What is the best sub-compact digital camera du jour
December 15, 2006 10:38 AM   Subscribe

What is the best small digital camera Du Jour? I know this has been asked before, but 6 months can make a big difference for these sort of things. What I'm looking for is a smallish, light digital camera with a big viewfinder, that takes really good pictures. That isn't too much to ask is it?

The models I'm considering are the Canon SD-600 (or 630), possibly the SD-800 IS, and the Sony DSC-T10 or DSC-T50.
Does anybody have any real world experiences with these or other similar cameras, and if so, which one should I be getting.

I already have a fairly good camera but its quite bulky and I find that we don't always have it when we would like. So I'm looking for something around/under 5oz that I can carry everywhere. I'd like a big viewfinder, and my Fiancee is an amateur photographer and really cares about picture quality - so that is also key.

Any sagely advice?
posted by heh3d to Technology (21 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I've loved every Olympus digital camera I've ever owned (four so far), and I've had my eye on the new Stylus 750 ever since it came out. I think it fits your criteria nicely.
posted by j-dawg at 10:46 AM on December 15, 2006

The Canon Powershot series seems to be the most popular point-and-shoot series, at least according to Flickr. Though some friends have recommended them as well.

That said, I just bought a Panasonic DMC-FX07 based mostly on the lens and form factor.
posted by vacapinta at 10:47 AM on December 15, 2006

Oh, and if you aren't familiar with Steve's Digicams, check it out.
posted by j-dawg at 10:48 AM on December 15, 2006

I also recommend almost any Canon Powershot. I have had two of these, and family members several others, and they have all worked perfectly and taken excellent pictures. Easy to use (work well with PC and Mac).
posted by theredpen at 10:51 AM on December 15, 2006

A 2nd vote for Olympus.
posted by LadyBonita at 10:52 AM on December 15, 2006

I have been quite happy with my Canon PowerShot A630.
posted by trip and a half at 11:02 AM on December 15, 2006

I've got the Powershot SD700 and I've been pretty happy with that but as someone who's been used to a 20D and a G3 before that, I have to admit to missing the manual controls. Fiancee might as well. With that thought, you might check out the Fuji F30.
posted by undertone at 11:06 AM on December 15, 2006

I love my Canon Powershot A530, but you want something smaller. The SD (Elph) line is pretty well-respected; it's what I suggested to my boss, who wants an "ultracompact" camera.
Check out the reviews for your front-runners at cnet.com, amazon.com, and circuitcity.com - they each will reflect a different breed of camera user, so you should get a good cross-section idea of the relative strengths and weaknesses.
posted by Sprout the Vulgarian at 11:16 AM on December 15, 2006

I just bought the SD600. The SD630 has exactly the same picture quality - the difference is a lack of viewfinder, and a bigger LCD. If you're never going to use the viewfinder, you may prefer the 630. I chose to save the money.
posted by lowlife at 11:19 AM on December 15, 2006

I'll put in a plug for the Casio EX-Z1000 (or something like that). I bought a slim camera to take with me on hikes and it's been wonderful. Casio really only makes the slim cameras, so I thought they might have a better product than my previous Canon or Sony. The picture quality is very acceptable and the battery life is much longer than I was made to believe (more than a week of constant shooting outdoors). Plus, the UI is really nice, there's an anti-shake feature, and I think it makes my old Canon feel a little cheap.
posted by ontic at 11:27 AM on December 15, 2006

Best answer: Harrison,

I concur with vacapinta above. Let me go into more detail as to why:
  • The Panasonic DMC-FX07, which can be purchased at Costco and many other places, is a very compact light mini-camera. I purchased one as a backup to my Canon XTi 10 MP DSLR.
  • The camera has one of the fastest shutter speeds of any small camera, up to 1/2,000 as well as ISO3200 capability and an f2.8 lens.
  • It offers optical image stabilization - not digital - which is very hard to find in a camera this size.
  • It has a fantastic widescreen movie mode (sith sound) which captures 30FPS at 848x480 resolution - something I've seen nowhere else.
  • The interchangable battery lasts for over 300 photos, and, MOST IMPORTANTLY, since I travel with this camera extensively it has a tiny little battery charger which is smaller than the camera and has a flip-out plug. You cannot underestimate the benefit of the size of this tiny charger when traveling.
  • It has a very large, clear, bright screen.
  • The shutter release is very fast, the autofocus is fast and accurate, and it offers plenty of automatic and manual settings.
All in all I've been quite satisfied with it and I've owned a LOT of digicams in my time.

You can find a review of the camera at DP Review or visit Panasonic's site.

Hope this helps,

posted by jpozadzides at 11:36 AM on December 15, 2006 [3 favorites]

I just got a Canon SD-600 about a week ago, and I love it love it love it. I was upgrading from a Powershot A80, and the SD 600 is by far smaller, lighter, and faster. Large screen (not as large as the SD630, but plenty large for me), good in low light situations, negligible shutter lag, and easy to carry in a pocket or purse. If I had felt like spending more money, I might have gone for a higher-end Canon with image stabilization, but for the ~$200 price point, the SD 600 is the way to go.
posted by somanyamys at 11:42 AM on December 15, 2006

"Small with big viewfinder" - the Elph (mine is a Powershot SD 450). I like my Elph's picture quality, too, but IANAP.
posted by spaceman_spiff at 11:56 AM on December 15, 2006

I bought an Olympus Stylus 710 a couple months ago and I've been very happy with it. Pocket-sized, pretty tough, giant viewfinder, takes good pictures and video, but what really makes it for me is the excellent user-interface of the menus. A bright 5 year old could access every feature of this camera, which is nice because I don't feel like devoting large amounts of brain time to figuring out how to make the camera do what it's designed to do.
posted by ikkyu2 at 12:53 PM on December 15, 2006

I got an Olympus FE-190 about a month ago and am very pleased. It was the slimmest model I saw at Best Buy and has a massive LCD. It looks just maybe slightly larger than the Stylus 710, but with a 6 megapixel sensor. It was $200. And yes, the intuitive menus are a big plus for a quick and dirty point a shoot camera.
posted by mbd1mbd1 at 1:10 PM on December 15, 2006

Nthing the Panasonic. I'm on my 2nd one (gave the first one to my brother and upgraded to a newer model). I just love it. Panasonic cameras are highly underrated but are the best point and shoots out there!
posted by ramix at 1:12 PM on December 15, 2006

I have a canon SD-450. and I hate it. No manual controls at all, which makes some kinds of compositions very difficult. You're basically stuck with autofocus. The only setting is exposure compensation.

posted by delmoi at 1:47 PM on December 15, 2006

I'll second the Panasonic vote, I sprung for the Lumix FX-01
Takes nearly instantaneous pix, lovely color, excellent in low light. Love everything about this camera.

Note: I chose it because a friend who's a professional cameraman chose it after examining everything out there.

Perfect point and shoot.
posted by asavage at 1:51 PM on December 15, 2006 [2 favorites]

I've been a long-term fan of the Canon Elph series. I've owned several and currently have a S500. I've even had a great experience with them when the hatch door for the battery broke and I had to send it in to be repaired.

However, I've recently been frystrated that the compact Canon cameras don't seem to have an option for saving pictures in the RAW format. When it comes time for me to move to a newer camera, that will be a large factor in my selection.
posted by browse at 2:11 PM on December 15, 2006

I'm in the panasonic camp now too. After months of research and flip flopping, I decided on the panasonic lumix dmc-lx2. It's possibly a little bigger than what you're looking for, but I'm thrilled with it.

The lumix dmc-fx07 looks very nice too, as jpozadrides mentions above, and it's tiny. One thing he didn't mention: it has a 28mm equiv lens (vs 35 or 38 on most), which doesn't sound like much of a difference but is very nice, and something not found on many sub-compact digicams.
posted by duckstab at 5:40 PM on December 15, 2006

Take a look at the Casio Exilim Z1000 review at DPReviews. I picked one up at Costco before Christmas. It's extremely slim, has a huge LCD and a long-lasting battery. My girlfriend (who has very little photographic experience) and I (who have owned a Canon D-SLR for more than 2 years and 25K photos) have both been very pleased with it, so far.
posted by syzygy at 7:38 AM on January 12, 2007

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