Digital camera advice, anyone?

I am thinking of buying a digital camera, but I am not sure. I don’t have a scanner, so it would allow me to post pictures, which I can’t do at the moment. Also, I am planning a very important trip and I know I will be taking a lot of pictures then. However, living alone, I really don’t take pictures much–no kids’ growth to document, etc. That makes me wonder if it is worth it and if I will use it enough.

The other problem is that I am a technophobe, so the thought of having to learn to use a digital camera and to install software (yikes!) scares me.

So, dopers, any advice? Do you like your camera? Was it easy to figure out? Do you use it a lot–even those of you without kids?

Your experiences, words of wisdom, and encouragment re: technophobia gratefully accepted.

I just bought one, about 2 months ago, and I used this thread for help and advice another thread on digital cameras.

I have a Fuji 1400Zoom, that has all these cool numbers: 1.3 mega pixels, 3x optical zoom, 2x digital zoom.

I am still learning. Here’s a pretty pic I took in Alaska.

I like the optical zoom, and I bought a 32 meg smart media card because the 8M one that the camera came with was too limiting.

I need to learn photo editing, but the camera part was pretty easy, especially if you have a kid handy. Just give it to them and they can automatically tell you how it works!

I use mine a lot, more than I thought I would and a whole lot more than I ever used the scanner. Once I had one I started thinking of lots more ways to use it.

So far the software has been a piece of cake - just install the CD, and (my camera uses a USB port-to-camera transfer cable) once the camera is connected to the computer and the camera is turned on, the computer recognizes it and starts up the software automatically. Too easy! Click on photo, save to folder, turn off camera, go take more pics/images.

Go for it!

I use a Kodak DC210. It has a zoom, takes awesome pics, and with a 32 card, I can take over 250 pics before changing it out :slight_smile: It was very easy to use, and the software was a snap. And with the new card readers for about $20, downloading the pics is a snap. Depends on how much you want to spend. You can spend a lot and get a top rated Kodak or Olympus, or get a cheap Agfa, and get great pics out of all of them. If you are going to use it for travelling, I recommend a camera with a removeable storage card, along with spares otherwise you’ll have to carry a laptop to download your pics. If around the house, it doesn’t really matter. For indoor pics, I advise against a Sony Mavica (the older models at least). They are great for outdoor pics, but for indoor shooting, the quality sucks. If you can load a CD, you can install camera software. If you can press a button, you can take decent pics. It really depends on what your budget is, and what you will be using it for the most.

I have a cannon elph, and it is the best thing in the world (if a bit pricey). Besides being high quality, it is tiny, about the size of a deck of cards. My camera and I love each other.

But before you buy, you might want to think about a few questions. How many pictures do you usually take? If you take a lot of pictures, a digital camera is a wonderful thing. I fancy myself a digital artist, and take photos of something or another almost daily. Not having to pay for film and processing is so nice. But if you are only an occasional picture taker (i.e. you use your camera on trips and holidays) you might be better off with a standard camera. The technology of digital cameras moves so fast that if you dont use your camera a lot, it isnt worth it because it will become outmoded so quickly. A digital camera is wonderful if you use it, but it is a terrible investment.

I am also a little worried about taking my digital camera traveling. They are still delicate little pieces of equiptment, and expensive equiptment. I’d imagnine they make a good target for theives. Also, while todays cameras are very high quality, they are not on par with film. This is okay for most applications, but it isn’t what I would choose to document my once-in-a-lifetime vacation.

So think long and hard (unless you have lots of money to throw around). Digital cameras are great fun and nifty gadgets, but they are still a new technology and a good one isn’t a worthwhile purchase for most people.

Kodaks are “Digital Cameras for Dummies” and I don’t mean that as an insult. We had the DC240 and recently got the DC3400 (pretty much the same model, but more megapixels). We knew there were fancier cameras out there for about the same price, and some with cooler features. But after having the first Kodak for 18 months, we knew what we were dealing with and loved how easy it was. It’s VERY user-friendly.

I am sure the camera snobs would giggle at our tastes, but we don’t NEED a camera that can do 800 things we never need it to do. We want one that makes it easy to take pictures, see pictures, delete pictures, and download pictures. Kodak does all of the above.

One other tip: if you do buy one, consider getting the “service agreement” if offered. Normally you’re supposed to laugh in the face of a salesman who offers it, but I’ve heard for things like digital cameras and videocameras, they’re a smart buy. Cameras get dropped a lot, jostled, etc. We bought one of these policies for our first one, and when it started acting a little glitchy, it was replaced (with store credit toward any camera we wanted, since it was no longer made) without fanfare or argument.

Got my Canon Elph from Santa.

And I’m having a blast. I think up new things to try almost every day. No film, what a concept? I adore it, I shoot hordes of pictures.

It was intimidating at first, but I’m getting better every time. I’ve taken a couple of truly remarkable photos, by virtue of just shooting lots of shots, it’s just so freeing.

The software installs like a breeze, and is so simple to use.

I’m crazy for my camera, it’s beautifully designed. I found the smallness somewhat intimidating initially but once I got comfortable with it, it’s very wonderful to touch, and very easy and comfortable to hold and operate. It’s so small I take it everywhere.

I’m still learning, of course, and I am having on wonderful time.

I’ve had zero regrets about my Canon Powershot S20. Not as teeny as their Elph, but far from bulky. And for long trips, it accepts the IBM Microdrive, a teeny harddrive that slips right in the flashcard slot. At maximum resolution, the thing holds over a hundred shots–at just normal compression of 3 megapixel-sized shots, it holds about 270, and if you kick the size down, sky’s the limit.

It does suck the battery juice fairly quickly, but that’s not too bad if you don’t have the LCD screen on, and with the absurd number of pics the microdrive option holds, you can afford to review later. :slight_smile: Rechargeable batteries are the way to go for it, though, with its powerdrain. With the microdrive, and the recharge/AC adapter powr kit it’s kinda pricey, but it’s been worth it.

If you are a technophobe I heartily advise you to stick with film. Scanners are much cheaper than digital cameras, get one and use it to educate yourself about digital image files, and have fun digitizing your prints.

Digital cameras are basically ‘still video’ cameras. They are getting cheaper. The lighting rules are different. But the bottom line is film is better for enlarging. If you are used to film then digitize your pics when you get them developed: Kodak will upload digital images from film to, or you can get your prints along with a cd-rom of digitized pics.

Precious memories last longer on film: and you could buy a very nice weatherproof 35mm camera for half the price of a decent but not great digital camera. If you are already familiar with film why start up another steep learning curve? You may lose that shot that you will never get again. After you get better with the various forms of digital images, and digital cameras get more durable, then maybe treat yourself to one.

I have both. I use film for the true magic moments, digital for the run-of the mill documentation shots. Above all have fun!

How do you plan to display these pictures? Will you try to print them out? Are they for website/e-mail viewing only?

Here is my take on the deal:

  1. Digital Camera prices are driven by three things:
    a) resolution
    b) storage capacity
    c) bells and whistles

  2. Because technology becomes obsolete before you get the gadget out of the store, it’s easy to over pruchase.

  3. Bigger is not necessarily better.

  4. Scanners are good.

  5. Don’t limit yourself to one medium.

Determine your “need” for the camera. I have a new baby and a lot of out of town relatives. My need was to be able to quickly send pictures via e-mail and populate a website.
I didn’t plan on printing out pictures for display. Since computer monitors have a resolution of 72 dpi (dots per inch) any resolution above that would be wasted for my purposes. Pictures at 1200x640 make for large files. Reducing them makes them much smaller and easier to move around (e-mail, web population, etc.)

I didn’t figure I’d take gobs of pictures at once, so I didn’t need major storage.

Since I planned on taking pictures, uploading them, “cleaning them up” and posting them, I didn’t need lots of bells and whistles (preview features, etc.)

What did I buy? A Polaroid Fun Flash 640SE. Total cost? $80.00 after rebate. Totally worth it based on my needs.

caveat When I e-mail pictures to the kin folk, I don’t reduce the resolution, in case they want to print out the picture. This usually makes for a .jpg file of 90 kb or so.

If I want to reproduce pictures with great resolution, I use film and scan them in at the highest resolution possible and print them out on photo paper with a photo printer. This is very rare.

I hope this helps.

I havent changed from what I wrote before under this subject. 1. a kodak Jazz camera ($8, with flash, reuseable) that takes 35mm film & I take film to Longs, pay $5 & get paper prints plus prints on floppy 2. Use my video camera & a video capture card (that’s my ATI all in wonder.)

That’s all I need since I don’t do much photography.

I have a Sony. The feature that I love about it is the fact that it uses a standard floppy disk for stroage. It dosent’ store a lot but there is NO special software. It just stores JPEGs on the disk and you pull out the disk and any computer with a floppy drive can take the image.

I’ll leave all the technical details to the others, but as previously noted, prices on digital cameras (as with most bleeding edge tech) can drop rather quickly. With that in mind, I’d recommend using an American Express Blue or other “price matching” credit card when/if you get around to buying your camera.

IIRC, they’ll reimburse you the difference between what you pay and a lower advertised price (print advertisement only for the Blue, though I think other cards will accept online price quotes) within 6 months (though Amex might’ve cut that down to 3 so YMMV). I’ve never used this yet though, in retrospect, I can think of a few times I should have. :rolleyes:

Also, there is the battery factor. They eat batteries like there is no tomorrow. You’ll need some top of line rechargeables.

Plus, try to see a sample photo before you buy.