Design: The techie way to take a pic
Snap away to your heart's content and never buy a film again; oh the joy of going digital.
Saturday 27 February 1999
These days we're all conversant with taking snaps on anything from throwaway cameras to state-of-the-art SLRs. But how easy is it to pick up a digital camera and take decent pictures? If you're able to play computer games or visit the Internet, then you really shouldn't have that much of a problem, and the idea of creating (possibly also manipulating) and then printing your own pictures without having to ferry the film to a photo shop to be processed is attractive. And there is a huge choice out there, ranging from entry-level pounds 100 cameras to advanced pieces of equipment costing more than pounds 5,000.
The cameras we have reviewed cost between pounds 350 and pounds 650. The price pretty much determines the quality of the final picture. Where they quote resolution, the higher the numbers (eg 1280x1024), the sharper your enlargements.
All the cameras give you choices about taking pictures at various quality settings, and this controls the number of images you can store; fewer at high quality, more at basic quality. Storage is on a memory card, which may be between two and eight megabytes. But the beauty is that you have an instant display from the screen on the camera's back; if you don't like what you've taken you can dump it. On all these cameras - except the Kodak - the bonus of the screen is the ability to view a live image and to compose without looking through the viewfinder.
The cameras come with a variety of extras: manuals, cables to connect to the television and computer and CD-roms with useful software.
I liked the fact that the Fuji MX-700 put all the software on one CD- rom instead of two or more, like the others. Nikon made life simple by providing a single sheet of paper with all the camera's functions explained and put the boring stuff on to a CD-rom for reference when necessary.
There's one other aspect of buying a new toy: style. Here the Fuji MX- 700 wins hands down. It is small and perfectly formed to go in a pocket and comes with funky controls and displays. I wasn't so keen on the looks of the Nikon Coolpix 900, but its swivel lens is a brilliant concept, allowing you to shoot over people's heads in a crowd and see what you're taking on an LCD screen.
The Olympus Camedia C840L is a neat little camera, and I liked the sliding cover, which protects the lens when not in use. The Kodak DC210 plus is hardly a design icon, but the controls are clear and simple to use.
The Camedia's controls are not intuitive and the symbols by each button are rather obscure. The Fuji makes setting up before taking a picture great fun with electronic bleeps and flashing lights, but it offers too many options. Also, like the Camedia, the MX700 has a digital zoom, which is not really a zoom at all. You either get wide-angle or telephoto; nothing in between.
Both the Coolpix 900 and the DC210 plus have optical zooms, giving many more framing options. The Coolpix, although not a thing of beauty, handles easily and gives superb results.
The writer is a practising advertising photographer
Kodak DC210 plus (cpounds 380)
Pro: easy to use, optical zoom Con: no live screen image
Olympus Camedia C840L (pounds 425) Pro: good lens, clear monitor, sliding lens cover
Con: controls difficult to master
Fuji MX-700 (cpounds 450)
Pro: pocket size, style object
Con: digital, not optical zoom
Nikon Coolpix 900 (cpounds 620)
Pro: excellent image quality
Con: strange looks
Life & Style blogs
Planes go hybrid-electric in important step to greener flight
Victoria Beckham's clothing sales double to £30 million in one year
GTA 5: Christmas arrives in Los Santos as update brings snowball fights, festive jumpers and a homing missile launcher
'Tis the season!: Google celebrates Christmas Eve with second animated Doodle
Christmas 2014: Jesus was not born in a stable, says theologian
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
- 1 Planes go hybrid-electric in important step to greener flight
- 2 Antonio Martin shooting: Mayor says there should be 'no comparison' to Ferguson
- 3 Antonio Martin shooting: Police and protesters clash over teenager's death just five miles from Ferguson, Missouri
- 4 Northern Lights above Britain: Stunning Aurora Borealis illuminates Northumberland sky on Christmas Eve
- 5 British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...
£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...
Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...
Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...