"The only thing like it; invaluable tool for capturing moments"4.5 starson by dbrad
Pros: TINY for what it does; ease of use, flexibility, image stabilization in video mode, video quality
Cons: grainy in low light, ergonomics takes getting used to, not the best camera for certain applications, color fringing, lens flare. auto focus hunting
Summary: After almost 2 weeks, I have to post here because the original cnet reviewer and some of the negative user reviews seem so off the mark.
This is a tiny camera for what it does; that's the point here. Its design is very deceptive in its simplicity and it does suffer a bit ergonomically in trying to fit too much in a small space, but I am very appreciative of what the engineers and designers were able to accomplish.
It has long been my dream to be able to carry a recording device with me which can capture stills as well as video in a high enough quality to be useful for many applications and this is the answer to many years of designing just such a device in my head. It's very close to what I had idealized.
Yes there are other cameras which are small and can do ALMOST everything this one can, but THIS is the first compact camera which takes acceptable mega-pixel stills with a long zoom AND optical image stabilization. On top of that, it the FIRST to shoot high quality video as well. WITH the image stabilization AND zoom in movie mode.
Even some of the positive reviewers are missing the point about the video. It's an incredible tool. I disagree heartily that the image quality is in any way inferior. I have shot video with every generation of pro- and con-sumer portable video equipment since it first became available 30+ years ago, and this thing produces image quality rivalling todays best consumer camcorders. The MJPEG format is better quality than miniDV, and far superior to MPEG4, the current most popular, especially in ease of editing and still grab. No, this will not look as good as a good 3-CCD palmcorder, but better than some, and it is smaller than any.
The CNet reviewer in the video has HUGE hands! What were they thinking? I have big hands, but that's ridiculous! He's obviously not someone who is going to have an easy time with this camera. I'm still not used to all of the locations of usefull settings, and being good at adjusting them quickly with one hand will take some time, but for what is available in this thing, I know of nothing else which can accomplish it.
The image problems are a trade-off for having such a useful tool with me at all times: the compact lens does exhibit some color fringing on sharp edges at high magnification, but the 7 megapixels makes this magnification possible and the image quality is still way better then many compact cameras I have used and owned. Another by-product of the compact lens is some lense flair in certain extreme situations when highlights overpower the sensor, but this isn't a problem if basic rules of photography are followed even remotely.
The auto focus does have to be turned on and off depending on the shot or the hunting for focus is obvious.
I am constanly amazed by the results I get from this camera. Because of the image stabilization and small size, I am able to grab things inconspicuously. This is sometimes more important in photography than having the best lense or fanciest camera.