I lost my trusty old Minolta G400 that I had for quite some time. Over the years it sure took some great photos from all over the world. I’m still hoping to find it somewhere… Recently, I’ve been using my Canon Digital Rebel XT (lenses: Canon 28-135 f3.5-5.6 EF IS USM, Canon EF 50mm f1.8 II, Canon 18-55 f3.5-5.6 EF-S USM). However, it would be nice to get a compact camera. I started looking at point & shoots again last night when I saw that Amazon was selling the Canon PowerShot SD770IS 10MP Digital Camera for about $160. I’ve been very happy with the quality and performance of my Rebel XT so knew that I could trust the quality of the SD 770IS. It is the most popular P&S on Amazon and has gotten terrific reviews. I think it has okay manual controls (or as close to manual as you can get with a P&S, meaning independent adjustment of shutter speed, film speed, and aperture). However, after reading the more technical discussions on the dpreview forums, it became apparent that the camera is good but not that wide. I’m also a little weary of companies continually bumping up the megapixels without changing the technology behind the underlying sensor. Packing more megapixels into the same sensor just means that there will be more noise. Fortunately, the SD 770IS does come with a newer, faster processor than my Digital Rebel so it is able to fix problems with noise quite well. I was almost thinking about going ahead and buying the SD 770IS since Amazon is offering it at that price until it is sold out. That camera, I think, has a very stylish body, is compact, and has traditional Canon quality. However, I value picture quality and improvements in underlying sensor technology rather than just strict megapixel improvements. For example, a 6MP DSLR will take better photos than a 12MP standard point & shoot because the sensor is much larger. See here and here.
FujiFilm gets this: “There is strong demand in the digital camera market to increase the number of pixels on a sensor, which, all too often, is used as a convenient yardstick for image quality […] As the photodiode gets smaller, the problems of increased noise, blooming and clipping increase.”
Fujifilm has unveiled the FinePix F200EXR digital compact, incorporating its new 1/1.6” Super CCD EXR sensor. The camera is the first to use the company’s EXR technology that can use the sensor in three different ways to optimize resolution, dynamic range or low-light performance. The F200EXR has a 3.0″ LCD, 5x optical zoom, dual image stabilization and HD (stills) output. An EXR Auto mode lets the camera select which of the three sensor modes is used or the user can make that decision themselves.
Here’s FujiFilm’s introduction of the FinePix F200EXR. Here’s a description of how the Super CCD EXR sensor works. Youtube has a video of it. It is has a pretty nice looking body too and is still compact. However, it is pricey; Amazon has it for pre-order at $399. However, good quality + solid construction means that it will last me a long time. I’m hoping the price drops so that I can get it as a birthday present in July.
I pre-ordered the F200EXR on Amazon, then canceled my order when the samples came out. They are distinctly unimpressive, specially as I am lucky enough to have the excellent Fuji F31fd,
If I were to buy a compact camera today, it would be the Panasonic LX3 (well, in my case the Leica D-Lux 4 because I am a snob).
I held off, however, until the Sigma DP2 comes out. I have a DP1 but it was a disappointment in low-light performance and is just too slow, but the optics are stellar and the sensor is amazing at low ISO settings.
@Fazal Majid, Thanks for the advice. I’ll obviously be taking a look at the actual performance and photos that users get before buying it. However, the technology behind it does seem very impressive. Does the Sigma DP2 still have a single focal length? How does that work on your DP1?
Yes, the DP2 has a single 40mm f/2.8 focal length. Single focal length (“prime”) lenses are usually optically superior to zooms, and the 28mm-e f/4 lens on the DP1 is absolutely stellar. The max sensitivity on the DP2 was raised to 1600 from the 800 on the DP1 (Foveon sensors with their complex 3-level photosensor design are not as sensitive as Bayer designs, but offer better sharpness and color fidelity). Keep in mind that top sensitivity is actually usable, unlike that on most compacts.
The F200EXR has an advantage in dynamic range, but the high-ISO samples I saw were worse than the D-Lux 4 I handled in the store last week.
@Fazal Majid, Thanks for the info. I guess I’ll be watching and waiting for the actual photos/ reviews to start rolling in before making up my mind. I wouldn’t actually mind a prime but also would want something that is fast too. One of the things that I like about the F200EXR and the Leica/Panasonic is how wide it is. I could live with a 41mm (35mm equiv) if it was fast enough. This is coming from a guy who only had a Minolta G400 as a P&S before. That was an excellent camera with one of the best lenses for a P&S of that price and time. It’s manual controls were good but it did struggle with focus in low light. So really any of the newer cameras would be a step up. I love my DSLR but sometimes it’s nice to carry something a little smaller. Nice blog btw. I’ll keep checking it out and hopefully see a Sigma DP2 review on it soon! 😉