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Old Jan 6, 2009, 9:49 AM   #1
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I'm looking for an ultracompact camera for my wife. She's a childminder and wants to take snaps of her children for their development notes. The budget is max £150, but nearer £100 would be better.

The requirements in order of priority are...

Vital
=====
Very low shutter lag (including autofocus time)
Works well indoors
Fully automatic shooting that really works

Would very much like
====================
Smile detection (if it really works)
Optical anti-shake

Less important
==============
Perfect distortion free images
Lots of pixels


So the key is getting fairly good images of smiling babies and capturing the moment.

Looking at the recommendation on this site, I like the look of the Pentax Optio M50 and the Cannon PowerShot SD1100 IS. The Pentax lacks the Optical anti-shake and the Cannon lacks the Smile detection. I also see that the Pentax Optio M60 is available, but see no review.

Could any of you give any recommendations? Does the optical-antishake and the smile detection work as advertised? Are there any other cameras that I've overlooked? Any advice appreciated.
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Old Jan 6, 2009, 10:01 AM   #2
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I haven't used a camera with smile detection so I can't respond to that, but I can say that I find optical image stabilization to be very useful. I wouldn't buy a camera without it.
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Old Jan 6, 2009, 11:31 AM   #3
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Matt-

Is there a camera size requirement. Generally speaking ultra compacts have a harder time producing the best image quality. Greater image quality and more camera features could be found in a somewhat larger camera.

Also could you please tell us about the proposed lighting to be used when you wife is taking these photos. Are they in the playground, out of doors? Are these inside photos? What are the ages of the children? And can flash be used? Thanks!

Sarah Joyce
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Old Jan 6, 2009, 4:00 PM   #4
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Sarah,

There is no hard size requirement, however I was given "Small" as a criteria.

Photos will be taken in a range of conditions, including outdoors, sunny or overcast, and indoors with a range of lighting from low wattage compact florescent through to reasonable sun.

Flash will normally be left on auto.

Pictures will normally be taken at 1 - 4 meter range. Mostly1.5m ish.

Children currently range from 1 year to 7 years, but could range from 1 month to adult.

As for best image quality, the best image is one which makes the parents go Arrrrhhhh, so pictures of smiling babies, and actually capturing the moment that little Harry does whatever cute new thing is far more important than minor lens distortion or colour artefacts.

A nice sharp well saturated picture which is fairly well exposed would be nice though not as important as getting it quickly.

Thanks.
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Old Jan 6, 2009, 5:31 PM   #5
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Matt-

I realize that you live in the UK and camera prices are somewhat higher in price. I would suggest you take a look at either the Sony H-10 or the Kodak Z-1012 cameras. They are a bit bigger but they havesome real advantages.

My husband and I raised 8 children and we have 15 grandchildren so I understand a lot about photographing children. At least for me I got the best photos when I cound stand back some 15 to 20 feet and allow the children to interact naturally. When you come in close they begin to "pose" complete with funny faces and the like because they know you are taking a photo of them.

Take a look at the attached sample photo taken with the Sony H-10. I was able to stand back at about 15 feet from the photo scene, but still zoom in nicely using the H-10's optical zoom feature and it excellent built-in flash (good up to 23 feet)to get this photo of two ofour grandchildren interacting quite naturally with my husband.

The Kodak Z1012's flash is not as powerful as the H-10's but it does have a nice High ISO mode, that could be useful indoors if a flash was not allowed. The H-10 would be my first choice, as it is smaller, cost less, and has great colors.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Jan 6, 2009, 5:33 PM   #6
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Matt-

This is a different camera, but it illustrates again quite well what kind of photos are possible with the "stand back" photo strategy such as the Sony H-10 would provide.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Jan 7, 2009, 3:21 AM   #7
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Thanks. I'll look into that camera today.

As for standing back... I agree that it's a good strategy, and I use it myself sometimes, however my wife will normally be directly interacting with the children and wants the ability to take pictures from close range.
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Old Jan 7, 2009, 8:28 AM   #8
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I had a good look at the Sony H-10. I don't think it's a good fit for my requirements. It's too bulky and has no smile detection. (I've started another thread elsewhere asking if that feature really works!). For any other requirement, I would agree that it's a great camera, it just doesn't quite fit here.
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Old Jan 7, 2009, 8:29 AM   #9
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What about the Samsung SL310W? It ticks all the boxes. Anyone got any idea how it really performs?

Price seems to be all over the place. Looks like I may be lucky and get it for £130.
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Old Jan 7, 2009, 9:41 AM   #10
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Err, how does the Samsung tic the "Perfect distortion free images" box???

Or any other compact for that matter. The only brand I know of with this feature is Nikon. And they don't do it optically. The native image from their lens has distortion just like any other camera. They do have an in-camera processing option for distortion correction. Which does work. But that option is not found on every Nikon, the cheapest Nikons lack this.

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