Best camera for £450 - I'm fed up with grainy photos!
July 13, 2010 3:35 PM   Subscribe

£450 to spend on a camera (in the UK). What 's the best I can get with it?

I'm no expert, but I get a lot of pleasure from taking photos. I'm disappointed with my current camera (Fuji Finepix S1000fd) - despite lots of nice things about it (not least the lovely 12x optical zoom), the pictures are noisy (grainy), especially without flash and indoors (of course).

I don't mind something heavy / bulky (this camera is both) but I'd like something that takes much less noisy photos and ideally has a decent image stabiliser (for those all-to-frequent shots I take of my older children while holding the littlest one as he wiggles wildly around!)

I'd been very happy with a couple of Canon PowerShots in the past but disappointed with the most recent one, a year or so ago - same problem with image quality.

Thank you in advance for all advice!
posted by monster max to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I just got myself the Olympus PEN EP-1 for a knockdown price from Currys. It's not a full-on DSLR, but it sure is pretty. If you're willing to take a hit on no viewfinder, and not the best movie mode, this might do you well.
posted by iamcrispy at 3:50 PM on July 13, 2010

Despite your reservations, Canon make the best cameras in pretty much any format available, at the moment.

Canon Powershot G11 if you want maximum tweakability.

Canon Powershot SX1 if you want a long zoom.

Canon EOS 550D if you want an SLR, but this is outside your price range. Consider buying second-hand, maybe the 500D.
posted by Mwongozi at 3:50 PM on July 13, 2010

Market-leading high-end compacts:

Panasonic Lumix LX-3

Canon S90

New camera in this class that just came out:

Samsung TL500 / EX1

Personally I'm in the market for an LX-3 (though wishing they'd updated it) as it has a flash hot shoe. But if I wasn't, I think I'd strongly consider the S90.
posted by galaksit at 3:57 PM on July 13, 2010 provides a good list of prices, however it's not exhaustive.

Suggestion: Entry level dslr with a 18-55 lens - canon and nikon provide models with stabilized lenses in your budget. Later down the line, you can add a superzoom or a long telezoom to expand your focal range choices.

Please go down to a shop to feel the camera, how it operates in your hands. And optimally, buy it from 'em :)

posted by TrinsicWS at 4:12 PM on July 13, 2010

The Pentax k-x has class leading ISO performance at the moment. For that kind of money it's the best in-the-dark camera you can get (at the moment, no doubt the answer will be different in another three months). It also has in-body stabiliser as opposed to needing to buy lenses with stabilisation, so it works with all the old pentax lenses, of which there are many.
posted by smoke at 4:12 PM on July 13, 2010

Consider buying second-hand, maybe the 500D.

I just search for "canon 500d" on eBay, and found this. I make no claims as to whether it's as it says it is, but: £392.

If it's all kosher, that's a mother-flippin' steal, based on this (lowest is £547)

I know approximately zilch about cameras, so if these two aren't the same thing then someone please step in and correct me
posted by djgh at 4:39 PM on July 13, 2010

Maybe the travel zoom test review would be helpful.
posted by lundman at 7:21 PM on July 13, 2010

I have the Panasonic Lumix LX-3, and I love, love, love it. However, zoom is not its strongest point.
posted by tavegyl at 12:34 AM on July 14, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for these suggestions, all. Some thoughts in response from me:

1. Not keen on getting a non-standard image shape, such as the Olympus MFT - unless there's an evangelist out there who has opinions on why I'm being narrow-minded on it!

2. Even "entry-level" DSLRs seem to be outside my price range, so I think it's going to have to be a compact - unless someone can suggest something that I could get within this price range? (Sony Alpha 230?) - but then if I want the long zoom, that's another lens, if I want macro, that's another lens, if I want a screen that shows the scene before the shot is taken (Sony call it "live view", it seems) then it's the more expensive 330 model. And then we're well over £500...

3. How about a Panasonic Lumix TZ-something? (While we're at it, many manufacturers seem to have several different ranges of cameras, with different prefixes and no obvious difference between them other than the shape. Is there a website that decodes all that? Something that says, right this series are the really-thin ones, this series are the long zoom ones, this series are the retro look ones, etc...) I've got a friend who has one and seems to like it sometimes but not at other times. Can't work it out! The specs make it sound ideal.

4. Anyone else still think Canon makes good compacts? My old ones were lovely, the newer one I had, not so much.

Thanks again for all these suggestions.
posted by monster max at 1:26 AM on July 14, 2010

If good performance in low light is what you want, then even the cheapest SLR will blow away the most expensive compact camera, because of the increased sensor size*. You absolutely can get a used SLR for your budget. I am partial to Pentax DSLRs because of the in-body image stabilization. There's a K100D with kit lens on ebay just now for £250 which will outperform any modern compact camera for low noise, even though it's about a 4 year old model.

*notwithstanding software-based noise reduction, which most cameras have built-in but which you can do a better job of on a computer after the shot has been taken.
posted by primer_dimer at 2:18 AM on July 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

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