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choosing a camera (crazy talk)

Discussion in 'Photography Forums' started by ancientgeek, Mar 20, 2004.

  1. ancientgeek

    ancientgeek
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    I haven't visited this forum before. But the things I've found wrong with cameras don't seem to bother the people here! Manufacturers focus on what's easy (eg pixel count). Doesn't mean that it's important for taking pictures. What I find important is:

    short shutter lag (essential for pets/children/sports) (rules out nearly everything)
    decent LCD you can see in daylight (rules out many), or SLR
    decent wide angle (that rules out 99% of the products available)
    external flash facility (also rules out nearly everything)
    pocketable if possible, otherwise don't care about size
    reasonable macro facility
    non proprietary memory format (no memory stick for me)
    supported by the manufacturer now and in the future rather than being a disposable item (just leaves me with Nikon then!)
    finally of course price is important because this is still a fairly fast evolving area. I usually buy used on ebay.

    I have great respect for Nikon's integrity as a company, especially in regard of continuing support of cameras bought several years ago. So when there's only a small difference, I've tended to choose Nikon. You can call that personal preference.

    You'll notice I didn't even mention: pixel count, long telephoto, or even sharpness or colour balance of pictures. They are simply less important to me than the above because differences are mainly relatively small.

    Current household cameras (both compromises) are: Coolpix 5400 (5Mpix) and Nikon D1 (2.7MPix). A D1 pixel is definitely worth at least 2 5400pixels.
     
  2. Brian110507

    Brian110507
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    Would agree with most of what you say - but all of what you say applies to digital cameras. All of your complaints could be ruled out if you had a decent 35mm SLR with interchangeable lenses
     
  3. ancientgeek

    ancientgeek
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    My complaints do not apply to all digital cameras. So they may help to narrow down a choice.

    Unfortunately a 35mm SLR isn't a digital camera and should really be discussed elsewhere.
     
  4. Peakoverload

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    - Buy a DSLR. Alternatively by applying basic techniques you can reduce the shutter lag on a digicam to very low levels although this still isnt perfect.

    Buy a DSLR or fit a £2 screen shade to your digicam.

    Well how wide do you want to go? There are now dedicated wide angle lenses for DSLR's that go very wide, admittedly not as wide as a 14mm fisheye lens on a 35mm SLR but good enough for 90% of users. Alternatively there are numerouse wide angle adaptors that fit many models of digicams.

    Wrong. All DSLR's have this facility and a large number of SLR style digicams have a hot shoe.

    Hold on a second you say you want all of these features on a camera that fits in your pocket. How many film cameras do this? A large number of digicams will fit in your pocket no problem at all but you have to accept that such small models must have some loss of features.

    Most digital cameras on the market have a reasonable macro facility.

    The most popular memory format is Compact Flash which is non proprietary and is supported by the majority of all digicams.

    Well admittedly Nikon do excel in this area but then I haven't come across one manufacturer that just drops a model and decides not to support it. Okay it may be the case that if you buy a digicam tomorrow in say 5 years time no firmware will be written for it, there will be a limited amount of spare parts for it etc but you have to understand that you are talking about a digital camera, basically a computer with a lens bolted to the front of it. Film cameras have mechnical and electrical parts in them, mechanical things are much easier to fix than a purely electrical item. As an example if you take a 5 year old PC into a shop for a repair what will happen is that they will replace the part that has failed with a new one but you may well find, depending on the part, that replacing one part means you have to replace another for it all to work. No totally electrical item like a digital camera will ever last as long as a mechanical one.

    Well what is your budget. Theres a digital camera for every budget out there from ones costing under £100 to those costing over £4000.
     
  5. ancientgeek

    ancientgeek
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    Peakoverload

    Thanks for your comments. However, most digicams don't meet these requirements. For example, out of about 500 compact digicams, only two have good wideangle and good macro: coolpix 5400 and Olympus C-5060.
     
  6. Peakoverload

    Peakoverload
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    Well what do you define as 'good wideangle' and 'good macro'?

    Most digicams have a macro facility and on the whole these are 'good' but it all depends on what you define as good. If you are talking about achieving 1:1 magnification or higher than most digicams will struggle at this but any DSLR with the right lens like the Tamron 90mm will produce stunning results. Again what 35mm compact cameras have a macro facility that is superior to a digicams macro facility?

    As for wideangle lenses well you are right in that most fixed lenses on a digicam don't go ultra wide but then neither do those on 35mm compact cameras either and as I said there are several different wide angle adaptors that fit onto the fixed lens of many digicams.
     
  7. ancientgeek

    ancientgeek
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    Good wideangle: 28mm equiv or shorter; to me 35-60mm is just variation on a standard lens. 24-85mm (equiv) zoom would be ideal for me on a compact digicam. Good macro: able to photograph most things I can easily look at, including, say, stamps and beetles. Whole subject an inch or so across would be fine.

    The point is these things are not that difficult to provide, but manufacturers prefer to give us 5MP instead.
     
  8. melliott1963

    melliott1963
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    I've got the Minolta A1 (the A2 has just come out) and this seems to fit all your criteria other than pocketable.....

    short shutter lag - Pretty good - I think A2 is even better

    decent LCD you can see in daylight - I was very impressed with the LCD having previously had a Fuji 2800 which was almost impossible to see in daylight.

    decent wide angle - 28mm equivalent good enough?

    external flash facility - hotshoe for external flash unit as well as a Flast Sync Terminal if you want to plug it in to Studio flash units

    reasonable macro facility - 9 inches in Wide angle, 11.8 inches in telephoto

    non proprietary memory format - Compact Flash

    supported by the manufacturer now and in the future rather than being a disposable item - I've always found Minolta pretty good.

    price is important because this is still a fairly fast evolving area. I usually buy used on ebay - As someone else mentioned, what is your budget? As the A2 is now out, I'm sure you'll be able to pick up an A1 for a good price.


    There's virtually every type of setting you could need and we use it as a simple point a click camera, right down to a fully manual camera. The 28 - 200mm (equiv) len is excellent and gives results that, in my opinion, are very 'SLR like' if you get what I mean.

    As far as needing a good macro facility is concerned, providing the camera has a decent enough resolution, if you can't get close enough in macro mode, the beauty of digital images is that you can crop them closer on your PC. Anyway, if you get too close, you'll only get a decent photo if you use a special ring flash attached to the lens.

    Hope this helps.
     
  9. Peakoverload

    Peakoverload
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    Well I can understand what you mean but ultimately I don't totally agree with all that you are saying.

    There are more than two cameras that have a 28mm lens for example the Canon Powershot Pro, Minolta Dimage A2, Minolta Dimage A1 to name just 3. The majority, as you rightly say, start at around 35mm but as I have said numerous models support the use of an add on wide angle adaptor than goes to 28mm and wider. Arguably this gives you much greater flexibility as you can have your longer zooms and then strap on a wide angle adaptor as and when you need it, much like you do with a true SLR/DSLR.

    I'm still a little unclear by what you mean by good macro. You say you want to photograph stamps and beetles and inch or so across, well that won't be a problem for virtually all digicams but what size do you want them to appear on the censor? As I said, if you want 1:1 magnification than I don't know of any non SLR, either film or digital, that can do this. Built in lenses just cannot reproduce this level of magnification. If you expect higher than 1:1, say 2:1 or 5:1 then the ONLY way you will ever achieve this is with either an SLR/DSLR or a medium format camera connected to either a hugely expensive macro lens costing upwards of £4000 or a set of bellows.

    It sounds to me as though you want everything that an DSLR can do but a) don't want to pay that much (understandably) and b) want a camera that will fit in your pocket. The plain simple truth of the matter that no camera offering all of this exists in either the film or digital world simply due to the laws of physics.

    Don't get me wrong, I totally understand your frustrations but I think that perhaps you are over simplifying things a little.
     
  10. ancientgeek

    ancientgeek
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    The laws of physics don't really preclude giving me everything I mentioned in a pocket camera; there's no reason they wouldn't fit into a Pentax Optio S (apart from compactflash memory cards).

    Powershot Pro/Dimage A1/A2 are not compact cameras but pseudo-SLR clunkers twice the volume of the already bulky (for a compact) coolpix 5400.

    I was just listing my digicam priorities. Whether anyone agrees is up to them! The fact remains that the seven camera features I originally listed (ie excluding price & manufacturer evaluation) are not all available in a single digicam.
     
  11. Peakoverload

    Peakoverload
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    Or a single film camera
     

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