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Old Mar 28, 2010, 8:44 PM   #1
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Default Compact/Ultracompact P&S for Auto Show

I've found myself in a rare position: I'm in the market for a camera and, despite all of my years of experience, have no idea what to choose. That's because all of my cameras are DSLRs or advanced semi-compacts with lots of manual controls and fairly large sensors (1/1.6 and up).

But, for the first time in a very long time, I'm in the market for a pocketable (as in shirt pocket) point-and-shoot. I plan on taking this to the New York International Auto Show next weekend. My brother, his wife and my three-year-old nephew will be joining me and I've suddenly realized I won't have the time or space for one of my better cameras and the images I'd be taking won't be critical. They'll be fun. What's more, I'm discovering this kind of camera would be useful to me far more frequently than I would have thought a few years ago.

So I'm looking for, as I said, a shirt-pocketable camera that will zoom from fairly wide (30mm or wider) to a telephoto point in the vicinity of 120-140mm (more is always welcome but not truly necessary).

Viewfinder? Sure. That would be lovely. But I think we all know one would have to look very hard and long for that these days. So, instead, I'm being more realistic and I'm looking for a robust LCD viewfinder (AMOLED or not) with fairly high resolution and contrast that might hold up to outdoor use in sunlight.

Because of the role this camera will play - not just at the auto show but in the future - full manual controls are not really necessary. I have plenty of cameras that can give me that. If the camera I'm looking for gives me manual control options, fantastic. But I could be satisfied with a solid range of RELIABLE intelligent auto and scene modes.

I would like a lens that offers f/2.8 or faster at its widest aperture. But I could compromise a bit if the camera actually delivers decent results in lower light or at, say, ISO 400.

I must admit, despite spotty reviews in the past, some of the new Samsung compacts have gotten my attention because of their form factor. But are the newer Samsung compacts any better in terms of image quality? There aren't a lot of trustworthy reviews about Samsungs out there. Perhaps some of our regulars own them?

Outside of Samsung, I tend to be drawn to Panasonic Lumix cameras in this class. I know that Canon's SD series is also very solid - if a bit boring.

Oh yes... price. I could go up to $300 if necessary - but are there any under-appreciated gems in this category for $200 or less? Mind you - I have realistic expectations about what cameras in this class can offer. I do not expect anything close to DSLR image quality. But I am looking for something with realistically solid IQ.

I plan to make my decision very quickly - by midweek. Because I work in New York City, I can pick up a camera at Adorama or J&R without trouble. B&H is closed for Passover this week. I could also order from Amazon.com with next-day delivery.

So... what say Steve's Best and Brightest? What's the best compact or ultracompact P&S camera these days?
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Old Mar 28, 2010, 8:59 PM   #2
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Canon S90, the javitz has horrible lighting. 2.8 may not be fast enough, you may need 2.0. It will give you the best low light ability form any shirt size camera. And it is a bit more advance then most point and shoots.
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Old Mar 28, 2010, 9:55 PM   #3
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Biro-

Sony HX5 - excellent high ISO capabilities
Samsung TL320 - great LCD, but less high ISO capabilities

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Old Mar 28, 2010, 9:59 PM   #4
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for the low light of most auto-shows.


The S90 would be a terrific choice, and given you experience with dslr and high end bridge cameras, you would appreciate the manual controls that can be operated by the front and rear wheels as well as the ability to shoot raw.


the HX5 could be another good option if you want more zoom, or its sister model the Tx7 if you are looking for smaller = better.
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Old Mar 28, 2010, 10:02 PM   #5
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the sony would be a good choice also, not as good as the s90, but since the op is planning to get it a bh, they are currently out of stock as of today. So I would not be banking on it, but they may get it in by wednesday.
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Old Mar 28, 2010, 10:55 PM   #6
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The Canon S90 would be a tight fit in a shirt pocket but I would have to agree that it's a good choice.
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Old Mar 29, 2010, 12:33 PM   #7
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Biro,

Bad news on the BH thing, they are close the rest of the for passover, your best NYC option in J and R as adorama is also close for passover.
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