Camera advice?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by mrgreen4242, Aug 25, 2008.

  1. mrgreen4242 macrumors 601

    mrgreen4242

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    Feb 10, 2004
    #1
    So I've got a Canon A510 and it's pretty decent. Bought it 3 or 4 years ago and it's not bad, but I picked the wrong feature set (well, maybe was the right feature set at the time, but the wrong one now) and I'm thinking about getting a new model. Here's the things important to me, just wondering if anyone has some suggestions:

    1) Battery life. I'd like to not only take a lot of photos, but have a long standby time. Internal battery charged via USB for bonus points. (I used to be a strict AA's only guy, but I'll keep my A510 for a backup, and my wife has a cheap Polaroid digicam, so there's much less need for concern that'll my battery will die and I'll be stranded).

    2) Time to first photo. Power up time, shutter lag, autofocus, flash recharge time, etc. This is important to me now that I have a baby and the A510 fails me here.

    3) Optical image stabilization. I hate photos with flashes since I feel like it makes all the colors really cold and harsh. I'd much rather take a longer exposure when possible than use a flash, so optical image stabilization is a big one.

    4) Exposure bracketing and motor drive speed. Sometimes doing a bracketed photo can help with my no-flash desires, so this is important, and a reasonably fast motor drive is great with kids.

    5) Video. I have an OK digital camcorder, but I'd like something that can act as a backup for it. The video on my A510 is pretty poor, I'd like something that shoots VGA @ 30fps and a decent bitrate, if possible. Decent sound would be a bonus.

    So, any suggestions based on the above?

    Thanks. :)
     
  2. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #2
    Except for the video part when you add up all those requirements what you've described is an SLR. Fast handling and good in "available light". Many SLRs have very good battery life too. My Nikon can do well over 1,000 shots on a charge. I noticed that you did not specify a budget or say anything about size of the camera so why not an SLR?

    I read where you said you didn't like the effect of flash. I think really what you don't like is the effect of "direct, on-camera flash". When you have the abilty to move the flash away from the camera or to bounce the light off a wall or ceiling the the flash looks much better and is not so harsh. SLRs have this abilty to control the direction and location of the flash. Also with their much larger sensor and larger pixels they work much better in low light.
     
  3. cube macrumors G4

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    May 10, 2004
    #3
    It is rumored that the D90 will have video. Wait until Photokina (maybe less!)
     
  4. mrgreen4242 thread starter macrumors 601

    mrgreen4242

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    #4

    Should have mentioned that a dSLR isn't really a good option. I don't need something super compact, or super cheap, but I would prefer something smaller than an SLR and not over $500... you are right though that an SLR offers what I want, mostly, and a lot more. Maybe too much. Point and shoot is about what I need, I just want to point and shoot and take photos that don't look like I took them on a disposable 35mm camera. (The direct flash, as noted, makes any photo look like it was taken on the cheapest crappiest camera, imo).

    I did read something over at reddit about the D90 maybe doing video, and even in pretty high resolutions. I might be willing to sacrifice some of the size/weight of a compact camera for an SLR if it did 720p video. The D-series SLRs are pretty small right? Or is that just the D40? How far do the lenses hang out on them? I don't need pocket size, but I also don't want to have to lug around a huge camera bag either...
     
  5. cube macrumors G4

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    #5
    The D90 will hopefully have a focus motor, so it should be bigger than the D40/D40x/D60. I expect that if it gets smaller than the D50/D80, it will only be by a couple milimeters.
     
  6. rogersmj macrumors 68020

    rogersmj

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    #6
    Yeah it's looking pretty solid that the Nikon D90 will be the first DSLR to sport a video mode. Latest leaked pics and specs are here; a couple industry insiders have said with some authority that it will be officially announced this week or next week. Overall looks like a solid package, but I think the MSRP for the D90 with the new 18-105 VR lens is $1299. Little over your budget I suppose. From what I've seen the Canon G9 takes both excellent still photos and great video, and is more compact than a DSLR.
     
  7. mrgreen4242 thread starter macrumors 601

    mrgreen4242

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    #7
    Ya $1300 is really steep for a camera for someone who's not pretty serious about photography. I'm just interested in grabbing family photos, and having an acceptable video camera backup for when the camcorder battery dies/gets left at home/is too big to carry around/I need or want a second angle/etc... I probably should have specified that by decent video quality I was thinking something around or a little better than one of those $99 FlipVideo things. :p

    EDIT: The G9 looks pretty on the money for what I want. The high res video is pretty surprising, even if it is onlt 15fps. VGA@30fps at nearly 2mbps should look alright as well. Does the MJPEG format suck though, or is it a half dozen of one six of the other compared to other formats?
     
  8. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #8
    You will have to compromise something. If you want perfomance, zero shutter lag and fast focus then you wil be looking at an SLR. If you want to photograph people who can pose for the camera and hold still then a P&S will do fine. If cost is an big issue buy a used SLR system for well under $400. If size is important look at Olympus's line of SLRs.

    You have to priorities you list of requirements so you know what you can give up. You can't have it all in jut one camera. I think that is why many people own multiple cameras.

    Yes and it allows for a Canon flash to be added so it can work well in low light. (Image stabilization only addresses camera shake not subject motion) But what is the shutter lag? You've still got that annoying lag between when you push the button and when the shutter trips.

    Have you looked at the Leica D Lux 3? There is a Panasonic verson of it that is identical and costs less and the D Lux 2 is still being sold. It has a great movie mode and most of the features you want. Shutter lag is low if you use manual settings
    The Panasonic is called "Lumix DMC-LX2"
     
  9. mrgreen4242 thread starter macrumors 601

    mrgreen4242

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    #9
    Ya, that was a list of ideals. I know no camera will do everything and be cheap, etc. It's just the sort of the things I'd like to get close to. I'll check out the D Lux 2/3, thanks for the tip!
     
  10. CrackedButter macrumors 68040

    CrackedButter

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    #10
    Sigh, there is more than just Canon and Nikon...

    How long will you wait?

    Micro 4/3rds does seem to offer everything you are looking for. The only snag is that you'll have to wait till Photokina to hear anything about it.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Micro_Four_Thirds_System

    Basically it is a camera system without the SLR but with the interchangeable lenses, small and with video as a possible option.

    If you can't wait then Fuji do a cool range of bridge cameras that offer everything you asked but now. They are cheap, shoot video @ 30fps, lightweight and have a decent battery life.

    http://www.fujifilm.com/products/digital_cameras/s/index.html

    I had the Fuji S7000 as my first digital camera and I couldn't fault it back in 2004.
     
  11. 66217 Guest

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    Jan 30, 2006
    #11
    Does this means the sensor is exposed the whole time you are shooting video?

    I guess it having a focus-motor is certain. But what is it with face detection? This screams "cheap camera!" to me!:eek: I am really waiting for this camera, if it is good I would think about getting this instead of the D300. Let's see what happens.

    As for the OP question, I think having a dSLR is going to solve most of your problems better than any other P&S (except for video). There are some dSLR cameras below $500 that are superior to any P&S. (D40 for example). The difference between a P&S (even the expensive ones) and a dSLR (even the low-end ones) is BIG.

    -You forget about shutter lag completely.
    -You can normally make it without a flash since the low noise levels of a dSLR, and if not, the buil-in flash of a dSLR is better than those of a P&S.
    -The battery life of a dSLR is much better than that of a P&S.
    -Continuous shooting is also an advantage, you never get to miss the exact moment.
    -Same thing for autofocus, most dSLR cameras have a big AF-Assistant light for low-light situations. And the overall focusing speed is superior.

    You need to decide what you prefer. Size and the ability to take video, or being able to get much more control over your photos.
     
  12. mrgreen4242 thread starter macrumors 601

    mrgreen4242

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    #12
    The micro 4/3rd is interesting, but they've not even announced a camera using the platform yet? It'll probably be awhile before I buy (I'm looking at what's available now so that I can pick something that meets my needs which will get cheaper as the year runs out and I bargain hunt) but seems like anything that isn't even announced yet = expensive!

    I've read good things about the D40, and it does look pretty small and it surely takes excellent pics. If I could find a good price on a used one (I imagine that these hit the used market pretty regularly as people get into the dSLR cameras with a D40 and upgrade to one of the "bigger" models?) it might leave a little wiggle room for one of those little USB MPEG4 video cameras as a camcorder backup...

    The Leica/Panasonic model mentioned above looked really nice though, the price is already good, and the video was actually really impressive. Hm lots to think about! I appreciate all your help, though!
     
  13. mrgreen4242 thread starter macrumors 601

    mrgreen4242

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    #13
    Ok, so I read a couple reviews w/ sample photos of the D40 (I had only given it a cursory glance before) and WOW you are right - night and day difference in photo quality. Certainly something to think about, especially since this camera is approaching the $400 mark (a little more than that new, a little less used). I was stashing away some money for a vacation and some dive gear, but this might have to steal from that...
     
  14. CrackedButter macrumors 68040

    CrackedButter

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    #14
    I wanted you to know what was coming, but I did suggest the Fuji brand as something you can buy now in a form that offers everything.
     
  15. rogersmj macrumors 68020

    rogersmj

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    #15
    Yep, I love my D40 and for the money it's hard (if not impossible) to beat. It's done a great to deal to get me more interested in photography.
     
  16. operator207 macrumors 6502

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    #16
    See, go get the D40, and since you dive, go get this as your first of many purchases for diving. ;)

    I like Canons more so than Nikon, but have used Nikon and not really had a problem. I think its just more of a, "friend has a Canon, and will let me borrow his nice lenses" (pro photographer) kinda thing. ;)

    Good luck on whatever you decide. I am rooting for an SLR, and some decent flash and lens choices.

    I definitely understand your issues with missing shots because of a slow camera. I got "stuck" with our old Sony Cybershot 5.1mp P&S at a recital for my daughter. I forgot to tell my wife to grab my camera. I was so angry with the poor quality of photos coming out of that thing compared to my SLR. With my other daughter who loves astronomy, we are getting a mount to attach it to a telescope and take pictures with it. If any turn out good, we will print them at a poster shop for her room.
     
  17. mrgreen4242 thread starter macrumors 601

    mrgreen4242

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    #17
    That casing is $1100, and discontinued anyways. :p It would be nice to get some GOOD underwater shots, which is nearly impossible with a P&S digicam because they just can't gather enough light fast enough...

    I saw that the D40 has a cold start to first picture time of 3/4 a second! And autofocus is in the 1/2 second range... that's pretty incredible. My current camera is likely in the high 2 to 3 second startup time, and the autofocus is in the 1 second range. What a difference that could make with a 6 month old!

    Very cool about the telescope attachment, sounds like a ton of fun, especially for a kid. I'm seriously looking at the D40... if it came with the "VR" lens (optical stabilazation) at that price I'd probably not hesitate even a little. As it is, I'll probably wait until closet to the holidays to see what sort of sales pop up.

    I've got a co-worker with a D50 which is pretty similar to the D40 in terms of the photos it takes (more features, but similar sensor and glass right?) and he's going to let me take a couple pics onto my memory card to examine. I'm really interested in being able to do flashless photos in "low light" (at least what my P&S thinks is low light, so a 60w lightbulb or two in a normal sized room) without having the exposure so long that the picture is a big blurry mess.

    Anyways, thanks a ton for the advice everyone. It's really given me a lot to think about.
     
  18. rogersmj macrumors 68020

    rogersmj

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    #18
    You don't need VR on a wider lens like the 18-55mm. If you wind up getting a longer lens though, like the 55-200mm, I'd recommend it.

    The D50 was actually the predecessor to the D40, and was discontinued when the D40 was introduced. They're similar, but the D40 has a *much* better LCD, a better interface, and is smaller and lighter. The D50, however, has a built-in focus motor which allows it to use older non-AF-S lenses. If you think you'll be buying a lot of different types of glass, you might want to consider something with a built-in motor (which is anything other than the D40 and D60), but it sounds like the D40 will work great for you. I wouldn't want to go back a generation to the D50, and would stick with the D40 for the much improved LCD alone.
     
  19. mrgreen4242 thread starter macrumors 601

    mrgreen4242

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    #19
    If I go with an SLR it'll be a D40 almost for sure, mostly because no one is coming even close to that price. I only mentioned the D50 as a reference for the end result, so to speak. I shot a couple pics with it to see how they come out looking compared to stuff shot in the same place with my P&S, and also to see what my computer does with the RAW files. I have to say the shutter response was just a huge improvement from a standard digital camera. That alone would probably be worth it.

    I wonder what the private market (non-eBay) used price on these are now... I'm seeing the new for $450 at reputable stores pretty regularly so a used D40 vs a new high end P&S should be comparible in price and might make my mind up for me... might be time to start stalking the MR Marketplace (and selling off some unused junk! Anyone interested in a first gen iPod (10gb) with (very cool Jimmy Hendrix) box and all the accessories? ;)
     
  20. operator207 macrumors 6502

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    Jul 24, 2007
    #20
    I did not realize it was discontinued, though I was going for he concept, not really that specific model. ;)

    Ya, the telescope is pretty cool, but I am not going to get the adapter until I get a decent telescope. My telescope is more antique than functional. Its a 20+ year old telescope from Sears. I have had it since I was 8 years old. It was a birthday gift.

    I did get a really nice Sigma EX DG lens for a general walk around. Nice constant f2.8 24-60. I have been playing with it on my downtime for the last 2 days. Nothing I would post though. Unless you want to see some nice bokeh of a patch panel. ;)


    As for pricing on a D40, Amazon has one for $467 new, with a kit lens.

    Unless your looking at a d40x.
     
  21. mrgreen4242 thread starter macrumors 601

    mrgreen4242

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    #21
    If the casing was somewhere in the $200 range I'd be into it, but I've not seen anything for much under $800 or so. :(

    Definitely looking at the d40, the d40x doesn't seem to add much of use (the extra 4mp are, imo, pretty useless in this sort of camera). Amazon has a decent price, and so does Cameta on both their website, and their Amazon/eBay stores. Circuit City, amazingly enough, has a competitive price as well as fairly regular coupons available so it might be a really good price there if the 'stars align'.

    Cameta also sells refurbished models for a really good price, so that's certainly an option. Trying to round the cash up right now. People with kids are always poor, eh? Speaking of which, I'm selling a Wii over in the marketplace... ;)
     
  22. operator207 macrumors 6502

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    #22
    Cameta is a good place, at least for Cannon stuff. I just bought the Sigma I mentioned in a previous post there, and have bought some memory and other misc stuff from them.
    Odd you mention Circuit City, I bought a Canon 55-250 IS (f4-5.6) lens there for cheap. I do not need something that long normally, but I wanted something I could get out there if I needed to. It came in handy on my last trip to the beach. Our condo was on the 8th floor. I have some shots of the pool below with the kids playing. It was kinda cool to get close ups like that from 8 stories up. I just wish I had the Sigma on that vacation, my kit lens really pissed me off. Its focus ring is apparently loose, you would manually focus and if you moved your hand off the lens, it would get knocked out of focus. If you pushed on the focus ring, it would move, and go out of focus. I did not realize this, and took some awesome shots, blurry as hell though.

    I am not going to go out there and buy the most expensive lenses, but I am definitely going to buy good built ones.
     
  23. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #23
    Used D50s go for about $325. If you are going to buy a used SLR get on of those
     
  24. mrgreen4242 thread starter macrumors 601

    mrgreen4242

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    #24
    Used D40's are only $75 more than that (refurbished, acutally, not used, so warrantied, etc) and it's a better camera from all the reviews I've read. Smaller, lighter, better screen, better firmware/menus, better control positioning, etc etc.

    The big thing for me is the size/weight, which in and of itself makes the D40 superior for my use. The major disadvantage is the lack of integrated focus motor, but since I don't have a stock of lenses already it's not a big issue for me as Nikon is making most of their line AF-S it seems.

    If I'm going to spend $325, going another $75 to get a "better" (for me) product seems a no brainer. Going another $200 or $250 for a used D70/80/ or whatever would be a big jump, but 20% is a pretty reasonable price to pay for the features of the D40, to me.

    Now if someone would just buy my Wii... ;P
     
  25. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #25
    Sounds good to us. Get the D40. ;)

    My friend loves his, but he always tells me that he wants to buy a better camera because he likes my photos more. *shakes head*
     

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