May 11, 2006

Give me some camera advice.

I like my Sony DSC-V1, but I want to pass it along to a chosen recipient and replace it. I have a nice Nikon D50, my good SLR camera for serious photo outings, but I also want a small camera to carry around all the time. The Sony DSC-V1 has been great, but it's a little thick, and I'm thinking there are some improved and highly portable cameras out there. I want to be able to take nice stills and also to do little movie clips, like the one in the previous post. What should I buy?

ADDED: And is it too much to ask for a camera like this to interact properly with iMovie? Using my Sony camera with iMovie, the sound portion was eliminated, something having to do with the format, I believe.

39 comments:

Jennifer said...

I gotta run so I can't elaborate. But, I love love love my Canon PowerShot SD550. More later.

Link said...

check out the canon powershot sd600. its one of the latest in that line. i have the sd450 and have been very happy with it so far.

the sd600 would fit in your pocket very easily, take quality photos and also take movies at a much higher frames per second rate, resulting in much clearer vids for display in this space.

peter hoh said...

I have a serious SLR film camera -- with a nice set of lenses and other stuff. I just bought my first digital camera -- a Nikon L3. I thought it balanced size and features and price nicely enough to save me from the pursuit of the "perfect" camera.

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ann Althouse said...

I have a bad attitude about Canon digital cameras, because one of my sons had one that died after only a short time.

tommy said...

I have a Canon Powershot G6 for "real" pictures, and a Sony Cybershot P-5 (yes it's that old) for convenience.

I think if you look into the Cybershot P whatever number they're up to you'll like it.

Steves digicams is worth checking out as a starting point for reviews too.

http://www.steves-digicams.com/

Ann Althouse said...

Steves-digicams is one ugly website! How can it be a good source for new information? It looks so old...

Jonathan said...

I just bought a Sony DSC-P200 and it is great: small, good video and audio (I know nothing of iMovie, however), good photo quality, super battery life, has an optical viewfinder and some manual control capabilities, and it is currently inexpensive (being closed out?). It seems ideal as a carry-everywhere camera.

The only caveats are 1) the design is at least a year old and the image sensor does not have the high-ISO sensitivity that some of the newer models have, and 2) my camera came with a dust spot on the sensor, for which I sent it in under warranty for cleaning. (But if this somehow happened to you you could always send the camera back and get a new one. The only reason I didn't do this was that I was very eager to use the camera for a while before I dealt with the dust.)

Jennifer said...

If you are predisposed against the Canons, never mind the elaboration.

FWIW, when I was doing my research, the Sony CyberShot (which a few others have mentioned) was the other camera I was very serious about.

Ann Althouse said...

I'm not absolutely against Canon, but I have a bias against it.

John said...

For what it's worth the Canon S2 IS is the most popular non-SLR on Flickr (doesn't seem that compact though). http://flagrantdisregard.com/flickr/topcameras.php

The Sony DSCP200 is also very popular.

My favorite is the Contax U4R. So stylish, so compact, so well thought out, so no longer available...

Ann Althouse said...

New cameras keep coming out. I want something with all the good new things.

Jennifer said...

Well, in that case. The Canon PowerShot SD550 is tiny. It's as small as can get without me feeling like a clumsy giant trying to operate it. (About 3 1/4" x 2 1/8" x 1.) But the LCD is pretty big (about 2" x 1 1/2").

It's 7.1 megapixels. I've been really impressed with the quality of the video image, too. If you're interested, I can email you a short clip.

The pre-sets are handy for getting ready for a shot quickly. And I've found them fairly accurate - the inside setting works well inside, the beach setting works well in bright light, etc..

I can't speak to the manual capabilities because I'm useless in that dept.

The shutter lag has not bothered me. It seems very fast to me.

That's about all I can think of. Except for that there's a cute leather Coach pouch sized for this camera on Amazon for around $20.

Jennifer said...

Oh, and I have no idea how it interfaces with iMovie as I sold out and got a PC just before I got this camera.

Ann Althouse said...

Jennifer: I've been reading a lot of good things about the SD550, including praise for the movie mode. But I'm also seeing that there is a new SD700, to be released in a few days. With "Image Stabilizer." About $150 more (about 50% more). That comes with the satisfaction of knowing you have the latest model. What do you think?

Jennifer said...

Ann: When I was looking to buy this camera, the SD550 was on the horizon but not out yet. I seriously contemplated getting the previous model because I didn't want to wait!

My need to have the most current model bested my impatience. I waited until it had been out about a month so that I wasn't one of the highest risk taking early adopters and then I bought the SD550.

I have never looked back. If I had bought the previous model, I think I always would have felt like "What if I had waited for the new one? How much better is it?" Instead, I've been totally thrilled.

I say buy the newest and the best!

Jim Hu said...

I just got the SD450 after a previous Canon Powershot SD300 died. Perhaps it would count as a short time, as I only had it about a year. Then again, I did carry it without a case banging around in my backpack or in my pants pocket to the point that paint was wearing off. I probably should have looked at others, but I was pretty happy with the Canon and I figured I might as well get a camera that could reuse the cables, battery charger etc.

Since that's not a concern for you, I'd recommend this site for reviews if you want to do extensive research. On the other hand, my sense is that these cameras are all getting to be amazingly good.

Maxine Weiss said...

If you had a camera phone, you could post stuff directly to flickr.

(showing off, really tech illiterate)

Peace, Maxine

al said...

The SD550 is a pretty solid camera. I got my wife one for Christmas and she's really happy with it. Movie mode is quite good. Don't know about the Mac part - only my son has one and he's away at school so I can't try it out and see what happens.

My only gripe is with the picture quality under gymnasium lights that havn't quite warmed up yet. Pictures seem a bit yellow then.

altoids1306 said...

This might be information overkill for you, but go to www.megapixel.net. It's by far to most comprehensive and professional digital camera review site I've found. They been reviewing digicams since before digicams were even remotely popular. I've bought my cameras based on their reviews, and I've been very satisfied.

dave said...

I'll also vouch for the Canon SD line; my 450 has been very good to me. Don't know about the new models, though.

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Karl said...

Just got a Nikon L1 (purchased from Newegg.com). I just point and shoot, and like it quite a bit. My fiancée, who studied photography for a few years, finds it has all of the settings she needs to fine tune shots as well. It's 6.2 MP (more than plenty) and has a great 5x optical zoom.

The lack of a viewfinder might concern some, but I've found the LCD easy to see in every lighting situation. The only complaint I've seen online that has some merit is that shooting without the flash sometimes results in a blurry image in low light situations. However, the camera will warn you if a pic was blurry and ask if you really want to save it.

-kd

Rick Lee said...

Thanks for putting up that link and saving me the trouble Sippican. I'm thinking of getting the new Fuji F30 when it comes out in a month or so. The F10 (which I'm using now)and the F30 are pretty thick for pocket cameras... but I have decided that I want to take the trade-off for the quality. Fuji also makes an absolutely gorgeous little thin job called the Z1. I did a ton of research on this stuff and Fuji is really kicking butt in the category of pocket cameras right now. The lack of noise at the higher ISO ratings is amazing. Far beyond the competition.

Here's a review of the Z1 on Steves.

Rick Lee said...

Ohhh... I just went to the Fuji site to see if I made an ass of myself by posting out-of-date info and they have a new super-cool tiny pocket cam... the V10. Looks fantastic. BTW... megapixels isn't really a measure of quality in a digital camera. It's just a convenient number (like Megahertz in computer chips) that companies have found to sell with. A 10 megapixel image that is full of noise will look much crappier than a good clean 6 megapixel image that came through good clean glass. It's a shame that nobody has come up with a measuring number for noise. Pocket cameras are notorious for getting real noisy at higher speed (ISO) settings. Pocket cameras also aren't sold on the basis of the resolving power of their lenses... and these vary widely.

vienalga said...

I agree with Rick Lee. Here are comparison photos from the new Fuji F30 with the newest Canon SD700.

"http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1012&message=18173728"

The Canon's image stabilization is good for still subjects, but the Fuji's high ISO capability is better if the subject is moving. I'm sure you already know this. So, for low light without flash at concerts, clubs, restaurants, etc. high ISO is the way to go.

The Fuji has full manual controls, the high-end EBC lens coating, and a very high 230,000 pixel 2.5" screen, but no viewfinder. Also it lists for about $100 less.

vienalga said...

Sorry about the wrong link. I don't know why it doesn't go to the page I copied it from... Anyway, I'm sure you have more information than you need already!

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steven A. Stehling said...

Ann, I'm a big fan of Kodak digital cameras. They're excellent performance, full of features and priced fairly.

Since you're looking for a pocket camera, I'd suggest the Kodak V610. It's 6.0MP with 10x optical zoom. And Kodak cameras use the Quicktime format for video recording, which is an Apple format, so it should work seamlessly with Apple applications like iMovie.

Whatever camera you choose to buy, keep in mind a few things.

Only optical zoom matters. Many cameras boast 'Advanced Digital Zoom' or something sounding similar. That just means it enlarges the pixels to make it appear like you're zooming in. Digital zoom is a gimmick and nothing to brag about. You can enlarge a picture once you transfer it to a computer. But enlarging a picture will always degrade quality.

You also need to pay attention to shutter lag and flash recharge time. Small pocket cameras typically have a longer lag, but I've been very happy with both of my Kodak cameras.

I'm sure you already know this next thing since you already have a digital, but rechargeable batteries are a must. Digital cameras eat up batteries. When you get a camera, get a couple spare rechargeable batteries.

Ann Althouse said...

"Kodak cameras use the Quicktime format"

This is the single most important piece of information I've gotten here so far, but I'm not confident this means the camera will interact with iMovie the way a digital movie camera does. And I'm not convinced that only a Kodak camera would work with iMovie.

What Rick says about Fuji is very important. Canon cameras have gotten so popular, but they are awfully expensive! Is everyone just assuming Canon is the brand to buy.

Why doesn't anyone talk about Nikon? I like the way the Nikons look. One thing I've had against Canon is the appearance. I think they look cheap. (Yet they are expensive!)

Jennifer said...

Rick- The pictures on your site are both good and interesting.

I agree. And I love the Mystery Picture games. But your commenters are so fast! By the time I make it around, someone's always guessed it.

Steven A. Stehling said...

"Kodak cameras use the Quicktime format"

This is the single most important piece of information I've gotten here so far, but I'm not confident this means the camera will interact with iMovie the way a digital movie camera does. And I'm not convinced that only a Kodak camera would work with iMovie.
-Ann


I'm sure several cameras use the Quicktime format. But I know Kodak's store the file as a Quicktime on the camera, so you don't have to use an application like iMovie to encode and transfer to your computer. The Kodak application will move all the pictures and video files to your computer without a problem. Then since the videos are a Quicktime format, it's a completely valid format for iMovie, where you can edit as you please.

Karl said...

My Nikon L1 also records movie clips in Quicktime's .MOV format. I don't use a Mac, so I have no idea how it works with iMovie, sorry.

-kd

Rick Lee said...

Thanks Sippican... and in the spirit of log-rolling, a while back I looked at your furniture site and I was VERY impressed.

Melinda said...

Ann, I had the same problem, where I would lose the sound on the QT movies from my camera when I brought them into iMovie.

After a long and frustrating call to Apple, I found out it's because those little videos are "muxed" files: They mix the sound and picture on one track.

You need to run them through a third-party program like MPEG Streamclip:

http://www.squared5.com/

Ann Althouse said...

Melinda: Thanks! I searched on line and got as far as discovering that the problem was that my files were "muxed" -- which sounds like a new obscenity. I couldn't figure out what to do about it.

I have a feeling the Qucktime files in the Kodak camera would also be "muxed."

Anyway, I don't have a problem loading the files into the computer. They go right into iPhoto, just like the stills. When I click on them, they play in Quicktime, and they are listed as MPEG files. But apparently they are "muxed."

Why the hell doesn't iMovie un-mux them? This is such a basic thing. Why do I have to go to a third party? I hate that. I want to stay in my Apple cocoon, dammit Apple. You made me feel this way, now serve me.

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jennifer said...

Canon cameras have gotten so popular, but they are awfully expensive! Is everyone just assuming Canon is the brand to buy.

Possibly. The It's-expensive-so-it-should-be-good line of logic is a known fault of mine.

I didn't even look at the Fujis when I was researching as my Fuji FinePix was so awful. It got to the point that it could suck brand new double AA batteries dry in under 5 minutes - just being on! I could have used a Rambo-style ammo sling to cart around ridiculous quantities of batteries.

If Fuji has made big strides in the pocket camera arena, I'm bummed that I didn't even consider them!

altoids1306 said...

You might consider the Sony DSC-W50. It's roughly the size of a deck of cards. I'm thinking of getting it myself. If you already use Sony, then you've got chargers/battery packs/memory sticks that are compatible with it, and you're already used to the interface and controls. Like most Sonys, the lens quality is quite good, with little chromatic aberration. The flash is a little weak, but this is normal for cameras of this size.

Test images and analysis here, and here