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-   -   What is most important - lens, opt zoom, or megapixels? (

Deuxchat Dec 26, 2005 7:22 PM

I upgraded from a Canonfilm SLRa few years ago to a Nikon 800 (3.2 MP) which was dropped and no longercan do manual photos, but is still going strong on the auto settings and takes great photos. I want to replace this camera with one which will take sharper photos for enlargements, has better white balance, larger zoom range for portraits, and one which I can take videos as well. Since my Nikon uses AA batteries, I'm wondering if I should choose a camera which has better batteries?? My use of the Nikon was primarily for taking photos of familyandfriends (mostly close-ups), travel scenery, closeups of the garden flowers, etc., and for inclusion in the genealogy books I write. Therefore, I will be using the camera in all types of lighting and for many require at least 8 x 10 prints as sharp as possible with as little noise as possible.

Iliked what I read about the Canon A620 with the moveable LCD enabling more shooting capability, good lens, videos and presettings for various shots and the 7MP and 4x Opt zoom. When I mentioned this to a friend, shetold me I'd be better off with a 5MP camera which has at least 10x 0pt zoom or more for a greater range and better shots, adding thatMP didn't matter as much as the zoom. Yet another friend has advised a camera withbetter low light capability (as she knows I do lots of indoor shots which are too dark) would be better for mebecause the sensor is more important than the lens, or zoom.

I'm getting confused. Some say the MP isn't the most important factor in good photos in various lighting for sharper and larger photos....some say the lens is most important, some say its the sensor, and some say its the optical zoom. I always thought the lens the most important element in a film camera - but in a digital camera does it still apply? Is it possible that all are correct, or none correct? Any help would be appreciated


lucky2505 Dec 26, 2005 8:41 PM

All I will say is that as I was reading your post and before I had seen the second paragraph the Canon A610/620 popped into mind.

rinniethehun Dec 26, 2005 8:52 PM


Sounds like you might be a candidate for a DSLR...'all types of lighting, 8x10 prints as sharp as possible with as little noise as possible'...all adds up to DSLR. I don't know how discriminating you are when you say things like "as possible". You also didn't say how much you were willing to spend on a camera.

I believe the Nikon Coolpix was only a 1.9 MP camera, which means a 5 MP would be quite an improvement. Your friends made some good points. Picture quality in digicams is the result of a combination of the lens, the sensor, and the processor. The worlds best lens won't make great pics if it's coupled with an inferior sensor and processor. Pay attention to the size of the sensor in the cameras you consider buying - the more MP's crammed into the same size (small) sensor, the more noise is produced.

Moveable, twistable LCD's, video capabilities, docking devices, and battery types are features to consider, but don't let them sway you from your quest for quality pictures and important features for your intended uses, such as ISO capability, and zoom range.

Taking a cue from each of your friends, may I suggest you consider the Fuji S5200? It is 5 MP, 10x zoom, and ISO 1600 capable. It's not a DSLR, but I've seen some pretty good shots posted, and seems to have a lot of versatility for the money. Take a look in the Fuji forum here, and look at some of the posted pics. If you crave more MP's, the S9000 offers 9 MP, 10X zoom, and ISO 1600.

Good luck.

the Hun

E.T Dec 27, 2005 5:43 AM

For most types of photography long teles are rarely needed. Good wide angle is much more usefull in general photography so unless you'll photograph birds/wild animals don't put much weight to that end of zoom range, especially when those long tele ultrazooms have genarally lousy wide angle.
For landscapes and indoors 28mm is much better than 38mm.

rinniethehun wrote:

If you crave more MP's, the S9000 offers 9 MP, 10X zoom, and ISO 1600.
And lot more noise, they crammed so much more megapixels to sensor that it actually isn't so much better than ordinary sensors and most of results are achieved with heavy processing. ISO1600 is based purely to heavy watercolor filtering and useful for only smaller resolution photos, ISO800 is much better but still shows watercolor filtering when looked closer.
(without Fuji's heavy processing even ISO400 shows quite much noise)

Deuxchat Dec 27, 2005 11:19 AM

My Nikon Coolpix 800 does have 3.2 MP and can produce some good 8x10 photos. What it doesn't have is a movie mode - it was made when there were few Digicams with that feature. What I was thinking is that I wouldn't have tolug two cameras with me on travelsandcould take bothstills and short videos with the same camera. Otherwise, I'd choose a dSLR.I'm trying to have everything:!::-)

By saying "as possible" for photo quality, I can see that doesn't communicate my needs very well. The bottom line is to spend up to $500on the camera and then whatever $ topurchase a 1G card, etc.

So far, the replies have enlightened me on the importance of the sensor. I didn't know that some cameras with the high MP still had the smaller sensors. So I can see that I'd be better off with a higher wide angle or zoom rangewith adequate sensor than with just going by MPs. (could this be the result ofthe public being inundated with MP importance by advertising, etc.? and they wouldn't realize the importance of the other factors?) Would I go to the camera manufacture websiteto findthe exact sensor size on their specs?

mtngal Dec 27, 2005 1:11 PM

I find that it's easier to read the reviews both here and at dpreview (I read both - they cover different things and both seem to be excellent sources of information). They will tell you the size of the sensors more easily than trying to wade through the manufacturer's sites (just my opinion).

The wide vs. tele argument really depends on the individual. About the only time I use the widest angle on my camera is when I'm taking macro photos. However, I rarely take pictures indoors - I do mostly landscape, flowers and travel pictures. If I want something wider landscape-wise I'll take a couple of frames and do a stitched panorama, so I have a larger file (and more detail) than I'd get with a wide-angle lens (I'd feel differently if I were taking architectural buildings all the time). And when I was using a Sony F717, I often wanted more tele range than it was capable, so for me getting an ultrazoom made more sense than going for the wide angle. So make sure you'd be happy with what you would be giving up to get the extra wide-angle. It's definitely what YOU, not someone else, uses.

E.T Dec 28, 2005 4:18 AM

Deuxchat wrote:

What I was thinking is that I wouldn't have to lug two cameras with me on travels and could take both stills and short videos with the same camera. Otherwise, I'd choose a dSLR.
In general/travel camera video clip feature is good to have.
And in some cases it can really save the day because you can't capture everything to still frames.
(for me that happened when I was directly under last summer's best thunderstorm)


I didn't know that some cameras with the high MP still had the smaller sensors.
All non-SLRs have small sensors compared to even smallest dSLR sensors.
It's just that some others have smaller than others... Those long tele ultrazooms have smallest size sensors because otherwise such long tele lenses wouldn't be compact and now with 5MP or more those start to have slight noise even in lowest ISOs. When compared to some average tele, real wide angle (and 8MP) cameras those ultrazooms can have 50% more pixels crammed into same space.

For sensor size Dpreview is best source because of their quite thorough specs.

mtngal, try stitching panoramas from clouds.
For good results stitching software has to correct distortions of lens and that requires having enough control points.
Neither is stitching easy if there's moving objects in photos.

As example of different field of views this was taken at 28mm with 0.8x converter (~22.5mm)
For 38mm FOV take away 1/3rd from height and width. (much over half of the area of image)
28mm FOV is little over 1/6th narrower.

Deuxchat Dec 28, 2005 7:17 PM

I've learned a lot from this forum, reading dpreview, and from your replies. I can see how complex the answer to my naive questionis.It seems that for pure image quality I'd have to go dSLR and go tothe non-dSLR to have thestill and movie mode in one camera with the loss in quality due to the smaller sensor, etc.

I am looking at theCanon SD2 IS, Canon PowerShot A620, and Panasonic FZ30 (kind of favoring this one) but may just wait to see what the 2006 models look like.

Thanks again!

mtngal Dec 30, 2005 9:38 PM

Several weeks ago I bought a Panasonic FZ30. I wanted a camera with the mechanical zoom, so I was comparing the Fuji 9500 and the Panasonic.Here are 2 pictures I look the day before yesterday on a very cloudy grey day at the beach. The reason the first one is at such a strange angle is that I'm standing high above the beach on a pier and zooming in on the gulls standing on wet sand below.

This is more of the expected angle when looking at pictures of sea gulls.

So far I've been quite pleased.

peripatetic Dec 31, 2005 1:36 AM

If size isn't too much of an issue you should also have a look at the new Sony R1.

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