Digital camera for serious amateur in the $200-400 range

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Barry Bean, Apr 15, 2004.

  1. Barry Bean

    Barry Bean Guest

    I'm a luddite film guy who's deeply invested in the Olympus OM series and
    Tri-X. My wife is a textile artist and graphic artist with a couple of
    decades experience in publishing and design. Neither of us has any
    experience with digital cameras, but we're thinking of dipping our little
    toe in.

    Our budget is a paltry $200-$400 (preferably including all necessary
    accesories). At the moment, we're looking At the Camedia C-740.

    Any thoughts on that camera or comparable competitors?
    Barry Bean, Apr 15, 2004
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  2. []
    Second-hand Nikon Coolpix 995? The swivel body makes all sorts of photos
    possible which are difficult with a conventional camera.

    David J Taylor, Apr 15, 2004
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  3. Barry Bean

    zbzbzb Guest

    Our budget is a paltry $200-$400 (preferably including all necessary

    A Canon A80 would be a much better option than the Nikon 995. Bigger image and
    much sharper. The Canon has the swivel lcd.
    zbzbzb, Apr 15, 2004
  4. Barry Bean

    Lindyhop Guest

    I really like my FujiFilm S3000. Specs: 6X optical zoom, 3 megapixel, electronic view finder. Can be had from CircuitCity for $279 US. You should be able to stay under $400 after adding rechargeable batteries, a larger memory card, and a case.
    Lindyhop, Apr 15, 2004
  5. What type of pictures do you want to take mostly -- portraits,
    landscapes, industrial, architectural, etc?

    How will those shots be mostly used -- inkjet prints, "real" prints,

    How big will the prints be on average?

    Or, do you want a one-size-fits-all camera?

    I suggest that you go to and peruse the reviews
    for the 3 or 4 megapixel cameras. 1 or 2 MP cameras are more for
    snapshots. 5 MP ones, even used, will usually fall outside your
    budget; however, there are exceptions. A friend of mine just bought a
    Nikon factory refurbished Coolpix 5000, complete with manual,
    accessories, and 90 day Nikon warranty, off eBay for about $325.
    Excellent camera. 5 MP. 28-85 equivalent zoom, which should cover
    about 85 to 90% of the average shooters needs. Has Nikon made wide
    angle and tele accessory lenses available, if you need more range.

    I myself bought a used, Mint condition, Olympus C-3030 complete off eBay
    last summer for about $250. They're now going for about $125 to $170.
    Might fit your needs for getting your digital feet wet.
    Stefan Patric, Apr 15, 2004
  6. Barry Bean

    Barry Bean Guest

    Since this is our first foray into digital cameras (To date, I'm simply
    shot film and scanned negs/slides), we'll have a broad range of
    applications, although her primary interest is in shooting shots of her
    artwork for web use or gallery promos.
    Primarily for on -screen viewing, but she'll want to print the
    occasional 11x14.
    Ultimately, yes.
    That helps - that's exactly the sort of info we need.

    Sounds great, but until we have a little more experience, I'm wary of
    eBay. At this point I don't really know what I'm looking for in
    used/rebuilt deals.

    Thanks again for the concrete suggestions. You've been a big help.
    Barry Bean, Apr 15, 2004
  7. Tri-X. My wife is a textile artist and graphic artist with a couple of
    decades experience in publishing and design. Neither of us has any
    experience with digital cameras, but we're thinking of dipping our little
    toe in.
    accesories). At the moment, we're looking At the Camedia C-740.

    The 4Mp Canon A80 is probably your best choice. $325. Add $20 for a charger
    with batteries (Panasonic BQ-390 from Costco), and $50 for 256MB compact
    flash card. You're right at $400. 11"x14" may be pushing it a bit with a

    The Canon G5 is a much better choice for what you want to do, but it's $520
    (including Li-Ion battery), with a 32MB CF card. Again, you'll have to buy
    at least a 256MB CF card for about $40-50. My advice: dip your big toe in,
    and go for the G5. The extra $170 is money well spent. The ability to use a
    hotshoe flash is very valuable.

    Ensure that whatever you choose has an AF assist beam. This is a feature
    that is included on most higher end models, but Canon includes it even on
    their lower cost models.

    Steven M. Scharf, Apr 16, 2004
  8. Barry Bean

    Lindyhop Guest

    One of the features I really wanted when I upgraded to the Fuji S3000 was greater optical zoom. The Sony Cybershot I had only had a 2X zoom which I found very limited. I also looked at the Olympus C-740 since it has a 10X optical zoom. I decided against it as the extra zoom seemed like it would require a tripod to eliminate the increased "shake" (I can zoom the full 6X on the S3000 and still get a clear picture without a tripod). The Fuji S3000 does not have an AF illuminator which is supposed to help the camera auto-focus properly in low light situations. So far this hasn't been a problem. My Cybershot had an AF illuminator (a thin laser-like red beam) and my subjects found it very annoying, so I turned it off with no resulting problems.

    Regarding printing, my 3 megapixel images produce excellent 5x7 inkjet prints on glossy paper. To be able to print 11x14 some would say you need a higher megapixel image, but I think this is worth experimenting with. I thought the 8x10's I printed with my Cybershot were quite good and they were made from only 2 megapixel images.

    I have had good luck buying things on EBay, however I've never bought something as expensive and fragile as a digicam. I decided to buy the S3000 at a local Circuit City since they have a "no questions asked" 14 day return policy. I appreciated having two weeks during which I could return the camera if I determined it didn't meet my needs.
    Lindyhop, Apr 16, 2004
  9. Barry Bean

    amh Guest

    I like my Cannon Powershot A70. For $300 you get everything from auto
    everything to manual control everything and all combinations in
    between. It has various settings for portrait, scenic and you also
    have the ability to adjust the strength of the flash.

    Add to that all the functions that are fun to have in a digital (movie
    mode, panaromic stitch mode, continous shutter).

    And if that isn't enough it also has an adapter so you can use
    different filters. I've gotten a polarizer, haze and star filter.

    I've got nice shots enlarged to 8x10 and have been very pleased with
    the results.

    You may opt for the 4 mp A80 but it may break your bank a bit (you'll
    need a larger card since my A70 came with a 16mg flash card). Don't
    know about the A80.

    my $0.02
    amh, Apr 16, 2004
  10. Hi Barry

    I recommend either a Canon A70
    or A80, gettable online at B&H or
    Adorama for $250 and $350 respectively.

    A 256 MB memory card can be had for
    another $60.

    Then a nice NiMH charger and 2 sets of
    batteries for another $60.

    Then a 7-in-1 card reader for about $30.

    Then a nice case to put it all into: say $30.

    That gives you a $430 or $530 total.

    Great pix from either camera. Print nicely
    at 4x6, 5x7, and 8x10.


    Stanley Krute, Apr 16, 2004
  11. If you're leaning towards an OLY, I noticed Oly C-4000 kits for $250 at Costco today.

    Add a set of NiMH batteries and a decent (not Costco!) "smart" charger for ~$40, and a 128MB memory card for another ~$40. The SmartMedia the
    camera uses is fading from use, but unless you're going to buy a bunch of them, it really shouldn't matter. If the camera has a weakness, it's
    telescoping lens mechanism. My C-300O makes bad noises on occasion, and I question it's ability to survive a small drop or solid 'whack.' I'd
    reccommend getting the filter holder, an aluminum sleeve that screws onto the body at the lens base, to protect the lens when it extends.
    Also, the "Camedia" software that allows USB downloading is notoriously flakey. Better set aside another $15 for a memory card reader, if required.

    On the plus side, the camera has a spot meter, aperture and shutter priority, and many other useful features. The reviewers all seem to agree
    that image quality is very good. (Just don't expect 35mm quality!)


    and elsewhere....

    Greg Campbell, Apr 17, 2004
  12. Costco today.

    The SmartMedia really eliminates this camera from consideration. It's
    actually difficult to buy SmartMedia cards anymore, and the capacity is
    limited. The A80 is worth the extra money.

    The Fuji FinePix S5000 3.1MP is $350, including NiMH batteries and charger,
    though the xD memory cards are annoying, at least they are readily available
    (just expensive).
    ~$40, and a 128MB memory card for another ~$40.

    Actually the Panasonic charger at Costco stores (not the Eveready one from is very good. The junky chargers are the ones that don't charge
    the cells individually (you must charge in pairs). The Panasonic charger
    does charge each cell separately. Also, the batteries that come with the
    charger are not low capacity, they are 2100mAH, and Panasonic is
    conservative with their ratings (as opposed to something like Lenmar AA

    You can see the BQ-390 at,
    this package is $20 at Costco.

    Digital Camera Short List
    Steven M. Scharf, Apr 17, 2004
  13. That's arguable. ;)
    He was already leaning toward OLY, and $250 for a well featured 4MP box
    is a pretty good buy. The A80 is $130 more, althugh it does include an
    unknown charger and 4 NiMH cells. It also uses CF media which kills the
    other formats on capacity per dollar, giving you half a gig for $80.

    FWIW, this Costco had gobs of 128MB SM for 32.99. Buy one and call it
    'done.' That should give the C4000 around ~55 HQ jpeg images - more
    than enought for a day's use. Heck, none of these cameras are going to
    last much over 5 years; both it and the memory are essentially throw
    away items. By that time, mid level digicam will devour your 128 or
    even 256M memory cards like popcorn and you'll need a multi-gigabyte
    storage format. I'll certainly agree that if the guy wants to shoot TIF
    or RAW files, CF is the only fiscally sane media to use.
    I don't care how many batteries the thing charges at once - does it have
    peak detect or, at the least, heat based shutoff? None of the units
    I've ever seen at Costco brag about being 'smart' or 'computerised,' or
    anything else that would make me think they are more than 'dumb,' timer
    based, battery blasters. Next time I'm there, I'll look for the
    Panasonic kit.

    Greg Campbell, Apr 17, 2004
  14. Barry Bean

    Doug Cutler Guest

    Yes, the image quality is quite good, I just got one myself. There are
    many, many options for image format from TIFF 2048x1536 (no compression)
    down to 640x480 jpg. Most every mode (close up, Aperture, Shutter Speed,
    full Manual), single spot, multispot, histogram display ... they seem to be
    endless. The menu is complicated at first but I soon found navigation was
    quite easy. The disadvantage is there is not flash prefocuse light. I do
    not no much flash so it didn't bother me. Camedia software is not worth the
    time but when the camera is connected by USB it acts just like an external
    disk drive, drag and drop to you hearts content, it also shows up under
    PhotoShop file browser.
    priority, and many other useful features. The reviewers all seem to agree
    Doug Cutler, Apr 17, 2004
  15. Barry Bean

    Barry Bean Guest

    FWIW, I ended up opting for a camedia c-750 and found one for $380. Looked
    at the A80, but my wife was willing to spend a few extre $$$ to get TIFF
    output - she's a graphic designer from way back.
    Barry Bean, Apr 19, 2004
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