View Full Version : A reasonable digital camera for under $500?

7th April 2004, 10:10 PM
Hi folks,

I need to buy a camera for my business and am having a bit of trouble working out what to go for. The choice seems overwhelmingly large & I don't have the time to learn everything there is to know about them.

I was just reading the "Welcome, tell us a bit about yourself.." thread and saw a reference to an Olympus C-350. The person who mentioned it seemed happy with it. This looks like it would do us fine but I wondered about the storage media, specifically the cost of having more of it if it was ever required. I'm also not sure about battery options - I need something rechargeable.

It's primary use will be for photographing the solar power systems we install, which we need to do for various reasons. We don't need super hi res - most of the pics get sent around electronically, we don't need to print them very often and won't ever require large sizes - but I need something that's fairly durable and reasonably simple for my guys to use.

I'd be interested in any recommendations.

Thanks & cheers,


7th April 2004, 10:31 PM
We use Canon IXUS cameras at work in similar conditions (taking photo's of equipment indoor & outdoor.) I cannot reccommed them enough, they always take clear crisp high detail photo's. I am almost certain all the IXUS cameras that we have, have rechargable batteries. They are small and compact but still have a nice size screen and good features.

The only thing is they may be a little out of your price range but shop around and I am sure you could find a deal somewhere.

Have a look at this link for a bit of a price comparison/guide these are generally the best prices you will get for these camera's:

http://prices.techwatch.com.au/index.php?p...prodlist=Camera (http://prices.techwatch.com.au/index.php?page=category&prodlist=Camera)

7th April 2004, 10:34 PM
one down side about them - they aren't good at close up shots. Close up means less than 20cm away. Otherwise - what the_argon said. Very good cameras.

7th April 2004, 10:44 PM
I use a Ricoh Caplio G4 Wide, which can do macro (that's close ups for those not in the know) to 1cm. I can provide a sample of that if you want.

It was $420 around Christmas last year when I got it. So it may be alittle more pricey or alittle less, depending on it either being christmas sale, or now its 4 months on. Either way its under $500.

It also takes the propriotary (spelling) rechargable battery that is comes with. and charger. but the bit I liked (and it has come in handy a few times) is that it can take standard AA's - that don't last long in digitals. these fit in the same slot as the rechargable it comes with. There is a spring loaded mechanism that allows you to add both types, so no adaptor is required and no separate battery compartment.

www.dcresource.com has great reviews of hundreds of digital cameras. He does greate tests on colour production, night shots, close ups, vingetting - the fish eye effect that some elcheapo lenses have. Its a great resource.


p.s. email me if you want samples or PM me your email addy and I'll send you some .jpeg's

7th April 2004, 10:55 PM
This looks like it would do the job - cheers. The close up limitations are no big deal for us. We have to document details but they're not that small.

Cheapest price I saw at techwatch was $527 for the IXUS IIS. Quite a range - up to more than $700. We don't, ultimately, pay GST on stuff we use so that brings it down a bit more.

There are a few different models I notice. Which one(s) are you familiar with?

7th April 2004, 10:57 PM
I use a Panasonic Lumix. It takes great photos far away and close up and they're high quality and size as well. I don't know if they make them anymore though. I got this one as an insurance replacement a year ago for a Polaroid one I had (it was shit by the way).

15th April 2004, 09:37 AM
I just bought a Sony DSC-U30 2 Megapixel camera for $299.00 at Sony. It's an outdated model & is the reason it is reasonably cheap (the later model is about $500.00 I think).
It's a really small camera that fits into your pocket. I am extremely happy with mine.

15th April 2004, 10:48 AM
I personally have a Cannon PowerShot A70, and can't reconmend it higher enough. However, I do believe they have bought out a new model with a few extra features, the PowerShot A75. It is the same 3.2MP, but has a couple of extra features, and can be had in Australia for less than $500.

The things that attracted me to this camera is mainly a personal reconmendation from a pro photgrapher/photo restorer, saying it was by far the best quality wise in the price range, and that it is better than alot of more expensive cameras. Also, it uses CF memory, which compared to say Memory Stick, is alot cheaper. It's also light as anything, and rather small.

15th April 2004, 12:24 PM
Here's what i think is a nice camera because it puts the right onto a cd! which means you can just pop it into the computer anywhere and download it:P PLus you can download with a cable too:P best bet is this camera thats my opinion i don't know how durable it is and what not but i was looking and saw this camera hope it works it's 599.00 us not that bad oh well here's the Ulr

http://www.sonystyle.com/is-bin/INTERSHOP....CCD500&Dept=dcc (http://www.sonystyle.com/is-bin/INTERSHOP.enfinity/eCS/Store/en/-/USD/SY_DisplayProductInformation-Start;sid=9q88qhIi3ZE8hlJfGRw2oV0zsdTqP9K0SW4=?Cat egoryName=dcc_DIDigitalCameras_CDMavicaDigitalCame ras&ProductSKU=MVCCD500&Dept=dcc)

15th April 2004, 12:26 PM
My girlfriend has a pretty deep photography interest, and she's been in the market for a camera lately. She can't afford a digital SLR which she would like, but the Sony DSCV1 (http://www.sony.com.au/dis/catalog/product.jsp?categoryId=22119) seems to meet most of her needs without busting the bank. It's RRP is $999, but it can be had on eBay for approximatey $600. Digital Photography Review (http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/sonydscv1/) gave it a glowing review and say it's better than the similar priced Canon and Nikon. It's got 5 megapixels, and is super compact, without skimping on the photo quality.

Personally, if I was in the market for a digital camera around $500, I'd spend the extra $100 or so and get the Sony.

15th April 2004, 12:38 PM
I'm gonna go with radar on the A70 its quite the impressive little beast, it has all the features of an slr camera (apature, shutter speed etc) and takes standard AA batteries, either rechargeable or if you get stuck somewhere with no batteries, ust regular alkline. I had this camera on a trip to ireland, and it made of metal you see and it was in my pocket and i was running around this corner i slipped and landed on the camera, it cut my leg open, but the camera was fine!
and compactflash is by far the cheapest medium (www.exceltek.com.au) so if you gonna get a camera make it an A70

rice mac
15th April 2004, 01:26 PM
If it is just for email and 6"x4" prints a 3 megapixel camera would be sufficient. Stick with brands such as Canon, Olympus, Fuji, Pentax and Kodak. Nothing wrong with Sony but the cost of ownership is a little higher due to the media and accessories (lenses, external flash, memory card reader etc...) being more expensive than the others. You can save money if you purchase media and accessories from overseas, but it depends if you are willing to go through the hassle (since it is for business, I doubt it). My V1 battery cost me $48 from overseas, if bought locally the price would have been closer to $100.

Like radar & Jimbo, I also recommend something like the Canon A70. Reasons being...

- I know a few people with the A70 and older A60 and have found the image quality and optics to be excellent. Battery life is also very good. The camera is easy to use but also has some manual controls available to 'tweak' the shot.
- Media used in the Canon (CF) is much cheaper than the Memory Stick format used by Sony (although the price difference is not as great as it used to be).
- the A70 uses alkaline batteries whilst Sony cameras and some others mentioned in the thread (IXUS series) use a proprietary battery and an extra battery will set you back almost $100. A pack of 2 AA rechargeable 2100mAh is only about $15.

Originally posted by decryption@Apr 15 2004, 01:26 PM
My girlfriend has a pretty deep photography interest, and she's been in the market for a camera lately. She can't afford a digital SLR which she would like, but the Sony DSCV1 (http://www.sony.com.au/dis/catalog/product.jsp?categoryId=22119) seems to meet most of her needs without busting the bank.
I was in the same situation and bought the V1 almost 6 months ago after quite a bit of research. I really wanted a digital SLR but the cost and bulk of the camera turned me off. It was my first venture into digital still photography and I've enjoyed using it and haven't touched my film based cameras since. Photography in low light conditions is excellent, the build quality is good and it was smaller than the other cameras I was looking at (G5 and Oly 5050).

A couple of things about the camera peeve me.
- No diopter adjustment in the viewfinder (not a great loss as the viewfinder itself is crap anyway).
- Short life of the battery (but battery size was sacrificed to keep the dimensions of the camera down).
- Macro mode could be better.
- A swivel/tilt LCD screen would make shooting from the hip or ground level much easier.

I also do miss the ability to fire off a number of quick shots (as I could with my previous SLR) but the times when I have needed this feature have been few.

15th April 2004, 02:20 PM
I'm all for the A70 as well. I have one and it has near every manual feature you'd need, takes very good images, and works spot on from 5cm close in macros up to whatever distance.

By the sound of your requirements the A60 would do the trick as well. It's only a 2MP, but it's also amazingly cheap, I'm sure I've seen them advertised for the high $200s ($279 perhaps). It takes rechargeable AA batteries which last hundreds of shots, and works with alkalines if you're in a pinch (although the life is nowhere near as long, more like 20-30 shots if you leave time between pics).

It's a USB connection, takes compactflash cards, and works out of the box with iPhoto, or with its own software (mac and windows versions of both come with it)

Almost every image on http://www.danamania.com/gallery/ was taken with my A70, if you want examples.


16th April 2004, 06:10 PM
Oops! I'm late for this thread! Heh. :P

Anyway, i use a Vivitar 3610, which is a great little 2 megapixel camera. It's pretty good, especially for outside shots which look fantastic at the highest res, which is 1152x864. However, when taking photos in a dark area, or taking close-ups, sometimes you need to bump the res down to 640x480. Otherwise it will look all grainy and stuff, and you won't be able to recognise what you took very well. Other than that, its a great little camera, with a flash, and video taking capabilities. You can make little videos with it, but obviously without sound. It also can be used as a webcam, as having a video-out cable to connect to the Composite Video in on a TV and use the TV as the display. Either way, its a great little camera. :)

16th April 2004, 06:50 PM
Sounds like a great little budget camera.

The gain you are talking about can be a few different things:

ISO or sensitivity setting, which I would doubt a camera of this range would have control over manually.

The CCD sensor itself may be noisy...which is more then likely the case because you mention that its grainy when you take dark photos. Most CCD sensors get hot when they are open for longer, which is what happens when you take a photo when its darker then ideal. When it gets hot, the pixels that the sensor uses will go into overdrive...causing gain to appear. At the same time, because its a dark shot, the auto settings will adjust the ISO settings to become more sensitive to take in as much light in the least amount of time possible. So by increasing shutter open duration is the somewhat similar effect of making the sensitivity higher. This causes the grain.

Which is why i think the majority of cheaper cameras like yours and mine even don't have quite all the manual settings, not because of the price, but the quality of the components used cannot handle these settings.

But each to their own, you use your camera for your reasons and I use mine for mine.

This was not a hit or anything, I was just letting you and others who read this, why you are getting the grain.


17th April 2004, 02:20 PM
Thanks. Very interesting and informative post. :)

22nd April 2004, 06:27 PM
Originally posted by rice mac@Apr 15 2004, 01:26 PM
A pack of 2 AA rechargeable 2100mAh is only about $15.
Where can you get 2100mAh rechargeables? I've only seen 1300mAh NiMH's

rice mac
22nd April 2004, 09:03 PM
Originally posted by Rockyroad@Apr 22 2004, 07:27 PM
Where can you get 2100mAh rechargeables? I've only seen 1300mAh NiMH's
I got mine from Radio Parts (http://www.radioparts.com.au/) in the city. It should be available at Dick Smiths as well. I think the AA batteries are upto to ~2400mAh now.
Sanyos are good, but I have found Gold Peak to be best value for money.

22nd April 2004, 10:49 PM

I bought 1300mAh "POWERhaus" from Dick Smiths, but that was a couple of years back. They have probably improved since then, as you say.

23rd April 2004, 09:40 AM
If you have a Jaycar electronics in your area, they are usually better value for money then DSE.

Otherwise, look out for them in shops like Big W and K-Mart that might have then in the electronics section where stereo's, Gameboy's etc are sold.

You can definately find them in Camera shops but I found that they are usually double the price of anywhere else I have seen.

Alternatively, Altronics which is a perth based company who just opened their first shop in Sydney sells the 4 X AA's (rated at around 2100mHA - if memory severs me correctly) with the charger for like $23. If they are not available, they have a website, www.altronics.com.au and prodominantly do mail order.


23rd April 2004, 02:08 PM
Definately much higher in the mAh stakes now dude. I find the Energizer NiMh are the best buy. I've used the cheaper brands and they're not as robust. But then again, I have a one hour charger and NiMHs tend to get hot when they're getting charged in it. :unsure: