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Old Dec 20, 2004, 4:21 PM   #15
Sivaram Velauthapillai
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Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 838
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echo99 wrote:
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The reason why i need so much information about digital cameras is that i ordered the Panasonic FZ3 on Saturday. It was $289 and I called Circuit City to ask how long the sale would last since they usually end of Saturdays. So the salesperson offers a free $25 or $35 gift card (i don't know which) to buy right now. I asked about returns and restocking fees and she said that there wouldn't be any if i didn't open the package. It was a pretty good deal $339 (regular price) vs about $281 (with sales tax).
Saving $50 is well worth it so I can see your dilemma... The FZ3 is a very good camera so it's not as if you are going to be dissapointed with it.

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When talking about wallpaper, yes i meant for the PC, as in taking pics of landscapes or beaches and placing them on your desktop.
I thought you were talkign about wallpaper size prints for your wall You should sort of ignore the stuff about printing I talked about above (that's for physical prints).

For computer wallpapers, you don't need much resolution at all. Most monitors display 800x600 or 1024x768 and 1 or 2 megapixel camera is good enough for that. In fact, with higher megapixel cameras (say 3MP), you would have to resize DOWN to make it fit on your background. So you really do not need high resolution at all...

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Where exactly do you start to see (really) significant improvements in image quality: the Canon G6, the Canon Rebel or Nikon D70? Or do you need to go even higher quality than that?
This is a very hard question to answer. I'm a newbie and don't have enough experience or knowledge (especially with DSLRs) to really give a solid answer. Hopefully someone more knowledgeable will give their thoughts.

My personal opinion, which I'm sure others will disagree with, is that there is very little difference between these cameras when used in good conditions (i.e. bright light; sunny outdoors or indoors within flash range). In those conditions I really don't think you will notice any difference. Furthermore, most people won't be able to tell the difference for small prints (say 4x6 (regular pic size) or 5x7 or something).

As long as the lens is good (Canon, Sony, Panasonic, etc are famous for their lens) and the sensor is good (there are only 2 or 3 sensor manufacturers and these are used by all the cameras), I don't think there will be much of a difference in regular pics in good conditions.

Where these cameras differ is in their capabilities in poor conditions or close to their limitations. For example, one would be hard pressed to tell the difference between a DSLR and a low-end prosumer for normal pics. I can't tell the difference (without purposely looking closely) between my Canon S1 IS vs the Nikon D70 (one of my friends has it) for small prints in bright conditions. In fact, most people cant' tell the difference between a good ultra-compact and a high-end prosumer which costs several hundread more.

BUT the "better" cameras have less limitations and perform better in poor conditions. For example, DSLRs can take pics at very high ISO (ISO 400+) with almost no noise, whereas consumer and prosumers have problems at ISO 200. So even though I can't tell the difference between my friend's Nikon D70 and my Canon S1 IS in normal conditions, the Nikon is FAR BETTER in night. DSLRs can take pics in night that consumers and prosumers really can't.

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Which kind of camera would you need to do true artistic prints?
What's an artistic print? I'm thinking it depends more on creativity than the camera itself--although this depends on what you mean by artistic creativity.

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What would be my best option for a future purchase? I also get the feeling that if i stay with the Panasomic FZ3, that i may want to upgrade eventually with no use for the old camera.
I think aspiring amateur photographers should get a camera with manual controls (this means a minimum of aperature priority mode, shutter priority mode, maybe some manual focus, control over ISO, and a few other things). This basically rules out most of the low-end cameras and some of the ultra-compacts.

I was in a similar situation as you recently and I went with the Canon S1 IS (you purchasing the FZ3 would be similar to what I did). I'm not sure if I'm into photography but I wanted to try it out. So I got a camera with decent manual controls without spending too much. If I ever became more serious, my plan is to buy a more serious camera (possibly a DSLR--maybe a future version of a small DSLR like Pentax *ist DS or something). At that point, the present camera (S1 IS) will be useless and I would pass it on to other family members or something. (IF I'm not into photography, my next camera will be an ultra-compact).

Regardless of which of your selected cameras you buy, if you become more interested in photography, they will likely have to be replaced and you probably have to move into DSLR territory. This is inevitable in my eyes so don't think of it as a waste right now.

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And what exactly are the divisions between an S60/ FZ3, the G6, Canon Rebel and higher quality cameras? If i purchased a second camera to supplement an ultra compact, would i get a better deal by purchasing a bulky black SLR looking digital cam?
There is a BIG difference between DSLR (digital SLR) and the rest (i.e. consumer and prosumer cameras). The key things include the fact that DSLRs use replaceable lenses (gives you flexibility), large sensors (so you can shoot at very high ISO with low noise), more rugged, and are generally faster. The price clearly reflects the gap between DSLR and the consumers/prosumers (the Canon Rebel may seem cheap compared to a high-end prosumer (eg. Canon Pro1, Sony F828) but if you wanted to replicate a mid-end ultra-zoom, you would probably spend an extra $500 buying 10x zoom lenses with image stabilization).

I would draw a clear line between DSLR and the consumers & prosumers.

As far as the consumers and prosumers are concerned, I don't consider there to be much of a difference. Obviously there are differences but I think the line is more blurred.

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I had the exact same concerns as you about the FZ3 being "too visible" in public. i don't like the idea of being in a restaurant or bar with a "massive camera" or even walking city streets with it. It would attract attention and mark one as a "tourist". Plus the FZ3 is so wide that i could only really carry it in some sort of backpack or briefcase as it would never fit in a shirt pocket or even in a winter jacket (it's too wide.)
Yeah... The ultra-zooms (except possibly the Olympus, which is somewhat smaller) really can't fit in a pocket... You will also look like a tourist (one guy even asked me where I was from and what cities I was visiting lol )... You will likely use an external bag to carry the camera... I would say that these cameras are really not suitable for taking into a restaurant/bar/nightclub/formal function/etc. The only place you can take them is to pre-planned events (eg. family gathering, parties, etc). So if portability is a key, I would lean against the FZ3 (or any other larger camera).

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I like the idea that i can take pix on the spur of the moment and high quality movies too. (the low quality of video on the FZ3 means that i would almost never use it). BTW, how many minutes of 640 x 480 at 30fps do you get for 512MB on your S1 IS?
With the S1 IS, I can shoot 9 minutes with 1 GB at [email protected] Super Fine. So I guess that translates into around 4 minutes with 512MB. Fortunately memory prices drop exponentially so you should be able to grab a 2GB card for less than US$100 within one year (I bought a 40x speed 1 GB Lexar for US$40 after rebates ). Cameras with MPEG4 compression (eg. Sony M1) should cut down memory requirements by at least a factor of 2 (but possibly 4x). This isn't going to replace a camcorder/DV but it WILL let you shoot short clips.

The Panasonic video is not good enough to be played on tv IMO (although I haven't tested it or anything). I think you really need [email protected] or better... However, I should note that my video really sucks in low-light. It is next to useless (produces crazy noise).

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However, the only problem is that if i get the SD200 i'm afraid that i won't be able to buy another nicer camera for a long time (i'm a graduate student, so my budget is quite limited). So yeah, i'm going to try to look into the s60.
Yeah... that's why I think something like the S70, which actually has good manual features, is best. Going ultra-compact is kind of risky since those cameras really limit you if you get interested in photography. At least the compacts like S70 are pretty powerful.

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I went to the bookstore and retail camera shops yesterday. What do you suggest as a basic "how to" photography book that explains everything for real newbies yet gets into true enthusiast photography and has been written in the last 3 years as to take advantage of the advances of digital photography?
I'm a newbie and can't say... perhaps others can help...
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