Top positive review
1,389 of 1,406 people found this helpful
Excellent Camera for the Investment
on April 26, 2011
Folks, this purchase came after 3 solid days of research using everything from Amazon, CNet, Infosyncworld, to YouTube. You are here, reading reviews, as I was at the beginning of my search for a great quality digital camera that was neither high-end nor cheap. Let me begin by saying that I just purchased this camera and have not gone over extensive testing myself, but rest assured that you should NOT take Amazon.com reviews for digital cameras (and a lot of other things for that matter) as the gospel. Why? Because too many people come on here, bashing good equipment when the vast majority of the time it is user error. Please, do yourself a favor and do research using professional analysis by people that test these things out and that take pictures and video that you can see for YOURSELF.
I ignored all of the reviews that didn't specifically point towards any sort of systematic malfunction and that solely complained about image quality or other things that are easily altered and messed up using settings. And also reviews that complained about their camera breaking -- yeah I don't care HOW far you think you dropped it from...dropping electronics and it breaking then giving it a negative review is absurd. After narrowing my search down to the Canon S95, the Canon SX230, the Nikon s8100 and the Nikon s9100, I chose the Nikon S9100.
WHAT I WAS LOOKING FOR:
1. a compact camera...not too small, not too big
2. advanced enough to get my feet wet in the world of digital photography
3. offers 1080 HD video
4. optical zoom of at LEAST 10X
5. Under $450 - as I'm not ready to purchase a dSLR
6. utmost picture quality offered by a point & shoot (to include low-light performance)
WHAT MY RESEARCH TOLD ME:
1. professional review websites, not amazon reviewers, know what they are talking about when it comes to digital camera picture/video quality and they back it up with samples
2. not to rely on a handful of negative reviews to sway my decision
3. Nikon and Canon were the 2 most reliable brands offering products that met my requirements
4. cameras are going to offer stuff I don't need, won't use
5. pretty much all of the cameras are battery hogs
6. the memory card can influence camera performance/speed (wonder how many negative reviewers trashed the Nikon for their lack of putting a quality card in it eh)
MY FINAL 2 CHOICES:
1. Nikon s9100
Why over the s8100?
-well, the image quality is virtually identical DESPITE what some of the Amazon reviewers are saying because they pretty much use the same imaging system.
-s9100 has slight upgrades to scene modes, video, etc...
-s9100 is the newer model and has just dropped to a reasonable price as compared to the s8100
2. Canon sx230
Why over the S95?
-the s95 didn't shoot 1080 video (it is a 2010 model)
-the s95 had a lot of manual controls I am not ready for at this point and that I'd probably not use (this is a PRO for a lot of people)
-the s95 would likely be upgraded in the near future with a 2011 model
-the s95 cost roughly $50 more and didn't really give me anything the sx230 wouldn't at my usage level
So, How'd I decide on the Nikon S9100 over the Canon SX230:
Menu System: Canon - I really liked the canon menu system and it was really fast to navigate. However, the Nikon menu was just as fast, just not as fancy or "pretty" as the Canon.
Image Quality: Tie; I found pictures taken at the store to be the same, and reviews online touted both cameras as being excellent in both low-light and bright light.
Video Quality: Tie
Picture/Video Stabilization: Picture: Tie; Video: Canon
Effects: Tie - however the Nikon approaches some of the effects a little bit different. Canon does offer a few effects the Nikon didn't like a miniature video effect.
Audio: Tie - however you will hear the zoom in your videos if you use it while recording.
Form Factor: Canon - the Canon was more sleek and curvy
Comfortability: Nikon - the Nikon just fit my hand better
Price: Nikon - the Nikon was roughly $40 less.
In the end I REALLY liked both cameras. I'm no pro photographer, but I didn't want a battery operated purse toy either. So I don't think I would have gone wrong either way, however I just couldn't justify spending $40 more for the Canon when it really didn't offer me anything more features (that I'd use) over the Nikon. I wouldn't use the GPS function on the Canon...it is a battery hog anyway, EVEN when the camera is off unless you turn the feature off. I wouldn't really use a few of the extra effects the Canon had, and the Nikon had the better zoom. Despite Nikon's menus not being as pretty, nor the back of the camera being as pretty. I liked it's LCD screen better and was able to understand the menus just fine. In the end it was the price point and the fact the Canon had features I didn't want that led me to purchasing the Nikon.
So there it is folks (if you made it this far). Please do research and compare yourself before making a purchase based on consumer reviews. I would take a lot of these reviews with a grain of salt unless you see systematic issues EVERYONE is having with mechanical failures or hardware issues. Check out the resources I listed at the top of this article and you can't go wrong. But if you do, just be aware of the return policy and take comfort in knowing you can return.
Now that I've owned the camera for a little bit longer I thought I'd post another update to answer a few more questions folks might have or like to know about. I initially gave this 5 starts without owning it very long based on my initial experience with the camera and the feature set it had based on what I needed/wanted and the price point. My review is still excellent, but now I'd give it 4.5 stars due to the way it chargers and the necessity to purchase additional equip for the type of functionality I'm used to. I've been an exclusive Canon owner in the past, but this Nikon is a gem.
1. Picture Quality: Crystal clear. I have no issues with blur. Make sure you take good care of the camera and keep the lens clean.
2. Zoom: Incredible. Such a high zoom for the price point. Probably the best zoom you will find on a point & shoot.
3. Battery: Battery life is as expected. You will need to purchase at least 1 more EN12 battery as backup.
4. Charging: This camera charges with the battery inside. You charge the camera via USB into your computer or into a wall outlet. If you want to charge the battery separately you will need to purchase a separate wall mount battery charger (~$25-35 bucks). This is one reason I am lowering my review to 4.5 stars is because I feel the battery charger should have come with the camera. Charging is a big deal and we all like to be able to charge a battery AND still use the camera. You can't do that with this camera unless you buy a separate battery and the wall mount charger. That being said, it IS nice to be able to charge this camera via USB into your computer.
5. Compatibility: I have a MAC and I have zero issues. You can use iPhoto, or Picasa (from Google) or whatever else and it works fine. Also, it uses the same batteries as the S8100 and a few other models so if you are upgrading you can use your same batteries.
6. Flash: The flash works great. It has plenty of power and turns any photos in a completely dark area into a crisp colorful bright photo.
7. Size: The size is just about right. For a point & shoot, this is just about as big as you get before entering the DSLR realm. It is not pocket friendly, but is purse/bag friendly. The reason this camera is a bit bigger is to accommodate the awesome zoom as well as the larger LCD screen and flash.
8. LCD Screen: Perfect size LCD screen to view. Consider investing ~7-8 bucks into a plastic screen protector so it won't get scratched.
9. Controls: As I previously reviewed, the back of the Nikon is not as sleek or ergonomic as the Canon model(s), but nevertheless the design works fine for my hands (medium sized male hands). I am able to cleanly press all buttons and functions with no problem and I don't feel them to be cheap or to be faulty in any way.
10. Video: Great video, but stabilization will be an issue, especially at high zooms. But I knew this going in. Consider getting a tripod for serious video shooting, or prepare to film at a low zoom.
11. Effects/Modes: I love the effects and modes in this camera. You can create a lot of artistic effects without needing to use Photoshop or other expensive programs. IE. black and white photos that specifically highlight/target a single color palette illuminating a single color in your shot resulting in dramatic and beautiful shots. (by far my fav effect).
All-in-all, I'm very happy with my purchase. I just noticed the price dropped again making this camera even more of a great value. If you are looking for a small ultra portable purse camera for dinner and whatnot, look elsewhere. This one is inbetween the small point & shoots and the DSLRs. If you are looking for a high quality, yet compact enough to carry around and produce amazing shots, this is your camera. I'd say for the best review check out Infosyncworld's video review on their website or on YouTube for a closer look at it's size and capabilities.