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pcake Jun 10, 2012 7:32 PM

smallish camera to carry around
i'm looking for a carry around camera that i can find a sturdy case for that will fit in my backpack when i'm running errands. budget - preferred $200 or less, can go to $350 for the right camera or maybe a pinch more.

* photo quality to be at least good for a small sensor digicam
- not noisier images than average
- noise reduction that doesn't remove or smear all detail at ISO 800
* at least 5x zoom (more is better)
* stabilization
* accurate auto focus (doesn't have to be speedy)
* at least some control - prefer full PASM, but will settle
* lighter than my G3 with 14-45 lens, or at least no heavier (wrist issues)
* decent video quality, ability to use optical zoom during vids
+ preferred but not essential - EVF, 10 or more times zoom, any manual control over video, some external controls would be nice but if they're in the menus, i'll make do.

i've owned the canon sx230, which i sold. i'm thinking i should have maybe hung onto it. it didn't always focus quite as well as i wanted it to, but i'm beginning to realize it did well in most of my other areas.

i am considering the elph 300, as it seems to have very decent image quality as far as i can tell. zoom is minimum for my needs, no control over shutter speed for those rough lighting situations, but otherwise sounds okay.

also considered the gf3 or pen mini, although a protruding lens will make them less carryable (even if that's not a word).

tried one of the bargain e-pl1 cameras from cameta, but i find it too big and boxy (less ergonomic than my gf1), and the IBIS isn't very effective even when set to distance. my stabilized panasonic lenses don't seem to work as well on the e-pl1 as on the gf1, either - have more misses than with any other camera i've ever owned, but that could be partly ergonomics for my particular hand.

and i'm very open to input and grateful for suggestions!

SIMON40 Jun 11, 2012 4:26 PM

If you can bear the loss of manual controls,maybe consider this handsome little fella...

Interestingly- manual control seems to be the preserve of top line expensive compacts (P7100/G12/XZ-1/LX-5...etc) or travel zoom compacts ( "TZ" Panny's or Canon's SX compact range). Whilst the SX's tend to lead in IQ, I think the Panny's have them beat in all other departments. Speed,AF speed and accuracy,build quality,layout...etc...

pcake Jun 11, 2012 7:48 PM

that's the 530 in the u.s., i think. i was noticing its earlier version, the 510, which seems better liked. haven't looked in depth into why that is yet. some people don't care for their touch screen, so i hope to run into one or both models in person at fry's.

the lack of full manual control or at least control over shutter speed is what makes me hold back on the elphs. my husband is going to loan me his sd4000 (it's an elph with a short zoom and fast lens) to carry around tomorrow and see how i like the size/controls.

we've often ended up with panasonics because both my husband and i like their menus and they tend to offer more controls and advanced features. they also often also tend to offer higher noise, and i'd prefer not to deal with too much noise from a jpg-only carry around camera, although i realize in a smaller camera some noise is a fact of life. i guess that's why it's so hard to decide on a camera at this level. it's easier for larger, more expensive cameras - the small ones require a lot more compromises.

SIMON40 Jun 12, 2012 3:14 AM

What I would say- is whilst the Panny's tend to have slightly more noise/grain (mainly only noticeable when zoomed in....) they seem to be great in every other department- and given that a bit of noise can be cleaned up with a decent editing program,their pro's definitely outweigh their con's- plus on many of the TZ's,there is a noise reduction/sharpness adjustment which can have quite an impact on noise levels straight out of the camera...

pcake Jun 25, 2012 2:05 AM

so i tried the canon elph 510. pic quality was okay, but there seemed to be some shutter lag, enough to miss things i could catch with other point and shoots. too bad, as it was a comfortable, fun little camera. no shutter speed or aperture control also caused some minor issues. i did get some great pics of things that weren't moving at all.

i returned the 510 and picked up a panasonic zs20. great to shoot with, liked the controls and the size, but i sure didn't like the purple fringing - lots of it, and at ISO over 400, the camera didn't have slightly more grain - it had lots more grain that you didn't need to view the pics at a large size; you could see the grain on the monitor. it also had trouble focusing on the kinds of closeups i like to shoot - not macros, which it focused very well, but closeups. the rest of the time, it focused very nicely, and the touch focus mostly worked a treat. but these pics are almost as grainy as my husband's old FZ30, and the purple pretty bad.

so back to square one. for now, for a carry everywhere camera i can use my husband's elph, an sd4000 which focuses well and way faster than the 510, but has only 3.8x zoom. funny people say it's slow to focus, 'cause compared to a lot of other smaller cameras, it was pretty zippy.

hopefully samy's will give me a refund or store credit, so i could use some more suggestions. i'm fine with the same amount of noise in the images one would get from the sx230 or the elph 510. i want stabilization, at least 5x zoom, PASM if possible, reasonable ca (the sx230 was okay with me), little shutter lag the 230 was fine), decent ISO 800 and usable ISO 1600 - oh, and i'd like to zoom during video. don't care about battery life, time it takes to start up, filters, stereo mic, . i don't use GPS or WIFI, although i don't mind if it's there as long as i can turn it off.

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