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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Wed 27 Jul, 2005 9:29 pm    Post subject: Digital camera purchasing advice.         Reply with quote

Because my toy budget is all being spent on swords, armour, books period accessories etc.... I keep putting off buying a digital camera. I would like to be able to post pictures of my new stuff when I give it a review or of pictures from my reference books when useful to a topic.

Now, an inexpensive camera I might buy sooner than a top end professional camera because that would slow down my buying swords and stuff Razz Big Grin

What are the minimum requirements for decent Picts: Memory, lenses, real zoom / macro ?

I do have experience with 35mm cameras and I prefer manual controls after making a reading on automatic. Flash photography is only for quick snap shots: so, I'm not looking for a lot of crutches i.e. snap and shoot and the camera does it all for you ( Wrong in a lot of cases, but right most of the time. )

So I think my priorities would be image resolution, manual zoom / macro with total memory coming in second as I don't think I need to be able to store large amount of images in camera before I transfer to my computer. ( A MAC 17" powerbook if that makes any difference. ) I can easily recompose a picture or fix other problems since I have the professional version of Photoshop.
So, if I keep the price on the low end, I'm looking for a camera where all the money isn't wasted on features I don't need but that are attractive to people who are intimidated with a very "manual" camera.

I'm assuming that Nathan or other might have good advice about this and point me in the right direction so that I can choose among the thousands of cameras out there.

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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Wed 27 Jul, 2005 9:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have the Cannon PowerShot A85. I believe Chad has the A95. (and thus possesses more A's than I do, a fact that I am terribly insecure about Big Grin ) We both seem to be getting good results with these.
"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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William C Champlin




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PostPosted: Wed 27 Jul, 2005 9:50 pm    Post subject: digital camera advice         Reply with quote

Hi Jean. I would go to B&H Photo at bhphotovideo.com and look at what's available. Once you've scoped out what's there and decide on a model, look around on the internet for who gives you the best price on the one you like. I would also research the company that you choose and see what their customers have to say. I shopped around for a camera for my wife and found the one that I was looking for at a much better price ($150 less) at Butterfly Photo, but look around. I have been very happy with my Sony bought in 2001 but the Canon that I got for my wife last year cost much less for a far better camera. I really like being able to go automatic or set everything manually. You can get a great camera in almost any price range. "Digital Zoom" is all smoke and mirrors, you want to get optical zoom.
hope this helps,W

tweetchris
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Wed 27 Jul, 2005 9:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick;

Thanks: Will look up the stats on those. I just want to be able to take decent pictures and don't want to spend as much time mulling over my camera choices that I spend mulling over my next sword purchase. Laughing Out Loud

Oh, I had access at work to an Olympus digital camera in my old A.V. job ( Now retired at 55 WOO HOO ) : But that camera was bought around the mid 1990s' so that what probably the stone age as far as digital cameras are concerned; if I remember right you ran out of memory after a dozen high resolution shots and the software to transfer to the Powermacs we were using was far from easy to use.

William;

I agree about digital zoom being useless as I would take a shot as wide as I needed at a high resolution and just zoom in on it after I had it in my Mac using photoshop anyway if I needed a close up or recompose the framing. Once I figure out what features to give priority too, it's then just a question of brand and price. I usually only use auto settings to get a light meter reading on what the subject is and then I go to manual: This is useful when the background is very bright or very dark and an automatic setting would be fooled by the background into giving you an over or under exposed subject.

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Last edited by Jean Thibodeau on Wed 27 Jul, 2005 10:08 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Wed 27 Jul, 2005 10:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I would also avoid trying to get a cheap deal by purchasing over the internet from discount sources. I did a lot of research into this when buying a camera, with Nathan's help. Most of those cameras sold by Internet shippers are made for the off-shore market and are not supportable when sold in the US. That means there will be no warranty or service options. If it breaks you're out of luck. It's better to go to a local store in your area for purchase. Better to spend a few dollars more for a camera that's backed with service rather than a few hundred on a potential paperweight.
"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Wed 27 Jul, 2005 10:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick;

Oh, there are plenty of local camera stores were I can window shop before making up my mind. I'm not trying for the cheapest option but I do want to avoid the $1000 to $1500 range. I would also avoid the dirt cheap $150 to $250 range.

I guess something decent could be found around $350 to $550.

The only things I buy using the internet is mostly from companies that I have found here and that have a good reputation for customer service.

In any case I'm not obsessed about finding the lowest possible price at the risk of being stuck with unreturnable junk: But thanks anyway for the advice and concern. I would stick with one of the major brands.

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Steve Grisetti




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PostPosted: Wed 27 Jul, 2005 11:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Thibodeau wrote:
...I'm not trying for the cheapest option but I do want to avoid the $1000 to $1500 range. I would also avoid the dirt cheap $150 to $250 range.

I guess something decent could be found around $350 to $550.

Jean,
A few of my fellow forumites have commented that I take good pictures. Maybe you are all blowing smoke up my, well, somewhere.... But, anyway, I just use a Kodak DX6330 that I bought for US$200 a couple of years ago. This met my minimum spec:
- 3 megapixels
- 3X optical zoom - I see little value in the digital zoom feature
- reasonably good, if not the greatest, all-glass lens
- 1 frame / 2 seconds capability (there are some out there that are slower)
- uses MMC/SD cards (for compatibility with other stuff I have)
- can use AA batteries, rather than just something proprietary.
- small enough to carry in a pocket.
- user-friendly operation and software
I have been very happy with the camera. Takes decent photos, and stands up to a beating. Of course, as I said, this camera is a couple of years old, and Kodak has a bunch of new models. Would I like to have a digital SLR? Absolutely, but now you're getting up into that $1000+ range. And it won't fit in a pocket, so I would need to have a little one, also.
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Thu 28 Jul, 2005 12:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Steve;

Thanks for being specific:

I guess the more Megapixels the better in theory as I assume that this means better resolution but like anything else getting the maximum costs and 3 to 4 megapixels may be sufficient.

3X optical zoom maybe up to 6 ? Macro might be more usefull when you want to show a small scratch and blow its' importance all out of proportion in a review Razz Wink Laughing Out Loud

Something compatible with a Mac for me. ( Most are today I think, I hope ? ....... better make sure BEFORE I buy ! )

The trap is maybe thinking that if you don't have all the GEWGAWS possible you are settling for inferior equipment.

Mid price, mid range specs are probably all you need unless you are talking professional uses.

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Anton de Vries





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PostPosted: Thu 28 Jul, 2005 4:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Thibodeau wrote:

I guess the more Megapixels the better in theory as I assume that this means better resolution

More megapixels=higher resolution. However, cheap megapixels are usually bad mpixels. You definitely don't want that.
That said, I prefer mediocre pictures of your new dagger to no pictures at all, so get on with it. Wink
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Aaron Schnatterly




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PostPosted: Thu 28 Jul, 2005 5:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean-

Lots of good advice so far... won't repeat it just for the sake of a longer post.

One additional thing to consider - you can overkill this deal, too. I have a Nikon Coolpix 8800. It's really very nice. At 8 megapixel, and zoom for days (optical, I'm not counting the digital), great battery life, massive storage, vibration reduction, tons of adjustable settings...

... and I never use it's full potential. Never.

It's also quite a large, heavy thing, so it is cumbersome. Also, I have to crop and resize everything before I post it up anyway, so the benefit of the super-fine high resolution is really lost.

I'm not disappointed with the camera, and I am learning more about photography (the reason I went with this model - lots to play with and learn). I wish I had a smaller, lighter one just for convenience, when I am not actually concerned about high-grade photos (as if I could take them... Razz ).

I think your comment of "mid-range, mid-price" is a decent generalization.

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M. Taylor




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PostPosted: Thu 28 Jul, 2005 5:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean,

You should have no trouble getting a very good camera in the $350 - $550 price range. I'll second the nod that Patrick gave to the Canons; I have an A95 and am very happy with it. It's 5 Megapixels (all you probably need) and has a very nice range of automatic / manual shooting modes. The optics are pretty good for a camera in its price range as well, wich is much more important than raw megapixels, as has been previously stated. The images the camera produces are very nice and touch up quite well with minimal fussing in Photoshop. Good luck.

"Only people not able to grow tall from their own efforts and achievements seek to subdue their fellow man."
"Only people not being able to find comfort in their own mind seek to silence others. " - Per Bylund
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Steve Grisetti




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PostPosted: Thu 28 Jul, 2005 6:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Thibodeau wrote:
Thanks for being specific.

You are most welcome.
Quote:
I guess the more Megapixels the better in theory as I assume that this means better resolution but like anything else getting the maximum costs and 3 to 4 megapixels may be sufficient.

As I said - my minimum spec was 3MP. This will give you excellent standard size prints and also decent prints up to maybe 8 x 10, though I rarely do that. More megapixels is "better", but you need to consider what you will need in the short- to medium-term (see comments below).
Quote:
3X optical zoom maybe up to 6 ?

Again - I would consider 3X optical zoom the minimum spec. More is "better", but I suspect that, at any point in the time vs technology continuum, more optical zoom = more size and weight, all other things being equal, so you need to consider how you will use the camera.
Quote:
Macro might be more usefull when you want to show a small scratch and blow its' importance all out of proportion in a review Razz Wink Laughing Out Loud

My little CX6330 (note model correction) has macro capability, and I have used that on some of the closeups that I posted here. I think that 'macro' is a useful feature.
MEMORY - In (at least) one of your posts, there was a remark about running out of memory. That should no longer be a concern. Internal, built-in memory in any camera is typically minimal - my little CX6330 only has 8MB internal. But you will, I think, universally, have an expansion memory slot . You can get flash memory cards, currently, up to 1GB at fairly economical prices, and the $/MB is dropping pretty rapidly. I have a 256MB SD card that I bought about 2 years ago for around US$80 on sale. I could replace it today for US$30.
The issue is the type of flash memory card that the camera is built to use. Sony's use a Memory Stick - Sony's unique format. In my case, I wanted the MMC/SD format because I have other electronics that use the MMC/SD standard of card. There is also an xD card format, a Compact Flash format, and probably some others.
Quote:
Something compatible with a Mac for me. ( Most are today I think, I hope ? ....... better make sure BEFORE I buy ! )

I think you are probably right that most are compatible with Mac these days, but you want to make sure you don't purchase an exception to the rule.
Quote:
The trap is maybe thinking that if you don't have all the GEWGAWS possible you are settling for inferior equipment...Mid price, mid range specs are probably all you need unless you are talking professional uses.

True. But as for "mid price, mid range", I really think that my little camera is more to the low end. In a field like digital photography, where there are still rapid improvements, my feeling is that it is best to buy what you expect to need, with a bit of margin, in the short to medium term, and buy no more than that. By the time you do need more, in maybe a couple of years, the affordability index will have changed significantly.

LENS QUALITY - this is another issue that should be considered. In my earlier post, I mentioned "all-glass lens". Well, that is just a starting point. Now that good MP resolution and minimal optical zoom capabilities are pretty cheap, I suspect that lens quality becomes the limiting factor. So, you want a "good" lens. Unfortunately, I cannot quantify what that means. If anyone else out there in cyberspace can comment on this issue with authority, now is the time to chime in Laughing Out Loud

I hope this helps!
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Thu 28 Jul, 2005 6:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'll further echo the Canon PowerShot praises. The A95 is a model that's almost a year old, so you may be able to get it at a good price as newer models are introduced; US retailer Best Buy sells it for $299. I think it's a great blend of ease of use, cost, and features. It's a handy size and has lots of features.

The only problem is that the camera is good enough that I'm not certain any poor pictures are a result of operator error. Happy

Happy

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Steve Grisetti




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PostPosted: Thu 28 Jul, 2005 6:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

To remark on Patrick's and Chad's comments - Canon does have a very long history in photography and optics, and has a fine reputation. I have been thinking about buying their digital Rebel (SLR), but that would get in the way of future sword purchases.

Aaron mentioned his Nikon - I think of Nikon as, if not the "gold" standard in photography, maybe the "silver" standard (with maybe Leica as the "gold"). Of course, as I make these remarks, I am thinking of 35mm film, not digital.

As for Kodak, they are no one's gold standard, but they have done the job for me.
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Aaron Schnatterly




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PostPosted: Thu 28 Jul, 2005 6:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Memory is a freaky thing... it comes in so many different forms anymore. SD, CF1 & 2, Sony Stick... and a bunch more. All of the cameras I am familiar with have a way to hook up to your computer via USB or Firewire, and you can also get card readers. Makes transferring files on a Windows machine cake - I assume it's also easy with a Mac. (I personally hate a Mac - haven't fooled with one in a long time... not starting a debate on Win vs. Mac - let's not go there!)

You don't need to go way overboard on this, either. Most cameras will come with a minimal card, some won't come with any memory at all Worried - in fact, mine didn't. I have a 1GB CF card - at 5 megapixels, I can take pics for like forever. At 8, it loads up a lot faster, of course... I could have been ok with a 512MB, but am glad I have the bigger card just in case. 256 is just too small, in my opinion.

Oh, and I think you can actually get an 8GB CF card! Eek! It would put you in the poorhouse, though.

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James Holczer




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PostPosted: Thu 28 Jul, 2005 7:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If youíre really into manual settings, you might want to check out the Olympus ultra zoom series. A friend of mine has an Olympus C770 and is very pleased with it. It only a 4 mega pixel camera but the picture quality under most lighting conditions is quite good.
Itís got a 10x zoom lens and can go from point and shoot to fully manual modes, shutter priority, aperture priority, manual focus etc. The only thing I donít like about it is the lack of image stabilization and with a 10x zoom image stabilization comes in handy. I believe it retails for 300 to 350 dollars, so itís not a bad deal. Personally Iím thinking of picking one up to replace my aging Pentax, which has developed some problems of late.
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Mike Pospichal





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PostPosted: Thu 28 Jul, 2005 10:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Image stabilization is a handy feature, but for low light/long focal lengths(10x or 12x zoom stands out) you'll want a tripod to keep things steady.
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Aaron Schnatterly




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PostPosted: Thu 28 Jul, 2005 10:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mike Pospichal wrote:
Image stabilization is a handy feature, but for low light/long focal lengths(10x or 12x zoom stands out) you'll want a tripod to keep things steady.


Yup. Macro shots, too... just a tiny bit of motion, even with my vibration reduction on, really screws things up. You can get a light use tripod fairly inexpensively (or a professional one for probably a lot more than the camera costs...).

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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Thu 28 Jul, 2005 1:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

O.K. : Lots to digest but very good info, the most important is that I will know what questions to ask if I go to a camera shop that has competent sales people.

Those Canon cameras seem like a good starting point for medium range manual or point and shoot.

The Olympus 770 that James mentioned seems to fit what I would need / want, the image stabilization I can live without as I would use a tripod for any macro work anyway.

It's been a while so I might forget what setting I was using and I do have to refresh my memory about the relationship of lens opening, depth of field and exposure times: With a 35mm camera I have managed to get clear pictures, handheld , with exposure times of 1/8 to 1/2 seconds by bracing my arms like I was doing handgun shooting sitting and arms supported on a sand bag.

Might have to spend a bit more on a cheap set of a couple of studio lights, spun glass, diffusers etc.... If improvising with house lamps doesn,t give good results. ( But first get a camera within the next couple of months before I find another sword I want to buy first Wink Laughing Out Loud )

( Oh, Steve: I read you P.M. before I checked the more recent messages so I may have asked questions already anwered here. )

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Joseph C.




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PostPosted: Sun 31 Jul, 2005 4:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, I can say that I will never buy another digital point and shoot camera. I've used Sony and Olympus ones (with the Olympus being far superior) and they just do not give the manual control--and consequently picture quality--that I require in a camera. So, if it were me (on a budget), I'd recommend the Nixon D70 with the kit lense--but that's me.

You can also find great reviews of digital cameras of all types here: http://dpreview.com/

As a side note, you can get good, legitimate deals on the Internet. I purchased my Olympus C3040 on the 'Net (several years ago) for hundreds less than retail and it was a U.S. model with full warranty, etc. You just have to do a little homework if you shop at the discount stores.

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