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Grumbling About Kodak:

My dad gave me a Kodak LS 443 digital camera that he never used. I took about 150 pictures with it, and then it completely froze after receiving an "E45" error message. Checking the Internet, I discovered that this is a very common hardware error with this camera model, and was warned that (a) Kodak will no longer fix it; and (b) that they will offer a newer camera model instead.

Sure enough, a call to Kodak resulted in the following email:

Currently we are no longer repairing the LS443. We would like to make you aware of our new camera repair by replacement program. To reduce the need to store replacement parts that often went unused, Kodak has recently established a corporate policy of replacing out-of-warranty cameras with models of equal or better quality.

At this time, for what may be less than the cost to repair your LS443, we are able to offer you a refurbished Kodak EasyShare Z730 zoom digital camera (with Kodak EasyShare camera dock) for $150.00. You are upgrading to newer digital imaging technology and receiving a full one-year warranty.

Gee, thanks. Your crappy camera gave out after 150 pictures, you won't fix it even though it's apparently a widespread flaw, and you're offering me the opportunity to buy a reconditioned Kodak camera for $50 less than a could get a brand new one.

The really bad news is that there is such a bewildering array of digital cameras out there, I have no idea which one to buy. I'd like one that's reasonably priced, takes nice shots, and assumes that I know nothing about photography, and don't want to learn. PCWorld seemed like a good place to start, but I'm a bit puzzled over whether it's worth spending $100 or so more to get more megapixels.

UPDATE: I decided to go with the Canon PowerShot A520 Digital Camera, because it was highly recommended by CNET, PCWorld, and Consumer Reports, the only entry-level camera that won such unanimous accolades. Bought it from Dell, using a series of coupon codes I found at slickdeals.net that brought the price to $204 including tax, shipping, and a 512 MB memory card.

[And here's another authority that recommends the A520.]

Dave Friedman (mail) (www):
Hi, check out DPReview.com. It's a site for digital photography professionals, however it also reviews consumer-level cameras. Its reviews are very substantive (much more so than anything you will find on PCWorld or Amazon) and feature numerous sample images.
1.1.2006 10:38pm
Fern:
I really like CNet's reviews/advice.
1.1.2006 10:50pm
GMUSL 2L (mail):
I got a Canon Powershot S1 IS (now for about $250 or so), and it's a phenomenal bundle.

check it out on the above-mentioned sites. The only downside is that it's less portable, but its video capabilities... wow.
1.1.2006 10:53pm
Brooks Lyman (mail):
The word is Chutzpah...

I'm no great digital camera expert, although I used to do serious art photography with large format (5x7) cameras - black and white only. I'd love to go back to it using digital, but printing quality B&W in large sizes needs an expensive printer and more megapixels than I can afford right now.

In the meantime, I use an old Fuji FinePix S3000 (3.2 MP) for taking general photos - mainly documentation photos of the industrial control systems that I design &build. The Fuji cost me about $150 at Target - a discontinued display model - no case (OK) and no manual (no sweat - it's on the web).

It uses 4 AA alkaline batteries, which are cheap and available anywhere. This model has a 6X optical zoom lens (which means that you don't lose pixels when you zoom, which you do in a software zoom). The viewfinder is apparently an LCD, but it looks as though you were looking through an SLR viewfinder (of course it has the usual "large" LCD on the back - you can switch between them). Very nice and bright. They use a memory card which is nearly Fuji-exclusive, but they are available at decent prices from places like Tiger Direct and so forth.

Point is, the Fuji Finepix series (the big, bulky models, not the micro-mini style) seem to be pretty good cameras for the money, and they are somewhat over 3.2 MP these days.

I would say, that for most ordinary photography where you don't intend to make huge prints or blow up tiny areas of the picture, that 4 to 6 MP is plenty. Go for as much optical zoom capability as possible, and put in a memory card large enough to store at least 100 photos at max resolution and you should be set.

Oh yes, and take dave Friedman's advice about DPReview.com.

Good luck

PS - you might want to avoid Kodak...
1.1.2006 11:07pm
Mystery Meat (mail):
Consumer Reports is a pretty reliable source for digital camera recommendations:

Best values for most people:
Canon PowerShot A510 $170. Canon PowerShot A520 $175
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-S60 , $200

All have excellent print quality and are low-priced for 3- or 4-megapixel compact cameras. The Canons have manual controls, 4x zoom, and are CR Best Buys. The Sony has long battery life, but lacks manual controls.


For additional flexibility:
Kodak, $250, Olympus, $250, Canon, $350

All have excellent print quality, manual controls, and 4- or 5-megapixel resolution. The Kodak EasyShare Z700 (5) and Olympus C-5500 Sport Zoom (6) have a 5x zoom lens. The latter has an image stabilizer but also a long next-shot delay. The Canon PowerShot A95 has very long battery life.


For a camera that fits in a purse:
28 Casio, $380
31 Canon, $260
33 Sony, $240, CR Best Buy

All of these are small and light, with excellent or very good print quality and good battery life, but they lack manual controls. The Canon PowerShot SD300 (31) has a short next-shot delay. The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-L1 (33) is low-priced for a subcompact, but its flash range is just 7 feet. The Casio Exilim Zoom EX-Z750 (28) is relatively high-priced but is slimmer than other subcompacts, has image stabilization, and shoots higher-quality video than other subcompacts.


For an advanced compact camera:
56 Fujifilm, $275
58 Canon, $260

All have excellent print quality and manual controls. The low-priced Fujifilm FinePix E550 (56) is relatively lightweight, with a short next-shot delay. The low-priced Canon PowerShot S60 (58) has a very wide-angle lens.


For a long zoom range:
66 Sony, $440
68 Panasonic, $340
70 Olympus, $270, CR Best Buy
71 Canon, $255, CR Best Buy

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ5 (68) has a 12x zoom and image stabilizer, excellent battery life, and a short next-shot delay. The Olympus C-765 Ultra Zoom (70) is low-priced and relatively lightweight, with a 10x zoom. But its battery life was among the lowest of the super-zoom models'. The 3-megapixel Canon PowerShot S1IS (71) is low-priced and has a 10x zoom and stabilizer, but it also has a long next-shot delay. It records video clips up to the memory card's limit. The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H1 (66) has a 12x zoom, excellent battery life, and a short next-shot delay. It's high-priced, but it shoots higher-quality video (VGA resolution) than other super-zoom models.
1.1.2006 11:13pm
agesilaus:
I am an active photographer and my suggestion is for you to head down to Best Buy and look for a 5 mPixel camera. 5 MP is plenty for up to an 8X10 print. Now as for brand, get a Canon, Nikon or Olympus. All stand behind their products. Try out what they have and pick one that suits you from their stock. 3X or better optical zoom is good.

And as for why Best Buy? Because they have a service policy of replacing defective cameras with new ones. You walk in with a bad one and walk out 30 minutes later with a new one and if they don't have that model they upgrade you for free.

BK
1.1.2006 11:20pm
Passing By:
Brooks is right on optical zoom... so-called "digital zoom" is a gimmick. A larger, high quality glass lens, significant optical zoom, a decent image size.... I'm personally fond of my Nikon.
1.1.2006 11:57pm
Dustin (mail):
Thanks for the post. I actually need to buy a camera as well thanks to a gift card and my aging Canon Powershot s100 (only has about 2 megapixels. I loved that camera, and it was very rugged and dependable. I really preferred a Kodak because it was so much cheaper than competitors, but thanks to your post, I'm going to go ahead and stick with Canon (not exactly a Lexus of Cameras either, but at least it's reliable).
1.2.2006 12:30am
Mark Brady:
"The really bad news is that there is such a bewildering array of digital cameras out there, I have no idea which one to buy."

David, this sounds like one of those leftist criticisms of the market, you know the sort, the bewildering array of consumer products under capitalism sort of criticism. Do you now think there is some merit to this argument? :)
1.2.2006 1:07am
M Umphrey (mail) (www):
I bought a Kodak camera for my daughter some years ago at Walmart. It didn't work out of the box. Walmart wouldn't take it back because of Kodak policy--I had to return it to Kodak. I didn't really want a relationship--just a camera--so I threw it away and made a vow never to buy another gadget from Kodak.

I've bought probably 2 dozen camera since.

For carrying around, use a Sony Cybershot DSC-V3. I shoot in lowlight ambulance calls and love the laser focus and the night shot. For more complicated stuff, I have a couple Nikon d70s.
1.2.2006 1:47am
Fern:

It uses 4 AA alkaline batteries, which are cheap and available anywhere.

One feature that I think should be non-negotiable is a rechargeable battery.
1.2.2006 2:14am
Gene Vilensky (mail) (www):
I own an Olympus SP-500UZ, which is a 6 MP ultra-zoom camera (10X optical) with lots of bells and whistles. It can be had for around $320 on the street and PC World really likes it. I think it's a great camera, though it's not exactly pocketable. I would say that Megapixels are not all that important. I mean, they are in some sense, but the problem is that most manufacturers squeeze outrageous number of megapixels onto a tiny sensor, which causes too much noise.

If you don't care about having lots of manual controls, I think that the best camera in terms of image quality and size is the Fuji F10 (now replaced by the F11). It's a small camera, with enough megapixels for most people (5 MP, I believe) and it uses a new sensor technology which allows you to take almost noise-free shots without a flash (e.g. at ISO 400, 800, etc.). It can be had on the street for around $270.

Another nice one is a Canon A610, which can be had for around $250 on the street. It has some manual controls and is considered a very good camera. It's somewhat bulky though.

I would say that more money for megapixels isn't really worth it. A 5 MP camera should be fine for most practical purposes. And if you need 7 MP or something high like that, I'd suggest not getting a compact camera since squeezing that many MP's onto a tiny sensor will give rise to some noise issues on larger prints (defeating the purpose of more MP's).

I really like http://www.dcresource.com for camera reviews and DPReviews is quite good too. Good luck!
1.2.2006 2:28am
Paul McKaskle (mail):
Most digital cameras don't have a very wide angle setting. Most are in the 35 to 38 mm range (using the figures used for 35mm cameras). Over the years I have found a wide angle more useful than an extreme telephoto. In the past I once had a 400 mm telephoto for a 35 mm slr camera but in reality I used only a couple of times. More recently, I have had a 28-200mm zoom for a 35mm slr. On this camera, which I still have, it was rare that I used more than about 100-120mm zoom position but often I used the 28 mm position.

One of the few digitals with 28mm lens is the Canon Powershot S60, which I now use as my main camera. It has 5 megapixel capability which is more than enough--you could probably print 11 by 14 pictures without any diminution of quality. Its maximum optical zoom is 105mm, which is adequate. (It also has "digital" zoom but this, as others have noted, is a shuck. You can do the same when you edit the picture by choosing the segment of the picture you want to enlarge. The quality will be identical. With a 5megapixel pictures you can "enlarge" a print somewhat even if you are printing an 8 by 11 picture and quite a bit for a 4by6 print.)

My biggest complaint, a general problem with digitals, is that there is often a lapse of part of a second (and extreme cases, maybe even as much as a second) between pressing the shutter button and the actual shutter operation. This is because it is adjusting for focus and light for recording on the memory card. Thus, if the subject is moving, you may "miss" the most desireable moment. I think there are ways to minimize this, but they aren't much help when you see something you want to take and you don't have time to adjust. (I have lost a handful of nice shots--or what I thought would likely be nice shots--because of this.)

A difficulty with the S60 is that it has its own special battery which needs periodic charging. It lasts a long time, but discharges even when not in use. AA batteries cannot be used in a pinch. It is relatively small, not the smallest but I can carry it in trouser pockets without too much difficulty when I think I am going to use it. It uses the most common memory card, and I have a couple of 512mb cards ($30-50 each--many offered on Amazon) which hold over 400 pictures each at the 5mb setting.

I also bought my son a Kodak 5mb camera for Christmas for about $170 from BestBuy. I hope it won't have the problems you outline.
1.2.2006 2:38am
Jonathan M (mail) (www):
I am sticking with my Canon s200 digital elph. I take mad amounts of pictures with it and won't be replacing it any time soon with a camera with more megapixels - I just don't see the point. More is not always better. In fact, it takes better shots than 3 and 4MP camera's I have seen. And the prints look like film shots 99 percent of the time, which is more than I can say about Nikon or Kodak cameras. ebay has it for less than 100 bucks.
1.2.2006 4:39am
Apodaca:
Also good for detailed, reliable reviews is Steve's Digicams.

If you like ultracompact, I can endorse the Canon SD400 (5MP, 3x optical zoom, street price $220-$270), which is smaller than a deck of cards. For a little more, you can get the SD450, which has a larger LCD display &a few extra special photo modes (e.g., "Snow"). Both also take video w/sound.

I like my Canon enough that I bought an A410 for my son for Xmas. For under $120, that gives 3.2MP, 3.2 optical zoom, although the LCD is on the small side and the camera isn't as svelte as the SD series. Consider the A510 if you want the next step up in the line.

One advantage of the larger digicams (over the ultracompacts) is that many models -- like the A410 -- take standard AA batteries. I disagree with Fern: you can always buy rechargeable AAs separately, and you should, but it's nice to be able to walk into any store for batteries if your rechargeable batteries conk out in the middle of a travel day. For my SD400, the only option is buying a second custom-fit slim battery (not cheap) and always carrying it as a backup.
1.2.2006 7:23am
PersonFromPorlock:
Just about everyone here is giving excellent advice; the only thing I have to add is that being able to shoot close-ups can be handy, so a 'macro' feature is desirable.
1.2.2006 7:42am
Mike Heinz, aka ObviousTroll (mail):
Heck, I don't know about our hosts but I've certainly appreciated some of the posts here - I had been looking at Minoltas because of good experiences with their 35s and APS cameras, but the image quality of the Dimage appears to be awful, and I couldn't figure out (over the web) what the differences between the different Panasonic models were - but DPReview laid it out for me.

All I have to do know is get authorization from the accountant wife...
1.2.2006 9:01am
David at Cronaca (mail) (www):
The advantage of cameras that take AA batteries is not so much that one can throw in alkalines in a pinch, but rather the ability to use cheap, nonproprietary NiMH rechargeables.

I too have not been impressed with Kodak's products; my wife has a tiny Pentax Optio (what good is a camera you don't take with you?) and I just upgraded from my old Nikon Coolpix to a D50 ($535 net with 28-80 zoom from Dell, with an Epson photo printer that will be free after rebates -- thanks to FatWallet's Hot Deals forum).

Overall, I'd rely much more on the online digital camera review sites noted above than on Consumer Reports. The problem is that CR test results for electronics products usually come out only after half the models tested have been discontinued. And as the products they test increase in complexity, they have a harder and harder time keeping up, in many cases not testing important features and in others putting great stock by features that may verge on irrelevance.
1.2.2006 9:48am
tdsj:
CNet reviews are a great place to start.

I have a 3-meg Canon compact (it had the highest CNet rating). I didn't go with an ultracompact because I didn't need it that small, and I wanted more features. Had it for a year -- it's been fabulous.

I thought about spending another $100 to get to 4 meg. The guy at the camera store said that unless I was going to blog things up beyond 8x10, my eye wouldn't be able to tell the difference, so it wasn't worth it. I've been happy with the picture quality... but if I were getting a camera today, I'd get a 4-5 meg.

SLRs take much better photos for close-up and low-light. But they are big and expensive.
1.2.2006 9:56am
Kingsley Browne (mail):
I understand the frustration, but from Kodak's point of view, this is a camera that was released over three years ago (at least a couple of lifetimes in digital cameras) and is out of warranty. I doubt that Canon would be willing to do much to repair a problem that I might have with my not-quite-equally old 10D.

As for a replacement, you need to decide what is important to you, as there are a number of tradeoffs that have to be made regarding size, cost, features (e.g., do you want a lot of manual control? Do you need long focal length?). There is a lot to be said for a camera small enough that you can always carry it with you, but you sacrifice in terms of image quality and features. There is no single "best" camera.

On the megapixel question, most current cameras give you more pixels than you need if all you are going to do is print out 4x6 prints. For large prints or the ability to crop extensively and still have a useable picture, the number of megapixels is important.
1.2.2006 9:59am
michael (mail):
Gee, thanks. Your crappy camera gave out after 150 pictures, you won't fix it even though it's apparently a widespread flaw, and you're offering me the opportunity to buy a reconditioned Kodak camera for $50 less than a could get a brand new one.

Sounds like Apple's early battery policy for the iPod. At least Apple wised up and realized that a $50 discount was an absurd policy decision. Kodak's problem is that the people who can change the policy are either in the dark or don't realize how much damage a bad rep on the net can do to a brand.

1.2.2006 10:26am
Kirsten (www):
Re: Kingsley Browne's comment, perhaps this is a problem of resisting a paradigm shift, but I've had a nearly identical experience and I wasn't too happy about it, either. The film SLR camera that I got for Christmas when I was 18 still works almost two decades later. Why should switching to digital consign us to tolerating throwaway gadets -- particularly when those gadgets aren't exactly inexpensive?
1.2.2006 10:35am
Apodaca:
David writes:
The advantage of cameras that take AA batteries is not so much that one can throw in alkalines in a pinch, but rather the ability to use cheap, nonproprietary NiMH rechargeables.
I think it's both (floor wax! dessert topping!), but it's not worth squabbling about. What is worth saying is that anyone buying NiMH rechargeables needs to check the mAh (power capacity/delivery) rating. Don't get suckered into buying "high-capacity" 800 mAh batteries; better to go with 2000 mAh and up.
1.2.2006 10:38am
Steve Y (mail) (www):
My first digital camera was also an LS443, purchased at Costco for about $300 in December, 2002. I had exactly the same problem: the lens mechanism jammed and the annoying "E45" error kept appearing. I, too, investigated Kodak's repair alternatives, found them wanting, and bought a Canon Powershot A5 for around $400. (That camera is now resting at the bottom of Monterey Bay, but that's another story.)

My resolve never to buy another Kodak camera weakened when Fry's offered a Kodak Easyshare LS753 (5 MP) camera for $99. I needed a decent walking-around camera that I wouldn't mind breaking or losing. I've been pleased so far: It's been working since June, and I can also use the LS443 battery as a spare. Here are some LS753 pictures from my trip to Florence.
1.2.2006 10:44am
Leah Guildenstern (www):
Well I haven't bought a digital camera in a while, but have begun looking at options and Philip Greenspun has a great article on digital cameras and what all the features mean from a photographic sense. The article is here. In addition to being an interesting writer Philip runs photo.net and is an impressive photographer.
1.2.2006 10:46am
Mike Lief (www):
Several friends have asked me which digital camera I'd recommend, probably because they know I'm a technnophile who enjoys researching before buying damn near anything; why not take advantage of my obsessive tendencies and "expertise," which tends to run very, very, veryveryvery shallow but extremely broad.

I should also add that I'm a shutterbug from w-a-a-a-a-y back, and made the leap into the digital world about three years ago. I bought my camera, the Canon A80, based in large measure on the recommendation of a professional photographer, Ken Rockwell. I've relied on his extremely thorough and totally opinionated reviews for purchasing decisions on lenses, flashes, camera bodies and digital cameras, and I've got to say the man has never steered me wrong.

He's posted a Holiday Buying Guide that tells you all you need to know about his take on the best digital cameras for all types of photographers, with links to additional info if you need to know even more.

Check out the rest of his web site, especially the How-to section; there's tons of good stuff to be found.

As far as my camera goes, I'm very happy with the A80. Although it's now a couple of years old, it has some design features that make it preferable to some of its newer siblings in the Canon line.

The swiveling screen is a big plus; it enables you to shoot over the heads of a crowd, while letting you to see what's in the picture. It lets you get down for low-to-the-ground shots without forcing you onto your belly. You can use it for unobtrusive candid shots, where the camera doesn't appear to be pointed at anyone.

But the most important aspect of the swiveling screen is the ability to protect it by folding it into the camera body. These LCDs are pretty fragile, and it's nice to be able to drop the camera into your pocket without worrying about scratching the screen.

Another thing I like about the A80 is that it uses AA batteries, not some funky proprietary design by the manufacturer. This means that wherever I am, I can always get batteries if the old ones die. I use rechargeables, which last a lot longer than standard alkelines, and they recharge in less than 30 minutes, too. But it's nice to know that I have the option of ducking into some little bodega if I need to and be able to keep on shooting.

What don't I like? The red-eye reduction feature is irritating, so I turned it off. I also ditched the auto-focus assist beam, cause I think it's distracting when I'm going for candids. I tend to almost never use the flash, preferring natural lighting, and I can handhold some pretty slow shutter speeds if I take my time. The camera can be slow when trying for action shots, but you can deal with this by selecting the fast "motor-drive" option, which cranks off about 10 fps.

I also disabled the digital zoom; anything beyond the 3X optical zoom is just a crap-tastic feature designed to one-up the competition. Trust me, "10X Digital Zoom" is sucker bait for Helen Keller Photography Institute grads. If 3X won't work, get closer. Or, you can buy the telephoto lens Canon makes to fit over the bayonet mount on the front of the camera body. I haven't used it, but I hear it's okay.

I'm tempted by the Casio EX-Z750; it's so small and has more features and capabilities than the Canon, but I've been completely satisfied with the results I've been getting with the A80, so much so that all my expensive Nikon 35mm gear sits unused, gathering dust.

Here's a review of the A80 that's fairly exhaustive.
1.2.2006 10:57am
T J Sawyer (mail):
Batteries: AA's offer you the choice of rechargeable or emergency replacement anywhere in the world. Only sacrifice this if you must have a smaller format.

Megapixels: This became irrelevant after we got to 3 of them. From that point on it is the lens quality that matters far more.

Sensor Noise: The little discussed characteristic that makes uniformly colored areas in low light pictures look grainy.

Shutter Delay: Three kinds - first the time from turn-on to to first picture, second the time from pressing the shutter to actual picture, third the time between two consecutive shots.

Viewfinders: Can you see the scene in the bright sun? Probably not without an optical finder or SLR type finder.

There are no websites that give you the answer. Worse yet, new models from the same manufacturer may go way downhill! Only buy if you can try it and return it.
1.2.2006 11:12am
Dustin (mail):
Kingsley, the Canon wouldn't have broken. Remember, this was appparently a widespread problem. Why take the risk of buying the Chrysler of cameras when there are so many alternatives?

I think, if Kodak had a manufacturing defect, they should remedy it even if after 3 years, which is far, far, far less than two lifecycles of camera use (though probably two lifecycles of production).
1.2.2006 11:12am
Eman (mail) (www):
For the past several years, I've been using a Fuji FinePix S602 and absolutely loved it. It's an older camera, but you can still find them for around $300. It has a 3 megapixel panel that can "simulate" 6 MP. Not sure what that means, since I never used it. I can tell you that the S602 takes outstanding pictures in a wide variety of situations. It has a lot of capability, but is just fine for taking basic vacation pics. It runs off four AA cells.

Whatever camera you go with, I'd strongly encourage you to get a camera using standard cells (e.g., AAs) and avoid proprietary batteries. If your battery runs out of juice at an inopportune moment, finding a set of fresh AAs is as easy as finding a drug store or gift shop. Short of putting it on the charger for a few hours, there's not much of anything you can do if your proprietary battery runs down. Not to mention what happens when the prporietary battery gives up the ghost completely after the factory is finished supporting that model.

For my next camera, I'm likely getting an Olympus E-500, but that model's probably not the droid you're looking for. You can go on about your business.
1.2.2006 11:14am
newscaper (mail):
I'm always wary of Consumer Reports when it comes to electronics or computers. Apart from the issue of lagging behind fast product release cycles, they are too easily impressed by feature-itis, resorting to checklist comparisons rather than paying serious attention to what the item is *for*-- actual video, image or sound quality or real world ease of use (of the features that are actually used).

I think they have improved, but I don't blindly take their word for it.
Their service and reliability data can be useful.
1.2.2006 11:46am
steve k:
My LS443 broke down a couple years ago. I was able to get it fixed then, though, and it's worked fine ever since. I've taken several thousand photos (and hours of video, too) and had no problem. And the quality of the photos is great. Too bad Kodak has changed its policy---doesn't make me want to purchase another when the time comes.
1.2.2006 3:53pm
Malvolio:
My LS443 broke down a couple years ago, about a month out of warranty. Kodak grudgingly agreed to repair it, noting with ill grace that this was a one-time concession on their part. It took them six weeks to get it back to me (during which I went on a trip to the Far East that, gee, wouldn't it have been great to have a camera).

When the camera came back, it worked fine. For about a month.

I have a Canon now.
1.2.2006 8:34pm
David Chesler (mail) (www):
You've made your decision; I'm commenting to disagree with the "camera doesn't matter" guy. AFAIK, my father is still using the 35mm rangefinder he got in 1960; I used the Canon FtB I got in high school for a long time, until the repaired shutter screen failed a second time, and I realized that 90% of my photos were snapshots so I got a point-and-shoot... In the film world, that 10% of the time, the camera did matter. I knew I wanted a particular setting, but the camera wouldn't do it.

In the digital world, I started with an Instamatic level, VGA resolution model. I switched to a 1.3 MP Sony, and have noticed significant improvement. But I am still limited sometimes by the zoom/crop, and often by the camera thinking it's smarter than I am. (That's what I love about digital — I can afford to take lots of interesting shots.) I rarely print out my pictures, but when I do, I have noticed the digital artifacts.

I like my Sony, but it has the "InfoLithium" battery, which is flakey. It takes alkalines, but it sucks electricity so fast I get maybe 75 shots per set of batteries, and they're physically hot when I swap them out. I hope my next camera has better power management; if I have to spring for an external charger and a couple of sets of good NiMH batteries, I could live with that.

When I can afford it, I want some more resolution, as much optical zoom as I can get, and I insist on a full manual mode.

He is right, that subject and composition and all the other non-camera stuff is vitally important.
1.3.2006 3:28am
Owen Hutchins (mail):
Let me get this straight, your camera is out of warranty, not being made anymore, and rather than repair an obviously defective model (only to have it fail again on you soon, judging from what others have said), offered to sell you a refurbished camera(which is what your repaired camera would be, at best) that is at least as good if not better than the broken one instead, at a discount, for an amount that would be likely less than the repair cost (only quibble I have is that statement), and you think this is a bad thing? Call me confused, but that sounds like a good offer to me.
1.3.2006 5:22pm
Steve Rosenbach (www):
You'll be very happy with your new Canon A520. I just got my third Canon digital camera - an A40 (2MP) in Sep 02, a Digital Rebel in Nov 03, and now an A620. The A40 is still going strong, but I wanted a "walking-around" camera with enough resolution to print 11x14s or larger. Each of the 3 Canons has been well worth the money spent at the time, and they've all paid me back several times. I also have a Canon i850 printer (Aug 02) and now a Canon i9900 13x19 printer. All this Canon stuff has been first-rate.

Best regards,
SteveR
1.4.2006 8:22pm
Some guy:
Concidentally, there was an article in today's Sydney Morning Herald about companies who refuse to fix products that are faulty, regardless of how long its been since they were bought:

"The [Australian Competition and Consumer] commission said the law enshrined basic warranty conditions for the return and refund of money for faulty goods, and this was not limited by time."
1.5.2006 7:39am