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Old Nov 10, 2009, 6:08 AM   #1
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Default Confused. Need expert help.

Hi. I'm just a novice photographer and the only camera I've used is point and shoot. I've been reading some reviews but I don't understand some of the photography terminologies or techniques.
I have a Canon A570 and I would like an to upgrade my current camera with new and updated features that newer once are offering. I would be mostly shooting indoors and activities of my baby so I prefer an HD with wide angled lenses. I would also prefer a camera that doesn't use AA batteries. Of course image quality is the most important. An automated one with the image stabilization plus other automatic features would be nice. Below is a summary of what I need.

Budget From $250-$380.


Size

I prefer an ultra compact. Actually I'm not so sure of the difference in the compact and ultra compact, but it seems the models that I have been picking are in the ultra compact category.


Features

The pictures I will be printing would most likely not be bigger than 8 inches. I heard that even my current 7MP should suffice. I see though that the newer compact cameras are usually going 10 to 14MP.


I currently have a Powershot A570 which has 4x optical zoom. I was hoping to have an upgrade to 5x optical zoom. I also find it interesting that there are compact cameras with 10 to 12x optical zoom. Is it true that compact cams with ultrazoom lens are no good with low light?


It will be used as a family camera. We have a baby so it would be good to capture her milestones and developements. It will also be used for travelling, so it will be an all around cameral. Most of the shoots will be taken indoors so I think the camera should be good with low light. I would also prefer one with HD recordings to capture some movie clips of our baby.

Regarding the term low light. I always encounter this on reviews. Does it mean indoor lighting or night shots?


So far I have only owned a Canon. I don't mind having another brand. Although I'm only considering Canon, Sony and Panasonic because they are the only brands more accessible here with service centers. Also I would prefer a camera that doesn't use AA batteries.

A wide LCD would be nice however I would like to have the kind that has some space on the sides wherein I don't have to be touching the screen all the time because it will create smudges.


I have a lot of models in consideration as I'm obviously confused.

For those with 4x optical zoom there are. Canon SD960 or SD940. I read some reviews are good but I'm not exactly sure what is the difference between the 2 other than the price. Does anyone know what's the difference I'm still curious. Sony T700 is also nice but it has no HD.

Since I mentioned about upgrading to a higher optical zoom I also find it interesting the models Canon SX200 and Panasonic ZS3. In general the ZS3 looks very interesting. But based on some reviews is it true that compact cams with high zooms are not good with low light?? If it is true then maybe I can give this up. After all if I would be using this indoor most of the time then why would I need a 10x for. It would be interesting for travelling though.

The next options are those with 5x optical zoom. My options are:
Canon SD970 IS. But I'm not sure if this has wide angled lenses
Canon SD980 IS. I have not seen any reviews yet but this is a touchscreen. I wonder if this will make the camera more sensitive and less durable.
Canon SD890 . It looks appealing but it's not HD and I think it uses an older processor.
Sony DSC W290. The review isn't so good on the image quality
Sony DSC WX1. I have not seen this review.

I need to narrow down my options. Please give some advice.


Thanks in advance.
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Old Nov 10, 2009, 9:16 AM   #2
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wanderintraveler-

Welcome to the Forum We are delighted you dropped by.

Let's handle the Canon SD-940 and SD-960 issue first. The SD-940 is more desirable, based on your requirements, because it has a 24mm wide angle and the SD-960 has a 28mm wide angle. The SD-940 has 5X optical zoom. The SD-960 has 4X optical zoom. So it would appear that the SD-940 would most probably come closer to your requirements than the SD-960 camera. The SD-970 by the way, does not have a wide angle lens. Most users do not like a touch screen application such as seen in the SD-980. yes you are correct the SD-890 is an older camera.

Next, let's deal with the term, "low light." It does not refer to night photos. Instead, it refers to the ability of a camera to take a photo with the light that is existing in the photo scene. Indoors that would mean home lighting. None of the cameras that you have listed will handle a "Low Light" environment without showing measurable to considerable "graininess" or electronic noise in the actual finished image. The image would be neither sharp nor clear. DSLR cameras, due to using an imager that is at least 15 times larger that the average enlarged pin head size imager found in most point and shoot cameras, can produce very good "Low Light" photos.

Next, let's deal with the term compact and ultra compact sized cameras. Attached to this post you will find a photo of two cameras, side by side. The camera on the left is a typical "compact" camera. In contrast, the camera positioned on the right is a typical "Ultra Compact" camera.

The Sony W-290 did not do well in the professional reviews. I bought a Sony WX-1 camera and returned it because the images were quite soft and not well focused. I also own a Panasonic ZS1 camera which is the same as the ZS3, but the ZS1 does not have HD video clips. The ZS1/ZS3, and ZR1/ZR3 for that matter, produce excellent out door images but because the are equipped with very small and under powered built-in flash units they produce very poor image quality indoors when using flash. The effective flash range is only 6 to 8 feet which is not desirable at all.

Other cameras that you might want to consider the Canon SX-200IS and the Kodak Z-950.

Have a great day.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Nov 10, 2009, 7:21 PM   #3
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Thank you very much for your reply. This is my first time to join a forum and I was a bit unsure if my post will be answered.

Let's handle the Canon SD-940 and SD-960 issue first. The SD-940 is more desirable, based on your requirements, because it has a 24mm wide angle and the SD-960 has a 28mm wide angle. The SD-940 has 5X optical zoom. The SD-960 has 4X optical zoom. So it would appear that the SD-940 would most probably come closer to your requirements than the SD-960 camera. The SD-970 by the way, does not have a wide angle lens. Most users do not like a touch screen application such as seen in the SD-980. yes you are correct the SD-890 is an older camera.

I would like to clarify. You say the difference between SD940 and SD960 is the optical zoom? Unless I'm mistaken but when I checked they are both 4x optical zoom.

I was hoping that I would have more options on those cams with the 5x or the ultrazoom.
Maybe the 4x doesn't differ much from the 5x?

You don't recommend the SD980?? My concern with this is the touchscreen, but if the image quality and all other aspects like it's ability to take good pics indoor is good then I won't mind getting this. I believe it's also HD and wide angled.


Next, let's deal with the term, "low light." It does not refer to night photos. Instead, it refers to the ability of a camera to take a photo with the light that is existing in the photo scene. Indoors that would mean home lighting. None of the cameras that you have listed will handle a "Low Light" environment without showing measurable to considerable "graininess" or electronic noise in the actual finished image. The image would be neither sharp nor clear. DSLR cameras, due to using an imager that is at least 15 times larger that the average enlarged pin head size imager found in most point and shoot cameras, can produce very good "Low Light" photos.

I can understand a DLSR can definitely take better photos. I guess that's the price one has to pay for compactness. They can't handle as much as a DLSR. However, I do find it quite big and bulky. Do you mean that the built in flash of those ultra compact cams are not enough? Is there any other non DLSR camera that you can suggest that would meet my need?


Next, let's deal with the term compact and ultra compact sized cameras. Attached to this post you will find a photo of two cameras, side by side. The camera on the left is a typical "compact" camera. In contrast, the camera positioned on the right is a typical "Ultra Compact" camera.

I still prefer the ultracompact because it would be easy to bring anywhere. I can still consider a compact. I think the ultrazooms are considered compact?

The Sony W-290 did not do well in the professional reviews. I bought a Sony WX-1 camera and returned it because the images were quite soft and not well focused. I also own a Panasonic ZS1 camera which is the same as the ZS3, but the ZS1 does not have HD video clips. The ZS1/ZS3, and ZR1/ZR3 for that matter, produce excellent out door images but because the are equipped with very small and under powered built-in flash units they produce very poor image quality indoors when using flash. The effective flash range is only 6 to 8 feet which is not desirable at all.

Other cameras that you might want to consider the Canon SX-200IS and the Kodak Z-950.

I thought that the ZS3 is better than the SX200. Too bad I was hoping the WX1 would be good.
I'm still trying to consider if I should concentrate more on the 4x or 5x optical zoom or this ultrazooms. Maybe you can help me decide. Ultrazooms sounds cool to have but maybe I have to give it up. The ability to zoom would be better only for outdoors is that correct? If that is so, then it can help me decide. Yes, it's true we do travel out from time to time but not as much as that we would need telephoto lenses.

So to recap for the 4x zoom you would recommend the SD940.
For 5x zoom. None?
For the ultrazooms... None for my need? The Sony H20 has been mentioned a lot. Does it match my need?

Thanks a lot for your time. I appreciate it very much.

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Old Nov 10, 2009, 8:10 PM   #4
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wanderintraveler-

Only you can honestly determine what is best for you.

The SD-970 has 5X optical zoom, but no wide angle. You are correct yhe SD-940 and Sd-960 have only 4X optical zoom. The SD-980 is the only camera to 5X optical zoom and a wide angle, but the touch screen is a personal choice.

On these compacts and ultra compacts the flash is very usable, but it is limited to a distance of 12 to 14 feeet. The Panasonic ZS1/ZS3/ZR1 cameras are good, but all have weak flash that are only good out to 6 to 8 feet. The pop-up flash on the canon SX-200 is the issue that bugs some folks. It pops up whenever the camera is powered up and stays that way.

Cameras with more zoom such as the Sony H-20 (no wide angle) are sometimes larger due to the larger lens. The Kodak Z-950 (also no wide angle) is somewhat larger as well. As soon as you add more zoom the camera dimensions do change.

The difference between 4X and 5X is very small actually. Hence my recommendation was the SD-940. if you want more zoom the camera has to be somewhat larger. The Sony H-20 is a very good camera with the best auto mode operation and the best flash, but it has no wide angle, one of your requirements.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Nov 11, 2009, 7:22 PM   #5
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The SD-970 has 5X optical zoom, but no wide angle. You are correct yhe SD-940 and Sd-960 have only 4X optical zoom. The SD-980 is the only camera to 5X optical zoom and a wide angle, but the touch screen is a personal choice.

What can you say about the performance of SD980? Is the image quality as good as the rest? Does it have a good flash?

You mentioned that the ZS3 being a compact can take good pics only at 6-8 ft. What about the Canon? Just want to know which is the best performer among the models I'm considering.


Thanks for your recommendation. I will consider SD940 and SD980 or ZS3 depending on your comment.

Last edited by wanderintraveler; Nov 16, 2009 at 5:59 PM.
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Old Nov 16, 2009, 6:01 PM   #6
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Any comment?
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Old Nov 16, 2009, 9:22 PM   #7
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In as much as indoor photos have a very high importance to you you should also consider the Sony H-20, which has 10X optical zoom, a 3" LCD screen, no wide angle, but the best flash range and performance in this camera category. Its flash range is good from 3 feet to 20 feet when the camera is in Auto ISO. That makes it good for groups.

The Panasonic Zs3 is crippled by the poor performance of it built-in flash unit which makes indoor photography very marginal, due to its very short 6-8 foot flash range.

The SD-940 only has 4X optical zoom, it has no viewfinder, and a reduced size LCS screen and it is more expensive that the Sony H-20 camera.

The SD-980 has 5X optical zoom, a 3" LCD screen, but it has no viewfinder, but it is more expensive than the Sony H-20 by about $50.00

The perfect camera does not exist. I have carefully tried to point out the full details of how these cameras differ from one another, so you can make your decision.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Nov 17, 2009, 2:02 AM   #8
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Thanks a lot for your advice.
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