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  1. #1
    Support JDRF b_young's Avatar
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    Camera advice needed

    I am looking for suggestions on a decent camera for my wife this Christmas. I don't really want to spend more than $500. She has always loved taking pictures. Mostly of the kids. There would be a lot of action shots. I could see her making a hobby of it but probably not at first. We have a couple of Wal Mart $100 digital cameras that she has been using. She finally confessed she would like something better but not extremely expensive.

    Suggestions please
    Thanks
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  2. #2
    I ain't no newbie redirekib's Avatar
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  3. #3
    Senior Member LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    I'm afraid I don't have much of a suggestion for you, but just some ideas of what's out there. For at or a little over $500, the 3 I'm looking at are:

    Pentax K-R
    Nikon D3100
    Canon Rebel T1i

    That's the order that I'm kinda leaning towards liking them, but I've never tried any of them. I loved my last Pentax DSLR so that's why I'm leaning towards it. Nikon generally seems to have more lens choices so I'm also considering that one. I've never shot Canon still cams, only video, and the T1i is a bit more money than the other two so I'm probably going to pass on that one.

    There are also some nice four thirds cameras to consider in that price range, but I haven't started looking into them.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member tizeye's Avatar
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    First, go into a store and play with the various cameras. How they feel and fit in your wife's hand is most critical. Probably the good news is that each of the entry level DSLR's are smaller, however, the size and placment of the hump/handle and shutter button can be significant. Personally, with entry level Sony I was almost pinching with 2 fingers to hold where was a solid grip with others. Your experience may vary. Go to multiple Best Buys/WalMarts etc so don't appear to be a pest but you gain additional experience with each plus those stores have easy access to the cameras. Also, consider a dedicated camera store if one is in your community where you will gain very knowlegable personnel but cameras are generally behind the counter. They may be the only store with Pentax in stock as their distribution network is limited. Prices are generally the same at big box, independent stores and mail order as they are controlled my the manufacturer.

    A good place to review models considering is www.dpreview.com and learn the difference between the various models - including some precious generation models that are closely numbered and can be confusing in the same price range if a store doesn't stock both models. Specifically Nikon D3000 vs Nikon D3100, or the Canon T3 (can be priced in the T1i range) vs the T3i.

    Don't be distracted by the focus "motor in lens" argument. You don't have any of the older lens anyway. With sports, will probably want a telephoto, so consider a 2 lens kit - but could buy the tele later. One thing to be careful, sometimes to meet pricepoints the kits will be packaged with an older tele that did not have stabilization (Nikon VR, Canon IS appears on the lens). While you can't buy any of these "body only" so probably not an issue, for photo quality, avoid the all in one zoom, typically ranging from 18-200. It is better to have an 18-55 and a 55-200 (or300), or even better, have a slight void in coverage and jump to a 70-300.

    Now the bad news. Time will tell as far as pricing and sales as supply may be constrained. The current floods in Thailand devastated Nikon and Sony, and Canon to a lesser extent. Those are the factories where consumer level DSLRs were built.

    4/3 cameras are another option. 4/3 refers to the sensor physical size (not megapixels). They look like P&S cameras with an interchangeable, but smaller, lens. Due to the smaller sensor and it's relationship to focal length of the lens, the 14-42 and 40-150 lens covers the same area (field of view) as the 18-55, 55-200 on the DSLR. These notably do not have a viewfinder (which assists with stability as you bring the camera to you) like the have on DSLR's. Also, their low light performance is limited with a lower ISO range. They are definately a step up from P&S cameras, and one thing you will notice about both 4/3 and DSLR is the almost instant readiness for the second shot vs the delat on P&S. Primary players in the 4/3 field are Panasonic GH models, Olympus E-PL models, plus some Sony models. The new Nikon 1 introduced a month ago competes in this market but has a smaller sensor but is overpriced for your budget and for the market itself - this coming from a Nikon guy. I definately would not stretch your budget for it.
    Last edited by tizeye; 11-11-11 at 05:56 AM.

  5. #5
    Ogr8nwmypstmksnosnse pgoat's Avatar
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    Does the OP's wife really need/want a DSLR? Not saying she doesn't - a DSLR will undoubtedly let her do more - but if his wife just wants something better than the $100 range, $300-500 will buy you a heck a good P&S these days.

    Unless he knows she wants to interchange lenses, an SLR might be good for the next gift, assuming she really gets the photo bug and wants to move on. Besides, a high-quality P&S is much more practical/portable imho. Even if you eventually get a nice DSLR, it's good to also have a pocket sized camera that takes great images. The optics are decent and they'll have manual modes which will be a good introduction to faster shutter speeds for the action shots, etc.

    Canon's upper level stuff is a ton of bang for the buck. The Powershot Gs might be just out of your price range, but we've had one of the mid-upper range As (model A630, 8 MP) for about 5 years and it is amazing. The prosumer-level As will be closer to $1000, but anything around 10 MP will be great.

    I've gotten good feedback from people about Sony's P&S cameras also...My co-worker just picked up this Sony for around $300 and it looks pretty sweet...I doubt you'd outgrow this camera's features very quickly.
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  6. #6
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    If you want to enlarge the photos (8x10 prints or larger), then forget about P&S cameras. SLRs are nice, but they are too bulky if you're also hauling the kids around.

    The Sony NEX series is a good compromise. The cameras are compact, but not pocket sized. They have SLR sized image sensors for great photo quality (better than the 4/3 cameras). The entry level Sony NEX-3 is reasonably priced.

  7. #7
    Ogr8nwmypstmksnosnse pgoat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnny99 View Post
    If you want to enlarge the photos (8x10 prints or larger), then forget about P&S cameras.
    This is true, but it's all relative - if the images will only be viewed on a computer monitor or digital picture frame, a good P&S could fit the bill.

    two things worth mentioning -

    1. what features do your current inexpensive cameras have (sensor size, zoom magnification, modes, etc.)? If they are very close to the P&S models I mentioned, you'll probably get a small improvement in optics, but having said that, you may well want to make the jump to a entry level DSLR.

    From a practical standpoint I'd probably get a starter DSLR from Canon or Nikon (so you have the option of using tons of better lenses down the road), as opposed to spending $500-1000 on a high-end P&S, unless you know for a fact that your wife wants a small, lightweight easy-to-carry camera.

    2. If you do go the P&S route, consider the options given to select file size... people often select the smaller file sizes, to fit more images on a card, esp. while on vacation, etc. You can't expect the optimal image quality when you do this, obviously. If you go the P&S route, you may wanna factor in some additional money for an extra data card or two, preferably the highest capacity your camera will support.
    Quote Originally Posted by jsharr View Post
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  8. #8
    Ogr8nwmypstmksnosnse pgoat's Avatar
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    PS - you may wanna check out recent Consumer Reports reviews. They are not camera specialists, so the reviews are somewhat less in-depth... but unlike those specific types of publications they give you a unbiased, practical explanation of camera types and model choices based on much of what's currently available out there. You'll need a subscription to view their online reviews, but your local public library should have the magazines.
    Quote Originally Posted by jsharr View Post
    People whose sig line does not include a jsharr quote annoy me.

  9. #9
    Senior Member bikebuddha's Avatar
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  10. #10
    Senior Member Lamplight's Avatar
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    I've heard a LOT of praise for the S100. Also the G12. Personally, I'm itching to try the Fuji X10.

  11. #11
    You Know!? For Kids! jsharr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lamplight View Post
    I've heard a LOT of praise for the S100. Also the G12. Personally, I'm itching to try the Fuji X10.
    It would be fun to take a pic of Fuji PX-10 with a Fuji X10, would it not?
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  12. #12
    Chepooka StupidlyBrave's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jsharr View Post
    It would be fun to take a pic of Fuji PX-10 with a Fuji X10, would it not?
    I could take a picture of an Ashahi beer with my Pentax.


  13. #13
    Godbotherer dwellman's Avatar
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    Actually I was looking for a camera for myself. I had a Panasonic TZ5 (ex has it now). Thinking about grabbing a DMC-FH25K. Which is a smaller type but can be got for under $125. But for an enthusiast. $500 is barely going to cut an entry level DSLR body, let alone decent lens options.

    But for an enthusiast, just getting serious, maybe take a look at Olympus XZ-1. It's a pretty good camera.
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  14. #14
    Senior Member LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    I've had P&S digital cameras from Sony, Nikon, Olympus and Panasonic. The Panasonic was definitely the best.
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  15. #15
    Godbotherer dwellman's Avatar
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    Yeah. Panasonic: Good mix of speed, image processing, ergonomics, and price. I was going to suggest a ZS10, but with a $500 budget, the Olypus XZ-1 is a bit better.

    Although one could get a GF1 or GF2 body for under $500 probably. Lenses would put that over $500.

    EDIT

    Hmm. . . . http://www.mordys.com/Panasonic-DMC-...=bing_shopping
    Last edited by dwellman; 11-11-11 at 03:19 PM.
    "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize"
    "So I do not run like someone who doesn't run toward the finish line. I do not fight like a boxer who hits nothing but air."
    "And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us."
    "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."

  16. #16
    You Know!? For Kids! jsharr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by StupidlyBrave View Post
    I could take a picture of an Ashahi beer with my Pentax.

    i am not smart enough to understand this. I barely understood my PX-10 to X10 comparison.
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    Quote Originally Posted by colorider View Post
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  17. #17
    Senior Member LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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  18. #18
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    I've been involved in photography for over 40 years, using SLR and TLR cameras in the past, and then about 6 years ago I finally bought my first DSLR. I prefer using a DSLR to anything else, but they are big and hard to carry around and a lot of people don't want to go through all of that.

    I've had to buy cameras for my wife and daughter over the years, so periodically I have to do a lot of research. Before I bought my DSLR I bought my wife a Panasonic FZ5. This is in the class called "EVF" (Electronic View Finder). It is like a midget DSLR without a detachable lens but it has a long zoom range and builtin image stabilization. It has a much better sensor than most point and shoot cameras, and is much more responsive than the average P&S. It is much smaller than a DSLR and easy to carry in a purse, but not quite flat enough to fit in a pants pocket. Panasonic still makes this type of camera and they have improved them. Canon is the only company that can compete with them, they might be equal but they aren't any better. Sony has some models that come close.

    There are some good point and shoot cameras out there, and I bought one for my daughter last year, again a Panasonic. I did a very lot of research before picking it.

    There are new models on the market such as the Nikon One that might be worth looking at. The main advantage of the EVF cameras, the Canon S100 mentioned above, and the Nikon ONE are that they will have better sensors and be much more responsive to the user than the average P&S camera. I think the average user can be happy with one of these, but someone interested in photography won't be happy with anything short of a DSLR. I would recommend Canon or Nikon, but not any other brands due to the much better support for Canon and Nikon. I have a small P&S that I carry in my briefcase for when I might want to take some photos but I don't want to carry the big camera, but if I am anticipating that I will want to take photos then I carry the big camera. Lots of people wouldn't want to do that, but I'm not happy with a lesser camera.

    My general recommendation is to research competing camera models and don't automatically pick one brand over another just because of advertisements. There are lots of sites on the net with reviews, but dpreview.com is one of the best. And secondly I recommend going to the forums on dpreview and reading what people that own and use different camera brands/models have to say about them. They will sometimes know things about the cameras that reviewers won't know.

  19. #19
    Senior Member skiahh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnny99 View Post
    If you want to enlarge the photos (8x10 prints or larger), then forget about P&S cameras. SLRs are nice, but they are too bulky if you're also hauling the kids around.

    The Sony NEX series is a good compromise. The cameras are compact, but not pocket sized. They have SLR sized image sensors for great photo quality (better than the 4/3 cameras). The entry level Sony NEX-3 is reasonably priced.
    Not necessarily true. I've printed some nice 8x10s from my P&S. I wouldn't want to go any bigger, though. These were from an Olymous 770sw.
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  20. #20
    Senior Member tizeye's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=LesterOfPuppets;13482793]... B and H has the LX5 for $389.00, not a bad deal.

    That is an excellent deal on the Panasonic, considering that Leica sells the identical camera as the D-LUX5 for $800..but they do include a "free" $200 copy of Lightroom.

    Actually, the LX5 (and D-LUX5) are a class of P&S that is considered a step up from all other P&S. the Panasonic/Leica was also a joint development venture with both companies bringing their strengths - Pansonic electronics and Leica optics. As a group they have a larger sensor (1:1.7 vs 1:2.3 in other P&S) manual setting override, wide minimum aperature in the f2 range, RAW in addition to jpeg and other features not found in other P&S. The downside...no long zoms but generally OK. Samsung has the shortest zoom at 72, but starts at a very wide 24mm. Panasonic is next at 24-90, and Nikon is the longest at 28-200. The 2 Canons fall inbetween.

    There are only 5 cameras in this group and they are all within your price range. Panasonic and Canon S100 are the smallest veryclosely resembling P&S, plus the Panasonic adds a hotshoe for and external flash. The other 3, Canon G12, Samsung TL500 (EX1), and Nikon P7000 (or recently released P7100) are physically larger as the add a viewfinder, and all have the hotshoe. All are decent, but would probably lean toward either the Panasonic or Canon G12.

    One group to avoud are the "bridge" cameras. These are the large P&S that look like DSLR but DON'T have interchangable lens. Amazingly, despite their physical size, they are built around the 1:2.3 sensor found in the lower end P&S. If you are getting the bulk, may as well get the entry level DSLR.
    Last edited by tizeye; 11-11-11 at 07:00 PM.

  21. #21
    Chepooka StupidlyBrave's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jsharr View Post
    i am not smart enough to understand this. I barely understood my PX-10 to X10 comparison.
    I wasn't smart enough to take a picture of the beer either.

  22. #22
    Senior Member kc0yef's Avatar
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    Used Fujifilm S3 Nikon compatible auto lenses about $500

  23. #23
    Senior Member kc0yef's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bjtesch View Post
    I recommend going to the forums on dpreview and reading what people that own and use different camera brands/models have to say about them. They will sometimes know things about the cameras that reviewers won't know.
    +1
    I have been photography for about 30 years

  24. #24
    Senior Member LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    Snapsort.com is a pretty cool camera comparison site if you're looking to compare just specs at a pricepoint.

    Here's the top two I'm deciding between in a head to head comparison. The main points that the Nikon wins that matter to me are the higher res and the wider lens availability. The Pentax sure has a lot of nice features in its win column, though.

    http://snapsort.com/compare/Nikon_D3100-vs-Pentax_K-r

    I could care less about the video features personally.
    Last edited by LesterOfPuppets; 11-11-11 at 11:35 PM.
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  25. #25
    Support JDRF b_young's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the suggestions so far. I am a little overwhelmed. The last camera I used was a Pentax K1000 back in the 80's. I am leaning toward the entry level DSLR's but it appears I have miles of research to go.
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