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What U Need to Buy When U Want to Purchase an Entry Level Digital Camera (simple tips)

Bamboo

I Don’t know what’s wrong my friend here, of all of her friend that have SLR, she still asked me what type of camera that she need to buy. Well she is the prettiest girl in her office and the smartest one too :D that’s why i like to give her a little hint in what things to buy in starting to the world of photography (as a newbie like me of course).

This hint is time based, maybe in a couple of month from now, the price will change. Her budget is around US$ 150 – 250. well there’s 5 items that she need to consider.

  1. The Camera (doh!)
  2. Memory Card
  3. Rechargeable Battery
  4. Camera Bag
  5. TheCharger for the battery
  6. Card reader if the battery in the camera was down

For the camera, here’s a few item that i read is particularly have a good or decent review. Canon PowerShot A540, A550, A560, Ranging from the cheapest US$180 – 200. I’m not in fave of Canon or something but why there’s nothing on entry level in dpreview except Canon and no full review on imaging-resource that meet the entry level(there’s is a couple but not the decent one), that’s why its hard to choose brands other than Canon.

Canon canon

For memory card, because i found canon right now, so the memory card would be SD card. The price of SD card was up and down in the first quarter this year. My boss yesterday bought a 2 Gig of Kingston mini SD for only US$18. S0 let’s just say that for 2 Gig of memory card are going to cost u US$20.

For Battery, I found that Charger Sanyo Quick 2500MA AA/AAA + 4 AA Battery is going to cost US$20. This is enough i think for 200-500 shoots in daylight environment.

Last but not least is the bag and card reader, a Lowepro small bag is around US$ 13 and an all in one Card Reader is only US$ 4. To sum it u, the total cost for the accessories only is 20 + 20 + 13 + 4 = US$57. This is going to adequate for a budget of US$250 with the camera price range from US$ 180 – 200.

Buying a Starter Outdoor Digital Camera

Leica Camera ClassicAfter buying a new digital camera the Canon A530 last February, my friends wanted me to describe what kind of digital camera that was good for outdoor environment, I’m not a pro myself, still an amateur, but I know what a good picture look like that’s why my friends ask me. After describing in a long discussion on yahoo messenger, she still doesn’t get it. So i make these guide on my website to help her REMIND what things that should be notice if u want a good digital camera.
In my last writing on Lighting is everything i wrote that

  • Megapixels(MP) is not an important issue in buying an entry level digital camera, it is not a fundamental aspect for everyday use. i even see a good picture that was taken from 2MP camera phones, this is because of experience and the lighting. The standard right know for an entry level digital camera is around 5mp to 7,2mp.
  • As i said before Lighting is everything, lighting is a fundamental aspect of your photo, so you better test a lot of camera before u bought it. i look a lot of type of digital camera ($150-$450 price range) from my friends, the best quality picture come from Canon, Sony and Olympus. they have a lot of manual control and the best anti-shake(compare to the price).

I’d like to add more to the list. there are several things that should be remind if u as a starter want to buy an outdoor camera.

  • The Battery. Is it Lithium-Ion or AA battery? whatever u choose remember the consequence. Lithium-Ion it’s so easy on recharging and based on my experienced it has a longer time life span, but the downside if you’re in the middle of a shoot out and the battery was out then u have to buy a additional battery which is expensive. On AA battery the lifespan is depend on the nimh when u bough it. it’s range from 1800 to 2700nimh, don’t use alkaline if u could, it has a short lifespan about 50 to 100 shoots(but it’s quite useful for a backup).
  • Zooming!! The Bigger The Better honey :D but apparently this motto only apply to Optical zoom not the Digital zoom, don’t care it’s even have 1000x digital zoom, still Optical Zoom is better. right know the common package for an entry level camera is around 4x Optical zoom.
  • LCDs. if u could, find the camera that have viewfinder too, not just plain LCD, bigger LCD means Short Battery Lifespan. but right now a lot of entry level camera doesn’t have a viewfinder. this is just for consideration
  • Storage Type. I only know three common storage type:
    1. SD card : The Cheapest one.
    2. MemoryStick Duo : middle range price.
    3. xD Card : the most expensive one.

About The Quality i still don’t know which one, but i do know cheaper card equal to BIG capacity. i bought my SD Card only US $19 for 1Gig. at that time Memorystick cost around US$28 for equal storage and xD cost around US$35(i forgot the exact number). so in my opinion choose a camera that use SD card for the storage type if u want cheap and big storage. Canon = SD card, Sony = Memorystick, Olympus = xD card, Kodak = SD Card/ MMC and Fuji = xD. but if u have the money, all of them, i think has the same performance.

  • Last but not least and this is the hardest, Does the camera that u want have The Manual Control that u need to satisfy your hunger to control!!! this is quite a catch, i don’t know how to tell u yet, my experience is only based on hundreds of reviews i read from the net and my personal experience with camera. All i know that Canon entry level is the best manual control, u can adjust almost(almost) anything on your picture, Kodak on the other side too have the same feature BUT it wipe away your setting every time u TURN OFF your camera, i don’t know right now maybe they upgrade it, but this is based on experienced Kodak Easyshare that was bought last December(Forgot what type). Sony i don’t know and so Olympus. i do know that Sony have the nice color combination of the result (strong on green) which better than my Canon A530 (this is a newbie experience).

to sums up this writing for my friends who have a hard time reading this page(I know u want the simple summary!! ) this is the list:

  1. Megapixels is not everything(5Mp – 7,2MP is the standard entry level)
  2. Care less to Digital Zoom, Optical Zoom is the Creme (the minimum right know is 3x)
  3. Lithium-Ion or AA battery (read above! or choose AA battery if you’re lazy go with 2700 nimh)
  4. Storage Type (Personal Experience, Choose SD card Because it’s Cheap )
  5. Manual Control. Because this is for outdoor environment then u have the best lighting of all for your picture, u’ve the sunshine. Just try to learn manual control as much as you can

If u want further reading, this is what i read when i was searching to bought my first digital camera:

  1. Dpreview.com, (i think it has the best buying guide )
  2. Imaging-Resource.com
  3. dcresource.com

and the buying guide i read a very old article about Digital Camera Buyers Guide “7 Steps in Plain English” and malekstips digital camera helps and tips. While Stumbling i found these two lovely website on photography Popular Science and Digital Camera Magazine. on Indonesian websites there are toko Camzone the cheapest price list (online!) and a good forum for photography is Ayo Foto.

These writing is dedicated to my beloved friend, Popie who ask frequently in asking me tips in buying digital camera :D .

Lighting is everything


Since the 1st of february i was planning to buy a digital camera, not an expensive one as long as it have a nice megapixel and u have a lot of control in taking the picture,such as ISO control, flashlight, zooming etc. I’ve been surveying trough the web, and there’s a couple of things that u should know when u buy a digital camera(as a beginner). These things are:

  • Megapixel doesn’t mean that much to get a quality foto, as long as it look sharp and doesn’t have a lot of noise than it’s okay(to me), not to small of course.
  • Lighting is everything. Before u bought it, try the camera. try with the outside environment of the shop because occasionally the lighting in a shop is very good, so u cant emulate the real picture in ur real life situation. Try with the flashlight off, ask the seller to change the ISO setting, anything. so u can be sure with ur camera in the low lighting situation. exp of a low lighting environment is in a wedding, sometimes when u shoot with ur camera with the flashlight on, the background became dark. So just to be sure try many setting before u bought it.

I’m not a pro in photography but i do know what kind of good pictures look like, so i want to get a camera that was good enough to take picture of my friends and beloved ones. With this kind of simple knowledge i think it’s sufficient enough to buy a new camera without the hassle of understanding new technology.After surveying the web, i got 2 website that (to me) was qualified enough to get a decent review. the first one was the dpreviews.com and the other one i forgot to bookmark it :D is Imaging Resource. after read a lot of review i realize that i don’t have enough money to buy a good camera with anti shake features and large optical zoom. My budget was around US$150-250. Seeing my condition was lack of money i took chances to buy an entry class camera with a lot of manual control. My bet was on Canon and Olympus camera(Kodak: too much noise, Casio: no manual control, Sony cybershot: i rarely read reviews about Sony before so i dare not to buy it, Samsung: the entry class was horrible), both features a great experience in photoing ( forgive me for my lack of vocabulary :P ).

Testing kamera

After testing the camera, Olympus(i forgot what type, around US$190) was great on the large LCD and the result of the picture(best antishake) but lack of viewfinder, expensive memory card(xdcard) and because of the large LCD means it’s goin to be short battery life. on Canon i tested 2 three type of camera A410 and A530, four actually but that was slightly out of my budget so i intensively tested the two type. The conclusion was that A410 was the cheapest one with the price range between US$110 and A530 is US$145, both feature the same technology with the A410 less features(doh’). the A530 was good (not great) on the result with auto setting, but sometimes quite blurry pictures and slow loading shutterspeed, using SD Card means cheaper photo storage. But alas with that kind of price range US$140 and almost the same features as A630, i bought(with original warranty) the damn thing :D . And not just that, i bought it with a package 1GB SD card and camera bag. hahaha so cheap!

this is a sample of the picture taking from my A530. My computer.

my computer

My friend who accompany me in buying the camera

my friend aput

so that the story of my ventures in buying a good and cheap camera :D . good luck in finding yours!

Update February 22nd 2007:

The quality of the picture is quite good, often shaky(i wish i bought those olympus :( ) but the battery is killing me, it’s doesn’t get to 100 shot, already i had to buy a new battery. I don’t know why it need to change battery often, is it because i took a lot of picture or because i change the setting often

Update March 24 2007:

I bought a cheap rechargeable battery. right know it has a long span of battery life. after a lot of consideration, actually my camera is quite good comparing to all of my friends camera(2 Sony, 4 Kodak, 1 Samsung and 1 Olympus), it has the manual control that satisfy me for my hunger of controling. The auto setting act like shit in the result and don’t ever use the flashlight if u want a good picture quality. i shoot 1036 pictures since i bought this camera, it’s a fun experience in searching a right combination of color but i’m stil suck at searching angles.