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Which P&S for me?
Hi everyone,.

I'm looking to buy a compact P&S and have done quite a bit of reading, but need some help to push me over the line..

I'm basically just looking for a camera to take with me when I'm out and about (and as such, DSLR is out simply due to their size... I want to want to take it). I'm by no means a professional, and by no means am taking professional images. If a pic I take looks particularly artsy, then it may be my new desktop image, but I won't be aiming for such..

To make things easier:.

Priority.

My priority is, of course, image quality. While I won't be making large prints (though, wouldn't despise it for being able to), I want the pictures to look great, maintain good levels of detail, and look natural. I'm not looking for megapixel over image quality..

Size.

I will be taking it around with me locally and overseas. I'm a man and don't have a purse, so the smaller the better (but I'm willing to sacrifice ultra-portability for features)..

Usage.

My main point of focus is people, some group shots, individual shots. Candid mainly, the usual "say cheese", but not professional. Being out and about overseas I'm sure that I will also photograph landmarks and scenery, but I won't be turning my photos into huge landscape posters. Maybe I'll print off a few 5x7" and maybe an a4 or two, but that won't be often..

I will be shooting a combination of indoor and outdoor photos, so across the board detail retention and nice exposure will be needed. Some photos will be taken at night also (possibly no flash at dusk, but I'm not expecting to see in the photo what my eyes could not normally.. so flash will be used for detail photos at night (unless of course, lights are on)..

I won't be photographing much "action", perhaps kids playing some sport, or running, but this isn't so much of a priority..

Features.

-One other noteworthy feature I need is Image Stabilizing. My hands don't shake extreme amounts, but I can't hold them perfectly still either..

-Also, a "decent" video mode (640x480, at 25fps or higher satisfies me) is a plus..

-I don't need it to be waterproof or anything, I'll take care of it. Still, I would be sad if I got a little clumsy and it broke from me dropping it 3 feet..

It may also be worth pointing out that my current camera is a Sony DSC-P52 (lcd looks like a stamp sitting on an envelope), which takes horrible photos and so I haven't so much as switched it on for months. I have however used friend's cameras such as Canon Ixus 75 (not sure of the US number) and Sony Cybershot DSCT70B, which I would like my camera to at least match in terms of IQ..

The cameras which I have basically brought it down to are as follows:.

Canon Powershot A650 IS - ~$400AUD.

This was my top pick, as the rotating lcd will come in handy, and the IQ seems to be great. How is it in low light settings? Just not sure how the size will be, and the movie mode, while enough in terms of PQ, would have been nicer with optical zoom. I don't mind so much the AA batteries, though the price does go up a tad with having to buy the batteries and a charger..

Canon Powershot SD790 IS- ~$400AUD.

If this one matches the A650 IS in terms of IQ (or at least comes close enough) I'd probably jump in on it. How is it in low light settings? Would like to read a review on it, and would like to know about the movie mode..

Fujifilm Finepix range- ~$300.

I have easy access to a F40fd, and soon enough a F50fd. Can still get a F100fd though. The reason I liked this is because of how people rave about it in low light settings. Wary of the F100fd with it's pink banding though I heard that is simply due to Dynamic Compression (which can be turned off?)..

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5 - ~$450AUD.

I like this one simply because of the movie capability. While I wouldn't record much in 720p (480p is enough for me), the ability to use the optical zoom is nice. The problem is, I haven't heard very good things about the IQ for stills. How does it stack up against the others?.

I am not expecting to get a DSLR's IQ for stills, or a Dedicated Video Cam's IQ for movies, but I want the best I can get. Canon G9 is out, too expensive (pretty much what I have listed are my price limits), and I won't be making manual adjustments much (literally want a point, and shoot)..

What are people's thoughts? Does anyone see a clear winner for me? Feel free to make a new suggestion if yours is better..

ThanksMichael..

Comments (5)

I have heard a lot of really positive things about a Canon G9. I don't own one personally, but look into it, I think you will find it is a very good camera...

Comment #1

When you get down to the design details, P&S cameras come in a lot of different flavors. And picking through those details is a personal process. So what I am about to say is merely personal preference, not hard facts..

In my view the Canon A650 does a nice job, lots of nice feature. However, that the rotating lcd on the back bulks up the camera so much that it is no longer a pocket sized compact. That back design makes more sense on a larger camera, like the Canon S3 IS. Which is a camera that I once owned. For a "heavy hitter" Canon compact I like their SX100 better..

Just had a play with the Canon SD790 in the store. It REQUIRES you to rotate the main control disk on the back to select scenes. With my clumsy fingers I found this to be really awkard. Kept pushing (accidently) while rotating the stupid thing. Such a push would set off one of the other functions, dropping the camera completely out of the scene settings I was trying to work with. No doubt our i-pod generation would see this issue completely differently.



My newest camera is a Fuji F45fd. Wonderfully capable, but the control scheme has plenty of quirks. For example, in my view the Auto white balance gives poor results in daylight. So I mostly shoot in Manual mode, where I can select the WB myself. Thus I would not reccommend this camera as a P&S for dummies. And yet other Fuji fans are convinced that the Auto WB does a great job..

And so it goes. The devil really is in the details. Thus make sure you purchase from an outfit that makes returns easy. Or be prepared to fork a few brand new cameras over to E-bay .....

Kelly Cook..

Comment #2

Yeah I was thinking about the G9, but it is simply too pricey for me, and I heard that the A650 uses the same sensor and lens (just different filter) making it a very close second..

Thanks for the suggestion though...

Comment #3

I'll have a play with the A650 and decide on if it really is too big for me..

Regarding the 790, if I find the back wheel fine, does the picture quality stand strong against the likes of the A650? Good photos in a variety of lighting?.

Thanks..

Comment #4

Steve's site has tested both cameras -.

"www.steves-digicams.com/2007_reviews/canon_a650_samples.html".

"www.steves-digicams.com/2008_reviews/canon_sd790is_samples.html".

In both cases the thumbnails shown look Ok. You would need to download the full size files to make detail comparisons..

Kelly..

Comment #5

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