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I'm still trying to decide which camera to buy. Just to recap I wanted:

  1. Image Stabilization
  2. Aperture and Shutter Priority
  3. Wide angle lens
  4. small as possible

The only companies that make cameras that fit this description are Canon and Panasonic. I've discounted the Panasonics because of the excessive noise at ISOs above 100. That leaves me with several Canon cameras, none of which provide the whole list. Here they are.

  1. S80 - provides 2, 3 and 4
  2. SD800 - provides 1, 3 and 4
  3. A710IS - provides 1, 2 and 4
  4. G7 - provides 1, 2 and 4

The S80 is no longer being produced so it got cut right away. The sad thing is if it had image stabilization I'd buy one right now. The SD800 would be the same size and weight as my current SD500 but add a wide angle lens and image stabilization but still doesn't have any manual settings. That leaves the A710IS and G7. Neither come with a wide angle lens but one is available as a $150 accessory so at least it's possible.

What it really comes down to is two things - $200 in exchange for a hot shoe. There are smaller differences but that's basically the big ones.

Canon A710IS
Canon G7
Mega Pixels 7.1 10
LCD screen fixed 2.5“ (115,000 pixels) fixed 2.5“ (207,000 pixels)
Lens 35-210mm F2.8-4.8 35-210mm F2.8-4.8
External flash Slave only Hot shoe
ISO 80-800 80-1600
Weight 210g (7.4 oz) 320 g (11.3 oz)
Size 97.5 x 66.5 x 41.2 mm
(3.9 x 2.6 x 1.6 in)
106.4 x 71.9 x 42.5 mm
(4.2 x 2.8 x 1.7 in)
Sensor size 1 / 2.5“ 1 / 1.8“
Movie mode 640x480/30fps 640x480/30fps, 1024x768/15fps
Chip Digic II Digic III
Battery 2 AA NiMH Canon NB-2L LiON
Price $289 (Tri-State) $498 (Tri-State)
Flash Canon HF-DC1 $89.00 Speedlight 220EX $114.00
Tele-converter (2.0x) Canon TC-DC58N $100.00 Canon TC-DC58C $110.00
Wide-converter Canon WC-DC58N (0.70x) $156.00 Canon WC-DC58B (0.75x) $137.00
Conversion Lens Adapter LA-DC58G $17.99 Canon LA-DC58H $27.00

So what it really comes down to is the G7 has more pixels (which nobody needs), the LCD screen is nicer, it has the hot shoe for external flashes (big plus), it can do ISO 1600 (does anyone not using an F30 keep these shots?), it's heavier by 1/4 lb, a bit bigger, has a bigger sensor, can take really hi-res jerkey movies, has a proprietary battery and costs $220 more. Is it worth it? I'm leaning toward no. I need to research whether the slave flash for the A710IS will do what I need it to do. Theoretically a larger sensor takes cleaner pictures but so far the jury is still out on whether the G7s pictures are measurably better than the A710IS. They're bigger but are they better?

I was originally looking for one camera that did everything and I've since given up on that. Then I started looking for a compact to act as my "big" camera and keep my subcompact for my pocket. I don't know yet whether a compact will be small enough to carry around but if it is then the A710IS or G7 may become my new "small" camera and I'd splurge on a DSLR as my large one. I'm leaning toward a Nikon D80 for that. I want to field test one of these two cameras first before making that decision though. If these proves to be too big and I don't carry it with me I'll probably pick up a Canon SD800IS to replace the SD500 I have now. No matter Image Stabilization will be in my future. I've had too many pictures in the past that have turned out blurry because I couldn't hold the camera still enough.