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Old Feb 8, 2006, 1:46 PM   #1
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Ok now comes a more difficult decision for me(more so than picking DSLR, frankly...lol). I need to buy a camera as a gift to my Dad who will be going on a trip mid-march to China. I want to give him something thats compact and still be able to produce nice image. And knowing the kind of scenary thats in China I want to have something that has a nice wide-angle capability, with at least 6mp to play with. I am hoping to keep the price under 1000 CDN, preferably less than 700CDN, but if its over its over, as long as the camera is good.

This is a list of camera I've been looking at and my initial judgement:

Ricoh GR Digital:

Pros: Nice wide angle lens, good ergonomic, can shoot RAW, may even serve as a wideangle backup to my DSLR.

Cons: Pricey in Canada, long delivery time from Hong Kong/Japan(custom clearance may be an issue), no Zoom(bad for maybe casual traverller, ie my Dad), no OVF(though I may have something that can serve as one instead of buying the optional one)

Ricoh GX8:

Pros: Cheaper than GR D, have Zoom, have OVF

Cons: Same shipment/price issue, don't know about image quality, smaller LCD, no RAW function, really rather have GR D....

Panasonic LX-1:

Pros: Leica Lens, same camera as D-Lux 2, 16:9 wide angle sounds interesting, seems to receive praise for operation and ergonomic, more widely available than Ricoh, more reach.

Cons: Potential noise issue(yes shooting RAW with Post Processing maybe better, but not feasible for traveling without laptop or other backup)

Canon S80:

Pros: Its a Canon, compact, widely available, good out of camera image.

Cons: Its a Canon, not as ergonomical as others, no RAW.

The Canon thing, maybe because I am using Minolta for my own gear, I am trying not to be too mainstream. RAW capability is useful IMO, but more so when I use it to back up my DSLR than my dad using it for day to day on traveling. I really want to have a wide, wideangle for this camera, which is why I am looking at 28mm.

Anyone has anything to share, insight, experience, or other suggestion for this range is welcome.

Thanks a lot!
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Old Feb 8, 2006, 4:24 PM   #2
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So are you searching for real compact which fits to pockets? In that case there really isn't so much options.

Digital zoom camera I would discard immediately.
And I don't know how RAW modes of those should be taken... P&Ss commonly freeze until RAW is saved.

And image stabilization could help much if he has shakier hands like some people, not that it wouldn't be usefull for everyone.

Also is there some hard size limit? "Compact" seems to be really stretchy definition for some. (about everything smaller than SLR)
Or other such requirements I could use for digging up candidates? Not that lack of real wide angle wouldn't already drop away huge majority of digicams.

RacingManiac wrote:
I am trying not to be too mainstream. RAW capability is useful IMO, but more so when I use it to back up my DSLR than my dad using it for day to day on traveling.
But if size don't have to be "pocket compatible" KonicaMinolta A200 is mostly similar to A2 which can give DSLR a run for its money in good conditions. A200 has same features except more "point&shootetized"/simplified control layout and less chunkier outlook. It has mechanically zoomed stabilized 28-200mm lens and buffer for 5 RAWs so I think it would work really well as lighter backup for DSLR.

I really want to have a wide, wide angle for this camera, which is why I am looking at 28mm.
Yeah, isn't it annoying how all those unwide angle "super/ultra"zooms are touted as all in one cameras while zoom number is similar to megapixels and doesn't tell nothing solid or how good camera is for certain use.
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Old Feb 8, 2006, 5:02 PM   #3
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Yes, if size doesn't matter, I would go for the KM A200. It is very much like the Canon Powershot Pro1, but has an image stabiliser and a nice remote control. It also costs less and the its price should drop further as KM moves out of the camera business.
I also like the Olympus C7070WZ. It is much smaller and like the A200 has a flip out display. Unfortunately the best Olympus cameras are hardly available. If you really want wide angle you may also look at my Nikon Coolpix 8400. It has a fine 24-85 mm zoom, a flip out display as the A200 but is much smaller as the A200. I wouldn't by the Ricohs. They have good ergonomics but bad image quality.
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Old Feb 8, 2006, 5:35 PM   #4
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I don't know if it is small enough, or compact enough, but the new Kodak P-880 has received good reviews and it is well within your price range. It might be worth a look. The Ricoh cameras by the way have not received good reviews.Another possibility moight be the Pansonic LZ-5.
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Old Feb 8, 2006, 6:08 PM   #5
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wide angle and pocketable?

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Old Feb 8, 2006, 6:39 PM   #6
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A200 would've been a no brainer if I were to choose a 2nd camera for my use. The problem is my dad doesn't even want to carry a DiMAGE Z1 around(what I have before I got the 5D). The Kodak seems interesting, but the wide lens is fix focus, I don't exactly know how that would work out. The current camera that he use is a Powershot A20, which is a decent camera, but lacks any control and at 2 MP is quite dated(and he prints his stuff too)....

Canon S80 seems to be the easy way out, but not something I want to use if I were to borrow it....

Maybe I can talk him into an A200, if not I can always get Canon......:lol:
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Old Feb 8, 2006, 9:09 PM   #7
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If your dad wants raw he probably also wants manual controls along with bells and whistles. There isn't much in a small camera that offers all that. And as E.T. points out, many cameras have cycle times in raw so long that it is unusable in most dynamic situations. The Panasonics are great for cycle time in raw and the buffer on the KM A200 is OK until you fill the buffer. And as you say, raw isn't likely an option for a long trip without external storage.

A camera you might want to consider for the trip is the new Kodak V570. It has a two lens setup with a 23mm (eq) wide and a normal 3X zoom lens. The total zoom from wide to tele is 5X. It is also unique (I think) in that it will stitch panoramas in the camera. With the camera held vertically, a panorama with the 23mm lens should be spectacular.

It has no optical viewfinder. The LCD is large and high quality though. Friends have the same viewfinder on a V550 and it is quite nice. It has a larger viewing angle so you can use it at odd angles, and it brightens well in low light and is better than average in bright sunlight.

It is a basic point and shoot. I find you can do a lot with spot metering and EV corrections referring to a histogram. I bought my current pocket camera (and the one before it) based on having an optical finder and full manual controls. But I use manual exposure and focus only for night shots and the occasional macro. A sport or portrait mode would do about anything I use aperture priority for in a camera without a hot shoe.

Assuming the compression is about the same as the V550, the compression at best quality is a little high IMO. That is an advantage for a long trip without external storage. And the best quality shots seem good from my friend's camera. I don't see compression artifacts even at 100%. But less than 1.5Mb average for a 5Mp camera is a fairly high compression. It might not be the camera you want for yourself after the trip, but it would be a good travel camera. You could fit a LOT of best quality shots on a 2Gb card.

Aperture isn't great on the 3X lens and the flash range isn't as good as some small cameras. It has MPEG4 movies, and your dad might be able to fit a few in if he gets a large card.

You might look at the Canon S70. It is about the same weight but a little bulkier than the S80. It has raw and I think the 7Mp 1/1.8 sensor is better than the 8Mp sensor in the S80 for noise. I've always been able to find a nice belt pouch at my local flea market that comes close to a perfect fit for any particular camera. I carry my tiny carry camera that way even though it will fit fine in a pocket. A belt pouch is a handy way to carry a camera for fast access and it would work well for the S70 or S80. Battery life isn't great on the S70, but I would think 140 shots a day would be a lot and generic spares are cheap. The S70 buffers raw shots very well.

The LX1 is probably the noisiest camera on the market. But for normal prints and screen viewing it would probably be OK. If you had to shoot at higher ISO noise software would probably give a decent image. It has a nice zoom range and stabilization is helpful – especially without an optical viewfinder.

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Old Feb 9, 2006, 3:39 AM   #8
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RacingManiac wrote:
The problem is my dad doesn't even want to carry a DiMAGE Z1 around...
Now is that because of size or look of it? :lol:
(and I consider its outlook as really bizarre while I'm that "gadget nerd" who doesn't care much about outlook if it works better)

But if it has to be smaller than that there really isn't much options. Even Nikon 8400 is similar to it in size and slightly heavier.

Kodak V570's (pure point&pray, not even menu surfing settings) reviews seems to be nonexisting currently.
Imaging Resource's really short quick review says something about card slot door being prone to opening by itself, camera uses digital zoom to fill "empty" between fixed WA lens and 39mm of zooming lens ("at 38mm" it uses blowed up 1.7 megapixel image). Practical resolution is stated be more like 3 or 4 megapixels than 5. And purple fringing of WA is absolutely horrible.
So sounds to me like Kodak did big pile of compromises to keep price acceptable because of extra expenses caused by two separate lenses/CCDs.

mtclimber wrote:
Another possibility moight be the Pansonic LZ-5.
37mm is not so wide angle.

kassandro, I wouldn't bet my moneys about price decrease, what I've read prices of even used A2s have been rising to level of what they were as new and apparently sells of A200s are in good speed.
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Old Feb 9, 2006, 4:30 AM   #9
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The Ricoh cameras by the way have not received good reviews.
Dunno about that, the new GRD has received some very good reviews indeed.

Of the choices you've listed I think I'd go with the Panasonic/Leica.

I'd pay extra for the Leica badge. :-)
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Old Feb 9, 2006, 2:49 PM   #10
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go to pbase and check out the camera database for the cameras you've mentioned. quality will vary by shooter, of course, but you can get an idea of what kinds of photos each camera is capable of. i have the lx-1 and it's excellent for wide angle shots, but the noise issue does exist. (btw, you can also go to luminous landscape and check out some photos there taken in china with the lx-1 by a pro user). no experience with the other cams, so can't help on that. if low light shooting is a possibility, the lx-1 is not the best choice unless you have exceptionally steady hands or use a tripod.
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