Help! What camera to buy

Discussion in 'Photos & Videos' started by spitfire, Nov 21, 2002.

  1. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    Hi folks

    I need some advice on what kind of digital camera to buy. Here are my parameters.

    Price: can't be more that $500 US (that works out to about $800 Canadian).

    Uses: for macro model photography and also outdoor reference shots of building/trains.

    Resolution: 3 megapixels

    Any suggestions? Do you have a digital camera now that you'd highly reccommend?

    Thanks in advance!
    :D Val
  2. jkristia

    jkristia Member

    I have the Canon S30 and are very happy with it. I just wish it had connection for external flash.

  3. DanRaitz

    DanRaitz Member


    In the new issue of Narrow Gauge & Short line Gazette (Nov/Dec 2002) Lane Stewart has an article on just this subject. Check it out. There have been other magazines articles on this also.

  4. shamus

    shamus Registered Member

    Hi Val, My digi is the Olympus C 700 ultra Zoom, does everything needed for Model Photography, including Macro, here's a closeup shot of my HO people.


  5. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    I used to read the ZD Net Reviews before buying stuff like that. Seems like they are now as much an advertisement as a review :(

    Once you know what you want, I can recommned a few on-line computer shops:

    CDW is the largest, and usually has reasonable pricing. Unless you get a "gray market" deal, closeout or OEM software, they usually are close to home on the price. I get a discount, if you see something there you want, I could ask my rep if he can extend it to you. It usually amounts to shipping. $20 or something, on a medium priced object. It just depends, it's case by case.

    Micro Warehouse almost the same as CDW, but htey have been around forever. Usually about the same list price, but worth checking.

    mwave can have some real bargains at times and good customer service. Not much for support, but you probably won't need it with a camera.

    If you want extra memory for it or your PC, and your PC will need a lot when you work with photos, Memory Man usually stomps on the rest for price and service. I get Mem Man brand, lifetime guarantee and have not had any go bad in 14 or 15 years I've been buying. I have had compatibility issues, which you will get from anyone.

    Sometimes Dirt Cheap has some deals on misc. stuff. I always buy drives there, unless I'm in a real hurry, then I go CDW.

    Computer Gate has such cheap prices on a lot of things it's scary. And there service is scary! Never had a problem with honesty with them, but I suspect a return might get frustrating. Buyer beware. I usually order nickel-dime stuff that just gets tossed if there's a problem, although quality has not been a prob. (knocking wood, ouch, that hurts).

    Many many more out there, some good, some bad. This is just who I've purchased from with good results.
  6. davidstrains

    davidstrains Active Member

    The shots that I have been doing are with a Sony Cybershot, DSC-S75. 3.3 megapixel, very easy to use and right in your price range.:) ;)
  7. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    Thanks guys for all the great advice!

    Shamus, I get the feeling from that shot that the camera is probably out of my price range. But niiiiice - very niiiice!

    Jon, thanks for all the links. I'm going to be shopping off-line however, since I'm an instant gratification type. I want to buy it, take it home and start shooting.

    Dan, I'm going to see if I can get that issue at the LHS tomorrow before I hit the camera store.

    Jesper, I've heard good things about the Canon.

    David, that Sony sounds good. They make a quality product and at 3.3 megapixels it should be pretty verstatile as well.

    Hope I didn't miss anyone! Thanks again. You are all about to be flooded with pix from me. Don't say I didn't warn you!!!

    :D Val
  8. davidstrains

    davidstrains Active Member

    Bring them on young lady:)
  9. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Val, Based on seeing Shamus's photos I bought the C700 as wekk, about 5 months ago. I got it for about $400 US. It is discontinued so its price has dropped dramatically.

  10. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    A few years ago when digital cameras were relatively new, Olympus got very high marks for colour accuracy and ease of use. The place I used to work at sprung for an Olympus and we were not disappointed.

    One other bit of advice - think about the output you want - if it's for the net, 3 megapixels is overkill, because the standard display is still 800x600, and you'll have to scroll to see the whole thing. However, if you want high quality prints from a colour printer or photo printer, get as many pixels as you can.

    Since you're in Toronto, why don't you check out Henry's - I believe they have a big digital section.

  11. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    You also get to see what you are getting, play with the buttons, return it no hassle if it has a problem, and physically flame the guy if he BS's you. e-mail flames can be deleted, a bloody nose or a vulcan death grip is hard to ignore! Looking forward to seeing what you get and some fantasic new photos!!! :D :D :D
  12. shamus

    shamus Registered Member

  13. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    Hi Val!

    I have a Sony Mavica FD73.
    It won't meet your requirements, because it only comes in at 1.6 megapixels.
    However, since I only use mine for web publishing, & the occasional e-mail, I would never need resolution that high.
    I do use it for all kinds of reference shots also.
    For me the big pluses for this camera are the macro lens, the 10x zoom, & the convenience of the floppy disk format. (pop the disk in the camera, shoot, pop it in the computer.
    I know a lot of people don't like the floppies, but for me, they fit right in with my overall "cheap, fast, & easy" philosophy! :D (plus the fact that this camera cost me $250US a year ago, & I see them now for even less)
    Here's a shot of my N scale layout. N scale really takes advantage of the macro, & zoom features.

    Attached Files:

  14. Val, there are a couple of important considerations attached to buying a digital camera that I didn't see addressed in this thread, so I thought I'd mention them.

    One is the issue of battery consumption. Some digitals drain batteries much faster than others. For example, my Minolta DiMage 7 is a battery hog. Minolta claims the camera will get approximately 110 minutes per battery set. But even using a programmed "power-off" feature, I can still go through a set of batteries in less than 45 minutes. And I'm using rechargeable 1800mAh NiMH batteries! Other brands of digitals will drain batteries at different rates, depending upon how many "features" are turned on and how long the camera has to write the image to the storage media. The point here is that besides the purchase cost of the camera itself, you should figure in an additional expense for extra batteries and their charger. (Note: Most battery manufacturers use proprietary charging systems, so whatever brand you select, you have to use that brand's charger also or risk burning up the batteries' circuitry.) 4 batteries and a charger typically cost $15 - $100+ Since you plan to do a lot of model/layout photography, you might want to consider an AC adaptor for your camera. Those typically cost $30 - $60 U.S.

    The second issue is that of storage media. Not which type, particularly, but how much? Some camera brands/models ship with only a single 16MB storage card, while others ship with 32MB or 64MB cards. This is another cost factor to take into account, because whatever comes with your camera, I can about guarantee you it won't be enough. You'll find yourself needing/wanting more storage for more photos, especially if you start shooting photos at your camera's maximum megapixel rating. For example, if I set my Minolta to shoot at its highest quality and max resolution (5.24 megapixels), I can get only 8 photos on a 128MB Flash Card. Conversely, using the "economy" or "standard" settings, I can fit several hundred photos on the same card.

    And yes, I know all about erasing images from the card or transferring them to a computer. But if you're on a vacation trip and have once-in-a-lifetime photos, you may not have those options immediately available. And that becomes one of those times when you need/want an extra card or two.

    The whole issue really comes into play when deciding how you want to "use" your photos. If you're shooting strictly for web/onscreen viewing, one storage card will probably take care of your needs. But it you want to make good/high quality prints with a "photo" printer, you need to shoot at high quality/high megapixel settings. There again, you will probably need/want an additional card if you plan to take more than 8-12 pictures per session before off-loading them to your computer.

    Additional storage cards, depending upon type (CompactFlash, Smart Media, Memory Stick, etc) and size, typically range in cost from around $30-$250+ U.S.

    So the bottom line to this long-winded sermon is just that: the bottom line. You may find that you have to adjust your budget some in order to fit in a few extras that you want/need.

    Hope this helps you with your decision. I'm looking forward to seeing some of your photos.
  15. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    To add to Casey's comments, your going to pay a little more to buy locally, be sure and get it where they have a good return policy, that way you can bring it back if you find a rude awakening (batteries die in 5 min's, viewfinder cut the heads off of plastic people when doing macro, sales man lied, bad transfer rate, teh magic smoke got out, etc., etc.)

    Another thing to check out: a LCD should be WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get), but view finders are approximations. I have not seen a TTL (Through The Lense) digital camera; most are view finder, a seperate little "lense" to look through. It should work fine, but the limitations should be explored. I don't yet have much digital cam experiance, but this would be a concern to me.

    Charlie - Sony is one company where you can just expect it will be good stuff if it bears their name. Not many, if any, other brands can claim that. Probably other names in "camera only" or other areas, but not in general consumer stuff. Remeber when "Made in America" meant it was good?
  16. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    I forgot to mention that, depending on how you set up the camera, each floppy will store from 20 - 40 images.
  17. Jon, my Minolta has a TTL system. It's a through-the-lens video "finder." That's in addition to the LCD screen.

    But you're right, the view finder is something which should be taken into account, particularly if the camera is going to be used for close-up/macro work. "Rangefinder" cameras (that's the type you're describing) are hard to use for that type of work because of what's called parallax error. In other words, what you're seeing through the rangefinder ("view finder") is not the same thing the lens is seeing because of the offset distance between the rangefinder and the lens on the camera. That's when - in the case of digitals - you definitely want to use the LCD panel to compose your shot instead of the view finder.

    And that brings in a whole other issue: how large and bright is the LCD? Obviously, the larger and brighter the panel, the easier it is to see and use. I have seen some in stores that were almost impossible to view even under ordinary store lighting. They'd be worthless - to me, anyway - outside in sunlight or when working with photo and layout lighting indoors.
  18. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    I wish they made a digital back for my Minolta 35MM SLR. I bought it in 1983, and they continued to produce it until last year. You can still buy them new.
  19. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    Gentlemen - thank you all so much for your well thought out advice!

    Casey, I kind of figured that I would probably need to purchase more memory storage for going out on a reference photo shoot. Now I know I will, and as they say "forewarned is forearmed". I may have to rethink that aspect, and perhaps just stick to my regular SLR camera for extended forays into the industrial core!

    Jon, you raise some very interesting points. I am a total believer in "thru the lens" viewfinders, especially for close-up work. I will definitely be making sure that whatever I buy has a true WYSIWYG view.

    Andrew - you read my mind! I am going to Henry's. I think I'll get better advice from a real camera store, as opposed to the clones who work at places like Future Shop.

    Charlie, that Sony Mavica sounds good, and you're right - their products are always great. Kinda of like Hondas.... there's only one catch. Since Apple saw fit to eliminate the floppy drive on their G4's - I'm kind of out o' luck on that one.

    Gary and Shamus - I would love to get a DImage. If I can find one...

    David - despite the fact that I am neither "young" nor much of a "lady" I will most assuredly "bring it on"!!!!!

    Thanks again guys. With all your great input I will now be able to ask the right questions and make a good choice of camera.... stay tuned.....

    :D Val
  20. interurban

    interurban Active Member

    ["Made in America"eneral consumer stuff. meant it was good? [/B][/QUOTE]

    Reminds me of a Merl Hagerd, go`es somthing like

    When Coke was still cola, and a cheve lasted ten years like it should. Just thought I`d throw that in. (dn`nt know why but there it is
    :D )

    Well Val I know you gone and bought the Camara lets see some pics.
    There is some darn good advise and pictures already on the thread.

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