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Old Jun 15, 2005, 6:08 PM   #1
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Having shot 35mm for 20 years, I am now looking at getting a compact digital camera to take everywhere in my pocket.

The two compact 35mm cameras I use as pocket cameras are my Contax T3 and Nikon 35Ti. Both have fixed 35mm lenses of high quality. But I often miss shots due to eyes being closed, etc that I wouldn't with the instant review of digital. So I thought I'd suppliment my larger film cameras (Nikon F4 for tough environments, and Contax G2 for friendly environments) with a compact digital camera.

I went to the photo store and asked "which is the best digital camera?" They said "Buy a Canon 20D - it is the best for under $3,000". That may well be true, but I'm not ready to replace my large film gear - I want a compact digital camera. Here they were less helpful - "they're all the same" or "whichever your hand fits nicely" or "serious digital cameras are SLRs" were the replies. I like Zeiss glass in 35mm, as I found with film it produces the best colors (I've shot a lot with Nikon, Canon. Leica, Contax/Zeiss over the years and unscientifically I personally IMHO find with 50mm lenses Zeiss has the best colors, Leica the best contrast between shadows, and Nikon was always the sharpest. Canon took great head and shoulder portraits, so it all depended on what look I wanted.) So I mentioned this to the camera store fellow, and he agreed with Zeiss glass giving the best colors in film, but saidwith digital it is more complicated, as with film the camera is just a box and everything depends on the lens glassquality/coatings, but in digital there are issues like processor, chip size, how each handles noise, etc. Just saying "It is Zeiss so the colors will be the best" is no longer true in the digital world (hence Kyocera's giving up on digital as their Contax/Zeiss advantage from 35mm days didn't translate into a digital advantage)

So I seek your advice. I will use the compact digital to replace my compact 35mm Contax T3 and Nikon 35Ti as what I carry around in my pocket. I use these for portraits of individuals and groups indoors and out, restaurant outing group shots, some street snaps, and as the digital has a zoom, perhaps some head and shoulder outdoor portraits. I do not want a compact digital camera that requires a tripod to get sharp shots (my T3 can take handheld no flash shots at 1/60 of a second that are sharp, and 1/30 are usually sharp enough) If I wanted to use a tripod I'd use my medium format camera. The point to me is shooting quickly handheld with a compact. I wouldn't use the 'movie mode'.

The Nikon 7900 felt really nice in the hand, and the macro mode took a sharp handheld shot of my wristwatch dial from 3 inches that was sharp. The P200 I was biased to like because it has a Zeiss lens, although the menu was more complicated than the Nikon's. The Canon S70 is a little larger, but my brother bought this camera and likes it, though he only posts photos online - he never makes paper prints.My output will be 4x6 and 8x10 prints done at the local photo lab, downloaded from the camera's memory card. Also the Panasonic FX7 with image stabilizer appealed, it had Leica glass and IS, but most reviews of that one I read said the image quality wasn't great compared to the Sony P200, Coolpix 7900 or Canon S70 models. So I narrowed it to those three cameras.

Should I enter the digital compact world, and with what camera, or am I better off staying with the 35mm compacts regarding print quality for another few years while digital continues to evolve and improve?

Thanks for your advice.:?
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Old Jun 15, 2005, 7:59 PM   #2
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Well, I'll be the first to admit that buying a digital camera can be very frustrating to say the least. Over the past couple of years, I have owned my share of digital cameras trying to find the "perfect pocket camera" (I use my Panasonic Z20 for "planned" photo ops). In fact, I have own the predecessors or "little brothers" of all three of the cameras you are interested in. I have owned a Canon S50 as well as Sony P150. I also bought and returned the Nikon 5900 due to white balance issues (I want to be able to shoot in AUTO).
In my opinion, the S70 is the best of the bunch meaning it's not the fastest (Sony) but it will consistently produce some of the best images (the processor I believe is Sony-made btw). Check out dpreview as well as this website for reviews. I would also go to pbase.com and do SEARCH by CAMERA...it really helped me to see Random Samples of Various Cameras. The Sony P150 would be my 2nd pick. I prefer it over the New P200 b/c it picks up more fine details. And don't forget the SONY W5/W7! It's bulkier than the P200 but in my mind, takes a sharper picture. Then there is the DSC-V3, their top-of-the-line SONY point-and-shoot and my personal favorite (and it might become yours too). If you like Sony cameras (as I do), you might want to post a similar question in the Sony Forum on this website. They are a Great Bunch of Guys! You can even address "cybershotnut" directly - he owns like 50 Sony digital cameras (no joke) and is VERY knowledgeable!

Finally, I would go to your local Wolf/Ritz Camera which will allow you to try the camera for 10 days (my local one will extend that period upon request) without charging a hefty restocking fee. They typically cost $50 more per camera than some online retailers but keep in mind that most of them will hit you with a restock/return shipping fee so it all can add up very quickly. As for online retailers, I prefer Dell as they often have Sales (right now the S70 is less than $400 with $70 Off coupon code)and they have never charged me a restock or shipping fee which is Rare. If you need the Coupon Code, send me a PM.

One Last Word of Advice- The Digital Photo World is still developing but it has made many advancements (just in the last 3 mths alone!) that I think you will be doing yourself an injustice if you don't take the Plunge:-)
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Old Aug 14, 2005, 5:06 PM   #3
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Do you still have the Dell coupon code? When is it good until?

Thanks,
Scott
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Old Aug 14, 2005, 8:17 PM   #4
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Dell's coupon code constantly changes...check ******************* or fatwallet.com for most recent ones....I believe they are having another big camera sale.
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