Travel Camera Advice Needed

Old Jul 15th, 2006, 11:57 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,890
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Travel Camera Advice Needed

Have decided to give up the Canon AE One Program (I think it's rusted shut) and go digital. But know nothing about it.

Am limited in selections since I want the camera for free (AMEX rewards points). I want to make sure the camera is good enough to make a decent quality picture when blown up to 8 X 10 (my image of digital photos is that they're too grainy at that size).

Also when I travel I use my 28mm lens a lot (also used 50mm quite a bit - had a 70 to 210 but did not use much). So I guess I need something that would be equivalent to 28mm to 70 or 80 mm with excellent quality when photo is blown up.

Have no idea what this translates to - and want advice from someone who's not trying to sell me something.

One option I have is a Panasonic 6-megapixel Lumix with 12X optical zoom (mega optical image stabilization, widescreen 16.9 mode for panoramas). Does that sound like it would meet my requirements - or do I need one of those expensive digitals that acts like an SLR?

Any advice would be much appreciated.
nytraveler is offline  
Old Jul 15th, 2006, 12:20 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 21,369
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
nytraveler, your "image of digital photos" is about ten years out of date. Digital photography is light years ahead of where it was in the 90's. You can get stunningly beautiful enlargements from digital cameras. I'm a photographer, and my first digital was a 3.2MP (granted a very good one) that can produce decent 16x24 enlargements. I had a show recently, with some 16x24 prints displayed; you should have seen the JAWS DROP when I told people some of them were from a 3.2MP camera!!! People were stunned, especially those who were up on the technology. Of course, I much prefer higher resolution for the large prints; now I use a 12.8MP camera.

You might be interested to know that most 35mm camera owners have been unknowingly using "digital photography" for years now, because most printing of 35mm pictures (unless you go to a pro lab) is done by digitally scanning the negatives and then printing the digital images. All a digital camera does is "scan" the image directly from the glass instead of from film.

Needless to say, you can expect fantastic 8x10 enlargements from a 6 MP camera.

For anyone used to a film camera, I usually recommend a digital SLR, although most DSLRs will be in the $500+ price range (and likely not available with AMEX points). My current camera is a Canon 5D, but before that I had a Canon Digital Rebel which is a great little camera - uses the same lenses as my old 35mm Canon Elan IIe. You could pick one up used if you wish to continue to use your Canon lenses. If you are used to a film camera, you might like to continue with a DSLR as it has the same kind of responsiveness (mechanical shutter) and the same aspect ratio as 35mm film.

Otherwise, I recommend http://www.dpreview.com as a great site for reviewing digital cameras.

Andrew
Andrew is online now  
Old Jul 15th, 2006, 12:36 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,566
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Something else to think about... a 6 MP camera makes HUGE files and will fill up even a 512 memory card very quickly. If you're looking for simplicity when you travel, a lesser megapixel will be helpful so you won't have to carry a bunch of memory cards. Personally, we have 2 digital cameras in my house, one is a 3.5 and one is a 5. Honestly, there is very little difference in their photo qualities, especially when you're using it for travel photos.
ChristieP is offline  
Old Jul 15th, 2006, 01:25 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 21,369
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Some digital cameras have the ability to save different sized files. My 5D and Digital Rebel can both save smaller images than the largest size; I'm not talking about reduced quality, I mean fewer pixels. With my 5D, I often shoot "snapshots" in Medium Mode which is effectively about 6MP (instead of 12.8MP). Often I don't need huge pictures, and I can get good enlargements even from a 6MP file.

Also, the price of memory cards is dropping all the time. I just got another 2GB CF card for $40. The bigger worry then is not filling up the card (you can get a ton of 6MP JPEG files on a 2GB memory card) but in how you archive them afterward. A DVD burner would seem to be a minimum requirement, but I prefer an external hard disk as well. CD/DVD media is not 100% reliable and can fail over time, so it's good to have at least two copies of any digital picture files that you care about.

Andrew
Andrew is online now  
Old Jul 15th, 2006, 01:31 PM
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,890
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
You're right - my image of digital is that it's useless since I was in advertising and while digital images were OK for comps they couldn;t be used for repro since the dpi simply wasn;t enough for really high quality.

And yes - we have been using a pro quality lab (as a favor from a friend/supplier - who uses only his tried and true - and ancient Pentax etcs - won;t even talk digital) to make 8 X 10's - or bigger from slides (never used print film).

Also - I really know NOTHING about this.
Did see memory cards with a gig. But what does this translate to in terms of # of photos? We typically do 300 plus per vacation.

They do have the following SLR: Pentaz K110D Digital SLR with 18-55 Zoom Lens.
(The only Canon is in an entire package of stuff - memory cards, scanner, printer, cases, etc for 3 times as many points) - would that provide a better image? Or only similar to the Panasonic?

(I really don;t want to spend anything on this - just use up some of the gazillion points that I've accumulated.)
nytraveler is offline  
Old Jul 15th, 2006, 01:35 PM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,890
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Not sure about the DVD burner image (I'm old and a technophobe). Is that different than the DVD burner in my computer?
nytraveler is offline  
Old Jul 15th, 2006, 03:03 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 23,074
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
nytraveler - First, you should decide whether you want SLR or non-SLR. The issues are the same for digital or film. Interchangeable lens, more accessories, but bulkier and higher cost for SLRs. Decide on that first, then model.

One thing you mentioned is 28mm equivalent coverage. Most non-SLRs will only cover down to 35mm equivalent. For example, the Panasonic Lumix FZ-7 that you're thinking about has an effective focal length of 36-432mm. Great for tele lovers, but not when you like to shoot wide (like myself).

As for memory cards, a 1GB card should hold about 350-400 6MP pictures. The SD and CompactFlash cards are cheap anyways, so just get a few.

The DVD-burner issue is for your home computer, for long-term storage of your picture files.
rkkwan is offline  
Old Jul 15th, 2006, 03:10 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 182
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Don't skimp on the camera. When looking, only go by the OPTICAL ZOOM, not any Digital Zoom which produces inferior images. That Panosonic is a great buy and the 12X optical zoom will really pay off. At the higher zoom ranges, the image stabilization is a must. When setting up your camera, use the higest quality image settings and buy a couple of large (1GB) memory cards. You won't need the newer 'Ultra High Speed cards unless you plan to use the video feature. The number of images stored will depend on the camera's megapixel and the image settings. With 2ea 1GB cards, you should be able to take all the photos you will want.
LarryT is offline  
Old Jul 15th, 2006, 03:15 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 563
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I just priced the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ7K Digital Camera. Low price is $314. Is that the one you are talking about? If so, that's a great price for the quality you describe.
SpeedBuggy is offline  
Old Jul 15th, 2006, 03:22 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 23,074
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
dpreview.com is a good site for research. For example, when I try to narrow a camera that is "SLR-like", "28mm or less wide angle" and has "image stabilization", it gives me three models:

Konica Minolta DiMAGE A2, A200 and the older Minolta DiMAGE A1. All all older models.

But if you don't need image stabilization, then you have 10 to choose from, with two newer models - the Kodak P880 and Fuji S9000Z.
rkkwan is offline  
Old Jul 15th, 2006, 05:11 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 21,369
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
nytraveler, certainly much of the advertising world has moved on to digital by now. Only when extremely high quality is needed - at larger sizes - would, say, medium or large format still make economic sense, and maybe not even then. For a client with a smaller budget, certainly digital would greatly reduce costs, and with high end equipment pro digital cameras (16MP for example) can fill most needs.

I think you should look at some sample prints and ad work done with digital cameras and then I think you would change your mind about this completely.

Yes, the DVD burner in your computer is what I meant in regards to archiving your photos. You would presumably download the photos from your camera to your computer, but you would need to backup them up to a DVD just in case your computer's hard drive ever crashes - and it loses all your pictures. Hard drives crash all the time, with no reason; you HAVE to have a backup if you have anything valuable on it, including precious pictures.

A 2GB flash card would hold about 600 6MP image files, and as I said you can get these cards for under $50 each now. So you could go on two vacations and fill up the card once. Yet I think you'll find that once you get a digital, you'll be shooting more pictures than you did with film, because the pictures are "free" and you can just erase them later.

Andrew


Andrew is online now  
Old Jul 15th, 2006, 05:32 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 182
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Two good reviews of this camera are http://www.steves-digicams.com/2006_reviews/fz7.html
and: http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/panasonicfz7/

Another choice would be the Canon PowerShot S3 IS (appx $420): http://www.steves-digicams.com/2006_reviews/s3is.html
and: http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canons3is/
or the earlier model the Canon PowerShot S2 IS (a better buy at appx $330): http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canons2is/
There is relatively little change between the Canon PowerShot S2 IS and S3 IS.
LarryT is offline  
Old Jul 15th, 2006, 05:47 PM
  #13  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,890
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks for all the info.

I will check the web sites listed and do the comparisons to see what I can figure out. I did use 28mm all the time on vacation (otherwise you have to be in Nebraksa to get the facade of Versailles) so I'll need to factor that in.

I'm just a little constrained because I want this for free - but did check the AMEX web site and they seem to have more than 40 different cameras available.

Andrew - yes the last place I worked was still non-digital for repro - perhaps because what we did was medical education - meaning that the recipients expected the ultimate in quality printing and minute color changes in art were really important. (A lot different than printing Sunday supplements or for general audiences.)

I may be back with more questions after I've reviewed all the material. Thanks again for all the help.
nytraveler is offline  
Old Jul 15th, 2006, 07:20 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 54
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I think I missed which Canon you said was available with your saved-up points. Based on your requirements, I'm humbly suggesting the Canon Powershot s70 if it's available. I got it because it goes up to 7.1 MP, does wide angle (28 mm), and can save in JPEG or RAW. Fantastic Canon quality in a compact footprint. On my recent trip to Yosemite, I took 220+ largest JPEGs and RAW on one battery and one 1-GB CF card, with room to spare.
yosenut is offline  
Old Jul 15th, 2006, 07:48 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 563
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks for this discussion. I am really learning a lot. There must be many of us who can benefit from such an informative discussion.
SpeedBuggy is offline  
Old Jul 15th, 2006, 09:37 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,865
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I have a different suggestion. The wide angle capabilities of the s70 are good but it has small zoom capability. For travel, I prefer a more wide ranging lens.

I just upgraded from a Canon S1 IS to an S2 IS and I think very highly of it. It has a 12x optical zoom capability which gives the camera a 35mm equivalent of 36-432mm and has image stabilization that makes long zoom shots more practical. It is a 5mp camera so it has plenty of horsepower for enlargement. I really liked the S1 IS and got a lot of good shots with it. the only reason I upgraded was to get the extra zoom capability for wildlife photos (actually, "upgrade" is a misnomer-I now have two good digital cameras to choose from).

There is lots to choose from on the camera market. Not wanting to spend the big bucks for a Digital SLR, the S2 IS was my choice and I have not been disappointed.
dwooddon is offline  
Old Jul 15th, 2006, 10:05 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 23,074
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Wide angle is very important for those who are used to shooting that way. In fact, my favorite film SLR lens is a 22-55. There's no way I could go with a camera that has the widest angle being 35-36.

With a high resolution (6+ MP) camera, a very long tele lens is really overkill, unless you need to shoot really long distance and blow them up. But if you need to do those things, you probably need a dSLR and a fast/good/expensive lens anyways. Otherwise, you can just take your shot and then go home and crop it in if you need detail on something real bad.

Yes, it's a compromise, but you have that option; but if need a wide shot, there's no alternative - you just have to have that wide lens.
rkkwan is offline  
Old Jul 15th, 2006, 10:40 PM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 21,369
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I always want the wider lenses when I travel and not so much the zooms. On my last trip to Europe, I took four lenses for my digital SLR. The widest was equivalent to a 16-35mm on a 35mm camera, but I used my (equivalent) 28-88mm most often. I rarely used my 100mm-300mm at all. Usually I'm trying to shoot buildings and you always seem to want to get wider, not closer.

Andrew
Andrew is online now  
Old Jul 16th, 2006, 06:12 AM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 797
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
my only comment is that i got my digital and i was in places that you couldn't charge it at night so you may want to think about the power source - the more you use the screen to take your shot and the more you zoom and view take up power, one other item and this may have improved since i bought mine, is the how long does it take to take and save the pic. some could take 2 or 3 secconds and in an action situation, no good.
justme22 is offline  
Old Jul 16th, 2006, 08:06 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 21,369
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
As the saying goes, you do get what you pay for. The cheaper digitals do eat batteries faster and aren't as responsive with the shutter button as a higher-end camera. For the average person just needing to take some travel photos on vacation, your run-of-the-mill point and shoot compact digital is probably just fine, as long as you take batteries into account. (In a foreign country, take an adaptor for the battery charger.) Just play with the camera before you buy it, if you can.

If you are willing to spend a little more money, a digital SLR is going to offer much better responsiveness on the shutter button, because it has a mechanical shutter just like a film camera (but no "live view" screen like the other digitals have - you can see your picture on the LCD screen only after you take it). Zooming is also done by turning the lens, just like a film camera. (I use the same lenses on both my digitals and my film camera.) In fact, all zoom on a digital SLR is "optical zoom."


And my Canon Digital Rebel is very efficient on batteries. I can take over 100 pictures (maybe 200 if I'm not using the flash) on a single battery, and I can get spare batteries for about $25 each. Two fully charged batteries per day was always more than adequate for shooting tons of pictures on my last Europe trip, and I was taking a LOT of pictures.

Andrew
Andrew is online now  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 05:37 PM.