Camera Recommendations
July 27, 2008 4:30 PM   Subscribe

My digital camera (HP PhotoSmart 945) broke recently and I'm looking for some recommendations for a replacement, and also where to buy in Sydney Australia.

I really liked the pictures my HP Photosmart 945 took, despite its age. But yesterday the battery casing refused to close which means I can't take photos with it, and I think its time to replace it.

Things I liked about the HP Photosmart:
- Colour of images (nice rich colours compared to other peoples shots of the same scenes - I know it probably exaggerated the colours, but I like that)
- Long Exposure shots (especially at night time)
- Level of detail in photos

Things I didn't like
- The UI, I found it slow and at times unintuitite
- Sometimes would refuse to take photos
- Always reported incorrect battery levels
- Having to use Up/Down buttons for the zoom rather than twisting a dial for rapid zooming
- The LCD eyepiece was often laggy, low in detail, and the external screen had the same problems and was often impossible to see in daylight.

I'm currently thinking hard about the Pentax K100D Super /Sigma 18-50mm Kit (link to cnet review here) but I'm interested in other peoples recommendations.

I should point out I'm not a pro photographer and more often that not I use the default settings (landscape, portrait, macro) etc though I do like to be able to change them as suits me. I don't want to carry lenses around and have to worry about attaching them etc.

Also, if anyone can recommend some good stores in Sydney, Australia for advice from the staff and also the ability to try them out in the shop that would be great too.

posted by Admira to Technology (10 answers total)
You can't go wrong with a Pentax K100D or a Nikon D40. If getting the Pentax, I would steer clear of the Sigma 18-55 - Sigma's 17-70 is WAY better, and so is the Pentax 16-45.

As a bonus, a K-mount Pentax like the K100D can use Pentax manual K mount lenses from the past 30 or so years, some of which are amazing.

I have a K10D, which has recently been superseded by the K20D and could be had for very little. It's larger than a K100D and has some more advanced features - depends on what you're after.

I've also found that colours straight from the Pentax "pop" more than those shot with a Canon or Nikon.

You might have trouble finding a store that carries Pentax gear (Harvey Norman etc. do not), but most serious camera stores (Ted's, Camera House, independents) should carry stock and be able to help you out.
posted by jozzas at 5:15 PM on July 27, 2008

Here are some photos I took with my K10D and a 30 year old 50mm lens, if you're interested. The processing engine is the same for the K100D, so these are the sorts of colours you can expect.
posted by jozzas at 6:12 PM on July 27, 2008

Response by poster: Cool, thanks for the sample pics, impressive. Great shots by the way. Must admit I don't really understand all the numbers with lenses so might have to do a bit of research on that before I buy.
posted by Admira at 7:22 PM on July 27, 2008

If you are truly interested in the Pentax line, go for it. Yet, the one you are looking at is only 6MP. If you are going to invest in everchanging technology, you must get as up to date as you can afford. (would you purchace windows XP these days?)

STAY AWAY FROM KITS. THE LENSES IN THE KITS ARE INFERIOR. (MARKETING) Buy the body and the lens seperately. If you go with a compact zoom, steer towards something like a 24-135 mm f2.8-4 (or f3.5-5.6). Or something comparable. It will accomplish just about everything you would like to do. The faster the lens, the more money it will cost.

17mm is a little wide (yet cool) for most applications when 35mm is considered the cusp of wide angle. 50mm is normal. While very necessary, above 70mm you'll be looking at portrait range-until you get to telephoto. (above 200mm)

You might consider looking into Cannon's Rebel series. Again, stay away from kits.
posted by captainsohler at 8:18 PM on July 27, 2008

Response by poster: Well the counter argument to investing in the most recent technology in an "ever changing" product space is that whatever you buy will be out of date soon anyway. My old camera was 5MP and I've never really had the need to zoom in too much on the images I've taken. Maybe once in the years I've had it I wished it had more MP.

I'm not going to be printing many of these images, so the need for super high MP in my books, or am I missing something?

And I have to admit, I would definately buy XP.
posted by Admira at 10:22 PM on July 27, 2008

Response by poster: For reference (my own as much as anyone elses), the lens on the HP Photosmart 945 is:

• 8x optical zoom (Fuji Photo Optical)
• 37 - 300 mm equiv.
• F2.8 - F3.1
posted by Admira at 11:31 PM on July 27, 2008

I think you should look into the higher end point and shoots, rather than SLR's. A camera like the Canon G9 is a wonderful camera ("The point and shoot professionals use"), because it gives you mostly manual controls without having the expense of buying more lenses. You also have your automatic shooting modes as well.

I would recommend the G9 over a basic slr with a kit lens any day. Try it before you make the jump into (Expensive) SLR technology. PM me if you have any more questions..
posted by chromatist at 7:19 AM on July 28, 2008

Forgive my error in the assumption that you would be particular about output. Thats mostly what I care about-besides being in complete control of the image taking process. If your never going to print out any of your pictures, then go with chromatist's advice. (And the G9 is good.) An SLR is too much camera then. But, I always like to think that people can learn and grow into an SLR

As an aside, why is everyone so touchy about operating systems? (Still have XP)
posted by captainsohler at 4:19 PM on July 28, 2008

And, with the G9 you wont have trouble with output
posted by captainsohler at 4:21 PM on July 28, 2008

Response by poster: Well I'm particular about output quality, but not size. I do actually get some printed on canvas, and had a few enlarged over time and never really had any issues with megapixels but I think perhaps I've been looking at this the wrong way.

I'm going to evaluate a few of these options, particularly like the recommendation for the G9. The problem is when I've used friends SLR's I've really enjoyed using them and react quite intuitively to them. And, as you say, I'd like to learn and grow into using an SLR.

My main concern now is more about lenses than the camera, so I have to educate myself on that topic.

Thanks all for the input, much appreciated!
posted by Admira at 10:00 PM on July 28, 2008

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