Monday, November 28, 2005

A Little Yelp For Help


We're Not Happy

Can you feel the stunned silence? That would be coming from me, sitting here in my tumbledown farmhouse in the middle of nowhere, while the arctic wind howls around the darkness outside, staring in disbelief at my broken camera. I can't decide whether I want to hold a little memorial service for it or throw it against a wall.

I need some advice. I was already promised a new camera for Christmas, but I haven't even started researching. (I'm big on doing a lot of legwork before making an important purchase.) All of the photos I've posted on Farmgirl Fare have been taken with my several year old Kodak Easyshare DX3700, so anything will no doubt be an improvement.

Here's what I'd like. Something that is under $300. (Preferably way under.) Size does not matter. I need all the 'auto' stuff I can get, but having manual options would be nice, too. I use the LCD preview thingie instead of the viewfinder. I like the digital zoom. I need it to take excellent landscape shots, as well as close-up food photos. A few weeks ago (did I mention I'm not real tech savvy?) I found the macro setting. That sure is a nice feature.

I will be in the Little City on Wednesday, so another option is to buy an inexpensive interim camera (which would still probably be better than what I'm used to). This camera has served me very well, and I have often been surprised by the amazing quality of the photos it has given me. I should probably do an ad for Kodak, though I guess it would be better if the camera still worked.

Anyway, I would be grateful for any advice you can offer me. In the meantime, I do have some extra farm photos kicking around, so we're not going to disappear or anything. And yes, I happen to have all the pictures for the Oatmeal Toasting Bread post taken, so maybe I'll actually get around to writing it. Nothing like forced incentive. Speaking of which, I guess I'd better sign off and do a little online camera shopping.

26 comments:

  1. Bummer! When I was ready to buy my camera, I started on Amazon to get a general idea of what I was after. Decent info, reviews, a little comparison pricing.

    There's also a few threads on Food Blog S'cool, nothing really new but you could always start a new one and pick up some ideas on current deals.

    That narrowed it to a handful, a list that I took to a few big digital photo sites (can't find the links, google and you'll find a few *big* sites with reviews), which left me with two contenders.

    Then I asked a photographer friend which of the two he'd buy. (I can probably get an opinion when you have it narrowed down.) :-)

    I'm off to talk with friends about reincorporating our local Grange. There's a bunch of good things involved--not the least of which is a cool building the community could use--but they have some downright regressive political positions.

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  2. Hm. If you were buying from the European market, and be german speaking (or better: reading), I would recommend digitalkamera.de, which has a pretty extensive comparison database.

    You can specify several features you need and also you can define a price range and whether you want to have just brand new, future or also older models listed.

    You need not specify all of those, just the ones which are important to you.

    Maybe you can find someone to help you with the German stuff.

    From a technical point of view I would recommend a physical zoom rather than a digital one, as the digital zoom is just picking part of the whole picture - you can do the same later, cropping the picture using your favorite graphics tool. The physical zoom will actually give you a bigger picture of the same view, i.e. better quality of the picture.

    Also, I would recommend not to take the highest available resolution, if you don't need print outs at large formats. I use a digital camera with 3 Megapixels and I'm fine with it (I'm doing landscapes and documentation of building activities/installations at home). If you take higher resolutions, you not only pay more but also you'll get more and more speckles in your pictures (pixels of an arbitrary color) in low light conditions.

    So, when I do a search on digitalkamera.de with what I think you are looking for, the first three recommendations are Canon PowerShots (A510, A520, A620), all below 300 EUR. Maybe this is a start?

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  3. If you were happy with the Kodak you can look for other Easyshare cameras. I'm a Kodak-fan myself because I like the way the buttons are placed on their cameras, and I like the Easyshare software (not to mention the fact that they still use glass lenses, a big plus).

    I have a DX 7440 - a very nice sub $300 camera. My girlfriend has a Z7590 - an even nicer camera (but also $350).

    If you want small the Canon SD series is nice (but I don't like their button layouts, manual control takes forever).

    If you do go with a newer Kodak model beware that you probably have to buy new memory cards. I think all newer cameras use SD memory cards, the older models usually use Compact Flash cards. Fortunately memory cards are pretty inexpensive these days.

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  4. You have my sympathies. I'm still waiting to get some combination of one of my THREE digital cameras and my laptop to all work at the same time and together. I used to take digital pics just for the heck of it and do nothing with them. Everything worked fine then. Now that I have a food blog and desperately need everything to be in order, nothing works!

    In spite of having three of the things, I'm tempted to make it four. Radio Shack has been having a basic one on sale for about $90. I'm going to take a look. Sigh.

    Good luck.

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  5. I love your little Beagle Robin ~ we had a tri coloured Beagle girl named Scruffy!Shes at Rainbow Bridge now.

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  6. Be awares that buying a digital camera requires that you also purchase additional items like an SD card....256 minimum if you plan to shoot videos in the video mode (generally digitals cameras have a 60-sec video mode similar to but way superior than video phones....never know if you'll be caught in a spontaneous parade until it's too late....better digital cameras record with audio and sound....SDs have dropped half in price this year). http://imaging-resource.pricegrabber.com/search_attrib.php?topcat_id=&form_keyword=256MB+sd+cards&Search=Go&page_id=152&lo_p=0&hi_p=0.

    Secondly, you'll need some rechargable Ni-MH batteries with preferably a half-hour charger at $28.oo+....the hour charger is cheaper but you would only end up saving about $5.oo....4 batteries are usually included with the charger....mines is a Duracell brand....digital cameras usually take two batteries. http://imaging-resource.pricegrabber.com/search_getprod.php/masterid=8129893/search=duracell+chargers

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  7. Hyper links above don't work in Google (commercial?) search....but you might want to try Yahoo search and two-stepping it.

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  8. Wow. I just emailed some suggestions to you, but it looks like you don't need them. I just love the Internet.

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  9. Wow. Thanks so much, everybody. I really, really appreciate your taking the time to share all of this knowledge and advice to help me out--especially those of you who haven't commented before. Welcome!

    Hi Dorit,
    Last night a pal sent me all kinds of info and reviews on the Canon A520, and it sounds like what I am looking for: for one thing, you can start all auto and go manual as you figure things out. Your helpful comment reinforced that it might be the camera for me. And the physical/digita. info was extremely helpful,as I don't know how any of that works. Thanks!

    Hi Andreas,
    Yes, I am definitely a Kodak fan. Thanks for pointing out all those important little considerations. : )

    Hi B'gina,
    Ack! You have my sympathies. : )

    Hi Abe/Happy,
    There is something about beagles. They aren't like any other dog. I'm constantly surprised by how many people I meet who have had one, often when they were growing up. Robin is very special to me. I just can't believe she's 9 years old already!

    Hi Ronwaikiki,
    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I know NOTHING about all that battery stuff. And I certainly didn't think about getting caught ill-equipped in a spontaneous parade! : )

    Thanks again to all of you. I look forward to hearing opinions and advice from anyone else who wishes to offer it. This is all extremely helpful (and I feel much more calm than I did last night).

    Oh, how quickly we come to rely so heavily on our high tech gadgets!

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  10. Hi KM,
    I didn't mean to skip over you. I figured I'd email you later when I narrow it down. I'm also curious what camera you ended up buying. Thanks for your help. Hope the Grange talk went well.

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  11. Hi Amy,
    Your comment sneaked in while I was typing mine. Great, more help! Off to read your email. : )

    I love the internet, too!

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  12. I've only been reading for a couple of weeks. I'm usually just here to look at photos of dogs, sheep and llama - I just can't keep my mouth shut about cameras. :o)

    Anyway, some additional comments:

    Video-mode: Most Kodak cameras will happily shoot video until the memory card is filled. But their frame rate is only 20 frames per second (fps), where Canon cameras usually have 30 fps. You probably won't notice the different unless you're filming a running dog or something like that.

    Batteries: Cameras that use regular (AA) batteries are heavy. It's just something to consider. Some brands (like most Kodak models) use special batteries - they look similar to a cell phone battery. Those are more expensive, but in my experience last a bit longer and weigh less. The disadvantage is that you can't just pop into a random store and buy batteries if you run out. Recharge time for the special batteries are around 2 hours.
    When I was buying my camera (1½ years ago) I was looking really hard at the Canon Powershots. In the end I went with the Kodak because the Powershots back then needed 4 batteries making the camera really heavy. I don't know how the battery situation is for the current line of Powershots.

    Go to the store and hold the cameras. Feel the weight and try to take a couple of photos using different settings. It'll give a good feel for how the buttons fit you and how well the camera fits in your hands (I have long fingers and the Ixus is just too small for me).

    I totally forgot my favourite feature about my camera. I don't know if other brands have the same feature, but my Kodak has an auto-rotation device inside it. The camera know whether I'm taking a landscape or a portrait photo. No more sitting around manually rotating photos on the computer. It's hands-down my favourite feature. :o)

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  13. I bought mine in a shop, paid it something like 250 euros so about the same in dollars. It's a nikon 5600.
    My sister has also a great one, a canon digital IXUS50,so small and so great pictures. The price must be around 300.
    So I'd say canon or nikon, good cameras and not so expensive.

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  14. am a canon person...get a bigger pixels for finer quality

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  15. You will be so happy with a Canon. Their software is supreme, and the colors are as good as you can get.

    And for the record, at my foodie forum is an excellent discussion of digital cameras. (People are always asking my advice about this.)

    I am advising people right now that the 7-megapixel Canon Powershot A620 is an amazing camera. Not only does it have a movie mode, panoramic stitch mode, and all kinds of bells and whistles, but it has 20 Special Scene shooting modes. Put it this way: I have the Canon Powershot Pro1 8-megapixel camera, and I'm jealous of my friend who just got the A620.

    One more thing: both of these cameras have a feature that I've found invaluable: the flip-out viewfinder. It allows me to get shots over the heads of crowds, and to be surreptitious in my photo-taking. (I lower the camera like a Brownie camera, and let the viewfinder do the work.)

    Hope that helps someone.

    Cheers,
    Tana

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  16. Hey Farmgirl - there are several posts on this subject at Food Blog Scool if you want to check through the archives (use the google search button on the FBS blog roll)

    I was very happy with the Casio Exilm for a cheap camera.

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  17. Wow! Who knew? So much good information here on finding a respectable quality digital camera/ video camera. I would know what you eventually decide on as I will be looking for a new one before long too. Mine works just fine -- but it likely won't upgrade when I get a newer computer.

    Happy DigCamera hunting, FG!

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  18. I ended up going with a spendy camera, got a Nikon D70 (which was a bit over a thousand bucks with extra battery and 1 GB SD card), but I am also shooting some stuff for later professional print work so the resolution matters. It's an SLR so you don't get the little movable LCD screen and it's not "restaurant sized." OTOH, it's got swappable lenses and as I learn more about it, I am appreciating the manual capabilities more and more. Depending on how long you want to wait for a replacement, you might want to hang on another week or three for the last week before (or day after) xmas sales. Like you'd make it almost a month without a camera.

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  19. My brother is a professional photographer, so when it comes to buying cameras, I let him to all the research, and I take his recommendations. When I was looking for a small digital (not a digital SLR), he recommended the Olympus C-50... AWESOME camera -- right around your $300 price range -- it's got megapixels to spare, and lots of extra goodies.

    For a digital SLR, I would swear by the Canon D20... just got mine about 4 months ago, and am deeply in love. Amazing camera -- but definitely more pricey and for someone who has a serious photography hobby addiction! Good luck -- love your blog!

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  20. Hi Andreas,
    Even more info. Thanks!

    Hi Cindy,
    Welcome to the farm! Thanks so much for the helpful info. : )

    Hi Sha,
    I appreciate your input. I am really leaning toward Canon right now.

    Hi Tana,
    You ROCK. Thanks so much for all the info and the links. The foodie forum one was REALLY helpful.

    Hi Sam,
    Thanks. Yeah, Food Blog S'cool. Duh. : )

    Hi Heather,
    Yes, lots of great info here. It's helping me narrow things down a lot.

    Hi KM,
    Wow. You did get a fancy camera. Um, no, I don't think I'll be waiting for any after Christmas sales. What are you trying to do--kill me and my blog? I was bummed out just by all the cool frozen morning shots I missed when I was down at the barn earlier (another 12 degreeF morning) : )

    Hi Lynne,
    Welcome to the farm! Thanks for the helpful input. You definitely do have a great camera--the photos on your blog are stunning. Love all the dog pics. Something to aspire to (the photo quality and owning a camera like that : )

    Again, thanks everyone. I really, really appreciate it!

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  21. So glad you asked, as I am about to go shopping for a relatively inexpensive new digital camera as well. Since I started taking more close-up photos for my blog I just can't stand my old 20th century dinosaur any more. Not to mention it weighs two tons and I'm going to Italy next year. The NYT has an online section to comparison shop cameras at http://cnet.nytimes.com/html/ex/nytimes/bg/7603/index.html?tag=nyt_cats

    I think I'm leaning toward Canon so far.

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  22. It sounds like Sam has the same camera I do and I LOVE that camera. (But remember, I have only very recently entered the digital camera age.)

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  23. I've used alot of digital cameras and Canon is the best in my book. The color and ease of use are great. If you're wanting to buy online pricerightphoto.com is has great deals. Go with at least a 4 mp. You'll be happy with it.

    Good luck and sorry to hear about the other camera.

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  24. I have to say, I just adore my Nikon Coolpix 4100. Great depth of field, exceptional macro lens, and so portable. Also, it costs less than $200. I took all the photos on my blog with it.

    Good luck!

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  25. Thank you, thank you, thank you all!

    I can't tell you how much I appreciate your taking the time to write. So much great information! Several people have already benefited from it besides me, and I plan to post a link to these comments on Food Blog S'Cool so even more people can read all this great info.

    P.S. Chainsmokenmonkey--welcome to the farm! : )

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  26. I just LOVE your site. . . I turn to it everyday. Your Harvest Summer Soup recipe was wonderful.

    I have a Canon G6 camera and I absolutely love it. There are so many out there that are good - Kodak, Canon, Nikon - it really comes down to personal choice.

    Check out my website/blog at sherrysworld.com.

    Keep those stories, recipes, and photos coming!

    Sherry

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