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Old Nov 26, 2009, 4:43 AM   #1
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Default The best pictures with the least knowledge

Looking for a camera for my Dad for Christmas. He has no patience with technology, despite having been a software engineer for 30 years. But, he's interested in cameras, so he might learn some.

What I'm looking for is the camera that takes the best pictures, but requires the least knowledge to use.

Right now, I'm looking at the Panasonic FS7, the Sony W180, W190, and W230.

The Sony brand is a plus because I have him buy Sony televisions and there's some integration thing (I think) where you can plug your camera into the TV and control the camera (viewing pictures on it or what not) with your TV's remote control. I've been assuming that's the case saw that awhile back. Now that I think about it though, I need to verify it. And, the Memory Stick format is a minus.

Now, most of what I've seen about the FS-7 is that if you don't mind giving up features, it's a neat little camera. Giving up features is not only something I don't mind, but it's what I want. Unfortunately, some site I've never heard of before, GoodGearGuide.com seems to be the only site that's reviewed most of these cameras. It says that the Sony W230 is particularly good for beginners even though in the review it mentions features I don't think dad would need. So, they'd just be cluttering things up, making the camera that much more difficult to use? It reviews the W180 and pans image quality, but points out the lack of features is the whole point of this camera. There is no review of the W190 on that site.

Anyway, I just think there's a difference between ease of use for a photographer and ease of use for an end user who doesn't know anything about photography. My dad doesn't want to be a photographer, he just wants to take pictures.

I'm really thinking it may even be worth it to step down in image quality to the W180 because he really does not want to fuss with complication.


Anyway, advice?
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Old Nov 26, 2009, 9:50 AM   #2
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levander-

I personally do not think that there is enough integration between Sony products to warrant your focus on Sony. The W-series cameras are quite small and very light, for some folks lacking manual dexterity these cameras take on a "greased pig" like personality.

I would tend to think of cameras like the Kodak Z-915. Kodak is noted for simplicity, and the Z-915 was just named one of the "Ten Top Digital Cameras of 2009" by Cnet. The Z-915 uses 2 AA batteries, so there is no funky charger and charging batteries. It has large buttons. It has a nice zoom lens with 10X optical zoom and a fairly powerful flash insuring good photos indoors, as long as the camera to subject distance is 10 to 12 feet.

Take a look at the Z-915, it might fill the bill nicely.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Sarah Joyce

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Old Nov 26, 2009, 4:38 PM   #3
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All the reviews I've seen, they say Sony has improved in recent models how small the dial was on the back of the camera. In Steve's review of the W230, he said that even his fairly large hands were able to use the camera easily.

My dad travels with a laptop and won't be a heavy user of the camera. I don't think he'll use much the thing where you can just change the batteries out in the field like using AA's let you. Just having a charger he plugs into the wall would probably be easier for him.

I'll go look at the Kodak cameras.
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Old Nov 26, 2009, 4:56 PM   #4
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Currently, I'm preferring the W180 over the W230. I don't think Dad will use the scene modes, and having the scene mode dial on the back of the W230 will just make the camera look more confusing. I gathered that after talking to few family members after Thanksgiving meal. It's just a hunch but I feel pretty good about it.

But, the FS-7 only has one dial on the back, and it has optical image stabilization. Don't know if optical image stabilization is important to me or not yet.
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Old Nov 26, 2009, 7:19 PM   #5
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Well I'm not sure you've looked at any of these as I didn't read your post throughly but these camera's are "Small" credit card or a bit more in size..
They just don't look and feel like something that is worth that much money.

There are alot of smaller excellent camers's like:
Panasonic ZR1 ,ZS1,ZS3
Canon A1000 (rated high in consumer reports) and the 780 thats suppose to be great for low-light
Fuji F70exr and F200exr
and alot more
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Old Nov 26, 2009, 9:11 PM   #6
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CASD, I'm looking for something easy to use. Ease of use being more important than image quality.

Ease of use for a non-photographer. Someone who doesn't want to be a photographer, just wants to take pictures.
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Old Nov 26, 2009, 9:13 PM   #7
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mtclimber, apparently the Kodak Z915 is like a step up, got more features than a bare level. The Kodak M1093 also won one of Cnet's "best of" awards and is just the bare bones thing. It looks like a well done little camera, but boy is it ugly.

So ugly, I may even shy away from it.

But, it's definitely a nice little camera.
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Old Nov 27, 2009, 3:17 PM   #8
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Well, I'm pretty much done looking around.

I looked at the Amazon reviews for the W180. It just seems that even though regular people don't know as much as pros who review the cams, most people who ended up with the camera in their hands, they didn't like it because of "oily" looking photos. And really that goodgearguide.com.au I linked abvoe that said the W180 photos were good enough, I don't really know how expert they are. Could have just been some joe hired to review cameras.

The Panasonic FS7, those couple of extra buttons on the camera that I didn't know what they are, they're there for like quick access to various features on the camera. But, Dad's not gonna use that features. If they had a camera with even more of a simplified interface, I'd get the FS7.

It came down to the Kodak M1093 and the Canon SD1200 IS. The M1093 is faster, the SD1200 takes a little better pictures. Although, neither camera does good in low light. You're not gonna get good performance in a camera this simple and in this price range. If low light is important to you, it looks like the FS7, with a slightly more complicated interface is your best bet.

The SD1200 has coating on the LCD that reduces glare. That M1093 doesn't.

But, features and controls which is what I was most interested in. I like how the SD1200 ha a slider on the back that you can just switch to "Auto" and the camera makes all the decisions. If you don't want to know about any of the extra settings, just don't switch that slide into "Program" mode. And, the third option on the slide is "Movie". Making it very easy to take some video if you want. The M1093 has a "Mode" button that lets you switch between "Auto" and all the scene modes. But, every time you boot the camera, it starts in "Auto". Not a great solution, but for somebody who doesn't want to be bothered with the extra features, it works.

But, Steve, with his large hands, panned how easy it was to punch the flat buttons on the SD1200. He said he was able to work the controls on the back of the M1093 just fine.
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Old Nov 28, 2009, 11:07 PM   #9
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Quote:
... been a software engineer for 30 years ...
I'm a retired software engineer myself. Honestly, I think you're making a mountain out of a molehill over these control layout issues. For the sake of quality I would quickly narrow this down to the Canon SD1200 or Panny FS7. Only it's actually the FS15 that is usually priced with the SD1200.

wude Kelly
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Old Nov 29, 2009, 4:19 AM   #10
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Quote:
Honestly, I think you're making a mountain out of a molehill over these control layout issues.
My dad and my sister both have cameras. Neither of them use them because they don't understand them. They'll actually say, "I couldn't get it to work". I've seen their pictures. They look awful.

I ended up with the Kodak M-1093. Very few buttons. And that Mode button on top, when you press it, there are just four options. One of them is scene. So, as long as you don't go down in scene, you can completely ignore the 17 or how many ever scene modes there are that the average point and shoot person never uses. Ignoring that one option after pressing the "Mode" button is a hell of a lot easier for a person who doesn't know what's going on than it is to ignore a dial with like 10 different scene options on it.

I can just press the "Mode" button for them and say, "ignore this, this, and this" and you should be good to go, as long as its well lit in the room. Or, I can just tell them if the thing isn't working, to turn it on and off, as when the M1093 turns on, it starts in auto mode.
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