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Digital camera recommendations


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#1 tanabutler

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Posted 12 August 2005 - 08:44 PM

As posted elsethread, The Scream is looking for a digital camera under $200.

Canon is what I recommend most: their cameras have that nifty "Panoramic Stitch Mode" that allows you to take great (what else?) PANORAMIC shots. I am especially enamored of the flip-out viewfinder that is on some of the cameras (the G1-6, e.g., the A80, A85, A90. A95, and the Powershot Pro 1, I think), as it allows you to get overhead and underneath shots without climbing or crawling.

PHOTO OF VIEWFINDER:
Posted Image

They also have built-in modes available on some models, such as Sepia, B/W, enhanced color, muted color, and more. Of course, you can change the ISO speed, shutter speed, and F-stop on all the models I've seen, which is not to say that the cheapest models have these features.

You need to consider important things like what kind of memory comes with the camera. A 16 MB card is next to useless, unless you're just shooting 640x480 for the web (which is all some people need, but not me). If you're going to print, you can do a decent 8"x10" with only 2 megapixels, but I think you need at least 3.2. And again, if you're not doing fancy printing, 3.2 megapixels is more than ample resolution for 99% of people.

Another thing to consider is the power source. Don't buy something that takes A batteries unless you are going to use rechargeables. Does the camera have an AV adapter, so you can charge its battery? That's a good thing, but not mandatory. I myself would not buy a camera that didn't allow me to recharge the battery, but that's just me.

A good place to start is eBay: look for a reputable dealer with high customer satisfaction. Be sure check out the packages: you can often get amazing deals that include extra memory, a card reader, tripods, camera case, and more. But be sure to notice the shipping costs: they fluctuate wildly. You can avoid paying sales tax at eBay and other online dealers. Check out MySimon.com, Amazon (free shipping), and then PriceGrabber.com for comparison shopping.

Besides Canon, I recommend Olympus cameras, too. Both brands have pretty high customer satisfaction and ratings. But only Canon has those flip-out viewfinders.

Once you get an idea of a few models that interest you, go to DPReview.com (Digital Photography Review) and do comparison charts. You can also go to Cnet.com for recommendations.

I have owned a Canon G1, an A85, and a Powershot Pro 1. All have been wonderful (and all have the swing-out viewfinder). I've also owned two FujiFilm digital cameras, and liked them both. I had a Kodak and sent it back: just like the goldish film, the colors sucked. (We only use FujiFilm in our SLR.)

List #1 at eBay: filtered for Canon + Buy Now + New/Never Opened + U.S. Only + 3.0-3.9 Megapixels + Sorted by Lowest Price First. (Compare shipping costs on preferred models.)

List #1 at eBay: filtered for Olympus + Buy Now + New/Never Opened + U.S. Only + 3.0-3.9 Megapixels + Sorted by Lowest Price First. (Compare shipping costs on preferred models.)

A85 for under $200 (Highly recommended)

And another

A95: brand new.

Hope that helps a little. You can find extra memory pretty darn cheap these days, and you'll need it with most cameras.
"Nana, I just counted to infinity really fast!" Logan, age 5-1/2

#2 The Scream

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Posted 12 August 2005 - 08:56 PM

Thank you Tana

That helps alot. It never occured to me to shop through ebay, I've been looking on Amazon.
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#3 Blondie

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Posted 12 August 2005 - 09:30 PM

Excellent advice, Tana. I relied heavily on DPReview when I was shopping, and have been very happy with the Canon A95.
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#4 tanabutler

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Posted 12 August 2005 - 09:46 PM

Thanks, Blondie!

Whoopsies, Scream, one other bit of cautionary advice: make SURE you are not buying a refurbished camera! I see that one of the cameras I linked is refurbished. Bah!
"Nana, I just counted to infinity really fast!" Logan, age 5-1/2

#5 Orik

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Posted 12 August 2005 - 09:51 PM

Thanks, Blondie!

Whoopsies, Scream, one other bit of cautionary advice: make SURE you are not buying a refurbished camera! I see that one of the cameras I linked is refurbished. Bah!

generally, when you see a good deal on eBay, it's refurb whether it says so or not.
I never said that

#6 tanabutler

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Posted 12 August 2005 - 10:59 PM

Thanks, Blondie!

Whoopsies, Scream, one other bit of cautionary advice: make SURE you are not buying a refurbished camera! I see that one of the cameras I linked is refurbished. Bah!

generally, when you see a good deal on eBay, it's refurb whether it says so or not.

I don't think so. You can't have bajillion good feedbacks and do business like that. But you can always ask the seller.
"Nana, I just counted to infinity really fast!" Logan, age 5-1/2

#7 The Scream

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Posted 13 August 2005 - 12:49 AM

The digital camera I have now is such a piece of crap. I bought it off Amazon, the deal was that it's a $200 camera on sale for $50, in reality I paid 5 times more for a $10 camera.
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#8 Tamar G

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Posted 13 August 2005 - 11:58 PM

I just bought one, so a few things to consider if (like me) you want a point and shoot and you don't want anything technical:

1) how fast between when you press the button and the picture takes (if you want to get friends in candid shots, or animals outside, it should be pretty fast)

2) how fast between pictures? My camera now is great outdoors, but indoors (dark) it can take up to 4 seconds between pictures for the camera to reset and refocus.

3) Is the zoom digital or optical? Often it is a little bit of both- the first 2x is optical, and after that it's digital, or something like that. The digital part is just the camera enlarging a picture it already has, and does not improve the quality. Digital zoom will result in grainy pictures, so the optical zoom is the important part.

That's all I can think of at the moment. If you have a great camera store near you it pays to go in and talk to the people who work there. It's possible to do this and then go look a cheaper deal on the model you want on the internet, although I don't think it's right to do this. If you go the camera store route it's more expensive, but I think the advice is part of the price. (You also have a chance to actually test out cameras and get a good answer to questions 1 and 2.) For DIY research CNET is a great source.

Also, I think these days most cameras are being sold with useless memory, with the expectation that you will buy your own memory card. My camera I think came with enough internal memory to hold 8 pictures- obviously I had to buy a memory card. Something to think about with a $200 budget.

#9 omnivorette

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Posted 14 August 2005 - 12:05 AM

So what did you end up buying, Tamar?
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#10 tanabutler

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Posted 14 August 2005 - 01:17 AM

I just bought one, so a few things to consider if (like me) you want a point and shoot and you don't want anything technical:

1) how fast between when you press the button and the picture takes (if you want to get friends in candid shots, or animals outside, it should be pretty fast)

2) how fast between pictures? My camera now is great outdoors, but indoors (dark) it can take up to 4 seconds between pictures for the camera to reset and refocus.

3) Is the zoom digital or optical? Often it is a little bit of both- the first 2x is optical, and after that it's digital, or something like that. The digital part is just the camera enlarging a picture it already has, and does not improve the quality. Digital zoom will result in grainy pictures, so the optical zoom is the important part.

That's all I can think of at the moment. If you have a great camera store near you it pays to go in and talk to the people who work there. It's possible to do this and then go look a cheaper deal on the model you want on the internet, although I don't think it's right to do this. If you go the camera store route it's more expensive, but I think the advice is part of the price. (You also have a chance to actually test out cameras and get a good answer to questions 1 and 2.) For DIY research CNET is a great source.

Also, I think these days most cameras are being sold with useless memory, with the expectation that you will buy your own memory card. My camera I think came with enough internal memory to hold 8 pictures- obviously I had to buy a memory card. Something to think about with a $200 budget.

Tamar, you reminded me of something else I love about the Canons I own (we still have all three cameras), thanks.

All of my Canon camera models have had a "burst" mode, which allows you to shoot in rapid-fire sequence. Depending on the resolution (640x480 will have a lot faster shots and allow more in a sequence than a higher resolution, because the camera has to has to stop and think, so to speak. Burst mode is great when you're looking for an elusive shot...the happy birthday boy when he blows out all his candles, etc. I took some great photos of my daughter playing softball and actually connecting with the ball.

No longer need you fear blowing The One Great Shot because someone's eyes are blinking.

It's a feature I don't often use, but it's great when it's needed.
"Nana, I just counted to infinity really fast!" Logan, age 5-1/2

#11 FaustianBargain

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Posted 14 August 2005 - 11:49 AM

Go Canon!

FB who still prefers her canon G1 over the shiny DSLR.
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#12 johnnyd

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Posted 14 August 2005 - 02:08 PM

Hey, now!
Thanks to posts above, I have learned two new features of my already awesome Canon A85. :o
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#13 Farid

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Posted 14 August 2005 - 02:27 PM

I'm wondering if Tana really needs 3 cameras and if she wants to paret with one at a reasonable price,

#14 cristina

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Posted 14 August 2005 - 03:25 PM

About a year ago I bought a digital camera on eBay. I had researched cameras on the various sites that Tana mentioned, sites that had no vested interest in selling me a camera, just in giving me information. I was about cross-eyed with doing research. The choice had come down to the Canon EOS Rebel or the camera I ultimately bought.

The seller acknowledged that it was 'slightly used', but when it arrived, I couldn't see that it had been used at all. It was definitely not refurbished. I got a steal--well, at least a very good deal--and have been happy with it ever since. Camera came with a 64mb card, a 512mb card, a card reader, and some filters, all included in the price. The only negative, after a year, is the macro function; it's unwieldy to use and the pics are usually unsatisfactory.

Before I bid on the camera, I read and was satisfied with all of the seller's feedback. I emailed the seller and asked questions, lots of questions. He answered in what seemed to me to be a straightforward, honest way--no evasions, no jargon, just said why he was selling this complicated camera. He said, "I already have a simple digital that's good enough. This fancy one was given to me, and I'm just a grandpa taking grandkid snapshots--I don't have the energy to learn how to use this thing."

The camera is the Konika Minolta Dimage A1. It's more camera than The Scream is looking for, but it has most of the features I wanted, including a pioneering anti-shake device. A year ago, it was the only digital on the market that had that feature. It's 5mp, 7X optical zoom, has burst mode, etc etc etc etc--I still haven't learned all the etcs. The photos are incredible.

It's crucial to do the footwork before plunking down the bucks. Tana, you helped me, back then (on another food site), and I can't think of a better resource than you.
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#15 tanabutler

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Posted 14 August 2005 - 04:28 PM

About a year ago I bought a digital camera on eBay. I had researched cameras on the various sites that Tana mentioned, sites that had no vested interest in selling me a camera, just in giving me information. I was about cross-eyed with doing research. The choice had come down to the Canon EOS Rebel or the camera I ultimately bought.

The seller acknowledged that it was 'slightly used', but when it arrived, I couldn't see that it had been used at all. It was definitely not refurbished. I got a steal--well, at least a very good deal--and have been happy with it ever since. Camera came with a 64mb card, a 512mb card, a card reader, and some filters, all included in the price. The only negative, after a year, is the macro function; it's unwieldy to use and the pics are usually unsatisfactory.

Before I bid on the camera, I read and was satisfied with all of the seller's feedback. I emailed the seller and asked questions, lots of questions. He answered in what seemed to me to be a straightforward, honest way--no evasions, no jargon, just said why he was selling this complicated camera. He said, "I already have a simple digital that's good enough. This fancy one was given to me, and I'm just a grandpa taking grandkid snapshots--I don't have the energy to learn how to use this thing."

The camera is the Konika Minolta Dimage A1. It's more camera than The Scream is looking for, but it has most of the features I wanted, including a pioneering anti-shake device. A year ago, it was the only digital on the market that had that feature. It's 5mp, 7X optical zoom, has burst mode, etc etc etc etc--I still haven't learned all the etcs. The photos are incredible.

It's crucial to do the footwork before plunking down the bucks. Tana, you helped me, back then (on another food site), and I can't think of a better resource than you.

Thanks, Cristina...

For me, I would not buy a used camera because of the warranty issue. I want a brand-new one, just in case. But if it works for you, that is good.

Farid, only two of the cameras are mine. The A85 is Bob's (though I picked it out), who has his own needs for it. He's a builder, and he also has a second business that requires its use a few times a year. I don't enjoy using it as the flip-out viewfinder is too small for my tastes. My Powershot Pro1 has spoiled me: its viewfinder is bigger than all of the others.

The G1 is my back-up camera, and I am reluctant to part with it since I wouldn't get much for it, and I paid $600 for it new, as well as extra money for a zoom lens and more memory. You don't really want it, even if it functions perfectly, because it's four years old, which is ancient in digital camera years.

I recently bought a set of accessories for my Powershot: filters, two tripods (including the cutest little tabletop tripod), a zoom lens, and a wide-angle lens. I got the whole kit on eBay for about $125, and it is awesome.

Johnny, glad to help. (Which features? I'm guessing burst and panoramic modes.)
"Nana, I just counted to infinity really fast!" Logan, age 5-1/2