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Old May 2, 2010, 4:48 PM   #1
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Default New guy sold his G5, and now I want a compact...

First off, I am appreciative of all of the experience here on this forum. it is obvious that so many of you are both knowledgeable and dedicated to digital photography.

I have searched many threads over the past week or so as I researched a new digital camera. Ultimately, my brain started oozing out of my nose and everything started to gray out, so I think it is time to come here and ask for your opinion.

I am a police officer and I use digital photography nearly every day. I am a coroner's investigator, so I'll leave it to your imagination as to what I photograph. However, my purpose now is to purchase a new camera for my personal use, and I will break it in by taking it on a driving vacation in Wyoming and Montana this summer..

My last digital camera was a Canon G5 which I purchased in 2004. With the exception of the original Canon battery dying on me, the camera was a good and faithful servant. It never failed me. However, I know these electronic devices eventually reach the end of their life, so I sold it while it still functioned perfectly. Now, the search begins for a new one.

One thing that bothered me about the G5 was its size. It was too large for a pocket, and this forced me to use a neck strap and stick it inside my jacket as I moved around the scene. So for my next camera, I am looking for something smaller.

Here are my basic requirements.

I want the camera to be small enough to always be with me if I prefer. I look at these cameras as I do my carrying a concealed weapon. When the time comes and you need the weapon/camera, all that matters is what you have with you at the time. If something is too large or too heavy, you will be selective as to when you carry it.

I like the ability to take sharp, macro photos.

I want a quality, durable and long-lasting piece of equipment. All of my research and talking to a trusted salesperson at the local Best Buy (a man who has worked in photography for many years and still uses a Hasselblad...) leads me to believe I am best served with Canon, Panasonic or Sony.

My research here leads me to the Panasonic ZS series, a few different Sony's, especially the new Sony HX5V, and several models of Canon.

I am not concerned with megapixels, for the vast amount of my shooting is seldom enlarged. Having the higher powered zoom feature is nice, but it is not a high priority. I never used the video function on my G5, so if it's there on the new camera, nice, but I'll probably never use it.

The ability to shoot in lower light circumstances would be nice, both indoors and out. I see Sarah Joyce regularly tells people to buy an auxiliary flash for these small point and shoots in order to extend the camera's range. That makes perfect sense and it is something I will keep in mind.

I am concerned about the long-term quality of these cameras. For example, I have read numerous complaints on some models of Panasonic cameras where the LED screen develops a crack. Granted, most of these were over the past few years and it seems like this was a issue that Panasonic first denied and then later began repairing the cameras at no cost so hopefully that has been dealt with. I did not see any recent complaints about this issue.

Additionally, I am still leery of anything made in China as opposed to Japan. The Panasonic is made in Japan, and the Sony HX5V is made in China, yet I have not read any complaints about the Sony's build quality, so perhaps my perception, at least when it comes to these three brands, is misplaced?

A few of the cameras I have considered, just so you get an idea of what I'm looking at, are the above mentioned models, as well as the little Canon SD 1200/1400. I know the Panasonic ZS1 is well rated, however I have not found one around here. The smaller Sony W350 looked promising.

The GPS functions that are present in some of these cameras are nice, but by no means a necessity.

I realize I'm being a bit vague, however I am at a point where all of these cameras are starting to look the same to me...

I thank you in advance for the time you take to respond to me.
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Old May 2, 2010, 4:57 PM   #2
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For low light in a compact camera the canon S90 is hands down the best in this department.

Both the ZS and the new sony HX5V are very sharp and looks like they have very decent macro ability. If you do not need that long of a zoom, also consider the panny ZR1.
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Old May 2, 2010, 5:08 PM   #3
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I think the S90 would work well, and will be an easy transition coming from the canon G series.
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Old May 2, 2010, 6:45 PM   #4
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Welcome to the Forum. We are glad you dropped by

The leader in low light photography is clearly the Canon S-90. However, is does not have much zoom. If I remember correctly, the Canon G-5 like the G-6 has 4X optical zoom.

If you do not need HD video, and can make do with a LCD with 230K pixels, the ZS1 is available from both www.jr.co and www.amazon have the ZS1 for $179.00. If you want HD video and 460K pixels in your LCD, the ZS3 is your choice.

If small is beautiful, take a look at the ZR1 with 8X Optical Zoom (25mm to 200mm) with Panasonic's upgraded OIS, the new imager that is used in the ZS7 model , and HD video where you can zoom while filming at Amazon.com for $185.00. Yes on any of these Panasonic models with the tiny weak built-in flash, you can get a big assist from a less than $20.00 Slave Flash. Also Panasonic has just received an award for the most reliable cameras produced. And yes, you are correct. Panasonic makes their cameras in Osaka, Japan.

Canon's SX-210 is beginning to look better, but there are still questions about image quality at its full 14X optical zoom when hand held. And ISO capability is good up to ISO 400, and the noise takes over. In contrast, you can get away with ISO 800 on the ZS1 and ZS3, and the little ZR1 does well at ISO 800, and in a pinch can go to ISO 1000.

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Old May 2, 2010, 10:23 PM   #5
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Thank you for the welcome, and the responses...

For now, I prefer to purchase from Best Buy so I am a bit limited in my choices. I have several gift cards and some of their "rewards" dollars to spend, hence my list of choices. I will stop there tomorrow and see what was just put on sale. They publish their new sale prices on Sundays.
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