Digital Camera

Old May 18th, 2004, 10:28 PM
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Digital Camera

Hi Everyone, I'm posting this on the Europe forum as it gets the higher number of hits - and I am hoping for some good advice.

After years of being an SLR camera devotee I am about to venture into the world of digital photography (getting sick of loading film and the cost of developing).

Can anyone recommend a good camera to me in the AUD $600 - 800 price range and explain the technical jargon to me like 3x optical zoom and 4 megapixels (which I assume refers to how clear the photo is due to dots per inch or something).
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Old May 18th, 2004, 10:45 PM
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Can you go up to $990 or so? If so, the new Nikon D70 digital SLR is absolutely fantastic.
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Old May 18th, 2004, 10:54 PM
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If you plan on developing 4x6 or 5x7 prints, then 3+ megapixels will fine. For 8x10 prints, get a 4+ megapixel camera. If a specific digital camera is a 35mm equivalent, then a 3x optical zoom will equate to 105mm max zoom.

As far as recommending a specific digital camera, everyone has there own opinions/preferences. I myself prefer Canon digial cameras. I own a Powershot S50 & Digital Rebel 300D. Since you are familiar with SLR's, you might want to look into the Canon Digital Rebel. It's a very resonably priced digital SLR camera.
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Old May 18th, 2004, 11:25 PM
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$600-800 Australian dollars cannot buy you a Canon Digital Rebel (i.e. 300D) or Nikon D70 digital SLR. Both are almost twice that budget. You can only get a Point-and-Shoot, or the slightly bigger and better-featured "prosumer" fixed-lens digital camera.

Optical zoom means exactly that. Most of the digital cameras have the widest angle equivalent to a 35mm focal length of 35mm. A 3x optical zoom therefore is equivalent to a 35-105mm zoom lens in the 35mm world. DO NOT pay any attention to digital zoom.

A 4-megapixel camera means it can take picture with as many as 4 million "dots". That's about 2,300 x 1,725. The better digital camera now usually has about 6-megapixel, which seems to be about equivalent to good 100-speed film, and that's what's necessary to get pretty large prints (11x14 or larger). Like Ingenieur says, for 8x10 prints and smaller, 4MP is enough.
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Old May 18th, 2004, 11:54 PM
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There are a number of websites that review cameras, try

http://www.dpreview.com

for a start. Be warned, the forums are generally populated by the 'very serious' camera heads. However, the reviews are good and you can do a features search to limit the choices. There are other sites as well, dpreview is v comprehensive.

Given your price range your existing camera experience (meaning you wont require a basic camera only), probably your decision should be influenced by 2 things (obviously, the assumption here is that picture quality is important regardless):

1. zoom. Most cameras are 3x zoom (optical). Equivalent to 35 - 105mm or so. However, various models go up to 12x zoom (25-420mm, in the case of the Panasonic FZ12). I have a 10x zoom myself (Olympus 750) and cant imagine stuck with a 3x zoom, but others hold v different opinions

2. size. Digi cams can be much smaller than film cameras, which means you can carry them everywhere. But I find them harder to handle. Further, some of the small cameras are that great.

Remember, in your budget, you will have to include: spare batteries, charger (possibly), memory cards (most cameras come with 16mb, you will want at least 256mb). That can be another $A150+. This is not to mention needing a computer plus you will need a post processing programme, such as photoshop (or photoshop elements etc). Those programmes are another $A100+.

I am a total convert to digital. However, while it has cheaper 'running costs', start up costs are pretty high. On the other hand, how much is a great photo worth?

As to the basic techno jargon, try the kodak website or just google

If you want me to give you some direction, let me know your views re zoom and size, plus what you will be using it for mainly. Might take a couple of days but I will get back to you eventually.


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Old May 19th, 2004, 01:28 AM
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You should also keep in mind that many of the smallest and "easiest" poin-and-shoot digital cameras has very limited manual options. And since you are coming from a SLR that might feel like a straightjacket so I would look into the cameras that are aimed more at the prosumer market, as ctd said. And I've got the Canon A70 which is now been replaced by the A80 model. The good thing about that camera is that is has lots and lots of manual options as well a fully automatic option and a simple videomode. So if you are going for the US $300 range I would look into that. Though it only has 3x optical zoom it's pretty small as well.
As another point try to get a camera that uses Compact Flash memory cards, due to price and it's available in very large sizes as well.

Cobos
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Old May 19th, 2004, 03:08 AM
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Coming from a SLR I would try to find a camera with electronic viewfinder, not only a monitor. The electronic viewfinder saves a lot on your batteries and are much better to use. A real SLR would be better, but the price is all too high at the moment. I would suggest a Finepix S 5000 it's only some 3+ megapix but it is enough for normal use and will save space on your card. A usually don't use more than 3 mpix even if I have a 5 mpix camera. Other cameras would be Nikon Colpix 5700, Minolta Z1 or Finepix S3000
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Old May 19th, 2004, 04:33 AM
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Just a pieace of advice. Don't buy your camera in Australia as the prices are high and new models take time to filter through to retailers. If you have a chance to pick one up in Singapore, Hong Kong or Tokyo, you'll get better deals. In Europe, UK is quite competitive with loads of special offers. Best of all is buying online in US. Wherever you buy, check on warranty and English manual, plus adaptor for charger (most are universal voltage).
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Old May 19th, 2004, 05:34 AM
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The Minolta Dimage Z2 is 4 MP, good zoom and in your price range. Have also got good reviews - I would check it out.
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Old May 19th, 2004, 06:36 AM
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We really like our Olympus--there are several models from which to choose. One great feature for international travel is that it uses AAA batteries. Our previous digital camera had a charger, and we had to get adapters for international travel. Now we just carry extra batteries--a big plus.
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Old May 19th, 2004, 06:48 AM
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I also went from a 35mm slr to digital--the Canon A80 that someone else already mentioned. It's a great little camera--I've used it in all sorts of conditions with success. I still pull out the 35mm for some special shots, but the A80 takes care of 90% or more of my picture taking requirements.
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Old May 19th, 2004, 07:17 AM
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SPPUNK:

Have you used the D70? I have my eyes on one and hope to have it soon but I'd love to hear how it has worked for someone who has used one.

Steve
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Old May 19th, 2004, 08:57 AM
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It might not be best to replace your standard with a digital, at least not at first. Instead, try carrying them both until you discover the strengths and weaknesses of the digital.

I have been shooting both for several years and, although the quality of digital is still not up to par with a high-quality transparency film, it is getting closer all the time.

One situation in which the digital does not even come close to film, however, is a high-contrast scene. Late afternoon-early evening shots with lots of mixed sunlight and shadow look terrible, regardless of which digital camera I use.

On the other hand, with my digital I can get interior shots (museums, cathedrals, etc.) that would otherwise be impossible because conventional tripods are not allowed. With my newest digital, the very small Nikon Coolpix 3100, I can attach a minipod and stabilize against a wall, chair, slow-moving elderly tourist, etc. and get a decent interior shot.

On the digital downside, I can get a high-quality shot with my standard Nikon much more quickly than with my digital. The display monitor on the back of the camera is difficult to see with outdoor daytime shots, and this requires the use of a minipod to control camera movement while I try to study the display. A digital SLR would avoid this problem, but these are going to cost $800 upwards and will be as bulky as a standard SLR (eliminating the possibilty of a minipod for interior shots).

When I want a great shot, I take my standard SLR and use slide film. When I want convenience, I carry my tiny digital (non-SLR) in my pocket. Both types of cameras have their places.

One advantage to digital that I am becoming more aware of is that the quality of the image is not dependent upon the storage media. The brand of CompactFlash card does not affect the quality of the image. Film images, however, can have dramatic variations in quality depending upon the type that is used. This can be important when traveling abroad because you never know what type of film the next camera shot will have in stock.
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Old May 19th, 2004, 12:27 PM
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The brand of compactflash card CAN make a big difference in how fast the image is recorded to the card and how quickly you can take the next photo(s).

Keith
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Old May 19th, 2004, 12:48 PM
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I've been a commercial photographer for more than 30 years and have used various digital applications since 1991.

It has been my experience that I spend far more on batteries and storage cards than I could EVER spend on film. (We've just had to invest in a laptop dedicated to stroing digital files only. I could have bought a lot of film for $1600 +)

Film is available EVERWHERE. With film I can shoot low light, high light, back light, black and white, color, infared, hi-contrast grainy (Tri-X) or super fine grain (Pan X).

Plus when I decide to take a photograph I don't have to argue with a digital camera telling me "No, there's not enough light, battery power, yadda-yadda."

Even my small, 35mm cameras (Nikon F) take exhibit grade PHOTOGRAPHS that have sold for many hundreds of dollars. Negatives are easy to file and exist on a format that will not become obsolete in the immediate future (remember 5 1/2 inch floppy discs anyone? Well, our new Dell didn't even come with a 3 1/2 inch floppy drive. By the way, CD-ROM's are headed the way of the buffalo, too.)

Finally I can convert my negatives OR my prints into any digital format out there simply by scanning them. How one captures an image is a non-issue. Archiving is the important thing.

Bottom line? We have been personally and professionally SO disappointed with digital so far. Most of my friends have digital cameras because they've got plent of disposable income and, after all, "they're the newest thing, aren't they?"

So was Polaroid. Once.

Despite the seemingly never ending hype, it's got a long way to go, baby.
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Old May 19th, 2004, 01:51 PM
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Re: With my newest digital, the very small Nikon Coolpix 3100, I can attach a minipod and stabilize against a wall, chair, slow-moving elderly tourist, etc...

Nice one, Steve!

Re: I've been a commercial photographer for more than 30 years and have used various digital applications since 1991. . . .Bottom line? We have been personally and professionally SO disappointed with digital so far.

Very interesting, DiAblo. I'm going to buy one anyway -- for reasons other than travel photography (photos for eBay, etc.) -- but, so far, haven't felt compelled to buy one for use while traveling, or for general hobby photography.
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Old May 19th, 2004, 02:02 PM
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Danielle, Go to several computer stores than have displays of digital cameras. Try several to see if the handling is what you would like. Some are easier to handle than others. Keep going back to the stores until you are comfortable with one or two or three. Some of the smaller ones are ideal for carrying unnoticeably. (beware of thieves). Then narrow down to costs and quality of the prints you may want. The pictures can stay in the computer of course. Your price range seems a bit high in my opinion.
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Old May 19th, 2004, 02:19 PM
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I used to teach photography once upon a time. I have fooled with cameras for a good long time. I too am very disappointed with the quality of photos with digital cameras. I find myself spending a great deal of time "manipulating" the photos with Photoshop. Photographs never give you exactly what the eye sees, but I find this disparity even wider with a digital camera. I have found the best quality under "ideal" condtions, that is, outdoors with even, moderate light. Despite the convenience of digital cameras, I am now tempted to go back to working with film, at least until digital cameras improve.
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Old May 19th, 2004, 05:04 PM
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DiAblo...A year ago I would have agreed with you on most points. But since then I've become quite comfortable working with digitals. I, too, have been a professional for many years.

I spend far more on batteries and storage cards than I could EVER spend on film.

Batteries in high-end digitals...which I'm assuming you've used professionally...have rechargeable batteries. So I'm not sure why you'd be spending more for them. The same with storage cards. Mine have been used for thousands of images without a problem. My comparable film costs & processing would have been many times the cost of those cards.

With film I can shoot low light, high light, back light, black and white, color, infared, hi-contrast grainy (Tri-X) or super fine grain (Pan X)

I can do all of this on my D70 & D1X without any film. I can vary the ISO from shot to shot, use an infrared filter, pump up the contrast & grain, and convert everything to B&W if I like. Digital slrs handle low-light, back-light, side-light, etc...just like film cameras. Why wouldn't they?

Plus when I decide to take a photograph I don't have to argue with a digital camera telling me "No, there's not enough light, battery power, yadda-yadda.

If there's not enough light for a correct exposure, you adjust until there is. This is the same on a film camera. Just like your film camera, it comes down to apertures and shutter speeds. Digitals do require more battery power. However, that's what spares are for. Any professional would no doubt carry spares for his film bodies as well.

Even my small, 35mm cameras (Nikon F) take exhibit grade PHOTOGRAPHS that have sold for many hundreds of dollars.

Digital images are becoming the industry standard for both stock submissions and fine art displays...appraoching the quality of medium format film cameras.

Negatives are easy to file and exist on a format that will not become obsolete in the immediate future...

Negatives and slides are somewhat easy to file...until you get thousands of them. I can find an image much faster in my database rather than searching through boxes of slides or sleeves full of negatives. In fact, with negatives I need a reference print or contact sheet to find an image.

By the way, CD-ROM's are headed the way of the buffalo, too.

Possibly...I agree that digital imaging needs constant backup. But slides & negatives fade and get damaged, too. Care is needed for both mediums.

Finally I can convert my negatives OR my prints into any digital format out there simply by scanning them. How one captures an image is a non-issue. Archiving is the important thing.

Shooting in digital saves a lot of scanning work. Digital files can be made into slides if you require them. Whether you've made film into digital or digital into film, you've slighty degraded the image quality.

Archiving images is indeed important. As I said above, this requires a good workflow in both digital & film.

Don't get me wrong, I love my film cameras and use them just as much as my digitals. And, as I said, I used to think like you. But I've had all my fears and arguments knocked down one by one.

Digital is here to stay.
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Old May 19th, 2004, 07:44 PM
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I don't think that most people can see any difference in their 35 mm film and their digital results. Maybe a professional photographer or dedicated hobbiest can make his film camera do super duper things that outshine the results of a good digital camera, but most of us can't.
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