Question about camera. (novice)

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Jas123, Sep 29, 2010.

  1. Jas123 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2008
    #1
    I want to begin taking more pictures and using photoshop more.

    I currently have a panasonic lumix DMC-FX3 camera. Is this okay for starting out, or should I think about buying something better?
     
  2. pintsizemacman macrumors regular

    pintsizemacman

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2010
    Location:
    ohio
    #2
    if u get serious about it id get a better camera;)
     
  3. tpg macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2010
    #3
    I'm no professional photographer, but tbh it depends what level you're at. If you're just starting, you might want to stick with your current camera lest you change your mind about getting serious. Although if you do get serious, then you'll probably want to start looking at entry level DSLRs.
     
  4. Jas123 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2008
    #4
    What about be a good/decent entry-level camera? that is still a point-n-shoot?
     
  5. tpg macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2010
    #5
    A lot of the entry level digital SLRs have a "point and shoot" mode, which is generally recommended for getting started with them. Although I'd avoid getting another compact camera if you do decide to upgrade, unless size is really an issue, because image quality is ultimately limited by the size of the CCD (and hence the lens). Smaller CCDs produce more noisy output, but are necessary to fit into a compact camera, phone etc.

    EDIT: A really good review website for a whole variety of digital cameras (up to the ones costing 4 figures) is http://dpreview.com/. Definitely worth a look before getting new kit.
     
  6. jdavtz macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2005
    Location:
    Kenya
    #6
    It's "okay" and I'm sure you can produce some stunning photos with it, BUT, you will not have a lot of creative control over your images and the image quality will not be at the level of a DSLR.

    I'd suggest finding a good website or reading a good book on photography -- my wife is reading "Understanding Exposure" and says it's making a lot of sense to her -- and then see if you can borrow or buy second-hand an old DSLR (or just buy a new Canon 5D Mark II etc. if money's really not an issue to you) and buy a NICE lens. Either a prime lens (that means fixed focal length, e.g. 35mm), or a f/2.8 zoom (i.e. preferably not the "kit" 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 type zooms). That way you can learn and experiment with focal depth, composition, creativity, everything.

    f/number shows how big the aperture opens. For a given focal length, this will affect (A) how much light gets to the sensor, and (B) how much of the photo is in focus.

    I don't know how much or little you know of this stuff, so I apologise if any of this sounds patronising; it's certainly not meant to be.
     
  7. fcortese macrumors demi-god

    fcortese

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2010
    Location:
    Big Sky country
    #7
    I agree with just about all of the advice given so far. Doing some background internet searches of photo sites and camera reviews is a definite start. I agree with jdavitz that if you want to get creative you will need to get away from a P&S camera either now or very soon. I was essentially in your position a little over a year ago and dove in with a medium cost camera (w/o the package lens) and just started taking pictures and experimenting. I got David Busch's book on the camera I purchased (see my signature) and started there. The next book I bought once I got started was Scott Kelby's The Digital Photography Book. You can get more info on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Digital-Photo...=sr_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1285798728&sr=1-6)

    I am still on the front end of the learning curve but it was worth it. Good luck and have fun. This forum is a great source of info and feedback, BTW.
     
  8. El Cabong macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2008
    #8
    Your camera doesn't have aperture/shutter priority modes or manual mode, so it won't do much to aid you in learning how to take pictures outside of composition.

    It'll be fine for figuring out if you want to take the DSLR/mirrorless ILC plunge. A more expensive point and shoot won't do much more for your photography (unless you're talking about a Canon S95 et al, at which point you might as well get a cheap and/or used DSLR).
     
  9. Jas123 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2008
    #9
    Thanks for all the input.

    I'm thinking about picking up the canon s90. It seems to be the best compromise between what I am use to and what I am not; and since the s95 just came out, hopefully it'll become cheaper too.
     
  10. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2001
    Location:
    Sendai, Japan
    #10
    First of all, forget about Photoshop, it won't help you take better pictures. Good pictures need to be taken with your camera, they can't be made on a computer. (Even if you want to edit your photos on the computer, I would recommend you having a look at Aperture or Lightroom which will be a lot more useful to you than Photoshop.)

    Regarding cameras, if you really want to learn the ropes of photography, forego any point and shoot. Get an old slr/dslr with a simple 50 mm/35 mm lens or kit lens. Only use the modes A, S, M (Nikon) or Tv, Av, M (Canon), i. e. avoid all automatic modes and picture modes. Experiment (= take a lot of photos). Even very old dslrs/slrs will do the job.

    Once you know the mechanics of the camera, my advice is to `focus on the essentials,' i. e. think about what made you pull the trigger for that particular photo.
     
  11. jdavtz macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2005
    Location:
    Kenya
    #11
    An second-hand DSLR like the Canon 20D or 350D will be cheaper than a Canon S90, and I suggest that it will be significantly better for learning photography. I'd imagine the image quality will be better too, at least in less-than-perfect light.

    However, your stated goals were "taking more pictures" and "using photoshop more"

    It's possible that a pocketable compact camera will help more with your first goal.

    Your second goal seems a bit nebulous - what end result do you want?
     
  12. Kyffin macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2010
    #12
    Hi, I'd definitely go with doing a lot of research (you both find out what's out there and get a better idea of what you might want from it).

    I've just been in this predicament myself and in the end I went with a high-end compact model- I can choose full manual (focus, aperture, shutter speed, well anything), record in raw- but the best thing is being able to keep it in my pocket all the time and take photographs. (something probably outside the micro 4/3 ability)

    Another advantage is a learning curve where you can find out what happens by changing one variable- learning how it behaves and going on from there before setting up your shots yourself.

    Although they may not be as flexible or the ultimate in image quality (but lets face it your first DSLR may not be be either) there are now a couple with full frame sensors (like leica X1 and the fuji X100 looks really interesting too) which way be worth you looking at.

    Hope you have fun looking and settling on one!
     
  13. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2001
    Location:
    Sendai, Japan
    #13
    A larger sensor is not necessarily about better image quality: if you have a point and shoot, your depth of field will be very, very large which means you will not be able to use that creatively to separate foreground from background.
    The X1 is very expensive and the second one isn't even available for another half year.
     
  14. Kyffin macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2010
    #14
    Hi OreoCookie, sorry still not figured out how quotation works but yes I agree the X1 is humongously expensive (amongst other things) and the X100 isn't out yet- but I thought they'd be examples as to what is (/will be) out there.

    As for the sensor size I think its no more a definite indicator of quality than pixel number (obviously they do pay a part but you can't just judge on a singe number) and when it comes to aperture I can stop my compact to f2- maybe not noctilux levels of separation but its okay for me right now.

    I think the point I was making is that there is a huge range of cameras out there which shouldn't be reduced to a "crappy p&s" / DSLR dyad, and if the OP was after taking a lot more photographs then a compact may well be worth having a look at (I know that I wouldn't have taken nearly as many photographs if I'd have gone down the DSLR route at this stage and while I will move on up in the future my compact will always have a place in my pocket!)
     
  15. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2001
    Location:
    Sendai, Japan
    #15
    The depth of field is not determined by the aperture alone: f/2 on a compact P&S will have a much, much, much larger depth of field than f/2 on a full frame dslr. On a Canon S90, if we pretend that the largest aperture at 50 mm equivalent focal length (~ 10.7 mm) is f/2, then at a subject distance of 2 m, you have a depth of field of 85 cm! If you use a 50 mm lens at f/2 on a full frame camera, your depth of field is 19 cm.

    Hence, you don't nearly have as much creative freedom with a P&S than with a dslr or some other camera with a large sensor.
    If someone wants to learn photography, for two reasons, I think point and shoot cameras are not a good tool: (1) You don't have a proper viewfinder. (2) Your creative freedom is very much limited.

    I'm not saying you cannot take good pictures with a point and shoot or that it's impossible to learn how to take good pictures with a compact camera, not at all. And to most people, a dslr is not just overkill, but the wrong camera which gets left at home, because it's too heavy/complicated. However, if you're looking for a new camera for the express purpose of learning the basics of photography, my advice is to go for a dslr instead of a point and shoot, that's all.

    For the record, I also happen to have a `compact,' a Sigma DP-1 which I do take with me whenever I want to/have to leave my dslr at home.
     
  16. jdavtz macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2005
    Location:
    Kenya
    #16
    A really quick unscientific couple of shots just to illustrate the difference in ability to isolate subjects, here are shots with a compact and a 1.6x crop DSLR:

    Panasonic LX3 - similar size sensor to the Canon S90 (i.e. BIG in the scheme of compact camera sensors). f/2.8 at 12mm-ish (equiv. 50mm on full frame).
    [​IMG]

    Canon 550D - same sensor size as e.g. 350D or 20D - f/2.8 at 30mm (equiv. 50mm on full frame)
    [​IMG]

    Look at the out-of-focus blurryness.
     

    Attached Files:

  17. Kyffin macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2010
    #17
    Thank you for your excellent explanation Oreocookie- I don't pretend to be anything other than a beginner and certainly don't want to mislead with my claims on depth of field (and to jdavtz- wow amazing illustration, thanks for making that live for us!). When I said that I got okay depth of field from my compact I was using it with macro and near range (thanks for explaining why!)

    Given where I'm coming from is a similar situation to the OP rather than one of depth of experience I can merely make the point that getting a fully manual compact is working out as a great route into photography for me.

    Although no viewfinder might be an issue, I'm satisfied with the amount of creative control on my compact (a D-Lux 4 if you're interested, and I'd love to find out if the electronic viewfinder on the D-Lux 5 is back compatible)- I mean it may not have everything, but I appreciate photography is a complex and technical beast so wasn't keen on being overwhelmed by options at the start (compare the cockpit of a cessna to a b2) so the training wheels are an advantage for me.

    As you say for some a DSLR could gather dust and this was exactly what I didn't want to happen- so instead I got something that I could always carry and would enable me to take lots of photos- given you and jdavtz both have full manual compacts which capture raw (/and mess around with photoshop/) they must have their worth! I suppose it depends on how much the OP wants to get into photography- for me I wanted to get something that I could learn to use easily before making a commitment on something more serious when I'd know better what sort of photography I'd be into.

    And for what its worth- yes I'm smitten and will be getting a more serious camera as soon as I can, but the compact will always have space in my pocket!
     
  18. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2001
    Location:
    Sendai, Japan
    #18
    Actually, you raise an important point as well: it's not useful to buy a camera that you don't use.
     
  19. Kyffin macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2010
    #19
    Thank you for replying Oreocookie- I was wondering whether you've any advice for after the camera is acquired- my approach has been to take as many photos as I can in different situations and experiment, but do you think it'd be worthwhile to take a course or are there any books particularly worth reading? Many thanks
     
  20. a.jfred macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 28, 2010
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    #20
    For books, I can highly recommend 2:

    1) Understanding Exposure, by Bryan Peterson (a quick google search shows some links to .pdf formats of this book)

    2) The manual that comes with your camera. And even after you read that, read it again. Always keep it handy for reference. This will be the most valuable book you will ever read, regarding photography. :)

    And yes, going out and playing with your camera is a great way to learn, and don't be afraid to not use auto-mode. I've generally stuck with Aperture Priority & manual focus. Just make sure to pay attention to those numbers in the viewfinder; they go a long way to helping you learn.
     
  21. Kyffin macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2010
    #21
    Thank you a.jfred for the tip- the book looks very worthwhile and I'll definitely be ordering.

    Unfortunately my manual isn't the easiest to work through but fortunately with my camera somebody has written a more detailed guide to it (not sure whether this is the case with other cameras but if anyone else has just picked up a Panasonic LX3 or Leica D-Lux 4 Alexander S. White's book is excellent and much easier to work through than their manuals). Its amazing how much more I've found out about my camera by reading the manual! ;)

    I think I've personally a long way to go before I can que up a shot purely from skill and experience but it's definitely helped to work on one variable at a time (either aperture or shutter speed depending on the situation) and see how that affects the settings required for a properly exposed picture (even looking at the iso to 'balance the books'!. Thanks for the tips
     
  22. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2001
    Location:
    Sendai, Japan
    #22
    I second the suggestion to get Understanding Exposure, I got it for a friend and had a look: it's rather non-technical and focusses on the `look' you want to achieve.

    I don't think most manuals are a useful source of information, I'd read it only like an encyclopedia: read a section you're interested in when you're interested in it.

    If you want to improve your photography, take responsibility: deactivate as much of the automatic modes as possible -- otherwise your camera will decide for you. Depending on the camera you have (Canon S90 was it?), some simply won't let you switch off certain things. You will soon find out that most compacts are not designed to work well like this, but hey, it's a learning experience. And limitations can actually be helpful. To give you an example: my Sigma DP1 is rather slow, it takes time to autofocus and to release the shutter, etc. I still somehow like it, because I really need to think before shooting, e. g. when to pull the trigger so to speak. (The two great things about the camera are the APS-C-sized sensor and the lens.)

    If your camera has shutter and aperture priority modes (S and A or Tv and Av, depending on the manufacturer), then use only those. Initially, full manual Make conscious decisions which settings to use in what situation. Go out and have fun!
     
  23. HBOC macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2008
    Location:
    SLC
    #23
    From experience, "manual" mode on a P&S is frustrating, to say the least!

    I had a 30D + 10-22mm, 50mm, etc and sold them off, as I was quite busy for a while and had no time to use the gear. I picked up a G9 8 months later, and thought that since it had an "M" mode, it wouldn't be so bad. I was wrong.

    Now you can get stellar shots from a P&S, but the ability to change lenses, the larger sensor, etc; is why they have DSLRs.

    I don't know your budget, but I would start off with a 20/30/40D, 40D being my first choice. They are fairly cheap, and are amazing cameras. You can then build your lens collection up over time. Nikon makes great bodies as well, I am only using Canon as an example as that is what I have and am familiar with.
     
  24. Jas123 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2008
    #24
    After reading all these threads, I'm being swayed to get a DSLR. I found a Canon 20D for $200 -- body only. Is that a good price?

    I'm now concerned about lenses, they seem to be pretty expensive. Any suggestions on which one to get? I'd like to get a used one; but I don't know what type or what is a fair price to pay.

    Thanks
     
  25. HBOC macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2008
    Location:
    SLC
    #25
    $200 is a good price for a 20D. Lenses are a personal preference. Some people will say the kit lens is a good lens. It is a decent lens, but I wouldn't say it is "great" compared to the lenses I have or have had.

    People will preach that zooms are better, or that primes are better. That is for you to find out. What is your budget? What defines expensive to you? To start out with, and possibly to get a feel of the different focal lengths, an 18-55 IS (new kit lens.. $80ish used) and the EF-s 55-250 IS($180ish used) are good lenses to start with, and when buying used, you usually get your money back when selling.

    Another good lens that is pretty cheap is the Canon EF 28-105mm MKII. It is about $150. I have had this lens (twice) and the results were surprising. I also had the 17-40L and LOVED that lens. I know have a few Olympus Zuiko lenses, and I have to say that my 24mm 2.0 is sharper than my 17-40L was.

    FredMiranda.com is probably the best place to go to get help and research.
     

Share This Page