The Top 10 Digital Cameras Ripped Apart
The first thing anyone notices when they start looking for digital cameras, is the incredibly overwhelming number of cameras available. As of this writing, Amazon lists around 2,500 cameras on their website. Around 2,300 are point and shoot cameras, and the remaining 200 or so are digital SLR cameras. That’s a truly staggering number of digital cameras to choose from. Given that most consumers look for a point and shoot camera, eliminating the SLR’s from the list doesn’t really make things much easier. Would you read an article with a headline that screamed “The Top 2300 Digital Cameras Of All Time!”? Not likely. Unless you’ve got way too much time on your hands. If you do, you should quickly skim this article on only the top 10 digital cameras, and then scoot over to my house and cut the lawn. It really needs it, and I hate doing it;)
What I do enjoy doing however, is talking about digital cameras. I’ve been a gadget geek for a long time, and have owned digital cameras since early 2000. I have several floating around my house, all different brands. I do tend to favor the Canon’s quite a bit, but won’t shy away from any of the other brands like Nikon, Fuji, Pentax, or Kodak. It really just depends, what and perhaps whom I’m buying the camera for. I certainly use a camera differently then my teenage daughter would, who in turn would use it much differently then her younger sisters, here grandparents, or her mom. It’s important to consider the prime user of the camera before making any purchase. Some people will be more technical oriented then others, so a more complex camera like a digital SLR may be ok for them. Others would find a pure SLR much too overwhelming to use, so perhaps an entry level SLR like a Canon Rebel (XT, Xti, or XSi) would be a perfect compromise. Remember, the single biggest influence on the quality of pictures a camera creates, has nothing to do with the camera itself. The camera is just a tool, used by a person. The person behind the shutter will ultimately determine the quality of the photographs taken. So, making sure the right person is matched with the right camera is of utmost importance.
With that being said, let’s take a look at my list of the top 10 digital cameras. I should preface this by saying, that while I do my research on different cameras, this list is somewhat subjective, and littered with my own personal opinions. That’s not to suggest I don’t consider what other users have to say about the cameras, I’m just issuing a bit of a personal disclaimer, to let you know that my own preferences and prejudices may trickle into the list. So, without further babbling, let’s begin shall we.
Canon PowerShot SD850
Given that this article is long enough already, let’s get right to the good stuff, and start with my favorites, then work my way down to my least favorite. With that being said, let’s take a look at the Canon PowerShot SD850 IS 8MP Digital Elph Camera. For the sake of brevity, let’s refer to this one as the SD850. The Canon PowerShot line, is one of the best selling in the history of digital cameras, and Canon continues to add winner after winner in this prestigious lineup. The SD850 is no exception. Priced at under $250, this point and shoot does just about everything you can expect from a camera at this price point. It’s easy to use, has a number of auto settings available, and builds upon the winning design of several predecessors. Most complaints with this camera are usually for flaws similar to most budget priced point and shoots, or by people who should have bought a more sophisticated camera like an SLR. Remember what I said about matching the right camera with the right person?
Canon PowerShot SD870
Well, next on the list is a close cousin to the SD850, it’s the Canon PowerShot SD870IS 8MP Digital Camera. As I said some previously, Canon does continue to build up on the PowerShot line, and the SD870 is really a slight step up the ladder from the SD850. It’s about an extra 20-40 dollars more depending on where you buy it, but does have some newer features. One of those features is the wide angle zoom lense. Another, is the larger LCD screen size. Where the SD850 has a 2.5 inch lcd, the SD870 sports a slightly larger 3.0 inch LCD. Larger screen sizes do tend to chew through batteries faster, but that just one of the compromises have to make when considering which digital camera to buy.
Canon Digital Rebel XSi
Now here’s one that’s guaranteed to get all the camera geeks in the house salivating. At least the Canon fan boys/girls anyway. Of which, if you haven’t guessed yet, I’ve been accused of falling into that category. Even the Nikon crowd should see some of the finer points with this camera. The Canon Rebel XSi 12MP Digital SLR camera was announced early and 2008 and releases during the first quarter of that year. It addressed several consumer demands that were voiced towards the previous Canon Rebel lineup of the XT and XTi. One of those features, being Live View. Prior to the XSi, most SLR cameras wouldn’t allow for framing of your picture with the LCD. You had to use the viewfinder. Kind of the point of the whole SLR design anyway. But since the Canon Rebel line, is usually aimed at first time SLR users moving up from point and shoot cameras, customers really liked using their LCD. Since the customer is always right, Canon gave in and gave them Live View with the XSi. For someone looking to buy their first SLR camera, you could do a lot worse then the Canon Rebel XSi.
Canon PowerShot A590IS
It’s truly remarkable how quickly digital camera technology has evolved, and continues to get better and better. The good news for consumers, is of course that digital cameras that would have been considered state of the art a year, or even a few months ago can be had incredibly cheap today. The Canon PowerShot A590IS 8MP Digital Camera would fall into this category. As of today, I see it listed for as little as $160 new and $150 used on Amazon. Pretty amazing actually, when I consider the first digital camera I bought about 7 years ago cost me about $1000 and can’t compare to the A590IS. Even for professional SLR photographers, the A590 is a great little camera to have, when you don’t feel like lugging all your SLR lenses, filters, and paraphernalia around. Perfect for those impromptu events.
Canon PowerShot SD750
The SD750 is another camera that could fall into the yesterdays-state-of-the-art-for-really-cheap-today-price. But, it also falls into another category called ultra compact, or sometimes just compact digital camera. Usually with cameras in this category, you sacrifice image quality and quite often lens quality for a smaller footprint. Which means the camera is very easy to take with you just about anywhere. Mainly because of it’s size. It can fit in a pants pocket, or even a really small purse. Of course you pay a bit more for this miniaturization, so be sure it’s the size factor is an important one for you. On average, your pictures won’t be as good, but chances are you’ll get more pictures to choose from, simply because your more likely to carry the SD750 with you everywhere you go.
Canon PowerShot SD1000 Digital Elph
While the SD1000 may seem a little superfluous, what with being so closely related to the SD750, I would be remiss if I included one, but not the other. While they are virtually identical cameras when it comes to size and abilities, there are a noteworthy differences. The most glaring, would be the screen size. While the LCD on the SD750 weighs in at 3.0 inches, the SD1000 is a significantly smaller 2.5 inches. As these eyes of mine get older, a bigger screen in any gadget is a selling feature for me. Weigh is a whopping (sarcastic tone) 5 grams heavier for the SD50, but a small price to pay for the extra half inch of LCD real estate. You will find differences in the auto-modes available on both cameras. But, I mean really, who uses all 10 different auto modes on a point and shoot camera? And the bigger question, who needs an “aquarium mode” on their camera? They sure do have some creative folks over at the Canon research and development labs, is all I can say. Or is it the marketing folks . . . hmmmm?
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5K
Now, here’s a little something for you folks out there, who thought I had nothing better to do, then write about how wonderful Canon was. See, there is a camera that’s more then cabable of competing with the Canon folks. And compete well. Matter of fact, there are plenty of top 10 camera lists that have non Canon cameras on them. Just not that many, that have NO Canon cameras on them. Sorry all you Nikon fanboys, that’s just the way it is. With a 10 times wide angle zoom lense, 9MP resolution, and a price shy of $275, the DMC-TZ5K fills a niche not previously filled by other cameras on this list. In addition, if your not a fan of the Canon brand, or perhaps are just partial to Panasonic, this little Lumix could suit you just fine.
Canon EOS 40D
OK, now were getting into some serious camera territory. The Canon EOS 40D 10.1 MB Digital SLR Camera is way more then a point and shoot, and a good step above the Canon Rebel line of SLR cameras. Anyone serious about getting into quality photography, even if they’ve never used a SLR before, would be pretty darn happy with a 40D. That happiness comes at a price of course, and for around $1100 and change, you could take one home with you. Now that your moving into this high grade of camera, you’ll be wanting to do a bit more shopping. I don’t mean shopping around before you buy the camera, but shopping for more stuff after you buy the camera. Yep, this is the kind of purchase that is usually just the beginning. The beginning of more supporting gear in the form of lenses, bags, filters, batteries, memory cards, photo editing software, and a plethora of other goodies. Just be forewarned, you’ll need deep pockets to support this bad boy in the lifestyle he plans on becoming accustomed to.
Canon ProShot S5
Whew! That was a fun one, but let’s step down a little closer to earth. If all your looking for is a camera that’s a bit sturdier then a conventional point and shoot with a better zoom, then the S5 could be your thing. The Canon Pro Series ProShot S5 IS, comes with a whopping 12 times optical zoom. That’s “optical zoom”, not “digital zoom”. Meaning, the lens does all the work in getting you close and personal with your subject, and not the CPU inside the camera. Optical zoom is much better. Digital zoom can be accomplished with any image after the fact on your computer. Additionally, the S5 gives you a bit more camera to hold on to, thanks to it’s size. For those of you with larger hands that can be a nice bonus. It’s a pretty durable camera to, something to keep in mind if your camera journeys are more on the bumpy adventurous side.
Surprised huh? I bet you thought I was going to throw another Canon on the heap here. Nope, let’s talk about one of the finer products offered by the good folks at Nikon. The Nikon D60 10.2MP Digital SLR Camera falls into the entry level SLR category of camera. One, that I think more people should venture into. There is a bit of a fallacy going around, that SLR cameras are complicated to run, and are way to heavy to lug around to birthday parties, weddings, pig roasts, or romantic sunsets. Nonsense. First of all, the pretty much all SLR cameras (including the D60) come with just as many, if not more auto modes then your average point and shoot camera. What that means is, if you don’t want to mess with your f-stop, shutter speeds, color balance, or field depth then you don’t have to. Just leave your SLR in auto-mode, and you’ll get some pretty nice pictures. Of course if you decide to learn and fiddle / tweak your camera settings down the line, with a good SLR like the D60 you have that option. Weight is becoming less of an issue with SLRs, and if you don’t want to carry 12 lenses with your camera everywhere you go, then don’t. The Nikon D60 comes with a good basic lens that should be fine for the majority of photo ops you’ll find your self at. At a price below $650, the D60 represents a better value then a lot of simple point and shoot cameras.
Well, there you have it. A list of the top 10 digital cameras that anyone would be proud to call their own. I know I do. One final note, most of the prices I’ve mentioned come from Amazon at the time of writing. The good news about that is, that the older this article gets, the cheaper those prices are likely to drop. So, what are you waiting for. Buy that camera, and start taking some pictures. All those great photos aren’t going to take themselves.