Suggestions for a mom-friendly digital camera
March 5, 2007 6:29 PM   Subscribe

[MomFilter] Looking for first-hand suggestions for a good digital camera to accompany my mom on an upcoming trip.

My mom is heading on a trip to Louisiana and would like to get a digital camera to take with her. I'm hoping fellow MeFites might have some first-hand mom-friendly suggestions for cameras that meet the following criteria:
  • easy to use (the three most important functions being: easy to turn on, easy to take the photo, easy to turn off — no need for white balance adjustment submenu things that might get in the way if she presses the wrong button)
  • fast response time from pressing the button to the photo being taken (for instance, I have an older Canon A400 that needs to "think" for a second between the button being pressed and the photo being taken—want to avoid that as much as possible)
  • pocket size, but not with buttons too small for 74 year old hands
  • the ability to zoom a bit
  • hand strap (cause I know digital cameras can be as fragile as a ship in a bottle if dropped)
  • uses AA batteries (so she can buy two sets of rechargeables instead of some weird-sized proprietary batteries)
  • Mac-friendly so she can plug it into her upcoming iMac and easily transfer the photos to iPhoto
  • available now as she plans to buy it this week
A feature that would be cool but probably not neccessary
  • able to take several photos in a row (you hold down the button and it takes like 4 photos over the course of a second or two)
Also, if you could include ball-park prices or links with your suggestions that would be great. Thanks in advance!
posted by blueberry to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
A few points: almost any camera you can buy these days uses a USB profile called PTP, which iPhoto plays nicely with. I -think- even if they mount as a USB hard drive, OS X will recognize the DCIM directory structure and offer to import your photos.

As far as specific recommendations go, my father has a Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-W5, which he likes. He's in his mid-60s, and technically competent but not really into gadgets for the sake of gadgets (okay, well, maybe, but he likes his gadgets to be user-friendly). They can be had, used, for about $115 on Ebay, use AA batteries, and take decent, if low-res (6 megapixel IIRC) pics. Shutter lag is present, as with almost all digital point-and-shoots, but not painfully so. It does have some reasonably advanced settings, but nothing that you'd have to encounter if you stayed out of the depths of the menu.

I have a Nikon P3 for snapshots, which I like, but it doesn't meet the AA battery requirement, and has pretty dense menus.
posted by Alterscape at 6:49 PM on March 5, 2007

My mom got a Lumix camera from Panasonic -- I can't remember which one and it's too late for me to call her -- but she loves it. Linky. My mother and father-in-law got a Lumix, too -- I'm pretty sure this is the one. It's a little larger than you originally said, but when my mom was looking for a camera that she wanted to take out horseback riding in New Mexico, she ended up with one a little larger than she originally thought. However, there are lots of the Panasonics that are smaller. You can turn on and off the function you are talking about with the multiple photos for all of the ones in my family (and there are three, counting the one we got two years ago).

My mom has loved hers -- she took amazing photos with it while they were in NM, OK, and TX, and they seem to be user friendly. The camera did not succumb to the grit that blew on an apparently continuous basis. I know they are Mac friendly. The Panasonics do use a proprietary block battery, but it is rechargeable, and it plugs directly into the wall. My mom didn't have a problem with it whilst living out of a horse trailer with living quarters, so I would imagine a motor home or hotel would be super simple. Ours was no problem when we traveled to Europe.

Hope that helped. If you're still in the market tomorrow I can probably ask my mom during the day the exact model she has. I know it's more compact than my father-in-law's, but other than that, my memory is worthless.
posted by Medieval Maven at 7:10 PM on March 5, 2007

I can highly recommend the Canon SD line,I've got an SD 450 and love it. Its pocketable, plays very well with my Mac and does everything I could want. But I stillneed a full sized DSLR as I'm exploring the possibility of becoming a wedding photographer and the pocket cameras just don't cut it for that.

My mom has one as well and loves it!

For good pricing,check out
posted by fenriq at 7:12 PM on March 5, 2007

Check for in depth reviews including timings of how fast the camera works (e.g. how fast does it take the picture after you press the button). I'm about to buy my elderly dad a Canon A630 for $250, but that's probably too bulky for you.

In general, my advice is to go with Canon.
posted by intermod at 9:43 PM on March 5, 2007

I'll be following this thread closely. Sadly, what's really needed for his Mom (and mine) is a digital camera based on the Oxo good grips concept. Big, clear and easy to understand buttons wrapped in a sturdy package.

It has to be as easy as her point and shoot, one-button Kodak film camera.
posted by aladfar at 10:23 PM on March 5, 2007

I'm also going to recommend the Canon SD line. I love my SD400, and it takes consistently great pictures by pointing it at something and pressing the shutter button. It fits all of your criteria save for two, but those take care of themselves:

1. fast response time from pressing the button to the photo being taken - Any digital point and shoot will have this lag to some extent. The manufacturers know that if people care enough, they'll spend the $$$ on a dSLR. The Canon SD series' lag is very short, so much so that I've never given it pause, and has never caused a problem in my experience.

2. uses AA batteries - The Canon SD series uses a proprietary battery, but it comes with that battery and charger. All you do is put the battery in the little box, plug in, wait for red light to turn green. It's more foolproof than rechargeable AAs, I swear. I will never buy a AA camera again because of its convenience. Also works in 220 outlets if she ever decides to do some international travel.

I would highly recommend either Canon SD700 IS or SD800 IS. The IS stands for "Image Stabilization." Just the thing for 74-year-old hands. She'll love it.

As an aside, my girlfriend has a Nikon Coolpix S9. The buttons are probably too small, and it's not been nearly as reliable and foolproof as the Canon SDxxx.
posted by The Michael The at 5:06 AM on March 6, 2007

Oh, prices:

SD800 IS - comparison - best price at a safe-to-buy-from store: $340 at Dell (wow, it's like $380-$400 everywhere else, too).

(it'll play nice with Macs, though, don't worry!)

SD700 IS - comparison - best price at a safe-to-buy-from store: $300 at Amazon.

The only real difference is in megapixels (6.1 on the SD700 vs 7.1 on the SD800).

And, by the by, I'm not sure about their multiple-shot capabilities, but unless she'll be shooting sports or other action, it's a moot point, as the IS will make any single shot steady and awesome.
posted by The Michael The at 5:30 AM on March 6, 2007

We have the Lumix TZ1 & have been very impressed with it. Pictures look great. It plays nicely with our Mac. Fits in my pocket. I don't know if it takes multiple pictures in a row, because I've never tried.

The only thing on your list I'm sure it doesn't meet is the AA battery requirement. It takes a tiny brick battery that fits into a wall charger. We picked up a second battery and found that we almost never need it; on a 2-week camping trip I think we used the first battery for almost the full trip. It seems to last much longer than the AA batteries that my old camera used.
posted by belladonna at 5:31 AM on March 6, 2007

Nthing the Canon SD line. My not tech-savvy mom bought one for a trip to Italy last year and has totally loved it.
posted by junkbox at 6:34 AM on March 6, 2007

Another vote for the SD800 IS-got one for my wife for Christmas and although its no match for the DSLR's I prefer, she loves it. The battery will be less of an issue if you buy a spare at the same time you get the camera. A number of aftermarket suppliers offer higher-capacity batteries than OEM at a fraction of the price. Unless your mom goes nuts with the camera she should not run into too much problem with battery life.
posted by TedW at 8:21 AM on March 6, 2007

Another vote for Lumix.
posted by mingshan at 10:07 AM on March 6, 2007

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