Thursday, November 7, 2013

I Need a Small Still Digital Camera

The Pentax is just too big and bulky for trips like this.  I would like something small that I can put in my pocket, and cheap enough that I don't feel nervous about it falling and breaking.  It looks like the Canon Powershot A2500 with 5x optical zoom and 16 MP image and the Sony DSC-W710/B, which has very similar specs and pricing, are the top contenders.  They are so similar on price and features that the only reason to pick one over the other would be personal recommendations.  Anyone have some recommendations or disrecommendations based on personal experience?

Or perhaps some very compact digital point and shoot in the under $100 range?  A 5x optical zoom is nice; the ability to take crippled HD video is also nice (for when Bigfoot shows up out of the woods, or the aliens come to abduct me).

I have an older HP Photosmart E427 that used to fill this niche, but it seems to gobble up AA batteries so quickly (even when not in use) that I fear that there is an internal short in it.  And it is only 6 MP.  Can you imagine something so primitive?


  1. my friend has a Nikon coolpix point and shoot, dunno the specs but it takes some nice shots, very compact in the pocke.

  2. Clayton - Check in with Glenn Reynolds. He has regularly run posts dealing with this issue with many useful comments by readers.

  3. If you're thinking of a phone that inexpensive ~$100, you might just upgrade your smart phone, the cameras in the newer ones are about as good as a cheap point n shoot and often times better. Then you'd have one less item to carry around and drop or lose.

    Back to cheap PnS cameras: Where they suffer the most in in low light or poor light situations. If you shoot indoors a lot or in shady areas you'll be giving away a lot in terms of image quality.

  4. I can't tell you about these exact models but I have an older Sony that I bought because of its excellent low-light capability.

    Being able to take a good quality picture indoors can be a major plus, so if you are able to check your possible choices for their low-light ability that might help you make your decision.

  5. I had a Sony Coolpix that I loved, but it eventually developed problems with the lens motor or gears, and was going to be more to repair than simply to replace. The Canon may be more rugged - I think I'll try that next. I think I'm going to upgrade into something in the sub $200 range, though to get more optical zoom.

  6. Clayton, have you considered a newer smartphone? Some of the cameras there are exactly what you are looking for.

    I recently upgraded to an iPhone 5S (lowest cost: $199 with 2-yr contract). The camera is excellent for both stills and 1080p video. And since it is my phone, it is always with me.

  7. I've never regretted a PowerShot.

    (I always get the ones that take AA batteries, for portability reasons.)

    (And on the other hand, while that 6mp Photosmart is a relic with its tiny, noisy sensor ... my 6mp Pentax K100 is still a great camera.

    Megapixels are nice, but sensor size and ability to capture light [to reduce noise] are far more important for image quality.)

  8. Cell phone cameras are convenient, but they lack any sort of optical zoom.

    I've got a point-and-shoot with 5x optical zoom and I find myself wishing I had better magnification when taking pictures of far off objects/animals. It would also be nice to have a physical image stabilization system (which some cheap point-and-shoots have).

    Megapixels don't really matter. 3-6 is good enough for non-professional users. I shoot at 3 megapixels to take advantage of Picasa's free storage.

    Amazon has the PowerShot SX150 with 12x optical zoom for $120, but there's only two left in stock and it takes AA batteries. There's also the PowerShot SX160 with 16x optical for $126. Both seem to have image stabilization.

  9. The current Canon series of cameras is outstanding. There are likely other manufacturers providing good cameras as well, but my cameria (I think the model is a PS900IS) is great, small, and can take great video if needed. The "IS" means image-stabilized, which helps immensely if taking video.

    Mine is about 2 years old and cost ~$180, but I'm sure that better ones are out there. It is a point-and-shoot, and the main problem with such is that there is always 2-3 sec between shots (to transfer the memory to the SD card). If you want a faster camera, you simply have to pay more.

  10. I've been looking into really tiny cameras lately, you might be interested in the Mobius ActionCam. It can record 1080p30 and 720p60 video for several hours (EU tariffs? what's that?) and take 3.5 MPixel photos, in a form factor slightly larger than a car remote (it's a successor of a keychain camera that literally looks like a car remote). It cam be used as a car dash cam and is also popular for RC aircraft aerial video/photography as well as an action camera. $70 from an "official" Chinese ebay sellers, a little more from "offical" US resellers.

  11. The Powershot SX150 is an excellent camera for its size/price. Yes, it takes AA batteries, and seems to eat them fairly fast. But that's a feature as well as a bug--get a charger and 4 AA MiMH batteries, and carry a couple of AA alkalines for backup.

  12. I found small Canons working very well in that they find the solution and take picture if you insist. In several other pocket cameras the firmware refuses to take pictures if it does not feel like it, in particular in low light conditions. Also, their small size and weight make a significant difference.