Loooong story, but simple questions - Which Camera to go for?
Currently I own an old Sony Cybershot DSC P8, 3X zoom, 3.2 MP, 39-117mm, small low quality LCD...I can, however, get some decent photos with my old friend, but I'm long overdue an upgrade..

I considered getting a DSLR, but have since given up on that idea for a number of reasons - predominantly my lack of experience with advanced photography and a desire for greater portability..

Generally I shoot landscapes, architecture and of course in social settings. I want a camera with a much more powerful zoom; larger LCD for sharing socially; compact, pocketable size; enough features that I can learn a little more about photography; and something which just takes fine pictures..

I know my way around Photoshop, so PP is no problem, but at the same time, I'd like a camera that shoots well out the box on auto..

So to the cameras (with a few key pros/cons);Canon SX100.

Pros: 10X Zoom. LCD fits the bill. Canon Pic quality. Decent manual settings. Price.

Cons: Build quality. No flexibility for add ons. Battery type/life. Poor flash recycle. No VF.

Panasonic DMC TZ3Pros: IQ. 10X Zoom. LCD fits the bill. Build quality. Price.

Cons: Excessive NR. Poor High ISO/Low Light. No flexibility for add ons. Poor flash. No VF.

Sony DSC-H3.

Pros: 10X zoom. Price. Good flash. IQ looks good. Flexibility to add extras like filters etc. Build feels good.

Cons: Poor quality LCD (tho size is right). Poor WB options. No VF. What's with the lens cap? Poor review here!.

Canon G9.

Pros: there are lots, covering most of the key elements from the other 3 plus moreCons: 6X zoom. Price. Complexity of use..

I've read reviews, read the forums, held all 4 cameras. But here's where I get stuck on which one to go for....

The G9 seems far and away the best of the bunch offering great flexibility with 3rd party add-ons, superior image quality, RAW, blah blah blah. I know the list goes on, and all the reviews and pictures from users on this site show it's qualities. I also really like it's look and the way it feels in the hand - solid. Professional. Kinda heavy for a compact though?.

However, I'm concerned about the 6X zoom - How significant is the difference compared to 10X? Also concerned about the complexity of use - Being a relative novice, am I going to get the best of this camera 'out the box'? The price is also prohibitive and I'd really rather not spend that much. But I could streeeeeetch if it's really truly worth it..

The other 3 are much of a muchness. GREAT zooms on all and the price is definitely right. But Low Light on all 3 doesn't seem great..

I hear a lot about the WA on the TZ3, but having never had that in a camera, I don't know if I need it. How much advantage is there with the 28-280mm equiv lens?.

The SX100 feels nice in the hand, although a bit cheap. Decent manual settings and NR seems less than the other two, but I think the IQ doesn't look as nice at lower ISOs compared to the other 2, specifically the H3....

I like a lot about the H3, specifically the flexibility to add 'stuff', strong flash and have seen many good photos over in the Sony forum. I was surprised at the mediocre review it received here, especially after the glowing report on Admittedly, some of those cons above are annoying! The lens cap is a poor show, LCD is a shambles and the manual settings leave a little to be desired, but then, do I need them?.

Will one of these 10X compacts offer me the out of the box quality I want and save me $$'s over the G9? I also question the size of all 4 cameras - none are truly 'pocketable'..

I've toyed with the idea of getting one of the 10X zooms and a cheap ultra compact solely for social shooting, but then the question becomes What is the best P&S at Low Light (that's not the Fuji F's since they are now quite pricey)?? So that then means for the money I get the G9 or two cameras - is that even logical (I fear not)..

I'm probably over thinking this but I really want to get the right camera that will help me learn, give me great photos, and will stand the test of time - at least for a few years..


Comments (15)

Blair7 wrote:.

Generally I shoot landscapes, architecture and of course in socialsettings. I want a camera with a much more powerful zoom; larger LCDfor sharing socially; compact, pocketable size; enough features thatI can learn a little more about photography; and something which justtakes fine pictures..

You have already done lot of homework. H3's nemesis is heavy compression and noise reduction, especially at higher ISOs. Checkout the knurling on lens barrel in following link. H3 has wiped out the details completely, while SX100IS retains it.

I know my way around Photoshop, so PP is no problem, but at the sametime, I'd like a camera that shoots well out the box on auto..

G9 has best lens among compacts (corner to corner sharpness and less vignetting). If you are serious enthusiast then it is the way to go. Else SX100IS will be good enough. G8 has 50% more resolution so effectively you can consider it 7.2x zoom at 8MP level (by cropping). However for architecture etc., you might need still wider zoom. e.g.

Currently such cameras have 3-4x zoom only (e.g. Panasonic LX2, Ricoh GX100). So G9 seems to be best compromise..

And as you can PP too and if you must buy a superzoom, then nothing better than FZ18. (Shoot in Raw mode and convert to JPGs using bundled software for best possible iQ. It will take less than a minute per image).Best Wishes, Ajay

Comment #1

Thanks for the advice. I've just taken a look at reviews of the Canon A720IS as well - this seems to get really solid reviews too and is cheeeap!.

Only thing about this is the 6X zoom - much like th G9. I just don't know if that's enough...or am I just being greedy?!.

Any users of the A720 (or the others I mention) that can comment about their relative merits?..

Comment #2

I'm a new owner of an A720.ProsGreat looking photos outdoors. Very sharp, great color.Very fast operation - startup, shot to shotNice ergonomics - not too big or too small, good right-hand gripoptical viewfinder a big plus in sunny conditionsLCD only 115,000 pixels but pretty good6x optical zoom is great (I'm used to 3x)Many options to play around with.Good battery lifeGreat macros.

ConsRelatively slow flash recycle time (5-8 seconds)Tricky to get well-focused indoor shot without flash.

Overall, I'm very pleased with my A720..

Comment #3

Thanks for the info. There's a thread over in the Canon forum about a discount on the SX100 (which doesn't seem entirely accurate...) and someone posted that the SX100 is the same as the A720..

I'm interested by this statement because the A720 seems to have received better reviews than the SX100. I would have thought if it was the same thing, the extra features like the 10X zoom, would have made the SX shine a little more...?..

Comment #4

For a good long zoom cameras you have several options:- Canon S5- Canon A650- Canon G9- Canon 720- Fuji S6500 (if you can find one)- Sony H9.

With Panasonic I don't know. Maybe FZ18 is a good camera but the history is against them (FZ30, FZ50, FZ7, FZ8, TZ1).VictorBucuresti, Romania

Comment #5

I've looked at many of those but the size, for my tastes, is a little prohibitive. I really want something that can be put into a jacket pocket, or the pocket on cargo shorts or something. I'm definitely just looking at those 4 (now 5) mentioned previously;.

SX100, A720, H3, G9, FZ3.....

Still think G9 is too expensive, but I would love to get it. FZ3 I'm least keen on because of IQ, unless someone can extol the benefits of the WA (I've never had it before). I like the H3, but I'm concerned about mixed reviews. SX100 and A720 are virtually the same, but the A720 is cheaper, you can add lenses, has VF however it has only 6x zoom. SX100 also has one or two extra manual features and that 10X..

Such a dilemna!!!..

Comment #6

You've forgotten Canon A650 which is the same like G9 (with a few differences purposedly taken away not to hurt the G9 sales). It still has 35-210 mm (like A720 and G9).VictorBucuresti, Romania

Comment #7

Baloo_buc wrote:.

With Panasonic I don't know. Maybe FZ18 is a good camera but thehistory is against them (FZ30, FZ50, FZ7, FZ8, TZ1)..


History against them?.

Not sure where that comes from..

Panasonic Lumix cameras are probably one of, if not the, best digital cameras out there..

Do they have their quirks.yes..

As does every digital camera..

To the OP..

Look at the Panasonic FZ50 if you want something DSLR like, but not a DSLR..

Image control:Zoom outZoom 100%Zoom inExpand AllOpen in new window.

It is more expensive than most of the cameras you are considering.for a reason..

It has a very good Leica lens on it with lots of zoom, and many controls and features you'll find on a DSLR..

I love mine.wouldn't trade it away for anything else out there!.

J. D.Colorful Colorado.

From my FZ50:.

Image control:Zoom outZoom 100%Zoom inExpand AllOpen in new window.

Jpeg straight from post processing whatsoever..

Comment #8

Cheers. the gull is sharp in the foreground - agree that the lens has some magic in there! But I specifically don't want something DSLR sized. Thought about one for a long time, but I quickly realised that portability was too important..

Had taken a look at the A650 mentioned in the previous post but have struggled to find many in depth reviews about it...

Comment #9

Blair, one of the issues you are "fighting" is that the progression of the camera class you are considering is definately downward...sad to say. All of them have sensors that are too small to support the number of pixels the marketing types say that people like you insist on having. They also have too long a zoom range, which negatively affects image quality (IQ)..

I'd go back one generation and get a Sony H2. I still see them being sold for around $ has better IQ than either the H3, H7, or H9..

Charlie DavisNikon 5700, Sony R1, Nikon D300HomePage: http://www.1derful.infoBridge Blog:

Comment #10

Appreciate your opinion Chuck, but I'm actually not in the least bit bothered about megapixels. I'm more than aware of their ill effct on IQ, but zoom is important. Nor am I interested in any of the other sony H series cameras. Too big. Agree that longer zooms can effect the final image on this type of camera, but I'm also considering P&S's with 6X zoom - the G9 and the A720. Would you say that that range of zoom on those sensors is going to produce poor image quality?.

As for being affected by the marketing - I AM the big bad marketing man, so it does little for me!..

Comment #11

Blair7 wrote:.

I've looked at many of those but the size, for my tastes, is a littleprohibitive. I really want something that can be put into a jacketpocket, or the pocket on cargo shorts or something. I'm definitelyjust looking at those 4 (now 5) mentioned previously;.

SX100, A720, H3, G9, FZ3.....

Trust me, go with the one that takes 4 AA batteries. I had the SX100 for 24hrs or so. By the time it focused and the flash charged my shot was long gone. VERY SLOW camera. I did like the 10x zoom and the IS. I took it back and upgraded to a Xti..

I'd go with the fastest Aseries camera or (I know it don't fit in a pocket) the S5 IS..

Technologist @ Large- Mark0..

Comment #12

Been away for a while - thanks for the suggestions Mark0. Have to admit, I am concerned about the slowness of the SX with those AAs, but I'm wondering if better batteries (like eneloops or some such) might alleviate some of that lethargy and wake the darn thing up a bit!.

Anyone else out there with advice on those 4 (5) cameras?..

Comment #13

Have you considered the s5is? it beats the 100 on zoom. and it is powereed by 4 AAs not 2 like the sx100..

On a like thought the canon s3is is still out there if you look for it. and can be had a heavy discount...

Comment #14

If you're going to shoot landscapes, you should get a 28mm equiv lens. The Lumix has an outstanding zoom range in a small body, but is poor in many other respects..

I would get a Canon. They really know how to make P&S cameras. And, I'm not a fanboy; I shoot Nikon DSLR's..

The battery life on the AA-powered cameras can be completely fixed by using NiMH's. This doesn't address the slow recycle, however..

I would (and actually just did) get a Canon SD870 IS. It's an ultra-compact with a 28-100 lens. It has a fabulous 3" 230k pixel screen. It has enough resolution that you can use moderate amount of digital zoom (out to maybe 150-200mm equiv) without seriously impairing image quality. It has a longer flash range than most. Movie mode is camcorder-quality..

The downsides to the SD870 are the limited telephoto, lack of optical viewfinder, and the price ($300)..

You can always get longer with digital zoom or cropping, but you can't get wider. To me, this gives the SD870 an advantage over the G9. I actually looked very closely at all the other cameras you mentioned..

The camera that's in you pocket always takes better pictures than the one you left at home...

Comment #15

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