Go Back   Steve's Digicams Forums > Digicam Help > What Camera Should I Buy?

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old Oct 17, 2006, 4:06 AM   #1
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 48
Default

I haven't had a digital camera since my 2.0 MP FinePix 2600 broke about 2.5 years ago. I have a phone that takes terrible 640x480 pictures, but I've found myself taking a lot of pictures with it lately. I don't really have anything particular (except maybe my three aquariums) that I'm interested in taking pictures of. I just find myself taking a lot of random pictures, whether it's a picture of a friend, a picture for my MySpace-obsessed wife to post, or anything. I keep finding myself in situations where someone says, "Hey, show so-and-so that picture on your phone."

So, I want a camera that I can keep in my pocket. It doesn't have to be great; if I needed to take some important pictures I'd probably borrow my brother's SLR. My priorities are:


- small (about 1" thick), not going to jab me in the leg being in my front pocket

- nice screen, since I'll be passing around the camera to view pics

- able to take an OK indoor shot without the flash

- 640x480 30fps video clips are a big plus

- cheap enough that I won't be constantly worried about knocking it around

- stylish is always nice


About the indoor shooting, I'm not talking about being in a lot of low-light situations, so it shouldn't be a big problem. I just need to be able to take some pictures in random social situations without making a big spectacle with the flash going off constantly.

I'm pretty confused about ISO numbers and image stabilization. I was talking to my brother about cameras, and he loves stabilization. His opinion is that higher ISO means more grainy, so the best picture will come from a longer exposure, and good stabilization will let you hand-hold a pretty long (close to 1 sec) exposure. I don't care much about having a big zoom, so the only reason I'd want stabilization would be to compensate for a camera having poor quality at higher ISO numbers.

Using AA batteries is a plus since it essentially makes the camera cheaper and more convenient. I have a ton of AA rechargables, and if the camera doesn't take AAs, I'm going to need to buy a spare proprietary battery unless it the camera has really good battery life.

Using SD memory is a plus, since it's cheaper.

I'm not too sure about the durability of different cameras, but I've always heard good things about Canon and Nikon (although Canons feel a little more sturdy to me). Maybe Fuji is a good brand, but mine broke, and I know several other people who have experienced Fuji cameras breaking easily. I don't have any idea on how long a Panasonic would hold up.

Some cameras I'm looking at:


Nikon Coolpix L3
pros: cheap ($40 less than the L6), takes AA batteries
cons: 2.0" screen (only 86k pixels), low flash range, a bit slow, no AF lamp, 38mm wide-angle


Nikon Coolpix L6
pros: decent price, decent 2.5" screen (115k pixels), 16.4 ft. flash, some specs say it has an AF lamp, takes AA batteries and has great battery life
cons: a bit slow, 38mm wide-angle, haven't seen any reviews, not sure about indoor performance (is capable of ISO 800, but I think it's an automatic setting only)


Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX01
pros: great 2.5" screen (207k pixels), 28mm wide-angle, stabilization, 848x480 video, stylish
cons: $50 more than the L6, questionable low-light (only ISO 400)


Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX07
pros: great 2.5" screen (207k pixels), ISO 1250, 28mm wide-angle, stabilization, 848x480 video, stylish
cons: $90 more than the L6


Fuji FinePix F20
pros: good 2.5" screen (153k pixels), ISO 1600, great indoor & low-light pictures
cons: $25 more than the L6, xD memory costs twice as much, Fuji seems flimsy


Fuji FinePix F30
pros: awesome 2.5" screen (230k pixels), ISO 3200, great indoor & low-light pictures
cons: $70 more than the L6, xD memory costs twice as much, Fuji seems flimsy

Tostada is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Old Oct 17, 2006, 7:14 AM   #2
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 35
Default

I thibk the fuji is the best of all you put there.

Fuji f30 haves a very nice review and the pictures are very nice, so get that one.


Marimar is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Oct 17, 2006, 7:51 AM   #3
Administrator
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Savannah, GA (USA)
Posts: 22,378
Default

Tostada wrote:
Quote:
About the indoor shooting, I'm not talking about being in a lot of low-light situations, so it shouldn't be a big problem. I just need to be able to take some pictures in random social situations without making a big spectacle with the flash going off constantly.
This can be a very big problem with most cameras.

What you think is good light indoors can be very dim to a camera, and most non-DSLR models will require a flash to take photos of non-stationary subjects (i.e., people) indoors. Otherwise, you'll get blur from subject movement because shutter speeds won't be fast enough.

Quote:
I don't care much about having a big zoom, so the only reason I'd want stabilization would be to compensate for a camera having poor quality at higher ISO numbers.
Stablization can help you use slower shutter speeds without blur from camera shake (to a point). But, it won't help with blur from subject movement.

You'll need both a bright lens and higher ISO speeds for that.

If taking photos in "social situations" without a flash is a high priority, I'd go with one of the Fuji models (F10/F11/F20/F30). You may need ISO 1600 in many indoor conditions to get your shutter speeds fast enough to prevent blur from subject movement, even if you don't zoom in any (most smaller cameras lose a lot of light as more optical zoom is used).



JimC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Oct 17, 2006, 8:11 PM   #4
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 48
Default

Thanks for the replies.

I really wanted to like the Nikons because they were cheaper and took AAs. I really wanted to like the FX07 because it looks cool and takes 16:9 videos. I really wanted to dislike the Fujis because they take xD cards and my last Fuji broke when I dropped it less than 1 foot.

But I was playing around with all of them (well, I could only get ahold of the F20, not the F30) today for about an hour, and the F20 really blows the other ones away. I turned the flash off on the FX07 in Best Buy and it just looked awful. The store was very well lit, but the picture had so much noise that it looked bad on the 2.5" display without zooming in at all. It even said that all the pictures I took were using ISO 200 and ISO 400, so I'd really hate to see how bad the FX07 is at ISO 1250. Maybe I just needed to play with the settings, but I swear the Nikon L3 actually looked better than the FX07. Still, things weren't that good on the L3 and L6 with the flash off. Everything was either unreasonably grainy or blurred badly.

The Fuji F20 performed amazingly, and I compared it to several other cameras including the Canon SD800 IS and some newer Sonys. I'm not saying flashless indoor photography is my number one priority, but compared to the F20, nothing else was remotely acceptable.

I didn't get to look at the F30, but looking at Steve's reviews, I can't see any big improvement. Comparing the ISO 1600 pics of the F20 vs. F30, it looks like the F30 has a little less noise, but I'm having trouble seeing an actual improvement in detail, as if the only real improvement on the F30 is slightly more aggressive noise reduction (and I kinda prefer a noisy/grainy look to a blurry look). I guess the F30 is probably worth the extra $80 just for the better screen and better battery (really just $30 more if you consider the mail-in rebate on the F30).

The only questions I have are:

- does the F30 accept 2GB xD cards?

*edit* Well, it looks like that doesn't matter, since the only 2GB cards are Type M, and I think I'd rather have a 1GB Type H.

- what's up with the 3:2 mode? Max quality mode is 2848 x 2136, but 3:2 mode is 3024 x 2016. Is the camera actually capable of capturing 3024 pixles of width?

Tostada is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Oct 17, 2006, 9:47 PM   #5
Administrator
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Savannah, GA (USA)
Posts: 22,378
Default

Tostada wrote:
Quote:
The only questions I have are:

- does the F30 accept 2GB xD cards?
Yes, the F20 is compatible with type M and type H cards up to 2GB. I do not know if a 4GB card would work in it (which would require support for a 32 bit FAT). I'd stick to 2GB or smaller cards to be safe (as I don't see any larger cards on the spec sheets for this model yet).

Quote:
- what's up with the 3:2 mode? Max quality mode is 2848 x 2136, but 3:2 mode is 3024 x 2016. Is the camera actually capable of capturing 3024 pixles of width?
Interesting observation (3:2 mode has more pixels on one side compared to other modes). I don't have access to the sensor specs. But, my guess is yes (they are probably cropping some for the other modes).

If my guess is wrong, then the small amount of interpolation probaby wouldn't impact image quality.

JimC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Oct 18, 2006, 1:20 AM   #6
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 48
Default

Spec sheets? I downloaded the manuals for the F20 and F30, and they both only mention sizes up to 1GB.

If they actually work with 2GB cards, how much difference would it make having a 1GB Type H card vs. a 2GB Type M card? I wouldn't want to get a 2GB card "just in case" and have it slow the camera down, or have some stuttering while capturing video.


Tostada is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Oct 18, 2006, 7:45 AM   #7
Administrator
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Savannah, GA (USA)
Posts: 22,378
Default

They work with 2GB Cards. If you dig around in the Fuji sites, you'll find some compatiblity lists.

One list shows cameras that do not work with these cards (it's more of an exclude list). Another list shows cameras that do work with them.

Note the 256MB-2GB Type M column in this chart. You'll find that the Fuji F10/11/20/30 all work with 2GB cards. I've also seen user reports that 2GB cards work.

http://www.fujifilm.com/products/dig...x.html#compati

They are not shipping any 2GB Type H cards yet (AFAIK). Only the type M cards are available in 2GB right this minute. In faster type H card, you're limited to 1GB until they start shipping them in larger sizes. That's the reason they don't show up on the charts (there aren't any). ;-)

As for speed, my guess is that a type H card would be faster (currently only available through 1GB). But, I don't know for sure.

JimC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Oct 18, 2006, 10:42 AM   #8
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 48
Default

Nice chart.



It's interesting that the S5000 / S7000 / F610 / S20 Pro all have the note:

*9: The xD-Picture Cards Type M is not recommended for movie recording.



But none of the other ones (even the S3000 and F420) have that problem. Very strange, since they seem to all use the same 640x480 30 fps MJPEG format as other Fujis ... except the S5000 which won't even go above 320x240, so why would it need a faster card?

I mean, the only reason you'd get the slower Type M card would be if you wanted a 2 GB card, and a major reason for that would be if you thought you might want 30 min. of video instead of 15 on a 1GB.



Tostada is offline   Reply With Quote
 
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 2:07 AM.