Digital Camera Recomendation Please!

Virginia Atlantic RR Jun 7, 2004

  1. The issue at hand:

    I will soon be purchasing my first digital camera. I will be paying NO MORE than $150.00 for said camera.

    What I seek is opinions, stories, feedback and anything else to assist me in making this purchase (and staying within my price range).

    So, post away with whatever you have. Your assitence is MUCH appreciated, and will result in many more VARR related pics for (hopefully) your enjoyment!

    For fun, here is a VARR Pic as reference, LOL!

  2. Stourbridge Lion

    Stourbridge Lion TrainBoard Supporter

    Great Question but tough to anwser. There are so many options today that you truly need to first ask what you want out of the camera. I have been using a Kodak DC215 for awhile now and have been happy with it; but, compaired to today's option it's a piece of junk. I can say though I like the "Picture Card" / "CompactFlash" this camara uses that many of today's use as well. Between Kodak and Lexar they make several sizes that given you more pictures and yes, they cost more $$$ the higher you go. They all do the same thing, just allow more photos to be stored is all.

    Some of those photos taken recently in my RailImages link is from this camera and others from my older 35mm. You would be hard pressed to know which is which.
  3. fitz

    fitz TrainBoard Member

    There are some real bargains available right now, with more megapixels per buck than I have ever seen. I just bought a Gateway 4 megapixel for $200. The biggest problem that they all seem to have, except for the 35mm clones at $1000, is the delay in the shutter. If you are going to use it mainly to photograph models and layouts, it will do fine. If you are trying to get action shots of a rare steam engine on a runby, forget it. It might "click" about the time the final car passes. My opinion. I'm disappointed. :(
  4. jkristia

    jkristia TrainBoard Member

    >>It might "click" about the time the final car passes.

    Sounds like you should try to prefocus. When you press the shutter button to take a picture, the camera is doing all sorts of measurements/adjustments which can take time, and if the target is moving it might confuse the camera so it will keep adjusting the focus, and never give you the 'ready beep' until the last car has passed [​IMG] . If that's the case ,then you could try to pre-focus, usually on a camera (the ones that I have tried) you have to press the button halfway down, wait for the beep and then shoot. When the camera beeps, it has adjusted the focus, exposure and aperture according to it's meter reading, now, if you keep the button halfway pressed, then it will keep that setting until you either release the button or shoot the picture. This can help you if you are trying to shoot a picture of a moving train, point to something which is not moving, (not black or white as it will confuse the light reading), press half way down, wait for the beep, wait for the train, shoot, and you should have a picture of the head of the train instead of the last car.

    I have a Canon S30 and a Canon 300D, and love both. I don't know if they are 'faster' than your gateway camera, but I rarely have problems with focusing. Of course if you try to shoot in low light, then you will see the camera going crazy trying to focus.
  5. SD70BNSF

    SD70BNSF TrainBoard Supporter

  6. fitz

    fitz TrainBoard Member

    Jesper, thanks. I realize that the first "half" depression of the shutter sets everything up and I have tried that. This baby, however, goes into a "sleep" mode if you don't suddenly take a shot, and it loses all that it "learned." I guess I spent too many years wearing out 35mm cameras and got spoiled. You KNOW what they are doing, and when. :rolleyes:
  7. Todd

    Todd TrainBoard Member

    I've been looking at the Fuji A205 (2MP, about $100) and A210 (3MP, about $130). I'm been looking for something cheap like yourself, and those fit into the budget. Just want something that can take decent quality snapshots, as I use my beloved 35mm (Ricoh XR-P) for actual photography.
  8. keystonecrossings

    keystonecrossings TrainBoard Member

    Any thoughts on DVD camcorders? What specs are important to capture N scale action that is focused, sharp, and enough resolution?
  9. fitz

    fitz TrainBoard Member

    Dummy posted a message twice. Sorry.

    [ 08. June 2004, 21:18: Message edited by: fitz ]
  10. steamghost

    steamghost TrainBoard Member

    You may want to up the budget somewhat, depending on what you want to do. I know you didn't want to hear that! I am assuming you have a 35mm on hand already and want direct transfer to your computer and the net of an image that you can manipulate and is equal to what you can get from 35mm.

    I would have a preference for cameras 3meg or more and made by film camera makers as opposed to electronic companies.

    Aside from the basic camera is the memory card. You'll get one with very small capacity with the camera. They're storeable and rewriteable. I guarantee you'll want something 32-64meg (or more) and maybe more than one card. eBay is a great source for these, just make sure you're getting the right type.

    Electronic cameras eat batteries for breakfast so you should also break down and buy NiMH rechargeables and the charger for them.

    "Auto" settings are superb for general pictures in full sun but you'll really want to and have to learn the camera and its settings to do N scale to satisfaction.

    When shopping, don't absolutely rely on the screen image to tell you what you're going to get. For one, you can shoot out of focus and never know it until you get home and put it up on the computer screen. Try instead to compare features (it's hard) and how the camera fits your hand (though you'll be using the tripod for N).

    Got a Canon A70 myself, instant gratification with pictures, and you can bracket shots like crazy, but it'll take a lot of learning and practice to get consistently good photos.
  11. sam

    sam TrainBoard Member

    One more thing....esp. if your interested in close ups...
    look for optical zoom...
    not digital zoom.
    digital only takes a small portion of the picture and blows it up...
    it will lose clarity/sharpness.
    becomes pixelated...
    imho, digital zoom is basically hype...
    its not that useful...
    you can do the same thing by cropping a pic on your computer and then enlarging it.
    try to go for a camera with as high an optical zoom as possible...within your budget.
  12. sp_train_77

    sp_train_77 TrainBoard Member

    Are you intending this camera to photograph model trains, especially N-scale model trains? If so, you are going to have trouble finding a decent camera at that price. Two distinct problems will plague your choices.

    First, close focus. Obviously, we are working at short distances in photographing N-scale. The less expensive cameras may be fixed focus and, even if they have autofocus, will not focus as close as you will want .

    Second, picture quality. Most inexpensive cameras are in the 2 megapixel range. That will give you a reasonably nice 3X5 print and only an OK 5X7. You will need at least 6 megapixel to have frames that can be enlarged nicely and allow full image manipulation.

    If your budget is fixed, consider a used 35mm SLR. Film still gives better quality for the buck and you can still scan prints to post to the web. If you want, contact me offline and I can help you wade through that jungle (I have been doing photogrpahy for over 45 years).
  13. atsf_arizona

    atsf_arizona TrainBoard Supporter

    I'll second what Bruce Conklin said above.

    For good N scale photography, a good macro focus is an absolute must.

    A second near-must is the ability to manually set the camera, i.e. aperature mode to get depth of field, over/under exposure adjustment to get the right amount of light, etc.

    That may still be asking a bit too much in your price range.

    But keep looking, it won't be long before those features show up in less and less expensive cameras!
  14. Warbonnet-Fan

    Warbonnet-Fan TrainBoard Member

    Ditto on what Bruce and John have both written above. DPReview is an excellent source of technical reviews for cameras. You will be hard-pressed to find a camera with good macro capability and resolution for that price. I would suggest you try looking for used Nikon Coolpix 990 models, for example. The Nilons are consistently rated as having the best macro and color balance in the industry.
  15. Powersteamguy1790

    Powersteamguy1790 Permanently dispatched

    I agree with Verne. The Nikon cameras have the best lens for macro shots. I have a Nikon Coolpix 4300 and it has an excellent Macro lens for close-ups.
  16. Thirdrail

    Thirdrail In Memoriam

    Guys, y'all missed a little something between June 8 and 20...........Virginia Atlantic RR bought a digital camera, and he paid far, far less than what was discussed. He paid TEN DOLLARS for one!.


    As they say 'round here, "You can't beat that with a stick." [​IMG]

    [ 21. June 2004, 02:13: Message edited by: Thirdrail ]
  17. Yep, TR is correct. Sorry, I should have updated this thread after I started the new one! I aquired a used Nikon CoolPix 950, six Data Cards (I only really needed the best of them, a 128MB Card), 10 Rechargeable Batteries and a Battery charger for $10.00 US. This co-worker is a friend, and owns his own pair of modern High MP Digitals as well as a brand new Digital SLR, so the 2.1 MP CoolPix he sold me was somewhat "spare" in his photo arsenal, LOL! But regardless of his reason, he was VERY generous and gave me a drop dead deal IMO.

    Here is an example from the new Camera:


  18. Eagle2

    Eagle2 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Now I'm flat out jealous. Spent WAY in excess of your budget in order to get what everyone's been discussing - manual aperture primarily.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  19. steamghost

    steamghost TrainBoard Member

    Hey VARR, build yourself a little module, even if it's just a straight section of track with some scale ballast, and shoot outside.

    We know you can shoot pictures quite well already. Your backgrounds in combination with the cars came out great!
  20. sp_train_77

    sp_train_77 TrainBoard Member

    Yup, we all missed that thread. $10! That has to be the bargain of the century.

    A friend of mine recently sold his Coolpix outfit (to trade up to a digital SLR) and got several hundred dollars for it.

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