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Old Jan 18, 2009, 4:37 AM   #1
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Hi all,

my wife is in the market for a camera she can just stick in her handbag and carry around, a basic P&S. She wants something fairly small, so I'm looking in the ultra-compact category.

The other criteria, along with level of importance (required/important/optional) is as follows:

* Small size - required (compact or ultra-compact needed)
* Good image quality - important (I realise that ultra-compacts sacrifice on image quality, but surely some are better than others in this regard)
* 5x Optical zoom - important (could possibly live with a 3-4x if the rest of the camera was ideal)
* Image Stabilisation - important
* Price<=$300AU (around $200 US?) - important
* 2.5"+ LCD - important
* SD storage - important (most of our other stuff is SD, so would be very convenient, plus i don't really like the proprietry formats such as memory stick and xD?
* Lith-Ion battery - important
* waterproof - optional
* MP rating - don't care, anything above 5MP is plenty, and the 10MP on these ultra-compacts seems rather silly given their tiny sensor size.

Here's what i've found so far in my searching, the hard part seems to be getting useful info on actual image quality.

Pentax optio M60 - heard that it's a lackluster performer in the image quality department so I've ruled it out.

Canon - seem to have a few offerings in their Ixus line (AKA powershot SD IS line?), but these seem to be all 3x optical zoom until you move up to their higher end models which is out of the price range i was looking at.

Nikon Coolpix S550 - meets requirements, no clue on image quality.

Fuji Fixpix J150W - meets requirements, no clue on image quality.

Olympus FE370 - meets most requirements although uses xD storage, no clue on image quality.

Olympus Mju 1010 - meets most requirements although uses xD storage, 7x optical zoom is nice, no clue on image quality.

Sony Cyber-Shot DSCW150 - meets most requirements although uses memory stick storage. Steve thought the image quality was pretty decent.

Ricoh Caplio R7 - meets requirements, 7x optical zoom, no clue on image quality.

Anyone care to chime in on the cameras i've listed above, or point me towards something I've missed? Thanks.

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Old Jan 19, 2009, 4:01 PM   #2
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Just my reactions:

Canon IXUS 85 - Arguably the best IQ for this price.

Nikon S550 - The newer S600 is a lotbetter choice, but only a little over 3X zoom.

Fuji J150 - As you noted, few reviews. There are a number of reviews for the Fuji Z100fd and Z200fd, which are also 5X zoom.

Olympus FE-370 - Personally I like this design better than the Fuji J150. Price sensitive choice, should be well under Canon IXUS 85 and Sony W150 prices.

Olympus Mju 1010 - Very questionable performance, I would rather have the FE-370.

Sony W150 - A top choice for quality (along with the Canon IXUS 85).

Casio and Samsung also have some interesting budget cameras, priced roughly the same as the Fuji J150. However none of these have the 5X zoom.

Play safe, let your wife pick it! :idea:

Kelly Cook
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Old Jan 20, 2009, 1:08 PM   #3
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I went through exactly this process with my daughter this Christmas. She's had a 3Mpix, 3x zoom Jenoptik for years, and taken it all over the world, so she knew what she wanted. It's best to go a reputable store and get your wife's hands on them.

I had a shortlist, after my preliminary homework at our wonderful local store (with an informative and educational website at http://www.wrexcam.com) but what sold us the one we bought was its usability, with a touch-screen for menus. This was a Rollei 'XS-10inTouch', not to be confused with its predecessor, the Rollei XS-10, much the same but with buttons, also very good, as is the XS-8.

This cost me 60 ukpounds more than I'd expected, but I used it heavily over the holiday, and I'm very jealous of the image quality she'll get. It comes with a Li-ion battery and a spare! It's almost exactly the same size as my tiny breast-pocket Casio EX-Z750 from Sep05, with which I have been very pleased.

As no-one else round here has mentioned Rollei's recently-resurrected name in digicams, I fear they haven't crossed the Atlantic yet. The last Rollei I had was a Rollei35 that drowned in a boating accident in 1991.

I should be more cautious of 5x zooms in this small size than I would of the much-improved modern tiny 10Mpix sensors. You're nowhere without a good lens. I held out against 10Mpix for a long time, but the sensor performance of my Kodak Z1012 superzoom, and even more of this little Rollei have persuaded me.

If you have lots of good pixels, you can always crop more in post-processing, and retain some of the quality, giving an effectively longer zoom.This isthe sensible post-processing equivalent of 'digital zoom'. You can't do anything with a hazy shot from a longer zoom.

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Old Feb 19, 2009, 1:05 AM   #4
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Fuji F100 meets all[current prices about ~$220] F50 and F60 - lack x5 zoom, but shoots not bad anyway
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Old Feb 19, 2009, 7:53 PM   #5
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Samsung L110, L730, or L830 may be an option.
(3x optical zoom)

It uses Li-ion battery and SD memory cards.
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