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Old Apr 28, 2005, 6:52 PM   #1
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Hi All,

I am looking to upgrade from my coolpix 925 (I know that's ancient! ) and not sure if I should venture into the DSLR world.

I am disappointed with the blurry pictures/ shutter lag from this camera. This also cannot take high quality fast motion pictures or in low lightening without a flash.

Current Skill level: Beginner (Photogrpahy enthusiast/ hobbist) though used digital camera extensivly and taken some good pictures. Strength is creativity in terms of composing shots. Not well versed with advanced photography concepts( working knowledge of basics like shutter speed, aperture, depth of field etc).

I would like to take family pictures( never still kids), natural pictures with flash in low lighting conditions, action pictures ( kids playing socceretc), lots of portraits, landscapes/ architectural while traveling, group pictures on special occasions. I am a Mom with 2 kids, full time working

Wannabe a good skilled photographer who can take the above pictures quickly (no elaborate setup especially if I can input some personal settings), expand my creative and photography skills ( I should not feel that the camerais the limitation rather than me!). Don't want to spend time touching up pictures in Adobe though I have the S/W. Will not take prints larger that 8X10.

I also plan to take up photogrpahy lessons sometime.

Given the above conditions do you think I should venture into the beginner DSLR world or move the 8MG Prosumer category?

Thanks for you advice.






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Old Apr 28, 2005, 7:28 PM   #2
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WannabePro wrote:
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I am looking to upgrade from my coolpix 925 (I know that's ancient! ) and not sure if I should venture into the DSLR world.
What is the model number? Do you mean995 versus 925 (or one of the other models in this series (900, 950, etc.)? I've never heard of a Coolpix 925, and I've owned more than one Coolpix (including the 950 and 990).

As far as your desire to take low light photos without a flash, it depends if the subjects are moving or stationary.

If stationary, simply use a tripod. If moving, you'll want to go with a DSLR. These can shoot at higher ISO speeds with lower noise (their sensors are much larger than you'll find in Prosumer type cameras, and require less amplification of their signal for equivalent ISO speed sensitivity.

You can also get a bright lens (or lenses) to go with one. Both are critical for low light shooting of moving subjects without a flash (both high ISO speeds, and a bright lens).

But, even these will have limitations. For any given lighting condition, aperture and ISO Speed, the camera will need to keep the shutter open for a certain length of time for proper exposure.

In addition, things like Autofocus Speed and Reliability come in when light is lower. A DSLR typically performs much better than the prosumer models.


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Old Apr 28, 2005, 7:39 PM   #3
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Sorry that was a typo. I meant 995.
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Old Apr 28, 2005, 8:02 PM   #4
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No problem...

Your low light shooting without a flash is difficult for a camera (if you mean a moving subject).

The problem is that most non-DSLR Prosoumer models are going to be limited to relatively low ISO speeds (i.e, 400 or less for usable results). So, you're better off going with a DSLR if this is something you're going to need. often.

But, depending on the conditions you're talking about (and the focal lengths you need), lens cost can get pretty high.

For example, if you want to take photos of sportsin a well lit stadium, at a minimum, you may need a 70-200mm orlonger lens that can shoot with a an f/2.8 aperture throughout it's focal range. Lenses like this usually start out at around $800.00 from third party manufacturers like Sigma, and go up in cost from there. Size and Weight is also much greater due to the lens brightness.

If you're going to be closer to your subjects, there are lower cost alternatives, but making sure the lens (or lenses) are suitable for the conditions is a must. The "kit lenses" you see packaged with models are not usually suitable for existing light shooting of moving subjects without a flash. Brighter lenses are needed.

Because their sensors are smaller than 35mm film, nn entry level DSLR does have a "crop factor" (a.k.a., focal length multiplier). So, you multiple the actual focal length of a lens you buy to get it's 35mm equivalent focal length. This factor is 1.5x for Nikon, Konica-Minolta and Pentax Models, and 1.6x for Canon Models. So, a 70-200mm lens on a Nikon D70 would have a 35mm equivalent focal range of 105-300mm.

Or, a 50mm lens would have a 35mm equivalent focal length of 80mm on a Canon Digital Rebel (50mm x 1.6x = 80mm).

So, this crop factor can help when you need a longer lens.

If you're taking photos at closer distances and can use your feet for zoom, something like a fixed focal length 50mm f/1.8 lens (under $100.00 for most DSLR models) could do the trick.


You may want to be more specific on your shooting requirements (i.e., what you mean by low light without a flash).


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Old Apr 29, 2005, 12:47 PM   #5
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Thanks JimC for all the valuable info.

I plan to shoot at indoor parties where people could be posing or dancing, school plays with not more than 20-30ft distance, and indoor Birthday parties.

Could I use all the lenses you mention with a prosumer camera that has a detachable lens feature though I am not sure such a thing exist? In a nutshell how does one figure out the camera/ lens compatibility?

Again, thanks a lot for your help.
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Old Apr 29, 2005, 1:26 PM   #6
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Non-DSLR models have fixed (i.e., permanently mounted) lenses.

DSLR models (withexceptions limited to a few discontinued models)use interchangeable lenses.

Personally, for snapshots at parties, etc., I think you'd find it easier to use the flash.

But, if you want to look at a DSLR option, the lenses you buy will be specific to a manufacturer.

There are MANY lenses on the market now in Nikon, Canon, Minolta and Pentax mounts. These lenses are made by the camera manufacturers, and by third party manufacturers like Sigma, Tamron and Tokina.

For indoor use without a flash, you'll want a bright lens. This means f/2.8 or better (lower f/stop numbers) throughout the focal range. For lower light, some users go with f/1.4, f/1.8 and f/2.0 prime lenses (non zoom). This is because f/2.0 is twice as bright as f/2.8. f/1.4 is four times as bright as f/2.8 (and f/2.8is typically the brightest you find in a zoom lens).

Forshorter ranges, something like a 28-80mm f/2.8 (or somewhere around there) is often a good choice in a zoom. But, for moving subjects you may want to go a bit brighter (i.e., a bright prime) if possible.

The problem is that you need to use very high ISO speeds (which meansnoisy pictures) trying to shoot non-stationary subjects without a flash indoors . So, the brighter your lens, the lower this noise (since you may not need to increase ISO speeds as much to help reduce the motion blur).

With flash, you can get around these problems (since the flash itself has the impact of freezing the action if the subject is not exposed long enough except during the very short flash burst duration).

We have manufacturer specific forums for DSLR lenses available for Nikon and Canon models. You can probably ask some questions there and get tips on specific lenses within a desired budget.

For example, you can spend around $350.00 on a third partyzoom lens that's around 28-75mm with a constant f/2.8 aperture, or you can spend well over $1,000.00 for others. Even with a lens this bright, you can still have problems with motion blur with faster moving subjects. That's why you'll see photographers needing even faster shutter speeds switch to primes (fixed focal length versus zoom), since you can find even brighter lenses with primes.

Most manufacturers carry an inexpensive 50mm f/1.8 prime for under $100.00. But, other focal lengths, may be much more money. In parties, etc., this may be too long (too hard to get everyone in a photo because you can't back up enough), and in other scenarios this may be too short (more magnification needed). It could be about right for your plays scenario though, if you can use your feet for getting to within around 20feet as you mentioned.

I'd check in the Canon and Nikon Lens forums here (scroll down and you'll see them), if you decide you want to go with a DSLR and have situations where you'llhave to take photos indoors without a flash. You'll find lots of users that can give you some tips on specific lenses there.

Note that lenses from third party manufacturers like Sigma, Tamron and Tokina are available in mounts forCanon, Nikon, Pentax, and Konica-Minolta cameras (and camera manufacturers have their own line of lenses, too).


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Old Apr 29, 2005, 1:44 PM   #7
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Ok thats a lot to digest. I will take a printout and do some more research. I have nothing against flash except that they give a very unnatural skin tone and have bright spots where the flash relects from a shiny surface.

Is there a way i can get near natural pictures with flash? If I could fix that somehow I might not go the DSLR route ( though with all the nice info on this site, its worth trying out). So this should be my last question for the time being and I should be back after a few weeks of research. Thanks






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Old Apr 29, 2005, 4:44 PM   #8
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Are using the flash that comes on your camera? If your cam can handle external flash, get one. Their is a night & day difference using an external one. With good flash photograpghy, looking at the pictures you shouldn't be able to tell if the flash was used or not.

For the reasons mentioned in your original post, I would recommned against getting a dSLR. You will have to buy lenses for different situations and carry the heavy setup with you. Not to mention time post-processing. I know you can shoot jpeg and set parameters cameras in the cam, but whole point of having dSLR is to get max. out of your shots.

And don't get into MP hype out there. For most cameras having more MP means having more noise. 4-5MP should be enough for 8x10 shots. Get a camera which has lots of manual controls. Use that when you still learning.
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Old May 7, 2005, 8:27 AM   #9
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Take the step up to an SLR and you'll never look back. I did. Never again, will I look at the subpar performance of fixed, single lens digital cameras.

It's a big step, but SO worth it.
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Old May 15, 2005, 2:59 AM   #10
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Thanks all for your help. Yes I have made up my mind to go with a DSLR. heart is set on Canon 20D.

NowI need to figure out the lenses and the external flash. From what I hear, the kit lens is not very good but for just $ 100 extra, is it not worth it for a newcomer?

I hear the 17-85mm IS cannon is pretty good but its nearly 600 bucks. Is it worth it and any other worthy competitor?

I am hoping to start with an all purpose lens whichis a good wide angle for general landscape/ group pictures and reasonable zoom for portraits. Today I checked out a canon 28-80mm and the amount of zoom seems limited for taking portraits from a reasonable distance.

Should I just skip this midrange lens ( both wide and zoom) and just buy 2 lenses- one wide range and one zoom? I am just concerned about changing lenses allthe timewith this option. Mid range seems attractive from an all purpose point of view.

Also I do need image stabilization in the lensas this camera does not have a built in one.

Any suggestions for the external flash. Need something for parties, portraits and general purpose fill flash.

Wolf camera is selling body only for $1249. This is a well known name but just making sure its ok to buy online from here. Other retailers are selling for $1499 after rebate.

So close to buying this now...but need to do my homework on the accessories...
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