I need a basic digital camera that doesn't suck.
October 5, 2006 6:42 AM   Subscribe

Help me find a good quality digital camera that needs my basic needs, please?

I am an amateur photographess. I currently have a Canon Powershot A75, and I like the picture quality. But it's bulky, as it uses 4-AA batteries. I would like something smaller that I can just plug in to recharge.

I don't need anything fancy at all. I'd like 3.0 megapixels or higher, a decent size LCD screen, zoom, and video. Lightweight and compact (could fit in a shirt pocket). Something relatively easy to operate.

The Canon I have has a lot of options I simply don't use. Most cameras I'm finding have waaay more than I need.

I'd like to spend around $200 or less, but am willing to spend a bit more to prevent owning a piece of crap.
posted by miltoncat to Technology (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have an Olympus Stylus 600. It fits in my pocket and uses a lithium rechargable battery. I'm not in love with it, I think my Fuji Finepix took sharper pictures. But I've taken many good pictures with it and it would fit your criteria.
posted by saffry at 7:05 AM on October 5, 2006

The Canon Powershot SD400 is a nifty little camera in the sub-$200 range. Or, you could shell out a few more samolians and get the updated SD450.
posted by antifuse at 7:08 AM on October 5, 2006

The Canon Powershot SD series take very good photos and are extremely compact and light. The 450 model can be had for <$200 on ebay ($250 refurb, $280 new on amazon). I'd also take a look at the 600 model if you want to spend a little more. They both use a removeable, rechargable li-ion battery that actually clips into it's own wall-wort (very cool looking and lighter than AAs).
posted by datacenter refugee at 7:10 AM on October 5, 2006

Damn you antifuse :).
posted by datacenter refugee at 7:10 AM on October 5, 2006

I got my wife a Casio Elixim and can't say enough good things about it. Easy to operate, quality video and pics, huge LCD, etc..
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 7:21 AM on October 5, 2006

After trying Canon, Fujifilm, Nikon, Sony, Toshiba, and Casio, I would probably stick with the Canon or Fujifilm. The Canons may be expected to take excellent pictures with ease, while Fujifilm has excellent color rendering and low-light capability. I recently bought a Casio Z600 to try out and I have to say, I was not impressed with the grainy LCD and unexceptional image quality. Casios do have stylish form factors, though.

I say go for a Canon. I used an A75 to take pictures at my prom a few years ago and I loved the results. The SD series is solid.

Alternatively you might consider something off the list of cNet editor's top budget cameras. The Sony DSC-W30 looks like it fits the bill in terms of what you're looking for. In fact check out the entire list and see if anything works for you, though I'd guess that the Canon SD450 would be a better overall fit than most of the cameras on that list.
posted by roomwithaview at 8:06 AM on October 5, 2006

Oops. Forgot a link to the list.

Editor's top budget cameras - Cnet.
posted by roomwithaview at 8:08 AM on October 5, 2006

I'd reccomend a Canon SD30. It's small and has just enough bells and whistles but not too many to be overwhelming. A friend owns one and I commandeered it a party and had a blast shooting with it. Best of all, you can pick them up for $250!
posted by photoslob at 8:11 AM on October 5, 2006

Here is a list of the top 100 camera being used to upload photos to Flickr in the past week. You might find this useful for choosing since it objectively reflects what reasonably good photographers are actually using right now (and you can see the results in any case). Nearly half of the cameras in the list are made by Canon you may notice.
posted by rongorongo at 8:16 AM on October 5, 2006

I second the Casio Exilim - we've just purchased a new one (10 megapixel) after giving the first (5.5 megapixel) to my dad - very simple to use, huge LCD screen, light-weight, small. All round excellent.
posted by londonboots at 8:16 AM on October 5, 2006

dpreview.com is the king of digital camera lore, and they have a great Buying Guide feature. Enter what you want in the relevant fields and it will give you matching suggestions. Play with it and use as few search options as you can at first. Tweak as necessary to get it to yield results.

I did a search for ultracompact, $200 or less, 5 megapixels (it couldn't find anything lower in this particular set of search parameters), built-in flash, comes with battery, not discontinued.

It gave me two Pentax Optios, a Fujifilm Finepix, and a Samsung. As the owner of an early Pentax Optio S, I can tell you that it has been perfect for me and is still performing well today. Tiny, easy to use, li-ion battery with charger, SD storage cards, good pictures. It has more features than I need, but if you put it on automatic everything, you don't need to think, just snap. And these newer models have more megapixels. Oddly, few people seem to want to offer more than 3x zoom these days. That's usually enough for me, though. Happy hunting.
posted by kookoobirdz at 8:23 AM on October 5, 2006

I have a Fujifilm Finepix Z1, and I adore it. Big screen, small form factor, and takes great pictures in low light (I am often in low light). It's about the size of a pack of cigarettes, and comes with a handy cradle for charging and uploading. It starts up in about 2 seconds, so you are always ready to take a picture. It's also worth noting that I carry it in the same pocket as my keys and the screen has never been scratched. It's tough.

If you are interested in results, I have lots. The concert sets are the best demos for Fujifilm's low light handling.
posted by Famous at 6:30 PM on October 5, 2006

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