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Q: Digital Camera Reccomendations ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   3 Comments )
Question  
Subject: Digital Camera Reccomendations
Category: Computers
Asked by: mward-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 13 Dec 2002 07:03 PST
Expires: 12 Jan 2003 07:03 PST
Question ID: 124145
I'm looking for Digital Camera with a price in the range of 150 to
300 (GBP).

I'm not a professional although I do appreaciate quality, the camera
will primarily be used for capturing sporting action so a quick
shutter speed will be preferable. The images will be primarily used on
the web, although it may be possible that in the future there may be
other uses for the pictures, such as printing them out for calendars,
posters, postcards, etc.

Obviously the camera has to be a good all-round performer, and I would
be good if it came with a decent amount of storage by default
(64-128MB)

I'm looking to buy from a UK supplier, preferably one with a good
reputation.

Request for Question Clarification by lot-ga on 13 Dec 2002 07:30 PST
Hello
as you are doing sports (at a distance) a 4x zoom or greater would be
on the list? and do you mind size? larger zooms tend to be bigger?
128mb will not come as default.. but can be bought separately, from a
different reputable source.. is that OK?
regards
lot-ga

Clarification of Question by mward-ga on 13 Dec 2002 08:03 PST
Size isn't a major factor, I don't mind if the camera has a bit of
bulk. I would prefer it if it had good ergonomics though, as comfort
is important.

The storage is also not a major issue, and I will buy seperately if I
need to.

Request for Question Clarification by lot-ga on 13 Dec 2002 08:15 PST
Hello
I found a glorious 8x optical zoom (35mm eqv of about 300mm) great for
sports, but as always over budget by 50! would this be acceptable?
(sorry for making you spend more money!)
with a list of the other camera options that are within the specified
price bracket too and reviews.
regards
lot-ga

Clarification of Question by mward-ga on 13 Dec 2002 17:25 PST
That would be acceptable.
Answer  
Subject: Re: Digital Camera Reccomendations
Answered By: lot-ga on 14 Dec 2002 10:40 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
 
Hello mward-ga

The up to 300 price bracket includes some decent camera options but
the majority only have 3x zooms (about 100mm in 35mm camera terms)
which are fine for general purposes, but maybe too short for some
sports action. Also most cheap 'point and shoot' type cameras have
programmed auto exposure with no sports mode or shutter speed priority
modes to maintain a higher shutter speed in favour of using a smaller
aperture.

There is one camera (HP Photosmart 850) with an incredible 8x zoom
(about 300mm in 35mm camera terms) that I have already mentioned,
which offers a very fast aperture too f2.8 to f3.1. Most compact
cameras have more restrictive maximum apertures at telephoto which
means you have to use a slower shutter speed to gather light. For
example my 3x zoom has a maximum aperture of f4.9 which is insuperior
to the longer HP lens.
The HP Photosmart 850 is reviewed at Steves Digicams
http://www.steves-digicams.com/2002_reviews/hp850.html
It is important to point out this is a optical zoom and really does
have the full range as opposed to a 'digital' zoom which simply
artifically enlarges a portion of the picture electronically at the
expense of image quality. The camera also has a high 4.1 mega pixels
output. (generally speaking the more the better for large prints).
It has a top shutter speed of 1/2000 of a second, and has shutter
speed priority exposure mode. It also records video clips upto 60
seconds.
Here is the test conclusion
http://www.steves-digicams.com/2002_reviews/hp850_pg5.html
The Cheapest UK price I could find was at PIXmania priced at 345
http://194.206.235.236/dev/gui_web/shopping/index.php?langue=uk&pricerunneruk=1&fuseaction=voir_fiche_article&article=28332
PIXmania have a next day delivery via DHL, tracking system for
packages, a 2 year warranty and 14 day money back guarantee:
http://194.206.235.236/dev/gui_web/common_dsp/popup.php?i=17
Unfortunately it does not come with much memory to hold those high
resolution 4 megapixel images and the place I would recommend to get
any digital camera memory from ValueMedia (
http://www.valuemedia.co.uk/secure_digital.htm ) or 7dayshop (
http://www.7dayshop.com/catalog/default.php?cPath=777_4_401_40105 ),
two reputable and cheap online stores. Even with postage it works out
far cheaper, than the high street or other online stores. I would go
for 128mb for a 4 megapixel camera, more if you are going to shoot
movies regularly. 7dayshop are also the cheapest for rechargable
batteries ( http://www.7dayshop.com/catalog/default.php?cPath=777_4_405
)

OK, that was the long zoom option, (which crossed your price barrier a
little), worth considering if you intend to do a lot of photography,
allowing you to capture action close up.
A 300mm F2.8-f3.1 lens in the film emulsion 35mm format costs a
fortune and weighs half a ton! (You've probably seen those lenses on
the side of the Wimbledon tennis courts mounted on tripods)

One of my favourites for image quality are Canon, though at the budget
end of the price bracket it only buys a 2 megapixel A40, 3x zoom and
1/1500 shutter speed
This is quite a popular camera.
Steves Digicams review
http://www.steves-digicams.com/2002_reviews/a40.html
Cheapest price from reputable source is Amazon.co.uk (who are quite
competitive on digial cameras) at 199.99
http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000065AY0/ref=sr_aps_electronics_1_1/026-5667238-3100450
This uses standard AA size batteries as well. One downside is it
doesn't have a sports program mode to hang on to higher shutter speeds
and is really geared to point and shoot. To redeem itself it has an
optional (expensive) waterproof case if you are into watersports,
which allows you to take underwater photos down to 100ft!
You might consider buying their 64mb compact flash memory card at a
reasonable 19.99
http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00005JHD5/ref=er_ra_acc_dp_1/026-5667238-3100450

Also at the budget end of the scale a Kodak DX4330 which is one of the
newer Kodak models (released in about september 2002) has 3
megapixels, 3x zoom and a sports exposure mode to hold onto high
shutter speeds.
Steves Digicams review here
http://www.steves-digicams.com/2002_reviews/dx4330.html
This has a top shutter speed of 1/1700 of a second, and an outdoor TFT
screen that works better in strong sunshine than standard TFTs.
The lens has very low distortion (one of the lowest) is contrasty and
sharp, though image compression is a little heavy handied with some
visible artefacts if viewed at full size. This is a very easy to use
first time digital camera with optional docking station to transfer
and charge batteries. The advanatage in the battery department (as
with the above HP) is it takes standard size AA NiMh batteries which
are plentiful, and cheap. So if you are on location at a sports event
you can acquire very cheaply extra sets of high capacity 1800-2000mah
batteries to use. For cameras using manufacturers proprietory
batteries these can cost around 18 for third party to 50 for the
original brand battery!
The test conclusion is here
http://www.steves-digicams.com/2002_reviews/DX4330_pg4.html#conclusion

Cheapest price from a reputable source is Amazon.co.uk at 209.99
which is incredible value for 3 mega pixel camera and it comes with
complete with movie mode as well and daylight TFT! (though the movie
mode only works well outdoors on this camera as the camera keeps
adjusting the white balance indoors).
http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00006IJK3/ref=ed_ec_h_cs_7_3/026-5667238-3100450
Their price for memory cards is fairly reasonable as well.
You may want to consider this cheap 64mb MMC memory card
http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00005K2F2/ref=er_ra_acc_dp_1/026-5667238-3100450
if you don't buy it from ValueMedia or 7dayshop.com
Optional camera dock here which includes a set of 1600 mah batteries
and makes transferring photos and charging slightly easier at 44.99
http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00006JIMQ/ref=er_ra_acc_dp_1/026-5667238-3100450

By using a 3 mega pixel camera over a 2 mega pixel, although you are
using a similar length 3x zoom you will effectively gain a zoom
increment as the 3 mega pixel image will contain more image area and
you can crop in with photo imaging software on your PC to get a closer
image.

Sony's offering in the 3 mega pixel category is their DSCP71 priced at
250 from Empiredirect.co.uk
A Review is here at DPreview.com
http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/sonydscp71/
and offers above average three mega pixel resolution.
( http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/sonydscp71/page11.asp )
and uses standard AA size batteries too! Although slightly more than
the Kodak DX 4330 it is better built, has a sexier body and arguably
has a better badge, which makes it good value from Sony. Although it
has a top shutter speed of 1/2000 the camera only operates in program
mode so you cannot control the shutter (it's weakest point) for sports
photography.

The Kodak DX4330 is incredible value for money 3 mega pixel camera for
210, offers a sports mode with highish 1/1700 shutter speed and makes
a  very good first time buy. The Sony DSCP71 a 3 mega pixel camera is
also great value for money, with great build and image quality but
more restrictive on program modes. The Canon A40 gives you excellent
image quality at a lower 2 mega pixels and one to consider for
watersports with it's optional waterproof enclosure. The HP photosmart
although slightly outside your price range, gets you that long fast 8x
optical zoom lens and 4 mega pixels into the bargain (4 mega pixels
cameras are usually way over 300).

Under the UK distance selling selling regulations purchasing items
over the internet, telephone or mail order, consumers have the right
to return goods unused in a resaleable condition for any reason to the
retailer  (though the consumer has to bear the cost of the return
postage).

Search Strategy:
I focused primarily on 3 mega pixel cameras for the extra 'zoom
factor' over 2 mega pixel, allowing you to 'crop in' on the PC.
Steves Digicams hardware reviews
http://www.steves-digicams.com/hardware_reviews.html
DP review product review section
http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/
UK pricerunner
http://uk.pricerunner.com

I hope that helps, if you need any clarification to the answer don't
hesitate to ask.

Kind regards
lot-ga
mward-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $10.00
This was a great answer, and you took the time to understand exactly
what I wanted from the camera. Thankyou for the effort

Comments  
Subject: Re: Digital Camera Reccomendations
From: chliu528-ga on 13 Dec 2002 13:59 PST
 
check out Minolta Dimage X. Really small with internalized zoom
mechanism. Price is about what you said.
Subject: Re: Digital Camera Reccomendations
From: lot-ga on 14 Dec 2002 13:56 PST
 
Many thanks for the tip!
The URL link for the Sony DSCP71
http://www.empiredirect.co.uk/productdetailsnew.asp?modelcode=SON-DSCP71
Subject: Re: Digital Camera Reccomendations
From: mward-ga on 23 Jan 2003 03:50 PST
 
For anyone interested, I opted to buy the HP Photosmart 850. I'm very
happy with it, though sometimes it's a little slow auto-focusing, and
there's a noticable delay between the shutter button press and the
actual capture of the image, which can be frustrating. It's not too
bad though if you can anticipate the action.

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