Camera / Photography Advice
February 2, 2012 4:21 PM   Subscribe

I’m looking for a sub-$200 camera to take close up shots of stationary objects that are 6-18” away. Could you help me figure out what camera to buy?

Last week, I asked this question about improving photography on my blog. By making sure to take natural-light photographs and color-correcting them, my photographs have improved significantly. When I’m lucky, I get a really good, color-accurate shot. When I’m unlucky, I take a lot of shots in different locations and end up with something only so-so. However, I think I could more consistently get better photos with a real camera.

My priority is getting crisp, clear, color-accurate shots. Everything I shoot for my blog (photos of makeup - both the packaging and swatches) is stationary and 6-18” inches away. I would like to be able to take daily-life shots with the camera too, like when I go on vacation, but that’s not a priority. It would be nice if there was a timer or remote so I could set up a tripod and take pictures of my face.

Please help me figure out what type of camera and specific model of camera I should be looking at. I would love to buy a DSLR, but that’s above my price range right now.

If you think I should wait until I can buy a DSLR, please chime in. Really, any photography advice is appreciated.
posted by insectosaurus to Technology (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
A friend of mine has been taking stunning macro shots with this camera: Canon PowerShot SX230HS. It's currently offered at over your budget, but I've seen it going for $180.
posted by yoink at 4:29 PM on February 2, 2012

A friend of mine who writes for Make uses a Sony a230 to shoot macros. They are $280 used, but I feel they're a good, undervalued starter DSLR. Disclaimer: I own one, and I am not really a great photographer.

This 10mp Rico gets some love. If I need to convince myself to get a camera I'll go to Flickr and type it into the search window, then find the group dedicated to that camera and watch the slideshow for a while to see what it can do, and/or whip myself into a consumer frenzy.

Because you're shooting in good light, maybe you could get away with an older camera that still has a good sensor. Someone correct me if I'm wrong about that.
posted by mecran01 at 4:35 PM on February 2, 2012

Because you're shooting in good light, maybe you could get away with an older camera that still has a good sensor. Someone correct me if I'm wrong about that.

It's hard to find a decent DSLR body at that price, but that does give you the option of using long exposures and cheap extension tubes.
posted by mhoye at 4:58 PM on February 2, 2012

Also, this question comes up on so you might want to dig around there. [link goes to 2007 discussion]
posted by mecran01 at 4:59 PM on February 2, 2012

All modern cameras have a timer mode, so no worries there.

I know it's going to hurt your budget, but I would recommend a large-sensor camera if you can afford one. The extra surface area available to suck up the light, and the generally better quality of lenses increases the image quality significantly.

I'm not necessarily going to advocate for a DSLR (though I'd probably recommend a Canon or Nikon if I did), or a mirrorless camera like a Micro 4/3rds or Sony NEX. They're all probably more than enough for your needs. I have no experience with this particular camera, but the Olympus PEN E-PL1 is currently $279 from Amazon. It's reviewed quite well in DPReview.
posted by Magnakai at 5:02 PM on February 2, 2012

I used mecran01's great advice about looking on flickr at the camera's actual photos to decide that yoink's rec, the Canon Powershot SX230HS was the right camera for me.

I went to buy the Canon today, and I've been having fun playing with it for a couple hours. I'm really happy with the image quality, and it's very easy to use as well.
posted by insectosaurus at 2:25 PM on February 3, 2012

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