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Old Sep 4, 2006, 5:26 PM   #1
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Hi guys

I need a camera under $200. Ideally I want

1. Good picture (clear photos)
2. Manual mode ability to adjust various settings etc as I want to learn about photography.

Currently, the ideal camera would be the Canon a530 but my problem is ALL THe photos I saw of it arent very good!! Looking in Steves Digicams and even other sites all the sample photos show the photos as not that great

On the other hand the Lumix LZ3 has superb photos which are amazingly clear. But it doesnt have many manual options

Im going crazy. Badly want a nice clear photo like the LZ3 gives but want manual options like the Canon.

Of all the photo samples I've seen the Lumix cameras samples are the best - looking at them close up theres an amazing amount of detail which is not visible in the Canon's photos

What I want to know is, can better photos be got from the canon by using manual mode and tweaking?

Or is there another canon or other camera in that price range which offers better photos/manual options?

I want to buy from either newegg or amazon so I need something available there.

PLease help me guys!
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Old Sep 4, 2006, 5:44 PM   #2
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Am also considering the sony s500 and s600 their image quality seems good but i dont know if they offer a lot of manual control..
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Old Sep 4, 2006, 8:39 PM   #3
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The 5mp Kodak Z-740 sells for a lot less than $(US) 200. It has both full auto and manual controls, 10X optical zoom, scene modes, and just about all the features you have mentioned. Here is a link to Steve's review of the Z-740:


And here is a link to a great photo sample from the Kodak Z-740:


It might be worth a look.

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Old Sep 5, 2006, 10:42 AM   #4
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Any other cameras you guys recommend? Pls help
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Old Sep 5, 2006, 12:47 PM   #5
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n005 wrote:
Any other cameras you guys recommend? Pls help
Sony S500 & S600 have excellent picture quality but will give you little manual controls.....Are there any specific controls would like to manually be able to adjust?
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Old Sep 5, 2006, 1:43 PM   #6
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At Newegg, they are selling a FUJIFILM FinePix E550 (recertified) for just over 150 bucks. Steve's review of the camera was very favorable. See:


This camera uses xD cards, which irritates some people. However, the prices of these cards has dropped a lot recently and Fry's has been selling 1Gig xD cards for less than 40 dollars.
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Old Sep 5, 2006, 2:32 PM   #7
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guys thank you all so much for your replies/suggestions!!

well as far as manual goes I want to be able to adjust everything. Im too broke to go for a real digital SLR or something and I really love to learn about photography so I want to have as many manual options as possible - e.g. focus, apeture, exposure, whitebalance, shutter etc

the canon a530 looks ideal but the photos arent that great at full resolution. what Id love to buy is the lumix lz3 which has awesome performance (in good light) as you can see in steve's pictures

but sadly the lumix has few manual controls

if you guys have any other suggestions please tell me I'm checking out each camera mentioned here, and thanks a lot i appreciate all your advice!
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Old Sep 5, 2006, 5:08 PM   #8
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Hi I decided to go for the E550, thanks to robbo, and everyone else who posted suggestions. from the test photos and reviews this looks to be an awesome camera and i eagerly await it
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Old Sep 5, 2006, 5:34 PM   #9
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In my opinion, the difference you are seeing in sharpness is in good part due to the image stabilization on the LZ3--though there is also some in camera sharpening going on there which can also produce some artifacts. I think the Canon image quality in other ways is as good, and even a bit better. But I think it might be difficult to match that sharpness in bright light unless you shoot off a tripod.

Otherwise, I think the LZ3 saturates colors a bit more. Although that may produce more vibrant colors much of the time, I think the color on the Canon is a bit more accurate. The LZ3 seems more likely to lose a bit more detail as well in some situations, for example in clouds.

This may not be apparent in outdoor test shots, as it may simply appear that all of the samples were shot either with entirely clear blue skys, or entirely overcast ones. It's not a big deal, but I haven't seen samples from the LZ3 (or earlier LZ2) with cloud detail in bright sunlight quite like this one from the A530:

Nonetheless, these outdoor shots from the LZ3:

are clearly sharper than samples of the same locations from the A530:

Noise is more of a problem in the LZ3, however. At ISO 400, it is clearly losing more detail than the Canon (look esp. at the background, hair, face, hands, and leaves):

The short answer here is that the Panasonics are the only ones that will give you that image quality at this price with IS. The IS will help image sharpness some, even at fairly fast shutter speeds (like 1/250). Even experienced reviewers are generally seeing some improvements in image sharpness, and a higher percentage of good shots with IS. A beginner with a less steady hand may benefit more. If you are taking most of your pictures in bright oudoor light, I think you will get a bit better results with the Panasonic.

But, you lose much of that advantage outside of bright outdoor light or well lit studios, as you will lose a bit more detail at higher ISOs. And, more importantly, if you really want to learn, you will be better of with those manual controls. Keep in mind also that the differences you see in those samples at 100% will be much less obvious in normal sized prints.

You would probably really like the A710IS; but it will likely sell for nearly twice your budget.

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Old Sep 6, 2006, 4:15 AM   #10
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kenbalbari, thanks for your insightful answer. I think I now understand why there is a difference between the photos and why the lz3's photos 'seem' better.

As you said it seems to be the optical stabilization: nevertheless I did notice in test at imaging-resource, that the lz3 has more detail even for in studio tripod shots, such as the main test they have, the lz3 could pick up a lot more detail than the canon, but it has an odd blur on its right side (could be that particular camera)

One thing I notice (which you have also mentioned) is the lz3 has in camera sharpening which looses detail particularly in dark areas.

I've ordered a recertified E550 and have my fingers crossed.

I chose the E550 because:

1. Intrapolated photos at 12Mpix actually do yield a slight amount of detail more than the 6mp version. Particularly if you look at that line test thing at imaging-resource, the 12mp photo is simply outstanding. One could say that it's equivalent to a very bad native 12megapixel camera.

On resizing photos to 6megapixel the photos were outstanding in detail and easily rivaled most other 5mp/6mp cameras

2. Good overall Sensor - this camera appeared to have a high quality image sensor, all photos show even capture of details and no odd ghosting/blurs like the lz3 showed in some areas

3. Very good manual control - according to the reviews users can adjust most features manually which is what I badly wanted.

4. reasonable battery life, very quick times (startup, between photos)

of course all the above is based on the reviews, but I think its a pretty good indicator, steve has a lot of positive things to say on this camera, also imaging-resource had listed it as a 'pick'

Here's an odd idea (which I wished existed here).

How about if someone could do a table of all cameras past and present, with links to a main studio shot (which does not change) and also the table could show manual features etc with ticks. that way people could compare all cameras at a glance.

Just a thought.

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