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01-12-2009, 06:30 PM   #1
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What do you use as a second, compact camera ?

I am sure I am not the only one who cannot always lug around his DSLR and camera bag with all the accessories. As nice as the K200D is, it is not lightweight.

Last December, I visited Vietnam. 3 days into my trip, I got diagnosed with an inguinal hernia, and I was in major pain pretty. I almost came back early. But after a couple tries I found some painkillers that worked, and I have been on them ever since. Since I came back to California, I found out from 2 surgeons last week that I have not 1 but 3 hernias :-( I am due to be operated on all 3 in the next few weeks.

Because of the pain I was in - the painkillers did not control all of it - I did not carry my big camera bag everywhere. I did bring along a compact, an old Nikon L1. That was a 6MP. I was not happy with its lack of viewfinder, and the screen had some major damaged (very large blue spots). My boyfriend's brother needed a new camera, so I gave it away early in the trip.

I regretted not having any kind of compact along for the rest of the trip, and I missed many shot opportunities because I just didn't carry my DSLR and camera bag everywhere. When Vietnam won the soccer final match in particular, it was crazy in Saigon, and I had no camera with me to photograph any of it, even though I was limping to walk back to the hotel since the streets were closed to all car traffic.

So, anyway to make a long story short ... I have been looking for a compact to replace my old Nikon L1.

The L1 was a 6MP, with a 5x optical zoom, SD support, AA batteries, and a screen that was unusable in the sun. I think that's common to all screens, unfortunately. So, I have been looking for a replacement with an optical viewfinder (or EVF). I wanted something that supported AA and SDHC, so I could share the same batteries and cards as my K200D DSLR.

I didn't find many models on the market. There are no compacts from Pentax with viewfinders :-( Or from many other brands, for the matter.

In the past 5 days I tried 3 cameras. The Canon A1000IS . It was eliminated very quickly for being way too noisy for my taste. 10 mpix on such a small sensor is crazy. So I returned it.

I tried the Fuji E900. A little bigger. 9MPix . Picture quality was better than the A1000. But it uses the dead xD format. And the microSD adaptre doesn't work in it. That was the main reason for me returning it.

Right now I have a Canon A590. It's only 8 Mpix, and otherwise comparable features to the A1000IS. It takes sharper pics due to fewer pixels. Ritz sweetened the deal by giving away 2 printers (after rebate). So I don't think I will return this A590. It was cheap enough and it can serve its purpose temporarily as my 2nd camera. But not forever. I am not really happy with the IQ of the A590. There is still quite a bit of noise. I think I have been spoiled by the K200D . Even my old Olympus C3000Z 3 MP and Nikon L1 6 MP both took better pictures. I feel Canon put too many megapixels on both the A1000IS and A590IS .

I'm dismayed that there doesn't seem to be any compact camera on the market that fits my requirements to be worthy of being my 2nd camera. The requirements are:

MUST:
non-LCD viewfinder
greater than 3x optical zoom, preferably 5x like my L1 had
at least 5 MP
fit in large front jeans pocket . Definitely no ultracompact here. Even the fuji E900 fits in my large jeans and that was no compact. I think some cameras that take 4 AAs would fit. But there are some size constraints. A K-m with any kind of lens will not fit :-)

VERY STRONGLY DESIRE :
AA battery support
SDHC support ... But if not that, has to be some card format with decent capacities available (not limited to 2 GB like xD)

The only other one I know that I haven't tried yet is the Nikon P60.

01-12-2009, 06:38 PM   #2
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Hi - When it comes to a compact camera with great image quality, the Fuji F10 gets my vote. I din't realize that the XD format is dead. Doesn't really matter to me, as I have used the same 1GB card since I bought it 4 years ago, and the thing has never let me down. The camera is slow compared to today's standards (it will not replace a DSLR in the speed category), but it takes great pictures, even in low light. The things still stands up to whatever competition.
01-12-2009, 06:50 PM   #3
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My second camera is the Pentax K100D dSLR -
my main camera is actually the Canon PowerShot S80 compact p&s!

I know back to front - but that is the case
the majority of my pics are taken on the Canon S80 -
I reserve my K100D for larger conert venues where I may not want to use flash so need High ISO and the ability to change to longer lens (also for outdoor concerts)
01-12-2009, 07:14 PM   #4
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Hi,

QuoteOriginally posted by mostlydave Quote
Hi - When it comes to a compact camera with great image quality, the Fuji F10 gets my vote. I din't realize that the XD format is dead. Doesn't really matter to me, as I have used the same 1GB card since I bought it 4 years ago, and the thing has never let me down. The camera is slow compared to today's standards (it will not replace a DSLR in the speed category), but it takes great pictures, even in low light. The things still stands up to whatever competition.
Thanks, but unfortunately the F10 is out of the running as it has no viewfinder, and that's my #1 reason for not keeping the old Nikon L1.

The xD format is not completely "dead", but with capacities topping 2 GB, it's going to be dead rather soon unless Olympus or Fuji comes up with larger cards. The Fuji E900 I had for a day could actually shoot RAW files - 18 MB each. That's only about 100 pictures on the largest available xD card of 2 GB. Not really practical ! On a trip it would mean having to carry a bunch of xD cards. And even for the available capacities, the xD cards cost about 2-3x as much as SD. Hell, Fry's Electronics sells 1 GB SD cards for $4.99 with $5 rebates ! No such deal on 1 GB xD. Oh, and my computer didn't have a built-in xD reader either, but it had an SDHC one. I can replace it, but it's one more annoyance.

I could not in good conscience invest in a new camera with that severe of a storage limitation. That was my #1 reason for not keeping the Fuji E900. But I had others. #2 is the fact that the viewfinder was only 77% coverage. And at wide angle, you could see the lens through the viewfinder ! That made it very hard to compose pictures that way. #3 was that it barely qualified as compact. There were other smaller annoyances. Like no inclinometer. I didn't keep it long enough to have a really good opinion of it. I am sure it was a great camera 3 years ago, but it was not good enough to buy in 2009. I got a bit carried away after buying the QSX9502 tripod at Ritz. Now that's a purchase I am really happy with.

01-12-2009, 08:11 PM   #5
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Your specs are fairly extreme so you'll have a tough time. Perhaps prioritize your needs/wants and see what fits. The viewfinder is tough on a modern p&s.

I previously shot a DLux3, and now DLux4 (LX-2 and LX-3 equivalents). They do not have a viewfinder but I had no problem composing with the lcd screen and sometimes I didn't bother framing at all. One of the perks of a small sensor - increased dof. For the LX-3 you can add a real viewfinder on the hotshoe. But that makes it not a very pocketable camera. Plus the zoom isn't as long as you want. It does however shoot raw which for me is a non-negotiable item. Ricoh GX-200 is another option, but again the zoom isn't as long as you want.

These cameras can run 8 and 16Gig SD cards, so shooting raw isn't an issue. Just depends what you want. I favor iq, a good lens, and raw capability over loom length, but that is a personal bias. Depends on what you want/need.
01-12-2009, 08:32 PM   #6
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I second the GX200 rec. The GX200 comes sort of close to your specs (except for EVF and 3X zoom -- but the zoom range starts at 24mm). Prepare for a price shock though...
01-12-2009, 08:36 PM   #7
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Depends what you want in a P&S...low light performance? Find a used Fuji F30 (yeah, it uses xD...buy one 2GB card and you'll never fill it up)...that's what I use. You can also find Fuji F40's around but ISO performance is 1 stop less.
Need a nice wide angle lens and a hotshoe? Get an LX3. It's about 1-2 stops less ISO performance than the F30.
The rest of the P&S cams are mostly crap unless you have good light... :-)
01-12-2009, 09:05 PM   #8
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I second the Gx200

QuoteOriginally posted by twinda1 Quote
I second the GX200 rec. The GX200 comes sort of close to your specs (except for EVF and 3X zoom -- but the zoom range starts at 24mm). Prepare for a price shock though...
You get all the compact convenience of a compact without sacrificing features much. It has a great 24-70 lens and takes amazing ISO 64 shots and stores them in DNG Raw if you please.

I did a review on one (I wont' post the link here for it, not the right place for that) and still own mine and take it out quite a bit. It is hands down my favorite full featured compact camera ever made to date (if you like to be in full control of the camera and don't mind shooting low ISO's).

Carl

01-12-2009, 10:26 PM   #9
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The GX100/200 are popular "serious" compacts, as well as the GRD2. The LX2/3 (DLux3/4) are mentioned in the same breath, and they have a slightly different spin. The GRD2 is an amazing camera as well if you are comfortable just shooting at only 28mm effective. The LX3 though has pretty amazing low light performance. 24/2 on a p&s is a bit of a revelation. The only downside is the zoom is fairly short (60mm), but it is 2.8 at 60mm so that helps.

What sets the Ricohs apart is the UI. They got it just about perfect. The Panny isn't bad though. Both are preferable to Canon or other p&s, and since they have a hotshoe you can use a real viewfinder.
01-13-2009, 12:47 AM   #10
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In my job I *always* carry a camera, but not always can I carry a DSLR sized body and lens. I have been using a Canon SD800IS for the last 2 years, but about 3 weeks ago it crapped out on me and was thus retired. I now use a Panasonic TZ5. So far, this is a heck of a little P&S and I am enjoying it very much.

Jason
01-13-2009, 02:07 AM   #11
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Hi,

QuoteOriginally posted by nostatic Quote
Your specs are fairly extreme so you'll have a tough time. Perhaps prioritize your needs/wants and see what fits. The viewfinder is tough on a modern p&s.
Sorry, but the viewfinder is one I am not going to compromise on - I learned my lesson, and I'm just not going to buy any camera without one. It is at the very top of my list. It is the main reason for switching compact camera. If not for the lack of viewfinder I would just get another L1 if I could find one. Lack of SDHC wasn't that critical on a 6MP camera like it is on higher MP camera.

QuoteQuote:
Ricoh GX-200 is another option, but again the zoom isn't as long as you want.
The GX-200 sure seems like a nice little camera ! But is it really correct that it runs on AAA batteries and can only do 30 shots per set ??? That would seem like somewhat of a dealbreaker.

It does have a short zoom too, which I might compromise on, if everything else fit the requirements, but it does not I am afraid.
01-13-2009, 02:57 AM   #12
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I use an A710is. It has 6x zoom and 7Mp or so. It takes a nice photo is relatively small but sturdy. Takes AAs. Downside is it holds *only* two AA batteries which I'm guessing is the reason why flash recharge time is so slow. I mean S-L-O-W. Takes 5-10 seconds sometimes!
01-13-2009, 04:15 AM   #13
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It's a pity Oly killed the 8080 because that was one hell of a cam and it's lens resolution would put many primes for dslr to shame.

Also seen fantastic reviews and pics of the Ricoh 200 but man that cam is expensive. I wanted one for when on the face while rockclimbing but just can't justify the price.

Hard to find a p&s today with optical viewfinder & using AA batts

D
01-13-2009, 05:02 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by madbrain Quote
I am sure I am not the only one who cannot always lug around his DSLR and camera bag with all the accessories. As nice as the K200D is, it is not lightweight.

Last December, I visited Vietnam. 3 days into my trip, I got diagnosed with an inguinal hernia, and I was in major pain pretty. I almost came back early. But after a couple tries I found some painkillers that worked, and I have been on them ever since. Since I came back to California, I found out from 2 surgeons last week that I have not 1 but 3 hernias :-( I am due to be operated on all 3 in the next few weeks.
Hope your operation goes well. Perhaps, you won't "need" or want a P&S/PoS. I don't own one. Maybe, get a smaller bag/cover that can fit only your camera and a small lens. The closest thing to a P&S I have is the photo mode on my tiny camcorder which is nearly useless.
01-13-2009, 05:08 AM   #15
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In my left coat pocket there is either an Super A or an MX with a 28mm or 50mm lens on. In my right coat pocket, there is a 100mm or 135mm lens.
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