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Old Apr 1, 2009, 10:20 AM   #1
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Hi, I've been following the discussions for dSLRs and superzooms over the past year, but now I find myself in unfamiliar territory. I want to by my two college-student kids compact cameras for their respective birthdays this month. I'd prefer to spend under $150 each.

One is in art school and has been borrowing my Panasonic FZ20 for real school homework. She uses many of the manual features, so she knows her way around a camera. But for a birthday present, I think I'd like to concentrate on finding her something she can take casual photos of friends, her artwork to sent to family, and to carry around for whenever. If she needs the manual things, she can continue to use the FZ20 since I now use my FZ28. Pixels and zoom length are not issues, but she'd be taking more photos indoors than out.

For other student, he'd want a superzoom, but I think x5 - x10 would be ok. He often travels and would take a lot of photos on his trips. I'd give him the FZ20, except art-school student needs it for real work, and this student doesn't really does not know his way around a camera, so he's use more of the automatic settings. Plus I think he'd be better off with a compact that he can put in his pocket. It may be he just wants more "cool factor" and getting him a tiny camera might fulfill that and sacrifice the zoom.

I guess my question is, at the $100-$150 price point, is there really any significant difference between compacts? Ironically, first student who knows her way around a camera doesn't really care what she gets, and second student who barely knows the difference between apeture-priority and shutter-priority would probably prefer a FZ28, but isn't going to get one.

Any recommendations?

Thanks!!

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Old Apr 1, 2009, 12:26 PM   #2
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Hi Elliotm00

I will throw my 2 cents even though I am very much an ameture. I have 3 brands that come to mind with $150 price range.

First is the Panasonic Lumix LZ8. I believe it has been recently discontinued as I didn't see it on Panasonic's web page but it just came out in Jan of 2008. It has a 5X zoom with a mm equivalent of 32-160. I just bought a new camera and they still had a few of these in the store. I have the predecessor the LZ7 which I bought new in July 2007. It takes really good pics outside great for hiking ect... but is rather weak inside. Here are the specs

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/spec...nic_dmclz8.asp



Second is the Canon Powershot A590IS. I bought this for my wife's Grandmother to replace a broken old 35mm film camera. It is very easy to use and has some manual feature's when the kids want to explore. It takes marginally better shots indoor's than my Panisonic does but I prefer the colour's of the Panasonic and outdoor shoots are about the same. It has a 4X zoom which is the equivalent to 35mm-140mm.

Finally if you want low light performance Fuji seems to have good camera's at the bottom end of the price point. My dad has an S700 which he paid 179.00 and out of the three it takes the best indoor pics. The s700 has been discontinued for awhile but I see alot of recommendations for Fuji with regards to low light. You might want to try the Fuji Film Finepix S1000fd. It's around $200 and might be cheaper as it has been replaced by the 1500. here is a link. I realize it's not a compact camera but it does have a 12x zoom and all the featur's your son wants.


http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/spec...pixs1000fd.asp

I was trying to get to Steve's best camera site but the site is closed at the moment. I do belive if mymemory serves me well that the Canon 590IS made the best list for compact camera. Here is a link to a test on a Canon A570IS which for all intents and purposes is the same as the A590IS.

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canona570is/




Cheers

Steve

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Old Apr 1, 2009, 3:48 PM   #3
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For the lady art student I would suggest the Sony W130. Now being closed out, you may have to hunt the online outlets to find one.

There are more possibilities for the guy's zoom cam. Which is going to depend a lot on just what you consider "pocket size" to be. I would start with the new Olympus FE-370, which is anultracompact,so pocket size by any definition.

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Old Apr 1, 2009, 7:12 PM   #4
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If you can't find a Canon A590is or a Sony W130, some good cheaper cameras are the Panasonic LS85, the Canon A480 and the Nikon L19.
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Old Apr 1, 2009, 10:33 PM   #5
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elliotm00 wrote:
Quote:
I guess my question is, at the $100-$150 price point, is there really any significant difference between compacts? Ironically, first student who knows her way around a camera doesn't really care what she gets, and second student who barely knows the difference between apeture-priority and shutter-priority would probably prefer a FZ28, but isn't going to get one.

Any recommendations?

Thanks!!
Difference?

Nope.

Oh sure there are somedifferences. A wider lens here, a longer zoom range there. This camera has a bigger LCD display, that camera has a more powerful flash. But at the end of the day there is not enough differences to get excited over.

Personally I would seek out the "last years" models of Canon or Panasonic. Both are good companies and good cameras.But, make sure you are not buying a rebuild from a scummy online vendor. Better yetI would buy from a local store out of the local store stock (Best Buy, Wally World, Office Depot, Staples are all safe bets if you don't have a regular camera store) as they close out last year's inventory to bring in the current year's products.

Why is a close out (last year's model) good? Because this year's model is not a huge improvement. 99% of the time the new camera is neversuch a huge improvement (especially at this price point) to justify an absolute have to buy. Secondly, as prices are reduced, you can buy abigger/badder/better model of less money.
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Old Apr 6, 2009, 5:04 PM   #6
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Thank you all for your advice. I think the bottom line is that although there are a lot of nit-picks for at this price point, it sort of doesn't matter. buy.com is selling the Pentax Optio Z10 for $89.99 and free shipping. It doesn't make anyone's top-camera list, but it more-or-less covers what I'm looking for. I hesitated, thinking that the lack of shutter-priority and apeture-priority would be important, but I don't think it is. If they need it, then they probably need something >$150 anyway and they can get a job and buy it themselves! Or continue to borrow my older FZ20. :-)

Thanks again.

--Elliot


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Old Apr 6, 2009, 9:20 PM   #7
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Ok, I lied. I ended up passing on the Pentax and buying the Canon A590IS from PC Connection for $112.95 and free shipping.

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Old Apr 8, 2009, 7:11 PM   #8
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elliott-

You made a VERY GOOD choice.

Sarah Joyce
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