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Old Feb 26, 2009, 10:29 PM   #1
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I am selecting my first digital camera. I will use it for general use, but specifically for taking photos of cars, at auto shows, club displays and street photos. What features should I look for with regard to lenses, manual control, flash etc? I realise their is no "perfect" unit, but is their any potential issues I should be aware of. I would prefer not to go the SLR path, if a digicam is suitable. Will be used outdoors, during the day, and indoors. Are their any articles on car photography out their? Thanks for your help.
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Old Feb 26, 2009, 11:07 PM   #2
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I'll tell you one thing I learned the hard way... if you're going to take photos of cars at auto shows, you need a wide-angle lens. That's because with all of the people around, most of the time you can't back up far enough to get the whole car in. Also, if you're shooting indoors you'll either need a good flash or a very fast lens - even if the lighting appears to be fairly good to the naked eye.

Is there a particular reason you want to avoid a DSLR? I ask so we'll have a better idea of what your needs are. Also, do you have a price limit? Do you care if the camera has a viewfinder or not? And even though this may be your first digital camera, do you have much experience with film cameras? In other words, if a camera had manual controls, would you be comfortable using them - or, if your honest with yourself, would you prefer to simply leave it on auto?
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Old Feb 26, 2009, 11:33 PM   #3
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I use a Pentax DSLR (K10D) with a Pentax 16-45 zoom ti take car pictures, mostly hot rod, vintage cars, trucks and motorcycles. I photograph mostly at outside shows using the sun as my only light.

I'm very impressed with the capability of this unit.
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Old Feb 27, 2009, 7:53 AM   #4
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The tough part is shooting indoors. Yes, you'll need a wide angle, usually something wider than the typical P&S digicam can give. Yes, you'll need a fast lens, usually something faster than the typical P&S digicam can give, or you'll need a flash. Since, car shows are usually held in places that have high ceilings, bounce flash won't work, and direct flash will give odd reflections off the highly polished car body.

You may be able to find a P&S Digicam, instead of a dSLR, but it should have a fast (f/2.8 or larger (numerically smaller), wider (shorter than the 35mm equivalent of 35mm, and the shorter the better) lens. That narrows your selection significantly.
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Old Feb 27, 2009, 12:58 PM   #5
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One camera that would meet guidelines set by TCav and myself would be the Panasonix LX3. But that's a $400 camera, in case your budget is tight. If you can afford that, it might be the best option out there short of a DSLR. Its 1:1.6 sensor is larger than that of most digicams. It has a very fast f/2.0-2.8 lens and a zoom range of 24-60mm. But you won't be shooting telephoto. If you're willing to consider a DSLR, the Sony A200 is available for $499 or less.
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Old Feb 27, 2009, 7:51 PM   #6
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Thanks foryour advice. No, I don't have much previousphotography experience, just a compact P & S film camera. Yes, am on a restricted budget, so trying to avoid buying the wrong item. Yes, would like a camera that has some degree of manual control, so I can learn more about photography.

Not against DSLR's, just trying to keep the "stuff" to a minimum starting off, and save money. Like the idea of a single camera/lens unit, like LX 3, which is high on my list, for the reasons Tcav and Biro mentioned, but am considering an entry level DSLR.

Where to start? Cheaper compact, then consider a DSLR; an advanced compact now and learn; or a "starter" DSLR straight away?

I live down in Australia, and the market is changing weekly. Some cameras seem to drop in price quickly if they have bad reviews or sales are slow. With new models being anounced on international websites, do I wait for a better mousetrap, or go with my preference for the LX 3. I understand that a DSLR system will give me more options long term, but not sure which model/brand/price will suit, (not having owned a SLR before).

Do you think a DSLR with kit lens is better option than advanced compact for a first timer?

Any further ideas or suggestions greatly appreciated.




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Old Feb 27, 2009, 8:51 PM   #7
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ozcol wrote:
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Do you think a DSLR with kit lens is better option than advanced compact for a first timer?
Yes.

And No.

What I said you needed in a P&S digicam, you'd still need in a dSLR. That is, a wide angle lens, preferably a zoom, and a large aperture. A good match might be the Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8, which costs over $400. And we haven't even talked about a camera body yet. Are we still in 'first timer' territory?
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Old Feb 28, 2009, 12:28 AM   #8
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During the later part of last year I was looking for a wide angle P&S with a reasonably fast lens. I wound up with the Panasonic LX3, with I have found to be an excellent selection. I also have a Pentax K100 with a number of lenses in the wide angle range.

The problem is, especially on a limited budget, is the wide angle lenses, that are reasonably fast (f2.8). The Panasonic LX3 is at the top end of the P&S and is a fine camera. Yes, a dSLR will beat it in a number of ways, however the low ambient light images I have taken have surpassed my expectations (the image quality is wonderful and so far I have been extremely pleased). I am VERY happy with the camera (and I don't even know if the flash works, since I have never tried it out - yet).

http://forums.steves-digicams.com/fo...mp;forum_id=23
http://forums.steves-digicams.com/fo...mp;forum_id=23

There is also the Canon G10, but it is not quite as wide, and the lens is not as fast, but it would probably be an option too, in the same price category as the LX3.

On the dSLR option, you really need to start out looking at lenses. Just about anything in the f2.8 lens speed (or faster) will run the same price as the LX3 or G10, or run even higher. So a lens and body combination would be probably double the LX3 or G10 at a minimum (and probably triple). The advantage of the dDSLR route would be able to use a wider and faster lens (which are more $$$$), which would increase the image quality.

I would go to a store and try the G10 (since they are easier to find) to see and try out as many of the units as possible. The LX3 is currently in short supply and probably would need to bought sight unseen via mail order. Personally, I picked up the LX3 based on specs and have not been disappointed at all, and actually have had all of my expectations exceeded by a wide margin.

I think that you could easily use a P&S and be very happy. It would certainly speed up the learning curve, and you would probably have better images right out of the box. You would have a learning curve with a dSLR, and it would take a bit of practice and use to start to exceed the output of a good P&S.
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Old Feb 28, 2009, 12:56 AM   #9
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As a Professional Digital Camera Instructor, IMO the transition to the panasonic LX-3 will be less expensive and a much easier learning curve for you. Go for the LX-3!

Sarah Joyce
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Old Feb 28, 2009, 11:56 AM   #10
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Here are some tips on car photography:

http://photography.suite101.com/arti...ing_a_car_show


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