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DSLR "sidekick" camera recommendations

I’m going to purchase a camera to use for jewelry photos and other
uses, which must be more compact than a dSLR. After a fair amount of
research, I’ve narrowed it down to two cameras with full manual
controls, that shoot in RAW and JPEG (as well as video). They are:

Fuji FinePix F550-EXR (street $329)
Canon PowerShot S95 (street $400)

One of the biggest differences is that the Fuji has a 15x optical
zoom, whereas the Canon only has a 3.8x optical zoom. This translates
to the equivalent of 105mm and 360mm, respectively. However, because
the Fuji is newer, it hasn’t been reviewed very much and not locally
available. I need to make this purchase in the next week or so. Any
thoughts/comments on the usefulness of the larger zoom, as well as
other aspects of the cameras will be appreciated.


Canon cameras have the added advantage of a very active hacker
collective. They have developed add-on firmware for point and shoot
Canons they call CHDK, Canon Hackers Development Kit. This makes
available the sort of advanced features usually only found in DSLRs.
And as the firmware is add-on, not replacement, it doesn’t void the
warranty. Here’s the website.

Look through the features made available and which models are
curently supported and you’ll expand the range of cameras which will
fit your needs.


I have the Canon S90, the previous model, and also a G11 they share
the same processor, and are both great cameras. I use a Nikon D70
for photographing my work, however.


The Canon S95 is a higher end “photographers point & shoot” camera
with a larger sensor and smaller megapixel count - both positives in
picture quality for this type of camera. It will produce more
detailed images with better edge definition and color rendition while
exhibiting fewer blown highlights than the Fuji.

The Canon’s lens is f/2 to f/4.9 compared to the Fuji f/3.5 to 5.3.
The Canon is significantly faster, and therefore more versatile,
both in control of depth of field (easy to blur a background) and in
low light photography.

Canon has proven image quality in their point & shoot cameras and the
S95 was reviewed extremely well. Fuji has a long history of heavy
noise suppression resulting in very smeared looking jpeg images. I
don’t have any on their RAW format.

The only thing the Fuji really has over the Canon is the longer lens.
If that is a deal maker for you, however, I’d look at some of the
other megazooms out there before buying the Fuji. Panasonic has rated
very high in it’s FZ series of megazoom point & shoots.

Les Brown

I’ve had the S95 for over a year now and love it- it’s the 5th Canon
I’ve had - had the 100, 200, 400, 800. (my “real” camera is a Nikon
S70) The only thing I don’t like about this version is that there is
no eyepiece viewer - only the screen. This can be difficult outdoors
in very bright sun.

It has great manual controls, which I like. Works very well on
"auto." It has a pan mode, easy to use. The video is also great.

I am not familiar with the other camera.

Hope this helps,

Btw - my Droid (dinc) on which I am writing this email, has a fab
camera too.

Thanks so much for all of your comments and help. Les, your comments
were very persuasive and Elliot, CHDK firmware is the icing on the
cake. Canon S95 it is!!



I purchased a CanonS95 the day you put your first post up -
primarily to take some close-up shots but it is sure to be used as
the “family” camera once I work out all the bells and whistles. I
also went down the track of eliminating the rivals and am pretty sure
I got the right one. Shame they don’t print up the manuals for you


PS The prices you quoted are pretty good. The recommended price on
the S95 is $600 here but can be had for less.