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Old Apr 5, 2006, 12:01 PM   #1
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Budget
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* What budget have you allocated for buying this camera? Please be as specific as possible.

Can't be too specific. $250-$450 but as always the cheaper the better if it's a good buy value wise.


SIZE:
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* What size camera are you looking for? Or does size not matter at all to you?

I want something small that I can carry around in my pocket without it bothering me. I would like to have it with me often and having bulky pockets is a pet peeve of mine. I realize I'll have to give into that pet peeve somewhat, but the less bulky it is the better. Size is high on my priority list.


Features
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How many megapixels will suffice for you?

Anywhere 4mp and up is fine.


* What optical zoom will you need?

3x is fine. More is better, but not really needed and seems like most ultra compacts are 3x.

* How important is "image quality" to you? (Rate using a scale of 1-10)

7.....These will mainly be for taking pictures while out with friends or on vacations to post online.


Do you care for manual controls?

Not sure exactly what manual controls are mentioned here, but it's not too important to me. I just want to be able to get solid pictures while out, I'm not going to be entering any pictures into an artshow


General Usage
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* What will you generally use the camera for?

I recently went to Vegas without a camera, and now regret that I don't have any pictures. Then, on Monday night my Gators won the national title in basketball so I headed downtown for the celebration and again regret not having a camera. I'm looking for a camera mainly for these types of situations, going out with friends, maybe some post-game intramural football pics, etc.

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

Unlikely unless I end up with a picture I really like.

Will you be shooting a lot of indoor photos or low light photos?

Probably some of both, yes.

Will you be shooting sports and/or action photos?

It's not in the plan, but I wouldn't mind having the ability. Low on my list of priorities however.


Miscellaneous
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Are there particular brands you like or hate?

I've always heard good things about Canon and Sony cameras, though I like the Casio Exoslim line as well. Never been a huge fan of Fuji, but I'm not going to pick or reject a camera that is a better value for what I need just because of the brand name.

Are there particular models you already have in mind?

I've looked at a lot actually and am having a difficult time narrowing them down. Sony T5, Sony DSC-T9, Casio exoslim-sr600 and EX-z257, Optio s6, Canon sd450, Fuji F10 among others. My eventual winner does not have to be something from this list though..

(If applicable) Do you need any of the following special features? (Wide Angle, Image Stabilization, Weatherproof, Hotshoe, Rotating LCD) -

No, these features would just be an added bonus, none are on my 'needs' list.
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Old Apr 5, 2006, 2:21 PM   #2
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The template you followed is very good but there is an omission. Some people are real snobs about movies from digital cameras and feel that if you want movies you should carry a camcorder. But the camera is often all you have with you and a 640 X 480 movie at 30fps isn't bad at all – certainly better than no movie at all.

There is an opposite extreme of people who post to ask what digital cameras will allow them to take a single movie that will fill a large memory card. Several people were bent out of shape that the European version of the Casio Z850 allows only 10 minute movies and are hoping Casio will fix this terrible limitation with firmware.

I personally like having a decent movie mode but don't tend to take long movies. My Casio pocket camera has a feature called the past movie mode that helps keep movies relatively short. You just aim the camera and wait for something worth filming to happen. When it does and you start recording the camera adds the previous 5 seconds from the buffer, so you don't have to grind away in anticipation of something happening. That feature combined with MPEG4 compression lets me take movies without worrying too much about memory space.

MPEG4 takes only about a quarter the space of movies of the same resolution and frame rate with no compression. Almost all new models will take 640 X 480 movies at 30 fps but few have MPEG4. There is a licensing fee and legal battles over rights, so many companies are avoiding it. If you don't intend taking long movies and plan on getting a large card it isn't important. The only cameras I know of with the past movie mode are the Casio cameras with MPEG4. Casio cameras without MPEG4 can't buffer enough to make it a viable feature.

Of the specific cameras you mentioned I would wait for the Fuji F30 rather than buy the F10 if you want high ISO with low noise. The F10 has a low quality LCD and no optical viewfinder so it isn't very good in bright sunlight. They have improved the LCD on the F30. None are great in bright sunlight but some are quite difficult. The F10 had exceptional resolution and I would assume the F30 will as well with the same lens and sensor. Make sure you handle one in a store as they are larger than anything else you mentioned.

The Canon SD450 is a very good little point and shoot camera. It has an optical viewfinder which I find useful for quickly acquiring and following moving targets and it is useful sometimes in bright sunlight. Reviews and optics are excellent.

Forget about the Sony T5. The flash is so pitifully weak you can't do better than head and shoulder shots with it. The T9 appears to be a nifty little camera. It has true optical stabilization and better than average noise at ISO400. That combination should make it fairly versatile in less than perfect light. It has a large internal memory that you can keep a permanent photo album in to show on the high quality display. The flash is good to about 9 feet which isn't great but useable.

The Casio S600 is tiny. It has MPEG4 and the past movie mode. Photo quality is OK but not what a person who reviews them at 100% so you have to scroll around to see the whole image would consider great. But most people with the S series Casio are happy with the photos. The LCD is bright but not high quality and it has no optical viewfinder. The digital stabilization is OK for the movies but doesn't help much for still photos.

Before considering the Z57 I would look at the Z850 or older Z750. Z57 movies aren't worth fooling with and the optics aren't as good as the Z750/850. If you consider the Z750 for the lower price get the gray model to be sure you don't get one of the early production models that could develop lens errors. Both the Z750 and 850 have small optical viewfinders. All of the current Casios have internal memory and can hold a decent sized permanent photo album. I prefer that to a throw-away memory card. The Casio internal memory isn't as large as the T9 but it will hold a large numbers of photos in the album since they are reduced some in size.

The Panasonic FX01 has a wide angle lens which is handy for general use photography. It has optical stabilization and an excellent lens.

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Old Apr 5, 2006, 5:42 PM   #3
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Hi,
I suggest you take a look at the Kodak Easyshare V530. I was not a big fan of Kodak cameras, specially because the older models looked big and ugly although I knew it was one of the oldest and reputable camera manufacturers. I accidentally came across this camera at the store while I was checking out another camera.

This is a sleek looking camera and looks great in black. It also come in Pink, Red and Silver. It has 5 MP. I actually just bought one. I did a lot of research and finally came down to this. I think it is also very affordable as it is only $200. This camera however does not have an optical viewfinder and I have read that battery life is average. But if you don't take more than 120-130 shots in one outing and the optical viewfinder is not a dealbreaker for you, this would be an excellent choice. The size, although not the smallest, is compact enough to be carried around in your pocket. If an optical viewfinder is an absolute must for you, then check out the V550, which might cost about $50 - $70 more and also comes with a larger LCD screen. The dimensions are just slightly bigger in the V550. The resolution of the LCD is also very good when compared to other cameras in its size.

The cool looking dock is included which makes it really easy to share photos. Thsi camera also shoots movies in MPEG-4 format, which squeezes significantly more footage onto the memory card than the more common Motion JPEG. The video quality is also better than most cameras of its class.

Please check out PCmag's review of it here and check out more photos.

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1895,1877623,00.asp
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Old Apr 5, 2006, 8:43 PM   #4
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Friends bought a Kodak V550 about 6 months ago. I recommended it because I thought the EasyShare system would be easier than leaving instructions for all the tasks. That has generally been true. I set the software up so it automatically makes a folder with the current date, downloads the images into it and deletes them from the camera when you push the button on the dock.

But they want to put photos back onto the card to have them developed and that has been a problem. It is a snap with most cameras but isn't with the Kodak setup. Short of a card reader it appears online printing is the best option. I much prefer to have the camera show up as a simple drive and handle everything through Windows without wizards and software buffers. But EasyShare is fairly simple for someone who doesn't want to do that.

Get the V550 over the V530 unless you have really good near vision. The double whammy of losing the optical viewfinder and having the LCD smaller isn't a good deal. And having the optical finder lets you turn off the LCD for more battery life. Battery life is a weak point on those Kodaks.

Movies aren't as good on the Kodak V550 as on my Casio Z750. It isn't a big difference but they aren't quite as sharp. Steve didn't like them much either in his review. My guess is that the Kodak has anti-aliasing for the movies and the Casio doesn't. You get the occasional wavy near-vertical or near-horizontal line and some rare moiré without anti-aliasing, but the images are a little sharper. I never noticed the waviness until I specifically looked for it and found it was reasonably rare. I haven't found moiré yet but have seen it in sample Casio movies.

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Old Apr 5, 2006, 11:19 PM   #5
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Wow, great responses so far guys. Video is not a priority of mine. I'd like it to be able to take some decent 640x480 video but options and whatnot aren't too large a concern, though the specific cases you mention are certainly helpful and worth factoring into the decision.

Here's a bit of an update.

I was able to get to a CC today and check out some of the cameras in person. I may be crazy (since not many people have recommended it to me in general) but after seeing it in person I really liked the Sony T9. I also helps that Dell has a deal going right now where you can pick up the T9 for $324 (the Canon SD600 is also on sale for $244 there).

I wish I had a chance to see the Casio Exoslim SR600. I was only able to find one Casio (EXZ600BK I believe was the model) and it seemed very thin and compact (as did the T9). With both of them coming in at .8" thick I can't imagine how thin the SR600 is at .63" (with the Dell sale they're virtually the same price).

They had the SD600 there (also on sale at Dell for $244, actually cheaper than the SD450 and seems to be the deal everyone is jumping on) which impressed me a bit as well.

I checked out the Kodiak and it felt a bit too large for my needs, and comparing the size of some of the other cameras with it (F10, Z750) makes me think those are probably a bit bulky as well.

Didn't have an Optio S6 there to check out either.

I guess I've narrowed it down to the Sony T9, Casio SR600, Casio EXZ600Bk, Canon SD600, and Optio S6.

Time to really sit down and do some hard review reading, though I would of course appreciate more input as well especially since this dell deal on the T9/SD600 could die off at any time now.

Thanks!
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Old Apr 6, 2006, 9:11 AM   #6
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I bought the Canon SD600 which I believe is the successor to the SD450 and have been very happy with it so far.

Jeff
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