Best Point and Shoot Camera to Buy?

Discussion in 'Travel Technology' started by gleff, Dec 26, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. gleff
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    gleff Co-founder

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    I need a camera, I am a non-expert, and I don't expect to invest in becoming anything of an expert.

    It needs to fit in my pocket, have decent battery life, and take excellent photos with the minimum possible amount of work.

    An added bonus would be good performance in low light. As is quick startup.

    Primary uses are trip reports :) which include discrete photography on planes and in lounges.

    Cost not really a huge issue within the ranges that I've seen for small cameras for the casual user. Performance and durability, but especially ease of use, are the key criteria.

    Any advice? Thanks :)
     
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  2. garyst16
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    garyst16 Silver Member

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    My camera of choice to fit your parameters is my Nikon Coolpix 8100. I picked it up for my recent trips to Shanghai and the EU and it performed perfectly! I would upload some pictures, but I use the large file mode which is too large for MP uploads; however, you can adjust the file size (megapixel) down to allow you to create smaller picture files. As full disclosure, I am a Nikon guy, since Minolta sold out to Sony, and also shoot a Nikon D90!
     
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  3. genemk2

    genemk2 Gold Member

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    I love the Canon s95, the s100 is supposed to be even better (full 1080p video).
     
  4. Dovster
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    Dovster Gold Member

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    I suggest that you take a look at the Canon PowerShot series. While all of them are small enough to be pocket cameras, they have a wide range of choices, from $90 and limited in functions to $500 with far more functions.

    I think that one in the middle, like the PowerShot ELPH 300 HS ($230) will meet all your needs (and it has the added advantage of being the thinnest camera in the series).
     
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  5. Espan

    Espan Silver Member

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    The Panasonic LX5 is a great camera. It's got a big Leica lens (in fact, Leica sells the identical camera w/ their branding for 3x the price). I'd consider it a semi-pro camera, and I know a lot of pros who carry one in their pockets for backup or spur of the moment stuff.

    Pretty easy to use. Wide open is equivalent of around 28mm, which is really nice.

    It's not tiny. But pretty compact and has a great, sturdy feel in the hand.
     
  6. FlyingBear
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    FlyingBear Silver Member

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    I think both choices above (Nikon/Canon) are fine, but are a bit on a largish side for what gleff needs them for. Neither is particularly good for shots in cramped quarters or that small either. Nikon's widest is 30mm and Canon's is 28. I think even 28mm is a bit too high.

    One of the cameras that I think is light weight enough and has the wide angle to suit is Canon HS300. It has 24-120 mm lens, so good for interior shooting and has some magnification too. It's gotten quite cheap too!

    Beyond that, I recommend looking at dpreview's selection tool as well as http://snapsort.com
    Took the words from my mouth! And HS300 can be had for $150 from what I see.
     
  7. LarryInNYC

    LarryInNYC Gold Member

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    If you want a camera for low-light photography in tight spaces (for instance, the interior of a plane), you want: 1) a large sensor (which limits you to a relatively small number of "enthusiast" compacts") 2) a fast lense (the lowest possible "f" number) 3) the lowest possible density of pixels (megapixels) and 4) the widest possible angle lense (the lowest "mm" in the zoom range).

    Each major manufacture makes one model in this class. For Canon it's the new S100 (replacing the S95), for Olympus the XZ-1, for Samsung the EX-1, and for Panasonic the Lumix LX-5. Nikon also has one.

    Of the lot, the EX-1 has slightly better specs for you, but I'd consider going with the Canon S100 which is a new model (and therefore probably has a better sensor) and enough extra zoom at the high end to function as your all-around camera.

    What you give up in choosing one of these cameras is absolutely tiny size (they're still pocket-able but not credit card sized) and a some of the zoom range -- these cameras zoom across a range of three to five times from widest to narrowest field of view, rather than ten to fifteen times like some less capable cameras.
     
  8. Captain Oveur
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    Captain Oveur Gold Member

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    Given your last post about smartphones and the purposes for camera use, you really should consider a smartphone.

    By what you said in your last post, you're not an Apple guy. I just bought my first Apple device (iPhone 4S), and it takes amazing pictures.

    But the point is that the iPhone4S isn't the only smartphone that takes very good-quality pictures. I am not a photography expert by any means, but you might want to consider a smartphone as your e-mail and picture-taking purposes.
     
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  9. mikeschu
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    mikeschu Gold Member

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    What he said.

    I went to Hawaii with a dumbphone and a camera, and my pockets were bulging. I almost brought an MP3 player as well. A smartphone replaces all three items, and it's much easier to carry around. One device makes far more sense than two or three if you're traveling light, especially since you'll have to carry charging adapters and cords with you as well. I picked up an iPhone while in HI (where it was a bit cheaper than CA due to taxes) and haven't looked back - I would have done the same thing even if I picked a phone on another platform.

    Phone cameras are getting good enough to take reasonable point-and-shoot pictures. Usually CNET reviews will show how good the photos are, so check them out before buying the next smartphone.
     
  10. cheepneezy
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    cheepneezy Gold Member

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    The problem with using a smartphone as a camera is it will make lousy battery life even worse.
     
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  11. rharrigill
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    rharrigill Silver Member

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    Canon Powershot ELPH series. I will not buy another point and shoot, only this type. I have one that has lasted for over 5 years, even after getting milk spilled on it once while in Texas.
     
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  12. TAHKUCT
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    TAHKUCT Gold Member

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    I second that. S95 just an amazing camera. I stopped taking my DSLR on my trips, the S95 is just fine for most of my needs.
     
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  13. TAHKUCT
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    TAHKUCT Gold Member

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    what is your range?
     
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  14. gleff
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    gleff Co-founder

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    Well I don't want to spend > $500.

    And I can't imagine I could get what I'm looking for @ $150.

    So let's call it $200 - $450?

    I realize that's a wide range as far as these things go but I want what I want and don't want to skimp and compromise that.

    But I'm not a professional and am unlikely to get much value out of really high end equipment.
     
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  15. Miles
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    Miles Silver Member

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    Gary, as a semi-pro photographer who has owned maybe 10 digital cameras in the last decade, I am confident that you can get everything you want for less than $150. Even the $80 digitals can probably meet your needs just fine.

    It's just amazing how much the prices have fallen!
     
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  16. cheepneezy
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    cheepneezy Gold Member

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    And according to the listed reviews, it's either a great camera or will break after 2 months. ;)
     
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  17. Miles
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    Miles Silver Member

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    Yes, maybe one, maybe the other, maybe both. :)

    One interesting human factor that I've noticed is that folks tend to stay with the first brand they have purchased, because they learn that operating system. I used to switch between a Nikon and a Panasonic, and the zoom lever of one was the on/off lever of the other...what a comedy of errors that was!
     
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  18. MLW20
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    MLW20 Gold Member

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    I am also looking for another compact point & shoot... It seems like a very tough call. I've looked at most of the cameras mentioned above. The cameras that seem to be the best are really not so compact which is the main problem to me.

    The Canon S100 looks very nice but it is very pricey at $450 give or take. My favorite of all is the Panasonic LX5. The problem with it is that I highly doubt it will be fitting in anyone's pocket.

    The one's I am considering now are the Canon Elphs 300HS and the Panasonic TZ20. I am sure more cameras will be added to my shortlist as I look further...
     
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  19. joejones
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    joejones Silver Member

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    If you have a good spare battery in your bag or other pocket, you can keep your single device charged for all purposes.

    The main drawbacks with a smartphone are:
    (a) you can't do anything else with the phone while you're taking pictures
    (b) it takes some extra time to get the phone in and out of camera mode
    (c) smartphone lenses are useless in the dark. The new iPhones have a flash which works for illuminating things, but produces terrible photos. You really need a big lens AND a full-sized flash to get decent pictures in the dark.
    (d) most smartphone cameras make loud sound effects that can't be shut off (this is apparently a regulatory requirement in Japan so that people don't use their phones to take surreptitious upskirt photos in public places)

    I still use a smartphone most of the time because I always have it anyway, and because it's easy to share pictures from the phone with other people. No syncing to the computer, etc. required.
     
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  20. Sean Colahan
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    Sean Colahan Gold Member

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    I use and love the Canon G12...but the Canon S95/S100 would be more pocket portable and simpler to use while still cranking out very high quality photographs.
     
  21. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    I think the Canon S95/100 is probably the best in that form factor available today but more camera than you need. One level down on their price scale is a good place to be.

    I just picked up a cheap Nikon 3100 and I HATE it. Yes, HATE. Not worth the $75 I paid for it. I cannot imagine straying from Canon again when I replace it upon returning home. The only nice feature is that it recharges via USB.
     
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  22. TAHKUCT
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    TAHKUCT Gold Member

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    Agree. These cameras are easy to use for the beginners and pros.
     
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  23. Bluto
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    Bluto Silver Member

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    For website photos, you really don't need that good of a camera. you should google the techcrunch comparison of various smartphone camera abilities. You'll see they're as good as most point and shoot cameras. I bought a fancy point and shoot and eventually started leaving it at home because the camera pictures are not that much better than my iPhone. And, given, that one of your smartphone requirements was to have one device, I am surprised at your insistence on a separate camera to carry, especially when phone camera technology/quality has improved tenfold in the last 5 years.
     
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  24. LarryInNYC

    LarryInNYC Gold Member

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    In addition to the problems you cite, smartphone cameras do not tend to go very wide. My Android phone seems to be about 38mm equivalent. That makes it difficult to photograph, for instance, the cabin of an airplane.
     
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  25. JohnDeere19
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    JohnDeere19 Gold Member

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    I highly recommend the s95. My girlfriend purchased it about a year ago and you can see the results from my trip report flying Lufthansa first class on the A380. In fact, I guess I loved it so much that I ended up getting one for Christmas from my family. Great in low-light and regular settings and perfectly sized. I don't know all that much about cameras, but from what I've read, many people actually don't think the s100 is worth the extra $$$. The S95 was recently under $300 on Amazon, but appears to have gone up in price...looks like Best Buy may have a good deal on it. BestBuy also get's 4.8% cashback on Bigcrumbs (disclaimer, this is my referral link), which is imo better than any of the other mileage earning opportunities I know of.

    I also have the Galaxy Nexus phone which is great as far as phones go that I've used (love the panoramic function it has, though it is spotty if there's any kind of motion).

    Final recommendation: Get the S95!
     
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