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Old Jun 27, 2008, 3:39 PM   #1
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Join Date: Jun 2008
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(I've posted the same topic in the DigitalCameraReview.com forums, and this questionnaire is from there.)

All right, that's it. I'm tired of spending days and nights looking for which camera to buy.

Here's the situation: I'm Brazilian and I'm traveling to the US (DisneyWorld Orlando ) next month. Obviously, it's a great opportunity to go shopping. So, I'm looking for a good (yeah... good!) camera to get.

Well... considering I'm buying a camera for use with video too, my budget is around $300-350.

A compact camera... ultra-compact, point-&-shoot, anything... Just not as big as the Canon S5 IS, for example. Panasonic DMC-TZ5 size is acceptable.

How many megapixels will suffice for you?
- I really won't make big prints of my photos. I don't know, kind of 8MP is enough.

What optical zoom will you need?
- 3x is the minimum requirement, 5x would be good, 10x would be great, but is not necessary.

How important is "image quality" to you? (Rate using a scale of 1-10)
- 7-8. There are a few situations (most of them) that I really don't mind about it, and there are a few others that I look for taking the best pic.

Do you care for manual exposure modes (shutter priority, aperture priority, manual)?

- Honestly... I always took my pics in the automatic mode.

General Usage
* What will you generally use the camera for?
Photos (family, travel, meetings, landscapes).
Videos (home videos for school, amateur movies )

* Will you be making big prints of your photos or not?

*Will you be shooting a lot of indoor photos or low light photos?
Not so often.

*Will you be shooting sports and/or action photos?
Not so often.

*Are there particular brands you like or hate?
Well... I have always used Sony digital cameras (P93, T2, T70) and I've never been disappointed with image quality. Video quality is great too (but it could offer a widescreen mode). Audio quality has always been good too (I shoot indoors always, rarely outdoors, concerts, or low-light situations).

Panasonic Lumix cameras are simply great for those who want to take great pics... But the movie mode simply sucks with the Motion-JPEG codec and, most important, the crap audio quality. They're kind of discarded...

I'm sure you're going to suggest me the Canon S5 IS, but this model is just too big for me. =]

I also know that I can't expect appropriate video quality with a digital camera, and that I should buy a camcorder instead (I also looked at the cheaper models, but I'm not sure). Therefore, I'm really not a Hollywood director or professional videomaker, I'm just a young occasional amateur moviemaker of book adaptations for school.

*Are there particular models you already have in mind?
Yes... a lot.

- Kodak V1253/V1273/V1073
Kodak offers the best features for me. It's exactly what I'm looking for. HD shooting, good audio quality (V1253 has even stereo mics), large screen, compact bodies... But I've searched a lot about them and I'm concerned about the image quality. Actually there's a lot of mixed reviews. Looks like is a love/hate camera.

- Samsung NV24HD
Wow... the features are amazing. Audio quality, HD movies, stereo mics, super-wide angle, AMOLED screen, and many others. Although, some people say that the image quality is good, some people say it is horrible, some people call it "devil". I'm concerned about this model.

- Casio EX-S10/EX-Z80
Yeah... Casio offers great features, too. Movie in these models is excellent. YouTube mode, widescreen, H.264 movies, AAC audio... Large screen, slim body. Great! But I don't know if image quality is that good too. And the price is low... can I trust them? Lack of image stabilization annoys me.

- Nikon S600
Don't know so much about it. Cool camera. Therefore, the reviewers don't seem to like the movie mode. It uses Motion-JPEG too (hate that).

- Fujifilm F100fd
Nice reviews, wide angle, great image quality, but they say that movie mode sucks. And it uses Motion-JPEG (crap).

- Canon SD870/SD950
The popular Canon models. OK... no comments about these ones. I've read enough about it. My only concerns are the audio quality and the Motion-JPEG codec (what the hell?).

- Sony W150/W170
As I said... Sony has always been great for me. If I can't decide, I think I'm gonna keep up with the Sony models, though.

*(If applicable) Do you need any of the following special features? (Wide Angle, Image Stabilization, Weatherproof, Hotshoe, Rotating LCD)
-Image stabilization is important.
-Wide angle would be great, but not necessary.
-Li-On batteries are preferable.
-Compressed video codecs like MPEG-4 (H.264) and MPEG-1 (MPEGmovie VX for Sony) are preferable. Hate Motion-JPEG, but if there's no other choice...
-Audio quality is very important, like I said. I don't need perfect quality. Like I said, Sony's audio quality is already great for me. I just don't want crap quality like the Panasonic ones.

I think that's it... Sorry for the long post. Hope you can help me. Please!
Thank you!
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Old Jul 2, 2008, 8:24 AM   #2
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Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 398

This is really tough! I cannot recommend any specific camera to you but I can give you some additional information.

If you don't like MJPEG (motion JPEG) video, the only other video format in digital cameras is MPEG-4. You should know that MJPEG video tends to give BETTER quality than MPEG-4 (but also depending on encoder quality and video bitrate), but at a HUGE expense of filesize.

If you are really determined to stay off MJPEG videos, you should google "digital cameras MPEG4" to get more models for review. Of course you will also get a lot of lesser name brands which are marketed as "digital camcorders", but they are probably not what you want.

As far as I know, Casio, Kodak and Pentax are the mainstream brands that use MPEG4 video format. You must research individual models because not all their models use MPEG4.

(NOTE: some models may state "Quicktime", but this can mean MJPEG or MPEG4, you must read the fine detail)

Again, I should stress that you may not like the video quality of MPEG4 in some of the models - again I am not saying MPEG4 is worse than MJPEG: I am just saying different brands and models have different predetermined settings (the most important one - video bitrate) that give different video quality.

Going back to your question .....

It is rather hard to find a digital camera with the best balance between picture and video quality. I would say Casio is a good choice - you should visit the Casio forum here for user reviews (image quality, durability, problems). The still picture quality of the Casio will not be as good as a Canon, for sure, but in good outdoor lighting condition, most digital cameras do a decent job.

I have a Sanyo Xacti CG6 that has excellent MPEG4 video quality (for a digital camera with video mode, also well in your price range), but I find the picture quality very mediocre (much worse than Canon and Fuji). I think Walmart still sells them.

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