I have an S80, and I had the same needs to have something compact with me. Normally I have a d70 that I use it only on holidays and weekends. The s80 seems ok now, I would never get a sd550 due to 37mm and lack of manual contronls, but this is a personal view.....
I am looking for a camera for my wife and personally trying to persuade her to get S80. I held and played with SD550 and S80 for about 40 minutes in my local store, plus researched numerous websites and posts. Here is what I found.
Sure SD550 looks slick and small and very nice, but let's not forget that we are really looking for a small camera that would be durable (since you are carrying it in purses and pockets) and would make very good pictures even with small size. S80 is too big to carry in shirt pocket, but could easily fit in jacket pocket. Screen is actually protected by plastic in this one, as are lens. SD550 is much smaller, but here are cons of it's construction. SD550's fairly heavy because all metal, so your shirt pocket will be weighed down. Sd550 screen is better built then SD500 and other previous SD models, but it's still unprotected LCD screen.
Also flaps that cover lens do let in some dust and theoretically can be poked or opened a bit by contents of your pocket. Scratches to the brushed aluminum are very noticeable and make pretty your camera ugly quick. So it may be small, but not a good idea to carry unprotected. S80 is only slightly larger, but good and protected all around. Built wise I felt that it is less sturdy then SD550, but that's my opinion.
Wide lens is great. Image quality wise S80 ABSOLUTELY KILLS SD550. I own Nikon D2H and I am very used to nice clean images, sample pics from S80 are just as clean but a lot larger. Looking at sample pics across many sites I barely saw any shadow noise which absolutely prevails in small cameras. Colors and image detail are VERY good for camera this size or any non-pro camera for this matter.
Cons: big(ger) size (only slightly). Images are very soft on the sides and in the corners. This would almost not be acceptable, be it not for the fact that image comes out 8mp huge. When it scales down to print size or fills computer screen ar comfortable viewing size, softness is almost unnoticeable. No raw format or anti-shake.
Also note that many small cameras that offer raw have bad programs to process it and it does not process well. Do not assume that raw in small camera will give same results as raw in professional camera.
Any case, I think this (S80) is the best small camera money can buy. Simply love the images. Just look at dpreview.com and you will love it too...
Thanks. It's making me feel better in keeping the s80. I guess when it started out that I wanted a small camera, I wanted something really small that I could toss in my pocket when the Sony 828 was just too big to carry (sorry, repeating myself here).
The s80 IS a small camera, and the sample pictures I took, look great. But all the site I've been going to says the sd550 takes as good. And it is smaller. I see your points about how I can kill the camera in my pocket. BUT you say:Image quality wise S80 ABSOLUTELY KILLS SD550.
I havn't done my own test print of a sd550, but it will make that much of a different if my picture printouts will be mostly 4x6 and maybe a few 8x10?..
Prints will always be more forgiving then the PC screen, because of lower resolution and smaller overall size. You see a lot of detail on PC because the image in front of you is huge. Therefore you are able ot judge images better. When printed, assuming that you are using a decent printer, that image is a lot lot smaller, it therefore loses all it's detail (or at least a lot of it). Theoretically, if all you want is nice small 4x6 prints, get yourself a 4 or 5 mpixel camera and save at least $100. If you are printing 8x11, you might actually notice difference between these 2 cameras and should definitely notice difference vs.
WHO NEEDS PRINTS ANYWAY????????!!!!!!!!!.
I am very sorry to say this to you and everyone else, but prints are becoming obsolete. Everyone nowadays has a pc. You email pics to coworkers, give CD's with pics to your friends, post your pics on the net. If it wasn't for my grandparents, I would probably never even print. I print only so that I can show and give to them because, well obviously they do not have a PC. Otherwise those prints just sit at home somewhere, I don't even know where.
My point is, I beleive what matters nowadays is how pictures look on your screen. They even have lcd picture frames now. You can share photos with your family by connecting camera to tv, or inserting disk into dvd player. Times are changing. What you see on PC matters..
Ok thanks. i'll try and see about using a sd550 and see if I can notice a difference...
I have posted the following remarks as a saperate topic, but since I found this topic, I thought of chipping in.
Recently bought S80 (disregarding Pro1 and coolpix8800)and feel disappointed.
Main irritations are barrel aberration, perspective distortion and corner softness.
Earlier I had S50 (35mm) and I never noticed any such things.
At some site it was recommanded that avoid 28mm wide angle and zoom the subject a bit (!) If wider angles are bound to produce such quality deteorition than what is a use of buying wide angle.
Especially, it makes people look funny when you try to take a group photo. Sharpness deterioration from centre to the edge are vsisble, especially indoors.
Is there any technique to avoid this.
I hate image correcting softwares.
Image quality is the ultimate objective so I now feel that I should have gone for Pro1 or Coolpix 8800.
As I feel gloomy, I would welcome comments, thanks.
Ketan, I used to own a Canon PowerShot S70, and it too had lots of barrel distortion, corner softness and chromatic abberation at 28mm. I think it comes with the territory. You will find that most small, wide-angle lenses are similar. Some of the corner softness and CA goes away by stopping the lens down (use aperture priority), but the barrel distortion can only be fixed in software. Perspective distortion is a natural occurance with short focal lengths. It can make for some dramatic effects with close subjects.
I think the S80's lens is fine at the point where most other P&S zooms start. Put it this way: it may not be a very good 28mm lens, but it's better than no 28mm lens when you need it! I returned my S70 primarily because it had slow AF and had a lot of trouble focusing indoors. I understand the S80 is much better at AF. Maxx..
Maxx is one smart fellow, and right on in his assessment, IMHO. I own a S50, and most of the time, it takes respectable pics. It is slow in lower light, and AF wont lock on in some indoor instances. I always wished I had the '28mm' ability of the newer models. The barrel distortion will only 'getcha' if you are shooting exacting architectural details/subjects. Keep on shooting!.