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Buying a digicam

Neeru Misra
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Joined: Feb 03, 2005
Posts: 78
Hi I am located in Hong Kong and would be traveling to Europe for a holiday. I want to buy a digital camera. What should I look for. I have never used one.
Sania Marsh
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Joined: Jul 12, 2004
Posts: 469
Look for what you want...
Zoom,
Quality (in Megapixels)
if you are going to print up to 8x10 (20x25cm) pictures and are not planning to digitally editing them, then 3 megapixels is good enough, the higher megapixels you get the bigger picture you can print. 6 megapixels is poster-size quality.
Fuji uses fifferent shape for thier pixels and claims that the quality is better. I can't tell any difference.
Some cameras allow to take pictures in black and white modes, I like that, but you can always photoshop any picture to black and white. My camera has portrait, night, scene, sport shooting modes.
Portrait makes colors smoother so the picture comes out very similar to studio quality, sport is for moving objects.
You may want to look for camera with different flash modes, there are cameras that allow reduce red-eye effect, have forced flash that is best for shadows and reflective surfaces, or some other flashes for night shooting and some other ones.
Some cameras may take short movies, I didn't find that useful, but someone may be interested in such feature.


Write down what you want from a camera and ask the person in store to help you find a camera that have all that for low price.

I'm not a cameras pro, so please don't take my post a guide, I might have missed something.
peter wooster
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Joined: Jun 13, 2004
Posts: 1033
Originally posted by Dr Neeru Misra:
Hi I am located in Hong Kong and would be traveling to Europe for a holiday. I want to buy a digital camera. What should I look for. I have never used one.


We have 2 digital cameras, a cheap 2MP Kodak that fits in a coat pocket and a 6MP Nikon D70 DSLR that weighs about a pound and takes all my old Nikon lenses. They perform very different tasks.

If you are a serious photographer you will find the point and shoots very limiting, they have an inexcusable delay between pressing the shutter and getting a picture and they don't accommodate most of the equipment that you probably already have. They also don't have full manual modes and consume batteries at a fast rate, since the digital display is also the viewfinder. They also tend to work very poorly in low light.

If you're a snapshooter, you'll find the DSLR too big, too complicated and far too prone to ruining your pictures because you messed up something like the white balance setting or left it manual mode by accident. That said, the D70 works wonderfully as a point and shoot if you put it in fully automatic mode.

The D70 also cost about 5 times as much as the Kodak, 8 times, if you don't already have a suitable lens.
ammu vasanth
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Joined: Sep 04, 2004
Posts: 47
Just go for cybershot from Sony ... 3MP upwards..bestbuy ( not cost-wise) for a new buyer..
Raghav Sam
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Joined: Apr 12, 2001
Posts: 412
Originally posted by ammu vasanth:
Just go for cybershot from Sony ... 3MP upwards..bestbuy ( not cost-wise) for a new buyer..

Just got a DSC-P 100. Sony is definitely on the higher side cost-wise. Have to see performance-wise.
Jeroen Wenting
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Joined: Oct 12, 2000
Posts: 5093
What to go for...

Zoom: ignore digital zoom. Only optical zoom is useful.
Megapixel count: less important than optics but do consider it. Keep in mind that there are a few cameras where the MP count doesn't compare with the rest because they use different sensor technology (Fuji is an example of this).
Storage media: I prefer CF cards, but those are by now mainly available in the highend cameras. SD cards and the later SM cards are more fragile. Not an issue if you leave it in the camera but if you need to swap cards frequently the chance of them breaking is higher. I'd say skip Sony, their memorystick isn't supported by anyone else.
Optics: more important than just about anything else. The best sensor can't deliver a good image if the optics in front of it are poor. Best stick with the traditional camera brands (Nikon, Canon, Konica/Minolta, Leica, etc.) because of this (though some of the other name brands get their optics from reputable sources, many do not).

Use:
If you plan to photograph moving subjects (even cars) remember that many (especially consumer grade) digicams are very slow. With the slowest models it can take several seconds from the time you depress the shutter button to the time the sensor records your image (this is independent of shutter time, it's caused by the electronics needing this time to charge up).
Use will also depend how large your camera can be (do you have a requirement to fit it in the pocket of your coat for example?) and what zoom range you require.

Ergonomics:
If you don't like the feel of the camera and the location of the controls you'll not use it.

Budget:
What are you willing and able to spend.
Keep in mind that the cost of the camera is only the beginning. You're looking at extra cost for extra memory cards, spare batteries, a camera bag, maybe an extra card reader.
You might want more capable software than what ships with the camera as well, maybe a new printer?

My favourites are Nikons.
I have a Coolpix 5000 myself which is (for its class) a capable camera.
The 5400 (which replaced it in production) is nearing end of life and should be available at a very nice price.
Despite not having 6MP or more (at 5MP) it can compete with 6MP cameras because of its superior optics.
It's a tad slow though, but not so much you can't adept to it quickly.
[ February 07, 2005: Message edited by: Jeroen Wenting ]

42
Marianne Robinson
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Joined: Feb 04, 2005
Posts: 39
Can someone tell that for the same megapixel, which is better, Sony or Canon?
Jeroen Wenting
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Joined: Oct 12, 2000
Posts: 5093
Would totally depend on model. Canon have probably superior optics but Sonys look better constructed and Sony have a history of very good electronics and image capture devices (their TV cameras and videocameras are first rate).

Best would be to find a few models you like, go to a store that has them all, and ask to try them out (in the store most likely, unless they know you well enough to let you out of the building with several thousand whatever-your-currency-is worth of equipment (which I've had happen) ).
Neeru Misra
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Joined: Feb 03, 2005
Posts: 78
I have been able to locate a Sony with 7.1 megapixel. It is small and handy. The shopkeeper says it is a newer model and would not become obsolete for sometime. Please advice. It suits my budget.
peter wooster
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Joined: Jun 13, 2004
Posts: 1033
Originally posted by Dr Neeru Misra:
I have been able to locate a Sony with 7.1 megapixel. It is small and handy. The shopkeeper says it is a newer model and would not become obsolete for sometime. Please advice. It suits my budget.


My main advice is "don't spend more than 25% of the cost of a D70 or DReb on a point and shoot. The D70 and DReb appear to be about $1200US ($7200HK) for the kit. If you spend more than $300US on a P&S you will regret it. Don't believe the salesman's pitch that the high end P&S won't be obsolete soon, it will be obsolete as soon as it leaves the shop, since DSLR's are now available.

This doesn't apply as much to the low end, these are getting close to the price of 35mm P&S cameras. These cameras address a very different market, the same one the Kodak Brownie addressed. If you don't want to spend big bucks, get a 3MP P&S with 3* optical zoom. And buy something made by a camera manufacturer, preferably Nikon or Canon.

If you want more info than you can possibly use on just about every digital camera, look here at DP Reviews.
Neeru Misra
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Joined: Feb 03, 2005
Posts: 78
Thank you Peter for a very valuable advice. But is 6mp D70 OK or I should then look for higher 8 or even 11 mp ones. The shopkeeper says that canon Rebel is also SLR and equally good. I would value your suggestion more than his.
peter wooster
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Joined: Jun 13, 2004
Posts: 1033
Originally posted by Dr Neeru Misra:
Thank you Peter for a very valuable advice. But is 6mp D70 OK or I should then look for higher 8 or even 11 mp ones. The shopkeeper says that canon Rebel is also SLR and equally good. I would value your suggestion more than his.


Megapixels matter very little after about 3MP. 6MP is sufficient to print a poster sized print. 3MP is enough for most uses. If you want more than 10MP you should consider Fuji Velvia slide film at ASA 50, that's what I've currently got in my old Nikon.

For a comparison of the D70 and the DReb (Canon EOS 300D, Digital Rebel) take a look at the D70 review on the site I linked to on my previous post. Both cameras are great, the D70 is somewhat better and slightly more expensive. My choice was determined by my collection of Nikon lenses.

Note that all DSLR's are large and obvious when you use them. They still look and sound like a real camera. Some of the small P&S cameras are very small, quiet and unobtrusive. As I said earlier, they address very different purposes.

The cameras I would avoid are the large, expensive high end point and shoots, like the Nikon Coolpix 8700, a great P&S camera, with huge resolution, a nice zoom lens, and a price and size that is close to the D70. But you can't change the lens, so my 75-300mm lens is useless on it, and in 3 years when the electronics are obsolete and possibly dead, that big lens will go in the attic along with the electronics.
Marianne Robinson
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Joined: Feb 04, 2005
Posts: 39
I have felt Canon has a sharper image quality, less noise and better lens options. It is alo less in price. But body finish of Nikon is better, no doubt.
Marianne Robinson
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Joined: Feb 04, 2005
Posts: 39
Another suggestion. The leica point and shoot is also not bad, the quality comes out quite well and is very handy.
Jeroen Wenting
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Joined: Oct 12, 2000
Posts: 5093
Originally posted by Dr Neeru Misra:
Thank you Peter for a very valuable advice. But is 6mp D70 OK or I should then look for higher 8 or even 11 mp ones. The shopkeeper says that canon Rebel is also SLR and equally good. I would value your suggestion more than his.


I don't agree with Peter that anything over 3MP is wasted.
It's not, unless you're printing on a consumer grade printer that can't handle the higher resolution data or are working as a newspaper photographer (newspapers also have no use for more data).

The D70 is superior in every respect to the digital Rebel.
Mechanical construction is metal alloy instead of plastic, making it far more sturdy and stable to use. More importantly the bayonet mount is metal instead of plastic. As the bayonet mount is the single most stressed point on the camera it is vital that it's as strong as possible (I've had one bayonet mount failing in over 20 years and that was the only plastic one I had. Lucky for me it was on a cheap lens the loss of which was no great financial drain).
The sensor is as good or better. While it doesn't go down below EI 200 (the Canon goes to 100) its noise levels at 200 are better than those of the Canon at 100. As most consumer cameras are used with rather slow lenses you're unlikely to be in many situations in which 100 is required and if you are a 1 stop ND filter can do wonders (or just use a faster shutter time or stop down more, both resulting in improved image quality).

Whatever camera you get, get the fastest memory cards you can get for it. They are more expensive but really make the difference between shooting and waiting for the card to complete writing the data from your previous shot...

If you go for a DSLR, get the best possible lenses you can afford. I think those of us who already are using SLRs will be happy to assist you in choosing the best money can buy for your chosen camera.
But do tell your budget and what you want to use the camera for as the range of both types of lenses and prices is huge.
Neeru Misra
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Joined: Feb 03, 2005
Posts: 78
If I zero on D70, what memory card should I go in for and which basic lens? Incidentally, I already have a Nikon film and some lenses.
Sania Marsh
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Joined: Jul 12, 2004
Posts: 469
Originally posted by Jeroen Wenting:


I don't agree with Peter that anything over 3MP is wasted.


I don't agree either... I photoshop lot of my pictures, I cannot get 3MP quality back after photoshoping 3MP. I'm not professional, I just like to play with my pictures.
Jeroen Wenting
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Joined: Oct 12, 2000
Posts: 5093
Originally posted by Dr Neeru Misra:
If I zero on D70, what memory card should I go in for and which basic lens? Incidentally, I already have a Nikon film and some lenses.


OK, depending on which lenses they are they'll likely work if they're newer than 5 years or so.
For memory cards, I'd recommend Sandisk CFII Ultra cards. They're extremely rugged (they'll survive things that'll vaporise your camera, somewhat useless I know) and very fast.
I don't think the camera will accept CFIII cards, so skip those.

Get 2-3 1GB cards to start, when shooting in RAW mode (as you should really, it's the best option) they'll fill up quickly.
Each should hold about as many images as 2-3 36 frame rolls of film when used in RAW mode.

The standard lens that comes with the camera gets some good reviews. While not stellar quality it's cheap and offers good value for money.
As an alternative a 12-24 Nikkor combined with a 28-105 Nikkor would be a higher quality alternative (but as always at a price).
Best of the best of course is the combo 19-35 AF-S Nikkor (or was that 17-35, I keep forgetting) and 28-70 AF-S Nikkor, but then you're talking about �3000 for the lenses alone.
Sigma offers a good alternative to these in their EX line for about half the price or less. If you have the money to spend on lenses get these as they're some of the best on the market.
Neeru Misra
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Joined: Feb 03, 2005
Posts: 78
And yet a small question, how deos sigma lenses compare with nikkor as I find the dirrefence in the prices substantial.
Jeroen Wenting
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Joined: Oct 12, 2000
Posts: 5093
The EX line compare very favourable.
The rest I'd stay away from (except for a very few specialty models like the 170-500) as they're just not worth the money.

The same is true for most or all brands.
With Tokina look only at the ATX line for example (a worthy line, my main lens is a Tokina 28-70 f/2.6 ATX, now alas out of production).
With Tamron, forget about all except the 90mm macro lens (and then the Sigma 105 EX Macro is superior for a similar price).
Marianne Robinson
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Joined: Feb 04, 2005
Posts: 39
This has been a marathon discussion. Please let me know what you decided finally.
peter wooster
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Joined: Jun 13, 2004
Posts: 1033
Originally posted by Jeroen Wenting:
I don't agree with Peter that anything over 3MP is wasted.


I didn't actually say it was wasted, I said that 3MP was usually sufficient. Note that I am currently using a 6MP D70. If you do a lot of cropping the extra pixels are useful, even if you work for the press. I visited one of those totally consumer shops just to see what the low end is now, it's getting hard to find anything under 4MP. The main point I was making is not to spend a pile of cash on something like that Leica Digilux, which will be obsolete about the same time the D70 is and you throw that nice Leitz lens out with it. If one must have the Digilux, its a Leica-Panasonic joint venture and the equivalent Panasonic is $300 cheaper.


The D70 is superior in every respect to the digital Rebel.
Mechanical construction is metal alloy instead of plastic, making it far more sturdy and stable to use. More importantly the bayonet mount is metal instead of plastic. As the bayonet mount is the single most stressed point on the camera it is vital that it's as strong as possible (I've had one bayonet mount failing in over 20 years and that was the only plastic one I had. Lucky for me it was on a cheap lens the loss of which was no great financial drain).
The sensor is as good or better. While it doesn't go down below EI 200 (the Canon goes to 100) its noise levels at 200 are better than those of the Canon at 100. As most consumer cameras are used with rather slow lenses you're unlikely to be in many situations in which 100 is required and if you are a 1 stop ND filter can do wonders (or just use a faster shutter time or stop down more, both resulting in improved image quality).

Whatever camera you get, get the fastest memory cards you can get for it. They are more expensive but really make the difference between shooting and waiting for the card to complete writing the data from your previous shot...

If you go for a DSLR, get the best possible lenses you can afford. I think those of us who already are using SLRs will be happy to assist you in choosing the best money can buy for your chosen camera.
But do tell your budget and what you want to use the camera for as the range of both types of lenses and prices is huge.


All good advice, I use a Lexar 40X 512meg memory card, its fast enough for this camera. For a few extra $s you could go to 80X, but I haven't seen any noticable delays.

The lens that comes in the kit isn't great, a friend of mine has it, it also won't work on you old Nikons, but it does provide some wide angle. I use the 28-105mm 1:3.5-4.5 D and the 50mm 1:1.8 D mostly. The 50mm makes a nice portrait lens on this camera, since it's effectively 75mm. The 28-105 also has a useful macro feature.

I heard varying reports on Sigma, some people love them, some hate them, they cost about the same as used Nikon equivalents.
Neeru Misra
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Joined: Feb 03, 2005
Posts: 78
I checked 17-35 is rather expensive. I would prefer 28-70 for the time being.
Jeroen Wenting
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Joined: Oct 12, 2000
Posts: 5093
Originally posted by peter wooster:


All good advice, I use a Lexar 40X 512meg memory card, its fast enough for this camera. For a few extra $s you could go to 80X, but I haven't seen any noticable delays.

The lens that comes in the kit isn't great, a friend of mine has it, it also won't work on you old Nikons, but it does provide some wide angle. I use the 28-105mm 1:3.5-4.5 D and the 50mm 1:1.8 D mostly. The 50mm makes a nice portrait lens on this camera, since it's effectively 75mm. The 28-105 also has a useful macro feature.

I heard varying reports on Sigma, some people love them, some hate them, they cost about the same as used Nikon equivalents.


yes, those Lexars are equivalent to the latest Sandisk offerings.
The 18-70 is indeed no great lens, but for the price it's one of the better offerings out there (and it beats the default Canon lens hands down).

As to Sigmas, that all depends on the individual type. They have some real clunkers (for example the 70-300 DL) and some real gems (like the 105mm EX).
That's why I advise to only look at their EX line which are generally good.
Marianne Robinson
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Joined: Feb 04, 2005
Posts: 39
Why don't you consider buying a digital cum film camera, like Mamiya which are also in large format and serve very professional purpose.
Jeroen Wenting
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Joined: Oct 12, 2000
Posts: 5093
price?

The cheapest hybrid I know of is the Leica R8 with the optional digital back.
That combo (without lenses) will set you back about �6000.
Lenses are several thousand each even for the cheapest offerings.
peter wooster
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Joined: Jun 13, 2004
Posts: 1033
Originally posted by Marianne Robinson:
Why don't you consider buying a digital cum film camera, like Mamiya which are also in large format and serve very professional purpose.


You might consider something like that after the mortgage is paid off. Here's an example of what medium format digital backs cost.

Phase 1 Digital backs and you need the Hasselblad.
Neeru Misra
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Joined: Feb 03, 2005
Posts: 78
So far considering the price, quality and versatility, I am still feeling confident about D70. The only aspect is which lenses, and 28-80 suits me fine. However, 8800 also appears to be serving all the purposes.
Jeroen Wenting
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Joined: Oct 12, 2000
Posts: 5093
You said you already have a Nikon SLR and some lenses.
Can you tell which SLR and what lenses they are?
If it's an AF SLR it's quite possible that all your lenses will work just fine on the D70. All you need is for your lenses to have a D chip.
All AF-D, AF-G, and AF-S Nikkors have this (as well as any reasonably new 3rd party lens).
Neeru Misra
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Posts: 78
These are 28-70 AF-D and 50 mm AF G
peter wooster
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Posts: 1033
Originally posted by Dr Neeru Misra:
These are 28-70 AF-D and 50 mm AF G


Both of those will work well on the D70. The 28-70 provides the equivalent of a 42-105 and is a relatively light weight general purpose zoom. The 50 is equivalent to a 75 and is a good portrait size. With those lenses, you only need to buy the body, not the kit unless you are a wide angle fan.

I use the 28-105 AF-D and 50 f1.8 AF-D almost exclusively on both the F80 and the D70. The best part is they both also work on my old FM, the G and DX series won't.
Neeru Misra
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Posts: 78
Settled and done. I would post photos in due course.
Neeru Misra
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Posts: 78
I used the D70 finally. It has come out with great pics. However, I would like to know the difference between the optical zoom and the digital zoom?
Kapila Vatsyayana
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Joined: Feb 22, 2005
Posts: 13
Do post some of them for the benefit of all of us.
peter wooster
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Posts: 1033
Originally posted by Neeru Misra:
I used the D70 finally. It has come out with great pics. However, I would like to know the difference between the optical zoom and the digital zoom?


Optical zoom is what a lens does by changing its focal length physically. Digital zoom is really just a form of cropping, where a small part of the picture is used. Optical zoom is real, digital zoom is a marketing concept.
Ellen Zhao
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Joined: Sep 17, 2002
Posts: 581
Originally posted by Dr Neeru Misra:
Hi I am located in Hong Kong and would be traveling to Europe for a holiday. I want to buy a digital camera.



You are located in Hong Kong but want to buy a digital camera in Europe??? Don't abuse your money! I live in Europe but really plan to get camera from Hong Kong. My last Nikon cp5700 was bought from Hong Kong during my summer break. It was at least 300 euros cheaper than in Europe trust me! (Europe is not somewhere for shopping, I even get my made-in-France skincares from a Hong Kong dealer strawberrynet.com via post. Even plus the 16% tax it's so much cheaper than the local stores...) I'm thinking of get a digital SLR. D70 is a pretty good body. I'm just waiting for the price to sink down...

I checked 17-35 is rather expensive.

Mamamia, what do you need 17-35 lens for? For your travel in Europe? Expensive or not let's not consider first, such wide-angles are usually used by _professional_ interior photographers for promoting real estates. Are you in this business? Or if you are pursuing the special visual distortion only extremely wide-angles can produce, play with The GIMP instead and save yourself big bucks! For the beautiful old architectures in Europe, a 24 wide angle should be enough in most occasions.
Neeru Misra
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Joined: Feb 03, 2005
Posts: 78
17-35 is out of question. The camera was required for travel to Europe. However, some models speak of a combination of digital and optical zoom. Like Sony DSC models. What is the advantage of digital zoom, if any?
Ashok Mash
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Joined: Oct 13, 2000
Posts: 1936
If you don't own or know how to use a computer, or if you wish to get prints straight off the camera, digital zoom could be handy to crop/trim/compose the correct shot. Apart from that, I can't see any benefits with digital zoom to be honest!


[ flickr ]
peter wooster
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Joined: Jun 13, 2004
Posts: 1033
Originally posted by Neeru Misra:
17-35 is out of question. The camera was required for travel to Europe. However, some models speak of a combination of digital and optical zoom. Like Sony DSC models. What is the advantage of digital zoom, if any?


I visited Paris a few years ago and all I took was my old SLR and a 50mm lens. There is very little need for either wide angle or long telephoto on a tourist trip. Be sure to take a laptop or plenty of memory with you.

Your 28-70 should be sufficient for that purpose.

On digital zoom, since you have a computer and a copy of Nikon PictureProject and possibly Adobe Photoshop, there is no need for digital zoom. Using it with direct to printer is the only valid use I've heard so far.
Kapila Vatsyayana
Greenhorn

Joined: Feb 22, 2005
Posts: 13
I also feel that digital zooms in pro photo parlance is a marketing gimmick and doesn't offer anything. It should be ignored and one should be realistic to reckon only optical zoom.
 
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