Agent 001 Hunts Down The Perfect Pixelator

Published Date
01 - Apr - 2006
| Last Updated
01 - Apr - 2006
Agent 001 Hunts Down The Perfect Pixelator
I've taken up photography as a full-fledged hobby, so to speak, and clicking away is all the more enjoyable when you're travelling. And yes-the summer holidays are here! Time for me to chalk out an itinerary of worthy places to visit, but before that, I've got to get myself a good-and I mean good-camera.

My Nikon FM-10 manual SLR may only be three years old, but being film-based, it's expensive to run. I therefore decided on a new digital camera for this summer. Mind you, when it comes to buying a digital camera, a lot of things need to be considered, the most important being the megapixel count, optical zoom, optics quality, and type of memory supported.

"The higher the megapixel count, the better the camera." That's what most folks believe. It's partly true, but one also needs to pay attention to the quality of optics-Carl Zeiss, Schneider-Kreuznach, and Nikkor lenses, amongst others, are considered good. My advice would be to not pay too much attention to the megapixel count; it is not the yardstick.

There are many cheap digicams out there that claim high megapixel counts, and which cost around Rs 5,000. Avoid such cameras, since they use low megapixel count sensors and digitally bump up the resolution. This results in loss of quality.

The best place to check out digital cameras in Mumbai are Heera Panna shopping centre and Alfa. Other great places are the lanes near the Fort area. For other cities, make sure you go with some references!

A year ago, a basic digital camera from a known company would cost around Rs 10,000; the price has now slipped to an average of Rs 7,000. The feature sets offered are good enough for casual shutterbugs. One can expect a 3-megapixel camera with an optical zoom of around 2X and memory storage on an SD/MMC card for this price. Canon's PowerShot A410 is the cheapest camera I could locate; it retails at around Rs 7,000 and comes with a good feature bundle. It's rugged, and it's definitely a good point-and-shoot camera for the price. Of course, you'll need to bear in mind that these are grey market prices; the official prices will be a little higher. 

If your budget centres around Rs 10,000, you can get a decent point-and-shoot camera. The Sony CyberShot S90 retails at around Rs 10,500.

If you stretch your budget a little, Nikon's Coolpix 5600 is available for around Rs 11,000. It's a 5.1-megapixel camera, with 3x optical zoom and great optics. If you are considering a mid-range camera, the Nikon Coolpix 5600 would make a good buy. In the same price range is the Sony CyberShot W5, which has a large LCD display and boasts of terrific performance (we've tested it). The W5 is quite compact, offers a 5-megapixel sensor, nearly 3x optical zoom, and a good lens.

Canon's PowerShot A540 is a 6-megapixel camera with 4x optical zoom, and cramps in many easy-to-use features. Priced at Rs 15,000, the A540 is attractive, and should be considered if you're looking for a compact digicam.

That apart, Sony's P200 is one great camera to look out for. This model comes with a 7-megapixel sensor, a Carl-Zeiss lens, 3x optical zoom, and offers wonderful performance. At Rs 13,500, the P200 is hard to miss, and is probably the camera you should be buying if you're interested in a compact point-and- shoot camera.

The entry-level digital SLR market is quite "hot" right now as they say, and anyone aspiring to go beyond the amateur  stage should opt for one of these. What you should be looking at are the Nikon D50 and D70. They retail at around Rs 35,000 and 48,000 respectively-that's the cost for the body and one removable lens. Later on, you can go for additional lens such as wide-angle, close-up, and more. As for Canon, think about the 350D, which is a direct competitor to the Nikon D70. Retailing at between Rs 38,000 and 42,000, the 350D, too, is a good entry-level digital SLR.

Since I already have an SLR, I thought I should get myself a point-and-shoot thingy. And that's what I did-the Sony P200, at Rs 13,000, was simply too good to be ignored.

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