Picking the Right Viewfinder Camera

Choosing Your Camera

Dan Knight - September 2002, updated

Now that you know a bit about lens coverage, lens speed, shutter speeds, flash range, and other features, you can visit your local camera shop prepared. You'll be able to share your needs (wider coverage, extra reach, better flash range, whatever) and see which models meet them.

You'll probably be offered several choices. Some may be weather resistant, some may have metal bodies instead of plastic, and still others may offer remarkably long warrantees.

Speaking of which, most point-and-shoot cameras will last 5-10 years with average use. By the time they do finally break, it's usually not economical to repair them. It's pretty uncommon to see a current or recent model in the shop for service, so in reality there's not much difference between the practical value of a one year warranty and five years. The latter provides more peace of mind, but don't place too much emphasis on the length of the warranty.

Handle the camera. See what you like, and pay particular attention to the viewfinder itself (especially if you wear glassed). Look at little things, such as the huge illuminated LCD on the back of the Fujifilm Zoom Date 1000 and 1300 - personal favorites with metal bodies, wide/slow lenses, stroboscopic preflash, compact size, competitive price, and excellent picture quality.

What About APS?

We covered a lot of things about APS up front, but the more time I spent working in a camera store, the more I wished it would just go away (since writing this, it has!). Between customers going on vacation and not being able to find APS film and APS cameras that refuse to rewind a roll (and there's no way to manually extract it), it's not worth the aggravation.

Sure, APS sounded like a brilliant idea, but every advance in APS film technology made its way to the slightly larger 35mm format, and the disadvantages far outweigh the few advantages. The cost of developing APS put the final nail in the coffin.

Sure, if someone specifically asked for APS, I wouldn't talk them out of it, but if they did't ask, I wasn't going to mention it.

Stick with 35mm. It's been around since the 1930s, and it's not likely to follow the 126, 110, and Disk formats into oblivion.

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