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Old Oct 7, 2005, 8:48 AM   #1
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Hello everybody.
I currently use a Casio Exilim EX-Z4 (a Nikon Coolpix 995 before that) and wish to buy a compact camera in the range of 7 & 8 Mpixels.
The models that mostly cover my needs are:

Casio EXILIM EX-Z120
Canon Powershot S80
Olympus SP 350 and
Nikon Coolpix P1.

I know that some of these models are brand new (maybe not on the market yet?) but I would really like to hear from anybody who has any pros or cons to say about these cameras.

Thanks for your help
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Old Oct 7, 2005, 11:15 AM   #2
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From your choices it is hard to get a feeling for what you are looking for. You have a point and shoot and a stinted economy model along with a top of the line small camera.

It might be a little early to be sure, but it appears the 1/1.8 8Mp sensor is noisier than the same sized 7Mp. All cameras with the same sensor start with the same noise. The degree of in-camera noise reduction impacts the final image noise but with some softening of the image. A few cameras let you turn off the in-camera noise reduction for people who would rather apply it more specifically where it is needed with a plug-in for their image editor. But such controls are rare, and the inherent noise of the chip is significant.

If the size and price are within your tolerance I think the S80 might be the best choice of those you listed. The wide angle lens gives you more versatility for interiors, group shots, vistas etc. I would wait for some good reviews though. There is a possibility that the S70 could be the camera of choice after the dust settles. The Sx0 series tends to have a little more purple fringing, corner softness and vignetting at wide angle than the G series. It is the price you have to pay for getting that capability in a smaller camera. But the S70 is still very highly rated. It is on Steve's "Best Cameras" list, "Dave's Picks" at Imaging Resource and "Highly Recommended" at dpreview. Full autofocus shutter lag isn't the greatest and that might be improved on the S80.

The Z120 is a poor man's Z750 with a slower lens, smaller LCD, AAs and fewer controls. The Z750 is prone to lens errors if you restrict the lens extension. About the only way to be sure of avoiding that is to carry it with the mode dial in the audio record mode so the lens doesn't extend. It is a great little camera and I don't mind that minor inconvenience. And with the camera in audio record I find I use it for memos rather than look for a pencil and paper since it is always with me. But you have to factor that into your choice. Casio has put some less than stellar lenses on some of their cameras, so I would wait for some good reviews of the Z120 before considering it. I have no idea who makes it, but the Z750 has an excellent lens and is a dynamite little camera.

The P1 appears to be a pure point and shoot with no manual exposure or focus modes. It has no optical viewfinder and the LCD is fairly low resolution. It might be hard to frame in bright sunlight and it might be noisy or have overly aggressive noise reduction. I would wait for a review before considering it.

The SP350 like the S80 isn't really a pocket camera – at least not if you often wear jeans. It appears it doesn't come with NiMH batteries and a charger – usually an indication of a budget camera. Olympus usually makes good lenses and with that limited a zoom range I would guess that image quality would be excellent. But I would want to see a review.

You have chosen new models without any reviews to consult. There always seem to be tradeoffs. By the time you get a good series of reviews for all of those cameras so you can make a good judgment there will be a new batch without reviews to consider. If you need something now I would recommend looking at the Canon S70 and Casio Z750. If you don't need manual controls the Canon SD550 looks to be an excellent little camera. Pick them up in a store – there is a difference in size and ergonomics.

The only camera review I have read of the 8Mp 1/1.8 sensor is the Panasonic FZ30. Everyone seems to comment on the high noise levels. The other FZ models were about average for noise for the particular sensors they were using and my guess is that the 8Mp sensor is just inherently noisy compared to the 7Mp. I wouldn't get a camera with that new sensor without reading some good reviews.

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