Want something better than Point 'n' Click

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by MrSmith, Jun 8, 2008.

  1. MrSmith macrumors 68040

    MrSmith

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2003
    #1
    I use a Casio Exilm EX-Z600 to take pictures of my family and the like. Photography is not a hobby but, even so, I still want to see good results. I've had this point 'n' click for a year or so and just fed up with the quality of the pictures it gives me. It has a million presets and menu functions that even if I understood on paper I wouldn't have the time or patience to adjust if I just want to catch something cute one of the children is doing.

    Before, I had a Canon EOS (SLR) and it was a release to get a digital camera, but I realize now I'm sacrificing picture quality when it's often quite possible to carry a larger camera. 'Automatic' on that SLR nearly always produced pictures good enough for me, whereas with 'Automatic' on the Casio I take half a dozen and hope one is good enough.

    So, my question is, will a DSLR be so much better, bearing in mind I don't want to do much more than point and shoot? If so, which one do you recommend in a reasonable price range? Repeating myself, but remember this isn't even a hobby. I just want good pictures to look back at when I'm old and grey.

    Thanks for any advice.
     
  2. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

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    #2
    It sounds as though your Canon EOS was a film camera. The entry-level DSLRs from Canon should do what you want. You have two to choose from these days (i.e. the XTi/400D or the XSi/450D). Both have automatic and scene modes that should work well for you. If you go that route and get one with a kit lens, make sure you get the new-and-improved version (EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS), which has better optics and image stabilization.

    Of course there are lots of other brands to consider, and they'll all have modes that will let you shoot fully automatic photos that will surely trounce anything from your Casio camera.

    If size is an issue for you, then I would strongly recommend you consider the new Olympus e-420 with its kit pancake lens (Zuiko Digital 25mm f/2.8). It's currently the world's smallest DSLR, and paired with the pancake lens, you'll be able to get lovely portrait shots that have your subjects picked out against a nicely blurred background (a feature of "fast" or "large aperture" lenses). Since it's a prime lens (fixed focal length), you won't have to mess around with zoom + focus: less fuss and more fun!
     
  3. steeler macrumors regular

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    Jan 30, 2008
    #3
    I second the suggestion for the entry-level Canon DSLRs. You will see a huge difference in your pictures, even in full-auto mode.

    However, I would highly suggest taking some basic photography classes. Just knowing a few things about lighting, composition, and the camera settings can really set you free to take GREAT pictures instead of just good pictures. After you know the basics, you just need to take a ton of pictures... my favorite part about digital is that you get immediate results and the cost of shooting is very low, like a dollar or less for 500 pictures (HD storage is cheap and I save EVERY picture) -- especially since it used to cost me $6 - $8 US to process a roll of 24 exposure film.

    I realize that you don't want it to be a hobby, but I firmly believe that everyone that takes pictures can benefit from knowing some basics. You can better capture the moment, instead of just taking pictures. However, if all you want to do is point and shoot, then a high-end point and shoot (like the Canon Powershot G9) might bet best.

    http://www.canon.co.uk/For_Home/Product_Finder/Cameras/Digital_Camera/PowerShot/index.asp#
     
  4. Everythingisnt macrumors 6502a

    Everythingisnt

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    #4
    The canon 400 and 450 D's are some pretty nice cameras, but I also think that you can't go much wrong with a Nikon D40. It is veerry fast and small enough to fit into a big pocket in your jacket. Also I think it gives smoother images because of the low megapixel count (6).
     
  5. taylorwilsdon macrumors 68000

    taylorwilsdon

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  6. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #6
    A new digital SLR will have imae quality and handling very much like your old Canon SLR. In fact almost exactly like your old camera. If you still have the canon then you can use your lenses and external flash with the new digital body although you will want to pick up the "kit" lens that comes with the new camera because it will zoom to a far wider setting then any of your older lenses.

    If you no longer have the Canon film camera then you get to start over and choose between Nikon, Canon and the others. But do think ahead if choosing a brand. Make sure they make the stuff you want to buy in three or five years
     
  7. Entopia7 macrumors regular

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    Feb 4, 2008
    #7
    I also suggest taking a look at the Canon G9. I have been shooting with a Nikon D70 for 3 years, and I was getting tired of lugging my camera bag, lenses, and flash around with me everywhere I went.

    Now don't get me wrong, I love my D70, but I just picked up a G9 after a fair bit of research, and I am very pleased with it's performance! 12mp is overkill in my opinion, but the camera shoots RAW, has a great macro function (~1cm at wide and ~10cm at tele), and the shots are silky smooth at 80ISO.

    If you take more photos in low light, though, I'm not sure I could recommend the G9. The noise really ramps up when you get anywhere above 400ISO.

    It is a great fit for me though, and now I don't have to lug my D70 around just to get great pictures.

    Hope that helps.
     
  8. Cheffy Dave macrumors 68030

    Cheffy Dave

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    Sunny Florida, on the Gulf Coast in Homosassa Fl
    #8
    Well I'm old and grey, got a Canon SD 900 (P&S) Powershot, I'm buying a
    Nikon D-40 Check out this link, it changed my mind,
    http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/d40/d40-performance.htm
    Don't flame the old guy:eek: about this reviewer, it made sense to me:cool:
     
  9. Padaung macrumors 6502

    Padaung

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    UK
    #9
    Another vote for the Canon G9 from me, even though I'm a Nikon DSLR user :cool:
    The G9 does suck in low light though (anything above ISO 400).
     
  10. Everythingisnt macrumors 6502a

    Everythingisnt

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    #10
    Well, the Canon G9 IS very portable.. I think it's your best non-DSLR bet :).
     
  11. MrSmith thread starter macrumors 68040

    MrSmith

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    Nov 27, 2003
    #11
    Thanks guys. Some recommendations to chew on there. One of the things that annoys me about the point 'n' click is the quality in less-than-perfect lighting.
     
  12. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

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    #12
    Just in case you haven't yet spotted yesterday's thread about Canon's announcement of the new 1000D entry-level DSLR, $200 below the 450D: heads up!
     
  13. MrSmith thread starter macrumors 68040

    MrSmith

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    Nov 27, 2003
    #13
    Thanks for the heads up, Phrasikleia. I didn't see that. I must say, I didn't realize DSLRs were so much more expensive than P&S cameras: €549 for the body plus €599 for the lens! :eek
     
  14. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

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    #14
    No no, €599 is the kit price (camera and lens together). And that's just the list price; the street price is sure to be less.
     
  15. MrSmith thread starter macrumors 68040

    MrSmith

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  16. Baron58 macrumors 6502

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    #16
    Adding my voice to the ones above, get the Canon G9 and, since it has a hotshoe, get a Canon Speedlite 430ex flash (the flash is currently on sale at www.costco.com) I got a cheap 3rd-party flash and it sucked. I tried a friend's speedlite 430 and returned the cheap flash to get the 430.

    Keep the ISO dial set on '80' for everything except night shots with flash, then set it on 200. Never use anything higher than 200, and the G9 images are *great*.
     
  17. MrSmith thread starter macrumors 68040

    MrSmith

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    #17
    Surely SLRs take better pictures than compacts, don't they? On account of the lenses, if nothing else? At least they did pre-digital. Are you saying the compact G9 takes a better picture than the SLR 400/450D? Size/weight is not important to me. I just want the picture quality.
     
  18. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

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    #18
    Of course the G9 won't produce better quality than a DSLR can, and that fixed lens will be at least half of the problem. One of the major features of a good lens is the ability to pick out subjects against a blurry background (i.e. "bokeh"). Point-and-shoot cameras just don't have that kind of lens. The only way they can even approximate the effect is with macro shots or with subjects that are extremely close to the lens--and even then, the effect is minimal.

    If you go with a Canon DSLR, you might want to forgo the kit lens and just get the "nifty fifty" (50mm f/1.8 II), which retails for less than $100. It's a great portrait lens, and it sounds as though that's what you're looking for.

    I'll also reiterate my recommendation of the Olympus e-420 with the kit pancake lens (a fast prime). That package sells in in the US for $650 (camera plus pancake lens).
     
  19. Baron58 macrumors 6502

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    #19
    OK, well you said....


    To me, that screams "G9", not "ginormous DSLR". That's my advice.

    Also, many DSLR's don't let you use the screen on the back for composing the image. You have to look through the viewfinder, just like a 35mm SLR. If you want to whip out a camera that you can turn on and shoot with one hand at arms length so you can...
    ...then a DSLR may be more than you want.
     
  20. Baron58 macrumors 6502

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    #20
    Not 'better' than a DSLR, but (since I'm not Annie Liebowitz), it's reasonably 'good enough'.
     
  21. Padaung macrumors 6502

    Padaung

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    #21
    All taken with a G9 using RAW. Sorry about the small files, I don't have my external drive with me at the moment.
     

    Attached Files:

  22. MrSmith thread starter macrumors 68040

    MrSmith

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    #22
    Thanks for all your advice, folks. It's much appreciated.

    Phrasikleia,
    The Olympus e-420 comes with two alternative lenses: the 25mm pancake lens or the 14-42mm (not both, I believe). Way back it used to be 50mm was 'normal' and anything under was wide-angle (28mm rings a bell). By that definition both these would be wide-angle? What changes to lens size measurement am I missing? :eek: And what's the difference between these two?

    Would the pancake be suitable for outdoor portraits/scenes and the like? Obviously they'd be no zoom, though. In the galleries I've seen, the shots taken with the pancake lens all seem to be close-ups.

    Oh, one more thing: have you used the e-420?

    Talking of galleries, I just took a look at my P&S shots and even more realize what a real pile of crap they are...
     
  23. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

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    #23
    You can see a whole pool of shots taken with the Oly pancake lens here. I think you'll see it's suitable for many types of photography.

    As for what lenses are considered "normal" these days...well, someone else might be better able to answer than I, but I'll tell you what I've learned. If you want no distance distortion of this sort, then you still need to stick with 50mm, which is as close as possible to the depth perception of the human eye. However, on a digital camera body with a cropped sensor, the field of view is reduced, so a 50mm lens will seem more telephoto than it would when used with a full-frame sensor.

    To learn more about lenses on cropped sensors, you should consult this page.

    I have held an Olympus e-420 and did a lot of research on it when making my own purchasing decision. I ultimately decided that I was willing to pay more for a camera that is more suited to my own particular needs. I wasn't crazy about the tiny grip on the e-420, which would matter a lot on my days of shooting for six or more hours straight (I do a lot of shooting in museums and at archaeological sites). Also, the four-thirds system (which Olympus uses) is less suited to low-light photography, and museums are notoriously dark. So that wasn't the camera for me, but I remain impressed with its image quality, portability, features, and price.

    [Edit: if I'm mistaken about the optical qualities of a 50mm lens, I hope someone will correct me!]
     
  24. kdum8 macrumors 6502a

    kdum8

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    #24
    just out of curiousity, was that third shot taken on Papua? (The man chest up)
     
  25. leighonigar macrumors 6502a

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    #25
    I'd always go for a DSLR for image quality. The G9 has good quality but you are not going to be able to get the same kind of shallow depth of field you might want for portraits. This is related to the 'isn't 25mm a wide angle?' thing. The field of view you get from a given focal length is dependent on the size of the recording medium. Hence a 'standard' for a 6x6 medium format camera is 80mm, while for a 35mm SLR is 50mm. You can imagine this by thinking about how much of the image circle projected by the medium format lens would be covered by a frame of 35mm film - less of the view, giving a narrower final image (similar to digital zoom really...).

    Making large silicon circuits is hard and things get rather costly, or impossible. As such most DSLRs nowadays use sensors which are somewhat smaller than the 35mm frame, therefore to get the same field of view as, say, a 50mm lens on 35mm film you need a shorter lens. On Olympus you need a 25mm as the sensor is half the size of 35mm film. On a canon (mostly 1.6 crop) or nikon (1.5x) you need something around 30mm to get the same field of view (30x1.5 = 45mm).

    Oh yes, the original point. Digital compacts have very small sensors, very 'short' lenses, and thus, like very wide angles, have massive depth of field.

    The kind of perspective distortion on the wikipedia page is to do with distance, it's not a problem.

    If you can handle the bulk a E-410/20 and either the zoom or the 25mm pancake would do fine. Or a nikon d40/x/60 or one of the canons. I think the E-420/25mm is a sweet thing and small. Depends whether you need a zoom!
     

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