Need point and shoot camera recommendation. And two reviews.

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Forum topic by Underdog posted 01-19-2013 02:21 PM 1013 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1095 posts in 2029 days

01-19-2013 02:21 PM

I’m looking for recommendations on a point and shoot camera. I’d like one with good macro focus and light/white balance metering qualities. I primarily use a camera for taking stills of woodturning projects. That’s not to say I wouldn’t like one that would work well for landscape, vacation, and social occasions. And one that took pretty good movies wouldn’t go amiss for youtube videos.

What follows is a fairly lengthy account of my experience with two cameras. If you want, you can skip over that to the last paragraph, and just give your recommendations. Also I’m looking to stay under $200. I paid less than $100 for the A410 and SZ-20 mentioned below. I’m not interested in entry level SLRs because I have neither the means nor the will, to spend $500-$600 on a camera, and then add several thou$and in accessories and lenses, so please don’t waste your time.

I formerly received for my birthday, a Canon A410 3.2 megapixel with the old style CCD sensor. It sounds clunky compared to the features and specifications of today. Actually, it had a great interface, and it was a real joy to use. You hardly had to think about it to get good pictures with the auto settings. It also had a fair range of manual settings when one wanted to dial in white balance, ISO, and exposure settings for stills.

And use it I did – all the time for approximately 5 years. I took it everywhere; to turning club meetings, to my shop, to work, on vacations, on walks and errands. It met it’s demise on my last trip. Either the sensor or a ribbon failed, and any photos were grainy and filled with lines.
It was a sad day for me.

Thinking to upgrade this camera, I bought a Olympus SZ-20. It’s a 16 megapixel camera with the new CMOS sensor, and a greater range of ISO, and exposure settings. It has a 35X optical zoom and a 2cm macro. Also it will take better movies. (After all the Canon didn’t have any sound whatsoever, and it’s frame rate was really sketchy. With all those obviously superior features, how could I lose?

Well. The Olympus proved to be a great disappointment. For stills, it’s an abysmal failure. The first thing is that for some odd reason, Olympus decided to reset the timer feature after each shot. It won’t stay set. Then to make it worse one must scroll down a list of settings to get to set the timer settings. To make that even more excruciating, they put on one of those darn fiddly scroll wheels, which, more often than not has you selecting the wrong feature… There’s no HDR feature on this camera (where you combine three shots with three different exposures) so one must use a software HDR. But with the timer the way it is, even with a rock solid tripod, I suspect that fiddly scroll wheel and the stupid timer feature would make even the software HDR useless.

So much for taking 50-100 still shots with ease.

The worst thing is that focusing and metering are unreliable. On any backlit shot, indoors, outdoors, at close range or from 20 feet away, the exposure was nearly always incorrect. I took a trip around UGA campus with the family in late afternoon and the exposures were terrible. I took a trip to Tallulah Gorge and the exposures were terrible. I took closeup shots of flowers in broad daylight and the focusing and the exposures were terrible.

There are also little nit picky things about the camera I didn’t like either, like the overlarge loop on the lanyard. It hardly does any good when the thing slips off your wrist, over your hand, past the camera, and then dangles from the camera like a wily escape artist. I finally knotted the darn thing to keep from dropping the camera.

Another thing that’s fairly annoying is that there’s no hard copy of the manual. Last thing I want to do is scroll through an on board manual, and repeat searches through the manual while eating up the batteries. And it does eat up that proprietary battery with that large LCD screen. The nice thing about the A410 was I could use AA batteries. With 8 rechargeables, I could have 4 in the charger, 2 in the case, and 2 in the camera,
and easily cover a days worth of shooting. Another battery eating thing about the SZ-20 was it has no sight window. So I was faced with getting another $30-50 battery.

Also there are a bunch of bell and whistle presets on the SZ-20 – which are nice if the thing will take good pictures, but really useless if not.

To top it all off I kept getting “picture errors” message when I went to review shots I’d taken. At first I put it down to the clunky little SD card I had. After getting a much bigger SDHC card, I still got those “picture error” messages, so I figure the camera is just screwed up. It’s got some glitchy thing that if all the settings are a little hinky, makes it error out.

Anyway, I’m looking for something to upgrade my old Canon that will be an equally easy camera to use.
It doesn’t have to be the latest and greatest- it could be a little older but “tried and true” camera.
In fact, the A410 was an older, tried and true camera when I bought it.

Thanks for your attention and recommendation.

-- "woodworker with an asterisk"

7 replies so far

View JoeinGa's profile


7736 posts in 2000 days

#1 posted 01-19-2013 04:10 PM

First off, I have a Canon EOS Digital Rebel that I got thru a company purchase and payroll withdraw plan. I liked it a lot at first but I never really learned how to use all the features. Mostly I always just left it on “auto” and shot away. It’s a full-size SLR and sometimes it can be bulky to carry on a days outing.
Fast forward several years….

Was out with friends and he had a Nikon pocket digital. It was about the size of a pack of cigs and quite easy to use. There was no viewfinder, almost the entire back of it is the display (you see what the camera sees.) I tried it and LIKED IT! So I got one and quite frankly, my Canon Rebel hasnt been out of the case in over a year.

Mine is a Nikon CoolPix L16. I upgraded the memory card and I think it can hold something like 2000 pics (not that I’d ever take that many without downloading).
You can do a search on the Nikon CoolPix’s, there’s several models to compare features and benefits. I think I paid something like 100 or 120 for this one.
Any pic’s you see here on LJs from me, I took with this little gem.

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View patcollins's profile


1685 posts in 2858 days

#2 posted 01-19-2013 05:21 PM

Hey Underdog

I am a bit of an amature photographer myself and I have to say for point and shoots Canon is head and shoulders above the rest.

The optical view finders disappeared a few years ago on all but the most high end point and shoots so you are out of luck there.

Most point and shoots also do not have build in HDR software.

Unless you are looking for a long zoom I would recomend the current version of this camera, which I think is the 120 HS.

Is a great website to compare cameras at btw.

If AA battery support is a must, the camera below is a pretty good camera, a little big in my opinion but not huge.

View Underdog's profile


1095 posts in 2029 days

#3 posted 01-19-2013 07:06 PM

Thanks for the comments and recommends. I’ve been perusing camera reviews and comparisons all morning. I’ve been intrigued by the ELPH 100 HS, ELPH 110 HS, and the ELPH 300 HS. Lotta camera in that 100HS.

Of course I’m still open for suggestions and recommends.

-- "woodworker with an asterisk"

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4211 days

#4 posted 01-19-2013 07:58 PM

I was just about to post a link to the ELPH 110 HS. I have an older version ELPH, and it has been a flawless performer for me for a number of years.

I might add that I’m a pretty serious amateur who owns a DSLR and a bunch of accessories, but nothing can replace a good point and shoot that is small enough to slip in a pocket wherever you go.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View MT_Stringer's profile


3168 posts in 3224 days

#5 posted 01-19-2013 08:16 PM

Here ya go. More info than you can shake a stick at!

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View patcollins's profile


1685 posts in 2858 days

#6 posted 01-19-2013 10:33 PM

Is the Elph 300 HS the touch screen model? I have heard people complain about the touch screen cameras of all brands, they just throw a touch screen on there because it seems to be the thing to do and the interfaces are clunky as hell.

View Underdog's profile


1095 posts in 2029 days

#7 posted 01-20-2013 04:03 AM

Yeah, I think it is a touch screen. I wasn’t too keen on that feature. I’ve not enjoyed my time with any I’ve encountered, except perhaps the iPhone.

-- "woodworker with an asterisk"

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