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Old Nov 6, 2005, 8:10 PM   #1
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I have a Nikon Coolpix 4500, 4.0 MP 4x zoom,which is way too complicated for me. If I had a month to study the very long manual I might like it better, but I think I'd do better with something smaller which fewer settings. The delay from the time I "snap" the picture and the time the picture is actually taken is maddening.

I want something I can easily carry with me in my purse, that gets good color, that I can use to take some macro shots. I want to easily email photos and it wouldn't hurt to be able to connect it to my laptop & use it as a webcam.

Is there a basic inexpensive digital camera that would meet my needs and be simple for me to use as a beginner?

Or maybe I should just take a month off and learn to use my camera!

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Old Nov 8, 2005, 6:05 PM   #2
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I have heard the Kodak photo share cameras are really easy to use. There are also many different price ranges.

Good Luck!
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Old Nov 8, 2005, 9:10 PM   #3
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Short Answer:

If you want a web cam, buy a web cam (they're cheap and designed for that purpose). If you want a decent camera for macros, use a swivel bodied Coolpix model like your 4500. IMO, even if you don't learn how to use all of it's features (like Aperture Priority and Best Shot Selector), it's still going to take closeups that are just as good or better than any of the newer compact models you'll find.

You'll need to practice with any camera you buy to learn it's behavior and how to get the best out of it, and you've already got the camera I'd recommend for macros (even though it's a discontinued model now).

Long Winded Answer:

You can always use the camera in P (Programmed Auto) mode and not mess with the settings. Then, if/when you want to learn how to get more out of it's features (for example, when you want better macros), learn a little at a time (for example, practice and see what impact settings and techniques have on the images).

Many of the photos you see in the reviews here were taken with a Swivel Bodied Nikon Coolpix model (990, 995, 4500). Steve has probably reviewed more cameras than anyone around over the years. So, when someone like Steve uses one for his own closeups, you can bet that it's a pretty good tool for the job. See Steve's comments in this thread:


If you want to see how detailed the closeups from one of these cameras can be,here is a photo of a cointhat Steve tookwith an old 3MPNikon Coolpix 990 (straight from the camera with nomodifications or cropping). You 4500 can do just as well (but I'm sure Steve used a tripod for this one since the aperture used was small and the shutter times were long).


One of the benefits of a camera like this one is that it also has an Aperture Priority Mode.

If you look at closeups directly from a camera (especially a small subject that's not flat), you'll often see one part in focus and another that's not.. A compact model will have greater depth of field for any given aperture compared to a 35mm camera. But, for very small subjects, Depth of Field can still be a problem.

If you use a larger Aperture (smaller f/stop numbers), less of your subject will be in focus. This can hurt you for some subjects (since Depth of Field becomes very shallow as you get closer to your subject, as you do with closeups).

That means with many cameras you may be trying to photograph a small object and can onlly get the front part in focus (when you need more of the subject to be in focus).

Unfortunately,mostmodels will automatically use the widest aperture in low light (which results in faster shutter speeds). But, that also means the shallowest depth of field (less of the image in focus as you get further away or closer to the camera from the point you focused on).

Cameras like your Nikon Coolpix 4500 allow you to use a smaller aperture for greater depth of field (more of the subject in focus as you get further away from your focus point) via an Aperture Priority Mode (something missing on most compact models).

The most difficult part to getting good closeups is going to be learning tolight your subjects,finding appropriate backgrounds and compositions to help subjects look better (something you'll need to practice at with any camera you choose).

If I wanted a camera mostly for taking macros, I'd stick with your Nikon Coolpix 4500 (or one of the older "swivel bodied" Nikon Coolpix models). Most professional reviewers agree that these cameras (swivel bodied Nikon models)have the best macro mode in the business. They can "fill the frame" with a subject about 2/3" across with virtually no distortion (since the "sweet spot" for macros is at around half zoom). The camera even lets you know when your zoom setting is at this sweet spot in macro mode (the Flower Icon changes color).

Most other models need to use one extreme or the other for zoom settings in macro mode (most want you to be at a lens wide angle setting where you'll get the most distortion).

As for speed, they are not "speed demons" :-)

You do learn to time your shots better uising one. The trick with a camera like this is to prefocus first (half press of the shutter button, letting the camera focus). Then, at the right moment, press the shutter button the rest of the way down to take the photo.

I've owned two of the swivel bodied Nikon models myself (Coolpix 950, 990, and I still have the 950).. I used the 950 at a party not long ago. I love the swivel body on these cameras, since you can take candid shots from waist level more easily, or hold the camera over your head for framing in a crowd. It's also great for macros (point the lens at your subject with the LCD towards you for easier framing. They do teach you to shoot more deliberately if you're used to a faster camera, though (and that can be a good thing)..

There are a lot of cameras on the market now. You can see some that are deemed to be a good value in the Best Cameras List here. Make sure to read the review conclusion section for models you consider, too (that's where you'll see a camera's strengths and weaknesses discussed).

But, for macros (and that is the only subject type you mentioned other than wanting a camera that could be used as a web cam), I'd stick with what you have. It's a very fine camera for that purpose. I still suggest to someone looking for a good macro camera that they buy one of these Swivel Bodied Nikon models used (since they're discontinued now).

As for e-maiilng photos, that's a software issue. There are a number of image viewers and editors designed to let you easily resize and e-mail photos. One example of a very easy to use (and free) image editor/viewer is Picasa from Google (and there are many more).

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