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Old May 12, 2003, 4:57 PM   #1
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Default Looking for good, big prints

Hello! I'm new here, as well as to digital cameras...

Well, I've been searching and reading and confusing myself for quite some time now, trying to choose my digital camera.

Here's my situation: I'm used to working with a pro film camera (35mm), can't say I'm a professional bc I just don't make money out of it, hehe, but I do intend to soon. Just graduated in journalism and want to practice more before I venture into the money-making world for real.

My problem is, I just can't or don't want to afford spending too much money on film just so I can practice the language. Besides, I like the idea of having the results right away on your hands, which is a good idea for some of my uses for photography. I don't intend on abandoning film, but I think a digital camera will give me the oportunity to build a good portfolio without spending too much time and money (ok, aside from the initial investment on the camera), and will let me click the button without worrying about costs.

So now that I've told you about my life... the camera.
I can't afford a super pro digital camera, so my price range goes to about $700. What I want is: option for full manual control (aperture, focus, speed, everything); option for external flash, specially if it's TTL; maybe being able to change lenses (I'd actually love to take super close pictures, and wide angle would *definitely* please me); and the main point - GOOD QUALITY, BIG PICTURES.

I was almost set on an Olympus C-4040Z, until I started reading again and got all confused about it, hehe...

What camera can I trust on that will give me good, big prints? I mean good as if I got them from film, you know? Good like I could even make a small exhibit out of them. Good like I could use them for commercial flyers and posters. Good like 300dpi, over 21cm x 30cm (8 x 12 inches, aprox.). Good like film!

Am I asking for too much? Can the Onlympus C-4040Z give me that? Any other recommendations??

Thank you for your patience and help!
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Old May 12, 2003, 5:15 PM   #2
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You've got a big learning curve ahead. I don't think you'll find a camera for $700 let alone a camera and all the extra stuff you need (batteries, chargers, memory or microdrive, memory reader, etc) that will be a completely satisfactory substitute for a 35mm SLR until you adjust your expectations.

Your print requirements aren't extreme so you could get by with a 3-4MP camera but that's just the start of it. There are extremely few digicams with manual focus contol. The Oly E-10 and E-10 come to mind but way out of your price range. The Dimage 7, what I shoot, has a fly by wire type of manual focus but isn't the same as a true mechanical focus ring and is well above your price range.

IMHO manual control of zoom is as critical if not moreso but again rare with only the three cameras above AFAIK. It was one of my prime reasons for getting the Dimage 7 rather than other digicams. I've used cameras with electronic zoom and it's nearly impossible to get precise framing.

Wide angle is an Achilles heel of many digicams. 28mm equivalent is about as wide as most go and few are that wide. This was another reason I got the Dimage 7 as it has the equivalent of a 28-200mm zoom. A touch of barrel distortion in WA but very sharp and has a good macro function.

I don't consider the D7 the same as a 35mm SLR but its what I grab unless I expect to need bigger than 11x14 prints in which case I get a medium format camera anyway. It has many compromises compared to my imaginary perfect digicam but it's been a good investment and I have no regrets.
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Old May 12, 2003, 8:54 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by padeye
....Your print requirements aren't extreme so you could get by with a 3-4MP camera but that's just the start of it. ....
padeye is right - that is just the start. If your main aim in journalism is word mongering with image grabbing as a sideline, consider one of the no nonsense 3-4 Mpixel compact cameras that fit in your pocket nicely. The flash will only be good for emergency use, it isn't likely to work well in low light, but you can always have it with you. Look for one that does long audio recording.

I think such a beast might exist. Would be a good back-up for your audio recorder and for the next digital camera you get.
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Old May 13, 2003, 2:14 AM   #4
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You are forgetting the Sony 717, the best of the bunch in my view.
It has optional manual focus by a manual focus ring with auto magnification whilst focussing, with a distance read out as well. Admittedly it is fly by wire, but so what. It also has a manual zoom option via a ring.

I think the original poster needs to understand a little more about technical matters. If a 12x8 print has 300dpi, this equates to 300x300x12x8 pixels, ie 8.64 megapixels, or a picture size of 3600x2400 pixels. This is not available in any prosumer camera at any price, and even the pro slr's are only just reaching that size.

My Sony 717 will produce A4 prints from its 5mpixels, which on Epson paper are better than a high street processor will produce from 35mm film. But don't be surprised at that, after all, the machines used by commercial mass print shops actually digitise the colour negs during the printing process!
In the uk the 717 can now be bought for 539, [parkcameras.com] some 200 less than I paid, so I guess the price will be down elsewhere in the world. Perhaps a new model is on the way. Snap the 717 now, it must be the all time digicam bargain.

I would suggest the original poster gets hold of a copy of the book "Adobe Photoshop 7 for Photographers" ISBN 0 240 51690 7. It contains a full explanation of the commercial print process and its requirements and limitations.

And finally, there are a range of digicams that will serve your purposes at the very early stage you are at. But do not confuse the making of good images, with the ownership of a good camera. It is the photographer that creates the picture, not the camera.

I may own an excellent violin, but not being a musician, I would get a pretty poor tune out of it.
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