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Old Feb 6, 2008, 6:25 AM   #1
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The long put off moment has arrived. IHAVE to purchase a digital camera. I have been scared offsearching for one, by the sight of the vast selection i see on display whenever i visit my local shops to purchase film,....yes i said FILM :sad:

To prepare myself for the suspected daunting task, i have spent many,many hours/days on the net learning about this digital phenenom. If nothing else,all this education has given me a new means of boring my family. Sadly, for all the reading, I am still nowhere near being able to select a camera.

The reason ? The choice, its still huge, despite my attempts to narrow it down.My requirements for a digicam :-

Zoom lens. 3x has to be 28mm wide end.

Sensor 1/1.18

No more than 8mp

Woluld have preferred 2/3 sensor but they are almost limited to those ridiculous super zooms.Why?

The majority of digicam zooms appear to range from 35mm to 40mm at the wide end, and i'm looking for a 28mm.Now that, you would think, would narrow the selection down drastically. Well, yes it has. I have trawled through endless web pages checking the details of 99% of available and unavailable cameras, eventually settling on a handful of Ricoh's. Then i read the previews!!!!!!!!! All of them 1/1.8 and 8mp or under, and all castigated for poor resolution. So here i am back where i started!

I HAVE QUESTIONS ! Finding sensor size information has at times been very difficult,which was very time consuming as i tried to weed out the 2.5 sensors.Why do all manufacturers appear to hide this important factor.They dont seem to hold back on pixel counts. I would have liked to have found sensor info on the main page not buried in the spec sheet.

Almost forgot to mention that i was also looking for a weatherproof camera like the bomb proof Ricoh Caplio 500g.It has to withstand a trip in a rowing boat... across the Atlantic. Now this camera was slated for poor resolution at ISO400upwards. Looking at the supplied onscreen images leaves me seriously confused. Enlargedsections are displayed to show the deteriorating image with increase of ISO. But why show those seriously enlarged portions when in reality we will very likely never view the whole image at that enlargement, whatever it is ?

There are endless reports onimage detioration with the introduction of 12mp digicams. I get the impression thattests aredone on electronic equipment,which makes me wonder if this noise problem is going to be that unacceptable on print. Are the technicians being overly fussy in thier search for perfection.

Am i correct in thinking that a 1/1.8 sensor WIll give better resolution than 2.5, as long as i hold back on the mp's , say 6- 8. Can anyone help save my sanity by pointing me towards a digicam to my spec., that will allow me to produce good A4 prints.... err, maybe A3 at a push ! ?. Surely there is some digicam out there that has low noise at 400asa.

Have taken a look at the search option, but i find that its not very specific.

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Old Feb 6, 2008, 7:03 AM   #2
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Unless you are planning on printing larger than 8x10" (or A4), don't worry much about resolution, sensor size, or megapixels - pretty much anything better than a BarbieCam will work just fine up to that size.
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Old Feb 6, 2008, 7:20 AM   #3
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BillDrew wrote:
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Unless you are planning on printing larger than 8x10" (or A4), don't worry much about resolution, sensor size, or megapixels - pretty much anything better than a BarbieCam will work just fine up to that size.
thanks for the advice,but can you clarify a little.


So why all this concern over resolution and noise on camera review sites. They are obviously not assuming that everybody is supplying images to top magazines :lol:

Fed up with negative comments about noise levels at ISO 400 which this retired film user used a lot for action shots. Just had a thought..... Is the ISO rating increased/decreased with digital,thereby making 400 a little unneccessary
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Old Feb 6, 2008, 7:37 AM   #4
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Resolution is important and then again it isn't. More resolution (megapixels) is always better..it gives you more room to crop and print larger. On the other hand, the difference between 6 and 8mp, or even 6 and 10 isn't all that much. You should be able to print up to 8 x 10 with any of today's current crop of cameras.

In terms of iso, it is true that the smaller sensor yields more noise at comparable iso's. However, the differences from sensor to sensor are not going to be all that noticeable at normal print sizes. You really have to get up to DSLR sized sensors to notice a significant improvement in noise performance. Again, you should be able to get decent prints up to 8x10 at 400 iso with most of the current crop of point and shoot digicams, especially if you use a bit of noise reduction when processing the images.

Reviews are helpful, but sometimes there is too much info. Find a camera that has the features you need and is comfortable for you to use. Don't get too hung up in the minutae of sensor size (not enough of a difference to really matter in p&S cameras), mp (although more is better, but not always noticeably so) or even high iso performance (they mostly all look good at 200 and under, usable at 400, and ugly above 400). Naturally I'm oversimplifying things a bit, and everything isn't all that simple, but differences for the most part are subtle, and feature set is the real difference maker.
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Old Feb 6, 2008, 3:29 PM   #5
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glent wrote:
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?. Surely there is some digicam out there that has low noise at 400asa.
Yes, and it's called a DSLR!
The Oly E-510 with 14mm & 150m goes for $660.
P&S will give too much noise at ISO400.


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Old Feb 6, 2008, 3:33 PM   #6
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glent wrote: f/stops, shutter speed, and ISO are the same for digital as film. There are differences between chemical and digital, but they are more subtle than that.

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Almost forgot to mention that i was also looking for a weatherproof camera like the bomb proof Ricoh Caplio 500g.It has to withstand a trip in a rowing boat... across the Atlantic.
I'd suggest holding tight to the requirement of a seriously weatherproof camera and not pay a lot of attention to other attributes other than how your are going to power it. Solar? Big stash of disposable lithium AAs? Wind up charger? Will you be able to power it with the same system used with whatever other electronics you carry?
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Old Feb 6, 2008, 5:32 PM   #7
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okay guys i'm getting the gist of your comments which are more practical than reading clinical reviews.

I have no interest whatsoever in obtaining dslr's. If desperate I can dig out the analog Nikons!

My priority is most definitely p&s and it looks like it will be the Ricoh Caplio 500g for its rubberised weatherproof casing. Fancy that, I end up selecting it on the basis of its ruggedness . It does seem to be in a class of its own.

One final point. My reason for avoiding a large pixel count (12MP)on small sensors,is based on a fair number of articles pointing out the problems that this causes. This site in particular http://6mpixel.org/en/has been set up by www.imageengineering.coma company vehementally against the lemming like rush to increase the pixel count on digicam sensors,on the basis that this is causing the industryto produceinferior image quality.

I know that it doesn't affect you DSLR guys but nevertheless its an impressive article
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Old Feb 7, 2008, 8:26 AM   #8
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There is no question that pixel count has been blown out of proportion in the "Mine is Bigger Than Yours!!" marketing. However the web site you pointed to does a bit of exagerating as well. One example is the illustration of the division in the sensor to get more pixels: the text refers to the change from 6 to 12 Mp while the illustration shows an increase in pixel count by a factor of four.

They also neglect to note that a bunch (if not all) of the increased noise can be eliminated by downsizing to the smaller pixel count. The downsizing "averages" adjoining pixels which is a standard noise reduction techique.

Another point they neglect to mention is that higher pixel counts typically come along with an improvement in the basic sensor. They assume that everything is constant except the pixel count - that may or may not be true.

In short: an increase in pixel count without an increase in sensor size might not increase the quality of the image, it is also not at all clear that it will reduce the quality.
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Old Feb 7, 2008, 9:07 AM   #9
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thanks again for your help. Very much appreciated
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Old Feb 7, 2008, 9:25 PM   #10
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Back to the subtitle of your original post:
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definitive answers please
There are very few definitive answers in photography. Almost all answers should really begin with "it depends on what you are trying to do". And that is likely to narrow the anwer down to a couple of possible actions - not a single one.

A couple of exceptions are:
TANSTAAFL - There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.
and a close corollary: "Good Glass Ain't Cheap"
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