Sub-Newbie: Upgrading from Canon Powershot S30

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by SilentPanda, Mar 27, 2006.

  1. SilentPanda Moderator emeritus

    SilentPanda

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2002
    Location:
    The Bamboo Forest
    #1
    So I have a "crappy" digital camera. Canon Powershot S30. I don't know what white balance is, aperature settings, or any other techincal term you can think of dealing with cameras...

    That being said... I don't like my camera that much. It takes pictures just fine in my opinion but my biggest beef with it is the front cover. As seen in the picture below, the cover slides across the front... that is what retracts the lense. It's *very* touchy... often times while trying to take a picture it closes on me... that stinks.

    Another thing is the battery life is horrible. Maybe I just need a new battery but while I've had the current battery for a long time I haven't used it much.

    So I guess it's only two things but... I like to spend money too... :) So I'm wanting a new camera.

    Here's what I would like in a new camera.
    • No sliding front cover!
    • Uses standard batteries... I'd rather carry some cheap spares that I can pick up from a gas station than some rechargable battery that lasts an hour on a good day.
    • Macro photography! If I got into photography at all I think this would be where I'd go. I really like being able to take pics of things close up.
    • Of course "auto" mode... I almost always use auto mode because I don't know how to set the stuff manually.
    • On occassion I'll use the mode that leaves the lense open longer... not sure what it's called and I'm surely making a real photographer cringe... :) But basically where you could take a picture of something moving fast and it's really blurry.
    • I'll probably only be printing 4x6's max... I don't generally print any of my photos.
    • Built in flash of course.
    • I don't care about digital zoom. I figure if I want to digitally zoom I have a computer for that... but maybe I don't know what digital zoom is.
    • Preferrably use CompactFlash as I already have cards for that.
    • Don't care much about LCD size. I generally use the view-finder to take pictures as it saves on battery life and then review a bunch of shots via the LCD at once. I look to make sure that I have the subject(s) not that everything is perfect.

    I'll probably be taking most pictures outdoors during the day, on rare occassions indoors in lit areas, and if I get it before May I'll be taking day/night pictures in Las Vegas.

    Yeah it's probably a basic run-o-the-mill camera. I like the idea of having lenses but I don't really know too much about what they do... it's more the idea... :)

    I'm not bound to any brand of camera myself. Any ideas? I hear a lot about the Nikon D50 in these forums and looked at it the other day. I almost bought it but I'm pretty sure it would feel sad since it'd be on auto most of the time.

    *sigh* Now I know what it feels like when people ask me about computer hardware... embarassed but wanting to know!
     
  2. sjl macrumors 6502

    sjl

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2004
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    #2
    No sliding cover probably means that you're ruling out a fair number of compacts (although not all, by any means). I'd be cautious of using a camera that takes "standard" batteries; the draw of a digital camera is high, meaning that when the camera considers the batteries flat, they probably are still only half used. Wasteful. The cost of doing things that way is probably going to be more than buying a camera that uses lithium ion, and replacing it every couple of years.

    The mode you refer to is called a long exposure (or very slow shutter). Most cameras should be able to do this, but make sure you have a tripod; holding the camera steady for a long time (even just half a second is a long time in photography) is not possible.

    4x6 means that a DSLR would probably be overkill for you. A 3-4 MP job would do the task at hand without any trouble; I've blown up my 8MP DSLR to well over four times the size of a 4x6 and it's looked very nice.

    Digital zoom: you're absolutely right, it's a waste of time, and is only there to make the specs look good to the uninformed. Ignore it.

    Your eye has a lens: it focuses the incoming light onto the retina. No lens means that all you see (or the camera sees) would be an amorphous blob. Not particularly interesting or useful.

    When you buy an SLR (of which DSLRs are a subcategory), you buy a body with a mount. Lens attach to that mount, and focus the light onto the film or the digital sensor. A compact camera has a fixed lens; you can't change it.

    This makes SLRs more flexible than compacts, but also more expensive. Lenses vary in price from very cheap, with mediocre image quality, through reasonably priced, reasonable quality, up to very expensive, excellent quality (roughly) -- the price varies depending on whether the lens is a fixed focal length (no zoom) or a zoom; how fast the lens is (how much light it lets through); how long the lens is (longer lens == more reach == more cost); and so on.

    If you want to learn about photography, I'd suggest looking at DSLRs, but if all you want to do is take happy snaps, it'd be a waste of money. Your call ...
     
  3. atari1356 macrumors 68000

    atari1356

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2004
    #3
    From reading your requirements, you'd probably like the Canon A610 or Canon A620.

    If you want a longer zoom, then consider the Canon S3 IS which should be in stores in about a month.

    There are of course other brands, and many options to choose from... those are just ones that I'm familiar enough with to recommend (I have the A620 at work, and previously owned a Canon S2 IS - which is the predecessor to the S3).
     
  4. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2003
    Location:
    Northern Virginia
    #4
    So right on! With the S3IS, there is a better 800 ISO (from reports). Otherwise the A series like the ones you mentioned may be a good jump up.
     
  5. SilentPanda thread starter Moderator emeritus

    SilentPanda

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2002
    Location:
    The Bamboo Forest
    #5
    Thanks all! :) I think I might go with the A620. I like the S3 IS but it comes out in May and I'm heading to Vegas in May so that'd be iffy. I also looked at the user reviews of the S2 IS and they were pretty poor when compared to the A620 and A610. Will the S2 IS follow suit? Can't say for sure but... I'd like to get the camera now so I can play around with it pre-trip anyway... :)

    It sounds like the camera uses SD and MMC for cards. Is there a preference either way? I don't have any external card readers and don't plan on getting one either so compatibility with other things isn't an issue. Just didn't know if one was "better".

    Time to stop at BestBuy after work to play with it...
     
  6. sarae macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2004
    Location:
    madison, WI
    #6
    One thing to do in the meantime, I know you're agitated with your current cam, but you might want to start playing with some of the other modes. I used to have the s45 and loved it til it died, but your camera has the same basic aperture-priority mode, manual mode, etc. You also have the ability to play around with some of the other features like white balance and such. It might be worth it just to mess around with those options to see if you like having more control, especially if you were considering the d50.
     
  7. atari1356 macrumors 68000

    atari1356

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2004
    #7
    Overall I would rate the S2 IS very high - it's a versatile camera that takes very good images in most situations. I'd still have mine, if it weren't for the fact that I wanted something that performed better in low light (for baby pictures) and decided to sell it to buy a Canon Digital Rebel XT.

    The A620 is better than the S2 in terms of image quality (images on the S2 can look a little soft in some situations... the S3 uses the same lens as the S2 but has a better sensor, so I hesitate to make any judgements on that camera's image quality). The downside of the A620 (versus an S2/S3) is that you lose the extended zoom range and image stabilization.

    They're both great cameras and I'm sure you'd be happy with either one - going from the S30 to one of those would be a major upgrade.

    If you do get an A620 or an S3, be sure to invest in a decent battery charger and NIMH batteries. Regular AA batteries will only last 90 shots or so in the S2, but the rechargeables will give you around 500 shots (the A620 probably gets similar battery performance).

    For an SD card, I recommend the SanDisk 1 GB Ultra II or SanDisk 2 GB Ultra II... they're fast and have proven reliability.
     
  8. Linkjeniero macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2005
    #8
    If you want to learn to have more control of your shots, but think that going from full auto to full manual, or even aperture/speed priority is too much, you could start by using the "dedicated" modes some cameras have (I don't know the exact name), like landscape, portrait, macro, etc. That's what I did when I got my D50; and after a few days of use, I felt confident enough to start using the priority modes. And even if you never use those, I find that generally is much better to tell the camera what you're shooting at (a landscape for example), than let it guess it.
    Something else you're worried about is battery life. Well, in dSLRs you never use the LCD screen to take the pictures, just to review them if you want; and since the viewfinder is optical, it doesn't drain the battery, and you can take many shots with one charge (the D50's manual says 400 with flash, 1000 without). That's more than enough if you ask me (when I was in vacations once I went three days without charging, shooting all day, and it held up nicely); and no P&S get that many pictures from just one charge, and much less from one set of batteries. (My sister was carrying a Nikon P&S that uses 2 AAs, and even though she doesn't shoot nearly as much I do, the batteries lasted one day at best; both rechargeable and not). Also, the optical viewfinder offers a quality of image no electronic viewfinder can hope to achieve.
    The downside of getting a D50 for you, is that it doesn't come with a macro lens, and they're not so cheap... but I think the results you'll get with such a camera simply cannot be compared to a P&S; so if you don't have the cash right now you could pick up a macro lens later, because I don't think you'll need it in your vacations. It's up to you, but believe me: if you go dSLR, you'll never look back.
     
  9. SilentPanda thread starter Moderator emeritus

    SilentPanda

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2002
    Location:
    The Bamboo Forest
    #9
    I guess I don't know the difference between DSLR and non-DSLR... then again I'm color blind so maybe that has something to do with it... :) Only thing I know is I can get about 2 A620's or one D50... :)
     
  10. Linkjeniero macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2005
    #10
    Color has nothing to do with it; as a matter of fact, I'm also slightly colorblind, and that doesn't stop me from enjoying my dSLR :).
    SLR means Single Lens Reflex; in short, is a camera that lets you see through the same lens that will be used to take the picture, without using an electronic viewfinder. Also, these are the cameras that have interchangeable lenses. More info about that here.
    I don't know how serious you are about your photos, so maybe a good "prosumer" P&S would be enough for you... After all, not everybody likes to walk around with a big ass camera hanging from their neck :p; but I really recommend you to consider a dSLR; maybe use one a day or two ir you have the chance. And about the money issue: no doubt that dSLRs are more expensive, but you have to take into account that the glass you buy now, you can keep for many years, and use in future cameras when it's time to upgrade.
     
  11. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2005
    Location:
    8 miles from the Apple Store at Tysons (VA)
    #11
    Before you make any decisions, do some reading, play with different cameras, see how they feel in your hands, how the menu system works, what the various buttons are on the camera body, etc. I'd suggest that rather than going to Best Buy, if you are serious about buying a good camera and thinking at all in terms of the possibility of a D50 or Digital Rebel instead of a P&S, then go to a real camera shop, where the personnel there can talk with you, show you the various cameras and let you really handle them without interference from security devices.

    As for the fact that you've already got CF cards....well, unfortunately most of the small P&S cameras these days seem to use SD cards or xD or something else, rather than CF cards. When you get into DSLRs, Nikon's D50, which is aimed at a target audience of people moving up from P&S, uses SD cards in order to keep weight down and probably because they figure that many people coming from a P&S would already have SD cards. Whatever... Thing is, memory cards these days are significantly less expensive than they used to be, so it really should not be a deal-breaker one way or the other what kind of memory the camera uses. This past summer, I bought a P&S and it used SD memory cards, so now I've got a couple of those. Personally, I prefer CF cards, which seem to be a lot sturdier and less likely to be lost or broken.

    Card readers..... I would STRONGLY urge that you get one of these and use it rather than trying to download images directly from the camera. A card reader is quicker, for one thing, and it also saves battery life on the camera. Most importantly, if anything goes wrong during the transferring process, the camera is not part of the equation. I don't take chances with my expensive cameras.

    Batteries... Personally, I prefer having two or three rechargeable proprietary batteries which seem to last longer. For me, it's easier to slip ONE battery out of the camera and stick the next one in rather than fumbling around with two or four AA or AAA batteries. Don't know about P&S battery life, as I don't really use them that often these days, but with my DSLR I get quite a long battery life out of each battery. I have three. One came with the camera, one I purchased extra, and then because a while back Nikon had some issues with the batteries used in the D70, they had a recall and I had to send in one of my batteries that I used with that camera. I was pleased to see that the replacement they sent me was the new model which can be used in my D200.

    It sounds as though a lot of people on here are urging you to consider stepping up to a DSLR. From what I'm seeing, it loooks as though you're probably not really ready for that yet, but that you are ready for a more advanced P&S with more features. I'd go with a good P&S at this point. If you can get one that has manual functions as well, that is a good way to start learning about apertures, shutter speeds, etc.

    Good luck with whatever you buy! Looking forward to seeing photos!
     
  12. plinden macrumors 68040

    plinden

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2004
    #12
    I have the S30, and it has the P-mode, where by default everything is automatic, but you can change various settings. It also has fully manual and a macro-mode - the flower symbol so you can still do that.

    I'm not saying don't upgrade, but the S30 is a nice camera for playing about with until you decide what level of camera you want - being digital you wouldn't be wasting film (still, I have had my S30 for four years and my Canon Sureshot 35mm for close to 20 years. My father still uses the camera he bought before his wedding in 1961.) So just play about with the various settings for a while.

    I've never had the lens cover close on me while taking photos. I have to put quite a bit of pressure on it to close it.
     
  13. Applespider macrumors G4

    Applespider

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2004
    Location:
    looking through rose-tinted spectacles...
    #13
    I had an S30 - and found the same things - the battery life wasn't great, the cover got really annoying since as it got older, it seemed to take more effort and attempts to activate the lens or keep it open and my pictures got pretty noisy in low light.

    I bought a Fuji F10 (the F11 is the newer model with a few more manual features) and I've been really happy with it. Much, much better shots and easier to get around the white balance/exposure compensation etc.

    What it doesn't have (I had the same list as you originally)
    It uses a bespoke battery BUT it lasts for hundreds shots. I took mine out one day at 7am, went on a Grand Canyon plane/copter tour and then round Las Vegas until 10pm and it just touched the lower third of the battery indicator. I last recharged it at Christmas and it's still happily taking pictures with more than half the battery left (tho I'm not using it daily).

    It doesn't have a viewfinder - just the LCD but with the long battery life, I haven't found a real issue. The LCD also gains up when in bright light so I haven't hit that 'too bright to see' issue yet.

    It doesn't use Compact Flash (it seems only the DSLRs and DSLRlikes) still do. It uses XD cards but I was able to pick up a GB one for a reasonable price. A cheap card reader though is a bonus! I miss my CF one.

    It takes great shots in low light. It goes up to 1600 ISO and is surprisingly clean - particularly if you're only going to print things at snapshot size. I've taken some great 'candid' shots in pubs since I can use it with no flash
     
  14. SilentPanda thread starter Moderator emeritus

    SilentPanda

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2002
    Location:
    The Bamboo Forest
    #14
    Mine was the display one... I'm sure that has a lot to do with it... but when I got the camera it was not being made anymore so I got a good deal on it.
     
  15. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #15
    color blind? then shoot black and white. Te D50 will give you a smoother tonal range with less noise in the image.

    I wonder if a truely color blind person wouldn't have a better eye for B&W photography? THe DSLR is ideal for B&W if you shoot in raw format there are many conversion options.
     
  16. Linkjeniero macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2005
    #16
    I don't think so... Why should that be? A true colorblind person wouldn't get any extra info from the B&W picture; he would be seing the same thing as any other person.
     
  17. SilentPanda thread starter Moderator emeritus

    SilentPanda

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2002
    Location:
    The Bamboo Forest
    #17
    I got the D50... I am sooooo eating Ramen for the next 10 years.
     
  18. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2005
    Location:
    8 miles from the Apple Store at Tysons (VA)
    #18
    Hooray! What influenced your decision? You will LOVE this camera and it will be a real learning tool for you....
     
  19. SilentPanda thread starter Moderator emeritus

    SilentPanda

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2002
    Location:
    The Bamboo Forest
    #19
    Certainly not the girl at the store... no way no how! :) Well okay she did but only barely. I woulda bought it either way.

    Actually I played with both of them and just really hated the A620 because it didn't have lenses. I didn't think I'd care about interchangeable lenses and such but I do... I guess. There's just something about holding something that "feels" like an old 35mm that feels good. I got the "default" lens that comes with it but I'd also like to get a macro lense at some point.

    I also got a book that explains everything about the camera.... should be good. And now I present to the world... my first D50 image!

    Warning! 2.5MB image! And it's of my cat's food bowl. So not too exciting but it's dark here.

    http://www.silentpanda.net/MR/Cat_food.jpg
     
  20. Linkjeniero macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2005
    #20
    Congratulations! I guarantee you'll not regret this (well, maybe when you're broke because of the disease that seems to have affected you already: lens lust ;) )
     
  21. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2005
    Location:
    8 miles from the Apple Store at Tysons (VA)
    #21

    Oh, yeah, that ole lens lust is a real killer! It sneaks up on the innocent photographer. At first one is happy with the "kit" lens that came with the camera body.....but then one wants to try shooting other stuff, and so the quest begins. Macro.... ah, let's buy this macro lens, see what we can do.... Then the thoughts and desires turn to something else, say wide angle, and the quest is on again. A wide-angle lens is added to the bag. After that, ooh, let's get a really good telephoto for longer reach.... Oh, and let's get a lens for shooting in really low light.... and on and on..... :D
     
  22. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2005
    Location:
    8 miles from the Apple Store at Tysons (VA)
    #22
    First thing you need to learn is how to reduce the size of your images for displaying in email and at sites such as this one! :) My cat loved the photo, though, and sniffed at it curiously, wondering why the foodie bits didn't have any odor....

    You might want to check into buying PS Elements for working with images, resizing them, etc. I don't know if they've released v.4 yet for Mac....

    Nikon makes a very good and not terribly expensive macro lens, the 60mm one, and there is also the brand-new 105mm VR macro lens. Another way to do macro on the cheap is to use a set of closeup filters/lenses that fit on the front of your lens. I think it was in one of the threads here that we discussed that in detail....or maybe it was at Nikon Cafe. One of the two places. For instance, the Canon 500D closeup filter works really well to bring subjects up closer. You just screw it on to the front of your lens and you're good to go. I really love shooting in macro and my 105mm macro is one of my favorite and most-used lenses.
     
  23. cgratti macrumors 6502a

    cgratti

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2004
    Location:
    Central Pennsylvania, USA
    #23
  24. SilentPanda thread starter Moderator emeritus

    SilentPanda

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2002
    Location:
    The Bamboo Forest
    #24
    Oh I know how to resize them... it was just for effect... :)

    Let's just say my two cats are not very thrilled about the new camera. They must think I am stealing their soul.

    I'm looking at the Nikon lense page and do I need the DX lenses since they are for dSLR cameras or is it the close-up lenses I should be looking at?
     
  25. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2005
    Location:
    8 miles from the Apple Store at Tysons (VA)
    #25
    My Harry closes his eyes, turns his head or jumps down and leaves the room altogether when he sees a camera and lens pointed his way....
     

Share This Page