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New digital still cameras
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Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
New digital still cameras on 03/05/2007 14:54:22 MST Print View

Lots of new still digital cameras coming out. Some of the more promising one are the Canon TX1 ,( ultracompact still/movie camera), the Olympus SP550 ( compact 18x/28-504mm), Olympus E410 (smallest/lightest DSLR, about 20oz with lens and battery, this is the live view version of the 400 and the reason why the 400 was not a worldwide release) the Olympus 770SW ( even tougher version of the 720, drop and water proof) Fuji F40 (8MP version of the very sharp F20/30) Pentax W30 (stronger version of the W20) and the Panasonic TZ2/3 (ultracompact 10x zoom, 28-280mm)
If anyone is interested on any of them I can do some quick tests for you. Some will arrive in a few weeks.

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: New digital still cameras on 03/05/2007 18:14:33 MST Print View

Thanks Franco, will be interested to hear about them.

Do you have access to Ricoh cameras there? They've announced a Caplio R6, which should be of interest to backpackers, as it's got a 28-200 equivalent lens and weighs a whopping 4.7 oz.

Ricoh doesn't distribute most of their cameras to the States though.

I'm back on the Olympus fanwagon with the E-410 and -510 announcements, the -510 having IS and live view. No mention of weather-proofing though.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Ricoh R6 on 03/05/2007 20:12:37 MST Print View

We have the R5, the R6 is about to arrive in the shop. Similar in specs but slimmer sporting a new lens. Could be interesting to do a shootout between the R6 and the Pana TZ2. There were some problems with banding with the R5 but an amazing optical range for the size and very short shutter lag.


Donna C
(leadfoot) - M

Locale: Middle Virginia
Re: New digital still cameras on 03/06/2007 09:55:52 MST Print View

I'd like to see something on the Olympus E410.


Patrick Baker
(WildMan) - F
Re: Re: New digital still cameras on 03/06/2007 10:07:33 MST Print View

I looked at the cameras you listed. Timely since my Canon
recently died, after a long life, but had dropped onto rock. I am going waterproof and like the Olympus over the Pentax. Just waiting for the prices to drop some before my next major trip in August.

Olympus 770SW

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
New cameras on 03/06/2007 15:01:16 MST Print View

Olympus 770SW. Might have a play with it this w/e. It feels very tough, as safe as you get without an underwater housing.

Olympus 410. So would I. This one is a few weeks away, we never got the 400 in Australia because they were waiting for the live view version. Have a look at the 510 if you plan to use long lenses or and over ...(insert old age here)


Bradford Rogers
(Mocs123) - MLife

Locale: Southeast Tennessee
720SW on 03/07/2007 09:37:26 MST Print View

I have the Olympus 720SW and have been pleased with it. It is small, light, and tough. So far, battery life has been excellent. I do have a few gripes though:

No Viewfinder (This seems to be a problem on most camera's this size)

Grainy LCD Screen (The worst LCD screen I have seen on a name brand camera)

The battery must be removed to be recharged (could be an advantage to some people)

The lens is on the upper outside edge of the camera. This is where I instinctively want to place my hand when I take pictures. A centered lens would be more out of the way.

Overall it seems to be a great camera for what it was intended for. The small Casio’s might be better, but they are not waterproof which is a big plus for me while backpacking.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Pixels under the hood on 03/08/2007 03:00:45 MST Print View

Cameras are demonstrated inside a normally well lit but not overly bright shop. They all look just right under those conditions. The bigger screen will be a powerful motive for buying one over another. Sharp images are easy to demonstrate on a 2 to 3" area. So we buy the one that looks nice and has a familiar name and offers more megapixels for the dollar.
We take the camera home and fire a few shots, still looks great.
Next we venture outside, holy crap the LCD is dead ! No wait a minute there is something there...
OK I'll use the viewfinder... where is it ?

Believe me, we used to take several shots with every camera on the shelf, print 8"x10" enlargements and spend half an hour guiding the customer through the finer points, like ergonomics, shutter lag, focus accuracy, menu idiosyncrasies and so on . Try doing that on line...
But the box movers up the road were 5-10% cheaper and after we did all the hard work they would get the sale.
Now we are also cheap, forget about pictures and finer points......
Would you like 8 or 10 MP ?
BTW, I buy not sell cameras, but not for much longer

Edited by Franco on 03/08/2007 03:01:36 MST.

Donna C
(leadfoot) - M

Locale: Middle Virginia
Re: Pixels under the hood on 03/08/2007 13:08:27 MST Print View

I have the Pentax Optio WP10 and am very happy with it. Yes, the LCD screen vanishes in sunlight, but I have learned a little trick to get it lit up enough to see the picture...I just hold the shutter button down half-way and the LCD lights up enough for me to take the shot. The reason I went with w/p Pentax was because it wasn't too tiny for my hands (and eyes!).It still slips nicely into my pocket.

Nikolas Andersen
(nsandersen) - MLife
My impression from reading reviews: Beware of marketing :) ! on 03/08/2007 15:01:06 MST Print View

I'd say there are 3 important points with cameras: The lens, the sensor and the processing of the sensor output, ie. the picture.

If you go for the compact cameras, they will typically have a 1/2.5" sensor (smallest sensor used in real cameras). I think the optimum number of megapixels for those currently lies around 5-7 MPs. With more MPs you risk more noise, as the individual pixels are smaller - they collect less light each, resulting in less signal compared to the circuit & sensor noise. For instance, a 5 year old (or so) 3MP Olympus UZ730 has very little noise at ISO 400 compared to a recent 10MP Canon G7 on which the 400 setting has limited value.

Dealing with this might in turn require more noise suppression processing in the camera (RAW mode for external processing is uncommon on compacts), which can tend to blur pictures a bit.

In the smallest cameras it is also difficult to make a lens small and cheaply enough, which is sharp enough to resolve that many pixels. At some point you just get the lens imperfections resolved in more detail. Professional SLR cameras have 24x36mm (full-frame) or half size sensors - much much larger, but still "only" 10-20 MPs.

Likewise, 18x zoom is indeed very impressive (have tried 10x - great for animals), but if you are interested in sharpness and uniform pictures, 5-8x zoom often fares better.

The Canon A710IS (7MP, 6x zoom) gets good critique, especially compared to its 10MP big brother, the G7. It also has an (emergency) optical viewfinder as a last resort and runs on two normal AA batteries.

With that slight criticism of today's compact digicams, I'd have to say that Olympus 510 sounds great.

Lisette Walker
(lisette) - F

Locale: California
Help Selecting Light Digital Still Camera on 03/29/2007 14:41:17 MDT Print View

Interested in thoughts about the best overall still digital camera(s) for extreme outdoor use. I need/want a tough ultralight for long distance hiking, mountaineer skiing, mountain biking, etc. The Olympus Stylus 770 SW was recommended to me, but would like to hear from others.

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
New digital still cameras on 03/29/2007 16:03:06 MDT Print View

I recently acquired a Canon Powershot SD400 which weighs in at a scant 4.6 oz w/ it's battery. It comes in a rugged metal body and has all of Canon's wonderful point and shoot features. It captures photos at 5 megapixels and will zoom optically 3x. I am not a pro photographer so from my point of view it's great because it's rugged, small and light.

Douglas Frick
(Otter) - MLife

Locale: Wyoming
Re: Help Selecting Light Digital Still Camera on 03/29/2007 16:19:03 MDT Print View

The Pentax Optio series is mentioned in this BPL thread. Good lightweight waterproof cameras.

Daniel Hodel
(TwoWheelsGood) - F

Locale: Hawaii
An unusual request, perhaps on 04/06/2007 22:29:43 MDT Print View

Franco, thank you for listing and reviewing these new lightwieght camera options. I'm coming at this as a cyclist who stumbles across images requiring "capture", and sometimes wanting to document motorist madness. I have one question: which of them is NOT made in China? (I have strong feelings against enabling China, given their track record in Tibet.) This narrows the field usually. Thanks, or "mahalo" as we say in my neighborhood.

Siegmund Beimfohr
(SigBeimfohr) - M
New digital still cameras: Canon SD600 on 04/07/2007 10:42:41 MDT Print View

I aquired a few weeks ago a Canon SD600 after much research and also asking for suggestions in another BPL thread. One of my key requirements was a viewfinder. The SD600 is getting harder to find since it is being discontinued and replaced by the SD630 which is functionally the same but has no viewfinder (although a larger LCD screen).

So far I am very pleased with the versatility of the camera and the quality of the pictures. It is not a waterproof camera like the Olympus models, but I'll just have to be a little more careful in bad weather. I would have bought an Olympus (I have owned a series of them) but the lack of a viewfinder ruled them out.
Minor rant: I don't understand why manufacturers are eliminating the viewfinder; it's very difficult to hold steady with a camera held "frehand" 8" in front of your face and surely they don't think that everyone is using tripods or other rests on these small cameras.

Basic specs:
Weight (with SD card, battery, & wrist lanyard): 157g 5.5oz
Dimensions: 3.4x2.1x0.9in

Review links:

If weather resistance is the primary consideration, I'd definitely go with the Olympus Stylus or Pentax Optio models.

kevin davidson
(kdesign) - F

Locale: Mythical State of Jefferson
Optical viewfinders on 04/08/2007 21:17:07 MDT Print View

Siegmund's minor rant is a major one from me. An optical viewfinder is an absolute prerequisite for any digital camera I own. Not only as a backup for the LCD finder but also for quick on the fly, eyelevel framing of moving objects AND to cut down on battery consumption by having the ability to turn off the power draining LCD and still take pictures in the backcountry. I almost forgot----bright daytime light levels at angles that make a LCD finder hard to use also make an optical finder useful if not essential.

For a current subcompact point and shoot style digicam, I like the Canon SD 800 IS (Digital Ixus 850 IS) which not only has a zoom optical viewfinder, but a zoom that starts at a 28mm equivalent. About 6 0z. w/ battery. And image stabilization. It's a reassuring chunk of metal and although not "weather resistant" like the Oympus Stylus 720, I've never overly worried about my camera getting so wet in operation as to render it unusable ( I carry it in a ziplock in my hipbelt pocket---cheap insurance for stream crossings). If one must, there is an optional waterproof casing available.

For serious shooting w/ manual controls and RAW in a digicam, we go out of the UL realm and to my rather bombproof Canon G6. I love the folding and tilting LCD finder which allows for multi-angle use and also serves to protect the screen when not in use. If I were upgrading from this, it would be a digital SLR w/ interchangable lenses---there are too many good ones from Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Olympus,etc. to mention). If I'm really, really in the mood for some serious Artphotos, I still bring out my film-based medium format Hasselblad quiver (and tripod).

Edited by kdesign on 04/09/2007 11:02:10 MDT.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Not China on 04/18/2007 07:45:05 MDT Print View

Hi Daniel
I have fired my self recently ( after 22 years in the same place I needed a change) so I have not checked the latest digital still cameras, however most (if not all) of the Canon Ixus (SD over there) are still made in Japan as are some of the Sony and Fuji.
International politics is a tricky matter, I am sure a lot of people there do not agree with the American way , but that is true to most countries. Mention a nation and I will tell you it's dark side.