It's time to vote on our 2017 photo contest! Vote for your favorite photos of the year here!

Please help me with choosing a Camera

Southeastern, NH(Zone 5b)

I would like to upgrade from my Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W1. It's 5.1 mega pixels, has mpegmovieVX, Smart Zoom, & 3x optical zoom. I am very inexperienced and just take pictures on auto settings. The things I hate about this camera and always have since day 1 are that if my kids move even a tiny bit when I'm snapping a photo the pictures come out completely burred or the part of them that was moving blurs. Also the time the camera actually takes the picture from the time I press down the button is very slow. That's why my kids usually end up moving before I get the shot. It takes about 3-5 seconds on average and it seems like a lot of times I have to hold the button down 3x in a row before it takes the picture. It is extremely annoying. The camera I have cost $350 brand new but I'm sure comparable cameras now, wouldn't be as expensive. I can't afford more than that and was hoping to spend less actually.

What I would like in a new camera would be, #1 much quicker to take the picture after I press the button. Also I take a lot of pictures of my flowers, so that is important to me. I also take pictures of butterflies nectaring at the flowers which I usually end up with 1 to 3 decent shots out of 30 and only the ones that the butterfly is practically not moving come out. Taking pictures with this camera is a game of chance basically . I would love to be able to take pictures of hummingbirds as well but this has proven completely impossible with this camera. Being able to get nice pictures of the sky during sunset would be an added bonus as well. The ones I've attempted with my current camera are never good.
I tried doing some searching on my own and found most people recommend manual shutter speed for the things I am looking for. When looking up how to get good pictures of hummingbirds, I found some people claiming shutter speed has nothing to do with it and multiple flash is necessary. Multiple flash seems to be only an option with the more professional cameras. I would love to hear any thoughts on this subject.

So in my own research for point and shoots I found this camera, as far as I could find it seemed to be the only point and shoot with manual shutter speed control. If I am wrong about that please tell me. At first it seemed worthy of a try but now I am having doubts. Is this camera a waste of money?

I'd rather stick with the lousy camera I have than waste money on another lousy camera.
Thanks for any help, Meredith, NB(Zone 5a)

I too am interested in the answer to this. I have a Sony Cyber-shot 6 mega pixel with 3x zoom. I would really like something different and same as you I am a point and shoot sort of photographer. I would like something with more of a zoom - lots of wildlife around and I can't always get close enough for a clear picture. I also take a lot of flower pictures and would really like to learn more about macro. The Sony works good and I like the ease and convenience of it. My research is also pointing me toward a Canon of some kind. I like the sound of the one you linked to. Sorry Meredith I am not much help just seems like I am looking for the same thing as you.

Southeastern, NH(Zone 5b)

There are too many to choose from! It makes it hard to choose! I chose that one after looking at a comparison sheet for similarly priced models and I can't figure out where! It is hard to find a camera in that price range with shutter priority. I'm just not sure shutter priority is going to make the big difference in ability to get clear shots of action. Such as a hummingbirds and butterflies.

PERTH, Australia

Meredith and growum, have a look at this camera. One of the DG'ers has it and her photos of her garden and the critters that live in it are as sharp as tacks.

Hot Springs Village, AR(Zone 7b)

It seems to me that most cameras in your price range ($300-$350) these days have fairly fast shutter response times. Here's a thread on the subject at

Southeastern, NH(Zone 5b)

Thank you both for the suggestions. I just spent an hour looking through all the discussions on amazon. I still have no idea what I want. I think I am going to wait and save my $$ for a Dslr. It seems that's the only way I am going to get the improvement of photos that I am looking for. I'm just afraid I will never be able to figure it all out. Like what lenses to buy and how to set it to take photos. With two small children itis hard to find time to sit around and fiddle with a camera or anything for that matter! lol Thanks so much for the help.

Pine City, MN(Zone 4a)

I think both of those cameras would probably be great. I always read the forums and reviews at and before I get a new camera. I used to have a Canon and two Sonys, now I only use Canon. I LOVE them!

Powder Springs, GA(Zone 7b)

For quickest focus and getting the picture, go with a DSLR - it can't be beat for speed. A good wide to medium telephoto zoom is a good lens to start with (most kit lens are a good bet since you won't pay much more for the kit lens over just getting the body only. If you buy the same lens later it will cost a lot more.) Other lenses can be acquired later on including other accessories. Putting the camera in high burst mode is a great way to capture those insects too. A lot of pros advise you to take advantage of this feature - fire away and keep the good ones and delete the rest! That includes kids and pets. An external flash is another great feature of a DSLR not to mention adding more flashes that can be remotely fired by the camera with some remote control gadgets.

For a camera that does most everything and saves you money, get a prosumer (bridge) camera. The prosumer has lots of zoom, lots of functions, and video too (although some DSLR's now have video). A compact is nice too because of its size (great pocket camera) but lacks a lot of zoom as the prosumer has. These cameras aren't great for action shots since the action is often over by the time the shutter fires but most everything else they do great work.

You will learn as you go - don't worry about time - you will find time if you truly love photography. Reading books, mags, and online help; and lots of shooting and experimenting will show you what works and what doesn't. Classes and expert help will help you learn the ropes as well., NB(Zone 5a)

Lot of things to think about and lots of info in this forum. My sister just got a Fuji Fine Pix HS10 - nice camera and does just about everything for you and has a 30x zoom but is more in the $500 - $600 range. Think I will go looking around this weekend. I can tell better when I can actually look at them and hold them. Maybe I will actually get a sales person who knows what they are talking about. Not in any hurry here this is just something I am thinking on now.

Southeastern, NH(Zone 5b)

Thanks hcm! I've been looking on ebay for used Dslr cameras, I can probably find one for much less this way However a lot of the listings aren't including lenses so I'll have to make sure toonly bid on ones that include the lense. I am going to research what you've said a little more. I'm not sure what a prosumer (bridge) camera is....

Powder Springs, GA(Zone 7b)

Prosumer (bridge) camera is a camera that has an electronic viewfinder (EVF) (not a viewfinder like a DSLR with a mirror and prism), has a fixed lens where you cannot change it but the zoom can range from a few times to 30x (the extra large zooms seem like they would be hard to get a good shot unless you have a tripod or steady base, at least I observed that with my camcorder with 20x - almost useless), offers some functionality like a DSLR but can be awkward such as manual focus but maybe that has changed too. My old Nikon prosumer camera (5700) manual focus was quite awkward because you had to put it in manual focus mode through a menu if I remember right and then use two buttons to focus in and out and that was iffy and slow. A DSLR is very simple in that respect, you turn off the AF on the lens and then twist the focus ring on the lens to manually focus.

Bridge camera is probably a term used to "bridge" the simple point and shoot cameras and DSLR cameras.

A DSLR is the camera of choice among serious photographers and pros. If I want a great picture then I always go with the DSLR 95% of the time.

A compact or bridge camera is good for outings where a big camera is both heavy and obtrusive (especially with an external flash). I carry a small compact or even use my iPhone at restaurants, visits, shopping, etc. Short video clips of the grandkids are always great to save and email. The other place I enjoy a compact is tight spaces - I can put my little compact in Digital Macro mode and using the big monitor to view the scene as I move the camera in close and tight on plants on my shelves or outdoors (I can't get my big head in there and don't want to start moving plants around to take one picture).

Here is an example of focusing on the subject with a DSLR. I wanted the caladium in focus in this shot so I used a central focus point which is easily set. A compact or bridge camera would probably select the closest subject.

Thumbnail by hcmcdole
Powder Springs, GA(Zone 7b)

Then I focused on the Persian Shield, locked in the focus, recomposed the shot, and took the picture to get an entirely different look.

Thumbnail by hcmcdole
Southeastern, NH(Zone 5b)

Wow you have some awesome detail in those! Thanks so much for explaining it to me. I understand now. :)

Ellendale, DE(Zone 7a)

I am learning alot from reading this. I currently have a Sony Cybershot model DSC-H3. It is an 8.1 megapixel camera.

I believe I have outgrown it and therefore I am looking for something better. I had heard of DSLR's and would like to buy a starter but have no idea where to begin.

For what it's worth, Meredith, if our cameras are similar, I might be able to help you with your Sony. I believe these cameras take excellent photos once you get used to the dials. I am posting a shot I did on macro a few months ago.

Here's how to get good macro photos with your Sony:

Put the camera on its automatic point-n-shoot setting (should be the little green camera on the top dial). Make sure you are not "zoomed"; press the "w" all the way back to its normal positioin. On these models, it is easy to accidentally be "zoomed" in when you don't want to be. Practice with zooming in and out to see what I mean.

Then, on the back side of your camera, press the "arrow up" several times until you see the displays in your screen. Then press the flower (left side) of that dial for "macro". You will see a little flower in your display when macro is on.

Try taking a few close-up shots of flower blooms, insects, leaves, etc. Find your subject, then press the shutter halfway down to focus. Then press it all the way down. Outdoors, you usually don't need flash unless it is overcast and you want to chase the shadows away. Try the different flash settings to see what you get. I prefer no flash when there is adequate light outdoors.

The turtle was taken with these settings, no flash.

Camera shake is an issue; we are human, and we breathe. We don't stop moving. You may have to practice holding very still. Some folks use a tripod to overcome "camera shake". In any case, take LOTS of pictures and eliminate the ones you are not happy with. Keep the ones that are good. In no time, people will compliment you on your great "eye".

Hope this helps. I hope the Sonys are similar in their dials. If not, forgive me; we are both camera-shopping at the same time.

Thumbnail by timmijo
Southeastern, NH(Zone 5b)

Yup it sounds like you have the same one as me, because that is how I get macros too. I think my lense is foggy and that could be my problem. I need to stop by a camera place and get a lense cleaner or have them look at it and tell me what they think. It may just be time for a replacement. I have had it for 6 years now, so maybe I am due! lol, NB(Zone 5a)

I bought a Fuji FinePix S1700.12 MP and 15x zoom. It will do everything for me or as I learn more about it I can set the settings myself. So far I really like it and the quality of the pictures impresses me.

Thumbnail by growum
Southeastern, NH(Zone 5b)

Very nice shot!

Northeast, LA(Zone 8a)

Meridith you could never go wrong with entry level dslr from Canon. The xs, xsi, or t1i. They are all simple to use in full automatic but give you the choice to use manual settings and focus. They are definitely more bulky than a compact camera. When you decide you want to call the shots you must step up to a larger camera. There are smaller interchangeable lenses camera's available right now but not much comment on them other than lenses are scarce. Smaller cameras are in the works right now by most of the manufacturers. I still feel they will be a tradeoff. They will not be as good as a full size Dslr. Right now to get excellent macro, zoom, continuous fast shooting (no camera Lag) you will have to go to a Dslr. They will also let in more light for lower light situations. When taking pictures I know you have realized by now that cloudy, shady days are the times to get the best pictures. ( you can artificially shade the subject) Hot sun produces hot bright over processed photos with no detail. Early in the morn when the dew is still on the flowers or early evening are the best times for taking pictures of the flowers. More light through the lens without flash aids you to get better results in macro..
There are a lot of good prosumer products out there but to to what you want I think they will fall short.
This is just my opinion and you know what they say about opinions. LOL

Southeastern, NH(Zone 5b)

Thanks that was lots of good info! :)

Eastern Long Island, NY(Zone 7a)

At this point it might be best to wait for the holiday season at the end of the year and decide what is the best for the buck then. Many times they may bundle an extra lens or camera bag, UV filter, etc. etc. which you will find yourself buying down the line..

Southeastern, NH(Zone 5b)

Yes after holiday sales are always good. :)
Here is an example of the shots I am looking to improve...
The Monarch opened it's wings and closed them. I wish the camera could freeze the shot without blurring. It is a serious chance of luck.

Thumbnail by Meredith79
Southeastern, NH(Zone 5b)

As long as the Monarch is still I agree I get decent shots though. The lighting wasn't good, but that is part of the problem with photographing nature, it isn't going to cooperate and only go to flowers when the lighting is right. ;)

Thumbnail by Meredith79
Southeastern, NH(Zone 5b)

This one was almost perfect, but it is a tiny bit blurred and again the lighting wasn't right. This one might have been zoomed, just so I could be sure I got the first shot before startling it off.

Thumbnail by Meredith79
Southeastern, NH(Zone 5b)

Other examples of shots I wish the camera could have frozen the motion on...

Thumbnail by Meredith79
Southeastern, NH(Zone 5b)

This one was almost right on time with the chance of luck game, but not quite....

Thumbnail by Meredith79
Southeastern, NH(Zone 5b)

Now please remember I deleted twice as many that were completely blurry. So tis is what I want to fix. I'd like to be able to press the button and get a decent shot more often. Not have to take 50 to get one good one. Know what I mean?

Powder Springs, GA(Zone 7b)

Crop your pictures if you want to have the subject be the butterfly. It can make a more pleasing picture if that is what you are after. The flowers look exceptionally nice but do take away from the butterfly.

Thumbnail by hcmcdole
Southeastern, NH(Zone 5b)

Thanks, I do want the flowers in there though. I like to document which flowers the butterflies nectar at in my yard. :) However lots of times when I crop too much of the picture out I find it completely ruins the quality of the picture, by blurring the butterfly. Not sure if you find this as well?

Ellendale, DE(Zone 7a)

Hey, Meredith--Let me encourage you. You are a good photographer, evident by the frustration of composing great shots that need better equipment. I'm in the same boat, still stuck with my Sony Cybershot DSC-H3.

You could try experimenting with the manual & program settings on your Sony. This might take some concentration--reading the manual, jotting down notes, trying it out on manual shooting. Auto shooting is what people do if they don't have time (or the desire) to dive in and push beyond what most of the population does: point and shoot.

You are a photographer and an artist, and hard as it might be, you must push past point-and-shoot. I know this since I am an artist as well. I am a mom, too. When the kids need me, I can't hear myself think. We must find a time/place to concentrate on what it is that we want to master.

Maybe after the little ones are in bed--Maybe then you can begin to read your camera's manual to begin the process of becoming master of your photographs.

I am looking for a DSLR but do not want to make a hasty/poor decision. So in the meantime, I am going to max out what this Sony Cybershot can do on both manual settings and automatic.

Would you believe the Sony never came with a manual? I had to load in a CD and print out the PDF--all 143 pages of it.

Anyway, professionals will tell you to take LOTS of shots--that's the beauty of digital--You are not wasting film! Eliminate most if not all the ones that are less than what you want to show the world. Surely you will be left with a few that came out okay.

I eliminate some of my shots while still on the camera, but for the most part, I load them into the computer first. Then I eliminate what's unacceptable to me while in my photo editing program. I check the clarity of the subject by zooming way in, then out again while in my program. Plus I choose overall composition of the photo--Overall, is it pleasing?

Crop your photos if you want the subject in the center. Many pros keep the subject off-center on purpose if it works for the photo.

Not every photo has to be razor-sharp to have expression and feeling. From your series of photos here with the butterfly, I was pleased to be part of the meadow with the butterfly. Sure, they could be sharper, but all is not lost. You are learning.

You might want to look into purchasing photo editing software. I just ordered an older version of Adobe Photoshop Elements on EBay for a little over $20. But you don't necessarily need Adobe products. You'll want a software that not only crops and takes out red-eye but that also lets you play with touchup, contrast, hightlights, shadows, and sharpness. In addition, it must allow you to save in multiple formats other than JPEG.

Anyway, keep up the good work! The frustration, as bad as it feels, is a good sign that you are growing! Me, too. Take care,

TJ Given

Northeast, LA(Zone 8a)

Picasa is a free photo editing program by Google. It is fantastic for a beginner even an intermediate. It will let you crop ,adjust light, shadow , tone, sharpen, change to sepia or black and white. Meridith a Dslr will improve those shots some by being able to shoot continuously. You will have to adjust the shutter priority in manual to freeze the action. There is no easy ride. I agree if your camera has some manual settings explore. I would suggest learning a little about the aperture and shutter speeds of a camera and what they do. This is just general Photography info. You can google it and find lots of help.

Northeast, LA(Zone 8a)

Sometimes there is too much going on in a pic to be interesting. I cropped your photo a bit and added shadow using picasa. I don't know if this will work since your photo was already reduced a lot. I always reduce my photos to the longest side 800. This is a real good reduce for Daves. Yours may be small because you have already cropped to bring the butterfly forward.

Thumbnail by Riverland
Northeast, LA(Zone 8a)

this is a small comparison that can be done in Picasa. The one on the left is shadow added and sharpen. the one on the right is you shot as is. I over did the shadow and the sharpen a bit in this one compared to the above photo. Just wanted you to see what you can do to a not so perfect photo.

Thumbnail by Riverland
Northeast, LA(Zone 8a)

Anyway just wanted you to know this is available for free and user friendly. We all are artist who capture a scene through the viewfinder. Everyone will present there photo in a different way. I was not trying to change your photo but to let you know there are more options to express ourselves other than what we shot. As you said nature does not stand still. Windows live view gallery can be downloaded if you don't have it. It works very well too. I just learned on Picasa and I find the options and the results easier. Photoshop Elements is a great program too but it slowed down my older laptop. I have a newer one now but I will have to buy the program again since I downloaded it off the net and never backed it up. I am hoping to take a class at the University on Photoshop if they offer it in Continuing Ed. You might want to look into a class on basic photography. It would help a lot to understand the settings of the Dslr.

Southeastern, NH(Zone 5b)

Timmijo, thanks for the encouragement and thoughts! I think my Sony came with a small manual, but it really didn't get into great detail on how to use manual settings. I think it was written as if the person using the camera already knew all about it. I'll have to see if I can dig it up. : )

Riverland, thanks so much I like the way the picture came out in Picasa. It's funny because I have used those features in Picasa but I feel like it's cheating. Lol Right now every time I try to use Picasa it tells me I don't have enough disk space for it to function properly. I need to upgrade my hard drive because I've gone through and gotten rid of everything I don't need on it and I have been making sure to put my pictures on a flash drive instead of keeping them on the pc. It just doesn't have enough space. I did crop the picture, but what I usually do is crop them all to 4x6 then DG crops it the way it needs to to put it on here. I like to crop them to 4x6 just so if I want to order them they are cropped well for the prints. I have found lots of times the auto crop from the printing companies, crops off spots I would not choose it to, because it is just automatically off the top and bottom.

This message was edited Aug 11, 2010 5:45 PM

Northeast, LA(Zone 8a)

Not cheating just exercising our artistic talents. LOL

Ellendale, DE(Zone 7a)

Let me add that Picassa is great! It's a free download from Google, and you can't beat it for touching up, say, blemishes on a teenager's face (lol)--It lets you zoom WAY in and out to do that.

In addition, Picassa is great for adding "glow" which can be used in increments to soften while brightening. This works well on faces, too. (But we are in a garden forum here .... )

My only complaint about Picassa is that I sometimes can't find my files. The program assumes that it can organize my photos better than I can and hides my files.

The answer for me is that I use Picassa for touch up, glow, etc. but I use an older program, "Photobase", for organizing my files.

As a point-and-shoot photographer who is gingerly stepping into the manual world, I believe I have outgrown Picassa's photo editing tools, even though they are great for everyday use. But please, download it if it will work for you! The touch-up tool can't be beat (for a free download).

It has been said here (and elsewhere) that nature does not stand still. Many of the great butterfly photos happened as a result of waiting for the butterfly to land and hold still a bit. That is one reason to go to a DSLR, for faster shutter speeds.

I am still experimenting with the manual controls on my Sony Cybershot (a great little camera--probably the best point-and-shoot out there). However, I am coming to the end of what a digital camera can do in various modes including macro mode. Sadly, vivid red flower colors are not "capturable" on my digital in the way that I would like. As for insects and butterflies, capturing the moment involves delay. And even on high speed motion, I cannot use macro. It's time to go to an entry-level DSLR.

We're in the same boat. Let me continue to encourage you. Keep taking photos, Meredith, on whatever camera you've got. Your ship will come in. You're doing great!

Southeastern, NH(Zone 5b)


Powder Springs, GA(Zone 7b)

Shutter speeds are almost as fast on a P&S as a DSLR. My wife's 4 year old Sony H2 is supposed to get to 1/2000 of a second and it is considered an old camera nowadays.

It is hard to find the right light to push anything faster than 1/2000 of a second anyway (just my opinion). My DSLR goes up to 1/8000 of a second but I would need noon sun, high ISO, and a fast lens to use that high a speed. I was able to push it to 1/5000 this afternoon with ISO set over 1600 and the lens wide open but couldn't get any higher. I prefer to use a lower ISO to eliminate "noise".

It is more a matter of shutter lag than shutter speed on P&S and figuring out all the controls to set the shutter speed and/or aperture. In that regard a DSLR is a lot easier (and faster) to set almost everything. I still don't know how to move that Sony H2's shutter speed for example.

Get out in bright light to take advantage of higher shutter speeds if you think you need those faster speeds but waiting for a butterfly to land near you (get close to their nectar sources - a butterfly bush is excellent unless it gets too tall) in dimmer light can be equally rewarding. Often insects are lethargic in the cool mornings which makes for some good photo ops. Even a dead well preserved insect makes for interesting shots and they don't move!

Also photo editing isn't cheating. Most of the pros use some kind of photo editing to tweak what they think looks best (often the camera doesn't capture what we remember when we took the shot). Often the difference between a good picture and a great picture is just a little bit of adjusting (a lot of cameras already do this for you).

I took a picture of this blue tailed skink yesterday that got trapped in a large saucer. I took several shots of it racing around and finally waited until it settled down which turned out to be the best shot. I didn't dare move any closer to it since it was so frantic so the skink was quite small for the entire image. Cropping and a little adjustment helped tremendously.

Thumbnail by hcmcdole
Oshawa, Canada

Hi: I too have a Sony Cybershot 10 megapixel camera, and have just retired it in favor of the Sony ax330. I realize the price of $584.19 may be out of your price range, but honestly if you want good quality pictures, then you may have to step out of your comfort zone a little. There is a steadyshot feature which I find great to use because those pictures where your hand shakes a little or the wind you know? If you don't move too much, the steadyshot will give you nice pictures without the blurring you referred to. The camera is 10.2 megapixels and will take differing size of memory cards for more picture taking without the hassle of stopping to download and carry on. The camera comes with a lens that is good enough to take any pictures you want to take up close and it has a zoom feature as well. There is also a nice telephoto lens you can buy and it works really well. The camera has a live view feature that allows you to switch back and forth between live view and OVF or open view finder. The open view finder is a nice little screen that is mounted on the back of the camera and it shows what you are viewing the same as a video recorder. You can also manipulate this little screen ( about 3" long by about 2" deep.) to almost any angle for more verticle and horizontal views when you are shooting. It gives you a different slant on things you might say.Sony is the first company to have this feature This camera also has a nice feature called Macro, which allows you to get up real close and personal with your flower pictures you were talking about. It takes really clear pictures abot an inch away. Right now I have a 4 GB card in and it gives me plenty of pictures. I have never filled it yet, and I am a real photography nut! Anyway Meredith 79 whatever you decide then I wish you the best of luck. My camera has more great features than I just mentioned here, but I didnčt want to bore you too bad.
Good luck and great camera hunting Meredith

Southeastern, NH(Zone 5b)

Thanks I will check it out. I am going to start camera savings a piggy bank! : )

Post a Reply to this Thread

You cannot post until you , sign up and subscribe. to post.