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Thread: Digital Camera recommendations

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    'ave it. Skii's Avatar
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    Digital Camera recommendations

    Sister in law - wants me to find her a digital camera, reckons she's seen one advertised recently that also prints the pictures off - possibly Canon ?!?
    Any other camera/printer recommendations for a n00b ?

    Anyone have any idea ?

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    www.5lab.co.uk
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    kodak are fairly noobproof, ya cant do owt but take a photo on them
    hughlunnon@yahoo.com | I have sigs turned off..

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    listen to escape fails :) luap.h's Avatar
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    there's one of the ixus models being advertised at the moment with a pocket photo printer

    depends on the price range - the Canon A60 from Amazon seemed to be a good deal from the uk discount newsgroups, not sure if they still stock it tho

    My mum got one and has had no problems using it at all - and she's a girl

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    What sort of budget?

    Personally, I'd steer clear of Kodak. When compared to image quality from mainstream manufacturers (like Olympus/Pentax/Canon etc) they seem to fall short - at least, they do in the consumer end of the market.

    The choice is largely about :-

    - budget
    - features wanted
    - quality wanted

    Believe it or not, even relatively cheap cameras are not all of the same build quality. One reason I tend to advise people to look at Olympus is because I tested loads of their cameras, and not yet come across one with a poor lens. Same applies to Pentax, though I haven't seen as many Pentax's as Olympus's. And if the lens is poor, nothing else is going to resurrect image quality.

    Also, bear in mind Olympus are an optical specialist. Cameras are but a small part of their operations, and precision optical intruments (for medical purproses, etc are a large part). Like I said, optical specialists.

    Then there's features. Don't get seduced by high megapixel ratings - you MIGHT not need it. The only real benefits of high megapixel cameras are :-

    - you can print bigger images
    - you can enlarge small sections of an image to bigger sizes

    You'll need, at most, 300 pixels per inch when you print, and most people won't see the difference between 200 and 300. On that basis, if you want to print at 6"x4", you need an image of about 1800x1200 (300 dpi) at most, and 1200x800 (200dpi) would probably do). This suggests that about 3 Megapixel will give good results, and anything above that may be unecessary unless she is very demanding, quality-wise.

    If, on the other hand, you want to print at A4, then you'll want to go for much higher resolution.


    As for printers, again, it depends on what is required. Several companies produce 'dye-sublimation' photo printers which produce prints up to about 5x3 or 6x4. They use ribbon packs and require specific paper types (i.e. are NOT inkjets), but produce photos damn-near indistinguishable from conventional prints. Neither printer nor media tend to be cheap, but they are largely idiot-proof ...... they require about zero user-intervention and usually either connect direct to camera or have a slot for the memory card - i.e. no computer needed.

    If you're talking about inkjet printers, then again, it depends what your requirements are. Some printers are designed especially for photos and are exceptionally good at it, but are mediocre at general purpose work. Some are better all-rounders. But even relatively cheap general purpose machines can usually produce a damn good photo these days. Put a print from a cheap machine side by side with one from a specialist machine and you'll see the difference (at least, I can) but in the absence of that direct side-by-side comparison, cheap machines can produce results that most people would find perfectly acceptable.

    Two more points to watch out for - running costs and print life.

    Inkjets can be expensive to run. Before buying that cheap inkjet, FIND OUT what replacement cartridges cost. It's also difficult to compare running costs by comparing cartridge costs, as last time I did a direct comparison, there was a HUGE difference between how many pages you got from a brand new cartridge. THere's no point buying a printer from brand A because cartridges are £29 instead of £30, if it turns out they'll print 30 pages instead of 80!

    Also, how do the inkls react to light. Will the photos fade? Or more realistically, HOW FAST will they fade? 6 months? 10 years? 50 years?

    You tend to get what you pay for in that department.

    If you're going to print enprints (6x4 type size), and just show them around occasionally, and the rest of the time they sit in a desk draw or an envelope, then exposure to light may not be a huge issue. If you're planning on sticking them in a frame and hanging them on the wall, resistance to light fade could be critical. This is one place where the more-expensive printers targetted at photo reproduction tend to score heavily over cheap general purpose machines. If you want archive-quality longevity, the best machine is probably Epson's Photo 2100 (like the one sitting here), but budget about £500 ..... and as it's A3, it ain't small.


    I haven't given any specific model suggestions here, but I hope this gets you asking the right questions when you look at models (be it camera or printer).

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    also dont rule out digital printing services, nearly everone is doing prints from digital cameras, so the price has come down.

    boots have an offer on 6x4 digital prints - 50 for £5 - which is good value at 10p a print and probably cheaper than you could print at home

    so it depends on what you are printing and what size - but you might save money by not buying a printer! - if its an injekt then photo printing absolutley drains the cartridges and mistakes can be costly if printing out on A4 size

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    Senior Member kushtibari's Avatar
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    Depends on how much you want to pay. I bought the Canon A70 last year for about £250 and have been really impressed. Very easy to use and you can also do a lot of manual tweaking to the settings. Its 3.2 megapixels and on my Canon i850 printer you get nice A4 photo prints. I know with some printer/camera combos you can print without using a pc but tbh I think you'll always want to view it and maybe swap something about before printing. The A70 won all the awards when it came out but they've upped it to the A75 and A80. Having said that you can now get the A70 for under 150 which is a bloody good deal.

    https://secure.hitech-uk.com/acatalog/Canon_A70.html

    Mate just got the HP5650 for £49.99 on offer and that does great photo's as well. I have seen refurbished Canon i850's for under £70 which is half what I paid for mine 6 or 7 months ago. Cartridge costs aren't bad on the Canon either.

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    Excellent tips there guys - Saracen - very helpful indeed, thanks chap.

    Problem is i've been out of the loop for a while, I'm still happy with my Fuji 2.0 Mp which I just usb straight into my XP machine, I rarely need to print any pictures so I don't own a printer.

    She has a modest laptop running windows 2k, she's only really looking for a basic camera which no need for anything above 3.0 mp in my estimation. Basically a point+click camera maybe with a bit of zoom, but she needs the facility to print decent quality pictures, however that printer preferably needs to be a small inkjet.

    That being said she ain't sort of few bob, so it doesn't have to be the cheapest on the web, Kushtibari - that sounds like what she described.

    The emphasis needs to be easy to use point+click, decent quality (but not Lord Lichfield standard)

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    Now with added sobriety Rave's Avatar
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    Saracen's advice is pretty good. His talk on lenses doesn't really tally with my experience though; I find most cameras (in the £100+ range at least) have lenses good enough for the resolution of the CCD, and it's more the quality of the CCD and image processing that makes a difference. I personally wouldn't recommend Olympus because the XD cards they use are a bit costly compared to SD cards, and the user interface isn't as intuituve as most cameras (at least it wasn't the last time I used one). I wouldn't recommend Kodak either, but mainly because they feel very cheap and the pictures are a bit noisy; having said that though, just as I was leaving the photo retail business they started coming out with some cameras which worked well and were properly screwed together, so....

    As for printing, I don't recommend any of the little dye sublimation printers unless you have a desperate need for prints very soon after taking them or you live nowhere near a photo shop. They're expensive to run and I never thought the photos were all that sharp; they're also very prone to fading if you leave them in the sun (since the dyes react to heat). I used to work for Jessops so maybe I'm biased, but their digital print service was the best value around while I worked there, and the pictures from the Fuji minilab printers they used were cracking quality (you need to go to a store with a lab though). To be honest, if you want prints of 6x4, 7x5 or 8x6 your best bet is to collect enough pictures to qualify for the bulk rate and take them to a photo shop for printing. If you want larger sizes like A4, then inkjets come into their own. Canon are probably the best inkjets, but a budget Epson will be pretty good if you accept that the heads will go eventually, and that you'll have to use it regularly to prevent it getting blocked up. I'd probably go for the cheapest Epson Stylus Photo, and run it on el-cheapo aftermarket carts. Unless you're unlucky you'll get a year or two of use out of it, and they're pretty much cheap enough to be disposable.

    Actually this looks good for the money, seperate ink carts for each colour:

    http://www.ebuyer.com/customer/produ...duct_uid=58681

    Rich :¬)

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    Senior Member joshwa's Avatar
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    Canon are brilliant. You could also get one of the small canon printers if she just wants normal size prints. Pretty much any canon would be good (they all do 'pictbridge') - plus they often take compact flash which is pretty much half the price of XD. The A60 is a bargain at £99. The A70 has MANY good reviews (crikey - at only £150 i'm tempted to upgrade my a300 with it), and the A80 tops it off with the swivelly screen and higher resolution. (I have a Canon A300 and think it's brilliant, although it doesn't have an optical zoom, so personally I'd recommend a different canon)

    Nikon are very good, plus nice and small, but I don't know how well they will print off directly to a printer.

    Olympus are good, except for the very cheap C-150 (2mp) which seemed really bad for an olympus.

    She could always get something like the Epson R300 with built in memory card readers r300 or perhaps the r300 with screen here to make it even easier / and bypass using a computer. (plus they have 6 seperate cartridges and aren't too expensive to replace, and epson say they'll last about 80 years - although i can't find it on their website anymore)
    Last edited by joshwa; 13-05-2004 at 02:34 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rave
    Saracen's advice is pretty good. His talk on lenses doesn't really tally with my experience though; I find most cameras (in the £100+ range at least) have lenses good enough for the resolution of the CCD, and it's more the quality of the CCD and image processing that makes a difference.
    Maybe it's down to individual models evaluated.

    I base my comments on having spent some 8 years testing digital cameras for various magazines - including Digital PhotoFX and What Digital Camera, not to mention PC Magazine, PC Pro and the Daily Telegraph - and from running a forum dedicated to digital photography. During that period, I've lost track of how many cameras I've tested, but I'd guess at 200+, starting in 1996 with the entry-level Kodak DC20 and DC25, and working my way through products including £5000+ Canon, Minolta, Olympus and Nikon Digital SLR's. I'm currently negotiating the loan of some £11,000 worth of Olympus SLR and system, for a detailed test.

    I certainly have NOT tested every camera on the market, not by a long shot, but my comments were based on a diverse range. Canon, for example, are capable of producing some excellent models, but they have also produced some (including some Ixus models) of which my opinion is that the physical size of the camera has introduced design contraints in lens design that compromised lens performance.

    I'm not a fan of Kodak - based on testing a number of models, and I'm not a fan of Sony either - for much the same reason. Some of their models have been known to have DIRE drawbacks - for instance, the DSC-P1 had atrocious (and I mean truly appalling) flash performance. And that was gob-smacking for a £700 camera.

    I'd agree about Olympus not having the most intuitive user interface. It used to be very awkward, but that was going back several years and personally, I've found the recent models I've tested are OK. Not the best in that regard, maybe (and it tends to be an area where Sony do score).

    As for whether lenses are good enough and where the weakness lies, well, it's not always easy to tell. What I would say is that no amount of CCD quality and in-camera image processing is going to rescue the image if the lens is a bottle-top.

    But at the end of the day, what matters is what comes out of the camera. I've yet to see an Olympus that has produced an image quality which I felt was poor for the class and cost of the camera. Obviously, the more you spend the better you tend to get, though the law of diminishng marginal returns certainly applies. Unfortunately, I can't say the same about Canon, in terms of never seeing a disappointing model. I have, however, also seen some corkers.

    Also, bear in mind that I say this as a Canon user with some £3000 of Canon gear I've bought over the years (35mm cameras and lenses). My digital stuff, at the moment, however, is Olympus (E-20 SLR with about £2000 of accessories and lenses), and a C-5050. That hasn't stopped me keeping my eye open for a Canon EOS-10D Mk2 though.

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    Now with added sobriety Rave's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saracen
    Maybe it's down to individual models evaluated.

    I base my comments on having spent some 8 years testing digital cameras for various magazines - including Digital PhotoFX and What Digital Camera, not to mention PC Magazine, PC Pro and the Daily Telegraph - and from running a forum dedicated to digital photography. During that period, I've lost track of how many cameras I've tested, but I'd guess at 200+, starting in 1996 with the entry-level Kodak DC20 and DC25, and working my way through products including £5000+ Canon, Minolta, Olympus and Nikon Digital SLR's. I'm currently negotiating the loan of some £11,000 worth of Olympus SLR and system, for a detailed test.
    No offence intended, mate, I'm sorry if I sounded unduly critical. I worked for Tecno and then Jessops for 3 1/2 years from '99-'03 and in that time demonstrated probably a couple of hundred different cameras. It was my experience that nearly all cameras had a lens good enough to give you an image that was sharp if you evaluated it at 100% (or greater) size on screen<shrugs>. The exception was the Fujis with SuperCCDs, but you'd expect that. I've not had a chance to play with the latest 8mp generation of cameras, either, and I'm guessing that lens design will be ever more critical as resolutions increase.

    What was noticeable was that some cameras suffered from more 'purple fringing' than others; also barrel/pincushion distortion seems to be endemic in point and shoot type camera lenses, unfortunately.

    Also, bear in mind that I say this as a Canon user with some £3000 of Canon gear I've bought over the years (35mm cameras and lenses). My digital stuff, at the moment, however, is Olympus (E-20 SLR with about £2000 of accessories and lenses), and a C-5050. That hasn't stopped me keeping my eye open for a Canon EOS-10D Mk2 though.
    Just before I left Jessops I arranged for a colleague to shoot my wedding with his 10D, and the pictures are superbly sharp (although everyone's squinting as the sun was in our eyes ). What's the difference with the Mk2 BTW?

    What Canon gear do you have out of interest? I have an EOS 620 with a Technical Back E (what a toy that is), an EOS 10, a Sigma 24 f2.8, Sigma 28-70 F2.8 (not the EX unfortunately) Canon 50 F1.8 Mk1, Canon 50-200 F3.5-4.5L, Canon 100 F2, and my pride and joy, an 80-200 F2.8L.

    Not to mention the Mamiya 645 Super, Fuji GSW690, Contax G1, and 30-odd other cameras, of course. I'd still probably lose a 'who's got the best gear' pissing match, so I'll stop there.

    Rich :¬)

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