Seeking your advice on Digital Cameras.

OK gang I’m looking for some feedback. With the holidays coming up I’d like to pick up a new digital camera using some of the money we’ve set aside for Christmas. I’ve been tracking some deals lately on sites like Tech Deals.net and More Stuff 4 Less, but other than price these sites don’t tell you how good the cameras in question are. Here’s what I’m basically hoping to find:

At least 3 Megapixel resolution
Optical Zoom capability of 3X or better
Decent battery life
Decent memory capacity
Auto-focus
Fast or at least Snappy shutter speeds
Around $200 price

The Kodak DC3200 we currently have is the “instamatic” of digital cameras. At high resolution is has no zoom capability at all (other than walking closer to the subject), a fixed focus and is dog-slow at both shutter speed and time it takes to save to the CompactFlash card. These last two issues being the big ones. I literally hold my breath while taking pics for fear of blurring the image by breathing and there’s a good 5 or 7 seconds minimum between taking a shot and being able to take another shot. Considering it cost me all of $60 for the camera and another $66 for the 128MB CompactFlash card and USB reader back when I bought it I can’t complain all that much as it does a decent job for what it is, but I’m ready to step up to something a little more robust.

Alas, I’m not familiar with a good website for digital camera reviews so I’m not sure what I should be looking for. I saw a deal on a Olympus D-560 3.2MP digital camera with 3X optical zoom for only $199.98 being offered by Office Max over at Tech Deals, but haven’t a clue on whether it’s a decent camera or not. The price itself is after a $50 off $250 coupon and includes free shipping along with free 64MB AND 32MB xD flash memory cards in addition to the included 16MB card. It definitely sounds like a good buy if the camera is half-way decent.

So I want to hear from those of you who are more into digital cameras than I am on what your favorites are or where I might go to find some good reviews. Got a favorite? Let me hear it. Any that I should avoid? Fill me in.

7 thoughts on “Seeking your advice on Digital Cameras.

  1. With regards to batteries, choose one that either has rechargable lithium batteries, or one that accepts standard sized batteries. If it’s the latter, then go out and buy a battery recharger. It’s well worth the money as an average rechargable Ni-MH battery will do at least 100 charges before its performance starts to degrade.

    Avoid those that use their own flavour of battery because they’ll probably be quite expensive to replace, although it’s always best to check first.

  2. Ok, the best sites for Digital Camera Reviews is http://www.dpreview.com and http://www.steves-digicams.com.

    As for cameras, I am a firm believer in rechargable Li-Ion batteries. Canon has a few Powershot cameras that might fit you needs, but as I have found when looking for a camera for my dad, the $200 price point is just too low for a good digi-cam. I found him a Powershot S200 Digital Elph for just under $300. A really good camera with good battery life and a pretty quick recharge time. A second battery is always a good thing though.

    I personally have the Canon G3 and love it. It was pretty pricy, but battery life is to die for. Over 400 pictures per charge with average use.

    I would also suggest looking at Gateway’s cameras, however, I get nervous when Gateway offers a 5MP camera for $300. You just don’t find 5MP cameras for that price point. It makes me wonder what the quality of the camera is.

    TechTV’s website might have reviews of Gateway’s new camera line. It’s worth a look.

    By the way, if you have money to burn… smile Canon just came out with a digital SLR that comes with a standard lens for $999. The Canon Digital Rebel. Aside from the plastic case, it’s packed with features you would expect to see with their higher priced models and it’s a SLR which means *INSTANT* shutter releases when you press the shutter button.

    Good luck!

  3. The Olympus Cameida series is good; I’m extremely happy with mine (C3020Z; has all the features you happen to be looking for).
    I’m with Dave on that Digital Rebel thing. Velly nice. Taint nothing wrong with the Rebel for the serious-photographer-that’s-not-a-pro. Especially if you already have a Canon SLR.

  4. I can vouch for dpreview.com.  This is the best digital photography review site I have ever looked at, and I did a lot of looking before I bought my camera.

    With a $200 price point, a quality 3MP is going to be hard.  If you can live with a 2MP (which unless you are printing out bigger than 8×10 or are a pro photog you might not need), IMO the best one out there is the Nikon CoolPix 2100.  It has all of what you are looking for, plus it uses Compact Flash cards, so you won’t have to reinvest in memory.  IF you really want 3MP, go with the CoolPix 3100 for about $100 more (Amazon.com prices).  There is a full review for the 3100 on dpreview.com (They give it a “Recommended”), and some forum reviews on the 2100.

    I am currently using the 2100’s 2MP precursor model, the CoolPix 775, and get excellent prints at as much as 11×17 with 2MP.  Of course, I take the files to my local photo shop to have them printed (better quality than my home printer, archival ink and paper, and pretty close to being cheaper when ink cost in factored in).

    If you want, EM me and I can send you some 2MP test files for you to look at.

    Good Luck,

    -doc

  5. As long as the camera’s got a (non-proprietary)mem card slot, don’t worry about capacity.  I have a Kodak DX3500, really like it a lot even with the crappy shutter speed. 

    When I was shopping, I read up on the DX3500 on epinions.  I had also read one of the PC rags with an article and photos taken by the dozen or so cameras they tested.  The kodaks seemed to have better looking shots for their models.

  6. With regards to batteries, choose one that either has rechargable lithium batteries, or one that accepts standard sized batteries. If it

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