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Old Nov 18, 2003, 1:13 PM   #1
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Default pont and shoot versus SLR

This may appear a very amatuer question but thats just what i am.....amatuer.

I want to upgrade from my current Sony cybershot and am currently deciding between the Sony Cybershot F828 or going SLR and getting the Nikon D100. I really want to get into DSLR but wonder if the extra cash for the D100 over the F828 would be of benefit. I want manual control and the variation of lenses but is this worth an extra 500-600USD
I own a film Nikon FM2n so can switch lenses between the digital and film SLRs (with some limitations).
My question is:
Would the D100 give significantly better image quality than the F828 given that the former is 6MP and the latter 8MP?
Would lower res DSLRs (say 2MP or 3MP) give better images than the F828?
How much better is the image quality on DSLRs than on P&S given the same MP?

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Old Nov 18, 2003, 4:00 PM   #2
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There are pros and cons to a Digital SLR.

LCD Framing: unlike a consumer (or "prosumer") camera like the Sony you're looking at, the LCD can't be used for framing on a DSLR.

Lens Cost: To get the same focal range you can find in a consumer level camera, you often have to spend much more money, especially to get lenses that are as "fast" (widest apertures available at wide angle and zoom). To get all the features (macro performance, zoom range, etc.), you must often purchase more than one lens, too.

Camera Size/Weight: Because of the larger sensors used in most Digital SLR cameras, the lenses also have to be larger and heavier for the same focal ranges/light gathering ability.

Sensor Cleaning: When you swap lenses, you risk dust getting into the the sensor.

A Few Advantages to a Digital SLR:

A true "Through the Lens Optical Viewfinder" -- what you see is the same image being transmitted to the sensor.

Much Better Dynamic Range -- again, this is mostly due to the much larger sensor being used.

Ability to Shoot at Higher ISO speeds with lower noise. Most Prosumer models have fairly high noise levels at higher ISO speeds (again, mostly due to pixel density of the smaller sensors). The SLR's have much larger sensors, and much better signal to noise ratios.

For low light photography (or sports photography), many users find that consumer grade cameras can be virtually useless in many situations, due to extremely high noise --- especially at ISO 400. Settings above ISO 400 are usually not even available on Consumer Grade Cameras (because the images would be virtually unusable due to noise). Many users find noise levels to be too high even at ISO 100 or 200, compared to a Digital SLR in some lighting conditions.

Fast Focus Speeds -- Most Digital SLR's use a Phase Detection Focus System which is extremely fast. Most Consumer Grade Cameras use a Contrast Detection Focus System which can be slow (and often unreliable) in lower light.

Ability to Control Depth of Field - The smaller sensors used in a Consumer Grade Camera limit your ability to control Depth of Field (blur backgrounds by using wider apertures). The much larger sensors used in a Digital SLR give you much more flexibility over Depth of Field, especially since you have a great variety of lenses available for an SLR.

Lenses become an investment - With a Digital SLR, when you upgrade your camera body later, you can take your lenses with you within the same manufacturer. With a consumer grade camera, the lenses are permanently attached.

Speed of Writes - The processors used in most Digital SLR's are dramatically faster than the processors used in consumer grade cameras. As a result the camera's overall operation is usually much faster.

A few other comments:

Most Digital SLR's are designed to have a much truer color output (tone, saturation, etc.) compared to consumer models (which often have colors that many professionals consider to be overly "vivid").

As a result, images from Digital SLR's usually require some "post processing" in software for the same "vivid" look. Of course, the final image look is a matter of preference.

Both types of cameras can be great for many users. Some users have both (a compact consumer model good for most shooting situations, that is much easier to carry); as well as a Digital SLR (with multiple lenses) for special purpose applications.

There are pros and cons to both approaches.

As far as quality, it's always a good idea to read through more than one review of the models you are considering. This will give you a better idea of the features available, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the models you are considering.

Here are some of my favorite sites:

http://www.steves-digicams.com - Steve reviews a lot of cameras. Bear in mind, that he's usually less critical than most reviewers though, so take this into consideration. Steve's reviews are great for new users, because he goes through a cameras menu system in great detail. His conclusion section is very useful in determining a cameras strengths and weaknesses, too. Also, Steve usually includes some of the same subjects in his sample photos section for each camera reviewed. This makes it easy to compare photos from camera models you are considering.

http://www.imaging-resource.com - Dave Etchell's does great reviews. He also offers a feature known as the "comparometer", which lets you compare images from cameras you are considering "side by side" in the same conditions. Dave also has a "picky details" section for each camera he reviews, so you can look at things like Startup times, autofocus lag, shot to shot times, etc. Performance can vary dramatically between camera models.

http://www.dpreview.com - Phil Askey is the most thorough reviewer in the business. Unfortunately, because his reviews are so detailed, he doesn't review as many cameras as some of the other reviewers. Phil also tends to be more critical than other reviewers, so take this into consideration.

http://www.megapixel.net - Denys Bouton offers a unique review style, and I find his information very helpful. He comes out with a new online "issue" monthly (on the 15th of the month).

http://www.dcresource.com - Although his reviews aren't as detailed as those from Phil Askey or Dave Etchells, Jeff Keller (owner/editor of dcresource.com) offers unbiased opinions of the cameras that he reviews. He will tell you what he likes, and doesn't like about the cameras he reviews.

Another good resource is a photo sharing web site like pbase.com

They have a camera database, that let's you look at photo albums from their subscribers, from most cameras on the market. Bear in mind, that the photographers skill, and the lighting conditions have more to do with good photos than anything else. Also, unless photos from the same cameras, are taken of the same subject, in the same conditions, there is no way to say which camera performs better.

However, this does give you a way to see what photos look like, from typical users, and you can browse through the albums to see what photos look like in the conditions that you'll use the cameras in.

Here's the link to the camera database:

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Old Nov 18, 2003, 4:06 PM   #3
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Comments on the Sony...

It's not shipping yet, so it's too soon to answer your questions. It will offer a high resolution "all in one" package, with a great, fast (F2.0/F2.8 ) Carl Zeiss T* lens, with a focal range of 28-200mm.

It is also reported to be very fast.

The biggest consideration (compared to a DSLR) would be noise (since Sony will be "packing" 8 Million Pixels into a 2/3" CCD Sensor). Until we have photos from a production model, there is no way to say how it will compare for sure.

Chances are, in good light, it will be able to resolve far more detail than many lower resolution DSLR's, with great dynamic range too (thanks in part to a newly designed color filter array).

But, in poor light, the results may not be as good. Again, there is no way to tell for sure since it's not shipping yet.
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Old Nov 19, 2003, 6:48 AM   #4
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Also look into shutterlag figures of the Sony F828 and D100. Most times dlsr are a bit faster. And most consumer digital cameras use the ccd as shutter. Consumer cameras also have limited bulb exposures (30 sec at max).

And yes a dslr may be more expensive and heavier to cary, but the F828 weights also about 900gr. Because of the advantages of dslr (choice of lens, less noise, higher iso) , a dslr tends to be more a longterm investment. Ofcourse you may consider in the future an upgrade to the 16Mb upto iso 6400 version, but basicly the current dslr do just fine upto A3 print.
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Old Nov 19, 2003, 3:27 PM   #5
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thanks for the replies and the help. I might wait till Feb next year to see if Nikon launch a competitor to the Canon Rebel. If they don't then i may well buy the Sony F828 and upgrade to DSLR at a later date when prices drop further. I never use the LCD to view thru so viewing thru viewfinder is ok for me
One question which was not answered.......do DSLR's give noticably better image quality than the high end consumer models such as the Sony F717 for example?
I understand that noise levels are lower in DSLR's but is it noticable when printing at say 10 by 15 or 20 by 30?
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Old Nov 19, 2003, 4:23 PM   #6
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Quality is a matter of perspective. Also, depending on the printer type and subject matter in your photo, you may not be happy with the results at 20"x30" (even with a DSLR).

Usually, Portraits are OK for very large sizes. However, you may not be as satisfied with detailed landscapes with foilage, etc.

Also, you may need to prepare a photo before attempting a larger size (using software to interpolate the image to prevent pixelation). Interpolation does not add detail, but it does allow larger prints.

Whether or not you think the quality is good enough is subjective. Ditto for how the camera models compare.

Chances are, in good light, at normal (not 20x30") print sizes, you're not going to notice much difference between them.

Actually, sometimes prints from a DSLR can look a little "flatter", because of less in camera processing (which allows more flexibility in post processing later).

You may want to download some larger prints from camera models you are considering, and try them for yourself at a local Wal-Mart (or an online printer like http://www.Photoaccess.com).

One good site that has photos from different models of subjects under similiar conditions is http://www.imaging-resource.com

This site (Steves-Digicams.com) also usually includes some of the same subjects in his reviews.

However, bear in mind that the lighting conditions at the time the photograph was taken will also impact the results.

Unless photos are taken in the same conditions, of the same subjects, in the same lighting conditions, there is no way to say which camera performed the best.

Another good site for comparing camera models is http://www.dpreview.com

Phil Askey (owner/editor of dpreview.com) has resolution chart tests, color patch tests, noise tests, etc., for all of the cameras he reviews.
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Old Nov 20, 2003, 5:42 AM   #7
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thnx jimc
i didn't realise I'd have to post process images from a DSLR.
I have Photoshop 6 and post process some images but do not really want to do all of them. But having said that it does give you more freedom. Dilemmas!!

My print sizes were in CM not inches My 20 by 30 is about 8 by12 in inches which is the max i will print at home.
In a printers I will go no more than A3 size (12 by 17 in inches)
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Old Nov 20, 2003, 7:55 AM   #8
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No, you don't have to post process your images. My only point was that some (but not all) users may prefer the more vivid look from a consumer camera, versus some Digital SLR's.

However, even non-DSLR models are beginning to have "truer" colors. Sony got a lot of criticism in the past, because of oversaturated colors in their models. However, in some of their newer models (like the DSC-F717), they've "toned it down", so that colors are more natural.

In any event, most models allow you some leeway on things like sharpness, contrast and saturation via menu settings.

Most DSLR users do probably prefer shooting in RAW format (which does require processing of the files), but this is because it gives them far more leeway.

RAW format bypasses the camera's processing of the data from the sensor, so that you have more control over it later.

But, you can still shoot in JPEG, using the camera to process the images, just like any consumer camera.

To see what images from different models look like, just read through the reviews. Bear in mind, that the downsized images usually have some mild processing. To see the unprocessed images, always look at the full size images on review sites.

For the D100 you're interested in, Phil has some good samples in his review of the camera at this link (see the gallery in the back):


You will find his samples gallery at the end of the review here:

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Old Nov 27, 2003, 3:38 PM   #9
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Thnax for all your help Jim.

I've decided to opt for the D100 as in the longrun it is going to be of more use to me.
I'll start with shooting JPEG and move onto RAW when I feel more comfortable with it. I presume that Photoshop 6 can handle RAW files
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Old Nov 28, 2003, 9:18 AM   #10
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Photoshop 6 does not handle raw files, definitely not for some of the later model digicams. PhotoShop CS should have the capability to handle raw files from the latest digicams.

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