I've finally narrowed down my camera requirements...

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Smileyguy, Oct 30, 2007.

  1. Smileyguy macrumors 6502

    Nov 29, 2004
    Hi everyone,

    I've been lightly researching for the purchase of a camera for a few months, but I want to go and buy it now, and I have narrowed down my requirements to a fairly simple set. They are as follows:

    - I'm a very enthusiastic amateur, and I want something that will enable me to play around with manual settings and learn a lot before I take the step up and buy something more substantial
    - I want a good zoom function, x10 ideally
    - Also looking for good video function
    - Something that is 'quick'. Apologies for my lack of lingo, but what I mean is that I want something that can capture motion well. A good range of shutter speeds would be nice.
    - Budget of $500

    I presume my desire for a video function eliminates entry-level DSLRs? I'm just presuming they don't have such a feature, so I guess I'm looking for a high-end compact.

    Any suggestions would be really appreciated.

    Thanks a million,

  2. seany916 macrumors 6502

    Jun 26, 2006
    Southern California
    Canon & Nikon both have great cameras in the $500 range.

    Xti & D40 both come to mind.

    There are other brands as well Olympus, Pentax...

    but Nikon & Canon are the easiest to get lenses for due to their popularity. Be aware that the lower end dSLRs might not have internal motors to drive specific lenses. (don't worry if it's the kit lens)

    If you have a local Costco, check out their selection of low end dSLRs. If you don't like it, they have a great return policy (never had to use it, but it's good to know it's there).

    Anything with a kit lens of of at least 18 would be great. 18-135, 18-200 Wide counts more than zoom for most pictures.

    The wider the range, the more flexibility for you. I'd get the one with the largest range for the zoom.

    As you get to know your camera better, you can buy some pricier lenses if you feel the need. Starting out, you're looking for flexibility.

    Just make sure you have a padded & secure way of transporting it. I like waist bags for carrying accessories (cards, batteries, notebook) during a shoot & backpacks for transporting it between shoots.

    Skip on the tripod/monopod/filters/gadgets/and other assorted crap out there. If you feel the need, get a flash (no, not the little pop-up) and a diffuser like the Sto-fen if you're shooting a lot of low-light.

    You'll need at least 4GBs to start. If 2GB x 2 cards are cheaper than 1 x 4GBs, then go that route.

    don't worry about "buying for the future". Just start with this camera and learn how to use it properly. IMHO, $500 will get you a LOT of camera these days. People end up spending obscene amounts of money on crap they don't need for it, or buying some super expensive camera that is essentially crippled by the owner's lack of ability.
  3. furious macrumors 65816


    Aug 7, 2006
    :word: To the above poster.

    I would also be looking at a Canon S5 IS. Very good camera with most of the features you are looking for.
  4. stevo.k macrumors newbie

    Sep 5, 2007
  5. 66217 Guest

    Jan 30, 2006
    It depends how serious you are about photography. Do you want the camera only to get good casual photos of birthdays and family? Or do you want something to get more deep into photography?

    If you really want to get into photography, then a dSLR is the way to go. They don't have video (and I really don't know if it would eventually be possible, since the mirror gets in the way), but they are much better than the Advanced P&S.

    You need to decide what do you want. If it was me I'll get the dSLR and then buy a video camera. Any dedicated video camera would take MUCH better video than a P&S camera.
  6. Smileyguy thread starter macrumors 6502

    Nov 29, 2004
    Yes, I may want to get more seriously into photography in the future, though it's not a certainty. But the video function is important to me right now, and I simply can't afford a separate video camera, hence why I'm looking for a P&S with plenty of manual options and high enough quality to enable me to learn the ins and outs of photography. Thanks for all the advice guys.

    Another quick question: If I was to buy a low end DSLR like the D40, would the kit lens be good enough? I've heard the D40 kit lens is quite good.
  7. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    I'll be the person to break the bad news to you ---- you that you can't get what you're looking for. ;)

    If you honestly what to zoom far and want decent photos of motion, get a Nikon D40 or D40x + 70-300 mm, and use that baby at ISO 1600. The 70-300 mm lens isn't great for sports or motion because it's "slow" (doesn't let in a lot of light), but at ISO 1600, it may help. You'd also get better results than if you were to buy a point & shoot.....even a good one.

    With a $500 budget, you won't be able to get it, although you'd be close. A used Nikon D50 and the 70-300 mm kit lens is an option likely below $500. Use this camera at ISO 1600 as well.

    The Pentax K100D is your cheapest DSLR option.

    You're losing the ability to shoot video with ALL of these options.

  8. Smileyguy thread starter macrumors 6502

    Nov 29, 2004
    I'm perfectly willing to buy a point-and-shoot, in fact I'm strongly leaning that way because I could get video function.

    The only question I'm still pondering is: Can I satisfy my desire to start learning photography thoroughly with a high end P&S?
  9. furious macrumors 65816


    Aug 7, 2006
    The Canon S5 IS is the camera I would recommend to you. It does everything you are after for a price within your budget.

    At the beginning of photography you will be wanting to concentrate manly on composition. The S5 will last you many years. It will scale well as your skills improve. It also does video.
  10. joytime365 macrumors newbie

    Sep 28, 2007
    Hey Smileyguy I totally agree with the above apinions , Canon S5 IS is truely a good choice . My elder sister got one two weeks ago ,she is very satisfied with it . some of the key features are :
    8 Megapixel CCD (versus 6MP on the S3)
    DIGIC III image processor
    Large LCD display (2.5" vs 2.0")
    Hot shoe for external flash
    Higher top sensitivity (ISO 1600 vs 800)
    In-camera redeye reduction
    Face detection AF
    Ability to record longer movie clips
    And this is the deal with the lowest price (at least two weeks ago ) my sister found :
    Anyway hope it helps .
  11. seany916 macrumors 6502

    Jun 26, 2006
    Southern California
    Please don't use an SLR for video or a video camera for stills.

    It will work, but the quality of either...
  12. 66217 Guest

    Jan 30, 2006
    In fact, an SLR would NEVER take video.;)
  13. cube macrumors G5

    May 10, 2004
    The Canons don't record in MPEG-4, so you can't store much in the card.

    You also have to be careful to select a camera which can zoom in movie mode.

    When zooming in movie mode, some cameras pick motor noise with the microphone, or in some the microphone is just switched off because of this.
  14. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Buy the Nikon 18-55, use it for a while, shoot about 1,000 frames and keep track of what shots you missed due to lack of the "correct" lens. then buy the lens that would have gotten those missed shots. You will not know now what it will be.

    You may want a macro lens or a wide angle or a "fast" prime lens. The 18-55 does 80% of what most people need

    I would prefers a used D50 to the D40.
  15. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Direct answer: Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX1

    I think this does everything you asked for. I shoot with a Nikon DSLR and video with a Sony mini DV camera but this is the best P&S I've seen. I would like to have one of these too because it is small and portable

    Read about it here
  16. pinktank macrumors 6502

    Apr 5, 2005
    canon s3 is, can be had around 270$, exceptional starter cam, but manual focus is through buttons, there are a few who offer focus rings, I do not know of them
  17. cube macrumors G5

    May 10, 2004
    Panasonic doesn't zoom in video mode, so it's not good for that.

    Casio has cameras that do this, shoot H.264 (QuickTime compatible), are "YouTube ready", and use SDHC.
  18. isaacannonymous macrumors newbie

    Nov 1, 2007
    im suprised that nobody as suggested the canon G9. it's $500, shoots video in three resolutions and zooms in standard resolution, has manual controls, shoots raw, has a hot shoe and will do full TTL controll with canon speedlights. i don't know i've been shooting with this thing for about a month and wouldn't trade it for any dslr on the markett. here's my list of pros and cons:

    the CCD is a kinda small (it's a small camera) so you do get more noise in low-light situations than you would with a dslr.

    in manual exposure modes all information is on the main lcd rather than in the finder so you need to turn on/leave on the display in order to see what you're doing.

    built in lens has a more limited focal length range than what you described (see pros for work-around)

    raw format not yet supported by many applications. (again, see pros for work around) and this is a temporary problem anyway. but neither aperture or lightroom fully support raw files from this camera right now.

    manual focus is a pain. on-screen range distances are listed and selected through gui. i like to have a focus ring, but i usually shoot in auto focus anyway.

    there's noplace to put the film


    two real dials on top control exposure modes and iso. i love turning dials and these keep two of the most frequently accessed settings in reach and view at all times. (id like to see another one for flash power and one for white ballance and one for... oh well)

    shoots raw and raw+jpeg. this will record the two file simultaniously. you can then use aperture to manage files and raw process in camera raw on your way to photoshop. when this camera is fully supported soon this will be less important but it is very important now.

    real hot shoe. 5 contact hot shoe. full TTL. slide a pocket wizard in there, whatever. what excites me about this camera is how scalable it is as a device. it's like they thought you might want to light up a building with strobes and gave you a way to do it.

    accessory lenses. built in zoom is a little limited but you can bayonet on an adapter and stick a tele-converter on it. or a super wide adaptor, circular polarizer, pretty much anything. you can get a prety good tele-converter for $100 or a cheap-o one for $40 see ebay for kits that include stuff like this.

    selectable auto-focus zones. feature taken from bigger cameras, it's a good one.

    oops, gotta go. seriously, though check this thing out it rules.

    i am a fine-art photographer by training and a digital imaging professional.
  19. form macrumors regular


    Jun 14, 2003
    in a country
    If you're considering compacts or prosumer cameras, I think Fuji is just as viable a brand as Canon, and their high ISO performance is generally superior to Canon (and everybody else). You might look at the S8000fd or S6000, or several others.
  20. Scarlet Fever macrumors 68040

    Scarlet Fever

    Jul 22, 2005
    another vote for the S5. I have an S3, and it is awesome. Even when I get my 400D (or 450D if its upgraded), I'll still use my S3 for shooting, because of its huge range of focus (0cm Macro to infinity for long range shots) and awesome video features.

    For some pics, check out my Deviantart site (link in sig).
  21. termina3 macrumors 65816

    Jul 16, 2007
    Define "learning photography":

    simply composing shots–who/what goes where, when? yes, absolutely

    adjusting controls manually–which aperture to which shutter speed? ehh... probably not

    physically getting accustomed to a big, sturdy SLR–the difference between a zoom button and a zoom ring, extra buttons, etc.? obviously not

    As others have, I'd suggest getting 2 cameras for what you're talking about. This would probably exceed your $500 budget though...
  22. Regis27 macrumors member

    Dec 13, 2006
    even with a cell-phone cam

    Why not? Every one of the P&S listed by people above have "creative modes" that allow one to directly control aperture, shutter, ISO, flash, etc.

    I'm not sure that many photographers would define "learning photography" this way.

    Since you're interested in taking videos too, I would definitely recommend any of the excellent P&S suggestions from above: S5IS, G9 (or G3, G6), the panasonic, or even a nikon or sony. Then buy the book "Understanding Exposure" and start experiementing with all the manual settings on the camera. If the camera you choose has a hot-shoe for a flash, then later get an external flash, which will add a whole new dimension to your photography.

    The advantages of a P&S:
    1. video (can be a real life-saver for those few times you need it)
    2. smaller size (any picture is better than the one you miss because the camera is home on the shelf)
    3. many have an articulated LCD, that will allow for more creative shots (I really miss that from my G3)
    4. They will all take action shots fine (but there might be some lag; see below)
    5. enormous depth-of-field
    6. Many have very nice lens, that would cost hundreds (if not thousands) to replicate on a SLR.

    Advantages of an SLR, that might make you want to upgrade when you feel you have learned a lot on your P&S:
    1. better low-light performance because of larger sensors (higher ISO with lower noise)
    2. no lag when turning the camera on, or pressing the shutter. I have missed some shots in the past because it took a few seconds for the camera to power up, or the shutter to fire.
    3. shallow depth of field to really emphasize your subjects. (this is the opposite of 5 above, and is directly related to the diameter of the lens glass)
    4. In general, the larger size of the SLR body allows for more of the settings to be accessed directly with a physical button, rather than a menu or sub-menu. This will make things much faster for you as you get used to setting up a shot the way you want it (as opposed to just switching it to "auto everyting" and shooting)

    I got a 20D last year when my first child was born, but have kept my G3 around for many of the reasons I listed above. It uses the same cards, cables, batteries, and flash -- so it very much complements the 20D. (though I'd probably upgrade to a G6 or G9 if I had the money.)

    Edit to add:

    The Image Stabilization (IS) that comes on the G9 and S5 usually adds around $400-500 the cost of a lens when added to an SLR lens, so there's a huge bonus right there.

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