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Old Feb 8, 2011, 3:42 PM   #1
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Default Best Automatic Point and Shoot under $500?

We had a Fuji F70EXR camera we were reasonably happy with, but it recently quit working. Thankfully, I already had a Panasonic DMC-TS2 I bought for taking pictures on vacation (snorkeling and whatnot). The TS2 seemed to take better pictures than the F70EXR did, especially in low light (i.e. shots of the Christmas tree or other indoor photos), so we had started using it before the F70EXR died.

The TS2 is OK, but many photos seem to have a bluish tint to them, maybe because of the flash? My wife recently took a bunch of photos at a retirement party and most were horrible quality. The flash was basically useless in the large room of people so the pictures were all dark and grainy. So, I am looking for a newer camera with better image quality, especially in low light, but still good for outdoor scenery.

We are unlikely to use anything other than the automatic or scene modes of any camera. We just don't have the patience, knowledge, or desire to mess with manual controls in most situations.

I have been looking at the DMC-LX5, but most reviews I see appear to be from photography folks who are interested in the manual controls. I would like to see some sample shots of how it performs in various lighting conditions in fully automatic modes.

The one LX5 weakness for us is the lack of an automatic lens cap. I am somewhat used to a detachable cap on my camcorder, but am not sure how my wife would take to a loose cap on our camera.

My priorities in order of importance:

1. Picture quality
2. Good in low light and outdoor scenery.
3. 4x or better OPTICAL zoom
4. SD card compatible
5. Under $500

Recommendations?
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Old Feb 8, 2011, 3:53 PM   #2
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olympus xz1
4x zoom
larger sensor for low light and picture quality
big aperture lens for low light
SD card
At 500 dollars.
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Old Feb 8, 2011, 5:32 PM   #3
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For OOC (out-of-camera) JPEGS, I would go for the Canon S95 or the Olympus XZ-1. Keep in mind the XZ-1 is considerably larger than the S95, but it retains a wider aperture throughout the focal range, meaning you can zoom in low light and still get a good shot. The S95 (which I own) is a great cam but you really have to shoot at full wide in low light as the aperture closes down quickly as you zoom (less light gets in).

The LX5 is a great cam and the main reason why I recommend the other 2 above it is because Canon and Olympus generally have better OOC color.
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Old Feb 8, 2011, 9:58 PM   #4
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Is the Olympus XZ-1 available yet?

I am currently looking at the LX5 and the S95...I've been waiting for the XZ-1, but I didn't think it was out yet.
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Old Feb 8, 2011, 10:09 PM   #5
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They are in limited supply now, not allot but you can find it.
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Old Feb 9, 2011, 10:20 AM   #6
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What about the Nikon P300? It seems to offer better zoom (4.2x), better video (1080), at a lower cost ($329)?

Again, I'm mostly interested in Automatic point and shoot performance, not a bunch of manual controls.
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Old Feb 9, 2011, 1:53 PM   #7
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the nikon is not practically good in low light, compare to the olympus xz1 or the canon s95. It still has a much smaller sensor then the olympus xz1 or the canon s95. So while is boast a f1.8-4.9 lens, it is only marginally better then other smaller sensor point and shoots.
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Old Feb 9, 2011, 3:06 PM   #8
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Shoturtle,

I ran across the spec for the smaller sensor size in the P300 shortly after I posted my message. That's a shame, it sounded nice otherwise. At this point the XZ-1 is looking to be my best option, even if it's not really widely available yet.

I did notice that I can get an Olympus E-PL1 for less than the XZ-1 so I am curious what advantages that might offer? Obviously the camera and lens combination is larger, not really something you stick in your coat pocket. I see the sensor size is much larger on the E-PL1, but to be honest I don't really know what that translates to in real life other than capturing more detail?

I have never used anything but a point and shoot camera, so I'm curious how you zoom in and out on the E-PL1? I don't see a zoom lever or anything, and I don't see any zoom ratings (i.e. 4x) like you see on the point and shoots. So, I don't know what any of that means.

Would the XZ-1 or E-PL1 offer better results in low light, with or without the flash?

I want good quality, but the camera needs to be easy enough for my wife to grab and snap pictures easily on full auto. I don't mind learning a new gadget, but she just wants to take decent pictures easily.

I often see sample pictures for various cameras, but these are almost always taken by professionals who know how to get the most out of a camera. I want to see "real life" samples taken by your average soccer mom on full automatic in less than ideal lighting. In home pics of the kids, large conference rooms full of people, random pictures in the yard, etc. In other words, not the typical artsy studio shots I usually see. We don't take many closeup pictures of rusty chains, butterflies against blurry backgrounds, brick walls, or that sort of thing.

I mean, I can probably pick through hundreds of photos from my current camera, and find several "pro" quality keepers we achieved simply by accident. While I realize no technology can make up for inexperience, I would like to increase our "keeper" ratio. We have far too many dark, grainy, blurry, or off color photos.

Does the XZ-1 use a snap on lens cap, or is it automatic?

Does the XZ-1 include the camera rotation angle in the EXIF data?

Can the XZ-1 be set to lower resolutions like 5 megapixels? We almost never have prints made of our photos, and are highly unlikely to get anything larger than an 8x10 (typically a 4x6). I find the 5-6 Megapixel range gives us decent print quality, while letting us fit more pictures on a card while on vacations and whatnot. It also reduces the storage and backup requirements on my computer.
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Old Feb 9, 2011, 3:24 PM   #9
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I have an epl-1, and with the pancake lens form either olympus or panasonic. I actually carry it around in my coat pocket. It is really not that large.

But the big thing between the xz1 and epl-1 is the ability to change up lenses and much higher image quality especially in low light. The Epl-1 uses a dslr sensor form the olympus dslr. So you are getting dslr quality images.

With the much larger sensor, you get better 1600iso preformance. 1600iso on a xz1 will not match 1600iso on a epl-1 or epl-2.

But the epl-1 was design around the idea that season dslr user and point and shooters. So the layout switchable between the two. I never shoot in scene mode, or iauto modes. But with more traditional dslr user modes like manual, av and tv mode for great control. But with the iauto, scene modes and creative art filters, it is a simple system for a point and shoot user to use.

The xz1 has rotational sensor, so it corrects the photos. The epl-1/2 dose not.

I am not sure about the cap, but I think it is manual if I remember correctly.
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Old Feb 9, 2011, 3:29 PM   #10
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Here are some recent photos I took on holiday with the epl-1.
First 2 were with a fast prime lens, the 3 was with a zoom at high iso of 1250. All low light shots.
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