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paul.fr

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Digital cameras, what is the best?
« on: 15/02/2008 21:44:32 »
I'm in the market for a new camera, should i go for a higher ISO number or higher optical zoom? Also, what is the difference?


 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Digital cameras, what is the best?
« Reply #1 on: 15/02/2008 22:06:04 »
It all depends what you intend using the camera for.
 

Offline neilep

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« Reply #2 on: 15/02/2008 22:16:55 »
It all depends what you intend using the camera for.

I think.....and I'm guessing here.......he may want to take some photographs !!.....crazy I know!!...





Panasonics are always well reviewed...if you're going for a small compact !!
 

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« Reply #3 on: 15/02/2008 22:30:02 »
It all depends what you intend using the camera for.

I think.....and I'm guessing here.......he may want to take some photographs !!.....crazy I know!!...

Touche, mon ami
 

Offline rosalind dna

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« Reply #4 on: 15/02/2008 23:23:18 »
Last summer I bought my first ever Digital Camera, which is a Sony CyberShot DSC 80W
and I am not a professional photographer but most of my photos are coming out clearly
this link might help you.
I bought it from John Lewis but Amazon sells them too, Also there might be a possibiliy
that Sony would sell them to you.
http://www.sony.co.uk/view/ShowProduct.action?product=DSC-W80&site=odw_en_GB&imageType=Main&category=DCC+Digital+Still+Cameras
 

another_someone

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Digital cameras, what is the best?
« Reply #5 on: 15/02/2008 23:29:38 »
There is no such thing as the best camera, as Eth hinted, different cameras have different strengths.

If you are going to use high ISO numbers, you need each pixel to be as big as it can be (small pixels have more noise, and so will start giving serious problems, even with medium ISO numbers).  Big pixels mean either small pixel counts (some of the older cameras with pixel counts around 4MP actually have better noise management than their modern counterparts with 12MP), or a large image sensor of the type you are more likely to find on a digital SLR than on a superzoom integrated camera.  Again, the larger the zoom range, the smaller has to be the image sensor, so that gives you a problem also.

As a general rule, the less you demand of a camera, the better quality it will give you.  If you want a camera will all the highest specs (small size, large zoom range, high ISO numbers), you can expect poor quality images.

Ofcourse, if you want to shoot small birds at half a mile distance, you wont get away from either going for an SLR with a long lens, or a long zoom - but you don't need the camera to be compact.

If you want something to shoot indoors, you want compact, and probably high ISO numbers, but you wont need a big zoom.

Fujifilm (particularly some of the older generation, with the superCCD technology) give good high ISO performance.  Panasonic uses Lieca lenses, and the lenses have a superb reputation, but they totally go to pieces in low light (on the positive side, they have a good anti-shake capability, which allows you to use the longer end of the zoom range while not pushing the ISO numbers as high as for the Fuji).

If you want very compact, then maybe some of the Casio cameras.  If you are willing to spend the money, and want the best in quality, and compactness is of no significance, then a digital SLR will always provide better images.

There are a number of online reviews available, but one place I find useful for online reviews is http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/
« Last Edit: 15/02/2008 23:33:42 by another_someone »
 

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« Reply #6 on: 16/02/2008 08:08:38 »
Yeah... what George said.

I've got a compact Samsung which is great for normal snaps, a Fuji Finepix for slightly more than snaps, and a Canon EOS IID DSLR for the really good stuff.

What I want more than anything is a DSLR that'll take 10fps, but they really cost  :(
 

paul.fr

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Digital cameras, what is the best?
« Reply #7 on: 16/02/2008 09:42:17 »
A mixed bag of uses. general holiday type pictures, clouds and clouds above cooling towers up to half a mile away. would they need a bigger optical zoom or ISO?
« Last Edit: 16/02/2008 10:06:05 by paul.fr »
 

Offline Pumblechook

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« Reply #8 on: 16/02/2008 10:15:38 »
Fuji make the best cams.
 

another_someone

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Digital cameras, what is the best?
« Reply #9 on: 16/02/2008 10:40:11 »
Shooting clouds (unless you are doing it at night) is going to be shooting into the sky, so you certainly don't need high ISO numbers (they are intended for low light conditions).

One problem you will have with shooting clouds is that you are shooting into bright light, and can easily have problems with chromatic aberrations (known as purple fringing).

It is difficult to know what zoom you might need for picking out clouds half a mile away, but you would I think need at least 200mm at your top end, but I suspect not much more.  The alternative (although you will lose some quality this way) is to use the very high pixel count of modern cameras and simply take a picture where the cloud is only a small part of the picture, and use your computer to crop in tighter (so throwing away some of the extra pixels, so some of the extra quality - not that you could ever use the full quality of an ordinary sized picture, so it may not matter losing some).

Do not, if you have a choice, buy a wider zoom range than you need.  In general (and you can check the actual specs on the camera to see if this is true for the model in question) a wide zoom range will require smaller image sensors, which will compromise quality; and will mean a narrower range of apertures (which will put more demands on high ISO, which degrades quality - and will make it more vulnerable to camera shake).  What is less obvious is the compromises in lens quality as they push the lends range to ever greater limits.  A 15x zoom will almost always be inferior to a 3x zoom, but what is right for you depends on what you require - just don't look to push it further.

One thing a some camera shops might allow you to do (I have done it in the past) is buy a small memory card (you will also need a reader for it), and ask if you can take some sample pictures in the shop, or just outside the front door of the shop (with the assistant getting ever more nervous as he hovers over you), and then take the memory card home and look at the images on your computer at home.  If the camera has a RAW mode, you will get the best pictures in RAW mode, or else use the least compression, and highest pixel count, on JPEG to show the best the camera can do.

There are several questions still not answered:

  • What is your budget like.
  • How large/heavy are you willing to have (bigger cameras are generally better cameras).
  • How steady is your hand (if you need a longer zoom, and your hand is not exceptionally steady, then you may need an anti-shake facility, or carry a tripod with you - the tripod is always the better picture, but is tedious and adds weight carry and time in taking the picture - you also should make sure the camera has a tripod mount - some of the smaller cameras wont, most of the bigger ones will).
  • Do you shoot architecture close up, or other requirements that may require a very wide shot?

Another feature you will want to use (most cameras that have good manual override facilities will have this, but some of the point-and-shoot cameras may not have) is to allow autobracketing of pictures (where the camera takes a picture under exposed, what it thinks is the right exposure, and overexposure), and good manual controls generally.  This will be particularly important for you because you will be shooting in awkward lighting conditions that might easily fool the camera's idea of what the right exposure ought to be.
« Last Edit: 16/02/2008 11:08:37 by another_someone »
 

another_someone

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Digital cameras, what is the best?
« Reply #10 on: 16/02/2008 10:44:23 »
Fuji make the best cams.

It depends for what.

In general, my own feeling is that it is between Fuji and Panasonic - in ideal conditions, the Panasonic will make better pictures, but in less than ideal conditions, you may come off better with the Fuji.  Even then, you have to decide on the model, and if you want ultra compact, then maybe neither are ideal (it does not sound like ultra-compact is an issue here).

As a general rule, if you want to use ISO numbers at 400 or above, there are some (even then, not all) Fuji cameras that will do that (but not even all of them), but while many other brands will allow you to do it (because the marketing men insist on it), the quality of the results are just unacceptable.

As I said above, Panasonic (Leica) lens quality is certainly superior (on a like for like basis - but again, you have to look at the specific model).
« Last Edit: 16/02/2008 10:55:12 by another_someone »
 

Offline Pumblechook

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« Reply #11 on: 16/02/2008 13:12:07 »
I am not really into all the technical stuff.   

I have two 'simple' Fuji cameras.  I bought the second because it is very compact..pocket job.   The intention was to use it on hol and get a bigger camera later but the results from the little one are superb  and they look as good as any pics I have ever seen on-line or anywhere so I dont really need another camera. I took some in Valencia, Spain and folks say they could win awards. Maybe if I wanted to do long shots a bigger optical zoom range would be handy and the Fujis are a liitle poor in low light but I would be spending a lot of money just for the odd shot. The little Fuji A610 actually did quite well taking pics of yachts well out to sea.   For 99% of the time the cheap Fujis are excellent.

Panasonic (or Sony for that matter) as a company I wouldn't touch with barge pole having had poor experience with two HDD/DVD recorders. 

There are websites with .jpgs of samples taken by various cameras.  Obviously you need a good monitor properly set up to get a true 'picture' of how they perform. 
« Last Edit: 16/02/2008 13:15:46 by Pumblechook »
 

another_someone

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Digital cameras, what is the best?
« Reply #12 on: 16/02/2008 13:47:12 »
I am not really into all the technical stuff.   

I have two 'simple' Fuji cameras.  I bought the second because it is very compact..pocket job.   The intention was to use it on hol and get a bigger camera later but the results from the little one are superb  and they look as good as any pics I have ever seen on-line or anywhere so I dont really need another camera. I took some in Valencia, Spain and folks say they could win awards. Maybe if I wanted to do long shots a bigger optical zoom range would be handy and the Fujis are a liitle poor in low light but I would be spending a lot of money just for the odd shot. The little Fuji A610 actually did quite well taking pics of yachts well out to sea.   For 99% of the time the cheap Fujis are excellent.

Panasonic (or Sony for that matter) as a company I wouldn't touch with barge pole having had poor experience with two HDD/DVD recorders. 

There are websites with .jpgs of samples taken by various cameras.  Obviously you need a good monitor properly set up to get a true 'picture' of how they perform. 

The site I quoted above has lots of sample pictures from different cameras, but that is not the same as judging how pictures you take will come out.

High quality monitor is useful, but a lot can be ascertained simply by increasing the magnification (which is easy to do).

In general, on a 5x7 print (without any cropping of magnification), most cameras will give a half decent picture most of the time (if you are not trying anything particularly exotic).

The problems arise either when you are trying to magnify bits of the picture, or you want to print to a bigger size, or you have unusual lighting conditions.

Even on 5x7's, you can see sometimes a flatness of texture on some of the poorer cameras (particularly on poor lighting conditions).  Things like purple fringing will only become more obvious on magnification.

As for Sony and Panasonic as companies - I have had my issues with Panasonic, but none of them have been major (the kit in question has survived a fair length of time, even if it has some slight problem).  I have not had problems with Sony, but I don't really regard Sony as a camera company (although that said, a large proportion of the sensors used by many camera companies, including people like Nikon, are manufactured by Sony).  Sony recently bought up Minolta/Konica, who were a long established camera company (actually, they were two separate long established), but I still regard Sony as more of an electronics company than a camera company - and anyway, are generally more geared towards the point -and-shoot cameras than anything for the more serious photographer.

In general, I would not regard Panasonic so highly if it was not for their Leica lenses - which probably cannot be surpassed.

A lot of the electronics in Olympus cameras are also from Panasonic (depending on the model), but the Olympus Zeiko lenses do not come to the same standard as the Leica lenses.
 

Offline Pumblechook

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Digital cameras, what is the best?
« Reply #13 on: 16/02/2008 14:30:57 »
I printed out some of my pics of Valencia and people thought I had bought them from an arty shop.  Then they said you must have used some special paper.  It was some cheapo stuff from Lidl.

You can get superb results form a simple camera and a printer such as the Cannon iP4300.  It can be done so cheaply now. 

It is really is case of diminishing returns.   You could spend a hell of a lot more and get slightly better results or for the odd occasion when the light isn't quite right.

Only about 8/9 years ago I bought an Agfa camera with 8 MB internal memory..fixed 640 x 480... smeary looking pics..  It was over 400 ...  Big improvements since then but   I suspect cameras have perhaps peaked now and not much further development will take place.

Camera divisions might be different but....

I had two Panasonic HDD/DVD machines which failed and Googling found that many folks had similar probs and Panasonic didn't want to know.  EH85 machines...avoid.

Sony were similar with 2 VCRs.  They were crinkling tapes.  The bloke in the shop was prepaired to replace them with another make...He had given up with Sony.   He hated Sony...bad reputation with repair men.    I found out that the crinkling stopped if the machines were kept in a warm place. 

 

paul.fr

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Digital cameras, what is the best?
« Reply #14 on: 16/02/2008 14:35:19 »
Quote
Shooting clouds (unless you are doing it at night) is going to be shooting into the sky, so you certainly don't need high ISO numbers (they are intended for low light conditions).

This is the bit i was after, i have never bothered to look at iso numbers before and so assumed the higher the better...same with pixels. What i try and do is shoot without zoom (digital zoom)and use software to 'zoom' on the area i want enhanced.
 

another_someone

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Digital cameras, what is the best?
« Reply #15 on: 16/02/2008 15:31:02 »
Quote
Shooting clouds (unless you are doing it at night) is going to be shooting into the sky, so you certainly don't need high ISO numbers (they are intended for low light conditions).

This is the bit i was after, i have never bothered to look at iso numbers before and so assumed the higher the better...same with pixels. What i try and do is shoot without zoom (digital zoom)and use software to 'zoom' on the area i want enhanced.

ISO numbers are a concept that originated with film, and have been taken over by the electronics side merely because people are used to the idea.

All the really represent in terms of electronic is gain control - the higher the iso, the higher the amplification of the signal.  Like all amplification, if you have a week signal (low lighting conditions) then you need the amplification, but if you don't need it, then all you end up getting is more noise without any more information.  Increasing ISO will always increase noise (depending on other factors, the degree of noise will depend on the type of image sensor - but the higher ISO numbers will always have more of it).

With pixel counts, it is more complex.

Ofcourse, all things being equal, the higher pixel count, the better (this is particularly true if you are editing the image on the computer); but for a given size of image sensor, a higher pixel count will mean each pixel is smaller, and this will again push up the noise readings, and reduce the available dynamic range, which reflects in over contrasty images.  Thus you want to balance having as high a pixel count as you can get, while maintaining low noise and high dynamic range.

Ofcourse, the ideal answer is to have a high pixel count with a large image sensor, but this is not possible if you have a small camera with a big zoom.  You can get this if you go for a digital SLR.  Even with compact cameras, you do have some variance in sensor size, but the latest breed of superzooms are by necessity of smaller sensor sizes.

In terms of maximising the dynamic range of the sensors (i.e. being able to see into dark shadows while not saturating out the highlights), as has been mentioned before, Fuji do have some good sensors (at the trade off that their lens is not as good as some, and they may not be the fastest to use, so not good for sports).

The f31fd is a good small camera (with limited optical zoom), while the s6500fd uses the same sensor with a bigger lens and body.  The s9600 is the bigger brother to the s6500fd, with more pixels, but maybe at the cost of a loss in dynamic range.  There is a review of the s9500 here - this is the previous model to the s9600.

Unfortunately, it seems that Fujifilm are having difficulty investing in their unique sensor technology, so a lot of the newer cameras from their stable use more conventional technology, with more pedestrian dynamic range.
« Last Edit: 16/02/2008 16:11:24 by another_someone »
 

another_someone

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« Reply #16 on: 16/02/2008 15:57:56 »
I had two Panasonic HDD/DVD machines which failed and Googling found that many folks had similar probs and Panasonic didn't want to know.  EH85 machines...avoid.

Sony were similar with 2 VCRs.  They were crinkling tapes.  The bloke in the shop was prepaired to replace them with another make...He had given up with Sony.   He hated Sony...bad reputation with repair men.    I found out that the crinkling stopped if the machines were kept in a warm place. 

If you are not talking about small specialist companies - most of the big consumer electronics companies, especially the Japanese, are not really geared towards customer service.

That they require repair is a condemnation of their quality control, but I really don't think most of the competitors would do much better if it did go wrong.
 

Offline Pumblechook

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« Reply #17 on: 16/02/2008 16:19:45 »
Often bad design not just quality control.   I have had a 'battle' a few times.  Companies won't admit that a particular product was badly designed in the first place.  I suppose that might lead them open to claims after the Guarantee has run out.. It was never fit for purpose.  Googling the DMR-E85 Panasonic machines finds people who have had lots of problems. 

Hewlett Packard are another arrogant company.  Epson were very good in comparison. 
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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« Reply #18 on: 16/02/2008 21:10:43 »
I've got 4 video cameras - 2 Panasonic, 1 Sony and a Canon. I previously had another Sony and a Samsung.

The Canon is 2nd only to the big Panasonic for quality of picture, but it's a bit long in the tooth these days - and heavy for a hand-held. The Sony I have now has lots of bells & whistles that I don't use as I do all my editing & enhancing on PC, and the picture quality is sufficient for most things. The little Panasonic is very easy to use but I've had trouble with lines on the video and it has chewed up a couple of tapes. The big Panasonic is broadcast quality so the others can't really compare with it. However, it's big & cumbersome and needs to be mounted on a pod if it's being used for any length of time.

The old Sony I had was a digital-8, so the quality was a bit wanting. The Samsung was even older - a Hi-8 - but surprisingly good quality.

I'd like to get something like a Sony DSR-PD170P but they cost around 2,000 so I think that may be somewhat extravagant  :(

I've also got a Sony Cybershot that I don't use these days as my other cameras are far superior, a Sony Vaio PC, Sony Hi-Fi and Sony DVD player. I've never had any trouble with those or with the Sony video cameras.

Basically, I like Sony.
 

another_someone

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Digital cameras, what is the best?
« Reply #19 on: 16/02/2008 22:45:49 »
I don't like Sony as a company (although this is not only about their products - which are often reliable, although often stronger on gadgetry than on doing the primary thing they are meant to do well) - but I don't like the software side of Sony's attitude to DRM (including, but not limited to, including virus like software on the CD's).
 

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« Reply #20 on: 16/02/2008 22:52:33 »
- but I don't like the software side of Sony's attitude to DRM (including, but not limited to, including virus like software on the CD's).

That's a whole different subject
 

lyner

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Digital cameras, what is the best?
« Reply #21 on: 16/02/2008 23:43:30 »
Whatever camera you choose to buy, you must must must not bother to print on anything other than good quality paper. Otherwise it's equivalent to playing your 1k stereo system on 25 speakers.
To make your pictures 'shine' use Photoshop (or equivalent) 'levels' and 'curves' controls.
Pixels is one of the most pointless specifications by which to compare cameras (viz, some grotty mobile phone cameras). It's image quality which counts; flare, chromatic aberration and contrast range are what make a picture good or bad. Detail is, really, a mere detail, once you have 'adequate' resolution. Your printer needs no more than 300dpi for a 'sharp picture'.
 

another_someone

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« Reply #22 on: 17/02/2008 01:54:17 »
Whatever camera you choose to buy, you must must must not bother to print on anything other than good quality paper. Otherwise it's equivalent to playing your 1k stereo system on 25 speakers.
To make your pictures 'shine' use Photoshop (or equivalent) 'levels' and 'curves' controls.
Pixels is one of the most pointless specifications by which to compare cameras (viz, some grotty mobile phone cameras). It's image quality which counts; flare, chromatic aberration and contrast range are what make a picture good or bad. Detail is, really, a mere detail, once you have 'adequate' resolution. Your printer needs no more than 300dpi for a 'sharp picture'.

Yes and no.

If you are just making straight prints of whatever you see in the viewfinder (with some tweaking of colour and contrast), then you are right.  If you are looking at taking small portions of your picture, and blowing it up, then pixel definition does matter.  It depends to some extent on how serendipitous you are about your photography.  In the days of film, I only ever took the picture I saw in the viewfinder, and took great care to keep the shot tight.  If the shot did not work out, there was no plan B.  These days, I deliberately keep the shot loose, and will often find that I can turn the shot into something very different from what I originally intended by selecting a small part of what was the original shot.
 

lyner

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Digital cameras, what is the best?
« Reply #23 on: 17/02/2008 09:32:26 »
Quote
These days, I deliberately keep the shot loose, and will often find that I can turn the shot into something very different from what I originally intended by selecting a small part of what was the original shot.
That can work but, if you want a really impressive picture with high technical quality, you need to plan ahead and frame your shot at the time. With the advent of digital, you can do better than one 'open shot' and just take a huge number of shots. that way you get the best of both worlds. Getting involved with the scene is best done at the start; back at your computer screen you are removed from the event.
You surprise me, A-S, I should have thought of you as a potential plate camera user - one photograph per session, carefully planned and lots of deliberation before exposure.
Ah yes , I remember now - I have seen several of your pictures on your website. Some very pleasing photos.
 

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« Reply #24 on: 17/02/2008 09:47:19 »
This is still 1 of my favourites that I've taken, especially as the stag was 200yds or so away (I used my Fuji FinePix on auto with high zoom at 4Mpx - I think it was 4Mpx). The image quality speaks for itself (it hasn't been computer enhanced in any way) and I don't think a Leica lens could have done that much better.

I cropped this pic from a larger frame.

« Last Edit: 17/02/2008 09:52:03 by DoctorBeaver »
 

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