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Old Oct 23, 2003, 8:31 PM   #1
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Default a new camera, size does matter here

I am an experienced photographer buying my first digital. Very confusing with all the choices! Requirments: 4-5 mb (is there a difference for 8x10 cropped shots), good zoom, quality, and a small size. I would like apature priority if possible. Price point will be decided by my requirments. I am not a fan of spending too much, but if the camera falls short then I wasted the money.

I found with my Nikon, that to take the camera places, I had to have the "bag" with everything, and I was always afraid of smashing it. For action shots, skiing or climbing, it was too buky and once again, afraid to fall on it. So I feel if the camera will fit in a pocket then it may get used more often.

I am sure that there are things that should be important that I am not aware of the significane yet. and so I am looking to you experts to let me know the important items. This may include start up time, memory type, size of screen, or view finder.

Thanks for helping yet another person out!
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Old Oct 24, 2003, 9:46 AM   #2
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Well the good news is that you donít have to compromise as much to go to a pocket camera in digital as you did in 35mm. The smaller sensor allows a greater zoom range and you can far exceed the point and shoot capabilities of most 35mm pocket cameras.

The bad news is that there are still compromises. The viewfinder and interface with the camera is the limitation I most notice. The little rangefinder type optical finders typically show 80% - 85% of the final shot. So you are losing nearly a Mp of sensor capability right off the bat unless you frame with the LCD, and if you have a good steady shooting technique you arenít likely to do that very much.

The last pocket camera with a B&W LCD aux status window was the Oly D40. Without a status display or electronic viewfinder (EVF) you have to use the color LCD panel for setting everything. They donít have the contrast and sharpness of a B&W status display and unless you jerry-rig some sort of shade they are very difficult to read in bright sunlight. Iíve memorized button sequences to get to some common settings Ė it is that much of a pain.

But I take more pictures with my little Oly C50 than I do with my very nice Minolta D7i. The reason is that it is always with me in a tiny leather belt pouch. I bought the C50 a year ago when it first came out and have been very happy with it. But there are other pocket cameras I would buy today instead. The Pentax 555 is the same size and has a 5X zoom lens. Pentax also has a tiny S4 that will literally fit in an Altoids tin and has a 3X zoom and full manual capability Ė only 4Mp though. Both Pentaxes are feature rich for their size but there are some compromises getting that zoom range in such small cameras. The S4 especially has some vignetting and softness in the corners at its widest setting, but nothing that detracts from most shots.

I would also likely buy the new Minolta G500 over the C50. It is also 5Mp with a 3X zoom but is smaller. It lacks some features of the C50 but nothing I canít live without. I donít tend to use aperture or shutter priority much. I used them often with 35mm, but there are so many good modes to do most of what I would want it is too much hassle. Portrait mode will blur the background as much as the little CCD will allow and action modes will optimize the shutter for available light. You might want to induce some motion blur, but that is the kind of stuff I do with my Minolta where everything is easily accessible. I would miss most of my shots hunched over the LCD trying to shade it so I could screw with settings. I do use manual mode often though Ė there isnít any way around that. And unless I have raw capability I tend to save in the best quality JPG available. TIFF is impractical IMO.

According to what you consider pocketable the Canon S50 and Minolta F300 have a lot going. They both come with chargers and AA NiMH batteries which are inexpensive for stocking spares. The Canon uses CF cards which are fast, inexpensive and come in very large sizes. The Minolta has a tracking focus that is great for social gatherings, kids etc where things are likely to move during focus and capture. The F300 will focus right up to shutter release making pre-focus practical. And if you pre-focus with the F300 the lag is exceptionally short. The tracking focus takes some extra battery, but it is inexpensive to carry spares. My big Minolta has continuous focus and it makes a big difference shooting rugrats or getting candids at gatherings.

I have a wide format photo printer and 5Mp is marginal, so Iím prejudiced toward high pixels. I think it is a little shortsighted for people to settle for less because they currently can only print 8 X 10 or only display onscreen. Those images are your lifetime memories and you might not always be so limited. No there isnít any difference between 4 and 5Mp for an 8 X 10 unless you crop a lot. But keep in mind that with a pocket digital you are seeing only about 3.25Mp in your optical finder with a 4Mp pocket camera. If you frame exactly in the viewfinder that will give you about 200PPI for an 8 X 10 Ė which is plenty even on the best photo printer. So 4Mp will work fine for you if you are absolutely sure you will never grab a shot you want on your wall.
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Old Oct 24, 2003, 2:03 PM   #3
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Default Maybe?

The Nikon 4500 is no longer manufactured but you can still get them at reasonable prices. It will fit in a pocket as will a lot of additional lenses. I use mine a lot with the Nikon LCD shade as I can then do waist level shooting....cuts down the need for image stabilization. Check it out?
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Old Oct 24, 2003, 10:51 PM   #4
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Cost being a factor, look at the price for the g500 - I found it at BeachPhoto.com for significantly less than the Pentax 550. You're getting 5mp and very small size (and that sliding door over the lens and other delicate surfaces is useful for a pocket item.) Have it in your hand for under $350 (and not much over 325)

Depending on your location, other sellers are competitive, too.

The memory is a bit more expensive on the g500, as it's SD or Memory stick (either and/or both) but the overall package and price make a nice deal. Check to be sure there is enough manual control for you - the auto results are great, though.
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