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Old Nov 27, 2004, 5:50 PM   #1
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My sister called me this morning (from Virginia) and said she wants to get a digital camera and would prefer to spend no more than $300.
She will probably be mostly printing 4x6" prints, and maybe some 5x7, but will probably not be doing any 8x10s. (would 3 megapixels be enough?)
She wants a basic point & shoot that takes good pictures.
Also she wants a good quality movie with sound that can take at least 2 or more minutes at a time. (she didn't specify, but I'm thinking something like 640x480 at 30fps or so).
She wants a flash that's a little bit "off" the camera to help reduce redeye. I suggested a pop-up flash and mentioned external flash units but she would be most likely grabbing the camera to take a picture which brings me to another point...
This camera would need to have minimal shutter lag and fast focusing (better than my Canon S1 IS for example) as she will often be taking pictures or videos of her kids (one is almost 2 and another is on the way we think within the next week or so).
She would prefer AA batteries instead of Li-Ion.
Also she said a 3x zoom would be fine for her. I didn't tell her about this part, but I think it would be nice to find her a camera whose aperture doesn't stop down very far past F/2.8 or F/3.1 or so when zoomed in.
Also is there anything that's in her price range that isn't too noisy at high ISO's? (for those shots indoors when she maybe doesn't want to use the flash and doesn't want the little ones to be blurred) My A80 (which only does 30 seconds of 640x480x15fps) video was marginal but somewhat usable at ISO 400. I like the way the Canon G6 or Olympus C-7000 pics look on imaging resource, but she only wants to spend $300. Also she doesn't care how big the camera is, but I'm pretty sure she doesn't want an SLR. We didn't discuss any specifics, but I would think a Canon G-series would be an OK size, or maybe a Panasonic FZ series, but a Sony F717 or F828 would be bordering on big. She would probably prefer a smaller camera if possible though.
One camera she saw in the store is the Sony DSC-P93, but I'm not sure that camera would be a good model for her.
What would you think would be a good camera?
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Old Nov 28, 2004, 7:06 AM   #2
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3 MP is good for up to 8x10 photos (with little or no cropping).

A way to narrow down your search would be to use a buyers guide to help you find a suitable camera. http://www.imaging-resource.com has a good buyers guide, as do other sites.

At http://www.dpreview.com you can click on cameras (in the list of links on the left) to bring up a screen with several manufacturers listed. Try browsing through the manufacturers: click on one and you'll see a list of current cameras with a few basic specs (such as zoom).

Once you finda fewyou like you should read the reviews (here and on other websites)of the cameras to decide which one would be the best for your sister.

Visit a few websites that offer a current price comparison to get an idea of the approximate value. Then, go out and buy!
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Old Nov 28, 2004, 8:56 AM   #3
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If I'm not mistaken, most Canon cameras lack in speed and since most of them don't have long movie modes, I'd suggest another brand, even tho Canon makes some very good cameras. I have never tried those cameras, but maybe the Sony P73 would be good enough for her, its 4mp, so it will enable her to crop a bit if she needs, according to Imaging ressource it has some good low light perfomance and its very fast. As most Sony camera it may have a bit high noise reduction, but I assume it shouldn't be too dramatic at4x6 or 5x7.
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Old Nov 29, 2004, 2:04 AM   #4
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canon SD200 has a great movie mode and is one of the highest quality 3mp cameras

it uses a lithium battery which means she wouldnt have to run to get AA batts all the time

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Old Dec 2, 2004, 1:12 AM   #5
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Thanks for the suggestions on the websites. My sis doesn't need an ultracompact as far as I know. I just think an SLR-size might be a little too much for her.

So, considering the $300 limit (not including memory) what is a good camera that...
takes good 4x6 prints without having to fiddle with the settings (although one that lets you change them if you want might be ok but she's mostly going to be having to capture "that critical moment" - baby's first steps, etc.)
has very little shutter lag (to capture those precious moments) - for example 10 or more times better than my Canon S1 IS
takes 640x480 30fps video with sound for at least 2 or 3 minutes, and lets you use the zoom lens while filming and has continuous autofocus while taking movies
has a fast lens - for example no darker than F/3.2 or F/3.5 at telephoto
doesn't have an overly packed sensor unless the camera has good noise reduction - I want her to be able to get good shots even in less-than-daylight brightness without a flash (although she will probably be using a camera with a pop-up flash).

On those sites, there were still too many cameras coming up and I couldn't find out easily of it would let you use autofocus and zoom while taking movies, and based on the lens it looked like some of them stopped down to something like F/4.5 or slower at telephoto zoom.

She doesn't need a 10x optical zoom - besides the Canon S1 IS has too dense of a sensor, too slow shutter lag, and too soft pics, but it does have the good movie mode. She wants to take still pics too so she's not looking for a camcorder.
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Old Dec 2, 2004, 11:47 AM   #6
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She might like the Kodak DX7440. It does not have all of the exact requirements you've listed, but it is a good all-around camera in your sister's price range ($299.95 MSRP). It uses Li-ion batteries, but they hold a charge for a long time, and they are not terribly expensive, so it's not unthinkable to buy one or even two extras. They are much smaller and lighter than AA batteries. Here are some of the 7440 specs off the Web site.


"High-speed, low-light, auto-focus: Using dual-sensing technologies, the DX7440's high-speed, low-light, auto-focus system precisely fine tunes and sharply defines your subject in both low-light and bright light situations"

Continuous auto-focus provides quick 0.3 seconds click-to-capture time

image resolution: 4.0 MP

JPEG compression: standard and fine

zoom: 4X optical zoom -- 5.5-21.8 mm (35 mm equivalent: 33-132 mm)

aperture: wide: f/2.8-5.6; tele: f/4.8-9.5

burst mode: First burst mode -- 2 fps, up to 6 frames in sequence Last burst mode -- up to 30 frames at 2 fps, with last 6 frames saved

click to capture: 0.2 seconds (preview on)

shot to shot: 1.2 seconds (preview on)

movie capture: video with audio capture/playback

movie image resolution:
VGA (640x480 pixels) at 13 fps
QVGA (320x240 pixels) at 24 fps

movie length: limited by memory card capacity or 5, 15, or 30 second clips

movie file format:
Still: JPEG/EXIF v2.2; Video: QuickTime MOV (MPEG-4 compression)

weight: without batteries: 224 g (7.9 oz.)

dimensions: WxHxD: 100.3x69.2x40.2 mm (4.0x2.7x1.6 in.)
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Old Dec 2, 2004, 1:01 PM   #7
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Rochchacha chick wrote:

"Continuous auto-focus provides quick 0.3 seconds click-to-capture time"

does this include having to focus if the autofocus is focused on something at infinity and the subject is 4 feet away?

"JPEG compression: standard and fine"

on "fine" are the images at least as good of a quality as superfine on a Canon A80?

"aperture: wide: f/2.8-5.6; tele: f/4.8-9.5"

I think a lens that only stops down to F/2.4 or F/3.2 or something like that at telephoto would be better - for example wide range as wide open as F/1.8 or F/2.0 (but maybe F/2.8 is ok), and telephoto preferably something like F/2.4, but F/2.8 and maybe F/3.2 is probably acceptable.

"movie image resolution:
VGA (640x480 pixels) at 13 fps
QVGA (320x240 pixels) at 24 fps"

she wants good quality video so I was thinking 640x480 at 30 fps

"movie length: limited by memory card capacity or 5, 15, or 30 second clips"

not 2 or 3 minutes or more depending on what memory card she puts in? btw she wants to spend about $50 for a memory card and I would like her to be able to get a 512MB high speed card or a 1GB standard card.

also, how noisy is it at ISO 200 or 400 or (if it has that option) 800? I hope it's not any worse at ISO 400 than the Canon A80 is at ISO 200 or the Canon G6 is at ISO 400.
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Old Dec 2, 2004, 1:45 PM   #8
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Player, you would probably get more out of reading Steve's reviews than I can give you. Here's the link to the DX7440.

Compare it to his reviews of any other makes and models you are considering.

I use a 256MB card, and I haven't taken any video clips that have exceeded the capacity.
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