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Old Nov 15, 2010, 5:45 PM   #1
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Default Need to replace my Canon SD890IS

I've loved the Canon SD890IS for a pocketable everyday camera, but I've gone through 3 of them. The first got the stuck lens syndrome, where it couldn't open and close the lens assembly. It was replaced after only 2 weeks of use under warranty. The 2nd was replaced after one month of use when the camera could no longer focus. This past weekend, the 3rd one stopped focusing properly and it's probably no longer under warranty.

I don't know why I put up with it as long as I did, but it was the best I found that fit the bill of being pocketable, 5x optical zoom, very usable burst mode, and even come close to the picture quality in unflashed indoor pictures (for a pocket camera). I also liked that it had some kind of a viewfinder so I didn't have to hold the camera way out from my eyes in order to compose a picture.

It seems there are no longer pocketable cameras with viewfinders, but here are the other things I'm hoping for in my next pocketable everyday camera.

* under 1" thick x 2-1/4" high x 3-3/4" wide.
* quick power on to ready condition.
* good burst mode.
* very good unflashed indoor image quality (kids, pets, sports).
* wide angle (28mm).
* 4x optical zoom minimum - prefer 5x or higher.
* quick and easy playback of recent captures - quickly zoom and pan to see subject details like redeye, etc.
* 720p video - preferably live optical zoom, but must have live digital zoom minimum (post-processing this too much work).
* quick change from photo to video mode.
* not expected, but it would be sweet if this could all be had without a protruding lens.

Any ideas what I should look at?

Last edited by nwtim; Nov 15, 2010 at 5:50 PM.
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Old Nov 15, 2010, 6:04 PM   #2
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I am not sure how fast of a burst mode you want, but if you want full resolution burst faster than ~4 fps, then you would probably need to get a CMOS-based camera. No one makes a pocket cam with a CMOS sensor larger than 1/2.33" though so you will lose the "unflashed indoor image quality." Now shooting moving objects indoors is going to be a major challenge for a pocket cam so you're going to have to accept the fact that indoor, unflashed shot of moving objects are very unlikely to ever turn out well.

Under 1" thick I don't think you can have your "very good unflashed indoor image quality" at all since there are only a handful of camera that fit this criteria and the only one that even might be thin enough for you is the S95, which does not have a good burst mode, optical zoom in video or a dedicated video button (have to use the control dial).

The bottom line is that you're going to have to compromise on some of these things.
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Old Nov 15, 2010, 6:38 PM   #3
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I figured I'd have to trade off some "wants" if I'm going to get my "must haves", but I didn't know if I understood the current crop of cameras well enough to make that determination.

The burst mode is not critical - just something I enjoyed using with the SD890IS. Anything at 3 fps or greater would be great.

For video, I don't think I need a dedicated video button, as I'm comfortable using the mode dial to switch to video - I just like to be able to do it without looking at the screen to see if it's in that mode. As for the live zoom, optical is gravy. I'm used to the digital zoom of the SD890IS which saves me a lot of post-processing work.

The new Canon SD4000IS for $300 looks interesting. Are there some other cameras that would compare favorably considering my wish list?
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Old Nov 22, 2010, 3:56 PM   #4
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I've been trying the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS6 I picked up at Costco. I'd love the ZS6 if my primary purpose was having a pocketable (somewhat) digicam that could double as a HD camcorder. Unfortunately, it just doesn't seem as intuitive as my Canon digicams have been and I can't seem to get the same quality point, frame, and shoot pictures I'm used to getting with the SD890IS.

I took a couple unflashed handheld pictures with the SD890IS and the ZS6 that indicates the kind of picture interested in being able to take with my next pocketable camera.

The first two pictures are from the SD890IS. The top image is the original photo resized to 1024 x 768 for posting. The bottom image is a 1024 x 768 pixel-for-pixel crop of the original photo. I don't have the ZS6 photo with me, so I'll have to try to add that tonight. In any case, these first images are representative of what I'm hoping to be able to capture on a true point-and-shoot basis.
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Old Nov 22, 2010, 4:08 PM   #5
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I see that the Canon PowerShot SX210 IS has a big zoom like the ZS6. It's also physically about the same size. Anybody have an opinion of how it would compare when it comes to capturing these non-flashed handheld photos?
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Old Nov 22, 2010, 9:40 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nwtim View Post
I see that the Canon PowerShot SX210 IS has a big zoom like the ZS6. It's also physically about the same size. Anybody have an opinion of how it would compare when it comes to capturing these non-flashed handheld photos?
Marginally better but still poor due to the combination of the tiny sensor and the lens. For handheld low light shots without flash, a Canon S95 would be the best choice as it has a sensor that is roughly 40% larger and a brighter lens. If you want something better than the ZS6 and SX210 in low light but not quite up to the S95 level, check out the Canon SD4000. It still has the tiny sensor but it has a brighter lens than the SX210, ZS6, etc.
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Old Nov 23, 2010, 2:47 PM   #7
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It seems pretty clear that there are no pocketable digicams with a big zoom that also take great unflashed indoor pictures.

I want a good indoor shot, but when I'm honest about it a majority of my photos are outdoor shots. In reality, I don't mind trading a little of that image quality for a decent zoom as long as I have the ability to grab shots from indoor sports - even if it takes capturing frames from a video.

With that said, another local Costco (not the one I got the ZS6 from) has the Nikon Coolpix S8100 for $260 that I almost bought last night.

How will the S8100 stack up against the ZS6 for indoor shots?

Being that they're both about the same price, in what ways might the S8100 be better than the ZS6? Would the Canon PowerShot SX210 IS be superior to either of them in other ways?

Thanks!
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Old Nov 23, 2010, 7:55 PM   #8
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If these are the two cameras you are interested in, it's pretty easy to try one from Amazon risk free. They even pay return shipping. (just make sure it's Amazon proper, and not a marketplace seller)
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Old Nov 23, 2010, 10:17 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Under_rock View Post
If these are the two cameras you are interested in, it's pretty easy to try one from Amazon risk free. They even pay return shipping. (just make sure it's Amazon proper, and not a marketplace seller)
I yet don't feel that I've narrowed things down enough to open up many packages if there's a high likelihood of return. I'm still trying to get a feel for how to prioritize various attributes.

For example, I'm seeing sensor size characterized as a significant driver of image quality. At the same time, I have a camera that I've been extremely happy with that has a 1/2.3" sensor, and that's no bigger than the sensors on many of the big zoom cameras I'm looking at.

Another thing is trying to better understand the differences between CMOS and CCD sensors and how they factor into a camera's attributes.

Being such a Canon fan, I really like certain aspects of the S95 or the smaller SD4000-IS (f2.0 aperture), but I'm even wondering if I should consider the zoomier SD4500-IS as a slightly more compact alternative to the Panasonic ZS6 or Nikon S8100.
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