Please help me find a good low-priced point-and-shoot

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by annebcampbell, Mar 24, 2005.

  1. I'm hoping to buy a new digital camera soon, but I'm dazed by the
    thousands of options out there. I'd love some recommendations from you
    experts.

    First of all, my needs are pretty modest. I take mostly family and
    vacation photos, and also some photos at babies' births (I attend
    births as a doula, or labor assistant). I seldom need prints over
    5"x7".

    I currently have a 4-year-old Olympus Camedia D-460 Zoom (1.2
    megapixels, 3x optical zoom), which has worked nonstop, but I have two
    pet peeves about it. First, it takes forever to open the lens, turn on
    the LCD screen, take a picture, and reset to take the next picture -
    almost 30 seconds! Second, in any kind of low light conditions (a birth
    in a dim room, for example), photos come out blurry. I try to avoid
    flash whenever possible.

    Here's my wish list for a new camera:

    Must-haves:
    - At least 3-4 megapixels
    - At least 3x optical zoom (I'd very much prefer 4x or more)
    - Good photos in low light conditions
    - Good close-ups
    - AA batteries or some kind of built-in charger
    - Quick reset time (at least, faster than 30 seconds!)

    Nice-to-haves:
    - Easily-disabled flash (on my current camera, I have to physically
    flip up the flash if I want to use it, and I like that)
    - Memory enough to hold at least 300 pictures (I take a lot on
    vacation)
    - Capability for short video clips with sound

    Here's the kicker - I want to spend under $200. I don't mind buying
    used or refurbished.

    Any suggestions are very much appreciated!

    -Anne
     
    annebcampbell, Mar 24, 2005
    #1
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  2. I would suggest you go look at the displays of digital cameras in a couple
    camera shops. See how large (or for some people with big hands, how small)
    a camera you are willing to tolerate. Read a few reviews about picture
    quality of the cameras that seem most to your liking. Because of other
    memory-hungry devices you might have around the house, is there a particular
    type of memory media you are partial to (because you might have, for
    example, a Pocket PC around which uses SD memory), which might influence
    which camera you buy?
     
    Churchill, Dave, Mar 24, 2005
    #2
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  3. annebcampbell

    be_pissed Guest

    be_pissed, Mar 24, 2005
    #3
  4. annebcampbell

    ASAAR Guest

    Well, I have two cameras in mind but one got booted by your kicker
    (the Fuji), and I don't think that the other (the Ricoh) will be
    available in the USA for another couple of months. It seems to be
    available in Europe and Australia though.

    Fuji S5100 (aka S5500 outside USA) has 4 mp and 10x optical zoom.
    It resembles a very small SLR. The Ricoh Caplio RV1 has 5 mp and
    4.8x optical zoom. It is much more compact and should be able to
    fit in most shirt pockets, 100mm x 55mm x 25mm, about 4x2x1 inches.
    The Fuji has an AF assist illuminator that helps it focus in low
    light conditions, but its range is limited and won't help if the
    subject is more than 2m (6.6 feet) from the camera. Very few
    cameras should have much of a problem with closeups and when they do
    it might be from a poor flash design that overexposes if you get too
    close to the subject. But the Fuji would be near ideal for two
    other reasons. First, since it uses an EVF there's no parallax
    error to worry about when taking pictures at close distance.
    Second, its coverage is 100%. That is, it's like an SLR. What you
    see (in the viewfinder or on the display) is what you'll get.
    Outside of expensive pro cameras, this seems to be pretty rare.
    From what I've read, most cameras seem to show less than what is
    recorded, from 75% to 85%. The Fuji can focus as close as 10 cm or
    4 inches.

    The Ricoh can focus even closer than the Fuji, only 1 cm or less
    than 1/2 inch, and it's flash is useful down to only 13 cm, for
    those eye and nose closeups everyone loves. :)

    The Fuji uses 4 AA batteries and they seem to last far longer
    (talking about NiMH, not alkalines) than the rechargeable NiMH that
    I've used in Canon's S20. From powered off, the time it takes to
    turn on, extend the lens, take a picture and turn completely off is
    about 11 or 12 seconds.

    The Ricoh is more flexible. It uses 2 AA batteries, but it also
    accepts an optional rechargeable Lithium battery pack, if you can
    find it. Like the Fuji, battery life (even with alkaline AAs) is
    good, ranging from 200 to 500 pictures.

    I don't know how well the Ricoh really performs, but from the
    claims made for it, it may well be the fastest camera on the planet.
    I can't read the entire URL on my printout of the spec's taken from
    Ricoh's Australian addr. (it starts with www.ricoh.com/au/products)
    but they claim "0.8 second start-up, 0.05 second auto focus, expose
    and shoot".
    The Fuji also has a flip-up flash, so it's also easily disabled.
    It also extends high enough to eliminate most or all red-eye. With a
    512 MB memory card, at its highest 4mp resolution (2272x1704) the
    card will hold 268 or 532 images, depending on whether you use the
    Fine or Normal setting. The difference is due to the amount of
    compression used when it saves the JPG files. I don't think you'd
    be interested in its Raw file capability as only 61 images would fit
    on the card. Video capability is excellent. Either 640x480 or
    320x240 pixels, both 30 frames/sec, both with sound, and they're not
    limited to 15 or 30 second clips. You can keep recording until
    there's no more memory remaining on the card.

    The Ricoh doesn't have a flip-up flash, but it has a setting that
    disables the flash, probably a menu option. With a suitably large
    card it should be able to easily hold more than 300 of its highest
    resolution images. Its video capability isn't as good as the Fuji's
    (1/2 the resolution) but still better than many other cameras. You
    can choose either 320x240 or 160x120, also unlimited length, subject
    only to available memory remaining on the card. No sound though.

    The Fuji will cost more than that but there's an older version,
    the S5000, that was recently discontinued, and you probably could
    get one for under $200 used. It's only 3mp and differs from the
    S5100 in a number of respects, but it's probably quite similar.

    I've seen no mention of price for the Ricoh, understandable as it
    won't be available in the USA for another month or so. But my guess
    is that it will be somewhere between your $200 limit and the price
    of the S5100. Despite having only 4mp vs. the Ricohs 5mp, the Fuji
    probably produces better looking pictures, and also allows complete
    manual control if you care for that.
     
    ASAAR, Mar 24, 2005
    #4
  5. annebcampbell

    RogBaker Guest

    Anne,
    I too am thinking about getting a new camera. The finepix S5100 looks
    appealing to me right now. Read the review at Steve's Digicams site. I
    liked the fact that this camera seems to do better than most indoors
    with low light. I also have read several reviews that said it didn't
    create much red eye as other cameras. This is a plus for me, even
    though I can remove redeye in software, If take 50 pictures at a party
    or Christmas, I don't want to take the time to edit all those pics.
    Especially if I am going to give someone a disk with copies before they
    leave.
    I too want one with AA's. I have a Canon Powershot S330 with several of
    the small proprietary batteries. They don't seem to hold a charge long.

    It is supposed to take pretty good video too.
    I am still trying to find more examples of this camera taking indoor
    shots as well as action shots before I finally make up my mind.
    I have found it as cheap as $284 from places I have heard of and done
    business with, but I hear rumors that prices may fall somewhat in
    April. In April, Fuji is coming out with their Finepix F10 that is
    supposed to take great, well-lit pictures with no blur all the time or
    something. I am waiting for actual reviews though. When this comes out,
    their other cameas will come down some. But you will have to buy a
    bigger memory card too, so don't forget that.
     
    RogBaker, Mar 28, 2005
    #5
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