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Compact camera conundrum - please help!


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45 replies to this topic

#1 simato73

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Posted 20 August 2012 - 21:20

OK, here is the situation.

My 21 year old nephew has asked me if I could buy him a camera for his 21st birthday.
He likes to travel to far corners of the world and sadly he never took pictures because he never had a camera with him, but he said that he would like to.
He would like something light and easy to use and is not particularly sensitive to issues of image quality.
Likewise he does not post-process nor edit his photos.
He likes to post on places like Facebook etc.

I suggested that he would be better served by a smartphone with a decent camera.
He said that is too expensive to buy and run, his mobile is just fine for him and the contract is inexpensive.
He earns his living doing the waiter so he has a point - he knows what money he earns and what are his priorities.
So no Galaxy nor iPhone.

He asked for a cheap little camera, max £200 (he said £100 but frankly the idea of the quality from a £100 camera makes me shudder. Maybe I am too snob!).
He thinks that because I am the photographer in the family that I would know exactly what is the right thing for him, but I have no clue about compact cameras!

Instinctively I tend to look at the "better" compacts, but apart from the price in excess of the limit, many are too large and too "enthusiast oriented".
As much as the idea of a camera without RAW output hurts me, RAW shooting is probably not his thing.
Going below it is a jumble of letters and numbers and me-too models that completely disorient me and make me feel that trying to gather some information is a waste of time.

What would you suggest?
Simone

#2 Luc de Schepper

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Posted 20 August 2012 - 21:57

Most people looking for a compact camera like punchy colors (output and camera) and long zoom range.
How about a Canon SX240HS/SX260HS? Available in 4 colors, punchy Canon Jpegs, 25-500mm, 460k LCD-screen, built-in GPS (SX260HS).

Specs http://www.dpreview....s/canon_sx260hs

Review http://www.dpreview....ershot-sx260-hs

#3 Hugh_3170

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 01:53

How about a LUMIX TZ-30 or the recently superceded TZ-20 which may save some money for him? Both have had good write ups as so called "travel cameras".

#4 crowecg

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 02:08

My typical advice to compact buyers is to resist the temptation of huge zoom range and instead look at how wide it will go - if he wants a shot of a bunch of friends at a party somewhere, the extra field of view will help (and keep them within the effective range of the little built in flash).

Size is likely to be important too - something that will easily shove into a pocket. Another thing to consider is how adventurous he is - tough may be the way to go, even if it is just to keep the dust out of the zoom mechanism. One final thought is batteries - dSLR users are spoilt by the high capacity Li-ion batteries hiding in the grip - compacts are typically only good for a few hundred shots compared to the thousands that a dSLR can achieve. If he is travelling will he be able to keep the battery topped up - I think there are still a few around that run on AA batteries which may be easier to keep spares if recharging is a problem.

Edited by crowecg, 21 August 2012 - 02:09 .


#5 PatrickO

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 07:19

One thing you did not mention is whether second hand is acceptable. I realise it is a gift, but there is a lot more value to be found on the second hand market.

#6 simato73

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 07:21

Most people looking for a compact camera like punchy colors (output and camera) and long zoom range.
How about a Canon SX240HS/SX260HS? Available in 4 colors, punchy Canon Jpegs, 25-500mm, 460k LCD-screen, built-in GPS (SX260HS).

Specs http://www.dpreview....s/canon_sx260hs

Review http://www.dpreview....ershot-sx260-hs


Thanks Luc,

I did not know about these models.
I like the wide end of the camera, but the telephoto end seems a little useless. The GPS is nice though. No RAW but I don't think it will be missed.
Pricewise the camera is at the top end of the budget, but doable if one shops around.
Simone

#7 simato73

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 07:22

One thing you did not mention is whether second hand is acceptable. I realise it is a gift, but there is a lot more value to be found on the second hand market.


Good point.
He did mention he doesn't mind a second hand camera off eBay.
Simone

#8 Dallas

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 07:23

For that kind of money I think you could find a used Panasonic Lumix GF-1 with a 14-45mm kit lens. Well, that's about what I paid for my new one (old stock at a local dealer) not so long ago. It's a great camera and even amateurs will find it easy to use.

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#9 simato73

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 07:26

My typical advice to compact buyers is to resist the temptation of huge zoom range and instead look at how wide it will go - if he wants a shot of a bunch of friends at a party somewhere, the extra field of view will help (and keep them within the effective range of the little built in flash).

Size is likely to be important too - something that will easily shove into a pocket. Another thing to consider is how adventurous he is - tough may be the way to go, even if it is just to keep the dust out of the zoom mechanism. One final thought is batteries - dSLR users are spoilt by the high capacity Li-ion batteries hiding in the grip - compacts are typically only good for a few hundred shots compared to the thousands that a dSLR can achieve. If he is travelling will he be able to keep the battery topped up - I think there are still a few around that run on AA batteries which may be easier to keep spares if recharging is a problem.


My thoughts exactly.
Pocketable is key and wide is also very important.
Telephoto reach is not.
A fast lens would also be very good although I am aware the standard run-of-the-mill cameras are quite slow.
I don't think recharging would be a major problem if he takes a charger so AA batteries are not a must, but having to charge the camera from a USB (computer) would be a problem.

I did think that "tough" cameras could be attractive but I am not sure if it is worth the premium - maybe for that money a more capable camera could be purchased instead. The AW100 looks attractive though, even if it not very wide.
Any interesting "tough" alternatives?

Edited by simato73, 21 August 2012 - 07:28 .

Simone

#10 Larry

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 07:32

My recommendation on the camera body:

http://www.ebay.com/...#ht_7425wt_1271

Here are several affordable lens options:

http://www.ebay.com/...9&_sop=15&_sc=1

#11 Alan7140

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 07:33

It's been mentioned already, but if it has Panasonic/Lumix printed on it, it will be more than up to the task. Those little Leica and Lumix lenses are absolute beauties. The sensors aren't half bad, either.

#12 simato73

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 07:36

For that kind of money I think you could find a used Panasonic Lumix GF-1 with a 14-45mm kit lens. Well, that's about what I paid for my new one (old stock at a local dealer) not so long ago. It's a great camera and even amateurs will find it easy to use.


Thanks Dallas.
You gave a very interesting suggestion, if it was my choice I would look into it. This option allows definitely better IQ but I think the camera+lens is too big. The problem is not the body, it is the lens. Not pocketable hence a dealbreaker.
He was very clear he wants something smal (I would say diminutive).
Using a pancake lens is not an option, first because of price, second because he would be served much better by a zoom.
Simone

#13 Dallas

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 07:38

Pity. The new 14-42mm is almost pancake in size and is a power zoom, something I have discovered on their 45-175mm is actually pretty nice to use. Problem is you'll pay $200 for that lens on its own.

But as Fred says, Lumix are good cameras.

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#14 simato73

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 07:41

My recommendation on the camera body:

http://www.ebay.com/...#ht_7425wt_1271

Here are several affordable lens options:

http://www.ebay.com/...9&_sop=15&_sc=1


Thanks but that's not really what he wants or needs.
I know what you are suggesting is better in almost every respect.
However as much as I can try to look for a good price the most basic kit will be way beyond the budget and will not be pocketable.

So no m4/3 cameras.
Simone

#15 simato73

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 07:45

Thanks to the suggestions from Hugh, Fred and Dallas, my preference is starting slowly to move toward the Lumix compact cameras.
Any opinions on the LX-5? It would be a bit too "enthusiastic" for his present skills and interests, but probably still affordable.

Edited by simato73, 21 August 2012 - 07:46 .

Simone

#16 simato73

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 07:47

OK, I am off to work now.
If you have more thoughts, please keep sending them, I will catch up at some point in the day.

Edited by simato73, 21 August 2012 - 07:47 .

Simone

#17 black_bird_blue

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 07:50

My advice to compact users has been not to worry unduly about the width/reach/megapixels but to concentrate on the speed of focus. More people are frustrated by slow focus on compacts than anything else. They are getting better now. Last time I looked, the little Canon Ixus models were about the best all rounders and have been ahead for quite a while on that focus speed issue. Some years ago I bought an IXUS 110 for exactly that reason and its owner is still pleased with it now - I see her posts on Facebook and regularly ask whether she is still using the same camera.

I think your waiter definitely wants a compact and not an EVIL or bridge or whatever.

IXUS 230 is the best of the bunch that I can see, but is £230. A more budget offering is the IXUS 115 at just under £150.

Unfortunately, though it pains me to say it, the Nikons in this segment are just not as good as the Canons.

Damian
"The changing of bodies into light, and light into bodies, is very conformable to the course of Nature, which seems delighted with transmutations." - Sir Isaac Newton

#18 Luc de Schepper

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 07:59

Thanks to the suggestions from Hugh, Fred and Dallas, my preference is starting slowly to move toward the Lumix compact cameras.
Any opinions on the LX-5? It would be a bit too "enthusiastic" for his present skills and interests, but probably still affordable.

I have a Panasonic LX3 and use it a lot. The reason I didn't mention a Panasonic is because of the Jpeg output. I don't like the standard Jpeg output and automatic white balance, therefore I post process every LX3 image I shoot. The lens is great though. That's the reason I suggested a Canon, the out of camera Jpegs are nicer although the reds and greens are a bit too much to my taste. The problem with (semi)professionals advising beginners on cameras is we (the (semi)professionals) tend to push our own dream list of specs while most beginners are interested in other things like ease of operation, durability, out of camera Jpeg quality and yes! zoom range.

Edited by Luc de Schepper, 21 August 2012 - 08:01 .


#19 Hugh_3170

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 08:16

The LUMIX LX-7 release is only just around the corner, so LX-5 prices are likely to start falling quite soon. How many weeks do you have until his birthday?

Thanks to the suggestions from Hugh, Fred and Dallas, my preference is starting slowly to move toward the Lumix compact cameras.
Any opinions on the LX-5? It would be a bit too "enthusiastic" for his present skills and interests, but probably still affordable.



#20 PatrickO

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 08:22

I will second the AW100 suggestion.




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