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Old Feb 4, 2005, 10:03 AM   #1
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Hi,

Have read this forum a lot recently giving great feedback . We presently own a Canon A80 and I bought it for my wife . I presently own a saltwater reef tank and want to take pictures of the corals .Yes I see some RC members in here too Hey GUy's . Anyway's I want to take macro shots of the corals as they grow soI can eventually get a website going of it's progress . I am kinda of a point and shoot person and have recently played in manual mode for my pictures (seems like you have to ) . I have been shopping for a camera for myself and I see good communication on megapixels vs optics ,sensor size etc . It's confusing because it's stated here all over the place more megapixels doesn't mean a greater looking pic . It gets noisy over a 400 iso and above etc and more megapixels gives greater printing options . I was told to do macro's I need a big optic zoom over megapixels for my needs for great pic's . I could purchase a prosumer camera like mentioned above but will it fulfill my needs? I do understand the picture can redone in software if it's a tiff or raw to make up for the softness a prosumer gives you . Can I get away with using a A95 without tiff or raw or does it need to be a mac-daddy prosumer cameraMinolta A-200 or just something like a Panasonic FZ 15k with a huge optical lower mega pixel(don'r know if it does raw or tiff ? It would be nice to do video and audio with a digicam and I would prefer to have a camera that uses a SD card so I can put it in my plasma TV and look at the pic's . Hope this info is enough to get some good feed back and please no acme camera buff's need reply (LOL).
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Old Feb 4, 2005, 6:14 PM   #2
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Here are my thoughts... others may have other opinions...

You should try using the A80, which is pretty decent, before trying another camera. Spending more on a high-end prosumer will not give you a magic solution. They will give you more power but not better pics out of the camera. The pics are really up to you. Try taking some pics with your camera (which already has manual controls like aperature priority mode, etc) and see things turn out. Grab a tripod and use it (if you are cheap and/or don't want to get one, try setting your camera on a table or something, and seee how the pics turn out).

megapixels... megapixels simply give you larger printing sizes and cropping room. If you want to print larger than 8"x10", for example, you really want more than 3 megapixels... other than that, megapixels don't mean much...

ISO... Nearly all the consumers and prosumers offer the same high ISO speeds and all of them produce tons of noise. So this isn't a big deal unless you are sure you want it. Generally speaking, you would use higher ISO speeds if there isn't enough light. Your fishes may require high ISOs but I'm not sure. It depends on lighting and stuff...

TIFF and RAW... If pics are soft, you can sharpen them using image editing software. Furthermore, raw images are next to useless unless you know what you are doing (eg. what colour curves mean, how to manipulate them, how to optimize white-balance, etc)...

Does your TV play videos off SD cards? Make sure it does. I don't know much about TVs but I don't think I know of any that plays videos off memory cards (some DO show still pictures though)... you can also purchase 3rd party hardware to play video off memory cards... or use a computer and burn the video to a DVD or something...

Don't take this as a diss... I think you are jumping ahead too much. You should try using the A80 to do what you want to do and then figure out how good--or bad--it is. Jumping to a high-end prosumer is not going to solve anything by itself...
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Old Feb 4, 2005, 9:36 PM   #3
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No I don't think your dissing me but i do think your'e not entirely reading what I stated .I have already tried manual mode ,with a tripod at that .For what I am doing my hands cannot stay that still and bracing against the tank doesn't work well for me .I have used manual mode ISO 100 ,no flash ,adj AWB setwith the white sand ,speed 1/15 and I think the aperture ws about 6 or 7 to give u an idea of what settings I used . Doing pic's of the corals and fish is not an issue ;they are under a lot of light; not entirely the same spectrum as the sun 5500k but more in the 14k + range Got good results but I want better . If I was being cheap ;then so be it for not buying a DSLR .LOL Already looked at an EVO ?,Rebel , ..The bonus in SD card would be popping the card in my tv to view the pic's; not movie mode ;you would use the video inputs on the front of the TV for that . So that aside and my wife getting irritated that I am playing with her gift more than her . Would a Panasonic mega zoom give better results in macro use?less megapizels or would a Minolta d2 or A200 be the better bet ?more megapixel but on the optical side less so .Both of these camera's can use a SD card .The new pentax is out but the reviews i saw did not look promising . I know; kinda sad to be basing a camera buy on the memory type but unfortunatelty it's part of the requirements . Video with sound wouldbe nice but not necessary .. Hope this makes iteasier for input from everyone ..

TIA MORDIBV


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Old Feb 4, 2005, 9:51 PM   #4
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Old Feb 5, 2005, 10:10 AM   #5
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Post some pics that you have taken and let's see how they are...

One thing that higher-end prosumers have are add-on lens. I think the A80 has them too but they are likely worse than the prosumer add-on lens. A lot of macro enthusiasts use macro lens so that is also something to consider. Try asking this question in a macro forum here or something... you might get better answers...
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Old Feb 5, 2005, 11:29 AM   #6
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With most cameras you increase the smallest area you can take in macro as you zoom. With the Panasonic FZ series the smallest area you can get in macro at full 12X zoom is about 25 times larger than the smallest you can get at wide angle. The macro on most cameras is optimized at wide. I think the A200 is an exception to that in that it captures the same size target at full zoom in macro, but that is rare.

If you aren't shooting that small a target extra zoom might help framing the subject even if the area increases with zoom.

I don't think the A2/A200 will take SD cards. I'm impressed that your HDTV takes SD cards – I wish mine did. Many DVD players will show images from a CD if you just record them as JPGs. Some require you to record as a VCD, which is less ideal IMO.

You need a tripod for what you are doing and stabilization doesn't help for that. It is a nice feature for other photography though. No need to boost the ISO on a tripod unless you want to include the fish and they are moving. Stabilization doesn't help for moving targets either.

I agree that you aren't likely to do better with another camera than you can with the A80 unless you just don't have enough zoom to capture what you want. Some cameras have a finer white balance adjustment, but you can make a custom white balance setting with the A80 using a white piece of paper.

I don't find TIFF to be a very practical format from a digital camera. The file sizes are too large and the cycle times too long, with no real quality advantage over a good SHQ JPG. The A80 does a fairly high quality JPG, Raw is another matter though. You can adjust the white balance in the software just as if you had done it in the camera. And you have infinite increments. You can also adjust sharpening, contrast, saturation etc just as if you were adjusting it in the camera. The image sizes are smaller than TIFF and some cameras buffer the raw shots. You can also get more bit depth where TIFF is usually 8 bit color from a non-DSLR (24 bit in three channels).

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Old Feb 5, 2005, 2:08 PM   #7
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Thanks everyone ,

Here are a few pic's . I will check into the macro area for better input .I see some similar post's will check those out too.

TIA ,

Mordibv
http://members.cox.net/mordibv/IMG_0012.jpg
http://members.cox.net/mordibv/IMG_00131.jpg
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Old Feb 6, 2005, 11:07 AM   #8
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The pics have too much noise. This is caused by too high ISOs in consumer cameras...

Highlights are also burnt out (i.e. too white in some areas). This is usually because the exposure is too long. Try shooting with a lower shutter speed (but this requires trying to use shutter priority mode or trying to reduce the EV compensation... somewhat advanced techniques)...

There also seems to be a lot of purple fringing but that's a limitation of the camera.

Since there seems to be a lot of light, you don't need to use high ISO (which causes noise). Try shooting with low ISO. If your camera has it, try using the 'P' mode and setting the ISO to something low (like ISO 50 or ISO80 or something) and then try taking the pic...

Another thing you might want to try (although I'm just guessing here) is to try one of the special pic modes like 'vivid' or something like that. I'm hoping that your corals will be more colourful and more "vivid" with that. So try shooting with that...

Finally, try sharpening using your image editor (or do it in-camera--but using computer software is better). My Canon S1 IS comes bundled with Arcsoft PhotoStudio and I use that to sharpen pics (go under the effects menu). Use your favourite editor to sharpen pics...
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Old Feb 6, 2005, 11:43 AM   #9
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Thanks again . Some of the white spots or streaks you see if you suspect is noise is actually phytoplankton ;(snow so to speak ).I appreciate the input and I notice that fringing a lot too . I did get a hold of someone with a lot of experience and his critique was decent pic's ;could be sharper but the camera didn't have enough umph ;zoom to get the pic's done . I turn off the digital zoom if i'm taking pic's of the tank.This leaves me with the 3x to work with .I have decided to get some type of Megazoom Camera so at least I know which direction to go on the purchase .. especially with all the other recent posts with similar questions ..
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