Digital Camera Buying

I might buy a cheap point and shoot digicam soon, just to enable me to at least document something, especially when traveling Shooting with film is so expensive (although some do it) and also it’s hard to put the stuff on the net anyway since you have to scan and it’s tedious and I don’t have a scanner at home. I’ll probably visit central Europe soon again so I might as well buy a digital camera.

What are my requirements?

  • It needs to be cheap
  • I don’t need a large zoom
  • I need very close focus (for digiscoping at times)
  • Good low light performance
  • No high megapixels
  • A rechargeable battery

Things could point towards a Fuji F series, except the price, one would have to pay 170 euros for a F70… and I don’t want a zoom monster really. It seems the Fuji A130 is a sub 100 euro camera that still has F 2.8 at the wide end, which many of its competition doesn’t seem to have. Hard to see any comparisons anywhere on these cheap cameras, nevermind sample pictures. It uses regular batteries for power so probably it’d be expensive to use.

Strolling by the nearby supermarket, it had an Olympus T-100 for 99 euros and I liked that it was thin. Older Olympus has awful XD memory cards, but the T-100 has standard SD. Canon A490 which it also had at 109 and Nikon S203 (which is probably elsewhere), the big names’ cheap ones, might be nice in image quality, though the Canon seemed a bit thick. Then there’s the 99 euro Panasonic DMC-F4 too which actually seems to have F 2.8 at the wide end. Nothing means much when you don’t know the sensor size anyway.

Most of the specs listed (megapixels, number of programs) by the sellers and companies are totally meaningless to me. The pics always look bad at full resolution anyway. I’d like to see perhaps:

  • lens diameter (I might elaborate in a future post)
  • or then the F number and sensor size
  • field of view at wide and tele
  • perhaps extra features like what video res and compression, close focus range

At times all this makes me wonder if all that stuff comes from the same factory and they just put it in different shaped frames, alter the menu texts a bit, fiddle with a few tuning parameters to give different image tones and then just sell more of them that way. We already know that for example in optics, there are Japanese subcontractor factories making lenses for many brands. Opticron is a UK telescope firm that orders its scopes from Japan from the same manufacturer that makes stuff for Nikon.

Oh, and I assume all cameras work with Linux just as normal USB drives, right?

EDIT: Found some unlikely T-100 sample pictures

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