Going Compact

OK, I admit it officially — I need a small camera that I can carry with me all the time.  I’ve known this fact for years, but since I want to keep life simple, till now I didn’t want to fumble with multiple cameras, batteries, chargers, different memory cards, etc.  I tried to solve the problem by vowing to carry my SLR and three lenses in a small bag with me as much as possible, but the vow remained a vow, and I’ve missed an large number of photo opportunities since.

Well then, the decision is made — I need a small camera and I need to carry it all the time.  But which model?  It seems there are thousands out there, and since I’ve never payed much attention to that segment, I had to look around for a while.  I read a number of reviews and I’ve now narrowed my list down to two cameras: Canon PowerShot SD880 IS (called Digital IXUS 870 IS in Germany) and Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3 (luckily having the same name in Germany).  Why Canon uses a different names and numbers for the same camera in USA and Europe is beyond me, but it’s cofusing as hell!

canon_ixus_870_is

I came up with a list of priorities which helped me reduce the many choices down to these two compacts and which will now help me choose between the two.  Here is the list and the points that each camera scores for each criteria:

panasonic_lumix_dmc-lx3

Size and Weight

  • (max 6 points) both cameras are small, but the Panasonic is 37% larger and 36% heavier.  [Canon 6, Panasonic 3]

Image Quality

  • (max 4 points) zoom range.  The Ixus goes 28–105, and I consider 28mm a must.  Lumix offers 24–60, which is quite unusual and 24mm is very nice.  On the other hand, 60 mm is probably a bit too short.  [Canon 4, Panasonic 3]
  • (max 4 points) lens quality.  Canon seems to be good, Lumix with that Leica lens even better.  (Yes, I know about the hidden barrel distortion of the Lumix, but since it gets corrected automatically I’m not bothered by it).  [Canon 3, Panasonic 4]
  • (max 3 points) low-light capability.  Canon seems to be quite good, Lumix (for the first time) not far behind.  But Canon’s widest aperture is f/2.8–f/5.8 and Panasonic’s is f/2–f/2.8.  I’m going to assume that Canon is something like f/4 at 60 mm, so Panasonic has a one-stop advantage.  [Canon 2, Panasonic 3]
  • RAW capability (max 3 points) which I consider quite important.  Panasonic does it very nicely, Canon ain’t got it.  [Canon 0, Panasonic 3]

Price

  • (max 4 points) The Ixus is available for 250 € and the Lumix for 430 € at Amazon.  If this was to be my primary camera, I’d be willing to spend about 500 € on it.  For a backup camera I’d only be willing to spend about 250 €.  But I’m not looking for a backup camera here, so let’s say that 350 € is reasonable.  [Canon 5, Lumix 2]

Other Factors

  • (max 3 points) The Lumix has a metal case and supports three different aspect ratios with an optimal use of the sensor size.  The Ixus on the other hand has a built-in lens cap.  [Canon 1, Panasonic 3]

OK, let’s tally up and see who the winner is.  Drum roll, please!  The Ixus gathers 21 points and the Lumix gets 21 points too!!!  And what do I do now?!?!

I guess I need to visit a camera store and try out both cameras, take some test shots and decide based on those experiences…  I’ll keep you posted.

PS: Why on earth does anyone need 10 megapixel on a compact camera?!?  I will be much happier to pay the same amount of money for a camera with 5 megapixel only and thus with a much better low-light performance.

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