Photographing bricks
September 14, 2010 7:17 AM   Subscribe

What's the best digital camera for everyday use (and LEGO Photography)?

I'm looking to spend between $100 and $200 USD on a new digital camera that I can use for every day photographing, but (and here's the catch) will also work really well to photograph LEGO constructions. Standard iPhone photos don't really capture the detail as well as I'd like.

As far as regular photography goes, I'm interested in regular point-and-shoot snapshots, as well as some architectural details (zoom probably required).

I'm looking for particular camera recommendations, or at least features on a camera I should scout for my purposes. Any ideas, MeFi?
posted by citywolf to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I think a lot of the compact digitals in that price range should have a "macro mode" for taking up close detailed photos. I had a Pentax Optio six years ago which had a macro mode and the shots were great, for a little point&shoot. Something like that would work with legos, especially with an external light source and a gorillapod or something.
posted by maishuno at 7:31 AM on September 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

I've always had good luck with Canon point-and-shoots, but I'm far from an expert. I would also recommend making sure your camera has "macro mode". I would also consider getting a tripod for stability. I have friends that like the gorillapod style of tripod, but I have no personal experience.
posted by fermezporte at 8:06 AM on September 14, 2010

I have a Gorillapod and it works great...for landscape orientation. It isn't impossible to use the Gorillapod for portrait orientation, but it is certainly much harder.
posted by mmascolino at 8:14 AM on September 14, 2010

My son has a Canon PowerShot A590 IS point-and-shoot camera and uses the macro setting for Lego shoots (among other things). He also uses the video camera for stop-frame animation.
posted by cooker girl at 8:26 AM on September 14, 2010

I got a Canon Powershot SD1200 (based partially on reading old AskMe threads) about a month ago, and so far I love the hell out of it. It smokes every other point-and-shoot I've had.
posted by COBRA! at 8:54 AM on September 14, 2010

The PowerShot A590 IS is not a simple point-and-shoot, and is out of your price range if you're getting one new (it's a few years old, and the PowerShot A series has progressed into something different, if I am understanding the chronology).

I've been slinging a PowerShot SD850 IS for a few years (part of the IXUS/Digital Elph series), and I'm still fond of it. It has some manual controls and a decent macro setting, and I'm sure it's improved in the passing years. I carry it with me everywhere, and it replaced my underutilized (but fantastic) G series cameras (I've had the G1, then the G5). Fewer options, but it's quick and can handle most situations and can fit into my pockets. Having a wallet-sized camera instead of something like an ungainly bundle of paperback books is great for my causal usage, and fits in your price range nicely. Only drawback: the 4x zoom isn't much zoom at all (and ignore "digital zoom," that's simply in-camera cropping, not actually getting you closer to your target).
posted by filthy light thief at 9:01 AM on September 14, 2010

Best answer: Canon PowerShot DigiElph macro demo self-link - the button text is pixelated, it's not noise from the camera.

You could also check through LEGO pics on Flickr, and see what cameras people are using.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:11 AM on September 14, 2010

I'm mainly familiar with the Canon A-Series, but as noted above, they've morphed into something I don't recognize. The Canon PowerShot SD750 looks pretty great, though. But keep in mind that, for really nice indoor work, the camera flash isn't going to do you any favors. So here are some other things to think about:

You'll be able to work wonders with a $10 work light. A $20 halogen would be even better, but they get REALLY hot.

A $15 tripod will also help you, and is perfectly adequate for use indoors (and less adequate in the windy outdoors).
posted by coolguymichael at 12:37 PM on September 14, 2010

Best answer: I just want to throw out that for me, the camera is less important than lighting and the tripod, especially for model/toy shots. If your Lego constructions are small enough, consider building or buying a macro box and your shots will instantly take a big step up.
posted by chairface at 12:47 PM on September 14, 2010

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