After about 7 years with my trusty Sony Cybershot I decided it was time to retire it for something new and also get my Mom to make the jump from film to digital, too. The biggest annoyance with my old camera were the long time to turn on and take the first photo (especially with flash on), so this was a big priority. I used CNet for most of my comparisons.
One piece of UI I really liked was their Recently Viewed / Comparison box. On many sites I’ve seen the Comparison feature placed in the search results and Recently Viewed as a separate piece of functionality (like on the bottom of Amazon pages). This is a really smart combination of showing your last 4 viewed products, linking to those products (clicking on the picture), ability to compare a subset (checkmarks and compare button). The final touch that really make this UI superb is the ability to remove items from the widget. Often the usefulness of modules like this are diluted because they get filled up with items that you aren’t interested in at all. The list gets so full and loses relevance and it’s almost as easy to go back to the search results to move back and forth between products.
So what did I end up buying? I went with the Canon Powershot S870. Canon still seems to be the leader in this class of cameras (ultracompact and compact). High ratings, fast load up time, image stabilization, and small size were the main reasons. I also ordered the new wireless SD card called Eye-Fi. This card transfers your photos directly to your computer and/or online photo sharing site wirelessly. I’ll write about how it works after trying it out.
If you’re looking for a camera for your mom or anyone a little older, I recommend the Panasonic Lumix TZ3. The camera’s exterior has a bit more of a big and chunky feel. The controls are more tangible feeling than many of the ultracompacts. I think my mom was really drawn to it because it reminisced of her analogue film camera. The screen is pretty big and Panasonic used nice big clear fonts and my mom immediately made positive comments on as soon as they came up. The 10x zoom lens is pretty beautiful for a consumer grade camera, probably at the upper end of its class. Definitely a great choice for anyone who doesn’t need one of the ultra small cameras that are becoming the norm for consumer models.