Everyday they make a cooler better camera and you can start to get really good stuff for a really good price. Just take some time out to research a couple of different brands and makes. They all have different qualities to them.
It really depends on what you are looking for. I recently bought my wife a Kodak M763. It's about the size of a pack of cigarettes. I takes excellent pics and was around $100. She wanted a small camera to carry in her purse. This is her second Kodak digital camera.
Her big camera, is a Kodak DX model, I don't remember the number. It's more like a SLR camera with a 20x optical zoom, sequential frame modes, high speed modes for sporting events, etc... She got that one for pics of our sons high school baseball games. She's taken more than 40,000 pics in the last 2 years with it. Never a problem
The amount of megapixels that are stored in the digital cameras has increased while prices have decreased leading to extremely cheap cameras with very good quality available on ebay just order by price, how many megapixels do you need anyway?
If it was me, I'd go for the camera with the most optical zoom, that was in my price range. Mine's a Kodak Z712, 7.1 megapixels, 12x optical zoom.
Set me back $350, but I'm sure the price has dropped. It takes pictures with enough detail, that it's indiscernable from a 35mm camera at any normal sizing. I wanted a lot of zoom, because I can't always get close enough for a good picture. Sometimes a river is in the way, and the park ranger frowns on driving across.
Oh, and get a camera that uses AA batteries. I think nearly all of them do, nowadays. Makes it really easy to find more batteries if yours goes dead.
Yes... some of the big things to look for in a digital camera if you're looking in the $100-$200 range...
-optical zoom... more is better. Digital zoom is pointless, since you can just zoom in on the computer when you've uploaded it.
-AA battery capability is nice, saves having you buy spare battery packs.
-brand name... can't go wrong with any of the "big 5/6/7"... canon, olympus, fuji, kodak, etc.
What you want depends on what you want out of a camera. Some allow you to add on additional lenses or telephoto options, some have the little "hotshoe" for an external flash, some have better quality sensors than others. An 8mp olympus is not the same as an 8mp canon. Not that the Olympus is crap, but the Canon is a little better.
You may also want something more compact, less bulk. But you'll sacrifice some optical zoom.
And how 'disposable' do you want the camera to be? If you lose it, is it a huge loss to you? I've got a nice $800+ digital SLR with extra lenses and external flash that I bought myself as a christmas gift a few years back (boxing day sale), but I've also got a little $90 point and shoot that I picked up from Walmart last winter... tossed in a larger memory card, pick up a pack of AA batteries, and you're set. It even records movies, which my DSLR can never do.
Yes... as much as it's helpful to people... there are so many other forums out there that you can ask questions like this on. This isn't even remotely on topic. I hate to suggest that posts need to be moderated and pointless topics removed... but all this does is clutter up the forum.
Having a good camera in a time of need is a necessity. You can take pictures of that snake that bit you in case you can't kill the snake and bring it with you. You can take pictures of your terrain and surroundings so if you get lost out scouting for water you might be able to find your way back easier.
Will a camera save your life? Nope, but it won't take up much space and may make your life easier. Not to mention, I saw Les Stroud make a fire using a bit of cotton and a battery and wires. You will have at least a couple of these things inside a camera and can use the parts. A flash from a camera might help to signal a passing helicopter on a cloudy day when the sun will not give you enough to create a flash.
While I wouldn't put one in every "bug out bag" I can certainly see an advantage to having one.
Not to mention, having pictures of the "disaster" will be nice when "order is restored" so you can show your friends and family exactly what it is you had to endure.
Cameras are important. Take photos or property before a storm/looters hit. Use to document damage or short-lived evidence when LE is not available. Video from digital cameras can be extremely damning in court if it is properly seized as evidence. Drunk drivers, assaults, etc.
I was in charge of finding the best camera for our dept. patrol officers. I looked at the following criterion:
-- Image quality – Photos must be usable “as-is”. No software or manipulation should be required to make routine photos “usable”.
-- Macro performance – The camera’s macro (aka “close-up”) ability is important when taking photos of fingerprints, tool marks, etc. It is important the camera be able to focus at very short distances.
-- Video mode – Video is an extremely useful mode. The camera video can function as a personal Audio/Video recorder when out of range of the vehicle camera... Suitable quality video is considered to be at least 30 frames per second (normal video speed) and a minimum 640x480 pixel resolution.
-- Cost-effective – Budget constraints and the rough handling of patrol use require a camera that is affordable, replaceable and minimizes or eliminates the cost of extraneous benefits
-- Alkaline/Rechargeable AA battery compatibility – Use of a proprietary battery often leads to a dead battery at very inconvenient times. AA-size batteries are the most widely-used disposable battery. Lithium batteries work in low temperatures that disable most/all alkaline/rechargeables.
-- No pop-up flash –An integrated flash (non-moving, non-pop-up) is less prone to accidental damage.
-- Suitable optical zoom range – Often the patrol camera is used in close confines... The patrol camera should feature a suitable wide-angle zoom range in addition to a minimum 4x optical zoom range.
-- Usable controls – The camera controls must be simple and large enough to use by all, including gloved hands and people with larger hands
-- Durable/Weatherproof – A minimum number of moving parts, history of durability and waterproofing are all desired features.
We went with the Canon A720IS, tho the A590IS was close. I considered over 30 cameras, and only these two met anywhere near most of the criteria. Weatherproof was the only thing missing from the A720/590.
I have 3 digital camera's.. My favorite for digital zoom is my Olympus, 8mp, 10x digital zoom, although it is a little slow to take the shot and a little hefty to tote around. My fav all around is most recent addition, the Nikon S210, very light weight and compact 8mp, 3x digital zoom. Have gotten some good shots, and they are about $120. My other is a Sony Cyber Shot, 6mp, 3x zoom, have had nothing but bad luck with this one. I have sent it in to be serviced and is still not turning on correctly.
What I look for in a camera is SD card capability and standard USB-style cable connections. I want a camera that is compatable with "everything" out there with the least amount of hassle. I want to be able to plug my camera into a computer and have it act like a drive-letter without having to use special proprietary software to run.
With that being said, I am very impressed with the color and speed of my Samsung cameras. Screen resolution is amazing, the speed of the screen for tracking moving objects is great and transfer to computer (I use a Linux-based Asus EEE) is fast and painless. I am on my third Samsung camera now, and I cannot say enough good stuff about them.