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Old Jan 15, 2007, 5:26 PM   #1
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Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 2

Hello to all, I'm both new to these forums and digital photography.
I've done a lot of reading over the past few weeks, mostly on-line
reviews and these forums, and I think I've pretty much narrowed
down my choice to two models: the Powershot A540, or the Finepix
F20/F30. From my point of view, the Canon has a few things over
the Fujis:
AA batteries
SD memory card
More manual options (especially over the F20).

The only thing still keeping me interested in the Fujis is their
low-light performance. I've never actually tried & compared both,
but the reviews I read all agree on that. The Canon, on the other
hand, supposedly has an inadequate (and slow) flash, a possibly
inferior sensor, giving so-so performance in low-light (noise, etc.)
But the Fuji isn't perfect: it suffers from over-exposure and purple
fringing in some high contrast scenes.

It seems to me that correcting over-exposure problems in PP isn't
as straightforward as smoothing out noise caused by high ISO.
But, is it easy and practical to adjust exposure on the camera to
avoid the problem altogether?

As for the A540, is it really hopeless in low light?
For example, noise wouldn't be the only problem, there could be
some blur caused by slow shutter speeds and camera movement...
I don't know how well that can be corrected in software.

I'm certainly not a professional photographer (I don't even
pretend to be good, let alone experienced), but I enjoy photography,
I like to learn, and I certainly don't mind working a bit harder to
get great pictures. I could say that I couldn't resist at least opening
a picture on a computer before thinking of printing it (none of this
camera-to-printer automatic junk).
Also, "Easyshare" makes me shudder.

Thanks for any tips!
Fenugrec is offline   Reply With Quote
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Old Jan 15, 2007, 6:56 PM   #2
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Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 1,870


Welcome to the forum. Apparently, even though you are new to digital photography, you are already learning that there is no perfect camera...there are tradeoffs for every feature, quality, price, etc. The camera that you select should be the one that's right for you and the type of photography you want to pursue. Since you didn't tell us the type of pics you plan on taking, let's look at the pros and cons you've listed for the two (or three) cams you're considering...

AA batteries...I like them better too - as long as four fit in the camera. However, in compact cams, the most you will get (due to the size of the cam) is two - and that can be a problem with flash recycle time - but you already knew that (approx. 9 seconds for the A540 vs. 4.4 seconds for the F30).

SD memory card...don't see any reason to prefer one over the other. You buy a card with the cam...when you sell the cam, you sell the card with it. Because one costs more than the other? What are we talking - $10...$15? For a one-time purchase? Consider it part of the cost of the camera.

Manual options...will they really matter to you? If they do, don't consider the F20.

Low light performance...I think you already have that one figured out - no contest.

Purple fringing...you can experience that with just about any compact P&S camera. The Fujis seem to be a little worse than average there. However, technique may have something to do with it, since I have not experienced the condition with my S5100.

A540 hopeless in low light...not entirely hopeless, but I think you may be disappointed in the low light performance. Any camera you buy should have, as a minimum, a decent ISO 400 performance. You will need this (if not more) for any low light situations. I don't think the A540 has it. As a matter of fact, from the pics I've seen on the review sites, the F30 seems better at ISO 800 (and maybe even 1600) than the A540 at ISO 400. Just my opinion.

In order to reduce motion blur, you need to use fast shutter speeds. As far as correcting motion blur with software, good luck. Let me know when you find something that works.

Go to a camera shop that has both in stock...pick them up and play with them...see how they feel.

Good luck with your choice.

the Hun
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Old Jan 16, 2007, 3:57 PM   #3
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Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 2

Thanks a lot for your reply Hun.

Very interesting, but as I expected it doesn't make the choice any easier !

I thought about it some more yesterday, and today I bought an A530. I
didn't get an A540 because here in Canada, it's 110$ more expensive
than the 530, without incredible features to justify it. Plus, they don't
even include an AC adapter... Also, for some reason, the A5xx are sold
for -a lot- more than in the USA, whereas the Fujis have similar prices
accross the border...

I felt the 540 was very similar to the 530, so they would surely offer
similar performances.

What I noted after about 40 pics and a few movies:

-No aperture / shutter priority : I would've like that a lot, but I'd rather
save the 100$ for when I can afford a DSLR.

-slow video (640*480 @ 15fps), but I'm OK with that. QVGA at
30 fps is quite usable.

- flash recycle was fast(er). I don't understand this. I tried some much-
abused 8 year old Ni-cads (probably not even 600mAh). The camera
told me the batteries were low, but that didn't prevent me from getting
a couple of max-resolution shots (with flash) before the camera turned
off. There were about 5-7 seconds between shots, which to me felt

-Much noise at higher ISO, as expected. I tried to clean up a few shots
in Photoshop, with only limited success. I think that only so much can be
done for a noisy picture, even by pros with excellent tools (not my case
in both ways).

-motion blur : not much trouble there, I simply set up a two second
delayed shot, so I had time to stabilise the camera.

-Manual focus : interesting, but due to the low-resolution screen, not
incredibly helpful. Besides, the AF does an OK job with its three evaluation
modes, plus the AF-lock capability (half-pressing the button).

-JPEG compression: Now this didn't impress me much. Perhaps I was
expecting a lot, but the compression was clearly visible in fine details.
I must say, though, there could have been other factors involved (a
window, 5MPx resolution, Autofocus)

So, the A530 isn't as great as I wanted it to be. I would have liked more
manual control, but I think I'll keep that for an eventual DSLR.

There was some purple-fringing in some shots. I tried cleaning up those,
plus some other ones downloaded from the web. I was surprised to see
it's -way- easier to fix than noise. Plus, a bit of color treatment along a few
edges is much more bearable, and a -lot- less visible, than a 100% noisy
shot. That makes the F20 much more interesting.

I'll probably return the A530 shortly (I still want to make a few tests), but
I'm not sure I'll buy the F20 just right now. I still have to convince myself
that xD is OK. They are pricy, and less popular... Also, the battery annoys

Hmmm. I'm almost decided, but not quite... any more input ?


P.S. Ah. I knew that post was getting way too long... very sorry. Gives
an idea of how many reviews, specifications, prices, features are
spinning in my head !!
Fenugrec is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jan 21, 2007, 5:22 PM   #4
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 39

If the xD issue is the main reason for your uncertainty about the F20, you might want to wait until the F40fd is available. It's an upgrade to the F20 with an 8 megapixel sensor and it takes SD as well as xD cards. Yes it will be more expensive than the F20 but it might be worth it to you.

A lot of people criticize xD cards because they are more expensive, and slower, compared to SD cards. Yes they cost more, but you'll probably just get one or two 1GB or 2GB cards and be done with it. It isn't like film where you know you have to purchase more all the time. As for speed, I don't think it's an issue in compact cameras like the F20. I'm more familiar with the F30, which I own, and I can tell you that it is a good to very good performer in all aspects except for continous shooting, where it is rather limited.

If you do end up getting the F20, I think you'll enjoy it a lot. Even when you step up to a DSLR, you'll find yourself reaching for the F20 for those times when you want to travel light. It's a very capable little camera.

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