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Suggestion needed: Camera for retired parents

by rmjb / October 28, 2008 11:00 PM PDT

Hi, my wife's parents still use a film camera and we want to get them a digital camera for Christmas. This camera must be very straight forward to use though, nothing complex, just point and shoot with not many buttons and dials and jingles and jangles.
Any brand/memory format is on the table, don't rule out HP cameras or xD cards or anything, they wont be doing any upgrades or anything with the camera, just using it.

Thanks in advance,

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My mother is 74 and
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / October 28, 2008 11:07 PM PDT

Uses my hand me down Kodak dx6490. It has plenty of dials and 4 buttons on top and a lens cap to take off. She does fine. The pictures are NOT transferred with the Kodak software. She takes out the memory card and either prints them at the usual drug store, wallymart or copies them to her laptop.

I'm sure the other point and shoots could be a little easier.

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Senior Citizen Camera
by snapshot2 Forum moderator / October 29, 2008 12:54 AM PDT

Kodak has a long history of making easy to use cameras.

Go to a store that lets you get your hands on the camera and try a few Kodak cameras.

I am going to assume that your wife's parents don't have a lot of computer savvy.

So keep it simple:
They can take the memory card to their local photo processor and have them print the images.
If they want to keep a copy of the files (with film that would be the negatives), the photo processor can copy them to a CD ($2 to $3).


When you buy the camera, be sure to get a memory card too.
A 1-gig or 2-gig card would be about right.


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Camera for Retired Parents
by Zouch / October 31, 2008 1:37 PM PDT

I agree with the earlier posts, keep it simple. Kodak have a long reputation for just this and their cameras produce perfectly satisfactory pictures for all but the professional. Another brand to look at is Fujifilm, who also make some great simple cameras, but with the option to use a few more sophisticated controls if you wish. I have a Fuji Finepix S304 and you just take the lens cap off, switch it on, point and shoot. But in the menu system, there are manual controls if you need them. There is also a short movie capability, just turn the dial from Auto to Movie, point and shoot. Mine is 3 megapixels, prints happily on A5 (half Letter in the US) but the newer ones have 7 Megapixels, so A4 (Letter) is just fine. Canon also make simple but with all the bells and whistles if you want to experiment - the A500 series has some nice examples.

One thing you might want to consider, especially since they will be transferring from a film camera. Many (dare I say most?) of the simple compact digital cameras these days have dispensed with the traditional viewfinder, in favour of a larger preview screen. I think this is wrong thinking - it's much harder to hold a camera steady at arms length than to have the viewfinder to the eye - it is for me anyway! Both the Fuji and the Canon I mentioned have a "proper viewfinder" as well as the preview screen. If you choose a model without a viewfinder, I'd strongly recommend you go for one with image stabilization - especially as we get older!

Unless it's a surprise present, the best plan is to go to the photo store and check a few out with your parents. Good hunting.

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another vote for Kodak
by kalel33-20416052469708587370302374692233 / October 31, 2008 5:39 PM PDT

I don't shoot Kodak, but I had my mother buy one. The menus are laid out in very layman's terms and the software is very easy to work with, once you set it up for them. I even had my mother get one with the docking bay, so that she could just set it on the dock and push one button....all photos transferred.

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I vote for Canon G9.
by jijo272 / October 31, 2008 7:16 PM PDT

I'm 69 and not retired yet, but I've found the small, pocket sized cameras are not for me. Also the large SLR's are too big to carry around when traveling.

Last year I got my Canon G9 and just like the 3-bears.....I found it to be Just the Right Size.

The screen is large, it has a good viewfinder, and simple to operate. If you feel like using all the various adjustments you can, but I prefer to just shoot and most of the pictures are just perfect.

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Don't rule out HP
by richteral / October 31, 2008 7:21 PM PDT

Except you will not find a viewfinder on any of them, which is a drawback as mentioned elsewhere due to the inevitable shaky shooting position at arms length. If that were not an issue, users are generally very happy with HP Photosmart M737, and it is dirt cheap nowadays.

Else you might care to take a look at Ken Rockwell's site (, where it simply boils down to Canon. I believe for older guys the camera should have some bulk as well to get a good grip, and the PowerShot A580 that Ken highlights lends itself well for the purpose. It does have a viewfinder, sells effectively for peanuts, and is highly rated. Once the face presses against camera body, I do not see much of an issue with shake due to how fast digital gear usually shoots under normal conditions.

It would be good to keep in mind what has been used so far to avoid some sort of transition shock. It is always advisable to lay your (their) hands on the camera to see how it feels and handles.

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HP Cameras Disappearing?
by snapshot2 Forum moderator / November 1, 2008 12:45 AM PDT
In reply to: Don't rule out HP

HP has not released any new cameras since June of 2007.
Not a good sign.


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Camera for retired parents
by / October 31, 2008 7:30 PM PDT

For example, Tiger Direct has a refurbished Kodak EasyShare C613 Digital Camera for less than $75. Other low cost start cameras are an EBay, but I like the Kodak. It is about as dead simple as they go, but still has features if you want to use them.
I am always cautious purchasing digital anything as a present, as my Dad has two digital watches, one set on PST and one set on PDT. He still can't figure out how to reset the time for Daylight savings time.
Every piece of digital equipment he owns blinks "00:00" at me every time I visit. He unplugs them when he is away from home for a while (If you remember that appliances in the fifties often caused electrical fires, that explains it) and never gets the clock reset. Drives me crazy, I tell him solid state electronics don't have that frequent flaw but it doesn't register. The blinking also doesn't bother him.
He is happier with older technology that he understands. Not all seniors are techno-deficient, I'm 60 and he is only 80. Some people want to be on the cutting edge, and others could care less. Each to his own.
Don't spend too much money and keep it simple if they are not used to digital.

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Must have
by wahmof2boys / November 1, 2008 3:44 PM PDT

Watch out for recommendations from the younger digital folks. They are very well-intentioned and know what they are doing for people like themselves who grew up with digital stuff. They think they what to get for the older crowd, but most of them live in a fantasy world anyway.

There are two items that are a must-have for old folks like me (67). And yes, I am a crotchety, crusty old guy, but I am very reasonable when it comes to pleasing folks like myself. Here's what you need:

1) An image stabilizer, because our hands start to shake a lot more as we get older, although we don't like to admit it.

2) A viewfinder, because all of the cameras we learned on had viewfinders, and we don't like to learn new stuff.

If you don't have BOTH of these features, your Christmas present is likely to frustrate your in-laws, get returned, and further convince them that this new digital stuff is full of baloney..

As to the kind of camera, you'll get all kinds of advice from well-meaning people on CNET and folks at the camera store. Guess what?? They will all be wrong!

Just pick out the seemingly easiest camera that has the two features above. Then give it as a present. Before they try it, be sure to tell them that you want to take them to the camera store (don't order on the net.) and let them try a bunch. Maybe they'll choose the one you did, but then they will have chosen it, and your off the hook.

Also, don't let them see the price tag. If they see the cost, they will want to buy the cheapest one.

Maybe your in-laws aren't as crotchety and crusty as I am, but ignore my advice at your own peril young 'un.

Now, if I could only get my own kids to listen to me .......


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digital camera
by under-wood / November 2, 2008 5:51 PM PST
In reply to: Must have

I bought my first one was a Fuji E500, from Future shop on line ''clearance outlet'' and my second one HP 7mpx a at Stapples, I chose the last year model, for both items I save about $100.00 by shopping on line.

Look for: 8 mpx or more, screen 2.5 or more, video with sound
batteries lithium-ion, is very IMPORTANT

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have to disagree
by kalel33-20416052469708587370302374692233 / November 2, 2008 6:00 PM PST
In reply to: digital camera

I disagree with you on 2 out of three things you have down.

need at least 8 megapixels: Not unless you're printing above 11x14 size shots. A 5MP can do 8x10s and you wouldn't notice the difference between it and an 8MP.

need lithium ion batteries: Why? It's actually more convenient to use AA batteries, so you can carry an extra set. You can always buy rechargeables or buy lithium AA batteries. If a dedicated lithium ion battery dies out on you, when you're not near the charger then you're not taking anymore photos. I use lithium ion, but I have a second battery for backup.

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by kalel33-20416052469708587370302374692233 / November 2, 2008 6:08 PM PST
In reply to: digital camera

8MP is not needed. A 5MP can do an 8x10 that is discernible from an 8MP. You only need more than 5MP to do sizes above 11x14.

Why would anyone "need" lithium-ion batteries. The Canon A590 can do over 200 shots on one set of rechargeable batteries. Lithium-ion charges the flash faster, but you could buy lithium AA batteries for the camera.

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by kalel33-20416052469708587370302374692233 / November 2, 2008 6:45 PM PST
In reply to: disagree

I didn't think the first reply came up, so I wrote a shorter one for the second.

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Thank you
by rmjb / December 15, 2008 8:44 AM PST

I know this is late but I want to say thanks to all that contributed to this conversation.

We ended up getting a new model Kodak C713 with kit for $99 from Amazon. The camera seems very straight forward and the buttons are labeled with words instead of icons so there's no confusion. We think it'll go over very well.

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