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Old Aug 10, 2005, 12:51 PM   #1
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How do these cameras measure up against each other in terms of sheer image quality/resolution? Low light ability? Ease of use? I'd like to purchase a pocket P&S for everyday use, and I don't care about manual controls. Image quality is of primary importance: excellent color, sharpness, detail, etc. Ditto for movie mode. I guess I am also asking users for their opinion about the best 5-7 megapixel ultracompact camera available right now. Thanks.
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Old Aug 10, 2005, 2:48 PM   #2
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Justinian wrote:
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How do these cameras measure up against each other in terms of sheer image quality/resolution? Low light ability? Ease of use? I'd like to purchase a pocket P&S for everyday use, and I don't care about manual controls. Image quality is of primary importance: excellent color, sharpness, detail, etc. Ditto for movie mode. I guess I am also asking users for their opinion about the best 5-7 megapixel ultracompact camera available right now. Thanks.
They are all great cameras. This all depends on what you want to go for. Canons are known for great image quality, and they do indeed have it. However I've heard quite enough of problems with LCD screens on these SD series Canons. Casio Z750 is a GREAT little cam, great image quality, awesome movie mode, but read on "lens error" on all the boards before making that decision. Kodak v550 in my oppinion was a winner, as I looked at these cameras myself. Great image quality, lens, built, awesome movie mode with anti-shake DSP and MPEG-4 which means you can fit way more than Canon (Casio one has MPEG-4 movie too), but lack of manual controls (which I didn't need, I wanted a simple point and shoot I can take anywhere on the go, besides the presets can handle most of different conditions).There are SOME manual controls on it, but once again I decided I don't really need it on this cam. I've been taking pictures heavily for almost a month now, and totally happy with quality and outcome of both pics and videos. You can also optically zoom in during video on Kodak, which does create a weird buzzing sound in the video, but I can take it, I rarely zoom in in video anyway. Casio Z750 does have manual controls, which is why I almost boughtit at first, but I don't want to dish out $400.00 for something that might possibly have some problems, ESPECIALLY with lens, although there are work arounds and solutions to it out there, but it still bugs me to take some type of risk like that, and then remember to switch camera to a different mode every time so the lens doesn't extend. I excluded Canon out of my list because of lack of scene modes, LCD problems (they crack easily apparently), and just all around, something didn't put my heart to it.

I don't know you probably want to take a look at Panasonic DMC-FX8,9 as well, that probably does the best with pics in this category, Leica lens, optical image stabilization, but an allright movie mode, slightly more expensive. I'd also look into Olympus 800, all weather package with full manual controls, great movie mode, and a lot of cool features. I decided against it because it's a bit thicker than I was looking for.

Hope it helps somewhat?
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Old Aug 10, 2005, 3:17 PM   #3
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Yes, c0mrade, that does help, and I agree with you about the Casio. After reading kenwood.com's incredibly awesome review about the Z750, I was about to buy it. Then I started reading about all these "lens error" problems and I just do not want to risk it. For that kind of money, I do not think a consumer should have to worry about settings and other stuff like that, just so a lens error doesn't occur. Casio better fix that defect.

As for the Canon SD500, I also read about the LCD cracking, but it does not appear to be as common a problem as first thought. One can always place a LCD protector screen over it too. As for no scene modes, that bothers me too. So I guess you would just have to shoot in Auto mode all the time and hope for good photos?

On to the Kodak v550, I am excited about this model, but I read Steve's review that in movie mode there is a problem with compression of files. Have you experienced that? What about graininess of video images? The other issue for this model is battery life. How many shots are you getting on one charge?

OK, Panasonic FX8, FX9 or Oly 800: I would have loved to check these out but none of them have an optical viewfinder and I just cannot live without one. I am totally used to one and it helps me to have greater control over the camera, and therefore more stability when focusing and therefore fewer blurry shots.

So, since there is no such thing as the perfect ultracompact, I will have to mull these facts over in my mind and make a decision. Any other models you know about that are worth the $$$? Thanks again.
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Old Aug 10, 2005, 4:08 PM   #4
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Justinian wrote:
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On to the Kodak v550, I am excited about this model, but I read Steve's review that in movie mode there is a problem with compression of files. Have you experienced that? What about graininess of video images? The other issue for this model is battery life. How many shots are you getting on one charge?
If you're refering to the following paragraph:
Quote:
The V550's movie mode suffers from aggressive compression. At 640x480 and 30fps, the V550's movies consume about 500-kilobytes per second, efficient from a memory perspective, but the resulting moving images have a very noticeable graininess caused by compression artifacts. While you can use the optical zoom during movie recording, the audio track will contain some very unusual noises of the zoom mechanism at work; it's best to compose your movie before, not during recording. Unique to the V550 is its saving of a still image index of every recorded movie. And in review mode you can create a still image from any frame of the movie.


That compression is standard on all the Mpeg-4 compressed videos. The thing about it, Mpeg-4IS highlycompressed format, which allows you to record longer movies sacrificing a LITTLE quality, but that is not even visable to human eye. Grainness artifacts are direct result of that compression, but Kodak doesn't have it as bad as Casio S500 or Casio Z750 do (at least by comparing what Casio presented as samples vs. my own). I'm completely happy with movie mode on this camera. The anti-shake DSP helps a lot, and works really interesting. Ability to optically zoom in during videos is so far unique, except Samsung Digimax i5, which doesn't have optical viewfinder that's so important to you. The thing about it my friend is at 640X480 movies @ 30fps you simply wont see the difference yourself, or if you will you'll need to closely compare. If you want some awesome movie mode then you probably should buy a digicamcorder, for an ultra-compact I think this Kodak has the best featured movie mode. I personally was looking for ability to record more, which is why I chose this camera.

As to battery life, it's average, and for sure not Casio, but it does run in the middle of the pack with the rest. This weekend I ran experiment. Fully charged, using LCD all the time, experimenting with modes, took 150 or so pics and only then the battery sign came on the screen, which means you got slightly less than half still left. So, all the "official" stats are really very very safe numbers. Also, if you do use viewfinder so much instead of LCD, the battery life on this camera is way above average (if you read the review on imaging-resource) it runs up high with other cams out there. The thing about this camera is that LCD is AWESOME, all angles viewable with huge (270k) resolution, bright and performs awesome in both bright light and darker conditions, and this is where you sacrifice having that to battery life.

The bottom line is that there is just simply no perfect digicam, this industry is like automobiles, they create something almost perfect, but will always be missing one or two features you'll be missing. Kodak V550 came REALLY close to everything I looked for (last thing it didn't mean was manual controls, but then again, if I wanted manual controls for this buy I'd get a DSLR of some sort)
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Old Aug 12, 2005, 12:11 AM   #5
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I can say the Casio EX-S500 is worth it. I've had it for about a week. I really like mine. I had a Z750 and lens error problems. I returned that and bought this.

Superb little camera. I put together some sample images and wrote up a little review.

http://www.redhouseon7th.com/reviews/s500/

I am just a snapshot shooter. This is the perfect camera for me. The size, the images, everything is just right.

Give it a read and see what you think.

-Mike
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Old Aug 12, 2005, 11:22 AM   #6
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According to dcresource.com the picture quality for S500 is just not there, but then again I'd wait for another oppinion to really say this for sure. I did compare the pics against my Kodak v550, and definately liked Kodak pics better, I DO like a bit over saturated colors, and the pics were way sharp and way less noisey.
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