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Old Jul 8, 2006, 10:21 PM   #1
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I'm a professional pilot and I've already got way too much to carry while I'm on the road for 2+ weeks at a time, so ultra-compact is what I'm looking for.

I've only owned one digital camera in my life…it's a Kodak DC4800 and I've never been happy with the picture quality. 9 out of 10 close-ups are out of focus and everything seems quite grainy.

I've started to look around and have narrowed my search (though by no means finalized my search) to the Casio EX-Z600, the Canon SD600 and the Olympus Stylus 720 SW. I'd like to stay below $400 and in the 5-7 MP range.

I have some concerns about each. The Casio and Olympus do not have an optical viewfinder…only the LCD screen. I've had one or two people recommend that I stay away from cameras w/o and optical viewfinder. How big of a deal is this?

The Olympus is attractive because it is supposedly quite durable, which is a plus since I'll always have it stuffed in my backpack, etc.

The Casio is said to have outstanding battery life, but it also has a docking station. I'd like to have to pack as little as possible while on the road.

I don't have too much to say about the Sony other than I've read some positive reviews.

So, based on the above criteria, which is the best choice? Or are there others that I'm overlooking?

TIA.

Tipsy
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Old Jul 9, 2006, 7:28 AM   #2
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I have a Canon Ixus 40, but there are newer/better ones out now I believe (such as the one you've mentioned), but I couldn't praise it more, it's been fantastic.

Size/looks are excellent and the picture quality has been great too. Mine is 4mp, my girlfriend has a similar camera, only it's a Casio something with about 6mp but the pictures dont seem to be as good as on the Canon.

User interface has been great too, it's been easier to play in manual mode which I've grown into as using Auto for a while. Much easier to alter settings and such quickly too compared to similar cameras friends of mine have.
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Old Jul 9, 2006, 12:04 PM   #3
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Tipsy-

Is this camera going to be primarily a point and shoot snapshoter, or are you wanting to get more serious with your photography? Canon will do very will in the P&S snapshotter category with the elph/ixus line.

If you want a camera with a bit more, but still withing your specs, take a look at either the Fuji F-10 or F-30. If you want more zoom range take a look atb the Canon S-2 IS or the Panasonic TZ-1.

We are seeing more and more cameras with no optical viewfinder today. It is a fact of life as long as we are clammoring for bigger and bigger LCD screens.Most can get used to it.

MT
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Old Jul 9, 2006, 1:09 PM   #4
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Hey MTClimber…thanks for the response. Yes, this will be primarily point and shoot. I'm just looking for something compact to carry so I can take some quality photos of all the cool places I visit around the world.

But by no means am I an expert photographer. Just looking for something that'll take good pictures that I can toss in my shirt pocket.

Tipsy

mtclimber wrote:
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Tipsy-

Is this camera going to be primarily a point and shoot snapshoter, or are you wanting to get more serious with your photography? Canon will do very will in the P&S snapshotter category with the elph/ixus line.

If you want a camera with a bit more, but still withing your specs, take a look at either the Fuji F-10 or F-30. If you want more zoom range take a look atb the Canon S-2 IS or the Panasonic TZ-1.

We are seeing more and more cameras with no optical viewfinder today. It is a fact of life as long as we are clammoring for bigger and bigger LCD screens.Most can get used to it.

MT
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Old Jul 9, 2006, 2:37 PM   #5
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Tipsy-

Then the Canon SD series, the Canon A-610 and A-620 and cameras such as the Panasonic FX01 and the TZ-1 might be the perfect answer for you. They are all highly rated.

BTW, what airplane are you flying?

MT (retired B-747 Capt)
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Old Jul 9, 2006, 2:40 PM   #6
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Just to put it out there-

As you said, "I want something I can throw in my shirt pocket", then that will narrow your options down a bit, if we are being realistic. I mean sure you can shove something in it but placing it in without it being annying is another thing...

I will say check out the Canon Powershot SD700IS elph. It is very, very small, with excellent picture quality, and many features. I can't just "recommend" it or not, since I have not personally used it, I am only throwing that option your way. It is slightly more than your price range, but if you like it the best then it may be worth it. It's retail is about 500- but thats in best buy and rip off places like that lol- check out online prices as I have seen it in the very low $400s.

Also what might be an important factor to you, which you may have not thought of, is wheter it has a rechargable battery or not- refering to basically if it has its own battery or if it takes AA (since AA's can be recharged technically). AA's will probably be your best choice if you are traveling/flying alot, since you won't have to worry about carrying around a charger and also in-flight you can switch out batteries if need be.

Good luck man, I too am in the search for a digital camera!
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Old Jul 9, 2006, 4:54 PM   #7
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I won't own a camera without an eyelevel viewfinder. The best LCDs are problematic in bright sunlight and you can acquire and follow a moving target a lot better with an eyelevel finder. You also get a steadier hold. There are plenty of small cameras out there with optical viewfinders. If you want more than around 4X zoom in a small camera there isn't much choice though.

Battery power is sufficient anymore so that battery life with proprietary batteries isn't a problem. My Casio Z750 will fill a 1 Gb card with plenty of power left over and that has become almost the norm. You can pick up a good aftermarket spare for $20 online, and every one I have bought has been as competent as the factory battery. The great thing about lithium batteries is that you can throw a charged spare in your bag and it is still nearly fully charged whenever you need it. Self-discharge rate is about 2%/month after the first day.

Cameras with AA batteries are necessarily bulkier and heavier than their counterparts with proprietary lithium batteries. NiMH batteries have a high discharge rate and you have to keep track of cycling them. I have cameras with both types and find the proprietary batteries much easier to live with.

The cradle with my Z750 is a little smaller than my Maha charger and just a little larger than my Sanyo charger. I doubt you would find you have to carry the charger at all, but the cradles aren't any more hassle than chargers for AA batteries. Unless you plan on buying a storage device or carry a laptop with you to store the images, a single proprietary battery is good for hundreds of photos and a $20 spare would extend your range to around the world unless you take a lot of photos and buy lots of memory.

Some cameras not yet mentioned you might add to your considerations:

Casio Z850. Lots of nifty features in a tiny camera with an optical finder.

Sony T9. Very small with stabilization and much better than average noise at ISO400. The combination should give good versatility. No optical finder though. The T30 is a little larger and pricier but has a stronger flash and larger LCD.

Panasonic FX01. Stabilized with a wide angle Leica zoom lens. No optical finder.

MT I was a 747 captain also. Unfortunately the plane retired at my airline before I did and I elected to fly out my career in the long range 767.


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Old Jul 9, 2006, 5:22 PM   #8
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Okay…thanks for the added food-for-thought. I think I'll look for one with an optical viewfinder.

I have given the batteries some thought. That is why the Casio seemed attractive. It reportedly lasts forever on a single charge. I do carry a laptop as well (Skype is an amazing thing when you're calling the US from Asia) so I would be able to download my photos when I'm on the road.

But as I said, between my laptop, running shoes, MP3, Skype headset, etc, I've already got too much to carry. I want this camera to be small so I won't make excuses about bringing it on the road.

MT…I fly the 757-200 and 767-300 for a global package delivery company. We currently have 747 classics, but they are a declining fleet. The 747-400 is on the way as is the A380 (if it ever gets certified).

Tipsy

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Old Aug 1, 2006, 3:45 PM   #9
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Slipe,

Do you have any knowledge of continuous problems with Casios lcd screen not working or cracking? I have read several of these stories over last 6 mos. My son has 750, loved it, took great photos, then it stopped workingafter less than1yr and they wanted as much to fix it as he paid (almost). He looked around and didn't find one he liked better and got another for under $300. But I have been reluctant to buy one and think all who do, should have small case with lcd protection.
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Old Aug 1, 2006, 7:04 PM   #10
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jq-

Unfortunately I have seen recent reports of cracked LCD's on Casio, HP, and Canon digital cameras. I honestly don't think it is just isolated to Casio. A good case is the best insurance.

MT
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