Camera for technique-savvy but tech-averse senior
September 20, 2014 5:41 AM   Subscribe

Mother-in-law is an accomplished mixed-media artist. She likes to use a camera to document her work. The camera she's using is about to give out. House is computer-free, network-free and definitely free of cell phones. What's an easily-used camera of 2014 that she might actually use?

She's using a Nikon Coolpix of approximately 2001 vintage. Batteries are hard to replace, it uses obsolete storage, and worst of all, it's only around 2 megapixels, which doesn't come close to capturing her multilayered artwork. A few years back, we gave her a Panasonic Lumix LX2, which stopped working, but she didn't tell us for two years, and went back to the ancient Nikon. The Lumix seems to work now, but she doesn't seem to want to use anything but the old flip-open Nikon. I think the protruding zoom lens maybe went off-track for a bit.

IPad or other not an option. No wireless and no intention to learn. Seriously. This ain't gonna fly. Anything she wants to keep will get printed at Wallgreen's. She used to burn through Polaroid packs, but they got stupid expensive, unavailable, and now are in the entirely laughable bracket.

Is there a digital camera with the same sort of chunky usability as the old Coolpixes, but with decent glass and some resolution? Maybe a non-extending lens for toughness. This would really be a tool to document art in her rather busy studio rather than a camera for camera's sake. Also cheap(ish) - while a fixed-lens mirror less would be ideal, she does ask (or try to find out) how much things cost and will likely not use anything that she thinks is too valuable.
posted by scruss to Technology (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If she's just using it to document her artwork, then she could use pretty much any major-brand point-and-shoot, and then just stick the memory card into something like a Canon Selphy printer.

Some P&S cameras are better than others, but they will all have the basic functionality she requires. She should just go to a camera store and get the one which feels best in her hands.

Personally, I would get something like a used Canon S95, but I don't know how your mom feels about buying something used.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:57 AM on September 20, 2014

I don't know a ton about digital cameras, so I won't offer a specific recommendation, but based on what you describe, I'd look at lists from sites like dpreview for 'best children's cameras'. You don't need to buy her a barbie camera, or anything like that, but there are a lot of sites that pick out not-very-complicated-or-expensive regular cameras for those lists, as well. There are also 'best cameras for grandparents' guides out there that look at some of the same criteria -- ease of use, lower prices, etc.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:05 AM on September 20, 2014

If the house is computer free, then how does she print or view her photos? Does she just use the camera as a photo viewer?
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:30 AM on September 20, 2014

It says in the post: Anything she wants to keep will get printed at Wallgreen's.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:35 AM on September 20, 2014

Reading comprehension fail on my part. My apologies.

Poking around online, it looks like people like the Canon 340 HS for a good cheap camera.

If your mom will accept a used camera, then IMHO she should get a Canon S90 or S95 from reputable dealer like Adorama or B&H.

Kids cameras are a good idea, too, as long as the specs are right and they accept SD cards.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:45 AM on September 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Both myself and ms scruss use Powershot S cameras. They both have fragile zoom lenses which wouldn't be ideal in the sometimes challenging studio environment.
posted by scruss at 7:19 AM on September 20, 2014

You might try Googling for "rugged" or "waterproof" cameras. Pretty much everybody (Amazon, B&H, Adorama, CNet, etc) publishes their own buying guides for waterproof point-and-shoots, because it's a significant market. There are some differences between models; I'm not sure any of the differences would matter in the context you're describing, but you can judge.
posted by cribcage at 8:24 AM on September 20, 2014

The Wirecutter recommends the Olympus Tough TG-3 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS5 as their picks for rugged point & shoot cameras. Seems like a good place to start.
posted by Aleyn at 12:16 PM on September 20, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks to all. It seems there was a technological hiccough here regarding recharging the camera battery.

DMC LX2 restored to working, and a refresher given on how to avoid camera shake. I think we're good here.
posted by scruss at 8:15 AM on September 28, 2014

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