Best non-DSLR camera
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rockin_amigo14

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i'm not looking to get a great camera that I can upgrade the lens and everything like that. just something that takes good pictures, a decent amount of manual controls, and an affordable price (<$300). SD memory is preferable. something that just comes out of the box and works.

suggestions?
 
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The best non-DSLR camera is the Leica M8. Quite a bit above the $300 mark, I'm afraid.

I would recommend the Fuji F100fd. It is a little above your budget, but the first reviews show it is not far from the legendary Fuji F31fd in high-ISO performance, unlike the disappointing F50fd. The F31fd sells for twice as much used as it did when new, that should give you an indication of the cult following the camera generates.
 
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I don't intend to thread crap, but the best non-dslr camera is one of these:

20x24 polaroid.
Don't get me wrong, I own an M8, but it is not as good 6x7cm film camera, let alone a 4x5 inch camera...or a 20x24 inch camera...

In the spirit of your question, however, I would agree with majid -- Fuji makes some excellent compact point and shoots for a pretty low cost. Another thing to look at would be something like the Canon A650. The key to remember is that the smaller they try to make it, the worse it will perform. This is unfortunately true 90% of the time. It's not that bigger is always better, but they try to cram too many features into too small of a body. The same thing with megapixels...12mp is WAY too much for the tiny sensors in point and shoot cameras. To give you an idea, the Leica M8 and Nikon D3 have 10 and 12mp sensors that are many multiples larger than the compact camera sensors -- more pixels does not equal better, big sensors with big pixels = better.

For example: 10mp from a Leica M8:

100% detail:


Despite having 10mp (or even 12), no compact camera is going to be able to come close to that...the megapixel race is a myth.
anyway...sorry to take this so far off track.
 
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"Best" is highly-subjective and will depend on your needs (Do you want super-compact? How important is the optical zoom range?, etc.) I recommend doing your research at sites like Steve's Digicams and trying a few out for yourself. I finally settled on a Canon S3 IS for my main camera, as I didn't want to get into the size and expense of a DSLR but was tired of the compromises made on subcompacts like the ELPH series.
 
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I meant the best digital non-DSLR camera, as digital was implicit in the question. I saw Joe McNally's humongous life-size polaroids of WTC first responders, and Avedon's "In the American West" shot with a view camera. There is no way a small-sensor or small-format camera can produce images of that resolution and power. Then again, those cameras can't exactly capture the decisive moment either...

I guess I will have to revise my answer - the best digital non-DSLR in terms of absolute image quality is a 4x5 view camera with a Better Light scanning back.

As for the S3 IS, it makes the exact same crippling compromise an Elph does, using a tiny, noisy sensor. At least on the Elph that compromise buys you something, low cost and pocketability. The S3 IS is neither. Considering DSLRs like the Olympus E-410 are now available for about $450 including lens, there is no reason to spend more than $200 or so on a small-sensor digicam.
 
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x2 on majid's comments re the compromises of a small sensor cameras. I think the advantages of P&S are the size and usability of them, these are the factors I consider. Not to say that things like noise performance and Optical zoom aren't factors but for myself portability rules the day.
 
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What about the new Olympus E-420 with their 25mm pancake lens? That's DSLR, but portable, with 'normal' lens, LiveView, a serious sensor and loads of serious options. I find it very tempting for 'snapshooting', but am glad I'm out of cash
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by Braver /img/forum/go_quote.gif
What about the new Olympus E-420 with their 25mm pancake lens? That's DSLR, but portable, with 'normal' lens, LiveView, a serious sensor and loads of serious options. I find it very tempting for 'snapshooting', but am glad I'm out of cash



I was looking at that camera when I heard it was small but then I did some research and saw that it really wasn't that big of a difference from a regular camera.

Sized Up: Olympus E420 vs Nikon D40

* the pancake lens is a cool feature though and does save space
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by majid /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Here is a size comparison against the Sigma DP-1 and the Canon G9:
Serious Compacts - Photography, News, Discussion, and Reviews of Advanced Compact Cameras: Shrinking Gap in Size Between DSLRs and Compacts



I think it's rather amazing how close they are. This you can walk with all day, or put in your coat pocket. It's not much smaller from a D40, but without the thickness of the grip, and with such a small lens, that's a great practical difference. An M8 isn't that small either you know.
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by stuartr /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I don't intend to thread crap, but the best non-dslr camera is one of these:

20x24 polaroid.
Don't get me wrong, I own an M8, but it is not as good 6x7cm film camera, let alone a 4x5 inch camera...or a 20x24 inch camera...

In the spirit of your question, however, I would agree with majid -- Fuji makes some excellent compact point and shoots for a pretty low cost. Another thing to look at would be something like the Canon A650. The key to remember is that the smaller they try to make it, the worse it will perform. This is unfortunately true 90% of the time. It's not that bigger is always better, but they try to cram too many features into too small of a body. The same thing with megapixels...12mp is WAY too much for the tiny sensors in point and shoot cameras. To give you an idea, the Leica M8 and Nikon D3 have 10 and 12mp sensors that are many multiples larger than the compact camera sensors -- more pixels does not equal better, big sensors with big pixels = better.

For example: 10mp from a Leica M8:
http://www.stuartrichardson.com/noelle-relish2.jpg
100% detail:
http://www.stuartrichardson.com/noelle-relish2-crop.jpg

Despite having 10mp (or even 12), no compact camera is going to be able to come close to that...the megapixel race is a myth.
anyway...sorry to take this so far off track.



Yes, when it comes to sensors size does matter. Not pixel density.

But a Leica M8 is quite large and insanely expensive. You have to really really love range finders to want to buy one.

It's too bad the Sigma DP1 has a lackluster f/4 lens on it, not to mention the high ISO noise issues. They really could've fit a pancake lens on there at f/2.8 and it would've been perfect. Well, aside from their cludgy foveon raw processing.

-Ed

P.S. Good to see you back and posting, Stuart.
 
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