Film cameras used to be so straightforward...
October 4, 2009 6:17 AM   Subscribe

PhotoFilter: Is the Coolpix 5000 still a good camera for general household use? Was it ever?

Our (my wife's and mine) older Sony Cyber-Shot 5.1 MP camera is in rough shape, so I've had my eye out for potential replacements. My father in law is ready to ditch his Nikon Coolpix 5000, complete with wide-angle converter lens and Speedlight flash. I'm trying to decide whether to take it off his hands.

We take relatively few pictures of people. My wife photographs a lot of small knitted items, so crisp macro images in less-than-ideal lighting conditions are important. I sometimes photograph largish objects (furniture, rooms) in circumstances that don't allow me to get very far from the item being photographed, so a wide-angle lens is nice to have. The Nikon is good on both of these counts. I've also always wanted a camera with a flip-out, pivoting screen.

Unfortunately, the Nikon (being 7-year-old technology) is rather slow to wake up. Battery life is poor. Images shot on high-ISO settings are prone to have a fair number of odd speckles/artifacts unless I turn on a particular feature that makes the camera really, really slow. Worst of all, it's not very user-friendly; its zillions of features are accessed and controlled with many multi-function buttons and nested menus; I doubt my wife would ever read enough of the manual to get comfortable with it.

Have cameras improved so much in recent years that I could find an inexpensive model (new or used) that's better for us than the Coolpix 5000?
posted by jon1270 to Technology (12 answers total)
Best answer: Absolutely, positively, 100% you will be able to find a vastly better camera than the Coolpix 5000. Digital cameras move at lightspeed. I would recommend starting with the features search on DPReview. How much are you looking to spend?
posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:44 AM on October 4, 2009

Ditto. Even a cheap $129 new digital camera will run circles around the old Nikon in every area.
posted by The Deej at 6:51 AM on October 4, 2009

Response by poster: How much are you looking to spend?

I wouldn't want to go much over $200. I realize that's not a lot, but this is an elective purchase and we're rather thrifty these days. FWIW, megapixels are not what we're after here; five has been more than enough for us.
posted by jon1270 at 6:53 AM on October 4, 2009

In nearly any current name brand camera around $200, you will see improved speed and ease of operation, less shuitter lag, better "right out of the camera" image quality, and better battery life than you will with the CP5000.
posted by imjustsaying at 7:02 AM on October 4, 2009

Response by poster: Hmm. What about the wide-angle and macro issues? It's been a while since I browsed the counter at my local Best Buy, but I remember a lot of cameras that were pushing megapixels and long zooms, neither of which is all that important to me. Do our needs suggest any particular cameras or product lines?
posted by jon1270 at 7:07 AM on October 4, 2009

I'm a fan of Canon cameras and, like you, am looking to upgrade mine.

My recommendation would be the Digital IXUS 120 IS (or the Powershot SD940 in the USA). It's got 12.1 megapixels, anti-shake, anti-red eye, 720p video recording, simple controls, facial recognition, standard memory (so no proprietary overpriced Sony Memory Stick Pro Duo MM2 rubbish) but comes in a package only 89.5mm × 54.9mm × 20.0mm and weighing in at a lightweight 120g.

The Digital IXUS 200 IS (Powershot SD980) is also pretty cool but it's a bit thicker and about £100 more expensive - although it does come with a touch screen and 24mm wide angle lens.
posted by mr_silver at 7:23 AM on October 4, 2009

I just realised that you have a budget of $200 which means that my recommendations are going to be out.

I'd suggest you look at one of the older Powershots as they are still pretty small, slim and light and will take great photos.
posted by mr_silver at 7:34 AM on October 4, 2009

Best answer: For $200, I would get myself a Panasonic DMC-FS15.
posted by Dasein at 7:58 AM on October 4, 2009

I wouldn't use DPReview. It's a great site if you already know about cameras, or are comparing two models, but it's not good at telling you what camera to buy. Literally everything on the site is "above average" or "recommended".
posted by paanta at 8:57 AM on October 4, 2009

Response by poster: Poking around on Amazon, I've rediscovered a forgotten attraction to the Panasonic Lumix cameras (thanks, Dasein). The LX models seem especially nice, though a bit our of my price range unless I get lucky on eBay.

The consensus that I can do better than the CP5000 is very helpful. I'll keep checking back, but I really appreciate the thoughts everyone has offered.
posted by jon1270 at 9:29 AM on October 4, 2009

We have a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ1 (just over 3 years old) & love it. I'd bet you could find a used one pretty cheap, since I think it was only about $300 new.
posted by belladonna at 2:45 PM on October 4, 2009

Response by poster: Well, I lucked out and found a used Panasonic LX1 for $65 (!) on craigslist. Still learning my way around it, but it's a far better fit for me. Thanks, everyone.
posted by jon1270 at 1:00 PM on November 3, 2009

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