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thcri
11-06-2005, 10:56 AM
Christmas is soon to arrive. My daughter wants a digital camera. I have a Sony DSC-S75 that is about three years old. It has been a good camera but I know it is old and there is more features out there for less money. I want to spend around 2bills for it. Any one out there that has done some investigating/research that could steer me in the right direction?

thanks in advance murph

Big Dog
11-06-2005, 11:11 AM
Man there are soooooooooo many good cameras for that price! Your shopping features for your individual taste now. I have a Kodak and I'm very happy with it! I would recommend at least 4-5 megapixelss. Here's a 5 mp for 2 bills.

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp?skuId=7067489&type=product&id=1108125946581

thcri
11-06-2005, 11:22 AM
The thing that I am having the most trouble with is understanding the zoom, you have optical, digital and total. What is the best to have?

murph

Big Dog
11-06-2005, 11:37 AM
Murph,

Here's some explanation...................

Optical Zoom Also known as "telephoto" or "true zoom". The lens does the work by reducing or enlarging the field of view. A 16:1 zoom magnifies the object 16x as you move the lens from the minimum focal length (wide angle) to the maximum focal length (telephoto). Optical zoom is better than digital zoom because the image quality does not degrade as it can using digital zoom. The greater the optical zoom, the more flexibility you have in framing the shot you want.

Digital Zoom Also called "digital magnification" and is expressed in the number of times the image is magnified (e.g., 3X). It is used to enlarge part of the image making it appear closer and bigger, simulating a telephoto lens. However, the image is actually being cropped and enlarged with the camera's hardware/software, which can cause a loss of resolution if magnified too much. Optical zoom is the preferred method of "zooming".

Total Zoom is just a multiplier between the two.

I have a Kodak Easyshare DX7590 with 10x optical.

I also have a older Sony Video camera with 450x Digital zoom. You can read a licence plate from a 1/4 mile but the quality suffers the more you use digital zoom!

Greg

thcri
11-06-2005, 12:28 PM
Greg,

Thanks for the information. I kind of knew it was that way but didn't know which one was the most important. Looks to me Optical is the most important per your post. This information will help me a lot.

murph

Melensdad
11-06-2005, 01:07 PM
Murph, I've personally got a couple Canon pocket digital cameras and love them. But for out company we have issued Kodak Easy Share cameras and they have proved to be very good cameras also. Everything that Greg said about zoom should be taken into account. The best bet is to get as much OPTICAL zoom as you can get.

As for the whole Mega-Pixel concept, I'm one who is willing to give up some pixels. The main reason to go for LOTS and LOTS of pixels is if you plan on enlarging the pictures. I generally don't enlarge photos beyone 4" by 6" size so 2 mega-pixels is plenty. To go to 5" by 7" it would be better to have about 3.5 mega-pixels.

If you are looking to spend about $200 for the camera for your daughter, I would look for something 3.5 mega-pixels (give or take) and the most Optical Zoon I could get for the money. JMHO

Doc
11-06-2005, 01:32 PM
Good info for you so far Murph. I also agree with Bob, that 3.5 or 4 mp is plenty unless you plan to print larger images from your pics.
Other accessories that would be handy:
128 or 256meg memory card. Normally cameras come with a small memory cards to keep the camera price down. A larger memory card means you can hold more pics on the card.
Also, I found that using a card reader instead of the camera to offload the pics saves camera batteries and is simpler to use. Mine hooks into my USB port. Just plug in the card and cut the images from the card to your hard drive.
Also you might have a choice of battery type. My old sony came with a rechargeable battery that worked okay. But the replacement battery cost 55 bucks. The camera I have now uses two AA type batteries. This is nice since you can get those batteries about anywhere. And it's easy to pack a couple spare batteries in my camera case.
Good luck with your shopping.
Doc

OkeeDon
11-06-2005, 01:34 PM
There is a correlation between digitial zoom and mega-pixels. The more pixel resolution you have, the more yuou can zoom in digitally without affecting a "normal" or effective resolution.

As Big Dog mentioned, digital zoom is using the camera to enlarge and crop. I never quite got idea until I realized that it's the same thing as downloading the picture into the computer, then using photo software to enlarge the picture and crop out an enlarged part that will fit your paper (or screen). If you have low resolution in the camera, as you enlarge the picture it gets grainy. If you have more megapixels than you need, you can enlarge it quite a bit and still look good.

There are different rules of thumb, but the one I use says that going up approximately 1 paper size = another megapixel. Less that 1 (640x400) is good for a 3x5 image. 4x6 really needs 2 mps, 5x7 = 3 mps, 8x10 = 4 mps (at a minimum). If you enlarge a picture about 4 sizes then crop a 3x5 image out of it, you need 4 mps. If you crop an 8x10 out of it, after enlarging, you need about 7 mps. Some will nitpick the numbers I used, but the logic is correct,

Digital zoom does the same thing, only still in the camera. When you use digital zoom, the camera enlarges the picture to something bigger than the camera can display, then crops it to fit in the display. If you don't have enough megapixels, the picture is crappy.

So, you strike a happy medium some place. Most of the cameras you'll see in that price range had 3x optical and some number, perhaps 8x to 10x, digitial. 3x times 10x is 30x total zoom. My wife's HP is a 5 megapixel with that zoom arrangement. If I try to use the entire zoom, the picture only looks good as a thumbnail. Try to blow it up to, say, about 5x7, and it gets really grainy. However, without the digital zoom, I get a beautiful 8x10, and can maybe enlarge and crop it just a little.

I wanted at least one camera in my family with a little more zoom, so I spent a little more money, sacriced a little in the megapixel factor, and got a Nikon Coolpix with 8.3x optical and 3x digital, with 4 mps. It was just a tad over 3 bills at Sam's Club. That was 6 months ago; it's probably totally out of date, by now.

The other thing to keep in mind is that the more optical zoom you have, the more room the lens mechanism will take, and the larger the camera will be. Betsy's HP707 is nice for the pocket (although not as small as some others); my Nikon will fit in my pocet if I want to look like a dork and lean to one side when I walk.

frank_f15
11-07-2005, 06:54 PM
Murph , my current camera is an OLYMPUS C750 ultra zoom (about 2 years old) i bought this particular one because it was 4 MP WITH A 10x optical zoom. SO many things to consider, but for $200 today , you get a Very nice camera.

PBinWA
11-08-2005, 09:41 AM
I wouldn't be too concerned about MegaPixels for a general purpose camera. You might want to check out the other digital camera features like VGA Video (640x480) and the startup lag time.

This site is a really good for comparison shopping.

http://www.dpreview.com

I think in general though Canon "owns" the Amazon top seller list:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/new-for-you/top-sellers/-/photo/281052/ref=pd_ts_tb_h/002-4347023-3371229

OregonAlex
12-05-2005, 04:17 PM
for $200 the MP rating should be LAST on your list of priorities. MP in this market is the HP of the lawn tractor market. Make a decision purely on this number and price (MP/$) and you will most likely be making a bad purchase.

even for photos up to 8x10, a 3MP is fine if you don't intend to crop the original photo prior to printing at 8x10. If you intend to crop and enlarge to something this large then you will need something more like 6MP+. However, at that point you will most likely be disappointed by a $200 camera's image quality because of its lens and sensor.

In regards to zoom lens.. keep in mind that zoom lens have a low maximum aperature. The bigger the RANGE of the zoom, the longer the lens is and the more pieces it is composed of... this translates to lower the max aperature. This means lens becomes what photographers call a "slow" lens or is not able to let a lot of light into the sensor forcing you to "slow" down the shutter speed. This forces you to shoot shots at a longer shutter speed to compensate for the small aperature, which leads to blured photos or noise. When the camera see that it can not slow down the shutter speed because of inadequte light and to prevent "blurred" photos it cranks up its sensor sensitively instead. However, cranking this sensitivity will attribuite to picking up unwanted noise in the photo.

ok.. what the heck does all this mean? Unfortunately, shopping for camera is not always as simple of finding the camera with most number of MP and optical zoom for the money. The lens if very important factor (quality of the lens and maximum aperature when the lens is at its max and min zoom range, those funny numbers which appear on top of the lens of all cameras *smile*) and so is the quaility of the image sensor in the camera. Gettting a bigger zoom lens is not always helpful especially if most you photos are indoor and low light. It works against you actually. You can pretty much ignore the MP rating at this price range too.

If in doubt, just like the big three in tractors.. stick the the big four in cameras (in this order).

1. Canon
2. Nikon
3. Fuji
4. Olympus

position of #3 and #4 is debatable. ;-)


My gut tells me that Canon will be your best bet at this point. They have most everyone wiped.

oh, I own a digital Nikon Coolpix 995, and a Pentax film SLR.

Dargo
12-05-2005, 06:09 PM
I have a Nikon Coolpix 8800VR and I screwed up some setting and all of my pictures now seem to have a haze to them; like it's smoggy. Anyone know what I did? I guess I could get out that manual that looks like a phonebook, but I'd have to find it first. :o

OregonAlex
12-05-2005, 06:34 PM
I have a Nikon Coolpix 8800VR and I screwed up some setting and all of my pictures now seem to have a haze to them; like it's smoggy. Anyone know what I did? I guess I could get out that manual that looks like a phonebook, but I'd have to find it first. :o

did your dog lick the len? That is what you call a HW problem.

Gatorboy
01-18-2006, 01:54 PM
I have a Nikon Coolpix 8800VR and I screwed up some setting and all of my pictures now seem to have a haze to them; like it's smoggy.

When's the last time you cleaned your lens? A nice fingerprint on the lens can make a wonderful smoggy filter.