Go Back   Steve's Digicams Forums > Digicam Help > What Camera Should I Buy?

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old Jan 12, 2010, 2:21 PM   #1
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 3
Default Buying my first

I'm looking to get into photography really as a small hobby, and will mostly be taking nature shots, still lifes, landscapes, those sort of things. I have a budget probably between $150-300, but if a camera stands out for great value at the low end of the price range that is great, and if the perfect camera is a little higher that might be okay. I'm currently looking at the ZS3, F70EXR, SD1200 based mostly on the reviews here (I'm open to any suggestions), and possibly the SX200 or 120, and possibly the z35. I'd probably like to stick to something a little smaller and not quite as expensive as those last 3.

I'd prefer something that doesn't really need a case. Image quality is most important to me, and zoom is I think important as well (for capturing smaller objects at greater range). I won't be doing much action or indoor shooting, or video.

Also of importance to me is the ability to control the shot somewhat--DSLR's are too much of a step up for me but having manual control to customize the settings is something I'd like. I'm hoping to experiment with the camera, without having to take classes to understand what I'm doing.

I think I'll go with the SX120, for size and price reasons, although the FZ35 sure is tempting.

A few questions floating around my head:

1. Having not had much personal experience with a dig. camera, how tough is it to adjust to not having a viewfinder? It seems so natural to pick up a camera and look through the viewfinder to take a photo. I remember that earlier digital cameras (5 years ago maybe) had screens that were very difficult to use outdoors--but I haven't seen many complaints with the sx120. Are there any recommendations of cameras like the SX120 (meaning smaller and preferably lower cost than the Z35) that do have a viewfinder? They haven't popped up in my searches.

2. How important is zoom power for more backyard/walk in the park or beach/sunset type photography compared to safari/hiking settings? I wouldn't want to rule out a good camera because it doesn't have an unnecessary feature. With that in mind, is the SD990, with the 3.7 optical zoom a camera worth considering?

3. Doing more searching, it seems the ZS3 (and SD1200) are nice but don't offer the kind of manual options that I'm looking for. Does the Fujifilm F70 EXR offer more control? It seems the Canon SX200 does, but does it offer any advantages other than compactness over the SX120?

I'm also curious what opinions of a few cameras with a viewfinder were: the Canon A590, and Nikon P80 and P60.

Lastly, how does the Sony H20 differ from the SX120?

Thanks for any input and guidance.
newcamsearch1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Old Jan 12, 2010, 3:04 PM   #2
Senior Member
 
mtclimber's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Oregon, USA
Posts: 18,143
Default

newcamsearch-

Welcome to the Forum. We're glad you dropped by.

Wow! your post post mentioned a lot of P+S cameras. Let's see if if we can break them down into categories.

No Wide Angle: The Sony H-20, 10mp, 38 to 380mm, or 10X optical zoom, the best automatic moade and best built-in flash unit in class. The H-so also does HD video and you can zoom while filming. the Canon SX-120, 10mp 36 to 360mm or 10X optical zoom, less image quality than the H-20 and no HD video, fair to midling flash. Canon SD-1200, 10mp 35 to 1-5mm or 3X optical zoom, weak flash and no HD video. less image quality that the H-20 and SX-120.

Unique Cameras: The Fuji F-70EXR, a 10mp, 27-270mm or 10X optical zoom this camera has two automatic modes, a normal one, and one belonging to the EXR system. However, the Auto EXR mode does not produce the best EXR image quality. properly set-up this camera can produce very good image quality in the EXR mode, but there is a definite learning curve to learning all the in's and out's of the EXR system. And due to the way in which the EXR system works, the resulting EXR images, while very good, are reduced to 5mp output in the final finished image.

Reduced or no Manual Controls:
The Panasonic ZS-1, ZS-3, and ZR-1, as well as the Fuji F70 EXR, have few or no manual controls. This may be a plus or a minus, but I feel that it is important to know. you mention wanting to learn more about photography, but did not mention if having manual controls was a priority. Maybe, I missed that, while trying to organize my thoughts about how to divide up these cameras, perhaps I overlooked it.

The Remaining Cameras
: The Canon SX-200, 12mp, 28 to 336mm or 12X optical zoom. It has a pop-up flash that rises up everytime the camera is powered on, that disturbs folks, good image quality, HD video, but it cannot zoom while filming HD video. There is a rumor out that Canon will introduce a SX-300 just before the PMA (Photographic Manufacturers Association) show nest month, that will fix the pop-up flash problem and the zooming while filming problem as well as adding a few more features. But that is only a rumor. The Panasonic FZ-35, 12mp 27 to 486mm or 18X optical zoom, very good image quality, a pretty powerful built-in flash unit, does HD video and stereo sound, and you can zoom while filming. The FZ-35 is a class above all the other cameras with its extended zoom, added mp, and very good image quality and a quality built-in flash unit. However, it does cost a bit more and it is somewhat physically larger as well.

So perhaps, breaking the cameras you mentioned into categories will help in understanding them. Personally, I think that zoom is a very component of the photo experience. Have a great day. We are look forward this discussion.

Sarah Joyce

Last edited by mtclimber; Jan 12, 2010 at 3:31 PM.
mtclimber is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jan 27, 2010, 6:49 PM   #3
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 3
Default

Thanks for your help.

I've had the opportunity to test-drive the Canon sx120, and I have some thoughts and questions.

The physical feel, features, and accessibility of the camera seem awesome. It's so easy to flip through the different modes and adjust the manual controls. It's the right size for me nice and sturdy. It also seems to have a pretty good image stabilization system which is good because I have very shaky hands. The lack of a viewfinder doesn't seem to be much of an issue.

The thing is, I'm sort of curious about the image quality based purely on the playback of the images (on the camera's LCD). I don't have a usb connector or a card reader. A stupid question--does the LCD give a fair idea of the final image quality? Looking at different samples on the web they seem so much sharper than my results. Most of my indoors photos looked really good. But outdoors were very blurry, and the brightness of the colors were way off. When the subject was farther away and a lighter color, rather than a solid background, it was not sharp. A white building in sunlight produced major glare. On cloudy days, and in dusk, I had a tough time getting sharp images. Indoors in an almost pitch black garage, with a flash, it was perfectly clear. In a somewhat dimly lit room, some photos were pretty grainy with flash, others were good

I mostly was using the auto mode. I would be using the manual functions plenty, but I'm also not sure how much that would make a difference.

So I'm wondering--how much of this is my inexperience with a digital camera, and how much of it is the camera. And, will the images become clearer once transferred to a computer?

I know now that having a good zoom will be of importance to me. I think the 10x is adequate, but if the image quality is significantly better with the SX200, I'd consider the step up in price. And if it's a huge difference with the FZ35 or SX20, then I guess I'd consider the size difference too. But if the difference is more subtle, especially in the hands of a casual photographer then moving up in size wouldn't make a lot of sense for me.

A lot of info, a lot of thoughts. Any input is appreciated. Thanks!

PS: Why can I only take 120 MB of photo with a 2GB card?

Last edited by newcamsearch1; Jan 27, 2010 at 6:56 PM.
newcamsearch1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jan 27, 2010, 8:12 PM   #4
Senior Member
 
mtclimber's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Oregon, USA
Posts: 18,143
Default

Newcamsearch1

Hello, again. If a 2gb card only allows 120mb of photos, it sound like you have not formatted the card in awhile.

(1) Check the card to be sure you are not throwing away photos that you might want to save.

(2) If you find photos that you want to save, save them to the appropiate file.

(3) Format your card, only with your camera. Do not allow your computer to format your card.

(4) Be sure to format your card. That does not mean delete the photos.

(5) When that is finished you will have full use of your 2gb card.

You mentioned landscapes, which normally require a wide angle approach. Here is a list of cameras at a price point of $(US) 250.00 and below:

In the under $(US)250.00 market the leading cameras are:

Sony H-20 - 10X optical Zoom - no wide angle - $(US) 220-240 - 10mp
Canon SX-120 - 10X optical zoom - no wide angle - $(US) 190-210 - 10mp
Sony W-350 - 4X optical zoom -26mm wide andgle - $(US) !90-210 - 14mp
Fiji F-70EXR - 10X optical zoom-28mm wide angle - $(US)- $(US) 180-200 - 10mp
Panasonic ZR-1 - 8X optical zoom-25mm wide angle - $(US) 210-230 - 12mp
Panasonic Zs-1 - 12X optical zoom - 25 mm wide angle - $(US) 190-210-10mp
Panasonic ZS-3 - 12X optical zoom - 25mm Wide angle - $(US) 235- 255-10mp


Clearly, the Sony H-20 with the best automatic mode and the best built-in flash unit in class, is the leader. It also does HD video and you can zoom while filming. It does ISO 800 easily, but does show some noise.

The Canon SX-120 is a good basic family camera, with an average flash, standard video and can do ISO 800, but you can see the noise creeping into the images. Standard video which is average.

The Sony W-350 is the newest camera in the group with the highest resolution. It does ISO 800 and 1600 with only a very small amount of noise. It has a 26mm wide angle. The standard video is only fair.

The Fuji F-70 EXR starts at a 28mm wide angle and goes to 280mm It does ISO 1600 with very good looking images, but it also has a rather extended learning curve, due to the EXR system imager. Standard/average video.

The Panasonic ZR-1 has 8X optical zoom, beginning at 25mm. It can do ISO 800 with ease, and ISO 1600 in a pinch. However the indoor image quality suffers due to a very small, and weak flash. Standard/Average video.

The Panasonic ZS-1 has 12X optical zoom, beginning at 25mm. It can do ISO 800 with ease, and ISO 1600 in a pinch showing averagenoise. However the indoor image quality suffers due to a very small, and weak flash. Standard/Average video.

The Panasonic ZS-3 has 12X optical zoom, beginning at 25mm. It can do ISO 800 with ease, and ISO 1600 in a pinch showing noise. However the indoor image quality suffers due to a very small, and weak flash. Very good HD video and you can zoom while filming.

You will notice that neither the Canon SX-120 nor the Sony H-20 have wide angle position on their zoom range. That may have an effect on your camera decision. Also please keep in mind that in the next 30 to 45 days lots of new cameras will be announced and/or introduced so that will have an effect on this list. For example, the ZR-1 will drop from the Panasonic line-up, and the Canon SX-200 may be replace, as will the Panasonic ZS-1 and ZS-3.

Have a great day.

Sarah Joyce

Last edited by mtclimber; Jan 27, 2010 at 8:48 PM.
mtclimber is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jan 28, 2010, 5:36 PM   #5
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 3
Default

Interesting. Thank you very much for the formatting advice.

I really like the option of manual controls (which would seem to rule out, or at least be limited with the ZR-1/ZS-1/ZS-3/F-70 EXR/W-350...not sure about the H20), so I think I'll stick with the sx120. The EXR system sounds like it would cause me more frustration than fun.

The pictures I took look much better on a computer. They are not exceptional, but good. Does the SX-200 differ much in that respect (image quality) from the SX-120, or are the differences mostly in having wide angle and HD video?
newcamsearch1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jan 28, 2010, 8:07 PM   #6
Senior Member
 
mtclimber's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Oregon, USA
Posts: 18,143
Default

newcamsearch1-

The Sony H-20 does have full manual as well as automatic controls. I my opinion, H-20 is a better camera than Canon SX-120.

Sarah Joyce
mtclimber is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jan 31, 2010, 1:30 PM   #7
Senior Member
 
mtclimber's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Oregon, USA
Posts: 18,143
Default

newcamsearch-

As I mentioned previously, the near $100 price niche has produced few full featured, quality cameras for aspiring beginner photographers, or family photographers on a tight budget. Canon has dominated this price niche with their A-1000 and A-1100 cameras priced at $120 to $130.

However, in my searching , I camera across a review that Steve did of the Samsung SL-420, which is now selling for around $110. The SL-420 camera got a good review and kudos for its image quality. It seems to compete quite well with the Canon A-1100, while offering a somewhat better quality image quality, it also offers a somewhat better feature set that includes a 5X optical zoom extending out to 175mm.

Have a great day.

Sarah Joyce
mtclimber is offline   Reply With Quote
 
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 1:57 AM.