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Old Apr 27, 2006, 11:52 AM   #1
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Okay, I've loaded my bag with heavy lenses and a new 20D, but now I'm finding myself in need of a relatively small, lighter rig to use as a walkaround camera that won't be too obnoxious to carry around at amusement parks, events, etc. Portability is important, but I still want good pictures. I have a Digital Rebel sitting around not doing much, so I could buy a mid-price zoom to go with that (like an 18-200 or a 28-300), or, for the same price, I could buy a Canon, Sony, or Kodak point and shoot. Spending about $450, would I get better images with the point and shoot or the cheap zoom on the DSLR? I know that everything in photography is a trade off, but I'm just wondering, in general, which would be better. Any opinions would be helpful. Thanks.
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Old Apr 27, 2006, 12:30 PM   #2
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would I get better images with the point and shoot or the cheap zoom on the DSLR?
You would get infinitely better photos with the pocket camera if the DSLR was sitting at home.

If you aren't cranking up the ISO and shooting in difficult situations you would probably get good images with a pocket camera. Most of the better camera companies are evidently putting a lot of effort into their non-DSLR lenses. If you look at the resolutions in the dpreview tests you will see that the pocket cameras compare very well in resolution to the DSLRs. They test the DSLR resolution with a high quality prime (non-zoom) lens set at the best aperture for resolution. Considering the non-DSLRs are tested with their zoom lenses at default with no effort toward finding optimum settings for resolution they do extremely well.

Of course the small sensors can't compare to the DSLR for noise and dynamic range. But you can get some good pictures.

I have had a couple of pocket digitals and always insisted on having full manual controls. I don't plan on upgrading my pocket camera anytime soon as it is giving good service, but when I do I won't be making manual controls such a high priority. With a live histogram and EV shift and/or spot metering you can handle most difficult lighting just fine. Most cameras anymore have portrait and sports modes for opening the lens all the way for maximum background blurring or maximum shutter speeds. I've found a way around requiring manual for panoramas, so about the only thing I use full manual for is night shots on a tripod. And if you are going to carry a tripod you will probably bring the DSLR.

For point and shoot you might wait for the prices to come down a little on the new Canon SD700. It isn't super small but pocketable. It has a 4X zoom and optical stabilization. They are advertising better than average high ISO capability. If you want something smaller the Sony T9 also has optical stabilization and better than average ISO 400 noise. I'm not a big fan of cameras without an eyelevel viewfinder, but the T9 has a very good LCD.

If you want full manual controls the Casio Z850 is hard to beat. It is quite small with an optical viewfinder, large LCD and full manual everything. It also has an extremely good control setup. I am currently using a Z750 as my pocket camera and am quite happy with it, but the Z850 has some good improved features. The Z750 is taking better movies but the flash is weak compared to the Z850 and it has no effective burst mode. The Z750 is a bargain right now.

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Old Apr 28, 2006, 6:46 AM   #3
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tmilner wrote:
... Spending about $450, would I get better images with the point and shoot or the cheap zoom on the DSLR?
I picked up a Minolta A2 when it was discontinued for just the same purpose around your targeted price tag.

This 8Mp camera has a very high resolution EVF and operates just llke any dSLR but with a real-life preview of what's going to be captured on 'film' instead, especially when you use the camera on manual -> You can actually see the result/effect of your adjustments from the aperture and shutter in the camera's viewfinder.

If that doesn't help there's also a in real-time histogram in the EVF as well... and oh yeah the camera comes with a 28-200mm G (with macro capability) lens which is Minolta's L lenses version of the Canon, and the A2 has built-in IS as well...
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