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Old Jan 28, 2004, 11:47 AM   #1
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Default What Should I Buy: The Answer

If you are asking the WSIB question, almost certainly you are looking for your first digicam. There are two basic issues: the size of your pocketbook and what you are going to do with the camera.

Keep that unless your name is Bill Gates, you are not going to get the best camera that exists. If you have a high-end “prosumer” camera like the Minolta A1, Sony 828, …, the SLRs will put that camera to shame. If you have a top end SLR, one of the large format backs (e.g., www.betterlight.com/) will produce an image with much more detail. If you have a large format back, a custom built camera like the Hubble (only a few hundred million $ each) will knock its socks off. Even if you buy the Hubble, there will be a better camera out Real Soon.

So forget about getting the best camera. Ain’t gonna happen.

So (I hear you ask), what is the best camera that fits in my pocketbook? That depends on what you are going to do with the camera. If you have a fair amount of experience with chemical cameras, you will be able to articulate the issues that are important to you, e.g., , external flash, wide angle, large aperture, macro, … though you might miss some of the digital issues, e.g., highlight blow-out, dynamic range, lag, blooming, …

Since you have no experience with a digicam, it isn’t likely that you can even ask the right questions, let alone figure out the answers. (Even with a fair amount of experience, you will continue to find issues you hadn’t thought of before.) If you have tried to figure it out by reading reviews, likely your head is spinning hard enough to power a helicopter flight from Pottawattamie to Saskatoon.

The Answer

Get a digicam. Any digicam. Get a BarbiCam and give it to your niece for her birthday after you use if for several months. Learn how to use it, and learn its limits. Shoot a lot, and spend time working with the images. If you are shooting with a chemical camera, get rolls of film put on a CD – cheap at the time of processing though fairly low resolution. Learn how to edit and print the pictures. Count the money spent on that digicam/scans as tuition. Then when you are going to get a “real” digicam, you will have a much better idea of what you want, you will be ready to use it, there will be more choices (head spinning again), and the price will be lower. Almost certainly enough lower to pay for your BarbiCam/scans.
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A common worry is buying a camera that is a real looser. Don’t worry much about it. Every camera has its flaws (e.g,, the Hubble at a hockey game), but there are very few real duds out there. Making a pick by looking at the adverts that fall out of the Sunday paper, then looking at a few reviews isn’t a bad way to go. The reviews will (rightly) dwell on problems, but many of them are minor or won’t matter to you.
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Old Jan 28, 2004, 3:30 PM   #2
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Default You read my mind! (and I'm sure many others..)

Hi -- great post. Thanks for the wisdom. I agree with you about using one first. I've had use of a fuji finepix 3800 for a while now, and I know what I like and don't like. It's the ground rod for me as I shop for mine now. I think you are dead-on about how a better one will come along "Real Soon". That is the nature of all things electronic; exciting and scary to think "what will my 2 yr old son's first camera be like?" ( I had a Brownie 127.)

Largely because of my son, I am seeking compact, so that I or my wife can literally carry it around all the time. It amazes me the features I have found on the 3 or 4 I have narrowed it down to (Pentax optio s-4, kyocera sl300, canon s400, or perhaps s230). Each of these models offers something I like, but the other does not have (of course!) So I will decide not so much on what I want, but what I can do without.

Forget about what my son will use; I wonder what's coming up next. Perhaps a model that has all the features of those 4? I wish! I think I will start a thread in general Q and A about who knows what might hit the shelves and when that generally happens in the course of the year. Know of anything cool? (like maybe a built in mp3 player?)

Have fun!

~Mike
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Old Jan 28, 2004, 4:55 PM   #3
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Well, I'm looking for a camera with a 28mm-400mm equivalent zoom lens, with no distortion. I'd like it to be relatively fast (F1.8 throughout it's focal range would be nice). A Stabilized lens is a must for longer focal lengths.

Full manual control is needed (and I want both Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority, too). Give it a nice feature set if you don't mind (including fast autotracking focus system). Make sure it's feature set exceeds all current camera models.

I'd also like it to be noise free at up to ISO 3200. 35 Megapixels of resolution (or so) should be sufficient for me (I probably will not want high detail poster sized prints too often, but may want them for select photos). Of course, actual detail captured should be clearly superior to any large format film camera/lens combination.

Speed is important. I'd like for it to take 10 frames per second until the memory cards are full without pauses. However, I'd like for the file sizes to be no more than 100kb each (with no noticeable loss of detail, or unwanted artifacts from compression algorithms).

It must fit in my pants pocket (wearing tight jeans), weigh no more than 2 ounces (including battery) with no more than a 1 second startup time. Battery life should be around 10 hours if possible. I'd prefer an optical viewfinder with 100% coverage, too (no parallax error please), to go along with my 400mm equivalent zoom lens.

No noticeble focus or shutter lag is permitted, either.

White balance, color accuracy, dynamic range, etc. should be superb in any lighting. Flash range should be at least 100 feet at it's lowest ISO settings (while still throttling down nicely for macros).

No redeye is permitted (and I really don't want any preflashes, either).

I should have full control over depth of field (whether I want it to be shallow or greater) -- without regards to aperture selected. I don't want to worry about needing to conform to formulas regarding actual lens focal length, distance to subject, and aperture to control depth of field (surely this can be done digitally). LOL

Memory Type isn't that important, as long as I can get 1000 or so 35 Megapixel Images on the supplied memory card (with spare cards of the same capacity being no more than $10.00 each, and commonly available everywhere)

Built in USB 2.0 is a must, also (as is built in support for transferring files over wireless networks).

Of course, it should be waterproof (and totally submersable) to at least 100 feet, and include a 10 year "no questions asked" warranty. Ease of use is important (perfect pictures every time by simply pressing a shutter button). Ergonomics should be equal to the "best of the best" (while still fitting in my pocket).

I have a budget of $100.00

Which camera is right for me?

This post is being sarcastic, of course. However, sometimes it seems like this is what new users are expecting.
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Old Jan 28, 2004, 6:13 PM   #4
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I want what JimC wants, too. Except with a few changes:

First of all, my budget is exatly $74.28, no more and no less.

Secondly, I want the camera to have an auto compose feature. I want to point my camera at something and have it compose a picture perfectly without any extra effort from me. If any weird object is in the way, the camera will emit some sort of telekinetic force to move it out of the path of the picture.

Thirdly, I would like the camera to automatically "airbrush" unattractive people in the photo. It should whittle waists, perk up breasts, smooth out wrinkles, even and whiten teeth, erase acne, and update the subjects wardrobe with a push of a button.

Fourthly, it must accept fashion face plates, so I can coordinate my camera with my outfit.

Fifthly, if there's a shot that just can't be missed, the camera should sense it coming, and set itself up to catch the shot, no matter what. Even if the camera is sitting in the bag, it should still get the shot.

Sixthly, it should come bundled with photo editing software that allows me to click no more than one button, and have all problems fixed on the picture.

Oh, and the camera should be of such high quality that it never breaks down.
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Old Jan 28, 2004, 7:12 PM   #5
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Message to all newbies: these guys aren't making fun of you. Anyway, I don't think they are. I think they're making fun of themselves. The reason I think this is because there once was a time when they didn't know squat. Imagine that.

Except for Bill, who started this thread. His advice is right on the button.
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Old Jan 28, 2004, 7:46 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bcoultry
Message to all newbies: these guys aren't making fun of you. Anyway, I don't think they are. I think they're making fun of themselves. The reason I think this is because there once was a time when they didn't know squat. Imagine that.

Except for Bill, who started this thread. His advice is right on the button.
I'm a newbie too, so I'm making fun of myself...but in a good natured, "laugh with me" sort of way. I was just knowledgable enough to realize that Jim's dream camera was a big joke. So, I thought I'd add some more "ideal" features.

Ditto the thumbs up to Bill. I think his advice is sound.
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Old Jan 28, 2004, 8:41 PM   #7
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You guys missed a critial criteria: really low light performance. Being able to take a photo in a coal cellar at midnight during a new moon when a power failure is going on. Infinite ISO. A photo taken with (at most) one photon.

Of course it has to produce a 32 bit image with at least 15 stops of dynamic range. Better range if there is more light.
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Old Jan 28, 2004, 8:48 PM   #8
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bill and all,
i must say that i unknowingly followed bills advice years before he posted it! my first digicam was my wonderful c300z, and man i have lots and lots of pictures from it. i would say that it may be a good idea to shoot some film as well, use a film slr. someone in your family is SURE to have one. use it in fully manual mode, "waste" a few rolls of film learning what all the nifty little "fstop" and "shutter speed" and "iso" things mean .
as bill said, consider the cost as part of your "tuition", cause learning the basics of photography like that will never hurt your ability to take pictures.
once you have done all that, then do MAJOR research. go bother a camera guy in a shop for a couple hours, browse web forums, do generic keyword searches online, read technology magazines, read photo magazines, talk to friends that have cameras, ect... once you have done all that, narrow it down to 2 or 3 models, and then GO PLAY WITH THEM! nothing beats personal feeling with a camera. once you do that, then ask the "old fogies" on the forums for advice.
it was stuff like this that ended up with me deciding on purchasing my 10d. and yes, i know i bought it 2 weeks ago and there may be a replacement announced in another 2 weeks, but there comes a point when you are asking yourself: do i buy the camera and enjoy it, mayeb take some awesome pictures? or do i wait ceaselessly for "newer" and "better"?
now, if you can make sense of my rambling post, and add it to bill's very sound advice, you are well on your way
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Old Jan 28, 2004, 10:20 PM   #9
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Way to go Bill!!!!! You hit the nail on the head with the first post. I too, would like a camera that can take a pic in a coal cellar at midinight, in a power failure, with no flash and the lens cap on!! Keep in mind though, I only have $74.82 to spend! :lol:
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Old Jan 29, 2004, 7:51 AM   #10
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How could all of you have forgotten a primary necessity? Metamorphosis. Thus, my original Oly 600L would have morphed into the Oly 2500L without any money changing hands, then into the Oly E-20. Thus, my current camera would actually be--yes, yes, yes--the Oly E-1. Complete with every available lens, of course.
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