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A good, compact digital camera for $300-$350?


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A good, compact digital camera for $300-$350?
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Messiahtosh
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Join Date: May 2004
 
2006-07-06, 17:51

If anyone can help me out in my quest to downgrade from a large, pro Canon digital to a compact Canon, Sony, or whatever's good-cam, then let me know where I should be looking!

Thanks

"We are reviewing some 9,000 recent UNHCR referrals from Syria. We are receiving roughly a thousand new ones each month, and we expect admissions from Syria to surge in 2015 and beyond." - Anne C. Richard, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration
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atomicbartbeans
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2006-07-06, 18:04

I regularly use and heartily recommend the Casio EX-S500. It's damn thin, but it still has optical zoom and takes excellent pictures. I got mine for around $309 at Ritz Camera.

You ask me for a hamburger.
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ghoti
owner for sale by house
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Charlotte, NC
 
2006-07-06, 18:05

What features are you looking for? The Canon S80 is pretty good, but outside your price range ($450). It has very nice controls and decent image quality, but is still fairly compact. To get an idea what's out there, take a look at dpreview.
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PKIDelirium
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Join Date: Oct 2005
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2006-07-06, 18:09

Canon PowerShot A610 or A620.
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turtle
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Join Date: Mar 2005
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2006-07-06, 18:14

A620 $250 at CompUSA. I love it. I got one for my wife so it would be easy for her to use and she loves it. I know it's a little under your price range, but we liked the 7MP because we could blow up and manipulate the file more rather than having a higher optical zoom. We have the XT for our SLR pictures.

That and SD flash card and "AA" batteries is a nice touch too. We use Energizer Rechargeable with it and they really last, but in a pinch you could get throw-aways from the drug store.

Louis L'Amour, “To make democracy work, we must be a notion of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.”
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Windswept
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Join Date: May 2004
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2006-07-06, 18:37

I'm a big Costco fan, and imagine their prices are ususally pretty good on everything in general.

http://www.costco.com/Common/Categor...|79|83&whse=BC
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Messiahtosh
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Join Date: May 2004
 
2006-07-06, 18:49

I'm looking for something very portable, that I can just pop in my pocket and take good quality point-and-shoot pictures with.

Thanks for the advice so far, I'm sifting through it all...

"We are reviewing some 9,000 recent UNHCR referrals from Syria. We are receiving roughly a thousand new ones each month, and we expect admissions from Syria to surge in 2015 and beyond." - Anne C. Richard, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration
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Messiahtosh
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Join Date: May 2004
 
2006-07-06, 18:50

The Sony Cybershot (http://www.costco.com/Browse/Product...nav=&brows e=) looks very interesting for the price of $270. Hmm...
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McSandwich
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Join Date: Aug 2005
 
2006-07-06, 18:54

The Ricoh Caplio R4 is a great little camera. If it was a bit bigger, and more suited to big hands, I'd buy one.

[edit] Its best features are that it does wide angle - 28mm - great for landscape and group shots, combined with 7.1x Zoom for closeups [/edit]

See: http://www.dpreview.com/news/0602/06022302ricohr4.asp

Last edited by McSandwich : 2006-07-06 at 19:41.
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Windswept
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2006-07-06, 19:11

Quote:
The Sony Cyber-shot® DSC-W70 is an ideal camera for starting out right in digital photography, combining the quality of 7.2 Megapixels and Carl Zeiss® 3x optical zoom, the performance of High Sensitivity mode for great low-light shots, the simplicity of on-screen Function Guide for easy setup.
Yeah, it sounds good to me, Chris.

Maybe I'll get one too.
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sunrain
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2006-07-06, 19:31

I bought a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX01 for my wedding and honeymoon. It's a great little compact camera with an amazing battery life. As with most compact cameras, it isn't at its best in low light, but otherwise has been fantastic. The link above is to dpreview.com. They have quite thorough reviews on the latest cameras.

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PKIDelirium
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Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Xenia, Ohio
 
2006-07-06, 20:19

On the A610 and A620, you can go into full manual mode, they're really amazing. I've had the A610 since February.
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Banana
is the next Chiquita
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
 
2006-07-06, 20:31

I have a Canon Powershot SD500 which I got refurbished for $400, which was $50 more than I wanted to spent but was really glad I did; it's compact, has big LCD, and the quality of image is superb.

The only cavaet is there's not really a full manual (i.e. aperture and shutter control), but it works great whether the lighting and conditions may be.
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jdcfsu
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Join Date: Jun 2006
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2006-07-06, 20:35

It'd be at the high end of your price range but I too was in your situation looking for something small and compact and I went with the Cannon PowerShot SD630 Digital Elph. It's extreamly small, just a tad wider than an iPod, but sports a 3in lcd screen and some pretty heavy features. Right now it's on sale through NewEgg with a quality SD mem card for a pretty reasonable price. I'd seriously consider it if I were you.
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Messiahtosh
Apple Historian
 
Join Date: May 2004
 
2006-07-06, 20:43

Just bought the Canon SD600 (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16830120044) for $299...SWEET. I got a 1 GB SD card to go with it for $10 after an instant rebate.

I checked out some reviews, I talked to a buddy of mine and came to the conclusion that this was the one for me...and it also takes tv res video at 30 FPS. Seems pretty cool, small, and of a pretty high quality for the price.

Hell yeah.

"We are reviewing some 9,000 recent UNHCR referrals from Syria. We are receiving roughly a thousand new ones each month, and we expect admissions from Syria to surge in 2015 and beyond." - Anne C. Richard, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration
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Banana
is the next Chiquita
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
 
2006-07-06, 21:02

Wow, even a better deal than mine. It also like Canon sure knows their stuff.

Good job, Messiah and many happy photoshopping.
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Dorian Gray
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2006-07-06, 21:59

Hmm… 6.0 MP from a 1/2.5" Canon CCD. Think I'll pass!

The best image quality in this kind of price range comes from the Fuji Finepix F10 and F11 cameras (which have their fair share of annoying niggles, but probably no more so than any other compact digicam). All these cameras have sensors that resolve much more detail than their low-quality lenses can project. It is only consumer ignorance that continues to drive the MP count upwards. The difference between 5 MP and 10 MP is not noticeable if the same compact zoom lens is used (which it nearly always is: designing and manufacturing lenses is still expensive, after all). On the other hand, if the technology used in today's high MP sensors was directed at a 4.0 MP sensor of the same area, the quality would dramatically improve (the biggest problems with digicam images are poor dynamic range (i.e. blown highlights) and huge amounts of image noise, and those problems are both exacerbated by high pixel count).

Another annoying thing about consumer digicams is zoom lenses with no true wide-angle. I guess people want high zoom ratios (10x, etc.) and it's very difficult to design and manufacture a high-ratio zoom lens that starts in true wide-angle territory. So we get lenses with 35 mm equivalent focal lengths like 35-350 mm. Imagine how much more useful a 24-180 mm lens would be, but that's 7.5x instead of 10x so people would go for the higher ratio model. It seems that camera buying has turned into an exercise in numbers: the bigger the better. Surely it's time for one of the manufacturers to cater to the enthusiast?
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MCQ
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2006-07-06, 22:06

Quote:
Originally Posted by Messiahtosh
Just bought the Canon SD600 (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16830120044) for $299...SWEET. I got a 1 GB SD card to go with it for $10 after an instant rebate.

I checked out some reviews, I talked to a buddy of mine and came to the conclusion that this was the one for me...and it also takes tv res video at 30 FPS. Seems pretty cool, small, and of a pretty high quality for the price.

Hell yeah.
It's a pretty nice camera. I got one that I used on a recent trip. I found pictures to be on the soft side, though I'm not sure if it's me (not holding camera still) or if it's a camera problem.

PM me if you want to see sample pics.

I'd agree with Dorian that the F10/F11/F30 provide better detail than the Canon compacts, but it seems like you have to fiddle with the settings more than usual to get the best quality from what I've read.
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Ryan
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2006-07-06, 22:16

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dorian Gray
Surely it's time for one of the manufacturers to cater to the enthusiast?
A Canon Digital Rebel XT with kit lens can be had for about $550 now. That's a price I think most photography enthusiasts can afford.

Unless you mean (and I don't want to put words in your mouth) what's an enthusiast who already has a dSLR to do for an everyday pocket-sized camera, in which case I completely agree.
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professorjay
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Join Date: May 2006
 
2006-07-06, 22:24

I have a Canon SD550 I believe. I actually got it through my girlfriend's friend in Japan a few months before it came to the States for about $300 The model number doesn't match the U.S. models but it looks the same to the 550 to me. Great pictures, and the ability to take short videos is great. I never thought it would be useful but now I find I use it frequently to help match the pictures I take of scenic places and the quality is like a normal video camera. Keep in mind I am no photo or video expert but the images and video look great to me, the average user.
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Dorian Gray
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2006-07-06, 23:11

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan
Unless you mean (and I don't want to put words in your mouth) what's an enthusiast who already has a dSLR to do for an everyday pocket-sized camera, in which case I completely agree.
Yes, there are tons of big SLRs out there. But where are the digital cameras to take the place of the Konica Hexar AF/RF, Contax G1/G2, Leica M6/M7/MP, etc.? These cameras are not tiny, but they're all a lot smaller and less obtrusive than an SLR. They're also a lot quieter and easier to focus in dim light than SLRs, and generally have better lenses. Many great photographers don't use SLRs, or at least didn't before they were forced to by the lack of good non-SLR digital cameras.

What I'd like to see is a camera:

- sized like a Leica rangefinder, though not necessarily a rangefinder design
- built from quality metal alloys with traditional timeless styling
- traditional aperture-on-lens and shutter-speed-dial controls
- large, clear, bright, optical viewfinder
- fast and very high quality 28 or 35 mm lens (at least f/2.0) - no steeenking zoom lens with variable (but always slow) max aperture, distortion galore at both ends, lots of flare, lots of size and weight, and, incredibly, higher cost
- large-area 6 MP sensor or thereabouts, set on a module that can be replaced/upgraded
- tiny or non-existant LCD screen
- priced under £1250

How hard can this be? Manufacturers were selling similar film cameras at this sort of price for years before digital arrived. Now dirt-cheap SLRs come with decently-sized 6 MP sensors, so the digital element can't be that expensive either. If the market was there with film, why wouldn't it be with digital? There are lots of hardcore photographers out there who would sell a kidney to get their hands on such a camera. Especially if it looked something like the new Zeiss Ikon.
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AWR
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Join Date: Jun 2005
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2006-07-07, 02:51

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dorian Gray
Hmm… 6.0 MP from a 1/2.5" Canon CCD. Think I'll pass!

The best image quality in this kind of price range comes from the Fuji Finepix F10 and F11 cameras (which have their fair share of annoying niggles, but probably no more so than any other compact digicam).

I bought a Fuji Finepix F11 about 6 months ago and I have been very pleased with it. It has been all-around great and the niggles get worked into one's routine in about a week. What I really like:

1. Great ability to take nice pictures in low natural light with no flash! Interior pictures or pictures of people, kids with flash typically suck.

2. Fast operation. It has a high-speed mode that cuts shutter release time to de minimus. Essential. Especially with kids.

3. Battery life is crazy. I take A LOT of pictures. On high-speed mode, which theoretically uses more juice, I get 350-400 pictures between charges. In fact, I've only charged the camera twice in 6 months outside of it sitting on its leash transferring pictures, where it gets a 30 minute top up or so.

It also has good macro abilities and takes very nice pictures all around, considering it's a compact digital camera. It has a great LCD and a good quality finish. I'm smitten.

Downside: a decent amount of purple fringing in shots with harsh oblique backlighting; auto focus sometimes focuses on non subjects (but this is probably more my fault than the camera's).

Last edited by AWR : 2006-07-07 at 04:18.
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McSandwich
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
 
2006-07-07, 03:53

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dorian Gray
Hmm… 6.0 MP from a 1/2.5" Canon CCD. Think I'll pass!

The best image quality in this kind of price range comes from the Fuji Finepix F10 and F11 cameras (which have their fair share of annoying niggles, but probably no more so than any other compact digicam). All these cameras have sensors that resolve much more detail than their low-quality lenses can project. It is only consumer ignorance that continues to drive the MP count upwards. The difference between 5 MP and 10 MP is not noticeable if the same compact zoom lens is used (which it nearly always is: designing and manufacturing lenses is still expensive, after all). On the other hand, if the technology used in today's high MP sensors was directed at a 4.0 MP sensor of the same area, the quality would dramatically improve (the biggest problems with digicam images are poor dynamic range (i.e. blown highlights) and huge amounts of image noise, and those problems are both exacerbated by high pixel count).

Another annoying thing about consumer digicams is zoom lenses with no true wide-angle. I guess people want high zoom ratios (10x, etc.) and it's very difficult to design and manufacture a high-ratio zoom lens that starts in true wide-angle territory. So we get lenses with 35 mm equivalent focal lengths like 35-350 mm. Imagine how much more useful a 24-180 mm lens would be, but that's 7.5x instead of 10x so people would go for the higher ratio model. It seems that camera buying has turned into an exercise in numbers: the bigger the better. Surely it's time for one of the manufacturers to cater to the enthusiast?
I agree. I've been looking for a compact (not so small that small hands are required) digicam with a wide angle (28mm would do), fast operation, a degree of manual control, and good image quality. There are only 5 compact digicams on the market which which come anyway close to these requirements. All the other compacts are aimed at those looking for big mega pixels, ultra compactness and style, and a high zoom. All at the cost of quality and usability

Last edited by McSandwich : 2006-07-07 at 05:23.
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usurp
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Join Date: Jul 2004
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2006-07-07, 04:59

The Canon A620
$219 with a 1GB memory card on newegg
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16830120179
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ghoti
owner for sale by house
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Charlotte, NC
 
2006-07-07, 08:09

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dorian Gray
Yes, there are tons of big SLRs out there. But where are the digital cameras to take the place of the Konica Hexar AF/RF, Contax G1/G2, Leica M6/M7/MP, etc.?
They exist. There's the Leica DigiLux 2/Panasonic DMC-LC1, which is about the size of an M6 and has excellent controls. The problem is that the LCD viewfinder simply sucks. Panasonic are also about to release a very compact SLR with similar controls (aperture ring on the lens, shutter speed dial), the DMC-L1. And Leica is expected to release their Digital M by September the latest - otherwise they're not going to survive this year, anyway. All those cameras are expensive ($2000), and they are much larger than the small ones discussed here by necessity: you can't cram a high-quality lens into such a small package. Also, the market for them is extremely small (think Leica!), so the prices won't come down anytime soon. People don't care about the quality as much as they care about size, portability, and styling.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dorian Gray
- large-area 6 MP sensor or thereabouts, set on a module that can be replaced/upgraded
- tiny or non-existant LCD screen
I don't see the point of not including an LCD screen. You're being a bit too retro here - and if you want that, you can always choose not to use it. As for the replaceable sensor: forget it. It's too difficult to get the alignment right, and the "bus" for a new sensor will be different and may require different electrical specifications, etc. This would be much more expensive than just buying a new camera, and the market for it is so tiny as to be non-existant. Nobody will bother doing that.
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Messiahtosh
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Join Date: May 2004
 
2006-07-07, 08:33

Quote:
Originally Posted by usurp
The Canon A620
$219 with a 1GB memory card on newegg
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16830120179
While it's a great price, I don't think the size is quite "ultra compact."
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usurp
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2006-07-07, 08:41

depends if you wear baggy pants or not
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Messiahtosh
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2006-07-07, 12:14

WHOA...this just in...I cancelled my order on the Canon.

I took advice from my brother, who owned a slightly older model of the Sony Cybershot DSC-P200. He sent me some of the images he's taken with his camera, and we found a great deal on the one I bought. I got it for $210 total with tax and shipping from Circuit City and got a 1 GB memory stick for $27 from Amazon. Under $250 for a 7.2 megapixel, small digital. I'm happy to have saved the money.

It should be good...can't wait to get my hands on it!

From the sale of my older camera, it only cost me $60 to upgrade...

"We are reviewing some 9,000 recent UNHCR referrals from Syria. We are receiving roughly a thousand new ones each month, and we expect admissions from Syria to surge in 2015 and beyond." - Anne C. Richard, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration
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World Leader Pretend
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Join Date: Dec 2005
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2006-07-07, 13:32

I just bought the Canon A620 from NewEgg, $230 shipped with a 1gig stick. I hope it turns out nice, my family has been itching for a new (usable) camera for a while now. The Canon A620 is 7.1 MP, 4x Zoom with lots of advanced features, so I'm sold
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Dorian Gray
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2006-07-07, 16:22

Quote:
Originally Posted by ghoti
They exist.
Well, I'm totally out of the loop on good digital cameras. I was pretty disenchanted with the whole disposable nature of them (dropping $2000 on a camera that will last about three years before it's obsolete/broken/dead due to old batteries and screen? Way too expensive for me.) One of my Nikon FM2s was made in the early eighties (titanium shutter model) and it works like new in 2006. I still use film, and will continue to do so until someone makes a camera I like, and one that I will get at least five years out of and preferably ten.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ghoti
Also, the market for them is extremely small (think Leica!), so the prices won't come down anytime soon. People don't care about the quality as much as they care about size, portability, and styling.
And that's perfectly fine: I think it's great that so many people got excited by photography with the arrival of digital. But there were lots of niche cameras in the days of film, so why are there so few equivalent cameras today? It was understandable in the days of Nikon D1 when digital was so expensive and fast-paced, but now it's cheap[ish] and development has slowed down (or at least improvements are less important). Also, digital has proved that everyone from casual holiday snappers to dedicated pros are willing to pay vast sums of money on cameras. No casual snapper (who shot maybe three or four rolls of film a year) would have paid $300 for a camera even five years ago: now this thread is full of people who are debating the merits of various cameras in that price range. Even a Leica doesn't seem so outrageously expensive today as it did years ago when other cameras were far cheaper. What I'm trying to say is: I think people would spend serious money on good non-SLR cameras if they were available. It seems to be a price-insensitive market.

Also, the Panasonic and Leica digicams you referred to have zoom lenses. Probably pretty good zoom lenses, but I'm a bit old-fashioned about zooms too. The Leica is certainly a decent-looking camera, though the sides are a bit square for someone used to an M6. And the CCD is only 2/3", not really good enough for that kind of money in my opinion (for depth-of-field control if nothing else).

Last edited by Dorian Gray : 2006-07-07 at 16:27.
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