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Old Mar 14, 2004, 11:48 PM   #1
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Default help please

I'm new to this site and to digital cameras. I've got some questions that you guys will probably think are pretty dumb, but here goes.

I've been very reluctant to go digital. I'm just like that guy in the Walgreens commercial when it comes to technology. I currently have a Minolta Maxxum QTsi w/just the standard lens (35-80mm), but I'd planned to buy a zoom lens before I started looking into digital. I've never tried the manual features. I'm pleased w/the results I get w/the automatic settings.

In reading reviews of various cameras, I see mention of some being hard to focus on moving objects, slow shot to shot time, and shutter lag. I take pictures of my kids almost exclusively. I'll take time to read the manual and practice, but I'm not going to be happy w/a lot of missed shots.

I'm intrigued by models w/10x zoom, but in all honesty I don't know how much zoom I need. All I really want is enough to be able to sit toward the back of the school auditorium and take a photo of my DD on stage and have it close enough that I can tell it's her. Do I need 10x or could I make do w/6x?

I'll print mostly 4 x 6, with the rare 5 x 7.

I don't want to spend a ton of money, but I'd rather spend more to get a camera I'll be happy with.

So what do you experts recommend I get? tia for any suggestions
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Old Mar 15, 2004, 12:25 AM   #2
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Start into digital by learning how to use a photo editor. Shoot several rolls of film and have them put on a CD - fairly cheap if done at the time of processing. Those will be fairly low resolution, but that is just fine for learning.

When you have figured out how to edit the photos, you will have a much better idea of what you want in a digicam, you will be ready to use it, and the prices will be lower.
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Old Mar 15, 2004, 9:50 AM   #3
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All I really want is enough to be able to sit toward the back of the school auditorium and take a photo of my DD on stage and have it close enough that I can tell it's her. Do I need 10x or could I make do w/6x?
You probably couldnít do that with your 35mm with a long telephoto on it without a powerful flash attachment that would reach all the way to the stage. And there is less chance you could do it with a digital camera of the type you are considering. There is a reciprocal rule for handholding pictures. On your 35-80 zoom you would need 1/35 second shutter speed at wide angle and 1/80 second at telephoto or there will be some blur in the picture from camera shake. A 10X zoom is typically 380mm, so you would need 1/380 second. The problem is that the lens doesnít let enough light in with a long telephoto.

There is a technology called image stabilization that lets you handhold at much slower speeds. It works well but wonít do miracles. Even with stabilization you might have problems handholding in an auditorium at 10X zoom according to the lighting. But without it you donít have a chance. Outdoors stabilization is necessary for long zoom lenses under less than ideal light, and it allows you to shoot indoors well at wider angles.

There is another technology that some cameras have and some donít called continuous focus. It focuses all the way to shutter release. You can eliminate much to most of the shutter lag by pre-focusing - pushing the shutter release half way. The problem with doing that is that if anything moves before you get the picture you have to release the button and pre-focus again. With continuous focus it just continues to focus if something moves. I have cameras with and without it and can tell you it is much easier to get pictures of perpetual motion rugrats or people at gatherings with continuous focus. It uses more battery power, so you need a camera with good battery life or a spare battery if you use it a lot.

There arenít many cameras with stabilization. The Minolta A1 and A2 have only a 7X zoom that starts from a 28mm wide angle. But the wide angle gives much better scenes and interiors. They are the overall most competent of the stabilized cameras for general purpose use. The A2 was recently released and still pricey. The A1 is 5Mp and the A2 is 8Mp. The Panasonic FZ10 is a 4Mp stabilized 12X zoom camera that maintains f2.8 throughout the zoom range. It is a little large but is light for its size. Canon is about to release a 3Mp stabilized 10X zoom camera called the S1. With 4 NiMH batteries it is almost as heavy as the FZ10, but it is more compact. The Minoltas and Panasonic also have continuous focus Ė I donít know about the Canon.

5Mp will print a good but not great 13 X 19 if you get a great shot to hang on the wall. 4Mp will do a decent 11 X 14. 3Mp will do a very nice 8 X 10. All that is assuming you frame tightly and donít have to crop much.

You could probably tell who your DD was with a 6X, but you probably still couldnít hand hold it without stabilization or a flash attachment that would reach all the way to the stage.
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Old Mar 16, 2004, 11:48 AM   #4
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Thanks! I wasn't thinking of the flash/distance problem. I probably don't really need 10x zoom after all. I really wanted to like the Kodak 6490 because Sams has a good deal on it and I'd like instant gratification, but many of the reviews mention blurred photos. Do you think the price on the new A2 or Canon S1 will have dropped by September (my birthday, lol)? Of course, that means something newer or better will have come along. In the meantime, I'll take Bill's advice and play w/Photoshop.
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