another 35mm point & shoot thread! (but different: this time for mom, & then some)

Discussion in '35mm Cameras' started by jazzb, Dec 18, 2003.

  1. jazzb

    jazzb Guest

    Okay, folks, I realize there have been a number of these threads over
    the years (which I've been reading) covering 35mm compacts for kids to
    compacts for grannies, but not much for mom. There also hasn't been
    one in the past few months, and there are some new developments in the
    35mm point & shoot market lately (specifically: Canon's new "u"
    series, Oly's update of the Stylus line, and Konica's p&s
    "disappearance" after being "absorbed" by Minolta), which I think
    might warrant some new discussion.

    I've done the usual exhaustive internet research (Google, the not very
    illuminating often conflicting price/user review sites,,, manufacturer sites, jpmccormac's
    user recommendations, popphoto, photo blogs, etc, etc. I have even
    resorted to fiendishly surveying the user reviews on the CircuitCity
    site, where clearly, every camera ever made is a 4.5 out of 5, if not
    better) and have been to B&H and a number of the hackshops near Times
    Sq. just to get a hand on various (often dusty) models. So, I'm
    essentially looking for some other opinions/perspectives to help me
    finalize my decision.

    Nudge me, please.

    As I've mentioned, I'm looking for a 35mm point & shoot for my mother
    that meets these criteria as closely as possible:

    -NO DIGITAL, don't even think about bringing it up ;-). She is a
    techno-phobe of the highest order (she requires a "chaperone" in order
    to get online. VCR is a method of torture. She's that bad.), so,
    simplicity of operation will be important. A plethora of features is
    not required.

    -She is left-handed, but has used "regular" right-handed--oriented
    compacts, so this isn't really all that significant, especially as no
    one makes a respectable left-handed camera nowadays anyway. Just
    thought I'd mention it to further complicate matters.

    -Her right hand is somewhat impaired. Doesn't have too much dexterity
    with it. So, she needs something she can hold with relative ease.
    Nothing too tiny, but still portable enough to slip in a bag or
    pocket. Also must be durable, in case of droppage. Preferably metal.

    -She has made it known that she "likes zoom." She requires zoom. She
    has some trouble getting around (she has multiple sclerosis). It must
    be a zoom. I'm well-aware of the benefits of fixed-lens systems (i.e.
    OSE, AFM35, Yash T4/5, Ricoh GRx, etc), but those are, unfortunately,
    not an option. Thus, I'm focusing on short(-er) zooms 28/35/38mm -
    70/90/105mm at most.

    -No SLR's or SLR-type cameras. She already has an entry-level Canon
    Rebel my father purchased for her (supposedly - I think we all know
    who he bought it for ;-) in a moment of sheer folly, and which has
    proven to be, as you'd expect, completely unsuitable.

    -She will be shooting the majority of shots indoors. Church-functions,
    family and friends, holidays and such. Though, of course there will be
    some outdoor shots, and she likes taking pictures of her flowers. So,
    we're talking: fast(-er, -ish) lens, good flash range and autoexposure
    system, decent macro capability. Tall order, I know. Might as well
    just say "she needs a good camera."

    -Preferably in the $200 or lower range or thereabouts. These days that
    shouldn't be too much of an issue considering how far p&s prices have
    fallen in the past year or two - what with the "rise of digital" (and
    yes, I just bought my brothers digicams for Xmas - a Lumix for one, an
    A70 for the other - so I say that without a hint of irony;-)

    My short-list currently includes, at the higher-end:

    -Yashica T4 Zoom (28-70mm/f4.5-8)
    -Rollei Prego 70 (35-70mm/f4.5-8.5)
    -Leica Z2X (35-70mm/f4-7.6) [discontinued, but still available]

    at the lower-end:

    -Canon Sure Shot 105 Zoom S (38-105mm/f3.8-9.9) [being phased out]
    -Canon Sure Shot Z90W (28-90mm/f4.5-8.9) [being phased out]
    -Canon Sure Shot 90u (38-90mm/f4.7-10.5)

    bringing up the rear:

    -Olympus Stylus Epic 80 Zoom (the old 38-80mm/f4.5-9.9 one, not the
    new slower one)

    As you can see, I'm favoring older models in general (and even those
    are not particularly fast), as I haven't found much literature on the
    newer one's, which appear to be, all in all, uninspiring.

    Manufacturers seem to be content with putting out slower lenses with
    longer zooms to very little effect. Though the Canon "u" series
    cameras do seem very well-built (aluminum facing, and such - anybody
    have any experience with 'em?).

    Oly's new Stylus updates (the "Epic" name is effectively being
    dropped) feature slower lenses than their previous incarnations. Same
    goes for Rollei's Prego and Pentax's IQZoom "updated" lines.

    I'm a proud owner of a Nikon SLR system, but even I must admit that
    their compact line is decidely unimpressive (and probably always has
    been - outside of their high-end models). Sorry, Nikon. No soup for

    I've pretty much eliminated Konica compacts (as much as I like the
    Lexio 70, and might pick it up for myself if I can find one)
    considering they will no longer be making or supporting 35mm P&S (to
    focus on digital I assume, at least according to the salesperson at
    B&H). I can just imagine what it would be like trying to get any
    service from them.

    I'm not a big fan of Minolta or Pentax (at least in terms of compacts)
    and their offerings don't seem any better than what I already have on
    the list (the Freedom Explorer EX is discontinued, and impossible to
    find regardless). So, they were eliminated.

    Oly, despite being the market-leader, doesn't seem to offer much
    outside of the deservedly well-touted OSE. I did, half-heartedly,
    include the Stylus Epic Zoom 80, if only because it seems to
    constantly get praised online. Though, another salesman at B&H made it
    clear that Oly's were not really worth talking about (but, then again
    he was a Leica user/lover and recommended the Yashica or Leica).

    I've also soured on the whole "patented clamshell" design. Plastic
    "sliding protective lens cover which also serves as your on/off
    switch" = immanent disaster (or impending repair), in my opinion. This
    was only affirmed by my recent visit to a couple of area superstores
    to look at these cameras where I discovered Oly's glaringly, harshly
    denuded in each of those stores. A painful sight, indeed. Nothing but
    sad hinges. User reviews only corroborate this. Not to mention the
    unappealing amorphous-blob shape (otherwise known as "the soap bar").

    I was initially set on the Yashica, but wasn't aware it only had a
    5-step zoom, which I know my mother would find extremely irritating.
    It also had smallish buttons and LCD, though the camera body and
    overall build quality were excellent. In addition, I have read of a
    number of issues with shutter-lag and mediocre flash performance,
    which, for someone like my mother, would be particularly problematic.
    But, I'm not quite sure.

    So, that's my predicament. I'll be quiet now. I need some convincing.

    I'd appreciate any and all assistance.
    Thank you.
    jazzb, Dec 18, 2003
    1. Advertisements

  2. A coupla of points. ALL the lenses on the cameras you mention are slow.
    Particularly at the long end. That's one of the constraints on the point
    and shoot system. You can't have a fast zoom lens without a lot of glass
    (take a look at even a modest 28-70 f2.8 lens - it's bigger than any of the
    p/s cameras you mention) - not the manufacturers' fault. They're not
    cheaping out on the lens, they're constrained by the laws of physics.

    This also puts a constraint on flash range. The weenie little flashes on a
    p/s are good for about six inches at maximum zoom with ISO100 film. OK,
    that's exaggerated, but not much! You will need fast film for good results
    with any of the cameras you mention. ISO800 films are very good indeed
    these days and are a good starting point.

    I'd ignore ANY zoom p/s camera without a 28mm wide angle. 35-38 is just too
    long for interiors and gatherings. That leaves you with the Yashica T4 Zoom
    and Canon Sure Shot Z90W. Either will be fine. Long zooms are sexy, but
    nearly useless without bright sunlight or a tripod.

    BTW - I have several Olympus clam shells. None of which have failed. I
    like the style and ease of use of these cameras. Given that, take a look at
    the Olympus Stylus Wide with a 28-100mm lens. $164 at Adorama - one heck of
    a deal.

    Mike Lipphardt, Dec 18, 2003
    1. Advertisements

  3. jazzb

    Gordon Moat Guest

    Actually, I am a left eye shooter, so there are some issues with that.
    Mainly, check to be sure that there are few controls (or none) in the
    back of the camera that could be nudged by your nose when using the
    camera as a left eye dominant photographer.
    Most of the better metal body point and shoot cameras are not cheap.
    Also, some of the plastic body cameras are actually quite rugged.
    Shame as some that you mentioned are very nice, and produce some great
    image quality.
    You might look at some add-on flash options. The built in flash of nearly
    all P&S cameras is very weak, and will rarely illuminate more than 10'
    away. This is another advantage with the fixed lens choices, as they
    often get used a bit closer to the subject.
    Close auto focus, or the ability to do close manual focus, might help
    those flower shots a bit.
    With the longer zoom, if she does not have an add-on flash, then indoor
    pictures will just not work well. Better to stick to the wider settings,
    or at least be sure to stay closer to subjects.
    Rollei Prego 100 is another one, especially since it has that macro mode
    you want. Actually, there are several choices of Rollei Prego, so perhaps
    widening your search. Anyway, tough to find much info about Rollei
    anything, but here is a great link to explore:

    Pentax has one P&S that goes as wide as 24 mm, called the Espio 24EW.
    Slightly over $200, but the wide 24 mm could be another interesting
    Using a camera goes to ergonomics. If the controls are well placed, and
    the viewfinder is bright enough, then the camera will get used often.
    Then comes the issue of whether the final images are satisfying enough.
    If the picture quality is just not good, then the camera will be left

    Obviously, any camera you pick at the low price point will have
    limitations. It should be more important to consider if those limitations
    will prevent the camera from getting used much. Some of the limitations
    in operation are to improve final image quality (like the Yashica zoom,
    or the small aperture at the telephoto end of all your choices).

    If you are not against getting good quality used gear, try looking at the
    older Contax and Leica choices. While the newer versions are out of your
    spending limit, you might find something older that works well. Sometimes
    these can even be found complete with box and all instructions.


    Gordon Moat
    Alliance Graphique Studio
    Gordon Moat, Dec 18, 2003
  4. jazzb

    Alan Browne Guest

    If you insist. And Konica absorbed Minolta, btw.
    Consumer ratings at 'store' sites are just a way for the consumer to put
    up a "I feel good about my purchase" statement. Few people in the P&S
    class of photogs are knowledgeable or objective about their ratings.

    From the research you've done and attendant comments, observations, you
    are probably better placed than the majority of people around here to
    make the choice. Given you mother's needs the simplest camera is the
    best camera. She wants zoom? Fine, but get one with a reasonable zoom
    factor (no more than about 4) as anything else will just result in
    crappy images.

    Alan Browne, Dec 18, 2003
  5. jazzb

    Jeremy Guest

    Think about this--who ever heard of a camera "for moms?" Do "moms" have
    unique requirements, by virtue of their status as mothers?

    I personally own an Olympus Infinity Stylus (the older model) with a 35mm
    fixed lens, and a Nikon Lite-Touch 140, with a 38-140mm zoom. I usually
    make 5x7 prints from them, and I can't see much difference in the photo
    quality at that enlargement size.

    The only tests of P&S cameras, that even begin to approach some level of
    objectivity, might be found in Consumer Reports Magazine--and they typically
    look for the least-expensive models that offer the most bang for the buck.
    P&S cameras are so similarly-priced, that it makes little sense to buy one
    based mainly on price. How much will one model save you over another
    similarly-equipped camera from another manufacturer?

    This is one market segment where the differences between models are so
    subtle as to almost make comparisons unnecessary. It's not like you are
    buying into a system, where all of your future purchases will depend upon
    the model of camera that you initially purchased.

    This should be a low-anxiety decision. Just buy one from one of the major
    manufacturers that has the features you like. (I'm assuming that you are
    not considering one of the high-end P&S models from Contax or Leica, right?)

    You might tend to favor models that:

    1: Have adjustable diopter (is Mom's eyesight the greatest?)

    2: Have a metal body rather than plastic (does Mom intend to carry the
    camera in her handbag, where it might bounce around among her compact and

    3: Have a viewfinder that adjusts the view to approximate the focal length
    she has selected (they probably all do that by now--I haven't looked

    4: Has a clamshell design, like the Stylus or Nikon Lite-Touch (you're going
    to either love this or hate this design.)

    5: Has low ED glass, if the camera has a long zoom. Nikon offers it, and I
    think that Olympus does, as well. It might make a discernable difference on
    longer zoom shots.

    There is so much overlap among models that you could almost buy one blind,
    and you probably wouldn't go wrong. My only advice is to stay away from
    refurbished units--I did see an article recently in Consumer Reports that
    found that many of those models were priced almost as much as new models,
    and that they typically came with reduced warranties.
    Jeremy, Dec 18, 2003
  6. jazzb

    Alan Browne Guest

    Gordon Moat wrote:

    Me too. I worry about the DSLR that I'll eventaully get ... all that
    skin oil from my nose all over the LCD...!
    Alan Browne, Dec 18, 2003
  7. jazzb

    Nick James Guest

    I 'discovered' I was a left eye shooter too. I had never given
    consideration to which eye I used until a workmate remarked upon it.

    I don't have any problems with my nose hitting buttons or messing the
    LCD on my 300D.

    The aforementioned workmate who is a right eye shooter possesses a
    generous Jewish nose has found that on occasion his nose does press the
    buttons on the back of his 300D. Canon produce a a larger eye cup to
    solve this issue.

    Nick James, Dec 18, 2003
  8. Had occasion to handle one of those newfangled Canon digital Rebels...
    <grin> Also had the presence of mind to check out this very thing!!
    Conclusion: the nose cleared the LCD comfortably when using either eye.
    IIRC, the LCD is directly below the viewfinder, and as neither of my eyes
    is centered over my nose, there's no problem.

    This may be true for most digital SLRs, dunno...

    Bill Tallman
    William D. Tallman, Dec 18, 2003
  9. jazzb

    jazzb Guest


    Thanks for the post. I agree wholeheartedly. All p&s are a lesson in
    compromise. You can't really expect much more considering the
    limitations of the form, but the fact that there have been some short
    zooms (with 28mm wide-ends, the aforementioned Lexio 70 and Minolta
    Explorer, for example) with somewhat faster lenses (max ap's larger
    than f4) suggests it's entirely possible to make more suitable p&s
    that meet those conditions.

    It seems that manufacturers are simply relying on the very good (as
    you mention) quality of higher speed ISO400 and 800 films to get away
    with slower overall lens designs, compensating, instead, with
    overblown and entirely too-phallic (and generally useless) "zoom
    appeal." I know that's what sells, but it doesn't make it any less
    irritating for those actually concerned with maximizing image quality.

    28mm is definitely advisable for indoor shooting, but there seems be a
    notable dearth of models that fit the 'script. I felt I needed to at
    least consider some of the 35-70 zooms, if, for no other reason than
    lack of choice (the Lexio 70, though, was originally my first option).

    She also has never used anything wider than 35mm, so it's not as if
    she would notice it or miss it. But I'll still be choosing one with
    28mm. It's a necessity.

    I had noticed the Stylus 100 Wide during my inital research, but
    couldn't find much info about it. Do you know if it's a continuous or
    stepped zoom (as both the Yashica and Canon Z90W are)?

    Do you own it? How's the glass?

    Thanks again for your input.

    jazzb, Dec 18, 2003
  10. jazzb

    Gordon Moat Guest

    I tend to shoot more verticals, so slightly different issues. Mostly, I
    hold the camera so the shutter release is at the highest point. This places
    either my forehead, or my nose, near some controls.

    I generally use much older camera gear, many of which are fairly smooth on
    the back. When I have used some of the Kodak DCS SLRs, I usually ignore the
    LCD. I have lots of confidence in my shot selection, and the small LCD is a
    poor judge of image quality. It is better to turn it off, or cap it, but
    that is just the way I liked to use these.

    The bigger issue for me has been manual film winding. The levers of many
    cameras come close enough to the right eye, meaning moving the camera
    between shots.


    Gordon Moat
    Alliance Graphique Studio
    Gordon Moat, Dec 18, 2003
  11. You've done your homework and gotten a lot of input, but has Mom actually TRIED
    OUT any cameras with you? To me this is imperative. If the camera's controls,
    ergonomics and viewfinder don't suit her needs, she won't use the camera, no
    matter how great the lens is.
    John P. McCormack, Dec 19, 2003
  12. jazzb

    jazzb Guest

    Perhaps not, but do "grandparents" or "girlfriends" have any more
    unique requirements than the equally non-specific "moms"?

    In any case, it was meant as a tongue-in-cheek rhetorical device
    (albeit, a failed one) to introduce the topic. This is clearly about
    "a camera for MY Mom" with all her inherent uniqueness. If
    generalities about other potential camera-needing "moms" can be
    extrapolated from her specific requirements and the resultant
    discussion, all the better. ;-)
    True enough. If I were purchasing just for myself, the decision would
    be simpler. I always tend to find buying electronics, in general, for
    others (this is meant to be a birthday gift, mind you) a somewhat
    irksome process, regardless. And in this case I'm trying to make a
    point of getting her something that she normally would never have
    purchased herself. If it were up to her, she'd just go to her local
    superstore and get whatever Canon/Nikon/Olympus was on sale and call
    it day.

    The Leica C3, though, would be nice, but unless it can be had for $250
    or so, or at least under $300, then it's out of consideration.

    Thanks for the pointers.

    jazzb, Dec 19, 2003
  13. jazzb

    Jeremy Guest

    Unfortunately, you gave no details on your mom's "inherent uniqueness." If
    she had any special requirements, we still cannot determine what they were.
    The only pointers I could offer had to be generic in nature.
    Jeremy, Dec 19, 2003
  14. jazzb

    jazzb Guest

    "inherent uniqueness," as in "particular needs," which I thought I
    provided in my initial post:

    They may reflect some of the same general concerns of the average
    point and shoot camera buyer, but I think there are also stipulations
    "unique to her" (her impaired arm, left-handedness, lack of mobility,
    technophobia) in as much as every camera buyer will have individual
    concerns/needs that inform their purchase.

    In the end, it was my mistake for being, perhaps, too general in my
    inital post. As I was already versed in the essential issues, I was
    looking more for personal experiences with or recommendations on
    various models that could maybe affirm what I was already thinking
    (and push a particular model to the front), introduce me to a new
    model I hadn't really considered (a la Mike's suggestion of the Stylus
    100 Wide), or provide insight into some of the newer cameras I was
    unable to find much info about.

    That was my primary intention. I'll need to be a little clearer next
    jazzb, Dec 19, 2003
  15. jazzb

    Matthew Endo Guest

    Nah, we know that posters on rpe35mm are features and equipment centric
    rather than going for the camera that "just feels right" in their hands.

    I would say that a big requirement for moms and grandmas would be a big
    bright viewfinder, not common on most of the tiny P&S cameras.

    P.S. To the original poster, check out John's web page on P&S cameras.
    Matthew Endo, Dec 19, 2003
  16. jazzb

    Matthew Endo Guest

    Nope, I thought your first post was extremely clear and easy to
    understand your requirements.

    Regarding your comments about getting service for the camera, in my
    experience with P&S cameras, once you drop it, it will be dead and just
    buy a new one. Refurbished P&S cameras don't live long, and it is more
    economical to buy a new camera rather than repair a broken one. I've
    gone through a few.
    Matthew Endo, Dec 19, 2003
  17. Hi Jazzb,

    Sorry to hear about your mum's MS, but wish her well and have found a camera
    that does fit most of her requirements, in fact the only area that lets it
    down is the short zoom range, however it has many good points and am
    surprised no one has mentioned it yet.

    Anyway it is the Fuji (yes Fuji, well they make pretty good digital cameras
    so their film ones can only produce better results), the Fuji Zoom Date f2.8
    (Uk name anyway and retails for around £150). Well it provides the following
    1: It has 2 shutter buttons. originally designed for taking self-portraits.
    2: 24-50mm f2.8/5.6 lens. Okay, not long but nice and wide for
    indoors/scenic shots.
    3: Not just programmed flash but super digital programme flash, well that's
    what it says in my Jessops catalogue!

    Anyway, certainly worthwhile looking at seeing as it has 2 shutter buttons
    and is a straight point-and-shoot.

    Stephen Leslie, Dec 19, 2003
  18. The "Fuji Zoom Date f2.8" is also known as the Fuji Silvi. It's not available
    in the USA now.

    If you want to go really wide, take a look at the Pentax Espio 24EW. 24mm -
    105mm F4.9 - F12.5 lens; 7 elements in 5 groups (at 24mm) with 2 aspheric lens
    elements. Kind of slow but it has a lot of nice features. See here:
    John P. McCormack, Dec 20, 2003
  19. jazzb

    jazzb Guest

    I would love to be able to let her test them out, but, unfortunately,
    I won't have the opportunity to do that. Most likely, I will be
    picking up two (or three) of my top choices and let her choose what
    feels and works for her then.
    jazzb, Dec 22, 2003
  20. jazzb

    jazzb Guest

    This sounds VERY interesting. I must've overlooked it on John's
    (invaluable) site (thank you, John!). The two buttons and f2.8 are
    especially intriguing. Fuji's medium-format cameras (GA645X and 6x7
    series) are pretty well-regarded, as are Fujinon lenses. Very nice.
    Now, if I can only find one... and seem to have them, New-York Camera in
    Germany, as well. Not much on Ebay. I'll have to find out about the
    duty/Customs situation. There's also the international warranty issue.
    Anybody familiar with purchasing from overseas?

    Nevertheless, thank you all for your help. Have a good holiday.

    jazzb, Dec 22, 2003
    1. Advertisements

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments (here). After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.