Automatic Digital Cameras

Category: Gadgets

Are you a camera klutz? Don't know the difference between an f-stop and a fill flash? Then today's new automated digital cameras are just perfect for you. Just point and click, they do the rest. Here are my picks for the top three digital cameras designed for everyday picture takers...

Top Three Digital Cameras for the Casual Photographer

I love all the new features of the latest crop of digital cameras. I mean really... shouldn't it be EASY to take a perfect picture? I want to aim the lens at my kids, the dog, or a beautiful flower, press a button, and get a great shot. I want my camera to auto-focus, adjust the exposure, turn on the flash, stabilize the image, find faces, remove red-eye, sit up, and bark on command. So here are my Top Three Digital Cameras for the guy or gal who just wants to push a button and a take a great picture...

Nikon Coolpix P50 The new Nikon Coolpix P50 can create prints as large as 10 x 20" with over 8.1 million pixels. (Yes, I counted them.) Its optical viewfinder can adjust up to ISO 2000 to allow pictures in any type of light, and it comes with a 28mm wide-angle (3.6x) Zoom-Nikkor lens. (When it comes to lens, anything German-sounding impresses me.) The focus range can go from 20 inches to infinity, while its Macro close-up mode can handle 2 feet to infinity. (Disclaimer: I didn't have enough time to actually GO to infinity to verify this claim. But we trust Nikon, right?)

The 2.4" TFT LCD monitor has an anti-reflection coating, and it has an internal memory of ~52 MB. The Coolpix is also compatible with SD/SDHC memory cards. Its programmable exposure means that you can set it in advance when you don't want to do it yourself manually. Nikon’s VR electronic image stabilization is for times when you're trying to capture those "Oooh, look over there!" shots.

There are additional in-camera innovations that you'll appreciate, meaning that there will be less tweaking with your photo editing software later. Automatic Red Eye Fix will take of that nasty chore for you. Face Priority AF automatically focuses on your main subject or group shot. D-lighting will correct brightness and detail so that you won’t have to worry about it. Ahhh.

The P50 comes with 2 AA batteries, a USB cable for transferring images to the computer, an audio/video cable which doubles as a disciplinary tool, and software for working with your images. The best thing of all is the $229.95 price tag, a bargain for the amateur photographer, from a well-respected company.

Canon PowerShot A650 IS Another good choice is the recently released Canon Powershot A650 IS. The compact digital still camera has a built-in flash and a 6x optical, 4x digital (24x combined) zoom with optical image stabilizer. The digital 4x zoom lens with real-image viewfinder has a focusing range of 18 inches to infinity. The handy 2.5 inch color vari-angle LCD screen provides wide-angle viewing.

The camera has a shutter speed of 15 to 1/2000 seconds and auto-ISO film speed sensitivity. (And still, it doesn't claim to be an artiste.) As for the some of its "laziness" features, there is an auto or preset white balance control for such situations as daylight, clouds, underwater, tungsten, fluorescent, as well as custom settings. (I hope I never find myself trapped inside a huge block of tungsten, but it's comforting to know that even if that happens, I'll be able to take a decent photo.) There is also auto-face detection and built-in flash with red eye reduction. I'm especially fond of the slow-syncro feature and specific shooting modes, such as landscape, kids, pets, night, and fireworks that can be achieved automatically. Included is a self-timer and specialized photo effects with differing colors and continuous shooting for times when you want to capture all the action. That clickity, clickity, clickity effect will drive the other soccer moms wild with envy.

The Powershot can work with SD/SDHC memory cards, MultiMediaCards, MMC Plus cards, and laminated Topps 2007 series baseball cards. It will even handle limited amounts of AVI video. Included with the cam are 4 AA alkaline batteries, an SD memory card, a wrist strap, Digital Camera Solution software, and USB and AV cables. The higher price of $399.99 targets it for amateurs who want more than just family portraits.

kodak easyshare z1275 zoom Kodak has been in the camera business for as long as there has been sliced bread, maybe longer. So I would be remiss in not mentioning the Kodak EasyShare Z1275 Zoom digital camera. It features a (very German sounding) 5x Schneider Kreuznach Variogon optical zoom lens, a high-res 2.5-inch color display for indoor or outdoor usage, auto-ISO mode, and up to 64 MB internal memory storage. Like the others, it allows for auto-white balance for daylight, tungsten, fluorescent, and shady lighting, and has a self-timer that can manage two shots. This is definitely a plus for the slow-moving photographer that misses the first shot.

Its other advantages include image stabilization and differing shooting modes that include sports, flowers, and even self-portrait for the narcissistic. The panorama stitch mode allows you to take 3 shots and combine them to make one, just like the pros. Red eye reduction is present as are dedicated buttons for power, zoom, delete, share, and more. That makes it almost too easy. I especially like the on-camera cropping with Perfect Touch technology that can clear up dark shadows and print brighter images. Oh, and this baby will take great HD video, too.

The Z1275 comes with AA batteries, USB cable, wrist strap, a special software insert for the Easyshare camera and printer dock, but alas... no steak knives. Kodak has recently reduced the price of this model by $20.00, making it very affordable at $229.

There are so many choices when it comes to buying a digital camera. If you're a pro, you'll want something with lots of buttons, dials and levers so ordinary people will be too intimidated to even touch it. But for the casual photographer who doesn't want to read a manual or fiddle with the settings, take advantage of the advanced technology in these highly automated digital cameras.

Do you have a favorite digital camera that takes the hassle out of picture taking? Tell us about it in the comments below...

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Most recent comments on "Automatic Digital Cameras"

Posted by:

Leo Feret
17 Dec 2007

I bought a Kodak C433 digital camera about a year ago for $88 on sale. (not a typo) If you read its manual, you'll find it is an amazing camera that can in some cases be tricked to do what much more expensive cameras do. However it has limited software to "fix" a problem - which is the way a camera should be designed. I use IrfanView, GIMP, Paint.NET, and Picasa (all free PC image software) to postprocess an image that looks great on my 1600x1200 analog monitor. (No LCD monitor for me, but that's another story). :-)

Posted by:

neil holbrook
17 Dec 2007

Bob, good choices overall but none of the three are true pocketable point & shoots which can be quite handy for the casual shooter.

I have a Nikon dslr and 4 lenses but the camera always with me is a Casio Exilim and it has an all metal body and a large monitor.

The newer models have the Best Shot feature (as does mine) along with IS and more MP's. Most pros will tell you much over 5 in the MP race is largely wasted except for the BS level.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Can you recommend a good pocket sized digital camera?

Posted by:

18 Dec 2007

I have a Cannon 870IS that is totally automatic and comes with 3" lcd screen. Takes both wonderful pictures and viedo.

Posted by:

18 Dec 2007

My husband bought me the Canon PowerShot A540 I wanted for my birthday last year. Great camera - it does everything like the A650 you mention though it's only 6.0 MP which is more than enough for my use. Love the video even shot in low light.

My main attraction to this camera though was its viewfinder in addition to the monitor. Very handy when shooting outdoors or in low light.

My only complaint is Canon put the microphone too close to the spot on the camera where you would naturally want to hold it to keep the camera steady and you have to be very mindful it's there when shooting video. If you can still find one on the market (it should be very inexpensive now) grab it.

Posted by:

Bob Lane
18 Dec 2007

I have a Canon SD 500 which has many of the features that you identify as excellent. The ones you mention all take 2 or more AA batteries, while my SD 500 has a Li-ion battery pac that provides ample power for a long time. I had a Kodak with batteries and it gobbled up power like a blotter. Why have the manufacturers gone to alkaline batteries?

Posted by:

Bruce Starling
18 Dec 2007

I purchased a Kodak P750 earlier this year and quite happy with it.

I also have a Sony camera several years old that is also excellent, however the 12X lens of the Kodak, with the possibility of even making it 60X Zoom is quite remarkable.

The colour is quite good and I am very pleased with it. It is about ½ the physical size of the Sony but not what I would call a "pocket" or "purse" camera.

It's fully automatic and has many different "scenes" that can be accessed for photography under a myriad of light conditions.

Posted by:

21 Dec 2007

I have 2 35mm's and don't use them any more. Too much to cary. ave an old olympic 1.3mp and my wife loves it. Just got a Fuji S700 digital and it does all that your picks do including B/W and sepia tones. It goes with me everywhere.

Posted by:

Bob Levy
24 Dec 2007

I HAD a Nikon (forgot the model) but the battery case latch broke and the "insurance" refused to fix. Then bought a "noname" for $100 and have the same complaint about most, if not all, of the point and shoot. The time to "shoot" the picture is to long to take pictures of my grandchildren. They move to fast and the cameras do not react as fast as the old 35mm film cameras. I do not relish the idea of buying the Nikon 40X or the equivalents but am posting this comment in case someone has a recommendation.

Posted by:

André Chénier
31 Dec 2007

Good photography does not require only a good camera, it requires a good camera WITH YOU when good photographic opportunities come up!

And it will only be in your pocket or purse if it is slim and small. On that score, there are much better choices than the recommended trio. Check out the excellent Olympus products. Discount things like pixel count and zoom lenses. From my experience, 2MB is all you need. 2MB can give you an excellent 8X10...

EDITOR'S NOTE: Care to offer anything more specific than "check out Olympus"?

Posted by:

23 Nov 2009

I'm going to Europe next year and want an easy to use camera that has a GREAT zoom feature. I'm a camera dummy and need one that does everything for me. Can you recommend something?

Posted by:

U. Sengupta
04 Jul 2010

I had earlier purchased 2 digital cameras, automatic type. Both were ok if I take photo during daytime, specially on a bright sunny day. Photos taken at night are either blurred (shaken) or insufficient light in the background.
Now I intend to buy one small in size and easy to handle automatic high resolution digital camera which ensures good photographs at night also, both indoor and outdoor. Looking forward to your guidance in this regard.

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