RE: Digital Camera recommendations-summary of responses

From: Monica & Glenn Whiteside (
Date: Sun Jan 24 1999 - 00:11:55 EET

Dear RP-ML:

Thanks for all the great responses to my query on digital cameras. So far I
have received 18 responses and counting. Below is a partial summary (some
had such great advice I chose not to summarize it) of all the responses I
received, I've left the names off to protect the innocent. Thanks again for
all of your wise advice. We are looking hard at the AGFA ePhoto 1280
model - it seems to give the most bang for the buck, 1280 x 960 max
resolution. PCComputing gave it a four-star rating (just below the Kodak
DC260) and called it "a great picture-taker." One con is that it only has
4MB of RAM but you can buy an 8MB card for about US$71.00. Best Stop
Digital in NY at 1-800-339-8357 or seems to have the
best price at US$399.00.

Best Regards,

Glenn Whiteside
1. Uses a Sony Mavica Model FD-71, costs about US$500. Very handy to use
with floppy drive, built-in flash, and can take a macro shot as close as 5
cm away from the object provided you have good lighting. Only complaint is
the resolution.

2. Uses a Kodak DC120 and is happy with it. Easy to download the pictures
using the serial connection. Never bothered to buy a flash card. Can store
7 of the highest resolution pictures, more at the lower resolution. Can
view pictures on the little screen and delete the ones you don't want.
After downloading the pictures using the supplied utility, you can use any
graphics program to view/modify the images. Complaint: goes through a lot
of batteries.

3. Uses a AGFA 1280, currently costs about US$500. 1280x960 pixel
resolution. Reportedly will give photo quality at 5" x 7". Bought the 8 MB
Smart media card that gives 14 picture storage capacity at max resolution.
Outputs JPEG files and is very easy to use. Deciding feature to buy it was
the 4" minimum focal length. Bought camera at CompUSA, also looked on

4. I have a camera from nikon called "coolpix 100". I bought it from one of
those overstock/reseller companies on the internet for less than $100
about 2 yrs ago. it's resolution is in the 500x500 pixel range so this
isn't the camera for you (and barely for me!) but it's a great package.
the camera is approximately the size of a sunglass case (that's what it
looks like when it's in its case). it looks a lot like a cellular phone
also (the orientation when shooting pictures is up down whereas most dig
cameras are horizontal profile like normal 35mm cams). some of its
features are:
* red eye reduction
* auto exposure
* auto or manual flash
* PCMCIA adapter (really cool! you pull the case off the camera
which also holds the batteries and you just have a PCMCIA card sticking
out that easily pops into my laptop card slot)
* photos in high or low resolution (21 and 42 pics)
* all are stored in JPEG format (1 Mb capacity on the camera)
* batteries (4 x AA) last forever. i also have a kodak DC260 with
megapixel resolution (something like 1200x800 or something like that)
but it goes through batteries like there's no tomorrow (!) with the LCD
and motor-driven autofocus; nikon has had the same batteries since i
bought it!)
* you can load other files into the camera's memory if you have to
have a quick/fast file transfer between 2 PC's with PCMCIA slots...
* has a close-up feature but is tough to use
all in all, it's a great camera with poor resolution. what i would
recommend is looking at nikon's offerings on the new coolpix cameras if
you think any of the above.

5. Uses a Minolta, lens is detachable so you can mount on a small tripod to
take excellent macros of small things, takes fine snapshots too. Comes with
excellent software including Adobe Photo Deluxe. Price was around
US$350.00. Recommends spending another US$35.00 on lithium batteries and

6. Uses Kodak 260 and it takes excellent pictures. Complaint: batteries
must be changed daily (uses rechargeable akaline batteries).

7. Uses a Sony Mavica Model FD-71, gives it high marks. Good battery life,
3.5" disk feature is also great.

8. Recommends looking at digital camcorders which will also allow you to
take digital still frames as well, runs around US$800.00 - 900.00. (This
would be my ideal option if I wasn't on such a tight budget - Glenn)

9. Recommends looking at the January 19 issue of PC magazine where they
review 20 digital cameras from US$300.00 - $1,200.00. I looked up this
article on the net and found the Editors' Choice to be 1) for business
applications they recommended the Sony Mavica FD-81 model, 2) for semipro
pictures they recommended the Nikon Coolpix 900s model, and 3) for home and
budget-conscious buyers they recommended the HP PhotoSmart C30 model made by
Konica (I found these selling for as low as US$399.00 at CDW on the web).

10. ...after having two different digital cameras over the past couple
of years for use in a professional setting I can tell you the following:

1) Purchase one based on being "Mega-Pixel" this means that your
resolution will be at a minimum of 1280x1024.

2) Don't be afraid of the "special" download software! It's not as bad
as you think, most of the cameras come with some sort of a memory card
and that card can fit into an adapter that fits into your floppy drive.
I use the Fuji MX700 and have had no trouble with reading the device as
it uses the Windows Explorer as if it's a floppy.

3) Although I thoroughly enjoy and use my MX700 (logged well over 3500
images in less then a year!) I would recommend the Kodak DC 260 ( Around
$800 in the Detroit area) as it uses optical zoom as opposed to digital.
This is extremely important because your image will be drastically
degraded (become pixelated) if you do use the digital zoom.

4) If this camera is going to be used for business then DON'T TAKE THE
CHEAP ROUTE! you will be disappointed trust me!

5) One more point...All of these cameras use the JPEG standard to save
images. If the Sony is using a 1.44 meg floppy then they are saving the
files using settings that compress the daylights out of your photos, once
you compress a file using JPEG some data is lost and never recoverable.
This is why there are many level of settings when working with JPEG.
When using a program like Adobe Photoshop ( I also highly recommend the
use of this program) you are given a choice as to the level of
compression, more compression=smallers files=more lost data=poor picture

11. I have the Kodak DC210 and use it daily. Don't understand the
software bit as the pictures are stored as JPEGs on the camera. You have a
choice on using JPEG or Kodaks PIX format. As far as download adaptor, that
if you want to use a serial link. I would not recommend the serial link for
camera as it eats the batteries. Most cameras use a compact flash card. You
get a PCMCIA adapter for the cards which make them easy to use or you can
something like the Sandisk Imagemate which connects to a parallel port to
the CF cards. It stays connected to the computer and you just pop in the CF
and it is available via Explorerer like a hard drive. I bought a 20MB card
holds about 75 images of the highest resolution on the DC210.
Depending on your image needs, I would recommend looking at the following
Resolution (1024x768 min), Zoom, wide angle, Image preview or viewing on the
camera after a picture is taken, a closeup mode for taking pictures at less
2', built-in flash that can be turned off.

12. You might want to try looking at Olympus digital cameras. They have
resolution and a fairly compact size. The only problem is that they use
cards for image storage which can be inconvenient. But the price is right
the $400-500 range. The Olympus 340L is $499 with a resolution of 1280 x
I haven't used one but they appear to be fairly straight forward. The SONY
Mavica is great because it uses the floppies but the price is a little high
for the resolution you get. We have a Mavica here with 10X zoom and 640 x
480 resolution. Its a great camera to use but low resolution limits its
applications. The newest Mavica has a resolution of 1024 x 768 but it is
**I have heard that AGFA cameras are pretty good.** If you can get a hold
of a
catalog such as PC Zone or PC Connection they have a great selection of
cameras for sale.

13. Uses the Kodak DC260, priced about US$700.00 on the Internet, also
mentions the Kodak DC210 Plus model for about $200.00 less. Camera reviews
can be checked out at
As for downloading from the camera, I like the convenience of not having to
carry several floppies with me when I'm taking pictures. The high
resolution picts at a low lossy selection for the .jpg format can be as
large as 200-300K. This quickly fills a floppy disk. I ended up getting a
larger memory card which allows me so save between 50 and 300 pictures at a
time. The picture transfer is not as difficult as you might think. I use a
and have bought an PC card adapter ($20) for the memory card in the camera.
The card is seen as another hard drive and picture transfer is as fast as
you might expect for one hard drive to another. Kodak also gives you USB
and serial cables which are generally applicable to most systems and there
is an IR port as well. The IR port and the serial cables are pretty slow.
The two things I really don't like about the camera is that it eats
batteries and the software that comes with the camera is slow and klugy.
I've stopped using their software. The thing that really draws me to the
camera is that it takes great pictures.

14. Bought the Sony camera (didn't mention which model), works great, easy
to use, and makes taking pictures for presentations easy. Only problem is
making sure that the lighting is good. Would recommend even for personal

15. I'm using a Olympus D-320L and really like it -- other than not having
a zoom feature. Distance picture in dim light are a little disappointing,
but closer pictures (< 10ft) in the same light are fine.
It has three quality settings with the best at 1024x768. The SmartMedia
disks that came with it was only 2Mb, so I bought an 8Mb.
Olympus has a 3 1/2" Floppy adapter for the Smartmedia disk to make
downloading easier. I found downloading through the COM ports required
by CMOS setting for COM port configuration to be fixed to an address
rather than auto. Also, you'll want a AC power adapter (and probably
rechargable batteries)
since downloading (without the floppy adapter) and use of the LCD usea lot
of power. I'd recommend getting a look at the manuals for each model you
in to help understand ease of use. Olympus has very easy to use features.

16. It depends on how portable you need to be but....
We use a standard color s-video camera attached to a Play Inc. "Snappy."
allows us to 1.) create our own specialized trigger-capture program using
Play's SDK and VB, and 2.) capture at up to 1500x950 ("750 lines" in video
talk) resolution. We use this to create QTVR style guides for the
entertainment industry. If you pursue this route, I suggest getting a
camera with real lens focus, zoom, and iris opposed to the newer cheaper
models that fake all this

17. When we looked into this for our lab, we decided to go up the ladder
bought a mini-dv camera instead. We bought a Panasonic digital video camera
which gave the best resolution at the time as it uses a 3CCD colour capture
device. It is excellent, you can use it to capture stills as well as video,
it even allows you to record an audio track with it. You can store hundreds
of stills on a single tape. The only unfortunate thing was that I couldn't
convince my wife that I needed one at home. This may not help as it will go
outside your price range a little and it does have other features that you
mentioned could be a burden(i.e. docking station, size, lack of simplicity),
but I think that the added price is
compensated for by the extra use.

18. I have been using Kodak DC210.. and it gives a good performance.. Its
not in 500 $
range but for extra 300 or so u get lot better resolution (1160x952).
That's all the responses I have for now. Again, thanks for the overwhelming

-Glenn Whiteside

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