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Sunday, May 13, 2007

Recommended Point-and-Shoots

Here are a few recommendable point-and-shoots and the reason for recommending them:

• Fuji F20. Tiny size, good image quality, and good low-light performance.
• Nikon S10. Unusual and handy form-factor.
• Canon A640. AA batteries, articulated LCD screen.
• Casio EX-S600. Simple controls, decent shutter lag, not too expensive.
• Olympus 770SW. "Shockproof, freezeproof, waterproof."
• Ricoh RDC-7. Very slim, doubles as voice recorder.
• Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX2 (a.k.a. Leica D-Lux 3). Image stabilized, 16:9 ratio, good lens with true wide angle, fast at the wide end, shoots RAW.

Any others anybody wants to recommend?



Blogger Tim said...

The Canon A710 IS is a decent choice I think. For related discussion (which will probably be of interest to anyone who cares about the are-compacts-worthwhile issue) see Photo Camp and High-end Compacts, Travel Pix, and Canon A710 IS.

4:32 PM  
Blogger R.A. Sasayama said...

ricoh rdc-7, for sheer digi-retro awesomeness.

4:37 PM  
Blogger dcs said...

Ricoh GR-D -- intuitive controls (knobs, not menus!) and a very "film-like" noise pattern. It has a solid feel and a unique, quirky character.
(The GX-100 looks to be an improved version, albeit with a zoom instead of a fixed lens)

4:38 PM  
Blogger baswell said...

Panasonic FX01 - 28mm wide angle, pretty sharp Leica lens. 28mm lens. Capable of good colour reproduction in decent light. 28mm lens. Good on the shutter lag.

Oh, and did I mention it actually has a proper wide angle lens with the equivalent focal length of 28mm?

5:27 PM  
Blogger Dr Hiding Pup said...

Oregon Scientific DS9300. Dirt cheap, and you can give them to deserving three year olds!

5:28 PM  
Blogger Dr Hiding Pup said...

PS Oregon Scientific DS9300 - shit but has the virtue of being cheap :-)

5:29 PM  
Blogger Marc Rochkind said...

This list is OK, and it reveals that you basically agree with one modification of your "P&Ss are shit" article: That cameras of this class ought not to be chosen for their electronic or optical qualities (because both are poor, and you basically get what you pay for), but for their mechanical qualities, of which two categories are most important: Form factor and environmental protection (e.g., waterproof, dropproof, freezeproof). (I think you said as much indirectly in the first post.)

I'd add one other thing to your multi-part buyer's guide, which you also implied in your first post: Don't spend more than about $400 - $450 for a P&S, and only if it's mechanical qualities are special. Above that and you are in DSLR territory.

I would add to this list the Leica D-Lux 3/Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX2, because it's small (although the lens protrudes), it's 16:9, it's good (esp. lens), it has full manual controls, and, most importantly to me, it shoots raw.

Or, maybe this camera isn't a P&S?


5:40 PM  
Blogger monarch said...

I think the F20 isn't too much of a compromise with respect to the F30, and at $150, what's the harm?

5:56 PM  
Blogger Waddellz said...

I would be curious to know how many owners of low-end DSLRs actually use different lenses on their cameras. I think for a lot of people, the DSLR is a fancy P&S, left on automatic and always with the original 18-55 (or something like that) lens in place.

Once the price point crossed for the lower end DSLR and the high end P&S, the only difference becomes size and snob appeal ... IMHO.

And for the record, I use a 20d because it works with all my old EOS lenses. I just recommended an A710 IS for work and everyone is happy.

7:41 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

I was out of the country when my dslr pooped out, and learned by necessity that the Canon S2 IS (later replaced by the S3 IS, and the S5 IS has just been announced) is a surprisingly versatile machine.

For low-angle and off-angle shooting, and discreet shooting in situations where I was literally standing next to someone, that pivot/swivel lcd is remarkably useful. And in ample light, I sometimes preset the camera to a manually focused distance and kept it there, taking advantage of the extraordinary d.o.f. of the small sensor camera at f/8 and wider focal lengths and speeding things up in the process.

The camera does not perform like a dslr, but it's not too shabby.

8:41 PM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

"The camera does not perform like a dslr, but it's not too shabby"

I really don't think the S2 / S5 falls into the p/s category, though. At least not as I define a p/s.


8:53 PM  
Blogger Amin said...

My P&S is a Canon G7, which I can recommend for its great resolution, good manual controls, and responsive performance. However, the lack of RAW and wide angle have me thinking about selling it for a Pany LX2 or Ricoh GX100.

9:07 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

The Oly 77SW looks great on paper. Too bad it doesn't live up to its specifications. Mine is on its way back to the shop after a week of use saw it leak, locking up the electronics.

11:41 PM  
Blogger Tom said...

My favorite point and shoot is a Sony V3. It can capture in raw and when I add a 093 infrared filter and press the Nightshot button, I have an excellent infrared camera without having to trick out anything.

11:43 PM  
Blogger pbizarro said...

I am currently using the Ricoh GX100. This has a 24-72mm zoom, aperture priority, RAW, great controls and ergonomics, and is very well built.

11:51 PM  
Blogger David Lykes Keenan said...

I totally agree regarding the Panasonic FX01.

Great little camera.

12:49 AM  
Blogger Bruce M said...

A friend has a Canon SD 800 IS which is small, not wide angle, but has a viewfinder. I like the pictures it takes, and am recommending it to another friend who has a DSLR.

12:49 AM  
Blogger Scott Kirkpatrick said...

The GX-100 and GR-D from Ricoh seem to run against the current here. Good ergonomics, exposed and intuitive controls. In the case of the GR-D a very nice prime lens, which coupled with a short focal length gives a distinctive drawing style. I'm anxious to see if the zoom lens on the GX-100 has decent quality, since the two cameras operate essentially the same way, and having one, it would be nice to have both.

I can give them to kids to use who are curious about photography and not feel that I am forever dumbing down their understanding of where images come from.

Ricoh also swims against the current by charging more the these. I hope they can make it stick.


12:56 AM  
Blogger Paul Perton said...

Leica's D-LUX 3. It's a great little P&S, light (enough) and supports RAW, the benefits of which seems to escape most of the other manufacturers.

I know the Leica is significantly more expensive than the Panasonic, but I prefer it's superior contrast and Leica colour style.

It's also nice to have that red dot in front of the shutter release ;-)

1:21 AM  
Blogger Dierk Haasis said...

In the past there have been some decent P&S cams [or digicams as I prefer to call them, in contrast to dSLR]. The Nikon Coolpix line had some good ones, like the original tilt-lens designs [995 etc.] or the 8400/8800 two years back. Unfortunately the latter two died a very premature death, and the Coolpix label is now a shadow of its former self.

Canon just followed Nikon with its G-line, which originally was a one-model pinnacle of the Powershot line. The G2 was an exceptionally good and verstile camera, the G3 came with some design concessions [looking better, being smaller, resulting in partly obstructed flash] and more pixels, a trend followed by the G5 and G6. Unfortunately the latest model scrapped almost everything the G-line once stood for - no RAW format, no tilt-swivel monitor leave a sour taste and a camera not at all versatile anymore. It's just a big, unstylish computer with limited capabilities.

Nothing against small, good looking JPEG machines. With the dSLR market now in full swing, covering everyx angle, from holiday shooter to pro, digicams may be better off going for style and snapshooter features.

A digicam nowadays should give quick and finished results - modern algorithms give more keepers than ever before -, be small and stylish [shirt-pocket design], relatively sturdy, and offer some non-photographic functions like sending a file as e-mail/MMS, Bluetooth connectivity [for access with cellular and GPS receiver] etc.

1:34 AM  
Blogger previous-phojus said...

Excellent, a list I can pass on to my friend.....


2:58 AM  
Blogger Simon Bromley said...

i use a canon G7 and i think its great - lack of RAW does annoy me though, and in a perfect world it would have a fast 24-70mm (equivalent) zoom, as opposed to the 35-210 one it has now - as i rarely (if ever) use the long end. Still, it has great high iso performance, its responsive, feature packed, etc... Its by no means perfect though - its not the DMD we're all looking for; i'm looking forward to the sigma DP-1.

As for bobby clobbers comment - i own a canon 350D, since i could not afford a hgiher model - i have since saved all of my wages from my job (i'm only 18 -still in school- so i dont earn loads) and have been using it to buy lenses, etc... A low end DSLR does not denote a poor photographer, who's, in reality, only interested in snapshots.

Its purely a cost issue (hence why i really like film atm - the cameras + lenses are available soooo cheap, its amazing!)

3:06 AM  
Blogger matthis said...

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX2 is a very nice looking camera with a pretty good lens and decent ergonomics. However, its sensor is so noisy already from ISO 100 that Panasonic decided to apply noise reduction even to the RAW files (which are, by the way, huge). And don't expect true 28mm wide angle except when shooting 16:9 mode, either.

3:58 AM  
Blogger hugo solo said...

I don´t need a wideangle y like the 35mm and 50mm the tele I use a little by the time no need Raw my G7 is a good camera.

4:07 AM  
Blogger rd said...

I bought my wife a Fuji F20 for Christmas last year; I think I got it on sale at CompUSA for around $100. She really had no interest in any sort of controls other than the shutter -- she literally wanted a point-and-shoot device. However, I've been nothing but impressed with the results she gets with the thing, and I agree that it may be the great bargain in the class.

5:05 AM  
Blogger John Roberts said...

To help answer Mr. Clobber's question, I, for one, use a "low end" DSLR (an E-500), I do change lenses (I have three), and I do not shoot on automatic. I did not upgrade from a G3 to a DSLR for "snob appeal", but for the ability to use a wider variety of focal lengths. I bought a "low end" model because that's what I could afford. Thankfully, I'm old enough to understand that "snob appeal" won't give me better photos, and that it doesn't matter to people who matter.

While my move up to a DSLR was mostly for practical reasons, I'm also old enough to understand that people who claim to have chosen their particular camera model based on purely practical considerations and objective criteria are probably only fooling themselves. Choosing a camera is much like choosing an automobile: our choices are a lot more subjective than most of us are willing to admit. But it's really nothing to be ashamed of. Yeah, I admit it, I also like the way my E-500 looks.

5:30 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I made a table of interesting P&S to help friends decide based on 5 (but ignoring 13) criteria:

Zoom range
Low light
Manual options

Somehow I ended up recommending the Ricoh R5/R6 most.

5:47 AM  
Blogger Player said...

Canon A95.

8:45 AM  
Blogger Max said...

It's really interesting how value perception has changed. The last film camera I bought new was a Yashica T4 Super. It has a Zeiss Tessar 35/3.5 lens, the typical flash on flash off, fill flash plus a great infinity focus setting, all in one button. The lens has T* coatings and I've never seen anything more contrasty or saturated, and very very sharp (I love to use it with Velvia, although results are quite over the top). Focus and exposure are very precise, and you can focus/exposure lock, just the basics. Built is excellent, and weatherproof. I bought it for 160 u$s, and still the whole value perception when I hold that camera in my hand is far above most digital p&s I've picked. Few things, all of them great, a design concept.
Also, it is the camera I can lend to my parents for a trip and they come back with 90% of the pictures looking good (and actually printed). They have a digital camera but the Yashica is far simpler. I'd say film p&s were true p&s, while I can't point out why the digital cameras don't quite make it yo the same level of simplicity. May be it's just that, as in cars or wine or watches, people would rather buy a product that says it can do a ton of things for you than one that simply does the one thing it's primarily designed to.
And the customer is always right.

9:04 AM  
Blogger Max said...

Oh, I forgot, the T4 also has a second top oriented finder that works. As I said, a few things, all of them great.

9:07 AM  
Blogger ILTim said...

Canon SD800IS: 28mm wide angle, image stabilzed, FAST turn on, perfectly spot on metering and white balance (1,000 time better than any DSLR I've used), noise reduction is very good, and its 'small enough'.

I don't take snapshots with my DSLR anymore, the pocket cam flat-out does it better. When I switch back and forth, the images are barely distinguishable... with the pocket-cam shots being better. Of course, I would NEVER try to take artistic landscape shots with a P&S. Horses for courses.

9:33 AM  
Blogger chrispycrunch said...

I would have bought a Canon G7 if it were not for getting a Sony dSLR a100 instead. Canon's 800Is is very nice too, with its wide angle that would be useful for trips.

I am surprised you did not include the A710 which is the value version of the G7.

9:37 AM  
Blogger ILTim said...

To expand:
The dslr comes out to play with the tripod, with the fast lenses for environmental portraits, with the wireless multiple flash equipment, with the 10mm ultra-mega-wide lens, and so on. Any time that more than 1/4 of a second of pre-thought goes into a picture. If I'm putting less than a second of though into my exposure, I'm better off letting the P&S think for me, it thinks fast... in a corporate bean counter law of averages 'just good enough' kind of way.

If your going to think for yourself, manual exposure, manual white balance, manual focus, careful lens/composition choice, and the frequent use of a tripod come with the DSLR. If your not taking advantage of these things then your not getting much out of the high-end equipment.

9:40 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I had a Nikon 8400, the one with the 24-85mm (equivalent) lens. Good lens, made nice images, but I couldn't stand the EVF, and it was too large to fit in a pocket. The RAW files were occasionally nice to have, though the 6-seconds per shot performance was lousy.

I spent a lot of time looking for a pocketable camera with an optical viewfinder, and ended up with a Canon G-7. Yes, there are issues, and maybe it's not as insanely great as the previous G-series cameras, but it fits in my pocket and makes decent photos when I put forth a little effort. Low ISO performance is pretty good, high ISO performance not so much -- but that's true with any compact small-sensor POS, er, P&S. It feels finely crafted, and has some heft to it, and most of the important shooting features are available with a single button press, rather than through a multi-level menu. Since I use Canon 1-series digitals at work, the user interface feels pretty familiar.

9:56 AM  
Blogger dasmb said...

My first digital was a Fuji MX2900. It is probably the shittiest camera I have ever owned -- worse than my APS Kodak, worse than the fixed focus 35mm panorama my dad got free at a trade show and worse than the series of Kodak 110 cameras my family owned back in the '80s.

Shutter lag was massive -- at least a second -- and was followed by several seconds of dead time while the image was saved to a card. 10% of the time, your image was lost during the save. A further 10% of the time, your card was screwed up and you lost everything on it.

"Manual Focus" was controlled by moving the focus motor with arrow keys and was useless for every purpose. Flash covered the center 80% of the frame. The lens was small, slow and cloudy.

Images were noisy at every light level -- there was no ISO setting. Your only option for output was a jagged, oversharpened JPEG.

I owe a lot to that camera. I don't miss it as an imaging tool, but man, did it look cool.

10:49 AM  
Blogger Stephen said...

The Fuji F20 is discontinued. The F30 that replaced it is also discontinued, but it was a better camera than the F20. The current model that just replaced the f30, the F31fd, is an excellent point and shoot with superior low-light high ISO capability. If only it shot RAW....sigh.

1:31 PM  
Blogger Albano Garcia said...

Thanks for this serie of articles on p&s cameras, truly excellent. But please, stop throwing so much common sense (your blog could be named "The Uncomfortable Truth" after these articles plus the Leica one), or you'll end with broken knees in a dark street :-)

4:34 PM  
Blogger Tom said...

Sony V3. It can capture in Raw and press the NightShot button and and a 093 infrared filter, you have an excellent infrared camera without tricking out anything

5:14 PM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

I just really don't consider the Sony V3 a "point-and-shoot." The definition isn't a hard one, but the basic sense of the term--an "idiot camera," lowest-common-denomiator, cheap, as compact as possible--just doesn't really apply to that camera. The V3 is a small-sensor camera, but a fairly serious one nevertheless.


6:06 PM  
Blogger Adam Richardson said...

The conversation here has piqued my interest in the Ricoh GX100. I need something to fit between my Pentax DSLR and my SonyEricsson W810 (2MP cameraphone). It doesn't need to be ultimately portable (phone's fine for impromptu), but be much less bulky than even the small Pentax. Image quality must be high, ergonomics fast, price not overly expensive. The Ricoh would be nice if it had a longer zoom, but I'll take the wide angle over that (can't stand 36mm usual wide limit of P&S's). Can't find any samples in the 400 ISO range and up to see what the noise is like, but it has image stabliziation and a fast lens, so those mitigate... Hmmm....

12:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its quite amusing in light of the recent Dirck Halstead proclamation about the coming earthquake in photography that anyone would bother to even get themselves worked up over any of these cameras or the fact that people don't know or just don't care that they could be better. It wouldn't surprise me that if in a few short years these P&S cameras were completely out-moded by the proliferation of cell phone cameras [if they aren't already] and that anyone who fancys themselves as a "serious photographer" isn't shooting video as per Halstead's prediction.

Historically, there is a precedence for this development as well. Many of the greats of the past century from Paul Strand to Robert Frank to Avedon have worked with moving images during their long careers. Add to that the fact that the web is a hungry beast and with the development of YouTube and My.Space video will most likely reign supreme overall. Its no doubt that many purists will cling to their still cameras just like many of those same purists are clinging to the notion that Leica has any true relevance in the 21st century. Think about it. How did Leica come into being in the first place? By making it possible to load movie film into a still camera.

This type of photography has always been, to some degree, the step-child of movies. Eugene
Smith comes to mind in this regard. Consider how he paid a whole village to walk up and down the streets of their town for 8 hours just so he could try and capture brief snippets of life as it "really happened". In my own recent experience using one of the C-XXXX Olympus cameras Mike mentioned the live view has changed the way I capture images to the degree that I can't imagine that any camera without an articulated screen would allow.

Put a camera to your face and the whole world becomes a stage and everyone in view of your rangefinder becomes an actor. Stand around where there is human activity all the while never looking up from the video screen and not only does no one seem to notice but the whole experience takes on the aura of watching a movie in itself.

In the near future I will be learning Final Cut Pro to – at first – create presentations of my still images and, from there, will be developing my skills as a video editor as well. So thanks, Mike, for lighting the way for future developments in this ever-changing realm of photography but as far as the relevance of these crappy little P&S cameras – fugidaboutit. In other words: lets not look back to see where we've been [or how things might have been] but let's look forward to see where we're going, shall we? "Keep your eyes on the road, your hands upon the wheel" – the Doors

howard linton

3:11 AM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

Did somebody die and make Dirck H. Nostradamus? In any event he was just taking about photojournalism.

Besides, many point-and-shoots already shoot video clips.


6:55 AM  
Blogger AK said...

I have the Canon SD550, which I'm pretty happy with. When I purchased it (12/2005), I had four main criteria, in order of importance:

1. Shutter lag -- I lined up 6 cameras on the counter at B&H (including the Canon SD450, Canon A620, Panasonic LC1) and the SD550 was noticeably fastest from pushing the shutter button to finishing capture.

2. Fast (relatively) lens -- All of the contenders were OK in this regard.

3. Optical viewfinder -- In retrospect, not as important.

4. Solid construction -- The SD550 has an all-metal body that has handily survived several drops from waist level to hard floors.

9:33 AM  
Blogger Roman Werpachowski said...


Fuji 6500fd (6000fd outside Europe) has the same sensor that F31d and shoots raw.

12:17 PM  
Blogger Paul Leidl said...

Hi Mike:
I wonder if some of your readers are unsure of what defines a point and shoot as opposed to a fixed lens "bridge camera"?
Hell, even over at DPReview, Simon Joinson referred to the Fuji s6000fd as a "mid range FinePix bridge camera" and then went on to say that it is "probably not the best "point and shoot" in it's class".

1:55 PM  
Blogger Avi said...

Canon SD700 IS.

8:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Unfortunately there's not much other than the "I know it when I see it"-type definitions for sorting between a true "P&S" vs. a bridge camera.

However simply as a rhetorical exercise I think there are probably two stand-out points that come to mind:

First and foremost: Glass. Many bridge cameras have had higher zoom ratios than the typical 3x that P&S cameras seem to sport, that does not however mean that all bridge cameras were superzooms, nor does it mean that all superzooms are bridge cameras. However I think it is a fairly honest assessment to say that with P&S cameras the lens almost seems to come as an after thought to whatever the current "it" marketing-buzzword-feature is, and the current-for-this-year styling cues. You could always tell that a bridge camera was special because it usually had a big honking piece of glass hanging off the front of it.

Ergonomics is number two. Among so-called bridge cameras there were and are better and worse levels of ergonomics, but actual grips made for real people's hands, command wheels, and plentiful buttons all seem to be common characteristics. P&S are made to be slipped stylishly and unobtrusively into pockets, as such, actual, you know, controls, would tend to get in the way of that particular design goal. Also things like time-to-first-shot, shutter-lag, and overall responsiveness were long a sticking point for this market demographic before now.

When you could see that the two above factors were given significant care and attention in the design of the camera chances are pretty good that you were handling a bridge camera. Everything else, is/was a point and shoot.

A bit more superficially the actual form factor of the camera was often a clue as well. In this market camera designs seemed to be as diverse as the companies making them, the above point about grips notwithstanding. However you could generally say that if it specifically did not look like a deck of cards odds are you had a bridge camera, not a P&S.


9:11 PM  
Blogger bheliker said...

The Nikon 5000. Good lens, good image quality, raw, manual controls, flash shoe, image stab, good wide, and above all it fits nicely into my hand (those other guys are just too small).

11:38 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I use a Ricoh GX100 a good compromise between high quality p&s raw file versatility and souvenir of "old" analogue cameras. Has a viewfinder albeit electronic. Zoom can be locked on 21-28-35-50-70 mm positions and settings are quite intuitive.
Nevertheless I wish to remind that a Rollei35, with its Zeiss lens, gives results which are still far superior. More saturated colours, better lens, prints from the shop (or home made if preferred), easier to use, robust and much more.The appearence is still stunningly solid. It´s price as good used camera is between 150 and 200 Euro depending on model. I you prefer use Contax, Minox, Leicacl, Olympus, Ricoh Gr or any other quality analogue camera. Have we forgotten real quality?

5:09 AM  

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