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Thread: Buying A Digital Camera...

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    Buying A Digital Camera...

    Well basically i need advice on what to look for and what i can get for my money! The limit is £150 and it has to be a new camera from either online or in a shop...What are the key things i need to check out + what are the key features? [Image quality, needless to say is very important]

    All ideas welcome

    Wilko
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    bored.gamer Yosh's Avatar
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    Higher the mega pixel the better and make sure it has a flash.

    I bought one recently

    3.2 million megapixels
    16mb onboard mem
    1.8" lcd
    onboard flash

    If you can get one with optical and not digital zoom.

    also mem cards for mine cost £5 for 32mb so check to see what type it takes
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    Re: Buying A Digital Camera...

    Originally posted by TomWilko
    Well basically i need advice on what to look for and what i can get for my money! The limit is £150 and it has to be a new camera from either online or in a shop...What are the key things i need to check out + what are the key features? [Image quality, needless to say is very important]

    All ideas welcome

    Wilko
    Mainly ...... image quality and resolution.

    Neither are easy to check out.

    Image quality is primarily a function of lens quality, though there are other factors, like the quality of the electronics and the linearity of the converters, together with the noise level in the circuitry.

    Think about it .... digital cameras work on CCD or CMOS sensors. In either case, the sensor responds to the strength of the light hitting it. In shadow areas, that strength will be low, so the voltage generated by the sensor is small. If the noise level in the circuitry is low, due lousy design or crap quality components, then those low level signals get lost in the noise floor - which will no doubt the filtered out. The result is loss of shadow detail.

    Unfortunately, neither lens quality nor noise level/component quality are likely to be easy to assess and certainly not from a spec sheet.

    Then there's resolution.

    Mainly, that will determine how BIG you can print or display the image without losing image quality.

    As a rough guide, most printers (and I mean inkjets here) will give good quality results at about 200dpi. If you drop the output resolution much below that, it starts to show in the image. A purist will tell you that this figure should be 300dpi, and they are right if you are talking about art-quality prints or photographic exhibitions, but if you're handing your holiday pic's around among your mates, then 200 dpi will do.

    Note I said ‘inkjet’ printers. If you are planning on one of those fancy little portable photo printers that people like Olympus and Sony sell, then they are usually dye-sublimation printers and usually have a FIXED resolution, not the rasterising process that inkjets use. If you are planning on printing on one of those, use the actual resolution of the printer, not the 200dpi figure. Also, for inkjet users, IGNORE the 1200 dpi/1440dpi/2880dpi claims you see for inkjets – that is referring to something different to what I’m talking about here.

    Therefore, so any given camera, look at the size of the IMAGE it produces (and make sure you are looking at a figure for OPTICAL resolution not INTERPOLATED resolution. Ignore the latter (except possibly on Fuji cameras - they are a bit different, but even then, their claims for interpolated quality are a bit exaggerated IMHO).

    So, you've looked up a given camera and the image size produces is, say, 3072 x 2048 (note: this figure comes off a 6MP Canon 300D SLR and it is NOT a £150 camera, try £800 - but the principle is the same).


    If you have an image resolution of 3072 x 2048, and you want to print at 200 dpi, then you get the maximum PRINT size by dividing the image resolution by the dpi you want to print at .... i.e.

    3072/200 x 2048/200, which is (roughly) 15" x 10".


    Overall, resolution is going to be a function of price, and that will limit you, at £150, to lower resolutions that the Canon I mentioned.

    However, it is GENERALLY the case that the biggest factor in image quality is lens quality. On that basis, you'll be better off with a decent lens and modest resolution than higher resolution and a crap lens.


    I would therefore suggest that you give STRONG consideration to brand-name companies. Olympus, for instance, do some relatively low-cost moderate resolution point-and-shoot camera, like the C150 - which is currently on end-of-line offer at £115 or so.

    The C150, however, has no optical zoom. There is a digital zoom but IGNORE DIGIAL ZOOMS. They are not worth having. It is pure marketing hype. Anything a digital zoom can do, you can do yourself in an editing package. So IGNORE such claims.

    If you want an optical zoom, the price will go up a bit.

    If you want any further details, or recommendations on models, you could try the Digital Darkroom forums. There are a lot of people there with knowledge of specific models that I don't have. I admit to being a bit out of touch with the lower-end models as, being an enthusiast, I have high-end tastes

    But in general, if you stick to Olympus/Canon/Fuji/Pentax/Minolta/Nikon etc, you should not go too far wrong. My personal preference for point-and-shoot is Olympus. I've had half a dozen of them in the past, and have yet to find one with a poor lens. If you go for an unknown brand, you take your chances. There are some real bargains about, but there are also some right dogs.

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    Originally posted by Pigboy
    Higher the mega pixel the better .......
    Not necessarily.

    Only if you want to do large prints and/or enlarge small sections of a print to large size. See above post of mine for why.

    If you only intend to print full-frame at 6"x4", the resolution of a £5000 10 Megapixel job will do you little good above a £200 3 Megapixel model (at least, not because of the resolution). Resolution is perhaps the most misunderstood term in digital photography. High resolution is good TO A POINT, but is far from the be-all-and-end all of photo quality.

    If the resolution is too low, it will limit quality. If it is too high, then beyond a given point and for a given print size, it adds nothing to quality - especially if not matched by lens quality or if it is achieved by sacrificing other features.

    Also, as you mentioned, look for a flash BUT, be aware that not all flash's are equal. I did a test on a Sony DSC-P1 a few years back and the flash was truly abysmal - and THAT was a £700 camera. I mean, the flash was so bad that you couldn't take a photo of people sitting round a table in a restaurant without it being underexposed. It had a range of about 8 feet. Cheaper models from Canon and Olympus (the G1 and Camedia 4040) had no such problems, and at about the same price).

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    See also this thread in CH & OC.

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    This is great stuff from everyone so far, learning a lot so thanks! A few questions and also a few camera's i have found:

    • Any web-sites where i can view example pictures? (I will have a look at that Digital Darkrooms cheers Saracen!)
    • Is the high street generally a better option for finding a decent camera then than online?


    Here are a couple of camera's that seem to have a good price and specifications you guys have been talking about...Opinions on these would be useful:

    Sony
    DSC-P32 CYBER-SHOT DIGITAL CAMERA

    Link

    Samsung
    DIGIMAX 230 DIGITAL CAMERA

    Link

    Olympus
    CAMEDIA C-150 DIGITAL CAMERA

    Link

    I have to say the Olympus looks like great value for money, but because i know very little i cannot judge!
    tom@meangasoline.co.uk | RIP Zoltan

    Canon 350d | 50 F/1.8 Mk II | 70-200 F/4 L | 1Gb Sandisk Ultra III

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    I am also in the same boat, looking for a camera for around £150, with 3megapixel, 3x optical zoom and macro mode...

    so far I think the Olympus C-350 for £152 (amazon inc free postage i think) seems the best price.

    I definitely want GOOD quality images, this is very important, and I think the C-350 will do that. And I want Macro too Sound would be nice, but isn't necessary...

    normally i try and find a review of the camera, Steve's Digicams had reviewed A LOT of camera's and includes the sample images too : http://www.steves-digicams.com/ (although some of the american versions have diferent names, eg the C-350 is the D560 in america)

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    That looks like a nice camera josh. I definately like the look of that Olympus one i have linked to in my previous post as well for £100...think its the next model down to yours.

    What i need to know is whether the Sony one i have also linked to is worth the extra £70 or so... Or will i just be paying for Sony 'style' here!
    tom@meangasoline.co.uk | RIP Zoltan

    Canon 350d | 50 F/1.8 Mk II | 70-200 F/4 L | 1Gb Sandisk Ultra III

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