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Old Apr 24, 2004, 5:18 AM   #1
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Hello everyone

I am off to Alaska in a few weeks and would like to purchase a quality digital camera. I have been advised that an equivlent to a 400mm lens will be required to get the best shots especially when photographing whales and bears. What optical zoom is the 400mm comparable to - 10X? and what models would you recommend, It would be nice to have interchangable lenses so I can have more versatility, I was thinking of the Canon EOS 300D.

Have had a look at lenses for the Canon EOS 300D and a 400mm lens looks to be incredibly expensive.

My shortlist is as follows:

Minolta Dimage Z2
Fujifilm Finepix S5000
Olympus C770

I wanted something with at least 4mp, however I know the Fuji is around 3mp, will this make a big differance to quality?.

My gut feeling is to go for the Minolta Z2 as it supposadly has a great movie mode which will save me having to buy a seperate camcorder.

I would prefer not to spend more than $500 for the camera.


Thanks for any advice

Jason
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Old Apr 24, 2004, 7:53 AM   #2
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Hi Jason,

Have fun in Alaska

Here are two other cameras you may want to consider:

Panasonic FZ-10 for its 12x optical and image stabilization.
(It also will accept Olympus Wide Angle/Tele lens.
Read more about this on another thread here:

http://www.stevesforums.com/phpBB2/v...ic.php?t=24959

Olympus 8080 wide angle 5x optical mainly because Alaska
is a big place, loaded with wide angle opportunites.

Go here to read Steve's review on the two cams.

http://www.steves-digicams.com/2003_reviews/fz10.html

http://www.steves-digicams.com/2004_reviews/c8080.html

Just a thought or two...
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Old Apr 24, 2004, 8:29 AM   #3
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Jason,

I got a Panasonic FZ10 for, among other things, our trip to Alaska this June on a cruisetour, mainly for it's image stabilization & 12x zoom capabilities. I also got an Olympus 1.45 teleconverter, model 14b, to extend my capablilties out to 600 mm with a 62mm adapter to replace the lens shade one which came with the camera.

With a Sunpak 433D external flash in the hotshoe, I've taken pics indoor of stage performances from about 45 feet away as well as informal "portrait" size pics from 15 to 20 feet. Hope this helps and have a great trip...Harvey
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Old Apr 25, 2004, 12:34 AM   #4
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>> ... a 400mm lens looks to be incredibly expensive.<<

Yep.

You could get a "T" adapter and hang it off the back of 80mm f5 telescope, but it would be bear to drag around ... guess that is not the kind of bears you are interested in.

Another possibility with the dSLR is a 500mm mirror lens. They are cheap, small and light (compared to the brand name glass lens). But you have to be able to live with the donut effect on out of focus highlights in the background (such as the whitecaps on the waves behind the whales).


Unless something has changed in the last two weeks: Panasonic FZ-10 is the only fixed lens digital camera with a 400mm (equivalent) zoom or greater plus it has image stabilization and the price line is at $500 (you have add VAT in the UK or buy when you arive in the Colonies and add sales tax --- maybe a little less depending on the Colony in question).

Enjoy your trip ...
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Old Apr 26, 2004, 6:20 PM   #5
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Thanks for all your replies.

Having weighed up the pros and cons of the various digital types I am now wondering whether to go digital at all!!!. Whenever I look at digital pics they just don't seem to be that sharp, even on the high end stuff - am I the only to have noticed this, they just don't seem to have the sharpness andclarity that you get with 35mm. When I look at the cost of a quality canon/nikon 35mm it seems to make a lot more sense as I will be spending a lot of time in the willderness and won't then have to worry about how to download my cards onto a portable bettery powered storage device and recharge proprietory batteries etc.

What do you guys think?
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Old Apr 26, 2004, 7:22 PM   #6
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Please see the following url:
http://www.keywild.com/DIGISCOPE/ST80/bingo.html

These two picture were taken for another pupose but the second picture is combination of crops from:

1) a film SLR camera and a celestron ST80 Telescope
2) a Nikon CP995 camera and a Celestron ST80 telescope
3) a Pentax DSLR camera and a Celestron ST80 telescope

Granted that the film was developed and printed at the local drugstore but both the digital cameras produced more detail than the film camera. I had expected a different result. (point of interest: the scope has a 400mm focal length).

Film does have some advantages. Among other things it offers more color latitude. The inital cost of the film is low. One thing you can not do with film is change the ISO in the middle of the roll because the situation has suddenly changed. I remember shooting a USO show (in Alaska of all places) when suddenly the lights went out and torch dancers came on the stage. I litterly ripped the film out of the SLR I was using in order to load something more apropriate.

If you decide to use a SLR (film or digital) camera then a quality 400mm lens is going to require a fair chunk of change. I do not know what options you have in a P&S film camera. For my money I think the Panasonic would probably be a good option. I looked at it real hard before I purchased my dSLR (only time will tell if I made the right decision --- I do know I made the exspensive one).

If you are concerned about downloading pictures while on your trip --- buy some extra memory cards (256 or 512). You can always sell them at a slight loss on EBAY when you get back (and they take up a heck of lot less room than umteen rolls of 35mm film).

I bet you enjoy you trip wahtever you take.
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Old Apr 26, 2004, 8:41 PM   #7
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you may be on the right track, an EOS 3 is about the same price as a digital Rebel. But you'll still have to buy lenses and film and give up on some of the benefits of digital like instant feedback and multiiple ISO's without changing film.

One thing you can do with an SLR is rent the lens. I've never done it so I don't know the economics but it would be easy for you to find out.

Not knowing where you're going I can't comment on availability of power etc. Alaska is a big place.

As far as quality is concerned - unless you shoot only pro slide film any of the dSLRs will give you as good a shot as film. You give up some things like highlights and exposure range but you have other advantages too so it's a wash.

Image quality from a digicam is dependent on a host of inputs - source file, amount of post processing, printer type and quality, paper type etc. It is more labour intensive then dropping of a roll of 35mm print film and getting prints back in an hour.
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Old Apr 26, 2004, 10:02 PM   #8
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Some nice things about digital...

With laptop and multi-card reader...

1. You can run slide shows on your laptop on board.

2. With a multi-card reader (and laptop) to do slide
shows of other's digital pics.

3. You can make CDs for them to send home.

4. You can edit your pictures as you go.

5. You can edit others' pics as you go.

6. Perhaps, you may even have some donations
for your labors to offset $$ of your journey.

Just a thought...
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Old Apr 27, 2004, 3:38 PM   #9
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Just a quick note, if you will be travelling within S.E. Alaska...be sure to carry a ziplock bag, custom tailored for your camera! We get a great deal of rain here, some with force winds and so, naturally, you will want to protect your camera from the elements.

An umbrella might help, if you can hold it (or have someone kind enough to hold it for you :lol: ) while you take a picture with your other hand. However, should the winds kick up...well, it'll either be: "hello Mary Poppins" or if the winds aren't that bad, folks will think you are posing as a Statue of Liberty look-alike :lol: Heard from the crowd, "Wrong side of the States, Bub!" :lol:

If you can, prior to gettig here....practice, practice ! with your new camera. You don't want to miss out on a great shot or a wonderful trip I'm sure you will enjoy the sites here.

A pre, "Welcome to Alaska!"

~Kate
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Old Apr 28, 2004, 5:42 PM   #10
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Thanks again for all your replies.

Kate

Thanks for that pre, "Welcome to Alaska!", as soon as I get my house rented out I will be buying my ticket and flying to Seattle to purchase all my equipment - both camera and camping gear before heading north on the ferry.

Appreciate the tips with the rain, I just love being outdoors, doesn't matter much to me whether it rains or shines - I love it all!!!.

Looks like it will be an FZ10 with a few cards and spare batteries for the wilderness or a 35mm SLR with 400 mm lens - decisions,decisions.

Good night all


Jason
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