digital camera recommendations?

I'm looking for  digital camera for personal use.  Am currently without pets or family, so the main subjects of my photography will be textiles, looms and weaving equipment.   If I can get a decent product, I might even finally have a weavolution avatar.  Any suggestions for what to buy and how to photograph weaving? 

I was interested in the 12.1 MP sony cybershot (model 290) on sale, but read reviews that said earlier models produced a better picture  Yes, I do realize I can't expect professional results with a consumer-grade product.  On the other  hand, the more I spend on a camera the less there will be for yarn and equipment.

thanks much,



Posted on Sun, 10/11/2009 - 20:28

Thanks, Laverne. I had a vague memory of the weavezine article, but hadn't looked it up.  Could you explain a bit about macro and supermacro? the article mentions it but doesn't explain.  I do get the thing about optical zoom.  Is 4X or 5X good enough?

Posted on Sun, 10/11/2009 - 20:49

I am probably getting in over my head here. I imagine you will be using your camera for things other than textiles indoors. The optical zoom would probably be something you will have more use for outside. (I would say 4x, 5x is fine but, again, it depends on what kinds of things you want to shoot)

Macro enables you to get sharp focus when shooting very close to a subject-if you want to photograph the details of your weave structure, for example. I think about 8 inches distance is normal in a macro setting. Super macro, depending on the camera, will allow you to focus as close as an inch although typically the flash doesn't work in this mode and you need to steady the camera with a tripod or on a firm surface.

Good lighting is essential and that is what I continually struggle with-my home is very poorly lit and my lamps too weak.

I hope this helps a bit.


Posted on Sun, 10/11/2009 - 21:23

You know I"m quite happy with my idiotic point and shoot --  a Sony Cybershot 7.2 megapixel camera I got at Target for about $100! For the textile pictures I do it's fine, and for web it's also fine. All the pictures for my  Weave-zine article were taken with it,as were all the pictures on my profile here. My brother the professional photographer says there's too much noise in the images. But you can shoot in almost any light with the 'ISO' setting, and the macro is great for fiber close ups.  In my film days I used an SLR and it was great, but I don't get into that sort of photography any more. My first digital was a Canon Elph, and it was fine for an early digital point and shoot, but not nearly as decent as this Sony.  And it's great to have a small cheap camera you can haul around with you everywhere w/o it being a burden.  I'm just mentioning this, because sometimes if you haven't had a camera in a while you might thin think you need a fancier one than you really do. And it leave more money for fiber as you point out :)


Posted on Mon, 10/12/2009 - 00:35

Mary, there are lots of goods cameras out there. The one thing I wanted was a camera with manual focus. Working with textiles with  auto focus sometimes you cannot get really sharp details.  You could check out "Consumer Reports" at your local library. I am using a 6M Pentax N73. I have a Nikon N80 35mm SLR which I use for the money shot, but I can not remember the last time I got film processed. Even then I get a CD. Go to a large photo shop like Fox and handle a lot of cameras. Some just "feel right."


Posted on Mon, 10/12/2009 - 01:17

Hi, MM--

I've been very happy with my Canon PowerShot SD550.  It does a hundred things at least that I've never even tried to do.  I need to work on adjusting the focus, but I think it does a pretty good job with weaving.  Here's an example of a point-and-shoot, with my first tablet weaving band as the subject.  The focus fell behind the top front part of the band a bit and the flash is too strong, but the design is still pretty clear. The faults could be corrected by putting the Canon in the hands of a better photographer.  I reduced the photo size with Pixelmator, but otherwise it is as the camera captured it.

The Canon has digital macro, and you can use digital zoom and optical zoom together.  I haven't tried any of those.

My iMac has taken the rest of the photos (not many) that I've posted on Weavolution, including the current avatar (woven filter and colourisation by Pixelmator).  I just turn the monitor toward the weaving and take the photo with Photo Booth.


Posted on Mon, 10/12/2009 - 03:00

 I invested in a digital SLR a few years ago, the cameral shop asked what basic features I needed, then selected 3 for me to try (they all had about the same features and quality in the $400 range) I think they were Nikon, Pentax and one other brand.  The salesperson told me to close my eyes and handle each camera, I picked the same camera out 3 times without seeing - I purchased the one that felt the best to handle - been using it over 3 years - I use it for all my picture taking including day trips and vacations - LOVE the picture quality and ease of use and of course it takes lovely "textile" shots! (btw - I chose the Pentax)

To get the best pictures all cameras require some degree of operator knowledge and basic awareness of composition and lighting.

Research the features you want and try it out in the store.

Have fun


Posted on Mon, 10/12/2009 - 20:06

I helped a friend who is an excellent amateur photographer pick her next camera a few months ago and we did the same thing.  We searched online for the options she wanted most and got a few prices.  Then went to a local camera shop that has a good reputation in the area, Penn Camera in DC, and went there and did the same "eyes closed" test of three cameras that had all the features she wanted and in her price range.  She picked the same camera 3/3 times, a Canon, and she is thrilled with it.  The pictures are great, and they gave her the same price as the cheapest online dealer she found. 

Claudia, just adding our experience to the list

Posted on Tue, 10/13/2009 - 01:11

I'm in the market for a new, cheap, point and shoot camera. I have a big, heavy and complicated Fuji that I HATE, that does all the fancy bits and pieces that I really can't be bothered with. I solve camera flash by putting my finger over the flash and holding it down because I cannot turn it off, and as for finding macro..........the hand book is the size of War and Peace, and not nearly as readable. I don't want another you-beaut all singing all dancing camera - been there done that - I want simple, and something that does NOT require a tripod because of the silly way you have to click the shutter! Have you tried THAT with the shakes or arthritis? Camera phones can manage it, why not straight cameras?

I use my camera for web stuff, and weaving, and the odd other photo so it does not need to be complicated. I literally want to point and shoot,  and have control over macro shots and the use of flash. I don't need a lesson on how to take a photo, or a thick manual to show how to use it. I don't even need the software - Windows has enough for my simple needs. Apart from the Sony mentioned, are there any other cameras that are just as uncomplicated to use?


Posted on Tue, 10/13/2009 - 12:50

What you need to find is a "photo" shop, not a "Best buy" type store. At a real photo shop you can talk to someone that know about the cameras they are selling. Try a number of cameras in your price range, have the sales person show you how to operate the camera with out flash and how to find the macro setting etc. As a point of ref on my Pentax all the major functions are on a knob on the top left. I can go from flast to no flash or micro-macro just by turning this knob. I know what you mean about complicated cameras, this Pentax will also allow me to adjust the flash output. But to do so I must go into the menu. Back in the days when I was using a Honeywell Auto Flash, I could put on a flash reduction len on the flash. But then you had  to carry a bag with all the different lens, rolls of film, camera lens etc. I am an old dog, but I can still learn new tricks, I love my Pentax. have fun picking out your new camera and remember the asking price is not always the selling price!


Posted on Tue, 10/13/2009 - 13:22

Hi Michael, If it has a menu - I don't want to know - it just got too complicated.

I really mean point and shoot, like a cell phone camera. With a clearly marked macro button, a clearly marked flash button, and without requiring me to aim, half-click while it sorts out the focus, then finish the click to actually take the picture. That simply does not work once you have arthritis in your fingers.

Apart from the fact there are no local camera shops close to me, the only place I can get help and advice about a camera is our Aussie version of Radio Shack, which is why I need to do some homework first, because we ended up with the monstrous Fuji when we didn't do any homework, ;-)!

Posted on Tue, 10/13/2009 - 13:35

I should have checked your bio first, I now see that you are "down under" What that means I have no cue?

Let me do some checking for you. A point and shoot camera is no problem, but one with Macros and no half click?
Let me get back with you.



Posted on Wed, 10/14/2009 - 11:42

Hi Caroline,

I know what you mean, I have just the camera for you.  I have an Olympus FE 180.  i think they make one with more pixels now but this is perfect for me.  You set the dial to"Auto" and away you go.  If you want to eliminate the flash, it's easy.  Downloading to the computer is a piece of cake.  It's small and light so if I put it in my purse I do not feel burdened by weight.  I bought it online by "googling" the model camera I wanted.  And, I found it by reading reviews and information at  They even have a Digital Camera finder to help you figure out what you want.  I love my camera and never went to a shop or anywhere to try it out first.  It did my research online then found the best price, ordered it and bam, it's mine.

That's my best recommendation.  Good luck.



Posted on Wed, 10/14/2009 - 12:46

hi Claudia, Thank you! That sounds exactly what I need! And thank you for the link too - I hadn't thought of using cnet to research anything. I  always comparison shop until I find the price I want - most of my electronics have been bought online, and I've been happy with what I've purchased! Its just a matter of being choosy and not getting carried away.

Posted on Wed, 10/14/2009 - 18:55

I checked with a guy at Wolf camera. His recommendation was a Panasonis DMC TZ50. I checked the specs on this camera. Yes it will do what you want plus a lot more. If fact too much more.The thing that turned me off about this camera right off the bat was the fact that it uses a property battery. Being in the "outback" I would think you would want a camera that uses batteries you could get anywhere. Go to this web site and post your wants and needs in a carmera and see what hits you get.  You may just see if you could locate the camera that Claudia recommended and try it out to see if it is what you need. There are lots of places on the web that will help you find the right camera, but nothing beats holding one in your hands. 


Posted on Wed, 10/14/2009 - 22:24

Thank you Michael!

I'm not "outback", I live in Adelaide, and for many things we are at the end of the distribution chain, so it might as well be out bush!  I learned the value of those little rechargeable batteries a long time ago, hehe!

Posted on Mon, 10/19/2009 - 08:38

I checked with a guy at Wolf camera. His recommendation was a Panasonis DMC TZ50. I checked the specs on this camera. Yes it will do what you want plus a lot more. If fact too much more.The thing that turned me off about this camera right off the bat was the fact that it uses a property battery. Being in the "outback" I would think you would want a camera that uses batteries you could get anywhere Digital Cameras

Posted on Sat, 11/07/2009 - 09:23

you can go with cybershot with 12.12 mgeapixels and even you can look for nice cannon N2 10.2 mega piels and also look to Nikon slr camera for best shots but i will advice you to go with the Cannon becasue it has the best picture quality among all,i also had a nice cannon 8.1 MP for proffessional filming and a 2 MP nokia 5310  for casual photography.

Posted on Sat, 11/07/2009 - 10:35

I have been using Nikon cameras for over twenty five years. First a film camera which gives astounding picture quality and later the use of a digital SLR. Still great picture quality as the Nikon lens are really superb. A basic decent model will give you the Auto option for point and shoot. Too, the options on a camera are more important than high pixels for best quality shot.

The use of a macro lens as Bolivia Warmi suggested is also very important particularly in shooting textiles. Yes a tripod helps greatly to stabilize your image, very important for sharpness and clarity.

Next important factor in any photo is lighting. If you can shoot taking advantage of natural lighting, ie backlight the item with bright light through a north window or bright natural light on an overcast day you will have the best colour representation and least shadow. Shoot to fill the frame with your subject, less background is more. Paying the price for a quality SLR camera will pay dividends for a very long time - particularly if you are selling your fibre items online, then you can afford all your favourite fibres. Play with friends cameras and take your time. Photography is wonderfully rewarding.

Posted on Sat, 11/07/2009 - 11:53

I love our Pentax 70.  A little pricier then the point and shoot, but sooooo worth it.  You can see my projects for some picture samples. 

Posted on Sat, 11/07/2009 - 13:54

Thanks.  Yes, I can see the difference, and I enjoyed browsing your projects.  Is your husband considering publishing drafts?

My father likes his canon powershot and offered to let me experiment with it.  Still having trouble committing to an SLR because of price and complexity.  I don't teach or sell, but would like to be able to communicate with weavers and to document my collection.

Posted on Tue, 11/24/2009 - 01:03

MaryMartha, did you buy a new camera? I purchased a Sanyo 12 Mp in the end, because it was cheap, and I can set it to auto. It also has one BIG advantage over my Fuji, the manual is written in English that non-camera-nerds can understand! I feel confident enough that I could make a video clip following their simple instructions!

OK, I know its not an SLR,  I know its cheap and cheerful, but its easy to use, and I will get a lot of use out of it; far more than I would with the big clunker.

Anyone want a lightly used Fuji, guaranteed to not be user-friendly?

Posted on Sat, 11/28/2009 - 14:48

Thanks to everyone who contributed. 

 I found my father's Canon A590 (7.1 MP 4X zoom) to be comprehensible, although it was chunky (fat) in my hand and I hit the half-click autofocus only 1 time in three.  The low res LCD was somewhat frustrating.  The digital macro was a bust, but I am sure  I used it wrong. An aftermarket optical macro lens/adapter from opteka is available.  My sister''s canon G9 is really heavy and over-thought. She doesn't even like it.

 I was strongly attracted to the canon A630 (8 MP 4X zoom), with foldout LCD and aftermarket lenses available. There is even a firmware upgrade that gives you RAW capability.  But the image processor is now outdated and there are some complaints about build quality 2-3 years out.  Because it is no longer made, the price has gone up.

 Was also strongly attracted to the Sony DSC-H20.  (10 MP 10x zoom) It is well designed and well reviewed, with a good digital macro capability.  But they say reds/blues are markedly oversaturated, and my oriental rug "collection" is primarily red.  No aftermarket lenses, though and the Sony lens adaptor has reported problems.

 In the ~$250 price range, and just to have a decent digital camera, my best bet seems to be a Canon SX120 or SX200 (10 MP/10x zoom).  No aftermarket lenses yet, but I can hope.

 If I come up to about $350, there are several good possibilities, including the Pentax X70 mentioned by Silverwheelyarn and the Panasonic Lumix FZ35 (though not the TZ50 mentioned by Rohit) and the Canon G10/G11.  At that point, I'd need to get  to a camera store for a final choice.  I am not attracted by the cockpit-complexity or the weight of this whole class and really don't want to spend this much.  But the difference in image quality really shows.

by the way, I found the best site for head-to-head comparisons was

I regret all the hours spent researching and obsessing over cameras.  That was time better spent weaving, or at least in researching and obsessing over looms.  Maybe I should spring for the aftermarket macro lens and periodically borrow my sister's G9.