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Good all purpose camera - European trip

Travel Forums Travel Photography Good all purpose camera - European trip

1. Posted by farleyUL (Full Member 125 posts) 9y

I'm going on a backpacking trip for a few weeks in Europe this fall and I want to get a camera that I know is going to take good shots. The one I've currently got (Nikon Coolpix 4100) takes very good pictures during the daytime but I find that a lot of the pictures I take at night are blurry and not easily visible. I'm not sure if this is some sort of setting maybe I'm just not doing right on the camera or what. I'm not exactly the most camera-savvy person...I don't want to spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars on a new, complex camera. I just want a reasonably priced one that will work well in all conditions.

Any thoughts? Thanks!!!

2. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4835 posts) 9y

There is no camera that will manage to take "good pictures" under difficult conditions, like lack of light. (Yet! Give camera manufacturers a few hundred million years more and they might yet get even with evolution and produce something equivalent to the human eye!) :)

The reason your pictures turn out blurry is because the shutter needs to stay open for a long time to gather enough light to turn into a picture, and your hand is shaking. Put the camera on a conveniently placed table, or a rock, or a trashcan - or invest in a beanbag or a mini tripod, and watch the pictures getting sharper. Next turn on the self-timer (which will wait 3 (or 10) seconds before taking the picture), so that not even the vibration of you pushing the shutter has any effect. That Nikon as "auto" ISO, so it'll try to find the right balance between high light sensitivity and graininess itself; if it has the option in the menu somewhere to pick the "ISO speed" yourself (? I don't know if it does), pick a high ISO (400, 800?) if you want to take pictures of moving objects (like people) in the dark, and a low ISO (100, 50?) if you want to take pictures of static objects (buildings) that you don't want to be grainy.
Try doing these things and look at the results; see if you still think you need a new camera.

If you do, well, good news, there's many compact cameras out there nowadays which include "vibration reduction"/"image stabilization" (careful though, there's a lot of misleading advertising about this term) which will slightly counteract the effect by trying to move the image sensor (or lens) in counterpoint to your hand's movement; this is effective, but only to a degree; if it's too dark, you'll still move about too much in the timeperiod during which the photo is taken, and blurring will occur. And it's hard to find a compact that's really good overall, as the trend seems to be to push for more and more megapixels (as consumers think more is better), which means that the quality of individual pixels gets really low, and manufacturers have to do really weird things to compensate for that, which almost never leads to high quality pictures. But still, after scouring dpreview, here's four compact cameras you might want to look at:
Canon Powershot A710 IS (~$280, 7MP, 6x zoom: almost perfect, but might take too _bright_ pictures during the day.)
Panasonic DMC-FZ8 (~$300, 7MP, 12x zoom; perhaps a bit larger than you'd like for a compact camera, and it has too much noise reduction by default (meaning you loose some detail), so if you buy this, make certain to set the "low NR" option.)
Canon PowerShot S3 IS (~$320, 6MP, 12x zoom; the heaviest of the camera, and as large as the panasonic; similar notes about noise reduction, although not to the same degree.)
Canon SD700 IS Digital ELPH known as the Canon IXUS 800 in Europe (~$340, 6MP, 4x zoom; the smallest and most lightweight of these cameras - probably the one I'd get if I were to buy a camera as an (expensive) gift for someone who had absolutely no photographic experience.)

Note that all my notes on these camera are quick interpretations of what I see listed in the conclusions to dpreview's articles. I have no personal experience with any of these cameras. For the full picture, be sure to read the entire reviews, and do your own research.

3. Posted by Buttfish (Respected Member 298 posts) 9y

depends on what kind of camera you want. canon is one of the leads - especially if you want to be more creative - manual photographs - but if you want just a point and click camera, the olympus is fairly, good too. i own an olympus currently, and it hasn't failed me yet.

4. Posted by farleyUL (Full Member 125 posts) 9y

Sander,

That was ridiculously good advice - thanks for the reply. I've messed around with my camera a little bit and I think I'll probably stick with it. Very good call. Thanks again. And thank you, Latarina, for your input as well!