Flutterby™! : Olympus D370

Next unread comment / Catchup all unread comments User Account Info | Logout | XML/Pilot/etc versions | Long version (with comments) | Weblog archives | Site Map | | Browse Topics

Olympus D370

2002-04-15 12:53:43+00 by ebradway 14 comments

I've been shopping for a cheap digital camera since my Canon S100 seems lost in Canon's repair facility (I sent it in, didn't pay for the repairs, they were supposed to send it back, I moved and haven't seen or heard from them since). I'm going to spend the requisite hour on hold today trying to track it down, but in the meantime, OfficeMax has the Olympus D370 for $119. From what I can tell, except for using SmartMedia cards and only having 2MB of RAM initially, the D370 is a decent entry-level digital camera. My experience with the S100 is that any digital that costs less than my VW bus is going to provide about the same quality as a point-and-shoot. And I always used 640x480 mode on the S100 as my images were always destined for the web and only provided for illustration purposes. Thus the 1.3megapixel CCD in the D370 is adequate and cheaper than what Canon wanted to clean the beer and sand out of my S100!

I'd like to supplement the cheap digital with a decent manual 35mm for the shots that really matter. Anyone have suggestions there?

[ related topics: Photography Beer ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment made: 2002-04-15 14:20:50+00 by: TC

I've had excellent luck with the D-460 as my handy pocket camera. It's stood up well to abuse (like burningman sandstorms)and takes pretty darn fine pictures with it's 1.3mp CCD. The zoom with pretty weak but at least it's a real optical zoom. I strongly encourage you to get a bigger memory card and MH rechargable batteries. It takes AA which is great if you run out of juice (there is always a AA device that can be robbed in a pinch).

#Comment made: 2002-04-15 14:55:00+00 by: ebradway [edit history]

Hmmmm... I just found a refurbished D460 at Worldwide Direct for $169. For the $50 I'd get optical zoom and an 8MB card. But they also have the Canon A10 for $166 - which has a 3X zoom AND uses FlashCard. Plus, it uses AA batteries!

Oooohhh... Aaaahhhh... Canon has a few lenses available for the A10! I think we may have a winner!

#Comment made: 2002-04-15 15:52:14+00 by: Pete

My advice is that if you are willing to look any further than price, make battery life a very big priority. A year ago I bought a Canon Powershot G1, in no small part because it uses a small Li-ion camcorder battery, and even when using the backlit LCD and a powerhungry IBM MicroDrive it will go for more than 200 pictures on a charge.

Even with that, I've been saved several times by the fact that I also got a second battery (with more capacity in the same size) from Battery Barn.

#Comment made: 2002-04-15 17:16:37+00 by: Dan Lyke

On the decent manual 35mm, the cheapest way to go is probably finding an old Pentax K-1000. But remember that any zoom worth 35mm is going to cost you more than you'll spend on the camera, and you might find a 50/1.8 limiting, so if you go that direction you'll be traveling down the path of carrying several prime lenses.

#Comment made: 2002-04-15 18:55:40+00 by: Dan Lyke

Thinking about it a big more, you might keep your eyes open for an older medium format TLR. More film area, so you can crop better, decent photo processors have minilabs that can handle medium format roll film, and probably not any more expensive than an older K-1000.

#Comment made: 2002-04-15 19:41:01+00 by: ebradway

I don't want to get into exotic developing just yet. If I get the Canon, I may try to get a hold of the telephoto lens for it and see how it does. About all I want is something that'll, say, take decent pictures of people playing ultimate from across the field. The S100, even with maximum zoom, didn't get enough detail unless the play was occuring right in front of you. To make matters worse, when you start playing with the digital zoom, the autofocus would slow down the rate that shots could be taken - causing me to miss the shot I wanted in the first place.

Maybe I need to build some kind of 'disc-cam'...

#Comment made: 2002-04-15 20:52:10+00 by: Dan Lyke

We were just in the Discovery Channel store: 640x480 in an oversized pen format (magic marker sized), with LCD display for $80. I didn't look at it for weight, but you could probably balance that in the center of a light disk with a microcontroller and some acceleration sensors...

#Comment made: 2002-04-16 00:39:35+00 by: DaveP

Olympus digital cameras: They've had problems with the auto-focus. One friend of mine has had four of them that simply wouldn't focus reliably. Mine works, but is slow. And if you're looking for SmartMedia, I've got a few 4Mb and 8Mb cards I'd let go for dirt cheap. The optical quality has been good in every Olympus digital camera I've had. It wasn't until I got my C-3000 that I was happy with the battery life. I've also got a D-600 with a ton of accessories I'd sell for $200 if you're interested. The major caveat with that camera is that it's equivalent to shooting ASA 64 film. But like Kodachrome, the color is very nice.

Film cameras: Gotta agree that the K-1000 is a cheap performer. Another cheap (and nearly indestructible) film camera to find used is the Canon FTb. I spent nine months wandering around Europe drunk with one in high school. The only troubly I ever had with it was when I tightened a tripod in too tight (see comment about drinking), which interfered with the shutter mechanism. Took about 10 minutes for a camera store to repair. Then someone stole it in Amsterdam. D'Ohh!

The cheap 640x480 digital cameras are attractive in that they're essentially disposable. There's a fairly common mechanism that's the size of the disposable film cameras. It's made in Korea, and many of the sub-$100 digital cameras are using it. Lens quality isn't so good, the CCD's a bit noisy, and most only hold 15-25 pictures, but they're very handy if you want something to carry everywhere and take a random picture or two a day.

#Comment made: 2002-04-16 00:42:51+00 by: DaveP [edit history]

oops. double-posted by accident. Bad me.

#Comment made: 2002-04-16 02:54:34+00 by: ebradway

The Canon FTb looks interesting. I checked some of the online forums and found I can get a reasonable setup, back, lens, flash, for under $200. It looks like the AE-1 is an option at the same price break. Any thoughts there?

I'm still not sure I will actually use a manual. I know from past experience I will exercise a digital heavily. My S100 didn't end up at the Factory Repair center because of lack of use!

I still tend to publish digitally more than physically. I'm trying to make a transition to more physical publishing but I can't even seem to get myself to buy business cards!

#Comment made: 2002-04-16 11:27:39+00 by: DaveP

Canon FTb vs AE-1: The FTb is all manual, and dead-on reliable. It was the choice of photojournalists in the 70s who couldn't afford Nikons.

The AE-1 is automatic. It works well, but if your batteries go, you're dead in the water. With an FTb, if the battery goes, you lose your meter. The AE-1 also never impressed me as being quite as solidly built as the FTb.

I'm not sure of the parts situation on either anymore, but I still see both selling used, so I imagine there are at least some parts available. Sometime in the late 80s/early 90s I finally bought a Nikon (a FA which was promptly discontinued, leaving me with a parts shortage problem if it ever breaks), so I haven't been following the Canons as closely as I used to.

For digitals, I've been a little disappointed. I'd like something compact, with a sliding lens-cover door, and resolution of at least 2k by 1.5k and optical (rather than digital zoom). I really like my Olympus C-3000, but because the lens sticks out, and requires a lens-cap to protect the glass, I tend not to take it everywhere, so I don't take as many pictures as I'd like.

#Comment made: 2002-04-16 15:58:45+00 by: Dan Lyke

Both the AE1 and the FTb use the older Canon mount lenses, which can be a mixed blessing. The one thing to make absolutely sure of as you look at older cameras is that you don't get something with a meter that requires a mercury battery. I think both those Canons are okay, I know the K1000 is okay, I'm not sure about, say, the older Pentax Spotmatics.

Given your usage pattern, I'd say stick with the digital.

#Comment made: 2002-04-16 21:35:34+00 by: Dori

Wow, this thread makes me want to pull out my ancient AE-1 and start taking pictures again. It's been pretty much abandoned since I bought my first digital camera about 5 years ago.

Is it worth putting any money into, or should I just sell it on eBay?

And speaking of digitals with sliding lens covers, I've had my Canon PowerShot S300 about a year, and I've been very happy with it. Had I known then what I know now, I would have gone for the S110 (the S300's a little more than I need), but it's a great camera.

#Comment made: 2002-04-18 04:11:28+00 by: ebradway

Dori: Be sure to let me know before you sell the AE-1.

I'm probably going to order the Canon A10 as soon as I have cash in the bank and a fixed address that can be shipped to at the same time (or I just may pay a friend to order it for me). I like the fact that the A10 can be adapted to take filters. Sticking a cheap UV filter on a camera is a good way to save the lens and noit fight with a lens cap.