Want advice on buying an inexpensive point & shoot camera

bugshutter

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I don't have a smart phone, so it was suggested that I get a camera instead.

I want to buy a low cost point & shoot camera (perhaps $100-200), around the size of a phone; for photos and video.

I'd like to shoot indoor video with it. Is there an inexpensive camera that provides pretty good low light video? I've been told inexpensive cameras would require a light for decent video. Is that correct?

Consumer Reports has recommended Canon PowerShot SX600 HS and Canon Elph 340 HS as good low cost cameras. What cameras do you recommend?
 

Solarflare

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My advice:

1. Dont. Save the money until you can afford something thats not a cheap piece of plastic or spend it on something else you will actually ENJOY.

2. Or try the used market. A used D5100 for example, I've seen one offered for 200$ recently. Thats quite a competent camera already. You will still need at least one lens, too, though.

A camera is a very complex device. Would you buy a car thats sold new for 2000$ ? With that price, you know the parts will be cheap and crappy. Thats why nobody wants a car like that.

For the same reason, nobody into photography buys cameras that are sold new for 200$. Its just a waste of money. The product will be cheaply made, produce poor quality, and break easily.
 

beagle100

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I don't have a smart phone, so it was suggested that I get a camera instead.

I want to buy a low cost point & shoot camera (perhaps $100-200), around the size of a phone; for photos and video.
I'd like to shoot indoor video with it. Is there an inexpensive camera that provides pretty good low light video? I've been told inexpensive cameras would require a light for decent video. Is that correct?
Consumer Reports has recommended Canon PowerShot SX600 HS and Canon Elph 340 HS as good low cost cameras. What cameras do you recommend?

yes, androids and iphones have replaced many of the low end cameras. And $200 won't get you a much better camera than a smart phone. Go to a store like Best Buy and try the Canon Powershots or a Sony RX100 and see for yourself - there is a two week return policy. Or consider getting a used Canon Rebel T6i, 700D, etc. with the 18-55 STM lens. But if you really like video look at the mirrorless cameras from Sony and Fuji or a Panasonic camcorder - they're much better at shooting video
 

Designer

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Some articles of interest:

The Best Cheap Compact Camera

4 best cheap cameras 2015: top cameras for tight budgets

Best Budget Digital Cameras - Products - Digital Camera Reviews - DigitalCamera-HQ.com - Unbiased Digital Camera Reviews, Prices, and Advice. For the digital camera buyer: comparisons based on reviews from real users; prices, and deals from multiple stores.

This one has the prices in British Pounds, and the same models might not be available where you are (BTW: where are you anyway?) but the comments are still informative.
Top 10 Best Budget / Cheap Compact Cameras 2015

Also remember:
1. The prices published on the internet are what I consider "manufacturer's list price", and discounts can be found all the time.
2. The larger sensors in pocket cameras are larger than in a phone, and additional controls and features found in compact cameras will often make better photos than a phone camera.
3. If the camera breaks or falls into a river, you're not without a telephone with which to order another camera.
 

fmw

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I'm with Designer on this one. While I own a smart phone, I rarely use it and the camera function is poor on the phone I have (Motorola.) A point and shoot is terrific as a camera to carry with you even when you aren't planning on doing any photography. I don't see a lot point in spending a small fortune on a point and shoot. Yes, cameras with larger sensors and better lenses will outperform the low end point and shoot but the little cameras can make pretty fine images. If you want better images you can choose a DSLR or mirrorless and give up the idea of putting it in a shirt pocket.

I think you should consider features as well as performance. My own point and shoot is the Panasonic Lumix ZS40S. I arrived there by deciding what was important to me. I'm not happy being stuck with auto exposure so I required a camera that had a mode dial that included S and A priority and manual exposure. That knocked out about everything under $200. So I raised my budget to $250 and ended up with the Lumix because it has an electronic finder which is comforting for me and useful in bright, front lit situations. The camera was $225 on Amazon. It has the same small sensor as the cheaper models but plenty of resolution. I wish the zoom would go wider but, overall, it is pretty competent as point and shoots go.

You may not have the same requirements I did. But you need to nail them down before you start choosing a camera. In the under $200 you will have the camera controlling things more than you controlling them. That may be exactly what you want. In that case, the Canon, Nikon and Sony brands have plenty of competent choices.
 
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bugshutter

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I don't think I'll be using the camera a lot, or getting serious with it. My main question is if I can get decent video indoors, without a light, with an inexpensive camera. If not, I think I'd probably rather buy an inexpensive light than spend a lot on an expensive camera.

I play music informally with a group of people (it's not even a band). I would like to shoot some video of myself to show my friends and family. The lighting is just typical indoor lighting.

I'm with Designer on this one. While I own a smart phone, I rarely use it and the camera function is poor on the phone I have (Motorola.) A point and shoot is terrific as a camera to carry with you even when you aren't planning on doing any photography. I don't see a lot point in spending a small fortune on a point and shoot. Yes, cameras with larger sensors and better lenses will outperform the low end point and shoot but the little cameras can make pretty fine images. If you want better images you can choose a DSLR or mirrorless and give up the idea of putting it in a shirt pocket.

I think you should consider features as well as performance. My own point and shoot is the Panasonic Lumix ZS40S. I arrived there by deciding what was important to me. I'm not happy being stuck with auto exposure so I required a camera that had a mode dial that included S and A priority and manual exposure. That knocked out about everything under $200. So I raised my budget to $250 and ended up with the Lumix because it has an electronic finder which is comforting for me and useful in bright, front lit situations. The camera was $225 on Amazon. It has the same small sensor as the cheaper models but plenty of resolution. I wish the zoom would go wider but, overall, it is pretty competent as point and shoots go.

You may not have the same requirements I did. But you need to nail them down before you start choosing a camera. In the under $200 you will have the camera controlling things more than you controlling them. That may be exactly what you want. In that case, the Canon, Nikon and Sony brands have plenty of competent choices.
 
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bugshutter

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Thanks for the articles. I find all the specs overwhelming. My main question is if I can get decent video indoors, without a light, with an inexpensive camera. If not, I think I'd probably rather buy an inexpensive light than spend a lot on an expensive camera.

My impression is that it is not possible to get decent video with an inexpensive camera (and no light).

Some articles of interest:

The Best Cheap Compact Camera

4 best cheap cameras 2015: top cameras for tight budgets

Best Budget Digital Cameras - Products - Digital Camera Reviews - DigitalCamera-HQ.com - Unbiased Digital Camera Reviews, Prices, and Advice. For the digital camera buyer: comparisons based on reviews from real users; prices, and deals from multiple stores.

This one has the prices in British Pounds, and the same models might not be available where you are (BTW: where are you anyway?) but the comments are still informative.
Top 10 Best Budget / Cheap Compact Cameras 2015

Also remember:
1. The prices published on the internet are what I consider "manufacturer's list price", and discounts can be found all the time.
2. The larger sensors in pocket cameras are larger than in a phone, and additional controls and features found in compact cameras will often make better photos than a phone camera.
3. If the camera breaks or falls into a river, you're not without a telephone with which to order another camera.
 

chuasam

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What's with all the completely unrealistic budgets?
 

Designer

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My impression is that it is not possible to get decent video with an inexpensive camera (and no light).
Yes, that pretty much sums it up.
 
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bugshutter

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In this article, it's not clear to me why they rate one camera higher than another. One camera is given a C+ and the other an A-. It seems like the difference is not explained very clearly. I'm not sure which camera to pick among the choices. Any advice?
 
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bugshutter

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What's with all the completely unrealistic budgets?

I don't understand your comment. As someone with only a casual interest in photography and video, I should spend more for a basic camera?
 

chuasam

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^
read the quotes below
My advice:

1. Dont. Save the money until you can afford something thats not a cheap piece of plastic or spend it on something else you will actually ENJOY.

2. Or try the used market. A used D5100 for example, I've seen one offered for 200$ recently. Thats quite a competent camera already. You will still need at least one lens, too, though.

A camera is a very complex device. Would you buy a car thats sold new for 2000$ ? With that price, you know the parts will be cheap and crappy. Thats why nobody wants a car like that.

For the same reason, nobody into photography buys cameras that are sold new for 200$. Its just a waste of money. The product will be cheaply made, produce poor quality, and break easily.

I don't have a smart phone, so it was suggested that I get a camera instead.

I want to buy a low cost point & shoot camera (perhaps $100-200), around the size of a phone; for photos and video.
I'd like to shoot indoor video with it. Is there an inexpensive camera that provides pretty good low light video? I've been told inexpensive cameras would require a light for decent video. Is that correct?
Consumer Reports has recommended Canon PowerShot SX600 HS and Canon Elph 340 HS as good low cost cameras. What cameras do you recommend?

yes, androids and iphones have replaced many of the low end cameras. And $200 won't get you a much better camera than a smart phone. Go to a store like Best Buy and try the Canon Powershots or a Sony RX100 and see for yourself - there is a two week return policy. Or consider getting a used Canon Rebel T6i, 700D, etc. with the 18-55 STM lens. But if you really like video look at the mirrorless cameras from Sony and Fuji or a Panasonic camcorder - they're much better at shooting video

I'm with Designer on this one. While I own a smart phone, I rarely use it and the camera function is poor on the phone I have (Motorola.) A point and shoot is terrific as a camera to carry with you even when you aren't planning on doing any photography. I don't see a lot point in spending a small fortune on a point and shoot. Yes, cameras with larger sensors and better lenses will outperform the low end point and shoot but the little cameras can make pretty fine images. If you want better images you can choose a DSLR or mirrorless and give up the idea of putting it in a shirt pocket.

I think you should consider features as well as performance. My own point and shoot is the Panasonic Lumix ZS40S. I arrived there by deciding what was important to me. I'm not happy being stuck with auto exposure so I required a camera that had a mode dial that included S and A priority and manual exposure. That knocked out about everything under $200. So I raised my budget to $250 and ended up with the Lumix because it has an electronic finder which is comforting for me and useful in bright, front lit situations. The camera was $225 on Amazon. It has the same small sensor as the cheaper models but plenty of resolution. I wish the zoom would go wider but, overall, it is pretty competent as point and shoots go.

You may not have the same requirements I did. But you need to nail them down before you start choosing a camera. In the under $200 you will have the camera controlling things more than you controlling them. That may be exactly what you want. In that case, the Canon, Nikon and Sony brands have plenty of competent choices.
 

Designer

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In this article, it's not clear to me why they rate one camera higher than another. One camera is given a C+ and the other an A-. It seems like the difference is not explained very clearly. I'm not sure which camera to pick among the choices. Any advice?
Yes. Average them. One can find all manner of opinion on the internet, and in most cases we cannot know which camera manufacturers are favored by which reviewers, or why. I would not be surprised to learn that some reviewers are rewarded for flattering reviews and vice-versa.

What I usually do is read as many reviews as I can, try to find the similarities and differences, and make my best guess at which ones are more objective and which ones seem biased.

If a camera has the features you want, concentrate on reading that part from several reviewers and sort of "average" them into something you can use to help make your decision.

Furthermore, there may be something important left out of the text, such as build quality or image quality that the reviewer has mentioned in previous articles, and the reader is simply expected to remember that from last month's review.

But in the larger scheme of things, you're just buying a piece of technology, and it will either work or not, do what they claim or not, last more than a year or not, be better than the competition or not, and you just take your chances and pay your money. Yes, I've been burned a few times, and I've also been quite pleased a few times.
 

Designer

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What's with all the completely unrealistic budgets?

I don't understand your comment. As someone with only a casual interest in photography and video, I should spend more for a basic camera?
Well, there's basic, and then there's a camera that performs well at making low-light videos. I just don't know if there is such a thing that fits your budget. Back several decades ago basic meant a Kodak Instamatic with a plastic lens and without a flash socket.
 

fmw

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I don't think I'll be using the camera a lot, or getting serious with it. My main question is if I can get decent video indoors, without a light, with an inexpensive camera. If not, I think I'd probably rather buy an inexpensive light than spend a lot on an expensive camera.

I play music informally with a group of people (it's not even a band). I would like to shoot some video of myself to show my friends and family. The lighting is just typical indoor lighting.

Low end point and shoot cameras are not what you want to choose for low light video. They will do a competent job outdoors but indoors they will likely need some lighting help. That didn't affect my own choice because I don't use still cameras for video. As with anything in life, there are compromises.
 

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