Sunday, May 6, 2012

At the Big Box Stores: a departure from my altered book lessons

Last week my friend Sally and I headed to five of the Big Box Stores. These store names should be familiar to those who live in the US, but may not be to those who are visiting my blog from other countries.

The first store on the list was Lowes, a home improvement store. I wanted to shop in the garden center because I was in need of potting mix. I found lots of wonderful items that would have looked lovely in my yard, but because of my self imposed ban on buying anything that is not a necessity, I was not there to buy anything except the soil. All they had left were two bags and they were both broken. However, I agreed to take them, since the sales clerk offered them at 25% off. I'm always agreeable when it's something on my list AND I can get it at a bargain.

Because I was able to get the soil at such a good price, I didn't have to go to Home Depot. I was thrilled I could mark it off my list. The day had just begun and I was already ahead of schedule! While there, Sally bought some pesticide weed killer. I'm glad I'm an organic gardener.

The next place on the list was Target. It was the only store I took a picture of the outside. Perhaps it's because it's not a store I go to, so it was a bit of a novelty.

Off to the camera department I went, while Sally shopped for music.

The sales person who ran the camera department, or who supposedly knew about cameras, was gone and there was no one who could really answer any of my questions. The only thing I learned was the two Nikon cameras I wanted to look at were either discontinued or not in stock in that store. So I looked around a bit, waited to see if the manager could come to the floor and help me, but that wasn't going to happen.

In the meantime, Sally not only bought music, she also spent over $90.00 on two top sheets!! Color me amazed at how she can spend so much money for so little, where ever she goes. As an aside, for those of you who don't live in the states, but are curious as to the price of the cameras, or of Sally's purchases, see my right sidebar for monetary conversions in your country based on the Euro. That translate roughly to 1 1/3 in the US compared to the countries that use the Euro.

Since no one at Target was able to help me with my questions about cameras,

our next stop was at Best Buy. It was amazing how similar the two stores' displays were. This time, however, there was a human who was very, very knowledgeable.

When I told him my primary concern and interest was macro, he showed me the difference between several Nikons, my preference, and two Canons. Now I'm not a lover of Canon. In fact, it would be way, way down on my list of cameras I would want to buy.

But surprisingly, both of the Canons had the best macro image of all the fixed lens cameras I looked at. Of course, then I had to learn about batteries. Some come with chargers and some don't. Some that come with chargers plug directly into the wall socket, while others require the camera be plugged into the wall unit to charge. Only one of my Nikon choices took AA batteries, which I have plenty of the rechargeable kind.

And then there are lots of different cards you have to buy. And it seems that some cameras don't furnish the card, which is also an extra expense. I swear, I was even more confused when I left Best Buy than if I hadn't talked to any sales person.

One thing I DID learn was all cameras sold by Best Buy, even the cheap ones, have the tripod female connection. So I won't have to worry that my next camera won't have a way to sit on my tripod.

In the meantime, Sally bought a case for her camera and more music.

Next, we went to Sam's a Big Box division of WalMart, where you buy a membership for the privilege of shopping there. This is where I get Bleubeard's litter and my organic coffee. Some combination, wouldn't you agree? I don't have a membership,

but my friend Sally has one, so I am blessed to be able to use hers. Once again, she bought about $200.00 worth of whatever, and my bill was slightly less than $55.00, which included litter, coffee, and a $25.00 gift card I used to buy gas with Sally's membership and the gift card. Other than lunch, that and the

potting soil were all I purchased. By the way, when I got home, I saw the clerk had only charged me half the regular price for that "damaged" soil! I got both bags of soil (seen in my garden wrapped in their "recovery bags") for the price of one. Yep, I'm a very, very happy person who also has a full tank of gas.

I would love to get your opinion about a new camera. I want something that will take excellent close up indoor photos (macro) as well as crisp shots of my work table. I would also like to be able to get outdoor shots that might actually include people who aren't a blur. And to make matters more important, I want a camera that, no matter where or what I'm shooting, won't require about a hundred photos in order to get ONE that is acceptable.

When I went shopping, I had my heart set on a Nikon. Now I don't know if it is right for me or not. Please, please chime in and let me know what you think, especially if you know anything about cameras. I'm completely befuddled right now.

I'm linking up with Creative Every Day in hopes of hearing from some of you awesome photographers whose photos I so admire.


21 thoughtful remarks:

RosA said...

Hi Elizabeth,

Here's my two cents worth ...
I did photography at tech (like your colleges, not university though) way back before digital cameras had even been imagined. And back then I used a Canon SLR and have since had two more updated Canon SLRs, including an auto-focus one (which was a "new" feature then and really did work, much to my amazement and delight!) I have always been very, very happy with these cameras. Since the advent of the digital age, I have used the very first Canon digital camera, about 3 megapixels (I think)! And have used that successfully for many years, with lovely results. Anyway, a couple of years ago I decided I wanted a much smaller, purse sized camera (compact digital camera) and did some research and ended up with a Panasonic Lumix (Leica lens), about 10 megapixels and a large (for such a small camera) screen. I've been very happy with this camera and if you have a look at my blog every photo there was taken using this camera. My husband often suggests that we buy a digital SLR camera, but I'm just not interested in carrying something bigger around (again). (Canon is a very good brand. I wouldn't hesitate recommending it to you.) Hope this helps a little bit.


Anonymous said...

I don't know enough about cameras to be much help, E. I wish you luck with whatever camera you get. I'm not into all that fancy stuff. If it isn't easy, I don't want it and prbably couldn't use it.

XX Rachel XX

gina said...

I have a Canon DSLR Rebel, which I love. It is in the lower price range of the DSLRs, but does everything I want and more. That said, there is a good argument for a smaller, more portable camera and the Canon elphs take really good photos too, and are much cheaper. They have both auto and manual settings, as do the bigger ones. If you are mostly interested in macro shots, you should go with the camera that you found that takes the best macros. I would highly recommend a camera with a rechargeable battery, as batteries can get expensive, and it is very annoying to run out of juice. You almost always have to upgrade the camera card, and get a bigger one that has more power -- well worth the investment. I found the reviews of cameras on Amazon VERY helpful in comparing features of the different models. Feel free to email me if you want more info.

...the yorkshire fox... said...

...gosh you girls sure had a day of it, can't help on the camera front i'm really quite hopeless and borrow my daughter's digi for all my blog snaps...hope you find what your looking for...Mel :)

Susan said...

Hi Elizabeth,

buying a camera when there is so (too) much chose is a hard one. and a very personal one. So here is some experience I have:
I have a digital film SLR camera, its a canon EOS 400D and I love it but you would need a bit of practice to get used to it. And because its big not alway that easy to take along. So I also have a Panasonic lumix which is the perfect sice for my jeans pocket. I like it, It has the possibility to select what kind of photo youre gona take, every kind of weather, composition. even an underwater option. It's just that the pictures a a bit grey. Which I hate. I tried to change some preferenses what helped a bit. to make the pictures the way I like I use photoshop.
My parents have a sony camera, it's a bit bigger than my panasonic and it makes great pictures. And even my mum knows how to use it ;).
The best advice I can give you is to try a few. I don't know if thats a possibility but a good camera that you love too use will go a long way. And don't worry to much about how many pixels everything between 8 to 10 mega pixels is ok. I don't think you (with the kind of pictures you wanna make) need more. Or I must be mistaken and you wanna make wall covering prints. :)
Oh and I prefer camera's that come with chargers plug directly into the wall socket. I find that you can use them longer than the ones with recargeable aaa. ( I even have 2 chargers for my panasonic)

Good luck with finding a camera.

Love Susan

Redanne said...

Hi Elizabeth, great photos. What I know about cameras you could write on a postage stamp! I do know that Sandee over at is an avid photographer so she may be able to help. Anne x

Diane said...

I bought a new Nikon last year, and it's so big and clunky, and I just don't want to take the time to learn it, even though it's an "automatic". I've stuck with my Sony Cyber-shot--I love it!! and the macro is great on it. (I'm not that knowledgable on cameras, but this one has a 16 times optical zooms lens on it. It runs anywhere fromm $350 to 400--Amazon is the cheapest--there are a lot of different sony cybershots--you have to compare what their options are. I use it every day, and I abuse it--and it still works great. My daughter has the same one, and it's even older than mine.
The one I THINK I have (there's lots I tell you) is this one:

I hope this helps you and doesn't confuse you more!

Magpie said...

It's so funny how these big stores look exactly the same wherever you go! I wish I knew more about cameras to give you some advice. It looks like you've gotten some good tips already.

I love your IA entry, Sundays Child. I like the subtle neutral colors, looks very vintage :) I've been away from the computer most of the weekend and am just getting around to blog visits. Have a great week!

Carolyn Dube said...

You had a busy day! I am off today to the gardening store but happily it's a little local one. Good luck sorting out all the camera stuff-there is so much information!

ArtMuseDog and Carol said...

Love my Nikon ~Cool Pix S80 ~ fits in my pocket takes great shots and my Nikon L120 takes great shots and doesn't weigh a ton ~very light weight ~ check out my moon shots today on my blog ~ see what you think ~ thanks, namaste, ^_^
PS ~ Moon shots taken with Nikon L120

Currie Silver said...

I think there are two really important things YOU must DO BEfore purchasing a camera.

#1 what is it specifically that you want and NEED this camera to DO? and BE detailed in this. let yourself add to your list over a couple of days even. DO NOT BE in a rush.

#2 how much can you "afford" in terms of time to learn how to use features, how long to get comfortable with a new tool, which it is, clearly, for someone who includes as many photographs as you DO in your posts.

Cameras today can DO way more than most of us will ever DO [or understand] and a lot of the "magic" happens after, when digital fiddling comes into the equation.

When you know these things and are 100% clear about what you are after, you may well, as I recently did, BE quite able to find a camera, online, or simply go into a store and take it off the shelf. No salesperson required.

I DO suggest that you NOT let the "big box store" salespeople try to tell you about the bells and whistles of this one or that. Even in the tiny camera store I went to when both my digital cameras died awhile back, the guy had what he was selling.

I have a Casio Exilim and I love it. This one replaced the one I got in 2008 as well the large and clunky other digital camera I'd purchased in 2004. It has MORE features but cost a fraction of the 2004 camera and less than half the 2008 one. It has the capacity to DO things I cannot imagine. Yet.

The key for me, with 366 Daze of Grace, has been learning to use the photo editing tools [toys] at my disposal. For YOU, though, that isn't the focus, so BEing clear about what is important to YOU is what I am emphasising.

Hope this helps some. I wrote another "too long" comment and hope this one will "fit" better. Thanks for your nice words and compliments. Made my day.

Craftymoose Crafts said...

We have always found the sales people in Best Buy to be very knowledgeable in every dept. we have shopped in. It often does seem confusing though with all the choices & features--at least you seem to have narrowed down the feature that are important to you.

$90 for top sheets! Wowser! I guess I haven't bought sheet in awhile. I have a friend who always buys in every store we visit--I'm more focused on just getting what I went for.

Thanks for your thoughts on my postcards! I had fun even though making 5 was a chore. Picking up our daughter at college Wednesday, but I am determined to get at least one page in my AB done! Enjoy your company!

Plush Possum Studio said...

I actually purchased my most recent camera at a Best Buy, would you believe it? ANd I'm very glad I did. Mine's a Sony, less costly and yet very reliable. I haven't had to recharge its batter very often. I do not recommend using the kin of camera which requires AA batteries. YOu end up spending more in the long run, as they eventually wear out after being recharged a few times. My Sony isn't as macro as some, but it has yielded some pleasant results on my desktop recently. I am still practicing with it before showing anything online. I really love it tho' And I, too, had thought of Nikon first. I like my mid-to-low range Sony as it also will (surprisingly) make short films which I may process with my iMac.
It is a "Cybershot," if that's of any help. And purchasing the card to go with it is a must, but well worth the cost, in my book.
Hope this is of use to your decision-making process!

ArtMuseDog and Carol said...

Try Radio Shack ~ that is where I got my Nikon L120 not too long ago ~ good luck ~ namaste, ^_^

sandee said...

Cannot help you but this has a section just for camera and equipment review plus an open forum where you ask people questions, that may help, especially the forum part so you can interact with people that actually own the camera brand you are interested in. I know I would rather go shopping with Sally than you, there is too much pressure to save money, buy the right thing, etc. with you!lol waving hi from the hills of North Carolina :)

Terrie Purkey said...

Buying a new camera can be exhausting. You don't want to make a mistake so you shop and research until your brain is mush. I have a Nikon D50 dslr and it's way more camera than I usually need. I have a separate lens for macro that I often don't use because it's so much bother to change lenses and at macro setting it's exceptionally sensitive to any wiggle that puts pics out of focus.

I've read over and over, it's not the equipment (camera), it's the user (photographer/painter, etc). I think the first determination is how much weight/bulk do you want to carry around, then how much do you want to spend. Unless you're a professional photographer, I think all brands are very adequate and it's all in what you get used to in finding the features, etc.

I agree that DPS (digital photography school) is an excellent, informative, helpful site; I've read it for years and their reviews are so helpful. Amazon review too. Read a FEW of them, then narrow your choices to a few possibilities. THEN go to a store and hold and play a bit with each of those. Pick one that feels good in your hand, fits your budget and has the reputation of doing what you need it to do (macro). The rest is practice.

Of course you can email me if you want to chat about it more......

see you there! said...

Best Buy has always had someone helpful around in my experience. DH is the real photographer here and has had many cameras over the years. When he went digital he bought the Canon Rebel. We both have small Canon digitals now, can't remember which ones except I know they are both in the "A Series". He uses the Rebel when he wants a particular photo but finds he takes more pictures with the small one because it is easy to take everywhere and photo opportunities can often come unexpectedly.


Halle said...

I still love my Nikon Cool pix for macros. It is a really awesome camera and fits in my pocket or purse. Granted it can't do what my big DLSR can as far as zoom and options but it still takes better macros.

Stephanie Mealor Corder said...

I mentioned in my last comment how much I love my Canon. It doesn't have the AA batteries, but it holds a charge for a long time and has a rechargeable Lithium battery. I didn't particularly LIKE Canons when we were shopping, (I was an Olympus girl at the time ;)) BUT this is a GREAT camera and macro abilities are amazing!

Monica said...

I have a Canon Elph 310Sh. I takes incredible far off shots and great closeup. I do not have to think about anything. It also has the ability to make small videos. I am not into photography. i just want it for the web and on occasions prints. Since it is kept on the lowest Pixel count (it can take 9999) I up the pixels in Paint Shop Pro. Good enough for all my memory needs. This is the second Elph, as I lost the other in November. This is incredible. The price was right and I bought it off Amazon.

Margaret said...

I love it when you go store hopping, we don't have anything here half as big!!
I'm also a Nikon Coolpix fan (because of the Macro function) I dropped the last one after many years of use, it still worked but wasn't quite as crisp as before. I upgraded and am still happy, the new one has a lot more variables and functions, some are more useful than others. I read somewhere once you start with a brand you tend to stick with it! Mx