hit me with your best digital shot
September 12, 2006 9:50 AM   Subscribe

i want to buy a used digital camera online for really cheap. what are the best cameras of yesteryear (say, 3 or 4MP) that can be had for a paltry sum on ebay or other online places?

yeah, i just want to take some shots, but i want the camera to be *good*. knowing the sharply falling prices of old electronics, what do you recommend thats 1 or 2 years old that can probably be found for, say, $50-$80 online?
posted by yonation to Technology (23 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I still love my minolta z2, great camera. I still use it almost everyday.
posted by killyb at 9:58 AM on September 12, 2006

Response by poster: looks nice killyb -- but it reminds me to clarify two priorities: size (smaller better) and that they be able to use standard AA/AAA batteries (for replacement while traveling, for instance).
posted by yonation at 10:00 AM on September 12, 2006

Don't have any idea about the price, but I have a Sony DSC-V1 that I've had for about 4 years, I think. Takes great images, full manual mode as well as program, shutter and aperature priority modes.

The batteries are relatively low capacity, so make sure that you get 2 news ones or a few used ones. They shouldn't be expensive.

On-Board Flash can be a little weak, but it has an on-board hot-shoe for external flash units. I have the HL-FX32 which is fantastic. This runs on AA, so make sure you have some rechargables handy.

It uses Sony Memory Stick Pros which are readily available and inexpensive.
posted by dantodd at 10:02 AM on September 12, 2006

It does take 4aa's and gets great battery life, but small it isn't. For a small camera I actually bought an el cheapo at best buy. it's a dv6800, made by aiptek. I traveled around france and greece this summer with it, dropped it more times than I can count, takes video and is also an mp3 player(though never used)....you can take a look at some photos here, takes sd cards...
posted by killyb at 10:27 AM on September 12, 2006

Canon Powershot A40. Uses CF card and AAs, and takes a lot of pictures on a set of four batteries.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:29 AM on September 12, 2006

ahhh blast! The above mentioned camera takes a proprietary battery...i'll leave, sorry
posted by killyb at 10:30 AM on September 12, 2006

Just a caveat, digital cameras that use AA batteries suck through them like vampires at a blood bank. You are better off with something that uses rechargable Lithium for the best cost effectiveness. Recharging them on the road is not really a hassle as long as you keep a spare one on hand. I have done that on many a trip without any problems. The only problems would be somewhere you can'y charge a battery (like the Alaskan wilderness) but if that were the case you wouldn't be able to find AA batteries anyway....

A camera rec that I liked was the Canon G1 which afforded a flippable screen and RAW shooting. Size-wise it doesn't compare with modern cameras but it wasn't obscenely huge either.
posted by JJ86 at 10:33 AM on September 12, 2006

I would second the Sony DSC-V1 (or the V3, which I own). Look at these pics, for example, all taken with a Sony V1. It does have a rechargeable battery, but this is *way* more convenient/longer lasting than AAs. It's no big deal to take a charger and adapter with you.
posted by Flashman at 10:35 AM on September 12, 2006

Looking back at my satisfaction level with the various digital cameras I have owned, the thing that has made the most difference in my happiness level is how short is the shutter lag. Read up on that for anything you consider purchasing.
posted by phearlez at 10:51 AM on September 12, 2006

I love my 3MP Canon Powershot A70 - the pictures are beautiful, it's easy to use and there are lots of manual controls. It also got a very good review, which was part of my decision to buy.
posted by pocams at 11:00 AM on September 12, 2006

Keep your eyes on woot.com and dealmac.com -- we just got a 5.1 megapixel Samsung rechargeable for $70 on woot. Size of a deck of cards, works great.
posted by orangemiles at 11:16 AM on September 12, 2006

you could get the canon 10d, it's still relatively solid.

but keep in mind that with digital slr's you should always ask how many times the shutter has been released and be prepared to need to spring for a throrough cleaning of the body.

make sure not to buy a camera like this from places in or around nyc, chicago and la. the chances that you'd be getting a professionally used camera that has seen millions of hours of work are just too high. you want to find some mom or pop who used their camera a couple times on vacation.
posted by krautland at 11:18 AM on September 12, 2006

digital cameras that use AA batteries suck through them like vampires at a blood bank.

Since I don't know how to quantify vampire sucking, I will just reiterate that my A40 can take many dozens of high-res photos (the highest-resolution "Fine" setting) before I have to swap out the NiMh batteries I use. The only advantages to Lithium batteries that I'm aware of are: long shelf life, light weight, and higher relative output in cold weather.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:57 AM on September 12, 2006

Kirth, you are talking NiMh rechargable AA batteries which are different than alkaline AA battereies. The OP said he wanted standard alkalines. Besides many dozens isn't an impressive figure by any means. Li-ion batteries are recognized as the gold standard in terms of longevity of use.
posted by JJ86 at 12:54 PM on September 12, 2006

Nope - he said, "standard AA/AAA batteries." I assumed he meant standard-sized batteries; you assumed he meant alkalines. We could both be wrong, but what I said about NiMh also pretty much applies to alkalines.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:17 PM on September 12, 2006

No matter what, get a Canon. They make fantastic cameras.
posted by redteam at 3:43 PM on September 12, 2006

funny. i happen to be selling my canon s45 on craigslist.
it's a great camera and i've been very pleased with it, but i decided to upgrade before a big vacation.

try checking dpreview for older camera reviews.
posted by jessica at 3:52 PM on September 12, 2006

>the thing that has made the most difference in my happiness level is how short is the shutter lag

Phearlez is SO right.

I've been very happy with my Canon PowerShot A75 for years now and would definitely recommend that camera, or something in that line, for your purposes. It's one problem is its rather long shutter lag. Does anyone have a good resource for finding out what the shutter lag is like on digital cameras? I am in the same market yonation is, but minimal shutter lag and pocketable size are the prime factors in my mind.
posted by Rock Steady at 4:53 PM on September 12, 2006

The canon A series are the best balance between battery use, size and price. I use an A75, and it's amazing.

Minuses: slow flash to flash, slow startup (1.5s) and not *quite* pocket size (it 'll make a bulge in your pocket, and fit)

plus: great photos. great auto photos. manual and automatic *everything* with a dial as opposed to menus, manual actiually controls a REAL range of apetures and shutter speeds, expandable lenses (cheap tele & zoom), real macros for close up, CF or MMC cards (cheapest), video, output to a tv screen directly from jack, genuine creative control over photos. etc. etc. etc

Takes double A batteries. If you get something like A75 or less it should be <$100 and you'll learn some photography to boot.
posted by lalochezia at 4:54 PM on September 12, 2006

My 3.1MP Kodak CX7330 was $120 new 14 months ago, and it was an outstanding camera at that price. It has a 3X optical zoom, uses two AAs, shoots good 320x240 video with sound as well as excellent-quality still images at your choice of four resolutions, and accepts SD cards up to 2GB. Very highly recommended for your price range.
posted by allterrainbrain at 9:37 PM on September 12, 2006

Also: since we're discussing battery life, the CX7330 has an optical viewfinder (missing on many cameras these days), which of course will dramatically increase your battery life if you use it rather than the LCD.
posted by allterrainbrain at 9:40 PM on September 12, 2006

might be interesting at your price range: a new digital camera targeted at kids (like the Disney Pix Max™ Digital Camera mentioned here).
posted by mirileh at 2:39 AM on September 14, 2006

Apologies to the original poster but....

Rock steady - my current cam is a Canon SD700 and I couldn't be more pleased with its combination of quick&easy and configuration PLUS the amazingly small shutter lag.

I resisted leaving CF for a long time but (a) I got one of the cars with the built-in USB connector which is even EASIER than the CF->PCMCIA converters and (2) the USB2 on the SD700 is SO fast that I end up just using it rather than direct copy anyway.

I highly recommend the camera for anyone looking for a pocket-sized unit, though I keep mine in a $9 soft case from Target that's meant for a blackberry 7100- it's got a swivel belt clip which is VERY convenient when on vacation.
posted by phearlez at 9:51 AM on September 14, 2006

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