Going to the Grand Canyon...

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by w0ngbr4d, Dec 27, 2007.

  1. w0ngbr4d macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2006
    Location:
    Findlay, OH
    #1
    I'll be taking a trip to Phenoix, AZ in March, and while we are down there, my girlfriend and I will be going to the Grand Canyon. I figured since I don't have any plans on going again any time soon, that I'd better get the best pictures possible.

    I currently have a Canon SD600. I'm pretty happy with the pictures it takes outdoors. But I'm considering getting a Nikon D40 for the trip. I'm sure a DSLR will have superior image quality compared to a P&S because of the bigger lens and larger image sensor. But how much better will it be? Really it comes down to cost benefit analysis...

    (image quality of Nikon D40) - (image quality of SD600) > cost of Nikon D40

    I would be using the Nikon D40 on full auto settings, just as I would the SD600.

    I don't want to get to AZ and find that I can't take the pictures that I want to because the camera is limiting me. I'm a pretty amateur photographer, so I don't think the camera will have much to do with it anyway. I just want to get the best pictures with my novice skills.

    I read the thread on getting the most out of a point and shoot and there were some pretty good tips that I'll have to keep in mind.

    Thanks in advance.

    Brad
     
  2. Kamera RAWr macrumors 65816

    Kamera RAWr

    Joined:
    May 15, 2007
    Location:
    I'm where I need to be
    #2
    How much do you enjoy photography? Do you intend to keep taking pictures a bit after your Grand Canyon trip? Would you like learn more about being creative and artistic with the D40, playing with aperture and shutter speed? Not sure what other posters might say, but answering those questions for yourself will help you make your decision, I think.

    That said, a P&S camera can net you some great shots as well. Just depends on how far you want to take your photography. :)
     
  3. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #3
    You're not likely to get great pictures of the Grand Canyon in point and shoot mode-

    1. You've seen pictures of it by really good, really well-equipped professional photographers who came back time and again to capture the right moment. That's why it's really difficult to get good shots of common locations- your expectations of how that place, building or feature "looks" have been set for years.

    2. It's all about the light, the best shots are in low light where you're just starting to see digital bodies become relatively capable compared to film, you're not in the ballpark for that price point.

    3. All the good and new angles are really difficult to get to and need to be planned out, searched for, etc.

    4. You're not likely to have time to hit all the places you'd want for photography and it'll impact your tourism time.

    5. Dramatic pictures can be dependent on weather- that's always hit or miss, even if you're well-equipped.

    Get a few good postcards, take pictures of you and your GF there and enjoy the experience.

    Take shots, but don't expect to end up with posters on the wall- set your expectations lower than with a less-photographed spot and you'll be happier with what you get.

    Panoramas, sunrise/sunset off a tripod, portrait orientation- all of those will at least make your shots look less like snapshots than most- anything with an element that will allow a sense of scale helps too- helecopter, mules, people, boats... Try to shoot things others haven't- make the pictures unique to your visit. A polarizing fliter if the sky's blue in the daylight will help, and if it's hazy it'll cut down on that- take a few with it off too though, you never know what's going to look the best.
     
  4. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2005
    #4
    Having been there in March myself I'll tell you that it is possible the North Rim will be closed due to snow. As for your expectations, I think they're high for the most part as well. For me, I was there at sunrise in something like 7 degree weather, at least that's what the car was saying it was. I'm not sure but rest assured I was using a film camera mounted on a tripod, standing in the snow (I live in So. Cal, all of that cold is a shock to me) and waited for the sun to rise. As it peaked I started shooting mostly panoramic as the canyon is obviously large. I would suspect that new observation deck is going to make for some neat shots but nothing new or amazing.

    As compuwar said, it's really about time and not so much about tourism. Lucky for me if I drug someone with me on my little trips they went with the disclaimer that it's about my photography and not about hitting every tourist trap I could find. If the drive were to take me 10 hours it took me 15-20 because I would stop along the way. I think there is a balance there but it seems like you're torn between snapshots to save time and wanting amazing images.

    No doubt you'll get some great images to share with friends and family but again to compuwar's point, you may not get images that would be posters on walls.
     
  5. 66217 Guest

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2006
    #5
    If you don't intend to use the D40 in manual mode, you are OK with you Canon SD600.:)

    Granted, the D40 would take better quality pictures than the Canon, but unless you really intend to use it in manual mode and try and learn some basic concepts, you'll only end disappointed that after spending so much you got similar images to what your Canon would have given you.

    Now, if you like photography and are willing to learn how it works (aperture, ******* speed, ISO, DoF, etc.) than I must say that the D40 is an excellent camera that won't disappoint you.
     
  6. carlgo macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2006
    #6
    I wouldn't worry too much about whether you will get the shot of the century or not, but we all strive to get the best shots we can and that is just a lot easier with a DSLR, compared to a P&S. If you like to take photos, then a DSLR like the D40 is probably a good investment for you. Nothing wrong with the P&S in your pocket as well. There are many times when even the small and light D40 is too much.
     
  7. klymr macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    May 16, 2007
    Location:
    Utah
    #7
    I'd go for whatever one you can get a filter on, which is for sure the D40. I shot some stuff at the Grand Canyon, and it can be VERY hazy. I used a circular polarizing filter and it cut out a lot of the haze. The Grand Canyon is big enough that the pollution that it fills up with makes it hard to shoot. Remember, the smog from Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Pheonix, Salt Lake City, and everything else around ends up filling the canyon up. It might not be as bad in March as it was in June when I went, but that's my suggestion.
     
  8. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

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    Feb 19, 2005
    #8
    So that's where smog goes to die. :) Maybe Hoya or B&W should make a UV Pollution filter.
     
  9. klymr macrumors 65816

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    May 16, 2007
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    Utah
    #9
    I should have also mentioned that a nice UV filter will help a little bit with the haze, but not nearly enough.
     
  10. w0ngbr4d thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2006
    Location:
    Findlay, OH
    #10
    Thanks for the replies.

    I've decided against buying a new camera just for this trip. I'm sure at some point I'll make the jump to a DSLR, but I'd rather do it when I have the time to learn to make the most of it.

    Brad
     
  11. pprior macrumors 65816

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    Aug 1, 2007
    #11
    I've been to the grand canyon at least 3 times. Despite having the top end canon glass and bodies, I've not yet been pleased with any of my pictures. It's a difficult place to take good pictures that don't just look like snapshots.

    The key, as mentioned above, is being there at the right time. Photography in the canyon is ALL about the light. It will be far more important than the body you take. What you have now will be perfectly adequate, just be there at the right time and make sure you have a tripod.
     
  12. Applespider macrumors G4

    Applespider

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    Jan 20, 2004
    Location:
    looking through rose-tinted spectacles...
    #12
    Take a few snapshots of you and your family/friends around the Rim and then just soak up the atmosphere. The memories of the size and space will remain with you longer than if you spend your time there trying to get the perfect shot and end up disappointed.

    Treat yourself afterwards to a good quality professional shot from the area you were in to get the 'pro' look.
     
  13. onomatopoeia macrumors 6502

    onomatopoeia

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    Dec 9, 2007
    #13
    Cliche alert! :)
     
  14. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #14
    Don't buy a camera for one trip. Also if you do buy a new camera use it for a few weeks BEFORE the trip. Take a few hundred frames and run then all the way through your workflow then look at the final result and do that enough times so that you know what you are doing.

    One more thing you will need to buy a lens with the Nikon. Which lens you get matters more than if you buy a D40 or a D80 or a Canon Rebel.

    About the Grand Canyon. The quality of the photos depend very, very much on air quality and weather. This time of year you could run into snow or rain or haze. In such condidtions wide angle pictures of the canyon are not possable with any camera. You would be shooting details or things that are close. So plan on both types of shots.

    Your current camera can do very good work if you learn to use the best technique. The first and most importentthing would be to buy a small tripod and use the camera's self timer so your finger on the shutter release does not shake the camera. Also the tripod allows for some more precise framing as it slows you down and forces you to think.

    Buy a book or just read on-line about composition. Knowing just a few simple rules will greatly improve your photos. Simple things like "rule of thirds.", or "watch the edges" or "look for diagonal lines or patterns and color contrast. Well that is to much. Just learn three rules, that and a tripod and you'll be ahead of 90% of the others you see there.
     
  15. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #15
    Maybe. But if you are serious about photography, not just taking snapshots then the process of taking the pictures will make you see more. You will be looking for the right light and combination of colors and you will be thinking about what you see and how you are going to communicate what you see. Photography may force you to get up before sunrise and wait and watch the sunlight. You may not even care about the pictures but the process of taking them can get you more involved with your surrounding

    On the other hand walking up to the rim and taking a snapshot will almost certainly result in a gray fuzzy image of mostly atmospheric haze. Buying a new camera and using it without thinking will not produce great results
     
  16. Applespider macrumors G4

    Applespider

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2004
    Location:
    looking through rose-tinted spectacles...
    #16
    Agreed. But since the OP was planning on using everything on automatic anyhow and said he was a photography novice, he'd likely be better taking a few shots to prove he and family were there than spending a lot of time taking pictures that may prove disappointing and not enjoying the experience of being there. I'm talking from the experience of a friend who went and spent so much time taking pictures and video footage that he didn't stop and take it all in - and despite some of the pics and video being ok, he regrets it bitterly.
     
  17. pprior macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2007
    #17
    That's exactly (the haze) what has happened to me every time. Even with a polarizer the photos I end up with look like crap compared with what my eye sees. And I'm not by any means a beginning photographer.
     
  18. maestrokev macrumors 6502a

    maestrokev

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    Apr 23, 2007
    Location:
    Canada
    #18
    The photos that have worked out the best for me are 16:9 type panoramics or using very wide angle shots.
     

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