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Thread: what to look for

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    Senior Member bluekrissyspikes's Avatar
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    Default what to look for

    in a good camera? hubby wants to get into photography but right now we just have a photosmart point and shoot. it's pretty cool but not good enough to get the quality he wants. so what should i look for in a camera? i know that optical zoom is better than digital zoom and it should have a macro setting. how about mega pixels and stuff? i'm not looking to spend thousands on equipment but i'd like to find him something descent for his birthday. thanks guys. [img]/ubbthreads/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/Coffee.gif[/img]
    "Why do people say grow some balls? Balls are weak and sensitive. If you really wanna get tough, grow a v****a... Those things take a pounding." -- Betty White..

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    Senior Member RuMoR's Avatar
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    Default Re: what to look for

    First question would be, how much ARE you willing to spend?
    Seeing as Cameras go anywhere from say $50-5000, I figured I'd let you check this Cam out..
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IOG32OWZx4E
    It's around $400, but worth every penny.
    "The truth may hurt, but lies are sure to destroy"

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    Default Re: what to look for

    I have the Canon S5 IS and it isn't a bad little camera.

    However, May I suggest you look at one of the entry level DSLRs. The cheapest go for around 400 and are 6 megapixels. They usually include a kit lens which is good enough for most people for a long long time. Later, he can get himself a longer lens and that should be it.

    The cheapest DSLR will beat the quality pants off of any compact camera out there including the top end super zoom models such as the Canon S5 IS. Never look at megapixels to figure out which is better either. A 6 megapixel camera is sufficient to give you an outstanding 8.5x11 photograph (most people don't need to get a bigger print..but you can if you had to). Furthermore, the 6 megapixel DSLRs, due to their image sensor size and low density photon sites, are the best for low light photography, beating the higher 10+ megapixel DSLRs. Any DSLR beats any compact camera in the ISO game also.

    Likewise, all DSLRs do not suffer from shutter lag. Shutter lag is an annoying delay between the time you press the shutter button to the time the camera takes the photo. This practically negates them from doing action photography, or of getting that moment in time of a rambunctious child. You do get used to your camera's shutter lag if you have to live with it, but it’s a major pain. DSLRS don't make you go through that.

    So I would urge you to look at the cheapest DSLR models out there.

    Such as (in no order)

    1. Canon XT
    2. Nikon D40
    3. Pentax K100D
    4. Olympus makes a good camera. Not crazy of their 4/3 system. However, I understand you can get their cheapest with a 2 lens kit for a good price.

    All of these cameras will give him the best quality, and a lot of room for him to grow into and expand. The compact cameras are great, but you can reach the performance ceiling with them rather quickly.


    The Canon S5 IS is a good choice if you’re looking for a super zoom compact simply because it has that external hot shoe which is needed if he will plan on using it a lot for indoor flash photography. Those little built in flashes are only good to 12 feet at times.

    Just an suggestion.

    EDIT:

    If you want to go more upscale, then may I suggest...

    1. Nikon D40X or D80
    2. Canon XTi or XSi
    3. Pentax K200D

    Some YouTube video reviews:

    Nikon D40

    Canon XTi

    Canon XSi

    Nikon D40X

    Olympus 510

    Nikon D60

    Pentax K100D




    No photographer is as good as the simplest camera. ~Edward Steichen

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    Senior Member hemi_69's Avatar
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    Default Re: what to look for

    Personally i have the Nion D40 and i love it, the only think I don't like is the cost of additional lenses, they are a little more expensive I find than for the canon for instance because the D40 lenses have a built in motor for auto focus where as the canon has the motor in the body ( I believe most others do as well) it does help keep the cost down on the initial purchase of the camera however upgrades costs a little more

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    Default Re: what to look for

    I have the Canon S5 IS also and its just perfect for learning.
    I LOVE IT!

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    Default Re: what to look for

    I would ask first what you want to do with it? A DSLR may be the best choice but not everyone wants to lug around a big camera and the zoom range with the lens that comes with them is often not very good. To get the same zoom range as a Canon S5 IS, for instance, would probably require hundreds of dollars more in lenses over and above the camera (or more).

    Also my biggest piece of advice to people is to learn as much of the basics as you can. Even the most advanced camera is extremely stupid and it can't read your mind. The more time you put into learning the basics the more you will get out of it.

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    Default Re: what to look for

    No, Canon and Nikon lenses have motors in their lenses. The top end pro glass of Pentax now has motors in their lenses also. I have no clue about Olympus though as I don't know much about them (I predict they have motors in their lenses).

    Entry level DSLRs are small. They aren't that much bigger then a Canon S5 IS. Likewise, all DSLRs these days have a green mode which basically turns it into a point and shoot. All good cameras have program modes, aperture and shutter priorities, along with manual mode.

    As for the cost of lenses..that is true. However, you do get flexibility with a DSLR system that you simply cannot get with a compact camera. Its not like you need to buy many lenses either (unless you wish to). Likewise, those lenses found on the super zooms look great..but you will get distortions due to the design compromises taken when one is trying to cram such a long focal length lens into a small package.

    Another issue is the size of the sensor. Compact cameras tend to be APSc sized. You remember those advantix cameras of ages past. Cram quite a few photon sites on an image sensor that size, and you will get noise beyond anything ISO 100. In fact, ISO 50 gives you the best photo quality with a compact camera. DSLRs with their larger image sensors, will give you good results up to at least ISO 800 .

    The best route irrespective of what you plan on doing with a camera, is to get a cheap entry level DSLR. You will have something you can grow into, and will grow with you.

    It is up to you. I only suggest a cheap entry level DSLR because the prices are right around a Super Zoom style camera. The image quality is not comparable, nor is the system flexibility. There is nothing wrong with the Canon S5 IS. I have one. It is a great camera for what it does. I know I wouldn't want it to be my only camera though. If your husband is wanting to get into photography more, then maybe he might be better served with a DSLR. At the end of the day, only you can make that decision.
    No photographer is as good as the simplest camera. ~Edward Steichen

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    Default Re: what to look for

    My father is a great photographer and has a Nikon F4 with a full compliment of lenses. His first digital was a Nikon Coolpix 995 that he bought the same time as I did which made him pack away his film camera and lenses.

    A few years back when the D200 came out I got a good deal on a D100 and bought it for him to use with his F4 lenses. He doesn't use it, instead still using his 995 7 years later even though it's only 3.34 MP he is happy with the quality and blows up many of his photos. He says he just doesn't want to carry around an SLR anymore. Since then I don't automatically assume people want a DSLR.

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    Senior Member bluekrissyspikes's Avatar
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    Default Re: what to look for

    hi-this is bluekrissy's husband-i am interested in macro and nature photography i am subscribed to a photography forum called talkphotography.
    i swear they must be millionaires or something because some of their equipment is out of this world,lol
    back to the subject tho-nature is where i wish to plant my heels = )
    "Why do people say grow some balls? Balls are weak and sensitive. If you really wanna get tough, grow a v****a... Those things take a pounding." -- Betty White..

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    Senior Member bluekrissyspikes's Avatar
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    Default Re: what to look for

    thanks guys. i'm looking into all of your suggestions.
    "Why do people say grow some balls? Balls are weak and sensitive. If you really wanna get tough, grow a v****a... Those things take a pounding." -- Betty White..

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    Default Re: what to look for

    Excellent, now that you have a direction you want to go it will be easier to recommend equipment. Now that we know WHAT you want to shoot (wildlife and macro) we can find out what you're looking to spend.

    Neither the Canon or Nikon SLR's come with a macro lens and they tend to be expensive, even on the low end. You can get around it, in some cases, by doing things like flipping a Canon 18-55mm lens around. Also you can buy extension tubes, but that is another expense.

    Many point and shoots have pretty good macro capabilities built in. Will you get better results with a DSLR and dedicated macro lens? Absolutely. But like I said earlier 8 or 9 out of 10 people would never know the difference.

    As far as wildlife goes a DSLR is really the best choice. Problem is the lenses cost a lot, especially for quality. The main consideration is the shutter lag, if you're shooting a bird you really want to take the picture as soon as you press the button, not a second later. Also auto-focus tracking tends to be much better on DSLR's so a bird in flight is much easier to keep in focus.

    Some higher end camera bodies are also weather-sealed so if you're out in the bush you don't have to worry so much about rain, dew, dust, moisture. You really need to use lenses that are weather-sealed too to get the full seal. This is high end though, probably more than a sane person wants to spend but with the high end cameras you get other features such as better auto focus and faster frame rates (8-10 shots a second instead of 3-5).

    If you have any questions about which cameras and lenses are good for which subjects I'd be glad to help.

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    Default Re: what to look for

    Well I was just at blacks Station Mall and they have a Pentax K100D for 399 with kit lens. That is about 30 to 40 dollars more then a Canon S5 IS.

    I agree. I have taken my Canon S5 IS out with me on some of my wildlife walks and I found the shutter lag to be something noticeable. You can get used to it, but you will have missed many opportunities. Even when you learn to time your shots, with wildlife, often you can't anticipate the action. Otherwise, it has an ok lens that reaches out to 432mm, which is very respectable. It is however not very wide at 36mm on the short end.

    The camera has a wonderful tilting viewfinder which is perfect for macro work among other things. The EVF is quite grainy though, but bright enough that you can use it in bright sunlight that washes out the back LCD. A big plus is that you can superimpose your viewfinder with the rule of third lines. This makes crooked horizon lines a thing of the past and it also helps you in composition.

    The camera has a hot shoe. So you can use any of Canon's dedicated flashes from the EX line. Fantastic because the built in flash drains your batteries something fierce and its range/power isn't all that great for long indoor shots. You can get an off cable shoe along with a flash bracket if you wish to get all fancy. Great for flash macro photography also.

    Here is a photo of the camera with flash bracket plus flash, off shoe cable, and Lumiquest soft box to diffuse the light (set up used for Macro). You can do quite a bite with this camera actually and it is a good choice.


    Here is a photo of the S5 IS with one of my Canon flash guns. See how dwarfed it is compared to the flash unit. This flash unit is my smaller one (420 EX). Being able to add a flash gun is a big advantage to the capability of this camera.


    The S5 IS does not come with the filter adapter. Unfortunately, Canon saw fit to charge you extra for this necessary item. Basically, its a plastic tube that mounts to the camera with a bayonet mount. It does several things for you. It allows you to mount 58mm filters, and it also protects the delicate lens mechanisms from knocks etc. The second photo above shows the camera without the adapter. The first photo has the adapter installed. I leave mine on permanently with a UV filter to protect the end and also to keep dust out of the mechanism (but then I am used to larger cameras, so I don't mind the bulkier size). The adapter comes with a terrible hard screw on type sun shade. Its awkward to use. I just bought one of those cheap rubber roll up sun shades. This way, I can use a third party 58mm lens cap. I love convenience in the field.

    The camera has 2 macro modes. Super macro is the one that seems to work the best. It allows you to focus on very close objects. It will in fact focus on something that touches the outer lens element. The normal macro mode is difficult to use. Most S5 IS users have a hard time to get this function to work, myself included. The lens does have a lot of barrel distortion when using the macro mode.

    The Canon S5 IS is probably one of the best super zooms out on the market. The big advantage is the hot shoe. I can easily recommend this camera.

    In comparison, the Pentax K100D is a 6 megapixel DSLR. The S5 IS is an 8 megapixel super zoom. The image sensor on the K100D is larger then on the S5 IS. This translates into better low light performance with higher ISO values with less digital noise. It comes with an 18-55mm kit lens. Because this is a DSLR, there is a cropping factor simply because the image sensor isn't full frame (size of a 35mm frame). The cropping factor for this camera is 1.5x. Thus, that 18-55mm lens will give you a field of view of 27 to 82.5mm. This is wider then the 37mm minimum of the S5 IS. On the other hand, 82.5mm is not anywhere near 432mm on the long end. The kit lens is actualy of very good quality. Pentax is renown for their glass, and they don't make too many duds. I would say the Pentax beats my Canon kit lens easily in image quality and built quality. There is also another kit lens that is the 50-200mm lens. This equates to a 75 to 300mm lens once you get that cropping factor settled. Still not long enough compared to the S5 IS. However, you can spend a little more and get a Sigma APO or Tamron 70-300mm lens (105-450mm). Both are fairly cheap and of good quality. I own the Tamron version. It takes good photos but is prone to purple fringe (high contrast scenery) which is easy to remove with a Photoshop like program. If you need longer, you can always buy a longer but much more expensive lens later on. The Bigma I have for my Canon retails for around 1300 dollars.

    As for macro, well, you do need a macro lens. Now macro on a DSLR is a bit different then on a compact camera. There is no swiveling LCD to make your job easier. You can however, buy a right angle viewfinder adapter but your talking a bit of money for one of those. There are different types of macro lenses. The longer the focal length, the longer your working distance, the better the lens will be for insects and other skittish subjects. A macro 50mm is perfect for doing table top stuff. There are macro 30s, 50s, 90/100, 180s and 200mm lenses. They get expensive quick the longer your lens is. I have a Tamron 90 Macro for my Canon, and its great. You can even add a 1.4 or 2x teleconverter to it to magnify your subjects, but at a slight decrease in picture quality. You can use extension tubes on a regular lens to get better macro capabilities.

    Here is a Canon 20D with Canon 100-300mm lens plus a set of 3 extension tubes between the lens and the body (see those red dots). Extension tubes have one downfall though, and that is you lose infinity focus. You do get closer magnifications with no loss of image though. This is because extension tubes are just tubes with nothing in the light path to decrease image quality. They have the proper electrical connections so you have to get them for your camera model.


    Anyways, this is stuff you can buy for a DSLR. You can also use magnifying filters for both cameras. These come in different powers and screw onto the lens or filter adapter. They are cheap but degrade image quality with distortions.

    I won't get into how much better a DSLR is in low light conditions, or just how much better the image quality is.

    I think I have said enough lol. You now have my impression of the Canon S5 IS which I think is one of the best super zooms going, and a little about the Pentax K100D (typical entry level DSLR) which is of a similar price to the S5 IS. I own one, and not the other. I do have a Pentax K10D though.

    Your best bet is to get him to hold some of these cameras and see what sort of a price exists. I would visit Blacks, Camera Craft, and Future shop to see what is available. Then hit the online review sites and figure out what price point he wants and what will he do with it.

    Either or, they are both good cameras with their pros and cons (compacts or DSLRS).
    No photographer is as good as the simplest camera. ~Edward Steichen

  13. #13
    Senior Member bluekrissyspikes's Avatar
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    Default Re: what to look for

    wow..thanks chako. that's a lot of information and to be honest i don't understand half of it but i will be taking hubby to go look at the Pentax K100D to see what he thinks of it.
    "Why do people say grow some balls? Balls are weak and sensitive. If you really wanna get tough, grow a v****a... Those things take a pounding." -- Betty White..

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    Default Re: what to look for

    The Pentax K100D is a good starter camera. Be sure to look around at what else they have. Nikon and Canon also make good cameras, as does Olympus. Just be aware that the Olympus uses a smaller sensor and their crop factor is 2x (50mm lens equates to a field of view of 100mm). Another issue with Olympus is that their viewfinders tend to be small and caveish. Otherwise, you can get an Olympus system with 2 lens kit for a cheap enough price.

    Have him look also at the compacts. Who knows, maybe he would prefer one of those instead. Karm is right, cameras are personal.
    No photographer is as good as the simplest camera. ~Edward Steichen

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    Default Re: what to look for

    Great thing about Pentax, Nikon, Sony (Konika Minolta) is that their lens mount has remained the same for quite a long time (especially Nikon) so you can often pick up cheap used lenses for a fraction of the price but the older ones will be manual focus only.

    That's fine for a bird perched in a tree but a nightmare for a bird in flight.

    The Canon lenses completely changed their mount in the early 80's so you can't use old manual focus Canon lenses without an adapter and sometimes you lose infinity focus.

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    Default Re: what to look for

    Yep, that is about it.

    Here is my Pentax K10D with a 1958 55mm f/2.2 Takumar. I had to use a screw mount adapter, but man, there is just something to the build quality and feel of those old lenses.

    No photographer is as good as the simplest camera. ~Edward Steichen

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    Senior Member sereenie's Avatar
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    Default Re: what to look for

    gosh those look expensive

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    Default Re: what to look for

    Not to hijack the thread but do you have any interest in a Spotmatic II with 24mm f/3.5 SMC Takumar?

    I'm putting it on eBay this week but would be open to a trade or local sale. Send me a PM either way, chako.

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    Default Re: what to look for

    Not interested Karm. I have enough film cameras. [img]/ubbthreads/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/smile.gif[/img]

    You should make a killing on Ebay though. Pentax stuff seems to sell at a price premium lately.
    No photographer is as good as the simplest camera. ~Edward Steichen

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    Default Re: what to look for

    I was thinking the lens might be of more interest to you, but that's OK I'll throw it up on eBay. You're right, I have seen very few of those lenses on eBay and when I do they fetch a pretty good price.

    Hijack over.

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