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Old Jul 29, 2007, 4:14 PM   #1
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Hi, background info: I like taking pictures but currently only have an Olympus D-380 with 2 MP and 0x Optical Zome. Ouch.

I have a budget of $230 US Dollars and am not sure which featues will suit me best, as this is my first "real" camera. So, the choices are:

1. Kodak EasyShare z712 IS
http://reviews.cnet.com/digital-came...tag=prod.txt.1

This one sounds good to me because it has a 12x Zoom with IS to help take non-blurry pictures. From what I've been reading, the negatives are that its compression to JPEG isnt as clean as other models, and it doesnt have a way to manually adjust White Balance... But it sounds to be loaded with other features that sound fun, and its predecessor the z612 got a good review on here while the z712 got a good review on other sites.

2. Kodak EasyShare z1275
http://reviews.cnet.com/digital-came...tag=prod.txt.1

This one was coming out September 1st according to Amazon.com, yet it is availabile at Kodak.com and Bestbuy, so Im guessing it is already out. This has 12 MP with a 5x Zoom and 720p HD Video recording. All of these features sound really good. Yet it seems to have less features then the z712 and does not have IS, so I am wondering if that will make it much harder to take pictures with.

3. Canon PowerShot A570 IS
http://reviews.cnet.com/digital-came...tag=prod.txt.1

This has okay stuff with a 4x zoom and 7.1 MP, but I was interested in it because it has manual White Balance control + Better compression rates then the Kodaks. It also features the IS feature. The downside sounds to me that the image quality might not be as good, and the ISO range gets noisey quickly, and is bad in low light. What do you guys think about this camera?

4. Canon PowerShot A630
http://reviews.cnet.com/digital-came...tag=prod.txt.1

This one seems to be similar to the Kodak z1275 as that they both lack IS, but both have decent zoom and MP, with this having 4x Zoom and 8 MP. This model also allows for additional add ons to increase its zoom at a later time. It has a nice flip out LCD screen which sounds useful. It has a lot of manual controls, which is important, yet it is said to be bad in low light.


So it seems alll of these Cameras do good and bad things, and I am just not sure which featuers are more useful. It basically comes down to this:
How usefull are:

IS?
Manual White Balance?
Better Compression rates?
And how much of an advantage is 12 MP over 7.1 MP?

Thanks for any advice you can give!


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Old Jul 29, 2007, 4:42 PM   #2
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It's not the megapixel count that really matters for image quality. Rather the size of the sensor is more important for IQ. While the Z712 and A570 have a small 1/2.5" sensor the A630 and Z1275 have a large 1/1.8" resp. 1/1.72" sensor. On the other hand the Z712 and A570 have image stabilisation, while the others don't. I personally own the A640 and would go for the A630. The Z1275 may aƶso be very good, but it is too new to know more. The Z712 is a very affordable ultrazoom with IS, with decent image quality. Thus if you need a lot of zoom, it may be a good choice as well.
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Old Jul 30, 2007, 9:58 AM   #3
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kassandro has given some very good advice. I'd just like to add a couple of comments about the Z712. While Kodak does not offer true manual white balance, allowing only the auto, tungsten, fluorescent and open shade Kodak's auto white balance is extremely effective. With my Z612 I can ignore the light source 99% of the time. I've shot sunlight, tungsten, fluorescent, shade and mixed source and only rarely had to adjust color balance with post processing.

My view of optical IS is that it's a very desirable feature on any camera with a long telephoto (over 180mm equiv) such as the 6x-12x zoom P&S camera but only marginally useful on 3x (115 equiv.) cameras.
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Old Jul 30, 2007, 3:57 PM   #4
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If you are interested in good image quality and low light performance, the Fuji F20/30/40 and now F50 seem to stand out. I'm looking to replace an old Casio compact, and the reviews in this site, DCResource, etc, rate this camera range very highly. The sample pictures are very sharp and the ISO800 and even ISO1600 peformances are impressive. I will probably buy the F31fd (which is around your budget). 6mp is plenty unless you want to print very large pictures or crop very hard. A good lens and low sensor noise are more important IMHO than 10 or 12mp.

The "negatives" of this camera are some purple fringing, not a wide angle, and only 3x zoom. Battery life and flash reach are exceptional.
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Old Jul 30, 2007, 4:46 PM   #5
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i love the A620, and the A630 was the camera that replaced it. the pics are good from this line, the manual features are very exciting once you get used to the menus and as a very nice extra, the videos in this line are good quality.

if you have really shaky hands and don't want to use the menus, you will want IS but if you don't mind working a menu to shoot at a somewhat high shutter speed, you will probably be fine. i didn't have a problem with the A620 in low light - no more than any digicam. ino digicam i've tried compares to a DSLR in low light - although i've heard rumors about the fuji F30.

i saw steve's review of the A570IS and a couple others. seems lke it's about as noisy as many similar digicams - which means it's not unusually noisy for its class and type of camera. personally i'd probably go with the A570IS if IS is a main issue and i'd try the fuji F30 if low light performance were the main concern and i wasn't willing to go with an entry level DSLR.
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Old Aug 3, 2007, 12:34 PM   #6
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It is really all a matter of personal preferences. I really happen to like IS so for me the choice was easy when I spotted a Kodak Z-712 for $229 on sale. It is a dandy little camera and is capable of excellent ISO 800 shots with ease.

If an articulating LCD is part of your dream, the Z-712 does not have that feature. However, I have found it easy to extend the flash range out to 30 to 35 feet with no problem at all whule just using the Z-712's built-in flash.

Here is a 35 foot flash example.

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Old Aug 3, 2007, 3:59 PM   #7
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Quote:
My view of optical IS is that it's a very desirable feature on any camera with a long telephoto (over 180mm equiv) such as the 6x-12x zoom P&S camera but only marginally useful on 3x (115 equiv.) cameras.
Many people seem to hold that view. But it doesn't reflect my experience with stabilization. Of course stabilization is handy for a long zoom to free you from a tripod in many situations. But it is equally useful to me at wide angle.

According to the effectiveness of the stabilization you get a two to three effective f-stop advantage in the shutter speed you can handhold. Simon at dpreview has reported a four stop advantage in one of his camera tests, but I would have to experience that to believe it. That applies to wide angle as well as telephoto. You can handhold in some pretty dim light at wide angle with stabilization since the required shutter speed diminishes with focal length.

These are some examples of cameras being discussed from pbase. The first is handheld at 1/2 second and ISO 400 with a Kodak Z712: http://www.pbase.com/tgaf/image/82106394

The second of the Sistine ceiling at 1/10 and ISO 400. They could probably have used ISO 200 and gotten a better shot at 1/5 second, especially using burst. I find I usually get a sharp one in a burst when I'm pushing at long shutter speeds. http://www.pbase.com/pharr080/image/79758117

Of course stabilization isn't any help at all for moving subjects. The Fuji F31 mentioned is a little over your price but not much. Include the pricier xD card and it might end up a little pricey. But you can get the same sensor and excellent high ISO in the Fuji F20 for well under $200. High ISO is more versatile, but you get better images of still subjects in low light with stabilization.



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Old Aug 3, 2007, 4:18 PM   #8
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How about a Sony DSC-H2, top rated by all reviews. I bought one 2 weeks ago for $249 at OfficeMax. This Monday I saw it for $229 at Best Buy. This is a store only clearance sale. A heck of a deal!
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Old Aug 3, 2007, 4:39 PM   #9
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mingsdad wrote:
Quote:
How about a Sony DSC-H2, top rated by all reviews. I bought one 2 weeks ago for $249 at OfficeMax. This Monday I saw it for $229 at Best Buy. This is a store only clearance sale. A heck of a deal!
That is probably the best choice of the bunch if you can pick it up for $230. The H2 is an older model but it is a better camera than the new H7 and H9.
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Old Aug 3, 2007, 4:43 PM   #10
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Agree! I wished I had paid $229 instead of $249!
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