Help picking a digital camera

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by KevRC4130, Jan 22, 2005.

  1. KevRC4130 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2004
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    #1
    So I'm going to get a digital camera. My budget is around $400, but less would be ideal. I don't really know what I want features-wise, but I know I want at least 4 megapixels and a decent zoom. Also, it should take pictures fast enough to capture quick sports shots (again, not a HUGE concern, but it would definatly be ideal). It doesn't need to be super slim or small either, or make a fashion statement. Also, video quality isn't a concern. My main goals are to take good, clear, crisp pictures. Preforably it would be able to put lenses on it too (like fisheyes and things), and have adjustable shutter speeds. So far I have found three that I like:

    Olympus C-765
    http://reviews.cnet.com/Olympus_C-7...7-30723904.html

    Olympus C-770 (any reason why I'd get this over the C-765?)
    http://reviews.cnet.com/Olympus_C-7...7-30723898.html

    Canon A85
    http://reviews.cnet.com/Canon_Power...7-30994107.html

    Is it assumed that all digital cameras are Mac compatable? What is "RAW" mode?

    Thanks

    ______
     
  2. cgratti macrumors 6502a

    cgratti

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2004
    Location:
    Central Pennsylvania, USA
    #2
    Check out the latest prices on the Canon Powershot G series. Found one for

    $420 - Canon PowerShot G5 Digital Camera
    5.0MP, 2592x1944, 4x Opt, 32MB CompactFlash Card
    http://www.pricegrabber.com/search_attrib.php?page_id=48&form_keyword=canon+powershot&rd=1
    And it does do video, I bolded the most important things to look for, for the G5 this is pretty decent. If your serious about photography or think you will be in the future, save your money and go with the Canon Digital Rebel or 20D ($800 and $1500 respectively) But worth every penny.

    Digital Zoom: 4 X
    Exposure Settings: Aperture Priority, Auto Exposure, Manual Exposure, Shutter Priority Flash Characteristics: Built-in Flash
    Focus Features: Auto Focus
    Image Sensor: CCD
    Included Components: Carrying Strap, Flash, Lens Cover, Recording Media
    Interface Type: USB - Universal Serial Bus
    ISO Equivalencies: 100, 200, 400, 50
    LCD Screen Size: 1.8 in
    Max Aperture: 8 1/f
    Max Horizontal Image Resolution: 2592 pixels
    Max Vertical Image Resolution: 1944 pixels
    Max Zoom: 16 X
    Memory Type: CompactFlash
    Min Aperture: 2 1/f
    Number of CCD Pixels: 5000000
    Number of Resolution Modes: 4
    Optical Zoom: 4 X
    Removable Flash Memory Included: 32 MB
    White Balance: Preset Modes, TTL Auto
    Image Format: JPEG, RAW
    Maximum Video Capture Resolution: 320 x 240
    Video Capture Format: AVI, QuickTime
    Maximum Shutter Speed: 2000 1/f
    Minimum Shutter Speed: 15 sec.
    Dimensions
    Height: 2.91 in
    Width: 4.76 in
    Depth: 2.75 in
    Weight: 14.473 oz


    Nice cameras. But get a larger Compact Flash Card, at least 256MB, 512 would be better.


    ___

    RAW files are in a proprietary format that is unique to each manufacturer, and often unique to each specific camera model. These files are compressed "losslessly". That is, they are smaller than when expanded to a standard TIFF file in Photoshop (usually by a factor of 3:1), but no information is lost in this compression. The real advantage of using a RAW format file is that it has received almost no processing by the camera. No sharpening or White Balance will have been applied. What you have with a RAW file is essentially a digital camera's "negative" or original. You also can work with the file in 16 bit mode, whereas JPG files are always 8 bit. All of this means that when you work on the file in Photoshop you are starting with a much higher quality original than with a JPG file and also have much greater flex ability in applying corrections and adjustments without significantly degrading the final image quality.

    But because these RAW file formats are unique one needs to use a special program to "decode" them. Camera manufacturers provide special software for decoding their RAW files, sometimes free with the camera and sometimes as an extra cost option.

    From: http://luminous-landscape.com/reviews/software/camera-raw.shtml
    __________
    If your not a PRO photographer or a serious amateur then RAW isnt for you.

    Hope this helps
     
  3. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2003
    Location:
    Northern Virginia
    #3
    Canon just announced the A510 that may fit your bill. It is slated to street price at $199.

    RAW can be considered a digital negative. It allows for more flexibility over image options after you have taken the picture.

    My bad, the A510 is 3.2MP. But it does show where Canon might take the A85 in the next couple of months.
     
  4. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2002
    Location:
    Location Location Location
    #4
    Anything that says Canon and not Olympus is better. ;)

    I own the Canon A60, and it takes beautiful photos. I can't crop it like crazy, or create large sized prints, but I don't do either of these things, and the photos that I get developed at 4" x 6" (ie: regular size) are as good or better than some 4MP or 5MP cameras. At the regular photo size, it doesn't really matter that my camera is only 2.0MP. It's good.

    An A85 is even better. My friend owns one, and it's great. :)
     
  5. cgratti macrumors 6502a

    cgratti

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2004
    Location:
    Central Pennsylvania, USA
    #5
    I own the 6.3MP Digital Rebel, love this camera. I got fantastic 14" X 16" prints from it. Now I spend my money on lenses for this bad boy. I think I am slowly outgrowing it and may have to invest in the 20D and give the rebel to my better half.
     
  6. aswitcher macrumors 603

    aswitcher

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2003
    Location:
    Canberra OZ
    #6
    Be wary of expensive memory formats like xD.

    Proprietry batteries are good but expensive if you need a second one.
     
  7. Daveway macrumors 68040

    Daveway

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2004
    Location:
    New Orleans / Lafayette, La
    #7
    I'm a Canon guy, but I've been eyeing the Olympus C-5500 which was just released. 5MP, 5X zoom
     
  8. gwangung macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2003
    #8
    On the other hand, there are quality knockoffs that are substantially cheaper (for example, the Canon battery for the Digital Rebel and many other cameras retails for $65; I've seen equivalents for $30)....
     
  9. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2004
    Location:
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    #9
    The G5 is discontinued, the Pricegrabber price is for a used camera.

    I would strongly urge any buyer to check out the seller reviews before considering any of the lowest-priced sellers on the price search engines. If the seller has no reviews, or some bad ones, pass. The camera business especially is rife with sharp operators. The lowest price is likely to have no warranty, no standard accessories, no English manuals, and.or be a bait and switch that suddenly becomes unavailable if you don't order expensive add-ons.
     
  10. Bhennies macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2004
    Location:
    NYC & Baltimore
    #10
    Agreed.

    Canon makes excellent digitals and their lenses are actually pretty nice. Something to think about...what is your true purpose for this camera?

    I ask because I bought a canon elph 3.2 megapixel a couple years back for a "sketch book" (I'm a pro photographer and wanted to tote something around all the time) and it's just a bit too bulky- I found myself leaving it at home too often. So i just ordered a canon sd20 last week. Perfect pocket camera. 375 shipped with a 512 card from adorama. No optical zoom, but at that size, what do you expect?

    The new 4.0 megapixel elph is great as well. In your price range and a good size / feature set. You can pocket it when needed (unlike a lot of these new point and shoot digitals), but it still packs a punch (and is built like a tank).

    I believe that portability is key for point and shoots....it doesn't matter what megapixel camera you have if it's not with you to take the shot.
     
  11. kbonnel macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2004
    Location:
    In a nice place..
    #11
    first, i would check out www.dpreview.com. fantastic site, and a lot of reviews. I would then recommend you look at the offering from Fuji. I have been using a fuji S7000Z for the past 7 months, and it is a fantastic camera. (here are some sample shot that I have taken with this camera over the last 7 months: http://www.darwinonline.org/thumbnails.php?album=2115) There are some new models out that are lower cost (less features). If you really want to get into digital photography, then I would recommend not going cheap. There are some fantastic Canon/Nikon/Fuji cameras out there. I would also look and see if you can find a used one (such as the above S7000) on ebay.

    But firest, go to www.dpreview.com, and read the reviews. Also, check out the forums, very good information/samples there.

    Kimo
    (S7000Z soon to be gone, Canon 20D or Nikon D70 as replacement)

    Kimo
     
  12. Mac Kiwi macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2003
    Location:
    New Zealand
    #12
    Just bought an Olympus E 300.....takes brilliant images :)
     
  13. Ambrose Chapel macrumors 65816

    Ambrose Chapel

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2002
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    #13
    i have a canon powershot a40 which has taken great photos. i have an attachment telephoto lens to beef up the 3x zoom, but it makes the camera a bit unwieldy.

    now i'm looking to upgrade (DSLR!), and have been hearing that there's a trade show coming up next month where new models may be introduced. you may want to hold off until then and see what's new.
     
  14. kbonnel macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2004
    Location:
    In a nice place..
    #14
    Yup, the PMA show, which is the 21st - 23rd of Feb, give or take a day.

    Kimo

     
  15. wwworry macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2002
    #15
    It sounds like you need a good lens. Don't forget to look at the panasonics which use leica lenses. I like a smaller camera that I can carry around easier. I take more pictures and better pictures than if I had to carry around a bulky camera. Also the videos are really nice and spontaneous.
    Get a Canon PowerShot SD300 and a gig of memory. You will be happy.
    640 x 480 movies
    good pictures
    fast (I forgot to mention that a fast camera is important - start-up and the time between when the button is pressed and the shutter is released)
     
  16. absolut_mac macrumors 6502a

    absolut_mac

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2003
    Location:
    Dallas, Texas
    #16
    Although I'm a Nikon guy, I'd sooner go with any Canon than Olympus. It's not that Olympus make crummy cameras, it's just that Canon (and Nikon too) have been much more consistent than Olympus in making great cameras. And ones that also offer great value for money too.

    cgratti's description of the RAW mode is spot on. It differs from the various camera makers, and even within the various models from the same maker.

    Adobe is trying to get the camera manufacturers to agree on a standard RAW format. As they point out, if a camera is discontinued or a company goes out of business, you might lose the ability to use that camera's RAW format some time in the future.

    Either way, working with RAW images is only worthwhile for pros and really advanced/talented amateurs.
     
  17. KevRC4130 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2004
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    #17
    So why would I buy an SD300 over an A95 (or A85)? The A95 is cheaper and has higher megapixels. Am I paying for the form factor of the SD300? Which would take better pictures?

    I actually may have found a really good deal on a Canon Digital Rebel (the basic 300D one, with the included lens), anyone have experiences with this? I have got the seller to go down to $400, maybe even $400 shipped, assuming all goes through. This seems like a phoenominal deal, which I will probably get.

    And does more megapixels equal a clearer clearer, a bigger photo, or both?

    Thanks for the help
     
  18. InAppleHeaven macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2003
    #18
    How About A Used One?

    I have a Kodak DX3900 that I am thinking of selling. It's a 3.1 megapixel cam with an option to purchase extra lenses. It is a great camera, and I take pictures at the local racetracks. It has an option for 8 pic bursts, which is great for sports. I have the docking station that would be included, but you really don't need it since you have a mac. Transfers right into IPhoto, and has great resolution. I have compared it with several of my friends cams, all the way up to 5 megapixels, and it out performs them. Will print flawlessly up to about 14x16. I have a new case also, that will hold extra memory, batteries, etc. I just havent used it much lately, so i may sell it. Has noooo scratches or blemishes whatsoever. Accessories are easy to obtain for this unit. Will let go for $200 with all my accessories. I have two 8 mg cards, so all u need is extra memory, which is now pretty cheap at Wally-World. Several of my friends have gotten 5.1 megapixel cams lately, and this one still out performs them. I have taken all types of photos with it, and have yet to find a weakness. If this sounds interesting to u, or to anyone else, just let me know. email: coleysmith@mac.com, or just reply on here.
     
  19. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2003
    Location:
    Northern Virginia
    #19
    - The cost of the SD300 is probably related to its size. The A95 will be more versatile for it takes a number of add on accessory lenses via filter adapter. Also it meets the requirement of adjustable shutter speeds, which the SD300 does not.

    - To be honest that 300D deal sounds too good to be true. Think about it. The camera sells for about $950 or so. There is a $100 rebate, so the final cost is $850. This individual is selling it for half that. Yes, a great deal. But why?
     
  20. wwworry macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2002
    #20
    OK, I used the comparison feature on the dpreview.com site.
    The A95 will give you a better image because the CCD (image sensor) is bigger. The number of mega-pixels does not really tell you about the image quality. However, the sd300 does take really nice pictures. I know this from experience. I have no experience with the A 95 or the rebel.

    Another factor is that the A95 uses AA batteries which is good because you can buy new ones at any gas station when you need them but bad because you will have to shell out extra money to get good rechargeables. The sd300 comes with a (one) rechargeable battery.

    The big factors with me is that the sd300 takes unlimited length (until your memory card is full, actually) movies and the A95 only takes short movies. I like those movies you can take with a digital camera. They are very fun and you can get footage that you would not get normally because you would not carry your video camera around with you everywhere. You might carry a small camera around with you everywhere.

    I like small cameras better but some people are fine carrying a larger camera. The A95 is not huge by any standard. Movies and small size are important to me.

    Hands on experience is best. See if you can go somewhere where you can handle the cameras you are considering.

    As for the number of pixels, I know that I would never blow up a digital image larger than 8" x 10". A 4 mega pixel camera is fine for that.

    I did not really know what was improtant to me in a digital camera until I bought one. I used to have an olympus c-3040. I am sure you will be happy with any of the ones you are considering. It is amazing what advances have been made in the last few years. I am totally amazed at the size of a 1 gigabyte sd memory card. It is so tiny and so cheap! good luck!
     
  21. jamdr macrumors 6502a

    jamdr

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2003
    Location:
    Bay Area
    #21
    Yes, I would imagine that you are paying for small size of the SD300, but that may be worth it. The Ax5 series is not huge by any means, but you definitely can't just slip it in your pocket like you can with the SD300. A family member has the SD200, which I believe is the same form factor with 3MP instead of 4. It is very small but has a nice, large display (bigger than the A95's--2.0" vs 1.8").
     
  22. jamdr macrumors 6502a

    jamdr

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2003
    Location:
    Bay Area
    #22
    Also, as mentioned previously, all of Canon's A-series cameras use AA batteries. While I suppose this is convenient because you can replace them easily and cheaply, I don't think they generally last as long as cameras using a proprietary, rechargeable battery. Plus, the cost of those batteries will add up quickly over the lifetime of the camera. The Ax5 series take 4 (!) AA batteries, which could get expensive. Also, I could be mistaken, but I believe the A95 is due for an update soon...
     
  23. KevRC4130 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2004
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    #23
    Well, that is true, but it's not true.
    http://www.dbuys.com/index.cfm?fuse...2556&tproi_cid=&CFID=1165541&CFTOKEN=87349982
    There it is for $698 after rebate, and that site is legit and very high rated. Also, the seller origionally wanted $900 for it, but I did some serious negotiating, and I showed him that link... Also, the camera is used, it has about 3000 pictures on it(is that a lot?). It seems like it is legit.
     
  24. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2003
    Location:
    Northern Virginia
    #24
    I don't know dbuys. I looked at resellerratings.com and they seem to have a mixed record.

    Working for a camera dealer, I am not sure how they can sell the 300D at that price, unless they are working the law of averages for the "uneducated" buying their higher priced packs and warranties.

    In the end if you were able to get your seller to buy in to this, and he is willing to lower his selling price - good for you. It seems that you have a motivated seller.

    Sort of figured the camera was used. IMO 3000 shots is not a lot.

    In the end I gave my warning only as friendly advice. Too many scams out there.
     
  25. KevRC4130 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2004
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    #25
    Thanks for the help. I have decided against an SLR just because portability is more of a factor than super super adjustability and huge clear shots, not to mention they are very expensive!

    I have basically narrowed it down to two:

    Canon Powershot S1 IS
    http://consumer.usa.canon.com:80/ir...etailAct&fcategoryid=144&modelid=9824&sa=true

    10x optical zoom, 3.2 megapixels

    -or-

    Canon A95
    http://consumer.usa.canon.com/ir/controller?act=ModelDetailAct&fcategoryid=145&modelid=10468

    3x optical zoom, 5.0 megapixels

    What I am trying to decide is which do I need, zoom or megapixels? I most likely wont ever take pictures larger than about 9x11 inches. At that size and smaller (most of my pictures will be normal 5x7 I think...), will I notice the difference in megapixels, or do those only come into play on very large photos? Which would you choose?

    Thanks! Sorry for changing my mind about this so much :)
     

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