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Old Sep 24, 2004, 11:00 AM   #1
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Hi,

This is my first post, so be gentle. I basically just want to know which camera i should buy. I would like (love) a camera that has top quality pictures and a range of manual settings. I have been researching for a long time but still have not come to a decision, espically with the new crop of cameras entering the market. So far i have been drawn by the Sony V3 and the Canon G6. However, I am not sure if these are the best for what i want. My needs are listed below:

- Non dSLR as they are too big? Is this true?

- Excellent image quality and lots of manual features

- (Good video would be a bonus)

- Excellent in all conditions

- Not too big, but can be a lot bigger than a point and shoot

So if anyone has a plan and fancies sharing their knowledge, please do so.

Thanks a lot

Rudy



ps feel free to request anymore info.
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Old Sep 24, 2004, 11:01 AM   #2
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One more thing. Please explain to me how important mega pixels are. I know they allow for bigger pictures without scaling but is more always better??

Thanks again

Rudy
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Old Sep 24, 2004, 12:27 PM   #3
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dudedolf wrote:
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This is my first post, so be gentle.
Welcome to the forums here!

Quote:
I basically just want to know which camera i should buy. I would like (love) a camera that has top quality pictures and a range of manual settings. I have been researching for a long time but still have not come to a decision, espically with the new crop of cameras entering the market. So far i have been drawn by the Sony V3 and the Canon G6. However, I am not sure if these are the best for what i want. My needs are listed below:

- Non dSLR as they are too big? Is this true?

You'll have to make that decision. I'd go down to a camera store and try out some models. What I've found in the past, is that I'd often leavelarger cameras at home. So, I bought a little pocket model last year that I carry with me everywhere.

However, I also still shoot with a 35mm SLR, and I still use an older Nikon Coolpix model from time to time, too.

The smaller model is more convenient. However, it does have it's limitations.

A lot depends on what type of shooting you want to do. The DSLR models give you the ability to shoot at much higher ISO speeds with lower noise (thanks to their much larger sensors). They also give you a wide variety of lenses to choose from. So, you're not locked into the lens that is permanently attached to the non-DSLR models.

Your lenses also become an investment. So, if you upgrade to a newer camera body a few years down the road, chances are, you can take your lenses with you within the same camera manufacturer.

As a general rule, the DSLR models are also much faster (focus times, cycle times between photos, etc.), and you have a true TTL (through the lens) viewfinder.

On the downside, they are larger and heavier (and may require more than one lens for the shooting you want to do). You also can't use the LCD for framing the photos (you must use the Optical Viewfinder). You won't have the ability to record video, either (but you'll find that the video quality is pretty lacking on most still digital cameras anyway, and it eats up lots of storage space on a memory card).

Another difference is the Depth of Field you get with a DSLR versus a non-DSLR model. Depth of Field is the amount of your image that is in focus, as you get further away from your focus point.

For any given focal length (amount of zoom used), aperture and focus distance, you have dramatically more depth of field witha non-DSLR model (because the actual focal length of the lens is much shorter, due to the smaller sensor size).

So, blurring distracting backgrounds to make your subjects stand out by using a larger aperture can be virtually impossible with non-DSLR models in most conditions. Of course, if you are trying to take photos of scenes where you want more depth of field (subjects both closer to and further away from the lens in the same image, or closeup photos of small objects,then a non-DSLR model can be better.

You can always use software tools to blur a background if you go with a non-DSLR model, though.

One trend I'm seeing now is lenses designed specifically for DSLR models with a crop factor. What I mean by crop factor, is that the sensors inmost DSLR models are smaller than 35mm film. So, they only use the center portion of the image circle projected by a lens designed for a 35mm film body.

So, some new lenses are designed to be smaller and lighter, by not projecting an image circle as large. These lenses will only work on the DSLR model (and can't be used on film bodies. As a result, you can now find lenses that are smaller and lighter for the focal range they have when used on a DSLR.

An example of a lens like this is the 18-55mm EF-S kit lens bundled with the Canon Digital Rebel. Another example of a lens like this is the Sigma 18-125mm f/3.5-5.6 DC lens.

Because of the crop factor, you must multiply the actual focal length of a lens by 1.6 for use on a model like the Canon Digital Rebel to determine the 35mm equivalent focal length. This factor is 1.5 for a model like the Nikon D70 (there is a slight difference in the size of the sensors between these two models).

So, a lens like the Sigma 18-125mm f/3.5-5.6 DC lens would have a 35mm equivalent focal range of 29-200mm on the entry level Canon DSLR models, or ~27-187mm on the entry level Nikon DSLR models.

I think we'll start seeing a lot more lenses like this in the future (the two I mentioned are just some examples -- we're already seeing more now).


Quote:
- Excellent image quality and lots of manual features
I'd read the reviews here of models you consider carefully. Also, keep in mind that the camera is only a tool. The photographers skill has a lot more to do with getting good images than anything else.

- (Good video would be a bonus)

This is something I don't personally use on a Digital Still Camera. Although the quality is getting a little better (higher resolution and frame rates), it still lags far behind a true video camera. You'll also use lots of storage space (some of the newer models require as much as 1mb/second for space for video). Most models won't let you use the Optical Zoom while recording, either; and sound quality leaves a lot to be desired.

Quote:
- Excellent in all conditions
No one camera is going to be perfect for all conditions. You have too many variables (lens brightness, focal range, speed of operation, etc.). In existing light conditions where a flash is not possible, a DSLR will have the advantage (because they can shoot at higher ISO speeds with lower noise levels). However, you still need a bright lens to go with one (and these can get large, expensive and heavy -- depending on how much focal range you need). The kit lenses are not ideal for this type of shooting.

However, for casual existing light use, you can find an inexpensive lens like a 50mm f/1.8 that is very bright, and low cost (under $100.00 from most vendors) for a DSLR model. It would not have zoom, but some users swear by this lens (in either Canon or Nikon mount) as one of the best lenses (if not the best lens) in their bag.

For existing light sports use (for example, taking photos at a ballgame in a well lit stadium), you'll need alarger and heavier lens (for example a 70-200mm f/2.8 ). You'll find that the brighter the lens (larger apertures availablethroughout their focal range, represented by smaller f/stop numbers), the more expensive and heavier it will be. Most lenses tend to lose a lot of brightness as more zoom is used. As a result, shutter speeds can be too slow at longer focal lengths.So, you have to select lenses carefully for the type of shooting you'll do.

Quote:
- Not too big, but can be a lot bigger than a point and shoot
You'll need to make that decision. I'd try out some cameras in a store to get a better idea of what to expect from each type of camera.

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Old Sep 24, 2004, 12:38 PM   #4
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wow..go jim

ok, i have the Canon G2...and it's a GREAT camera...full manual controls, and good image quality...so, if they just got better and better as the "G series" goes on...the G6 would be a very nice camera...

7 MP willprint high qualityover 8x10....but a 1 or 2 MP won't print very good quality that big...

well...hope this helps

Vito


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Old Sep 24, 2004, 1:02 PM   #5
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dudedolf wrote:
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One more thing. Please explain to me how important mega pixels are. I know they allow for bigger pictures without scaling but is more always better??
Rudy, I wouldn't get caught up in the "Megapixel War" too much (unless you have a specific need forlarger prints).

I've gottengreat looking 8x10" prints from a 2 Megapixel Camera, that friends and family members couldn't believe came from a Digital Camera (although I can see a noticeable increase in quality going to a 3 Megapixel Model at this print size).

IMO, anything much over 3 Megapixels is a waste of space, unless you plan on printing at larger than 8x10" size (because the increase in detail from a higher resolution model would not bevisible at typical viewing distances from most printer types). However, you would have a little more room for cropping an image if you have a larger image to work with to begin with.

Of more importance is how well the camera meets your needs, looking at things likelens quality, lens brightness, focal range, flash range, ability to use an external flash or lens accessories, user control of features needed more often, image processing algorithms, etc.

Now, it just so happens that newer models with more advanced features and image processingtend to be the higher resolution models. For example, the Sony DSC-V3 and Canon G6 you're looking at.

But, you'll need to compare each camera on a case by case basis to see if it meets your needs. Resolution is only one part of the equation. More Megapixels does not necessarily mean higher quality, at the viewing and print sizes most users need.


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Old Sep 24, 2004, 1:04 PM   #6
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It seems clear you want a non-SLR camera, but it would help a great deal if you said what you want to use it for and how much zoom you want. For example I carry two cameras - a Nikon D70 SLR with several lenses and an Olympus 5060 for everday snaps. I need wide angle shots sometimes, so it had to be either a Nikon or the Olympus and I needed 5m pixels for quality. If wide angle isn't your need then most cameras start at 35mm, but if long zoom isn't necessary I would point you in the direction of the Olympus 8080. I think it might help if you had a look at Steve's best cameras, and that might help you decide for yourself. They are segregated by category, from pixel levels and also by zoom. But please come back with any further questions!
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Old Sep 24, 2004, 2:34 PM   #7
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You may want to check out the new Pentax ist ds SLR which will be out soon and is a smaller size then the present crop of dslr's. As jim said it wont shoot video and you can not view images on the LCD but it might be worth a look.

Jim you said thatnon dslr'shave a hard time blurring backgrounds but i disagree with you there as i get that effect without any trouble using my M410R. It is just a matter of using the correct zoom length and aperture as you know and am surprised you say many cameras that are non dslr can not do this. Or are you just talking about the cameras that are lacking manual controls?
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Old Sep 24, 2004, 4:07 PM   #8
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TC3 wrote:
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Jim you said thatnon dslr'shave a hard time blurring backgrounds but i disagree with you there as i get that effect without any trouble using my M410R. It is just a matter of using the correct zoom length and aperture as you know and am surprised you say many cameras that are non dslr can not do this. Or are you just talking about the cameras that are lacking manual controls?
No, I'm talking about the conditions that most photographers would want to blur backgrounds in.

The inability to achieve the desired result is one of thecomplaints you hear from 35mm SLR users thatbuy non-DSLR Digital Cameras.

It depends on your subject,the percentage of the frame you need it to occupy, and the distance to the background that you want your subject to stand out from. If you're taking a photo of a smaller subject that fills the frame (birds, etc.), that's one thing. Photos of larger subjects like people is something else entirely.

You have to remember that Depth of Field is based on the actual (versus 35mm equivalent) focal length of the lens, focus distance and aperture. Your Kyocerahas a crop factor of approximately 4.9 (the actual focal length of the lens is only 5.7-57mm, to give it a 35m equivalent focal length of 37-370mm). As a result, your subject will occupy a dramatically larger portion of the frame at any actual focal length, resulting in dramatically greater depth of field.

In most conditions, shooting at longer focal lengths won't help anything. That's because each time you double the focal length, you need to shoot from twice as far away for your subject to occupy the same percentage of the frame. So, any increase in focal length (other than the difference in perspective distortion)is cancelled outby the further shooting distance required.

Let's take some examples...

Suppose you're taking shot of a subject where you need to be10 feet away shooting at a 35mm equivalent focal length of around 50mm with your camera to get the framing you want (portion of the image occupied by your subject). To get the shallowest Depth of Field, you shoot wide open at f/2.8.

In this case, the actual focal length of the lens would be approximately 10.2mm.

At this focus distance, aperture and focal length, everything would be acceptably sharp from about 7 feet to almost 17 feet.

Now, we're not even talking about a nice blur effect.17 feet is only the point at which the background will begin to become less sharp at typical print sizes and viewing distances. To get it really blurred, you'd need for the background to bemuch further away (and even then, you may still be able to recogonize distracting backgrounds).

In other words, it's virtually impossible to use it for larger subjects with good bokehin many (if not most) conditions.

Now, slap a 50mm lens on a 35mm camera and shoot at the same aperture (f/2.8 )at the same focus distance (10 feet), so your subject occupies the same percentage of the frame. Now, your depth of field shrinks to around 9.1 feetto 11.1 feet, making it much easier to blur a background.

If you used a longer focal length with both cameras with this type of subject, the results would be the same. This is because you'd need to be shooting from further away in order for your subject to occupy the same percentage of the frame.

Let's take some examples (I'll use a 35mm camera, but you'll see the same results trying to get more depth of field using your Kyocera by using longer focal lengths).

As in the earlier example, you are shooting with a 50mm lens using an aperture of f/2.8 at a focus distance of10 feet. In this case, the range of acceptable sharpness would be from around9.1 to 11.1 feet (about 2 feet of acceptable sharpness).

Now, you switch to a 100mm lens using the same f/2.8 aperture. So, in order for your subject to occupy the same percentage of the image, you need to shoot from 20 feet away (versusfrom 10 feet away, as you did with the 50mm lens).

In this case, the range of acceptable sharpness would be from around 19 feet to 21 feet. (again, about 2 feet of acceptable sharpness).

So, we try a 200mm lens now using the same f/2.8 aperture. So, in order for your subject to occupy the same percentage of the frame, you'll need to shoot from 40 feet away (versus from 20 feet, as you didwith the 100mm lens).

In this case, the range of acceptable sharpness would be from around 39 feet to 41 feet (again, the same 2 feet ofacceptable sharpness).

Also, as I mentioned before, blurring a background for the desired effect, and acceptable sharpness are also two different things. You really need to have far shallower depth of field (or a background that's further away) to really get the desired effect with larger subjects.

So, most non-DSLR models are simply not able to achieve this kind of effect for larger subjects in most conditions, unless you have a lot of distance between your subject and the background. Some pros don't even like DSLR models with a crop factor (because they still have more depth of field compared to their film bodies, even though they've got dramatically more depth of field compared to your Kyocera). Just to make things worse, most non-DSLR models don't have a lens that can maintain larger aperture that yours does at longer focal focal lengths.

Of course, you can always use an editor to blur the background later.

Load this Depth of Field Calculator and selecta camera model. Then, plug in the*actual* focal length ofthe lens, focus distance and aperture to calculate Depth of Field.

http://dfleming.ameranet.com/dofjs.html


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Old Sep 25, 2004, 3:10 AM   #9
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Ok Jim, thanks for the detailed explanation
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Old Sep 27, 2004, 4:43 AM   #10
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Hi All,

Thanks for the wealth of responses and suggestions. The problem is there are so many cameras with so many features it just makes it very difficult to decide on a good camera. I think i will read the reviews of all the cameras i am interested in (will list below, be sure to let me know if there are any pit falls of the ones listed) and also head down to a shop to get a feel for them when they are out. But the list is below

- Sony p150 :

Pros: Improvement on the p100 (a bit concerned about the cnet.com review), Small and easy to carry,take good pics

Cons: Not got many manual controls, poor cnet.com review for p100

- Sony V3 : Upgrade on the excellent v1, more sturdy and more features

- Canon G6: Upgrade to the excellent G5

- Canon Digital Rebel: Has been acclaimed as an excellent camera with SLR type features

cons: Maybe just a bit to big for everyday use

I would like to take pictures and to do the following

- Capture the memory of holidays, days/nights out

- Potentially take pictures of sunset and flowers etcto potentially frame and store in my future home. Who know if i take it seriously, maybe even sell a few.

So a potential solution to my situtation will be to get my girl friend to buy a smaller camera say p150/V3 and i get the digital rebel . Thanks would be fun!!! Who knows??!!!?!?!?

I guess i will wait a bit and keep reading reviews. I think i do not want to go SLR, just yet, as i am still very inexperienced in the entire digi cam scene.

Thanks everyone for their opinions and suggestions, they have been much appreciated. And i will keep you all posted.

Thanks

Rudy

ps feel free to add to 'the list'


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