It’s been about 3.5 years and I’m upgrading the small digital camera again. The current camera is a Canon SD300, which is the same form factor as the Canon SD400, SD450 and about 1mm thinner than the SD500.

Although I own an SLR, a small camera serves many purposes.

  1. Form Factor. You always need a small camera because the SLR is not easy to hold or take in a bar/club or small spaces
  2. Great pictures, when you don’t have the SLR
  3. Movies. Who needs a camcorder these days?

There were 3 other required features.

  1. image stabilizer
  2. high ISO. Up to ISO 1600. The camera must take visibly noiseless pictures at ISO400.
  3. wide angle (28mm or less)

Looking for a camera that matched the featureset was easy. Finding something that actually performed well was really sad. I had set my eye on 3 cameras pre- and post-PMA 2008 and have now been disappointed.

Canon 870IS (black).. Canon has slacked on their feature set. This camera barely makes the cut with 3.8x zoom and the 28mm wide angle. Due to Canon’s dominance in the market, they haven’t added any competitive features. The form factor is LARGER than the SD300 size. There isn’t any improvement in the movies, which are still at 640×480 resolution. This camera was released in Nov 2007, but there’s no excuse for such the lack of features. I also did not consider the Canon SD1000 (or derivatives) as it doesn’t have wide angle or real optical stabilization.

Fujifilm F100fd. Fujifilm recently gained a good repuation for good high ISO shooting in their small digicams. ISO performance up to ISO12800. A new generation of image processor with image stabilization. NO Wide angle.
Sadly. This camera plagued by pink banding issues which is supposed to be fixed in a firmware update that’s being released in May. But what else might be wrong with that camera?

Panasonic DMC-TZ5. This camera has great specs. 16:9 captures, extremely high res screen 406k pixels, 10x zoom (28-280mm f/3.3-4.9 Leica DC Vario-Elmarit glass) with wide angle @ 28mm. 720p video capabilities, 1280×720 pixels at 30fps!, (also allows zooming while recording). It just falls short because it’s doesn’t have great low light performance (ISO is rated high, but doesn’t perform). Many commenters on a DPreview forum have returned the camera because the low light performance was poor and the noise reduction could be controlled. The Venus 3 engine inside is also the same as the previous generation. When is a Venus 4 going to come out?

So after all this searching. It’s sad results for 3.5 years of technology passing by. I’d probably go for the Panasonic’s next generation if it were available now (maybe the LX3 if it ever comes out). But, for now, I’ve upgraded within the Canon product line. For $260 on, it’s not a bad deal since I paid (or overpaid) $330 for the SD300 years ago.

Canon color rendition processing is still top notch, but I just want more features.

Credit: Canon Powershot website.