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suggestions for digital camera under $300

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8 replies to this topic

#1 of 9 OFFLINE   AricB


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Posted December 20 2004 - 03:47 AM

I've just recently been looking for a digital camera, preferably under $300, under $200 would be nice. My main priorities would be something that obviously takes quality pics, has flash, compact, storage amount, decent battery life and compatability with a Mac for downloading pics.

I think my main use will be candid shots of people and possibly some scenic places while traveling. I have a traditional slr with zoom lenses for action photos.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

#2 of 9 OFFLINE   Peter McM

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Posted December 21 2004 - 12:32 AM

Among the highest rated compact digicams is the Konica Minolta Dimage G500/G530. Boasting 5 megapixel, great image quality, and most users report outstanding low-light performance. I saw the 530 advertised at HH Gregg for $249 this week.

Battery life of just about all digital cameras is notorously short, so I recommend an extra rechargeable battery pack. Recharger comes with the camera.

Most digicams come with no more than 16MB internal memory, which is bare minimum. 256MB memory cards can be had for a mere fraction of what they used to go for.

Compatability with Mac won't be a problem; the included software will be comatable with either that or PC.

I'm a film user, but I'm a Minolta loyalist, so I encourage you to check out the G530.
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#3 of 9 OFFLINE   Sam Posten

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Posted December 21 2004 - 02:38 AM

Canon A85 hands down. =)

If you are a SLR user you will probably hate not being able to set focus manually, at least not with SLR precision.


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#4 of 9 OFFLINE   ManW_TheUncool



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Posted December 21 2004 - 11:56 AM

Hmmm... Geeh, seems like I just replied to this post a few minutes ago over in another HT forum. :wink:

Sam, somehow, I doubt he(?)'s a manual focusing type though since he plans to stick w/ his film SLR for shooting action -- I could be wrong of course. I'm guessing he's far more likely to be frustrated by the generally weak AF performance of cheap compacts and possibly the smaller dynamic range compared to good 35mm film. He mentioned a desire to use it for people candids, and weak AF performance (and the lag) will probably be painful for that.

My suggestion? Since he already owns a film SLR, maybe he should consider saving more $$$ and go for a matching, entry level DSLR instead, if size/portability is not the issue. Pricing for entry level DSLRs is coming down pretty fast nowadays.

But if going w/ a DSLR is not an option, I strongly recommend checking out the various choices in person first. Doing so could very well change his mind altogether.


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#5 of 9 OFFLINE   Sam Posten

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Posted December 22 2004 - 04:56 AM

Valid points Man-Fai. Two biggest reasons I couldnt settle for a Digicam were the shutter lag and inability to manually focus. With the terrible shutter lag the issues with autofocus arent even, um, measurable, since you dont know WHAT will be in your frame when the shutter actually goes off.

Pricing for entry level DSLRs is coming down pretty fast

Even more so with the rampant rumors of a Digital Rebel "Mark 2" incoming =)

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#6 of 9 OFFLINE   SarahG


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Posted December 22 2004 - 06:04 AM

Canon A85 hands down. =)

I have the A70 and while the specs are a bit different than the 85, the 70 is a good camera. I imagine the A85 is that much better.
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#7 of 9 OFFLINE   Ed B

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Posted January 05 2005 - 04:21 PM

I have a week old Canon A95 and I also own a Fuji 2800. IMO you cant top Canon they're awesome. I've seen my relatives pics from Kodacs and Olys and seen pics from almost all the Fujis. I'm impressed by the picture quality of the Canons more than any other maker.

The good:
The A95 is in your pricer range, I got mine through Amazon for about $310 so other places will have it cheaper. Its 5MP, takes CF mem, supports lens adaptors 37mm + 52mm so you can add filters, wide angle lenses, telephoto multipliers etc.. Not that you will need that owning a SLR but its nice to be able to drop a polarizer on from time to time. The camera has lots of auto modes, scene modes and full manual. The shutter ranges from 15sec to 1/1000, the lens is a 3x (approx 105mm) ISO 50-400 and a swivel LCD. there is a flash output level controls but no hot shoe its about a 10-15' range and some lens attachments will block the flash as well as part of the optical viewfinder.

The bad:
There is purple fringing in the corners, in your price range there isnt going to be many cameras with great glass. There is a small Sony with Carl Zeiss optics but I dont think its in your price range. ISO 200 and 400 are pretty noisy I think the older models have less due to the sensor difference (size and megapixels). Indoor shooting is problematic for most digital cameras, the auto focus speeds of cameras in this class (price range) is rather slow and sometimes it hunts and doesnt get the proper focus, shooting with either manual focus or a smaller fstop will allow you to get around that in many cases of course you'll need flash.

Overall I love the camera I've got a couple A95 galleries if you want to check them out.

One of the best digital camera sites out there is www.dpreview.com

There are forums for all the makers and you can see what people say about the cameras. Mostly the forums are biased to their own brand but the people know what they're talking about.


#8 of 9 OFFLINE   AjayM



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Posted January 06 2005 - 05:00 PM

I'll add my vote for the A85 as well, bought one about a month ago to replace an older broken P&S digital and I couldn't be happier, and I've already blasted through around 1k pictures with it so far.

To go with the above, the pluses on either the A95 (5mp with a swing around LCD) or A85 are spot on, I bet for the 3MP A75 as well. Although my shutter speed runs up to 1/2000 Posted Image (I'm pretty sure that was a typo on Ed's part). A couple of other things to add, battery life is amazing, I can do about 300 shots on a set of NiMH batteries with plenty of flash and nearly 100% LCD use. It's pretty fast, startup, focus/exposure, shutdown are all very good for it's class. It's white balance settings are better indoors than my 20D (handy for when I'm not near a grey card). It takes a damn good picture all things considered.

The negatives, I don't see this big fringing issue. Well let me rephrase that, I can see it if I really want to find it. It usually means taking an image and going over it with a fine tooth comb, zooming in, or taking pictures of things that will obviously show the problem, or all of the above. However, when I make a 4x6 or 5x7 print it is not an issue, even at 8x10 it's never once been an issue. Oh and I've seen the same fringing issue on high dollar SLR lenses as well, especially when you try and make it fail.

My biggest beef with the camera is the flash, it's very harsh for indoor use, even when throttled down, lots of red eye (easily fixed in PS), and I get a fair amount of vignette, having the flash fire about an inch from the center point of the lens really hurts it. I'd bet this would be a problem for any P&S that has limited flash control. Take what I'm saying with a grain of salt as I'm used to much better flash control.

It's colors are a little over-saturated, not by a huge amount and it's not a horrible problem as it makes very nice looking pictures.

http://www.theajays..../a85/index.html <- just a few random shots from my A85 and a comparative photo from my DSLR (taken minutes apart, shows the differences in colors very well).


#9 of 9 OFFLINE   ChuckSolo



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Posted January 06 2005 - 05:54 PM

Well Aric, I bought my wife a Fuji S3000 digicam for Christmas. It has a 6x optical and 3.5x digital zoom and all the doodads a photography hobbyist would like. She happens to like it a lot; her film camera is a Leica so she knows good cameras. I was really surprised at how neat this camera really is. I paid less than 300 bucks for it at Wal-Mart. But my real find this post-holiday season was my HP 635 Photosmart camera that I picked up at Circuit City for 99 bucks (brand new, not refurbished). The pictures it takes are great and it is just the ticket for casual picture taking The 3x optical zoom works well. True, it is only a 2.1 megapixel, but I doubt I would be printing pictures bigger than 8x10 anyway. I'm having a lot of fun with this camera. Price was right too since it lists at twice what I paid.Posted Image

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