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Highest image quality point and shoot digital camera.

Hansen Tsang , Sep 04, 2007; 03:23 a.m.

I am looking for a professional quality image from a point and shoot digital camera. Cost is not an issue if I can find one.

I understand that so call "professional quality" is very subjective and difficult to quantify. So let's set some baseline to help my search. I would consider a good photo from a Canon 5D and a good lens to be professional quality. Nice and sharp, perfectly exposured, no motion blur, crispy contrast etc.

I have a Canon 5D with two zoom lens that covers from 17 mm to 200 mm. I also have a fixed focal length at 20 mm. Unfortunately the Canon 5d system is very heavy.

My main niche is low altitude aerial photographs for rich land/house/mansion/estates owners, realtors, etc. to visualize the layout of their real estates from a higher vantage point then 6 feet from the ground.

So I take the camera system up in the air with various equipment. I will use 50 collapsible poles, telecopic winch operated poles, pneumatically actuated poles. I also have a 45' derrick with 14 ton of lift that I can extend the reach. I have a 65' bucket truck that I can go up on the bucket to take the pictures.

The one area that most intrigue my client is when I use a little radio control helicopter to fly up 200 feet and take the pictures. The electric helicopter is the least obtrusive in a expensive neighborhood.

The bottomline is that my payload is very limited. The Canon Rebel 400D XTi and the plastic kit lens is about all I can carry right now. Unfortunately the kit lens won't give me the quality of picture that I need.

So I need some on in the know to point me to a few directions. I have done a bit of reading and realize that some point and shoots are not bad. Something like the Canon A640 is a good one. I did take it up with an electronic switch and it is working fine so far. I also tried the Leica D-Lux 3 but I have to operate the shutter with a mechanical servo. Over all result is not bad but not quite what I like.

I have read about the Sony DSC R1 and seen pictures from the camera. Unfortunately the camera is replaced by the Sony Alpha DSLR which is again too heavy for me.

I have heard about the Canon G7 or G9 but have not personally used them. I have read about the Olympus 8080 but never seen one. Also the Fuji S5900? I don't have any experience with them.

So instead of buying one of each to try which can run up the bill pretty fast. I am here to ask the experienced user about what do you feel is a very good point and shoot.

I don't need mega zoom. Wide angle is best from the air. I don't even use the autofocus. I just leave it at manual focus at infinity. I do like to shoot continuous. I don't use flash in the air. Shutter priority is a must because of the movement and vibration.

Raw format can be useful but not absolutely necessary.

Something less than 12 ounces will be real nice. So I shall thank all of you in advance for helping my confusion.


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Stuart Moxham - Finland , Sep 04, 2007; 04:29 a.m.

Why not put a light prime lens on the cannon rebel instead of the kit. That will give you much better image quality.

Savas Kyprianides , Sep 04, 2007; 06:10 a.m.

Good luck. When you find the holy grail, do come back and tell us.

Rick Reinhart , Sep 04, 2007; 06:16 a.m.

You have an ELECTRIC R/C heli which can carry a Digital Rebel? Which one? Tell me please! :-) As for your question, for web viewing I think the Fuji Finepix should be the best as it has in-camera shake-stabilization which. Your heli seems to be pretty powerful so you could even get the Pentax SLR with one of the slow lenses, like the pancake; I assume you'd be shooting at f11 anyways.

I don't know how crowded the area you're in is (rich areas tend to have larger plots), but a 4-foot R/C plane should be able to carry any SLR payload with a lens.

Paul Droluk , Sep 04, 2007; 06:18 a.m.

What you are looking for doesn't exist yet. The first will show up in the form of the Sigma DP-1 (http://www.sigma-dp1.com). None of the P&S cameras currently can compare with the output of a 5D... period. It's simply a matter of sensor size.

Thomas Knowles , Sep 04, 2007; 08:05 a.m.

Paul and Savas are right

if such a camera truly existed why would people continue to carry around their K100s and EOS SLR's all day

Edward Horn , Sep 04, 2007; 08:36 a.m.

Never used the Leica D-LUX 3, but it's probably closest to what you want.

Ronald Moravec , Sep 04, 2007; 09:28 a.m.

P&S will make 5x7 to 8x10 prints because the sensor is so small. You start to ge high noise at iso 200 and by 800 it is junk.

Canon G7 or G9 for JPEG+raw are the best P&S is you are happy with a 35mm equivalent lens.

Honestly the camera does not exist that will go what a D5 will do in a small p&s size.

Colin Carron , Sep 04, 2007; 11:27 a.m.

Have a look at the Ricoh GR digital. It weighs 170g, has a fixed wide angle lens and gives an 8.5MP image. It is derived from the old film Ricoh GR1 which pros sometimes used as a walkaround camera.

Michael S. , Sep 04, 2007; 01:20 p.m.

<< ... look at the Ricoh GR digital ... >>

Or if you need a wider lens and/or zoom capability (24 - 72mm equiv vs. the fixed 28mm equiv on the GR-D), there is also the Ricoh GX100.

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