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Shopping For A Digital Camera, Need Recommendations

My boss has finally give me the go ahead to replace our aging Panasonic 2MP camera here at the office. The images I'm primarily shooting are of our vacation homes, interior and exterior, for use in print and online publications, and I'm looking for some help in my decision making. Read on if you're interested ...

My requirements:

1) Needs a good wide angle. Some of the homes and rooms I have to take pictures of are in very tight quarters, and I need to be able to step back and get the entire room w/out too much work (and no real obvious fish-eye -- a little bending is OK on extreme stuff, as I can correct that in Photoshop a bit).

2) Needs to be good in low-light. Many of these homes are just dark by nature -- wood walls, brown carpet, brows furniture, crappy lighting, etc... . I need something that can at least pick up enough color and light detail that I don't have to spend a long while in Photoshop correcting (and a good flash is, as much as I hate using it, a requirement in some of our homes). So obviously the side of the image sensor is a big deal here.

3) Needs to be easy to use, but powerful. Occasionally this camera will be used by a point-and-shoot kind of person who is just going to need a "point and shoot" type of setting. But for folks like me who actually know what I'm doing, I prefer to have more control over the ISO, f-stop, flash, shutter speed, etc...

4) No cameras that use anything other than SD or CompactFlash for its storage as those are by far the cheapest (I prefer compact flash myself because of its durability). I hate those stupidly expensive xD cards and anything that's Sony-backed (Memory Stick, etc...).

5) Something that doesn't over compress images, even on "High Quality" mode. My parents have a FujiFilm camera that even on "High Quality JPEG Mode" introduces a TON of compression artifacts. Obviously, RAW or TIFF modes would be ideal, but JPEG is fine if it is indeed high quality.

Now, the boss didn't give me a budget. He just said "Find Something good at a few different prices ranges and let me know what you think." So I'm throwing it there: Based on the above, does anybody have models you recommend I look at at around the $300, $600, or $900 price range (just throwing prices out there, as they're nice round numbers)? It's been a while since I've looked at this kind of thing (that Panasonic is 4 years old), so I have no idea what's out there any more. I do know I like Canon's cameras, as I have a basic EOS film camera at home, as well as a point and shoot Canon A50 Sureshot at home. When I do have time to shoot, I shoot (primarily) with my Canon AE1 manual kit, as I have a few gorgeous lenses for it. But I'm totally open for other options.

If I can get a good SLR kit (which I know can in the $900 range), that would probably be preferred. I don't really care about something being compact and lightweight, either, as I'd prefer something that works great and is durable.

Any thoughts/comments would be greatly appreciated, and if you feel there is something I might be missing, feel free to post here or e-mail me directly.

Also of note, I have posted this message over at dpreview.com as well, so you're welcome to reply there instead, if you prefer.

Posted by Jake on 04/02/06 @ 12:02 PM
Posted in Jake | Permalink

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