Recommendations for A Small Digital Camera?
June 19, 2009 6:39 AM   Subscribe

I'm pretty into photography. I have a pretty giant SLR that I carry around with me everywhere, with an external flash and huge telephoto lens. But it's destroying my back, and I need a small point-and-shoot for off days. I was hoping people could recommend new small digital cameras. I want a camera that has a really fast recording speed and takes relatively good pictures (with some amount of depth to them). I don't mind if it's a little more expensive, although I'd like something light weight and pocket size. And underwater function would be cool, or at least water resistance. Any ideas?
posted by slowcat to Technology (20 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Seconding the G10 (or one of the older G-series if you want to go Ebaying) as they have a good range of manual functions for more creative shots.
posted by Sifter at 6:54 AM on June 19, 2009

I've been shopping around in this category, and b1tr0t's list is pretty good.

I've been trying to get a Panasonic LX3 for a while. It's out of stock in many places.
posted by gushn at 6:55 AM on June 19, 2009

While I haven't put one through its paces, Nth the G10. It's what many of my photog friends carry in your situation. Ensure you use CHDK to unlock some nice features.

Personally I like small 70s rangefinders— previously a Minolta Hi-Matic and now a Canonet QL17. You may not wish to shoot film, though.
posted by a halcyon day at 7:00 AM on June 19, 2009

You have to decide how important the underwater feature is to you. That puts you into a separate category with relatively limited options. Examples include the Canon D10, the Optio W60, etc.
posted by smackfu at 7:00 AM on June 19, 2009

Canon G10 (have one and its great) (although i'm not a SLR type so I could be wrong.
posted by mary8nne at 7:03 AM on June 19, 2009

My sister has an LX3. She loves it. Pretty awesome little camera.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:09 AM on June 19, 2009

You may want to consider a micro four thirds camera which will be coming out soon. They won't be as small as the pocket digicams out today, but definably more portable then a large SLR. Once there's some competition out there, expect prices to drop.

But if you're looking to get a camera right now, then consider the Canon SD880. But results will be seriously sub-par to your SLR in all but outdoors on a bright, sunny day. Granted, neither this or any 4/3rds will be waterproof, just the best quality pictures.
posted by spoons at 7:12 AM on June 19, 2009

Seconding the LX3, it's pretty much replaced my SLR.
posted by mikesch at 7:16 AM on June 19, 2009

I have a Canon G9 and really enjoy it, though it does not perform very well in low light situations (few compacts do). It is extremely versatile, can take a full sized flash on its hotshoe, has controls that make full-manual exposure simple to operate, and is great for macro shots (focuses to within 1cm of the lens!). In good conditions you can produce pro-quality images that can be blown up to poster size and still look great. The G10 is its successor, and therefore possibly a better camera. Underwater housings are available for both these cameras. Reviews available at and

You might also wait for the new Olympus EP-1 to come out -- looks like it will be an interesting SLR/compact compromise.
posted by cubby at 7:17 AM on June 19, 2009

right, what spoons said. also, if you wanna get rid of your slr, I will take it!
posted by cubby at 7:18 AM on June 19, 2009

I have the Powershot G7 for just this purpose - bought it before the G10 of course, and it's solid, reliable, very portable and absolutely superb for macros!

The G10 includes RAW support, which I had to hack my G7 to be able to use. I don't have much experience with other brands' cameras at the same level, but I am enormously happy with my G7.
posted by fearnothing at 7:22 AM on June 19, 2009

Thirding (or fourthing) the Lumix.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:56 AM on June 19, 2009

I just picked up a Ricoh GX200. Does RAW, has a 12-meg sensor, and has an optional EVF that works just fine. Has a built-in zoom that can be set to stop at equivalents to 24, 28, 35, 50 and 70 mm. Full manual control, or aperture priority or full automatic mode, of course.

I bought it because I'm tired off lugging around camera bodies and lenses and wanted something lightweight but with the controls I'm used to.

As others have suggested, look at the new Olympus. It is not a P&S, but may be what your looking for.
posted by justcorbly at 9:11 AM on June 19, 2009

There must be something I'm not understanding about this request, since I can't understand why people aren't recommending the Panasonic Lumix TZ7 (in the USA known as Lumix ZS3). It's ideal for fairly unobtrusively carrying around on off-days, and would go a long way towards replacing an SLR. Maybe the recording speed isn't "really fast" - don't know.

There is an underwater case for it.
posted by Razorinthewind at 9:51 AM on June 19, 2009

I'd recommend ditching the flash and huge tele lens. Pick a focal length that works for most your pix and get that prime lens. A small camera to get is the Canon G series although that isn't all that small. I actually prefer the high end Lumix LX series because it is almost pocketable and is a very nice smaller alternative to the Canon G series.
posted by JJ86 at 9:53 AM on June 19, 2009

Sorry - bad link. Try this for the TZ7
posted by Razorinthewind at 9:55 AM on June 19, 2009

I have heard many other Canon SLR users recommend a G9 or G10 in the same situation. I would recommend sticking with the same brand as your SLR to simplify switching back and forth, as the menus and controls would be similar.
posted by Silvertree at 10:37 AM on June 19, 2009

The only camera that hasn't been mentioned so far is the Sigma DP2. All the reviews suggest that it's flawed in usage, but has extremely high picture quality.
posted by Magnakai at 10:50 AM on June 19, 2009

dpreview for serious analysis of point and shoots.

Nthing the G9/10 - f you want something a bit smaller but with serious manual controls, then letest A series is the one to go for something like the A2000IS
posted by lalochezia at 1:11 PM on June 19, 2009

I try always to carry my Lumix LX3 with me, and I find it generally to be pretty adequate. I can't say that I love it, but it does shoot RAW, and can fire off some pretty good bursts. I do find that the low-light performance is pretty weak, but if you're just shooting in the day, it can grab some nice shots.

Another great resource to keep in mind is, which will allow you to search by camera type from all the photos posted to that site. I bought the Lumix in November 2008 after seeing how shitty (at least to my eye) a lot of the G10 shots looked.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:34 PM on June 19, 2009

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