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  #1  
Old 10/25/2002, 11:55 PM
gregr gregr is offline
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Camera shoppers read this!

What camera should i buy?
Seems like this question gets asked a lot. I can certainly understand where the asker is coming from but i find it an impossible question to answer; everyone is different and has their own needs and preferences- what is perfect for one person is not going to be perfect for everyone else. I thought it'd be a good idea to have a thread where people can offer their opinions on what cameras they like and why, while at the same time we can offer some pointers on what features to look for in a digital camera.

I'll start it off by going over a few things that i think are important. The first is sensor size- how many megapixels do you need? Fortunately it's not a difficult question to answer. How big do you want to be able to make your prints? For me it's 8x10 and on rare occasions 11x14. Believe it or not a 3 megapixel camera can generate files big enough to make excellent 8x10's. If you think you're going to print larger than 8x10 i'd suggest you look at cameras with at least 4 megapixels.

Battery life is something to take a good look at. If the camera you're thinking of getting only uses a proprietary battery make sure it lasts a long time. Most of the Nikons use AA batteries so you can buy re-chargeable batteries and save money in the long run. Canon digital cameras use a proprietary battery (BP-511) that lasts a very long time (i've never used up a whole battery in a day of shooting). Any Sony, Fuji, Olympus, Minolta etc. users out there? How are you finding the batteries in your camera?

Ease of operation; personally i think this is just about as important as image quality. If my camera is cumbersome to operate i am just not going to enjoy using it- and i will certainly miss some shots while i'm fooling around with the buttons. So make sure you actually play with the camera you plan on buying before you buy it. Most camera stores will gladly let you play with a camera in the hopes that you'll buy it.

Image quality; head on over to some of the review sites (www.dpreview.com or www.steves-digicams.com or ???) to see their samples for yourself. If you want to see samples from a Canon G2 or D60 or Nikon D1x give me a holler.

All of todays digital cameras have tons of features that may or may not matter to you. If you are new to photography it can be a little scary to think that you're going to plop down a lot of cash for something that you don't know the half of what it can do... and can't do. All i can say is I've been there and what worked best for me was lurking in the various internet photography forums and learning the language of photography. It helps to speak the language . Hopefully other people will chip in with their site recommendations. I rely heavily on www.dpreview.com and www.steves-digicams.com as well as www.photo.net. i heartily recommend participating in image critque forums if you've already started taking pictures. I learned a lot that way; a good constructive critique can be incredibly helpful. try www.photoblink.com or www.naturephotographers.net or www.photocritique.net or???

My personal favorite digital camera is the Canon G2. The reason is simple- it's easy to take great pictures with. Even my brother who knows nothing about photography is taking great shots with it and that speaks volumes.

If you've read any digital photography forums you've certainly heard of the Nikon 990 (now the 995). It too is a great camera- capable of superb close-ups, which is a big plus for aquarium photography.

The reason i mention these two cameras is because they are two of the most popular digital cameras on the market and they are older models, which means their prices have dropped considerably since they first came out. Yet both of them still hold their own when compared to current models. Without a doubt the other manufactures are making good cameras- and hopefully we'll hear from some of the people that own those Minoltas, Sonys, Kodaks, Fujis, etc.

That's as close as I'll get to saying outright what camera to buy

I hope this helps and I invite everyone to add specific model recommendations if you have them, and or any advise you might care to offer.
thanks,
greg
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  #2  
Old 10/25/2002, 11:59 PM
tentacle tentacle is offline
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Thumbs up

Hey Greg,

That's a great "what camera should I buy" guide. You might want to make it a sticky type post so it'll always stay on the top of this forum. Thanks!
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  #3  
Old 10/27/2002, 03:33 PM
sahin sahin is offline
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Thank for posting that, its very helpful.
  #4  
Old 10/29/2002, 01:32 PM
Hammer Hammer is offline
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Ah, a good topic to be discussed.
I know that I lurked for a while before I even got close to getting a camera.
Here are a few of my opinions.

The absolute first thing is to REALISTICALLY set your objectives and expectations. For me this meant what mega pixel and more importantly bang for the buck. Secondly was ease of use, and last was all the extra features I would most likely never use.

I have an addition to the megapixel point. Not only does it matter what size you want to print out, but also the added ability to 'crop' an image out of a larger image. Example, most pictures I put on my website for 'viewing pleasure' have a max resulotion of 600 up to 800. And my camera takes an image of 22xx by 17xx. This allows me to keep smaller sections of the larger image without loosing the image quality.

As for bang for the buck. For me and what I was looking for, Nikon had my personal vote. And the Canon was a close second.
I had set my expections early that there was a definite upper limit where the cost is purely unjustifiable for me (totally a personal thing). So getting a SLR was of no use to me. If I wanted that, I have a camera with real film. For the things I would want that amount of detial and depth of true color, film is much better for my cost range. After all, I could buy a 35mm camera and a digital for less then most SLRs. (And I have a 35mm camera already )

Ease of use comes in here. And really is a personal thing. I actually didn't like the Canon when playing with it. And the Nikon felt great. I will note that my Nikon Coolpix 4500 does NOT make it easy to manually zoom. And when you do, you are physically moving the camera a lot, which defeats most of the purpose!!!
Believe it or not, ALL my pictures were taken in 'macro scene mode', and the camera did all the adjusting. They only thing I really need to do is zoom in and keep the camera steady.

And one other note about digital photography. What programs are you using to edit them? I don't mean you have to change everything around, but too many programs will not be able to save the image to a smaller image size without loosing too much quality. I personally use PhotoShop 6. I crop the image, resize to what I like, then save to a size that is managable on the internet without loosing quality. I could do the same thing with a cheaper program and loose a lot of quality, and thus, waste all time, effort, and MONEY spent on getting such a great camera in the first place!

Ok, there was my 2¢
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  #5  
Old 11/09/2002, 09:39 AM
trickyblue trickyblue is offline
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I have a Sony S75, it is a 3.2mp camera and runs on a rechargle Lithium Ion battery, same battery that is in a camcorder, so it tells you by the minute how much charge you have. Plus it is really a oversized battery, so the battery runs forever. I would either suggest a Sony S75, or because of the recent price drop the S85 (4.1pm). The Sony also has a very nice Carl Zeis Lens, which leads to get photo quailty. However, with an addition of a .5x Wide angle lens, the macro images are spectatular. I believe these cameras are the best bang for the buck. Any other Sony users out there?
And for those running Windows XP and have a digital camera, I would suggest the Windows Power Toys, like Image resizer(allows you to resize images by simply right clicking on them and going to resize, has 4 sizes to choose from. Great for email size, or websites) and cd slide show generator. These can be downloaded from Microsoft's website, or follow the link below.
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/p.../powertoys.asp
  #6  
Old 11/09/2002, 12:13 PM
maroun.c maroun.c is offline
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Greg your thread came just in time for me i spent all of this day searching on this topic as i'm bying a new camera for my 1.3 Mp olympus was stolen.

BTW
Quote:
Any Sony, Fuji, Olympus, Minolta etc. users out there? How are you finding the batteries in your camera?
the olympus can take a new set of batteries in 1-2 hrs photography session if you use the LCD a bit so it wasn't really that good on the battery size yet it still gave some very nice pics even if only 1.3Mp


wish you could get a bit deeper on the issue by describing some of the features and what to really ask for in a camera and what to not pay attention to.
Right now i am confused between 2 cameras both are sony one of them is 3 Mp and the other one is 2 MP both have the same features except that the 3 Mp one does not have macro so which one should i choose? the both have 2x optical zoom and 3x digital zoom could that make me disregard the macro? also is the Through the lens focus that important does it give a difference visible to our eyes. sorry to hijack your thread but answers to my questions could help newbuyers to compare different cameras options.
thanks for any suggestions
  #7  
Old 11/09/2002, 12:48 PM
gregr gregr is offline
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i really did want to go into detail on a lot of this stuff but work and setting up a new tank has taken up most of my time lately.
anyhow- on to the important stuff.
optical zoom is one of those things to ignore- sort of. it's just a mathematical way of describing how much difference there is between the wide and telephoto ends of the lens. you need to get the 35mm equivalent to understand what the numbers really mean. so for instance- a 30mm-90mm zoom lens has 3x optical zoom. what's important is that it's a 90mm lens on the long end and 30 on the short. the more range there is the more convenient the lens will be. however- there is a trade off at some point because there are more compromises made in lens design/image quality with those super long zooms (like 28-200).
it's a good idea to find lens tests, or image samples so you can see if there are problems on the extreme ends of the lens. on the wide end you can get fish-eye distortion and vignetting (that's where you actually see the lens barrel in the corners of the picture) among other things. on the long end it's common to have overall softness or softness around the edges of the picture.
the digital zoom is done electronically- again, it would be highly advised to look at samples because on some cameras the digital zoom pics are so soft as to be unusable. i was very impressed with the digital zoom on the Canon G2 and Nikon 995.
regarding the macro feature- that is a personal consideration- do you want to take close-ups? if so then you'll want a lens that will focus down to at least 8 or 10 inches from the camera. the closer the better too, obviously.
i'm not sure about the through the lens (ttl) focusing. it's an issue of how fast and accurate the camera is at auto-focusing. when you're in the store playing with the camera compare it to another model/brand to see how fast it really is. my opinion is that all of the digital point and shoots (non slr type cameras, or cameras that do not take interchangeable lenses) are very slow focusing. that's one of the reasons i eventually upgraded to a dslr (Canon D-60). there are work-arounds though. what i did was learn to focus on an area that i wanted to be sharp and then wait for the fish to swim into the frame. this worked pretty well for moving subjects.
hope this helps!
greg
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Last edited by gregr; 11/09/2002 at 09:42 PM.
  #8  
Old 11/09/2002, 04:32 PM
maroun.c maroun.c is offline
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that's what i call info in understandable words, thanks a lot greg, my decision is taken i'll search for a camera with 3 Mp resolution with macro in a close price range and if not i'll just take the 2 Mp with macro for i rarely print my photos.
  #9  
Old 11/14/2002, 03:24 AM
nick18tjetta nick18tjetta is offline
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I am looking to buy a digi cam, what cameras would you recomend that aren't quite as expensive as the G2. I was considering an s30 by canon, do you think that would be a good choice?
  #10  
Old 11/14/2002, 09:39 AM
gregr gregr is offline
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i think that's what Stereomandan uses- and he sure gets awesome shots with it. double check with him though because i'm not 100% certain on that.
greg

sorry- i see that Dan uses the A40.
try doing a side by side comparison on dpreview or some of the other sites with cameras in your price range. that will get you started-
greg
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  #11  
Old 11/20/2002, 04:00 AM
nick18tjetta nick18tjetta is offline
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I have decided on the S40, browsing websites there is only about a 50 buck difference between it and the g2, but i like that the s40 isn't as bulky. I really cant tell a difference between shots on the websites you mentioned. If i desire better pics down the road i will probably get an d-slr. I do have a question. what type of memory do you recomend, compact flash or a micro drive, a 1 gb microdrive cost the same as a 512 mb compact flash card? is their a downside to the microdrive? thanks

nick
  #12  
Old 11/20/2002, 09:37 AM
gregr gregr is offline
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my personal opinion is yes, there is a downside to microdrives. two downsides in fact- but with care both can be overcome. the first downside is fragility- there is a little hard drive inside the card and if it gets knocked hard enough goodbye microdrive. a flashcard is less vulnerable to that sort of problem. the other problem is that if you go above roughly 10,000 foot altitude the microdrive won't work. disclaimer here... i'm going on what i've read not on personal experience.
i have been very happy with my flashcards. the last one i bought was a 512- i think i paid $195 and i believe they have come down a little since then.
enjoy your new camera!
greg
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  #13  
Old 11/21/2002, 06:29 AM
blulegend blulegend is offline
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I'd go for either the G3 or the S45. They are recent updates to the respective cameras.

I own a G3 now and love it (updated G2, more photographic featueres, and more zoom). Used to have the G2. I bought my dad the S30 a while back and he likes it. I like the larger footprint and the slightly more photographic features the G3 includes over the new S45. The S45 does come with a boatload of manual features though. The G3 has better macro capabilities than the S45 which would be better for taking pics of reef stuff.

With the G3 you can mount accessories over the lens and use an external flash as well which I might get one of these days.

Either the G2, G3, S40, or S45 you can't really go wrong.

See my personal gallery in my signature to see some pics.
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  #14  
Old 12/16/2002, 01:14 AM
Spikehs Spikehs is offline
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got myself the s230 great little camera, with very good pic quality (pics a little soft sometimes)....The one thing i am REALLY enjoying that i didn't think i would use much is the movie mode, 30secs on highest rez, and 3mins on the lower 2.
  #15  
Old 12/16/2002, 02:31 AM
lllosingit lllosingit is offline
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Water proof! (well almost)

I use a Kodak DC5000 2.0mp 2X optical and 3X digital zoom,also has macro 0.8 to 1.6ft it will accept 37mm lens/filters without an adapter.
Its pretty much a point and shoot camera BUT does have all the bells and whistles if you choose to use them. It takes very good picture with very little effort.

The feature that I found most appealing is its water proof, no you can't drop it in the tank but you can use it in the rain without having to worry.
I also go to sprint car races and with all the dirt and dust you need a camera that is sealed up tight.
This camera is built to be used in extreme conditions.
  #16  
Old 01/18/2003, 01:09 AM
Kites315 Kites315 is offline
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The battery on a Sony 707 and 717 last just over 2 hours of cont. use shooting soccer games. I have taken some tanks shots with them, and they give alright color, the 707 is now down to about $500ish, although the 717 is pretty high still, but there are very little differences between them. Although if people were looking to spend a condsiderable amount i would recomind the nikon D1H, pretty easy to use with the amount of features it has, and great pics.

Kyle
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  #17  
Old 02/06/2003, 07:56 PM
wyldebill65 wyldebill65 is offline
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I have to agree with TRICKYBLUE. I bought a Sony Cybershot DSC85 (4.1mp) for Christmas to replace a Fuji that I had previously bought. The images are GREAT and it is completely simple to use. Before even looking at the manual I was able to take a few pictures of my tank that showed me critters I had never seen before. The info-lithium battery tells you exactly how many minutes of battery time you have. The charge in around 2 hours with their "stock" charger, and I hear there is a quick charger available. I don't have the wide angle adaptor .... yet.
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  #18  
Old 02/09/2003, 05:13 PM
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I'm about to buy a nikon 4300 digi cam to replace my ageing 1.3 megapixel fuji finepix (purely for photographing my fish!!!)
i chose this model for the adjustable shutter speed and aperture, it seems to be the best priced model for this, as well as being a 4.1 megapixel camera, 3x optical zoom and 3x digital zoom.
Does anyone else have this camera, and if so, what do you think????
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Old 02/09/2003, 06:56 PM
picture the reef picture the reef is offline
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I've been following this thread with some interest since this is my profession. (camera shop) There is so much bad information out there today about digital cameras. It appears there is a lot of good advice in this tread. I agree with the recommendation of the G2 Canon. Personally I don't feel there is enough difference between the G2 and the G3 to justify the difference in money. I feel an excellant camera to take a look at is the Minolta F100. This is a 4 megapixel camera with excellant zoom and macro capability. As far as compact flash vs. micro drive definitely go with CF. The card is not only less fragile but also load images faster especially if you go with the Sandisk Ultra cards. Hope this helps!!
  #20  
Old 02/09/2003, 07:22 PM
gregr gregr is offline
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hi picture the reef- it's great to have you here- and not just because you love the G2 too
i think everyone will benefit from hearing your opinions about cameras- from the horses mouth as it were.
so thanks!
greg
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  #21  
Old 02/10/2003, 07:25 AM
wes130 wes130 is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by picture the reef
I've been following this thread with some interest since this is my profession. (camera shop) There is so much bad information out there today about digital cameras. It appears there is a lot of good advice in this tread. I agree with the recommendation of the G2 Canon. Personally I don't feel there is enough difference between the G2 and the G3 to justify the difference in money. I feel an excellant camera to take a look at is the Minolta F100. This is a 4 megapixel camera with excellant zoom and macro capability. As far as compact flash vs. micro drive definitely go with CF. The card is not only less fragile but also load images faster especially if you go with the Sandisk Ultra cards. Hope this helps!!
So can you tell me if the nikon coolpix 4300 is a good choice then???
I've just printed some sample photographs i found on the net from this camera, at full quality and the result seems astounding compared to my fuji 1.3 megapixel camera (yes, i know it's crap lol)
It's just - i don't want to spend all that money (£450 UK pounds) and be disappointed!!!!
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Old 02/10/2003, 09:42 AM
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First off I appologize, I have been scanning this thread and have not read all of the replies completely, so if I repeat what someone else has already mentioned I am sorry.

The most important issues to me in a digital camera are as follows:

1. resolution (megapixels)
2. SLR (see what you will really get)
3. Shutter Lag Time (don't even think of taking pictures of jumping whales with many digital cameras)
4. Sensor size (or do you have to use a lens multiplication factor with your SLR)

Shutter lag time on many digital cameras, including my Nikon 990, makes taking shots of moving things very difficult. You wait for the right moment and press the shutter release and wait anywhere from a half second to 4 seconds for the shutter to go off. I can show you some of the funniest "whale watch" photos you have ever seen. Including pictures of my feet after I hit the shutter release as the whale jumped and went back into the water so I gave up and brought the camera back down just in time to hear the "click". Eventually I just started shooting pictures of open ocean, in hopes that a whale would jump.
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Old 02/15/2003, 11:46 AM
cuda6872 cuda6872 is offline
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Any thoughts on the Fuji 3.1 fine pix? I have heard that Fuji changed the shape of the pixles from round to octagon so they fit together tighter. The 3.1 mega pixel camera takes pics as clear as a 5 mega pixle camera. Any truth to this? I have been wanting a digi for a while & for the price the Fuji seems like a great deal if what they claim is true.
Mike.....looking for knowledgable feedback
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Old 02/15/2003, 04:36 PM
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When a digital image is displayed, no matter what the shape of the cameras sensors, the pixel is going to be a dot in a row and column. The shape of the "pixel" that the camera takes, still must be displayed and printed in the row and column format. By the time it hits your screen it is basically a square. If you zoom in to a picture, beyond its resolution or in Photoshop beyond 100%, you will see how a digital image is "thought of" by a computer or pirnter. the only difference I can see in the shape of the cameras sensors is to pack more pixels into the same amount of space and therefore increase the resolution or number of pixels/megapixels. a 3.1 megapixel camera is just that, a 3.1 megapixel camera. Other factors can be equally important like the quality of the lenses. If you don't have a good lens it does not matter how many megapixels your camera has, it won't be any sharper.

Hope this helps
  #25  
Old 02/16/2003, 10:59 AM
Aaron1100us Aaron1100us is offline
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Hello, I'm thinking of getting the new Fuji 3800 finepix with 3.2 megapixel and a 6x opitcal zoom with 3x digital zoom. They are around $400. Does anyone own one? I've read some pretty good things about them. I'm looking for something that will take good close ups, night/low light pics, has good zoom for outside and has good color definition and is under $600. Any other ideas besides the Fuji 3800? Thanks.
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