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Digital camera?

Marcos Hidalgo
Greenhorn

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 2
Hi,

I'm after a digital camera. Doesn't have to be too special beyond a) a high resolution (12MP minimum) and b) reliable and likely to last a while. I'm looking into this - http://ubuyhardware.com/p~p-1848567000~b-402~Olympus-Stylus-Tough-8010-14-Megapixel-Digital-Camera---Silver.aspx - do you guys think it'd be appropriate? Any suggestions of an alternative?

Thanks in advance!
Henry Wong
author
Sheriff

Joined: Sep 28, 2004
Posts: 18847
    
  40


IMHO, with cameras, the megapixels is not really that important. Many years ago, I owned a 5MP camera. It worked fine. I was even able to blow up the majority of shots too. Later, I owed a 8MP camera. It worked just as well. Didn't notice much of a difference. My current is 10MP, and again, it works just as well.

I am sure if I do tons of really large enlargements, I would notice the difference -- but for standard 4 x 6, and some 8 x 11, I don't notice much at all.



IMHO, what is important (specifically for point and shoots) are....

1. Lens range. P&S cameras can't change lenses. So, it would be good to have it behave as both a wide angle and a telephoto.

2. Features that you will use....

2a. Do you take lots of night shots? Then an infrared mode. Or special night mode might be nice.

2b. Do you take lots of action shots? P&S are not really good for this (lens are too small -- not enough light). But some of them has action mode that are acceptable.

2c. Do you take lots of close ups -- like flowers? Then having macro ability on the lens would be good.


Personally, I recommend the Lumix series from Panasonic. My last three cameras have been Lumixes.

Henry


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Chris Baron
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 21, 2003
Posts: 1049
Henry Wong wrote:Personally, I recommend the Lumix series from Panasonic. My last three cameras have been Lumixes.
Henry

+1, i just bought the new TZ10

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT2 should be a model to compare, Marcos.
But why does it have to be waterproof? Do you really want to take the camera into the surf?
Consider that you have drawbacks on other important functionality with such a design.
Jesper de Jong
Java Cowboy
Saloon Keeper

Joined: Aug 16, 2005
Posts: 14157
    
  19

My favorite website for information on digital cameras is http://dpreview.com - there are a lot of in-depth reviews for a lot of models there.


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Onkar Joshi
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Joined: Mar 01, 2007
Posts: 116
Canon SD1400 IS (or the older and cheaper but almost the same Canon SD 780 IS).

The 1280x720 video is very good! And the ability to play it directly to your monitor via HDMI is cool!


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Bert Bates
author
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 14, 2002
Posts: 8815
    
    5
Everyone's got their hot buttons! For me they are:

- If it doesn't fit in my pocket, it gets left behind
- An optical (not digital) zoom more than 3x
- Aperture and shutter speed controls
- how good are the pictures at ISOs of 400 or more
- intuitive software
- intuitive physical controls

Oh, and my next camera (maybe an s90 or g11) will have RAW


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Ulf Dittmer
Marshal

Joined: Mar 22, 2005
Posts: 41890
    
  63
Bert Bates wrote:- If it doesn't fit in my pocket, it gets left behind
- An optical (not digital) zoom more than 3x

+2.

So far 8MP have proven to be quite sufficient for me. I like the Canon PowerShot A series, although the S series also looks good.


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Henry Wong
author
Sheriff

Joined: Sep 28, 2004
Posts: 18847
    
  40

Bert Bates wrote:
- If it doesn't fit in my pocket, it gets left behind


Agreed. That's why I prefer P&S. My wife, however, prefers an SLR.

Bert Bates wrote:
- An optical (not digital) zoom more than 3x


I want even more. My current has 10x optical, giving me an equiv of 28mm to 280mm. That's a wide angle and telephoto lens in one. For my next one, I would like it down to 25mm, if possible, and still have the telephoto up to around 300mm.

Bert Bates wrote:
- Aperture and shutter speed controls


My wife absolutely would agree with this. I don't care for it. P&S lens are so small, it doesn't really make a difference. For an SLR, particular a big fast one (77 mm wide), it's a nice feature.

Bert Bates wrote:
- how good are the pictures at ISOs of 400 or more


Surprisingly, my P&S is better than my wife's SLR in this regard -- particularly when the ISO goes as high as 1600. I think it is because since P&S are cheaper, I can buy a new one every few years. This is not a viable option for my wife, as her camera is over $1000, just for the body.... Hence, I have newer technology.

Henry
Bert Bates
author
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 14, 2002
Posts: 8815
    
    5
Henry -

For me the shutter and aperture controls aren't so much about things like depth of field. You can still get "smoothed flowing water", and you can definitely force things in low light. For instance, if the camera doesn't think it has quite enough light, I can force it to speed up it's shutter speed, to say 1/30, and usually still get a useful, un-blurred picture.

Oh, also, did anyone mention the histograms? Incredibly useful feature!
Pat Farrell
Rancher

Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4659
    
    5

Two fundamental questions:

What is your budget?

What kinds of photos to you want to take?

If your budget is low, say $200, a nice Canon point and shoot will take great snapshots.

If you can spend closer to $1000, then you want a Canon or Nikon DSLR.

There are so many choices these days. As others have said, the pixel count is not really that important anymore, its all about the lens. I have a Canon 50D, and its nice, but I have to additional lenses on my Amazon wishlist, each lens is about $1000 itself
Pat Farrell
Rancher

Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4659
    
    5

Henry Wong wrote:I want even more. My current has 10x optical, giving me an equiv of 28mm to 280mm. That's a wide angle and telephoto lens in one. For my next one, I would like it down to 25mm, if possible, and still have the telephoto up to around 300mm.


No, you really should not want that. If you have to have a zoom, you want it to be fast and have only a modest range. When they do the 10x range, you get a lot of chromatic distortion and lose a lot of resolving ability.

What I'd want is a 25-85mm F2 zoom, which would cover 97% of all my photos.

If I wanted a zoom out to 280mm on a crop sensor camera (which is about 400mm on a full frame 35mm camera) I'd have two, a short to medium range zoom and then something like 50mm-300mm for long range shots.
Henry Wong
author
Sheriff

Joined: Sep 28, 2004
Posts: 18847
    
  40

Pat Farrell wrote:
Henry Wong wrote:I want even more. My current has 10x optical, giving me an equiv of 28mm to 280mm. That's a wide angle and telephoto lens in one. For my next one, I would like it down to 25mm, if possible, and still have the telephoto up to around 300mm.


No, you really should not want that. If you have to have a zoom, you want it to be fast and have only a modest range. When they do the 10x range, you get a lot of chromatic distortion and lose a lot of resolving ability.

What I'd want is a 25-85mm F2 zoom, which would cover 97% of all my photos.

If I wanted a zoom out to 280mm on a crop sensor camera (which is about 400mm on a full frame 35mm camera) I'd have two, a short to medium range zoom and then something like 50mm-300mm for long range shots.


My wife agrees with you. She has a separate wide angle and telephoto lens for her SLR -- and she use to constantly change it. After a while, she got so annoyed with it, she decided to carry two cameras instead. And since she likes the older metal nikon lenses, that was a pretty heavy setup.

These days, she carries one SLR -- but she has to decide whether she want the wide angle or telephoto, depending on where we are going for the day. And for the photos where she needs the other one, she depends on my little, fit in my pocket, P&S, with the lens that can do wide angle, telephoto, and macro...

Henry
Pat Farrell
Rancher

Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4659
    
    5

Henry Wong wrote:She has a separate wide angle and telephoto lens for her SLR -- and she use to constantly change it.

That is what SLR folks have done for decades. For my Nikon F, I have Nikkor lenses in 24, 35. 50, 85, 105, 135, 180, and 500mm. It takes just seconds to swap. Each lens is faster and sharper than any zoom.
Marcos Hidalgo
Greenhorn

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 2
Thanks for the replies.

I do a lot of cropping, hence the desire for a high MP count. My budget is max $400.
Vikas Kapoor
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 16, 2007
Posts: 1374
Henry Wong wrote:IMHO, what is important (specifically for point and shoots) are....


P&S means digital camera? and other category is SLR?

Henry Wong wrote:2b. Do you take lots of action shots? P&S are not really good for this (lens are too small -- not enough light). But some of them has action mode that are acceptable.


I think SLR fits best here?

Bert Bates wrote:
- how good are the pictures at ISOs of 400 or more

Oh, and my next camera (maybe an s90 or g11) will have RAW


What is ISO and RAW and how do they affect the photography for an amateur photographer like me?

and final question,I want to take great pictures but I am confused between digital and SLR camera. Which one should I pick?
Pat Farrell
Rancher

Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4659
    
    5

Vikas Kapoor wrote:P&S means digital camera? and other category is SLR?


These days, any camera is, by default, a digital camera. If its a film camera, it will say so really obviously.

P&S is Point-and-Shoot, its a small camera you can put in your pocket. You just point it where you want, and push the "shoot" button.

A SLR is a Single Lens Reflex camera. They are big, and much more expensive. They have interchangable lenses. They take better pictures. They typically start at three to four times as expensive as a P&S. You can spend thousands on a SLR.
W. Joe Smith
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 10, 2009
Posts: 710
Vikas Kapoor wrote:

P&S means digital camera? and other category is SLR?


Point and shoot usually refers to a camera you can pick up, turn on, and take a picture without having to mess with anything. There are a lot of these available on the market for pretty cheap. SLR stands for "single lens reflex" I believe. I don't know the technical details, but i think they usually end up being more expensive, but also much more customizable (getting lenses, different settings, etc.) You can get a digital SLR, also known as a DSLR.

Henry Wong wrote:2b. Do you take lots of action shots? P&S are not really good for this (lens are too small -- not enough light). But some of them has action mode that are acceptable.

I think SLR fits best here?


Depends. I've seen some great action shots with P&S, especially for the price. If you have the money to spend, though, a good SLR will take better action shots.

Bert Bates wrote:
- how good are the pictures at ISOs of 400 or more

Oh, and my next camera (maybe an s90 or g11) will have RAW

What is ISO and RAW and how do they affect the photography for an amateur photographer like me?


I'm not sure what RAW is, but ISO deals with the lighting, and how sensative the film is to light (same concept in a digital camera, just not the film but the lense that picks up the image). I believe a higher ISO means it is more sensative to light, making shots in overcast or darker conditions better. I could be wrong. I would guess that neither of these are going to be of major concern to you, however.
and final question,I want to take great pictures but I am confused between digital and SLR camera. Which one should I pick?


As I said earlier, you can get a digital SLR camera. Just note that a decent SLR can run up to $1000+ just for the camera body, not including the various lenses you would need. In comparison, you can get a 12 MP point and shoot for a few hundred bucks.


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Henry Wong
author
Sheriff

Joined: Sep 28, 2004
Posts: 18847
    
  40

Vikas Kapoor wrote:
What is ISO and RAW and how do they affect the photography for an amateur photographer like me?


ISO, is a measurement of film speed, or the film's sensitivity to light. Basically, the higher the ISO, the faster the film, and the more ability to take pictures under low light. It is also grainier because of the speed.

With digital cameras, they adopted the same ISO standard -- control the sensitivity of the sensors. I guess this was done to give photographer the same feel on what to expect from light sensitivity / speed etc.


RAW has to do with the format of the image file. By default, the sensor (hardware) uses a complex (and probably internal) data format. This data is converted to a standard format like JPEG, which also includes compression. This is done so that standard tools can be used. The downside is that data is lost during the conversion, especially when the target format has compression. RAW means RAW -- don't convert it. The camera simply saves the raw format to the memory card.

Henry
Pat Farrell
Rancher

Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4659
    
    5

W. Joe Smith wrote:I'm not sure what RAW is, but ISO deals with the lighting,

RAW is a data format. All cameras put out JPG, which is compressed.

Better cameras can put out the raw bytes, same number and detail as the sensor takes.

All modern SLRs have RAW. Of course, RAW is big, slow, and you need special software to deal with it. Its all powerful.

W. Joe Smith
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 10, 2009
Posts: 710
Pat Farrell wrote:
W. Joe Smith wrote:I'm not sure what RAW is, but ISO deals with the lighting,

RAW is a data format. All cameras put out JPG, which is compressed.

Better cameras can put out the raw bytes, same number and detail as the sensor takes.

All modern SLRs have RAW. Of course, RAW is big, slow, and you need special software to deal with it. Its all powerful.



Ah, I feel like as a tech person I should have made that connection....I think I will stick with my JPG. But, hey, I learned something today!
Bert Bates
author
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 14, 2002
Posts: 8815
    
    5
DSLRs don't fit in your pocket. There is a new-ish flavor called a 4:3 DSLR that ALMOST could fit in your pocket.

If you want to take snapshots of friends at parties to post on facebook, a pocket-sized P&S will be great.
If you want to take beautiful sunset shots and blow them up and frame them and hang them on the wall, you need at least an advanced pocket sized camera or a DSLR.

I brought up stuff like RAW and ISO because I'm explicitly trying to stretch the boundaries - I want the best camera that can fit in my pocket
If I take a beautiful sunset shot, I want the best possible chance that it'll be good enough to frame... all using a camera that'll fit in my pocket

Do you get the sense that "fitting in my pocket" is high on my list?
Pat Farrell
Rancher

Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4659
    
    5

Bert Bates wrote:Do you get the sense that "fitting in my pocket" is high on my list?

There are good reasons that being small enough to always be with you is important. The camera in your cell phone is likely to get a lot more use than the DSLR on your shelf at home.

For a lot of things, the camera in a modern smartphone is more than enough, and you will always have it. The Droid X, iPhone 4 and others have amazing cameras. And its a phone, and its a computer.
W. Joe Smith
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 10, 2009
Posts: 710
Bert Bates wrote:

Do you get the sense that "fitting in my pocket" is high on my list?


You could have a Canon Rebel DSLR in your pocket! I know nothing of the size of your pockets!
Henry Wong
author
Sheriff

Joined: Sep 28, 2004
Posts: 18847
    
  40

Pat Farrell wrote:
For a lot of things, the camera in a modern smartphone is more than enough, and you will always have it. The Droid X, iPhone 4 and others have amazing cameras. And its a phone, and its a computer.


A P&S is a computer too... it's is just that the computer horsepower is used to run the many features that are available -- and not for downloaded phone apps.

Some of the new P&S has some really cool features. Different modes for moods and types of shots. Different modes for focusing. And even deal with shaking. Different types of on-camera editing. Heck... the new Sony even has a smile detector. It won't take a shot until it detects a smile...

Now, admittedly, it also comes with a ton of options that were done because it is cool, and not really going be used much... but then again, this also describes the bubble wrap popping application running on my wife's iPhone.

Henry
Pat Farrell
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Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4659
    
    5

Henry Wong wrote:A P&S is a computer too..

Many of the Canon P&S can be hacked. There are very cool firmware mods available. And what is really cool is that it is trivially self fixing, put the firmware on the card, it will boot, then when you want to go back to stock, just delete the file from the card and back to factory stock.
 
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