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Old Feb 23, 2004, 10:49 PM   #1
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Default The age-old, "Help me make up my mind." challenge.

Okay... I posted a few Qs about cameras on the imaging resource forums a few days ago, but no one seems interested in helping out (either that, or they're overwhealmed with a small army of newbies asking questions), so... I'll try here

I'm not a completely newbie with cameras, and I've read almost everything there is to know about them (seems like 40,000 articles by now) but, I'm in a complete deadlock about which way to go next. I'm looking for the best all-rounder camera available. I think.

Generally speaking, I understand what it is that makes a good digital camera, but I'm working with a fairly limited budget. I started at $230US, but I've decided to save for a better camera, around the $550US mark. That's camera, batteries, and memory (128megs is all I'm after) included. A case would be nice too, but... I'll carry it around in a shopping bag if I have to

So, why I'm in a deadlock is because, I'd love to go for a really capable camera, but the idea of carrying it around bothers me. But then, the cameras that are nice and portable, are fairly limited in terms of picture quality, etc. So my current camera choices facing off against each other are (and why I like the look of them)...

Minolta Dimage XT
This thing is small, looks fairly sturdy and has a great compact 3x optical zoom. The picture quality is fairly good- I could live with it. Comes with lith-ion batteries, which I'm a big fan of. Like all small things, costly.

Pentax Optio S4
Small again, but looks a little on the fragile size of things. The picture quality hasn't exactly blown me away. Still, not a bad contender, since it also has the lith-ion batteries included and also a 128meg SD card, saving me money. Well, it would if it didn't cost so much to start with

Pentax Optio 33LF
Medium sized cam, with a funky flip-out screen. 3x optical is attractive, but the picture quality is a little on the 'not so amazing' side of things. Could be a good purchase, but for the price of it, (with batteries and mem on top) I could go for the compact Dimage xt.

Canon A300
Love the picture quality on this one (apart from the barrel distortion). Bit of a clunky cam though, and feels a bit cheap in hand. I do like the movies with sound option (now don't look at me like that- it for the fun moments . Have to pay for batteries and memon top, but cheap anyway.

Olympus C-740
Cool- love the 10x zoom. Don't know what I'd do with it, but I'm sure I'd find something! I like the look and quality of picture with this, (for the price) but batteries and mem on top of it, it had better be good. Night shot capabilites are also excellent. Question is- do I really want to carry it around with me all the time?

Olympus C-750
Not sure about this. Costly, but it adds a few extras, like sound to movies and a tougher casing.


So, things I'm after-
To carry it around with me often.
Good picture quality.
Not going to make a ton of massive sized photo prints, but the option to do so would be good.
Zooms are fun! I'd like one, but I'm not sure how much use I'd get out of a 10x. (could just be techno-lust at the moment)
Night capabilities important.
Fairly strong casing.
Movie mode (with sound) is something I'd love.
Strong macro mode important.
Don't like using flashes, so... I'm not worried about flash strengths, chargeup times, etc.

So... I'm sure someone will say, "Go for the Canon A80!" but for the cost of that, I could go for something with a bigger zoom. And so.... once again, I'm in deadlock.

Any help, advice, experiences would be appreciated. Take on this mighty, noteworthy challenge and (if you have to) tell me what to get, or to save for... or whatever. Just don't tell me to get a Digital Rebel There's only so far I will go. And only so far most people will go on a forum, so I hope someone will answer...

Also, please feel free to add to my list of deadlocked cameras
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Old Feb 23, 2004, 10:52 PM   #2
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Hmmm... posted a bit of a book there. Oh well, enjoy.
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Old Feb 24, 2004, 12:48 AM   #3
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The S4 comes with no card at all. It has 11Mb of internal memory and a SD slot. There is a $30 rebate going and you can get the S4 for $276 and free shipping from buydig.com after the rebate. Iím guessing the reason you think it is expensive is that you saw a package deal Ė those always overcharge for the accessories. You can pick up a 256Mb Kingston SD card for $64 with free shipping from accupc.com and a decent extra battery from Eagle for $20 + shipping at http://store.yahoo.com/eagleimports/d-li8.html Some people on the Panasonic board say they are quite good. I have two from them for my two cameras but I havenít had them long enough to make a judgement. They do have the electronics to tell the charger they are charged and work fine so far in the cameras. That is a camera you can carry everywhere. The edges are a little soft, but that actually enhances many shots Ė pros did that in the darkroom on purpose along with a little corner vignetting to improve pictures. Otherwise I think the images are pretty good for a tiny 4Mp camera. Iím guessing $7 for the battery shipping, which comes to $367 after rebate with a healthy card and extra battery so you can use it all. You could save $22 by going with a 128Mb card, but you really want 256 with a 4Mp camera if you take it on a trip.

The Canon A300 is a 3Mp camera. 3Mp is a little stingy. Nice 640 X 480 movies albeit a little jerky. Not to great for night shots.

I would take the 5Mp Minolta G500 over the Pentax 330. 5Mp with manual, aperture and shutter priority and even a zone manual focus. Excellent night capability. No articulating LCD but not a 3Mp point and shoot either. Around $300 delivered. Get the 256Mb SD card. The battery will fill it fine. About the same size as the 330 and pocketable.

I would take the S4 over the Xt. Lots more features, another Mp and lighter. Even has a slightly larger LCD. The Xt doesnít even have a spot meter, which makes up for a lot of sins with a P&S. The Xt does have better night capability though, but you generally need a tripod of some sort to take advantage of that Ė not what tiny cameras are about. The S4 has much better shutter lag and faster shot to shot times. Also has a little more battery life.

The Olys arenít going to fit in your pocket. Very nice cameras though. 10X zoom is a lot of fun but you need decent light without a tripod.

I think they all have sound movies except the 740.
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Old Feb 24, 2004, 1:36 AM   #4
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Default Cool...

Thanks for the opinion, slipe. There is one thing wrong with what you said though- I don't live in the US. I live in Australia. Over here an SD card is bundled with the Optio S4, and camera pricing is a fair amount different. Ordering from the US means I have to pay shipping, import duties, and a loose out on any form of a warranty.

But anyway, some of that info was of help. Thanks again!
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Old Feb 24, 2004, 2:44 AM   #5
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Default Re: The age-old, "Help me make up my mind." challe

Quote:
Originally Posted by Reactor
Okay... I posted a few Qs about cameras on the imaging resource forums a few days ago, but no one seems interested in helping out (either that, or they're overwhealmed with a small army of newbies asking questions), so... I'll try here

I'm not a completely newbie with cameras, and I've read almost everything there is to know about them (seems like 40,000 articles by now) but, I'm in a complete deadlock about which way to go next. I'm looking for the best all-rounder camera available. I think.
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I have an Oly C750. I chose it. I like it. I do not worship the thing. It has faults. They all do at this level :-<. Some are serious, depending on what you want to photograph and what you want to do with the shots afterward.

All cameras at your price (and the 750 will top that out, easily with a decent memory card etc) are going to be VERY much compromise.

I read of 5MPi cameras that have a 3x zoom, and you would think "Great", 5MPI. It has to be good, because it's got no gimmicks except 5MPi. Then you start reading about people feeling really down because the stupid things have _no_ manual capabilities, or they shoot very slow in poor light etc etc..

Then there is noise at higher ISOs, blue fringing in high contrast shots, slow focussing etc etc. Some cameras are better than others at aome of these. BUt I have yet to see a camera that _ really_ was GOOD in the sub-Aud$1000 area.

What are you going to use the camera for? Have you had a deal of experience with film cameras? What are your expectations? "All round" is about as tough as it gets. Do you want a manual camera, or an auto one. I have an automatic one with varying shades of manual. I choose mostly Shutter Speed Prioity.
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Generally speaking, I understand what it is that makes a good digital camera, but I'm working with a fairly limited budget. I started at $230US, but I've decided to save for a better camera, around the $550US mark. That's camera, batteries, and memory (128megs is all I'm after) included. A case would be nice too, but... I'll carry it around in a shopping bag if I have to
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If you spring for a 4MPi camera, then you start to be limited by 128Mb if you use the lowest compression. If you get careful at any time and want TIFF/RAW format, you will get _very_ few 3-4MPi shots from a 128Mb card. You are talking 10 shots from a 4MPi and maybe 13-14 from a 3MPi camera.
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So, why I'm in a deadlock is because, I'd love to go for a really capable camera, but the idea of carrying it around bothers me. But then, the cameras that are nice and portable, are fairly limited in terms of picture quality, etc. So my current camera choices facing off against each other are (and why I like the look of them)...
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When not running, the Oly 740/750 will fit in your shorts pocket, albeit with the interest of Mae West <G>. The Zoom only emerges when the camera is operating. I carry mine, with batteries and a lens cloth, in a little to medium bumbag.
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Minolta Dimage XT

Pentax Optio S4

Pentax Optio 33LF

Canon A300

Olympus C-740

Olympus C-750
This is 4MPi. So it offers a litel more than sound with your movies. the movies are limited. 10 (15?) FPS and low res. If you want good movies, then for the sort of money, Fuji have better cameras. I preferred the Oly. Mostly because of the zoom, bt also I preferred the pictures.

Higher MPi on the same semsor size means higher noise and, as far as I can see, higher "blue fringing". It obviously gives a better picture for blowing up, all things being equal.
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So, things I'm after-
To carry it around with me often.
I take mine everywhere, except swimming! <G>


Good picture quality.
- what is "good"? I am serious. AFAIK none of them are "bad"
noise, flare, blooming, resolution, colour balance, low light, bright light, contrast, sharp focus, zoom ability.


Not going to make a ton of massive sized photo prints, but the option to do so would be good.
Zooms are fun! I'd like one, but I'm not sure how much use I'd get out of a 10x. (could just be techno-lust at the moment)
- these two almost go together. To take large prints of any success, you need pixels on the shot. Zoom is in both directions. Pixels have to _fill_ the space in both directions. So the effect of zoom is roughly the square of the effect of extra pixels. For picture quality, same photo, same print size etc, a 10X zoom on a 3 MPi camera is a 6X zoom on a _8.3_ MPi camera, _once you get past that 6X zoom place_. Until then the 8.3 has it in spades, of course.

I think I am saying think zoom. I do not think that my oly has suffered in another area _massively_ for the extra zoom. many other cameras have the same problems as the Oly.

I lie! The Oly 750's worst feature is low light focussing. There are others not too good, but many people do complain about this.

There are a couple of problems caused by the extra zoom (camera shake is the one that always gives me a chuckle).

Night capabilities important.
-what do you mean by "night"? Flash; stars; streetlights. Digitals are not as good at night shots as film caeras, AFAICS, because of noise at higher ISO ratings. On the other hand, they seem to able to tolerate underexposed shots very well. You can drag stuff out of an UE shot.

Fairly strong casing.
Movie mode (with sound) is something I'd love.

Strong macro mode important.
- OK. the Oly 750 has a macro mode that is "not very good". BU nobody mentions that it has a SuperMacro, which has no zoom, but can get to 3cm from the subject, and actually gives better closeups than the standard 7cm-and climbing focus of a regular shot.

Don't like using flashes, so... I'm not worried about flash strengths, chargeup times, etc.
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- hmmmm Actually I have taken more flash shots since I got this camera than I did with all my years of film cameras, with a much higher success rate. The built-in flash is limited of course, in distance, but it works far better with the camera than any aftermarket stuff I ever used with film cams, to make flash shots very easy to achieve.
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Any help, advice, experiences would be appreciated. Take on this mighty, noteworthy challenge and (if you have to) tell me what to get, or to save for... or whatever. Just don't tell me to get a Digital Rebel There's only so far I will go. And only so far most people will go on a forum, so I hope someone will answer...

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from my experiecne, and reading etc, I will say that on a limited budget, you will get the _features_, but pay in quality. There is no _good_ answer.
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Also, please feel free to add to my list of deadlocked cameras
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Old Feb 24, 2004, 5:01 AM   #6
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Wow, good lot of info there... much appreciated.

A few answers for you... I don't expect an amzing amount from sub $1000AUD cams, but I'd prefer not to have the kind of noise you find on the Coolpix SQ, bad purple fringing from the Nikon 2100, or below average colour responce from the 33lf. I'd like to get the most for my money, naturally.

I don't have any experience with film cameras, but I've used video cameras in the past, and understand the basic principles behind digital photography... like how CCDs react to lighting, etc. In other words, I'm the sort of person that'd be happier if I could adjust things manually- but not in any extreme.

I'd prefer to stick to 3mp max, but I appreciate the reminder of 128megs with anything less. It kinda counts of the Optio S4 a little more, but I don't believe that has any raw format.

The C750 is sounding better and better, but a few guys on here have said the zoom lens can break easily (or at least, they said that about the 750) Do you agree with this, or...?

What I mean by night perfomance is... the better it can do in an almost completely dark room, the happier I'll be. I'm not really expecting to be blown away by a sub $1000AUD cam in the low-light department, but having one that can't even handle indoor shots under dim conditions wouldn't be right. I'd like to be able to leave my house at night, take a few shots in varying conditions (except for that elusive pitch-black dark alleyway) and have most of the shots turn out.

I shouldn't have mentioned macro mode, actually. None of the cams I mentioned really struggle with that one

Maybe I'll learn to love flash phototography, but right now, I'm not its biggest fan.

Anyway, you're right that there may not be a good answer, but that sure seemed like good advice..
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Old Feb 24, 2004, 8:25 AM   #7
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[quote="Reactor"]Wow, good lot of info there... much appreciated.

A few answers for you... I don't expect an amzing amount from sub $1000AUD cams, but I'd prefer not to have the kind of noise you find on the Coolpix SQ, bad purple fringing from the Nikon 2100, or below average colour responce from the 33lf. I'd like to get the most for my money, naturally.
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I have been told that the Oly cameras are on the good side of average for fringing. I am afarid I have no personal experience. IT's very hard to judge, of course, because every photo is different. You would need a standard black/white subject undoer standard exposure / overexposure conditions. I have had trouble with the fringing, because I take a lot of shots of trees agasint sky, and occasionally I get caught because I have overexposed the sky. I was emailing somebody who was taking shots of a white wall against a dark grey wall (Oly 750), the fringing there was serious. Again it was an extreeme case. there was graffiti on the white wall and you could hardly see it. But it was distressing the guy. then I get messages saying "What fringing?!"

I think the Oly lenses are not bad actually. The fringing and noise seem to be tied in with pixels/cm2 and greed to get as many as possible. The 740 MAY be better for that reason. Again I do not know.

I find it frustrating that there is no measurement standard.
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I don't have any experience with film cameras, but I've used video cameras in the past, and understand the basic principles behind digital photography... like how CCDs react to lighting, etc. In other words, I'm the sort of person that'd be happier if I could adjust things manually- but not in any extreme.
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Still photography is a whole new world, I have to say. I have tried video and spen some time putting music to9 video. In many ways it's harder, because you have to _create_ the sequence of time, and what happens in it. A snap lets the viewer do all that for you. Unfortunately, stills also leave the viewer to start investigating the shot for quality a lot more than moving pictures. A dramataic ilustration of this is watching a "slideshow" sent from my PC (jpgs, not DVD) to the TV. the quality watching on TV is avsolutely dead and woeful. Get back on the monitor and the whole thing sings. HDTV would be a lot better of course but that's not my point. The TV is quite acceptable for most moving stuff even with our relatively poor reception.
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I'd prefer to stick to 3mp max, but I appreciate the reminder of 128megs with anything less. It kinda counts of the Optio S4 a little more, but I don't believe that has any raw format.
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I believe that there are going to be occasions when TIFF will be worth it. Trouble is to know _before_ you take the shot and see it ont e monitor for editing! <G>

3Mb will give excellent shots. No doubt about that. 8*10 no worries, which gives a PPI rating of around 200. 300 PPI is considered optimal, but as prints get larger you assume that the viewer gets further away to watch.
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The C750 is sounding better and better, but a few guys on here have said the zoom lens can break easily (or at least, they said that about the 750) Do you agree with this, or...?
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I have not heard of anyone saying that, and certainly not of anyone actually breaking one. They feel pretty loose and crappy, but seem sturdy enough. This is a camera and not a baseball <G>. AFAIK the 740 has the same lens setup.
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What I mean by night perfomance is... the better it can do in an almost completely dark room, the happier I'll be. I'm not really expecting to be blown away by a sub $1000AUD cam in the low-light department, but having one that can't even handle indoor shots under dim conditions wouldn't be right. I'd like to be able to leave my house at night, take a few shots in varying conditions (except for that elusive pitch-black dark alleyway) and have most of the shots turn out.
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hmmmmm...not good. Digicams are not magic.

How can I say this? They take _lights_ beautiofully. I have shot the night sky, with moon etc, and seen quite surprising stars, and constellations. the moon runs at around 1/400th second shutter speed at ISO 100. But they are not good at dim stuff.

- Digicams get noisy with low light and slow shutters. The more pixels/cm2 the worse it gets. many of them have Noise Reduction. On my Oly it only works above 1 sec exposure, which where _really_ bad noise sets in. It will soften the picture a bit and there have been comments from a few people that fior some cameras, you get plastic photos, because the company has gone obverboard.

- Digicams in our region of the bankroll (incidentally I am in your region geographically as well...Oi Oi Oi <G>) have small, "slow" lenses with F numbers around the 2.8-3 range _at best_. Not good for night shots. They will take dark shots, but only at the severe expense of shot quality. This applies to all of them AFAIK.

- You will get shots, but it will take care. They have good light sensitivity, and many of them allow compensation to "overexpose" the shot, much as a videa camera does to get those phenomenal low light shots. But again, with still shot quality is not hidden to the viewer so much be the chaging subject.

- Oly 750s have poor low light focussing. You can overcome this by focissing manually. Most autofocus systems have their limits. Basically I would rarely have taken shots with a film camera that my oly has trouble with anyway.
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Maybe I'll learn to love flash phototography, but right now, I'm not its biggest fan.
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I still don't _like_ it. I was just surprised at how easilty effective it was, up to 12 feet or so, for that snapshot.
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I am being pretty pessimistic here. But you do have a fairly tough set of needs for any still camera. Remember that you may get a 1 second exposure, but whereas the blur does not matter in video, of course it does with stills. Noise does not natter so much with video as it does with stills.

Digicams are no better than film cameras at most stuff. they are not as good at other stuff. They are a lot cheaper and quicker to make mistakes on <G>
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Old Feb 24, 2004, 10:30 AM   #8
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LOL

You're telling me I have a tough set of needs!

Well, over the day I've managed to narrow it down to a few. I'm either going to go small with the Xt (or wait for the Xg), or go large and take the C-740, or Lumix FZ10 (or maybe even the FZ2).
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Old Feb 24, 2004, 4:58 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reactor
LOL

You're telling me I have a tough set of needs!

Well, over the day I've managed to narrow it down to a few. I'm either going to go small with the Xt (or wait for the Xg), or go large and take the C-740, or Lumix FZ10 (or maybe even the FZ2).
You are talking apples and oranges bet the FZ10 and the 740, surely. The Lumix FZ10 is a 4Mpi 12X zoom, anti-camera shake machine priced at $600 US. The Oly 740 is around $300 US, isn't it? Even the Oly 750 is priced below the FZ10.

I would say the FZ2 would be a closer price range than the FZ10. But only 2MPi?

Can you _get_ an FZ10 in Oz?

I have not tried these cameras (although advertised, they were not available in Oz when I was buying), but I feel that you are paying for the anti-shake and the fact that the lens keeps its 2.8 F number right through the zoom. I lbelieve that this is at the expense of image clarity at zoom, as they presumably use more and more of the lens area to achieve it.

sigh...ever the detractor....but I felel that in this era of wild digital camera buying, with the following grumbling and dummy-spitting when the problems emerge, my sort of gllom is not _all_ bad.

When I was looking at cameras, a guy and his wife wandered into the store and said "I want a digital camera". the sale guy asked what sort, and the guy said "digital. Show me wht you have"

I cringed.
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Old Feb 24, 2004, 10:39 PM   #10
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Heh, yeah... well, that's the common end-user.

The FZ10 is available in Aus, but it is a fair amount more pricey than the C-740 (which is right on the money, for me). I'd like to go for it, but the cost could be a real stretch.

C-740 is $750AUD
FZ10 is about $900AUD

I'll wait and see, but... I have a feeling the C-740 will be the ticket.
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