Seeking recommendations for a compact

Started Jul 12, 2013 | Questions thread
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Nils E
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Seeking recommendations for a compact
Jul 12, 2013

I need to replace a Canon PowerShot A620. It's beginning to come apart at the seams, and I figure new cameras probably have better image quality and features. I was originally looking to spend about $200, but now I'm thinking of either spending less on an ultracompact or more on "last year's" enthusiast compact. I have a very mild brand preference for Canon, but I won't let that prevent me from considering other options.

Needs:

  • Fits in my pocket. Let's define this as under 1.4" thick.
  • Fits in my wallet. Let's define this as under $300 USD, but ideally closer to $200.

Wants:

  • Takes clear, sharp, vivid low-light/indoor/squirmy kid photos. (Yes, I know that's not going to happen with a compact, but I still want it. I'm thinking: larger sensor, faster lens, better image stabilization?)
  • Has a good full-auto mode.
  • Sips juice.
  • Snaps snappily.

Don't Needs:

  • Good zoom.
  • Comprehensive manual controls.
  • RAW mode or other enthusiast features.
  • High quality video.
  • Kitchen sink, bell, and whistle. (WiFi, touchscreen, rugged, give-everyone-a-clown-nose mode.)

I was originally thinking of an ultracompact, like the PowerShot ELPH series, but after doing some research I'm wondering if it might be better to go for a lower-end, smaller, and older enthusiast compact, like the PowerShot S series--not for the manual controls, but for the better image quality. The usual intermediate level--the travel zoom--doesn't really appeal to me, since I don't need good zoom.

Ultracompact

  • Canon PowerShot ELPH 320 HS (IXUS 240 HS) for $120. (The ELPH 330 HS doesn't seem to have any features I want.)

Enthusiast Compact

  • Canon PowerShot S100 for $300. (The S110 doesn't seem to have any features I want.)
  • Nikon Coolpix P310 for $200. (Maybe more of a wannabe than an actual enthusiast camera.)
  • Nikon Coolpix P330 for $330. (That's more than I was planning to spend.)

I understand that Canon is likely to announce new PowerShots in August-September, which might either offer something enticing or push down the price of current models. Right now I'm thinking my best option might be to bide my time and hope to snag an S100 at $250 or less. If there's any other slimmish cheapish camera with unusually good image quality, I'd like to know about it. It seems like Olympus, Fuji, and Sony offer enthusiast compacts that are either more expensive or thicker than Canon's.

If I do spring for the ELPH 320 HS, it's going to be better than my A630, right? Are we likely to see an ELPH 340 HS with some killer feature come September? DIGIC 6? Backlit sensor? Magic pixie dust?

Any thoughts, opinions, recommendations, or notable omissions?

ANSWER:
Canon PowerShot A630 Canon PowerShot S110 Nikon Coolpix P310 Nikon Coolpix P330
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