Brain Paint ACar

Brain Photo Fun- Digital Camera Review, Tips, Photography Neil Slade's Amazing Brain Music Adventure


Digital Photography Information, Tips, Recommendations, 

Reviews, Printer, Battery, Memory Card Info


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UPDATE December 2007

Shown: L to R 

2001 Sony DSC-S85 4MP  manual and automatic

2007 Canon SD1000 7 MP automatic with semi-manual

2003 Minolta G400 4MP automatic with semi-manual


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This site is primarily for non-professional consumers with current  information about basic digital photography and camera options- with some information professionals may find relevant as well.

Digital cameras have changed somewhat over the past couple of years, but as a professional photographer, as I compare cameras at the end of 2007 against models seen a couple of years ago- The most significant practical changes for the consumer grade cameras  in the past 2 years have been primarily in the drop in prices for cameras and recording media (memory cards). And that's about it. Everything else is mostly irrelevant and small improvements constructed to justify the selling new cameras. Not to say the new cameras aren't good-- they are in fact WONDERFUL. But not significantly THAT much better than cameras made a couple years ago.

Indeed, there have been other changes in models and in features found in cameras, but for the most part, these improvements have not resulted in significant improvement in basic camera performance for anyone except the pure professional.



For example, it is now very easy to buy a 7 or 8 megapixel camera around $200-$250, and this was unheard of in 2005 and 2006. But for the average casual consumer, this means just about nothing because, a standard 5 X 7 or 4 X 6 inch photograph in no way requires this kind of resolution- you could not even tell the difference between a snapshot of this size made from a 3MP camera versus an 8MP camera- it's totally irrelevant. In fact, I've made some beautiful and detailed 8X10 photos from an even older 3 MP Sony S75 from 2000, and I could still use this camera from my principal photo work if I still had it (but I chose to upgrade for 1 additional MP in the S85 for additional cropping options and slightly better neutral color rendition.)

My primary camera is a Sony S85 4MP, from 2001. It takes beautiful photographs, and does so with a f 2.0 lens-- a lens that can not be had for love or money on a digital camera these days. A 2.0 lens is capable of half the shutter speed (faster shutter speeds resulting in sharper images in the same light due to less camera movement or capturing faster subject movement) than a f 2.8 lens as found on most consumer cameras almost without exception these days. Why slower lenses on cameras? That's easy-- they're cheaper to make.

I have steered friends wanting a digital camera towards the same model found on eBay, for $150. A camera that will take 1000 shots on one battery charge, and that offers completely manual photographic adjustment- like a regular film camera, something that can generally no longer be found on consumer cameras under $700.

Batteries have shrunk in size along with cameras, and so have the number of photos you can take on a charged battery.

Granted, when you start looking at photos blown up to full resolution (these would be photos the size of your front door) yes, you can tell the difference between my six year old S85, and a brand new Sony Alpha. Otherwise, virtually impossible.

Certainly no difference detectable in  photos 700 pixels across that you post on the internet between my "old" camera and a new one or in regular snapshot sized printed photos, or even large 5X7 photos.

Bear in mind, yes, photographic experience does count. If you don't know what you are doing, it's as easy to take a crappy photograph with a new camera as with an old one.

Please go through my photo gallery, and my web site in general-- most of the photos are taken with the S85 or my older cameras.

And in fact, these days, most people don't print their photos at all, and if they do, they are usually 5X7 or smaller, with the exception being 8X10.

More megapixels allow you to crop more-- i.e. if you take a picture of the Grand Canyon, but you really only want a picture of your uncle riding a donkey on the trail 500 yards away- if you take a 7MP picture of it, you can enlarge and crop the image to just show the relevant ass and not lose so much image resolution and quality so that you still have a good picture. But how often will this come up, especially if you hardly even know what you are doing with photo software? Maybe NEVER.

More pixels is like more horsepower-- who REALLY needs a 400HP car? So... do you really need a 7, 8, or even 12 megapixel camera? I doubt it very much. For 99% of the people out there taking pictures, 3 and 4 MP is PLENTY, and like I said- the camera I use most of the time- and I make my ENTIRE LIVING off my web site with thousands of photos-- is my 4MP 2001 Sony S85.


Why Buy A New Camera?

At the coffee shop today, we were trying to figure out what camera companies were going to do in the future when everyone has a 3MP or bigger camera, and media. Who would buy a new camera, why?

1) You actually may not even have a digital camera yet. Where have you been?? :-)   I predicted all consumer cameras would be digital about four years ago. Well, we are here.

2) People abuse cameras. They throw them around and they will naturally break. People drop their camera on the sidewalk and in the water, and toss them into the trunk. And then the cameras break- time to get a new camera.

3) Camera's break because they are not made well. But my S85 is running strong. I even even dropped it out of my car onto the street-- it still works. Sony's and Canon's generally have the best record for working a long time without breaking. Conversely, my Fuji Finepix (shown on this site) didn't last but a couple of years before it stopped working.

4) In the end, newer is not necessarily better under all conditions. For example compare these photos of the same subject, I think you would be hard pressed to say the newest camera takes better pictures than a camera four years older, and in fact, the opposite may be true:

Open in multiple windows to compare side by side

2001 Sony S85 my cost on ebay $150

2003 Minolta G400  my cost on ebay $55

2007 Canon SD1000 my cost at Ultimate Electronics $250

2007 Canon A570 cost at Circuit City Dec. 2007 $179

Although the G400 is no longer made, and cost me $55 on eBay, it's daylight photo holds its own against any of these cameras, and in fact looks sharper than the SD1000 in this particular example. In some other examples the SD1000 looks better, and can shoot under extreme low light with a ASA 1600 option. On the other hand, although the oldest camera, the S85, is the least impressive here, but under low light, it easily outperforms all these cameras due to the f2.0 lens with a very acceptable low noise 400 ASA and shutter speed twice as fast of the other cameras with f 2.8 lenses.

In summary, the only thing you can say is that all these cameras take wonderful photos despite the great difference in age and price.

Conversely other cameras of the same age, and price, can be found to be greatly INFERIOR--  you may, or may not, be lucky. Most cameras are DECENT these days, but some are the top of the heap.

The moral of this camera tale?

Know your cameras (do your homework and compare sample pictures), or listen to somebody who does-- just don't buy because of advertising, brand name recognition, cost, or on the recommendation of a Warehouse Electronics Salesman working for $6 an hour.



As a general rule, I've found Canon and Sony cameras to provide the best imaging and best user interface-- and this year, Canon pulls ahead with a much more sensible and clean interface. I frankly cannot stand the "helpful" focusing grid marks on this year's Sony W55, W80, and other $200-$300 sub-compact cameras- and you can't turn off these obnoxious green LCD marks that come on every time you hit the shutter button. UGH!!

Consequently, when I decided to upgrade my former sub-compact, I stuck with the Canon Elph model SD1000, and still found it to be the best sub-compact camera for the money these days. I love the sleek minimalist styling, the size, efficient and sensible menu and user interface, and above all the imaging is superb and unequaled in a sub-compact camera.


A slightly larger camera, the Canon A560 and A570IS take photos as good as the SD1000, and actually are slightly better on the edges of the photos in high magnification due to the larger piece of glass (lens) of these cameras, but the A560/570 are about twice the size of my little SD1000, so there's a price to be paid for this bit of edge improvement. Since I often crop my photos anyway, its not an issue, and I appreciate the much smaller size of the SD1000, as well as the aesthetic appeal of the SD1000 which it iself I find very pleasing.

Nikons and Olympus film cameras have always enjoyed a fantastic reputation, but alas, except in the $1000 neighborhood, I believe Canon and Sony has held the honors for best cameras for a number of years, in terms of features and sheer image quality. Casio cameras and Fuji cameras are also good, but after detailed analysis, I don't feel as they compete with Canon and Sony.


>>>>>>>>If you don't already know these sites- these are my favorite independent sites that give EXTREMELY detailed analysis of just about every camera made, and going back many years. STEVES CAMERAS  and Imaging Resources  If you don't want to take my word for anything, you can use the resources on these sites to directly compare cameras and see detailed sample images taken under all conditions.<<<<<<<<<


Image Stabilization

Another new gimmicky feature is Image Stabilization, which has become common in 2007. Again, this is really a very minor new feature that only comes into play when you are taking photos without flash in very low light. This means if you are taking photos in a situation that requires a slooooow shutter speed under 1/50 or 1/40 of a second, image stabilization will counteract hand held camera shake-- a little bit. Just a little, and it may result in a photo with a slightly sharper image than in a camera without stabilization.

If you are taking photos with a flash or in reasonably bright light (like outside) image stabilization means ABSOLUTELY NOTHING because any shutter speed over 1/60 of a second will automatically negate any camera shake you induce with shaky hands. And this is the situation most of the time.

Further image stabilization does NOTHING to stop subject movement (like a car or a cat moving).

I've tested Canons, a brand that seems to have the best stabilization of any brand, and the difference with this feature is really not very significant at all, despite all the hype of manufacturers playing it up in order to sell new cameras. Also, image stabilization does add a little bulk to the cameras-- and if you compare the size of the Canon SD1000 without stabilization against the SD800IS and others with stabilization , you'll see its a slightly bulkier camera- akin to my Minolta seen above. Not much, but I frankly like the lighter and smaller dimensions of the 1000- and if I am carrying a camera in my pants pocket-- I will not miss stabilization, but will certainly note the slightly bigger bulk.

The SD1000 is actually smaller than a deck of cards, the others are slightly bigger. For some people, this small difference in size really won't matter, and some people will actually prefer a larger camera-- so check them out in person and decide for yourself. For me, I like pretending I am James Bond, so teeny teeny tiny is cool (provided it works as well as a bigger model).



One new feature that is improved is camera miniaturization. Yes, many small cameras perform as well as bigger cameras in the past- and that is nice, IF you have small hands.

For some people, a camera the size of a pack of cigarettes or a playing card is not particularly friendly.

The SD1000 is actually smaller than a deck of cards, the others are slightly bigger. For some people, this small difference in size really won't matter, and some people will actually prefer a larger camera-- so check them out in person and decide for yourself. For me, I like pretending I am James Bond, so teeny teeny tiny is cool (provided it works as well as a bigger model).

A couple of years ago I had an SD400 which, believe it or not, was even smaller than the SD1000- very neat, but the imaging made a pretty good leap from the SD400 and SD500 cameras to the SD1000, with only a very small increase in size, so I went for the new model last year. I will admit, I found the visual design of the older SD Elphs a little more pleasing, but this was overshadowed by performance of the new model. Other changes from the SD400 to the SD100 were broader exposure latitude (like faster film speed), which allowed faster shutter speeds in low light, as well as slightly improved color, and general improvement in sharpness due to an increase in resolution (megapixels).  Again, these were small changes, but collectively made a good difference in camera performance. For probably most people, the change would be insignificant and not noticeable- but then, I AM a geek, and I appreciated these small changes.



Another thing to consider is that some cameras will work with plain AA batteries, like the A560/570 and this is a big plus if you are traveling. Rechargable Nickel-Hydride batteries give the best performance and better than alkaline, not to mention the use of these kinds of batteries (a big improvement over Nickel-Cadmium), but in a pinch, AAs can be found everywhere on the planet.  seven days a week. If having a sub-miniature camera is not an issue- plain battery use is a very positive thing.

The best rechargeable batteries (and chargers) in terms of power/cost I have found are POWEREX batteries, and I use the 2700 AA type in all kinds of electronics. The new generation of Ni-Hy are SIGNIFICANTLY better than batteries from just a couple years back.



Zoom is a topic that frequently comes up, but again, it almost always is a matter if manufacturer HYPE. Wide angle photography is of much greater relevance to most people- when capturing family photos, vacation photos, and scenery-- a wide angle broad view is certainly of the greatest use.

The only time high zoom (over 4X is of importance would be in situations when you are trying to capture a subject VERY far away, such as in wildlife photography, and that is really the exception for just about most people and most photographic situations. A 3X magnification will suit just about every situation. Note, the 4X of the A560/570 actually increases the ratio between the widest shot and the most telephoto, and is a well balanced and welcome feature. Higher than 4X really is totally overkill unless you are going to Africa to shoot flamingos on a lake a mile away.



Last time I bought a camera it was from my local CAMERA SHOP- yes, a place that is a full time specialty shop in  cameras.  Hint hint.

These days, most physical camera stores will match the prices found in the warehouse places as well as the online stores. Remember, online, you have to wait for delivery, you will usually pay for shipping-- AND if there is something wrong with the camera or you want to exchange-- oh man, you don't want to be there.

As in all things BRAIN--  there is NO SUBSTITUTE with personal interaction with HUMANS who actually VALUE you as a customer. If you think saving $10 or $20 or even more is worth it to sacrifice interaction with a HUMAN-- you are not using your brain.

I frequently buy things online, yes indeed. I buy used stuff on eBay. But when it comes to a new camera--  I will go to a place like Mikes Camera, or Wolf Camera-- a store that will give me personal good customer service, a place that will actually let me try out a camera in person, who will exchange a camera with a problem without any hassle at all. (And believe me, digital cameras in a new box can have bad pixels- make sure and check the VIDEO imaging as well as the still imaging when you get your new camera.)

If you find a bad pixel or two in the middle of your video shots (happened to me, yes indeed on a brand new camera), or if you decide on a different model-- you will regret the day you ordered your camera from a place ten states away, and have to pay shipping, and get an RMA, etc etc etc ETC.


In regards to PRINTING please see  my site entirely devoted to inkjet printers, alternative ink sources, troubleshooting and maintenance.





(Professional Brain Video do-it-yourself projects list at the bottom of this page)

Digital photography has come a long way in just the past couple of years. As of July 2004, one can buy a digital camera for $100 and print at home on a $75 inkjet printer, and rival the prints you would get with a point and shoot camera, regular film, and commercial photo lab. No film cost and excellent photo paper at 20 cents for an 8 1/2 X 11 inch sheet (Epson Glossy Paper at discount).

And in fact- You can look at all your photos on the computer and you don't even have to use a printer. No film again, ever. No processing again, ever. Just bring 'em up on your PC or Mac. 

For a little more money- say, $399 for a camera and $175 for a printer, you can produce photos that are indistinguishable from a professional SLR Nikon and a pro color-lab. 

And everywhere in-between. And even better for full fledged pros.

The advantage is that digital photography is less expensive in the long run (and short term too), better for the environment (email and web photos, and less chemicals down the drain), and offers quicker and more extensive editing of photos-- and you can easily do this yourself on your home computer.

No more driving, drop off, paying, and pickup at MotoPhoto. And, even if  you're too lazy to print out at home, the same people at MotoPhoto can STILL print out your digital photos for you.



Above: Photo with super subminiature 1.3 megapixel JVC GC50, no flash, nighttime room light-


(These days, 1.3 MP is considered "low resolution", and thought you all might like this one taken with a $75 camera,  processed in $50 Photoshop Elements slightly, to resemble a Vermeer type oil. Used just the "despeckle" filter to soften grain, and desaturated the color, and that's about it. 
I've found that "cheapness" and lack of detail often works to one's advantage-- the "perfect" photo often has considerable "flaws"- just like good paintings.)



For people who are serious, digital photo software allows you unbelievable control over your images in ways that are not even possible in the chemical lab.

My photo's have regularly appeared in Denver Newspapers, and I began processing my own darkroom photos at the age of 14. Although regular film photography has it's charms, there is no way I will be returning to the darkroom-- and I greatly prefer both the ease, and flexibility and better results of digital photography.

Photography is a lot of fun and GOOD for your brain. Taking, developing, manipulating and editing pictures simulates many parts of your brain motor- right brain, occipitals, and creative circuits. As you play with enjoying and sharing your pictures your brain will grow in its powers of observation as well as artistic creativity. It is non-competitive expression and can elevate our human experience.


Digital Cameras from a couple of years ago:




See Sony sample web photos by your's truly at:

Fall Brain Blast

and throughout The Amazing Brain Adventure


FOR DETAILS about PRINTERS, INK, PAPERS, and Laser Toner See the NEW PAGE at the 2004 Brain Review of Inkjet Printers, Ink, and Papers.


The quality of digital photographs absolutely rivals the best film photography nowadays, and many professionals have made the switch. Photos seen on the web (such as on this page) are normally compressed to aid speedy download and are not necessarily representative of the high quality available from some exceptional cameras, and seen in printed photos, or viewed from saved images on a hard drive or photo CD.

Camera models have evolved somewhat and changed over the past couple of years, so there's some new news..........




Cool close-up Erfie photo above taken with a $50 one half megapixel plastic camera...!

Is more really better? 

Absolutely NOT.

For most consumers and people needing a point and shoot snapshot camera, every major brand digital camera of 2 megapixels (amount of picture resolution detail) and above will take good pictures. It's that simple. You just decide on the size, and the bells and whistles you think you want or need. Olympus now sells a compact 3 megapixel camera for $149 (and prices keep coming down) that would work great for the majority of snapshot takers out there.

There are even less expensive 1.3 - 2 megapixel digital cameras that will work fine for many people.

I have a 4 megapixel camera capable of incredible detail- and I use the 1.9 MP setting 99% of the time. And for EVERY web and email photo. There you go. But my camera (Sony DSC-S85) has a big lens- it's a quality 2 megapixels.

More pixels means you can crop and blow up sections of a photo and keep image quality up, but frankly, this almost never occurs to the extent that would require these high resolutions. As you increase pixels, you increase the amount of memory you use on your camera's memory card- (this is what the camera stores images on instead of film). You can by more or bigger memory cards, and lose them, or you can just use what you really need for your photos.

Web/email photos don't need to have fine fine resolution- because all computer monitors are not that fine to begin with- you can have the finest resolution in the world for your photo, and it won't make any difference if you post it on the web or email. Any resolution above 2.5 megapixels is really only for extreme cropping of photos, or large full 8X10 photos of extreme detail. Otherwise, don't waste your card memory and use the lower resolutions 2-3 megapixels.  

These cameras with 5 to 8 megapixels-- for most home use, this is absolutely overkill, and a way to fool people into buying new cameras. It's a different story for news journalists, and actual money making pros who can use finer resolution. It's like this: Do you need a 450 horsepower engine to drive to 7-11?  I didn't think so....

ANOTHER factor, however, is that cameras with teeny lenses- on very compact cameras- lose quality and detail-- there's just not enough GLASS in front of the image sensor. You know, pictures are all about LIGHT-- and the bigger WINDOW (your lens) you have, the better your picture.

So the way camera makers get around the loss of detail with small lenses, is they add a bigger sensor CCD chip--  more megapixels. You get some detail back. 

This works KIND OF. The problem is, there is almost NO SUBSTITUTE for a good big lens, although I've seen a couple of exceptions- in the Minolta G400 and the Sony T1. More below on these...ALSO, more megapixels mean you can fit fewer pictures on your memory card. You'll need to buy bigger cards, carry more cards (lose? more cards). You can't have your cake an eat it too. You want the very best picture? You need a decent lens on the front of your camera. Of course, this is more important to people who are hobbyists rather than snapshot takers, for which this is less of an issue.

FINALLY- often, MORE megapixels may force other parts of a camera's electronics to compromise other aspects of quality. A good example is the Canon G5-- which has more megapixels than the G3, and in some respects produces images of WORSE QUALITY. 

My 4 MP Minolta takes BETTER, more detailed, and sharper images than many 6 MP cameras manufactured out there- and better than EVERY 5 MP camera under $500 made this year.

Do not buy or upgrade your camera, just to get more megapixels. Careful.


The Amazing Brain Adventure




Here's an email reply I recently send to someone wanting to understand pixels and recommended cameras:


Megapixels don't always indicate the quality of a camera.
There is a HUGE variety in camera image quality from the exact same number of megapixels. 
Most of us don't need any more than 4 megapixels, and normally we will shoot with less to same memory card space. How often do you print 8X10 photos or bigger? For 4X6 photos or 5X7 photos, or extreme cropping/editing of photos, 2-3 megapixels is PLENTY for a good sharp photo.

There are 8 megapixel cameras for under $1000 now. These cameras take astoundingly detailed pictures. But unless you are an OBSESSED hobbyist or professional, this is total overkill. I recommend cameras you can put in your pants pocket for everyone except professionals or diehard hobbyists. If you are a pro, this calls for a bigger camera. Otherwise, it makes no sense to have an SLR sized camera, none. This is almost a non-issue however, as most camera makers are making smaller cameras for consumers.

Cameras and lenses are shrinking-- for convenience. But often, the price of miniaturization is in quality, then features and ergonomics. A tiny camera is cute- but it probably does not compare in usability with a normal sized camera. The very best cameras have a decent piece of glass. Once you start reducing the lens size, you generally reduce light, and sharpness. Pentax, Canon, and others make some nice super subcompact and subminiature cameras, some of them quite expensive-- but none produce as good quality photos as the standard sized cameras.

Another thing to consider is BATTERY SIZE.  My older S85 takes Sony's M series batteries, which is the same battery for my compact Sony camcorder. This battery will take- hold on to your hat: 3000 PICTURES before recharging. Compare this with the 150- 200 or under photos most compact cameras take.  I use the LCD ALL THE TIME, so small camera battery life, basically SUCKS big time. Small batteries-- you need SEVERAL SPARES on serious shoots.  When you have a little teeny camera-- it has a little teeny battery that runs out faster. Think about that. Okay, batteries are getting more efficient- but there are limits and tradeoffs. Look at battery life.

There are a few exceptions in the size arena- I've looked more closely at camera's like the Sony T1-- which is a very compact 5 MP and it produces very good imaging in good light, but reduction in size comes at a price-- It is a $500 mostly automatic camera. It doesn't work well in low light, or beyond its 5 foot flash range. The Minolta G400 ($240 online) is vastly more flexible with full manual controls, is barely bigger, and is actually lighter. An Olympus at 3 MP (more pixels than most people will ever really need) costs even less. The Minolta XG is also a really tiny camera-- not quite the resolution of the T1, but half as much money as the T1. You have to decide if you are ever going to need such microscopic improvement  to pay twice as much or more for it for the same size camera. Think carefully.

BUT, if you're actually contemplating the comparative quality of cameras and their photos, what you've got to do is really compare pictures side by side from different cameras you are considering.

I've posted sample picture links for my favorite cameras below. Otherwise nearly all camera pictures can be compared at these two excellent sites:

Steve's Digital Photos

which seems to have a more complete selection of reviews as well as photos. Steve takes the exact same photos for every model camera, so you can really compare. The Comparometer below does the same thing.
My favorite photo to compare is the red brick school building on Steve's site -- taken in the real world, outside, with a subject with a lot of light variety, color, and detail. Here's where you'll really pick up the differences in cameras- look under SAMPLE PICTURES for each camera.

The Comparometer below does the same thing, and allows you to compare photos from one camera right next to another on  your computer screen. The list, however, is not quite as up to date as Steve's above.

Imaging Resources 

Dave also posts reviews here but like many web reviews, it lumps highly dissimilar cameras, and gives them equal recommendation, when picture quality may be quite different. Beware.
If you just need a camera for home snapshots and vacation-- gosh, any 2MP camera over $125 will do any more. They all fall into the category of taking good photos and snapshots. Easy- pick your bells and whistles, how much you want to spend, go with the major manufacturers. 



Have no fear-- most name brand cameras out there are good. It's really hard to buy a BAD digital name brand camera any more. But some work better, and often significantly better than others. 

So, if you don't care that much- you're lucky.

If you do care a bit, or a lot-  I've done your homework for you- beyond what many of the camera review web sites have done- I've narrowed the field down to the essential best cameras out there.

I've owned and used a lot of cameras, more than most people. So I don't give this advice lightly. I am a stickler for image quality, and as long as a camera is reasonably usable, this is my most important criteria for judging a camera's worth.

Zoom amount on a camera is nice- but it's not that important unless you are going to Africa and taking pictures of birds 500 yards away. Most of us take pictures of objects that are in our normal field of vision. In the case of a small objects more distant, if your camera has decent imaging, you can crop and enlarge. Don't put too much emphasis on zoom ability.

Finally, if you think $150 or more is a lot to spend on a camera, remember this- you never ever will buy film again (or pay for processing if you print on web or at home.)


MY FAVORITE CAMERA--  I don't think I have one anymore. Big cameras take the best pictures and have better control ergonomics. Little cameras are convenient, yet sacrifice something in upper levels of quality.  Figure out what is most important to you- perfect pictures or size of camera. I would tend to favor perfect pictures myself.  I have a really hard time believing any magazine reviews- they are often way way off. I've compared my discontinued production 3 year old Sony S85 ($200 or less for like new on Ebay- originally $799) to all the new cameras out there-- under $1000, its hard to beat. Maybe the Canon G5 at $599.

Good Camera Value:  The Minolta G400. $234 online at (reliable, fast). This is a very small 4 megapixel,  camera (built like a tank) that takes very sharp and accurate images at nearly 1/4th the cost of my Sony S85 from 3 years back. It outperforms the S85 in some ways (though not all ). The 400 rivals its 6 megapixel big brother in some features, battery life, AND in some imaging (The 600 seems to blur on the edges especially left at widest). At 15% smaller size and $100 cheaper- Its an excellent value. Get SEVERAL extra batteries however.

G400 sample photo:

My own G400 photo here- Note this photo has got major compression for the web- and it's still AMAZING in rich accurate color and sharpness: 200K 

I took the time to actually compare the $240 (online) G400 and the nearly twice as expensive $425 (online)  Sony T1 in GREAT detail, examining results on a computer monitor as well as 8X10 prints on the state of the art Canon i960 printer. Here's what I found out: 

G400 and T1 detailed COMPARISON --- with Sony S85 commentary ADDED



Under $300: Otherwise, barring the Minolta above, I like any Olympus for quality and value and nice size. This is a totally reliable and GREAT camera manufacturer. You can't lose, period. Fine for most families and casual photo taking. I have a small Olympus film camera as do millions of others. The Minolta G400 is a bargain 4 MP at $235 online.


Other small cameras: Okay, the Sony P100 ($399) is an okay choice, and very compact. The W1 is better under low light, but a bigger camera. Good are also the Canon S410 and S500 Elphs.  There are other good and decent compact cameras-- I bought the Minolta G400 after looking at them all. Sony cameras have the best lack-of-repair-needed records, followed by Canons.

Sample photo P100:

Sample photo S500 Elph:

G400 sample photo:


Enthusiast/Hobbyist/Pro: Any more, there are SO many great cameras in this price range- you've got your work cut out for you. At $599 the Canon G3 or G5 is a very very adjustable full size camera, with gobs of features and great images. Universally accepted as a great camera, this is a good benchmark to compare all the competitors with. Please note-- I've heard that the G3 is actually a BETTER camera than the G5, per less noise. Worth looking into. I'm one who firmly believes newer is not necessarily better.

Any camera with a BIG glass lens will generally perform better indoors with ambient light. Personally, I do not like to use flash in any situation. Thus, my 3 year old F2.1 Sony S85 runs rings around EVERY camera out there under $1000 in such conditions. Recently I compared it's indoor performance against the $500 Sony T1, and my beloved new Minolta G400. No contest, the Sony with the GLASS made mincemeat out of these miniatures in every way indoors. Outside, much closer contest. The Sony has the majority of its important setting controls as BUTTONS on the outside of the body for instant easy access. Clear, sharp, perfectly exposed pictures in low light. Quite amazing.

SO- if you are used to fiddling and CONTROLLING rather than hoping the automatic settings will work on a camera, and you shoot indoors a lot - go on Ebay and get a used Sony S85 for next to nothing- it will serve you superbly. Or get a new G3 or similar workhorse.

Sample photo G5:

No Nikons - even at the $1000 range, Minolta, Canon and Sony beat them in image quality, even at $1000. Nikons make great film cameras, and mediocre digital cameras compared to other companies. Okay? You heard the truth here folks.


Just for fun AND great  pictures: The Minolta XG (at about $225 online) takes the prize for sub compacts. This camera is a GREAT  really small camera, the best. The Sony T1 is getting a lot of press (5 megapixels) but it's  more than twice as much money- and it has no optical viewfinder like the Minolta, so you HAVE to use the LCD all the time. I don't recommend the T1 for anyone. The XG is 3 MP, so it doesn't produce images as sharp as the S400 by a good shot, but if you need teeny tiny, this is the one.

Sample photo XG:

8 Megapixel Overkill Level: Well, if you're a pro, you don't need my advice at this stage. But I HAVE looked at the $1000 cameras which a semi-pro and insane consumer might consider-   The Canon Pro1 is the clear best in image sharpness and  color accuracy-- noticeably better than either the Sony 828, or the Nikon 8700. Sony's are always a snap to use. All three of these do not have interchangeable lenses- something a true pro would want, nor have quite the flexibility of a true pro-level camera. This is serious photo territory here, and I doubt that you'll take my word on this till you check it out for yourself. But just look at sample photos- Canon sharpest images, Sony with an F2.1 lens, likely the best in low light, and easy to use, the Nikon?? Okay, it looks cool.

Canon Pro1 sample:

Nikon 8700 sample:

Sony 828 sample:



Beware of camera reviews, and  web reviews especially those that feature advertising like grab bag sites CNET  (!! bleechhh!) Many reviews LOOK good, but are very slanted and bias, and leave out lots of critical facts. I've seen plenty of reviews that sounded good, but were frankly quite horrible evaluations of comparative camera value.

I think many "experts" tend to lose perspective, and get sucked in by valuing bells and whistles over what is most important- Image quality. Most of us just want to shoot quickly, have the option to make some basic image adjustments, and get the best picture possible with the least amount of fiddling. That's what I look for- bottom line image quality.




I've posted considerable OLDER detailed information on digital cameras on the Your Great Brain Adventure group messages, at
Your Great Brain Adventure Email Group Photo Message #130
Photo Message #131
Photo Message #165 (about this page and cameras below).

I've been a photographer, including at the professional level, all of my life- so the information is accurate and useful(!).



The retail store (especially) and other sources markup on camera batteries and memory cards is obscene. Over the years I've learned where to go for these items at fair prices from reliable and dependable sources. 


For memory cards, (and also computer memory and hard drives) its hard to beat Provantage at


For batteries, just go on Ebay and buy from an online dealer with good ratings of 97% or better. Shop a few and then pick the best looking one. You'll pay a fraction of the battery cost, and get the same exact battery you would pay the name dealers 4 times more for. Lithium Ion, is lithium ion. Check the milliamp hours. I've bought many batteries from Eagle Importers at Ebay which were absolutely an outstanding bargain and perfect quality.




Again, these days it's hard to buy a bad digital camera. But if you are sensitive to the more subtle nuances of use and quality- then it helps to go to the right place for the most efficient and satisfying use of your green energy:



In terms of buying a camera- nothing beats walking into a camera store and talking with a knowledgeable HUMAN, who will support your purchase. You may pay a little more, perhaps, but if you need guidance, talking with a person is really nice, especially if you know little about photography. Support your local dedicated camera people, eh? This is called Brain Cooperative Intelligence. The camera stores in my town are kept in business by people who give their customers a reason for coming back.



If you need little or no information (if you are EXPERIENCED or have been given reliable GUIDANCE), or if you want potentially bad information, go to the appliance, office, or computer stores. You'll save a little money. Some of these people are knowledgeable, others think they know something- but don't. If YOU know nothing, how will you tell the difference? Many stores have teenagers (god bless 'em) that get exactly 30 minutes of training before they are put on the sales floor. I frequent places like Comp USA, Best Buy, and Circuit City often- but I already know what I want, and have years of experience with the kind of equipment I'm getting there. 

So, if you go into those places, do your homework FIRST.

If you need help and advice with your camera and photography- where are you going to end up for reliable advice? See 1) above. 




Recently, retail stores are matching internet prices, especially after shipping- they have no choice- so, do not assume web prices will be lower in the end any longer. If the price is close, by all means, support  your local dealer and community- this is without question a wise decision. Your local camera store is likely excellent for personal attention and support, and will offer hands on testing and comparison that no online dealer can match. Even if its a bit more expensive, often, you will be at much greater advantage to buy physically from your local dealer-- so THINK ABOUT THIS CAREFULLY.

If you are away from a large or even small town, however, you may need to buy online or through mail. Or, if you need something very expensive, you may not be able to pay the difference in the retail store price.

If you have done your homework regarding knowing the crap from the good stuff, there are a few reliable and trustworthy web dealers. Online may or may not offer a great deal of savings over the discount retail merchants, and in many cases, no savings at all. But, on the higher priced equipment, and professional equipment, there is more room for price differences, and great savings can be found from the dealers shown below.

BUT BEWARE!!! There are some REALLY REALLY bad web merchants also. Some of the places with the lowest prices in the universe have horrible reputations, and you will regret sending your money to "Pete's Lowest Camera Price Universe". You may get a bad item, you may wait forever, or you might not even get it at all.

And realize, web merchants will rarely if ever help you understand what you buy from them. Returns and exchanges are almost without exception a major hassle, or at the very least, a good wait. You are assuming you have picked out exactly what you need, and you are getting a perfect piece of gear from the factory. Okay--  Compare this with driving ten minutes to make an exchange or return to your local camera dealer. Right? You've been warned.

Now, then...One reliable source (there are indeed many) for equipment is, a low priced mail order/web source for digital cameras and camcorders. (This is NOT a paid endorsement, I've used them several times myself). Buydig generally has better prices than B&H below, though not quite as universal stock- pretty damn big however. Probably the best reliable prices on the web for new cameras- excepting accessories, where they make substantial profit.

Another favorite of professionals (as well as regular consumers) is B&H Photo  and has a huge inventory and selection, and has the best reputation online for having EVERYTHING. Closed on Saturday, Open sunday.

Between B&H and Worldwide Direct, you should be able to get anything you want on the web, at the best prices online. These are the best to be found on the web.




Professional Video Camera and Equipment Do-It-Yourself Genius Projects:

DVX100 .3X DIY Semi-Fisheye Lens Project

$40 GL2 .5X GL2 Super Wide Angle DIY Lens Project

Better and Cheaper Mike Boom Pole

EXTENDED Super Camera Jib/Crane Modification

Better Almost Free Flip-Out LCD Lens SHADE for Camcorders and DVX100

English and Scottish Windpals (wind noise protection)


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Your Amazing Brain Adventure is a web site all about Tickling Your Amygdala- i.e. turning on the best part of your brain as easy as clicking on a light switch. This is done as easily as imagining a feather inside of your head stimulating a compass, the amygdala. The amygdala is a set of twin organs, a part of your brain that sits right in between the most advance part of your brain- the frontal lobes and pre-frontal cortex- and the most primitive part of your brain- your "reptile brain" and brain stem.  By tickling your amygdala you instantly and directly increase creativity, intelligence, pleasure, and also make possible a spontaneous natural processes known as "paranormal abilities", although such things as telepathy and ESP are really as natural as breathing, or as easy doing simple math in your head. The ability to self stimulate the amygdala by something as simple as thought has been proven in laboratory experiments, such as those conducted at Harvard University research labs, 1999-2009, and can be tracked with modern brain scanning machines such as fMRI and PET... Indeed, thought is faster than light.


Other sites of interest: is a painting site dedicated to learning how to paint a car yourself, even if you've never painted a car before. You can refinish your car to professional standards at home, better than if you take it to someone else, and enjoy doing it at a fraction of the cost of having it done in an expensive shop. You can repair dents, rust, and use the most durable real automotive paint, and even learn to apply it without any special or expensive gear, in a safe and enjoyable manner. Paint your car in your garage, car port, or even driveway. You can spray, use an HVLP gun, or even use a roller.


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