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Digital Camera
photogeek
crschmidt
Since most of the response I got on my last entry seemed positive about the digital cameras, I figure I can write another entry and ask for more specific advice.

First, I'll state that if money were no object, I'd probably go with a Canon Digital Rebel, or some other equivilant SLR: EOS 350D catches my eye. However, my price range is "Less than $400", which the Digital Rebel doesn't fall into even in the second hand category. Since I don't have any significant lens investment currently, there's not a lot to be lost by skipping that. At some point when I'm rich and famous, I may switch to an actual SLR, but for now, I think I'll pass.

I'm looking for something that is:
  • Nicely weighted. My current camera doesn't have much heft to it, so it's easy to shake around a lot when taking a picture. Something that I can get both hands on is good.
  • 4 Megapixels or higher, preferably 5.
  • Good low light capabilities -- Quick to focus and take pictures.
  • Preferably some manual settings. I'd like to be able to manually focus and have aperture or shutter priority options. 1


The first thing that caught my eye was the Kodak Z740. It's a bit smaller than what I had in mind originally, but seems to be pretty well specced. Some things that it doesn't have that I would like it to have are manual focus, and external flash. The manual focus is mostly to make it so that I actually think before I take a picture - manually focusing makes me spend a bit of time composing rather than just snapping shots, which is my main problem with the current camera I have.

Fuji Finepix 5200Z is a more expensive camera, but seems to have more weight to it. It also has the manual focus that I'd like, and what looks like an actual lens sticking out the front, so I could do focusing with that. (Most of the cheaper manual focus cameras, like minoltas, appear to have focus through softbuttons.)

Konica Milota DImage Z10 is cheap, but I got some advice against them from people commenting on the previous post.

Are there some options I'm missing in the sub-$400 SLR-like range? Any experience with any of these? Should I bother with the manual focus, or just accept that the camera can do that better than I could anyway?

I've had a lot of problems with the time required to focus my current Kodak, and it seems like none of their low end models offer a manual focus, so I'm concerned about what that could get me. I don't have any experience with digital cameras other than the CX4230 from Kodak I have, which is slow to focus, slow to take pictures, and really crappy in low light. I can't hold it with two hands effectively, and it takes about 60 seconds to turn on. It's relatively low megapixel-wise, which means no 8x10 size prints. Ability to record short video clips of the girls would also be nice - I'd eventually like to get a camcorder (despite Jess's wishes against it) to do video recordings, but would also love to just be able to snap something quick from the camera, which most of the models seem to have.

Would love any feedback people want to offer on my choices or their personal experiences.

1: In "Aperture Priority" mode, the camera allows you to select the aperture over the available range and have the camera calculate the best shutter speed to expose the image correctly. In "Shutter Priority" mode, you can select the shutterspeed over the available range and have the camera calculate the best aperture to expose the image correctly. (Definitions from Dpreview Glossary.) Back

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Don't forget to think about "good lens". The killer feature of my camera is that the lens is crazy fast and I don't have to worry about lighting pretty much ever. I'm not up on the current crop of digital cameras but spend time evaluating the speed and quality of the lens, since that makes or breaks the pictures way easier than any other feature.

This totally the kind of advice that I should have listened before buying my own digital camera.

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