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Old Jul 17, 2004, 12:34 PM   #1
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:?I currently have an Oly Cam 3040. I like the picture quality and it has served me well, but it's not the best pack and go camera. It doesn't have an automatic lens cover, so I got a lens protector for it which makes it bigger to haul around, but I think the protector is necessary since the lens caps fall off so easily.

I want a new camera that I can take with me easier and has an automatic lens protector. I don't want anything bigger than the current 3040 and preferrably smaller.

So I got an Oly Stylus 410 and hate it. Nice looking camera and easy to use, but I was surprised to find that it didn't even compare with my 3040. I went out with both cameras and shot pictures at the same time. The 410 had a hard time in low light, overexposed with flash, underexposed without. Very slow shutter speed indoors without the flash. The 3040 could easily take pics where the 410 couldn't. The 410 seemed to make pics too yellow and black came out more blue or purple. The only thing it did exceptionally well at was macro mode. And even though the 410 had more mp's; the 3040 took sharper pictures.

I have been researching other options and am getting overwhelmed and am hoping people here can help me with finding a camera that will suit my needs.

~I want manual control options. Aperture, shutter, fs, focus etc.
~I want something easy to carry around. Doesn't have to be ultra compact
~It needs to have an automatic cover
~I take picture of my horses and would like something that can capture motion
~I like to take pictures of my moms garden and individual flowers
~I like continuous shutter mode to capture my horses movements
~want to be able to take it on trail rides and such
~I like a camera that can handle low light and indoor stuff
~less shutter lag the better
~being able to pre-program scene modes is a plus
~a good choice of scene modes is nice too (sunny, cloudy, shady, snow, water, night, landscape, portrait, etc.)
~must have at least 3X optical
~$500 range, but negotiable

Was looking at the Casio exilim pro 600, Canon powershot G5 and S60, Sony cybershot V1 and W1, Olympus 5060 (probably too big though and doesn't look to have a auto lens cover) and the Oly C50/C60 look nice. I'm sure I am missing some, but there is just SOOOO much info out there!:angry:

Thanks for any help.

Maggie
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Old Jul 18, 2004, 10:40 AM   #2
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Humvey wrote:
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I went out with both cameras and shot pictures at the se tiamme. The 410 had a hard time in low light, overexposed with flash, underexposed without. Very slow shutter speed indoors without the flash. The 3040 could easily take pics where the 410 couldn't.

Maggie:

The vast majority of digital cameras will have problems trying to take a photo indoors without a flash. This is because because shutter speeds will be too slow to prevent motion blur if slower shutter speeds are allowed. If slower shutter speeds are not allowed, then you'll get underexposed photos.

Now, you can boost the ISO speed to allow faster shutter speeds. Basically, this "cranks up the gain" from the CCD Sensor. ISO 200 is twice as sensitive to light as ISO 100, allowing shutter speeds twice as fast for faster exposure. ISO 400 is 4 times as fast as ISO 100.

However, increasing ISO speed also increases noise (similiar to film grain). So, there are tradeoffs.

The Olympus Stylus 410 uses a small, dense 1/2.5" (.40") 4 Megapixel CCD. This type of CCD is common in many subcompact models now. Because so many pixels are packed into such a small area, the photosites for each pixel are smaller. As a result, more amplification for the signal is needed for the same ISO sensitivity. So, when you increase ISO speed even more (for example, to ISO 200 or 400) with models using a denser CCD, you also increase noise. Many users find noise to be too objectional at higher ISO speeds from models like this.

Unfortunately, more megapixels does not necessarily equal higher quality, depending on the conditions you'll use the camera in.

You'll see the same type of complaints with many other camera models using smaller sensors (or sensors with more photosites packed into a small sensor). In fact, I rarely shoot at anything over ISO 100 with my latest "pocket" cam. It's using the Sony 5 Megapixel 1/1.8" (.556") CCD, so the photosites for each pixel are also smaller than you have with your older C-3040z (because more pixels are being packed into a CCD about the same size).

As a result, I tend to use a flash indoors for my photos (even though it would be nice to shoot without one). :-)This is a tradeoff I was willing to accept.

As a general rule, I think you'll find lower noise in models using the older 4 Megapixel 1/1.8" CCD, compared to models using any of the newer CCD's (like the 4 Megapixel 1/2.5" CCD, 5 Megapixel 1/1.8" CCD, or the 3 Megapixel 1/2.7" CCD).

However, manufacturers have made some improvements in the way images are processed in the camera, to help reduce noise, so noise levels between models can vary.

If indoor photos without a flash are really needed, then I'd probably look at a model like the Sony DSC-F717. It's lens is rated at F2.0/F2.4. Since F2.0 is twice as bright as F/2.8, you'll be able to use faster shutter speeds in conditions, compared to most other models, at the same ISO speed. It's lens is also very bright at full zoom (only stopping down to F/2.4)!

It's also using a 2/3" CCD. However, it may not offer the speed you're looking for, and only allows 3 shots in a burst.

Another model to consider would be the Minolta DiMAGE A1. It's also using a 2/3" 5 Megapixel CCD, and it's a relatively fast camera. It's lens is not as bright as the Sonys, but it has a unique anti-shake feature, allowing you to use slower shutter speeds without a tripod (within reason). But, remember that anti-shake does not help with blur from subject movement, only blur from camera shake. It has been criticized for slighty higher noise than some competitors, but this is largely because it's ISO 100 sensitivity, is closer to ISO 200 from competing models. In any event, I don't think you'd find noise objectional at lower ISO speeds from it. It's a superb camera.

If you can do without the speed, check out the older Canon G3. It will have lower noise, compared to the newer G5; and also has a a verybright lens (F2.0/F3.0).

If you check out the conclusion section in the reviews for models you are looking at here at steves-digicams.com, you'll see a lot of information on camera performance (burst modes, cycle times, etc.), since this is a big issue with you.

BTW, most smaller model cameras don't have lenses that are very bright. Most are rated at around F/2.8 - F/4.9. The first number is the maximum aperture of the lens at full wide angle, and the second number is the maximum apertue of the lens at full zoom. The smaller F/Stop Number (indicating a larger aperture), the brighter the lens.

So, with many smaller models, you'll need to stay at full wide angle in lower light without a flash (since dramatically more light reaches the sensor). This allows faster shutter speeds to help prevent blur. Even then, you'll probably need to increase the ISO speed to shoot indoors without a flash, and then noise will increase.

To get the fastest shutter speeds, you must use a larger aperture (smaller f/stop number). This allows more light through to the sensor, allowing the camera to use faster shutter speeds to reduce motion blur.

The aperture scale (in one stop increments) goes F/1.4, F/2.0, F/2.8, F/4.0, F/5.6, F/8.0, F/11, F/16, F/22... With each one stop move to a smaller aperture, you will need shutter speeds twice as long for proper exposure.

If you look at lens specs and flash range specs for the models you are considering, you'll also see that models with slower lenses have much greater flash range at full wide angle, too. Again, this is because not as much light reaches the sensor through the lens with many models.

Note thatif you don't need to take photo without a flash indoors, then MANY models will work just fine. I'd also consider a model that can use an external flash.

BTW, you can also find some very good tools to reduce noise in photos, when higher ISO speeds are needed. Two popular tools and Neat Image and Noise Ninja. You can see more about them at http://www.neatimage.com and http://www.picturecode.com


Check out Steve's "Best Cameras" list (you'll see this menu choice on the main page). Then, read the conclusion sections carefully for pros and cons about each one.


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Old Jul 19, 2004, 8:41 AM   #3
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Thanks Jim for the great reply. Now I understand why there is such a difference in the cameras. I love my Oly 3040 and was trying to find a camera very similar, but maybe a little smaller and with an automatic lens protector. I thought the 410 would do that, but with the lens being over F3 it can't.

The reason I want an automatic lens protector is that I go on trail rides and I find the caps fall off and then the lens gets dirty and I have to then clean the lens to take a quick picture.

I've been reading reviews and specs on the various cameras, but after a while they all meld together and I loose track (even though I take lots of notes). I narrow my range down and then find out there is something else I would like or not like.

I'm coming to the conclusion that I may have to have two cameras. Keep my Oly 3040 (which I was going to give to a friend since I thought I was replacing it) and then find a camera I like to take on trail (the stylus 410 did not impress me at all, and now I understand some of the reasons why - thanks) It did surprise me that the higher megapixels didn't make a sharper picture; but if I understand things right - it's because of the lens limitations.

So not only do I have to look at mp, but lens type, aperture, and shutter speed, plus the lens cover.:?

Olympus should have concentrated on keeping the 3040 basically the same, but try to make the body smaller and have better protection for the lens to make it more rugged.

Thanks again for all your help,
Maggie
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Old Jul 19, 2004, 9:02 AM   #4
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The lens on your C-3040z was an exceptionally bright F/1.8 - F/2.6.

The newer C-4040z and C-5050z also have lenses this bright. However, the 4 Megapixel C-4040z will be hard to find (you'd have to go used), and the 5 Megapixel C-5050z will have higher noise (because it's CCD is more dense).

There are always tradeoffs.


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Old Jul 19, 2004, 9:10 AM   #5
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Humvey wrote:
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It did surprise me that the higher megapixels didn't make a sharper picture; but if I understand things right - it's because of the lens limitations.
Well, a brighter lens is desirable for lower light (as in trying to take photos indoors without a flash). However, even if the lenses were exactly the same, then more megapixels still won't give you a sharper pictures for most uses.

Unless you're going to be viewing it at extremely large sizes, or printing larger prints, then 3 Megapixels is plenty for prints up to about 8x10". I don't think you'd see any difference at all up to this print size, by going with a higher resolution model, and in low light you'd have more noise/grain with many newer CCD Sensors.

Edit/Update:

P.S. - So that you'll have a better idea how available light (measured as EV), aperture and shutter speed impact the shutter speeds a camera can use for proper exposure of an image, see the Exposure Values, F-Stops and Shutter Speeds chart on this page. Note that the lens on your C-3040z has a maximum aperture of F/1.8 at wide angle, only stopping down to F/2.6 at full zoom. This is more than twice as bright as the lens on the Stylus 410 you bought at wide angle, with even more difference using zoom:

http://home.earthlink.net/~terryleed...tes/tables.htm

This chart was based on ISO 100, so each time you double ISO speed, you can use shutter speeds twice as fast. However, increasing ISO speed also increases noise, which can be much worse with a denser sensor (more pixels/square inch), since the photosites for each pixel must be smaller.

As a general rule of thumb (although some can hold a camera steadier than others), you'll want shutter speeds of 1/focal length or faster to prevent blur from camera shake. For example, at wide angle on your C-3040z (which is equivalent to a 35mm focal length on a 35mm camera), you'd want shutter speeds of 1/35 second or faster. At full zoom (which is equivalent to a 105mm focal length), you'd want shutter speeds of1/105 second or faster. Of course, these speeds are debatable.


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Old Jul 19, 2004, 11:34 AM   #6
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Quote:
It did surprise me that the higher megapixels didn't make a sharper picture; but if I understand things right - it's because of the lens limitations.
You get more resolution but you won't see it unless you make a large print or do an extreme crop. Most computer screens are less than 1 Mp. So you get the same screen resolution displaying a 2Mp, a 5Mp and an 8Mp image. Same for printing a 4 X 6. Your 3Mp is more than enough pixels to make a 4 X 6 that is better than the printing process can produce, so you won't see improvements with more pixels.

Where the pixels come in is for large prints and extreme crops. Your 3Mp will make a good 8 X 10 but you get a little quality drop-off for 11 X 14 compared to a 4 or 5Mp camera. 8Mp gives about all the pixels you can use for a 13 X 19 print and you get some quality drop-off if you go below that.

Some people never need more than your 3.3Mp. Even a large print can look nice if you prepare it properly and don't view it from too close.

Your C-3040 is a tough act to follow. F1.8 is as good as it gets without going to an expensive and heavy DSLR. It has a decent sized LCD and a B&W status panel you can read in bright light. It has a powerful flash and there is nothing on the market with better low light performance. It has the full range of exposure and focus.

It seems the only problem is that your lens cap falls off. There are ways around that:

Get the CLA-1 adapter and a UV filter. The UV filter will protect the lens, is easy to clean and cheap to replace.

Buy an Olycap for $10 http://www.olycap.com/

If you need more pixels consider an Oly 5050 or Canon G5. I don't know of anything with a fast lens that will give good low light performance that has an automatic lens cover. The glass has to be too big.
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Old Jul 19, 2004, 12:07 PM   #7
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slipe wrote:
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Get the CLA-1 adapter and a UV filter. The UV filter will protect the lens, is easy to clean and cheap to replace.

Buy an Olycap for $10 http://www.olycap.com/

If you need more pixels consider an Oly 5050 or Canon G5.

That lens cap may be the answer. I have the adapter and UV filter on it now, but it makes it awkward if I want to put it in a saddle bag or something, but that cap looks like a good thing and I'm gunna order one right away.

Now to give my friend the bad newsthat I want to keep the 3040. I'll give her the 410 since I really won't use it. And I know about the megapixel thing not meaning anything until you enlarge images; but I do crop images. The pictures I comparedbetween the 3040 and 410 I enlarged and the 3040 was still better. The only cool thing about the 410 is I got some really cool close-up eye pictures with the horses (very sharp images) and the 3040 didn't.

Thanks:bye: (I love these little emoticons)

Maggie
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Old Jul 19, 2004, 12:19 PM   #8
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JimC wrote:
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So that you'll have a better idea how available light (measured as EV), aperture and shutter speed impact the shutter speeds a camera can use for proper exposure of an image, see the Exposure Values, F-Stops and Shutter Speeds chart on this page.
http://home.earthlink.net/~terryleed...tes/tables.htm
Thanks again!!

I'm starting to understand it more. I really need to take a photography class (nothing close by me though). I think I'll be taking even better pictures now that I understand the relationship between aperture and shutter speed better:idea:. There are a few things that would be nice to improve on the 3040 (better rapid shooting, movie mode and size) but otherwise I don't think I have outgrown it yet. And that lens cap will make it easier to take along on horseback.

Maggie
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