What camera or gadget can I get for $400?
August 16, 2004 7:17 AM   Subscribe

My parents recently gave me $400 as a present, with the express condition that I use it to buy something (which means I can't save or invest it). Originally, they were going to get me an iPod, but I already have one. I'm thinking about a digital camera, so my question is: Does anyone have any suggestions for a good camera, or perhaps some other neat electronic gadget, in this price range?
posted by thewittyname to Technology (18 answers total)
The Canon Powershot S60. $399 on NewEgg.com, though if you try ResellerRatings.com I'm sure you could find it for less.

(Link is to DPReview's review of the S60. I have the S45 and love it.)
posted by armage at 7:24 AM on August 16, 2004

Second the love for the S45.
posted by adampsyche at 7:41 AM on August 16, 2004

Isn't this the plot of a Richard Pryor movie?

Me, I'd go with high-end sheets and maybe a good desk chair. Electronicswise, you might set yourself up wirelesswise with an Airport Express ($129 from Apple) etc. Also some really superduper headphones (sorry, I have no specific recommendations, just daydreams).
posted by gleuschk at 8:16 AM on August 16, 2004

Much love for the Canon Powershot family of cameras.
posted by boost ventilator at 8:18 AM on August 16, 2004

I've been lusting after a Minolta DiMAGE Z2 for a while now.
posted by tetsuo at 8:35 AM on August 16, 2004

I can't find a link to them, but a good buddy of mine who's a professional musician has a fabulously expensive set of earphones for his iPod, and he swears by them. They're supposedly the best set of "in-ear" phones you can buy, with amazing acoustic properties, and sound-blocking capabilities.

(If you're interested--and no one else here knows what I'm talking about--I'll try to track him down and find out that they're called.)

In terms of cameras, we've had great luck with the Olympus line, especially the 4040/5050 type. They've got great "low-light" capabilities that let you get a lot more indoor shots without using the flash.
posted by LairBob at 9:21 AM on August 16, 2004

When I was looking for a digital camera, I had a friend who offered to sell me one wholesale. The only downside was that he couldn't get everything so I had to start from what he could get and work from there. I ended up getting a Kodak DC340 and I have loved it. The picture quality is far superior to the 35 mm I had (which wasn't exactly a lousy one) and I find the convenience of tossing bad shots amazing.

One reviewer on the linked page refers to a problem with the dock charging option...I don't have that, so I can't answer to it. We use rechargable AA batteries and find it works well.
posted by Richat at 9:44 AM on August 16, 2004

I've never used a fully working Canon Powershot -- all of my friends seem to have issues with them, but they're so in love with it that they just don't care. They seem to be like Ducatis -- always broken, but people love them.

Personally, I have a Casio Exilim 4s. The screen's bigger and better and the form factor's smaller (thinner) than the Canons, and except for middlin' low-light performance, I haven't had any issues with the camera at all.
posted by SpecialK at 10:49 AM on August 16, 2004

I have a (fully working) Powershot Pro1 and I love it. It's expensive, but the combination of compact size (I carry it everywhere in my backpack) and DSLR-grade features is unbeatable.

Since you're apparently looking for something cheaper, try browsing DPReview for the most comprehensive and unbiased digital camera resources available. (Start by browsing the cameras section and checking out the reviews.)
posted by azazello at 10:58 AM on August 16, 2004

Oooh! Powershot s-50!


One Review

Low prices

Click the "Price" link to sort from lowest to highest, the default seems to be highest to lowest.

posted by erratic frog at 11:08 AM on August 16, 2004

Oh and: The "Low Prices" link has also 25 consumer reviews and 4 and a half out of 5 stars. Just FYI.
posted by erratic frog at 11:09 AM on August 16, 2004

I also vote for the Canon Powershot S-series cameras. I have an S300, friends and family use others including the S230, S410, S30, S45, and S60. None of us have had any real problems (knock on wood). The metal bodies, nice screens, and good digicam UIs make these a pleasure to use.
posted by Songdog at 12:28 PM on August 16, 2004

since this thread seems to be focusing on the canon power shots:

i've had an S40 for about 2 years. great camera but I've had a few problems, and I found a lot of the features included just not that useful (for me). stuff like manual exposure control i don't use that much. i wish the video clips could go longer than 30 sec.

some of my complaints:

some times it seems to take forever (a few seconds) before taking the shot. i've used other cameras that can auto-focus and decide to take the shot much quicker.

about a year ago, my front sliding cover started acting up...i could turn off the camera just by brushing my finger against the open cover. very annoying. I even took it apart and couldn't resolve the issue.

recently it stopped working completely...doesn't power up in either mode. (maybe something I did when I took it apart?)

in any case, it was a great camera for over 2 years and I took over 10000 pictures with it. and there have been several upgrades since the s40, including a much improved sliding cover mechanism I was happy to note.

i'm also in the market and will consider the S60 or S50, but I'm also looking around at other stuff.
posted by jacobsee at 1:03 PM on August 16, 2004

throw in a couple of your own bucks and get the powershot s1. it's shiny new, has a 10x optical zoom, and will take 1 hour of video before it cuts you off. really very nice video, i might add... you can zoom in and out while doing video, not a feature you find on many digital cameras. it also has an image stabilizer for clear, sharp images. not found on many "low-end" cameras! i got one for $425 on newegg. images are really nice. only downside is that you'll need to get the canon battery pack, as the non-rechargeable ones that come with it were eaten by sunset on day 1 of owning the camera. the canon rechargeable batteries recommended for the camera has been in use for two days of shooting family and wedding photos/videos and isn't in need of a recharge yet.

love, love love the s1. it's worth the extra dollars. i would suggest picking up a bigger memory card if you get a chance though, the included card is 32 megs and that fills up fast...
posted by caution live frogs at 1:35 PM on August 16, 2004

I had an A40 for a year, year and a half. Nice camera, and I'm sure they only got better over time. My one quibble was that its macro mode sucked ass. Now I have a Digital Rebel, and well, golly, I can't say I miss my A40. myyyy preccioussssssss
posted by keswick at 4:28 PM on August 16, 2004

Beyond cameras, the Nintendo DS comes out in November. Mmmm, dual screens.

But I also have a Canon Powershot and have never been let down by it.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:08 PM on August 16, 2004

Yes, I also wanted to say, I've never had a problem with my camera.

I haven't had it THAT long, but no issues as yet.

The s-1 sounds really cool, too though!
posted by erratic frog at 11:00 PM on August 16, 2004

I should add that I've had my S300 for three years and it's taken more than 13,000 pictures. It's been along with me for all my travels, even venturing underwater in a slick little enclosure from Canon when I've gone snorkling. Now it's documenting my son's first months. If anything were to happen to it I'd have another Canon within days, the only question would be which model.
posted by Songdog at 5:54 AM on August 17, 2004

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