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View Full Version : Complete newbie: How do you know when it's time to get a new camera?




devilot
Nov 28, 2005, 07:05 PM
I am a complete beginner... all your crazy lens talk and numbers and models confound me. :o

I have... um... a Canon Powershot elph thingie. Not the current SD400, I think it's just an S400? I got it fall of 2003.

I've noticed in the last few months that some of my photos come out looking really grainy. Is that a sign that my camera is failing? Or have I simply accidently clicked on an option that has changed the way my photos come out?

Should I get a new camera? (Mine feels so heavy in comparison to my boyfriend's new SD400.) And if yes, then what's a good buy for a total beginner? I really don't have interest in a bulkier camera... I prefer slimmer and lighter (in weight) cameras, and hopefully one w/ that neato, um, macro option (the thingie that lets you take detailed close-up photos). Price range probably ~$200 to $300 (but if there's a decent one for <$200 I'm definitely much more game!).



OutThere
Nov 29, 2005, 12:23 AM
You might have turned the quality settings down...check the on-camera menus for that. Otherwise, you might have put it into some sort of night shot mode that's making it more grainy.

You should only ever feel the need to get a new camera when the results from yours aren't satisfactory...I mean, if the pictures aren't sharp enough for you anymore, and something in your price range has come around, you might consider it. There's no set point when you should get a new camera, and, basically, all the business about megapixels that big companies try to sell is B.S. I mean, yeah the megapixel count determines the size of the image, but you have to seriously increase it (tripling/quadrupling) to really see a difference in the print quality. What really makes quality differences is sensor quality, which'll determine how much grain you have, and if you get purple halos/smearing. As an extremely generalized, basic rule, the newer, more expensive, and bigger a camera is, the higher quality sensor it will have. Don't take that as gospel, but it's just a good scale you can put various cameras on.

I'm a noob in the way of consumer camera models, so I won't waste time googling camera reviews for you, when someone who actually has experience with them can recommend something.:)

iMeowbot
Nov 29, 2005, 01:34 AM
I've noticed in the last few months that some of my photos come out looking really grainy. Is that a sign that my camera is failing? Or have I simply accidently clicked on an option that has changed the way my photos come out?

There really aren't many things you could have accidentally tweaked if you have the S400 in auto mode on the thumbwheel dial. Are you using that or the manual mode?

Noise/grain is what you get with a little PowerShot if there isn't enough light. Some other brands will try to degrade a little more gracefully at the expense of detail. Have you been taking more night or indoor pictures with so-so light lately that might explain the difference?

The plain old auto mode really doesn't guess that well if you don't happen to have really good lighting, so you may need to bite the bullet and learn about those settings.

Abstract
Nov 29, 2005, 03:54 AM
I don't think your camera just started shooting crap photos. ;) I reckon a setting has changed. I have a Canon IXUS 40/SD300, so maybe I can help you.

Here's what you're going to do:

1. Check to see that your camera is still in Automatic mode. If it's in Manual mode, then get it back to Auto mode. You know if your camera is in Auto mode if you see a "camera" icon on the top-left corner of the LCD in "shoot mode." If you see a camera icon with a big "M" at the top left corner, then you have it in Manual Mode.

2. If you want to use your camera in Manual mode, check to see what "ISO" it's on. Your ISO setting should be on "AUTO" mode, or maybe ISO 50, or ISO 100.

3. If you're in AUTO mode, go back into the menu and go down to the icon that looks like a quarter-circle. If you're shooting photos at the higest quality setting (aka: Superfine), then the icon should be a quarter-circle with an "S" in the middle.

That's it, I think.

Applespider
Nov 29, 2005, 04:32 AM
Check your settings for sure. On my old Canon S30 (4 years old plus), I suddenly realised that my ISO setting had been set too high for one particular shot and left there meaning that the other shots looked grainy - I'd got used to just moving the shot selector over and not checking all my options regularly.

I hadn't really thought about getting a new one until I started looking at a few while investigating camcorders and realising how much the prices had dropped and speeds improved Then I checked out the old specs on mine and the new one; it wasn't so much the extra megapixels that made the difference to me. The S30 used to take a few seconds to turn on and had a reasonable amount of shutter lag, particularly in dim lighting. This meant that I was losing some pictures. Its battery life was also not impressive (you needed 2 fully charged ones to get 130 or so pictures now) and it was relatively bulky.

Having said that, I've now got a new Fuji F10 and the difference is amazing. The higher megapixels mean that there's much more flexibility to crop and I'm impressed by the level of detail that it captures compared to the S30. It turns on incredibly fast and there's not a lot of lag on the shutter. It lasts for 300 shots on a single battery charge (in real life - 500 under test conditions) and its low light capability is superb (1600 ISO that's usable) And it was only 200 ;)

I'd say that you know you need a new camera when you're not taking your camera out with you as much and you are frustrated at not getting the shots you want. 4 years is a long time in digicam terms - hence I suspect why I notice such a difference. A couple of years is a while too but you might want to wait a little longer if you can get the settings sorted out.

devilot
Nov 29, 2005, 08:49 AM
Uh, hee... :o I do prefer using Manual mode (just so I can take odd pictures sometimes) and um... yes, the ISO thing was WAY off! Thanks iMeowbot for explaining why it was happening (not enough light, and yes the grainer photos were indoor shots); thanks Abstract for spelling it out for me (especially the talk of symbols and the specific ISO numbers), and OutThere for giving it a shot. I hadn't really thought about getting a new one until I started looking at a few while investigating camcorders and realising how much the prices had dropped and speeds improved. The S30 used to take a few seconds to turn on and had a reasonable amount of shutter lag, particularly in dim lighting. Its battery life was also not impressive (you needed 2 fully charged ones to get 130 or so pictures now) and it was relatively bulky.

I'd say that you know you need a new camera when you're not taking your camera out with you as much and you are frustrated at not getting the shots you want.The parts that I underlined are what spoke to me the most... I have most definitely noticed the drop in prices but 'nicer' specs in my bf's camera. Mine is literally double the thickness of his and the weight as well. Mine still takes Compact Flash as opposed to SD (I hardly ever see CF on sale anymore, just SD :p).

And you're so right! Mine does take awhile to turn on, I do miss some fun photos because my camera is still dealing with the last shot, the battery life can feel limiting, and the ultimate-- I really have left my camera at home more and more. :o

I'm not ready to buy just yet-- I'll keep my eyes and ears open for more good advice and after Christmas sales. ;)

Thanks again, everybody for helping me out.

benpatient
Nov 29, 2005, 03:38 PM
well, can i just chime in real quick and say that you see more SD on sale because it costs more.

There's nothing in the world wrong with CF cards, and they are still the primary media format used on most of the mid-high level digital cameras because you can get really, really big ones (up to 8GB now, i think!) and the prices/speed are good.

CF are also, generally, more physically robust than some of the "sleeker" alternatives.

cr2sh
Nov 30, 2005, 01:31 PM
I'm along the same lines. Would someone please tell me I should go buy a D50! Please?

:)

OutThere
Nov 30, 2005, 01:35 PM
I'm along the same lines. Would someone please tell me I should go buy a D50! Please?

:)

Go buy a D50.


There. I said it.

Abstract
Nov 30, 2005, 01:42 PM
Sure, buy a D50. Great camera. :) And if I only didn't spend all that money on a surfboard, wetsuit, + accessories, I would have gotten a D70s or D50. :(

efoto
Nov 30, 2005, 08:43 PM
I'll third that cr2sh, go get it. It is an excellent camera and assuming your wallet can take the hit, go for it, I'm sure you won't be disappointed.

If you do get it, take some pictures of and with it ;)

maya
Nov 30, 2005, 08:49 PM
Go buy a D50.


There. I said it.

Where would we be without your guidance. ;) :)

cr2sh
Nov 30, 2005, 09:41 PM
My wallet can take the hit without blinking... however it's a matter of long term goals versus short-term wants.

I have to justify it.. and I don't think I'm going to be able too.

:(

I've tried everything, including asking for advice. I've argued it'd be my christmas present. I've argued its not that much. I've argued that I'm flying into New Orleans tomorrow, and I'd be missing a great chance to take some amazing photos....

However, I know when the intel macs come out, I'll be buying a new laptop... I know I need to get a garage built... and I know I want to retire from "working for them man" next year.

I want it.. it'd be so damn nice... but jesus, I hate my job and a new camera doesn't ge me any further from it.

:(

efoto
Dec 1, 2005, 07:59 AM
My wallet can take the hit without blinking... however it's a matter of long term goals versus short-term wants.

I have to justify it.. and I don't think I'm going to be able too.

:(

I've tried everything, including asking for advice. I've argued it'd be my christmas present. I've argued its not that much. I've argued that I'm flying into New Orleans tomorrow, and I'd be missing a great chance to take some amazing photos....

However, I know when the intel macs come out, I'll be buying a new laptop... I know I need to get a garage built... and I know I want to retire from "working for them man" next year.

I want it.. it'd be so damn nice... but jesus, I hate my job and a new camera doesn't ge me any further from it.

:(

At least you are smart enough to analyze your situation and mature enough to make a decision like that. Having it would be tons of fun without a doubt, but if it's better to pass, well then it's better to pass :(

I'm at the stage where I'm foolish and wanting so I buy way above what I can justify (well what I need anyway, I justify well :p) but I'm sure that will bite me in the ass sooner or later.

kwajo.com
Dec 1, 2005, 08:56 AM
easy solution to money and quality camera issue: buy a 35mm SLR. there, i'm brilliant ;)

efoto
Dec 1, 2005, 10:08 AM
easy solution to money and quality camera issue: buy a 35mm SLR. there, i'm brilliant ;)

True, but it makes it a lot harder to digitally manipulate and share your photos if they start on film. You'd have to tack on the price of a quality scanner as well, to even argue competition to digital.