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Old Jan 28, 2007, 7:38 PM   #1
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Hello everyone. I'm looking to buy my girlfriend a camera for her birthday and was just wondering if I could get some feedback on the cameras I'm looking at. Here are the ones I have in mind.

Canon A630

Pros: Almost universally positive reviews, optical VF, flip out lcd, good IQ

Cons: Seems pricey for what you get, 4 AA batts (personal preference)

Kodak C875

Pros: Generally positive reviews, price, good IQ, easy to use

Cons: Complaints about lcd, weak flash, iffy indoor performance

Fuji A800

Now this camera won't be out until her Birthday but the price and feature set definitely caught my eye. Could anyone speculate on why thismay be a good/bad choice? It seems to have a fantastic sensor (same as the F40) and a nice lens for under $180. What are theA series cameras from Fuji lacking from the F series?

I doubt she will be interested in messing withmanual controls so I would like to find a camera that can take decent pics indoors or outdoors under auto settings. My main requirements are that it must take AA batteries and cost under $250. Anything 5 MP and up is fine, IS would definitely be a plus. What do you guys think about these cameras and which other ones should I be looking at?
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Old Jan 28, 2007, 8:26 PM   #2
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My girlfriend has really become a Photoshop Elements wizard with the pictures she takes during trips shegoes onboth with me and when she goes off on her ownwith her digital camera, but she has little to no desire to mess with manual settings, much like what you describe, so I'll give you some reasons behind why she made the decisions she did as well as what did and did not work.

When we started looking online, the two camera lines that it narrowed down to were the Canon A-series and the Digital Elphs. She also said she had no desire to hold the camera out in front of her, so we needed something with an optical finder, which these two also had. The A series was ruled out when we first looked at it in person, mainly because of the mode dial at the top. She did not care what it all meant and did not want to learn, meaning out on her own the settings could be "adjusted" in error and she'd never figure out how to get it set back.

She wound up picking the Digital Elph S410 (this was 2 1/2years ago) and has been using it ever since, very happily. Then this past year we went to Paris for 14 days and took pictures in some very dark churches and the like. In pressing the camera up to her face to keep it steady, she scratched her glasses up quite a bit and, to put it nicely, the subjects were beyond the capabilities of her camera. Her outdoor shots are still beautiful, but indoors the camera just plain did not perform, and it came down to two missing features....good high ISO performance and image stabilization.

We're going back to France again this September and she wants to get a camera that will, again, be easy to shoot, but will be aperformer in low-lit areas so she can record nice/sharpimages and not have to use what I shoot with my DSLR(!) again. She also would like something with a rubber eye guard to keep her glasses in good shape too if she's to keep an optical finder of any type.

Regarding what you've got picked out, think twice about the Canon A-series. Lots of buttons and such. You and I know she can put it on "P" or the "green box" and everything should work, but what happens if it gets switched to movie mode while in her purse?

Under no, absolutely no circumstances, would I EVER recommend a Kodak digicam to ANYONE. The "Easyshare"software assumes you're a complete idiot with your computer. It took me a whileafter I downloaded it one time to get it completely off my machine and get all the image files back the way they were, and the compression levels Kodak uses in images filesis horrendous. The first digicam I ever tried was a Kodak DX6440...a 4 mepapixel camera, and the resulting "High Quality" JPEG's were less than 1 MP in size. In some cases less then 750K in size! Waaaay too much compression for my taste, even if it does maximize the number of shots on your card. Do you want better quality images or more shots per card?Everything I've read about Kodak Digicams is they continue with this same processing.

We're still in limbo about what model to get for her, but high on the list is good ISO performance up to at least ISO 400 and image stabilization. I've been trying to convince her the Fuji F30 is what she needs, but the no optical finder has her a little put off. The Canon SD800IS has some very nice features, and remember here, she wants nice images but she's no camera nitpicker, so a little distortion at the wide (28mm) setting doesn't bother her.The wider settingmay mean she doesn't have to take so many images that she has to try and stitch later after we get back, the ISO 400 and 800 settings are useable, not as good as the F30, but useable,and the image stabilization will help her a lot with indoors, low lit shots. The optical finder is not rubber guarded, but it's more inset than the S410, so that helps.

A lot of rambling I know, but I hope some of this helps in your decision making process. I have no idea about the Fuji model you've listed so I'm not going to make a comment there. It does sound like the fewer controls, the better, so the Digital Elph series may be one you should be looking at too.
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Old Jan 28, 2007, 9:25 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply, that was very helpful. I wasn't familiar with the Digital Elph terminology until now. It appears Canon usesthis term for theirSDxxx series of cameras, so does this denote that the camera is easier to use/has feweradjustable settingsthan a typical A series? If so, I will definitely look in to those, maybe the SD600 or SD630.

I'm a total newbie when it comes to digital cameras, I just know she wants one and I'm the type that will research something for weeks before I buy. A week ago I didn't have a clue what ISO sensitivity meant and had no idea there was much more to IQ than the amount of megapixels.

I must say the world of photography seems pretty interesting and seeing the smooth flowing effects people have gotten from simply slowing down the shutter speed while photographing waterfalls and such has me wanting to learn to somebasic techniques for decent photography. I'll definitely make sure I can tinker with the settings on my next camera (current one is just a Kodak CX6330 with the zoom button missing).
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Old Jan 28, 2007, 9:49 PM   #4
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Hi Robteam70,

A couple of questions for you:

How "into" photography is your gf? Do you think she would be interested in manual controls, or more interested in leaving the camera set to "Auto" and shooting away?

I currently own the Kodak C875, and used to own the Canon A620, which is very similar to the A630. I sold my A620 and bought the Kodak C875, which is considerably smaller, when I found out I'd be getting the Fuji S6000fd ultrazoom this past Christmas. Now, I have a camera for around my neck and in my pocket.

So, based on my experiences with both cameras, here is what I can tell you:

1) The Kodak is small enough to fit in my pants (Dockers, usually, or fairly loose jeans) pocket. This cannot be done with the Canon. Does size matter to your gf?

2) Both cameras have "Auto" mode, and do a pretty decent job with it. The C875 has an interesting twist in that it has an Auto-Scene mode, where it quickly analyzes the subject and picks a corresponding scene mode (landscape, portait, etc.). This is pretty neat. It also has over 20 easy-to-use scene modes.

3) The Kodak has rich, vibrant color, but not obnoxiously so. The Canon's color is a tad more subdued, but also more realistic. My preference basically varies on what mood I am in.

4) The A630, by virtue of it's size and weight, is easier to hold steady than the Kodak. This could potentially mean fewer blurry pictures.

5) I'd say the low-light/no flash performance between the 2 cameras is pretty close. The C875 is cleaner, but has less detail than the A630. Both cameras do bit better here than my old A620.

6) The swivel LCD on the A620 was nice to have. Not essential, but nice. Neither LCD has particularly good picture quality.

7) Flash. The Canon has a stronger flash than the Kodak. This hasn't really impacted me, and for some reason I find the Kodak's flash to yield slightly more natural colors than the Canon.

8.) Performance. There's a benefit to the A630 using 4 AA batteries, and that's performance. My A620 was, overall, a slightly faster performing camera than the Kodak, but this is primarily noticeable in the flash recycling time. Sometimes my C875 takes up to 5 seconds to recover from a flash photo, whereas I think the longest my A620 took was maybe 3 sec.

9) Build quality. Both cameras are decently built, IMO. I don't care about plastic versus metal, as long as its quality plastic versus quality metal. The controls on the Canon feel better than the Kodak, though.

10) Finally, the Kodak's battery life with regular AA's is horrible. The good news is the Kodak's rechargebale battery pack is much better, raising it to about average battery life, IMO. My A620 did a much better job with regular AA's. You can buy an accessory kit for the C875 that includes the rechargeable battery pack, a dock that acts as a battery charger as well as transfers photos from your camera to your PC (as long as you use the Kodak Easyshare software) and a little camera case. I bought it online around Christmas time for $30.

Sorry for the long-windedness of this post! :O I think it's very nice of you to buy your gf a digital camera for her birthday. If you'd like any sample pics from my C875 or A620, let me know and I will post some. You may also want to check out DCResource.com, as Jeff has reviewed both of your contenders, and includes ISO tests and the like.

Good luck!

-Chris

EDIT: Just re-read your original post, and see that she isn't into the whole manual controls thing. I would say that my Fuji S6000fd (which uses the same sensor as the F30) does not work as well in Auto as my Canon A620 and Kodak C875. Not to say that the S6000fd's Auto mode is bad, I just don't find it as effective as the other 2. And, in response to Greg Chappell's distaste for Kodak cameras... things change. I never would have thought I'd by a Kodak digital camera, either. You don't have to use the Easyshare software, but then I don't like any camera manufacturer's software. People mostly see Kodak's crappy low-end cameras (like the C360) and therefore believe all Kodak's stink, but that is simply not true. Kodak's C875, P850/880 and Z612 (which this very site calls "awesome") are all good-to-excellent cameras.


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Old Jan 28, 2007, 10:48 PM   #5
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Hahah, lucky for me size is not too important to her. No really though, as long as it fits in her purse that should be fine. The smaller the better but it's not a main concern. I'm hoping it will be in a case most of the time but I knowthat doesen't happenwhen your snapping away at parties and such.

I'm pretty certain she won't be interested in messing around with manual controls either. She might use different scene settings but the camera will likely spend 99 percent of its life in auto mode.

There certainly seems to be pros and cons to each. I would definitely be buying NiMH batteries and a charger with it, as it seems that using regular AAs in these newer cameras is almost useless according to reviews.

I currently have the Kodakdock for my CX6330 and find it pretty convenient for charging the camera, but that's about all I use it for. Ihaven't usedthe easyshare softare in awhileand I don't have any picture viewing software at all on my comp currently since Vista organizes pics so well. My gf is still using XP so she might have more of a use for it.

Let me ask you this though, do you find that there is a significant amount of wobble with the lens at full extension with the C875? I remember reading someone commenting on this, but it was a store model and it could have been mishandled a lot.

I did read the C875review at DCresource, and they seemed very pleased and surprised at how well it performed. This is certainly a tough choice.

Thanks for the reply, coming from someone who has basically used both your feedback is very helpful.
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Old Jan 29, 2007, 12:43 AM   #6
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I haven't noticed any lens wobble on my C875, but then I've only had it for 1.5 months and am pretty careful with my stuff.

For WinXP users, Google's Picassa software is an outstanding free photo organizing package, that also helps you perform basic editing tasks (resize, red-eye removal, etc). I use it and find it quite valuable.

Choosing a digital camera can be fraught with tough choices. There are always compromises involved, which can make things pretty frustrating. That's why when somebody inquires about which camera to buy, if he/she has the field narrowed down to a couple of choices, I generally don't recommend another camera, unless I feel that it either A) blows the competition away or B) fulfills a particular requirement especially well. It seems like you have an idea what you need to get, and you have chosen two very good point-n-shoot cameras. The Canon SD600/630 cameras you mentioned a couple of posts ago are also very good, and small, and easy to use. My only complaint is that with cameras that small, the lens tends to be a bit soft, particularly on the edges.

RE: your inquiry on the difference between Fuji's "A" and "F" series, the "A" is the entry-level line, whereas the "F" is more upscale. The "A" will feature lower ISO, lower-res LCD, low-res movie etc. My main complaint with Fuji is they use the expensive and slow XD card format, which (IMO) is the worst of the flash-memory lot.

I have to say that I've been quite pleased with my C875, and even a bit surprised. I made sure I bought it from a store that had a no-penalty return policy, because I half-expected I would return it. I bought mine about 2 weeks before Christmas, and after a sale and a price match, I got the camera plus a free 512mb SD card for $126. I had really wanted the Canon A710IS, but that was out of my price range. Even at $170 or so (what I see the C875 going for online) I think it represents a fantastic value. This is not to say that the Canon A630 is not good - IMO, it is overall at least the match of the Kodak C875, just a bit different, and a bit better for those who want total camera control - but I don't think the A630 is $70 better than the C875. My only realistic complaint at all with the Kodak is that, because of it's small size and weight, I sometimes have blur issues in less than optimal conditions that I did not have with the larger, heavier Canon A620.

Here's a pic almost straight out of the C875, resized for posting. The only real editing I did was to make the photo a little bit lighter.


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Old Jan 29, 2007, 1:48 AM   #7
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You have a very pretty cat there. To me that picture looks very impressive, and sharp, as you can clearly make out individual strands of fur. The C875 seems to be a very nice camera. Do you find that the auto-scene mode does a decent job of picking out the right scene?

The new Fujis coming out in March are actually including an SD slot along with the xD (which was a requirement of mine along with USB 2.0 High Speed). What intrigued me about the A800 was the potential f30-like ISO performance in a camera taking standard batteries and costing around $180.

I know what you mean about the blurry pics with these things being so light, especially since a lot of these new cameras dont even have an optical VF, you have no choice but to hold the camera out in front of you. Using an optical VF you're at least bracing the camera against your face. I've ruined quite a few pics by just being careless in how I was holding the camera. IS would sure be a nice feature but it sure is expensive right nowin anything but a Panasonic.

A little off topic but I did some research on the Canon SD600/SD630 and I dont understand why they are so expensive. Now I realize Canon has no trouble moving any of their digital cameras but these cost as much as the A630 with fewer megapixels, a smaller sensor, fewer manual controls and they need proprietary batteries. Is it because the cameras are physically smaller?


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Old Jan 29, 2007, 4:49 AM   #8
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Yes, you do generally pay more, and/or get a bit less, for a pocket sized ultra compact. That's part ot the difference in the Fuji F series and A series as well, is that the F series is more compact (though not all that slim either).

In the Fuji A series, the A800 would be the first that has the same sensor and processor as an F series model. I think the that and the other new one are also the fist A series with the intelliflash--the others will probably just blast the flash full blast whenever it's needed. I believe the A600 actually has the same sensor as the F30, but without the processing. The A510 and A610 both have a smaller sensor, so not quite as good image quality.

In general the A series is just the entry level, and will have cheaper LCD, less build quality, less features, less performance (especially with only 2 AA batteries). And they have no manual adjustments available other than exposure compensation.

The E series is nicer, also larger than the F series, but loaded with features and controls.

If she really wants something compact, though, you might look at the Z series, which is Fuji's ultra compact series. The choices there would be the Z5 (another new one which won' be available until March) and the Z3. This is sort of like a slimmer more stylish F series. The sensor is also a bit smaller, but they don't pack too many pixels into it either (only 6MP on the new one, 5.1MP on the Z3) so noise performance is still good. And they have some different colors available like blue (Z3) or wine red (Z5). That's the one that sounds like a girlfriend cam to me. That or a Canon SD.

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Old Jan 29, 2007, 10:10 AM   #9
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I have a Kodak C-875 and it does not have any lens wobble at all after 6 months of service. The Camera has been great and produces excellent photos.

Attached is a photo taken indoors without flash at ISO 400. You will notice that it does not show much noise at all.

MT/Sarah
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Old Jan 29, 2007, 10:39 AM   #10
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Rob, glad you like the pic of Gidget! She's a brat, but she's also a very good girl.

The C875 seems to do a pretty good job picking out the right scene. When I point the camera at the woods behind my house, it chooses "Landscape". It selects "Portrait" when pointed at my fiancee, and "Macro" when I have an object a couple of inches away from the lens. I have not tested this feature extensively yet.

I had forgotten that Fuji started supporting SD when they introduced the F40. The Z5fd that Ken mentioned would be a good choice, although it won't be available until April 15, according to Amazon.com. The Face Detection feature actually does seem to work (at least in my Fuji S6000fd) in that it detects faces. I haven't seen a noticeable difference in exposure with FD, but then I take very few people pics.

One time, FD indicated that my cat's butt was a face! :lol:

Yes, the Canon SD's are expensive for what you get. The Sony and Fuji ultracompacts are the same way. I think this is primarily because A) cramming sophisticated electronics into small packages is expensive and B) they are "style cameras", and if you want style you need to pay more. A great example of this are the "thin and light" laptop PCs that weigh less than 3 lbs, cost $2000 yet have the same level performance as a $1000 laptop. There is simply more engineering involved.

I've found the best way to take photos while composing with the LCD is to tuck my elbows up against my sides, and hold the camera at eye level no more than 12" from my face. Since I wear glasses, I don't really use the OVF on compact cameras.

Attached is a photo of Calhoun, taken with my Fuji and adjusted a bit with Photoshop.
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