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-   -   Any reason not to buy a new, but older camera? (

SeaDweller May 18, 2004 9:43 AM

There's some very good deals out there on the Nikon 885/995 cameras, as well as models from other manufacturers that were top-of-the-line in their day. Is there any reason, for the average person, not to buy an older model camera if it's new in the box?

Interestingly, I've been having a devil of a time deciding on a camera, and what really throws a wrench in the gears is that the reviews of some of these 2 year old cameras seem to be better than that of the newer cameras. The Nikon 885 received rave reviews, especially on its picture quality,and doesn't seem to be plagued by some of the issues the newer cameras have, such as "chromatic abberations," etc.



Puck M May 18, 2004 11:11 AM

Digicams are like computers - a new model every few months! I recently bought a Minolta Z1,when the Z2 came out, at a substantial savings over the original price. The Z1 does everything I need, especiallyfor the price at which I purchased it. I also recently purchased a used Epson 3000z for my wife's use for about $220. This camera sold for around $900 to a $1,000 when it was introduced a few years back. It's all she needs and more! I tend to stay a bit behind the current "state of the art" to save a few bucks. As long as the item meets your needs who cares how old it is especially if you are getting NOS (new old stock) with a warranty. I even take chances with used cameras and have never had a problem it going that route either.

JimC May 18, 2004 11:35 AM

The newer models typically have more "bells, whistles and buzzers". For example: better movie modes with sound,noise reduction on long exposures, etc.

However, for general use, sometimes the older cameras can have better photo quality, because most of the older 3MP models used larger 1/1.8" (.556") sensors, compared to many of the newer 3MP models (some are using smaller, densor 1/2.5" or 1/2.7" sensors, and have higher noise levels -- especially at higher ISO Speeds).

steve May 18, 2004 11:37 AM

There are plenty of great older digicams out there for sure. Bear in mind that the review conclusions were based on existing camera standards, performance and featuresat the time the review was posted. Modern cameras for the most part are much faster at processing images now, support Plug-n-Play USB as well as direct print PictBridge and the like. Most of the chromatic problems are in the higher resolution imagers; 5, 6 and 8 megapixel models. The average user doesn't need but 3 or 4 megapixels of resolution, the rest is wasted unless printing really big prints and not many do that, the average print is 4x6"

I still have the majority of my :cool:pix's.There's a Coolpix900, 950 Millenium, 990 and 4500. They aresome of the best macro cameras ever made, it's a real shame that Nikon has decided todiscontinue the line ofswiveling lens Coolpix cameras.

The only drawback to buying an older digicam is if it needs to be serviced, manufacturers are notorious for only supporting the last couple of year's models and then the parts start getting scarce. :cry:

gibsonpd3620 May 18, 2004 5:13 PM

I think buying a new camera that is a few years old is great alongs as it meets your photography needs. One of the best cameras I owned was the Olympus C4040Z. I have since moved to the DSLR realm but that the C4040 is still in the family taking great pics.

pianoplayer88key May 18, 2004 9:23 PM

I'm looking for a small older cam myself to complement my S1 and replace my A80. I only need 1.3 megapixels (1280x960) for what I'll be using it for, and won't need any zoom (I'm thinking a fixed focal length somewhere in the 38 to 50 mm (35mm equivalent) range would be enough). I am looking for something that I can crank the ISO up (without getting much if any noticable imagenoise) and open the aperture fairly wide. I would like to spend no more than about 1/2 the price I can get for my slightly used A80. I do want some manual controls, over shutter speed, aperture, ISO, and focus (not a mechanical focus ring, though - although it'd be too nice it would make the camera too big. Anyone know of any good camera with something like a 1280x960 or comparable resolution with a 2/3" or larger sensor?

gibsonpd3620 May 19, 2004 3:44 PM

Try this link for a Nikon Coolpix 2100 refurb.

I do not anything about this vendor.


JimC May 19, 2004 4:02 PM

Sorry, but to the best of my knowledge, nobody has ever made a camera with a 2/3" CCD and 1.3 Megapixels Resolution.

However, some of the 1.3 Megapixel Models did have pretty low noise. Although these models typically used 1/3" sensors.

It's not so much the size of the CCD, as it is the size of the photosites for each pixel. The larger the photosites, the more light they can gather. As a result, less amplification (which adds noise) of the CCD signal is needed to get the same equivalent ISO Sensitivity. So, the 1.3 Megapixel Models are pretty good performers (only 1.3 Megapixels of resolution in a 1/3" CCD).

You will also want to look at things like lens brightness (aperture rating at wide angle and zoom).

A camera with a CCD with lower noise characterics will do little good, if used in a camera with a poor lens (requiring higher ISO speeds for the same lighting conditions, compared to a different model, in order to get shutter speeds as fast).

For example: F2.0 is twice as bright as F2.8 . So, if you have a camera with an F2.0 lens, it will let you use ISO 200 versus ISO 400, with the same shutter speeds, in the same lighting conditions -- all else being equal.

[Edit -- more added]:

Also, chances are, you're not going to find a fixed lens model with the features you are looking for.

The best cameras for "existing light" are DSLR's. However, you're not going to find onein your price range

Your Canon A80 is actually not too bad. I think it's Sony 4Megapixel 1/1.8" CCD is probably at the "sweet spot" (resolution versus noise) for non-DSLR models of recent manufacturer. But, you'restill going to see some noise at higher ISO speeds.

If you are "dead set" on an older model camera with decent existing light capability, you may want to try and locate something like the Epson PhotoPC 850z. Itused a 2 Megapixel 1/2" CCD (larger, less densesensor, with larger photosites, comparedto the current crop of 2 and 3 megapixel cameras). It also has the manual control you are seeking. Finally, it has a verybright lens (F2.0 at wide angle, stopping down to F2.8 at full zoom). In fact,when Steve reviewed this model in 1999, he said this in his conclusion:

"When shooting indoors in full wideangle mode I was surprised by how often the flash didn't go off, yet the pictures came out just fine"

Is it going to be noise free at higher ISO speeds? Nope! You need a DSLR with a fasst lens for reasonably low noise at higher ISO speeds. Although, it would probably be much better than some of the newer 2 and 3 Megapixel models (which are using smaller sensors).

Just bear in mind, you won't have the "bells, whistles and buzzers" of a newer model camera (things like noise reduction on longer exposures, movies with sound, etc.). You'll also see much slower camera operation from many oldermodels, and may not have as many image adjustment parameters (sharpness, contrast, saturation, etc.)

Also,a CCD tends to develop bad pixels as it ages. So, this could be cause for concern (you may not get one in pristine condition). Ditto for things like buttons, switches, contacts, etc. -- they do fail with age/use.

Here is one on Ebay now (with some minor problems, like the CF eject button not working).

pianoplayer88key May 19, 2004 5:51 PM

ok... what's the least dense sensor I can get for < $200 that's no bigger than a Canon A80 or G3? (I would like 1280x960 (1.3 megapixel) resolution, preferably.
I'm looking for something without an optical zoom (I'll be mostly taking 3/4 to full-length pics of people 6 to 8 feet away in action in low-light situations without wanting to blind them with a flash. I don't plan to enlarge them, and the only reason I'd crop is for viewing on my computer screen, not printing them. What's the best I can do for something like this?

I have a Canon S1 IS which I'm using for telephoto and decent light, and movies, and an A80 which I am looking to get something cheaper that performs better in low light. A dSLR is too expensive, too big, and I don't need the interchangeable lens capability, high resolution (6mp - 1.3mp is just fine), etc.

Oh, I DO want an optical viewfinder. Would I be correct to assume that most little-to-no-zoom cams didn't have an EVF?

Mike OR May 19, 2004 6:55 PM

You guys in the States should count yourselves lucky. Here in the UK most camera stores, at the moment, are reluctant to trade digicams, either buying or selling. It's pretty much the same with computers.
Mike OR - pianoaccordionplayer41keys :-)

The Doctor May 20, 2004 4:47 PM

Let tell you a short summary of a bad experience. I like to buy older versions to save money. When I went to PriceGrabber, the site said the camera was in stock, on PriceGrabber. They had over 1400 reviews, only 7 bad. Needless to say I did not get it right away. I ordered it on March 28. They billed on March 30. They changed the status of the order from Processing to Shipping on April 14. I called many times. Three of the times I had them call their warehouse and found out it was not in stock. I wanted to cancel and they said they would take a 15% restocking fee. Even on a camera that was not in stock. I went to their site and searched for the camera. It did not come up. But PriceGrabber still had it listed as in stock. I wrote a bad review and sent it to PriceGrabber and PriceGrabber never published it. I went to other low price sites that advertised on PriceGrabber that it was in stock. They did not have it on their web page. I had to go to the 8th price up before I found it on the web page. CAVEAT: Don't trust PriceGrabber. Look at the site. Call and have them look in their inventory. Look at the policy for the site before you order. Don't believe the rating list at PriceGrabber. Don't let them String you along when you are buying Online.

Mikefellh May 21, 2004 12:20 PM

Regarding "The Doctor"'s post, before you buy from a company you never dealt with before (either online or offline) check out to see if there have been complaints about that company. Also, before buying online or from certain areas in New York, check out this article:,107855,00.asp

As for buying an older camera, I'm all for it (up to a point). Personally I bought an Oly C-700 when the current model was the 720 and the 730 was going to be announced in a month (but I didn't know about it)...I saved $200 on my purchase because the store wanted to get rid of the older camera. I said "up to a point" because some older digicams were very basic and didn't have any features (like not being able to view the pictures you've taken). Check out Steve's Reviews before buying as well.

Also, if you live in a big city you may have a (trustworthy) camera outlet store that deals specifically with older in Toronto, I have the Henry's Outlet Store to go to:

SeaDweller May 21, 2004 1:50 PM

Thanks everyone.............I decided to bite the bullet and go with a Sony DSC-V1. I figured this is something I'll have for a long time, and to jump through flaming hoops to save a hundred bucks or so didn't make sense.

I hope my decision isa wise one! ;)

Setiprime May 21, 2004 2:28 PM

Steve had the right idea folks -

I pack my "old" nikon 5700 in my car. Its a great "just in case" backup tool.

It still takes some of the finest macros you can imagine. It should be good for a long, long time.

Not woth the $1000.00 I paid for it on the E-bay circuit - so I'll keep it.

My "new" Canon 300D will probably end up the same way !!

atlantagreg May 22, 2004 10:25 AM

gibsonpd3620 wrote:

Try this link for a Nikon Coolpix 2100 refurb.

I do not anything about this vendor.


If you live near a "BJs Wholesale Warehouse", they have the newer 2200 brand new for only $20.00 more than this.

atlantagreg May 22, 2004 10:33 AM

One thing to keep in mind too, is that "back then" (meaning 3-4 years ago or so), digicam makers were not caught up in the production wars they are now.

In the late 90s, many makers only came out with a very small handful of digicams per year. This was of course, because it was new and fewer people were buying them, but it also resulted in their taking the TIME to make sure quality stuff went out as well. Today, it's more of the mentality on their part of, "How can we save a dollar, have fewer quality control employees, and still crank out 50 new models this year?!?".

Case in point: The older D-460 and 490 Olympuses were very well made, and had excellent lenses and image processing. They were around $400 to $600 when new, too.The 460 was only 1.3MP but can take better photos than most ofthe new entry level 2MP models you see today. The Olympus 2100uz is a classic. Can be had now for under $400 if you look around, but was around $1,200 when new, but still takes better photos and has more features than some of the new models being made today. In other words, like most things in this world, older items were made with more thought and care than new stuff which is meant to be "disposable" (even digicams).

As Steve mentioned, warranties and supportcan be an issue with older models so take that into consideration. But this is a great time to look for older models, because we're now far enough along that you CAN get a 3 year old camera that takes good photos, and save $$.

pianoplayer88key May 23, 2004 1:49 AM

Any idea what would be a good 1.3 megapixel fixed-zoom (38 to 50mm range) for low-light fast shutter available light shooting? My Canon S1 IS is way too noisy for some things I want to do at ISO 400, and I don't want an EOS 1Ds (I don't need 11 megapixels) or an EOS 1D Mk 2 (don't need 8 megapixels) or a Rebel (as with the other two, I don't need interchangeable lenses here either for what I'll be using it for).
This camera will strictly be an in-my-pocket camera for low-light no-flash pictures of active people within 10-15 feet of me (with 3/4 of the person fitting in the frame - a head + shoulders + half torso shot would be at about 4 to 5 feet away or so.

Alan T May 23, 2004 3:22 AM

One good reason to buy older rather than newer is the creeping prevalence (or technical advance, as the manufacturers would say) of proprietary Li-ion rechargeable batteries.

AA and AAA size Ni-MH batteries and chargers are extraordinarily cheap, robust and universal. Once you know the rules (keep several sets, and keep them topped up with a universal smart charger, ready for action) they're the best batteries ever, for all sorts of portable devices.

Perhaps Li-ion will soon achieve similar usefulness and universality, but it hasn't yet.

This is a good example of the way market forces cause cycles in consumer goods. The latest technology often works better, but at a high cost, and all the manufacturers follow each other at the expense of the user, while they're working on common standards and cheapness. To achieve the technical advance, there's occasionally a great leap backwards in convenience and upwards in cost. At present digicam prices are the lowest ever, but there are hidden costs in batteries and chargers.

May 23, 2004 3:42 AM

If I had to buy an older model camera today, it would be an Olympus C2100UZ...without question, Maybe 50% of my site pics were made with this 2.1MP camera & many 8x10 prints have been ( & they kick ass)! I wish I had kept mine...easy to use, good pics, great images...what more do yoiu want?

Alan T May 23, 2004 3:51 AM

gibsonpd3620 wrote:

One of the best cameras I owned was the Olympus C4040Z....the4040 is still in the family taking great pics.
I have been kicking myself for trading in my Oly 3020Z when I bought my Casio QV5700. I like my newer camera, generally, but I have any number of family members now needing a digicam, and the Olympus would have been perfect for them, and quite often for me as well. I've gained some pixels, but not a lot else.

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