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Old Aug 7, 2003, 1:18 PM   #1
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Default Help Wanted: Buying a camera...

I have been looking to buy a digital camera and have been researching (internet, stores) the different cameras, the reviews, sample pictures etc. and I am even more confused now than when I started.

This will be my first digital camera and I have never really owned a camera with any manual settings whatsoever. I am interested in getting great shots but am torn between the convenience factor and the flexibility factor.

The cameras that I have been considering lately (mostly from opinion) are:

Canon s400 - gorgeous, tiny but will i be missing control?
Canon s45 - great pictures, great control, not REALLY pocketable
Canon s50 - same as s45 but do I really need the extra MP?
Canon A70? - didn't mean to consider a 3MP but should I? This seems to be the love of a lot of people.

A little Canon-heavy you say? From what I can tell (correct me if you will) Canon seems to have the best overall quality of pictures and features - even if they are a bit pricier. I have noticed this myself from comparing images side-by-side from the imaging-resource web site (www.imaging-resource.com).

On another note, its obvious that digital photography is getting better and better but from a manual control perspective film shooting (SLR) is still much much better and will be for quite a while...so I'm thinking maybe its better to go for size with the ELPH and get a film SLR later for the more enthusiast type scenarios?

Any help, comments, opinions are greatly appreciated...

:?
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Old Aug 7, 2003, 2:10 PM   #2
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The more you look around the internet for camera info the more confused you get. It's so true isn't? The last time I had as hard of a time making a purchase, it was for a house! LOL
Anyhow, I chose the A70 because it was a little cheaper and, I didn't want to deal with a proprietary battery. I also went to www.pbase.com and looked at a ton of A70 pics and, I like what I saw compared to other cameras. I suspect all the Canon's would have a very similar image quality though.

rgds,
Mark
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Old Aug 7, 2003, 7:06 PM   #3
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Assuming you want a pocket camera for unexpected and unplanned photo moments; You might also want to take note of operational delay of the camera. There is nothing so frustrating as having a camera in your hand and at the time it is ready and taking the picture, the subject/scene is long gone.
Although this might lead to more research before buy and thus confusion, it could also narrow your choice to CanonS400 or S45, unless you want faster from a different brand. The A70 has similar timing, but the camera writes 3 mp in the same time another camera writes 4mp and is thus slower.

I have now a Canon Elph/Ixus first version. Yes the small size definitly makes it a joy to take this camera even to the supermarket. And most of my critique on this little gem has improved with the S400. However the max aperture is still f4.9 aperture, you might want to check that out on www.pbase.com/cameras. Also check how the S400 performs in low contrast situations.
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Old Aug 7, 2003, 8:44 PM   #4
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If you're looking for a truely "pocketable" camera, you may also want to consider the new Konica Revio KD-510z (a.k.a. Minolta Dimage G500).

This camera is not shipping yet in the United States, but you can get one via Hong Kong vendors (or from someone that brought some back from Japan, which is how I acquired mine).

I posted a "mini review" of this camera here:

http://www.stevesforums.com/phpBB2/v...ic.php?t=12930
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Old Aug 8, 2003, 12:45 AM   #5
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Hi,

Well, i own a s230 and I think it's great. The convenience factor of having a small camera cannot be overstaed-- it's so easy to stick in my pocket when I'm walking around, even with a form-fitting case one. This has helped me get many extra pictures. I agree that the Canons take terrific pictures, and this is really what you're looking for anyways. I've gotten dozens of great shots that I never would have gotten with a larger camera while walking near the beach, at barbeques and other times when you can't be carrying round an extra bag. Get the S400 if this outweighs your other criteria.
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Old Aug 8, 2003, 9:22 AM   #6
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Default Re: Help Wanted: Buying a camera...

Quote:
Originally Posted by DazedAndConfused
...
Canon seems to have the best overall quality of pictures and features - even if they are a bit pricier. I have noticed this myself from comparing images side-by-side from the imaging-resource web site (www.imaging-resource.com)
...
I'd suggest not paying to much attention to the sample images. Since you are looking for the best quality photos, you will want to ding with the settings (saturation, contrast, ...) in any camera you get. Most (all?) sample photos are shoot with the camera's default settings - those may well not match your taste.

The basic quality of the image will depend mainly on the sensor and lens (neglecting your choice of composition, timing, ...). There are very few different sensors - as an example Casio often uses the same lens and sensor as Canon. The Casio 4000 is an example of how even that can be messed up - lots of complaints about over agressive noise reduction.

That illustrates how to really look for image quality - lurk in several forums for the camera you are interested in and watch for comments/questions like "how do I get rid of the excesive red?" - there might be a good fix - "Change the white balance to ..."

So even if you don't think you need all of the controls, you are likely to find that you want them to get the best pictures.
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Old Aug 8, 2003, 9:24 AM   #7
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My own personal recommendation is to figure out what you will be taking pics of first, then spend your money on higher quality optics and capability of optical zooming, focus, control, picture compression and ability to do "raw TIFF" or low compression super high quality JPEG for the pics you really want to save, etc. rather than high MPixel count and lower price.... Typically the electronics part is the cheap part, you pay more for the optics and "real camera" features.

My first digicam was a Kodak dx3800 3.1 mpixel camera -- got a great deal on it (about 1/2 price), it is really an indoor snapshot camera. After a year, I am totally frustrated by its lack of ability to control shots the way I would like. It picks whatever it wants for the focus (usually at my subject's expense), has *no* optical zoom, *no* focus target for me to center things on, *no* night-shot capability, *no* exposure control (Try taking a pic of someone wearing a white shirt in bright daylight.... you get decapitated floating head), and a flash that blasts everything you snap into over-exposure when used indoors. With practice, you can take ok pics, but they usually need some photoshop work to get them looking like a decent snapshot.

Taking 3.1 MPixel (and bigger) pics is cool, but mostly, I end up chopping them down and saving them into smaller formats so I can email them or print them on 5x7 and 4x6 prints. I keep wishing I had better quality pics (less compression) rather than giant pics.

Now, I am getting ready to go backwards Mpixel wise -- to a 2.1 Mpixel cam so that I can afford the good optics, exposure controls, zoom, good Auto Focus, night ability, etc -- and I am by no means even a serious photographer..... I just want to be able to take better quality pics and to have a little control to get the shots I really care about.

The other things to consider at the same time are:
The memory card for the cam -- buy the biggest one you can afford or a few smaller ones (64 mb) so you can take more pics (on vacation, at the park, with the kids, relatives, etc.) and sort out the ones that didn't come out right when you get back to your computer.

Your printer -- Without a good printer that has real photo capability, you will have a whole computer full of beautiful pics you want to print out and a whole bunch of grainy pics that need glass in front of them and 2' of distance to make them look like "real" photos.

Best regards

John
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Old Aug 8, 2003, 9:26 AM   #8
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So DazedAndConfused, have we made you thouroughly more confused??

Mark
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Old Aug 8, 2003, 10:23 AM   #9
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Thank you all for your input so far - it is definitely insightful!

I guess the main things I have been struggling with is the vast number of features a digital camera has and the fact that the technology is ever-improving at a rapid pace unlike film where the improvements are much smaller and less frequent.

Nobody wants to buy a camera that in 6 months-1 year is going to feel like it is obsolete compared to the new cameras on the market. This is something that I think is going to remain the norm though for the next few years as the technology improves.

You have helped me narrow down my criteria down to 2 main issues and the rest to me is secondary:

1) Photo quality (optics, resolution etc.)
2) Compactability vs. Control

The question I have to answer is how I'm going to use this camera? Is it to be my only camera or will it be just a carry around for those general moments. I honestly don't know but I suspect I will crave the control of playing with the settings to maximize quality in the photograph.

I have not made up my mind yet but I think I am a little more focused now....
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Old Aug 8, 2003, 10:59 AM   #10
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One more thing to remember....

A "good" high quality camera -- even after it is discontinued will not become "obsolete" or un-usable for getting good pics.

People are still raving about cameras like the Olympus C-2100 UZ and the Sony Mavica CD-1000 -- even though both have been discontinued for quite some time and are only about 2.1 mpixel resolution -- simply because they are such good cameras -- good optics, great zoom, stabilized lenses, good features, good control, they take good pictures, and you can add-on with lenses, filters, etc if you want to.

What does become obsolete is a camera like my Kodak 3800 -- sure, it had a big Mpixel count for a snapshot camera, but really, no other redeeming features to make it a camera worth holding on to.

Best regards

John
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