Compact digital camera suggestions?
June 30, 2004 11:07 AM   Subscribe

I want a new digital camera. Nothing fancy: 2+ megapixels, 3X optical zoom, in the $200 neighborhood. The most important thing is size; I want something I can easily slip into my pocket. Recommendations?

A camera phone would be fine, too, as long as it meets those specifications. Are there any good ones?
posted by MrMoonPie to Shopping (23 answers total)
The Canon Powershot s200 sounds like a good-quality version of what you're looking for. It might be closer to $250 though, depending on where you get it. It's a capable little camera, and very reliable.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 11:15 AM on June 30, 2004

The 2+ megapixel requirement is going to rule out all existing camera phones. The Nokia 7610 was just released and it was the first megapixel camera phone that I am aware of. (You can also bet that it is no where near $200). Also, I don't think any camera phone has an optical zoom lens. Not to dump on camera phones (I love my Nokia 6600), but they aren't ready to meet your requirements.
posted by mmascolino at 11:19 AM on June 30, 2004

Very few camera phones are 2+ megapixels and even fewer have a flash so I'd not recommend one of them for photography.

My favourite is the Cannon Digital IXUS series. Check out the S500 (could also be called the Powershot S500) which is both small, light and what you want.

I bought 2 years ago the IXUS v2 and have been very happy with it.

DPreview is an excellent resource for camera reviews.
posted by ralawrence at 11:20 AM on June 30, 2004

The canon elph line is probably what you want. Do you have a Fry's or BestBuy or Circuit City nearby? Just cruise in and try them out, there are a bunch of tiny cameras now for about that price with those options.

As far as I know, cameraphones in japan are maxing out at 1 megapixel right now and 2 will come soon, but in America almost nothing does above 640x480 (much less than one megapixel).
posted by mathowie at 11:23 AM on June 30, 2004

I'm got a Pentax Optio S30 (3.2MP), which fits neatly in my pocket. They're up to 4 megapixels now for about $300, but you can probably shop around and find the previous model much cheaper.
posted by mkultra at 11:31 AM on June 30, 2004

Another recommendation for the Canon Digital Elph, especially the latest models if you can afford them. Very compact, great photos.
posted by turbodog at 11:46 AM on June 30, 2004

The Minolta Dimage Xt (or Xi) is a VERY small camera that is 3+mp with a flash. I'm not sure what the up to date price is, but I got one for around $350Cdn a couple months ago.

It's so small that it fits comfortably in my shirt's breast pocket.
posted by grum@work at 12:03 PM on June 30, 2004

I use a 3.2 MP Nikon Coolpix 3200 which is $212 at Amazon these days.

The 2MP 2200 is only $149.

Great pix from a camera that fits in the palm of the hand. Lots of useful shooting modes & the batteries last well. It takes 2 standard AAs for when the rechargable ones do run out.
posted by i_cola at 12:05 PM on June 30, 2004

Small size tends to cancel out good zoom. For instance, the Canon S200 mentioned above is only 2x. Most the really tiny ones have no zoom at all.

This is not necessarily a bad limitation though. The diff between 2x and 3x isn't that much.

Personally, I only buy Canon's now. I had an S110, then a S200, now an S400. And the S200 was perfectly good but I just wanted something new and higher rez.
posted by smackfu at 12:08 PM on June 30, 2004

I've got the S200 Elph as well. It's exactly the size of a pack of smokes, for a possible reference point.
posted by Ufez Jones at 12:11 PM on June 30, 2004

I've got an original Pentax OptioS (3.2MP, 3x optical zoom, fits in an Altoids tin) that gives amazingly good 4x6 prints. I also highly recommend the Canon Digital Elph line. Better optics than the Pentax, but not quite as tiny.

With any small camera make sure the tiny controls fit your hands. I went with the OptioS because it just felt right to me; the Canon's controls were awkward. Most people have the exact opposite reaction.
posted by Monk at 12:14 PM on June 30, 2004

I'll recommend the Canon Digital Elph series as well. I have an S200 and love it. I bought it mostly so that I'd always have a camera with me, on top of that you can get a decently priced watertight case for it for scubadiving. I've done maybe 50 dives with the case and never had a problem.
posted by substrate at 12:15 PM on June 30, 2004

Another vote for the Minolta DiMage. I've got the 3MP version but the 2MP (the X20) version is still available and basicly the same. Not much bigger than an altoids tin. Relatively fast click time. One of the nice features is that the optical zoom (3X) is completely contained with in the body of the camera (IE: the lens doesn't protrude). It takes SD cards which aren't quite as cheap as CF but readily available. Only C$227 at TigerDirect so if your in the states it should come under your budget.

Keep in mind most truely small digitals have proprietary batteries and it's good to have a spare. And you'll probably need a bigger memory card sooner rather than later.
posted by Mitheral at 12:43 PM on June 30, 2004

Aiptek Pocket DV Digital Video Camcorder offers 3.1 megapixels in a package smaller but slightly thicker than a pack of cigarettes, takes still and video, and costs under $100. This is the grandson of the Pencam. About the only downside I can give you, having used one, is that there's no viewfinder... you frame the picture using the little screen display, which is useless in bright sunlight. but I imagine you'd have the same trouble with many digital cameras.
posted by crunchland at 12:52 PM on June 30, 2004

Just an FYI: Circuit City is having a sale on almost all of their digital cameras at the moment (it might end today). The Nikon Coolpix 3200 mentioned above is only $225 and you could probably pick it up in-store tonight.
posted by arco at 1:08 PM on June 30, 2004

Look here.
posted by linux at 1:34 PM on June 30, 2004

There are some very good prices on the Exilim Z-3 on ebay right now, now that the Z-4 is out. I have a Z-3 and have been very happy with it (most reviewers find it superior to the Pentax Optio, and it uses the same lens).
posted by rushmc at 3:04 PM on June 30, 2004

Another vote for the canon s200. I bought mine when they were new to the market, and since then multiple friends have first drooled over it, then aquired their own.
posted by duckstab at 3:41 PM on June 30, 2004

I'll vote for the Minolta DiMAGE x20. It perfectly fits all of your requirements (including the 3x zoom), currently for around $150.
posted by whatnotever at 12:07 AM on July 1, 2004

I found the Minolta DiMAGE x20 at Target last night for $170. It's adorable. I think that'll be my choice.

I am concerned about the proprietary battery, though. Do any of the cameras recommended above use regular AAs?

In any case, thanks for the great recommendations. This has been a fantastic AxMe.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:08 AM on July 1, 2004

I'll agree with MrMoonPie, it's inspired me to go out and buy myself my first digital camera (with a little more research).
posted by biffa at 9:37 AM on July 1, 2004

the aiptek uses regular batteries.
posted by crunchland at 11:12 AM on July 1, 2004

It's my birthday today, and now, in true MetaFilter fashion, I have a camera. Thanks for the advice, everyone!
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:21 PM on July 20, 2004

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