Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   United States (
-   -   Digital Camera recommendations (

ducks53 Jul 19th, 2003 03:50 PM

Digital Camera recommendations
I am thinking of buying a digital camera for my upcoming trip to California.
Can I get decent 4 by 6s and web photos with less than a 3 pixels? Brands? Features? Avoid compact sizes? Do you prefer them to the regular slrs?

BAK Jul 19th, 2003 04:19 PM

There are no easy answers to digital photography.

But, as general rules.

2 MP gives excellent 4x6 and good 5x7 prints

3 MP gives excellent 5x7 and good 8x10 prints

4 MP gives excellent 8x10 and good 11x14 prints.

About camera size: Technology changes weekly, and a brand new model ultra small camera will give you as good a photograph as an older model, bigger, camera, with the same resolution. (Resolution is the megapixel stuff)

I believe in real camera company cameras (Nikon, Canon, Olympus, Pentax, etc.) rather than electonics company cameras (HP, Casio).

About SLR cameras compared with digital compacts and point and shoots -- there are huge technical, philosophical and psychological differences, and it is almost impossible to compare without knowing the photographer and his or her favorite subjects, plus working methods.

I just finished a conversation about cameras with my daughter, who is an opera singer planning an audition trip to Italy.

If all you want are casual shots, and you are only going to shoot a couple of hundred pictures, and you have enough money to buy the camera (that's a bit of a problem in our conversation) get a digital point and shoot compact camera, and a couple of 256MB memory cards.

Pay attention to batteries, too, to make sure you can buy them where you are going, or recharge the rechargables.

In California, you don't have to worry about electrical adapters.

For a serious photographer who does not want to slow down the rest of the family by devoting serious time to photos, several digital cameras that are not SLR cameras, but not point and shoots eitehr, are the best bets, but they cost around $1000 US. The Nikon 5700 (mine) and the Minolta 7Hi are two of the best. Electronic viewfinders make them act pretty much like SLR cameras.

Optical zoom lenses are a good feature; digital zoom is not good if you want enlargements, but generally digital zoom on a 3MP camera will still allow decent prints.

I now believe that a 5x7 print from a 3MP digital camra is equally good to a 5x7 from a single lens reflwex film camera, all other things (lighting, subject speed, quality of the flash gun) being equal.

The digital "penalty" is the price of the camera, until you get to big enlargements, and then there's an argument, too.

Bottom line: at prices today (they drop hourly) spend the little bit extra and buy a 3MP camera. California has too much beauty to be captured only in 4x6 prints.


April Jul 19th, 2003 04:28 PM

I much prefer our Canon Digital Elph to my Canon SLR. Print quality for 4x6 prints is just as good with the digital (actually I think the colour might be superior) and better in a way because I can crop, lighten, clone, etc., the pictures before they are printed. For prints made at a photo shop (files can be emailed or taken in on disk or CD), I make the picture size exactly 4x6 or a multiple thereof so no edges will be cut off and I know exactly what I'll be getting.

The software that came with the camera was super-simple to install and easy to use. The pictures are right there on the computer when downloaded so you don't need to bother with scanning. I just make them a smaller size - under 200KB is my preference - for emailing purposes.

There are settings for continuous shooting, macro, and who-knows-what-else I haven't got to yet.

The only reason I would use my regular camera again is when I want a stronger telephoto or for certain action shots.

pspercy Jul 19th, 2003 04:29 PM

I'm inclined to agree with BAK re offerings from "real" camera companies, but then I'm biased, I've owned Olympus cameras for 30+ years. Now have a D510Z 2mp & I love it. Haven't tried to find the upper limit on print size but certainly 4x6 at default resolution is excellent. A useful site that has comprehensive reviews and some great shots is Steve's Digicams at:


LarryT Jul 19th, 2003 05:15 PM

All good advice. As mentioned, technology changes almost daily so any specific recommendations would be obsolete by the time you checked out the cameras. I have an Olympus and love it but wish I could have afforded more megapixels (mine is 3.2). The other part of the story is that you will want to check that your computer/operating system will support what ever camera you choose. You will also want a good printer and most of the newer ones are really good. Do not scrimp on cheap photo paper. I have been very disappointed in some brands. Stick with 'brand' name products. I love being able to take photos and 'process' them right away on my computer and send them via email to friends. Be aware that the standard photo image may be too large to email (unless you & friends have very high speed internet) so a good photo processing program is essential (resize is an essential tool). Try something simple first - like Adobe Photo Essentials ($99). Can always upgrade later to more complicated programs if the 'bug' really bites you. Be sure your camera batteries will last and have extra 'cards' along to store more photos. I like the newer 'XD' format as it is so small. Have fun!

Gretchen Jul 19th, 2003 05:38 PM

3 MP cameras have become very reasonable and they will give very serviceable prints. Since getting a digital (1MP) about 5-6 years ago my WONderful Slrs and P&S have gone idle. Fuji has a nice 3MP with a 6X optical zoom for under $300--a great buy. What others have said about computer readiness is true. Also to think about is the longevity of your prints-I think Epson printers, inks and papers have the edge here--and they are just about trying to give away printers (ink is expensive--think about a software program called Inksaver). These cameras all have SO many features--but can also be set to just shoot away. You'll never look back.
Oh, and you don't have to deal with stacks of pictures and albums--burn CDs for the record--print what you want, even in small 2X3 size (for example) to put alongside your journal entries for your trips. Give family and friends entire CDs to look at your trip--or play on the TV.

bookhall Jul 19th, 2003 05:48 PM

I've got a 2M Nikon 800 that I bought about 3 years ago. I've shot over 5000 pictures with it, and have been quite pleased. I've had a number of them printed as 8x10s on photographic paper (through Wal-Mart, no less) and the quality has been excellent.

To try to stay on target with your original questions: Yes, you can get excellent 4x6 images with a 2M camera. I'd look for one that's not too light (that's personal preference,) uses AA batteries, and I'd give a nod to CompactFlash as the medium (with SmartMedia a close 2nd choice.) Ignore digital zoom as a feature, incidentally. Whatever you get, shoot images at least at 1600x1200.

We did a CA trip with the Nikon a couple of years ago--LA to San Francisco. Pix in albums at .

For what it's worth, I did recently get an Olympus C-5050 (5M.) It's a great camera. But when I'm not going on a "picture-taking" trip, I still pack the Nikon. The portability and relative simplicity make it easy to carry. Just used it today on an outing with our granddaughter to a book sale/ice cream festival....

rubigayle Jul 19th, 2003 11:35 PM

minolta dimage F100. 4 megapixel. Tiny, takes 35 second video clips with sound takes secure digital card. Pictures come out great and the camera was cheap when I bought it, at 350 or so,now the price is probably down even more.Easy to use stick it in your pocket, has 3x optical zoom and an even larger digital zoom that I avoid using most of the time.We own four digital cameras -this is my third and I really like it.If you want non nonsense point and shoot kodak will also do the trick. Just make sure you get that optical zoom. We also have a Kodak 280 2 megapixel camera that we paid an arm and a leg for a few years ago and that takes beautiful pics as well.We print our shots out on an HP 7550 printer and the shots are a-m-a-z-i-n-g! I actually had a Canon S800 printer which I paid top dollar for and never got a decent print out of it. Everything always was blue, blue hair, blue nostrils, you name it.

Anonymous Jul 20th, 2003 03:44 AM

Megapixels aren't the only factor in picture quality -- the lens matters, too! Reviews of the new ultra-tiny cameras (Dimage Xt, Optio S, Exilims) indicate that some lens functionality has been sacrificed in this miniaturization -- they have more distortion, problems with fuzzy edges, etc. But the reviewers loved them anyway -- a picture that's a little fuzzy around the edges is still a lot better than the picture that didn't get taken at all, and the extreme portability of these minis outweighed their faults for most reviewers. I'm still trying to decide which one to get!

I found very useful reviews and comparison-chart features on

Yev Jul 20th, 2003 07:18 AM

Firstly get a camera with at least 3x optical zoom, and 3 megapixel. Other then that I would believe Nikon is the best , followed by Kodak, HP, Cannon, Olympus, Pentax in no particular order.

ducks53 Jul 20th, 2003 01:00 PM

Thanks for all the great tips.
And the webshot site is truly amazing!

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 04:46 PM.