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Old Apr 12, 2010, 10:25 AM   #1
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Default Ultra compact recomendation

My wife's birthday is in mid-June and I'd like to buy her an ultra-compact. We (she, really) have a Nikon D5000 DSLR, but we want something small for outings. We have two kids 4&1 who aren't known for sitting still, so something with minimal lag/start up is ideal. I would guess it would be a mix of indoor and outdoor events (big help, huh?) with more in than out (60/40?). Its going to be used for snapshots of the kids, no landscapes or anything like that.

I am not super price sensitive. I could spend $500, but I am more comfortable in the 2-300 range. This is for pictures moreso than video (we have a flip).

I am just starting my search, so suggestions are welcome.
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Old Apr 12, 2010, 12:04 PM   #2
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Welcome to the Forum. We're delighted that you dropped by.

On the high end of your budget, is the Canon S-90, mid budget you have the Sony HX5, and at the lower end of your budget you have the Panasonic ZR-1. All three are good and I have added note on each below.

Canon S-90: This is Canon premium small camera. It is credit card size and about 5/8" thick. The S-90 has a high ISO capability, but a short zoom.

Sony HX5: This camera is only slightly larger than the S-90, offering 10X optical zoom, a high ISO capability of up to 1600, plus HD video, and you can zoom while filming. The only downside to the ZR1 is that its built-in flash unit is very small and weak. That adversely affects indoor image quality. However, the remedy is simple add an accessory Slave Flash Unit cost $15 to $20.

Panasonic ZR1: This camera is a bit smaller than the S-90, has 8X optical zoom, and does standard video. And yes, you can zoom while filming. The only downside is that the ZR1 has a very tiny and weak built-in flash unit that adversely affect indoor image quality. The remedy is simple:add an accessory flash costing $15 to $20.

Sarah Joyce

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Old Apr 12, 2010, 1:17 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtclimber View Post
sesq-
...
Canon S-90: This is Canon premium small camera. It is credit card size and about 5/8" thick....
These are giant cameras. Casio makes ultra-compacts that may be worth looking at. I have the S12 model from last year but it is no longer in production. Their EX-FS5 and EX-FS10 models are teeny tiny. Don't expect very good low-light usage tho. The best thing is they are so small and light that you can carry them even in a shirt pocket.
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Old Apr 12, 2010, 4:29 PM   #4
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Thanks Sarah Joyce and Frank.

I have seen a few different measurements of the S-90. I think it must be the retractable lens. I saw one saying it was 2" deep, which is kind of bulky. I pulled up the website and got these measurements - Dimensions (WxHxD)
3.94 x 2.30 x 1.22 in./100.0 x 58.4 x 30.9mm
Weight
Approx. 6.17 oz./175g (camera body only)
That's maybe a bit more portly than front pocket, but not out of the question.

I was thinking small-small, like the old Pentax Optio-S's that would fit in an Altoids tin. A friend of mine said the little optios got downgraded in quality, so I wasn't looking their way. Of course that was a while ago. . .

I'll add the Casios to the list with the Sony and Panasonics.

Thanks, Dave
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Old Apr 12, 2010, 7:10 PM   #5
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If price is the name of the game, there is the Samsung SL-420 with 5X optical zoom and 12mp selling for around $110, which is quite small. However, the LCD screen (it has no optical view finder) is not the best. The Canon SD-1200 is very small and it does have an optical view finder. Price is around $150.00.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Apr 12, 2010, 7:34 PM   #6
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I bet the OP wants HD movies with zoom and focus during.

Personally, altho I rate the Canon brand higher than Casio, the need to use Canon s/w to get the pics off the camera puts me off. he fact that Casio use a proprietary connector puts me off too. Maybe I'll find a P&S ulta-compact with mass storage and mini-USB one day. I'll be ready for a new one in 2012.
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Old Apr 12, 2010, 7:37 PM   #7
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Frank-

I find using a card reader to be a very easy and inexpensive method of downloading photos from any camera.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Apr 12, 2010, 8:03 PM   #8
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I would have a look at the Sony Tx7, I have seen good results from this cam, and it quite small with its tiny periscope style lens with sliding cover.
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Old Apr 13, 2010, 7:31 AM   #9
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Thanks for the additional input.

I didn't know Canon needed proprietary software. I agree that is annoying. Maybe worse than the proprietary memory cards since it is a re-occurring nuisance.

I don't care about video, HD or otherwise. We like still photography better. In my initial searches I am liking the Sony's and Panasonic's so far. Although their latest models seemed all dolled up with GPS which I don't care about and worry what it will do to battery lives. Some one was saying Sony did a better job of handling low-light with small sensors. I need to keep reading on that. I can get Panasonic's direct through them at a reduced prices (usually their new stuff gets priced at the end of season price), but we don't buy camera's that often, so its not about the money. If Sony or Toshiba or whomever is the better product, that is what we will get.
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Old Apr 13, 2010, 9:45 AM   #10
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The bottom line is simply this: with a $200 to $300 proposed budget, your choice is going to be pretty limited. It appears that your are looking for very good image quality and a range of updated features, but excluding HD or standard video, GPS, Compass and the like.

How about:

Zoom, how much?
Wide Angle?
Ability to use high ISO settings, while getting good Image Quality?
Micro 4/3rds?

Those features all add to the proposed budget. In today's fast emerging camera market for example in the compact zoom class without GPS and Compass, you have only one choice, the Canon SX-210, and that is priced at $349. We have reached a point where you will soon have to accept things like GPS and Compass, just to get the other features that you want.

Sarah Joyce
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