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Old Feb 28, 2009, 1:37 PM   #11
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Here are some additional thoughts on the difference between a P&S and a dSLR for car photography.

As indicated in the prior posting price and physical size. - The P&S are usually smaller and cheaper, while the dSLR is more expensive while being larger and heavier. Then there are the additional lenses, if you go that route (which would add to the overall cost) along with lugging them around with a camera bag so that they are available when needed.

The dSLR has a wider variety of lenses, and thus you can control the depth of field (dof) of the image, i.e., have one area in focus with everything else (foreground and background out of focus), which is referred to as broch. With a dSLR you are able to mount a wide variety of lenses. Very wide angle lenses (10 to 20mm) have a very deep field of view (law of physics - just the natue of optical light), i.e., everything is in focus (foreground and background). In the focal length of say 18 to 50mm, you start to gain some depth of field control, where by you can control what is in focus and what is out of focus, i.e., depth of field starts to become less deep and goes thinner. Going from 50 to say 300mm, the depth of field can become paper thin, where just about the only thing in focus is what your focusing on, and the rest is out of focus. Comparing this to a P&S lens, which by way of their design and construction (which are reasonably wide by 35mm standards) essentially keeps everything in focus most all the time, has a very deep depth of field, and thus is somewhat impossible to have any broch in the image.

Noise - Noise in the image is somewhat of a trademark of P&S due to their very small sensor size. The pixels are very close together, and thus electronic noise leaks from one pixel to the adjacent or surrounding pixels. dSLRs have larger sensors, and thus exhibit less noise. The Panasonic LX3 is somewhat an exception to this practice. Panasonic has employed a much larger sensor, and keep the physical size of the pixels large (thus keeping the total amount of the pixels down - to 10MP) so as to reduce the noise potential. They have also provided the ability to use ISO 80 speed, again keeping the potential of noise down. They have also provided manual controls, in terms of aperature and shutter speed. These are all the same capabilities and features offered by any of the dSLRs. That is why the LX3 is referred to as the closest thing to a dSLR without having a dSLR.

Filters - Polarizing filters are available for a number of P&S depending on their design and ability to accomodate the filter - usually the higher priced models. All dSLR lenses have filter threads (other than say fish eye lenses). However, you have to understand that anything you put in front of the lens will reduce the amount of light getting to the sensor, and thus will negate to some degree the fast or low f stop lens. What this means - to use a filter effectively, your going to need more light, so they are usually not used in low light situations. The LX3 has the ability to use filters by mounting a tube that surrounds the lens.

Just because I have one, the LX3 can be had in the $375 to $400(us) range (the silver model is a bit cheaper and more available than the black model). Just as a point of comparison, Pentax has a new entry level model, the K2000 or KM depending on where you live, that with the kit lens (18-55mm) can be had for around $500(us). It too is a 10MP unit, larger and heavier than the LX3, but you can use a wide variety of lenses, and it has all of the entry level controls for a dSLR. You can also go the route of dSLR models that have been superceeded by newer ones - thus they are cheaper (e.g., the Pentax K100). You can also do this with P&S, say look at the Panasonic LX2 (the prior model).

Hope that helps...
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