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Old Jul 7, 2006, 9:05 AM   #1
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I don't think the technology exists yet for the exact camera that I'm after, so I'm welcome to hear opinions on what currently comes closest.

A bit of background first: I've had a Casio Exilim EX-Z4 for over 2 years, and have been happy with its performance from a small camera. I always take my camera to nightclubs and houseparties, and try to get good portrait shots as well as more artistic shots from the interesting lighting effects. I also like to do some travelling and take landscape photos during the day and night.

My brother has a Canon EOS 30D, and my girlfriend has a Nikon D70, so over the last year I have become increasingly jealous of many aspects of their cameras over mine, eg. image quality, manual controls, wide angle/zoom lenses, lightning fast startup/image capture/memory card transfer, etc.

What I'm after is a small compact camera that I can put in my pocket without weighing too much, yet has all the features of a bigger and more expensive model. I've been reading reviews on Steve's Digicams, dpreview and other websites, and in some magazines.

Basically, this is what I'd like, in order of preference:

- small lightweight compact
- wide angle of 28mm or similar (this is a must)
- excellent image quality
- at least 4x zoom, preferably higher
- manual controls of shutter, aperture, etc.
- good macro of around 5cm or less
- good video (eg. 640x480 @ 30fps)
- image stabiliser
- very quick startup/shot lag/memory transfer

At the moment, I'm tempted most by the Canon Powershot S80. The wide angle lens, excellent image quality and manual controls make it stand out from the competition. But it's a bit on the heavy side, lacks image stabiliser and has a limited zoom (although the 8 megapixels will help somewhat).

A possible alternative is the Ricoh Caplio R4. The combined wide/zoom lens, 1cm macro, size/weight and image stabiliser all count favourably. But it's let down by grainy images, poor video and lack of manual control.

There are a couple of others like the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX01, but really there aren't many compacts with a wide angle lens at all, let alone boasting the plethora of other features I'd like as well.

So can anyone suggest anything that I may have missed? Or does anyone know if Canon plan to bring out an S90 which is smaller, lighter, with a bigger zoom and image stabiliser?! Then I'd have no questions!! Thanks in advance for any feedback.
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Old Jul 7, 2006, 10:01 AM   #2
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Yours is a tough nut to crack. I see that the 28mm wide angle is right up there at the top. Currently, only the Canon S-80 and the Panny FX01 have that wide angle. Yes, Ricoh does, but they are not widely distributed in the USA. And of the two already stated, only the FX01 has OIS. That makes it a fairly narrow field.

Have you considered the Panasonic TZ-1? That would give you 35mm to 350mm in an OIS camera with a top ISO of 800.

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Old Jul 7, 2006, 10:21 AM   #3
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I can tell you that there is one camera that meets most of your criteria with the exception of...

- small lightweight compact
- image stabiliser

That camera is the same one that I own, the Olympus C-8080.

This is one excellent camera especially when you add the FL-40 flash.

The C-8080 has been discontinued because Olympus wanted people to start buying their 500 series SLR's, but if you can find a good C-8080 on EBay or elsewhere, you will not regret it.

I am sure happy that I got mine before they were discontinued and the prices were at their lowest.
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Old Jul 7, 2006, 11:02 AM   #4
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Thanks for the replies. I should have also said "hi" to everyone on this forum, as this is my first posting. I have used dozens of varying forums over the years, and know what it's like to be a regular and see a first-poster come along and rudely jump in expecting everyone to bend over backwards for help. I think I must have left my manners at home this morning, so apologies for that! Anyway...

mtclimber - distribution in USA is not a problem for me, given that I live in England I really want a wide angle lens, it's the one thing that's frustrated me most when I haven't been able to capture everything I want in the frame. And yes, it does severely limit my choices. There's also a Leica model (can't remember which) that isn't as overpriced as I'd have thought, which is almost identical to the Panasonic model. I guess at this moment in time, compacts with a wide angle lens are simply just a 'new thing'. I imagine that in a year or so, once technology has improved, there will be lots of choice. But I can't really wait that long, I'm itching to get a better camera now.

PhotoFusion - I think you slightly missed my main point about wanting a small compact camera. Unfortunately the Olympus you suggested is far too big and heavy for my requirements.
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Old Jul 7, 2006, 12:12 PM   #5
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Wish F30 had 28mm lens, that would have been sweet. I went for the panasonic FX01. It is very nice for outdoor shots but not good for inside shots. Flash is weak and high ISO performace is bad.
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Old Aug 27, 2006, 9:08 AM   #6
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Hi Zigo,

I had similar problems trying to find a camera with that specification, and after trying the Konica Minolta A2 (great camera, but just too big) ended up going with the Ricoh R4 in time for a trip to Wales this summer.

I'm very pleased with it - it's not got the capability of an SLR, but I wanted something small and light and that it is. It went everywhere with me - I just chucked in my handbag or coat pocket. There are some gooddeals on the web: I got mine from Photosense I think, for £240 with a 1g card and the leather case (which is a must - the lens cover is very flimsy) thrown in for free.

If Canon bring out an S90 with a larger zoom and OIS, I'll be jumping on that- I do miss not having an optical viewfinder and I loved the sliding cover on the S80.
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Old Aug 27, 2006, 2:12 PM   #7
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I ended up going for the Panasonic DMC-LX1. It's slightly smaller and lighter than the Canon S80, it can shoot in RAW, has a slightly better zoom and has image stabiliser. The only thing not so good about it is pictures can look a little grainy in low light, but it's not really a problem (esp. at low ISO levels) and can be fixed by software if necessary. Outdoor pictures in good light are fantastic, and the LCD screen is very good.

Hope this helps anyone in a similar position
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Old Aug 27, 2006, 2:24 PM   #8
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Kodak Easyshare P880 is the only camera I know well that fits your specifications!!!

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Old Aug 31, 2006, 4:22 AM   #9
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shooting_rubber wrote:
Kodak Easyshare P880 is the only camera I know well that fits your specifications!!!
In what way is that a small compact camera? :roll:
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Old Aug 31, 2006, 8:50 AM   #10
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Kodak V610 is very small and uses two lenses to shoot wide and 10x zoom. Looks like an interesting solution, but the picture quality may not be the best, according to reviews. Look around on the web and you'll see examples.

You're always going to have compromises for something like this, but it may work for you.

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