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Old Jan 12, 2005, 6:42 PM   #1
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I've never useda a digital photocamera so far,so I don't think my expectations could be very high to be honest.

Still, these are my criteria:
-First of all the price: no more than $400 for a camera point and shoot+memory stick256 pro/512 CF/case/battery spare etc.
-Great photo quality (on auto mode, too)
-Better quality at night conditions or lower light such as indoor/outdoor concerts, parties, stadiums, discos/clubs (where i will use it mostly)
-Be able to control the zoom properly and thus result correct pics.
-Be able to make quality movies

My biggest problem is I can't determine which of these are most important for one who never used before a digital camera ?
-improved auto mode or many manual features ?
-shaky zoom (W1) is a problem of practice (human hands) or of camera ?
-smaller but swivelling LCD or bigger and better in sunshine LCD ?
-which are best batteries to have as spare? AA's or an additional set of the rechargables that come with the camera?
-what to choose between CF and Memory StickPRO (QUALITY AND PRICE)? Also is there big quality difference between Sandisk and Sony/Lexar memory sticks (PRO) ?
-purple fringing problems and not very smooth zoom are major disadvantages for A95 ?
-is it really true this discouraging "don't buy W1 unless you have steady steel hands"... ?

All in all I will surely appreciate if owners of these two types of cameras share here their most annoying experiences they had with them or give me some helpfull tips soI can decide .

I'm also considering spend less money if any other cam will do fine for a newbie like me, but it's all about picture quality, clarity and all, for me.

Please do give me ahand here, as i'm becoming desperate by the huge amount of reviews I read

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Old Jan 12, 2005, 6:55 PM   #2
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You will not be able to get good quality photos in the environments you are describing with a small digital camera, unless you are using a flash, and within the flash range (around 12 or 13 feet for these models if you are not using any zoom -- less if you are using zoom).

In other words, for indoor concerts, events in a stadium at night, etc., you will not get good photos. This is because shutter speeds will be too slow to prevent motion blur and/or you'll have high noise levels if you try to increase ISO speed.

For this type of event, you'll need a camera with a brighter lens, and the ability to shoot at higher ISO speeds with low noise. A DSLR model with a bright lensis the best solution.

Also, you may find that the Optical zoom is too limiting to get useful photos in larger venues. You'll want alot more optical zoom.

For small clubs, if you can get VERY close, a flash may work (you'd need to be within about 8 or9 feet of your subject at maximum zoom with the models you're looking at, since far less light reaches the sensor through the lens when using zoom).
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Old Jan 12, 2005, 7:00 PM   #3
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Well I guess I'll have to live with that handicap since I can't afford to spend more ...

Should I understand from what you said that I could very well spend less...say on a A80 or even A75/70 ? I mean the difference of quality in those environments won't differ too much ?
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Old Jan 12, 2005, 7:09 PM   #4
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The lens on the A80 is not any brighter. However, it would likely give you slightly higher quality compared to the A95 in lower light. This is because the A80 is using a 4MP 1/1.8" CCD, which has larger photosites for each pixel compared to the 5MP 1/1.8" CCD used in the A95, or the 4MP 1/2.5" CCD used in the A85.

So, the larger photosites for each pixel are able to gather more light, requiring less amplification of their signal for equivalentsensitivity.

You'd need to shoot athigher ISO speeds (i.e., ISO 400) indoors when you're outside of the flash range to have a chance of getting any usable photos. You'd probably need to stay at full wide angle (no zoom), to get any keepers (since far less light reaches the sensor using zoom with the models you're looking at).

Increasing ISO speed will increase noise levels substantially (noise is similar to film grain, only it can be worse).But, the 4MP 1/1.8" CCD used in the A80 is a little better compared to the others you're looking at.

Then, I'd run the photos through a noise reduction tool like Neat Image, Noise Ninja or Noiseware to reduce the appearance of noise some.

What size prints did you really need? You may be better off trying to find a used model with lower resolution and a brighter lens, if you don't mind a slightly larger camera.

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 at leasttwice as bright as most at their wide angle lens setting (f/2.0 is twice as bright as f/2.8, allowing shutter speeds twice as fast for the same lighting conditions and ISO speed). The less dense sensors used in them are also better from a noise perspective compared to many newer models. Of course, they may be missing some of the newer features, better movie modes, etc. (but if you want better photos in lower light, I'd take a look at this option).

Note that I've included a mixture of 2, 3 and 4 Megapixel models in the above list.


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Old Jan 12, 2005, 7:28 PM   #5
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JimC wrote:
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What size prints did you really need? You may be better off trying to find a used model with lower resolution and a brighter lens, if you don't mind a slightly larger camera.
First of all I thank you very much for your proffessional manner of answering me.

Secondly, I guess this is what concludes it for me:

Since I am just a beginner I will use it for general purposes, so I am not interested very much in those 5 pixels. I read what they serve for. I only chose for these 2 as I was impressed by the quality of speed, zoom and movies of W1 and also for the excellent quality pics of A95, smoothenss and everything and not forget the possibility of making more helping and versatile pics with its nice swivelling LCD.

So...for most average users I guess other cameras will serve their daily purpose better. I am one of these and I can only hope now you will recommend me some, taking into account my budget and all add-ons required.

What about anit-shake functions for point and shot indoor photos? What other cameras/brands will do for me ? Maybe even cheaper...
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Old Jan 12, 2005, 7:47 PM   #6
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Anti-shake can help to reduce blur from camera shake. However, it won't help to reduce blur from subject movement (you need faster shutter speeds for that, which can only be obtained by a brighter lens or higher ISO speeds for any given lighting condition).

Smaller cameras are limited in low light because their lenses are not very bright (able to gather as much light), and the small sensors tend to have high noise levels as ISO speeds are increased (which you need to do in order for to use faster shutter speeds). Each time you double the ISO speed, the camera can use shutter speeds twice as fast.

Where a model with a stabilized lens really helps the most is at longer focal lengths (more zoom). This is because camera shake is greatly magnified when using zoom. So, you can get more blur from camera shake than you do from subject movement in some conditions, and stabilized lens can help reduce the need to use a tripod.

For concert use, you may need a longer zoom lens to bring the action in closer (in which case, a stabilized lens can help).

However, here is a long thread on this subject (concert photography), from someone that tried a Panasonic DMC-FZ20 for this use, and was not satisfied with the results (but the light was pretty low in the clubs he was taking photos in):

http://www.stevesforums.com/forums/v...=87&page=1

So, if you decide to go with a model like that in your price range (for example, the DMC-FZ3), I'd make sure to buy it from a vendor with a no restocking fee policy.
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Old Jan 12, 2005, 8:12 PM   #7
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Well, i think some things must me added here to become more exact:

1. First of all I am reluctant to spend more than 400 for a ...let's say...fun toy.

2. Secondly I would not be too much bothered by the lower quality of indoors pics since I do not intend to turn into a pro. I can live with that, knowing my needswhich basically are:

-a usefull little camera to carry everywhere I go (like I said: parties, concerts, stadiums). This doesn't imply I am looking to obtain excellent pics given my budget. But at least a good not too expensive camera.

-I could enjoy very well making also movies (I've read especially W1 and Canon PowerShot S1 IS will do itbest)

-a camera which features also manual settings, especially for zoom,though i guess automatic shots I'll use mostly.

Given all that, Jim, do you reckon S1 will do ? I mean it's got all those feature. The only thing I'm affraid is that annoying E18 error...I've read many encountered it and Canon won't help much unless you're very persistent. I also read that Panasonic Fz3 might be better in quality of pics but I hate its design. I need one more "fancy", eronomic, easier to carry.

This was in fact the first option for me after reading first reviews but then again I guess I got lost and confused by more I read.

Please do help me make my mind as I am bit in a hurry for some personal reasons.


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Old Jan 12, 2005, 9:23 PM   #8
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I'm probably the wrong person to ask about movies. I've had movie ability on multiple still cameras thatI've owned, but I'venever used it, other than a quick test or two.

In most reviews here, you'll find a movie clip in the Sample Photos section. You'll have to be the judge as far as quality. The S1 IS is better than most at movies (640x480 at 30fps), and lets you use zoom while recording (most don't).

By most accounts, this model struggles to focus in low light when using zoom. So, I'd take this into consideration, too.

You'll have to decide what is more important when comparing them. There is no one model that is going to have everything you want in a camera, and each user's perception of quality is going to be different.




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Old Feb 1, 2005, 12:10 PM   #9
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I cannot thank you enough for this response--it clarifies so much! Now, at last, I understand why vendors are asking more for the A80 than the A85 and A95!

I'm in grad school and starting a project that will require at least 10,000 indoor close-up stills, and lighting will be a problem--good fluorescents, but no windows or Ott lamps around, and I can't use flash for the library and museum shots, though I will use a tripod and can take as much time and as many tests as necessary to set WB, distance (as close as necessary), etc. The objects range in size from 1"x2" to 10"x15" and have text and images in both B&W and color. Fortunately, the photographs will only be seen on the web, so pixels for prints are not a factor.

I know with lighting issues and a limited budget I won't get the precision and clarity I lust after, but the close-ups I saw of a $20 bill using a Canon A80/95 with +17 macros at <www.lensmateonline.com> gave me hope that I could achieve a quality result without a DSLR. Money is an issue, so I'll gladly sacrifice other features to get the best results for the narrow needs of this project.

Any thoughts you may have will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks, Ana D.
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Old Feb 1, 2005, 1:47 PM   #10
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I should add that I did a quick search for the cameras you listed, but a) they're hard to find, and b) I know too little about cameras to buy or work with a used one (I wouldn't know if I or it was screwing up), so I need a current model.

Thanks, Ana D.
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