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Old Sep 29, 2003, 2:59 PM   #1
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Default Olympus C750, Nikon Coolpix 4300, Minolta S414, Canon S45

I have been doing a lot of research on some 4 megapixel easy-to-use digital cameras. I have now narrowed it down to one from each of the manufacturers that I've been interested in:

Olympus Camedia C-750
Nikon Coolpix 4300
Minolta DiMage S414
Canon Powershot S45

It looks like they all have plenty of goods and some bads. Can any of you please let me know your take on them all? What are the MUSTS?

I greatly appreciate your input.

Thanks a lot,
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Old Sep 29, 2003, 3:27 PM   #2
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That's an interesting list.

Without knowing which features are important to you, it would be hard to give a recommendation.

Each model is going to have it's strengths and weakenesses (Light Gathering Capability of the Lens, Wide Angle/Zoom Range, Battery Life, Ability to take add-on lenses and accessories, Camera Size, Noise Levels, Flash Range, User Controls/Image Adjustments Available, etc.).

In addition to these things, there can also be significant differences in performance between models (startup times, autofocus lag, shot to shot times, etc).

If you're taking lots of indoor photos, widest apertures available and flash strength may be more important. Low Light Focus ability would also be a concern (for example: the Nikon and the Minolta models you're looking at don't have a focus assist lamp).

If you're taking more outdoor photos, the longer zoom of the OLY may be nicer. But, it's not as small as the other choices either.

If you're going to be taking photos of very small objects, macro ability may be a big consideration ---- and the list goes on.

In other words, read the reviews, making note of each camera's strengths and weaknesses -- in the shooting conditions that you'll want to use the camera in.

You'll have to make the final decision. Here are some of my favorite sites:

Dpreview.com -- best reviews in the business -- more info about a cameras strengths and weaknesses. Downside - Because Phil is so thorough, he doesn't review as many cameras. PHil also compares things like noise levels, chromatic aberrations, detail captured on resolution charts, camera performance (autofocus lag, startup times, etc.), and much more.

Imaging-Resource.com - Dave Etchells does a great job, reviewing more cameras than Phil, yet he still offers similiar technical tests (photos showing flash performance, resolution, low light focus, etc., as well as tests on a camera's performance in the "Picky Details" section). I also like the comparometer -- useful for comparing side by side photos from cameras under similiar conditions.

Megapixel.net - probably much better for the new camera owner trying to find a camera meeting their needs, due to the rating system used for lens, software, focusing, indoor photos, outdoor photos, etc. They're also a good site for quickly checking the macro capability (field of view tests), JPEG Compression quality of a camera, etc.

DCresource.com - Jeff's reviews are not as technical as you'll see from Phil or Dave, but he tends to give unbiased impressions of a camera -- telling you what he likes (and doesn't like).

Steves-Digicams.com - I like Steve's way of going through a cameras menus and controls in his reviews - making it easy for a first time camera user to figure out how to use their new toy -- especially since many of the user guides leave a lot to be desired. I've also found the photos that Steve takes to be very useful in comparing camera models, since he usually includes some of the same subjects in his photo galleries for each camera tested.

Steve doesn't offer any of the technical tests that Phil and Dave offer (performance, noise, etc.) But, because Steve doesn't perform as many detailed tests, he seems to review more cameras (a big plus, since many models are never reviewed by the other guys).

Pbase.com (and other photo sharing web sites). Thanks to the new camera database at pbase.com ( http://www.pbase.com/cameras ), you can now search by camera model, to find user photo albums from a camera that you are considering.

Although these photos are not under controlled conditions, and the photographers skill is important in getting the best photos, it will let you see certain characterstics about a camera, and help you find out how it performs in the shooting conditions that you'll be using your camera in (by typical users of the model).


Many vendors offer a section for user opinions of the camera models they are selling. Even dpreview.com has a section like this for most camera models (even those that Phil never reviews). Although you have to take user opinions "with a grain of salt", it does give you an idea of what users like and dislike about a particular model camera.

My latest user opinion is here:

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Old Sep 29, 2003, 4:37 PM   #3
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I concur with Jim that you have an interesting list of cameras. More detail on shooting preferences and purpose of the camera would be helpful in recommending a camera.
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Old Sep 29, 2003, 7:14 PM   #4
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Do I dare agree with everyone else? It's like giving a list of vehicles and asking which you should buy without saying what you want to use it for (besides drive):

VW Beetle

Each car has it's uses, and each camera in your list has its own best uses that one person would use while for the other it would be a waste.
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Old Sep 30, 2003, 12:39 AM   #5
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And that's the thing. I guess they all have different qualities that I'm not sure are more important than the other. I just thought maybe one would stand out from the others as an exceptional "simple" camera. I guess what I want most is a camera that can handle different lighting best. I don't want color to get distorted in certain environments, and limit me to only taking pictures outside, or inside. I will most like print 4x6's or 5x7's, so I don't have to worry as much about clarity. I also want a camera with enough manual features so I can play a little. Please let me know what I need to look for.

Thanks again,
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Old Sep 30, 2003, 11:06 AM   #6
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Color accuracy is more a reflection of the white balance settings. The auto white balance works better in some cameras/lighting conditions compared to others.

Usually, if the auto white balance doesn't work just right in complex lighting conditions, you can change the settings to get it better. Almost any camera has different white balance settings. The camera is a tool. None of them are going to be perfect in all situations. But, as you learn more about your new tool over time, you'll figure out the best settings to use in different conditions.

Check out the review links in my first post. One of them is imaging-resource.com

Dave Etchells (owner/editor) has a feature known as the comparometer. It lets you look at photos from more than one camera "side by side" from the same type of shots/conditions.

You'll have to decide which one works best. They are all good cameras. Look at the photos from the cameras in both the camera reviews, and the pbase.com photo albums from camera users (the link is in my first post).

You'll have LOTS AND LOTS of photos to look at. Download and print some of them too if you like (making sure you are downloading the "original size" images), to see which camera takes the best photos to your eyes.

As far as color, here is a very easy to use software package that lets you fix color problems quickly, while you are learning to use the white balance settings on your new camera, without needing to learn to use one of the more sophisticated packages:

Photogenetics - It's a package that I used a lot, when I first started using digital cameras. It's extremely easy to use, and modifies photos simply by letting you pick which photos you like better, while it applies a variety of sophisticated algorithms and color filters to change a photos appearance.

The company that manufacturered it is no longer in business, but you can download this package for free from this link:


It allows you to setup "genotypes" (templates), so that after you get one photo "perfect", based on your choosing which modifications are more pleasing to you, you can then apply the same modifications to other photos taken under the same conditions. It also has the ability to batch process your photos. I have many Genotypes setup for different cameras, in different conditions. For example: "Nikon 990 -- Cloudy"; Nikon 990 Indoors with Flash", etc.

Here is a review of this software. I actually purchased Version 1.0 of PHotogenetics, and paid for the upgrade to Version 2.0. Now that Photobox acquired the product (after the manufacturer went out of business), you can get the software for free (see above download link):


Dave Etchell's actually called it the "$30.00 camera upgrade" when he reviewed this package, stating this:

"The real power of PhotoGenetics for digital camera owners lies in its batch processing capability: It's easy to develop a few standard "Genotypes" matched to various standard shooting conditions (outdoor sun, outdoor cloudy, indoor without flash, etc.) and then automatically apply them to all your shots. With just a few mouse clicks, you can auto-correct dozens of images at a time. PhotoGenetics is so effective at correcting the minor (or even major) color and tonal problems we see in virtually all the digicams we test, that we've come to refer to it as "The $30 camera upgrade." If you use a digital camera with any frequency, PhotoGenetics is likely to be the best $30 you could spend."

Note: make sure you always keep a separate copy of the originals, and try to limit editing as much as possible (the more times you save an image file, the more it degrades, so keep editing steps in your workflow to a minimum).
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Old Sep 30, 2003, 11:12 AM   #7
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Let me emphasize this one more time:

Originally Posted by JimC
PhotoGenetics is so effective at correcting the minor (or even major) color and tonal problems we see in virtually all the digicams we test, that we've come to refer to it as "The $30 camera upgrade."
Notice that Dave said "virtually all the digicams we test"?

None of them are going to have perfect color in all lighting conditions. You'll need to decide which one is best for you. But, in situations where the color is not "just right", it's very easy to correct with packages like Photogenetics (now available for free -- see the download link in my last post).
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Old Sep 30, 2003, 11:37 AM   #8
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In addition to the tests that Dave Etchells at imaging-resource.com does in different lighting conditions (so you can compare photos "side by side" using his comparometer), Phil Askey at dpreview.com also performs tests in different conditions to test the white balance of the cameras that he reviews.

Read the reviews. These guys are professional reviewers. Any responses you'll get on the forums, are based mostly on opinions (everyone tends to like their own camera), not scientific testing under controlled conditions.

Actually, according to Phil Askeys latest reviews, the newer HP models (not on your list) seem to have the best auto white balance algorithms (since you seem to be mostly concerned about color accuracy).

Here's an example of the white balance test he performs for every camera he reviews:


You need to find the best balance of features/functionality for your needs. No camera is perfect. For example: here are some of the "cons" Phil noted for the same camera that performed great in the white balance tests:

Some moiré color artifacts
Lens soft at corners
Very slow processing / file write times
Slow live view refresh rate, freezes when camera is busy
No AF assist lamp means moderate light is required to focus
Few controls for shutterbugs (only two apertures, no manual focus)
Poor "macro focus" performance
Only two image size options
Half stop exposure compensation can be limiting
No manual exposure mode, no specific night scene exposure mode


Read the reviews -- decide which imperfections you can live with, in the models you are considering. No camera is perfect.
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Old Sep 30, 2003, 2:38 PM   #9
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Jim, thanks so much for all of your help. I have visited a couple of the other sites and read through more cameras. I definitely have a better understanding now. I really appreciate you taking the time to share your knowledge with me.

Darryl :idea:
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Old Sep 30, 2003, 3:16 PM   #10
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No problem. Hopefully I helped you more than I than confused you. :roll:

My latest camera is the Konica Revio KD-510z (a.k.a. Minolta DiMAGE G500). I wanted a pocketable camera, so size was the biggest consideration for me.

But, there are always tradeoffs. My camera has a maximum wide angle setting of 39mm, and a maximum zoom of 117mm equivalent.

So, it would not make a very good camera for wildlife photography (especially since there is no way to add on any teleconverter lenses). Ditto for many building photos (since some users may find the 39mm max wide angle to be too limiting).

It does not have a hot shoe either, so it's flash range could be insufficient in many shooting situtations.

It's 5 Megapixel CCD will also have more noise, than some of the 4 Megapixel Models -- so it's low light performance won't be as good either.

And the list of drawbacks goes on...

But, for me it was "just right" -- offering a good balance between Physical Size, Lens Range, Flash Strength, User Control of Image Processing, etc., for how I will be using a camera.

For someone else, it may be totally unacceptable. No camera is perfect.

The more understanding you have about the features available, and the differences between models, the better decision you can make for your digital camera purchase.

Good Luck with your Research!
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