A Tale Of Two Cameras
Camera Wanted, Must Love The Outdoors
Which is the best?
Once upon a time there was a very naughty camera. She started to focus poorly, generally acted old and dotty and seemed ready to die. So her human companion went on a quest to at last replace her. And her human companion was going to get a very expensive (to her) Nikon D3200 with two lenses. Or an Olympus Stylus SP-100 with a much more modest price tag. But then she found out good and bad things about both cameras as her companion limped along.
In the end she ordered another Kodak. A Kodak Pixpro AZ651. And do you know something? The Kodak Easyshare DX6490 that had been lying on her deathbed just moments before, even on the first day of her replacement's arrival? She jumped out of her death bed and danced around the room fit as a fiddle.
So now I have two Kodaks in perfect working order and I'm convinced My Kodak camera wanted a sibling. But since the other cameras were good contenders too, why not look at them while I wonder why and how a camera on her last legs mysteriously recovered. George Eastman is no doubt vastly amused wherever he is, because I should have remembered Kodaks will most likely survive a direct bomb strike.
And yes, I told the Easyshare what a naughty little girl she is and she is currently giggling. Don't look at me like I'm crazy.
For nostalgia's sake all photos are taken with my current beauty, even if she was a very naughty girl to fake being on her death bed to get a big sister, but I'll provide text links to the cameras in question.
What Four Megapixels Looks Like
You Were Going to Spend What?
Yes, I know. One camera costs about a third of what I live on in a month, one costs two thirds. And after you add in extras like extra batteries and chargers, not to mention lens protectors and other goodies the sensible thing to do would have been to hit my local big box store and snag a point and shoot camera for around one hundred or cheaper. Point and shoots are awesome little cameras after all, fit in your pocket, and at even four megapixels like I have now even the most modest camera out there would do great shots for my Hubsters. Not that you don't deserve the best, you do, but it doesn't take many megapixels to put together a pretty shot for this venue.
Megapixels just measure how big of crisp, clear prints you can make, to be honest. And there are lots of fun little point and shoots out there that would be easier to take on the go because they just slip into your pocket.
But I do like to take my baby places and do other things with her besides close ups. So although more megapixels is not always better, seriously, I could get away with a baseline of four like I do now, I wanted a camera that could do things like I used to with my old Olympus. I love her dearly, she has all sorts of nifty lenses and she turns heads. She can also eat through film in a nanosecond but is still in perfect working order and has some fine German lenses.
But again, put in the cost of film, batteries, processing and turn around time and you have an impractical solution. Which brings me to my three entry level beauties. aimed at us Joes and not the pros. Oh, I want a pro camera very dearly, but unless the ghost of Ansel Adams shows up with one I can keep on dreaming.
All told my new Kodak came in at about sixty bucks cheaper than the Olympus, keeping in mind that things like state sales tax and shipping costs may be higher or lower for you.
Olympus Stylus SP 100 Hands On
Olympus Stylus SP-100
Isn't she lovely? Well, check out her pic and specs here. But as you can see, she is beating my old Kodak nicely where it matters to me with a generous 16 megapixels and a 50x optical zoom, plenty of whizz-bang for her price tag in the upper three hundreds, though some reviewers say other cameras in the same price range do more for the money. I do not mind the fixed LCD screen many reviewers disliked, I've dealt with one for seven plus years and could honestly forgo it since it means nothing when my final results have to look good online or (very rarely) on products.
She also has the pop up dot-sight for tracking moving objects (think sports or wildlife applications) and takes video, all of which may not be everyday needs, but may be used once in a great while. Now the downside is there is no way to grow, what you get is it, no lenses, no lens protector for that matter.
All filters and what not are in-camera wizardry. She also does have an onboard microphone and flash, and a rechargeable battery which is a plus. She actually has capabilities I don't even need like wireless and that nifty stereo microphone. And since a lot of reviewers have taken her to the mountains on hikes and whatnot she sounds like she would have done fine on my hikes just being slipped into my backpack.
And yes, I fell in love with her and could almost feel her in my hands. Speaking of which she has the ability to make up for my shaky hands, something to consider since I'm not about to heft my tripod around on hikes.
In the end her higher price tag helped snag a victory for my new Kodak. She's still a great camera, but when a girl sees a Kodak there is only so much temptation she can handle.
Want more video and specs?
While this camera may have some good capabilities, I'd honestly would have gone with the bundle containing the two lenses of 18-55mm and 55-200mm to have a range to match the above camera and spend around the mid six hundreds to do it. So what do I get for several hundred dollars more? A true DSLR that has HD video, which, let's admit it, I won't use often, and a bigger boost of megapixels the generous 24.2 megapixels being more than enough to offer prints on demand up to poster size and make sparkly products for on demand sales.
But for my hubsters? You honestly aren't going to see much difference even with the largest photo size here. Megapixels just let you know how big of prints you can make before things start to look blurry or pixely. And again there are features here I won't be using such as the Wi-Fi option and the romance of having two lenses as I did many a year ago dims when I think of carrying those lenses everywhere, along with other assorted gear.
The only upside to this camera is the fact that you can interchange these and other lenses, but that is a slow and cumbersome process out in the field. So it wouldn't be ideal for me for capturing wildlife on the go, or making quick and seamless changes.
Again, I'm playing to my own weaknesses, there are people out there that can change lenses in a nanosecond and if you can her capabilities to grow and do specific tasks with specific lenses should make any hobbyist happy.
Her main allure for me is the megapixels, I'll admit it. I do print on demand products at times so that does matter along with the lens quality. Being an DSLR and having a bigger sensor doesn't hurt either. And she does OK with fussier reviewers as well.
But in the end, to do everything the Kodak can do (although a DSLR should do it better in experienced hands) she is just too rich for my pocketbook. Yes, she is more camera, and an entry-level rig into the fabulous world of true DSLRs. But as I kept adding up costs to do all the things I'd eventually need her to do the lens purchases kept mounting.
There were also software purchases and things like bigger SD cards and other goodies to think about like filters, bags, and other gear. In the end as I don't make enough money to offset what was going to run over a thousand dollars all told I couldn't afford this rig, though she'd be a great starter camera for anyone ready to make the leap, and you can start off with just one lens, so don't let my personal needs scare you away from her.
Which Would You Choose?
The Olympus, Nikon or Kodak?
So which to choose?
Both cameras have gotten a lot of accolades and a lot of bashing, usually the later coming from fussy reviewers who want an entry level camera to magically produce shots in the professional range. It isn't going to, it wasn't designed to. And blaming a camera for its limitations or the photographer's is unfair. Cameras are a lot like cars if you think about it.
A decent compact car is going to get you where you need to go, right? So will an entry level camera. You just can't drive the car in the Indy 500. But she is still an awesome car and has just what you need to get the job done. And the entry level camera will do the same thing. They take wonderful shots of everyday life with enough flexibility to let you do more artistic work if you desire.
They also tend to be more affordable and user-friendly and many come with their own processing studio to set up on your computer, at least both my Kodaks did.
I notice that a lot of reviewers get upset about having to use higher ISOs in low light. We've been doing it that way for decades, even back when we loaded film. So in the end I know the negative reviews are sour grapes and not getting a professional camera at an entry level price. We all secretly want it, but we have to know we aren't going to get it.
And here is the important thing. You rig is only as good or bad as you are. Even if you get the highest end camera available if you don't have the patience or put in the effort to learn the mechanics behind a good shot, as opposed to a point and shoot (which is awesome too, by the way), you will keep getting the same results.
And if you know you just don't care about treating your equipment properly and will just toss it wherever, entry level is the way to go, the more rugged and sporty a rig you can get the better. Sure, I'd honestly like cameras in either line several hundred or thousands of dollars above my price range, and buying a camera right now seems psycho bonkers crazy, but I have it in the blood and I know I won't be happy with some of the very low end entry cameras.
There are plenty of good cameras out there, and I did find one with enough versatility to see me through not only articles, but personal enjoyment, posting online and perhaps future on demand use. And she's a Kodak. Yes, they are back.
When A Camera Ages
The Winner! Kodak Propix AZ651
Kodak Astro Zoom AZ651
Yeppers, they are still making cameras. Well the awesometastic people who bought Kodak's name are still making cameras and one of the sparkling new beauties receiving little fanfare and priced slightly lower than the Olympus which she seems to outpace in the tech stats is the Kodak Astro Zoom AZ651. Again, accept her for what she is, don't cuss her out for not out performing a rig in the professional range.
She is still a bridge camera that has a zoom lens of an ultra generous 65x optical zoom and other goodies onboard, including shooting RAW. Do I expect her to preform like the Nikon? Nope. She isn't that type of rig. She is also currently charging in my kitchen and I can't wait to get her out for a decent photo shoot.
And I honestly don't mind not being able to add lenses or flashes or whatnot. To take the photos for this article I had to walk roughly a half mile. I am not toting a tripod that far. I'm just not doing it. And forget lugging lenses. I got to screw on a filter, so I'm good. No, filters don't come with her and it's just there to protect her lens.
So the romance of a big kit is gone, but the practicality of an all-in-one camera is back. And yes, this lovely lady indeed has a viewfinder. And I've got a monopod, somewhere. And the world's lightest tripod turned up once I dug through the gear I inherited. Ah, here are her stats for those who drool over them like me.
A slightly earlier version.
And the winner is... From what I've seen hands-on reviews are scanty, but to get all the firepower and options of the older models with a bigger viewscreen and other features is worth the price, and reviewers are wishing they went her way for the added features, so I nabbed her.