Digital camera advice? ISO simple/intuitive, plus a few other features.
May 25, 2015 12:59 PM   Subscribe

I am semi-tech phobic, so am looking for an *extremely* simple digital camera for still photos. Like, think Fisher Price. On, off, focus, zoom, automatic option, click. Simplicity and an intuitive design are the most important qualities. No long instruction booklet. No tiny window or up and down arrows or similar interface that I have to navigate. More desired features after the jump.

Additional desired features: built-in WiFi (required); location coding.

I want to use the camera to take pictures while doing urban stairway hikes in San Francisco. So, subjects will include buildings (and building features), plants and flowers, city skyscapes. Not looking to create art, more wanting to take visual notes of my walks.
posted by ClaudiaCenter to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Honestly, this is what mobile phone cameras excel at. I have a fancy Nikon but it's bulky and I forget it half of the time I go hiking. I always have my iPhone on me, however, and the photos are great quality.
posted by joan_holloway at 1:15 PM on May 25, 2015 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Sorry to thread-sit, but I've been taking photos with my iPhone for years and really don't like it -- I find taking the pictures using my phone hard to maneuver and difficult vision-wise. I also find that my iPhone battery seems to often be dying right when I want to take a picture.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 1:20 PM on May 25, 2015

What is your budget?
posted by builderofscience at 1:23 PM on May 25, 2015

Response by poster: Mmaybe up to $300? Could be a little more.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 1:25 PM on May 25, 2015

At that budget with a zoom, I'd probably settle on a used first generation Sony RX100 cameras.

Just leave it on auto.

Most of the cameras you have listed there are either going to be cumbersome or not capable enough in low light (such as a dimly lit stairwell). The Olympus might also fit your needs.
posted by builderofscience at 1:34 PM on May 25, 2015

So you're probably looking for an optical viewfinder, too, since you don't like composing images on a phone? Trawling B&H (closed today, but their website works), I don't see that combination of WiFi + GPS for under $300. They do have a Nikon for cheap that has WiFi+GPS, but it's basically an Android phone with a nice lens.
posted by scruss at 1:40 PM on May 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you so much for advice -- I get overwhelmed with this type of shopping. Also, feel free to recommend more expensive cameras if you think they would match my desired features. And -- Yes, would like optical viewfinder.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 1:47 PM on May 25, 2015

Best answer: > Yes, would like optical viewfinder.

The last time I checked about a 1.5 years ago, there are zero sub $1000 cameras on the market with an optical viewfinder that merits the name. There are cameras with a hole that one can look through, but to call them a viewfinder is disingenuous, as they are small, distorted, dim, and relatively worthless. I would be *delighted* to be wrong, but I came to this conclusion after a lot of searching, including numerous chats with B&H reps onsite.

You (and many people like you) basically want an updated Powershot SD1000, but they dropped the viewfinder long ago, and have continued to bloat it up with UX garbage.

If memory serves me correctly, the Olympus OM-D E-M5 (or maybe a PEN model..) was one of the first cameras featuring an optical viewfinder with sufficient resolution and latency to take seriously. Since then, others have caught up, but generally in the $1000+ price range, particularly the Fuji X* variants like the x100, a massively successful model.

But an early (used/cheaper) model of one of those lines probably won't have wi-fi. To be honest, I don't feel that wi-fi functionality is really fully baked. Different vendors attempts at vertical integration (use our app), vs. developing an industry standard for syncing & transmitting mean that "wi-fi" alone is no guarantee of a pleasant user experience, *particularly* if you describe yourself as remotely tech-phobic. Behold, some Sony A7s documentation (small PDF).

I do hope that you find what you want, but from where I sit the clearest path would be to drop a requirement or two, or figure out how to make a phone/ipod touch work for you (airplane mode to save juice, DIY hood for easier vision), Dropbox or Flickr integration for seamless uploading.
posted by Jack Karaoke at 4:12 PM on May 25, 2015

Response by poster: Okay, sounds like I need to go somewhere in person and talk to someone and look at models. Thanks for helping me realize that this is not an online shopping process.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 4:46 PM on May 25, 2015

Response by poster: Okay -- resolved! I went to an in-person store. I looked at models 'til I liked one. I gave up on my list (Wifi, gps). Thank you for the help!
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 8:52 PM on June 1, 2015

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