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Old Nov 20, 2004, 9:22 PM   #1
RGA
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Hi all this is my first post - I have been considering a camera for a while and I'm pretty illiterate to the world of photography. I see a bazillion camera's with megapixel mania and salespeople at Future shop I hardly trust. Then I come here and see that Steve recommends so many camera's I almost get the impression it makes no difference really what one buys.

I went out today and Future shop told me (I know) that Canon is the best and that Kodak, Olympus, Minoltaand Fuji etc were middle of the road because Canon uses the best lens. Okay - Steve likes the A95 etc so that's fine - but then he also likes the Fuji, Olympus etc??? Uggh.

So I went to another store in the mall and the salesperson was showing me the Fuji Finepix 5100 and the Canon S1 IS both were $550.00Cdn. We took a picture with both cameras and the Fuji looked much much better. He said that for the actual print the Fuji is better but that the Canon has a lot of very useful feature like stabilization (he said it's good for old folks with shakey hands -- I'm 30 non shakey) and that the Canon has the flip out screen for self shots and better if you're in a crowd - makes sense.

But then I see this teeny little credit card sized Casio E50(or something) which has 5 megapixels and is also $499. And others like it Steve likes too. Man o man this ishard. I like the bigger screen on the much smaller camera and the fact you can stick it in your inside pocket.

I'm thinking the camera I want will be for when I go abroad to teach I'd like to take touristy photos and pictures of my friends etc. On the other hand I'm thinking if i get interested I might like something that i can grow a bit with.

One friend says I should go with the Nikon cameras Coolpix series. I want something durable that will last and is relatively easy to use. A bombproof camera would be nice because I'm a bit of a clutz.

Thanks - sorry for the length.


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Old Nov 20, 2004, 9:28 PM   #2
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I should add that I prefer movie theater picture to DVD picture if you get my meaning. Movie theater picture has high resolution a more natural picture to me(just an opinion) while DVD has "detail" but it's more annoying to me. DOn;t know if this makes any difference to camera image and it might be a terrible analogy but I figure I'd include it.
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Old Nov 21, 2004, 10:24 AM   #3
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Here is a good article some one posted on this forum:

http://digitalcameraguide.blogspot.com/

It's highly opinionated so take it with some consideration. But it does explain the basics and stuff like that...

Anyway, I just bought a camera recently (BTW, it was the Canon S1 IS you encountered) and here is a good process that you can use to buy your camera (this is not necessarily in any order):

Price

Unless you are a billionaire, in which case you should "donate" some money to me :G, price is definitely a key factor. I suggest that you use the two factors mentioned below (size and type of camera) first and then narrow down the choices via price.


Size

Decide what type of camera you want. In particular, what size is acceptable to you. Are you ok with a SLR-like camera that is kind of large? Or do you want something compact, can fit in your pocket, and something you can seamlessly carry everywhere? The size decision will narrow down your choices. Roughly speaking, the more complicated, more manual oriented, more amateur photographer cameras, are larger. The more compact the camera, the less features it has, and the more costly it is for a given feature (especially the ultra-compacts, which are very small).

I would classify all cameras into the following (size) categories:

i. ultra-compact: these are very small and ideal if you want to take a camera to a restaurant/night club/whatever, and take pics of friends/whatever at the spur of the moment. You generally pay a premium for the compactness.

ii. compact: these are general point&shoot cameras... these are larger than the ultra-compacts but are still small enough to be convenient... these cost less than the ultra-compacts for a given amount of features...

iii. prosumer and SLR-like: these are large and cannot fit into a small pocket. They are also not as convenient to carry around (can't carry it in your purse to a restaurant for example). However, these often provide the best features for a given price, give you a lot of manual controls, and generate better pictures than the smaller cameras.

iv. digital SLR: These are large and are highly inconvenient to carry around. Serious photographers and others will tend to use these... these are also expensive... starting around US$700 and going well into the thousands when you buy all the lenses and stuff like that...

See if you can narrow down the size...

Types of pics

What type of photos will you be taking? You already mentioned some details and it seems that you would take tourist-like landscape pics and maybe pics of friends. This would mean that a general low-zoom (3x) camera is sufficient for you. In contrast, if your goal is to take sports athletes far away from you, or animals in nature (which are far away, unless you suddenly became their friend ), you would want a high-zoom camera. Another more niche-area is macro photography, where you take pics of extreme close-ups (eg. coins, insects, etc) and this would require a good macro camera.

Specifications/details

Once you have a rough idea of the size and the type of camera you want, then you can get into the details. Until you narrow down the above two, I wouldn't get caught up in the details.

When looking for details, SOME key things to consider include:

* resolution/megapixels: the size of the prints you can make is dependent on the resolution. More megapixels will let you print bigger sizes. Roughly speaking, 3 megapixels will produce excellent 4x6 prints, and decent 8x10; 4 megapixels will produce good 8x10; and so on. I would recommend 3 MP as an absolute minimum and around 5MP or 6MP as the tops.

* optical zoom (ignore digital zoom since that does not improve pic quality): If you decided on a particular type of camera above then this may not matter (you may not have much choice in zoom). General point&shoot cameras have around 3x zoom; high-end general cameras have around 5x/6x; ultra-zooms have around 10x.

* sensor size: this is kind of complicated and hard to find so if you don't want to look at this, that's "ok"... given everything else is fixed, a bigger sensor is better...

* LCD screen size: bigger the LCD, the better

I would say those are some of the key specs you should look for, once you know what type of camera you want...

Brand

Different brands are good in different categories so you can't assume one brand is best (as salespeople like to simplify). For example, Sony makes AMAZING ultra-compacts. It costs a ton but the Sony ultra-compacts have very bright and large LCD screen, have all the cutting-edge technologies for an ultra-compact, etc. Panasonic, which is sort of a newcomer (at least in the digicam market), makes excellent ultra-zooms. If you want the highest zoom with good pic quality, it's hard to beat the Panasonic FZ series. Nikon makes very good DSLRs and some high-end cameras. Canon is sort of good at everything (with excellent DSLRs under $5000, good general point&shoots, and excellent ultra-compacts). Kodak makes easy-to-use cameras aimed at the mainstream market. And so on.

I personally would ignore brand unless you find two cameras that are roughly identical. Any of the big brands (Canon, Sony, Panasonic, Konica Minolta, Kodak, Olympus, Fuji, Nikon) are cool with me...

Top Picks

If you want some good cameras, here are some top picks from some of the best sites:

Steve's:
http://www.steves-digicams.com/best_cameras.html

dcresource.com:

http://www.dcresource.com/specials/h...04/index.shtml


I don't know if any of this helps or hurts... but hopefully it gives some ideas
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Old Nov 21, 2004, 10:28 AM   #4
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RGA wrote:
Quote:
I should add that I prefer movie theater picture to DVD picture if you get my meaning. Movie theater picture has high resolution a more natural picture to me(just an opinion) while DVD has "detail" but it's more annoying to me. DOn;t know if this makes any difference to camera image and it might be a terrible analogy but I figure I'd include it.
If the DVD pics look bad, then it's probably the fault of your tv TVs have very low resolution and that's why they look bad compared to the (film) big screen...

Just to add a thought, the low to mid-end digital cameras still don't have the resolution of film cameras. From some stuff that I was reading, you need something like 11 megapixels to fully replicate film. So something like your observation between (movie) film and DVD exists in digital cameras. However, it is not as noticeable as with movie film vs DVD on TV (the TV resolution is just way too low compared to anything... this is one reason some people are pushing HDTV).
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Old Nov 21, 2004, 3:21 PM   #5
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Thanks for the help. There is a lot to consider for sure and because the only cameras I've ever bought ar those terrible disposables there is a lot to wade through. The size issue is interesting because I'm wondering how easy it is to take pictures with teeny little buttons - those ultra small cameras are nifty but it seems like the Canon A75 size can still be put in the inside coat pocket - a little clunky admittedly.

I'm not made of money at all but I try not to buy the cheapest thing out there because i usually regret not spending a bit more. My computer for instance only had one drive bay and no CD writer. I opaid $1k 5 years ago but if I had spent $200.00 more I would have 2 bays and a CD writer and a faster processor. Then I ended up spending the $200.00 to replace the CD rom for a writer a year later for $200.00

So I don't want to get a 2.0 megapixel and then decide gee I'd like to make a lot of 8X10s and be dissapointed.

I've been reading up on the Panasonic DMC-FZ3

It looks like it does an aweful lot and is about the same size of the Canons - I think I'd like a Camera to feel more like my parents 35+ year old Pentax -- I held the tiny Casio and it might be too awkward. I don;t mind so much looking like the tourist with a bigger camera around my neck since in the summer I would have no inside pocket because I would not wear a jacket - and the A95 ain't going to fit in my pocket.

I'm also thinking about rock concerts or Baseball games that a good zoom might be a real treat to have.

SO the question then becomes if I want a camera hopefully to be my camera for the long term 10+ years that can take a bit of beating would spending more on say the FZ 20 be better? I hve the concern about the mega pixel issue - it seems like people say you need at least 3 and I'm always leary on buying the LEAST. :-)

I didn't even know Panasonic made cameras - though I have heard of Leica. It would be nice if anyone knows if they are okay for beginners. Some of the comments on Nikon suggested that absolute beginners might find some of the Nikon's very difficult. So idiot proof is good until I get brave.
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Old Nov 21, 2004, 9:02 PM   #6
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RGA wrote:
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Thanks for the help. There is a lot to consider for sure and because the only cameras I've ever bought ar those terrible disposables...
ugh :x

Quote:
. The size issue is interesting because I'm wondering how easy it is to take pictures with teeny little buttons - those ultra small cameras are nifty but it seems like the Canon A75 size can still be put in the inside coat pocket - a little clunky admittedly.
The Canon A line is compact and fits nicely between the very small ultra-compacts and the larger SLR-like ones. If you don't want something big, while having a lot of features, the compacts are good.

Quote:
I'm not made of money at all but I try not to buy the cheapest thing out there because i usually regret not spending a bit more. My computer for instance only had one drive bay and no CD writer. I opaid $1k 5 years ago but if I had spent $200.00 more I would have 2 bays and a CD writer and a faster processor. Then I ended up spending the $200.00 to replace the CD rom for a writer a year later for $200.00
Yeah... I have similar philosophy... don't buy the cheapest...

BUT keep in mind that digicams (like computers) advance very rapidly. By spending $100 less now, you can likely buy a camera in 2 years with twice as many features for that extra $100.

Quote:
So I don't want to get a 2.0 megapixel and then decide gee I'd like to make a lot of 8X10s and be dissapointed.
Go for 4 megapixels then... 4MP or 5MP is probably best for you if you want to keep the camera for a while and have the option to make larger prints...

Quote:
I've been reading up on the Panasonic DMC-FZ3

It looks like it does an aweful lot and is about the same size of the Canons - I think I'd like a Camera to feel more like my parents 35+ year old Pentax -- I held the tiny Casio and it might be too awkward.
Go and check out how the FZ3 is ... Future Shop has them on display now... check out how all these cameras look/feel and see if you are comfortable with them...

Quote:
I don;t mind so much looking like the tourist with a bigger camera around my neck since in the summer I would have no inside pocket because I would not wear a jacket - and the A95 ain't going to fit in my pocket.
If you are ok with the larger size, the SLR-like prosumer cameras are great. They offer the most features for a reasonable price...

Quote:
I'm also thinking about rock concerts or Baseball games that a good zoom might be a real treat to have.
yeah... ultra-zoom totally kills everything in these situations... low-light still poses problems for ultra-zooms but at least you can attempt to get close-ups...

Quote:
SO the question then becomes if I want a camera hopefully to be my camera for the long term 10+ years that can take a bit of beating would spending more on say the FZ 20 be better?
I don't think a digital camera will last 10 years. The technology improves so fast that you would be living in the stone age with dinosaurs as your friends if you rely on your 10 year old camera You know, it's like computers. How many people can use computers for 10 years? Not many. The old film SLR cameras lasted 10+ years but I would peg a digicam life at around 3 to 4 years.... the only cameras that I can see lasting 10 years are digital SLR cameras (DSLR) which cost CAN$1000+.


Quote:
I hve the concern about the mega pixel issue - it seems like people say you need at least 3 and I'm always leary on buying the LEAST. :-)
3MP will give you 8x10 but anything larger won't be so good. This is not to say that can't print larger with 3MP (some people do) but you have to do a lot of computer editing and stuff to make sure your pic looks ok...

Just for reference, the camera I bought (just a few weeks ago) is only 3MP and here is my reasoning on why I went with 3MP:

* first of all, I'm not sure if I'm into photography. My camera is at test to see if I"m into this stuff... If I'm into it, then I will likely buy another camera in 2 years...

* Secondly, because I can't afford it and stuff, I will not be printing too many large pics. The cost of printing goes up almost-exponentially and 8x10 is just too expensive for me. I can see myself making 4 or 5 8x10" per YEAR but that's about it. Most of my pics will be 4x6 and 5x7...

* Thirdly, any large pic that I would print would likely be something that I can do with a panorama, by stitching together multiple images. This is not easy but I'm looking forward to doing it. Sure, you can't stitch together moving objects or changing environment but landscapes and buildings should be doable. I think my 3MP should be enough to stitch together a fairly large size panorama...

So that's why I went with a 3MP camera... but I would consider that as absolute minimum... If you can afford it, 4MP or 5MP is safer (the larger size will allow you to crop, whereas with 3MP I can't crop as much)...

Quote:
I didn't even know Panasonic made cameras - though I have heard of Leica. It would be nice if anyone knows if they are okay for beginners.
lol Neither did I :O ... they were a nobody in the digicam business but their Lumix line of Leica branded cameras that they introduced around 2(?) years ago are excellent. Starting with the FZ10, and ending with the latest FZ3/FZ20, these are amazing ultra-zooms... Right now they are not popular but if they can keep this up, they will become one of the top manufacturers, alongside Sony, Canon, Fuji and Olympus.

As far as ease-of-use is concerned, I don't think you should worry THAT much. A lot of cameras have auto modes that are pretty good. Also, if you are buying a prosumer camera (like panasonic FZ series or whatever) then you are clearly considering learning the features. I would only be worried if you don't want to learn any of the advanced features--in this case, I would recommend that you only stick with ultra-compacts and compacts (which are easier with less features)...
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Old Nov 21, 2004, 10:24 PM   #7
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Thanks

I think I'll just be patient until after boxing day and see. The FZ 20 is ridiculously priced here in Canada as they have not been paying heed to the exchange rate it seems. For instance the Canon 1S is $549.00Cdn and the FZ 20 is $899.00. I'm not sure it's THAT much better a camera. The A75 is $285.00 and the A 85 is about $385.

I am thinking you're right - maybe buy a basic Canon like the A75 and decide then If I'm really going to get into photography or not - heck I may end up just taking pictures to send to people on the net and keep my photo abums on the computer - printing is pricey. And the advancements you mentin - heck in 5 years they'll probably be 10 megapixel as the minimum $129.00 special.

If I can get the Canon 1S for around the same price as the A75 both being 3MP then I might go for itor if the Panasonic FZ3 which is $599.00Cdn drops in price to the $400.00 range I might give it a go.



Thanks.




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