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naycon Dec 4, 2003 2:21 PM

Do I need 5 mp?

I am trying to find a digital camera to buy. I am a student and I just want to use it for casual pictures and picutres for my engagement and wedding. I really like the idea of having a black and white option but I realize I can always just make pics black and white in photoshop. I am looking at the Kodak easyshare DX 4530 5.0 mp. My question is if I really need that many megapixels. I like the features some other cameras have but seem to think if I can get more (mp) for my money I should forfit some other features. I just don't know if I really need 5 or if 3.1 or 3.2 would do everything I need it to. I just want clear pictures that look like they are from a good camera..I dont forsee making them any bigger than 8x10 or really 5.7. If you have any suggestions let me know THanks!

slipe Dec 4, 2003 3:11 PM

By the time you buy a charger and batteries the Minolta G500 would come out to about the same price or less. The Minolta comes with battery and charger. It is a better camera for the price IMO. And more portable so you would have it with you more. There are also more user modes for you to grow into. A digital camera is a great learning tool and you shouldn’t limit yourself to point and shoot. Plan on having to purchase a 256Mb SD card for either. I would pay a few extra bucks and go with someone reliable like Digital Photo Club: Steve’s review:

I wouldn’t give up features I wanted for an extra Mp, but it is nice to have the extra pixels. Since those photos will be your lifetime memories I don’t think it the best approach to base the decision purely on current needs. You can generally crop more and blow an image up more with more pixels.

gibsonpd3620 Dec 4, 2003 3:27 PM

Most 3mp cameras will be able to print 8X10 and defintely 5X7. You might consider 4mp if the features are in the camera you are looking at.

JimC Dec 4, 2003 6:35 PM

I agree with what Slipe said about the new Minolta G500. It's a fine little camera, and I wouldn't trade it for any other subcompact camera on the market (I bought the Konica KD-510z in July).

This camera is being marketed in Asia and Japan as the Konica KD-510z, and in the U.S. as the Minolta DiMAGE G500. They are identical except for the logos and model numbers.

Konica and Minolta merged, so they're marketing in some markets under the Konica label, and in other markets under the Minolta label.

However, you must take the environment your going to be using a camera into consideration also.

Any camera has limitations. A wedding scenario can present some challenges to a camera.

I'd check to see if the use of a flash is even allowed. Even if it is, the flash range of the camera used can be a big consideration.

Also, a 5 Megapixel Model using a 1/1.8" CCD is more prone to noise in lower light, if higher ISO speeds must be used to get fast enough shutter speeds to prevent blur.

The 4 Megapixel Models using the same size 1/1.8" CCD are less affected by noise at higher ISO speeds (because the size of the photodiodes in the sensor are larger).

Some of the newer 3 Megapixel models are also more prone to noise in lower light at higher ISO speeds (because some are using even smaller 1/2.7" CCD Sensors), as are some of the newer 4 Megapixel models using a 1/2.5" Sensor).

As a general rule (although there are some exceptions), the smaller and denser the sensor, and the smaller the photodiodes on the sensor), the greater the potential for noise.

So, in a wedding environment, if flash is not going to be allowed, this will have a big impact on the quality of the photos you'll be able to get with many camera models (because you'll need to shoot at higher ISO speeds indoors without a flash).

Even if flash is allowed, you'll probably want much more range and coverage than is available with a camera's built in flash.

So, I would give these factors strong consideration.

The flash built into a compact model is just not designed to light up large areas, from further ranges.

If flash is even allowed, a better choice would be a camera that allows a powerful external flash. If flash is not allowed, I'd consider a model with a fast lens (i.e., F2.0 or better), with a good noise profile.

Unfortunately, there are very few consumer camera models with both. The Sony DSC-F717 is one. It has a fast F2.0/F2.4 lens, and uses a larger 2/3" 5 Megapixel CCD.

The aperture scale (indicated by F Stop) is exponential (F2.8 is twice as dark as F2.0, F4 is four times as dark as F2.0, F5.6 is eight times as dark as F2.0). So, the light gathering capability of the lens can make a dramatic difference in the cameras's to use fast enough shutter speeds to reduce blur due to subject/camera movement.

As a result, dramatically more light (and/or flash) is required at longer focal lengths (amount of zoom used) with a compact lens.

For example: a compact camera model like the G500 has a lens rated at F2.8/F4.9 (typical for a subcompact model).

So, the lens is 3 times as bright at wide angle, compared to full zoom. This also impact flash range.

So, there is a HUGE difference between the light gathering capability of a larger, brighter lens in cameras like the Sony I mentioned (which only stops down to F2.4 at full zoom), versus a very compact lens (as in the G500, and most other Compact Camera models).

Now, I may have been pointing out all of this for nothing (your wedding may be outside, or in a smaller area allowing flash). :)

But, most people treasure their wedding photos. So, you want to make sure you have a tool that's up to the job.

For most shooting conditions, the G500 is great, and I love it's portability (I carry mine with me everywhere).

But for a wedding indoors, in a large space, I'd probably be inclined to use a camera with a faster lens, more suited to the task.

So, does this mean that you shouldn't buy a G500? No. But, for your wedding, I'd probably go with a different tool (even if it's one that you wouldn't want to lug around with you most other times).

If flash is allowed, you can also buy inexpensive slave flash units (designed to fire at the same time as the main flash on the camera) to increase range. So, this may be a solution.

In any event, I'd make sure I was aware of the conditions ahead of time, and practice in the environment your wedding will be taking place in, no matter what camera you choose for the job (or rather, have the person that will be taking the photos of your wedding practice). :)

JimC Dec 4, 2003 6:49 PM

P.S. -- I didn't answer your question on Megapixels. Yes, 3 Megapixels is usually plenty for good quality 8x10" photos, but more can be better to allow some minor cropping for composition later.

But, camera resolution is only a minor concern in a large indoor environment. Let us know more about where your wedding will take place, budget for camera, etc., and perhaps we can offer better suggestions.

BTW, one of the cameras that Phil Gibson is using is also quite good indoors without a flash -- the Olympus C-4040z. It's got a very fast F1.8/F2.6 lens. However, this camera is not being manufactured anymore, so you'd need to find one on the used market. It's replacement is the C-5050z (but the older model has a better noise profile for existing light use, thanks to it's less dense sensor).

For existing light use, another camera to consider is the Canon G3 (better noise profile than the newer G5, and it also has a relatively fast F2.0/F3.0 lens).

iStudent Dec 4, 2003 9:22 PM

If you don’t want to make anything bigger than an 8x10 at photo quality, then you’ll need a 4MP; but if you want to make an 11x14 then yes you will need a 5MP. You can make 8x10 with a 3.2MP, but it won’t be a photo quality.

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