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Old Jun 24, 2002, 9:28 AM   #1
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Default yet another plea for help

Hi out there - another newcomer hits the site with head in a spin over digital cameras. Help! I have a six week trip coming up to Ecuador and the Galapagos, and I would like to have a new camera. I want something for stills and video, that I can bung on the computer to edit and then transfer to some kind of permenent storage. I wondered about mini DV? Any suggestions? I can probably spend about 700, and I have no experience with digital cameras...yet.
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AC
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Old Jun 24, 2002, 11:41 AM   #2
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I need to answer your question with many more questions. Will you be taking a computer with you or have access to one? Will you have access to power every day? What picture quality do you want? Do you want 8x10 or larger prints or just small bitmaps to display on a computer? Going underwater?

If you get a still camera you'll need to get enough memory to hold all the shots you want or download to a computer frequently. Your trip sounds very photo intensive. I'm sure you will want several hundred shots over a period of six weeks, I would. A 2.1 megapixel camera - the minimum I'd suggest if you want 8x10 prints - will fill a 128mb memory card in 100-120 shots. To me that is a modest day of shooting. If you don't have a computer to download every day you'll need a lot of memory capacity for the camera. If you capture video clips with a still camera the memory issue becomes much, much worse.

You can do still frame capture from DV but the shots will be small, 640x480. There are DV cams with dedicated still shot modes of a megapixel or more but that's still inferior to a good still camera.

FWIW I would take the following of my own equipment on such a trip: Canon Powershot A10 + underwater housing plus Panasonic PV-DC51 plus a mountain of recharchable batteries, fast chargers and a big stack of memory cards. I keep a 256mb card in the little Canon. It records about 360 1.3 megapixel shots. Not big enough for 8x10 prints but more than big enough for snapshot prints and any web display. The UW housing is worth it's weight in gold. I never have to worry about harsh conditions including snorkeling and diving. The DV camera is a modest one but the image quality is outstanding and I can get lossless edits with a simple firewire board in my PC.

I know I've probably overwhelmed you but maybe this will help you find the right direction and help you get the pictures you want from your trip.
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Old Jun 25, 2002, 7:51 AM   #3
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Many thanks, Steve, for your reply. I will have power for the first ten days and then off and on and access to computers at a friend's house occasionally. I want to be able to do decent prints from the stills, I like to edit on the computer, but won't be doing anything more exotic than sending the odd copy to my mum via email, so it does look like I would be better off with a still camera and as you say a ton of memory. Some video would be nice, though, so really we would need two types of camera. I think we'd like the video as small as possible, partly for security reasons. Excuse the idiocy but what measurement is 8X10 - cm or inches? I don't think we will average as many as 100 shots a day probably more like half that. So am I right that I need to consider megapixel capacity and amount of memory as the first factors?
I am so glad there are people out there who deign to share their hard-won knowledge! Thankyou!
Angie C
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Old Jun 25, 2002, 8:26 AM   #4
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I don't think we will average as many as 100 shots a day probably more like half that.
If you are basing that estimate on how many film shots/day you have taken in the past, you are going to need even more memory than padeye suggested. It seems that folks shoot five to ten times as much with digital than they ever did with film.

An old rule from film that applies to digital: Never go on vacation with a brand new camera. You should use a camera long enough to figure it out before you leave. Otherwise you might do something silly like ejecting your memory card into a swamp. Besides possible problems, do you really want to spend your vacation reading a manual?
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Old Jun 25, 2002, 11:43 AM   #5
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I meant 8x10 inches, a common wall print size here. As a rule I limit injet prints to no more than 1" per 150 linear pixels (or 1 cm per 60 pixels) to avoid jaggies. You can get past this limit with certain software but it's a safe limit if you don't crop.

Power will be the biggest issue. Turning off the LCD will consierve some but I find is unsatisfactory for several reasons. I suggest you get several sets of NiMH batteries and at least one fast charger that can run on AC or 12VDC power. I use two of the Rayovac 1 hour chargers but don't know if it's available outside the US. It will run from a wall transformer or inexpensive cigarette lighter adapter. Alkalines will be a poor choice unless you take a mountain of them with you. Alkalines will go dead in a fraction of the time of NiMH batteries.

Keep things simple or the logistics will overwhelm you. Listen to Billdrew when he says to learn your camera well before the trip.
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Old Jul 11, 2002, 4:05 PM   #6
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Default mini dvs

You guys have been so helpful! my grateful thanks to one and all. Mostly with small size as the main consideration, I have decided to get a 2-3 megapixel still camera, possibly the Fuji F601 and a mini dv, possibly a Sony DCRPC101. I've played with it in a shop, but I can't seem to find any reviews of the latter anywhere, and believe me, I've looked!
Bill, I'm taking it/them on a two week holiday somewhere I have been many times, so I can learn how to use them before going off trekking in Ecuador this autumn! Do I get a star for being sensible now? AC
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