Does my ideal camera exist?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Smileyguy, Mar 31, 2008.

  1. Smileyguy macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2004
    #1
    Hi to all you good people,

    I've started a few threads on here before about buying a camera, but I'm finally getting around to actually doing it now.

    My first decision was to go for compact or SLR - I've opted for compact because while I'm keen on making photography a serious hobby, I don't know much and can save money, capture video and still learn a lot with the right digital compact

    Ideally, I'd like something that would fit the following criteria (I'VE UPDATED THIS FOLLOWING SOME HELPFUL REPLIES):

    1) Taking outdoor/landscape/nature/simple wildlife pics. This is my main photography interest.
    2) Occasional work related photos. I work as a journalist and write a lot about architecture, so might need to take simple shots of buildings, people etc that can be printed in a magazine or newspaper (not National Geographic standard, of course).
    3) Learning how to take good pictures and how to use a camera, and about cameras. LEARNING PHOTOGRAPHY IS MY MAIN REQUIREMENT - I don't mind buying a proper SLR in a year or two, but I want to have learned a lot when I get it.
    4) Taking home/family/friends movie clips.
    5) The smaller the better.

    I think this last point is where it gets tricky. Does a digital camera exist that has all of the above functions but can still fit in my pocket? If it doesn't, I'm just going to have too accept a big size.

    Any advice would be really appreciated. I'm not limiting myself to a particular budget - I'm willing to spend if it's worth it.
     
  2. aaronw1986 macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2006
    #2
    Check out the Panasonic DMC-FZ18. Not sure if it's the kind of thing you are looking for, but I am thinking about getting it.
     
  3. joefinan macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2007
    Location:
    Kingston-Upon-Thames, UK
    #3
    SLRs do not have a movie function due to the way they work (the imaging sensor is covered by the mirror when not actually taking a picture).
     
  4. nutmac macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2004
    #4
    An ideal camera would have all this while retaining high image quality. But in reality, many of your requirements contradict each other.

    Mainly, it is almost impossible to design a very good zoom lens with 10x optical zoom range, particularly in compact form factor.

    I am not sure what you mean by "quite high MP", but high MP count in small form factor translate to noisy image.
     
  5. mackindergarten macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2008
    #5
    Hi,

    you can use dpreview.com's Buying Guide. Let's you set up all your criteria and presents you cameras meeting these criteria.

    Don't let the marketing machines fool you, high MegaPixel don't automatically equal high image quality. If you have a crappy sensor, a crappy picture gets just blown up to 10MP.

    See this or this on the issue.

    I personally like Canon for their manual mode features.

    /Rupert
     
  6. -hh macrumors 68020

    -hh

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2001
    Location:
    NJ Highlands, Earth
    #6

    Agreed. I've been occasionally thinking about what I'm going to get for my next P&S when our 2003 vintage Canon A80 eventually dies. Here's been my thoughts:

    • How many megapixels? I currently have 4 and I'm thinking maybe 6. The problem is that having "too many" MP results in poor (noisy) night photography, which I often find to be the application with my P&S, as it is my city/urban travel camera.
    • 10x zoom? Forgettaboutit! I can always crop later to "add" zoom. What's harder to replace is Wiiiiiide . I want wide, because particularly in small urban spaces (where I'm usually carrying my compact instead of my dSLR), I can't zoom far enough out with just my feet.
    • movie function is important, but its mostly to get good "sound bites". Thus, I check out the microphone's quality.
    • Manual controls = good, especially if it includes ISO control, to prevent excessive noise. In this same fashion, the A80 has a flip-out screen which is quite useful ... and an uncommon feature these days. I want its replacement to have a flip-out too.
    • Small? Yes, being compact is good, but proprietary batteries are a hassle when you forget to recharge them. Thus, stay with AA batteries and don't worry if it is less than utterly "tiny". I'll carry it in a coat or pants pocket, or in a small fanny pack - - it doesn't need to be "shirt pocket" sized.

    As you can hopefully see from the above, a lot of my selections are based on where I typically carry a P&S, and the fact that many of the images are invariably downsized for my website. Its going back to Paris with me next week.

    [​IMG]


    -hh
     
  7. Smileyguy thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2004
    #7
    Thanks for all the help, I'm quite an amateur at this.

    If small size means means noisy image than it's not that big a deal.

    The reason I mentioned high MP is that, working as a freelance journalist, there's always the chance that I'll need to take a picture that can be printed in a magazine or newspaper, so that's important.
     
  8. basesloaded190 macrumors 68030

    basesloaded190

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2007
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    #8
    had this camera for about a month now. love it and it does everything that i need it to do and then some
     
  9. Gasu E. macrumors 68040

    Gasu E.

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2004
    Location:
    Not far from Boston, MA.
    #9
    What about shutter lag then? I would think that would be a very important issue for a freelance journalist.
     
  10. ftaok macrumors 601

    ftaok

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2002
    Location:
    East Coast
    #10
    The Panasonic TZ5 meets pretty much all of your wishes. I can't vouch for the image quality, but the specs are pretty good.

    It is 9+MP, 10x zoom, 1280x720p movie mode, pocket-able, and relatively affordable ($350).

    Amazon Link

    You might want to check it out.

    ft
     
  11. Smileyguy thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2004
    #11
    Unfortunately I don't do anything exciting enough to demand a super-fast shutter, but it would be very useful.

    With regards to the high zoom, my reason for asking for this is that I played around with basic nature/wildlife photography (nothing exciting, more landscapes than living creatures with my last digital camera, a Powershot with x10 zoom (can't remember the exact model), and found the zoom for useful for that.

    The more I look into this, it seems the more my requirements adapt/change. To summarise quickly, I suppose what I need is:

    1) Something that can produce pictures of a high enough quality for good reproduction in papers/magazines
    2) Something that will be decent with nature/landscapes/simple wildlife
    3) Good movie function
    4) Wide range of manual controls

    Small size would be GREAT, but isn't crucial.

    Thanks for all the help so far - any more would be great.
     
  12. Grimace macrumors 68040

    Grimace

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2003
    Location:
    with Hamburglar.
    #12
    If you can strike the movie-mode, you will have far more options.

    Printing for newspapers and magazines will be difficult with a point-and-shoot camera unless you have ideal lighting. Otherwise, the noise goes to hell.
     
  13. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #13
    What is "Quite high MP" and why do you need it?

    If the physical size of a sensor is fixed they can devide it into 4 or 12 million pixels. The more pixels the smaller each one becomes. What pixels do is sample the image that the lens projects. Larger pixels have better dynamic range and less noise, but more pixels can record more detail (but at the cost of greater noise) What people forget is that the lens has a given resolution measured as lines (or cycles) per millimeter. There is little point in having the sensor sample the projected image at a higher resolution than the lens' projected image.

    The reason you see high MP counts is marketing. The camera makers know that their target customer knows ver little about camera and thinks "more is better" so they pander to that and sell what the customer wants.

    All that said, what you want is a camera with the "correct" pixel count for your application. If that is prints up to about 4x6 inches or imagesdisplayed on an electronic screen then you don't need many pixels.

    Next do you need a huge zoom range? What subjects do you want to shoot that require it? These would have to be subjects that are fae away and with some kind of physical barier that prevents you from getting closer.

    The long zoom is another compromise. You don't get it without giving up other optical properties you might want. For example I've not seen a f/2.8 10X zoom although they might exist. A long zoom like that will never be a sharp as a smaller one. It's a trade off. Pick which you need based of expected usage.
     
  14. Smileyguy thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2004
    #14
    Thanks very much for explaining all that, it's really useful.

    My main uses for this camera will be as follows

    1) Taking outdoor/landscape/nature/simple wildlife pics. This is my main photography interest, and the reason I want a good zoom.
    2) Occasional work related photos. I work as a journalist and write a lot about architecture, so might need to take simple shots of buildings, people etc that can be printed in a magazine or newspaper (not National Geographic standard, of course). This is the reason I have stressed high MP, rightly or wrongly.
    3) Learning how to take good pictures and how to use a camera, and about different camera parts. THIS IS MY MAIN REQUIREMENT - I don't mind buying a proper SLR in a year or two, but I want to have learned a lot when I get it.
    4) Taking home/family/friends movie clips.

    Perhaps this list makes my requirements a bit more clear? I've also outlined some more detail on this in my post just above.
     
  15. nutmac macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2004
    #15
    Correct me if I am wrong, but it seems you are after telephoto focal lengths rather than wide zoom range. 10x zoom does not guarantee high telephoto focal length. Rather, it specifies the zoom range between widest (e.g., 35mm) and longest (e.g., 350mm) focal lengths.

    Take Canon PowerShot G9, for instance, one of the best compact cameras under $500. It has 6x zoom range, with focal lengths between 35mm and 210mm. 35mm is a bit long for wide angle, but 210mm is pretty good for casual wild life photography. If you need longer focal length, you can utilize G9's 12.1 MP sensor and crop images or purchase conversion lens adapter (Canon LA-DC58H) and lens converters, such as Canon WC-DC58B for wide angle and Canon TC-DC58C for telephoto (2x conversion for 70 to 420mm).
     
  16. Smileyguy thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2004
    #16
    Thanks.

    I'll respond in more detail shortly, but I might be wrong about needing a x10 zoom. I remember having a Powershot a few years ago with a x10 zoom, and it was great for taking landscape/nature shots, hence why that was one of my criteria. But there was obviously more to it than that.
     
  17. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2006
    Location:
    In my imagination
    #17
    If you can strike movie mode and 10x optical zoom then the Nikon D40 would be your best choice, since it's an SLR that allows you to learn what you are doing in the MSAP modes, and allows you to just take photos in every other mode. You can also grow into the system as well, grabbing consumer glass as you need it and when you start learning more and understanding the limitations or your gear upgrade to better lenses, then a better body.

    If you are printing for a newspaper then noise won't be an issue. Newspapers are printed on glorified toilet paper and most IQ goes to hell because of it. That's the main reason most shooters can get by with just a 4.1MP camera (D2hs **cough** **cough**) and not worry about IQ.

    For magazines noise will be an issue, since their printed on better stuff at a higher DPI, but then your P&S won't yield anywhere as good results.

    If you are still interested in P&S with all of your features then you can go for the Canon G9 which takes hi def SD footage.... not HD footage, just high resolution.... Standard Definition footage. It has the best manual mode I have used on a P&S and allows you to learn the technical side of photography as well, albeit you can't see a graphical representation of the changes as on the D40.
     
  18. Smileyguy thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2004
    #18
    Thanks. I do really want movie mode, it's quite important but not important enough to justify the expense of a dedicated video camera.

    The G9 has gotten two recommendations now, and I've enjoyed using Canon cameras in the past.

    Do those who have used it or know if it think it will be good for experimenting with nature/landscape/wildlife photography?
     
  19. ftaok macrumors 601

    ftaok

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2002
    Location:
    East Coast
    #19
    While the G9 is probably a great camera, for the money, you might as well go for the D40. Granted, you want movie mode ... and if you do, you might want to look at the Canon S5 IS. It's about $300.

    However, neither of these are "pocketable".

    ft
     
  20. Cheffy Dave macrumors 68020

    Cheffy Dave

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2007
    Location:
    Sunny Florida, on the Gulf Coast in Homosassa Fl
    #20
    Canon SD900, I love mine,BUT, if you really want to learn photography,go on e-bay and buy a Canon FTB match-needle "FILM" camera:eek: for about $50 When you master speeds,F-Stops, then go buy a Nikon D-:rolleyes:80 Still have 3 FTB's in my case, as well as several F-1's, all film. Get the pic's developed to disc, view with Aperture
     
  21. OldCorpse macrumors 65816

    OldCorpse

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2005
    Location:
    compost heap
    #21
    For architecture and landscape photos, you will need a wide lens - this allows you to "take in" a whole building or the entire scene. The wider, the better, though obviously you'll encounter some distortion, and the way to deal with that distortion is to apply PP - there are dedicated plugins, which can "straighten out" for example a fisheye lens photo.

    Wildlife photography will demand a long lens, the longer the better; otherwise, you will end up with tiny animals far into the distance... not exactly what wildlife photography is all about. The other thing, is that wildlife photography will often demand fast lenses, so you can use faster shutter speed to capture moving targets (such as birds in flight) or animals that come out in low light. Landscape and architecture don't usually demand fast lenses.

    Now you want both these (somewhat opposing) requirements in one lens - that's a very tall order. The closest I can think of on the DSLR side, is the Nikkor 18-200 mm VRII lens. It's not the fastest, but the VR (vibration reduction) will give you a bit more leeway in low-light or hand-held situations. That of course means getting a Nikon camera. There are Canon lenses too (with IS which is the Canon version of VR), but the balance of features on the Nikkor are best for your needs as you outlined.

    However, if movies are an absolute requirement, then there is no sense in even talking about DSLRs.

    I'd recommend the G9 as the best for your needs, though it won't have the zoom range. If the zoom is critical, I'd recommend the Canon S5is, though it won't give you as many manual options, pixel count or IQ. Of course, neither is small enough to stick in your pocket, unless you have giant pockets.
     
  22. Smileyguy thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2004
    #22
    That's really useful.

    I realise that an SLR would be ideal for taking the kind of pictures I want, but here's my reasoning: If I do want to get into wildlife/nature/landscape photography in a 'serious amateur' way, getting the right lenses and kit will cost a lot, which I can't afford right now (I did say I wasn't setting a strict budget, but that was in reference to compacts, really I don't want to go above $700 in total for all gear).

    Wouldn't I be better off to get a good compact now, dabble in the kind of photography I want, learn the ropes, and then upgrade when the time is right? It's a cheaper solution too in case I decide I don't really want to take it up a level. Plus I'll always have a device that can shoot video if I ever get an SLR.

    That's how I'm thinking. Funnily the G9 and the S5 IS were two cameras that have been on my list for a while.
     
  23. OldCorpse macrumors 65816

    OldCorpse

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2005
    Location:
    compost heap
    #23
    Yes, given your budget, definitely there's no sense in getting a DSLR. To learn the most I'd recommend the G9 (and you only lose the zoom range), you'll get more out of it learning-wise than the S5. Shoot a lot, and experiment with the manual settings.

    I'd also recommend a very easy but very, very useful book "Understanding Exposure" by Bryan Peterson, $16.47 new on Amazon, or around $12 used.
     
  24. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2006
    Location:
    In my imagination
    #24
    I say go for the G9 or the previous model if you want a slightly cheaper camera. The movie mode is unmatched, as is the UI for manual function, which is far superior than any other P&S I have used.

    Plenty of shooters at my paper are using it to do their light photojournalism work over their Nikon D2hs and X bodies. A guy I used to work with has a website and I am pretty sure he has talked about how great it is for photography, www.strobist.com

    I wouldn't get the S5IS only because it's manual mode is archaic like the other P&S models. it's a great body, but learning photography won't happen as easy and I don't think it has a hot shoe on it for when you want to learn about lighting and strobes.

    Die hard Nikon user here.... telling you to get the G9... If I ever decide to get a P&S, there is no way I am getting anything else.

    And yes... get the G9 now and learn as much as you can about the technical side and DEVELOP YOUR EYE FOR PHOTOGRAPHY and JOURNALISM which is a lot harder to master than most people think, then move up to the SLR and have no worries about learning the technical stuff. Exposing photos with an SLR is very different though, so make sure you practice with the new SLR body that you will get later on.

    Get the camera, get off your computer, and start shooting until the card is full.
     
  25. bbbshrimp macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #25

Share This Page