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Old Jul 13, 2004, 12:50 PM   #1
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I thought this would br simple but...I am looking for a digicam with at least 5 megapixels, at LEAST a 2" LCD, auto focus assist lamp or equivalent, at least 5X zoom, and fast shutter speed to take photos of animals who do not care to "pose!" I understand that I should buy a Digital SLR but I am a Nikon fan and yet do not care for the bulk of the D70.Having said that, is there a digicam that would fulfill the above? I love the Sony W1 but it does not have the zoom I need.
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Old Jul 13, 2004, 1:29 PM   #2
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Chauncey wrote:
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I thought this would br simple but...I am looking for a digicam with at least 5 megapixels, at LEAST a 2" LCD, auto focus assist lamp or equivalent, at least 5X zoom, and fast shutter speed to take photos of animals who do not care to "pose!" I understand that I should buy a Digital SLR but I am a Nikon fan and yet do not care for the bulk of the D70.Having said that, is there a digicam that would fulfill the above? I love the Sony W1 but it does not have the zoom I need.
Well, lets take a look at some of the things you're looking for:

"at least 5 Megapixels"

Suit yourself. However, keep in mind that there is very little difference between 4 and 5 Megapixels. Because resolution is composed of width x height, it takes 4 times as much resolution, to double the print size.

Most of the longer optical zoom models (>200mm equivalent) are using 4 Megapixel Sensors. They typically usea 4 Megapixel 1/2.5" (.4") CCD. Because of the small size of the sensor, manufacturers can build more compact models, with longer focal lengths. This is because the image circle is smaller for the smaller sensor. As a result, a much shorter "actual" focal length lens, can be used to get a very long "35mm equivalent" focal length.

Because most 5 Megapixel CCD Sensors are larger (1/1.8", 2/3"), it would require a much larger camera and lens to get the same 35mm equivalent focal range, compared to the smaller 4 Megapixel CCD.

Of course, Sony now makes a very tiny 5 Megapixel CCD (1/2.4"), as used in the T1 and T11. However, because the photosites for each pixel must be smaller, more amplification of the signal is needed, to get the same ISO Sensitivity. As a result, you'll have more noise (similiar to film grain) in your images (especially at higher ISO speeds).

In any event, nobody has tried this new sensor in a "Super Zoom" type camera yet. Even if they did, I sure would not buy one.

"a 2" LCDat LEAST"

Just because it's larger, doesn't make it better. There can be a huge difference in LCD useability (anti-reflective coatings, resolution, brightness, refresh rate, etc.). Also, some manufacturers are very good about "gaining up" the display in low light. Others do a terrible job. Even the implementation of the menu system can make a big difference. One manufacturer may use larger icons and fonts, and another very tiny ones.

Besides, you can use the viewfinders on most digicams (unlike some of the new "ultra-compact" models). This is something else you need to look at (useability of the viewfinders - especially in Super Zoom models. These models tend to use EVF (Electronic Viewfinders). There is a huge difference in useability between models - especially in low light (some gain up, some don't).

"auto focus assist lamp or equivalent"

A camera with an good low light focus, is a very good idea, especially if you're going to be taking lots of indoor photos. As for Autofocus Assist Lamps, I personally dislike them. Like redeye reduction flash modes, I've found that autofocus assist lamps tend to spoil facial expressions. So, I don't use either one (autofocus assist lamp, redeye reduction flash).

Personally, I prefer a camera with good low light focus ability, without the need forAF Assistlamps. Besides, Focus Assist Lamps have a very limited range.

To each their own.

"at least 5X zoom"

Make sure you are looking at focal lengths, not the 2x, 3x, 4x, 5x type numbers.

All that 5x means, is that the longest focal length available, is 5 times as long as the widest focal length available.

For example: onemodel lenswith a5x Zoom Lens could have a focal rangeof 28mm-140mm. Another model with a 5x Zoom could have a focal range of 100mm-500mm.

"fast shutter speed to take photos of animals who do not care to "pose!""

No offense, but I had to laugh at this one. I recently saw a post from a user with a new camera. He was getting motion blur in lower light. He could not understand it, because his camera was capable of 1/2000 second shutter speeds.

Well, guess what? You must keep the shutter open long enough for proper exposure, so the shutter speeds you can use, depend on the amount of light available. Of course, there are other factors that come into play also. For example: Lens Brightness, ISO Sensitivity, etc.

Just because a camera says it can take photos at 1/2000 second shutter speed, does not mean that there will be enough light to use it.

Just asimportant, are things like autofocus lag (time it takes the camera to focus, after you half press the shutter button), shutter lag (time after pre-focusing you must wait for the camera to take the photo), and cycle time (time you must wait after taking a photo, before you can take another one).

Anyway, I'd suggest looking through Steve's "The Best Cameras" list at the "10-12x Optical Super Zoom Models" if you really need a lot more optical zoom. You'll find 4MP and lower resolution cameras there (for the reasons I explained above regarding sensor sizes).

http://www.steves-digicams.com/best_cameras.html

I don't know of any one camera that will meet your perceived needs, but you may want to look at a model like the DiMAGE A1 in 5 Megapixel Models.It's EVF is not as good as some in the resolution department. However, it "gains up" well in lower light, even changing to a B/W mode in very low light. Many models are virtually unusable in these conditions. It's also quite fast for a non-DSLR model,and it hasa generous 28-200mm Equivalent Focal range.

It's anti-shake technology can also help you to get hand held shots, at shutter speeds much slower than other models without a tripod. This can be very useful in lower light (where you won't be able to get faster shutter speeds), or at longer focal lengths (where movement from camera shake is magnified).

BTW, although it does not have a focus assist lamp, it's low light focus ability is excellent (much better than average). It also has dedicated controls for many functions, reducing the need to dig through menus to make changes.

Steve's review of it is here:

http://www.steves-digicams.com/2003_reviews/a1.html
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Old Jul 13, 2004, 4:26 PM   #3
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Many thanks Jim C--much good advice. I should have stipulated 5X 'optical' zoom and it would have been more appropriate to say 'minimal shutter lag time.'
We take a lot of photos of moving animals so cannot afford to miss a shot because the camera is busy taking too long to focus.
I know that I will be looking thru the viewfinder almost all the time at first but my aging eyes could use that larger LCD to review shots.
I love my 35 mm Nikon and use it all the time with several very good lenses--wide angle 2.8 and a great 300 mm as well. But for some reason I couldn't get a good 'feel' for the Nikon D70--must just be 'me' because everyone seems to rave.
Ideally I'd like a camera about the size of the Canon G5, and I will look hard at the Dimage A1. I do some magazine work so thought 5 megapixels would be minimal for great reproductions at the 8x10 size but will heed your good advice.

Thank you, Chauncey
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Old Jul 13, 2004, 4:41 PM   #4
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Chauncey:

Well, I'm still waiting on that "ideal" camera myself. Unfortunately, none are perfect for all users, in all conditions, and you must often make difficult choices/compromises when selecting a camera.

For reviewing photos, some models are better than others, too. Most now have a way to magnify the image during playback. This makes it easier for those of us with "aging eyes" to see the image. My latest digicam is one of the "pocketable" models (the Konica KD-510z). It lets me zoom in (up to 12x) during playback, then move around an image to see fine details. This helps me to know if I "got the shot".

One way to help compare one model over another isto try them out in person. Many stores have demo models thatyou can "test drive".


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Old Jul 15, 2004, 2:33 AM   #5
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Chauncey wrote:
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Many thanks Jim C--much good advice. I should have stipulated 5X 'optical' zoom and it would have been more appropriate to say 'minimal shutter lag time.'
We take a lot of photos of moving animals so cannot afford to miss a shot because the camera is busy taking too long to focus.
I know that I will be looking thru the viewfinder almost all the time at first but my aging eyes could use that larger LCD to review shots.
I love my 35 mm Nikon and use it all the time with several very good lenses--wide angle 2.8 and a great 300 mm as well. But for some reason I couldn't get a good 'feel' for the Nikon D70--must just be 'me' because everyone seems to rave.
Ideally I'd like a camera about the size of the Canon G5, and I will look hard at the Dimage A1. I do some magazine work so thought 5 megapixels would be minimal for great reproductions at the 8x10 size but will heed your good advice.

Thank you, Chauncey
I went to a store with the wife to look at the D 70...she couldnt stop making remarks and huge, bulky and daft it looks and i totally agree that it is far too big! Check out the Kyocera M410R which is a very fast camera and has a fast lense and manual shutter speeds up to 1/2000. It has a very good EVF and easy to see LCD in daylight and the image will not freeze as the camera focuses unlike some cameras. Go look in the Kyocera forum on here
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Old Jul 15, 2004, 3:24 PM   #6
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Thanks for the advice and the comment on the (heavy) D-70.
I did look up the Kyocera but that 1.5" LCD is just too small for me. Let me know when they bump it up to 2"!!

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Old Jul 24, 2004, 7:56 AM   #7
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Chauncey, I am looking for pretty much what you are looking for, especially the fast lag time. The closest thing to what "we" want is the Casio Exlim P600

See Steves Review at:
http://www.steves-digicams.com/2004_...xp600_pg5.html
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Old Jul 24, 2004, 9:52 AM   #8
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Thanks--the new Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ20 may also be a possibility. 12X optical zoom and 2" LCD--image stabilized and purportedly fast performance. Of course will have to wait and see...have read some discussion that the smaller sensors on these newer cameras may prove problematic--JimC and others, any opinions on that?

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Old Jul 24, 2004, 10:00 AM   #9
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Chauncey wrote:
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...have read some discussion that the smaller sensors on these newer cameras may prove problematic--JimC and others, any opinions on that?
Well, I've got my opinions on it for sure. However, for some users, the tradeoffs (higher noise -- especially if you need to use higher ISO speeds), are worth it.

In order to get a "Super Zoom" camera in a compact package, the sensor must be smaller, too. This is sothe manufacturer can use a shorter focal length lens, for the same 35mm equivalent focal length. Otherwise (with larger sensor), the camera would be larger and heavier.

In good light, these are fine. However, in low light, they can have poor performance due to noise at higher ISO speeds. Of course, a stabilized lens can help, so that you can keep ISO Speeds set lower, with the stabilized lens allowing you to use slower shutter speeds, than would otherwise be possible without a tripod. Of course, a stabilized lens can only help prevent blur from camera shake, not blur from subject movement.


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Old Jul 24, 2004, 11:01 AM   #10
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BTW, the last digital camera I purchased (Konica KD-510z/Minota G500) is using one of the Sony 5MP 1/1.8" sensors.

I would often leave larger cameras at home, so I wanted something I could carry with me in a pocket -- ready to take a photos on a moments notice.

When I purchased it, I was well aware of the tradeoffs of such a small sensor. To me, this tradeoff was worth it, in order to have a camera that I could carry with me everywhere. However, if Konica would have made a model with the same features using a less dense CCD, I would have purchased it instead. For example,the 4MP 1/1.8" CCD would have been more desirable to me, versus the newer 5MP 1/1.8" CCD.

Unfortunately, more megapixels sells cameras (even if consumers don't really need the higher resolution). So, choices in newer models are becoming more and more limited now -- with smaller and/or densor sensors being used.

Personally, I think this trend towards packing more megapixels into smaller and smaller CCD's is getting a little out of hand. We seem to be producing a new generation of cameras that are only useable in good light without objectionable noise.




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