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Old Oct 19, 2006, 4:49 PM   #1
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I have a friend who wants a digital camera. She's expecting to spend $150-200 for a model. She wants something simple and not too hard to use. But reliable and nice for the young lady.

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Old Oct 19, 2006, 9:22 PM   #2
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Canon A530. Check out the review on this site.
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Old Oct 20, 2006, 1:55 AM   #3
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The cameras in the $150-$200 range that really impress me are:

Canon A540
6.0 megapixel
1/2.5" CCD, ISO 800, 11.5 ft. flash
big 2.5" LCD (85k pixels), also has viewfinder
uses AA batteries
1.70" thick -- not going to be comfortable in your pocket

Nikon Coolpix L6
6.0 megapixel
1/2.5" CCD, ISO 800, 16.4 ft. flash
big 2.5" LCD (115k pixels)
uses AA batteries
1.02" thick

Fuji FinePix F20
6.3 megapixel
big 1/1.7" CCD, ISO 1600, 21.3 ft. flash, awesome indoor and low-light performance
big 2.5" LCD (153k pixels)
doesn't use AA batteries ... proprietary battery lasts for about 300 shots
1.05" thick

All of those cameras are very solid feeling, and after playing with a LOT of cameras in that price range, I really like all of them. It really depends on how important low light pictures are (you can basically use the Fuji anywhere without the flash) and how important pocket-sized is to you. If you don't care about flashless pictures and you don't care about size, go with the Canon.

The Nikon didn't get the best review from Steve because it's not the fastest as far as shot-to-shot speed, but it's my number one choice for a pocket camera (except for the fact that the Fuji F20 and F30 can take great pictures indoors without the flash, and I really like that). Actually, Steve only reviewed the L3, not the L6, but they're pretty similar.

All of those cameras are carried by Best Buy, so you should go play with them for awhile to get a better idea of what you like. Best Buy has pretty good lighting, and I was just totally amazed by how good the Fuji F20's pictures were when I disabled the flash ... I was also amazed by how bad the other cameras were. When you turn off the flash, the $400 Canon Elph SD800 isn't any better than the $131 Nikon L3 or the $169 Nikon L6.

Keep in mind the number of pixels on the LCD. I'm surprised how often I look at pictures in my camera and pass it around to show other people. The Fuji has really low resolution, whereas the Fuji has really high resolution, so things are much sharper.

Just go to a store and play around with cameras for an hour and rank your priorities as far as size vs. performance vs. low-light capability vs. zoom, etc.

The Canon 540 has a 4X zoom ... the other ones only have a 3X zoom. Also, the Fuji uses xD memory cards, which cost more than the SD cards the other ones use ... xD is about twice as much as SD; a 1GB xD card is about $40, a 1GB SD card is about $20.

Like KALEL33 said, the Canon 530 is also a pretty good camera. If you want to spend less than $150, you can check out the Canon 530, which is $133, and it's about the same as the Canon 540, except the 530 is 5 megapixel and only has a 1.8" screen. Also, if you want to go cheaper and get a pocket camera, the Nikon L3 is pretty good. The L3 is $131, and the only real difference between the L3 and the L6 is that the L3 is 5 megapixel and only has a 2.0" screen. The L3 is also supposed to be a little worse in low light (the L6 is ISO 800), but I had a hard time telling the difference; the L3 seemed about the same when I turned the flash off.

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