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Best digital point and shoot for low-light food photos?

by Pattyres / October 17, 2007 5:24 AM PDT

I'm in the market for a new compact camera, and my priority is taking the best possible pictures of food in restaurants without resorting to flash. I can spend up to $500, but would prefer $300-$400. I can't really whip out an SLR discretely in restaurants, so I really need the best possible compact point and shoot camera. I've heard that Fujis are the best for this -- is this still true? Would the F50fd be the best? I'm suspicious because of its low price. I'm also condsidering Panasonic and Canon models but have heard their performance at high ISO levels is not as good as Fuji.

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Food Photos
by snapshot2 Forum moderator / October 17, 2007 8:45 AM PDT

The best food photographs are done with studio type lighting, so don't expect perfection.

For low light....the Fujifilm F50fd is likely your best choice.

If you are dining by candle light, that could get tricky without flash. Difficult but possible.

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Not Fuji in this case
by jnthnp / October 19, 2007 4:34 AM PDT

Although Fujifilm has the only compact camera that can take decent photos at ISO 800, high ISO isn't what you're looking for. There's a difference between high ISO and image stabilization. ISO can freeze action that is moving in low light, while shake reduction only minimizes camera shake and can't ensure sharpness of your moving subject. Now, I'll make the assumption that your food doesn't move. You'll probably be looking for a camera with IS, VR, Steadyshot, and the like. (That's fancy talk for when a camera has a mechanical function that compensates for camera movement). You should be cautious though that some cameras have electronic image stabilization, which is a marketing joke; in my knowledge, there are some Nikon and a lot of Casio cameras that pull this trick.
If I'm not mistaken, Canon has very effective image stabilization. If you don't mind a large camera and want manual controls, look into the A650. If you want a small camera and image stabilization, look into the SD850 IS or something like that.
Now, you can still use high ISO, but you'll end up with noisy photos.

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Just bought the Olympus Stylus 820 Digital Camera...
by cls220 / October 19, 2007 11:55 AM PDT

and I love, love, love it!! Can't believe how great it works for such an inexpensive camera!

It has settings specifically for photographing food, including a setting for doing photographs by candlelight and "available lighting".

I bought it at Best Buy -- primarily they have a 30-day no questions asked return policy (with receipt obviously). If the camera doesn't do what you need, you simply take it back and they put it on the shelf as a "previously-opened" item.

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