anything useful. Digital zoom is the same exact thing you get in a photo editor (does not add any information, just blow up existing pixels). Second, your battery life and LCD size requirements are at odds with each other.

You could look for a camera that allows you to turn off the LCD and still operate it through a viewfinder. The other answer to battery life is to look for a camera that takes big batteries, say 4 AA's, and buy a few sets of the latest greatest rechargeable NiMH (we're getting up over 1800 mAH now). Personally, I'd buy a cheap camcorder instead of looking for a good movie-mode in a digicam. One other item you may want to add to your list is good flash performance (power, red-eye avoidance, and matrix-balanced fill-flash mode). A lot of good child-photos are indoors wher lighting is just so-so without at least fill-flash...

Comment #1

Thanks for the suggestions Eric. In terms of the LCD & battery I've seen cameras with 1.8" LCDs make better use of power than some cameras with 1.5" LCDs (or at least it seems that way upon use). As for the camcorder, it seems a waste to buy one when you're only using 10-30 seconds to send Grandma a quick little e.mail clip. My wife pointed out that even though there are plenty of movies of her as a child, they haven't been watched in 30years (she's 34).... hence, we hesitate to add a camcorder to the endless list of electronics in our home. I agree with the flash performance, but once again, our requirements are at odds.

Fortunately, we live in California where it's sunny most of the time indoors and out.... You can see the difference in our photo albums when we moved here from NY. All of our pictures suddently looked brighter with or without flash (that's with our 390z Elph APS)...

Comment #2

Also take a good look at the Sony DSC-P7.... a very nice camera for most of your requirements... a little small on the LCD perhaps, but easy to see. : ).

Good luck buying!.

David <><..

Comment #3

In the event someone else out there is looking for a digital camera with similar requirements, I've attached an excel spreadsheet that's helping us narrow down our choices. Obviously it'll just contain information that's important to us, if an item is not important to you, simply delete the column/row. Good hunting! Attachments:.

Digital camera.xls..

Comment #4

Have you looked at the Sony DSC-P9? I think it meets all of your criteria except only 2X digital zoom and 1.5 LCD, but you can double check on the various web site reviews. I like mine very well and carry it with me all the time (in a canon S40 belt case, interestingly enough). It has unlimited time on MPEG's (up to filling the memory stick). Sony batteries, though expensive, last a long time. I have also used the Canon S30 and the Canon S40 and like those two very well. It meets all of your criteria, I think, but the MPEG'S are not unlimited.

I think the Sony takes marginally better macro shots, but for something flat like stamps, you would probably not notice a big difference. If possible, I also encourage you to make some actual comparisons of the photo quality (on prints or on TV viewing) when using the optical zoom only vs. using the digital zoom (aka computer "guessing" at what the picture would look like if you actually zoomed closer). The first thing I do when I am using a digital camera or a camcorder is to turn off the digital zoom since I cannot stand the quality degradation. That is just a matter of personal preference, though.

Number of megapixels - consider what you would need if you wanted to crop a part of the picture (perhaps a child) and enlarge it to 8x10 - that is when the 3 or 4 megapixels come in handy - unless you are one of those rare individuals who always composes their pictures perfectly from the get-go! Hope some of this is helpful to you. wjmc..

Comment #5

Looking at your recommendations and then taking into consideration your Brand preferences, I would highly recommend the Olympus C4000. It is a 4MP camera that meets or exceeds almost all of your requirements. 1. LCD screen. C4000 has a 1.8 inch.

2. Movie mode, no sound.

3. pixel count. 4mp.

4. Zoom. C4000 is 3x optical, 3.5x digital.

5. Picture quality. highly recommends the picture quality of this camera.

6. Video out. Yes, with cable provided.

7. Speed is average, but if you learn to prefocus, it's just fine.

8. One of the great points about Oly cameras is that they use 4 AA cells instead of some proprietary battery. Get rechargeable NiMh batteries and you're all set.

9. Not the smallest available, but not bulky, and can fit in a coat pocket or purse easy enough.

10. A point where this and other Oly's shine. With it's Super Macro mode, you can get within .7 of an inch from the subject. Another Olympus to consider would be the C730. It has an ultrazoom lense on it, so it goes out to 10x. It is 3.2 mp, but I also believe it supports voice on video.

In addition, they both contain an external flash connector. Any way you go, Good luck!..

Comment #6

David, I picked up the DSC-P9 when I returned the Olympus C-50z. While it's not yet the final choice, we'll see how it works out for us. The list is getting shorter though. Only 6 cameras to go.... Minolta Dimage F100.

Minolta Dimage Xi.

Canon s40.

Canon s45.

Sony DSC P9.

Kodak LS443 Attachments:.

Digital camera.xls..

Comment #7

Curt, Thanks for the input. The C-4000 is where my search began. It's an excellent camera (moving up fast on the Amazon sales rankings), but it has no audio on the movie feature. I bought the C-50z thinking it had audio because the Olympus website indicates support for WAV files. Ended up calling Olympus tech support to find out that the C-50z does not support movies with audio. Only the C-5050 and C-730 have the audio feature.

The C-730 at $600 is the only Olympus camera that came close to most of our requirements, but it's still larger than many compact alternatives.... I really do like Olympus. It's my favorite digital camera brand with Canon, Minolta and Sony a distant second, third and fourth respectively. I'm not a fan of Kodak, although in the LS443 I can see why some people like the brand...

Comment #8

WJ, Thank you for your input. Interesting timing as I just returned the C-50z we purchased over the weekend and picked up the Sony DSC-P9. Your impression on battery life of the Canon models is accurate or at least that's my impression not only from what I've read, but from playing around with the Canon units that my friends have. The S40 being the best performer within that line vs. it's predecesors. The jury is still out on the S45...

I'm trying to keep an open mind as I evaluate the remaining models for our purposes. Minolta Dimage F100.

Minolta Dimage Xi.

Canon S40/S45.

Sony DSC-P9.

Kodak LS443 If you have any experience with those digital cameras or brands, I'd love to hear about it. Thanks...

Comment #9

Thanks David, picked up the DSC-P9. We'll see how that works out... Do you have any first or second hand experience with any of the following? Minolta Dimage F100.

Minolta Dimage Xi.

Canon S40/S45.

Kodak LS443 If so, I'd love to hear about it. Thanks...

Comment #10

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