In this section we will examine the pros and cons of secondhand digital camera photography, keeping in mind the constraints of a limited budget.
For those on a limited budget ($1000.00 NZ dollar or less) as far as equipment is concerned we have established various levels of expenditure to get us started or even upgrade without outlaying huge sums of money. The object of the exercise here is to get the most from what you can afford.
It is not my intention here to go into a feature by feature comparison of cameras and there abilities. There is a vast range of new and second hand equipment available to the budget conscious. Simply we will look at this from a broader perspective and look at what results are likely from the different levels of equipment.
A good many low cost digital cameras will perform admirably in a number of different environments. It is probably simpler to say that as a general rule of thumb, the more you spend the better the result, or the better the equipment the better the result. A good quality point and click camera can give good results but a good quality DSLR should give excellent results.
As always no matter what camera you settle on you should at the very least read as many reviews as you can to help decide what the final purchase will be.
Two fine choices would be, a Canon EOS 30D or perhaps a good Canon EOS 400D. Two good quality secondhand DSLR cameras that can be bought for less than $1000.00 NZ . At 8 and 10.1 mega-pixels receptively they are more than capable of producing a very good image. It will however require a larger learning curve to get the best from them.
For those a little less ambitious, A second hand Fuji s6500 at 6.3 mega-pixels or a Fuji s5700 at 7.1 mega-pixels would be a handy pair from the bridge camera range.
For those who need a travel camera for the pocket a NIKON Coolpix 5100 at 5.1 mega-pixels or a Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ3 at 5 mega pixels would be two good options. Both offer a good range of settings and 3x to 6x optical zoom. More than enough for the traveler who needs compactness.
As mentioned above a better quality camera should yield better results in a ever widening level of operation.
This means that you would expect your DSLR to provide better overall image quality than its lesser siblings. One should expect to see progressively less sensor noise and better resolution as the grade of equipment rises.This becomes more apparent when using the camera at longer telephoto lengths or in lowlight situations. One would hope their DSLR would perform better at night than a $200.00 compact. As a rule this is so, although todays compacts are capable of some excellent lowlight shots when used to its strengths.
Below is a series of photos from four different cameras produced in the last 10 years.
The Samsung DigiMax was first introduced in 2003.
It had 3x optical and 2x digital zoom.
At 2 mega-pixels it doesn't sound like much of a camera but was capable of taking some nice snapshots that printed out at 4 x 6 in good quality. Larger prints tended to degrade somewhat due to lack of sensor resolution. Because of the low pixel count this camera exhibited very little sensor noise in the images. This was my first digital camera and it performed well.
My second camera was the Kodak Easyshare c340. First released in May 2005. At 5 megapixels and an ISO range of 80-400 this was a definite step up in quality. It had 3x optical and 5x digital zoom. As with the Digimax 240 it also showed little sensor noise in the images.This camera worked well in a variety of situations.This camera was given to our daughter as a travel camera when she went to London in 2008.It went on to take a good many photos of her travels, but has now been replaced with the Canon SX200IS.
The third member of our digital family was one of the best small bridge camera styled cameras from Fujifilm. The Finepix s5700 (also known as s700) was one of the most feature laden small bridge cameras on the market at the time we bought it in 2007.With 10x optical zoom and 4.8x digital zoom the s5700 had a large variety of features available to the user. These ranged from full automatic, P mode settings and full manual operation including manual focusing if required.Coupled with a fast Auto Focus and good ISO range this camera was very versatile.One exceptionally strong feature is the ability to take excellent macro shots. The only real point of contention with this camera is a small amount of purple fringing visible in extreme telephoto or some macro shots. Otherwise this is an excellent performer. A well balanced review can be seen here.http://www.steves-digicams.com/camera-reviews/fujifilm/f700-zoom/fujifilm-f700-zoom-review-5.html
The fourth member of our digital family is the Fuji HS10. Its design is that of a DSLR. It has as many features available as found in a DSLR and the functionality and use is the same as a DSLR. Where the difference lies is in the fixed focal length lens giving 126mm (or 720mm equivalent) at the long end and a very creditable 24mm at the wide angle end. The HS10 has a much smaller physical sensor size that its DSLR cousins due to the design constraints of the large telephoto lens. For those wanting the DSLR experience without the added complication of extra lenses and extra cost associated with the DSLR's then the HS10 is a fine contender. It is a little more expensive than its competitors but gives nothing away in its feature set.
This camera is capable of excellent quality images, providing the user has learnt to use the camera to its strengths. One really needs to have more than a rudimentary understanding of photography and the photographic process to extract the very best from this camera. That said it has a very capable auto setting as well as a flexible programmable "P" mode. Correct use of this camera can yield excellent image quality. For those who want the power and performance similar to a DSLR but without the extra lenses, then the HS10 will do the job, and do it well.
To conclude :Digital Imaging
There are any number of good secondhand cameras available, and as seen from the examples shown here all are able to provide you with very useful images, from the standard 6 x 4 size up to much larger sizes as the equipment becomes more sophisticated. All of these cameras are available in the sub $1000.00 NZ bracket. As well as these cameras if one is careful there are also some very good secondhand DSLR's available in the market place today. All that remains is for you to decide on a budget and proceed from there.
In the next section we take on the world of film. Whats in it for the budget conscious?