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Ravenna Jan 6, 2005 5:44 PM


so far I have been taking all my photos with my (elderly I admit) Nikon FA with a Nikon zoom 1:3.5-4.5 and 35-105mm or the Tamron 28-300mm and 3.5-6.3. And I must say for most outdoor purposes it suited me absolutely fine.

The time I get stuck though is for indoor photography and I am considering getting a handy digital camera for that. In particular I also want to keep a record of my bonsai and those will be pics where I really don't want to spend money on prints most of the time but rather just have a cheap way of keeping track of their growth.

So I would really quite like to have a camera with some good light sensitivity and good quality of the pics at normal standard size. So that if I do want print outs of the digital camera for my photo album the photos don't drop off too much beside pics of a reflex camera.Basically I need something to complement the deficiencies of my reflex camera.

Currently I have a Toshiba laptop but I know that the moment I finish the studies for which I had to buy the PC I will return to my beloved MAC and therefor would like a camera that works well with both systems.

I fear I have no clue about digital cameras so I don't really know what the price range would be for a camera like that. Fernyrecommendedthis site and "assured" me that you would all rush to help me with advice.:-).. so I look forward to your suggestions. Could you please help me?

Kind regards, Ravenna

JimC Jan 6, 2005 6:04 PM


Most Digital Cameras don't do well in low light (i.e., Typical Indoor Lighting) without a flash or tripod. Shutter speeds are usually too slow to prevent to prevent motion blurwith hand held shots (unless you raise ISO speed up to levels where the noise/grain becomes objectionable). This would be similar to you trying to shoot indoors with your Nikon without a flash. You'd need high ISO film (and even then, you may not be pleased with the results). Most non-DSLR models have objectionable noise levels by the time you get to ISO 400.

So, your "light sensitive" requirements would be a concern.

Now, Digital SLR models do much better in lower light. For example, the Nikon D70. This is because they have much larger sensors compared to the consumer models. So, they have higher availalbe ISO speeds. However, you'd still want a bright lens to go with one unless you plan on using a tripod or flash. Also, you'd need lenses capable of getting close for your bonsai, which would require stopping down the aperture for greater depth of field (again resulting in slower shutter speeds).

Did you have a budget in mind? There are literally hundreds of models available now. If you can use a tripod or flash, many would probably suit you well, and if you're not planning to print at larger sizes, resolution wouldn't be a big concern either.

As far as compability with Mac vs. Windows, I wouldn't worry about it too much. Modern Digital Cameras store the images on a Memory Card (with various types used by different models). So, if for somereason you decided on a model that was not well supported on Mac (and most would be), you could simply use a card reader to transfer your photos (with a variety of card readers available for very low cost that would be supported by a Mac).

ferny Jan 7, 2005 9:35 AM


Ferny recommended this site and "assured" me that you would all rush to help me with advice
I should explain myself then. :lol:
She asked for for advice and I told here I didn't know enough about the different brands so I sent her hear. :)

Ravenna Jan 7, 2005 5:17 PM

JimC wrote:


Most Digital Cameras don't do well in low light (i.e., Typical Indoor Lighting) without a flash or tripod. Shutter speeds are usually too slow to prevent to prevent motion blurwith hand held shots (unless you raise ISO speed up to levels where the noise/grain becomes objectionable).

Now, Digital SLR models do much better in lower light. For example, the Nikon D70.

Hi Jim,

first of all thank you very much for your suggestions. Just atad confused here about the above. What is a digital SLR model it sounds as if it is something different from a "normal" digital camera??? I must admit that I don't have a very clear idea about the budget yet for a couple of reasons:

a) I have seen the few photos of bonsai that I have taken only on my computer and there they looked alright and I believe my friends said that the camera was between 200 and 300 Swiss Francs. But I have never seen print-outs so I don't know what I get for that. So that is the only "hunch" for the price range that I have...

b) There are a couple of options: if I don't gain much with the digital camera for indoor photos compared to my "bog-standard" camera then one option might be to get a rather cheap one for use where I need just some pics on the PC and get a good light sensitive objective and/or a flash for my old Nikon...

c) unless some digitals cope well the moment they have a flash???

Regards, Ravenna

P.S.: Ferny: seems like I got you worried with my comment.... :-D

JimC Jan 7, 2005 5:40 PM

A Digital SLR is like your Nikon SLR. The difference is that it has an electronic sensor instead of film. A Digital SLR has a TTL (through the lens) viewfinder, interchangeable lenses, etc. These tend to be larger, heavier and more expensive compared to non-DSLR models.

As long as you can use a flash (or a tripod if you're not using a flash), then there are many inexpensive (non-DSLR) models that will work just fine, at a cost less than you'd be able to buy one decent macro (close up) lens for model like your Nikonfor.

I'd let your desired print sizes be a guide to how much resolution you need. Chances are, a 3 Megapixel Model would serve you fine (which will producenice prints at 8x10" size). You could go with a lower resolution model for on screen viewing only (but I'd probably just get a 3MP model, since there is very little price difference now).

I'd check out the cameras in theBest Cameras List in the consumer model section if you want to keep costs down -- perhaps looking at models like the Canon A75 (which has a focus assist lamp to help it see to focus in lower light at closer ranges). This appears to be in your price range (based on what I can see from converting francs to dollars).

Ravenna Jan 8, 2005 6:28 PM

Hi Jim,

thanks again for your quick reply. I think things are getting a bit clearer for me now. I am more tempted now to actually get a "straight and simple" digital camera as I also rather wanted to have something that isn't quite as large as my current camera. I often leave it at home just because I am too lazyto lugg it around.

I guess I just will have to get a much more light sensitive objective for my Nikon then. One thing just occurred to me though: how about short "videos"... do you tend to have that routinely in cameras too now? It just occurred to me because I had the impression somehow that sometimes videocameras work fine where photocameras need flash.

Using flash is an issue for me insofar as I am quite interested inArchaeology and rather "resented" it when on the trip to Egypt in Novembre I just couldn't take photos of some really stunning hieroglyphs/carvings/paintings in temples/museums/tombs because you were only allowed to take pics without flash or take video pics...

Well, I will also have a look at that list of yours and then go and see next week whether I can find anything interesting in the shops here as I have a bonsai course end of this month and would like to use a simple camera for that... So I might "bother" you again after my first (window)-shopping spree...:-)

Regards, Ravenna

JimC Jan 8, 2005 6:44 PM


Yes, many of the current models have the ability to do video clips now. Some are better at it compared to others (resolution, frame rate, etc.). Some let you use zoom while recording, most don't. Personally, I never use this feature on cameras I've had with (but some users do like it). As a general rule, the qualityisnot as good as a dedicated camcorder (and video clips use up lots of space on a memory card).

For existing light photos without a flash, the smaller cameras don't tend to do very well.

For museums, etc. where you can't use a flash-- trying to stay within your budget of around 200-300 francs, you may want to look into a used model with a brighter lens. Some to consider would be the Olympus C-2020z, C-3040z, C-4040z; Epson PhotoPC 850z, 3000z, 3100z; Sony S70, S85; Casio QV-3000EX, QV-3500EX; Toshiba PDR-M70.

These all have lenses that are twice as bright as most at their wide angle lens setting. Note that I've included a mixture of 2, 3 and 4 Megapixel models in the above list.

Their brighter lenses compared to most, coupled with less dense sensors, make them better existing light performers than many of the newer compact models within your price range. I don't know what the used market is like in your area, though -- as far as being able to find a camera in good condition.

Note that there are some new models for a bit more money that have image stabilization built in. They are designed to reduce motion blur from camera shake when slower shutter speeds are needed (as in existing light photos without a flash). A few examples (and there are more) would be the Panasonic DMC-FX7, DMC-FZ3, DMC-FZ15, DMC-FZ20, Konica-Minolta A1, Konica-Minolta A2.

Ravenna Jan 10, 2005 4:44 PM

Hi Jim,

wow, you really know your cameras!!! Just for curiosity sake: Did youlook that upor did you just "reel that off"???? Anyway, I am impressed. Thank you. I have seen that one of the big electronics shops here has got a sale on so I will go there tomorrow (finally having a day off here...) and have a look around for the cameras you suggestd in your mail and on you list.

Regards, Ravenna

perdendosi Jan 10, 2005 5:04 PM

Raveena, you said:

One thing just occurred to me though: how about short "videos"... do you tend to have that routinely in cameras too now? It just occurred to me because I had the impression somehow that sometimes videocameras work fine where photocameras need flash.
Videos only do "better" in low light for three main reasons (there may be others but these come to mind right away):

(1) They have auto "gain" settings (equivalent to ISO or ISO-like settings on digital cameras) that boost the input signal, but also boost the noise. Thus, if you'd look at one still frame of video, you'd see that it would be as noisy or noisier than a still frame of a digital camera taken at high ISO

(2) The images are in motion... 30 frames per second. There is really no "shutter" speed because the "shutter" is always open. So you don't see the blurring that each individual frame would have if taken with a still camera. BUT if you were to take one still frame from the camera, you'd see that each frame when the camera is is motion is actually quite blurry (try it sometime on your VCR--freeze an image while the camera is panning or a subject is moving fast...)

(3) Video images are lower resolution and store less data than even the cheapest camera available today.

Thus, if you were to take a still frame from a video camera, you'd see that in low light in the conditions you've stated, it would produce a worse, not a better image. Same thing for frames of the movie that any digital camera would produce.

My suggestion: find a digital camera with a self timer that allows longer exposures (most digital cameras do this these days) and, for your bonsai, buy a small tabletop tripod (about $10 US) and make sure you have a fairly powerful light available (even 100 watts at a close range will do). The pics will be fine. No pro quality; but will do what you want them to. For your archeology, I'd definitely recommend a bright, fast lens (one with a maximum f-stop of f/1.8) for your Nikon. No pocket digicam would give you good results (meaning anything more than being able to just barely see what it is you were taking) in those situations without a flash.

Good luck... I'm sure others can give recommendations for particular cameras.


Ravenna Jan 11, 2005 1:44 PM


thank you perdendosi... Basically what you said about having a more light sensitive for my Nikon I think that is what I will have to do ultimately. For the "throw-away photos" I think I'll still get a digi-cam: I wouldn't want to pay for the development of all those photos. And it will be nice to have one nice and small camera...

Went to the shop today and say that they have most of the cameras that are listed under the 4 Megapixel list... (best cameras)... and now I am even more confused. Just now I am downloading all the reviews but I do feel a bit confused by all that information. One thing I was thinking as I wasskipping overthe reviews is that I would find it really helpful if there were also some drawbacks mentionned for each camera. Having just the positive aspects cited of the cameras and the specs makes it really difficult to weigh the pros and cons of a specific model for an ignoramus like me... :sad:

So just thought I'd list the cameras they have (with prices and may be some comments queries....) see what you think?????

They have:

Nikon Coolpix 5200 for 399,_ SFr that would be higher resolution for a good price though I still have to see whether it has other drawbacks. Nice and small. Wondering: do you really need all those 15 "scene modes" or is the "fiddle stuff"

Sony DSC P100 for 479._SFr see above

Nikon Coolpix 4200 for 399.-SFr lower resolution but same price??? Why???

Sony CybershotL1 for 479._ I like about it that it has a Zeiss lens though I don't know how much difference there still is between them these days. Would I rather be paying for the name?? Camera seemed nice and small, controls a bit fiddly though

Sony DSC-P73 for 299._ cheap, no Zeiss lens, I'll have to read more about it.

Canon Powershot A85 for 399.- SFr

Fujifilm Finepix A340 for 249 SFr.

Any ideas, hintsor suggestions will be welcome: having my "weekend" now, so I'll be doing some reading.

Oh and they had an Ixus 40 (that is Canon I believe) that they were recommending but I couldn't find a review of that here???

A very confused Ravenna:?

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