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Old May 15, 2010, 3:10 PM   #11
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Any dSLR will give you MUCH better image quality than any P&S (point-and-shoot) camera. And it will cost more and take more of your time and concentration. An excellent starting kit would be a Pentax Kx with 18-55 zoom. BEWARE! Like so many of us, you may find yourself wanting more and more lenses, especially inexpensive manual-focus glass with shallow DOF (depth-of-field) to make the pictures you want... you're DOOMED!! Hey, a Helios-44 58mm f/2 lens can be had for US$25 -- talk about THIN DOF!! Ooh-ooh...

That said, there are ways to achieve narrow DOF on a P&S. My constant companion is an old 5mpx Sony DSC-V1 with Zeiss optics and manual controls. I can use preset focus distances; with close focus, the background is nicely blurred. I can go into Macro mode and shoot close objects, giving the same effect. I can set the aperture wide open to get somewhat the same effect, depending on distance. And because the V1 has a front thread adapter, I can mount a close-up diopter lens which thins the DOF at certain distances. (I can also add infrared and other filters... but don't get me started on spectrum-slicing...)

A P&S with manual control of shutter speed, aperture, and focus, gives you control of images, but not as much control as a dSLR, and it may not cost much less than a dSLR. A cheaper fully-auto P&S may have 'scene' modes that you can exploit, especially macro and protrait modes. But no P&S can give really shallow DOF. Here's why:

DOF is the range of distance from a lens where subjects appear to be adequately in focus. DOF results from various factors, some of which you (the photographer) can't control when you shoot -- presentation, visual aquity of viewers, etc. What you CAN control are aperture, focal length, and lens-to-subject (focus) distance. For thin DOF you want a wide-open aperture, long focal length, and close focus distance. For thick DOF you want a small aperture, short focal length, and further distance. A P&S with its small image sensor uses a very short lens; zoomed out, its aperture shrinks. This means that when shooting subjects more than 1-2 feet / 30-60 cm away, DOF is almost infinite. That makes for nice crisp snapshots, the kind everybody loves. And it means that moody arty photography is much more difficult.

A Pentax Kx with DA18-55 and Helios-44 (and a lens hood), and the world is yours!
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Old May 19, 2010, 1:06 PM   #12
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Yes shoturtle, just like these. I am still in the planning stages for the trip, I will be in Hamburg for work for 4 days and I'm taking ~10 days after that to travel around. I'm going alone and I'm considering Munich, Rothenburg, Berlin.
What camera did you use for these? I'm still trying to decide on which camera to get (from the "which camera to buy" section). But right now it's between Panasonic FZ35 or zs7, or Canon G11 (sacrifice zoom for low light) or s90 (for it's low light capabilities), Pentax K-x is sort of on the list too (because it's very closely priced to the g11).

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Old May 19, 2010, 1:12 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by RioRico View Post
Any dSLR will give you MUCH better image quality than any P&S (point-and-shoot) camera. And it will cost more and take more of your time and concentration. An excellent starting kit would be a Pentax Kx with 18-55 zoom. BEWARE! Like so many of us, you may find yourself wanting more and more lenses, especially inexpensive manual-focus glass with shallow DOF (depth-of-field) to make the pictures you want... you're DOOMED!! Hey, a Helios-44 58mm f/2 lens can be had for US$25 -- talk about THIN DOF!! Ooh-ooh...

That said, there are ways to achieve narrow DOF on a P&S. My constant companion is an old 5mpx Sony DSC-V1 with Zeiss optics and manual controls. I can use preset focus distances; with close focus, the background is nicely blurred. I can go into Macro mode and shoot close objects, giving the same effect. I can set the aperture wide open to get somewhat the same effect, depending on distance. And because the V1 has a front thread adapter, I can mount a close-up diopter lens which thins the DOF at certain distances. (I can also add infrared and other filters... but don't get me started on spectrum-slicing...)

A P&S with manual control of shutter speed, aperture, and focus, gives you control of images, but not as much control as a dSLR, and it may not cost much less than a dSLR. A cheaper fully-auto P&S may have 'scene' modes that you can exploit, especially macro and protrait modes. But no P&S can give really shallow DOF. Here's why:

DOF is the range of distance from a lens where subjects appear to be adequately in focus. DOF results from various factors, some of which you (the photographer) can't control when you shoot -- presentation, visual aquity of viewers, etc. What you CAN control are aperture, focal length, and lens-to-subject (focus) distance. For thin DOF you want a wide-open aperture, long focal length, and close focus distance. For thick DOF you want a small aperture, short focal length, and further distance. A P&S with its small image sensor uses a very short lens; zoomed out, its aperture shrinks. This means that when shooting subjects more than 1-2 feet / 30-60 cm away, DOF is almost infinite. That makes for nice crisp snapshots, the kind everybody loves. And it means that moody arty photography is much more difficult.

A Pentax Kx with DA18-55 and Helios-44 (and a lens hood), and the world is yours!
Thanks for the info! I'm sort of considering Pentax K-x too (it's on my list because it's closely priced to the g11), but I'm a little wary about getting an SLR. (pls don't hate me now , but) I'm a basic point and shoot user for the 350 days of the year that I'm not on vacation. I'm not sure if I can learn all the intricacies of an slr with so little use.
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Old May 19, 2010, 2:58 PM   #14
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I used a canon T1i, you will need a dslr to get photo quality like this. But the G11 or the S90 would be my choice if you took a smaller camera.

The pentax k-x with the 2 lens kit will cover everything I shoot in those thread. I did not use any fast prime lens.
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Old May 19, 2010, 3:03 PM   #15
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Hamburg is fun, if you like minitures, there is a great model rail road museum, the fish market is nice to visit. But I would take a nice walk around the lake, and a boat ride. I love visiting hamburg.

Berlin is well worth visiting, lots to do, and it has 2 city centers, from back from cold war. Check point charlie museum is very interesting to visit

Munich beer that is all I have to say
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Old May 19, 2010, 9:17 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RioRico View Post
Any dSLR will give you MUCH better image quality than any P&S (point-and-shoot) camera. !
That is a blanket statement with which I take issue. MUCH better it won't be, except under certain conditions. If you view pictures on PC, and print at 4x6" then you won't see ANY difference, except in low light performance, and possibly not then unless you are obsessed with pixel peeping.
A DSLR does give one more flexibility, (with lens changes), and often better control, than P&S, but for most purposes the image quality isn't going to be wildly different.

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Old May 19, 2010, 11:05 PM   #17
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That is a blanket statement with which I take issue.
I stand by it. That isn't to say that P&S's aren't marvelous devices that can be used for memories, art, other purposes. But the IQ just isn't in the same league. Images from P&S sensors just have nowhere near the detail nor dynamic range, and are inherently noisier at higher ISO's.

If it is small or far enough, any image can look good. Example: I shoot monochrome with a 1mpx P&S; images are 912x1216 pixels. I edit those, do a little smoothing, boost contrast, and print them at 6x9 cm. Then I take negatives I've shot in a 6x9 cm folder and contact-print them. I put the prints from those two sources next to each other in a matte, I glass and frame that, and hang it on the wall. Without a magnifier, they cannot be distinguished. But if I blow them up to 16x24 cm (~6x9 inches) it's pretty easy to tell which is which... unless they're hung WAY out of the way somewhere, in dim light, behind something.

Presentation is critical. If your goals are 4x6 inch prints or 14 inch laptop screen displays, then IQ doesn't matter so much. If photorealism isn't mandatory, then IQ doesn't matter -- I've blown some of those 1mpx images up to poster size, and they look like posters, not photos. Art does not depend on resolution, as a photo/art professor told me. Some of the most significant and striking photos in history are blurry blobs shot with gear we'd now consider crap. But photorealism DOES depend on resolution and dynamic range. All else being equal, bigger sensors give better image quality, and that's just how reality works.
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Old May 20, 2010, 2:02 AM   #18
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A Pentax Kx with DA18-55 and Helios-44 (and a lens hood), and the world is yours!
The Helios-44 with what other lenses is comparable? Because i started to understand 18-55 18-200, but not the Helios one!
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Old May 20, 2010, 2:08 AM   #19
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It is a manual focus lens with a big aperture, 1.2. They have a k-mount version adapter.
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Old May 20, 2010, 7:19 AM   #20
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The Helios-44 with what other lenses is comparable? Because i started to understand 18-55 18-200, but not the Helios one!
Yes, the Helios-44 is a 58mm f/2 manual prime lens, usually among the least expensive fast lenses on eBay. It is quite common and usually quite good, and is often priced around US$25.

There is a group of lenses known as Nifty Fifty's, with focal lengths of 50mm or 55mm or 58mm, with maximum apertures of f/1.4 or f/1.7 or f/2. These come from many makers and are quite common. Faster lenses like an f/1.4, and certain brands like Asahi-Pentax-Takumar and Zeiss, may be relatively expensive. But even f/2 Takumars may sell for under US$30.

I mentioned the Helios-44 because I think it's a good CHEAP addition to a beginning kit. Shooting with an autofocus zoom lens like the DA18-55 is easy. Shooting with a manual-focus prime lens like the Helios-44 takes a little more work, a little study, but it is quite rewarding.

Because the Helios is 'fast', you can shoot in MUCH less light. (At 55mm, the 18-55 has a maximum aperture of f/5.6, which is three f-stops or EIGHT TIMES slower than the Helios at f/2.) Because of its speed and focal length, it is ideal as a full-face portrait lens. Because it is totally manual, it is good for learning the mechanics and creative techniques of photography. It has good sharp optics. And because it is cheap, you won't cry too much if it is accidentally damaged.

The Helios-44 has been produced for many years, so different versions exist. I don't know all the details. I'm sure others here can help.

EDIT: Oh yes, it also leads to the hell of wanting manual primes. First, you want primes that are FASTER than the zooms. Then you want primes that are SHARPER than the zooms. Then you want unique primes, or you want to compare primes: is this Zeiss tessar 50/2.8 really much better than the Industar-50 f/3.5 tessar at 1/10th the cost? Then you want the complete set: I need ALL the Meyer 50's, I don't care what they cost!! Then... but you are already doomed. DOOMED! Beware LBA...
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Last edited by RioRico; May 20, 2010 at 8:02 AM.
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