My dear little camera, which replaced the camerasaur, was bought (according to my blog) at the end of July 2004. The little Canon Powershot A75 has served me well over the years and when I had to buy a camera for my project at work, I bought an updated version, the Powershot A560 or A570, can't remember which. However, the A75 has been showing its age. The display will sometimes fritz out, and during the Vegas trip, the toggle button that switches between taking and viewing photos fell off. I can still toggle using a pointy implement, such as a pencil, but it's inconvenient, to say the least.
So, with the big India trip coming up, I'm thinking it's time to buy a new camera. I really like the Canon A series cameras, for one main reason -- they are automatic, but have the capability to switch to a variety of manual settings. As a person who learned to take pictures with a film camera with f-stops and film speeds, I like that a lot. I don't use it often, but it's something that's important to me. Also, they have a viewfinder -- critical for sunny days when you can't see jack on the screen, or the screen craps out. So, having used two different Canon A series, I know my way around the settings pretty comfortably.
With all this in mind, I went on to cnet.com to see what the reviews say about the latest models. I did a comparison style search and settled on these three models, all very similar, with small variations.
The A720 looks like a great baseline camera. It only uses two AA batteries (being in a foreign country, I'm wary of electrical outlets/appliances, so the regular batteries sound great), so it only weighs 8.6 oz. The photo size is 8 megapixels and the zoom is x6, both decent quality features.
The A650 is more expensive, but has 12 megapixel photos and a swivel screen. It's also heavier, 13.6 oz., possibly because it uses 4 AA batteries. Processing speed is also slower.
The "dark horse" in the group is the G9, an "enthusiast" camera that is still more expensive. It's billed as being a good step down from the dSLR cameras, so they're obviously targeting the photographer that takes his/her photography seriously. If I had to have 12 megapixels, this seems like a good alternative to the A650, as it is extremely durable, has better flexibility in the features, and is generally better reviewed than the A650. The settings, however, are different than I'm used to, and have a "retro" bent to them that I'm sure is aimed at making the more traditional photographer feel more at home. Despite having a traditional background, I have been using the A series settings for 4 years now and am wary of change. Also, the G9 has a rechargeable battery.
The only thing that's really keeping me from deciding on the A720 is the photo size. Is 12 megapixels that much better than 8? Worth the extra $100 or so? Worth the heavier body and increased battery needs? If I were to take a really great photo in India and want to blow it up and hang it on the wall, what does 8 and 12 megapixels really mean?
Any advice you all have would be greatly appreciated.