I Need Your Digital Camera Opinions

Photo: Two pictures of the Nikon Coolpix SQ: one in the 'swiveled' position, one in the 'closed' position.

I like the form factor of my Nikon Coolpix SQ, but its sluggish

response time and the graphical “noise” it adds to images is beginning

to drive me bonkers. Since I have an upcoming wedding and plan to take

lots of photos of what’s supposed to be a major day in my life, I’m

giving some serious thought to purchasing a new camera and giving my

old one to my sister so she can always shoot pictures of the kids.

I’m still looking for a compact 3-or-more megapixel

mostly-point-and-shoot camera in the CDN$300 – $500 range that also shoots

movies with sound. It would be nice if the camera had a decent reaction

time. I might be willing to overlook a little compactness if it takes

standard AA batteries (I’d use rechargables, but it’s nice to be able

to buy fresh ones from the corner store in a pinch. I’d also like it if

it can shoot movies with sound.

I’ll be cruising a number of digital photography review sites as well as the Henry’s catalogue

to see what’s out there. If you have any suggestions that you’d like to

share with me and the rest of the web, please let me know in the


24 replies on “I Need Your Digital Camera Opinions”

Hi Joey,

I got a Fuji E500 last year and I am happy with it- 4.1 mpixels, 28-91 mm (35 equivalent) zoom, uses AA standard rechargeables, and has a fast recycle and a big 2″ screen.

I have a Canon SD20 that I love. Shoots movies with sound, 5.0MP, small enough to fit in my pocket. The two downsides are that it uses rechargeable batteries and that it doesn’t have an optical zoom. With 5MP the digital zoom works ok before the picture starts to get grainy, but it’s not the same as having an optical zoom. But if you want something that can fit in your pocket comfortably, this is the camera to go with.

I wouldn’t call it a “compact”, but I’ve been very pleased with my 4.0MP Canon G3. You can take a look at some shots here.

There is a web site called Steve’s Digicams, where he compares a vast selection of digital cameras from all the major manufacturers, and does a pretty thorough job of it, too. (Naturally, I don’t have the URL handy to give to you…)


I love my Casio Exilim. 5MP and way small–I keep checking my pocket to make sure I didn’t lose it.

No camera advice here, but maybe a little wedding advice; I’m not sure it’s realistic to plan to “take lots of photos” of your own wedding.

As the groom, you’re one of the stars, not the cinematographer; you’re on, and in demand, the whole time; you’ll be lucky to get even a quiet moment to catch your breath, let alone the luxury of photographing the event.

At least that was my experience. A great day, but also a stressful and exhausting one.

Yeah, I’m keeping that in mind. My strategy is going to be to:

  • Use the camera myself to take lots of “self with other person” photos (you know, where you grab somone, put your arm around them, aim the camera at yourself and click), especially “self and Wendy” shots
  • Hand off the camera to a friend for a little bit (some of my best photos were taken by Eldon, who’s often been my wingman).

I’ve never given much consideration to Sony digital cameras because of how poor they were back in 1998, even though they had some pretty interesting and unique features (once upon a time, using a floppy as the storage device seemed like a great idea). I’ll have to check them out on the review sites.

Another vote for the Canon Powershot line. Any of the things. They rock my small self centered world. 🙂

I have an older one (A85) and I have played with most of the other models extensively. In fact, I got my A85 for sub $200.00 because the A95 had just come out so you can get some pretty decent prices if you shop.

Oh, and I agree about the AA batteries. I was looking for a more compact camera than my A85, though it isn’t very big, but got such a good price that I went ahead. I have never doubted the decision. It’s size is primarily due to using 4 AA batteries. The fact that I could snap up a box of alkalines when my rechargables are all dead has saved my arse several times. Including at a wedding.

I have also found that the slightly larger size is actually better for me, as any smaller and I feel like I loose some of my control over the camera. Though I have rather large hands so YMMV.

I’ve tried to sort my points into two piles:

The big day related ones:

– almost without exception a picture of two people taken by a third person will be better than a picture of two people taken by one of the two, and since it is your day you would definately be entitled to ask anyone to take a picture of you and whoever you want.

– I agree with the idea that you are going to be called on a lot and your pockets may be pretty full of more important things already and it becomes one more thing to keep an eye on when your eyes are going to want to be on something else the whole time. You are doing the vow taking so it is ok to outsource the picture taking.

– the big moment is a bad time to be figuring out new equipment, either you or whoever you hand it off to, so if you do get a new camera, leave yourself enough time to get used to it.

– taking a look at your guestlist, how many of them are likely, or could be asked to, be packing their own cameras over the course of the event. Redundancy counts.

– have you thought of a guest picture taking ettiquite for the day? “Please no pictures during the ceremony but lots later but then, after midnight what happens on the banks of the Charles stays on them” or something to that effect?

– have you discussed with the professional photographer you are using how they work with guests using their own cameras? I’ve been to events where the photographer was really into it and others where they were worried it would affect their results.

Camera feature related ones:

– I’ve noticed a real degregation in the quality of images with your Nikon too, before buying something new is there any chance of having it checked out to see if it is not just broken?

– I know the rotating lens feature is good for taking pictures of yourself with other people but I’ve always worried about breaking it off when I’ve used it, especially if I drop it. I figure the pivot is the weak link on that design.

– The Nikon’s mode switch and on/off switch’s promiximity to each other have caused me to accidentally turn it off often and the long ‘boot up’ has cost capturing some moments

– The display screen is the largest power consumer on the camera so it would be good to get one where you can toggle this screen off easily to save the juice.

– At least my inability to find the display screen toggle, if the Nikon has one, and the above mentioned turning off to save juice and long start up has been a frustrating combination of

missed shots

– optical zoom is important to image quality, it is nice to have a camera that has it and if the camera has digital zoom as well, also has a clear indicator of which one you are using.

– off the shelf batteries may be a false economy, aside from the environmental issue, as digital cameras tend to devour them, and almost all standard battery cameras tend to be physically larger. Ancedotely my cousin had a Canon that used AA while my Canon used its own proprietary battery and at one event I outshot 2 sets of his batteries to one charge of mine.

– getting a fast boot up camera, one with a clear display toggle on/off and buying a second camera specific battery are all work arounds to the power issue.

– find out how fast the autofocus works on the camera. Your Nikon seems to send out some sort of green measuring signal first and this causes a big chunk of the delay whereas I don’t have the same problem with my Canon. The green light may just be the red-eye reduction. Also look for a camera that lets you focus on something the same distance as the target and then holds the focus so you cut the delay. This is also a trick for shooting action that is too fast for the autofocus cameras.

– manual override of everything is useful in some situations

– with the video function, the camera’s onboard memory and the speed at which it can write to the storage media limit the length of video that can be shot without adjusting the quality so keep an eye on how long a video can be shot at one time.

– physical case. I have dropped my Canon on asphalt, dragged it on mountain bike trips through the Rockies and used it outside in the winter. It has put up with some terrible abuse without issue. I also know of a few aftermarket hardcases that hold it well.

– straight camera to usb wire ability in case you don’t have a way to get the nearby computer to read the storage card. Also watch out for cameras that don’t take standard media cards.

– all of the above being said I have been using a Canon Powershot s200 for the last 4 years and have no gripes other than it cannot shot hi-res video for more than a few seconds. I would get the current equivalent model of it today

– From the Henry’s Catalog I would be looking at any of the Canon Powershot S/SD series, although the Zeiss lens would make the SONY DSC-W7B something to consider too. They also have spare batteries for the Canon’s, I’ll have to pick one up soon.

“less clicks and more c#$%&*”


unofficial photographer to the AAG


i just bought this camera to take pics of my kid. it can take a picture every second without a flash. the start up time is only about a sec and there is a burst mode that you can shoot 15 pics or so in seq, great for those hyper active kids..

plus it only uses two AA batt that seems to last forever..

i got it for ~$140 after applying for the amazon credit card.

kooky(tina’s husband) from san jose,ca

I bought an open-box Fujifilm Finepix F10 from Henry’s outlet store on Queen St. over a month ago for about $350 after trade-in (list price is close to $500). It’s the size of a deck of cards, has 3x optical zoom, 6.3 megapixels, and a huge ISO range up to 1600 (not that I’ve ever had to go that high). You can get great still pictures with the auto setting and while you can adjust a few things manually, it is essentially a kickass point and shoot rather than a pro camera. The only fiddling I usually do with it is to turn on or off the flash and to adjust the ISO for interior shots with a single bright light source (e.g. huge window).

The video quality is surprisingly good (AVIs that I easily converted to WMV with my Windows movie editor). I took very crisp video around the house with good (mono) sound. I also took some video at a recent show at Molson Amphitheatre, not expecting much quality under those conditions, and was shocked to see and hear how well they turned out. See if you can get someone at Henry’s to let you torture test the little bugger, and keep in mind that Henry’s, Future Shop et. al. will let you return a camera within 15 days if it doesn’t suit you.

Whoops — posted too soon. The F10 starts up in about a second and writes to the card in 1-2 seconds. It uses its own battery rather than AA, but it’s dead easy to charge in the camera and has lasted me for hundreds of flash shots before needing a recharge. I got a 1 Gb XD card at Canada Computer on College near Spadina for under $100 and find that this is enough for almost any situation as I can get hundreds of great shots on that.

Digital Photogrpahy Review conclusions:

Good luck!


compact and good?

Pentax Optio.

Then you go get a tin of Altoids, take out the mints, and put your camera in.

Yes, I’m serious, makes a perfect hard case.

I’m told that Kodak cameras have some special lens technology that they own and the other camera makers don’t have.

I own a Kodak and am very happy with the results from it. I’ve also owned 2 other kinds and the Kodak has given me the nicest pictures so far.

You can never, ever go wrong with a Canon Powershot. Any of the cameras in that line will do wonders.

I love them personally, and they’re all over ZDNet’s top ten lists for digital cameras of all resolutions.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W1

These good cameras. Large screen 2.5″, will use regular AA batteries, movie mode 640×480 and can record as long as you have memory card space.


Olympus Camedia C5050. – Flip up screen (can toggle off) allows multiple shooting positions, Accepts SM, CF, and XD cards (can hold a SM and a CF at the same time). Takes four AA batteries. (I used rechargibles and probably get 600 plus pictures a set), 3x optical zoom, easy to hold, multiple user programing modes, on and on.

It’s an older camera – 3 yrs plus, so you can get it cheaper. I’ve had mine since 2003 and I still love it. I carry it everywhere and often choose it over the Nikon D70 I just received as a gift.

Steve’s review

— Domoni

I think the camera you need/want is the Kyocera SL300R or SL400R. It has the same swivel design as your Nikon Coolpix (meaning the lens is also fully deployed at all times, so less time to first picture taking), it has glass lenses (quality), a small LCD (less battery usage for the screen), and if you want to go classy you can get the non-OEM Contax version, which boasts Zeiss lenses and is a classier black (and twice the price of the Kyocera-branded one):

Mine is the 4 megapixel one, and I love its 3-shots-per-second feature. I also do a lot of self-timer photos (in dark places), and it can do a series of three, which is nice. It also does videos with sound up to the size of your SD card, and I love being able to exchange SD cards with the integrated reader on my laptop.

Now, for the drawbacks: Kyocera lost a warehouse in a fire, so they are difficult to find. In fact I think this is the reason why mine was so relatively cheap for the features (I did not know about the fire when I bought it, or I would have haggled down the price a couple of notches). Also it has no viewfinder, no lens cover (it comes with a nice pouch, though), and no tripod screwthread (the only real drawback I can think of). Also, the close-up macro mode leaves a lot to be desired. Finally, it is so lightweight that hand steadyness becomes a very critical factor, but I guess that is a common problem in all small and light cameras.

I am working on making a clip-on tripod screwthread, a clip-on loupe for use as a viewfinder, and I don’t really care about the lens cover, because I would not carry my camera in my jeans pocket anyway.

Recommended, but then I don’t know much: it is my first digital camera, and I have no other to compare it to. I also tend to take photos in very very low light using its 800 ISO setting, so the quality of the photos I take would not be a very good guide for you.

Mine cost me 200 pounds sterling last spring in London, I got it from Jessop’s. It had a bad pixel, but I could not even go back and return it because, putz that I am, I lost my invoice within four minutes of leaving the shop (tossed it away by mistake).

Hope that helps, and mazel tov on getting hitched.

— Javier Candeira,

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