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my quest for the perfect camera

The Canon PowerShot A70 was my first digital camera purchase back in 2003. I then decided I wanted a flip screen LCD and purchased the Canon PowerShot A95 in 2005. Meanwhile the LCD screen on my Canon PowerShot A70 one day went black, which meant it turned into a paper weight. Fortunately this did not happen on a trip. A few months after it died, I read that there was a recall. I sent it in to Canon and received the Canon PowerShot A520 in return. Both cameras served their purpose for a while.

Last year I started to read about the new feature of image stabilization and started to look for a better camera. After some limited research, since my summer trip was fast approaching, I decided on the Canon PowerShot A570IS, which by the way cost double what it now costs :{. I was happy with this camera at first until the low battery signal started to show up all the time. I also started to notice that my photos were not as sharp in quality as those from some of the higher end cameras. The Canon PowerShot A570IS is a great every day camera, but I want more than just the every day photo and so once again, I have been searching for "the perfect camera" for my next trip to Italy.

For the longest time, I have wanted to buy a DSLR. I am in now way a camera expert so please forgive me for any camera lingo blunders I my make. I have spent endless hours on the web, reading through post after post and review after review on dpreview, as well as many other camera sites and blogs, and have come to the conclusion that the benefits of a DSLR include: better sensors (which seems even more important now since the recent point & shoot cameras have been packed with extra unnecessary megapixels), less noise and better image quality, no shutter lag, accurate view finders, and better creative control with the available manual settings and various choices of lenses. Of course the lenses add quite a bit to the cost, but if purchased over a few years, it would probably be a little more practical.

Yet, each time I start getting more serious about purchasing a DSLR, I start to think about the extra weight and the extra space that the camera & lenses will take up in my luggage, which is already usually overpacked. I also would want more time to learn the ins and outs of a DSLR before traveling with one. I have not given up on my dream of owning a DSLR, but for now, I am once again searching for the "perfect non-DSLR camera", but this time I want the camera closest to what I want from a DSLR camera.

My top priority in my quest for the perfect camera is the best image quality possible. I also want the option of manual settings, at least a little zoom capability, good macro capability, the least amount of lag in shutter speed, and some low light capability. My other wish would be better wide angle capability.

I have narrowed my choices down to the following:

Canon PowerShot G9 ~ This is probably the camera I will ultimately buy, but there are a some negatives reported that have to do with the high megapixel count and so I still have a few reservations. The view finder is also not the greatest and there have been some comments about the ergonomics of this camera, but all in all it does seem to get the best reviews for what I want in a camera. It also shoots raw, although at this point I know nothing about raw except it can improve picture quality (something I need to learn). I will have to go check it out for myself to see how it feels. Of course since it is my top choice, it is also the most expensive.
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Canon PowerShot Pro Series S3 IS ~ I have chosen the Canon S3 IS over the updated Canon S5 IS because the S3 IS camera gets better reviews for image quality and that is my top priority in a camera. The Canon S3 IS does have a flip screen which is sort of cool to have and I believe the viewfinder is a little more accurate. It also has great zoom capability. However this camera is also bulkier and heavier than the Canon PowerShot G9 and does not have a flash hot shoe, which the G9 has.
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Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18K ~ My one reason for putting this camera on my list is for the wide angle capability. But, when looking back at the reviews for this camera, I realized that the previous version, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ8K, has better reviews, so now I am not sure if I this camera should be on even be on my list of choices.
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I am sure this is probably a pretty boring post to most, but just working on writing this up and looking at the reviews for each camera eliminated two more cameras I originally put on my list of choices. I guess my next step is to try to handle each camera. The Canon PowerShot Pro Series S3 IS is probably not going to be around much longer so I better get my butt into gear.

If I have overlooked any other great cameras out there, please let me know.

Comments (7)

OK, that was the most interesting thing I read on the Internet today. Ten out of ten - top post. Thank you.

I got the Panasonic Lumix 11 months ago and LOVE it. Alessandro and I took it to Italy on the last trip.

http://www.dpreview.com/news/0607/06071905panasonicfz50.asp

And yes, I love the stabaliser.

All my pics you see that are not the really old ones, are with it. All my Italy photos and my cat pics and the pics of my boys.

Both my sisters have it as well.

Deborah:

Not boring to me! I'm on a hunt for a new camer as well. So, I hope you continue to post your research and impressions. That way I can take the lazy way out and just follow your lead.

Leslie, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50 certainly is another possibility, although it would be heaviest of the choices. It does get good reviews. Thanks for the suggestion!

Deborah, I will let you know how it goes and what I ultimately choose. I hope my decision will help you. I know how overwhelming the choices can be.

Lots of folks are suggesting the Nikon D40 to me. Have you given it a 'test drive'?

For my DSLR camera, I am betwween the Nikon D40x, the Canon Rebel XTi and the Canon Rebel XTs. Great sales right now on the first two but the new Canon came out with live view which I would like for certain situations (but would not use as primary view). The new Nikon did not come out with that many changes and so it to me is not worth the extra money. Of course the older models will not be around forever once the new cameras come out in April so a decision on this also will need to be made. The DSLR choice is not as hard for me. I would probably be happy with any of the three. Image quality I believe is quite similar.

I have not given up on a DSLR, but think at least for this summer, I will take a non DSLR since I need more time to learn how to use the camera and am still not ready to lug all that extra weight around. It has been a tough decision though since taking photos is one of my favorite things to do while in Italy.

So the tough decision is to find the best quality non-DSLR that won't break the bank since I still intend on getting a DSLR, even if it takes me years to get the lenses I need.

Kim:

Becky has the Nikon D40 and Chris the D40x (because he had to one-up Becky). Chris hasn't really used his yet (just got it at Christmas), but Becky really enjoys hers - so far no complaints. I really need to come back and re-read this when I'm not so tired because I need a new camera too - but I don't need anything fancy - point and shoot for me.

I just got home a little while ago after spending a couple of hours (or so it seemed) in the one camera store I know of in Honolulu. I learned a lot and although have not made any firm decisions, actually I think I am even more confused now, I plan to do another post in the next day or two on cameras. Too tired right now, and besides I already got a post in for today (did it last night) and need to save ideas for more days so I don't run out :-)

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