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Camera help

I want to buy a new camera and I'm looking for some help.

Here's the general specs:


  1. I want something small. If it's clunky and heavy I probably won't bother.

  2. I don't care about a lot of fancy settings or effects. I'd rather just upload them to my computer and adjust the lighting via PS.

  3. Image quality is really important to me. I've been reading a lot of reviews where some people complain about really 'noisy' or grainy pictures which tends to scare me away from the camera.

  4. Optical zoom and image stabilization would be nice but wouldn't make/break my decision

  5. I do not want to have to take out the batteries to recharge them


ETA: Right now I'm looking at the Canon PowerShot A-series. Saving some links for my own reference.

A570IS 7.1MP - $133.00

Can anyone help?
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A friend has Sony CyberShot

Here's what she said, "I like it a lot... takes good vid... there's a bunch of options for taking outside/inside/twilight pics.... it has a really good optical zoom.. and fits in a pocket..."
She has the red one with the Carl Ziess lens.
Personally, I've always preferred the image quality of Nikon cameras. But that's a very personal taste.

I've had a Coolpix 3200, and I currently have a Coolpix S500, and I've always been very pleased with both.
The S500 is pocket sized, has a good point-and-shoot program with vibration reduction turned on as standard, plus a useful range of preprogrammed settings. I use landscape =a lot=, and macro, beach (I'm still in the tropics), sunset and backlight get a fair bit of usage as well.
You can still adjust things in point-and-shoot mode, such as flash (0f course) and ISO, which goes up to 2000.

It does have a separate battery, which you have to charge in a separate charging thingie, but it runs on SD cards, which I also use in my PDA and DSLR, which is one of many reasons that I didn't go for Sony.
It's a sturdy little camera, the battery and USB cable compartments don't just open, and all the buttons are in the right place.

In my (limited) experience, the traditional camera making brands (Nikon, Canon, Pentax) make their cameras with the main focus of getting you nice pictures. They put nice lenses on their cameras and they pay attention to how the image is compressed. The traditional chip making companies (Sony, Casio, Samsung, Panasonic) are more focussed on fast image transfer, useful menus and all the extra trinkets, rather than actual image quality.
Sony is =definitely= catching up on those counts though, as is Panasonic.

Whatever you do, stay away from Olympus. I have an Olympus that I use for underwater photography, and it does the job decently. However, the autofocus is =very= slow (I can't use flash under water, because that makes it even slower), and writing the photo to the xD card once it's taken is even slower.
Plus something in the compression makes the photos I take on shore grainy and washed out compared to my Nikon S500 and Pentax DSLR.
Maybe they've improved over the past 3 years, and the cameras with SD cards as opposed to xD cards should do a lot faster writing images, but all in all I haven't been very impressed at all..

Also, my Olympus has a similar form factor to the Canon Powershot, mainly because it also runs on 2 penlight batteries.
This thing is NOT nice to carry around in your pocket. If you want =real= pocket-sized, you may have to give up on the powered-by-penlight wish :-)
I bought the Nikon S500, because I got sick and tired of carrying the Olympus SP-350 around. A Canon Ixus model is much more portable, as is the Sony Cybershot that Lola mentioned.

Last but not least, I've always found this website very helpful for comparing cameras. It has professional (not for all cameras) and user reviews, the first usually with tons of images showing you just what kind of quality images you'll get.

I'll stop harassing you now ;-)

ETA: fixed a link *facepalms*

Edited at 2008-03-16 07:50 am (UTC)
Also *facepalms*, cos I forgot that Canon Ixus is the European model name. In the US, these models are known as Powershot SD, of which chiroho has one :-)
The Powershot A models run on penlights and aren't exactly as pocket sized as you'd like.
The Powershot SD models are wonderfully small & pocket sized, but run on batteries that need a recharge once every several hundred shots.
I tend to agree with Stef - if you want better image quality then you need to buy a camera made by one of the traditional camera companies. The lenses, and hence the picture quality, are MUCH better.

Personally I have a Canon PowerShot SD1000 which is an awesome little camera, takes high resolution images (7.1 Megapixels), and is very light and easy to carry around. Unfortunately, you would need to remove the battery to charge it, which does eliminate one of your criteria. On the plus side, I've used the camera for nearly two weeks on a trip without having to charge the battery, taking two or three hundred shots while on the trip, many requiring flash.

I'd definitely recommend the Canon Powershot SD1000 as a camera, and in fact the only cameras I've ever owned have been Canon. I just like the cameras.

Edited at 2008-03-17 02:10 pm (UTC)