Khun Steve –

Could you recommend a digital compact?  There are hundreds of them available and it boggles the mind trying to sort through them and choose one.  I want one that can go in my pocket or my wife’s purse, takes excellent high-resolution daytime images, and works great out on the streets at night without a flash.  Ideally I’d like it to take great pictures of sunsets and other scenes with harsh light.

Any help or recommendation would be appreciated.

Mack N.

Mack N. –

My, you sure don’t ask for a lot in a compact camera do you?  ;o)  Just joking.  The wish-list you describe could be described as the holy grail for consumer digital compacts.  In the past the best camera in this range was the Fuji Finepix F30 or F31d.  In my on-line review of the F30/31d I made the prediction that the capabilities of these two cameras would become folklore, legendary, and be big sellers.  Many readers went on to buy the F30/31d’s, over 50+ who emailed me and told me they bought this model on my recommendation. Both (identical except for a few minor features) became legendary.  Unfortunately Fuji’s marketing department discarded this fine 6mp design in favor of the “megapixel race” to compete with the masses.  Professional photographers and keen enthusiasts bought up all they could find until there were no more on the market.  Years later a Fuji Finepix F30/31d on EBay goes for 2-3 times its original cost.  Years later there is no digital compact made that works as well in low light, without a flash, as the F30/31d.

For years I hesitated to recommend digital compacts because I consider them mostly the same.  I’d tell people to buy for the features they needed at the best possible price, because the image quality and core capabilities were just too close to each other to make much difference.

On February 4th 2009 this might have changed with Fuji’s announcement of the Fuji Finepix F200EXR!  This is a svelte compact that can easily fit in your pocket, has a 5x zoom lens (28-140mm equiv), 3” LCD, both automatic and MANUAL modes, and offers 12mp’s of resolution in optimum light, and can/will automatically switch to a lower 6mp’s for low light or high dynamic range shots.  The science behind their new Super CCD EXR is extraordinary.  I WILL purchase one of these for review the moment it becomes available locally.

I rarely make recommendations without a review, the only time I’ve done so is in the case of the Canon 5d Mark II.  So far it’s been a runaway success.  I suspect the Fuji Finepix F200EXR to redefine the capabilities of a pocket compact digital.  It will be a strong success.  Now is can compete with the megapixel race manufacturers have created to dupe the public into buying the latest camera, and it will actually be useful in low light and high dynamic range environments.  I can’t wait to get my hands on one!

If you can postpone your purchase until the end of the month I’d recommend you check out this new model.

Hope this helps.



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