Monday, December 11, 2006

Which point and shoot camera do I recommend?

I received a comment in my previous post and I quote:
Anonymous said...

assalamualaikum..nak tanya. sy tgh survey compact digicam (nak beli SLR belum mampu kot). Agak2 which one yang bagus utk dpt effect yg lebih kurg SLR yek? saya suka macro.setakat ni hanya tgk canon and nikon.

Which roughly translates as follows:
I don't have the money to buy a DSLR but I'm looking to buy a point and shoot digital camera which has SLR qualities, which should I buy? I'm interested in macro and I'm particularly interested in Canon and Nikon cameras.
Well Anonymous, I think you've come to the right place to ask about digital cameras. Sit down and make yourself a cup of tea because this may take a while. I originally intended to write this in the comments box, but since I think it'd be far too long, I'm writing it as a blog post.

Features I recommend in these cameras are:
  1. Image Stabilisation or Vibration Reduction, which utilises small motors to counteract camera shake - thus minimising blur in handheld images.
  2. Manual controls; the ability to set aperture, shutter speed for full creative control. Manual controls are one of the features of a DSLR, but could be found in some high-end compact cameras (such as the ones to follow).
  3. Compatibility with conversion lenses. Conversion lenses are attachments you could fix on threads found on the front end of your camera to change the zoom lengths. For example, by adding a macro attachment you could add magnification for better macro photos. There are also wide angle attachments and telephoto attachments.
In terms of of point and shoot cameras, I suggest going for Canon. Specifically, these brands:

Canon Powershot S3 IS £270

Get this camera for:
  • Best battery life in its class. It accepts four alkaline batteries, which are cheaper than proprietary rechargeable batteries. Also, if you run out of batteries, you could just pop into your local shop and buy some more, which you cannot do if you have proprietary rechargeables.
  • Zoom of 36-432mm. With this camera you would be able to take really telescopic pictures and the zoom of this camera is the best compared to all the other cameras you see in this meta-review. The long zoom is the main selling point of this camera. To complement this zoom range, you also get;
  • Image stabilisation. With image stabilisation, the chances of getting blurred photos because of camera shake is reduced and it is an extremely useful feature to have especially at the 400mm of zoom!
  • Rotating LCD is another feature of this camera not found in other cameras in this meta-review. Basically, the LCD screen swivels outwards and increases the flexibility of viewing. For example, to take a photo of yourself just swivel the LCD until you could see yourself in it. Quite a good feature to have.
  • The ability to attach optional conversion lenses.
Weaknesses:
  • "Only" 6 mega pixels. Actually, in my opinion 6 megapixels is quite enough. However, please note that in terms of megapixels, this camera has one of the lowest in this meta-review.
  • Only a 2inch LCD which is okay and adequate, but smaller than the 2.5 inch ones in the cameras mentioned below.
Canon Powershot A710IS £ 220

Get this camera for:
  • The price, it is only GBP 188 on Froogle.co.uk.
  • 7.1 megapixels.
  • 2.5 inch LCD - biggest in this test group. A big LCD screen means more viewing room to compose your shots.
  • Image stabilisation
  • fast startup of 1.2 seconds.
  • Full manual mode for creative control.
  • Zoom of 35-210mm, not as good as the Canon Powershot S3 featured above, but above average and better than Nikon's range.
  • Ability to attach optional conversion lenses.
  • Uses normal AA batteries.
  • Good for macro, with focusing distance of 1cm.

Canon Powershot G7 GBP 308.90

Get this camera for:
  • This camera is TOP of the range of the Powershot series so it has the best features.
  • Image stabilisation
  • Face recognition
  • 2.5 inch LCD with anti glare coating
  • Able to reach ISO 1600, the highest in this test group. ISO represents the sensitivity of the sensors. A high ISO would mean that you could take pictures in darker environments. However, high ISOs also mean that the pictures would look grainier.
  • Ability to add external flash - no other cameras in this test group has this feature.
  • Zoom of 35-210mm, which is very good.
Weakness:
  • Expensive. For the same price, you could almost get a DSLR for example a Nikon D50 or Nikon D40, which costs just GBP50 more expensive.
Canon Ixus 800 IS £ 220

Get this camera for:
  • The main reason to get this camera is that it is one of the most compact and stylish camera in this test group. The body is made of metal. It looks beautiful.
  • Image stabilisation.
  • Has rechargeable batteries, if you can't be bothered to buy AA bateries.
Weaknesses:
  • Zoom range of "only" 23-140mm which is actually good enough, but could not be compared to the long zooms of the cameras above.
  • "Only" 6 megapixels though I think this is enough.
  • No manual controls - this is the main weakness of this camera. Without manual controls, you cannot set aperture size or shutter speed. However, this doesn't matter if you only intend to capture pictures in full automatic mode (yuck!)
  • Not compatible with conversion lenses .
Nikon Coolpix P4 £163
Main features:
  • 8 megapixels - above average compared to other cameras in this test comparison.
  • Image stabilisation (called "vibration reduction" or VR)
  • 2.5 inch LCD - nice and big for composing your shots.
  • Zoom range of 36-126mm
Weaknesses:
  • Zoom range of 36-126mm is the weakest in this test group.
  • It has aperture priority and shutter priority modes which is good, but no full manual mode.
  • Not compatible with conversion lenses.
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So in my opinion, the best camera in this test group is the Canon Powershot A710 IS. It has the very best features for around GBP 200, which include:
  • long zoom range up to 210mm
  • Image stabilisation
  • Compatible with conversion lenses
  • 7 megapixels
  • 2.5 inch LCD screen
  • good for macro with a focusing distance of 1cm.
Reviews of the A710 IS here:
1. Trusted Reviews.
2. Digital Camera Resource Page.
3. Sample photos from the A710 here.

PS
  1. Anyone else care to recommend any other good point-and-shoot or compact cameras?
  2. All prices here are based on Amazon.co.uk
  3. Pictures are from Digical Camera Resource Page. By clicking on the titles on each cameras you could actually go to DCRP and read the full review on the excellent page.
  4. I'm sorry that except for the Canon Ixus 800 IS, all the cameras here seem bulky an unattractive. That's because I tend to go for features, image quality and price rather than looks of the camera.
  5. I hope you find this helpful Anonymous.

13 comments:

dith said...

I know nothing of the above but on a TV add there's this P&S that has all the ANTI qualities, antiblur, antishake, etc...I would like that very much!

REally, I just hate posing for a cameramen who takes ages to focus his SLR. By the time he decides to click the button, I've lost my smile and blink my eye against his flash!

Btw, why must that person comment as anonymous?

ezdy said...

Excellent write up. I get asked similar questions too and I'd recommend Canon Powershot G6 essentially because I've personally used it. So I agree with your suggestion on G7 ;).
p/s ~ I hope you won't mind if I direct anyone who asked to your entry ni ya :).

ikelah said...

dith
i would like to have my point n shoot to have anti eye blinking. i found that some of my subjects like to blink their eyes if they look straight into the lens.

another interesting feature is anti make face. i guess a swivel LCD as is S3 would minimize this. taking ac candid with a tele end may also help but not for group photo. if the camera makers have othe ingenious ways to prevent subject from controlling his/her face while waiting for the shutter release it would be excellent.

mynn
nice guidelines. olympus have nice point and shoot. their mid range is in fact better than nikon and canon. the setback is that their menu is not that friendly.

sony have all tha antis' but get the one with carl zeiss lens.

rule of thumb, get the one with a huge lens. ;)

moby said...

Hey, that 1st camera looks very familiar! Hehe!! ;)

Just like to add another selling point for the PS S3 IS. It's macro function allows focusing as close as 0cm, ie. you can practically put the lens ON the subject. Not advisable for food photos, though! Wouldn't want to get vapour or yummy bbq sauce on the lens, would we? :D

Johar said...

Canon tetap pilihan hati..

ajzie said...

Makin confuse saya kenapa id saya bertukar jadi 'johar'. Log in as ajzie tp keluar johar pula!

Rosli Othman said...

excellent review muh! canon would hire you anytime as a salesman :D Canon Rule!!

Anonymous said...

thank u so much bro!!! really appreciate it!!

mynn said...

dith
other features I would like to see are auto-make-up, auto acne removal, and auto beautify :) i wonder why he/she signed as anonymous, probably not familiar with Blogger.

Ezdy
the G6, i read has fantastic features and a fast lens. Unfortunately the G7 has a slower lens, but many of the features from the G6 are upgraded. Some people say that some pros carry the G6/7 as a DSLR back-up. It's one of the closest camera you could get to a dslr (except for being able to change lenses of course)

ikelah
thanks for your feedback on other brands of compact cameras - unfortunately i didn't do any research on other brands as Anonymous asked to narrow the search to canon and nikon, but i agree Olympus and Sony could produce very nice pictures. my brother has an olympus and I used to own a sony. Rosli, what do you think of a sony compact? you have one right?

moby
i actually know you use a canon S3, i should have included that fact in the write up.

hehehe somehow moby, you having an extremely long telezoom* doesn't surprise me at all. i have to warn your neighbours!!!

(*err, no double meaning intended.)

ajzie
actually for DSLRs, many people seem to use Nikons :) bear that in mind if you decide to make the jump to a DSLR.

rosli
hahaha, canon - if you're listening and would like to pay me i'd be more than happy to accept :D um by the way rosli, ada tinggal charger for your 30D ke kat rumah ni?

anonymous
pleasure!

arep said...

wahaa..good info utk org yg nak quality DSLR...canon ler bes :P

Rosli Othman said...

Oh nooo..i left my charger muh! do you mind posting it to me?? I'll pay you the postal charge..please.. TQ

Anonymous said...

Hi,
Though Canon s3 is will be my choice, but its interesting to note "Canon Powershot G7 GBP".

Check this link -
http://www.steves-digicams.com/best_cameras.html

If going for non-SLR, check the section under "10-12X Optical "Super" Zoom".

Regards,
Nayan

mynn said...

Nayan
hey, thanks for the link to steves-digicams.com. I particularly checked out the super optical zoom section and pleased to find sony cameras with long optical zoom and image stabilisation too -definitely worth checking out.

rosli
dah post hari ni

arep
hehehe fotografi UK canon kelab.