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Old Aug 8, 2004, 9:25 AM   #1
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Okay, so I know you guys are inundated with the "What shall I buy questions," so I will try to be specific and concise.

I have always been fond of taking pictures. Unfortunately, I have never progressed beyond the point and shoot level. Now that I have kids, I would like to invest in a decent camera that is ready to roll (doesn't need a lot of manual tuning), but leaves me room to grow (as I will probably take a class on camera use. I don't expect to progress to the professional level, but I would like to take some decent pictures.

I have been through 2 cameras in the past year. I was highly unsatisfied with my Sony because I would try to take night shots of my girls sleeping and they'd be dim at best.

I have been leaning towards Canon cameras since they seem to be the most popular (and this says something, right).

Anyway, the things I want in order are:
1. Excellent pictures
2. Ability to take pictures indoors in lower light conditions
3. Decent movie quality
4. Able to take nice closeups
5. Camara must give me room to grow

I thought I knew what I wanted, but after reading these forums, I have become ultra confused. I am looking at the Canon G5 (maybe a bit above my head) and the Sony V1, but I think this has shadow issues if I remember correctly? I was also looking at the Canon S60.

Can someone steer me in the right direction?
Thanks.
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Old Aug 8, 2004, 9:42 AM   #2
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Which model Sony do you have, and what other limitations have you found with it?

Are you trying to take photos indoors without a flash (the night shots of your girls sleeping), and is this ability important to you?

Most cameras won't be able to do this without using a tripod with a longer exposure (provided your girls are motionless long enough for the photo to properly exposed without motion blur).

What is your budget?

How important is the movie mode?

How close do you mean for the closeups?

Why do you think you need 5 megapixels, and what size prints do you intend to make?



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Old Aug 8, 2004, 10:14 AM   #3
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Okay, I lost the whole reply because my picture was bigger than it was supposed to be.

Anyway, I had the Sony DSC P9. I was pretty happy with it, except when I tried to take pictures at night inside of my house with the Flash, I would get very dim pictures, sometimes black (I think I was doing something wrong). Even when I took indoor pictures on a cloudy day (during daylight hours), I would find that the pictures lacked clarity (for ebay auctions and such). I just want to take portraits of my kids indoors at any time of day, sohence, I need a decent camera.

I would also like this camera to take 35mm quality pictures. MY budget is below 400 dollars. I would like the option of being able to print 11 by 14's but of course my main concern is excellent quality 4 by 6's.

Video Mode is not utmost priority but the video function on my sony was pretty nice so I'd like to retain that quality unless other functions on my new purchse make this function worth sacrificing.

Thanks for the quick reply.
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Old Aug 8, 2004, 11:18 AM   #4
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SurayaAn wrote:
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Anyway, I had the Sony DSC P9. I was pretty happy with it, except when I tried to take pictures at night inside of my house with the Flash, I would get very dim pictures, sometimes black (I think I was doing something wrong).
There is a very good chance that you were simply outside of the camera's flash range. The Sony P9 has a maximum flash range of 12.5 feet (3.8m) when the camera's lens is set to it's full wide angle setting. However, this range drops down to 7.9 feet (2.4 meters) at full zoom. This is an Auto ISO rating. So, the camera was probably increasing ISO speed to around 160 to get this much range indoors (which will add noise to your photos -- which is similar to film grain). Shooting at lower ISO speeds will reduce noise (but also reduces flash range).

With most compact models, the lenses are not very bright when using Zoom. The Sony P9 lens rating is f/2.8 at wide angle, but drops down to only f/5.6 at full zoom. F/2.8 is 3 times as bright as F.2.8

Quote:
Even when I took indoor pictures on a cloudy day (during daylight hours), I would find that the pictures lacked clarity (for ebay auctions and such). I just want to take portraits of my kids indoors at any time of day, sohence, I need a decent camera.
Light is a Digital Camera's bestfriend. What you think is bright indoors, is not to a camera's lens -- especially a compact model with a slow (not bright) lens.

Quote:
I would also like this camera to take 35mm quality pictures. MY budget is below 400 dollars. I would like the option of being able to print 11 by 14's but of course my main concern is excellent quality 4 by 6's.
Well, what is 35mm quality to one person, may not be to another.The reason I asked about megapixels, is because the G5 you are looking at does have a lens that is much brighter than the other models you are considering. At full wide angle, it's lens is rated a f/2.0. Most compact cameras start out at around f/2.8.f/2.0 is twice as bright as f/2.8

However, the G5 will have higher noise levels compared to most models in it's class. The older 4 Megapixel G3 is better with this, because the photosites for each pixel are larger. The G5 uses a 5 Megapixel 1/1.8" CCD with 2.8µmpixel pitch. The older G3 uses a 4 Megapixel 1/1.8" CCD witha larger 3.1 µm pixel pitch. As a general rule, the larger the pixel pitch, the lower the noise levels (although the way a manufacturer processes the images can also impact noise levels).

The G5 has also been criticized for higher levels of purple fringing, compared to the older G3. Basically, Canon stuck a higher resolution sensor in the G5 model, without upgrading the lens from theG3.

Now it's noise levels are still going to better than the Sony P9 inmy opinion. The P9 used a smaller 1/2.7" CCD with a smaller 2.7 µm pixel pitch.

However, I doubt you'd find a Canon G5 for under $400.00 anyway. The lowest price I see from a reputable vendor is around $548.00. Even though some of the vendors are advertising it for a lower price,they're not going to sell it toyou at the advertised price (unless you agree to buy lots of accessories at inflated prices, with high shipping charges, etc.). This is a common tactic with some of the "scam artist" type vendors in the price search engines. Always use http://www.resellerratings.com to check out customer feedback; and never buy from a vendor without aLOT of customerfeedback (since vendors have been known to "pad" their own ratings withglowing reviews).

If I were you, I'd probably go with the Sony DSC-V1 between your choices. Even though it's lens is not as bright as the Canon's, it's noise levels are lower than it's competitors using the same Sony 1/1.8" 5 Megapixel CCD. As long as you plan on using flash indoors, it's lens will be plenty bright enough (provided you stay within it's rated flash range, which is around 11.5 feet). It will also take Sony external flashes if you decide you need more flash range later, and you can use any Memory Sticks you bought for the P9. It's also a much faster camera than the Canon (the Sony V1 uses a unique laser assisted autofocus system).

It's still a little over your budget. About the lowest price I see from a reputable vendor (one that's not going to play the scam artists game with overpriced accessories +high unauthorized shipping/insurance charges, and allows returns without a restocking fee if you decide you don't like it), is around $449 delivered. Here's an example:

http://www.jr.com/JRProductPage.process?Product=3702659

Now, anybody's opinion you get in the forums here is probably biased (including mine). So, read the reviews of the models you are considering, paying close attention to the review conclusion section. This is where Steve discusses things like flash range, startup times, autofocus times, cycle times between photos, etc.. Also, make sure you "test drive" models you are considering in a store. For example, some users feel that the V1 is "ergonomically challenging". Also, make sure to read the customer feedback in the price search engines for any vendor you consider, along with their return policies. Then read the customer feedback for them at http://www.resellerratings.com

I'd hate to see you get caught in the same trap that many buyers do (with the vendors that advertise the lowest price). There are a lot of scam artists out there, with very nice web sites -- including lots of important looking logos.


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Old Aug 8, 2004, 1:34 PM   #5
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You are so nice for providing all of that information. I truly appreciate it! And thanks for the warning about bad vendors.

I just have a couple final questions. I noticed that Steve had a similar Sony on his best cameras list (in the consumer 5 MP category). Since the V1 is out of my price range, how much quality would I be sacrificing if I went this route? Again, I guess when the day is done, it just matters that I have good quality pics. Secondly, I have been reviewing the Sony with the big LCD screen (2.5) which is significantly cheaper. I also shyed away from the V1 when I read that the flash position can cause shadows. When I sold my p9, I vowed to get away from Sony (being the complete novice that I am, I didn't realize most of my bad photos were my fault). But now I am gravitating back to them since I already have the memory sticks and I like the look (yes, I am a marketer's dream when it comes to looks of camera).

So my fear that if I don't buy a Canon I will never have the best technology is unfounded.

Again, thanks, you have really helped.

Cathy
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Old Aug 9, 2004, 9:25 AM   #6
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I think the posts on light and flash miss the overall point of the question, and the way it weas posed. This is a camera to be used primarily for family and indoor shots, so where possible a large aperture will be needed without flash. Expensive, but the Olympus 8080 would fit the bill very well. F2 and a bright LCD and viewfinder.

More importantly for indoor and family use is a wide angle lens, and there are few cameras that fit the bill. Nikon and Olympus immediately spring to mind. I have the Oly 5060 which I find superb, having a 27mm wide angle and 110mm zoom, coping with indoor, family and portrait very capably. I looked at the Nikon equivalent but did not like the viewfinder's ability in low light at all satisfactory. It is an electronic one as opposed to the Olympus being optical.

Quite frankly indoor photography with a prosumer camera without flash is a non starter really. Even with my D70 and the 17/55 lens it is difficult, and here we are tlaking a completely different price range. If the above is within your budget, take a close look. I am sure you will like it.
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Old Aug 9, 2004, 10:50 AM   #7
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Hi,

Will the above mentioned cameras take 35mm quality pictures?
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Old Aug 9, 2004, 2:52 PM   #8
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cameranserai wrote:
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I think the posts on light and flash miss the overall point of the question, and the way it weas posed. This is a camera to be used primarily for family and indoor shots, so where possible a large aperture will be needed without flash. Expensive, but the Olympus 8080 would fit the bill very well. F2 and a bright LCD and viewfinder.

More importantly for indoor and family use is a wide angle lens, and there are few cameras that fit the bill. Nikon and Olympus immediately spring to mind. I have the Oly 5060 which I find superb, having a 27mm wide angle and 110mm zoom, coping with indoor, family and portrait very capably. I looked at the Nikon equivalent but did not like the viewfinder's ability in low light at all satisfactory. It is an electronic one as opposed to the Olympus being optical.

Quite frankly indoor photography with a prosumer camera without flash is a non starter really. Even with my D70 and the 17/55 lens it is difficult, and here we are tlaking a completely different price range. If the above is within your budget, take a close look. I am sure you will like it.
The reason I asked the questions was to see if that was why she was getting underexposed photos (trying to take them without a flash). This would have let us know if a camera with a larger aperture with the ability to shoot at higher ISO speeds with lower noise levels is needed.

She responded that she was trying to take the photos with flash, not without.

She also indicated that her budget was under $400.00. You cannot buy the models you are talking about for this price.

Now, if she is willing to spend more, then there are a number of models that may be better suited.

Actually, judging from some of the other threads I see from her, she is now looking at more expensive alternatives.


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Old Aug 9, 2004, 4:25 PM   #9
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Quote:
I would like to invest in a decent camera that is ready to roll (doesn't need a lot of manual tuning), but leaves me room to grow (as I will probably take a class on camera use. I don't expect to progress to the professional level, but I would like to take some decent pictures.
I would make a case for raising your budget just a tad based on your desire to progress. The best delivered price for a V1 from a trusted store is $426 – that includes shipping. That would be your total cost to get started since you already have some memory that will fit.

If you intend progressing and maybe taking a course, one of the first things that advances from snapshots to quality photographs for indoor photography is a flash attachment. You can get a light and competent automatic flash in the $30 range with bounce capability. There is one in that price range that will even act as a slave if you ever upgrade to a bigger flash and want to do studio quality of your girls at home. If you take a course you will likely wish you had bought a camera with a hot shoe so you can take advantage of the capabilities of an external flash.

All built-in flash units produce a small intense flash. The closer you get the flash to the lens the more problem you have with red eye. Moving the flash further from the lens reduces the red eye but makes more pronounced shadows. Most people prefer to have the flash further away from the lens and accept the shadows.

The V1 is reasonably fast for shutter lag and shot to shot time. The holographic laser focus is usually accurate and focuses quickly in low light. It is also reasonably compact so you can have it with you on more occasions.

The G5 is about $10 more delivered but you would still have to get CF memory. They have specials going regularly on CF. As an example, today only Buy.com has Lexar 256Mb CF for $28.88 and free shipping. If you intend shooting 640 X 480 movies at 30fps on one of the Sony cameras that will do that you probably don't have enough Memory Stick anyway.

In his review at Digital Camera Resource, Jeff felt that noise on the G5 was low throughout the ISO range. Phil at dpreview thought it was noisy at higher ISO and Steve I don't think mentioned the noise at all. Several threads by G5 owners at dpreview tend to form a consensus that Jeff got it right and the noise is low throughout the range compared to other cameras with the same sensor. They provided examples and I looked through pbase for comparisons. I tend to agree. Add to that you can shoot with half of the ISO of most other cameras in the same situation because of the faster lens.

All of the non-SLR cameras with fast lenses tend to have some purple fringing with high contrast subjects at wide aperture. The closest thing to an exception to that is the Sony 717, and that is a big camera. The Olympus cameras with fast lenses are at least as bad with CA and purple fringing. I would still prefer to have the fast lens as purple fringing doesn't show up all the time and you can deal with it in an image editor.

The G5 would really be the camera of choice for a camera course. You can get a filter holder for it so you can learn to use graduated filters and polarizers. It has a built-in neutral density filter. The flip-out LCD is great for candids and shots from odd angles. It comes with a remote that is handy for many things. You don't have to use the self-timer for night shots and you can plug the camera into your TV and use the remote to run a slideshow of the pictures on the card.

Most of all I like the controls. It has the physical controls of a serious camera. You can leave everything on automatic and do fine – it is better than average at that. But once you learn photography it is much easier to work with controls than to always be digging through menus. I also like having a B&W status panel on a camera with an optical finder. The G5 has a much more powerful flash than most others. 13 feet at full telephoto and ISO 100 is a serious built-in flash unit. It isn't as easy to throw in a pocket or purse as the V1 though.

The G5 movies are about the quality of your P9 – not as good as the V1 and not nearly as good as a W1. But plan on buying a pretty large Memory Stick Pro card to take advantage of those high resolution movies. Steve used 14Mb to record 10 seconds of high resolution movie in his sample photos with the W1.

I don't think the W1 has aperture and shutter priority, which you would want for a photography course. You can get a filter holder for it though. You said you want to "invest" in a camera to maybe learn on. I wouldn't get another basically point and shoot without all of the advanced modes and no hot shoe for a flash. It might be worth paying a little more and not having to sell the camera again if you do take a course.
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Old Aug 9, 2004, 4:47 PM   #10
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slipe wrote:
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I would make a case for raising your budget just a tad based on your desire to progress. The best delivered price for a V1 from a trusted store is $426 – that includes shipping. That would be your total cost to get started since you already have some memory that will fit.

True, but I wanted to point out stores that didn't have a restocking fee on returns (in case she's not happy with it, since she was already not satisified with two cameras she's used). Most of the lower priced reputable stores (buydig, etc.)have a 15% restocking fee.

Quote:
The G5 is about $10 more delivered but you would still have to get CF memory
Slipe, I think you may be looking at the refurb prices. The lowest prices I see for it in new condition from a vendor I would trust is over $500.00. Of course, a refurb may be an option, too -- provided she is aware of the shorter warranty, etc.

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