I'm looking for a new compact camera to live alongside my DSLR, replacing my aging Canon S45. I intend to use this as my carry-around camera, so I'd like it to be small and fairly robust, but capable of producing very good files (incl. RAW) if I bump into a photo opportunity. Also, I often take photos at parties. My preferred settings for party photos are: MF, slow sync + exp. compensation *and* flash compensation (-1.5 or so).
These requirements have narrowed down the field quite a bit. The candidates are: Ricoh GRDII, Canon G9 and Panasonic LX2. However, I still have a few open questions and I hope you can answer some of them.
1) On the LX2, is it true that you cannot select slow sync flash without red-eye reduction? The manual seems to say so. If that's the case, it'll be too slow for my needs, leaving the GRDII and G9.
2) On the GRDII and G9, can you use slow sync flash, exposure compensation and flash exposure compensation in any combination?
3) How is the flash exposure on the GRDII?
4) I have looked around on Flickr to find some full-size samples from each camera. I was very disappointed in many of the GRDII shots: watercolor-like blotchiness at all ISO values, especially 200+. However, the shots in Sean's review seem fine. Can I conclude that the RAW files are OK, but the JPG engine is not so hot (Canon appears much better)?
5) On the GRDII, do you need to save a JPG along with every RAW file? The RAW files seem awfully large from the spec sheets (approx. 20MB).
6) Yesterday, I have fondled both the GRDII and the G9 in the store. I immediately got along with the GRDII, whereas the G9 seemed a little cluttered/confusing. Of course, this is a first impression only. Are there any other people who have used both cameras? Does the handling improve over time? (I did also read Sean's review)
Thanks in advance!