This is the kind of question people love to debate, so let me tap the collective strong opinions of the web. If — and I emphasize the word “if,” because tax refunds and financial aid decisions and medical bills and so on will make a big difference — if I were to look into buying a camera so that I could hand down to Pippa the camera I’ve been using for two or three years, now, what recommendations would my visitors make?
Myself, I don’t make vast enlargements, so I don’t need to impress anyone with the size of my megapixels; on the other hand, there’s no point to skimping, either, so I’d guess that 4 megapixels would be a fair compromise. I don’t typically take the pictures that require extreme wide-angle capacity, but I do like being able to zoom tighter on a composition (though I don’t envision needing the extreme high end of a zoom range; back in my 35mm days, when I was continually proving that great equipment can be used to produce mediocre photographs, I relied on a 135mm lens, mostly, occasionally reaching for a 200mm lens, which I loved but didn’t use that much).
I’m a wobbly sort of person, so the camera itself should produce images as sharp as possible. I end up taking a fair proportion of photos in low-ish light, so flash and image-stabilization require consideration — but I really hate most built-in flash units (it’s the one most irksome feature of the Nikon 2200 that I now use); it would be spectacular if a digital unit permitted some sort of bouncing. I like using the rechargeable Li-ion battery in my present camera more than the multiple-rechargeable NiMH AA-battery option in its predecessor, but I’m open to persuasion. I have an irrational attachment to Compact Flash memory cards, because those are what I’ve used all along, and I like being able to use the cards that worked in the camera I used years ago (even if it would only hold four images from a new multi-megapixel camera). OK, I’d have to let go of that, but I needed to confess my groundless predilection. And while I’m admitting to irrationality, I have to admit that I have been a long-term Nikon loyalist, so if my advisors strongly suggest a different manufacturer, they’ll have to soothe me with sweet blandishments.
And then there’s price.
The A K M Adam, tailor-made ideal camera would thus be something like a 4 megapixel camera with a zoom roughly equivalent to 35-200mm, possibly with stabilization (though at 200mm, would it be necessary?), a humane flash (not placed too close to the lens, bounceable?), very sharp lens to make up for my instability, Li Ion rechargeable battery, Compact Flash memory. . . and a firm recommendation from my friends about reliability and quality, for between $200 and $300. I know I’ll need to compromise on some of that — what compromise would you recommend?