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What should I be looking for in a digital camera?

What should I be looking for in a digital camera?

Old Dec 14th, 2004, 10:05 AM
  #21  
jor
 
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Thanks Andrew for backing me up. This morning I talked to a friend who owns, operates, and repairs in his camera shop in my community who has been in the business for many years. He told me that the lens is always of higher quality on a 2.8 aperture than on a 5.6. So yes, Beachbum the lens speed shown on the area surrounding the front of the lens or in the owners manual indicates a better lens and better quality photos.
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Old Dec 14th, 2004, 10:23 AM
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but strictly speaking, the maximum aperture opening of a lens has nothing to do with the quality of the glass

I'm not an expert in the design of glass, so I'll accept that at face value. However, I really do wonder about it. If the lens is "faster," I wonder if at least part of the reason isn't because the glass is "better."

More important, a lens with a 2.8 aperture is an indication that the lens might be sharper over a wider range of apertures than a 5.6 lens. That's because, as someone already pointed out, it is more expensive to make. For the same reason that you wouldn't put a cheap paint job on a car that is expensive because of all the other engineering, it is indeed a pretty good rule of thumb that a 2.8 lens might be a better quality lens than a 5.6 lens.

Having said all that, for the purposes of this discussion the typical travel snapshooter won't notice a difference in the quality of the image between the 2.8 lens and the 5.6 lens. If someone really is discriminating about their photography to the point of being as overly compulsive as I am , that person should be asking for advice on forums that specialize in digital photography rather than on a travel forum.
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Old Dec 14th, 2004, 10:57 AM
  #23  
 
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FWIW, the Panasonic/Leica Lumix camera I mentioned in an earlier post has a 2.8 aperture.
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Old Dec 14th, 2004, 11:21 AM
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I still don't know what the size of the aperture has to do with the quality of the glass, but having seen his work, I'll certainly defer to Mike Buckley.

One more point of disagreement, though, jor.. I can personally prove that, in the hands of a generally lousy photographer, there is no difference in photo quality between a 2.8 and a 5.6 lens.
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Old Dec 14th, 2004, 11:50 AM
  #25  
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beachbum, I Have personally proved that their is a difference in a 2.8 lens. I bought a non-SLR point and shoot camera for my parents about fifteen years ago. A few years ago my parents were showing their photo album to my photography friend who was certain that 'I' had taken the photos with my SLR camera. He was surprised that they were my mother's photos because of the high quality of the images. My mother knows very little about photography. The lens made the difference.
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Old Dec 14th, 2004, 12:57 PM
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Why would a person rule out (in the above example) printing processes when comparing images?

Surprised with all the glass talk that nobody has mentioned Nikon's dominance in quality.

Nobody has mentioned the staggering quality difference between CMOS and CCD.

I'm done here. I said it, someone else repeated my admonition : a D P forum is the best site for such discussions.
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Old Dec 14th, 2004, 01:58 PM
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For a combination of size, quality and practicability I'd recommend the Olympus Mju 400 digital range.

It's one of the few weatherproof digital cameras (yes, some are not supposed to be used in the rain). Get a 128 mb XD flash card and you've got a great camera that will do about 150 photos on a high quality setting. 4 mega pixels give excellent resolution for reasonably large prints.
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Old Dec 14th, 2004, 02:13 PM
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Okay jor, I give up... But tell me again, what's the connection between the size of the aperture and the lens glass?
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Old Dec 14th, 2004, 04:39 PM
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beachbum, not to speak for jor, but I'll try to explain using the best analogy I can think of:

You look at a car. Let's assume you know a lot about stereo systems but nothing about anything else inside the car. You know the car has a fabulous stereo system made of top-quality components that are expensive to produce. Having made that observation, you can probably assume that the steering system, brake system, and engine are not low-end quality even though it's clear that the stereo has absolutely nothing to do with any of those parts of the car. For the same reason you probably won't find a car that has manual (as opposed to power) steering and a fabulous stereo system, you probably won't find a lens with poor quality glass and a 2.8 aperture. That's because the manufacturers recognize that a typical person looking to save money by buying a car with no power steering won't be willing to pay the big bucks included in the price of the car for the fancy stereo. Similarly, the person looking to save money by buying a lens with low-quality glass probably is not going to pay the big bucks required to get the 2.8 aperture.

Make sense?
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Old Dec 14th, 2004, 06:03 PM
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Nikon 4300. Good for beginners and intermediate users. Look for rebates from Nikon and retailers, which can run $150. Net price can be as little as $200. Buy an extra battery. This camera uses a compact flash I. Cheaper than most other memory devices. Do an internet search for Nikon 4300 reviews. Hope this helps.
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Old Dec 14th, 2004, 06:04 PM
  #31  
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MikeBuckley said it more clearly than I could ever make it.
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Old Dec 14th, 2004, 06:59 PM
  #32  
 
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yale, after all this, please let us know what you decide!
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Old Dec 15th, 2004, 09:46 AM
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I have to agree with Mike about 2.8 lenses. Take a look at Canon. Its pro lenses tend to be in the 2.8 (and now 4 range) and have constant maximum apertures. Its next range of cameras includes a few 3.5-4.5 variable aperture lenses geared toward advance amateurs and semi-pros. Then it has less expensive, higher maximum aperture lenses. I am sure there are discrepancies in the rule of thumb Jor and Mike mentioned. For example, I have a 4.0 aperture zoom that is supposed to be one of Canon's best lenses (the L (or pro) series). As a rule though, I think you can look at it this way, the more expensive lenses with the wider maximum apertures are geared toward pros or series amateurs, and you should expect the glass to be better as a result, even if only slightly better.

I wish I could give you more advice on digital cameras, but I just bought my first less than two weeks ago. In my opinion, a digital camera is likely to be outdated a lot faster than a film camera, so I think it makes a lot of sense to follow what others have said about not going under 4 megapixels and certainly not lower than 3. That way, you will be happy with the camera longer. Mine is over 8 megapixels, but already there are cameras with twice that or better (just way out of my price range).

Definitely look at reviews online. Places like epinions, Amazon, www.photo.net, and a few others can provide lots of good information. For example, photo.net has a recent series of reviews on the Canon A75-A95 cameras, which are quite affordable.
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Old Dec 15th, 2004, 10:25 AM
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Earlier this year we purchased our 3rd digital camera. With the first two we had, which were both very good Sony models and the "latest" technology at the time we purchased them, the problem we found is that the camera took too long to reset itself. We'd snap a picture and wait 10 or 20 seconds. Snap a picture and wait. Both models were of the "point and shoot" variety and were relatively compact.

With two young children we found we missed pictures because we couldn's just snap away the same way we could with our 35mm. For that reason we upgraded to one of the Nikon models, the D1000 (I think.)

I'm also clueless when it comes to technology. We wanted a camera that would allow us to take multiple pictures and "action" shots. Our first week with the camera, I got some great pictures of my daughter running into and out of the ocean. With the other two digital cameras we had, I never would have been able to get those shots.

What we wanted in our digital camera was something easy to use, easy to download and that functioned more lime a traditional 35mm film camera. I think we now have that.

BTW, I'm one of those people who freely admit they don't read every detail of an instruction manual. I want to use a camera, not rebuild one. I have little interest in technical specifications and more interest in making sure it does what I want it to do.
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Old Dec 15th, 2004, 10:27 AM
  #35  
 
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Should add, the Nikon we purchased in March is something like a 6.1 pixel. I can't see us needing to upgrade for a few years as the picture quality is perfect for our needs.
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Old Dec 15th, 2004, 01:55 PM
  #36  
 
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At this point in the evolution of camera technology it is not the race to increase MP with which one should be focused, rather, it is the features of the camera. DSLR with stabilization are the features a person should seek once you've bought into the 5.0 MP range. Going to 8.1 or 12.0 MP will do you no good, unless you are printing posters. So, your 8MP camera is not "obsolete".
That would be like comparing my Mercedes-Benz AMG with 0-60 mph time of 6.3 seconds and saying that it is obsolete compared to the new AMG with 0-60 mph time of 5.8 seconds. The price differential is $30,000 to lose .5 second in acceleration time. For what?
For every person, there is a camera. For enthusiasts, there are Canon and Nikon, etc. with $1,000 back and another $1,200 worth of lenses. And $200 worth of filters. And $200 worth of memory. And $200 worth of batteries/chargers. And $200 worth of tripods/cases.

Your 10-20 second delay is a function of the internal buffer, the write speed of your camera and the flash memory, the photo "size" or MP density, and the strength of your battery at that given time. Carry spares and change batteries when the camera slows.

In terms of cameras and equipment, go at your own pace and upgrade as you see fit. Certainly, yale has departed this thread by now...?
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Old Dec 22nd, 2004, 07:27 AM
  #37  
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I haven't departed. I appreciate all the good info. I'm narrowing down my choices tonight in hopes of getting a good deal at the after-Christmas sales. Thanks for all your feedback!
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Old Dec 22nd, 2004, 11:49 AM
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If you are used to a 35mm, another consideration may be the type of viewfinder. I sold my first digital because the viewfinder did not offer a "through the lens image"....making it difficult to frame a shot...unless you used the LCD.

On my current camera, the viewfinder shows a " through the lens" image. Now I can frame the shot through the viewfinder (just like a 35mm) and save the LCD for reviewing photos. This also extends the battery life.

If you take your photos on high resolution, you may not need a camera with 8 mp or more. I just had a image (taken with a 5.0 mp on high resolution and large image size) enlarged to 16x20 and it came out fabulous. Great quality and clarity. Instead of spending extra for another camera with more megapixels....I just buy more/bigger memory cards.
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