I dropped my Minolta X into water by accident recently and that was the end of it. So, now I really do need a replacement. I would like to get another good pocketable camera with 5 megapixels.
Here are my criteria:
- Small: Pants pocket size so I can take it with me when out doors and have it with me most of the time.
- Light weight: once you start carrying lots of devices, the weight adds up.
- High Picture Quality: I want the best photos I can get in this form factor. You simply can't get high picture quality across the board with a tiny lens, so adjust your expectations accordingly. I'm telling myself that when I've got some spare bucks sometime I'll get a bigger, higher quality cam for special photography outings.
- Easy to Use: Button placement, menus, holding the camera, view finder, lcd. I want to be able to quickly change settings and not accidentally hit the power off when I meant to take a picture.
- Fast shutter speed: Startup and between shots to capture those fleeting opportunities and moving targets like children and pets. This requires a buffer that stores the shots temporarily in some kind of fast RAM that can then be stored a few moments later.
- Optical Zoom 3x or more.
- SD Card. I use SD cards with my Zire and my old camera. SD is the sweet spot right now. Would rather not have to pay a premium for niche products like Sony Memory sticks or XD or have to use the older and larger Compact Flash which are no longer cheaper than SD for 1 gig and smaller. I also keep an SD-card reader PC card in my Powerbook for convenience.
- Video. I like being able to occasionally take quick little videos and play around. Prefer that it records up to limits of available memory. 640x480 would be good.
- Under $450.
- 5 Megapixels. 4 would be the minimum.
- Large LCD. 2" or larger preferred.
- Optical view finder also
- Mac compatible.
- Decent battery life. Average seems adequate for my needs.
- Decent flash. I don't expect a lot here. My gadget-buddy Bob recommends the Casio S500 for it's flash.
So far, I'm not finding all my criteria met in one single device. Does this sound familiar? Here are the cameras that I'm considering right now:
Sony DSC-T1. $450. I hear that you pay an extra 16% for the Sony brand. After that, maybe it's the value-add. Giant 2.5" lcd great especially for photo viewing and evaluation (the little rectangle on the screen shows what you get with 1.5" lcd. No optical view finder. Heavy 6.3 oz. Small: 3-5⁄8" x 2-3⁄8" x 4⁄5". Sony Duo Pro memory cards. Decent picture quality. 640x480 video. Flash good only for 6 feet. Excellent voice recorder.
Canon S500 $350. Best picture quality perhaps. Heavy 6.3 oz. Uses Compact Flash. 1/1.8" CCD. Optical viewfinder. Lens: 7.4-22.2mm, f/2.8-4.9. Thicker 3.4" x 2.2" x 1.1".
Pentax Optio S5i. $350. Light 3.7 oz. Tiny: 3.3 x 2 x .81 inches. 1.8" LCD. 21 picture modes. 10 mb built-in and uses SD cards. Its 22 modes could be handy for quick set-up and trouble-free use. Sport mode gives you fast quick shot capability. Amazon reader reports downgrade it for blurry LCD view-finder - LCD good for looking at photos afterwards, though. Slow shots in normal mode if at highest resolution.
Casio Exilim EXZ55. $400. 2.5" lcd. Rapid startup in 1.6 seconds. Video till memory full - 320 x 240 only. Lens: f2.6 (wide) to 4.8 (telephoto); focal length: 5.8 to 17.4 mm. Light enough 4.6 oz. Small: 3.4 x 2.3 by .9.
Konica-Minolta Dimage X50. $340. 2" lcd. Fast startup 1/2 second. Light enough: 4.4 oz. Small: 3.28 x 2.44 x 0.93 inches. Video till memory full - 320 x 240 only.
I've leaned towards Sony one day and Canon another, but I may just go for the Konica-Minolta. Any of these would be excellent cameras. But the X50 seems to come closest to meeting all of my criteria and I'm familiar with it already having owned the Dimage X. It takes my SD cards. Has a 2" lcd. Is about the right size and weight. Mossberg recommended it but not against this specific competition... The price is right at $340.
UPDATE: Bought the X50 from Amazon. Applied $45 in coupons. Went for 2nd day air. Net $306. Of course, you'll hear more about this new camera soon. I should get it Friday and start using it immediately. Cross your fingers for me!
One camera I missed in my research is the Canon SD300. Perhaps I missed it because it is a 4 megapixel camera and I was looking at 5 mpx mostly. Anyway, it is smaller than the S500, uses SD cards, has a 2" LCD and seems to have the high picture quality that the Canons are noted for. I suggest you include it in your shopping as well.