Digital Camera Shopping

Since my organization was recently gifted with some big bucks, I've discussed selling my old Canon S3IS to PNOLA, since we currently have no camera, and I've been keeping it at work to take pictures of volunteers and our progress on our projects.

Now don't get me wrong:  I love my Canon.  I've had it since the spring of '07, and it's served me well.  I did extensive research when I purchased it - comparing prices, megapixels, zooms, the whole 9 yards, as I tend to do whenever I make a major electronic purchase.  I wasn't going to spent $400 on a crappy camera.  Yes, I spent that much on a camera, and I think that $100 per year is a worthy investment in a camera that has held up well enough to take thousands of pictures.  But.  The major problem that I've had with it has been ... it's huge.  At the time, it was considered small for a mega zoom camera, but still ... huge.  It doesn't fit in any of my small purses.  I can't exactly hide it if I'm walking through a shady neighborhood.  I have to put it around my neck when at Mardi Gras parades because it's too big to safely hold in one hand.  And for such a big ass camera, it had a small screen.

Anyway, since I'm selling it to the organization, I'm finally going to be able to afford a new camera, right when the digital camera industry is exploding with compact mega zoom cameras.  I've narrowed it down to two:  The Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7 and the Canon Powershot SX210IS.

My method this time was to do a Amazon.com search for digital cameras, refine the search by my required mega pixels (upgrading to 10+) and my required zoom (10x +), then eliminate any cameras that had less than four stars.  Then I sorted the results in descending order by their number of stars.  Once I figured out my top three, I did a search on Cnet.com to see how they fared.  Then did a Google search to see how other sites rated them.  This is the hard part, especially since it's become clear that my top three were often compared and very similar.  I have to weigh what I'm looking for, what the reviewer says, think about whether any complaints from the reviewer really matter for what I need the camera for, my own bias towards Canon (since I've loved mine for so long), whether someone's complaints about these newer cameras matter compared to the performance of my 4 year old camera.  Also, as far as ranking, reviews have been all over the place for these three.  The number three, a Sony camera, was just eliminated because I found that more sites didn't list it as a top ranked then did, and it apparently uses a non-typical video format.  That leaves me with the Panasonic and the Canon.  Some sites say that the Canon is better.  Some say that the Panasonic is better.  Sigh.

The Panasonic Lumix is very cute, and I would get it in the sexy dark blue.  I've never had a Panasonic anything, though, and that makes me nervous.  It's $249.95 on Amazon.  12MPs, 12x zoom.  Built in GPS function.  According to some reviews, may take not so good low light pictures.  Does not have editing software compatible with my Mac.  Maybe bad battery life?  Some professional reviewers said that it takes superior photos to the Canon, but some Amazon reviewers say that it's picture quality was disappointing.  I'm a little more inclined to go with Amazon reviewers, since they've usually spent days if not weeks using the camera that they're reviewing.  But, I have to remember, that  a lot of people don't know what they hell they're doing with high-level technology products.  I've read many a Amazon review where I realized that the reviewer was complaining about something when really, they didn't know how to use the product correctly.  Hmmm, some reviews make it sound as though the battery is not rechargeable, which is a big problem.  With my current camera, I've used the same rechargeable AA batteries for 4 years, because I have a 2-hr battery charger.  Replacement batteries reportedly cost $30, which is ... no.  This might be the deal breaker.

Moving on, the Canon SX210 is also very cute, and I would get it in purple, although, it tends to look pink or fuschia in different pictures.  I ... do not want want a pink camera.  It's $274 on Amazon.  14MPs, 14x zoom.  No GPS function, though that was more of a luxury then it was something that I was looking for.  Uses a rechargeable battery, and includes the charger.  May have a shadow problem in the lower right corner of pictures.  Crappy battery life?  More complaints about poor pics, same as Panasonic!  I do want to say that the grand majority of the reviews for both cameras are extremely positive, which is why they're my top two.  Slow zoom, which was confirmed by more professional reviewers.  But by slow, they mean 2 - 3 seconds, instead of 1, and I'm not sure that I care.

I think the battery thing has put the Canon ahead of the Panasonic.  It also has better zoom and more megapixels.  If the battery life is poor, at least the battery is rechargeable and the charger is included.  If the pictures are bad, I don't think that Amazon charges a re-stocking fee if you purchase directly from them, so I'll return it.  I've decided that I don't care about the "slow" zoom, since it's still probably faster then my old one.  And I like purple better then blue.

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