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Old Apr 6, 2005, 5:57 PM   #1
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My 20 yr old 35 mm just kicked the bucket, and I've wanted to get a digital camera and video camera for a while. Found this site and really appreciate the lists of recommended cameras, but I have some basic questions...I hope you guys don't get impatient with me because even the newbies on this site are eons ahead of me. If there's a "Digicams For Dummies" book/site out there, just point me to it. Here are my requirements:

Size & weight: Nothing too big and bulky, then again, I'm used to lugging around my old 35 mm. I don't need the James Bond ultra-tiny spy cam either.

Resolution: I won't need any pictures larger than 8x10, so I probably don't need a lot of megapixels.

Control: I'll definitely rely on point & click at first, but down the road could see experimenting with manual settings

Options: movie mode definitely, close-ups would be nice, need to eliminate red eye, nothing else too fancy

So here are my questions and I'd appreciate any answers you may provide:

1. When I record a movie, can I then download it onto my PC to store it? Do I need separate software for that, along with cables/hardware?

2. Do the movies take up most of the memory, so that you have to put in a new memory card?

3. Can you take black and white pictures?

4. What are the pros and cons of printing my pictures at home (I just have a basic Gateway PC with an HP color printer, but I did buy the special ink cartridge and paper for photos) vs bringing them to CVS or Walgreens for them to print?

5. Is it better to buy your camera online, or go to a store? What store or websitewould you recommend?

6. What's a good starter camera for me??? And what extras too - memory, batteries, etc.

Thanks everyone!

~Linda


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Old Apr 6, 2005, 6:04 PM   #2
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Oh, one more thing...

Price: I was looking to spend around $500, including extras.



Thanks!

~Linda


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Old Apr 6, 2005, 6:46 PM   #3
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Hello Linda,

Yes, there is a digital photography for dummies book.. A couple I think.. Try Amazon (don't have specific link to the books for you, sorry)..

Resolution, 4 or 5 Mp will get you decent 8x10 prints when you actually want to do them.. There are a lot of online services that do prints relatively cheap and I'm betting FAR cheaper than CVS or similar.

There are a lot of digital cameras that will do what you want in your price range.. That is, start simple and grow into it.. If you are use to a film SLR, your learning curve will be relatively short.

With the exception of the Movie mode, I could recommend the Panasonic DMC-FZ5.. It does movies but is limited to 320x240.. Which is okay if all you want to do is record and view on a computer screen.. I tell people if they really want video, buy a video camera but that's up to you..

For video on a digicam, look for one that has a limit only of the storage size. With my FZ20, one minute of video is about 26meg.. 10 minutes would be 260meg, etc.. The camera should come with all cables and basic software needed to download and view photos and video.. If it doesn't I would look at a different camera (just my opinion)..

You can take photos and then post process to b&w (if the camera doesn't support it).. There are many Free programs out there that'll do it. The Panasonics btw, will do b&w.

Printing photos at home, especially 8x10, can get very pricey. Ink runs out FAST when doing full coverage photos. That is, there isn't a lot of white (blank) space.

I would suggest picking a couple different models to look at (I've suggested the FZ5) and go to

http://www.resellerratings.com

and shop from there..

Good luck,
Jeff

:G

Edit.. Didn't see your second post.. The FZ5 may be slightly above your price range, but not by much.. Whatever camera you buy, figure on buying a card for it. The ones that come with are usually good for up to about 10 shots only.. One of the best places to buy the cards is

http://www.newegg.com

:!::!::!::!:
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Old Apr 6, 2005, 8:09 PM   #4
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Linda,

The Panasonic FZ5 is a very good camera, but unless you need 12X zoom, it might not be quite right for you. High zoom cameras use electronic viewfinders which can be hard to see in dim lighting, and aren't the fastest focusing cameras. If you think 3X zoom will be sufficient, my recommendation would be the Canon A85 (4 MP) or A95 (5 MP). These cameras are easy to use for beginners--can be used in fully or partially automatic modes or completely manual with a full array and wide range of custom settings. They can also be fitted with external flashes and add on filters and lenses, making them very versatile and easy to grow with. They can take black and white--and most cameras with manual capabilities have this setting. These Canons also have autofocus assist lamps enabling easier focusing in low light situations.

Virtually every digital these days has a built in flash with the option of red-eye reduction.

Some cameras use proprietary or unique lithium batteries, which usually cost more but are used to save space. They are rechargeable and a charger usually is included with the camera. The Canons I mentioned use AA batteries--I like that because you can use inexpensive NiMH rechargeables, but if you are stuck somewhere without batteries you can always find AAs.

The Canon movie modes can store 30 seconds at high resolution (640 x 480) and 3 minutes on lower resolution. Some other cameras have higher capacities that are only limited by the size of the memory card. Keep in mind that movies are a peripheral benefit--better to use a dedicated video cam for best quality. When you press the shutter you begin recording a movie--pressing it again ends the movie. That movie is stored on the memory card in a single file, just as each still picture you take is stored as a single file.

The files are then transferred to your computer by either attaching the USB cable from your camera to the computer--or--removing the memory card from the camera and inserting it into a card reader that is connected to your computer by a USB cable. If you are using Windows XP, ME or 2000 the card reader or camera will be instantly recognized by your computer as a new disk drive, and you simply copy and paste the files from the card/camera to wherever you want on your hard drive. If you are using Windows 98 or lower, you will need software that will come with the camera or card reader.

Depending on the size of the memory card, the movies may or may not use up much space. These days it pays to get a card 256mb or larger, or maybe have a few on hand.

Each camera has different ergonomics. It's not talked about a lot, but, for example,many people shoot using their left eye, which can make some cameras more difficult to use. It's a good idea to go around tostores and pick up cameras and hold them up to your eye and see how they feel. The Canons are excellent and popular, but each manufacturer makes comparable models and there are so manychoices that you should be able to find something that has the features and feels good to handle.

Buying online is fine, but you still have to beware of swindlers and bait and switch cons. Sometimes reading the online store reviews will help--generally if the price is way too low, that's a red flag. Also there is ebay where you can get good deals on new and used, and they have a pretty reliable feedback system which can help you determine the reliability of sellers.

Why not look around at Steve's reviews in the 4 and 5 MP range and see what else might appeal to you.

http://www.steves-digicams.com/hardware_reviews.html

Come back here and post thepossibilites you are considering and the folks here will comment on the pros and cons of each camera. Thatmay help you decide.


Howard
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Old Apr 6, 2005, 8:24 PM   #5
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The A95 has a 1/1.8" CCD.:|The other cameras mentioned do not.
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Old Apr 6, 2005, 8:53 PM   #6
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shutter_bug wrote:
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The A95 has a 1/1.8" CCD.:|The other cameras mentioned do not.
Right--a larger sensor, and that's good for the 5MP, but the A85 is only 4MP so the smaller sensor isn't really a problem. And I forgot to mention--I think the picture quality of the Canons are excellent.

Howard
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Old Apr 6, 2005, 10:05 PM   #7
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If you are interested in movies the MPEG 4 format lets you take 640 X 480 movies at 30fps and not use 2Mb/second of movie as do some other formats at that resolution. If you are interested in movie output you should get 640 X 480 at 30fps. The smaller movies are nearly useless and a slower frame rate makes them jerky. You don't need MPEG4 but plan on getting a large card.

I am a devotee of owning a camera you can carry with you. I have several cameras and the small one that is always with me gets more pictures. I often wish for some of the features on my larger cameras when I am using the small one, but I get decent pictures from it.

Red eye reduction with multiple flashes isn't very good IMO. There are cameras that aren't prone to red-eye without having to resort to multiple flashes. The smaller the camera and the closer the flash to the lens the more red-eye you usually generate. So if you want a camera you can carry in your purse and not get red-eye you will have to select carefully. All of the DCRP reviews have a specific red-eye test shot so you can get an idea of how a particular camera does: http://www.dcresource.com/reviews/cameraList.php

One you might be interested in is the Pentax 750Z. Small enough to carry and has a good movie mode. Unlimited 640 X 480 at 30fps. It has a 5X optical zoom and fully articulated LCD. Red-eye is very good for a small camera. Steve has it on his best camera list. The flash works well with the macro mode. It will work fine in automatic but has all the manual exposure modes to play with. It has more Mp than you need, but you never know what your future needs will be. You might get that great shot you want printed large for your wall and 7Mp gives a pretty nice large print. http://www.steves-digicams.com/2004_...optio750z.html

Most cameras let you take B&W pictures, but you do just as well changing a color shot to B&W in the software. If you write it to the card in B&W you don't have the option for color. But if you take it in color you can have it in B&W, sepia or anything you want.

If you like to have small prints to pass around it is a lot easier and probably cheaper to have them done. Walgreen's often has specials for 20c/picture and you can't print them for that. If you get 50 or more I think their price is always 20c. I personally like to print my own, but I refill my cartridges with good ink and have found some decent paper that is reasonably priced. But 5 X 7 is usually the smallest I print. If I wanted a large batch of 4 X 6 prints I would probably drop them by Walgreen or Wal-Mart – they both use the excellent Fuji Frontier system.

You can get a camera cheaper online. Use Steve's Shopping.com link. Put in your zip code and it will give you the total price including shipping. You are safe with a store that has a large number of good ratings. Their "trusted stores" are the best bet, but there are good ones without that notation. This is an example for the 750Z sorted by total price: http://www50.shopping.com/xPC-Pentax..._750Z~S-P~OR-0

You will probably be able to get by without an extra battery for most cameras with proprietary lithium batteries. If you find you need one ask on the board for that specific make what people have had good luck with. I have a couple lithium batteries from Eagle Imports and they seem as competent as the factory batteries.

You will need a 256Mb card and 512Mb would be a better choice with a 7Mp camera. You want a high speed card and online is probably the best place to find one at a good price. I would start a thread and ask about that as well once you decide on a camera.

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Old Apr 6, 2005, 10:22 PM   #8
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From the Jeff Keller review it seems that the Pentax 750Z isn't a speed demon, but the sample pix are gorgeous and the movie mode looks good, too.

Linda, you also might want to check out the thread in this section on 640 x 480 video capable cameras, if that's important to you.
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Old Apr 7, 2005, 8:22 AM   #9
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Jeff, Howard, shutter_bug, and slipe...

Thank you all SO much for taking the time to educate me. You all brought up some very useful points and now I feel much better about this process. I'm going to do some more research on the cameras and options you all brought up, and I'm sure you'll see me posting more.



Thanks again for your time!



~Linda


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