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Which point & shoot camera has best image quality?

Hi, I'm looking for the point & shoot camera with the best image quality. All the (gazillions of) reviews I've read seem to say that the image quality on whichever camera it is isn't that good but the camera has other features which make it an overall good purchase. Is there such a thing as a point & shoot with excellent image quality? Really not interested in a DSLR. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Cheers, Katherine

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Best Image Quality

There are many digital cameras with excellent image quality.

You also need to specify what features you prefer on your camera.

Camera physical size: shirt pocket, pants pocket, jacket pocket, or bigger than any pocket.

Cost: Prices range from $100 to $500. What price range are you looking for?

Optical Zoom: 3X, 5X, 10X, or 20X ?


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Which point & shoot camera has best image quality?

Hi, thanks for your response. I'll be using the camera for a project during daylight hours both inside my apartment and outside in the backyard. The physical size of the camera doesn't matter as I won't be taking it on the road with me. Optical zoom doesn't matter either (3X is fine). Price range $300. The only features that really matter to me are point & shoot and excellent image quality - is this just a matter of lens quality? Maybe image stabilization to improve the images being taken? And from what I've read online, Sonys are out because they are consistently dinged for image quality (soft pictures). Thanks.

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Excellent Images

I have just spent 3 hours looking at sample photos from digital camera reviews that have been released in the past 6 months.
I was looking in the 3X, 4X, 5X and 6X zooms and under $300 cameras.
So far I have not found any that I would call excellent.

Surprise Surprise!

Two things have been happening over the past year that have pushed image quality down.
Wide angle lenses and 14 megapixel sensors.

It turns out that neither of these things is good for us (the buyers).
Wide angle lenses tend to turn out pictures that are soft on the left and/or right edge.

14 megapixel sensors tend to turn out pictures with too much noise.
Then the camera makers try to cure the noise with noise reduction firmware and that tends to lose the fine detail in the picture.

So far, I like the Canon SD1300 and SD4000; and the Sony W350 and TX7.
But they all have soft images on the left and/or right edge.

I still have not checked all of the Casio and Samsung cameras.
I will do that tonight.


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Excellent Lens short zoom cameras under $300.

I checked all of the sample photos that I could find and I am sorry to report, I don't find any that I would call excellent.

The camera makers are paying more attention to their more expensive cameras and the lower priced cameras are suffering from lack of attention.

Case in point:
Canon's "A" series of cameras did produce excellent photos and now the new ones do not.
The more expensive new Canon G12 and S95 produce excellent photos.

A case in point for a 10X zoom camera.
Kodak replaced their Z915 with the Z950.
The Z915 was a real sleeper because it looked too plastic and didn't sell well but it had an excellent sharp lens and sold for under $200.
The pictures I looked at from the Z950 was soft on the left edge.


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Wow - thank you for all the time and effort you put into researching this - it's very much appreciated!

It looks like jumping to the $400-500 price range in point & shoots will give me the photo quality I'm looking for. A few questions:

1. You mentioned one post before last that wide angle lenses reduce photo quality. Does that mean that the G12 has an edge over the S95 in terms of photo quality?

2. How do you think Panasonic's LX5 compares to Canon's G12 and S95 in terms of photo quality?

3. One online review said that Panasonic images aren't as clear and crisp as Canon's. Do you agree?

4. Going back to my original price range, what's your opinion of the Panasonic ZS7 for image quality?

Thank you!

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Revision to Question #1

Oops, looks like both the G12 and S95 have wide angle lenses. Does optical zoom mean a camera has a wide angle lens or are these two different things?

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Answer Question 1

1. "You mentioned one post before last that wide angle lenses reduce photo quality"

I did not mean to imply that.
The problem is that all of the camera makers try to keep up with each other.
In the past two years they all jumped on the wide angle lens "bandwagon".
That means they have to design and produce new wide angle lenses in a hurry.
Wide angle lenses are more difficult to design and build and more expensive to make.

They seemed to have cut a few corners (not a pun) on some of the new lenses, but that is exactly what happened with some cameras. The result is soft corners which makes the left and/or right sides of the images soft (not as sharp).

The new low light designed cameras (like the G12 and S95) came out much better because they spent more time on the lens design.


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1. See next message.
2. There are several cameras that followed Panasonic's lead in making a camera (LX3)with better low light performance.
One thing is common to them all.
They dropped back to 10 megapixels and installed a larger sensor assembly, which also required a larger diameter lens.
That lets them use larger, pixels.
That produces more light from the sensor.

Here are the latest cameras of that ilk:

Canon G12 and S95
Nikon P7000
Panasonic LX5
Samsung TL500
Olympus XZ-1 (just announced - this week).

3. No I don't agree. That is like saying that all Ford products have better cars parts than Chevrolet does. Or any such combination - you fill-in the car names.

4. Panasonic LX5 image quality: I will let you decide for yourself.
Here is a link to sample images:

Be sure to look at them when they are displayed at full size.


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I am Deciding Also

I have narrowed it down to two cameras. If anyone has opinions on which one is better would love to hear why...

Canon S95 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5


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Best Image Quality in a Point and Shoot

I have struggled finding a point and shoot with good photo quality. I've tried at least 1 model of many brands and haven't been pleased. I currently have 2 in my possession, the fujifinepix f550 exr and the canon elph 300. Neither produce images as good as my kodak z710! I take snapshots of vacations, my kids activities, and my kids. I love the zoom on the fuji. It is excellent, but most of the images are grainy and pindotted when you enlarge them over 4x6. The elph 300 is better, no grain, but still the images aren't crisp. My dream camera would have at least an 8x zoom and be easy to use. I would prefer to use my camera on auto most of the time except for scene modes when necessary. I don't care which brand, I just want crisp, clear photos that can be enlarged to 8x10. I do not want AA batteries! That is 1 reason why I am no longer using the Kodak. I would like to keep the cost under $400. As for size, small enough to fit in a coat pocket would be ideal. Since this discussion started, have you found one that you can recommend?

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Remember that a larger pixel size does not always translate into high quality.

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Canon Elph 300

Was one of the disappointing cameras with soft left and right sides to all pictures.

Canon saw the error of its ways and you should now take a good look at the Elph 310.

They ditched the 24mm wide angle lens and on the Elph 310 they stepped back to a 28mm lens.
Not as wide an angle but wide enough.
No more soft left and right edges.

This is what the Elph 300 should have been, but wasn't.

Here is the conclusion page from a review of the Elph 310:


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Disappointed with the Canon Elph 310HS

After reading all the professional and consumer reviews I purchased the Canon Elph 310HS. I primarily shoot with my Nikon D300 DSLR, but I also like to have a "pocket camera" for times when I can't or don't want to haul around the big camera and all the lenses and accessories. After giving the Canon 310 a trial run shooting some fall leaves out in the country as well as a few portrait and other basic shots, I have concluded that the image quality is significantly lacking. While the camera does have a lot of nice features and bells and whistles, my #1 concern is image quality, and this camera doesn't cut it. I used both the Auto mode, as well as manual override to adjust and compensate, but to no avail. The images did not capture the brilliant colors or the details. Most of the leaves lacked detail and it looked like just a "mush" of color - could not really distinguish one leaf from another. Same issue with details on the tree trunks, pine needles and leaves on the ground. Also, the color saturation was really lacking, and appeared dull and lifeless in most shots, even when I compensate by using the built in color boost (red, green, blue and also tried the vivid setting. Not any better). My ancient Casio 4MP 3x zoom point and shoot takes nicer images (but lacks the features and longer zoom). I was looking forward to upgrading to a new pocket camera with a longer zoom, and wider angle lens, large LCD screen and better image quality. While the Canon 310 had all the former attributes, it definitely does not have better image quality. I'm very disappointed, and can't figure out how it garnered such glowing reviews. Perhaps I got a rare dud, but regardless, it's getting returned to Costco where I purchased it. Now it's back to the drawing board to figure out which one to try next.

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Which point & shoot camera has best image quality?

Thanks for starting this thread, Katherine. I too have been very frustrated.

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Dimage G500

I had one of these (Minolta G500) some years ago and its image quality was great. What is it with the digital camera industry and their hit and miss ability to produce the winning combination of ingredients that add up to a camera that works?
Case in point, a few years later I got a Konica Minolta Dimage z10, which was their cheaper line version of the z1. At only 3.2 megapixels this camera took just amazing quality photos, look at any reviews of it and you will see just glowing remarks about it. I loved it but wanted a few more features and jumped on a Dimage z5 (the successor to the z1 and z3) when a good deal came up on ebay for one and sold the z10 to a friend. Boy was that a mistake, and I should have heeded the reviews. Even though the z5 retailed for nearly twice what the z10 did and appeared to be higher quality, image quality is just appalling- noise, bad color rendition, noise, (did I mention all the noise in images? LOL) I can't even resell the thing, just wouldn't be ethical.
Conversely I have a Nikon Coolpix S4, the first of its swivel body remakes from around 2005. It struggles greatly with getting a good shot, a bit of noise, a lot of blur on far zoom. I had just about given up on it, when I stumbled across its successor (the S10) at a thrift store (for $22.50 in mint condition!) which had IS and a few other refinements. This camera can't ever seem to get it wrong- point, shoot, out comes a beautiful photo every time, can't get it wrong even if you tried. (both the S4 and S10 have 10x zoom and swivel bodies)
I'm still using the S10 as my main camera and have a Contax i4r as a tiny pocket toy, and an unremarkable Casio EX-G1 to throw around- but have been thinking about a new megazoom (~20x) point and shoot. I'm afraid to buy one however since the quality from even top brands seems to be like buying a lottery ticket.
(I know this reply almost wanders off topic and is more a commentary on the industry than helping select a camera- but why is this so hard for them to get right?)

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