Cheap, simple camera for the photography n00b
June 18, 2014 8:22 PM   Subscribe

Help a newbie photographer choose a decent point-and-shoot for $200 or less.

So I'm going to be blogging/travelling a lot in the future, and I'd like a better camera than the lousy one on my smartphone (and nope, upgrading to an iDevice isn't possible right now, and if I did upgrade, I'd go for the 5c.)

- Easy to use. Seriously. I'm not a pro photographer, have no intentions to be one, I'd like something as idiot-proof as possible
- I'm mostly going to be shooting outdoors/in decent light, but a camera that isn't completely useless in low light would be fantastic.
- Cheap. Sub-$150 is ideal, but I can go up to $200 for a really good model.

posted by Tamanna to Shopping (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I had a couple of Cannon Powershot ELPHs that I really liked. Amazon has a few of different prices depending on the newness of the model. I have lots of nice pics from the days I used those cameras, also really easy to use and small enough to have in your jeans pocket or small purse or whatever.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 8:42 PM on June 18, 2014 [3 favorites]

The Wirecutter's choice for best camera under $200 is the Canon 340 HS.
posted by mbrubeck at 9:06 PM on June 18, 2014

After reading The Wirecutter (scroll half-way down), I purchased and am quite satisfied with the Canon Powershot SX280.
posted by midatlanticwanderer at 9:24 PM on June 18, 2014

I really think the Canon Powershot S120 is worth the extra cash. If you're serious about photography whatsoever, it has such better low light performance and usability over the cheaper Canons. The S90 is the first camera I used where I didn't take an SLR with me on trips, and the S120 is light years better.
posted by kcm at 10:00 PM on June 18, 2014

I'm on my 3rd Canon Powershot ELPH in ~12 years. Definitely recommend the brand, especially after they replaced my aged S110 promptly and totally free when it had the CCD issues years later.
posted by girlhacker at 10:42 PM on June 18, 2014

Do you have a smartphone? The iphone5 has an 8 megapixel camera on it. I think that's a great start for a non-professional.
posted by defmute at 11:06 PM on June 18, 2014

You can't go wrong with a Canon Powershot
posted by hz37 at 4:46 AM on June 19, 2014

I went from an older Canon Elph (that I had for years) to an SX280. LOVE the SX280. Slightly bigger than the Elph, but still fits in a belt case. The 20x optical zoom is great. I believe the SX270 is very similar, but without the GPS (which I don't use).
posted by mbarryf at 5:00 AM on June 19, 2014

This answer is just because you used the word "photographer", which to me implies some aspiration...

If I were you I'd jump on Ebay (or used camera marketplace of your choice) and grab a 1st or 2nd-gen mirrorless interchangable-lens camera (Olympus PEN, Sony NEX). There are lots, including a lens, for under US$200.

They've got larger sensors than $200 compacts and cellphones, which means better pictures - especially in low light. Ignore the megapixels, 6+ is fine unless you're printing bigger than A3. If you want to point-and-shoot, they'll work simply, but there's also as much control available as on a SLR so if you find yourself getting more interested in the technical stuff, or in different lenses etc you can do that too.
posted by dickasso at 6:41 AM on June 19, 2014

kcm is almost right - get the Canon S series, but to meet your budget, instead of the S120, get the previous generation S110, which is just about $200. With a bigger sensor, and good lens, it's a step above the standard point and shoot, it's still tiny so easy to actually take with you, and it's got the flexibility of a lot of manual settings if you ever get interested in that.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 7:13 AM on June 19, 2014

I almost asked a very similar question here a few weeks ago and after reading a bunch of reviews I ended up shelling out a bit more cash for the Canon S110. I paid 270$ for mine in Canada, but if you're in the US you can probably find it for not much more than 200$. Disclaimer: I haven't gotten it in the mail yet so I can't give a real review, but I did some (overly) extensive research and it seems like the picture quality of the Canon S-series is quite a lot higher than other cameras in the <300$ price range.

The one drawback that was frequently mentioned is that the battery life is pretty awful, so if you do get one I'd suggest buying an extra battery. You can find decent knockoff batteries online for cheap - I ordered 2 for 7$.
posted by randomnity at 7:52 AM on June 19, 2014

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