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Old Jul 15, 2009, 1:31 AM   #1
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Default Best Value P&S with Manual Control

I've decided that I would like a new camera based on the following parameters:

-Pocket sized
-Manual S and A control
-Useable zoom range with wide angle
-Quick performance(start up time, zoom time, AF time)
-Quiet performance(unobtrusive noise as camera zooms/focuses)
-Affords being taken everywhere(left in hot/cold car for hours at a time, guilt free)
-Good value for dollar(must be new products)

The price spectrum I've defined so far is:

Panasonic LZ8 - $100+$50 for good batteries/charger
-up to-
Ricoh GX200 - $420

Both of these are on the phase out end of their product cycle and are what I consider good values. Although not directly comparable, the price advantage of the Panasonic makes it a compelling competitor as a camera to be carried around every day. The Ricoh is probably the ultimate P&S usability wise, however its still $400+ for a small sensor camera. While the wide angle is nice, the tele end will probably be a bit limiting. I can also sense more reticence tossing it in the car everyday.

At only 100 bucks I can easily imagine the LZ8 being used & taking abuse everyday, however its a pretty basic thing(lens not sharp to the edges like the Ricoh) and the reviews don't make it out to be a speed demon. The 32mm wide is also on the ragged edge of not really being wide.

Then there are the cameras in between (F60fd, H20, A590 IS, others?). I'm not a gadget geek, and this will be a long time purchase so I would like to cover the most bases as far as value and everyday usability is concerned, any advice or suggestions?

Thanks.
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Old Jul 15, 2009, 2:39 AM   #2
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For a current camera around $200 (USD) my choice would be the Canon SX110 IS. Lacks the extra wide angle feature, but has nice "manual" controls.

Kelly Cook
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Old Jul 15, 2009, 11:33 PM   #3
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Depending on what you mean by "usable zoom range with wide angle", you might also consider the Panasonic LX3. It is in the same price category as the Ricoh GX200. Its zoom range is 2.5x - 24mm to 60mm (35mm equivalent).

-Pocket sized - not shirt pocket, but jacket or cargo pants pocket size. It is not an ultra compact.
-Manual S and A control - fully automatic to fully manual
-Useable zoom range with wide angle -24mm to 60mm
-Quick performance(start up time, zoom time, AF time) - reasonable - it has a lens cap that needs to be removed
-Quiet performance(unobtrusive noise as camera zooms/focuses) - I consider it reasonably quick - but that is relative.
-Affords being taken everywhere(left in hot/cold car for hours at a time, guilt free) - I believe that it will perform within this environment
-Good value for dollar(must be new products) - its midway through its life cycle. Panasonic has said that it will be on its product list through mid 2010, if I remember correctly. Panasonic ran out of supply in March and the price spiked, but has been coming down with new product.

The Leica DLux4 is the same camera for twice the price - and there are no supply problems (plus it has a 3 year warranty, a red dot and a wrist strap.)

The LX3 has a Leica f2-2.8 lens which is the fastest lens available in the P&S class. It has a larger sensor with a cap on the resolution at 10MP producing a much lower pixel density, thus resulting in less sensor noise. Noise is very well controlled up to about ISO800. It has image stabilization.

Panasonic and Leica has essentially designed a specialized camera targeted to low light and wide angle use.

hope that helps....
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Old Jul 19, 2009, 12:34 AM   #4
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Thank you both for the suggestions.

The SX110 looks interesting, I hadn't seen it before and it seems to be one of the only cameras on my list that is available to be examined in a local store.

The LX3 was what originally launched my quest for a new camera, but the supply issue got the best of my patients and for $500 I feel there are other alternatives worth considering. I do agree its a very good camera though, its just too bad panasonic doesn't want to take advantage of the chance to gain some market share in the serious compact sector.

Anybody have advice on the Panasonic FX-150? It seems attainable in the $250 range, is it worth a look?

Thanks again for the input thus far, it is much appreciated
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Old Jul 19, 2009, 4:01 PM   #5
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Most ultracompacts, even the premium ones, lack a lens iris. Instead use some very simple hardware like a ND filter to "stop down" the aperture. Which results in only 2 or 3 aperture values being available. I think this also applies to the Panny FX150. The smallest compacts that I know of with a full range of aperture settings are the Canon SX200 and Nikon S710.

Kelly
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Old Jul 20, 2009, 10:22 PM   #6
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The best buy with full manual control might just be the refurbished Nikon D-40X DSLR camera that www.newegg.com has on sale at $269.99 for the body only. Just purchase the 18-55 mm kit lens (about $(US)100.00) and the the Nikon 55-200mm lens (about $(US)200.00 and you have a real DSLR with lenses to cover, in 35mm terms from 28mm to 300mm for less than $(US)600.00, actually $(US) 569.99 to be precise.And yes you can add a Square Trade guarantee for around $50.00 to get a full 1 year guarantee just like a new camera.

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