I would like to know where they found the Olympus Evolt for $723 after the $100 Olympus rebate. I have been looking at this camera and the cheapest I saw a few days ago was $800. $999 less the $100 Olympus rebate and $100 off sale price making it $800. This was an online sale only at Circuit City. Most every where else I looked it was $999 with only the $100 Olympus rebate. Here's the printer friendly version of the artcile.
The Big Picture: Megapixel Race at Milestone 8
By DAVID POGUE
N life's final exam, the section intended to gauge your maturity and wisdom will probably look like this. "Mark each statement true or false: More money always makes you happier. A larger strawberry always tastes better. More megahertz always means a faster computer."
Too easy? All right, then, answer this: Why are so many people convinced that more megapixels means a better digital camera?
Within three years, camera companies rolled out four-megapixel cameras, then five, then six and seven. Now, if you can believe it, eight-megapixel consumer cameras are available for under $600.
Let's get one thing straight: the number of megapixels is a measure of how many dots make up a digital photo, not its quality. An eight-megapixel photo can look just as bad as a three-megapixel one - just much, much bigger.
The problem with this digicam arms race is that more megapixels mean bigger files. You need a much bigger memory card, you'll pay more for the camera (for its faster processing circuitry) and you'll have to wait a lot longer for those giant files to download to your computer. Once there, they also take longer to transfer, open and edit.
All right. Now that you've been given the Lecture, it's only fair to acknowledge that more megapixels do come in handy in three situations. First, an eight-megapixel photo has enough resolution for giant prints - 20-inch-by-30-inch posters, for example. Second, more megapixels give you the freedom to crop out a huge amount of a photo to isolate the really good stuff, while still leaving enough pixels to make reasonably sized prints.
Third - let's be honest here - it's fun to blow people away by telling them you have an eight-megapixel camera.
Five big-name camera companies make eight-megapixel models under $800: Nikon, Olympus, Konica Minolta, Canon and Sony. (Sony declined to provide a camera for evaluation in this roundup, saying that its entry has reached the end of its life cycle. Memorial services have not yet been scheduled.)
Fortunately, these companies didn't just slap eight-megapixel sensors into so-so cameras. Each company also incorporated excellent lenses, fast circuitry and other hallmarks of high-end cameras. In other words, these cameras give you eight good megapixels.
All of these cameras are heavyish, black and fairly bulky; if you want one of those slim, silver credit-card cams, forget it. Each offers full manual controls, a pop-up flash and a detached, easy-to-lose lens cap. Each can capture photos in either the JPEG format or what advanced shutterbugs call RAW format - huge, 13-megabyte files that when transferred to a program like Photoshop or iMovie can be miraculously "reshot" with different exposure, white balance and other settings, right on the computer.
Three models in this review - the Nikon, the Minolta and the Canon - fall halfway between traditional consumer cameras and more professional models. They offer powerful 7X to 10X zoom lenses that can bring you much closer to the soccer field or the school play than the usual 3X zoom. All three feature liquid-crystal-display screens that flip out from the camera body and rotate, making overhead, ground-level and self-portrait shots much easier. (As a bonus, the screen is protected when it is snapped shut against the camera back.)
Note, too, that when you peer into the eyepiece viewfinder of those three cameras, you don't actually see out the lens. Instead, you see another tiny L.C.D. screen (an EVF, or electronic viewfinder) - an approach loved and loathed by various shutterbug factions.
You can expect exceptional photos from all four cameras, far superior to what you get from a $300 consumer camera. (You can see some samples at http://www.nytimes.com/ slideshow/2005/02/23/ technology/circuits/ 20050224_STAT_SLIDESHOW_index.html Here's what else you can expect.
KONICA MINOLTA DIMAGE A200 At $587, this is the least expensive eight-megapixeler. (These prices come from shopping.com, which identifies the lowest price from a highly rated store.) It's also among the smallest and lightest, yet the rubberized, hand-turnable zoom ring makes it feel precise and professional.
This model gets brownie points for its exceptionally clear menu system, its comfortable body design and an antishake feature that does wonders for slow-shutter and fully zoomed-in shots. (The Nikon has a similar feature.)
And if you want to take movies with your camera, this is the one to get. It can capture TV-size, TV-smooth movies up to 15 minutes long. Better yet, the autofocus and that awesome zoom ring operate while you're recording, which is unusual for a digital still camera.
Subtract a few points, though, for the flash, which doesn't pop up by itself (you have to haul it up manually), the lack of a printed manual and the limited number of canned presets like Portrait, Sports, Night and Sunset. (In fact, that's the whole list.) And the A200's viewfinders turn grainy and slow to focus indoors at night, in large part because the camera lacks an autofocus assist lamp (which helps a camera focus in dim light).
CANON POWERSHOT PRO 1 Canon's octamegapixel camera is also compact - except for the L.C.D. screen, that is; it's two inches diagonally, a lot nicer than the 1.8-inch screens of its rivals. The PowerShot's price is nice, too (about $635), the illuminated top-mounted L.C.D. status screen is helpful and the photos are absolutely terrific. To its further credit, Canon is the only company that includes a memory card (a 64-megger).
With due respect, though, the most fitting adjective for this camera is annoying. The nano-dial that turns the camera on and off requires thumbs the size of Barbie's. And when you half-press to focus, the image on the screen freezes momentarily - and frustratingly. (The Nikon also exhibits this quirk.)
Worst of all, though, is the electronic zoom ring: the zooming lags behind your turning, which can drive you crazy.
The PowerShot Pro has plenty of great features and, in good light, takes excellent pictures. But certain aspects of it can get on your nerves.
NIKON COOLPIX 8800 What a list of great features! Crystal-clear close-ups 1.2 inches from the subject; truly helpful image stabilization; a wireless remote control for self-portraits and shakeless shutter presses; 15 preprogrammed scene modes; 30 frames-per-second movie recording, with zoom (30-second length limit); and a best-in-class 10X optical zoom, which makes this model what a Nikon spokesman calls "the