Should I switch from a Sony compact camera to another brand?
May 9, 2008 8:04 AM   Subscribe

[CameraFilter] My faithful Sony DSC-T1 is dying/dead. Should I take it as an opportunity to switch to another brand?

- I'm used to using Sony's compact camera: this is my second T1, and before that I had a P1.
- Henceforth, I have invested quite a bit in their MemoryStick format, and am reluctant to throw that away. I'm also used to the workflow, and my computers recognizes them by default - whereas other format, I have to plug them in using a cable.
- Likewise, I'm used to how these cameras work: menus, etc. Also, I'm used to how they take pictures: I know what to expect in a given setting and in a given situation.

- The T1 dates backe from 2003, menus and lenses are bound to have changed beyond my habits anyway.
- I keep hearing Sony are not the best out there.
- I now own a Canon 400d, why not go all-Canon?
- Or would Nikon be a better fit?

- I use my compact for daily pics (sorry, self-flickr-link), in order to collect instant memories, so nothing too important most of the time, and I don't need any top-of-the-line, that-many-pixels-per-inch camera.
- I am reluctant to use cameras with pre-settings. For instance, I bought my g/f the Olympus 700, and I hate it. Basic "take a picture on the go" seeting are way too often blurry, and pre-setting changes are not kept from one use to another, you have to reset the whole thing. I just want three buttons: Picture, Video, Play, and with each a way to fine-tune the settings, but not more.
- I love to take pictures of concerts (few lights+movement). My T1 used to be enough because I know how to handle it, but the Olympus is just useless to me - ok, I didn't take the time to learn it, still.

So, basically, looking for advices for an all-purposes, everyday camera with good picture quality and not too "here, let me help you".

Any suggestions? Thanks a lot.
posted by XiBe to Shopping (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Seriously, go all Canon. The Canon point and shoots such as this one (Powershot SD850) happen to be great point and shoot cameras, but for a person like you, that's not the reason to get it. The reason to get it is CHDK -- the INCREDIBLE user-made firmware replacement (it sits on a card and doesn't touch the real firmware so you can always go back, and Canon agrees it doesn't void the warranty) that gives you massive control over the camera, including enabling histograms, permitting out-of-range adjustments of ISO and other settings, allowing scripting (!!) and (best of all) enabling RAW format. For more on CHDK check out the MeFi thread here. If you buy a Canon point and shoot, make sure there is a version of CHDK for it -- you won't regret it.
posted by The Bellman at 8:16 AM on May 9, 2008

Henceforth, I have invested quite a bit in their MemoryStick format, and am reluctant to throw that away.

Are you aware just how cheap SD cards are now? There might be nothing wrong with your existing cards, but it sounds like you have Memory Sticks dating back 5+ years. Other than environmental factors, this 'investment' probably isn't a good reason to choose a Sony over another brand.
posted by puffmoike at 8:54 AM on May 9, 2008

2nd'ing Bellman - though I'd recommend a powershot with a 28mm lens, I think its the SD870. The wide angle makes the resulting pictures stand out from the usual snapshots, in my experiences, and you're clearly a pretty advanced photographer and could use that well. You do lose some telephoto.

Also, I just replaced my 870 with a Canon G9 which is a little bigger and heavier, but has incredible image quality and a vast array of manual settings. If it had a 28mm lens without an adapter it might just be the perfect camera.
posted by RandlePatrickMcMurphy at 8:57 AM on May 9, 2008

Sony point-and-shoots are pretty excellent cameras. I'd explore the current offerings on the T-Series to see if there is something to complement your memory cards. If you want to try something new, the higher end Canon Powershot cameras like the SD950 IS are spectacular.

What drew you to the T1, if it was the nice slim size of it then you might want to stick with the T-Series from Sony. However, they might have changed cards since you got your T1. Currently, they used the Memory Stick Pro Duo; if you do have to replace them, flash memory prices have fallen substantially and you can pick up 4GB cards for about $40.

Since you want to do low-light shots, image-stabilization is a must. Some are better than others and the Canon Powershots are particularly good with this. Also, Canon cameras have a great automatic settings which leads to a minimal amount of blurry/messed up pictures.
posted by cgomez at 9:14 AM on May 9, 2008

Seconding the Canons for their CHDK ability. I've got an SD800 and many of the CHDK features work. But an even better choice might be the Canon Powershot A series, some of which allow manual features for which the CHDK is a little more compatible (eg, can use the CHDK software to do focus stacking wherein multiple photos at slightly different focus points are combined to create one sharp photo).

The A720 seems to be a good comprimise between features and price.
posted by bbranden1 at 9:18 AM on May 9, 2008

Consider this an opportunity to be free of Sony's memory sticks forever.

Especially since this isn't a situation where you have to replace SLR lenses or other system components if you move to another brand, I see no reason for brand loyalty when it comes to switching p&s cameras.

With SD and CF cards selling so cheaply you can hardly loose.

My very extensive SLR system isn't Canon, but that's the brand I suggest people investigate first for p&s solutions.
posted by imjustsaying at 9:19 AM on May 9, 2008

Seconding The Bellman on Canon Powershot SD850
I bought it about 6 months back and love it.
posted by WizKid at 9:33 AM on May 9, 2008

Oh and throw away your Sony's memory sticks.
You can buy a 8GB SD card for about $30
posted by WizKid at 9:34 AM on May 9, 2008

Response by poster: You guys have real good arguments towards switching, which I was expecting :) The "freeing myself from Sony's sticks" was one I considered, for instance.

I'll have a look at the Canon offering, maybe try my hand at one for a week, see if it fits...

cgomez: indeed, what I like in the T1 it is slim size, which allows me to carry it in my pocket-bag. I'm afraid the suggested Canon models here are a bit on the bigger size, and also more expensive than I expected - would like to keep it around 200 euros (= 308 USD).

If you have any more suggestions (even non-Canon or pro-Sony), please keep'em coming!

Thanks a lot.
posted by XiBe at 10:03 AM on May 9, 2008

Response by poster: I bit the bullet and bought the Canon IXUS 970 IS (that's Powershot SD890 IS to you) based on your suggestions, guys - and the fact that it was the only available Canon camera at my store...

I still have 7 days to decide if its fits my pocket, but it seems like a keeper. Really easy to use, very nice results, excellent zoom, looks good so far.
It sure it a step from my Sony DSC-T1: it's bigger and heavier, battery kife seems lower, can't limit after-shot preview to anything less than 3 seconds, it seems kinda noisy, the lens is lenghty (obviously, as the T1 had none)... The on/off button is very tiny and I almost must use my nail to switch it on, so it's hard to have a "oh look! *click*" moment such as the ones I could have with my T1.
Aaaaaaaaaaand CHDK is not yet available for it, too recent - and even seems that Canon is now using a brand new OS, so I might have to wait for it...

But all things being equal, I'm pretty happy with the current results (haven't have the time to test it in a concert situation, but I'm confident), and I just might keep it.

Thanks guys!
posted by XiBe at 1:19 PM on May 18, 2008

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