Please recommend an auto-everything P&S for an older camera novice

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by jimsimmons, Jun 7, 2009.

  1. We will be sending my mother-in-law on her dream holiday in September on an Elderhostel tour of Southern France and the world of the Impressionists. I asked her today what camera she would be taking, and lo and behold, she is till using the little 110 camera she's have for nearly 30 years! (And she says that recently it's become hard to find film for it. I guess so!).
    So I have to get her a new (or used) camera soon, so she can shout a couple of rolls before she leaves and get comfortable with it. But I got on the B&H website to do some research shopping, and to my amazement they don' have any decent 35mm point shoots. They've got some oddball Lomo camera and some Barbie cameras, but that's about it. Adorama has one $29.95 Olympus Trip, and that's it.
    This is not a market I know anything about, and she is not a candidate for a digital camera. The odds of her fumbling with the menus and buttons and erasing every photo she took on the trip is far too great with this 83-year-old technophobe. She really needs one of the auto-everything that autowinds, auto rewinds, everything simple simple simple cameras.
    Can anyone recommend a decent, recent P&S model that would suit her needs? I'll probably load her up with ISO 200 film. A fixed 35-45mm lens would be OK, or a mild zoom range if it was f/4 or so. I've skimmed ebay, but there's so much stuff listed that's anywhere from 1955 to 2005 that I'm not sure what's what.
    Much appreciated.
     
  2. The standard recommendation is the Olympus Stylus Epic, also known as the Olympus mju II. It's an auto-everything point and shoot with a fast-ish 35mm lens. Photo quality is excellent and the camera is tiny. There's not much in the way of manual control -- you can change the flash mode, and you can, if you know how, turn on a spot metering mode which is very useful in difficult lighting conditions. However, there's not a plethora of buttons to worry about. You open the camera, you press the shutter. That is all. The Stylus Epic/mju II just works -- it's a near perfect pocket/handbag camera.
    With zoom compacts, I've liked the Minolta Freedom Zoom Explorer, which has a pretty good lens. Some distortion at the wide-end, but it works really nicely. Bigger and more buttons than the Olympus. That means more control if you want it, but more confusing and less pocketable, too.
    At the higher end, I really like the Rollei AFM35 (aka Fuji Klasse S) which has a fantastic lens and full manual control over aperture and focus. However, it can be left in full auto mode with no problems and the basic interface is user friendly and shouldn't be confusing.
    Lots of people like the Yashica T4/T5, and also the Contax T series cameras, too.
     
  3. I would also recommend the OM Stylus Epic (MJU-II). I still own one. It is exactly what you are looking for, if you think she can live with a 35mm lens. I would go with ISO 400 print film. The lens is remarkably sharp, btw. The battery lasts a long time.
     
  4. i'd go with the olympus trip 35 - but for $5-10, on ebay/@thrift-stores. not 'auto-everything', but highly-suitable for technophobes of a certain vintage, i feel. lens-quality is unsurpassable for the financial outlay.
     
  5. I would also vote for the Stylus Epic. Check that her fingers are not too arthritic to slide the cover open, that the viewfinder is useable if she wears glasses, and show her how to turn the flash off when it is not needed or if she goes to a place where flash is forbidden. And how to load the camera and then actuate the film rewind function when the film is finished.
     
  6. Yes, the Stylus Epic / MJU II is about right, but only the fixed lens model - the zoom models are generally not as good IMO.
    The Ricoh GR1s is a more 'capable' camera with a 28mm lens which is great for townscapes. It also has option to select the focussing pattern and to adjust the exposure if needed . One key advantage over the Stylus is that the film is safely wound (back) into the casette as it's used: no risk of losing a whole film by opening the camera in a panic ........
    However, I'm very inclined to recommend a good digital P&S over a film P&S. Many Canon, Olumpus and Fuji models are fumble-free and will be more likely to give acceptable results (with instant feedback) than a film camera. I use a 'simple' Fuji F30 every day - it's utterly dependable.
    Note: photo batteries are not easily found in small towns nowadays largely due to the massive fall in film camera useage. The same applies to film in some areas.
     
  7. Jim - Don't forget to include instuction manual. Highlight the sections on how to load film, turn on camera and unload film. Others on the trip may not remember how to use an analog camera :)
     
  8. Stylus Epic a standard backup for photog travelling lite.
     
  9. The Olympus stylus/mju has a good reputation but another option is a Leica Mini II, 3 or Minizoom. Do a search on Ebay for "Leica Mini" and you should pick one up for just over $100 max, maybe a lot less.
    The Mini 3 has a great fixed lens and we were very pleased with the results. Very easy to use, on, off, one mode button for flash, one for self-timer. What can go wrong? If you drop it hard, it can lose its LCD settings but still keeps going until you finish the film and then it resets itself.
    Another possibility is a Yashica T4 or T5 but I haven't used one.
    Digital compacts really aren't point and shoots any more, are they? Too many buttons and modes!
     
  10. You said it, David. The menu systems in a typical digital would drive my mother in law crazy. Going from a 110 plastic single-button camera to a 35mm auto-everything will be intimidating enough.
    Thanks to everyone for all the great input. Sounds like an Epic Stylus is an excellent choice, and I'd just stick with the 35mm lens for her too - excellent for her subject matter. I'll look at the Mini too, David. Cheers.
     
  11. The Olympus Epic is probably a good choice...if you can find a decent used one.
    A few years ago, I wrote a small report on how I use this camera, as well as similar cameras. Here is the link:
    http://www.jimtardio.com/olympus-epic.html
     
  12. Very interesting question. I think that Your Mom would prefer AF cameras... Olympus Stylus Epic is really nice camera, not perfect (AF roulette) but very good.
    Only one camera comes to my mind, it's called: Fuji Natura Classica. This is 28-56mm zoom camera with Excellent lens! I couldn't believe when I saw Flickr Classica galleries! Snapshots of food etc looks excellent!Looks like it's much better quality and engineering than Stylus Epic, which was still a simple camera. Interesting is Low Light performance but works especially with ISO 800 & up. You can buy brand new, check out Ebay.
    I found that simple 3-4 element lenses are excellent, that's why I Love My Olympus XA-1 (quality even better than Olympus XA). 35mm F4, fixed focus, so perfect street shooter. Another gem is Olympus Stylus Infinity. Remember about Minolta Freedom Zoom Explorer 28-70mm - great tool :) Think about Fuji Natura Classica, see Flickr galleries and get one!
    Happy Shooting!
     

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