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Old Jul 17, 2003, 1:24 PM   #1
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Default more important--higher optical zoom or higher megapixels?

I'm switching between the Canon G3 and the Olympus c5050. I have compared everything about the two, but one thing is causing me to go back and forth. Is it better to have the higher megapixels or the higher optical zoom? This will be my first digital camera. I'm not a pro but I am not completely inexperienced in photography either. Diving into the digital world is a bit overwhelming. :?
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Old Jul 17, 2003, 1:34 PM   #2
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It depends a great deal on your shooting style and pereferences vis a vis telephoto or wide angle.

The longer zoom can compensate nicely for the loss of resolution but only when you are using the long end of the spectrum. If you feel you would spend more time using a telephoto then you will not be able to make up the deficit with higher resolution. Let me give you an example. I shoot a good deal of wild life and have numerous sDLR's ranging from the Canon D30 through the Canon 1DS. A good example is this - when I put my 50-500mm zoom on my 1DS I get full frame 11.1 megapixel images at 500mm. When I put the same lens on my 10D I get the "equivalent" of 800mm - or as if I were shooting the 1DS using an 800mm lens in terms of field of view.

The entire six megapixels is vested within this reduced field of view, so were I to crop my 1DS to the same field of view of my 10D, I would end up with only a bit more than 4 megapixels of the 11 used within that 1.6x reduced field of view.

Let's look at a 2 megapixel Olympus C2100UZ with a 10X optical stabilized zoom and compare it with a 5 megapixel Sony DCS-717 which has a 5x optical and 2x digital zoom. Even zoomed to the full 10X (optical plus digital zoom) the Sony gives up about 20 percent in terms of pixel count to the Olympus with it's full 10X optical zoom.

What you first need to do is decide where you spend more time - at the telephoto or wide angle end of the spectrum. If at the wide angle end, go for the greater resolution. If at the telephoto end, then assuming you have a decent optical zoom (8x or better) go for the optical zoom rather than the resolution.

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Old Jul 17, 2003, 5:35 PM   #3
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Remember that doubling the number of megapixels only increases the resolution of a camera by a factor of 1.4 (square root of two). A lot of folks are getting caught up in the megapixel wars. More megapixels are better than few megapixels, everything else being equal (which it rarely is). More megapixels let you crop pictures more severely, which can be a good thing.

Most of the manufacturers are placing a lot more emphasis on resolution than on the quality and zoom capability of the lens. This is due in large part because lenses cost more than chips.

With my 2.6 megapixel Canon Pro90 with its 38-380 mm equivalent stabilized zoom lens, I can "crop" my photos as I take them by properly framing them.

I routinely print 13 X 19 inch pictures that look great. I often use Genuine Fractals to up the resolution of the pictures and print them on an Epson 1270. I wouldn't trade that big zoom for a couple of more megapixels.
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Old Jul 17, 2003, 8:58 PM   #4
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I guess it all depends on what you want out of a camera; I have a 75-300 zoom lens for my Minolta Maxxum taht has never taken a picture. I thought it was something I needed, but never used it. The 28-70 and 70-210 on the other hand are used regularly. I think most people would be well enough off with 6X-8x zoom and 3-4 MP.
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Old Jul 18, 2003, 12:42 AM   #5
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What about the canon g5? 5 mp and 4x zoom. But I'd go with whichever camera you like best, especially because you can always add onto the zoom later using add-on lenses.
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Old Jul 18, 2003, 7:22 AM   #6
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At the time I looked at digitals I was actually thinking of getting a longer zoom for my SLR (I only had a 35-70). When I got to thinking about prices of lenses, and I could get a digital with a 38-380mm zoom, I went for that instead since there would be very little in expenses after batteries and memory. The camera I got only had 2mp at the time, but I was happy with it (it is now available with 4mp).
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Old Jul 21, 2003, 1:51 AM   #7
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2 pic taker:

1) It is not all about Mpix count. What matters too is the actual pixel size. For example, 5 Mpix CCD of 1/1.8" size is noisier than 5 Mpix CCD of 2/3" size. This can be easily checked by making a shot with the closed lense and reviewing the "supposed to be black" picture.

2) Between G3 and 5050 - I did the same exersise. If you care about the picture quality more than about anything else then G3 is definitely the way to go.

Good luck
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Old Jul 21, 2003, 6:41 AM   #8
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Another issue to keep in mind is "shake" with a long lens - some have a stabalized lens which should get you a couple of stops. In addition to the problem with a chemical camera, digital cameras are normally much lighter. That does not help with shake at all.

Follow the advice to figure out which end of the focal length you are going to spend most of your time and watch for other issues that might matter to you, e.g.,
Low noise/high ISO
External flash
Battery type
Macro capability
Low light focus
Shutter lag
Dynamic range
Manual settings
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Old Jul 21, 2003, 10:00 AM   #9
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picture taker - I see you have brought prior concerns about 'zoom'. If you are intending to add extension telecovertor,e tc. to a camera, consider that this is difficulat/inconvenient if the camera has a non-TTL viewfinder. The LCD screen will be your only reference at that point, and will be imparactical for bright sun situations or action. Consider a TTL viwefinder camera if you are intending to add such conversion lenses in the future.

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Old Jul 22, 2003, 12:54 PM   #10
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Hi picture taker,

It all depends on your individual preferences

FYI...You have best of both worlds (with excellent prints up
to 8 x 10) with an Olympus C2100UZ if you can find one
for sale.

Good luck on your search and welcome to the forum
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