Saturday, December 31, 2005

SWM seeks DC

[Update: I've moved this to the top of the list to keep it in view, because I really would like to get as many opinions as possible. Thanks to all who have commented, especially to Henri-V for the link to the DPReview site, which is a treasure and a must-see for anyone considering a new camera. The results of your comments (and reading DPReview) have been to confuse my mind and expand my list. Sony appears to be having real quality-control problems with the DSC-H1, they have been withdrawn from the Chinese market. The Canon PowerShot A610 now sounds like a real winner, small and light and it can focus down to 1cm in macro mode! The fact that I can get it for 231 Euros via my dealer connections is also not insignificant.]

Dear Internets, I want to ask your advice on a matter of great unimportance.

My digital camera died in mysterious circumstances in Heidelberg on the weekend of the first tango lesson (which reminds me that I still haven't written about the second lesson, a month ago now). I haven't replaced it yet because of that ol' working-for-a-living thang, but have decided that the time has now come.

I spent a goodly while reading reviews and thinking about what I wanted (both a macro-focus and a long zoom, fast switch-on, fast image capture, direct connection to the Mac without any special software), and decided on a shortlist of three four:

Sony DSC-H1
Minolta Dimage Z5 (or Z3 or Z6)
Nikon Coolpix S4
Canon PowerShot A610

The Nikon would be the clear winner, except that it doesn't have an image stabiliser and my hands are pretty shaky. The others have the stabiliser but are much larger and heavier: the Nikon could still conceivably be put into a (large, deep) pocket, but they require a camera bag or a neckstrap. The Minolta wins on features but is IMHO sinfully ugly, a big minus since I do care about aesthetics. The Sony (which I haven't yet tried "live") seems to win on customer satistfaction: other than a few who said that it arrived dead in the box, all users gave it at least 8 out of 10. Decisions, decisions.

What about you, dear reader? What kind of camera do you have? Are you happy with it, and would you recommend it to a friend? What don't you like about it?


Blogger brooksba said...

I've had the opportunity to own two different digital cameras. My first was a Sony Cyber-Shot 5.0 MP with 4x optical zoom. I loved the camera. It was a bit bulky, but still fit in my purse and I was thrilled with the pictures it took. Unfortunatley, someone stole it from me while I was working.

I ended up upgrading when I replaced it. I got another Sony Cyber-Shot, this time a 7 MP one. The new one only has 3x optical zoom, but I haven't had a problem with that.

Both of the cameras were/are very user friendly and I've been pleased with the pictures. I have found them to be a bit idiot proof. The only problem I really would have is the speed of pictures. I can adjust the settings to lessen the time the camera uses to auto-focus and speed up the pictures, but without a tripod, I don't want to do this because the images get "bumpy".

I hope this helps!

December 28, 2005 at 8:31:00 p.m. GMT+1  
Blogger Philip said...

I swear by my Canon digital cameras. I have the S1 with image stabilizer. Old now, but you can get the current replacement with better res and for less money I'm sure. I'll look for comparable model numbers next time I'm at best buy.

December 29, 2005 at 2:18:00 a.m. GMT+1  
Blogger CarpeDM said...

Wait. There are cameras with image stabilisers? Are you serious? Do I own one? Excuse me while I go Google my camera quickly.

No, I do not. Which makes a lot of sense. I have a horrible problem. My camera is the Fuji Finepix 3800. It's not a horrible camera but is highly bulky and I don't have much luck with pictures in dark areas. Since I spend a lot of time at the Chalet, I need a different camera.

I love Beth's camera. And my sister's camera is very cool as well.

December 29, 2005 at 3:21:00 a.m. GMT+1  
Blogger Henri-V said...

Oh, I'm sorry to hear about your camera. I have a Canon Power Shot A80, 4MP. It is compact and takes amazing pictures in great light -- things get a little grainy in darker settings, and I find myself working against the flash indoors. The one thing that bothers me is the delay between depressing the shutter button and the actual taking of the picture (seems like an eternity to me, longer than what I've experienced with other digital cameras, even without image stabilization). Otherwise, I like this camera so much that I recommended it to my mum and sister; they have the upgraded version, the A95, with higher resolution and more bells and whistles. I would like to graduate to a 7 or 8 MP camera in another year.

I've used a Sony Cyber-Shot at work, too (circa 2002). It takes excellent pictures, but I am partial to compact flash memory cards (Type I), and Sony has its own "memory stick" format that only works with Sony cameras. Also, all the Sony models I have used were older and had the Carl Zeiss lenses -- I don't know if Sony puts these lenses on all of their models or not. One really nice thing about the Sony model you are considering is the generous hand-grippy portion that would fill your right hand; I wish the hand-grippy area on my little camera was bigger.

I must say that I *love* the swivel design of the Nikon Coolpix. I almost bought an earlier model instead of my Canon, but it was just out of my price range. Aesthetically, very cool.

Have you been to the Digital Photography Review site?

December 29, 2005 at 4:46:00 a.m. GMT+1  
Blogger sirbarrett said...

I have the Nikon Coolpix, which works well for me, but seemingly with all digital cameras, the batteries always seem to die or get "exhausted" right when you need them most. As you said, the image stabilizer is handy to have, otherwise you look as if someone smeared you around, especially if you're taking those action shots of people jumping on trampolines or you want to get a couple snaps while you're skydiving. Treffen Sie Ihre Wahl!

December 29, 2005 at 8:46:00 p.m. GMT+1  
Blogger zhoen said...

Love my Cannon. Very Mac compatible. Their battery and media that comes with always needs to be replaced, but as long as you know that.

December 30, 2005 at 1:18:00 a.m. GMT+1  
Anonymous noorster said...

I have a Nikon Coolpix 4600 because I'm perma-poor and couldn't afford another SLR camera after buying an F80 years ago. 4 MP which explains why most of my pictures have more noise than a school courtyard.
Oh, and it doesn't have a stabiliser.
You want to have an image stabiliser. Trust me.

December 30, 2005 at 4:44:00 p.m. GMT+1  
Blogger Savtadotty said...

I have had an Olympus C4000 zoom for three years, and it is still too good for me. It has more features than I can understand, and weighs too much. It will probably never die. I don't know whether to bequeath it to someone I love or someone I don't.

January 1, 2006 at 4:27:00 p.m. GMT+1  
Blogger Jenni said...

I have the Minolta Dimage Z5. I wanted the smallest, with most digital zoom and the image stabilizer in my price range when I was shopping earlier in the year. I like it because it fits in my hand comfortably (I'm used to an SLR feel). It takes pretty good shots too!

January 2, 2006 at 4:47:00 a.m. GMT+1  

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