Looking for new digital camera for travel & architectural details.
April 20, 2010 6:32 PM   Subscribe

Digital Camera filter: Looking for a neew point-and-shoot digital camera for vacation and hobby shooting. Details inside.

I've just come into an Amazon gift certificate windfall and I'd like to use some of it on a camera--ideally before my anniversary trip, starting May 1--to replace my ancient Kodak (DX4330). My budget is ideally about $300 but can go a bit higher. For software purposes, I have a Mac and use iPhoto, and keep OS and applications up to date. The other complication is mild arthritis, so a smaller camera and easy-to-operate buttons are better. Anything that requires external lenses is out of my league for complexity and probably weight.

One thing I've learned I enjoy with my camera is shooting architectural details, like sculptures on buildings, fancy transom windows, and fancy subway tiling. I understand that in this case, optical zoom is more important than megapixels, but am aware I may be mistaken. I also attend concerts and festivals and would enjoy taking concert pics, but that's a secondary interest. I have read both of these two posts, which have given me some ideas, but don't address my needs exactly.

Thanks in advance for your help and any additional advice you may have.
posted by immlass to Shopping (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I highly recommend a Canon Powershot! I have this one (paid no where near that back in 2007), and one reason I chose it is because I have hand and wrist problems. This model is easy to grip. (For me, the smaller they are, the more uncomfortable they are.)

This is similar and would be great if you can swing it.
posted by jgirl at 7:08 PM on April 20, 2010

Seconding the Powershot rec. Go with whatever fits your budget, they're all pretty good. I've got an S90. The pictures I shoot with it compare favorably with my Nikon D90 and it fits in my pocket.
posted by signalnine at 7:15 PM on April 20, 2010

Hehe. Lots of Canon love. I bought a $170 USD Powershot a few years ago and recently upgraded to a $700 USD Rebel. But sometimes I'll still take the Powershot out with me since it's darn small but takes amazing photos. You can click through to my blog and see some of the results if you wish.

I use Picassa (Google) viewer for cropping and color correction.

Hell, it even takes decent video if you so desire. Really great entry-level digital camera.
posted by bardic at 9:17 PM on April 20, 2010

I swear by the PowerShot SD600 -- I've owned 3 before finally trading up to a DSLR after losing the third one on the subway. Great camera, though. If you're not averse to buying used, you can get one for $100 or so. I find the controls and picture quality to be superior than even the more expensive cameras in that line. And it's very small. (Hence me losing it three times. But I'm stupid.)
posted by zvs at 10:29 PM on April 20, 2010

I love my Canon Digital IXUS 120 IS (it's called Powershot and a slightly different model number in the USA - look up "ixus" on wikipedia).

Small, very slim and light, takes 12MP images, 4x zoom and HD movie recording (720p I think). Takes great photos and happily goes into my jeans pocket.

I recommend getting a spare battery, case and 8GB SD card when you get the camera as you'll need all three pretty quickly.
posted by mr_silver at 12:43 AM on April 21, 2010

Since there seems to be unanimous powershot love here, can I piggyback here and ask how the powersot is in low light conditions?

To the original asker, I've had several Casio Exilims which I have considered decent cameras, enjoying their slimness and quality construction. However, I can't say I'd recommend them any longer. My latest loses its settings every time the battery is recharged, and it has pretty bad low-light capabilities.

All that said, I get incredible battery life out of mine, going weeks of infrequent photo taking between charges.
posted by maxwelton at 2:05 AM on April 21, 2010

I think mr_silver and I have the same camera- I have a Canon Powershot SX120X and I'm madly in love with it- I get asked pretty often if I'm using a DSLR, and the zoom is so fantastic that I took a picture from one side of a college football stadium longways to the other on the highest zoom setting and you can see individual faces and what the people in the stands are holding in their hands. The only downside is the battery life, but I have a bunch of the lithium batteries made for cameras that I stocked up on sale, and they hold for a few weeks- and this is with taking at least 20 pictures a day, and frequently up to 300 on weekends.

And maxwelton, my camera is really good in low light, although close to a subject with the flash on it tends to blow whatever you're shooting out...but that's common of most cameras, with flash. Any further away from a foot or so, low light pictures are perfect...a lot of times I don't even bother with the flash.
posted by kro at 6:12 AM on April 21, 2010

Canon S90 gets my vote.
posted by spilon at 6:36 AM on April 21, 2010

My recommendation for almost all general photography with a point and shoot today is the Canon S90. It falls a little outside your budget but you won't regret the purchase.

Also, I am not aware of any P&S camera that might be specifically suited for architectural photography - the wide angle and the low-light capabilities of the S90 will certainly help.

Feel free to message me for specific questions -
posted by cusecase at 10:57 AM on April 21, 2010

I ended up getting a Powershot SD980, which I went with because of the optical zoom. I had a great trip and am still enjoying figuring out how to use the camera. Thanks for all your help.
posted by immlass at 1:47 PM on May 21, 2010

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