Digicam Quest 2005

If you’re in the market for a digital camera, maybe this will be of some use to you…

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Goodbye, Old Friend…

This is the now-discontinued Nikon CoolPix 5400, which I bought last summer for my trip to South Africa. As a prosumer camera it served me well; its wide-angle lens delivered highly-detailed 5-megapixel images with rich, saturated colours. It was also slow to react, and with no autofocus illuminator took consistently soft pictures in low light conditions.

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Another Twist ‘n’ Shoot?

Finding myself in the market for an immediate replacement (and more debt on my credit card) after my latest trip, I set out to find a camera as good as my Nikon, but able to fit in a jacket pocket so as not to get stolen. My first candidate was the Pentax Optio X, a thin 5-megapixel shooter with the same rotating LCD that has spoiled me since my CoolPix 950—great for self portraits!

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The Lumix Looms

As luck would have it, the Optio was for sale at Aden Camera, my favourite local vendor, so I went in for a closer look. Eddie, the manager at Aden, has been advising me on digital cameras since 1998, and quickly dissuaded me from the Optio, suggesting instead this Panasonic Lumix FX-7. Seems most cameras these days shoot 5 megapixels, and the Lumix has a huge LCD screen on its backside, with deep saturated colours just like my Nikon.

But after trawling the web for sample images I found that smaller cameras like the Lumix simply cannot match the fine detail of larger units. And though Panasonic has just announced the upgraded Lumix FX-9, it looks to be only incrementally better than its predecessor.

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Meet The New Boss… Same As The Old Boss

I ended up with the soon-to-be-discontinued (and therefore heavily-discounted) Nikon CoolPix 8400, I did not consider a digital SLR since:

  1. they don’t have rotating LCDs (and I really like rotating LCDs);
  2. I don’t want to be constantly encumbered by extra lenses and accessories;
  3. I can’t afford one.

So now I have an 8-megapixel monster with an even wider-angle lens and—praise the lord—an autofocus assist button, though it’s still slow to react and has a tendency towards soft focus in low light.

… Ah, it’s good to be home!

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2 Responses to “Digicam Quest 2005”

  1. Ed Miller says:

    AC:
    Welcome back! I donated my trusted film camera to my Mom’s European vacation, so I went digital with the Fujifilm Finepix S5100, a 4 megapixel point ‘n’ shoot that sort of looks like an SLR (got it from Vistek). I was looking at 5 megapixel cameras, but within my price range the Fuji actually used more of the pixels for processing. I recommend running a Google search for camera reviews and checking out the websites. Some have some really technical reviews, sample images, etc., that helped me make my choice.

    Ed

  2. Hi Ed,

    You’ll notice that most of the camera photos in my post link to Steve’s Digicams:

    http://www.steves-digicams.com/

    … My favourite review site. Another site, Imaging Resource, has what they call a “‘comparometer”, where you can see image samples from a wide variety of digicams side by side:

    http://www.imaging-resource.com/IMCOMP/COMPS01.HTM