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Old Jun 10, 2012, 4:36 PM   #1
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Default best budget low-light compact camera today?

I'm looking for a compact camera, 250-300$ budget max, that can shoot not-so-bad pictures and video in low light condition, indoor.

In order of importance:
1 - good quality photo good AUTOFOCUS in low light condition
2 - HD video with optical stabilization & zoom
3 - average or good battery life
Don't care too much about zoom and resolution.

Canon Elph 300HS? Nikon P300 ? Canon SX240? Panasonic ZS15? Samsung DV300F?

I have an old Nikon L20 and a Fuji JX250.
I use L20 because the JX250 simply has a very bad autofocus in low light, indoor conditions, 2/3 of the pictures are out of focus. The L20 has better pictures and less focus problems, but video only 640x and no optical stabilization.

And ... ok, no, I can't afford the Nikon 1 V1 or the Canon S100, I must choose something cheaper

Last edited by tcake; Jun 10, 2012 at 6:23 PM.
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Old Jun 10, 2012, 5:47 PM   #2
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i'm not familiar with any camera with fast autofocus in low light, and while some are better than others, your budget knocks out the ones that do okay - and they still don't do well enough for a sport that involves fast motion and a ball that's moving. even a dslr requires a better lens than the kit lenses they come with to catch fast action and low light.
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Old Jun 11, 2012, 5:09 PM   #3
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"not so bad pictures and video in low light..." is subjective- and as such one persons opinion might not be that of another...!
The Nikon P300 is a nicely put together compact- and ideal for someone used to using manual exposure control. The fast f/1.8 lens should help indoors to get some more light in and it shoots HD vid's,with use of the optical zoom and has a lens based image stabiliser.
The Elph 300HS's lens isn't as fast as the Nikon (f/2.7 at the wide end as opposed to f/1.8) but in my opinion,the Canon's sensor handles higher iso's better- so maybe a draw here...!
The SX240 is obviously a more versatile all rounder- not least due to it's zoom- a good 12mp sensor with pretty good higher iso noise control- arguably a class leader in that regard...
The ZS15 is again,a versatile all rounder and generally Panasonic's tend to have the best AF systems- though low light might stretch things a bit- there is one slight fly in the Panny's ointment though- only mono audio on the video soundtrack...!

The IXUS 300HS was a useful little compact- and if it's still available (might be cheaper now..?) would be worth a look...
http://www.trustedreviews.com/Canon-...-Camera_review
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Old Jun 11, 2012, 9:13 PM   #4
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THe IXUS 300 is the SD4000 (in the US) if I'm correct. And as such, I have the camera and agree--it's very useful. (Many negative reviews on amazon, etc. refer to blurry pics. It is slow to focus, but holding the shutter half-way effectively solves that problem.)

One other thing: if price is a primary concern (as it was for me), consider buying refurbished. I bought mine refurbished from Canon (I think it important to make sure it's "manufacturer refurbished"), and it has performed exactly like a new camera. In fact, mine seemed utterly blemish-free when I got it.
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Old Jun 12, 2012, 12:43 AM   #5
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roaddawg31, how could i forget the sd4000? after reading your post, i borrowed my husband's, and you know what? it does a very good job. at f/2, it did shots in my dark apartment with only a 40 watt bulb, and most looked good. i only tried one video, and while it was grainy, that part of the room was so dark that other cameras have done much, much worse.
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Old Jun 12, 2012, 1:56 AM   #6
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Another vote for the SD4000. With care, it does very well in low light. I'll post if you wish.
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Old Jun 12, 2012, 8:38 AM   #7
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Hi all -- love the thoughtful recommendations found here.
I'm helping a friend replace her Nikon Coolpix L12 since that camera annoys her to no end, especially with slow shot-to-shot times using flash at night indoors, poor low light photo quality, and generally mediocre image quality no matter the venue. She's got to have a camera similar in size though I've encouraged her to try out a Canon S95 or S100 (they're close and under consideration but she wants to know if something ultra-compact can satisfy her needs).

She's a novice and will rely on a camera's "intelligent" auto 99% of the time. She's insisting if the camera is too big she will not take it along with her to her events (where she wants to get group photos just to view on her PC, post to FB, etc. -- she's seldom, if ever, going to print photos). I've explained the "fast lens" "large sensor" advantages (which for size is either of the Canons mentioned). She saw some pics I posted to FB I took years back with my Fuji F10 (and I punched up the vivid color settings on) -- she wants that pop (and she will NEVER do anything with the .JPEGS except put 'em on her PC, so RAW is a no need).

I read up on that SD4000 but compared to the S95 images itseems less detailed/less color saturation. But for $230 new, today, still (!), it might be the best option. I'm telling her to try out a Sony DSC-WX150 (newer BSI CMOS sensor that until this model only came on 4 or 5 other models costing as much as $499 (list).

Zoom greater than 3x would be nice but not important, 28mm wide angle and better a must have. Being able to set highest ISO that the camera can use is a must. Must be able to set ISO manually also (yeah, I will teach her to use these options in addition to auto for key events).

What other contenders are there? I'm running out of hours to research! Thanks!

Really I'm trying to convince her to wait on the Sony RX100 but that is pushing her size/weight limit nearly out of contention. Plus I don't think she wants to spend more than an S100 price.
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Old Jun 13, 2012, 4:50 PM   #8
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Yes, low-light was one of my big wishes, and the SD4000 does it better than most. I've seen S95 pics, and I agree that they look better. But at a cost significantly more, I balked. Also, with regard to Canon cameras--I recently "hacked" mine, installing CHDK onto it. It's given me second life, in terms of enthusiasm.
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