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Old Dec 16, 2003, 5:28 PM   #1
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Default choosing an ultra compact cam

I thought I was set on the Z4 or S4, but after doing more research, I am more confused than ever.

Primarily, I will be taking pictures of people (probably indoors at night--parties, restaurants, etc.). I am wary of the Pentax S4 and the Casio because I've heard things about their weak flash ranges--is it something that will really affect my picture quality though? I don't imagine I will be taking many distance shots... I am really unsure.

Also, other cameras have been brought to my attention such as the Minolta Dimage G500 or G400 or Xt (Xi), Sony DSC-P10, and the Canon Elph. Can anyone recommend any of these possible cameras over the other?

Aperture priority, shutter priority; are these that important for an amateur? ALso, is having manual focus (the Elph doesn't, and the G500 only has 3 settings) a huge benefit?

Although I photoshop often, something that can present the most true-to-life colours would be great too but this is a secondary requirement of mine.

Ahhh... so many choices!

I know the process is extremely subjective... but I just want the best value I can get. Even if the G500 is a bit bigger than the altoids-tin size ones, iif the camera image quality is significantly better it's worth it. (For an amateur, would I even notice the supposedly significantly better image quality any of these cameras purport?)
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Old Dec 16, 2003, 7:53 PM   #2
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You are not going to find an ultracompact camera with a good flash. IMHO, all built-in flash units are junk because they are small, close to the lens, and low power. Some are better than others, but the smaller the camera, the worse those problems become.
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Old Dec 16, 2003, 10:07 PM   #3
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I've tested the G400 and S4. The G400 has a nice strong flash (and associated red-eye - pretty much a given in small cameras with strong flashes), but it struggles to lock focus in most indoor lighting scenarios. You can work around this to some degree with manual focus or some of the scene modes, but that pretty much kills the concept of 'point and shoot'. It works great in good lighting, though. I wouln't recommend the G400 if you're planning on using it a lot indoors.

The Pentax is superb about locking focus in a wide range of lighting, but it's flash is a bit weak. It's not horrible, but don't expect to light up a room. The size of the camera is amazing.

It really seems that most ultra compact cameras struggle in low light situations. If you're looking for strong performance in that area, you may want to move up to a bigger camera with a faster lens and a stronger flash.

As for manual controls, the last camera I had offer 100% manual controls. I used them quite a lot when I was reading the manual, but basically never in the real world. -I-, a total amateur, wouldn't take a camera off a list because it didn't have manual controls, but it would be nice to know they were there if ever needed.
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