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Old Nov 16, 2003, 2:38 PM   #1
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Default Reading reviews... overwhelmed......???

OK, maybe all I need is some direction here, but been reading some reviews and all the data is blowing me away... What are the important things to look for? They all seem to be good in some areas and not so good in others... and each camera having its special qualities...

With the prices dropping like they are, we def want a 4-5 MP digicam. Any recomendations.. looking at the S45 and S50. I think I would like to get a Canon or Minolta just based on reliability ratings from consumer reports. This is going to be our primary camera for point and shoot vacation photos, as well as attempted landscape shots at Walt Disney World, our favorite vacation spot.

Anywho, just looking for some general direction on which way I should proceed as I continue to learn as much as possible so that I can make an educated purchase.

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Old Nov 16, 2003, 3:12 PM   #2
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Buying a digital camera, is sort of like buying a car. You'll find many models that meet your requirements, within your price range. There are many review sites, and I frequently recommend getting more than one reviewer's perspective.

The Canons are good cameras, but IMO, some of the manufacturers have taken to putting higher resolution sensors in some models (like the new Canon S50, and Canon G5), in order to get more sales (since most consumers think that more megapixels = better quality), without upgrading the lens to match the sensor.

So, in some of these models, image quality (especially from a Chromatic Aberrations perspective) is worse than the models they replaced.

IMO, this would equate to trying to put a high powered V8 engine in a 4 cylinder automobile, without upgrading the suspension and transmission to handle the higher horsepower and engine weight.

In forums, chances are, each user responding will have his or her favorite models, too. So, take these recommendations with a "grain of salt". They will most likely have some bias associated them (including posts from me -- I have my preferences in models and features, too).

It's always a good idea to read through more than one review of the models you are considering. This will give you a better idea of the features available, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the models you are considering.

Here are some of my favorite sites:

http://www.steves-digicams.com - Steve reviews a lot of cameras. Bear in mind, that he's usually less critical than most reviewers though, so take this into consideration. Steve's reviews are great for new users, because he goes through a cameras menu system in great detail. His conclusion section is very useful in determining a cameras strengths and weaknesses, too. Also, Steve usually includes some of the same subjects in his sample photos section for each camera reviewed. This makes it easy to compare photos from camera models you are considering.

http://www.imaging-resource.com - Dave Etchell's does great reviews. He also offers a feature known as the "comparometer", which lets you compare images from cameras you are considering "side by side" in the same conditions. Dave also has a "picky details" section for each camera he reviews, so you can look at things like Startup times, autofocus lag, shot to shot times, etc. Performance can vary dramatically between camera models.

http://www.dpreview.com - Phil Askey is the most thorough reviewer in the business. Unfortunately, because his reviews are so detailed, he doesn't review as many cameras as some of the other reviewers. Phil also tends to be more critical than other reviewers, so take this into consideration.

http://www.megapixel.net - Denys Bouton offers a unique review style, and I find his information very helpful. He comes out with a new online "issue" monthly (on the 15th of the month).

http://www.dcresource.com - Although his reviews aren't as detailed as those from Phil Askey or Dave Etchells, Jeff Keller (owner/editor of dcresource.com) offers unbiased opinions of the cameras that he reviews. He will tell you what he likes, and doesn't like about the cameras he reviews.

Another good resource is a photo sharing web site like pbase.com

They have a camera database, that let's you look at photo albums from their subscribers, from most cameras on the market. Bear in mind, that the photographers skill, and the lighting conditions have more to do with good photos than anything else. Also, unless photos from the same cameras, are taken of the same subject, in the same conditions, there is no way to say which camera performs better.

However, this does give you a way to see what photos look like, from typical users, and you can browse through the albums to see what photos look like in the conditions that you'll use the cameras in.

Here's the link to the camera database:


Now, in my (biased because I love the camera) opinion, just go down to your favorite local camera shop (Ritz Camera and Video, etc., and take a look at the Minolta DiMAGE G500.

It's extremely well made (best built camera I've owned yet), great low light focus, terrific metering, fast startup, and it's small enough to carry in a pocket. It will have better and faster low light focus compared to the Canons, with better overall color tone. It's also more pocketable, with a great quality lens.

You can buy this model for under $400.00 from most vendors now.

It's my 7th Digital Camera, and I like it more than any other camera I've owned to date. Despite it's small size, the ergonomics are fantastic, and it's image quality is good enough to match or exceed the much larger 5MP models.

I also know two users, who have owned both this camera (Konica KD-510z/Minolta G500) and the Canon S400 (which uses the same lens as the Canon S45 and S50). They BOTH prefer the G500. See my Pbase.com album forum at http://www.pbase.com/konica_kd510z (under the photos on the main gallery page). You'll find a post to me (responding to someone comparing the Canon S400 to the Minolta G500 there.

IMO, you will not find a camera with a better balance of Physical Size, Flash Strength, User Control of Parameters used more often, Lens Quality, Low Light Focus Ability and Image Quality at any price in a compact model; and it's images can rival or exceed those from much larger cameras.

BTW, it's "straight from the camera" images are very hard to beat.

If you want even more opinions than you'll find in my Konica Album Forum, check out this post, with links to someone that owned both the Minolta F300, and the new Minolta G500:


He said preferred the G500 (faster, sturdier, easier to use, better photos, etc.).

For more opinions on low light focus abilities, check out this thread, with comments from me (and other new G500 users). The thread is titled "Shocking - G500 outperforms the 7i", because of the comparision photos someone took with the G500 and MUCH more expensive Minolta DiMAGE 7i (with the G500 photos being better exposed, with better dyanamic range, etc.):


You'll also find some album links I posted in the same thread, showing comparison photos with multiple cameras, including the MUCH more expensive Canon EOS-10D.
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Old Nov 17, 2003, 4:38 AM   #3
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So, in some of these models, image quality (especially from a Chromatic Aberrations perspective) is worse than the models they replaced
Read some of my recent posts. I tried both the A70 and A80. I wasn't looking for it on the A70 so I'm not sure if it was present to the same extent. But on the A80 I certainly didn't have to look too hard, so I concluded, the extra Mpix wasn't worth gaining CA I couldn't fix. Apart from the small lcd and histogram I couldn't see, I did like the Powershot features though. I'm now looking at Minolta's and Nikons because they use corrected lenses. I have this feeling that newer cams have more software features now (and higher Mpix) but the glass and ccd on compacts (or their marriage) is not always as good as earlier models. So whilst 4-5 Mpix might draw attention, a larger older 3.2 Mpix cam with better lens could give better pictures.

I think you either try different cameras in the shop using your own memory, take the pics back and look carefully, or buy from a dealer who will exchange until you are happy. I will be getting my 3rd compact camera to try this week!
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Old Nov 17, 2003, 10:38 AM   #4
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All digital cameras will exhibit purple fringing under some conditions -- even those costing $10K +, with very high quality lenses. Heck, I have seen very high dollar Digital SLR's with very expensive lenses, that exhibit this problem under certain conditions.

Part of the problem is CCD Blooming, where the individual pixel sensors can become overloaded. This usually occurs in very high contrast areas of a photo, and is more prevalent when these sections are overexposed. A good place to see it is where tree limbs are against a bright, yet overcast sky.

Some models are better with it than others. But, none are immune.

Pixel Density of the CCD can come into play with CCD blooming. That's why some of the 4MP models handle it better than the 5MP models with the same size CCD.

Lens Quality and Better Metering (to prevent overexposed areas) can help to reduce CA, but in some conditions, it's going to be virtually impossible to eliminate with any camera (while still insuring that the majority of the photo is properly exposed).

The lens quality of the Canons is actually pretty good, although they could have done a better job with the newer models. As far as Nikons, they have the problem, too.

In fact, my two Nikons were the worst at Purple Fringing, compared to the other camera's I've owned.

My latest pocket cam (Konica KD-510z) handles it much better than the models I've owned in the past (thanks to very good metering, and a high quality lens). Yet, it's not immune from it either, in extreme lighting conditions.

Note the area where the post crosses in front of the window in the first photos in this album (deliberately taken in extreme conditions, to test the limits of the camera):


Because this area is overexposed (and is being shot "wide open" at F2.8 ), compared to the rest of the photo, some CCD Blooming occured.
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Old Nov 17, 2003, 10:54 AM   #5
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As far as the Minoltas, the F300 has a very high quality lens. But, it's not immune either.

I found this photo after only a couple of minutes on pbase.com.

It was taken with an F300, and downsized for web viewing. Note where the tree limb in the top of the photo is against a bright sky.

Because this is a high contrast, overexposed area, purple fringing can be seen around the limb, even though it's been downsized for web viewing..


If you look for photos in similiar conditions, you can find similiar photos from any digital camera -- regardless of lens quality.

Some just handle it better than others. I personally place the new Canons (A80, G5, S50) in the "worse than others" category, but none are totally immune.
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Old Nov 17, 2003, 2:02 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by JimC
All digital cameras will exhibit purple fringing under some conditions -- even those costing $10K +, with very high quality lenses.
Not just digital cameras, as any camera can have lens aberrations (chromatic or otherwise), mostly zoom lenses. Chances are though that if you have a good quality fixed focal length camera it shouldn't have it.
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