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Old Apr 18, 2006, 11:59 AM   #1
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Hi, I desperately need some opinions on a new digital camera.
I'm open to any and all suggestions. I'm going out of town Friday and would like to purchase one before that. Any help is appreciated.

Budget - Up to around $350 or so

Size - Small and easy to carry

Features - I'd like 6 mp.Pre-set scene modes/Record video w/sound/Some manual controls/Ability to shoot panoramas or stitch

Usage - A wide variety. Indoor, low-lighting, outdoor, landscape, mountains, action, etc

I travel for both work and pleasure and will be using the camera to take pictures of a bit of everything. With landscape photos and nature photos, I'd like great quality with the ability to enlarge and still have them look great. Also will be taking alot of people photos in a variety of lightingsituations. I'd be taking it camping, hiking, skiing, out with friends, to big cities, etc.
Here are the camera's I've been looking at.

Canon Powershot SD 550
Casio Exilim Ex-z750
Olympus stylus 800
Olympus stylus 810
Canon Powershot SD 630
Canon S2
Panasonic TZ1
Panasonic Lumix dmc-fz7

The last 3 cameras on my list, i'm very intrigued by even though they aren't all that compact. The zoom feature is something I really could use outdoor when in Colorado and Utah. However, the Canon S2 and Panasonic TZ1 are only 5 mp. Is that going to affect the quality of my photos much?

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Old Apr 18, 2006, 1:33 PM   #2
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The TZ1 is 6Mp and quite small. Maybe a little large for jeans pockets but you could probably carry it in most pants. It would also be appropriate for a small belt pouch. I think it weighs about the same or maybe a little less than the SD550.

5Mp will not affect your output unless you print over 11 X 14 or have to crop. Some people feel it is a little marginal for 11 X 14 but I find prints that size from 5Mp to be quite good. 5Mp becomes marginal at 13 X 17 though. I definitely saw an improvement going to 7Mp with my wide format photo printer.

For landscapes and general photography I think the FX01 would be better than the FX7. It is in your price range: http://www50.shopping.com/xPC-Panaso..._FX01~S-P~OR-0 It is really limited on the telephoto end but the wide angle is very useful.

I have a Casio Z750 and like it a lot. But it is only 3X zoom, no wide angle and it doesn't have any special low light capabilities. The SD550 has a stronger flash and would probably be a better camera for you if you don't need the manual controls.

I get good panoramas using the continuous mode. It is only a shot a second after the first shot and fixes the exposure and WB with the first shot. Not sure how you would go about it with one of the P&S Panasonics though. No problem with the FZ7 as you can use manual exposure and WB.

If I could have only one camera it would be one I could always have with me. The best camera in the world sitting at home isn't much good when a photo opportunity comes along. I have a FZ10 for when I want to go out shooting, but I get more pictures with my pocket camera. The TZ1 looks like a good compromise.

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Old Apr 18, 2006, 1:36 PM   #3
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As long as you would not be doing much in terms of low light level shooting, my choices would be either the Canon S-2 IS or the Panasonic TZ-1.

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Old Apr 18, 2006, 4:58 PM   #4
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Shell11 wrote:
The last 3 cameras on my list, i'm very intrigued by even though they aren't all that compact. The zoom feature is something I really could use outdoor when in Colorado and Utah.
Now in those places I would be most concerned about good wide angle instead of non concretic zoom numbers. Sure in those places there would be always need for stitching panoramas unless lens happens to be fisheye but good wide angle gives also more flexibility for general shooting.

For example this is excellent program for stitching good panoramas from overlapping shots. (corrects lens distortions)

In low light you're not going to get good quality big size prints of moving targets from any non-SLR, but from stationary targets you could get something.

Actually for stationary targets (for example landscapes) you could use small, easy to carry bag of peas as "tripod" or any bag with content which stays in position once pushed to that.
That would enable this kind shots:

When it's this dark:

But basing to your use size might be quite big factor, depending on are you trying to find camera which you can always put to normal pocket of coat or are you carrying somekind bag with you and ready to carry less compact (but still small compared to SLRs) camera.
That would be quite important decision because size limits features/controls of cameras very effectively.
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