Digital Cameras

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Digital Cameras

Postby The Nighthawk » Tue Apr 08, 2003 4:12 pm

I have a friend (actually my business partner) who needs help purchasing a digital camera. There are far too many models out there, and he's having trouble settling on one. Pykl, you mentioned being a photographer at one point, and I'm hoping to pick your brain if you have any information he can use.

He's looking in a price range of $200-$300 US ($500 CDN), use is for EBay photography and light home use, 3.0 Megapixels or less.

Does anyone here have a recommendation for a camera model?

You can contact him directly at hasegawa@shaw.ca if you want, or I can give him your responses on the board.

Also, he just got a copy of Half-Life from his brother, and I'm trying to bring him into the fold :wink: . We played Ultima Online together for about 4 years, but he's a pretty busy guy now. Hasn't had much game time, but I'm still hopeful, and he's a perfect fit being 39 with 2 kids :D .

If he does show up on the servers, the game name will be Kusanku.
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Postby rooster » Tue Apr 08, 2003 6:18 pm

Well my brother bought his after some serious research about 5 months ago and back than, for the price, the canon a40 was the best one, the s230 and s330 are smaller, if he needs that, but they have less features and cost a little more. The a40 is 2 megapixles and from what I understand you won't get a really good 3 megpixle one for under $300. I don't think that they've changed that much in 5 months and my brother's is really good and easy to use. And if he wants to do some research himself: http://www.dpreview.com/ , reliable and unbiased from what I hear.
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Postby Pykl » Tue Apr 08, 2003 9:14 pm

We have a number of Olympus and Canon digitals at work and they seem quite good. They are the 4 mp variety tho but their lower quality cameras should be decent too. We haven't had any troubles with them. There are also an old kodak digital and sony digital which suck. Don't get anything that writes to floppy. Get usb compatical and the highest OPTICAL zoom you can afford. Digital zoom is a cheat and just degrades image quality. If I bought one i'd get one of the Olympus ones we have at work, or slightly better.

There are also high end ones from Nikon that are the best you can buy but they are $5000+ and require you buy lenses also.

Anyway hope this helps.
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Postby The Nighthawk » Wed Apr 09, 2003 9:02 am

Thank you both for your responses! You confirmed some of his own research (ie. Optical vs. Digital zoom), and also the choice of camera he was leaning toward (Canon a40!).

There's apparently far too much info out there, and he was in a bit of overload, and just needed an outside opinion. Thanks for providing them and confirming he was already on the right track.

Thanks again guys! Now we'll have to get him to play with us so he can thank you properly by providing you with a meal :wink: .
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Minolta Dimage X

Postby mowph » Wed Apr 09, 2003 4:22 pm

I heartily recommend the Minolta Dimage X. It's small enough to slide into a pocket (less than 1cm thick, about MD player-sized), sturdily built (it survived being in my pocket), has 3x optical zoom, 2.1 megapixels, and is relatively cheap.
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Postby Furious Gorge » Thu Apr 10, 2003 12:51 pm

Hmm... I think I'm late to the game here, but I'll share my experiences/tips anyway. :)

I've owned a digital camera for well over 2 years. I researched the subject to death, as well as personally played with several cameras at home (not just in-store). More on this later.

Anyhow, for web work (ie. Ebay and general photography), a 2 megapixel camera is sufficient. That is what my current camera specs are. I have the Canon S100 Elph, which is similar to the S230 Elph of today. 2mp translates to a resolution of 1600x1200...which is more than enough for a web image which, on average, are no larger than 500 pixels wide. That's only a third of a 2 mp camera's resolution, which is to say that it's plenty.

If you were more interested in actually having photos printed out, megapixels make more of a difference. With a 2mp 1600x1200 resolution, you are able to print out 4x6 inch prints, with better quality than a disposable camera, but definitely not better than a quality/expensive point and shoot camera or SLR.

There are other tradeoffs to consider:
* Battery power - rechargable's save in the long run, but sometimes, with smaller cameras, the batteries just don't last long enough... like 20 shots at most for some cameras. What good is a camera if you can't take pictures because you have no power?
* Features - like movies, but if you really wanted to make movies, you really should be getting digicam
* Size - what good is a camera if you're not going to be lugging it around to take pictures because it's too big?
* Kind of pictures - indoor or outdoor? Most smaller or low-to-mid-end cameras simply do not take great pictures in darker situations. Why? First the flash of the unit is not powerful enough to reach a distance over 9 feet to provide adequate lighting. Secondly, these cameras usually have a smaller lens, meaning less light capturing, meaning less "exposure" on the CCD, meaning poorer quality pictures.

I've had a chance to play with higher-end or "prosumer" cameras (well at least they were 2 years ago), like the Sony S-70 and Canon G-1, both of which retailed for around $1400 at that time. These were some serious cameras with good picture-taking qualities. Btw, I managed to try out these cameras at home with the generous 30-day no-hassle return policy of Future Shop! :)

But I dropped down to the Canon S100 Elph for pricing reasons (approx. half the price) and size (I found I was leaving the G-1 at home a lot because it was relatively bigger and required more taking care of if I brought it out in public).

Really, it comes down to usage. For example, you wouldn't get a dual-Xeon computer for the average person's use of simple word processing and internet browsing. Also, today's entry level systems, roughly running at around 1 Ghz processing power, are already overkill for most people's usage (much like a 2 mp camera might be overkill for snapping Ebay pics).

I say your friend should "try" the cameras using Future Shop's great policy. Look for a camera with as big a lens as possible that will allow the greatest capturing of light (this is what I've learned is the single-most important factor having downgraded to the smaller S100... btw, the lens to look out for most is the inner most one, not the outside lens which is usually more of a protective shield, although both play a factor). Zoom is not as important (although, it is true that optical zoom is better than digital zoom); you won't get as good quality pics from zooming in, except in bright sunny outdoor light. I rarely use zoom on my pics for this very reason. Understand the trade-offs as I've described them above. And finally, Photoshop can do wonders to almost any pic given enough good information/data to work with (a bigger lens will capture more good/usable information, even though it may be underexposed, and a 2mp 1600x1200 resolution will have more than enough info for web pics at an average size of 500 pixels).

Oh, and from experience, Canon and Sony cameras take some great photos. I've also heard good things about Olympus.
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Postby Niteowl » Thu Apr 10, 2003 1:08 pm

this has no bearing on anything, really. but since eveyrone has got photo experience, i'll share mine.

about point and shoot cameras.

my wife is big into taking pictures of friends/family all the time. so i investigated mucho mucho, and found this one camera: Yashica T4 Super. it's a simple point and shoot, no zoom, no nifty casing, but it does come with a Zeiss lenses and takes uber superior pictures. it's touch expensive, i think we spent around 300 or so for it.

but in retrospect, as we compare our pics with all our friends, many with cool cameras, some much more expensive, with neato zoom features, gold cases, nifty unfolding contraptinos, we realized how much better our pictures turned out.

so much so that when we got our professional wedding pictures(taken with an SLR), the quality wasn't that outstanding, compared to our own shots with our point and click.

the moral: pay for quality. (is that reallyt he moral? i dunno, i just know my wife really likes her camera, even tho she was at first disappointed about the lack of zoom)
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Postby Pykl » Thu Apr 10, 2003 3:57 pm

Good glass is the main criteria to improve image quality.

Understanding how to use light is the second. Most people have no idea of composition or how light affects their image. A simple thing like turning the camera on end for vertical shot is never done by many. Also putting the object somewhere else other than right in the center. Example a picture of a person, most average ppl will put their head dead center with a horizontal camera. This leaves half the image empty above them and also the sides. Turn the camera vertically and put thier head near the top. Much nicer, fuller composition. A clean background is a huge help too.

Also it only takes a minute to look where the light is coming from and how best to use it. You take a picture in your kitchen. Use the light coming in the window for nice sidelight effects. Overhead light from bulbs is the absolute worst. Flourescent lights are missing part of the spectrum thus they seem green and this is impossible to correct in photoshop because part of the spectrum just isn't there. Incandescent lights are yellow because their colour temperature is lower than sunlight which is what most things are balanced for.

Anyway those are the most important picture taking tips I can offer if anyone cares.
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Postby Niteowl » Thu Apr 10, 2003 7:29 pm

oh wow, totally forgot you were a photographer! please! start a new thread with all your tips for us simple point and shoot guys!

thanks, those tips were pretty great :)
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Postby Pykl » Fri Apr 11, 2003 4:16 pm

Well those would be the basics. There aren't a ton of 'tips' per se. It's understanding how to use your equipment, having and idea of what you want to achieve with your picture, and knowing how to use what you have available to achieve this. You absolutely must pay attention to light. Look on your subjects face to see where the shadows are and where it's light. Move them till you get what you want. overhead light sucks and produces dark shadowy eyes. Red eye is caused by light reflecting back off the retina. The best way to avoid this is to hold the flash in one arm out to your side, for this you need a cord. Or many flashes now have tilt/pan heads with reflector cards, (little white cards) which you can use to bounce light off the wall or cielings. These types of artificial lighting require either thru the lens metering in your camera or a light meter tho.

Obviously many people don't give two cents about getting this involved but filling the frame and having a clean background will go 75% to making you look like a pro.
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