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Old Jul 6, 2010, 7:02 AM   #1
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Default Special camera for special trips

Hello everyone,

I've been saving up for a few very special trips every six months within the next year and a half and I want to buy a camera that will handle the different conditions I'll be in. My first trip will be this winter to the Swedish lapland to see the Northern Lights, so I know I need an excellent low light camera. Next summer I'll be going to Kenya for a safari, so I know I'll need a looong zoom. And on the winter of 2011, if all goes well, I'll visit Egypt and I guess there are no special requirements here. HD video is also a must. Size is important since my girl wants the smallest cam possible, but its not critical since I know i can talk her into an slr if that's the best option for our trips. A swivel screen is a big big plus for us, but not a must.
As far as budget, my max would probably be around 650 euro.( will spend too much on the trips themselves!). The cams I'm interested in are either the panasonic fz38 (or 48 when it comes out) or the nikon d5000. Has anyone taken pics of the Northern lights with the fz35? Is dslr quality really that notizable on a screen since i don't usually print my pics? How much would it cost to have a similar zoom range on a dslr? If i buy one, i only plan to get a long telezoom lense plus the kit lens, i don't plan to be upgrading and buying a billion lenses, just those two and that's it. Are there any other cams you would recommend? Any scoops on what's coming up, should I wait for a new model?
Sorry for al the questions guys but I've looked around so much and I think the only way to decide is to get specific input from experts and other people who actually own the cams im interested in. Thank you very very much.
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Old Jul 6, 2010, 7:41 AM   #2
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For photographing the Norther Lights, see http://www.alaskaphotographics.com/h...n_lights.shtml

For Safari, a long lens is handy, but I don't think it's likely that you'll see anything worth shooting that's very far away, so a lens that goes out as far as 300mm is probably ok.

Shooting HD video with a dSLR is tough. AF doesn't work (or at least, it doesn't work very well) and autoexposure isn't reliable, so you really need ot be on your toes. You might be better off with a regular camcorder, or a cheap P&S just for that.

I think a Pentax K-x would be a good choice. It's small and light (for a dSLR), and it performs well at higher ISO settings that you'll need for shooting the Aurora. It records HD video. In addition to the kit lens, you'll need a large aperture wide angle lens, which will probably bust your budget, but perhaps you get get the long lens later, and have time to save up for that.
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Old Jul 6, 2010, 8:28 AM   #3
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get a dslr with a 70-300mm, there will be some evening shots that you will want to take, and the fz38 is a great camera, but will not be able to take photos with so little light in the bush of Kenya at night.

Tcav's suggestion of the pentax k-x kit would work nicely, I would go with the 2 lens kit, 18-55 and 55-300. It will give you good reach for the safari, and good low light performance.
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Old Jul 6, 2010, 9:06 AM   #4
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Have you considered a Fujifilm HS-10. 720mm (30x) is a lot of range. Add an Olympus TCON-17 and you have 1224mm! Now, to be sure, there are those that simply have no knowledge of its capabilities and will poo-poo it as incapable. I own it and know it. Low light, shmoe light. Be honest, how much shooting are you going to do in "low light" (a VERY relative term - what is low light to one may not be to another)? Chances are when the sun goes down, you'll be checking over your shots of the day with a cool one at the local watering hole.

Just my 2 cents.
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Old Jul 6, 2010, 9:17 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gjtoth View Post
Have you considered a Fujifilm HS-10. 720mm (30x) is a lot of range. Add an Olympus TCON-17 and you have 1224mm! Now, to be sure, there are those that simply have no knowledge of its capabilities and will poo-poo it as incapable. I own it and know it. Low light, shmoe light. Be honest, how much shooting are you going to do in "low light" (a VERY relative term - what is low light to one may not be to another)? Chances are when the sun goes down, you'll be checking over your shots of the day with a cool one at the local watering hole.
... except for the "Northern Lights" part.
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Old Jul 6, 2010, 10:17 AM   #6
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... except for the "Northern Lights" part.
Then, unless there's some special law, rule, or taboo, one can use Night scene, Sunset scene, Fireworks scene, Candlelight scene... Camera engineers spend a lot of time and effort into making cameras as easy, fun, and enjoyable to use without jumping through a lot hoops and most of the time the results are better than one would expect. I, for one, find nothing wrong with using the camera to it's fullest potential with as little hassle as possible. I like the fact that I don't have to change lenses for varying focal lengths (especially in the environs of the pyramids of Egypt) and wish I had a pack mule for my "stuff". Yup, I *do* have a DSLR. And, when I'm headed out the door, you can bet I take the bridge camera. And, yes, I *have* thought VERY seriously about selling the DSLR... even had it up for sale on one occasion. No takers.
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Old Jul 6, 2010, 10:51 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gjtoth View Post
Then, unless there's some special law, rule, or taboo, one can use Night scene, Sunset scene, Fireworks scene, Candlelight scene... Camera engineers spend a lot of time and effort into making cameras as easy, fun, and enjoyable to use without jumping through a lot hoops and most of the time the results are better than one would expect. I, for one, find nothing wrong with using the camera to it's fullest potential with as little hassle as possible. I like the fact that I don't have to change lenses for varying focal lengths (especially in the environs of the pyramids of Egypt) and wish I had a pack mule for my "stuff". Yup, I *do* have a DSLR. And, when I'm headed out the door, you can bet I take the bridge camera. And, yes, I *have* thought VERY seriously about selling the DSLR... even had it up for sale on one occasion. No takers.
....
Quote:
Originally Posted by TCav View Post
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Old Jul 6, 2010, 11:13 AM   #8
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Quote:
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....
Well, then, I suppose the OP has no choice than to plunk down his Euros without even considering any other options. After all, I'm sure the guy that wrote this advice checked out all the other options. And, being the professional he is, with unlimited budget, happily blew threw it for a one time trip. Unlike the OP that will probably use the camera afterwards for some time to come. All I'm saying is, the HS-10 is much more versatile, will give better durability, cost less in the long run, and be more convenient. I'm quite sure it will perform to his expectations for Northern Lights (which is only PART of his trip). And, I *know* it will perform in Africa - especially with the reach. If the OP is a professional photographer with unlimited budget, then the equipment touted in this article is valid and will serve him well. But, that's not the impression I get when I read his post. The impression I get is that he's looking for versatile, economical options.
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Old Jul 6, 2010, 2:13 PM   #9
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Hi Omagic28,

For shooting a lot of long-zoom stills and a good number of videos, and being able to hike comfortably in Kenya and Egypt, suggest getting a monopod. A monopod with a head that can tilt the camera vertically can do wonders for shooting shake free video.

I have a Manfrotto 3245 monopod that has a trigger grip with a Manfrotto 3232 tilt head mounted on it. The trigger grip allows instantly dropping the monopod's leg or collapsing for quick moving around. This setup is a little heavy so looking for a lighter setup that is cheaper for travel would be better.

One tip when using a monopod with a tilting head for taking video. Find the balance point and tilt the camera up/down to frame the scene. Then just use your hands to gently keep the whole assembly in balance while you shoot the scene. This method really results in shake/tremor free video, especially when shooting longer clips. --- Without a tilting head, you will have to tilt the monopod to frame the scene and then your ability to keep the entire assembly tilted during long clips will determine how shake/tremor free your video will be.

Have a great time on your trips!
Sky

Last edited by skylark; Jul 6, 2010 at 2:28 PM.
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Old Jul 6, 2010, 2:20 PM   #10
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Actually I have been on Safari serval time, and believe or not there are things you can shoot at night as the nocturnal animals come out. Being able to shoot at 1600 and 3200 with good image quality without as flash is a big plus. Daytime, a big megazoom works nicely. But at night Kenya bush country you are shooting by moonlight only. Just from first hand experience.
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