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Old Mar 26, 2009, 11:46 PM   #1
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Ok so if you saw my earlier post I was going back and forth on a Point and shoot vs a DSLR. I now have three cameras that I think I would be happy with. I just don't know which one will be good for me. I am going to be taking a high school class that requires a point and shoot camera. The class is a entry level class and is mainly going to be teaching photoshop. I want to expand my photography and learn more aside from this class. My fear is I will buy the Nikon D40 and I will never use it. The Panasonic and canon is a little cheaper then the Nikon D40. Basically which one would you suggest for me. Thank you so much!
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Old Mar 27, 2009, 4:42 AM   #2
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Hi, it's a difficult one not knowing if you are going to take things further or not. If you are going to get into photography then a dSLR is going to be the best route to go as you can get much more control and be creative in your shooting. If you want a good all round camera that will take a lot of good photos in a quite compact package then either of the Panasonic or Canon will do a good job. Choosing between the two is a hard decision, I personally think the FZ28 is a better bet but only slightly (and that's coming from a Canon user who has the higher spec SX1 and 3 Canon dSLRs).
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Old Mar 27, 2009, 10:15 AM   #3
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Well thats the thing, I don't know if I am going to be taking this further. Thats why I am going back and forth on the Nikon D40. I don't want to waste my money on the Nikon D40 if I am not going to get into photography.
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Old Mar 27, 2009, 10:28 AM   #4
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It really is a tough one for sure. As has already been suggested can you borrow something until you know if you have caught the bug or not. The other thing to do is look at getting a 2nd hand (rare for me to say that) point and shoot like the Canon S3 or an older Panasonic super zoom as you won't lose much money if you were to sell it again in 6 months. The problem with 2nd hand route is not knowing the condition of the camera that you are getting.
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Old Mar 27, 2009, 10:33 AM   #5
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bsktbll5187 wrote:
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Well thats the thing, I don't know if I am going to be taking this further. Thats why I am going back and forth on the Nikon D40. I don't want to waste my money on the Nikon D40 if I am not going to get into photography.
Look at it another way. The Nikon D40 isn't that much expensive than the other two ($409 plus free shipping at Amazon.com). The more important question is whether you want, or need, a very long zoom camera or a camera that has a standard zoom but takes superior pictures. Keep in mind that you can eventually add a long zoom lens to the D40 if you feel you need it.
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Old Mar 27, 2009, 11:31 AM   #6
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AndyfromVA wrote:
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Look at it another way.* The Nikon D40 isn't that much expensive than the other two ($409 plus free shipping)
Well that is true but I always know of to get a better deal on those kind of cameras. However I think I am going to get he Panasonic because of the zoom and HD videos. Do you know if it can take the same quality photos of the Nikon D40? Thanks
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Old Mar 27, 2009, 11:54 AM   #7
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The answer to that question is not simple...

A non-dSLR camera model like the Panasonic you're looking at uses a very tiny sensor in comparison to the sensor used in the D40.

As a result, you get a much narrower angle of view (more apparent magnification) for any given focal length lens. That's the reason they can give you such a large zoom range from wide to long in a very tiny package (because the tiny sensors used in this type of camera allow the use of a much shorter focal length lens for any given "35mm equivalent" focal length.

One downside of that is that you'll have a lot more DOF (Depth of Field) with a non-DSLR digital camera. That can make it very difficult to make larger subjects stand out from distracting backgrounds like you can with a model using a larger sensor (as in a dSLR model). With a dSLR, you can use wider apertures for much better control over depth of field (so that you have more or less of the image in focus as you get further from your focus point). With a non-DSLR camera model using a much smaller sensor, you'll find that too much of the image is going to be in focus for that approach if you are shooting larger subjects (i.e., your people photos).

Your ability to blur the background for any given aperture depends on your subject size, the percentage of the frame you need it to occupy (which you can use focal length or the distance to your subject to change), and the distance to the background that you want your subject to stand out from. Of course, using the largest available aperture (represented by the smallest f/stop number) helps - but this is usually not enough to achieve the desired results for larger subjects with most non-DSLR models.

Load this Depth of Field Calculator and select a camera model. Then, plug in the *actual* (not 35mm equivalent) focal length of the lens, focus distance and aperture to calculate Depth of Field.

http://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.html

Of course, keep in mind that when you use more optical zoom, you'll need to be further away from your subject for it to occupy the same percentage of the frame (hence, cancelling out thebenefits of longer focal lengths in some shooting conditions where you'd want less Depth of Field, especially since the largest available aperture requires the wide angle lens position with most compact digital cameras).

Note that perspective changes (for example, you'll get a more compressed background when shooting further away), can give the illusion of a shallower depth of field, since blur in out of focus areas will be more obvious (even if the real depth of field isn't changing, since you need to take the photo from further away if you use more zoom for the same framing).

So, for many scenarios, unless you can budget for a DSLR model (which have much larger sensors compred to non-DSLR digital cameras), your best bet is to try and use software to simulate a shallow depth of field. You may want to check in theEditors forum to get some ideas.

Shooting small, subjects from close distances is one thing. Trying to blur the background with larger subjects is something else entirely (since you need to be further to get them fitted in the frame, increasing depth of field).

That's one of the appeals of a DSLR (the ability to control Depth of Field for helping your subjects stand out from distracting backgrounds). The sensors are just too small for that in non-DSLR models (unless you're shooting smaller subjects).

A non-DSLR model with much greater depth of field can be a good thing, too.

You may want more depth of field versus less, and with a DSLR model, you'd need to stop down the aperture (smaller aperture represented by higher f/stop numbers) to get it (often requiring much higher ISO speeds or slower shutter speeds to achieve what you can get with a non-DSLR model shooting at wide open apertures.

There are pros and cons to both types of systems.

For someone wanting to get into photography, I'd probably go down the dSLR route instead. But, you also need to take convenience into consideration, as lenses for any given angle of view and brightness are going to be much larger and heavier with a dSLR. That's one reason many of our members have both camera types... a dSLR model that can be used in more demanding conditions, or when more creativity is needed to help subjects stand out from distracting backgrounds; and a smaller model that's convenient to take with them when they don't feel like lugging around a larger dSLR solution.

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Old Mar 27, 2009, 12:02 PM   #8
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Looks like you are going to be writing a book soon Jim LOL. We could possibly create the first Steve's Book or Digital Photography from Aperture to Zeiss and Everything in Between. I want a cut for my idea.
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Old Mar 27, 2009, 12:15 PM   #9
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lol thank you JimC. But I got another question do you know if the Panasonic can do DOF?
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Old Mar 27, 2009, 12:17 PM   #10
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I actually double posted one section of that twice (copy and pasted from an older post on this subject). So, it looked longer than it should have.

It's still a bit "wordy" though. lol

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