Digital camera for serious amateur in the $200-400 range

Discussion in 'Digital Cameras' started by Barry Bean, Apr 15, 2004.

  1. Barry Bean

    Barry Bean Guest

    I'm a luddite film guy who's deeply invested in the Olympus OM series and
    Tri-X. My wife is a textile artist and graphic artist with a couple of
    decades experience in publishing and design. Neither of us has any
    experience with digital cameras, but we're thinking of dipping our little
    toe in.

    Our budget is a paltry $200-$400 (preferably including all necessary
    accesories). At the moment, we're looking At the Camedia C-740.

    Any thoughts on that camera or comparable competitors?
    Barry Bean, Apr 15, 2004
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  2. []
    Second-hand Nikon Coolpix 995? The swivel body makes all sorts of photos
    possible which are difficult with a conventional camera.

    David J Taylor, Apr 15, 2004
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  3. What type of pictures do you want to take mostly -- portraits,
    landscapes, industrial, architectural, etc?

    How will those shots be mostly used -- inkjet prints, "real" prints,

    How big will the prints be on average?

    Or, do you want a one-size-fits-all camera?

    I suggest that you go to and peruse the reviews
    for the 3 or 4 megapixel cameras. 1 or 2 MP cameras are more for
    snapshots. 5 MP ones, even used, will usually fall outside your
    budget; however, there are exceptions. A friend of mine just bought a
    Nikon factory refurbished Coolpix 5000, complete with manual,
    accessories, and 90 day Nikon warranty, off eBay for about $325.
    Excellent camera. 5 MP. 28-85 equivalent zoom, which should cover
    about 85 to 90% of the average shooters needs. Has Nikon made wide
    angle and tele accessory lenses available, if you need more range.

    I myself bought a used, Mint condition, Olympus C-3030 complete off eBay
    last summer for about $250. They're now going for about $125 to $170.
    Might fit your needs for getting your digital feet wet.
    Stefan Patric, Apr 15, 2004
  4. Barry Bean

    Barry Bean Guest

    Since this is our first foray into digital cameras (To date, I'm simply
    shot film and scanned negs/slides), we'll have a broad range of
    applications, although her primary interest is in shooting shots of her
    artwork for web use or gallery promos.
    Primarily for on -screen viewing, but she'll want to print the
    occasional 11x14.
    Ultimately, yes.
    That helps - that's exactly the sort of info we need.

    Sounds great, but until we have a little more experience, I'm wary of
    eBay. At this point I don't really know what I'm looking for in
    used/rebuilt deals.

    Thanks again for the concrete suggestions. You've been a big help.
    Barry Bean, Apr 15, 2004
  5. Hi Barry

    I recommend either a Canon A70
    or A80, gettable online at B&H or
    Adorama for $250 and $350 respectively.

    A 256 MB memory card can be had for
    another $60.

    Then a nice NiMH charger and 2 sets of
    batteries for another $60.

    Then a 7-in-1 card reader for about $30.

    Then a nice case to put it all into: say $30.

    That gives you a $430 or $530 total.

    Great pix from either camera. Print nicely
    at 4x6, 5x7, and 8x10.


    Stanley Krute, Apr 16, 2004
  6. If you're leaning towards an OLY, I noticed Oly C-4000 kits for $250 at Costco today.

    Add a set of NiMH batteries and a decent (not Costco!) "smart" charger for ~$40, and a 128MB memory card for another ~$40. The SmartMedia the
    camera uses is fading from use, but unless you're going to buy a bunch of them, it really shouldn't matter. If the camera has a weakness, it's
    telescoping lens mechanism. My C-300O makes bad noises on occasion, and I question it's ability to survive a small drop or solid 'whack.' I'd
    reccommend getting the filter holder, an aluminum sleeve that screws onto the body at the lens base, to protect the lens when it extends.
    Also, the "Camedia" software that allows USB downloading is notoriously flakey. Better set aside another $15 for a memory card reader, if required.

    On the plus side, the camera has a spot meter, aperture and shutter priority, and many other useful features. The reviewers all seem to agree
    that image quality is very good. (Just don't expect 35mm quality!)


    and elsewhere....

    Greg Campbell, Apr 17, 2004
  7. That's arguable. ;)
    He was already leaning toward OLY, and $250 for a well featured 4MP box
    is a pretty good buy. The A80 is $130 more, althugh it does include an
    unknown charger and 4 NiMH cells. It also uses CF media which kills the
    other formats on capacity per dollar, giving you half a gig for $80.

    FWIW, this Costco had gobs of 128MB SM for 32.99. Buy one and call it
    'done.' That should give the C4000 around ~55 HQ jpeg images - more
    than enought for a day's use. Heck, none of these cameras are going to
    last much over 5 years; both it and the memory are essentially throw
    away items. By that time, mid level digicam will devour your 128 or
    even 256M memory cards like popcorn and you'll need a multi-gigabyte
    storage format. I'll certainly agree that if the guy wants to shoot TIF
    or RAW files, CF is the only fiscally sane media to use.
    I don't care how many batteries the thing charges at once - does it have
    peak detect or, at the least, heat based shutoff? None of the units
    I've ever seen at Costco brag about being 'smart' or 'computerised,' or
    anything else that would make me think they are more than 'dumb,' timer
    based, battery blasters. Next time I'm there, I'll look for the
    Panasonic kit.

    Greg Campbell, Apr 17, 2004
  8. Barry Bean

    Barry Bean Guest

    FWIW, I ended up opting for a camedia c-750 and found one for $380. Looked
    at the A80, but my wife was willing to spend a few extre $$$ to get TIFF
    output - she's a graphic designer from way back.
    Barry Bean, Apr 19, 2004
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