Which should I buy - Digital or Non-digital camera??

May 8th, 2006, 10:39 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 13
Which should I buy - Digital or Non-digital camera??

I do want to take some good wildlife pictures while on safari, but I am not a computer owning person, so should I still consider buying a digital camera with telephoto lens? I use a computer for work, but I'm not too knowledgeable about downloading pictures, etc. Some people have suggested buying the Canon S2 digital camera.

Is there an automatic SRL with telephoto lens for $350 or less.

I'm definitely clueless about cameras!
calliec is offline  
May 8th, 2006, 12:24 PM
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The advantage of the digital cameras is that you don't have to take lots of film along with you and worry about running out. You also don't need to worry about it being damaged by the X-ray machines. It's also nice to be able to take as many pictures as you want and then just delete the ones that are bad. Downloading the pictures is pretty easy once you have done it the first time. I don't know what operating system you use at home - I use Windows XP and it seems to be almost idiot proof (which is a good thing). The one thing to make sure of if you go digital is to have enough memory so you can use the higher resolutions for your pictures. Then you need to make sure you have enough cards with you to take LOTS of pictures. I took 3 cards with me that would each hold about 500 pictures. I used the first two and was onto the second one on our 2 week trip. As far as the lens goes, with the digital you want at least a 10x optical zoom. Don't even worry about how much digital zoom you have - you won't want to use that because it seriously downgrades the quality of the picture. I got an Olympus with a 10x optical zoom ofr our trip and got some GREAT pictures. It's not as good for low light - you have to hold it really steady - so if you can find one that has the image stabilization, you are probably better off. I liked the fact that we could get a polarizing filter for the Olympus for our trip to Brazil (and I did use it there). But now I sort of wish I had given up on the filte and gone with image stabilization. Oh well. I still get wonderful pictures - I just have to hold things steady or brace the camera on something firm. Canons are good also. We also have a Sony that is good, but it only has a 3x optical zoom.

As for not having a computer - you can get pictures printed up from your memory card at places that print from film. the disadvantage with that is that you end up with all of your pictures printed and that can be expensive. If you have a computer you can view them first and then just print the ones you really want.

Hope I haven't confused you too much. Have a wonderful safari!
jcasale is offline  
May 8th, 2006, 12:44 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
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I got a new digital camera a few months ago, and I love it for all of the reasons stated above by jcasale.

I would add that I have printed photos at the machines available here in the States at CVS stores. They let you check off the photos you want to print, so you don't need to print (and pay for) all that is on your card. It was easy.

Go for digital. Have a great trip.

cw is offline  
May 8th, 2006, 12:45 PM
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I agree with all the comments from the previous post, but wanted to add another advantage of digital cameras versus film: I think they are superior in low-light conditions, both because of the adjustable ISO settings, as well as the ability to adjust brightness, etc. We have taken a number of pictures with our digital camera in low light that came out great, and I don't think film is quite as good as that. If you get a camera with image stabilization (like the Canon S2 or S3), this advantage is even greater.
Having switched to digital several years ago, I would never go back to film!
Chris_GA_Atl is offline  
May 8th, 2006, 06:59 PM
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Go digital. Many camera stores have free classes with the purchase of the camera or classes for a small fee to help you become comfortable with the new technology.

Just allow ample time to become comfortable with whatever camera you buy before departing on your trip.
atravelynn is offline  
May 8th, 2006, 08:10 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
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I faced this dilemma last year. I know nothing about photography (and don't want to put time into learning) and I only have an old computer at home.

Buying a digital camera was one of the most difficult purchases of my life and in the end I bought a Panasonic FZ5. It is fully automatic and has a 432mm zoom. I took some wonderful photos in Africa last year and am very happy with the camera.

There are a number of these 'monster zoom' cameras available. I started looking at the Canon S2 but decided that it was too complicated for me. I wanted a camera with a good zoom specifically for safari photography and I have not been disappointed.
The FZ7 was released in March and that has a 594mm zoom that would be fantastic for bird photography. I will upgrade to the FZ7 or one of its successors before returning to Africa.

I would recommend that whatever you choose to buy that you purchase from a camera store where you can get after sales service and are welcome to take the camera (and your questions) back for free expert help.

I looked at http://www.dpreview.com frequently when purchasing my camera and found the feedback and comments from other users invaluable.

Good luck.
Treepol is offline  
May 9th, 2006, 02:59 AM
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Hi calliec,

I go on safari about 3 times every 2 years, and photos are very important to me. I went digital last December, and that was under protest. My camera shop guy had been trying for about 18 months, and I finally agreed. He wanted me to get the Panasonic FZ30 and that is wanted I ended up with. I was happy with the results and now I take up to 150 photos a day, on a daily basis. I was talked into the computer and it has turned into nearly a full time job. I keep very few (compared to what I take) but I am practising my skills with different light etc. When on safari, my night time photos leave a lot to be desired, digital and I still feel more comfortable with the film camera, which I always have with me, but I have not used it this year at all.

I would definitely put me into the clueless class for cameras and computers, but I struggle on. If you are able to find my South African trip report that I did sometime in January or February of this year, I did have the photos up on Kodak gallery, and they give an example of what is possible with a reasonable camera.

Good luck with your choice.

Kind regards,
KayeN is offline  
May 9th, 2006, 03:25 AM
Join Date: Dec 2005
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Hi Callie,

Without really knowing for sure, I think this is what is required to get a look at the photos with the Panasonic FZ30 in the Sabi Sands, South Africa.


Kind regards,
KayeN is offline  
May 9th, 2006, 06:51 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 20,139
Hello calliec,
I also have the Panasonic Fz30 due to rec. from a few in the know on this site. I love the camera - it's so easy to use and has up to a 400m lense zoom which is more than needed on safari.You can also take videos with this camera and use it fully automatic or manually when you feel more comfortable - you can advance if you want with this wonderful camera. It is a bit over your price range though, but for pics. of a lifetime it's truly worth it. Mine cost 531.USD
You'll find many past threads on this camera.
Good luck!
cybor is offline  
May 9th, 2006, 11:07 AM
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Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 13
Thank you all for the suggestions. I will be looking at digital cameras this weekend.

KayeN - I just loved your photos...I can't believe how many closeup shots you got.
calliec is offline  
May 9th, 2006, 12:37 PM
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Had a look at your lovely shots. Thank you very much for sharing them.

You made some excellent pictures of leopards and the one of the bateleur is my favorite.



May 9th, 2006, 04:14 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,440
And you can always ask questions on this board about your camera after you get it, Calliec.

There are numerous experts willing to share knowledge and not show off by tossing around fancy terms. I've benefitted from the very basic questions I've put forth.

atravelynn is offline  
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