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View Full Version : Cheap digital compact, point and shoot camera?


Brad
2009-05-24, 17:43
I'm in the market for an inexpensive compact digital camera, something around $100. Obviously I'm not looking for something loaded with features. I just want something that takes decent pictures relatively quickly with autofocus, flash, and little to no setup.

What are you favorite brands for low-end digicams? Kodak? Pentax? Samsung?

Thanks in advance. :)

PB PM
2009-05-24, 18:23
In the past I would have said Kodak for cheap P&S, but their quality control seems to be slipping, not that you can expect much for $100. IMO, Canon makes some of the best P&S cameras right now, but Olympus makes some decent ones too, although not that cheap. See if you can find a deal on a Canon PowerShot A480.

Brad
2009-05-24, 18:28
Ah, I've had great luck with my last two Canon cameras. :) This would actually be replacing my older and smaller PowerShot S200 that's, uh, seven years old now. :lol:

Looks like Amazon has the A480 for $103 and free shipping. I might jump on that one.

Thanks, PB PM!

Brad
2009-05-24, 18:30
This would actually be replacing my older and smaller PowerShot S200 that's, uh, seven years old now.
It sure has kept its resell value!

http://i40.tinypic.com/10q9s7s.png

:lol:

turtle
2009-05-24, 19:56
I'll throw in a vote for a Canon P&S over the others. I can tell you that Office Depot is clearing out their old camera stock and have dropped the prices. I was in one yesterday picking up a new chair for my daughter's desk and saw a clearance board full of what you're looking for.

addabox
2009-05-24, 20:31
Canon here as well. Once you get up to the DSLRs or more fully featured fixed lenses there's a fair amount of competition, but Canon just seems to rule the point and shoot for cheap end of things.

Brad
2009-05-24, 20:55
Thanks, turtle and addabox! :) I'll give this thread another day or thereabout before I pull the buying trigger.

Luca
2009-05-24, 21:16
I'm also interested in one. Much as I love the image quality offered by my Sony's big Carl Zeiss lens, it's not compact at all, and the sluggishness bothers me as well. I want something small that I can take with me so I actually take pictures instead of wishing I brought my camera.

Anything wrong with the A480? There are higher end ones but I can't tell the difference other than the higher optical zoom, which I honestly don't care about much.

PB PM
2009-05-24, 21:22
I did a quick Google search, most say the A480 is the best cheap P&S on the market right now.

joveblue
2009-05-24, 21:33
What everyone else said. Although personally I'd pay the extra for the bottom-of-the range Canon IXUS, for the pocketability (and aesthetics :)). Depending on what you have in mind for it of course.

For some reason they've decided to uglify the more expensive IXUS's, I suspect inspired by the MacBook Air, but executed horribly.

Robo
2009-05-24, 22:10
I agree with everybody else. The Canon A480 is a great choice.

Like joveblue, I personally think that a lower-end IXUS (Digital ELPH in the US) is well worth the price premium, especially if you care about compactness. But if you don't want to spend more than $103 the A480 is a perfect choice, too. (The SD1200 IS is $199, which is admittedly quite a jump.)

joveblue
2009-05-24, 22:27
As they say, the best camera is the one you have with you, so a nice compact camera that you can slip into your pocket wherever you're going is much better then one that's more likely to be left behind. When I was travelling I always had my IXUS with me, slipped into my pocket next to my phone and iPod :). The Powershot wouldn't really fit very well.

Robo
2009-05-24, 22:38
As they say, the best camera is the one you have with you, so a nice compact camera that you can slip into your pocket wherever you're going is much better then one that's more likely to be left behind. When I was travelling I always had my IXUS with me, slipped into my pocket next to my phone and iPod :). The Powershot wouldn't really fit very well.

I was out walking in an arboretum today and I saw a really cute bunny really close to the trail. I tried taking pictures of it with my iPhone but without any sort of even digital zoom it's a piece of shit (please upgrade the camera, Apple!). I would have been able to take an actually recognizable photo of it with a "real" camera.

And I have an ELPH, so I have no excuses. :lol: (To be fair, I wasn't planning on going to an arboretum.) But yeah, having a camera that's actually with you is so worth it, even if it means paying more for a smaller one. IMHO :)

MCQ
2009-05-25, 00:48
If you're looking at the A480, you may also want to look at the A1000 IS to get image stabilization and slightly more zoom (4x vs. 3.3x). Not sure why it seems to be out of stock at several places I checked online, but J&R has it for $129 (http://www.jr.com/canon/pe/CAN_A1000ISGRAY/) with free shipping.

If you wanted to step up a little higher on the chain, then the SD890 from the Canon Elph series is at Amazon for $179.

PB PM
2009-05-25, 01:08
Most likely because the A1000 IS is discontinued.

JohnnyTheA
2009-05-25, 01:26
Nuther vote for Canon from me. I have had my PowerShot 570 for about two years and it hasn't failed me and has worked REALLY well. I have a Canon Digital Rebel that "should" take better pictures but for some reason I take much better pics with my PowerShot. I probably don't know how to work the Rebel correctly...

JTA

PB PM
2009-05-25, 02:14
SLR photography has a learning curve, and takes practice. That said, I handed my mum (who hardly even uses a P&S) and she was able to take some great pictures with my D50.

Luca
2009-05-25, 02:51
If you're looking at the A480, you may also want to look at the A1000 IS to get image stabilization and slightly more zoom (4x vs. 3.3x). Not sure why it seems to be out of stock at several places I checked online, but J&R has it for $129 (http://www.jr.com/canon/pe/CAN_A1000ISGRAY/) with free shipping.

If you wanted to step up a little higher on the chain, then the SD890 from the Canon Elph series is at Amazon for $179.

In fact, it's only $119 at J&R. You have to add it to your cart and then it'll drop the price by $10. I was considering the SD890, but it seems all you get is image stabilization, slightly more optical zoom, and a smaller size. Not a bad deal, but I'd rather get the more basic model and save $60 or so.

Also, the SD890 is only $170 at NewEgg at the moment: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16830120270. So really, they're both good deals.

EDIT: Apparently, Fry's has the A480 for $99, but only for in-store pickup: http://www.frys.com/product/5876473. Too bad there aren't any Fry's stores near me.

709
2009-05-25, 10:15
Ooh! What a timely thread. I've also been casually looking for a small point and shoot, and Canons in particular. I have a DSLR, but I find that I never bring it anywhere because of its bulk. I had a Canon S110 ages ago, and remember liking it, so if y'all think Canon is still the way to go I'll take the recommendations. :)

Another thought, too, is that I've been looking at the Flip UltraHD as well. It'd be nice to have a small 720p recorder around at the right time (UFO sightings and whatnot ;) ), so I'm kind of leaning towards one of those new Canon cameras with HD recording. Maybe the SD780 IS (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001SER47Y/)? At ~250 bucks it's a little more than I wanted to spend for a pocket camera, but if I could just grab this instead of a camera and a Flip I'd feel alright about it.

Is it 1981?
2009-05-25, 11:46
Here's another vote for the Canon IXUS series (Powershot/ ELPH/ whatever they're called over the pond)... the only cameras I've ever owned so far – film and digital – have been IXUSes. Great value, results, UI and build quality.


For some reason they've decided to uglify the more expensive IXUS's, I suspect inspired by the MacBook Air, but executed horribly.

Seconded, they look a bit nasty. I think the (discontinued) IXUS 70 (http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B000NUWJOM) is the best looking camera I've seen.

Dorian Gray
2009-05-25, 15:21
Canon cameras in this price range are not about style, but about well-rounded performance that you can trust to be among the best in class. However, recently Sony and Panasonic have come up with some solid competition at just over $100, so don't feel there is no other choice.

In most markets Canon divide their compacts into the PowerShot and IXUS ranges, with the former notable for good value and allowing a lot of manual control, and the latter for more compact designs with equally good image quality. In the US they seem to call them all PowerShots, which can be confusing.

This budget camera comparison (http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/Q408budgetgroup/) by DPReview is a few months old, but still mostly valid. I'd recommend you trudge your way through that even if it's "just" a $100 camera, as you'll probably have to live with the decision for a couple of years. It'll give you an idea of what common pitfalls to avoid (e.g. Samsung's rubbish image processing, the importance of optical image stabilisation), if nothing else.

I'd lean towards a Canon, Panasonic or Sony, with a very strong preference for a model with optical image stabilisation. Why? Because these cameras have small, noisy sensors, which means shooting at low ISO for good results. Low ISO leads to long shutter speeds, which results in camera shake - made much worse by the fact that these cameras are small and lightweight, and therefore hard to hold still, especially at arm's length while peering at the screen. You get the picture. ;) Image stabilisation is a big deal in a compact camera.

If you want to stick to $100 firm and can't find a discount, then go with the highest Canon PowerShot model you can squeeze into that price on Amazon, etc.

Edit. I read your post again and noticed:

I just want something that takes decent pictures relatively quickly with autofocus, flash, and little to no setup.
If you want to take pictures quickly with the flash then avoid models with AA batteries. Lithium-ion batteries can provide much more current and therefore recharge the flash much faster - like 2 seconds versus 8. Also, if you want "little to no setup" then one of the main advantages of the PowerShot models - their extensive manual control - is irrelevant. A Canon may still be the best bet though!

Robo
2009-05-25, 16:43
In most markets Canon divide their compacts into the PowerShot and IXUS ranges, with the former notable for good value and allowing a lot of manual control, and the latter for more compact designs with equally good image quality. In the US they seem to call them all PowerShots, which can be confusing.

In the US they badge all of their consumer cameras as PowerShots, but the IXUS range is badged as "Digital ELPH" (pronounced "elf") as well. The full name, therefore, is something like "Canon PowerShot Digital ELPH SD1200 IS" but everybody just calls it the "ELPH SD1200," as the "PowerShot," "Digital," and "IS" are largely redundant (there are no non-PowerShot consumer Canons, there are no longer any non-Digital ELPHs, and there is no SD1200 without image stabilization).

So, basically:

In Europe: PowerShot --- IXUS --- EOS
In US: A-Series (PowerShot branded) --- ELPH (PowerShot branded) --- EOS

They've recently added a D-, E-, and S-Series, but I'm not sure anyone pays attention to them (the D-Series consisting of one waterproof camera, the E-Series consisting of one simple shooter aimed at "teens and women," and the S-Series slotting in between the ELPH and EOS ranges but with the advantages of neither.)

Luca
2009-05-25, 20:01
If you want to take pictures quickly with the flash then avoid models with AA batteries. Lithium-ion batteries can provide much more current and therefore recharge the flash much faster - like 2 seconds versus 8. Also, if you want "little to no setup" then one of the main advantages of the PowerShot models - their extensive manual control - is irrelevant. A Canon may still be the best bet though!

What about lithium AAs?

PB PM
2009-05-25, 23:54
Lithium AAs are good. The best ones out there are the Sanyo Eneloop 2000mAh ones. That said, they still don't last as long as the battery packs that come with some cameras.

Luca
2009-05-26, 03:04
You know, given the added expense of buying batteries (A 4 pack of Eneloops with charger is $20), I'm now thinking that maybe the SD890 might be a better choice after all.

PB PM
2009-05-26, 03:35
They cost that much? They are often on sale for $14 Cdn around here.

Luca
2009-05-26, 03:44
That was for a four-pack with a recharger, but I didn't search that hard. Probably more like $15 if you look carefully instead of just buying the first one you run into.

ironlung
2009-05-26, 12:07
Over the years I have owned quite a few different point and shoot cameras, mostly canon's. Currently I own a SD1100 and I love it. I haven't felt the need to upgrade to anything else because as a point and shoot camera it does everything. It includes image stabilization by the way. Right now it can be had in the $120-$130 range ($105 at staples recently) and I would highly recommend it.

zippy
2009-05-26, 13:38
I hadn't ever considered that the special 'built in' rechargeable batteries would give better performance and speed. I just always preferred cameras that take off the shelf batteries, like AA, so that you could always rely on having the camera ready to go. We always have extra AA and AAA batteries in the drawer, and if you're out and about - you can always buy a new set in a pinch. Not so much with a special built in battery pack.

Luca
2009-05-26, 13:59
I hadn't ever considered that the special 'built in' rechargeable batteries would give better performance and speed. I just always preferred cameras that take off the shelf batteries, like AA, so that you could always rely on having the camera ready to go. We always have extra AA and AAA batteries in the drawer, and if you're out and about - you can always buy a new set in a pinch. Not so much with a special built in battery pack.

On the other hand, with a Li-Ion battery, you can just plug the thing into any outlet to charge it. I guess it's a trade off.

BTW I ended up changing my order to the SD890. I had placed an order for the A480 from J&R, but then I decided to move up, so I called to cancel. Ended up convincing them (with a little persuasion) to price match NewEgg instead.

Robo
2009-05-26, 16:11
Over the years I have owned quite a few different point and shoot cameras, mostly canon's. Currently I own a SD1100 and I love it. I haven't felt the need to upgrade to anything else because as a point and shoot camera it does everything. It includes image stabilization by the way. Right now it can be had in the $120-$130 range ($105 at staples recently) and I would highly recommend it.

Oh wow. $105 for the ELPH SD1100 is a steal. (It's essentially last year's model of the $200 ELPH SD1200.)

I have an ELPH SD1000 (the really boxy tenth anniversary model that came before the SD1100) and I love it.