Should I upgrade my digital camera?
November 26, 2012 4:15 PM   Subscribe

My point and shoot is 4 years old. Aside from improved video, is there a significant difference in today's newer models?

I've been using a Canon A720 for almost 4 years now, which I purchased when my son was born. Most of my pictures are family / casual shots that don't get blown up beyond 5x7. Each year I put together an album of pictures about him. But, my needs are pretty simple.

Overall I am pleased with the pictures it takes -- of course i don't really know anything else.

Aside from significantly upgrading the video side of my camera, is it worth upgrading to a newer model?
posted by szg8 to Shopping (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know about developments in cameras, but is there anything yours does not do that you want a camera to do? You don't mention anything you are unhappy about with your current camera.

Might this be one of those times to not fix what isn't broken?
posted by michellenoel at 4:18 PM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Probably not worth upgrading, if it still works fine. Point and shoot cameras are now increasingly coming with GPS and wifi capability, and, as you say, full HD video, and that's about all that's changed. Not sure if any of those things float your boat.
posted by Jimbob at 4:26 PM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

It looks like the A810 (which is a successor to your camera) has more pixels and longer battery life. I would also expect some minor improvements to lots of stuff like auto-focus and usability.

All that said, your camera doesn't take worse pictures than it did the day you bought it, and if those pictures meet your needs, then why upgrade?
posted by aubilenon at 4:38 PM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

My previous point-and-shoot was 5 years old and I just upgraded. The biggest improvement was battery life which I really needed as I do a lot of product shots on location. The newest version of mine has a touchscreen for all the settings and I definitely did not want that.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 4:55 PM on November 26, 2012

I have a Canon S95 that takes great snapshots, but after using a smartphone I have to say that it's really weird to a) not have a touchscreen and b) not have the ability to automatically (via WiFi) upload photos to the net, to Dropbox or whatever.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:57 PM on November 26, 2012

I had an older, lower-end Canon SD400 which I upgraded across model lines to a G12 rather than to the same model. Why? Much better resolution, better sensor, I could carry it with the same effort and in the intervening 5 years, the price of the better G12 was about what the SD400 cost new, and most importantly because the SD400, while still serviceable, was ailing a bit.

If these criteria match your needs and the old camera is fine and the price isn't there, just wait. What's the hurry?
posted by plinth at 6:01 PM on November 26, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks all.

I guess my question is simply -- am I missing out on anything aside from improved video?

For the types of pictures I take, is the SX260 HS enough of an upgrade to matter?

I don't know any better, having used my trusty A720 for four years, so I am happy -- but am I missing something? Could i be getting significantly better quality pictures?
posted by szg8 at 7:40 PM on November 26, 2012

Some of the newer cameras have a bigger sensor and lens, which gives you a slightly different look, which is more like what a DSLR will give you. If you are just using it for snapshots, and are happy with your current camera, I don't think it's worth the money to upgrade. If you have been wanting something better than your current camera gives you, though, some of the nicer point and shoots have gotten much better over the last few years.
posted by markblasco at 8:21 PM on November 26, 2012

You might want to check out Canon Hack Development Kit (CHDK) if there are features that you think you're missing. CHDK can give you things like better exposure control, longer video recording times, and the like. But apart from letting you save pictures in a RAW format so you can better muck about with them in something like Photoshop it doesn't give you better quality, just a few more possibilities.
posted by zengargoyle at 11:37 PM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

There will be an improvement in general photo quality, but you may or may not notice it. What you will notice is improved sensitivity, meaning that there will be many more times that you will not have to use the flash. That will make it easier to take series of shots (don't have to wait for the flash to recharge), plus you won't get the washed out look that so many flash photos get. (The best photography advice ever: The times you are using the flash, you probably shouldn't. The times you are not using the flash, you probably should.) Second, newer cameras tend to have shorter lag times, so there will be fewer shots in which your son has just jumped out of the frame. If you are not having problems in either of these areas, then wait a year or two.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 7:38 AM on November 27, 2012

When my partner got a new camera in 2010 (Canon powershot, not sure of the model #), I was impressed by two things:
(1) It went from "off" to "ready to take photos" really quickly. This meant more shots of my cats being cute and less shots of the cats walking out of the frame because of the weird man with a camera.
(2) The standby battery life was loooong. Not once did I come to use it and find that it was out of battery, which frequently happened with my own older camera.

This one doesn't have web/wifi upload, but I have gotten quite used to that on my phone. It really is convenient to not need to find that stupid cable and plug into the computer to access photos.
posted by Wulfhere at 7:59 AM on November 27, 2012

If you don't think the improved resolution and new features alone warrant an upgrade, you might want to also consider the following:

Speed: I think one of the things you will notice most with newer models, is how much faster they are (both in turning on, and in focusing before shooting).

Screen resolution: this might not seem like a big deal, but higher screen resolution does help for composition. On my old Nikon (circa 2003) I could never tell if the photo was any good until uploaded to a computer.

Portability: if the size of your current camera sometimes deters you from carrying it around, a newer (ie. smaller) model might be better in this regard.

If none of these things matter to you, and you are happy with what you have, I wouldn't bother upgrading.
posted by piyushnz at 2:04 PM on November 28, 2012

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