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I absolutely love my Canon Powershot SD1000...but the next generation one, the Canon SD1100 is out now. They're under $200 right now. They are smaller than a pack of cigarettes..fit into pocket easily IF you don't put them in a case...have a macro mode for extreme closeups...and have image stabilization. It's an 8M pixel camera. Unlike most of the little cameras...it also has a viewfinder.

I have the SD1000 which lacks the image stabilization...and a HUGE Nikon (in comparison). These Canon's takes great movies as well...and it's so small, it's easy to put on (or perhaps in) a car to ride around a layout. I've just about stopped using the Nikon as the little Canon is far more convenient to take around...and for me, takes just about the same quality photo.
 

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Break break....the Canon SD790 is now under $200...and it's definitely a bump up from the SD1100. I was mistaken (I think) when I said the SD1100 had image stabilization. The SD790 does for sure...and it's a 10M pixel camera. It may be a bit bigger though...so you should check.
 

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Easy....put the camera in macro mode...turn off the flash (it over exposes the shot...so you need external light)...put the camera within several inches of the item...half press the shutter to focus...push all the way to take the photo. Easy.

For telephoto ops...there's a little tab in the ring around the shutter button. Move it right to zoom....move it left to unzoom.
 

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Well...you can see the photo the camera is going to take by looking at the LCD on the back of the camera. This really simplifies taking macro shots. I'm don't use a lot of the "data output" from tthe camera...regarding exposure or zoom or whatever. If the picture looks good on the LCD...it looks good in the output. The important thing is to prefocus by pushing the shutter button half way down after you have set the zoom to what you want. You'll get a very clear preview of what the photo will look like when you push it all the way down.

It's the LCD that makes it possible...as I'm one who would sit there for minutes looking through the viewfinder of an SLR camera...bent over...and I'd still get a fuzzy shot because it's HARD to focus properly in some lighting conditions. Lastly, putting these little digital cameras on a 6" set of tripod legs really makes taking model photos easy...and those flimsy looking 6" legs really do support these small cameras.

The real downside of these cameras is the autofocus when you are taking model shots. There is no way to manually focus the camera. This is the power of the SLR camera...the ability to manually focus on one spot...called spot focusing. You will find situations where the camera will not focus on the item you want. The solution to this is tricky...and works about half the time in my experience. You center you shot on the item you want in focus and press the shutter button half way down...and then, withiout letting up on pushing the shutter buttom, you reframe the shot to what you want. Then, you push all the way down. By holding the shutter button half way down, you are freezing the pre-focus. Now...this is like patting your belly while rubbing your head...as the zoom and shutter button are part of the same control assemply. This approach works fine IMHO for snapshots...but isn't practical for macro shots. This is when I pull out the Nikon.

On the other hand, my Canon has worked satisfactorily in more than 99% of the situations I've put it in. I carry it with me all the time now. Another thing you might consider is getting an upper end cell phone with a camera. Lately, the cameras in the cell phones have improved sufficiently that they compete well against the little cameras in performance in the snapshot world. I doubt they have the sophistication in the macro world...and I've NOT seen a cell phone with a flash yet.
 

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Check eBay and other photo web sites...just Google sd790 and you'll get a bunch of places selling them. I've seen several for $175 including a 4G card.

As for the battery, I can take hundreds of photos on one battery charge...and it recharges fast too...less than an hour. Also, replacement batteries (on eBay) for the SD790 go for under $20 including shipping.

As for the view finder, my SD1000 has one...and I've grown to NOT use it. I use the LCD instead. I bought that camera BECAUSE it had the viewfinder...whereas many of it's competitors did not. Now, I'm not using it.
 

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Yeah....that length of time to store a photo is a function of the amount of internal memory the camera has...and directly relates to price. My Nikon D40 has a three shot mode...and it takes three shots within one second...and then you have to wait a few seconds. My daughter has the new Nikon D90...and that camera will do the three shot mode damn near continuously...and that's what ya get for $1200.

There are times when my Canon SD1000 isn't fast enough...and that is frustrating. You can buy faster SD cards for the camera to make the transfer from the internal memory faster. I haven't bought one, so I don't know what the upward potential is. But, for model shots in macro mode...the speed of the camera doesn't matter much.
 
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