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October 02, 2012


I've had good results with Panasonic and Olympus compact cameras. Amazon has quite a few under $100 new, mostly with 12 to 14 megapixels. That should be a considerable advance on your 2 megapixels.

Good color reproduction and under $100?

Sorry, not going to happen.

You're right that your camera is almost certainly the problem. It also probably has some color settings which are blanding it out. Without knowing what your camera is, I can't tell you what settings to adjust but a lot of point-and-shoot cameras are set to very neutral defaults. On my canon P&S, I like the results I get if I use the "vivid" color setting and slightly increase the contrast.

Getting a camera with a manual mode will help, too, as you'll start to learn the impact on your colors you get from slightly overexposing the image. Sometimes +1/3 of a stop on your auto exposure can help.

Ultimately, however, for good color reproduction there is no substitute for a good lens and a good sensor. Don't count megapixels!

The Canon Powershot Sxx (S95, S100, etc) series has a very good sensor and a great lens. It's pretty much the only point-and-shoot I've used that's worth a damn, although I'm sure other manufacturers have good ones. It's larger than some, of course, and has more complicated settings (which is the point - the same settings that give you great greens won't necessarily give you great skin tones) and, of course, it's not close to under $100.

The simple truth is that there is no substitute for quality equipment and the knowledge it takes the get the most out of it. You're asking for something very challenging: strong, specific image choices, compensation for your lack of know-how, and cheap. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way.

PS I think that picture is slightly out of focus. Also I found importing it into Picasa (Google's free image editor) and paying with the Highlights, Shadows and Colour Temperature sliders improved matters somewhat. Though colour is always a bit subjective.

I disagree with Henry Hotspur. My current pocket camera is an Olympus VG-110, new at $85 in Amazon. It gives very good sharpness and colour outdoors in good light. It lacks image stabilization and manual controls, but it does have a range of scene modes. Including, relevant in this context, a Landscape mode which enhances greens and blues. In Program mode it allows exposure compensation and a choice of white balance. Admittedly the Powershots are better, but I have been surprised by how much this very small camera can do.

The human eye has a much higher dynamic range than camera sensors, film, electronic displays, and paper are able to reproduce. That means that it is often difficult to get the same sort of perception from a standard camera image displayed on a monitor as you saw with your own eyes without resorting to HDR tricks or at least playing around with the contrast/brightness curves in an image editor.

alternatively, a good all-manual film SLR from the late 1970s (i would suggest a pentax KX, or for simplicity's sake an ME) plus slide film will get you the best possible color.


The out-of-focusness is hard to get around, because of my eye problems. That's one big reason it's not worth it to me to upgrade to a "real" digital camera, much less a film one.

two things:
the camera underexposed the trees because the sky is so bright. so you end up muddy and dark in the shadows. that's probably the biggest factor.

on top of that, the camera's white balance algorithm probably boosted the reds and greens it did get, in order to offset all that blue. and that makes more brown where you thought you were going to get green. white balance algorithms are always improving, and cameras are always getting smarter about knowing what kind of picture you're taking, so they can choose the appropriate color/white balance settings automatically. so, a newer camera might help a bit. but i think the exposure is the biggest issue. and that can't be solved without getting into hideous things like HDR.

Doc, looks to me like an ordinary bright,early fall afternoon to me. That bright green thing is what is unusual. I'm guessing late spring and a very selective screen shot.

I'm not sure exposure is the major problem here. Looks more like a color/focus issue. In general exposure can be solved in many cameras (don't know about this one), by pointing at something you want exposed properly, maybe some grass here, and pressing the shutter button down halfway to hold that exposure while you reframe.

Normally, BTW, a touch of underexposure helps color - it gets more saturated - so I disagree with Hotspur about the direction of the adjustment, though he is certainly right that it's a good idea to play with whatever settings there are to find one to your liking.

The vision problem is solved by using a camera with a viewfinder, which you won't find for under $100 I fear. The viewfinder image is a distance image, so you look at the world and the image with the same glasses. Many viewfinders even have a diopter adjustment, so glasses are not needed. I personally hate using the screen instead of a viewfinder. Among other things, I think it contributes to camera shake, which may be part of the focus problem here.


and, also, thank you.

no, it's not like being right there, which is unfortunate. not nearly as unfortunate as not seeing it at all.

green, as colors go, is a big deal.


Gave us nice bright colors
Gave us the greens of summer
Made us feel "all the world's a sunny day" ...

Such a slander of you husband just because he has a different, and probably more realistic, view of the unruly, natural world. I also was once insulted by the un-kind, un-thinking description of “slightly colorblind”. You should be aware that such terminology is no longer acceptable in an enlightened multi-chromatic society. Your husband and I have been elevated to the class of “anomalous trichromats”.

I like the “anomalous” part. It alludes to distinction and a Weltanschauung distinct from that of common muggles.

Some friends asked me to help them select a warm colored stain for some exterior woodwork. I told them that my participation in such a project would be ill advised unless they were looking for something truly remarkable.

The “red” LED traffic signals are such a disappointment.

polarizing filter would help, too.

I don't care what tricks are accomplished with Photoshop, digital will never equal film cameras. As good as polarizing filters are, they won't get you the depth and richness of slides and transparencies.

it's an analog world.

digital is very convenient, however.

digital will never equal film cameras

i'd bet that within the next 20 years, consumer digital cameras will exceed film in resolution, dynamic range and color depth.

film probably isn't going to get any better, but digital will.

Coming from a circa-2001 D-510 camera, I think you'll be pretty happy with the image quality you can find for under $100 today. Focus is faster, too. Unfortunately, most of the low end cameras don't have an optical viewfinder any more, so you will need to change glasses to look at the screen. Looking at a screen in bright sunlight, especially wearing glasses, can be a strain, and you can't see people's expressions.

If you're willing to practice, you can get pretty good at aiming without looking at the screen, just concentrating on your subject to catch the moment. Half-press to focus, then full-press at the right instant. You may need to edit most of your shots on the computer, though, to compensate for tilt and inexact framing. Take lots, save a few and show people even fewer would be my advice.


a polarizing filter is a physical piece of glass you put on the lens of your camera. it's not a photoshop thing.

i'd bet that within the next 20 years, consumer digital cameras will exceed film in resolution, dynamic range and color depth.
film probably isn't going to get any better, but digital will.

Well yes, but when it does the fans of film will claim that the digital image is 'too real' and still not as good.

I heartily endorse Panasonic compact cameras and have bought 3 ~$100 Sony Cybershots as gifts (the same camera 3 times - it was 2-3 years ago though so newer models are available). I agree with the sentiment of Henry Hotspur's post, but as an owner of a 'not-quite-a-DSLR' camera my camera's abilities already far outweigh mine. Entry level compact cameras have come a long way in the last 5 years. Yes megapixels don't matter and good sensors do but good sensors are available for ~$100 and there are plenty of good review sites that will show you the differences. They won't get you manual controls from shot to shot but for the majority of situations a $100 camera (actually get a $150+ on sale -- another benefit to the current camera market is the turnover) will do a fantastic job.

My advice to you, Doc Sci, is to buy a new camera before Saturday afternoon and go to this event, during which you should find plenty of picture-taking opportunities and by the end of which you will be fully confident (perhaps, you might later find, without justification) in using your new camera:

Oktoberfest @ River Horse Location: 80 Lambert Lane, Lambertville NJ 08530

Here's everything you need to know:

We'll have (6) beers on tap including: Special Ale, Tripel Horse, Hop Hazard, Hop-A-Lot-Amus, Hipp-O-Lantern Imperial Pumpkin and their newest Brewer's Reserve, Rye IPA. Additionally, there will various casks available as well.

Event is rain or shine

No Cover - pay as you go

There will be live music and food available for purchase.

Proceeds from the event benefit Twin RiverTown Projects, Inc. and Lambertville/New Hope Kiwanis, both of which fund various community outreach programs/projects.

Additionally, River Horse is collecting non-perishable, unopened food for the two local food pantries, Fisherman's Mark and St. John's Church, which are both experiencing unprecedented demand.

Starts: Sat, Oct 6th, 2012 1 pm
Ends: Sat, Oct 6th, 2012 6 pm

Were it not for prior engagements, I would strongly consider going my-dam-self, though I would try to avoid being caught on camera.

i get extremely good quality prints from my 2009 sony cybershot. the color and resolution are amazing. i got it for around $150.

btw, another problem with the color in your picture above may be the time of day you took the shot.

The dirty little secret about advertising is that nothing shown represents reality. The images we have been trained to see are more often than not color-corrected, touched up, airbrushed and photoshopped to perfection.

Essentially it comes down to the difference between a photo of a juicy, succulent burger on the McDonald's menu versus the limp, sad-looking thing you are served. Average, everyday reality is somewhat drab and dull, as captured in the first photo of yours. And yes, you can enhance it greatly with better equipment and techniques, I'm not disputing that.

a polarizing filter is a physical piece of glass you put on the lens of your camera. it's not a photoshop thing.

Thank you. I know. I have one. Check your earlier post where you seemed to suggest using a polarizing filter with a digital camera.

What's wrong with using a polarizer with a digital camera?

There is nothing wrong with using polarizer on digital. I do it all the time. When pondering how to get the best image quality for less than 100 dollars, consider buying used. I was recently able to get a pair of Canon Rebel Kiss X cameras for 100 dollars each. Several years old, only 10.1 magapixels but the sensor size makes a big difference in color quality. Unless I'm using a really good (read "L") lens the pixels don't matter because the limiting factor is the lens resolution not the sensor resolution.

Also, the polalizer can dramatically improve the greens by reducing the reflection of the sky on the leaves.

that's basically what i was suggesting.

granted, as a digital photographer, i'm basically an oddball. i got a pentax dSLR body just so i could use my collection of lenses that are older than i am. i swapped out the crap focusing screen for an actual split-image focusing screen (this is important when your lenses don't auto-focus). that broke the spot-meter, so i carry one of those. i regularly use polarizers and ND filters as necessary.

basically i just wanted a 1978 camera without the film, and i was going to stop at nothing until i got one. :)

This was a really great read, appreciation for taking the time to put it together! Touched on some very good..

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