Buying a Digital Camera

Kelly Ann Butterbaugh
May 16, 2008

Digital CameraWhat's so great about a digital camera? I let that question hang as an excuse to stay with my film camera for three years now. In reality, I was too cheap to invest in a new camera. Yet, when my work and my love for snapping pictures made me re-evaluate the investment I learned that digital cameras can actually save you money.



Film isn't cheap, and anyone who's snapped their way through twenty rolls of film while on vacation knows that. My best bargain was $1.75 per roll if I used a coupon. (However, I did find that offers on eBay often can snag rolls for $1 a piece if you're lucky.) On the average vacation, I bring home twenty rolls of film. (I'm clearly not the average vacationer.) That's a minimal of $35 in film costs alone. If I use fifty rolls of film a year, by investing in a digital camera I will save $88.


Film processing is another heavy investment when you're bringing home twenty rolls of film. I never pay for the one-hour developing; it's too expensive. Sending it out through our local wholesale club costs $3.50. Yet, that brings a bill of $70 for my twenty roll trip. Film processing isn't avoided by digital cameras, however; most people prefer to have real prints. The idea of printing at home is convenient, but with an average cost of $2 per 8x10 print, it's not the cheapest option.

I did find two savings in digital processing. One is that by seeing the pictures before I process them, I can decide to print only those which I love. With a digital camera I know which pictures are worth saving. In reality, out of the 480 pictures on my twenty rolls of film, only 260 are really great. The other savings I found are that digital prints are sometimes cheaper than film prints. With pharmacies advertising sales of $.09 a print, I can't process film for that price. The low end price of a digital print fall at $.012 while the low end price of a film print figures to be $.015. That saves $14.40 if I develop all 480 pictures.

Instant Gratification

Okay, let's be realistic for a moment. I love to save pennies wherever I can, but I also love seeing my pictures the minute I return from a trip. At what point is this instant satisfaction and ability to share pictures on the internet worth the cost of the camera? You know in a second if you caught Tommy blowing out his birthday candles, and you can see if Grandpa blinked during the family portrait.

The Camera

I'll be honest; digital cameras aren't cheap. In fact, they're twice as expensive as film cameras. However, the savings in film alone may justify your camera in a few years depending on your model. For some people, the film cameras will always be their choice of preservation; yet, for film wasters like me I can save money in the long run by going digital.

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9 More Solutions

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Warren Lynch
July 1, 2005

The most important part of buying a digital camera is making sure that the one you select meets all of your needs.


Anna Lim
December 9, 2004

Sony Electronics, Inc. continues to dominate the digital camera industry. With its wide range of digital cameras, here comes the latest addition to its roster of amazing models, the Sony DSC-V3 Digital Camera which is so far one of the best 7.2 megapixel cameras in the market.



Here are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community.

February 22, 2007

I would like to buy an inexpensive used digital camera on eBay. I intend to use it to photograph items I'm selling on eBay. Do you have a camera (manufacturer and model, please) that you'd recommend? It's fine if it's a few years old, of course!

By Liz


February 23, 20070 found this helpful

I used to have an Olympus C-740 that I absolutely loved and was always getting compliments on the resulting pictures. I gave it to my mom and sometimes I wish I hadn't! Great camera. It was 'only' a 3 MP camera, but if you are just taking pics for eBay, it doesn't really matter. I think the whole megapixel count is a bit overrated, anyway.


Canon is most likely a safe choice as well. My better half still uses our Canon A10- a 1.2MP camera! He likes it because it's easy and durable, though a later model with more megapixels would be better for you.

The problem with Olympus and Fuji is that they take xD cards, which tend to be expensive. If you went that route, a card included in the auction would be nice!

Not that I'm too keen on the eBay's too easy to get carried away and bid too much! I'd certainly compare the prices online first, not too mention check out the clearance sections of stores near you. I recently bought another Olympus (an FE-something or other....4MP) at Sears brand new for $34!!! You can also keep an eye on the forums for good camera deals.


Oh, whatever you decide, just be cautious of camera makers (I think Sony is one) that use only proprietary batteries. I like Olympus and Canon because you can usually use rechargeable AA's in them. (I say 'usually' because my experience is limited to the camera's I've owned).

Good luck!

February 23, 20070 found this helpful

wow please make sure you read the ad before you buy don't get me wrong i buy off of ebay and i'm not putting it down but once you buy it your usually stuck with it and this is electronic so my advice would be to check thrift stores or big lots or the local paper so if it doesn't work you have some recourse and you can get your money back or check it out before you buy.

By chml (Guest Post)
February 23, 20070 found this helpful


My camera is a Concord 4 mp # 4363z I've been very happy with it. It cost $99. two years ago. It has features that many more expensive cameras have. It has a setting for close picture taking also, that would be very important for selling on Ebay.


I bought a recharging system and use AA batteries in it. You can also use regular AA batteries, but they don't last long.

I could not imagine using a docking system. Extra batteries can go with you.

If anything happened to mine, I would not hesitate to buy the same camera.


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February 23, 20070 found this helpful

I am still using the Sony Mavica 73 that I bought in 1999 and used when I was an eBay seller. I love it. It has 10X Zoom which allows you to take very close-up pictures for eBay items when necessary. I could take pictures of the engravings inside a ring with this camera. This camera is no longer manufactured, but is still available.Amazon currently has 11 listed...the lowest price being $94.00. Mine was $399 new in '99. It does take a special rechargeable battery, but I have only replaced my battery once in 8 years. I still use it a lot to take pictures for the craft patterns, etc that I post on Thrifty Fun, and also to take pictures of my yard art. Another feature that I like about this camera is that instead of a memory stick it uses floppy disks to record the photos. You just insert your floppy into your computer and copy your pictures or print, whichever you like. I am making up a catalog of my yard art, and I can take the pictures with my Sony mavica, copy them from the floppy to my hard drive, upload them to Walgreen's to have 4 x 6 prints made,and pick them up an hour later for 19 cents a print. My husband also has a Sony. His is a model FD-95 and takes great pictures also using a floppy.
Harlean from Arkansas

By Heather (Guest Post)
February 25, 20070 found this helpful

Sorry, but I won't recomend buying a camera from ebay unless it is returnable. My sister bought a film camera and used it to take pictures when I had my baby. Nothing came out and she was stuck with the camera. There was something wrong with the shutter.

If you watch for deals--you can buy inexpensive cameras--sometimes coming with a memory chip and you have the chance to use it and be able to take it back if a problem arises.

By (Guest Post)
March 1, 20070 found this helpful

Ditto on ebay, unless you have done some business with a dealer you can trust.
I have a 4.0 Kodak easy share that I really like. I bought mine at a discount store for 149.00. I wanted one for my grand daughter, so I went to and got a 3.0 for her, it was used, but in wonderful condition for 35.00. I was really happy with it, and she thinks it is great. This company has a good reputation, and a return policy as well as a repair dept. Good luck.

March 2, 20070 found this helpful

LIZ, I gave you the wrong website for a used camera, sorry, it is KEH.COM This is where I had such good luck with the used Kodak.


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March 15, 20070 found this helpful

I think my post was misunderstood. I did not buy my camera on eBay. I bought it from BestBuy, an electronics store with a local store. I used it to take the pictures of items that I sold on eBay. I do not trust ebay sellers of electronic and computer related products, either. Have seen too many accounts of people who were cheated to the tune of big $$$$'s
Harlean from Arkansas

July 15, 20090 found this helpful

I would recommend looking at used digital cameras in pawn shops. Most pawn shops have a return policy, and most of them will allow you to take a picture to see how it works. Then go with YOUR feelings--don't let them talk you into one you aren't happy with.

I have purchased two pro cameras from pawn shops and have been more than satisfied.

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July 20, 2010

I am currently in search of a digital camera. My budget is $250, though I want a quality camera. I do not need any special features. I just want a good easy to use camera, and would prefer one with a large screen to view pictures. If you have a camera that would work with my suggestions, please tell me the name, the brand, and where you purchased it. Thank you very much!

By Cara from Firefield, USA


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July 20, 20100 found this helpful

Well, I recommend a Canon Powershot. I don't know what model they are up to at this point but mine is a Powershot A300. It is a good little camera. Easy to use. The onle downfall to it is it was the first design of this model using AA batteries. It goes through them like a duck on water. I think I read that the new Powershot cameras have been improved beyond this design failure. I still like my camera a whole bunch and wouldn't get rid of it. I just buy lots of batteries at once. :) But like I said, they designed past this flaw so I would check it out. I bought mine at Office Max in 2005 or 6. I don't remember. But I am sure it was under $200.

July 24, 20100 found this helpful

I always check out reviews on and, then I check out the local stores or order from those websites. I never leave my batteries in my camera, they will suck the energy from them or they will be too old to use when I want to. I always keep lots of batteries on hand for this purpose though, you never know when you will need your camera! Good luck. :)


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July 24, 20100 found this helpful

Are you familiar with Kim Komando? She has a website and a radio show that covers about everything to do with computers and cameras. She often gives advise on what camera to buy for your needs. My camera is a Canon Power Shot SD1200IS and I love it. It was only $150.

July 24, 20100 found this helpful

I have a nikon coolpix S52. I have had it a couple of years and it is the second one of it's kind I have purchased. I'm sure by now there are newer models but any of the coolpix model camera's will do. They are point and shoot w/ rechargeable battery. (comes with the charger) You can take about a million pictures before you need to download It is a great camera costs around $200. and takes phenomenal pictures, and the viewing screen is large so the pictures are easily viewed. some of the newer models allow you to fix red eye and things right on the camera. I purchased it at Ritz Camera in Sterling Heights Michigan

July 30, 20100 found this helpful

You must go to get the GE branded ones it's 12.2 megapixel at Kmart I paid 69 bucks for it. It is awesome, it has every possible feature and then some. It is awesome! Also sears sells it to I got mine black Friday it is like 79, I think now, but it is awesome. Batteries last forever!

August 13, 20100 found this helpful

Whatever brand & model you choose: stay away from any camera that takes AA batteries. Make sure you can use NiCad rechargeable ones. They last longer and save $$$ by recharging.
My Canon Sure Shot takes AA bats and they die after about 30 shots.

August 14, 20100 found this helpful

IMHO Panasonic has excellent optics and the best features for the money, at least when I was researching cameras in 2006. I've had an FZ7 (2006) and FZ8 (2007) and love them. User friendly, take great pix, and not expensive. I killed the FZ7 when I dropped it in the sand on vacation. Bought the FZ8 which had just come out to replace it and have been happy with it. Both were around $300 at the time.

Canon and Nikon are OK. I wouldn't get an Olympus, or Kodak.

Happy shopping.

September 8, 20100 found this helpful

September 8th, 2010
I recently spent several days, comparing compact digital cameras. Not just comparing but really learning as much as I could from reviews that people had written. I love my large camera but would never, even consider taking it to Disney World or any place like it where it could be damaged by fast moving rides not to mention carrying it everywhere too.

In the end I chose, the Panasonic "Lumix FH20".
It's not an expensive camera but the pictures are incredible and I did not find one bad review.
The only thing I came across was a few people who complained about the battery. I have not had one bit of trouble with this camera and it was pretty simple to learn how to use.

Further more, I have a neighbor who is an Engineer and he really thoroughly researches every little thing he owns and he also has a Lumix. I actually brought my camera over to show him not knowing that he also had one so I was tickled silly to find out that I did the proper research and came up with the same camera. I can honestly say, I love my camera and it fits very easily into my pants pocket and or pocket book.

To say I'm a fan of the Lumix would be an understatement and here's the best part, I bought it on-line, brand new in a box that had never been opened on I think I paid just under $160 shipping included. In my opinion it truly is a great little camera.

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June 15, 2009

How do I choose the best digital camera, without spending a fortune on it? I want clear pictures and also as much zoom as possible.

By Cricket from Parkton, NC


June 16, 20090 found this helpful

I would go to a camera store and see if they have any preowned cameras they may have taken in on trade. Also look for people wanting to sell their camera. A lot of cities have books for sale that advertise used goods for sale. I have bought several digital kodak cameras because for what I use a camera for they deliver very good pics. Two thing you should keep in mind. Buy a camera with the most pixels and camers usually come with optical and/or digital zoom lens. Forget the digital. The important zoom lens is the optical one.

June 16, 20090 found this helpful

I was going to post the same thing as foxrun about the zoom. Spend your money of the best optical zoom you can afford. My digital cameral is around 10 years old, and I've used the digital zoom only a couple of times. It reduces the quality of the image -- makes it look pixelated.

Good luck - hope you love your new camera!


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June 16, 20090 found this helpful

A magazine entitled Consumer Reports can be found at a public library.


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June 18, 20090 found this helpful

I bought one for 20 bucks, sucked big time took it back. I have a pink kodak one, cost 80 dollars, fantastic. I absolutely love it, has all the good features. Good zoom. Got it from walmart. Then I seen big lots had exact same one about a month later for about 1/2 price, so check there.

June 23, 20090 found this helpful

Kodak EasyShare is the least expensive of the reputable manufacturers, that I've seen, with the price hovering between $70-$100 and up.

March 3, 20100 found this helpful

I've had experience with Kodak, but I much prefer the one that is not rechargeable. It's easier to just replace the batteries (2 AA). Otherwise, you have to stop using the camera until the battery is charged up again which usually means going to an electrical outlet. I make sure now that any new camera I buy is not rechargeable. These cameras keep going down in price. Kodak has one on their site for $79.

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July 1, 2005

Tips to help you when buying a digital camera. Post your ideas.


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July 1, 20050 found this helpful

Digital cameras prices are coming down in price, but you still need to shop around, and that's easy to do on the internet. I personally like Staples because they have the instant, on-the-spot rebates. But they are just one place. Just SHOP AROUND, 'CAUSE PRICES ARE COMING DOWN.

By Ardis Barnes


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July 1, 20050 found this helpful

If you'd like to sell jewelry on ebay, I have been told that it takes 10x optical, minimum 3 megapixels to capture the finer detail. I don't own a digital yet, because I am waiting for prices to drop. At the time of the inquiry at a professional camera shop, 4 MP were the maximum and the cost was over $1,000. Prices have since come down substantially and I am wondering if the 10x optical has been reduced in favor of a higher MP.

I have read that the higher MP's are just regular MP's made smaller, and less useful. That a 3 MP with standard sized MP's, is more useful than something with many more MP's that are less than standard size. How you would find this out, I haven't the least idea, but it bears thinking about.

I know that the digital power of a camera is less impressive than the optical power. Digital zoom just means enlarged (which becomes fuzzy when a larger picture is made) and optical means better focusing. So buy the most optical zoom you can afford and ignore the digital.

By Holly

By (Guest Post)
July 6, 20050 found this helpful

"I have read that the higher MP's are just regular MP's made smaller, and less useful. That a 3 MP with standard sized MP's, is more useful than something with many more MP's that are less than standard size."

MP = megapixels. mega = 1 million
Every megapixel is 1 million pixels, no more, no less.

Like a kilometer is always 1000 meters, since kilo = 1,000.

There's no such thing as different size megapixels. Every megapixel is 1 million pixels.

If there were such a thing as different size megapixels, I doubt anybody would pay those high prices for cameras that have lots of megapixels, and reviews for those cameras in magazines like PC Magazine and Consumer Reports would not report that they made good quality enlargements.

Does thriftyfun not verify any of the information that it puts in its newsletter? I had come to trust this site as a source of good advice for saving money. I guess I will just have to research things on my own.


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July 6, 20050 found this helpful

"I have read that the higher MP's are just regular MP's made smaller, and less useful. That a 3 MP with standard sized MP's, is more useful than something with many more MP's that are less than standard size."
I read this somewhere in a magazine that was discussing the new digital cameras. I didn't make it up. It was quite a surprise to me as I figured a mega pixel was just what it was called, and not a stretched out version of itself.
And yes, you will have to verify everything you read on the internet. Some info is placed so as to be purposefully misleading and other info may be accidentally misleading. Some can just be misinformation and other, the actual facts.
You have to be your own judge about everything you read.


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July 6, 20050 found this helpful

Nice article about pixels and sensors.
This article talked about shrinking pixel size and offering more.

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July 25, 2005

This weekend I saw an advertisement for a Bell and Howell digital camera with 10 megapixels. The asking price was $200 and I just had to read about it.

The ad said that the 10 megapixels were due to interpolation. I don't know what that means, but I do know a 'buyer beware' when I see one. Sounds like the 10 MP's were really something else.



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July 25, 20050 found this helpful

Holly, I looked the word up on and when I apply it to a commercial, it sounds like a lot of double

July 25, 20050 found this helpful

Interpolation is basically a way to guesstimate the value of something, based on what is around it. In the case of digital camera images, the camera actually sees and remembers a "holey" image, and then fills in the holes based on the colors around the holes. As a very simple example, say you have a hole, with a white pixel on one side and a red pixel on the other side. The camera's processor would fill in the gap with pink. If one side were blue and the other side green, the hole would be filled in with blue-green.

What you end up with is a 10MP picture, but only a certain number of those pixels are originals that the camera actually saw. The others are the filled-in holes. For the best quality image, the greater the percentage of "original" pixels, the better.


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July 25, 20050 found this helpful

How do you figure how many non-interpolated pixels it really has?

By (Guest Post)
July 25, 20050 found this helpful

I found two resources...I did a search at

Interpolated - Software programs can enlarge image resolution beyond the actual resolution by adding extra pixels using complex mathematic calculations.

THe second resource is here:

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March 21, 2012

I need a new camera and don't want one with a lot of bells and whistles as I am not very good in this area.

By ruthie


March 21, 20120 found this helpful

I just got into taking pictures and ask same question. Since I'm not a computer thinking kind of person, seeing that from sewing machines to cameras it all seems like little computers to me.

I ended up getting a Fugi. Love it, it has the point and shoot method, as you get better you can adjust the settings to flowers, portraits, ocean shots even darkness levels. Before you learn all of that,it has an auto setting,a brain of its own. I was amazed! Great pictures every time because of the no shaking or red eyes that it has set in it. If you can point and press the button, you'll be fine.

Once I learned how to be comfortable with the small one I went up to a 18x zoom. For just taking regular pictures of family, memories, etc. Start out with a simple point and shoot style camera. They cost around 100.00 for a good one with a year warranty (I recommend).

When I ask about buying a camera everyone told me since I didn't know what to look for not to buy off E bay, used or without original instruction manual. I found that useful, since I always try to save money. In this case you want to get the most for you buck.One that lasts,does the job and you can if you want grow into.

What I love now is you can just take pictures. If you do not want the hard copies it cost you nothing after you find one you like. Now this is from a new photographer who is enjoying learning something I never grow tired of. Good luck and have fun!


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March 21, 20120 found this helpful

If you just want some pictures and aren't worried about bells and whistles why not get a Polaroid? You load it with film, point, shoot and wait for the picture to develope. Couldn't be easier.

Fair warning though, the film doesn't have a shelf life once it is opened so try to use them up within a month or two. Sealed film, I am told, will last 8 or 9 months.

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