$200 vs $500 5-megapixel camera?!?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Proteus, Aug 15, 2005.

  1. Proteus

    Proteus Guest

    So I am wondering what is the main difference between $200 and $500 five
    megapixel point and shoot digitals? I am in the mood to buy one, a slim
    one, to carry around with to catch photo opportunities I might not
    otherwise get. I own a Canon 10D SLR, but do not carry it around with me
    everywhere I go. Hence the need for a skinny small compact model.

    I have seen most 5mpixel models going for $400-500, then today at a WalMart
    I saw one from I think Vivatar at only $180. So what would I be giving up
    except getting one cheaper? Hey at $180 if it last a year I would be happy;
    seemed to have all the features of say a Canon ELPH, at least from the
    outside. What am I not seeing?
     
    Proteus, Aug 15, 2005
    #1
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  2. Proteus wrote:
    > So I am wondering what is the main difference between $200 and $500
    > five megapixel point and shoot digitals?


    For $500 you can get a 5MP camera with an image stabilised 36 - 432mm
    lens - e.g. the Panasonic FZ5. Not in a $200 model, though.

    David
     
    David J Taylor, Aug 15, 2005
    #2
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  3. Proteus

    David Chien Guest

    Most importantly:
    image quality!

    ---

    eg. recently tested a Fujifilm f450 against a Sony DSC-P150 (set to 5MP
    mode even though it's a 7MP camera). The images from the sharper,
    better Carl-Zeiss lens on the Sony clearly produced better, sharper
    photos with less spherical abberation vs. the F450's poorer lens.
     
    David Chien, Aug 15, 2005
    #3
  4. Proteus

    Proteus Guest

    David Chien wrote:

    > Most importantly:
    > image quality!
    >
    > ---
    >
    > eg. recently tested a Fujifilm f450 against a Sony DSC-P150 (set to 5MP
    > mode even though it's a 7MP camera). The images from the sharper,
    > better Carl-Zeiss lens on the Sony clearly produced better, sharper
    > photos with less spherical abberation vs. the F450's poorer lens.



    Is there somewhere one can see comparison tests of the $500 or less 5mp
    cameras? That would be nice.
     
    Proteus, Aug 15, 2005
    #4
  5. Proteus

    lacunae Guest

    On Mon, 15 Aug 2005 13:12:31 -0500, Proteus wrote:

    > So I am wondering what is the main difference between $200 and $500 five
    > megapixel point and shoot digitals? I am in the mood to buy one, a slim
    > one, to carry around with to catch photo opportunities I might not
    > otherwise get. I own a Canon 10D SLR, but do not carry it around with me
    > everywhere I go. Hence the need for a skinny small compact model.
    >
    > I have seen most 5mpixel models going for $400-500, then today at a WalMart
    > I saw one from I think Vivatar at only $180. So what would I be giving up
    > except getting one cheaper? Hey at $180 if it last a year I would be happy;
    > seemed to have all the features of say a Canon ELPH, at least from the
    > outside. What am I not seeing?


    not sure where you're shopping to find "most 5mpixel models going for
    $400-500". just checking walmart.com (since you mentioned walmart),
    it seems that most of the 5mpixel cameras range from ~$250-350.mpixel

    by way of comparison, for <$400 you can get the Casio Exilim EX-Z750
    ($369.95 @ B&H), which is a wonderful little 7.2mpixel camera. several of
    my friends - some very serious (who use it when they don't want to haul
    their D2X or D2H around), some who are interested in photography, but
    mostly just take snaps in auto mode (but are interested in learning about
    the manual controls), and others who will probably never use anything
    other than fully automatic mode. one very nice thing about the Casio
    Exilim EX series cameras I've used is the start-up time (or lack thereof),
    and that there is virtually no shutter lag.

    i know that i find myself very tempted to buy one (tho i really shouldn't),
    because i've gotten very used being able to turn the camera on and take
    a shot immediatly with my D70, that the 6-second boot time on my 4mpixel
    point&shoot is starting to annoy the crap out of me. (the instant-on of my
    ex-m20 that i use primarily as an mp3 player is great, but its only
    2mpixel w/no optical zoom) the ex-z750 is also thinner and a bit more
    pocket-friendly than my kodak ls-743 (which is nice -- especially for
    the $60 i paid for it, when it was 50% off the clearance price at meijer,
    but doesn't allow nearly as much control -- but that 6-sec turn-on
    really sucks) still, even tho i bought the kodak with a "whatever its 60
    bucks, thats practically disposable" attitude, i'd still feel almost a
    little guilty about buying another p&s so soon, cuz i don't really have a
    real need for it.

    You might wanna think about it before going cheap.
    (otoh, the few reviews for the vivitar on epinions and cnet don't look
    bad, and many ppl don't care about manual controls or turn-on lag)

    you should go play with them in store before choosing tho
     
    lacunae, Aug 15, 2005
    #5
  6. Proteus

    lacunae Guest

    On Mon, 15 Aug 2005 19:36:39 +0000, David J Taylor wrote:

    > Proteus wrote:
    >> So I am wondering what is the main difference between $200 and $500
    >> five megapixel point and shoot digitals?

    >
    > For $500 you can get a 5MP camera with an image stabilised 36 - 432mm
    > lens - e.g. the Panasonic FZ5. Not in a $200 model, though.


    The FZ5 wouldn't fit my definition of a "skinny small compact camera" to
    carry "around with me everywhere I go" tho.
     
    lacunae, Aug 15, 2005
    #6
  7. Proteus

    Mark² Guest

    "Proteus" <> wrote in message
    news:XW4Me.4570$...
    > So I am wondering what is the main difference between $200 and $500 five
    > megapixel point and shoot digitals?


    $300.

    Sorry...couldn't resist.
    :)
     
    Mark², Aug 16, 2005
    #7
  8. lacunae wrote:
    > On Mon, 15 Aug 2005 19:36:39 +0000, David J Taylor wrote:
    >
    >> Proteus wrote:
    >>> So I am wondering what is the main difference between $200 and $500
    >>> five megapixel point and shoot digitals?

    >>
    >> For $500 you can get a 5MP camera with an image stabilised 36 - 432mm
    >> lens - e.g. the Panasonic FZ5. Not in a $200 model, though.

    >
    > The FZ5 wouldn't fit my definition of a "skinny small compact camera"
    > to carry "around with me everywhere I go" tho.


    "Skinny" meaning fits in your back pocket, no. For it's capability, 432mm
    telephoto, I find it very small and compact, and it's easily light enough
    to carry around everywhere I go (326g 11.5oz).

    David
     
    David J Taylor, Aug 16, 2005
    #8
  9. Proteus

    ASAAR Guest

    On Mon, 15 Aug 2005 23:01:32 -0700, "Mark²" <mjmorgan(lowest even
    number here)@cox..net> wrote:

    >> So I am wondering what is the main difference between $200 and $500 five
    >> megapixel point and shoot digitals?

    >
    > $300.
    >
    > Sorry...couldn't resist.
    > :)


    Unlike you, I successfully managed to resist that. :) But
    another answer is time. I don't know what Canon's Powershot A85
    listed for when it was introduced, but it's now being advertised in
    newspaper ads at just under $200. It's probably a better camera
    than whatever 5mp camera the OP finds for the same price.
    Similarly, the *very* limited PowerShot S10 (no manual modes)
    initially sold for far more than $500, but that didn't last long.
     
    ASAAR, Aug 16, 2005
    #9
  10. Proteus

    David Chien Guest

    >
    > Is there somewhere one can see comparison tests of the $500 or less 5mp
    > cameras? That would be nice.
    >

    www.dpreview.com
    www.imaging-resource.com
    www.steves-digicams.com
    www.dcresource.com
    www.digitalcamerainfo.com

    and other review websites have extensive test target comparisons for the
    various digicams made today. You can easily load up the same sample
    test target images for different cameras in different browser windows
    for direct comparison.

    ----

    Besides absolute resolving capability, also keep in mind the quality of
    the sensor at various ISO levels.

    eg. see digitalcamerainfo.com for the FujiFilm F10 and Sony W7 reviews.
    Notice:
    a) The F10 performs nearly as well as the W7 in their resolution tests,
    even though the former is a 5MP digicam, the latter a 7MP digicam. The
    higher quality FujiFilm sensor allows the camera to pickup more detail;
    the Sony 7MP sensor can't pickup as much detail, and performs more like
    an excellent 5MP digicam, the F10.
    b) Notice that the F10 does keep the ISO noise levels down below 1.0
    well past ISO 200. You can take a picture with lower noise levels on
    the F10 than with other digicams.

    But, also keep in mind that these factors are only a small part of the
    overall 'quality' of a photo. The 'cooler' color cast of the Fujifilm
    F10 may or may not be preferable in your eyes to another camera - you'll
    have to make this very subjective judgement because there is no RIGHT or
    WRONG choice here - merely what looks best to your eyes.

    Also, notice how 'poorly' the Canon A95 5MP compares in resolution and
    ISO noise to either of the two above.

    ----

    That said, you may find that there is a very good 'trick' you can use in
    picking up an extremely sharp 5MP digicam - simply buy a camera of a
    slightly higher MP, and run it in the 5MP image mode!

    For example, between the 'similar' $399 retail F10 and Sony P200 (which
    uses the same 7MP sensor as the tested W7 above), both cameras have
    their pluses and minuses. But, for the same price, you can buy either.
    If all you care about is a camera with great 5MP image output quality,
    you can include the P200 because it can be set to 5MP mode, which merely
    captures a sharp, downsized 7MP image in 5MP size. You will never lose
    quality this way, and you'll still retain the benefits of that
    particular model (whatever you find to be of value).

    A downsized image will be extremely sharp vs. a camera made for the
    'same' MP size, and you'll notice that right away.

    What may those values be?
    a) F10 has a larger screen vs. the P200.
    b) P200 has an optical viewfinder for bright, outdoor use when the LCD
    can't be seen clearly.
    c) F10 has higher ISO speeds.
    d) P200 has warmer image tones.
    e) F10 has far longer battery life.
    f) P200 fits easier in a shirt pocket.
    etc, etc.

    Hopefully, some of these will help in your search.
     
    David Chien, Aug 16, 2005
    #10
  11. Proteus

    Steve Oster Guest

    "Proteus" <> wrote in message
    news:XW4Me.4570$...
    > So I am wondering what is the main difference between $200 and $500 five
    > megapixel point and shoot digitals?


    I've been going through this recently as well. Every camera at $200 will
    probably be missing something. Here are some things I've been looking for:

    1) overall picture quality - are the pictures sharp? Most photos will only
    be developed at 4x6 size, so keep this in mind. To save money, maybe
    consider a 4mp camera which can give very good 4x6 results.

    2) durability - is it cheaply made? Is there a built-in lens cover so it
    doesn't scratch in your pocket?

    3) wide angle - mostly I take pictures of my family, and I don't need a 12x
    telephoto. I need to fit 8 people into the picture without standing too far
    back.

    4) lag time - how long does it take to turn on the camera? How long after
    you press the shutter does the picture actually get taken? How long do you
    have to wait to take the next picture

    5) other technical

    - Does it focus in the dark? Like when your taking a picture on the patio
    at 10 at night?
    - When you take a headshot, can you blur the background? (makes for a nice
    shot)
    - is it easy to set a fill flash?
    - Is the software easy for YOU to use?

    Since this information can be hard to find, be prepared to buy a number of
    cameras to compare and see which one you like best, and return the others.

    Steve
     
    Steve Oster, Aug 16, 2005
    #11
  12. Proteus

    David Chien Guest

    >1) overall picture quality - are the pictures sharp? Most photos will
    >only
    >be developed at 4x6 size, so keep this in mind. To save money, maybe
    >consider a 4mp camera which can give very good 4x6 results.


    A sharp 2-3 MP digicam can easily make a sharp 4x6" print today.
    There is no reason to worry if that's all you'll be printing with
    anything higher in MP.

    You can take any of the photo samples for any digicam made and have
    them printed to see for yourself.

    >2) durability - is it cheaply made? Is there a built-in lens cover so >it
    >doesn't scratch in your pocket?


    a) does it matter? at this lower-end price range? Heck, you can even
    get a nice 4-5MP FujiFilm for $99 or a nice Kodak 3-4MP for <$80
    nowadays, and they'll last a year or two easily. Practically at the
    point where you can replace a film camera with a digicam at the same
    price range.

    b) You may also want to consider the slim Sony T33/T7 models, the
    Nikon S1/S2 models, latest Pentax waterproof, and Minolta minis and
    others which have a folded optical zoom lens that is internally mounted.
    THUS, no zoom lens sticks out or extends at all, and you can stick
    that camera into your shirt pocket on or off w/o worry about breaking
    off that zoom lens.

    >3) wide angle - mostly I take pictures of my family, and I don't need

    a >12x
    >telephoto. I need to fit 8 people into the picture without standing
    >too far
    >back.


    Rare. You'll have that Kodak 24-whatever new release long-zoom, the
    Nikon 8400 24mm to whatever bulky, the Ricoh 28mm-whatever, etc. Not a
    lot of choices here. You may also want to consider using a lens adapter
    on a regular digicam (eg. many Sony and Nikons have wide angle lenses
    for their cameras).

    Realistically, 28mm for a dozen+ of people, 24mm once it gets to a
    few dozen. You can =easily= fit six to ten people into a 35-38mm group
    shot however w/o scooting too far back like I did at a recent party with
    my Sony P150.

    >4) lag time - how long does it take to turn on the camera? How long
    >after
    >you press the shutter does the picture actually get taken? How long

    do >you
    >have to wait to take the next picture


    See timings for each camera at www.dpreview.com and
    www.imaging-resource.com

    In general, pick the Sony digicams such as the P200, W7, T33/T7
    series. These will have ~1/3rd or so AF timings, 0.001 sec pre-focused
    release timings, and fast fixed focus release timings (in fact, Sony's
    are nice because they include fixed focus mode).

    I've found that the other brands (Canon, Nikon, Casio, Pentax)
    generally AF slower and/or don't have manual focus mode, and their
    system tends to operate slower on most models (some exceptions - see
    sites above).

    > - Does it focus in the dark? Like when your taking a picture on the patio
    > at 10 at night?


    1. Simply buy any digital camera, such as the Sony's, which have a
    fixed focus mode. You simply lock focus at 1m or 3m at night, then all
    autofocusing problems in low-light/night situations are eliminated for
    group photos. This also eliminates missed shots at night in dance
    clubs, bars, etc, where the people will have moved out of the picture by
    the time the slower AF locks focus.
    This particular feature of the Sony digicams completely eliminated
    my worries about missed shots.

    > - When you take a headshot, can you blur the background? (makes for a nice
    > shot)


    2. Nearly impossible automatically with today's mini digicams with
    lenses that were designed for maximum depth of field rather than minimum
    depth of field. You will see that on most digicams, they default to
    multipoint AF, and will automatically try to capture everything in clear
    focus. Even when you do switch to manual aperture mode, you will find
    that this feature is missing on a lot of the lower-end (cheaper)
    digicams, and that the selection of apertures is severely limited.
    There are a few that have a wide range of choices, but they tend to
    either be bulkier/heavier/more expensive cameras.

    Here, any dSLR with a nice f/1.2 50mm lens will do the trick
    nicely however.

    On most digicams, you'll have to zoom out to the maximum length,
    then adjust focus/aperture to get the maximum effect. You may still
    find it inadaquate at times vs. a f/1.2 50mm lens on a dSLR (or longer
    zoom with slightly higher f/stop).

    Keep in mind that you can alter the photo later in a paint program
    to simulate the blurred background easily.

    >- Is the software easy for YOU to use?


    You have the widest selection of choices here - you do not need to
    use what comes with the camera, and you can use anything from Windows to
    Paint Shop Pro to ACDSee to Infranview to Photoshop to whatever else you
    desire.

    Most digicams nowadays simply show up as another removable drive
    on your PC with full Windows access to these image files when it is
    connected to the PC.
     
    David Chien, Aug 17, 2005
    #12
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