Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Hardware

Which Digital Camera Do You Recommend? 368

Posted by Cliff
from the choosing-the-best-toy dept.
Digital Cameras are becoming the rage these days. It seems that now people are opting for the ease of the CCD and the COMPACTflash card over the trusty 35mm film camera, and why not? Gone are the days of paying to have your film developed at the nearby PhotoHourMart. With a digital camera, a laptop, and a decent printer, you are your own photographer, photolab and even publisher. So what digital camera does the Slashdot Readership recommend? Which one offers the best bang for the buck or has the best features? I'd be interested in hearing your opinions.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Which Digital Camera Do You Recommend?

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I do time lapse exposures all the time with my $300 point and click cannon digital camera.

    And professionals are flocking to the likes of the Nikon D1 and better cameras. Journalists are leading the crowd, as the instant turnaround of digital is a powerful enabler for them.

    A recent snowboarding event was shot by photographers boarding down the slopes with nikon D1's. They each had a laptop running out of their backpack, using radio ethernet to continously send pictures down to a base station that was putting them up on the web instantly. That's an ability film can *never* match.

    Now having my 1st digital camera, I will almost certainly never go back. Digital cameras give the instant gratification of polaroid, but without it costing $1 per picture and with much better quality. Polaroid cameras have been reasonibly successful over the years, and I suspect digital will be as well as they get cheaper.

    Using CMOS sensors enables single chip cameras. As CMOS technology continues to develope, it's reasonable to envision fixed focus disposable digital cameras as cheap as those cardboard film ones. Except that they won't need to be disposable, because you can always clear the memory.

    Don't laugh... remember that these days you can get microcontrollers from RadioShack for $1 each... not hard to see that in the near future, we'll have $10 (without flash storage) digital cameras.

    This thread isn't supposed to be about wheither digital technology is flawed vs film... it's a stupid argument, digital is becoming a de facto presence. This thread is supposed to be about cammer reccomendations:

    I reccomend any of the Cannon powershot line. I personally have a Powershot A50. The resolution and quality of this 1.3mpixel unit suffers in comparison to the latest 2.5+ units, but it is dirt cheap. Combine that with a rugged aluminum body, 2x zoom, panarama and continous fire modes, and you get a lot of value. If you have more $$ to spend, the newer S10 or S20 produce very nice images at very high resolution, while still perserving the tiny all metal camera body... perfect to drop into a pants pocket and go.

    My only complaint so far is that you'll want a case for it: the mode selector dial can get turned 'on' while the camera is in your pants pocket, wasteing battery charge and opening the lense up to damange.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 22, 2000 @06:51AM (#1117147)
    Properly exposed good film has a resolution of well over 2000 dots (I think over 3000, even) for 35mm film.

    I don't know where you come up with this, but I've never heard of film being measured in "dots". Laser printers are compared in dpi. Scanners in dpi. They are digital devices. Film is not. Film, at least according to Kodak and Fuji, is measured in lines per millimeter. To simply make a blanket statement that 35mm film has x resolution, is not correct. They cannot be compared, as the underlying technology is vastly different.

    Different films have vastly different resolving abilities. The best film in the world for resolution is Kodak Technical Pan. At 25 ASA, when developed in Technidol Liquid, it delivers absolutely razor sharp enlargements up to 20x24 from a 35mm negative.
    It's resolving power is in excess of 250 lines/mm.

    Kodak T-Max 400 can resolve a max of 125 lines/mm at 400 ASA in T-Max RS developer. How do these compare to DPI...I don't know. It's not accurate to compare. With these films, the capability of the film to store detail FAR exceeds the ability of the camera and photographer. Razor sharp focusing is hard to do, even for a professional. Most consumers own really crappy, slow, lenses. This too will have a huge impact on photo quality.

    For the average home user, a digicam is a good bet.

    I agree saying a $600 SLR will demolish a digi cam. But so will a $100 SLR. It's the lens, more than the film. All a camera is, is a light tight box. Nothing more. Too many people get caught up in buying a super expensive camera. Don't. Buy a cheap ass Nikon FM, and a Nikon 50/1.4. Total price, under $300. Quality, better than any digi cam under $5000.

    If you buy a digi cam, you're going to have to spend gobs of money printing out all the pictures. You're going to have to find a storage system. CDr's have a limited life, so do crappy inkjet prints, never mind the horrid quality compared to a photographic paper.

    Who wants to scrapbook a bunch of inkjet prints with non-archival and acidic inks? If you're serious about quality, stick with film. If you want something to last, stick with film. If you want to take quick little snapshots of your dog, or your partner for a web page or to spam your friends via email with, get a digi cam.

  • I bought a Olympus D-340r quite a while back when they where fresh. At the time I got a great deal at $250.

    I still think this camera rules for sheer value. A small package, taking smartmedia up to 64mb. Because you are using smartmedia you've got lots of options for getting the stuff into your machine (works for me in linux, beos, and windows via serial, and windows with the little pc-card thingy).

    Images have great color, imho. It's quick when using jpg compression (HQ), but slow as hell on uncompressed tiffs (SHQ) -- I think the limitation is the flash cards. The macro distance is really short, so you can get right up on subjects. It also will take images at light levels that a (similarly priced) film camera can't touch.

    I think the D-340r is the best bang for the buck in the 1280x960 arena -- and they are even less expensive now.

    I've got some virgin images on my site that haven't been re-touched or re-sized (add /news onto the url up there).

  • I have to say, I love this camera, the only thing that's wrong with it is a flimsy feeling lens cover, IMHO. In the past months I've purchased four of them with the 340 meg IBM microdrives. One for myself, my sister, my father and my girlfriend. Of these people, I'm the only computer-ish one, and they all love their cameras.

    They're great because with the microdrive you have enough storage to go on vacation for a week or two, take lots of photos, and not have to sync to a laptop or something. (who wants to bring their computer on vacation? oh, i forgot, this is /. probably a lot of people.)

    The picture quality is excellent, and while no, it will not supplant the professional style 35mm camera with lots of lenses and filters and such, it does a nice job of replacing the average 35mm point and shoot. While I wish it were smaller (if they made one that looked like my Elph, that'd be great), it's a great little camera, with decent battery life, good picture quality (colour balance is fairly accurate and such) and easy to use operation.

    As for price, I honestly am not sure. I believe they ran a tad over $500 for the camera plus $350-ish for the microdrive to buy seperate and there's some sort of deal if you buy the camera with the microdrive.
    ----------------------------
  • I too have the 950 and it kicks serious butt.

    With the 990 coming out any day now, a lot of the folks who want to always have the latest and greatest are going to be selling their 950s in the next few months. Watch the used market and pick up a camera that can do everything.

  • First off, I have a Nikon CoolPix 950 and do semi-pro stuff, mostly as an adjunct to web development.

    My firm does the website for the Philadelphia Eagles and this year I was invited to spend some time on the sideline during games. Now here's what you do. Open my image [eaglesnet.com], then with a second browser window, open a pro's image [eaglesnet.com].

    Both of these images were taken in fairly good afternoon light. Both of them stop the action, at least 1/125sec. Both are web-resolution, I grant you. The pro's image was scanned directly from negative.

    Differences? Well, notice how the pro's image has colors that are incredibly washed out. Notice how the pro's image has no depth of field.

    Of course, his image is better than mine from a photographer's perspective; hell, I'm a hack. But what does that say about digital photography -- that with a basic understanding of it, a few months of practice, I can produce something that's at least compelling? Note, too that his gear was about $10,000 while mine was the $900 Nikon plus a $150 2x teleconverter. Howzat!

    Furthermore, I wasn't the only digital photographer there. Another of the pros had a pro-quality Nikon digital with a 340 Meg IBM hard card.

    And furthermore, with the compact flash reader, I could take all of my images and have them web-ready in about an hour. The pro? Well he required a special room in the stadium with another $3000 of equipment.

    Lastly, one of the real joys of shooting with a high-res digicam like this is getting to see 1600x1200 shots on a big monitor. It is truly amazing; it takes your breath away in a way that film just doesn't. Go to www.catalystinternet.com/photos [catalystinternet.com], bump your monitor up to full screen, and click on the files that start with "DSCN". Those are the raw files coming straight out of the Nikon CoolPix 950, no cropping, no color correction. (Warning: some of those images are 800K in size. If you only have a slow connection and are male and heterosexual you'll only want to look at DSCN1510.JPG.)

    This is the fun of having a digital camera; suddenly photography is a wonder again. Suddenly you want to take tons of shots and look at them one-by-one.

  • by bmetz (523) on Saturday April 22, 2000 @05:14AM (#1117157) Homepage
    First and foremost: USB, USB, USB. You will regret
    it if you go for a camera that uses a serial link
    to connect to your computer. Your only hope then
    is usually a CompactFlash card reader that you can
    hook up to your PC/laptop.

    Speaking of CompactFlash, the camera you're looking at uses it, right? Unless you enjoy proprietary ripoff memory you want to stick to
    CF memory. Besides, if you ever feel the urge,
    IBM's MicroDrive is CompactFlash..how does a
    340 meg hard drive sound in your camera?

    Another big issue is Linux compatibility. Your
    first stop is to www.gphoto.org to check their
    list of supported camera models. Their list is
    NOT the definitive list, however! If you can put
    up with closed-source software, JCam (www.jcam.com) has a huge list of supported cameras.

    And one last note..the Kodak guys have been VERY
    nice to me and from the sound of it most other
    vendors have been pretty secretive about their
    specs/transfer protocols. If you want to support companies that treat you right, keep the linux-friendly-support factor in mind.
  • I'd say that "decent" is a relative term.

    My family has a Pentax PZ-70. The whole outfit (Body and Sigma 28-200 lens) cost around $600.

    The main thing I don't like about it is that Pentax isn't that big a brand, so accessories are harder to find. And nowadays you can get a "major" name SLR that beats the PZ-70 for less than $600 including a newer 28-200 lens that can focus a lot closer. (The only other gripe I have about my particular outfit is the focusing distance needed for the 28-200. Sigma now has lenses with far better specs for less than this lens cost.)
  • The 340 now has a successor, the D-360L. It improves a number of new features, and I think some places actually sold it for less! (Similar to being able to find the C-2020 cheaper than the C-2000)

    I wish that company that was creating "digital film" for 35mm SLRs would get their damn product out. Oh, and make it cost less... It was basically a 35mm film canister with a CCD that would convert any 35mm camera into a digicam. Unfortunately, last I checked they intended to sell it for over $700-800 despite the fact that digital cameras with optics,LCD, etc. run in the $300 and up range.
  • Otherwise, why is blowing a picture up to 8.5x11 (or more) possible?
  • Thos grainy photos are just a bad picture... Either because you underexposed or you used bad film. (Like high-speed Kodak Max. Compare Kodak Max 800 to Fuji's 800, the difference is amazing. And if you really care about grains, use ISO 100 or less film.)

    Properly exposed good film has a resolution of well over 2000 dots (I think over 3000, even) for 35mm film.

    Then you have medium/large format, where you have film that measures on the order of 4x5 inches at a resolution of over 2000 dpi. (I don't recall the specs, but 2000 is being VERY conservative)

    For the average home user, a digicam is a good bet. But for a serious (or semi-serious) photographer, a $600 SLR (Like my old Pentax PZ-70, nowadays I could get an even better camera for less) will obliterate a $600 digicam. (Like the Olympus C-2020. It's sweet as far as digicams go, and my mom is giving my dad one for his birthday, but our old Pentax blows it away if you want to do anything more than a basic picture.)
  • I think it is clear that your choice in cameras depends on several quantifiable aspects, like price and storage medium, and harder-to-quantify aspects like battery life (this varies widely between users) and image quality.

    The two best review sites I've seen are the Digital Camera Resource [dcresource.com] and the Imaging Resource [imaging-resource.com]. The former has shorter reviews and better reader comments, while the latter has very comprehensive reviews and image comparisons.

    I typically use the Digital Camera resource to narrow down the search, and then use the Imaging Resource to compare image quality. Imaging Resrouce also measures how long between pressing the shutter release and when the picture is taken, something I think is important to consider if you photograph moving subjects.

    I've bought/helped buy 4 cameras in the last couple years. For myself I have a Kodak DC-260, and I've suggested one Nikon Coolpix 950, a Kodak DC-215, and a Kodak DC-280. The Kodak cameras I've mentioned here all have amazing image quality, and the DC-215 is rather inexpensive as it is old and produces 1152x864 images. The Nikon also takes great pictures, and has a lot of features. I think all of these cameras work fine with linux, my DC-260 certainly does. These cameras were bought at different times with different people's needs in mind. A friend has an Olympus D-340L, which takes good pictures (though it's color saturation isn't as good as the Kodaks') and is fabulous indoors without a flash (something the Kodaks aren't very good at). Note that the Kodak's aren't known for rapid picture-taking ability.

    The Casio 2000UX lost to the DC-280 on image quality, but it had an interesting feature set. The Coolpix 950 beat the Kodak DC-265 in features, and had comparable image quality. The DC-215 beat the comparable Olympus cameras on price, and especially beat the Olympus D-400, which has complaints about lack of lavender hues. I've never liked the image quality on Sony's older cameras, and I think the floppy disks are too small or else the lossy image compression is too aggressive (don't know which).

    Memory format isn't that big of an issue, and neither is USB capability, because of dedicated card readers. Time between shutter release and the picture being taken will affect every picture you take. Low-light ability may be important to you. Image quality reigns supreme for me, and is an area where Kodak does well (except perhaps the DC-240). Point-and-click versus configurable f-stops, etc, will make a difference for some people. And if you've got $5000 to blow, check out the high end 6 megapixel SLR digital cameras from Kodak!

    One last bit of advice--try to get a 'satisfaction guaranteed' return policy. If the camera's pictures come out a little to red, is that a defect? Better safe than sorry.

    -Paul Komarek
  • For starters, I don't think "most" computer professionals are equipped with a laptop by their employer. Certainly not developers. Maybe account managers, or tech support.

    Secondly - I really really think its pretty sad if you take your laptop on holiday with you... Man - YOU'RE ON HOLIDAY!!! I don't even take my palm pilot on holiday with me.

    Finally - pretty much only if you go on holiday within your own country are you going to find identical plug sockets and voltages (e.g. England is on 240V, Europe is on 220V, and the US/Canada are on 110V). I'd rather go somewhere exotic that I can't plug anything into. However if I went somewhere exotic I probably couldn't get floppys for the Mavica either ;-)

    (yes, I know all about voltage adaptors, etc. The bigger point was about "Leave it at home!").
  • by Matts (1628) on Saturday April 22, 2000 @05:05AM (#1117171) Homepage
    I think it's going to be a little more fine grained than that - sort of like how noone now records their home movies onto film - the magnetic storage methods are cheaper and simpler... However, there is always a class of people (i.e. professionals) who will always need _real_ film.

    I think the same will happen with digital cameras. The old fashioned point and shoot cameras will simply all but disappear, and we'll be left with a choice of digital cameras or high end SLR cameras that professionals (or hobbyists) use. I think there will also be an option to have your digital COMPACTflash card processed at the chemists into glossies.

    OK, back on topic... I think there's something still to be said for the Sony Mavica. While floppy's don't hold all that many high quality pictures, there's something to be said if you're on holiday and you fill up your disk - you can just buy a new pack of ten floppys!
  • Hey, I bought a DC215 only last week.


    It seems very nice. As well as gphoto, there's a nice command line tool on freshmeat called "digicam", which works beautifully with the camera.


    I'm no expert -- all I can say is that the images look OK to me (sample [demon.co.uk]).


    These things eat batteries (I imagine all digital cameras do). I really need to buy a bigger compactflash card, too.
    --

  • I agree. I got this camera last summer, and I'm still extremely happy with it. The Best Shot Selection feature is great for taking pictures in low light without a flash or a tripod.

    --

  • My mother just bought a DC215 this morning, and I have been playing with it since.

    I think the pictures are a good quality, the camera seems durable, and the features are nice.
    What most impressed me was that my mom seemed able to understand the interface right away. This is her first real digital gadget and she seemed navigate the camera easily. I woulnd't have really though much about it if I were buying the camera for myself but I think it is an important thing to have a intuitive interface for those who are new to digital cameras.

    We did buy a 16 meg card for it, the 4mb probably wouldn't last too long. Also I made sure to look at the gphoto project before buying it and was happy to see the large number of cameras supported. All in all we are satisified with the DC215.
  • The one I use is the Jenoptic JD11 (aka Praktica D500).

    Pros:

    • Dirt cheap- £80/$120
    • 640x480 resolution fine for web work
    • Picture quality fine in sunlight
    • Flash works well provided subject is within 3 metres (9 feet).
    • 2xAA batteries last forever
    • Takes standard compact flash memory cards- 28 JPGs in 2Mb
    • Quick transfer to Win95 via serial cable
    • Dead simple to use; point and shoot button, delete last picture button, mode button (timer, exposure), on/off switch, macro switch, that's about it.
    • Very small, compact size, surprisingly well built, comes with belt case.

    Cons:

    • No LCD viewer
    • No zoom
    • 640x480 resolution to small for printing
    • Picture quality poor in low light
    • Flash results poor if subject more than 3 metres (9 ft) away.
    • No Mac/Linux drivers (to my knowledge, I'm after Linux drivers please)

    For the price it is a superb camera, although it can't compete with models costing more than twice it's price. It's a case of knowing what it can do, and staying within it's limitations, then you get good results.

    Samples: www.custodian.com/album [custodian.com]

    Manufacturer's page: www.jenoptik-camera. com/english/products/jd11/main.html [jenoptik-camera.com]

    --

  • Personally, I go back and forth on whether or not digital cameras will replace film. However, one thing to keep in mind is the issue of archival (long term) quality. My wife has in her possession prints and glass negatives of her family from the post-Civil War period. Those negatives are 120 years old and can still be printed in today's darkrooms (with a little duct tape on the carrier).

    OTOH, I have 160k floppy disks from 1983 that I can't read on any PC I can reasonably find today, which is probably OK because the file formats aren't usable by any software on the market either.

    Something to think about if you want your pictures to last a _long_ time.

    sPh
  • The new Coolpix 990 is great (but not cheap at about $900), judging from this in-depth review [dpreview.com] by Phil Askey of dpreview.com.
  • by drix (4602)
    I fail to see why anything over 1.3 Megapixels would increase the probabities of taking over 35mm.

    Filling your screen is a pretty abstract benchmark of performance considering it's totally dependent on your screen resolution, and it says nothing of clarity, color balance, etc. Also, for serious 35mm users, 1.3Mpixels is not even close to sufficient. It just doesn't work for cropping small areas of the picture; I know, I've tried. I work for a small newspaper and we bought an Olympus digital camera of that resolution. It's nice and fast and all, but you just can't do tight crops on it. The detail is noticeably substandard w/r/t 35mm, even after printing on newspaper.

    True, really high-res digital cameras are out there, but they cost about $40,000. I have seen reporters from larger papers like the LA times using these and I'm told they work great. However, it's cheaper and easier just to scan a slide at 4000dpi and really pull even the most minute details out of a frame. In their current state, cheap digital cameras simply cannot match that. That's why they have a long way to go to beat 35mm.

    --
  • by drix (4602) on Saturday April 22, 2000 @09:08AM (#1117188) Homepage
    Differences? Well, notice how the pro's image has colors that are incredibly washed out. Notice how the pro's image has no depth of field.

    The short depth of field is a "feature, not a bug," so to speak. It draws attention to the foreground subject by flattening the background. People pay lots of money to get this affect - he was probably using a 300mm-400mm f/2.8 lens, cost: ~$3000. The color washout can be fixed in 5 seconds in Photoshop, BTW.

    The digital's shot is good, but it actually proves one of the flaws of digital cameras: they can't handle the light range the way a 35mm can. See the underexposure in McNabb's face and under his armpits on your shot? There is no shadow detail there. The highlights are also missing a little detail. Compare with the other shot, where you can see his open mouth, eyes, nose (these elements really make the shot). Digitals are not as versatile as plain old film in this regard. In turn film is not nearly as versatile as your eyes.

    He didn't spend $10,000 for nothing, BTW. Your $900 digital would have a helluva time focusing on air airborne, running quarterback (It wouldn't be able to, until after the shot was already missed). His expensive SLR has a predictive autofocus computer which can determine the direction the subject is moving and compensate accordingly - severl times a second. By the time your digital got a shot off, he could tear through half a roll of film.

    I'm not knocking your shot or the camera in any way. For low-res stuff, low-action shots like pretty much everything you find on the web, digitals are a godsend. Just keep in mind that they have a long way to go before they can hold a candle to even a mid-range SLR. People are not spending thousands of dollars in vain. For someone whose livelihood depends on consistently producing great shots, you want the best equipment available. That's why the pro went with the SLR and you with the digital.

    --
  • I've been very pleased with my Sony Digital Mavica FD91. Yeah, it doesn't use compact flash and yeah, you only get about 10 *good* pictures per diskette, but the pictures it does take rival most of the pictures other digital cameras take. It's super convenient, super easy to use and, except for lack of a hot mount for an extrnal flash (for really big rooms that are rather dark), I couldn't ask for more. The fact that you can mount it on a tripod makes it even more useful. Do some research, you'll find the sony's are in super hot demand (It's one of the few items on Ebay where you can recoup almost all of what you spent on it...). As an avid photographer, I couldn't be more pleased with mine!
  • by Booker (6173) on Saturday April 22, 2000 @04:59AM (#1117196) Homepage
    I've seen the Kodak DC215 [kodak.com] for cheap... like $230 online. This is the first time I've seen a megapixel camera with an LCD display for this cheap. In the past, it seemed like digital cameras never got less expensive... new ones would come out, and the old ones, instead of getting cheaper, just seemed to disappear.

    Anyone have experience with the DC215?

    Also, GPhoto [gphoto.org] should be pointed out... this is one sweet looking app. Great effort by those guys!

    ---

    • when you push the button with a digital you're not really taking one picture.... you're taking three pics. one in red, one in green, and one in blue.

    I wouldn't say there is no digital camera that takes pictures this way, but most of them do not. In many cameras, the CCD has separate sensors for red, green, and blue, all active at the same time. When a picture is taken, the CCD is exposed and then read once. Color artifacts and chromatic aberrations have many causes, but I'm willing to bet that it's not because the CCD in the camera is actually taking three pictures instead of one.

    Regards,
    Jeremy

  • by JeremyR (6924) on Saturday April 22, 2000 @11:23AM (#1117199) Homepage
    Without delving into the merits of digital vs. 35mm photography, I recognize that there are benefits to both. I'm by no means a professional photographer, so for a lot of situations, the benefits to digital are starting to outweigh the disadvantages. There are a lot of great cameras out there now, even for under $1000, that are likely to well serve the needs of non-professionals (and, in some cases, professionals as well).

    After doing a fair amount of research (reading every review I could find on certain models of cameras) and changing my mind several times about which one would best suit my needs, I've decided on a Sony CyberShot DSC-D770. I selected this camera because the 35mm I use most often is an SLR, and after much deliberation I decided to stick with the SLR style. The Sony's resolution (1.5 megapixel) is a bit on the low side by today's standards, but that's the only real shortcoming of this camera. Still, I think 1344x1024 output will be sufficient for my purposes. What I particularly liked about this camera is the wealth of manual controls, especially the zoom and focusing rings.

    Other cameras (less than $1000 street price) worth considering:

    • SLR: Olympus C-2500L and Canon PowerShot Pro 70. Although the Sony was my favorite of the SLRs, for someone else's needs one of these might be a better bet.
    • Versatility: Hands down, one of the Nikon Coolpix cameras. There's a wealth of lens attachments and other accessories available for these things. And while not the most compact, they're certainly less bulky than an SLR. And the new 990 is a 3.3 megapixel powerhouse.
    • Bang for the buck: Casio QV-3000EX. For a little more than $900 you can get one of these 3.3 megapixel beasts in combination with IBM's 340MB MicroDrive. Unfortunately there's no external flash attachment, and the lens is not threaded to accept attachments, but someone will find a way around this limitation.
    • Portability: Take your pick of Canon's PowerShot A5, A50, S10, or S20 (increasing in capability from sub-megapixel to 3.3 megapixel). These little jewels are about the size of Canon's Elph APS film cameras, which is hard to beat for a go-anywhere camera.
    There are plenty of other cameras out there, but these were the most appealing to me (at one time I was torn between the Nikon Coolpix 990, the Casio QV-3000EX and the Sony DSC-D770). There are a number of Web site with loads of reviews out there; some of them are the Imaging Resource [imaging-resource.com], the Digital Photography Review [dpreview.com], and Steve's Digicams [steves-digicams.com]. Happy searching!

    Regards,
    Jeremy

    (And if anyone's interested in how that Sony works out, I'll be receiving the camera this week. I'll be happy to share my own impressions of it once I've had a chance to play with it.)

  • I have 3 (sorta) digital cameras, plus 2 at work (and two more owned privately by staff at work)
    • My First Digital was a Kodak DC20 [kodak.com]. Smallest, lightest, cheapest. Least number of features. Takes 8 sub-640x480 photos, or 16 really crap postage stamps. A wonderful camera at the time - Kodak made it and it's software so damn easy to use. A wonderful way to learn what you want in a digital camera.
    • More recently I purchased a FujiFilm MX-2700 [fujifilm.com]. At the time it was the smallest 2.3MegaPixel camera available. It's great, the quality is superb, but I needed to buy a monopod to keep it stable enough to make it worth while, especially in low light. I've taken some wonderful fireworks photos, some of which you might still be able to find at fireworks.krisjohn.net [krisjohn.net]. The only drawback is that there's no optical zoom, but later versions [fujifilm.com] have fixed that. As a general digital, this family is by far the best - it's so small that you don't mind carrying it around on the off-chance that they'll be something to shoot. Highly recommended. Oh, I'm currently using it as a webcam [optusnet.com.au] - on and off.
    • Most recently I bought a GameBoy camera, for artsy stuff, and I must say that it's the most fun [8m.com] I've had with digital photography in ages. I've got an extra memory cart (from datel [datel.co.uk]), plus a GB Xchanger [gbdoctor.com] and Mad Catz [madcatz.com] cable to transfer images to my PC. I can take about 120 shots before having to return to base. Not for serious stuff, but no equal in the fun stakes.
    • At work we got an old Ricoh digital free with a big colour printer/copier. It's about the same vintage as my DC20, with shots of approximately the same quality. Ricoh have made some good cameras since then, but this one shows it's age much more than my DC20.
    • The latest purchase at work was a Kodak DC265 [kodak.com]. It was bought for quality, ease of use and robustness - and it's performed admirably on all counts. If you don't mind something chunky, this is my recommendation for an all-round camera, but make no mistake, it is large and heavy. Ours appears to have a few problems transferring images - it's potentially a dud in that respect - but I've got round that by using a PCMCIA adapter to transfer images, which is a recommended procedure anyway (so damn fast).
    • Lasty, two of the staff have digital camera's of their own. One is an Olympus something (sorry) and the other is a Canon Pro something (sorry again). They're HUGE and they're rarely seen. Not being able to pack them inside a bag or briefcase really limits their use. That's why I recommend the small end, and why I bought an MX-2700.
    Hope this helps,
  • OTOH, I have 160k floppy disks from 1983 that I can't read on any PC I can reasonably find today, which is probably OK because the file formats aren't usable by any software on the market either.
    We've already had that discussion [slashdot.org].
  • Personally, at the rate things are improving on digital cameras, the days of 35 mm print film could begin its fast wane as early as the middle of 2001.

    There are three reasons for this:

    1. CCD manufacturers are already starting to develop CCD sensors with 5-6 megapixels. That is almost the same as ISO 100 35 mm print film. I expect to see the first consumer cameras with 5-6 megapixel CCD's by the middle of 2001.

    2. Digital cameras are now increasingly designed so it could use IBM's very tiny "MicroDrive" hard drive. That means by the middle of 2001 digital cameras will have as much as 700 MB of storage space for digital images. And don't forget that Compact Flash memory are also increasing in size, too; 256 MB Compact Flash cards might be common by the middle of 2001.

    3. Inkjet printers have improved dramatically in the way they print color in the last 24 months. Today's better Canon, Epson, and HP inkjet printers can print high-resolution color pictures with 1200x700 dots/inch and higher resolutions, which makes them pretty much indistinguishable from color prints you get from most photo processors.

    In fact, I see 35 mm cameras increasingly sold only to people that use very high resolution print film (ISO 25, 50 and 64) or slide film. Most everyone else by 2005 that would normally use 35 mm print film will have switched to digital cameras.

    Mind you, for larger formats such as 6 x 4.5 and 6 x 7, they will continue to be around because they offer the extremely high resolution necessary for advertising and museum-quality art work.
  • I am currently into my 3rd digital camera, a Fuji MX-2900. My first one was Fuji DX-7 with 640x480 pixels, then came Olympus D-1400L with 1280x960 and the current one does 1800x1200.

    I found the jump from 1280 to 1800 suprisingly small. Experimenting with the new Fuji tends to yield less improvement over the Olympus that I expected. The main reason for the upgrade, however, was not the resolution, but the manual control offered my the latest cameras (manual focus, exposure and aperture).

    The Olympus C-2020Z seems to be a very popular choice these days, and this would have been my 1st option had I not got a lean deal with the Fuji.

    All of my cameras were supported under Linux (with gphoto / photopc or fujiplay).

    The things to look for IMHO are

    • Linux support
    • Optical viewfinder (the LCD does not quite cut it in daylight)
    • Manual as well as automatic focus
    • Manual as well as automatic exposure

    YMMV. I'd get an Olympus if I were out shopping now.

  • 1) You want Compact Flash expandability. If your going to take any reasonable amount of pics with your camera...it needs a decent amount of memory. My Kodak DC240 has a 64Mb compact flash card in it...I can take 471 640x480 high quality (low compression) pics with that. Smartmedia will only give you 1/2 and recently 1/4 the expandability of regular compact flash cards.

    2) USB!!!! Once you have all those pictures you need to get em into the computer. If you think you are going to transfer 64 megs of pictures over your parrallel port and be happy about it...FORGET IT. I would rather not have to go on another vacation while waiting for the pictures from my last one! :-) You want USB connections from the camera to the PC. Of course your next question is..USB and Linux? Yes...Kodak cameras are one of the FEW which currently have USB which works with the new linux kernel.
    See here: http://home.pacbell.net/david-b/digicam/

    3) If your printing out your digital pics...your not a geek...go away. Otherwise, you may, like myself, find 640x480 adequate for most pictures being stored and viewed on the computer. This said, almost all cameras will do that resolution...you basically just want quality at that res and the ability to do more. Do yourself a favor...and save some money.

    The Kodak DC240 was slashed in price a few months ago. It has great 1280x960 resolution if you need it. A great LCD. It's easy to use. I have one and am very happy with it (I traded off my non-usb fuji unit to get it). It has all the memory and features you need and can now be picked up for really cheap. Go for it.
  • by The Famous Brett Wat (12688) on Saturday April 22, 2000 @05:15AM (#1117215) Homepage Journal
    My Sony Mavica MVC-FD91 is more than a year old now and wasn't exactly a new new thing when I got it, but it's been nothing but a joy to own. The floppy disk medium is very convenient, and the images are stored as JPEGs with an HTML index file. There's barely a computer known to man that has a floppy disk and can't make immediate use of these.

    The FD91 was top of the range at the time it was released, and only intended for moderately serious use with a price tag to match. It has an excellent 14x optical zoom (no nasty expanding pixel tricks) and takes photos at either 640x480 or 1024x768 res with two different JPEG compression settings. There's also an uncompressed BMP mode that I've never used. At the tight end of the zoom you can get a whole lot of detail on a fairly distant object, so it's good for taking candid shots that people aren't aware of. This is helped by the camera's "steady shot" feature, that I rarely if ever turn off.

    Purists will also be pleased to note that all its features are manually overridable, so you can focus manually if you like. Exposure is automatic, but you can do shutter or iris priority, and expose to the entire scene or turn on the spot meter for high contrast situations. There are several white balance modes as well.

    On top of this, it will also do audio/visual MPEG recordings at 320x200 for 15 sec, or 160x100 for a minute. Probably more useful is the "audio annotation" feature where you take an ordinary still with several seconds worth of audio attached as a separate MPEG file. The audio can be a bit artifacty, and it's a "convenience" feature: you'd never mistake it for a serious audio recorder.

    All in all the camera is easy to praise. It's easy to use and produces very nice results in most environments. My only gripes about the camera would be that the widest zoom angle is a bit narrow, and I'd like better low-light performance. Not that its low light performance is bad, but I know that CCDs can be really impressive in low light when they want to be, and getting a flash photo to work well can be a bit of a challenge.

    I'd love to post a "photo gallery" link for you all, but my poor old 'net link would not stand the Slashdotting.

    Disclosure: I used to be a Sony employee, and I got mine on the cheap as an ex-demo unit. Sony retrenched me, so it's not like I feel I have to say nice things about them, though.

  • Properly exposed, good 35mm film may have a resolution of 1000 lines per inch, but that's not the same as 2000 pixels: each pixels has an 8 or a 10 bit value; you need a lot of lines to get that kind of gradation in film. That's why a lot of people do medium format photography: even though MF probably doesn't have a lot more resolution than 35mm, the gradations of MF pictures are so much better. It's also why regular PhotoCD doesn't really bother to scan much more than that.

    From a practical point of view, current cameras with 1600x1200 resolution are pretty close to what most people get out of 35mm; there are differences, but they are a toss-up--digital does actually do some things better. Once the resolution doubles or triples, there is little reason to go with 35mm.

  • I have used quite a number of digicams, including the Olympus D600L, Olympus C2000Z, the Nikon 950, several of the Fujis (MX2700 most recently), the Sony DSC-F505, and some of the older Kodaks.

    I like SmartMedia much better than either CompactFlash or the Sony memory sticks. CF uses pins (which can bend easily) and is bulky. SmartMedia actually gives you more storage density, even if the individual chips hold a little less data. Sony's MemoryStick is not widely supported by third party manufacturers; what Sony gives you in terms of accessories is it, and if it doesn't work right (like their PCMCIA interface), you are stuck. Sony also can't decide on a form factor: there are three MemoryStick variants coming out, not all compatible.

    I like the Olympus and Fuji cameras a lot. The Fujis are high quality, robust, and work very reliable. The Olympus cameras are somewhat quirkier but usually have more features. Both the Olympus C2000Z and the Nikon 950 (and later models apparently too) have some (to me) objectionable color artifacts. The Fuji MX2700 doesn't, but it doesn't have zoom. I don't particularly like the Kodaks: they are a bit bulky IMO. The Sony DSC-F505 has great quality, a great and versatile lens, and an nice form factor, but the LCD becomes unusable outdoors (and it uses the MemoryStick).

    Watch out for fake resolution statements. Just like scanners, several manufacturers now overstate resolution because they perform software interpolation. The most notable offenders are Agfa (almost none of their cameras have the resolution they claim), and Fuji's latest MX4700 (which is a 2.2Mpixel camera, not a 4.7Mpixel camera).

    Incidentally, a 2 megapixel camera really has only 2 million sensors, not 6 million, as you might think since it takes RGB pictures; the color information is interpolated. So, all the resolution claims are somewhat overblown, but they are comparably overblown. And the color interpolation is actually fairly harmless because of the way human color vision works--the greyscale resolution is pretty close to what they claim, it's just that the color information is a bit spread out (but you won't notice). And at least this is consistent among all cameras.

    Altogether, I end up using the Fuji MX2700 most. It is small enough to carry everywhere, it's not too expensive, and it produces great pictures. It also has good battery lifetime (also very important).

  • I've been really happy with my DC280 ($525 at Buy.com about 6 months ago)... it comes with nice, rechargable NiMH batteries (and the charger too), so it has everything you need except the case and the PCMCIA adapter (the latter can be had for ~$10 if you need it). I hadn't touched my 35mm in years, but now I'm taking photos all the time.

    I like the video out feature too; it's nice when you want to show pictures to people and the laptop isn't handy.

    Coupled with my HP Photosmart 1100 printer (with CF slot), you have a nice little digital photography setup. Now only if Linux supported all the 1100's features (2-sided printing, high resolution, reading CF cards over the parallel cable)...
  • I've had a Sony Mavica FD7 for a couple of years, and it has performed quite well for me.

    The Mavicas are expensive, a little on the large side and the floppy disk isn't super speedy, but there are a couple of things they beat all the other digital cameras I've looked at for... One thing is that the FD7, FD71, and FD73 have hands down the best zoom I've seen. 10x, and extremely smooth in and out -- a lot of other cameras I've looked at only have 2-3x zoom, and there is only like three levels. The Mavicas come with a rechargeable camcorder style battery, which beats using AA or AAA batteries like a lot of other cameras use -- I typically get several hours of use on a charge and I haven't had to replace the battery yet in a couple of years of service. The Mavicas also have a really great LCD display on them. But hands down, the big thing that sold me on the Mavica was the convenience, cheapness and ubiquitousness of the floppy for storage. I can buy floppies 24 hours a day even out in podunk center nowhere, because Wal-Mart carries floppies. I can buy a couple of boxes of floppies for what one smart media or memory stick costs. And I can slap a floppy into any computer anywhere I go and read the jpg's off it -- no having to install special download software or futz around with hooking up cables. And it doesn't matter if its a PC running Linux, PC running Windoze (blech), Mac, SparcStation, whatever. Just about everything can read a 1.4M floppy and deal with jpg's.

    What I really want is the Mavica FD88. It has higher resolution (1280x960 if memory serves), faster floppy (4x) and 8x optical 8x digital zoom.

    All in all, I wholeheartedly recommend the Mavica line.

  • Sony makes the floppy-based cameras.

    What about cameras that use the 120Meg SuperDisk? Then you could choose between high-capacity or cheap media (take pictures of your friends and hand them the disk).

    It seems so obvious; why don't I see them in stores?

    (Or what about Zip disks or even hard drives?)

    I've heard rumors of a camera that uses MiniDisc being marketed only in Japan; is that true?
  • by crow (16139) on Saturday April 22, 2000 @04:45AM (#1117230) Homepage Journal
    I've been interested in one of these, and a friend of mine has one.

    One thing that I wanted to try was to use superformat to create floppies that use extra tracks and extra sectors per track--virtually all drives will support this, and DOS is happy with it. Unfortunately, the camera flatly refuses to use any of the specially-formatted disks. (I suspect it would take some firmware hacking to get it to work.)

    So much for getting a little extra storage.
  • My wife and I started shopping around for a digicam around newyears. We looked for the highest resolution and the greatest flexability.

    We chose the Olympus C-2500L, an SLR camera that accepts hotshoe flash and a few custom olympus lenses for wide angle and zoom.

    We haven't had a need for many accessories yet. We found it for $1200 with a 32MB SM card and just recently got a usb SM/CF/ATAPC reader with a 48MB CF for under $200.

    Now with 80MB we can get 40 1712x1368 images, or 137 1280x1024, or over 600 640x480's. If we ever need physical prints it would be well worth the cost to go to kinkos or the computer labs at school and make some glossy prints. It's not much more expensive than having regular film developed.

    I think it's much easier to have the option between hundreds of images so that you can pick and choose new ones as you're taking them. A fair processing job is just a few photoshop filters away. (and better compression gets those huge 2.5 gigapixel images down to 275k)

    The only drawback to having our olympus rather than a semiprofessional film camera is the lack of lens varieties and filling up our hard drives with cat pictures. With a digital camera you're never afraid to take a pic, you can always delete it later or take another if the first isn't perfect.

    If you're seriously interested in photogrophy I think you'll probably recover the cost of a camera like the 2500 and accessories in film savings.
  • I'm hoping this gets moderated enough for people to see it; or that people see the title and respond.

    So here's a list of low end cameras that seem really nice:
    Epson PhotoPC650
    Kodak DC10+
    Kodak DC15Zoom

    For about less than $350. Questions include software reliability, picture quality, ease of use, battery usage, etc.

    For the more expensive cameras, here's a representative list:
    Epson PhotoPC750Zoom
    Kodak DC240Zoom
    Casio QV2000+(340mb microDrive!)
    Canon S10
    For about $800 or less.

    Any comments on these models?

    -AS
  • As for your Elph, doesn't the Canon S10 also take the IBM microDrive? It's relatively small, compared to the QV2k+

    Yeah, the bundled deal is $799 for microDrive plus camera.

    How about upload and such? There's no synching problems for you? I run NT, and Linux, but no 9x machines in my house. Would like to be able to upload my pictures to my PC...


    -AS
  • by Anonymous Shepherd (17338) on Saturday April 22, 2000 @06:10AM (#1117235) Homepage

    Not to troll or cause flamage, but it really doesn't help the /. reader trying to buy a digital camera; it's interesting, yes, insightful, yes, but also not very useful when one wants to find out about:

    • Quality of the camera
    • ruggedness
    • CCD/image capture quality
    • battery life
    • ease of use
    • reliability
    • support options
    • OSes supported
    • reliability of software
    • transfer speed

    Stuff like that.

    For example, I've heard from a store that Kodak cameras aren't very well supported from Kodak; a multitiude of Slashdot readers exclaim the praises of their cameras, however.

    Then there's Epson's PhotoPC650, and excellent looking camera. HP isn't a great camera, despite their good printers and scanners. Does Epson stack up? Casio's QV2000+ seems a great idea, packing an IBM microDrive.

    At least, it seems those are more what the questions was asking for; referrals, recommendations, etc.

    -AS

  • First, I love my camera. It is an Olympus D600-L. I got the 16 meg SmartMedia upgrade last year, and this past year they came out with a 32 meg upgrade for it. One of these days I will actually send the camera in.

    One thing I learned from owning a digi-cam is this: don't go off and buy a camera because of it's price. Buy it because of the features it has. And when you decide on a camera, look at it closely. Much like any other piece of hardware you buy, there is something better around the corner.

    I don't mind the resolution. It does 640x480 very well, and does even better at 1280x960. The shots are beautiful, and do not give that CCD White like you normally see (that is, it does not look like a video image you get when you shoot something white in a high brightness setting.) I also like the fact that the camera is a real honest to goodness SLR. Viewfinders suck.

    But, the things I hate are not being able to control the exposure, the shutter speed, and not being able to remove the lens. At first I did not think that would be a really big deal. Now I do. I am nowhere near a pro photographer, but I do have applications for the camera that would make it even more useful to me if it had those things.

    Granted, if I spent $12K I could get one of those nifty Kodak cameras, or a Mamayia with a digital back on it, but well, $12K is a bit too steep. It would still be awesome to have though.

  • Yes, there is a MD camera. There are a bunch of links, so I suggest checking out this page [minidisc.org] at minidisc.org [minidisc.org].

    Zip disks are a bit on the "too big" side, but there is the Iomega clik! [iomega.com] - there is a thing to hook it up to digital cams, but I have have no idea what it does.

    I do recall seeing a device that was a hard drive that would work with most cameras. The drive would hold 99 rolls of "film". You hooked up the camera, started the device up, and it would pull the pictures off. It did not work with all cameras, but it would work with most of them.

    As for the Superdisk, have you ever used one? It is the slowest damn thing I have ever seen in my life.
  • I've messed with a digital camera from time to time, and I must say that they are OK for low resolution work. BUT if you want to blow up that image beyond a 4x6", stick with film. Kodak will scan your film to far higher resolution than that available on any digital camera. In addtion the cost of the camera is far lower, and you have far greater choice in accessories, especailly lenses.

    If you become a serious amateur the advantages of film become even more important - the process of producing a great photograph is two step - capturing the image on film, and then printing it on paper. Serious photographers have long realized that the expression of art in photography comes not in the process of taking the picture, but during the process of turning the image on the negative to an unforgetable print.
  • by rm -rf /etc/* (20237) on Saturday April 22, 2000 @05:20AM (#1117245) Homepage

    WIthout knowing details on what specific features are needed, here's a brief review on two I've owned, the Olympus D-340 and the Kodak DC280.

    Olympus
    ------
    + great case with integrated sliding lense cover
    + ability to store uncompressed tiffs
    + great color, especially in dark situations
    + adjustable ISO setting
    + excellent battery life
    + very sharp preview screen
    - way too hard to use, interface sucks
    - pictures didn't look as good as the kodak when printed
    - serial only
    - screen sticks out so it's impossible not to smudge with your cheek

    Kodak
    ----
    + higher resolution
    + 20 MB memory
    + USB
    + good quality printed pictures
    + easy to use interface
    - crappy lens cover that falls off all the time
    - somewhat slower on taking pictures, has to be held still
    - poor battery life, only about 15 minutes of constant use
    - crappy preview screen, can't tell how good the picture is

    Overall it's a tough call. I think the really really bad battery life of the kodak combined with the useless LCD screen really ruin it. You're probably better of spending a bit more and getting a camera that has the best of both :)
  • by Balfazar (20314) on Saturday April 22, 2000 @04:57AM (#1117246)
    I was just looking at digital camera choices yesterday and came across
    [activebuyersguide.com]
    this handy 'tell us what is important and we'll help you choose a camera guide' at activebuyersguide.com.

    It lets you set your priorities/preferences etc. and asks you a series of 'tie-breaker' questions, then spits out several recommendations with full stats.

    I found it a helpful starting place.

    -- Balf
  • I've noticed that cameras with only a model number only incrementally higher tend to have the same protocol as their predicessors (sp).

    side note: I've sent the gphoto people perl source for the kodak DC-120 that someone else sent me, and they never ever put it into the main source! I've given it to them like three times, and they always ignore it! I would port it myself, but I don't know perl.
  • Digitals are great for snapshots, web-related stuff, and the like, but most individuals that have a serious interest in photography will own a digital, plus one or more "film" cameras.

    Part of the problem here, is not the digital technology, but the digital camera itself. For most work, two megapixels should provide enough resolution and clarity. The problem is the camera.

    Digital cameras (with a couple of exceptions) seem to be aimed at the point-and-shoot crowd. There are only a few (one or two?) digital bodies with a reasonable set of controls to allow depth-of-field, exposure time, etc. control. The ones that exist are outrageously expensive. (Somebody please correct me if I'm wrong and tell me where I can buy one.)

    Greg

  • I got one of these cameras a few months back, and I agree. It's very nice. However, the next in the series has been announced (980?) for release in a month or two. From what I can tell, it's solved a few of the complaints most people have about the 950. Nameley, they've done some sorta upgrad to the battery and flashcard ports so they arent as easily broken. It's been a while since I read the reviews on it, but there were a couple other nice fixes, IIRC.

    Also, the newer model has all the features of the 950, but adds MPEG capture! Dunno if it's actually any good, but it might be an interesting capabability to have around.

    One feature you didnt mention, is that along with BestShot, there is a continuous shot mode that will just keep snapping shots and storing them until you let go of the shutter button or you run out of memory.

    My only gripes with the camera are as follows: no way to attach the lense cover to the camera when your remove it (I've already lost mine ... I suspect one of the cats decided to play with it) and the LCD isnt bright enough if you are outdoors (even on cloudy days). Mind you, there are very few digital cameras that handle that very well.

    One other thing I feel compelled to point out. This is a camera made for taking "real" pictures, not snapshots. Sure, you can set it up for taking snapshots, but if you havent done so before hand, subjects have a tendancy to get a bit annoyed while you fiddle with the settings. While discussing this with a friend of mine, we came to the conclusion that if you are mostly just going to take snapshots to publish on the web or email to your friends, this camera is overkill. So, we decided, the optimal solution is to have two cameras: something like the coolpix for "serious" photos where you need high image quality, and a point-and-click camera for snapping pix at the company BBQ, birthday parties at the local pub, etc. It's not that you *can't* do both with the coolpix, it's just a bit inconvenient. And even the "cheap" cameras are a few hundred bux, so it's not in everones budget.

    The coolpix is also also much bulkier than the less expensive point-and-click models which makes it a bit of a drag to carry around while you are playing pool with your local IRC friends.

    BTW, gphoto (linux app - dunno if it's ported to other OSes) supports the coolpix line, altho it's a bit (ahem) buggy.

  • Who cares if 1.3MPixels already fills your screen completely? What if you want to crop a portion of the image and enlarge it? What about making posters or banners? If you try and enlarge a photo taken with a digital camera to poster size, it's going to look like crap.

    The lack of resolution is also a problem for post processing -- applying 'filters' (the Gimp/Photoship kind, not the 55mm things) to the image degrades the quality of the image each time they are applied (it emphasizes aliasing in the im age).

    By the way, you CAN print pictures made with a digital camera -- most photolabs will print it for you with a high-quality (iow, unaffordable) printer.
  • I'll have to try isolating out some of the variables - one thing I intend to try soon is scan a print taken with an old 35mm P&S, both at 300 and 600 dpi - then try the same scan from a film scanner at 4000dpi and see how much more detail is revealed (if any!). That's a comparison I've not seen done, to see how much detail is lost to printing even in the case of an old camera with a mediocre lens.

    That effort is hampered only by my flatbed scanner having died recenently... (hint: never buy a UMAX scanner!!!)
  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Saturday April 22, 2000 @08:06PM (#1117262)
    Try scanning some 35mm prints sometime. You run out of resolution at about 300 dpi

    Part of that is that the paper you are scanning does not hold as much information as the film does - here's an interesting comparison [uswest.net] page that shows film scans ranging from 2400dpi to 6000dpi (drum scans). They also comapre the same images from digital cameras, 35mm, and 4x5 (large format) cameras.

    I think even counting for the enlarged size of the photo, film still has a lot more resolution than you think!
  • I've had a D-220 and then later upgraded to a D-400. While digital cameras can't beat SLRs for quality in general, my D-400 is good enough (thanks to photo printing from kodak.com and shutterfly.com) to be comparable to a generic 35mm point-n-click with zoom.

    Olympus is really strong because they are leveraging their experience in film cameras and lenses very effectivly into their digital cameras. They have really nice capture.

    My strong reccomendation is to get a camera with an optical zoom (3x is good). It really makes the difference, and digital zoom is a joke as we all pretty much know.

    - Mike

  • I bought one of these primarily because of the form factor: I've been using a Canon Elph, and I couldn't see dragging around something as big as a Mavica. The resolution is reasonably good (topping out 1280 x 1024 in 24 bit color; e-mail me [mailto] for a sample), and I have a USB SmartMedia card reader (less than $40) to transfer the pictures into my laptop or desktop. (The camera also has a very slow serial link; it comes with cables for PC and Mac.) Expect to buy one or more larger SmartMedia cards, as the 8MB card that comes with the unit takes about 11 pictures at the highest resolution, which IMHO is the only setting you'd really want to use it at. Also includes a 3x zoom (tolerable) and 2" LCD screen so you can inspect your pictures and dump bad ones to free up space on your cards.

    To me, the main benefit of a digital camera is that because there's essentially no marginal cost to taking pictures, I take a lot more of them, which makes the digital camera more fun.

    Current discounted street prices are around $450. FWIW, here's a buy.com link [buy.com] to the camera. I understand that Fuji has higher res models in this form factor now, but you'll naturally pay more.

  • About a month ago, I bought a Ricoh RDC-4300 from Fry's Electronics for about $329. The camera came with everything and the kitchen sink. In the box was a 4 meg memory card, a frigging instructional video, a really nice custom-made padded cloth carrying case, four top-o-the-line NiCad rechargeable memory-less batteries plus charger, AC adaptor and computer parallel port connector, multimedia cables for hooking up to a TV or VCR, and a TON of free software (such as Kai's Power Show, MetaCreations LogoMotion, Enroute QuickStich 360 [for 360-degree images and QuickTime VR movies], and ArcSoft PhotoStudio).

    The camera takes very nice pictures, even at the lower resolutions. It has six resolutions...three quality levels at 1280x960, and three levels at 640x480. It has a ton of features, including a zoom lens, telephoto, 180-degree rotating lens, and a ton of options that you can set such as auto or manual focus, white balance, etc. If you want to see some pictures I took with my camera, go here [wonko.com]. Those pix were taken on the lowest quality setting at 1280x960.

    Oh yeah, and the camera also records sound bytes, if you're into that sort of thing. All in all, a very professional, high-quality camera for only $329. I was surprised.

    --

  • ...there is always a class of people (i.e. professionals) who will always need _real_ film.

    While some may not consider photojournalists "real" professionals, that is where I see professionals going completely to digital.


    For photo journalists, it makes good sense with digital cameras: short processing time is important, pictures are anyhow uses in "low quality" (i.e. rasterized grossly) and the main layout work is done electronically anyways. Hence in that field it is "speed over quality" any day.

    I don't even dare to think about what the Nikon/Kodak-D1 costs (without any lenses), while The best camera in the world [olympusamerica.com] is well within reach of the serious amateurs and pros, as are lenses and other acessories.

    Most digital cameras do a decent job as replacement for compact cameras / APS-cameras, but they do mostly aim for the auto-focus, auto-everything situations - and are ill equiped for most anything else (very few have manual focus / exposure in a way that is easy to use, very few offer spot metering etc). Yes, I am a dedicated Zuikoholic [sls.bc.ca] and swear to manual focus and such. However should I go out and buy a digital camera, the one which comes closest to what I expect from a camera would be Olympus C3030 zoom [olympusamerica.com]. I would not replace any 35mm film camera with thatone, but it is imho the "least bad" of the affordable digital cameras. It has no good manual focus facilities, but it does feature spot metering and manual as well as auto exposure.

  • What the FUCK is a 'zebrachrome?'

    I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume it's a witty reference to Art Wolfe's exploits in photoshop. Really quite funny.

    On the other hand, you might be referring to ilfochrome prints, previously known as cibachromes or just cibas.

    Nothing beats a ciba for quality and long term stability (except maybe some BW stuff). It'll outlast your slides.

    Ryan
  • > Very few individuals get prints larger than 6x4.

    Nobody gets prints larger than 6x4. At least not the whole roll. But when I take that ONE photo that's really good, I want to make it big ansd hang it on the wall.

    Ryan
  • by CAIMLAS (41445)
    I'm not much of a "professinal" photographer, but I like photography a lot, and like experimenting.

    For me, everything ends up digital anyway, and that's how it's all distributed. Film isn't an option for me, really, due to the price of film and its development.

    For what I do - taking pictures, editing them, and putting them on the web, digital is good enough quality. (for published stuff tho, I'd probably only use "film" cameras. not taht any of my stuff would ever get published)

    I currently don't have a digital camera, but I've fallen in love with Sony's Mavica line. They produce fairly high quality images, have the ability to take mpeg movies, and have very inexpensive storage - floppies. That makes for great transport and cross-platformability. (if that's a word)

    Well, that's quite enough nonsense for now.

    -------
    CAIMLAS

  • I quite don't agree :
    - Last year digicams were already over 5% of all cameras sold ! Must be ever higher today. So it IS taking over regular camera, slowly but surely
    - 3,3 megapixels digicam are available and make great pictures, once we get to 5 or 6 megapixel (in 2 or 3 years probably) it will be hard to sell 35 mm.
    - Many digicam manufacturer use "analog" camera bodies and lenses too. Also having everything digitall makes some functions more easy to do on digicam rather than on 35mm, and many standard digital camera have functions you can only find on very expensive regular cameras
    - digicam are so convenient that it has really the power to kill analog cameras. It is not just digital, it makes the way we take pictures really different and better. No need to wait to see the results, no need to pay for your pics (which means you can make more pictures and just keep the good ones instead of having one or two shots and pay thru the nose for pictures that are bad).

    To me it is only a matter of 5 to 10 years to kill the analog cameras. There's no way back !
  • What I would like is an (affordable) digital camera that is SLR, and can use "standard" 35mm lens. I own a digital camera, but I would really love the ability to change the lens, set the focus, etc manually. Most digital cameras just focus into the middle of the shot. (Unfortunatly, a lot of the time, thats not where you want it focused...)

    So can anyone recommend a Megapixel digital camera, that uses "standard" off the shelf 35mm SLR type lens, AND is affordable.. (I'll qualify that as $500 w/o lens...)

    --Mark
  • How much money do you got?

    Hmm, still need more info?
    Actually, I was going over all the digicams a while back. It seems that they are still working out the bugs in these new cameras.

    Decide what you MUST have.

    rec.photo.digital is a good place to ask if anyone has had problems with X camera.
    http://www.pcphotoreview.com/
    for those without access to newsgroups.

    Then go to professional sites that review digicams like
    http://photo.askey.net/

    I ended up buying an Epson 750Z due to:
    Fast updates on the LCD.
    Only camera that had a 'Sun assist' on the LCD.
    Not a single hardware/software complaint.
    Came with Card, NIMh batteries and charger.
    Optical sight and LCD sight.
    Good reviews.
    Good price. Got it on sale on Buy.com

    I'm STILL happy with the camera even though it's 'only'

    Later
    Erik Z

  • by Night Stalker (60662) on Saturday April 22, 2000 @04:47AM (#1117328)
    I bought the Nikon Coolpix 950 several months ago and I love it! I used to use a couple of SLR 35mm Camera's but now I don't think I will EVER give up my digital. If you've ever used an all manual SLR 35mm camera, the Nikon Coolpix 950 gives you the ability to adjust everything on it, from manual focus, shutter speed, aperture, style of autofocus, flash types, and the list is practically endless. Some of my favorite features are the "Best Shot Selection" where it takes 10 pictures of the same thing then chooses which one is of higher quality. It uses the compact flash cards and there are tons of adapters, serial, usb, laptop. You can also buy seperate lenses for Telephoto, Wideangle, and Fisheye. Has support for external flashes also. If you're willing to shell out some heavy money on a high quality camera...this is it!
  • by Colm@TCD (61960) on Saturday April 22, 2000 @04:52AM (#1117331) Homepage
    The Sony Cybershot cameras are unquestionably the best I've ever encountered. The DSC-F505 CEE has a 2.1Mpixel CCD (1600x1200), a superb lens, great optical zoom, and good upload capabilities. It's pricey, but worth every penny. Some information is here [sony.com].
  • by jammcq (62101) on Saturday April 22, 2000 @04:47AM (#1117332) Homepage
    I recently picked up the Kodak DC280. It lists for $699, but I got it from Buy.com for $499. It has Compact Flash, Serial and USB. If you install the USB patches for the 2.2.14 kernel, it works with Linux. gPhoto supports it really well, and you can take the compact flash card, put it in a pcmcia adapter and pop it into your notebook to get the pictures that way. The resolution is something like 1700x1100 and the pictures look great.
  • Yes, the flash is slightly offset over the top of the lens (overlaps the right edge of the lens as you're looking through the camera). It's probably a little more noticeable in the wedding pictures because of the gamma correction I did on a lot of those shots (the rooms were really dark). I wonder if there's a post-processing app, or a filter for PSP, that I could use to clean that up.

    However, even given that flaw, I think this is one of the better cameras out there. The other ones that I was looking at were the new 3MP cameras coming out, like the Powershot S20 and the new Fuji 4700. However, they weren't available yet, and the price I got on the DC290 was just too good.

    -Todd

    ---
  • Haven't tried it under Linux yet (my Linux box is at another location right now, and since I'm using PSP to clean up the pictures when needed, it's easier to pull them onto my Windoze box). However, I'd be surprised if the DC290 didn't work with something that worked with the 280. And really surprised if it was more difficult than a couple lines of code to make it work if it didn't. The protocol used isn't that dissimilar.

    -Todd

    ---
  • by signe (64498) on Saturday April 22, 2000 @05:05AM (#1117339) Homepage
    The Kodak DC290 is one of the better digital cameras I've seen. Great picture quality, decent zoom, great controls. And the scripting language (Digita) really tops it off. With that you can load apps on your camera to help you take pictures. Like things to assist with panoramic shots, or exposure settings. I've had mine for a few weeks now, and I've taken plenty of pictures. Combined with Paint Shop Pro to clean up pictures that were too dark (because of distance), the pictures are better than anything I've taken with a film camera. And the USB cable makes it pretty quick to get the pictures onto the computer.

    I ended up buying mine at Accompany (now MobShop [mobshop.com]). They regularly have them for $680 to $650. And I happened on a NYTimes promo code for them, and got 20% off that. So it ended up being slightly more than $500. For a $900 camera, that's not too bad.

    If you'd like to see some pictures from my camera, check out the Photos section of my web site [technical.net]. It's still under construction, but the pictures taken of the Explorer, as well as the pictures from the wedding and the pictures of Akamai's servers, are all from my DC290. The only ones that I cleaned up in PSP were the wedding pictures (since they were in a dark room).

    -Todd

    ---
  • I recommend the Olympus C2020. I got one and I found that the picture quality is quite good. I got this one after starting on an Agfa C50 (I think that was the model). I have compared this one to the Agfa, the Olympus D450, and another smaller digital camera (was a friend's, can't recall the model).

    The picture quality of the Olympus C2020 is better than the others I have tested and Battery life is decent (compared to other cameras).

    I definately recommend the C2020 for any web photography. With the resolution available on the C2020, you will need to use GIMP or Photoshop to reduce the image sizes but I have found that the clarity is excellent and even reducing the image size down, there is little loss of quality (for the web).

    The main reason you want to go for a higher quality/higher resolution image is that if you need to take a picture of something small, this is quite helpful as you can get in close for a detailed shot. For example, taking pictures of custom action figures (which are about 4 inches tall), this is useful if you want to be able to clearly show detail.

    Printing pictures out, you definately need the higher quality images as they will be much clearer and much nicer. The lower end cameras are fine for things like group photos at a party or something else where you will want to share the pictures with your friends via the web but as far as printability goes, definately go 2 Megapixel or higher. Otherwise, you are left printing out small 2x3 images just to sharpen up the images.

    If you are really interested in getting a digital camera, I recommend looking at a few digitial photography magazines and/or websites. Last I read, the C2000 (which the C2020 was based off of) was rated number one or two in picture quality in it's class (price/feature range). Sorry I don't have the URL's for any of the mag websites or other digital photography websites.

    I also recommend a smartmedia reader or compact flash reader of some sort as these speed up your download time immensely. Downloads over a serial comnnection take forever. And, if you are using a digital camera that uses AA batteries, definately get rechargables. I actually recommend an extra set or two if you get extra media as batter life on digital cameras leaves a whole lot to be desired. You are usually fine for the memory you got (unless you got an IBM Microdrive), but if you are planning on getting 2 or 3 extra smartmedia/compact flash cards, you definately wanna consider an extra set of NiMH batteries.

    Hope this helps!
  • by fwr (69372) on Saturday April 22, 2000 @05:22AM (#1117346)
    Nah. I think the Mavica sucks, and instead bought a Kodak DC290 for around $740 (and I'm grateful that the price hasn't dropped drastically since I made the purchase).
    Think of this:

    Most people who are on Slashdot are computer people (i.e., their profession involves computers in one way or the other).

    Most computer professionals are equiped with a laptop by their employer.

    CompactFlash can be put in an adapter that fits in a standard PCMCIA slot.

    Most computer professionals take their laptop on vacation with them.

    If you have your laptop and the PCMCIA adapter (which comes with the Kodak camera) there's no need to puchase more digital film when you run out. Simply hook it up to your laptop and save the pictures you want on your hard drive.

    If your laptop is short on space, it's relatively easy to backup large applications that you WON'T need on vacation to your Linux server at home before you head out, and restore them when you get back.

  • No other camera has the unique two part body of the Nikon Coolpix 9xx series.

    It's amazingly useful! Imagine not having to hold the damn camera up in front of your face?! You can take shots of yourself, over your shoulder, up down, to the left, to the right, enourmously handy.

    You can get a CoolPix 950 for under $500 after rebate since the CoolPix 990 has just come out (street price around $850).

    I'd get a 950, and spend the rest on a a few sets of NIMh batteries (forget standard AA for any digital camera) with charger, and at least 128mb of CF. You did realize it comes with a pitiful 8mb card, right? (all the digital cameras come with pitiful storage out of the box). What would you rather have, a bunch of crummy lo-res jpegs taken on a 3mega pixel camera, or a bunch of super crisp tiffs (or low compression jpegs) taken with a 2mega pixel camera? Spend your money on storage and batteries.

    The 990 is higher res, has a brighter display, and USB. The brighter display is for outdoors, but even with the brightest display, it's still pretty much hopeless in full sunlight, you need either a little hood, or use the viewfinder. The USB at first sounds great... then you realize that USB is around 120k bytes per second... Hmmm, so 120mb of pictures takes 1000 seconds to download, or over 15 minutes, Yikes!

    What you want is the PCMCIA adapter, forget USB except for tiny little batches. With PCMCIA you can copy data off the card faster than your machine can write them to a harddrive. Besides, the drivers for CF PCMCIA are built into every os that supports PCMCIA, so you can plug it into any laptop and dump your photos, or even edit them directly from the CF.

    Of course if you have the bucks, go buy a CoolPix 990 and a 160mb CF card!

    (no the CoolPix 990 doesn't support CF Type II, so it won't work with the IBM Microdrive, but then I think 160mb is just fine, and isn't the harddrive a LOT slower and use more power than CF?)

    By far the best review site is Steve Digicams

    http://www.steves-digicams.com

  • One of the things the Coolpix finally brings to consumer digital cameras is the histogram display. It's a good example of the things that you can do with a digital camera that you can't with a traditional one.

    For serious work you still have to look at the Nikon D1 [nikonusa.com], Kodak DCS560 [kodak.com] and the like for good external flash support, interchangeable lenses such as telephoto, macro, fish-eye, decent filtering, anti moire, low noise and other features most consumer and prosumer camera vendors keep the buyer totally unaware of. Having a gazillion pixels does you little good if the optics smudge the image and the CCD is noisy, slow and has a poor dynamic range. If you want a good and cheap digital camera, you still have to buy two different ones.

  • I have a Kodak DC210+ zoom. It's the last camera in the DC200 series to use the serial port. It works wonderfully with linux as well.
  • I disagree to your disagreement, this is quite like the whole "Will the web destroy print" argument. Neither will destroy or negate the other. Digital cameras will never be able to produce the same results that regular cameras do with such things as overexposure (ever seen those night-time pictures of cities where the cars are just big red and white lines) and photography hase a history about it. If anything, I think the consumer market will buy digitals over normal cams, but for the professional -- there is nothing like the original. Maybe analogs will become obsolete (sp?) over the course of time, but with that process, many of the smaller things will be lost. Negatives have varying resolutions, you can blow-up or reduce them with little or no detail problems, whereas digital images can only be reduced in size. You can re-print negatives any time you'd like, have it developed poster sized or wallet sized, with a digital camera its just that single source image. Sure photoshop (which I am an expert in) has become the digital darkroom, but I would trust and respect my oldie cam more than my digital. Just my $0.02.
  • Sure, it's a brand you've never heard of, only 640x480, doesn't have a flash, and uses a serial interface to the computer. But it's good enough to put pictures on your web site, and the price is close enough to disposable that you can just get one if you don't have a digital camera without deciding whether it's the right camera for you to spend real money on. Some of them come packaged as cameras; some come packaged as image editing software that throws in a camera, and maybe costs a few bucks more.


    I haven't tried it - I've got a $99 Toshiba I'll comment on separately.

  • by payn (81160) on Saturday April 22, 2000 @04:45AM (#1117361)
    Well, there are still reasons for traditional cameras.

    First, they're cheaper, and less fragile. Do you want to bring your $600 toy into the pit at an Atari Teenage Riot show, or would you rather carry a disposable camera?

    Second, if your ultimate goal is to have prints to keep around, it's cheaper to develop a roll of film than the print out a digital image on a photo printer (with photo paper and ink). Plus, while it takes about the same amount of time, sometimes it's more convenient to just drop off the film, get lunch, and come back 23 minutes later than to spend that 23 minutes over your computer.

    Third, there's quality. I'm not going to go into the old argument of the theoretical quality of analog vs. digital (records vs. CDs, for example), because they're mostly biased BS. But anyone can look at a picture taken with a consumer digital camera and a picture taken with an equivalent-priced analog camera and see the difference. And when you factor in interpolated digital zoom vs. optical zoom (since most digital cameras only do a small amount of optical zoom, whereas for the same price you could buy a good traditional camera and any zoom lens you want), it's even more dramatic.

    I'm not saying that digital cameras don't have their place. But for the time being, traditional cameras have their place, too.
  • I like the Pro's image better.
    Keep in mind that digital cameras are generally better, if you are going to keep the image in the digital domain (ie, viewed on monitors.)
    For print images, there isn't a printer yet that can truly match a good print film. At least not a printer that mortals can afford.
    The Pro's image I'm sure looked much better on the film rather than the scanned image, it looks like a bad scanning job.
    Here's where the expensive equipment shows through... I don't know a whole lot about photography, but the pro photographer really knows how to use depth of field. In the digital shot, can you look at it and tell instantly "what is this a picture of?" Well, the player is just as sharp as the spectators in the stands. It's all kinda busy and running together, you really can't tell what the subject of the image is, other than what's closest to the center of the image. The pro shot clearly says "the player is the thing." And the exposure is such that you can see the expression on his face, whereas the digital shot just kind of blacks it out (autoexposure shows its ugly side).
    In other words, the digital shot is just as good as any shot that I could take with a disposable 35mm camera with a tiny lens.
    Now clearly there are areas where digital cameras will overtake, such as press (I don't think National Geographic will go to digital anytime soon though), anybody taking snapshots, evidence documenting, etc. Just keep in mind that there are inherent advantages to analog film, just as there are inherent advantages to the digital media.
  • by Money__ (87045) on Saturday April 22, 2000 @05:24AM (#1117372)
    Our company has a digital camera with a 1.4M, 3.5 inch floppy drive that stores ~60k jpg images at 640x480. There's something to be said for a floppies ability to conect with *any* computer, any where, any time.

    Couple that with the fact that floppies are *almost* free, and you've got an open and affordable format to make sure every computer can view the image. In recent years, the ability to read the jpg format has been increased since almost every computer has at least a web browser.

    With every camera manufacturer offering their own proprietary storage media, remember that your images, like undeveloped film, are just bits untill a computer can read them.
    ___

  • Differences? Well, notice how the pro's image has colors that are incredibly washed out. Notice how the pro's image has no depth of field.

    Actually, I would've thought that the lack of depth of field was on purpose - being a "pro", he/she was focusing on the player & deliberately allowing the background to blur. I agree with you about the washed-out coloring though.

    Being a total amateur at taking pictures myself, I'll be happy when I can snap 100s of pictures & pick out the ones I like.

  • I somewhat agree with you.

    For the average consumer, who just wants a simple camera, that works well and doesn't take much to use it, but still wants to be guaranteed good photos, get a normal "film camera".

    Although, if your willing to invest time and money in a digital camera, that's high enough quality, then i'd say go for it. You'd need a high quality printer and paper too though, which may cost you a lot also.

    Most people say the benefit of having a digital camera is not having to go to the store to have your pictures processed. Altough, with all the work you have to do, the one hour photo might be easier. Its all a matter of opinoin.
  • Try scanning some 35mm prints sometime. You run out of resolution at about 300 dpi. They are not as high as you think they are. I've been doing some experiments, and I was surprised by how low resolution 35mm is, even with a high-quality SLR camera with low-speed film.


    --

  • Dude, a negative is like 1 inch wide. I'm scanning a 4x6 inch print, which at 300 dpi corresponds to 1200x1800. Allowing that a bit of resolution is lost by transfering to a print, we're saying the same thing: 2000dpi * 1 inch ~= 300 dpi * 6 inches.

    The point is that 35mm is not 16000 dots across.


    --

  • You've got some good points. Of course, I'm willing to bet that Polaroid cameras are more than 5% of the cameras sold, and nobody expects them to take over anytime soon :-)

    You do have some good points aout paying for the pics, getting the new digital functions, and more.

  • by tedtimmons (97599) on Saturday April 22, 2000 @04:40AM (#1117391) Homepage
    It's been said for the last 3 years that digital cameras are replacing "film" cameras. I don't think that's happening.

    Digitals are great for snapshots, web-related stuff, and the like, but most individuals that have a serious interest in photography will own a digital, plus one or more "film" cameras.

    It seems that the digital camera is an add-on- you don't replace a good camera with a digital, you simply use both.

    It's amazing how good the quality of old-fashioned film cameras is. The level of control over your subject through aperture, focus, lenses, exposure time, film usage, and more hasn't been duplicated in the digital world. The quality of 35mm has not been matched in the digital space yet, not to mention medium format!

  • I think there will also be an option to have your digital COMPACTflash card processed at the chemists into glossies

    There already are such services. e.g. see www.ophoto.com [ophoto.com].

    I've seen some ophoto developed pictures, taken with fairly high end digital cameras, and the result is indistinguishable (or better than) traditional film. It's only a matter of time before digital cameras replace traditional cameras for almost all applications.


    ====
  • I bought one recently. Bargain prices, nice ergonomics.

    The images are too soft to do "photography" with, but they're OK for making web content.

    Eats batteries, but then don't they all.

  • The best film in the world for resolution is Kodak Technical Pan. ..... It's resolving power is in excess of 250 lines/mm.

    Lessee... 250 lines/mm * 25.4mm/in. == 6350 lines/in.

    Take 'lines' to be 'dots' and y ou have 6350dpi....


    Kodak T-Max 400 can resolve a max of 125 lines/mm at 400 ASA in T-Max RS developer. How do these compare to DPI...I don't know.

    That's in the neighborhood of 3000dpi, taking the above calc as a reference.


    It's not accurate to compare.

    With some careful consideration, you can compare them. Just keep in mind the bigger picture. (ie. don't let the media soundbyte you on it) So the previous post was in the neighborhood; just keep in mind which neighborhood.

  • First, make sure to look at sample images of whatever camera you buy. The best site that I've found for this is Imaging Resource [imaging-resource.com]. It has tons of sample images at full resolution and compressions quality, as well as very detailed reviews of nearly every camera out there. They also update their news section frequently, usually more then once a day.

    As far as my experiences have gone, Nikon [nikonusa.com] makes great digital cameras with lots of useful features. My Coolpix 950 [nikonusa.com] has served me very well. For instance, one unique feature it sports is one where it will take a number of shots in a row and automatically select the sharpest and only save that one! Very nice in low light. Kodak also makes nice cameras. My first camera was a one-megapixel Kodak DC200. I took to school every day and ended up with over 3,600 pictures by the time I got my new Nikon! Kodak generally has very good lenses with accurate color balance.

    Be sure to get at least 2 megapixels. By now you can get 3 if you really want to shell out the money. Of course, when you get into the professional models, the sky's the limit. I've seen an in creadible 6 megapixel [kodak.com] that Kodak makes for thousands of dollers. At this point, digitals can really replace film cameras, since often these cameras are traditional film cameras with the film area replaced with digital circuitry; professionals can therefore use their lenses.

    Be careful about interpolation; some companies will try to pass off their cameras as a higher res then they really are. Fuji and Agfa are two examples with their SuperCCD and PhotoGenie technologies, respectively. While these special techniques might do more then a typical resample, they are still no substitute for a higher CCD. Same applies for "digital zoom". That's marketing speak for resizing or resampling in the camera. Don't expect anything from it.

    One more thing: be careful what kind of media you are investing in. Some like Sony's Mavica line, but I would rather not carry around a bunch of unreliable floppy disks if I don't have to. Also, Sony's other new camera uses their own Memory Stick format too, which will make me avoid them flat out. I've already invested a lot in CompactFlash, and I don't want to support a proprietary format with no real advantages and a few disadvantages (higher price, lower space, etc.) CompactFlash is, IMHO, the better standard when compared to Smartmedia, as it is generally cheaper and available in higher capacities. There are two types of Compactflash slots; type 1, and type 2. Type 2 slots are really nice; they take IBM Microdrives [ibm.com] that hold 340 megs of pictures!

    By now, Digital Cameras can definately take very good pictures that rivel film based cameras. When they are printed out on a modern color ink-jet priter with photo paper, they make very sharp prints indeed! I would encourage anyone to go to a local computer store and print some sample photos from a store inkjet. Or even better: you can download a jpeg from Imaging Resource and print it out. You WILL be impressed.

  • I've been travelling for about the last year and bought a mavica to document my trip. It's done everything I could ask for.

    Are the pictures as good as some other digicams? No, but the floppy disk format more than makes up for this shortcoming, at least in my circumstances. I can't lug a laptop everywhere I so, so storing the 1.5 m files created by 'better' cameras is just impractical. The other advantage has already been touched on by someone else. The floppy disks work with just about any computer, so no matter what the cyber cafe in Podunk, Ireland or where ever is running, I can get pictures to people who would want to see them.

    If you're the kind who wants to take professional quality pictures, you'd probably do well to look elsewhere, but for my 'on the road' usage, I don't think the mavica can be beaten.

  • I fail to see why anything over 1.3 Megapixels would increase the probabities of taking over 35mm.

    1280x960 (1.3Mpixels) already fills my screen completely. And on the HP Color Laser 4500 I get pretty nice printouts on the printer's highest resolution.

    Fact is: You CANNOT print pictures made with a digital camera, at this moment. Regardless the quality of your camera, you need a printer to print those pics, and to get to photoquality, those printers are unaffordable (if they exist, that is)

    I own a Canon A50, I would recommend it, after extensive research I found this one had the most bang for the buck, especially considering my high priority in size, it's really small. I use it for normal photography, put the pics on the web, so all my friends can see them too. Good enough for me.

    Ivo
  • by ctj2 (113870) on Saturday April 22, 2000 @06:24AM (#1117425) Homepage

    I am a ProAm photographer and lust after a good digital camera. The problem is one of what makes a digital camera "good"?

    The criteria that are commonly used seem to be:

    • Number of pictures that fit on the media
    • The size of the captured images.
    • The ease of transfering images from camera to computer.
    • The quality of the captured Image.
    • The size of the captured Image.
    • Quality of the camera.
    • Quality of the Lens
    • Ease of control of the camera.

    I have one lens for my 35mm that I payed almost 1K for. If you look at lenses for 35mm cameras you'll find the prices range from a few hundred dollars to many thousands of dollars. It is hard to look at a camera that costs less than $300.00 and even consider the lens to be reasonable.

    Each person judges their needs and makes a decision based on those needs. My brother wanted "webshots." For him a Sony which compresses everything like mad and has 640x480 sizing is just fine. For me it doesn't come close.

    My friend wanted a digital and used 3 before he picked his favorite. He choose the Nikon CoolPix 950. (The current Nikon is 990). For him quality was the name of the game. The size had to be 1280x1024 or larger. The compression had to allow for NO compression. I.e A raw TIFF file. And the "Hi Quality" setting is only 4:1 compression JPEG. Very usable.

    The other day I took some pictures of a personal event. I ended up with about 16 pictures, all of them head shots. After the film was developped and I had scanned them for the web it turned out that we wanted some close ups of an earing. With just the original scan I was able to do a close up of the earing without upscaling or generating any data that was not already there. And my film scanner isn't the best there is. It only does 30bits of 2000+ by 3000+ pixels.

    So to determine what the "best" digital camera is requires a good understanding of what the user wants to do and how they plan to use their images. If you want to be able to just move floppy disks with "Webshots" from your camera to your computer for uploading, pick a Sony digital camera. If you want higher resolution, you need something like the CoolPix 950 from Nikon. Or if you want the real thing you can pick up a Kodak DCS660 [bhphoto.com] for only $20,000.00. That actually does 2k by 3K with 36 bits.

    Pick what works for you, just take the list there at the top and rank those things that are important for you. "Webshots" or "Artprint" it makes a difference as to what camera features you need.

    Chris

  • This maybe true if you are speaking about photocameras, however if we compared analog video cameras to digital video cameras then you wouldn't be able to say the same thing. Digital Video Cameras have progressed way beyond the capabilities of analog camrecorders. They can do hundreds of scan lines more than analog and their output looks much better (especially on digital HDTV.)

    I think that digital photo-cameras have gone the wrong direction. Instead of trying to use CCD's directly (like some sort of a digital telescope) they should have some analog receiver to produce a negative from which a good scan could be made. My flatbed scanner makes amazing scans. Directly using CCD requires very very small digital receivers and they produce either square or hexagonal pixels. Instead they should use some sort of a polaroid film inside the camera that can be reused for new pictures, so once you take a shot, this analog film captures the light, and a scan is performed instantly. Then the film is reset with some electric charge. (I just came up with this, so if you find something wrong with this approach, don't scream too much.)
  • It really depends on how much you consider a reasonable price and how waterproof you want it.

    As a serious scuba diver, I can tell you that there are NO fully waterproof digital cameras on the market right now. By waterproof, I'm talking something waterproof to at least 100 ft (30m). Your best bet if you're wanting a waterproof camera for this depth is to go with a Nikonos camera from Nikon [nikon.com] or a digital camera with a waterproof case from Ikelite [ikelite.com]. Just be warned, a new Nikonos camera will run you $500+ (It's a 35mm, not digital - I know...) and a decent digital camera with a U/W housing will run about $500-$1000 for the camera and another $750 for the housing.

    Finally, sand-proof and waterproof do not go together very well. In order to make them waterproof, cameras use O-rings to keep the water out. Sand is very hard on the O-rings and can cause them to leak if you get sand on them. If you're going to have your waterproof camera in the sand, make sure you clean all of the seals to remove any pieces of sand from the seals...

    Well, I'm sure I've probably given you too much info because it sounds like you're only using it in shallow water. As I said, I haven't heard of any watertight digital cameras, but keep your eyes out in the future...

    kwsNI

  • I own an Olympus D340-R, and I chose it for the following reasons:

    • Form factor -- about the same size/shape as a point 'n' shoot from a couple of years ago
    • Good low light performance
    • Reasonably fast (don't have to hold camera perfectly still)
    • Good battery life

    I take lots of pictures of my daughter with it, and it's fantastic getting them up on our family website right away.

    The only downside found so far is that the camera doesn't pass the drop test. It hit our hardwood floor last week and was broken both mechanically and electrically. But Olympus fixes the camera for a flat $106 rate, so I'm pretty pleased about that.

    For $299 retail and a bit less than that from camera stores in NY, it's a great film camera replacement. Pictures printed onto real film at Eframes [eframes.com] looked excellent up to 4x6. I only use the 1280x960 mode, so even 5x7 looks pretty good

    - Leomania

  • I had been an early adopter of the Sony Mavica, sold on floppy disk storage... but after you've tried bulk storage, you never go back.

    I'm a fan of the Kodak DC290 [kodak.com], which uses compact flash cards for image storage (which I can also swap into my handheld PC). I own a DC265 [kodak.com], which is 1.5 years old, takes 1536 x 1024 images, and its output has been fine for print publications (except glossy stuff). The camera came with a 16MB card, which takes about 40 photos at max quality. I bought a 40 meg card and get about 100 photos, which gives me all the storage I need, with no need to carry around 140 floppy disks! (Plus, the average user doesn't need max quality, for web or screen output. I could easily take hundreds of photos at lower quality.)

    Kodak owners should join the digita mailing list [egroups.com] which is excellent for peer technical support. The DC220, 260, 265, and 290 cameras run the Digita operating system, which allows you to write custom configuration scripts (for example, quickly set your camera for certain lighting conditions you encounter frequently). The only major drawback with the Kodak (and most digitial cameras) is that it cannot go fully manual like the Mavica and has only the standard 3X zoom. But, I gladly trade that for Kodak's many other merits (and I'll buy a zoom lens if it ever becomes really important). Its auto settings and white balancing make it really easy for me to hand this camera to my mom or other helpless person and still get nice photos. The DC290 is currently selling in the $680 range at shopper.com [cnet.com]. (dang, my DC265 originally cost $800!)

  • If you just want pics for a non-professional website, you don't need much resolution since a display is about 72dpi.

    Now, if you want more, go for the optics.

    I have an Olympus DL-500. I liked the zoom, but I picked te 500 instead of the 600 because of the price difference (back in 97) and that the 500 had a faster ASA (film speed) since with real film I usually use ASA 400 film.

    Most of the pics, done in 1996) on my website were done with an Epson Photo PC. I didn't like the the fact that you needed a computer to 'reload' the 'film'. The Mavica using floppy does make it universal, but I like the size and power use (non-use) of the smart-media cards).

  • by Lord Ender (156273) on Saturday April 22, 2000 @04:41AM (#1117465) Homepage
    This cammera is the C|Net editor's choice and for a good reason. It also has a 99% approval rating on their site. Anybody wanting some great resources for picking a digital camera should go here: http://cnet.com/shopping/0-1427343-7-1436443.html? tag=st.cn.1.sptlt.1427343-7-1436443.

    Thanks to them, I got the Olympus D-360L for about $250 and I am incredibly happy with the purchase. It has everything I want and although I have not tested it their site says it has full Linux support. I strongly recomend this.

  • I'm very happy with our Sony Mavicas as well, but it really depends on what you do and who will use the camera-every camera will tradeoff certain features so the best fit depends for every use:

    We bought Mavicas because want wanted students to use them for projects: A CF or SmartMedia camera would be impossible to implement. Floppies are great because every student has them.

    They're also large, unattractive and have really long lasting batteries which fit perfectly for institutional use. On the downside, they cost three times more than most 1Kx7 cameras and the image quality isn't as great as other comparable models.

    But it's a perfect fit for us. So before you go off talking about what's the best camera recommendation, ask what camera fits for your application...
  • by Czakari (177674) on Saturday April 22, 2000 @12:50PM (#1117491) Homepage
    A couple months ago I picked up the Olympus C2500-L and returned it two weeks later because the CCD noise was rather bad (and for $1200, I wanted *no* CCD noise). Even for an SLR, 2.5Mpixels wasn't very impressive for the money.

    Then...

    I bought a Casio QV-3000EX Plus about 4 weeks ago and have taken something like 400 pictures with it, most of them in the camera's undocumented and unsupported TIFF format -- each pic is 6MB, compared to up to 1.5MB for the JPEGs it takes at 7:1 compression (ew!). Okay, so you only get 56 shots before the microdrive is full and it takes 20 seconds to process each shot (1-2 seconds for the JPEGs, if that long)... and most graphics programs won't read these TIFFs (IrFanView does; ImageMagick does; I imagine GIMP will too; PhotoShop does NOT), but they look awesome when printed on photo paper with a 6-color printer (Epson Stylus Photo 750, in my case). Certain things, like tiny tree branches, show the printer's deficiency in the 720dpi direction (the long edge of the paper). Mind you, of those 400 pics I've taken, pixelation is visible in less than a dozen of them -- but that's the printer and not the camera. 2048x1536 is more than enough to print an 8.5"x11" photo without artifacts if only the printer were capable. Gimme a 2400x2400 dpi printer and I promise you won't be able to distinguish between this camera's photos and a real 35mm in any of the usual photo situations. (With an f-stop limited to F8, 'usual' is defined as a broad but comparatively small set of situations.)

    Also, the camera can store 236 JPEGs at full resolution on the microdrive. It's just a fairly lousy compression ratio so if you print them larger than 4"x6", JPEG artifacts quickly show themselves. 7:1 is as good as it gets with this camera if you use JPEG.

    And speaking of unsupported/undocumented features, it's possible to get shutter speeds up to 60 seconds (the documentation says the limit is two seconds); however, I've found that any exposure over 1.3 seconds tends to show a lot of CCD noise. That includes shots of the night sky... this camera captures starlight (and airplane lights) with exposure times less than 1 second.

    The only limitation that's repeatedly been bothersome is the f-stop range. It's F2-F8, which is way too small; should be F2-F12, at least, F22, preferably.

    My two on-topic cents...

All warranty and guarantee clauses become null and void upon payment of invoice.

Working...