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Old Feb 28, 2004, 4:46 PM   #1
Kat
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Default Buy one that is out now or wait on new comers?

I am totally new to digital. I've used our school's 1.5 Mp Mavica but that's about it. I really want to get one of the 8x-10x optical zoom cameras. Are any of the new ones coming out this spring really that much better than the current crop? I like the notion of a stabilized zoom on the Canon S1 IS, but it is only a 3 Mp. Does it really matter about number of Megapixels? Most pictures that I print will be 5x7 or 4x6 with the occasional larger print (8x10). Non of them are perfect, and all the reviews leave me more confused than I was before. I have always been a strictly point and shoot kind of gal, but it seems like such a good idea to have the option to control things like white balance. :? Also...what is the real deal about ISO equivalents. Some cameras have ISO of 50 which sounds like they should produce really crisp images while other only go down to 200. Do I want to go with one that offers the lowest possible ISO? What details do I REALLY need to factor in for general indoor and outdoor family shots?
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Kat
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Old Feb 29, 2004, 6:59 PM   #2
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As far as should you buy now, or wait for one of the new camera's to come out, I couldn't say. I'm not well versed in what is available vs. what is coming out soon. However, here are a few comments I can provide that I hope help. If you primarily will only print 4x6 or 5x7 with the only occasional 8x10, 3MP is probably fine for you. Personally I like a bit more so I can crop more and still have an acceptable print quaility. With a good zoom you may not need to crop much if you're good at correctly framing your subjects. Concerning ISO, a camera that will do 50 ISO as it's lowest as opposed to 200, will not necessarily take crisper pictures. If you do a lot of indoor shots, I would make sure the camera can take good pictures (low noise) in iso 200 to 400 range so you won't have to rely on the flash as heavily. I can't stand on camera flashes so the less I have to rely on it, the better I like it. White balance control is very nice to have, but if the camera has excellent auto White Balance, control may not be an issue to you especially since you can always do some post processing with software. This also depends on how picky you are about your picture quality. As said though, some have excellent auto WB. With my Nikon 4300, I've had very few pictures I couldn't stand because the auto white balance messed up.

Based on my past experience, here are some additional things I would consider as you read reviews.

1. Fast startup. If you're camera is not on, it's amazing how long some of these cameras take to turn on. Some can take 5 seconds or more and you may think to yourself, that's not bad ... but if you camera is not on and you have a shot to take, 5 seconds can seem like an eternity if the action is changing rapidly.
2. Short shutter lag. There are ways to work around this, but I've missed some shots because by the time my camera took the picture vs. when I pressed the button, the shot was gone or not as good.
3. Quality lens. It doesn't matter if you have 8mp or a fast start time camera if the lens isn't good. You want it to be able to focus sharp and have very little to no noticable barrel distortion.
4. Good flash range. Even though I hate an on camera flash, if you need it, you at least want it to work. Many digicams don't seem to be able to adquately throw out the light when needed.
5. Good battery life. Yes, they all take rechargable batteries and you can have spare batteries, but it is still something to consider as a cost factor since some cameras will only take propietary batteries which can cost $40 or more.
6. Low light focus. Some digicams do not focus well in low light situations, i.e. indoor parties

Ok, there can be much more to think about, but these are some of the my personal biggies. I didn't really put them in any particular order, but if I were, it'd probably be 3, 6,1,2,4,5. It of course varies between people due to shooting styles, quaity expectations, type of shots you take, etc.
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Old Mar 1, 2004, 9:16 AM   #3
Kat
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Thank you Michael for the great information. All the technicalities of the various camera specs gets overwhelming. I'll start comparing the areas you suggested and see what I can come up with.
Kat
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Old Mar 1, 2004, 11:23 AM   #4
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One additional thing, Kat. It won't matter if you buy a camera now or wait until the next models show up. Whatever you buy, something better will come along. It's inevitable.
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