Is this an impossible camera quest?
September 30, 2008 3:55 PM   Subscribe

I'd like a new point and shoot digital camera, but am at a bit of a loss on where to start. My current camera-history and requirements for a new one are inside.

I currently have a Canon S400 (or something similar, off the top of my head that might be wrong) that I got in 2003, and have used and abused ever since. My main rig is a Canon digital Rebel XT that I adore, but I'd like something smaller to toss in my purse. The S400 still works fine and I love it, but it's a bit bulky, and the resolution isn't very good. It's been having some problems lately corrupting photos, and it's slooooow. I know cameras have gotten a lot faster and better at low light situations over the past five years.

Canon is my brand of choice. I love the aesthetics of the Elph series, and I trust them because all of my other cameras have been so amazingly sturdy. However, I really only want a camera that uses a CF card. My digital Rebel uses CF cards and I have a lot of them, and don't want to have to buy into a new memory card system at this stage. I can't seem to find any newer, better point and shoot Canons that use CF instead of SD. If I have to abandon Canon to use a CF card instead, I'm willing to, but I don't know the first place to start with non-Canon cameras.

Because this is just a back-up camera, something around $200 or less is what I'm looking at. Decent resolution, ability to fiddle with all sorts of manual settings, and "takes good pictures" are all I'm after. The slower the lag between aiming, focusing, and shutter release, the better. I don't know if any point and shoot cameras these days are able to shoot in RAW, but if they are that'd be great. Thanks for any suggestions!
posted by booknerd to Shopping (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I have the Canon SD1000 Elph and love it. Seriously, don't worry about buying memory for it. Yes it uses SD rather than CF, but you can get a 2GB SD card for less than 15 bucks. I got mine for $179.
posted by DrDreidel at 3:59 PM on September 30, 2008

I was thinking of getting the SD1000 for my boyfriend, because I've heard good things. It's not the expense of SD cards that I don't want to deal with, it's just the hassle. If I'm toting both of my cameras around, I don't want to worry about which card goes with which camera and whether or not I've got enough of both, and I know I'd lose the smaller SD cards all over my messy office.
posted by booknerd at 4:02 PM on September 30, 2008

Well, I am in the same boat as you, without the memory card issue because I use a rebel xsi, which takes SD. I want a smaller camera for carrying around as well. Anyway, I found all these CF to SD adapters for you to try.

The small p+s cameras I am considering are the Canon PowerShot SD1100IS and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ4K.
posted by smalls at 4:27 PM on September 30, 2008

There is a feature search at you can search for CF compatibility.

And a recent askme on $200 digital cameras.
posted by Craig at 4:43 PM on September 30, 2008

sorry, that's
posted by Craig at 4:45 PM on September 30, 2008

Basically what you're asking for is impossible as far as I know - I went through the same thing, all the newer small form factor cameras use SD cards. I would recommend a canon, specifically one of the A-series that takes two batteries and can run CHDK, which is a replacement firmware that will enable everything your camera can do even if Canon's stock firmware does not (shooting RAW, for example).

I doubt you can find a smaller newer camera that takes CF cards.
posted by true at 5:42 PM on September 30, 2008

ah crap - i realize i got the adapters backwards. remind me not to answer questions after working out when i am hungry. Sorry!
posted by smalls at 5:58 PM on September 30, 2008

I'm not sure why you think you'll need a bunch of cards for your new camera. A single 2 or 4GB card will give you hundreds of photos.
posted by O9scar at 9:48 PM on September 30, 2008

The amount you'll invest in a new flash memory format and a camera you're comfortable with is much less than the amount you'll spend to keep CF-pure. Make the jump (Canon did for its P&S range) and sell or pass on some of your old CF cards when you part with your old camera.
posted by holgate at 10:13 PM on September 30, 2008

I too had an S400 (then an S500 when that broke) and just recently upgraded to a SD1100. Part of the reason that the S400 is slow is because it uses CF since CF is slow to write to. About a year after I bought my S400, I got my younger brother a similar model that used SD cards by mistake – I too wanted to remain CF pure and figured I could just give him some of my smaller CF cards – and the difference in the speed between the two cameras was striking. You know how you have to wait a second or so after taking a picture before you can do anything else and there is all those times where you missed a shot because of that wait? Yeah, that is because of the CF card.

My SD1100 has been a pretty good little camera so far. It is quite thin, very fast, and takes pretty decent pictures. I got a 8 GB card for it (that was maybe $45?) and that can hold ~1500 shots, even at the highest quality; in fact, the card can hold more pictures that you can take on a single charge of the battery (I think I managed about 600-700 pictures before the battery pooped out).

As for the features you are wanting, CHDK is the way to go as it is the only way you are going to be able to shoot raw on a point-and-shoot (and you can do other cool things like HDR and very short exposure times like 1/10,000 s). The SD1000 has been able to run CHDK for a while and the SD11000 just got a port in the last month. If you are on Windows, it is pretty easy to set it up (it is a little trickier on a Mac on Linux). Be aware, though, that the largest SD card you can use with CHDK is a 4 GB card.
posted by The Bishop of Turkey at 5:51 AM on October 1, 2008

You can also use SDHC cards in recent Canons. (We recently got an SD790 for our son and got two 4 GB cards for a total of $30.)
posted by lukemeister at 6:14 AM on October 1, 2008

Stick with Canon and forget about the CF in a P&S camera. With the huge capacity of SD cards now, you'll never need to swap cards. You'll have hundreds of shots before you fill up the card. I basically treat the memory card in by SD550 as part of the camera, and download photos to my computer over the USB connection.

You really want to get a camera that has IS for improved low-light use (slower shutter speeds).

Another tip is to try to find a recently discontinued model. The latest models have basically had just incremental improvements with each generation, so you might be able step up to a nicer, but older camera at a discount.

CF cards are plenty fast. Pros still use CF. The difference in speed you observed probably had more to do with the camera buffering rather than speed of the memory card write.

And CHDK is awesome! Thanks for the pointer.
posted by kenliu at 8:45 PM on October 1, 2008

I've finally made up my mind, just in time for Christmas! I'll pick up an SD1100IS, a 4GB SD card, and install CHDK. Now my only decision is whether I should get two, so my boyfriend can have a decent camera too. Thanks to all of you.
posted by booknerd at 9:02 AM on December 9, 2008

And uh, 8-9 months later I finally bought one today. Hooray.
posted by booknerd at 4:19 PM on August 22, 2009

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