Wednesday, February 18, 2009

More Than 600 Point and Shoot Cameras

Race Point Light © John Gullett
A friend wrote me and said that his digital camera had died and he wanted my advice on getting another camera. That is very flattering and I love to give advice so I went to B&H Photo and Video website and I found more than 600 Point and Shoot cameras listed. I didn't count the number of DSLR cameras but there are quite a fewof those as well. I'm not much of an equipment person so I don't keep up with all the stuff that is coming out except in a general way. I don't believe that there is only one camera company that is superior. The Nikon-Canon debate....silly. One year one is ahead on some feature, the next year the other. I don't know much about the Sigma, Sony or Olympus brands but that doesn't mean they aren't making fine cameras.

There are so many things that you need to analyze before you can begin to evaluate which camera will be best for you.

What is your budget?
What do you want to photograph?
Do you only want to see your images on the web or do you also want to make prints?
If you want to make prints, what size prints?
Do you already own an image processing program such as Photoshop, Elements or Lightroom and do you know how to use it?
Do you want to invest the time to learn to use one if you don't know how?
Do you have a preference for a brand of camera?
How much are you willing to lug around? Something shirt pocket size? Something larger? How large?

The answer to each one of these questions starts to narrow down the 600+ cameras listed on the B&H website.

At any rate I don't know the answer to any of these question for my friend but I'll tell you why I would buy the Canon G10 for a point and shoot camera if I were buying a camera today. That is the camera that my friend John Gullett used for the image above. Click on it to enlarge it and get a better idea of what the camera can do. It is pricey at $410 but some of the other features are important. I want to be able to shoot RAW images so I have total control over the final image. I already own Photoshop and I'm willing to pay the Adobe upgrade tax every 18 months to 2 years. I like lots of pixels because I know that making prints are important to me as well as being able to use jpg's on the web. I can't put this camera in a shirt pocket but it fits fine in a coat pocket, fanny pack or purse. I don't need a long telephoto lens although this camera is no slouch with a 28-140 lens.

I own the older brother of the G10, the G9 and I wrote about making the decision to buy it here and here.

If I were buying a DSLR it would be the Canon 5D MarkII. It is very pricey but I'd buy it for the 21 megapixels on a full frame sensor and the superb image quality at 3200 ISO. And I also already have the Canon lenses that I need.

But my camera choices may not be the best for my friend. And certainly my knowledge about the available cameras out there is limited so it could be well worth analyzing what you can spend, what you want in a camera and then looking at DP Review to get some in depth reviews and image samples of the latest cameras.

If any of you have bought a new digital camera in the last year why don't you comment on what you bought and why you bought it and if it is living up to your expectations. I know my friend could use some better information than I was able to offer.


Gary Denness said...

The G10 is a fine camera, possibly the best P&S on the market today, and a popular choice of the pro as a second camera. And I would not consider buying it for a moment! For me, if you're buying a point and shoot, it has to go in a pocket, which the G10 doesn't. Certainly not comfortably - I did try! If you're putting it in a bag you might just as well buy a DSLR - you can grab a Nikon D60 or a few Canon's for the same or a little more money than the G10. It can be argued that the G10 fits in a belt held bag, but that's not always comfortable either. The G10 does also have a little bit of a noise issue for a camera that price. The problem with compacts is that the makers keep cramming more megapixels onto the same small sensor. More megapixels doesn't, as many would have the consumer believe, make for better quality photos. Sometimes new models produce worse images than the models they replace.

I bought a Panasonic Lumix TZ5 last year, intending it to be my carry anywhere p&s, although it's turned out to be my sole shooter at the moment. Good image quality, nice 10x / wideangle 28mm lens, 9mp, 3" screen and great video quality. It does lack much in the way of manual control, but it's one of the best all rounders available, and topped a lot of gadget sites Top 10 lists in 2008. Although Canon is about to release a direct rival.

There's a couple of interesting cameras coming up for release at PMA 2009 though. Olympus are rumoured to be releasing their first Micro Four Thirds camera - a pocketable (maybe!) DSLR (sort of!). The Micro Four thirds concept is one I'm really interested in. The only MFT cam at the moment is the Panasonic Lumix G1 which is a fabulous camera, although it hasn't taken full advantage of the size reduction that the system has potential for.

There is also the Fuji F200EXR which is said to possess revolutionary image quality, particularly regards noise, for a compact. Fuji's innovative lens have had a good rep for image quality over the years, so maybe it's worth waiting to see how the reviews for this unit go. My Lumix TZ5 is also being replaced in the spring with a new model with a wider angle, longer zoom lens (25mm/12x).

Gary Denness said...

Incidentally, Lightroom 2 is a thing of wonder. And for something like $150. An awful lot of pros and serious ams have ditched (or simply rarely use) Photoshop, preferring Lightroom. You should give it a whirl.

Alfredo said...


Mil, mil gracias. Nice information. Will let you know.

Saludos cordiales,


Billie said...

Gary, Great information about cameras and certainly more current than any research I've done. I have Lightroom I and I decided that I preferred PS over LRI but I've heard nothing but good things about LR2. If I were just starting out, I'm sure I would give it a serious look. When I'm ready to put my G9 to bed, I'll really have to research the new P&S that can also shoot RAW. Hopefully they will be smaller and have less noise in the higher ISOs. Not likely though unless there is some break through in stuffing pixels on the sensors. Thanks for your informed comments.

glorv1 said...

Wow that was great info for someone who is looking for a camera to take "real" shots. Very nice. Have a great Friday.