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Old Dec 17, 2007, 7:19 AM   #1
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i have a particular situation that i hope you can give me advice on. i am currently using a S3 with the 1.5 teleconverter and taking photos of herons in korea. despite the camera's limitations, i have a collection that a publisher is interested in using for calendars 2009 and also a photo book with suitable quotes from korean lit. i am not a professional but sent a link to my online photo album and he liked the photos. as i know the photos are lacking in quality, i had intended to upgrade to a dslr (nikon d80 say) and a decent lends (28-200 or 55-300 say). however, i recently learned that the lens on the powershot is providing 600+mm (and it possible to use a 2.2 teleconverter which would be 900+). as i understand it, for this particular situation, the advantage of a dslr would be better photo quality when cropping the heron shots (which is necessary in most cases as they are far away) but would working with the smaller tele lens on the dslr (am not ready to pay for a larger lens like bigma and don't like the size and weight) cancel out that advantage. also it seems that the S3 takes decent photos but suffers from noise at higher iso. i rarely use higher than 80, however, so, does it make sense to purchase a new dslr for this particular project and if so, just what is the advantage. it seems that the loss in lens tele power negates the increase in photo quality i would gain. also, have read that the newer S5 is not that much better although here also the complaints seem to focus on the higher iso shots. any suggestions. thanks.
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Old Dec 17, 2007, 8:33 AM   #2
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The Canon S3IS has a 6-72mm zomm lens, but it also has an image sensor that is much smaller that the 36x24mm exposure on 35mm film, so the lens has an angle of view equivalent to that of a 36-432mm lens on a 35mm film camera. When you add the 1.5x teleconverter, the S3IS has an angle of view equivalent to a 648mm lens.

Most dSLRs have image sensors that are smaller than 35mm film exposures, but not nearly as small as the one in the S3IS. For instance, most Canon dSLRs have image sensors that are 22.2x14.8mm. That means that a lens on a filmSLR will have an angle of view equivalent to a lens 1.6x as long when it is mounted onmost CanondSLRs. So in order to get the same angle of view on a dSLR that you are accustomed to with your S3IS + 1.5x teleconverter, you would need a lens with a focal length of 405mm.

There are a number of good quality lenses for a Canon dSLR that will go out to 400mm, with or without the help of a good quality 1.4x teleconverter.

The big question is, how attached are you to the IS in the S3IS. That is, the S3IS has built in image stabilization, but Canon dSLRs do not have IS, and lenses that include IS are bigger, heavier, and more expensive. If, of course, you shoot with a tripod, or have some other method of steadying the camera as you soot, then IS is not necessary.

If, however, IS is important to you, then you can go with either Canon or Nikon, and their lenses that contain IS, or go with any of Olympus, Pentax, or Sony dSLRs that contain IS in the camera body.

So, how important is image stabilization to you?
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Old Dec 17, 2007, 10:08 AM   #3
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TCav has it correct.

An equivalent DSLR setup would be:

Canon XTi or Canon 40D + 100-400L IS. (160-640mm equivalent)

Much faster AF, much higher frame rate, better image quality - marginal at under perfect light, but especially significant at high-ISO.
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Old Dec 17, 2007, 11:24 AM   #4
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There are lots of ways to address your issues. Appropriate lenses are avaliable for dSLRs to obtain the same angle of view your S3IS is getting now.

But for the best possible image quality, you should get a lens that permits you to fill the frame with your subject as much as possible. For instance, if you were using your S3IS at it's full zoom (432mm) with the 1.5x teleconverter (648mm), and you still cropped 25% of the 2816x2112 image, you might want an even longer lens on a dSLR so that you can capture the shot you want without cropping.

So, about how much cropping do you typically do?
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Old Dec 17, 2007, 12:09 PM   #5
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I have a little experience with bird photography with a H5 and 1.7TC. Without the TC, maximum aperture is F3.5 which is the same as your S3, and I can get sharp full frame pictures with less than perfect light on small birds in the garden. With the TC, less light is getting through, and I need sunlight on the subject to get fast enough shutter speeds plus ISO200 or 400 to get a reasonable number of keepers (and using a timer plus burst for hand held shots). If I had your requirement for commercial work, I reckon I would need an expensive lens for my Nikon DSLR to give me the reach plus the low light capability to give fast enough shutter speeds. 400mm reach might not be enough, and I would need minimum F4 aperture plus IS unless I coulduse a tripod. The obvious answer is to get closer - a hide would be a lot cheaper so you don't need the same reach! Is this an option for you in yoiur situation?

If you don't want to pay out for the optimum solution of a DSLR + suitable lens, I've seen some very good bird pictures with a bird spotting scope plus digicam attached to the eyepiece- by Jay Tubervill I think on the DPREVIEW.com forum. Still extra cost but tremendous reach and the images were impressive. There are also some examples on this forum in the wildlife category.
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