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Author Topic: New compact camera needed  (Read 7329 times)

whoRya

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New compact camera needed
« on: November 04, 2010 »

All right I need a new compact digital camera since I 'donated' my last one to the Causeway Coastal Walk.

I'm not a photographer, I've no intention of becoming one and can't be bothered (at the moment) learning how to mess about with pictures on the computer.  That said I wouldn't mind continuing to capture a bit of life on 'film' and it would be nice if the quality was decent enough. 

I've only owned one digital camera before and it was about 5 years old and only 4.0(I think) megapixels.  I'm guessing that most entry level cameras are in excess of 8.0 megapixels so I ought to see better pictures with most new cameras due to the advancement of technology if nothing else.

Bearing in mind I lost my last one I'm not thinking of spending a whole heap.  I'm not in the same market as some of you guys who are looking for a wee pocket camera for the hills but are looking at wee pocket cameras for £400!  I'd have thought about £200 quid was my upper limit.

Any tips for my search? 
- What sites do you find useful for reviews? 
- Which shops are best to look in?  Buying online is always best (cheapest) once you've picked the camera you want?
-  Any dos or dont's with makes e.g. are there some you pay for the brand or are some terrible and only exist so certain companies have a product coverage over all electrical items?
- Any recommendations for models?  Is there a watershed where you get into reasonable quality?

I realise this topic to the photography section is like a trip review of that mound at Corr's Corner to the routes section, but any help would be appreciated.  I need to get a camera sorted for Christmas for the"aww look at her wee face" type-memories.
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suspectmonkey

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Re: New compact camera needed
« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2010 »

Quote
- What sites do you find useful for reviews?


For reviews I tend to check DP Review.  Their reviews tend to be well structured and meticulous.  Sometimes they can be a bit too in depth, so often I skip straight to the "Conclusion" and then work backwards if it looks good.  Also, they usually supply plenty of sample images to help make up your own mind.
 
Quote
- Which shops are best to look in?  Buying online is always best (cheapest) once you've picked the camera you want?

I would always, were possible, try and get "hands on" with a camera before buying it.  Jessops usually keep a good range with batteries charged so you can get a feel for them and try them out in the shop.  One of the most important things is to get a camera that feels right in your hand.  Being able to hold the camera steady will result in much better image quality than any lens can offer.  Once you've found one you like then its a good idea to check the price online.  I've bought cameras from Jessops and Calumet locally, but I've also bought from a website called Warehouse Express in the past.  Amazon, as ever, is usually the lowest on price.
 
Quote
-  Any dos or dont's with makes e.g. are there some you pay for the brand or are some terrible and only exist so certain companies have a product coverage over all electrical items?

You can't really go wrong if you buy a camera from a brand such as Canon, Nikon, Panasonic, Olympus, Sony etc.  The camera market is extremely competitive so most of the electronic manufacturers make a big effort to make credible cameras.  As far as digital goes I've used Canon, Panasonic and Sony and never had any complaints with their cameras.
 
Quote
- Any recommendations for models?  Is there a watershed where you get into reasonable quality?

There are a lot of cameras between the £100-200 bracket, and a lot of very good ones at that too, so its very hard to single one out.  Personally if I had to buy a camera from this price bracket I'd go for a Panasonic TZ8.  It has an extremely versatile zoom range, image stabilisation, good display and is a nice size.  Amazon are currently selling it for £175, and Jessops have them in stock if you want to go have a play with one.  DP Review recently did a good review of "travel zoom" cameras which includes both the TZ8 and its bigger brother, the TZ10.  Its worth reading if you are interested.  If the Panasonic isn't your cuppa tea, or you don't feel you need something with that kinda zoom range, then the Canon IXUS range is hard to fault.   

Quote
I realise this topic to the photography section is like a trip review of that mound at Corr's Corner to the routes section, but any help would be appreciated.  I need to get a camera sorted for Christmas for the"aww look at her wee face" type-memories.

Face Detection on modern digital cameras is fab for just those type of photos :)

Hope this helps!  Let us know how you get on or if you have any more questions!
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LandyLiam

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Re: New compact camera needed
« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2010 »

I'm also in the market for a new camera, sub £100 though as i keep breaking them  :'(

This one has caught my eye at half price (now £80)

Pamasonic F3
12megapixel, 4xOptical zoom, up to 6 frames per second, Li-ion battery

http://www.argos.co.uk/static/Product/partNumber/5594171.htm


Some of my best pics where with my ancient 2megapixel Olympus, it was quite large so easy to hold steady, i've since had fuji, nikon & olympus small ones and have to take a few pics of each scene and hope one comes out good. Also had vivitar and samsung, yeugh  >:(
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Scribble

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Re: New compact camera needed
« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2010 »

Good thread as Santa asked me what I would like and a new camera was what I asked but I have no idea what to go for ,

Suspect another detailed response so thanks for that Makes things a lot easier when someone gets straight to point without all the jargon
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whoRya

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Re: New compact camera needed
« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2010 »

That's a fantastic response SM, your effort is appreciated.

Liam, remind me never to ask you to take a picture using my camera, that is some scrapyard you have going on there!  You have made me slightly concerned however about whether I can handle a camera that costs near £200.  As implied earlier, I am more likely to have the camera close to hand and take a quick pic rather than have it stored securely and 'set up' a shot.

I'm trying to find some criteria to judge cameras against.  I understand that optical zoom>digital zoom, but just how important is the optical zoom?  To give an example, the Lumix TZ8 (earlier mentioned) has a few contempories (sp?) around the same price but some of the specs are quite different:

Lumix TZ8  12 x optical zoom   12.1 MP
Ixus 210    5 x optical zoom  14.1 MP
Sony W380 5 x optical zoom  14.1 MP
Olympus mju 7040  7 x optical zoom 14.0 MP

The 12 x optical zoom sticks out obviously.

I take your points about the camera being comfortable to handle and also I suppose the operating system/layout etc. matters also.  It certainly sounds like in the price range discussed I am unlikely to be disappointed with the picture quality.  I must get in somewhere and have a quick mess about with some. 

Ok, the sign language guy is on the box so I better wise-up and get to bed......Doesn't Julia Bradbury have a cracking job!     
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VMCC

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Re: New compact camera needed
« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2010 »

I was lucky enough to be able to compare practically the same photograph with my friend, we were both at a gig which has it's own challenges with low lighting conditions etc. We were standing side by side and both took a photo at the same time, and stuck them on myspace which gave me the opportunity to compare them directly. Her camera is a panasonic lumix, mine a sony cybershot. Both took good pictures but her lumix had the edge over mine, better clarity and contrast.

My camera got dusted in sand recently at a beach - it's having a few niggles unsurprisingly so when I buy a new one it'll be the panasonic lumix.

I wouldn't necessarily want the biggest megapixel camera though because a) human eye's are only so good and anything above a certain megapixel is pretty much wasted for the casual user and b) the photo's take up too much room on the computer.

LandyLiam

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Re: New compact camera needed
« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2010 »

Quote
Liam, remind me never to ask you to take a picture using my camera,

Just don't ask me to hold it, never managed to break one taking a pic, just when (trying) to hold one  >:(


I was using an Olympus X-15, and my wife has an X-42, very similar cameras, but one was better in daylight and the other better at night (both using same settings)  ???
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suspectmonkey

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Re: New compact camera needed
« Reply #7 on: November 05, 2010 »

I'm trying to find some criteria to judge cameras against.  I understand that optical zoom>digital zoom, but just how important is the optical zoom?  To give an example, the Lumix TZ8 (earlier mentioned) has a few contempories (sp?) around the same price but some of the specs are quite different

When it comes to zoom, optical zoom is all that matters.  Optical zoom is the actual physical zoom range of the lens, therefore the camera retains good image quality whether you are using it at the wide end (landscapes etc.) or the telephoto end (portraits, nature etc.).  Digital zoom effectively zooms into the image further, a bit like zooming in on a digital photo on your computer, but this causes pretty serious loss of image quality.

A 12x optical zoom is extremely versatile as you can take a huge variety of different photos.  For example, you could be shooting a wide angle photo of a mountain range one moment, to shooting a close-up of a bird in flight the next.  That said, the two compacts I posted about in the other thread (the S95 and the LX5) only sport a 3.8x optical zoom, but it all comes down to what you want to use it for.  Personally I'm looking a compact to take landscape photos in the hills so zoom range is low on my list of priorities.

As for the megapixels, I wouldn't read too much into them either.  Camera manufacturers have unfairly used megapixels as a way to lure in consumers, as from a consumer point of view its very easy to (falsely) equate more megapixels to better quality.  For example, if I go back to the two compacts I've been looking at, the S95 and the LX5, they are both 10 megapixel cameras.  Both of these are Canon and Panasonics flagship compact cameras, and they have less megapixels than cameras costing half the price.  A quality lens is much, much more important than the megapixel count.  Thats why I'm always keen to stick to Panasonic compact cameras as they use Leica lenses which are some of the best on the market.

Unfortunately that doesn't give you much help to choosing one camera over the other, but it means you can focus (hehe) on picking a camera that feels nice to hold, has the features you want and is at the price you want without worrying about a megapixel here or there :)
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chris

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Re: New compact camera needed
« Reply #8 on: November 07, 2010 »

I wouldn't get too hung up on megapixles. On a compact point and shoot, less is actually more! It gets quite complicated to explain but basically sensors are a fixed size and if you try to cram to much on too them you actually loose quality! So a lot of times the likes of a camera with 8mp although perhaps a lesser camera on paper, takes a sharper picture than a 12mp camera with a jam packed sensor! (the cannon powershots are a perfect example the G10 was around 12mp but the G11 is 10mp yet produces better quality)
Also no matter how good your sensor is you will always get poor quality images if your lens is crap.
If I were you I would look at the powershots (go for a g9) which you can get pick up (on ebay) for under £200 in mint condition with loads of little extras.
Or slightly over budget (not by much tho) a leica digilux 3.
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suspectmonkey

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Re: New compact camera needed
« Reply #9 on: November 07, 2010 »

If I were you I would look at the powershots (go for a g9) which you can get pick up (on ebay) for under £200 in mint condition with loads of little extras.  Or slightly over budget (not by much tho) a leica digilux 3.

Fair point, I never thought about suggesting the used market.  A Canon G9 would be a great buy, although if you want something a bit more pocket-able then the Canon S90 is a similar camera in a smaller package.  I'd save the money on the Leica and buy a Panasonic LX3 though, bound to be some great new and used deals on that camera with the LX5 being out now :)
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whoRya

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Re: New compact camera needed
« Reply #10 on: November 07, 2010 »

Guys, once again thanks very much for your input.  It will be really useful and is much appreciated.  I'm really short of time so this information is gold.
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whoRya

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Re: New compact camera needed
« Reply #11 on: December 21, 2010 »

Just thought I'd post by way of follow-up and say I plumped for a Panasonic Lumix TZ8 in the end.

I went to Jessops but didn't come out much clearer.  Sometimes you are happy to browse in a shop without an ethusiastic sales person bugging you, other times you want a bit of advice or even opinion and not a whole lot is offered.  I got the latter.

My friend has a TZ10 so I had the chance to mess about with it.  I reckoned if he had a TZ10 then it probably had some show-off features that I didn't need ;D

I haven't had a chance to use it much, first impression though is that the first time it is dropped I'm going to be picking it up in bits.  The casing seems a bit like modern crappy plastic most things are made of nowadays.

Just to get a case for it now.
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