Digital camera recommendations?

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
I'm in the market for a digital camera to be purchased here in the next month or two. We're having a baby in mid-April and would like to get something decent. I'm pretty new to the whole digital camera thing so I'm not exactly sure what features I should be paying attention to. I've *a little* photography experience but have forgotten most of my camera knowledge (though I do still have my Nikon FE2 from college ).



Looking at 4 Megapixel or higher, probably a higher end prosumer kind of model. Don't have a need for a truly pro camera, just want some good and versitile. Mostly will be used for snapshots, but also perhaps for some web-based product shots, artwork for portfolio and if I get one with movie capbilities short home movie clips. Will be managing the photos from my Powerbook G4 (FW800).



A few immediate questions:



What is SLR format? Does that just refer to same body size as a normal 35mm camera?



I see CCD and CMOS sensors listed, is one preferable? Any other little compenents I should be looking at?



Optical zoom on the compacts any good? I see some (Olympus Ultra Zoom series) with 10x optical vs the typical 4x of other "compact" cameras. Digital zoom doesn't mean much to me, I do know how to use photoshop :P



Anyone have any experience with the movie capabilities of digital cameras? Some even have audio it seems. Is this feature worth it? Looks like most are 320x240 and some impose lame time limites (like 15 seconds). The most interesting is the Olympus C-770 that uses MPEG-4 (even have the Quicktime logo on the site). What other cameras are Quicktime-based?



Got some good informative digital camera (review) sites for newbies?



Any comments, suggestions or tips in the right direction would be much appreciated!!
«1

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 30
    thedustinthedustin Posts: 176member
    This thread might answer some questions. click
  • Reply 2 of 30
    This might help as will



    link



    I just picked up at Canon Digital Rebel. This is the most amazing digital camera I've ever used, absolutely NO lag from the time I push the button to the time is snaps. It was $1000, but it's worth it. I've always been a Canon guy. I just took about 5000 shots from Italy, and in comparing them with some of the other students' new Sony and Olympus high end digicams, my old Canon Powershot S30 took much better quality pictures than the other cameras. There is something about Canon's image quality, it's just brighter, smoother, and more vibrant. If you're looking at the 4+ megapixel range, the Canon elph series is phenomenal. The new 5 MP Digital Elph is sweet, but the Powershot S50 (5 Megapixel) gives you some pro features and a compact design for $400. If you go to Best Buy, the Powershot G5 (5MP as well) is a higher end consumer camera, above the Powershot S50, but it was on clearance for $470 or something, and that is a STEAL considering it's usually $600. Just my two cents...
  • Reply 3 of 30
    eugeneeugene Posts: 8,254member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by filmmaker2002



    I just picked up at Canon Digital Rebel. This is the most amazing digital camera I've ever used, absolutely NO lag from the time I push the button to the time is snaps. It was $1000, but it's worth it. I've always been a Canon guy. I just took about 5000 shots from Italy, and in comparing them with some of the other students' new Sony and Olympus high end digicams, my old Canon Powershot S30 took much better quality pictures than the other cameras. There is something about Canon's image quality, it's just brighter, smoother, and more vibrant.




    Hmm, a few things I've noticed about Canon vs Nikon D-SLRs.



    1) The Nikon D2H is the most responsive digital camera I have laid hands on. The D100 not only has zero perceptible shutter-lag, but instant start-up, unlike the Canon Digital Rebel.



    2) Canon SLRs seem to underexpose by up to a full stop in many situations. That has always annoyed me.



    3) Canon cameras definitely create creamy smooth photos, sometimes unnaturally smooth



    4) Canon end-user support is much better than Nikon's. (USA)



    5) Nikon seems to put more thought into user interface, while Canon just crams features into its cameras. The first time I picked up a Nikon D-SLR, I found all the controls intuitive without having to read the manual. Canon D-SLRs on the other hand, require excessive use of multi-button key combinations. In addition, not having two dedicated command dials on the Canons is a massive hindrance.
  • Reply 4 of 30
    neutrino23neutrino23 Posts: 1,529member
    We got the Canon Digital Rebel a few months ago and love it. This is our second digital camera. I find the controls to be satisfactory, partly because I don't change lots of things while I am shooting. We got a 12x CF card which seems to speed it up.



    One of the really great things about the Canon is that the electronics are so low noise that you can shoot ASA800 where my previous Nikon demanded ASA100. This lets us use shorter exposures which avoids blurry shots. Quite often with this camera we are impressed how the photos just appear stunning.



    Nikon recently announced a competitive DSLR for a little more money. Check out dpreview.com to compare them. This site has fantastically detailed reviews.
  • Reply 5 of 30
    buonrottobuonrotto Posts: 6,368member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by dviant

    I've *a little* photography experience but have forgotten most of my camera knowledge (though I do still have my Nikon FE2 from college ).



    Heh. I still have my Nikon FG I got as a high school graduation present. Are you more interested in a point-and-shoot model, or something that takes more accurate exposures but ones that need more tweaking after the fact (i.e., some Photoshop work)? A more expensive digital camera will often take photos that look more like what you see, but don't look as good out of the box as a P&S camera that does more internal processing and correction.



    Quote:

    Looking at 4 Megapixel or higher, probably a higher end prosumer kind of model. Don't have a need for a truly pro camera, just want some good and versitile. Mostly will be used for snapshots, but also perhaps for some web-based product shots, artwork for portfolio and if I get one with movie capbilities short home movie clips.



    I'd say 4-5 Megapixel cameras should be fine, though if you can get a great deal on the newest 8 MP models, feel free. IMO they don't really offer much in terms of picture quality that's better than 4-5 Mp and actually have their downsides. Some do have better UIs and other features on them though, so don't rule them out completely at first. All the major (and several minor) digital camera makers have good product sin this segment of the market that offer good P&S use and have manual options and extra features too.



    Quote:

    A few immediate questions:



    What is SLR format? Does that just refer to same body size as a normal 35mm camera?




    SLR = single lens reflex. It's a term for those barrel-lens pro and semi-pro 35 mm film cameras. Technically, it refers to the mechanical setup of the camera: a prism is in the front of the shutter that reflects light up and through the eyepiece so what you see in the eyepiece is exactly what the lens sees. When the camera shutter is clicked, the prism that allows this moves out of the way and the film behind it is exposed.



    However, SLR has come to mean any camera that has that barrel lens look, and usually the lens is detachable and interchaneable. A lot of digital prosumer cameras look like a traditional SLR now, but they don't all let you detach and change the lenses. Sony, Nikon, Minolta, Fugi, and Pentax all make digital cameras that look like a traditional SLR (more or less) but don't let you change lenses. These also tend to be smaller in size than a traditional SLR because (among other reasons) the sensors in the digital cameras are significantly smaller than a 35 mm film frame. The digital cameras that do let you change lenses were well over $1000 until Canon introduced the Digital Rebel for $1000 including a lens last year. Now all the camera makers are starting to make these SLR-style bodies with interchangeable lenses for around $1000.



    These cameras are not great P&S cameras, they take practice to get used all they can do and to learn to take good pictures with them. It's important to remember that just because a camera costs more does not mean it will take better pictures for you. They have a chance of taking much better pictures, but it requires more work on the part of the user.



    Quote:

    I see CCD and CMOS sensors listed, is one preferable? Any other little compenents I should be looking at?



    CMOS is more prevalent at this point, and is fine for almost anything less than pro photography or poster-size enlargements. It tend to produce some more noise that's inherent to the sensor. Point-and-shoot cameras (i.e., non-SLRs in essence) tend to do internal work when you take the picture to clean it up. As megapixels go up and the sensor sizes stay the same (much smaller than a 35mm film frame, as mentioned before), noise will increase with the potential image detail. Still, sensor types and sizes matter more with the higher-end prosumer and pro cameras. I wouldn't sweat this one too much unless you opt for something in the higher range.



    Remember that a 4 Megapixel image is a 4" x 6" picture at 300 dpi, or a 20" x 30" poster at 72 dpi. A decent printer should be able to produce a good 8x10 print from a 4Mp image, no problem.



    Quote:

    Optical zoom on the compacts any good? I see some (Olympus Ultra Zoom series) with 10x optical vs the typical 4x of other "compact" cameras. Digital zoom doesn't mean much to me, I do know how to use photoshop :P



    There's a whole sub-market for ultra-zoom point-and-shoot cameras. Minolta, Canon, olympus, and others are getting into the act. I think Olympus followed by Minolta were the first ones to really go after this angle. Avoid digital zoom if you can when taking a shot. These camera makers will try to hide the difference to some extent, advertising 14x zoom which is really a 7x optical zoom with a 2x digital "zoom." Optical zooms of course get poorer with greater range -- more barrel distortion in wide angle shots and more pincushion effect in telephoto shots, and some vignetting in either case. But in most cases, the effect is subtle and doesn't negate the versatility of having it.



    This is one area where interchangeable SLR lenses have an advantage in that a fixed wide angle lens is going to have less distortion, vignetting and so forth than a zoom lens. So more serious hobbyists and professionals will buy a series of fixed-angle lenses rather than one zoom lens (though they often have a zoom lens or two as backup).



    Also, telephoto lens angles let less light in, and require a steadier hand when operating to avoid a blurry image. It's a case of diminishing returns, but I don't think there are any consumer cameras out there that have this sort of problem at their extreme zooms.



    Quote:

    Anyone have any experience with the movie capabilities of digital cameras? Some even have audio it seems. Is this feature worth it? Looks like most are 320x240 and some impose lame time limites (like 15 seconds). The most interesting is the Olympus C-770 that uses MPEG-4 (even have the Quicktime logo on the site). What other cameras are Quicktime-based?



    Most are actually either QT-based (QT compression is quite good) or in some cases they are MPEG-1-based which is readable by QT anyway (though difficult to edit). My Minolta records in QT .mov format, 320x240 for 15 minutes, and more are like this now, though not usually MPEG-4 compression. The newest Minolta A2 and other models can record full VGA 640 x 480 for 15 minutes or more depending on storage capacity. They usually can record sound, and some offer things like voice notes with the pictures. Frankly, a DV camera is much better suited for the task, but sometimes it's great to have this on the spot.



    Quote:

    Got some good informative digital camera (review) sites for newbies?



    http://www.dpreview.com is the gold standard site

    http://www.dcresource.com pays more attention to Mac users' concerns

    http://www.stevesdigicams.com is another fairly popular site

    http://www.imaging-resource.com/ is a little less digital-centric, though that's its main purpose.

    http://www.photo.net/ is more of a user-driven site and more geared towards actual photography, not cameras per se.



    Check several of these sites for reviews, info and opinions, some are more thorough at testing technical aspects of the cameras, some take more "real world" scenarios, some do more apples-to-apple comparisons, some have active forums, some have more objective forum groups, some simply have different priorities and opinions about the same cameras.



    If you don't want to mess with post-processing and want a more compact, portable, impromptu camera, the Canons G# series is very good, so is the Nikon 5x00 series, and the Olympus #0#0 series cameras are too. They are high-end point and shoot cameras with plenty of manual controls. If you're considering a dSLR or SLR-like camera that would invite more tinkering with settings and better control over some aspects, the Minolta A# series is very good, as is the Digital Rebel of course, the Nikon 8700 and 5700, and the Pentax *ist. More options for about $100 will be available by the end of the year, a whole lot of stuff was announced recently at a trade show but not actually ready yet.
  • Reply 6 of 30
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Eugene

    5) Nikon seems to put more thought into user interface, while Canon just crams features into its cameras. The first time I picked up a Nikon D-SLR, I found all the controls intuitive without having to read the manual. Canon D-SLRs on the other hand, require excessive use of multi-button key combinations. In addition, not having two dedicated command dials on the Canons is a massive hindrance. [/B]



    I have found the opposite to be true. I think Canon's interfaces are much more clear and intuitive. I own the Digital Rebel and a G3, and we have Nikon cameras at work. The difference is night and day.
  • Reply 7 of 30
    eugeneeugene Posts: 8,254member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Simple Ranger

    I have found the opposite to be true. I think Canon's interfaces are much more clear and intuitive. I own the Digital Rebel and a G3, and we have Nikon cameras at work. The difference is night and day.



    You're the first person to EVER say this. I mean EVER. The fact that NIkon cameras have two command dials (more if you include the vertical ones) in addition to the directional pad is obvious enough. The Canons only have one main dial used for both setting adjustment and menu operation.



    Just take a look at the controls listed here:

    http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canoneos1ds/page6.asp

    http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canoneos1ds/page8.asp



    compared to the ones listed here:

    http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/nikond2h/page8.asp



    Apparently DPReview agrees with me:

    "Build qualty, control layout and design are second to none, and as a personal opinion I believe it feels and handles better than the Canon EOS-1D/1Ds. Nikon's attention to detail and understanding of professional photographers needs is clearly on display with almost every aspect of this camera."



    The Canon EOS-1 body is an outdated pig. The 10D body is hardly any different.
  • Reply 8 of 30
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Eugene

    You're the first person to EVER say this. I mean EVER. The fact that NIkon cameras have two command dials (more if you include the vertical ones) in addition to the directional pad is obvious enough. The Canons only have one main dial used for both setting adjustment and menu operation.





    Sorry, I didn't realize that you were talking about the professional DSLR's -- a class of camera I have very little experience with. I will read more carefully next time. However, as the original poster was asking about prosumer cameras and (I assumed) consumer DSLRs, I felt compelled to add my experience in that class of camera.



    After the delight of using my Canon G3, I was shocked at how incredibly unwieldy the controls on the Nikon 4xxx & 5xxx series were. I believe it has been conventional wisdom for some time now that the Canon consumer cameras are greatly superior to Nikon's counterparts in all but macro shots.



    Finally, I find the Digital Rebel to be just as easy and straight forward to use. It is much better than the 10D.
  • Reply 9 of 30
    piwozniakpiwozniak Posts: 815member
    Does anyone here have any experiences with Olympus E-1?



    i was set to get Canon 10D, but after some time spent with that Olympus i'm starting to really like it. Picture quality is phenomenal, even though it's only 5mp, lenses are smaller, it's extremely well built, water-proof (to some degree), and has a great one-button white-balance adjustment.



    dpreview rated it as recommended only, but to me it looks better than 10D.



    Anyone?
  • Reply 10 of 30
    eugeneeugene Posts: 8,254member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by piwozniak

    Does anyone here have any experiences with Olympus E-1?



    i was set to get Canon 10D, but after some time spent with that Olympus i'm starting to really like it. Picture quality is phenomenal, even though it's only 5mp, lenses are smaller, it's extremely well built, water-proof (to some degree), and has a great one-button white-balance adjustment.



    dpreview rated it as recommended only, but to me it looks better than 10D.



    Anyone?




    The ~1.5x crop of the 10D cuts it close already. The Four-Thirds system is closer to to 2.0x, so you sacrifice even more on the wide end. The E-1 is more expensive and has far fewer options in terms of available glass. I don't see any constant aperture zoom lenses in their line-up for example. In fact, I only see five lens options total. If you have no reason to be an early adopter, I'd suggest sticking to Nikon or Canon. You'll get far better optical resolution anyway.
  • Reply 11 of 30
    piwozniakpiwozniak Posts: 815member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Eugene

    The ~1.5x crop of the 10D cuts it close already. The Four-Thirds system is closer to to 2.0x, so you sacrifice even more on the wide end. The E-1 is more expensive and has far fewer options in terms of available glass. I don't see any constant aperture zoom lenses in their line-up for example. In fact, I only see five lens options total. If you have no reason to be an early adopter, I'd suggest sticking to Nikon or Canon. You'll get far better optical resolution anyway.



    Sure you've got hundrets of lenses for Canon/Nikon, but realistically, how many lenses do you need?



    Usually 2-3



    For Olympus you've got 100 mm equiv. F2.0 Macro



    Then there's standard 28 - 108 mm equiv F2.8 - F3.5 lens which gives you nice range and it's great at wide angle.



    Another 100 - 400 mm equiv. F2.8 - F3.5



    And 600 mm equiv F2.8 one.







    The only problem i can see is that there are no IS system available yet.



    Lenses are more compact, which makes them lighter.



    Can you clarify better optical resolution?



    i don't have any investment in either canon or nikon lenses, starting fresh, i like the "more square" format better, and idea of interchangeable lenses with different brands is actually tempting (IF it will ever happen)



    I know everyone loves 10D, but for the last week i have used both and i really don't know...



    I'm not convinced either way, and i really appreciate your input, thank you.
  • Reply 12 of 30
    norfanorfa Posts: 171member
    I'm amazed no one has mentioned the Sigma SD10 using the Fovien photo sensor. The fovien chip is definitely at the top technically. Polaroid is releasing a $399 point and shoot using this chip and technology in June of this year. At that point I don't think people are going to be happy with either cmos or ccd sensors anymore. Interpolation isn't the same as direct sensing, and will never produce as accurate an image, no matter how good the camera's internal guess-stimating is.
  • Reply 13 of 30
    eugeneeugene Posts: 8,254member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by piwozniak

    Sure you've got hundrets of lenses for Canon/Nikon, but realistically, how many lenses do you need?



    A high quality wide zoom with a constant aperture. Not available.

    A prime with a large aperture. (f/1.4)



    Even with Sigma and others on-board, there's going to be a lack of pro-caliber lenses for a while yet.



    Quote:

    Can you clarify better optical resolution?



    You're attempting to focus light onto a physically smaller area in a 4/3rds image sensor. The larger the sensor, the easier it is for the glass to focus light onto it. Note that 4/3 refers to the sensor size and not the aspect ratio, which is 4:3 by coincidence.



    Quote:

    i don't have any investment in either canon or nikon lenses, starting fresh, i like the "more square" format better, and idea of interchangeable lenses with different brands is actually tempting (IF it will ever happen)



    Current FujiFilm and Kodak SLRs use the Nikon F-Mount.



    Quote:

    I know everyone loves 10D, but for the last week i have used both and i really don't know...



    I've never used an E-1, but I haven't seen any over-all favorable comparisons between it and other cameras in its price range.
  • Reply 14 of 30
    matsumatsu Posts: 6,558member
    That's the thing that gets me about the E1 system. If making it smaller is supposed to make the CCD yields better, and equivalent glass cheaper, why the heck does the thing cost as much as it does, and why do the lenses cost so darned much?



    Why not take a video capable 4/3rds, remove the mechanical shutter, add an EVF, and shrink wrap it around a decent 28-135 equivalent lense? 14-67 in 4/3rds terms. It wouldn't be any bigger than the 28-200 stuff currently en vogue with high-end prosumer EVF's and it would certainly perform better.
  • Reply 15 of 30
    matsumatsu Posts: 6,558member
    Curious, Eugene, since I know you've tried a few different cams...



    I've come to the conclusion that my old manual focus Nikon lenses aren't worth much. Not in the best condition, not all that fast, and my 28 seems a little defective, so I don't really have the wide end covered, especially with the digital "crop".



    If you were going to lock into a lense system today, based on a consideration of bodies and lenses, would you go for:



    Nikon f-mount,



    With the Nikon D70 and or Fuji S2 available for entry level (I expect price drops now that the S3 is coming out)



    D2H for speed (not in my price range ) but simply amazing for speed work, by all accounts.



    and Kodak SLR/n for FF work, there may be deals to be had on the outgoing 14n in 12 months time.



    or



    Canon



    With the 300D and possibly a 10D replacement thereby dropping prices on the current 10D.



    The Mark II, which is again out of all price considerations for me, but sounds incredible.



    and the EOS 1Ds for FF work (that price thing again).



    Canon has a wider range of lenses, but I hear people rave about the Nikon stuff. And in reality they cover all the focal lengths equally well.



    Unless I can find a really good deal, I'm looking at an entry level. On the surface the D70 looks to be a better cam than the D300. S2 vs 10D depending on speed.



    And back to that lense thing. I expect to buy some 3rd party glass. I don't need anything over 200 and am really more interested in covering from about 24mm to about 135mm.



    Which brings up an intriguing option 3



    Minolta.



    An in camera anti-shake system might be worth a little more up front expense if it lets you save on non IS/VR lenses to round out your kit. But how much is that body going to cost, and how long before AS tech shows up in offerings from Canon and Nikon? SOme say that it won't because then neither Canon or Nikon could sell you IS/VR lenses, but if in camera AS becomes a must have, how will they not offer it?



    Canon or Nikon then?
  • Reply 16 of 30
    eugeneeugene Posts: 8,254member
    Quote:

    Canon has a wider range of lenses, but I hear people rave about the Nikon stuff. And in reality they cover all the focal lengths equally well.



    Unless I can find a really good deal, I'm looking at an entry level. On the surface the D70 looks to be a better cam than the D300. S2 vs 10D depending on speed.



    And back to that lense thing. I expect to buy some 3rd party glass. I don't need anything over 200 and am really more interested in covering from about 24mm to about 135mm.



    If you want something like Nikon's 12-24mm f/4 zoom lens for Canon, you're going to have to look at a third party unless you're going FF.



    I would probably choose the Nikon D70 because of the 1/500s external flash sync, shooting speed and AF.
  • Reply 17 of 30
    matsumatsu Posts: 6,558member
    It's 'only' CAM900, but for some reason it seems to just work in Nikon bodies, whereas it has had a couple of issues in Fuji and even Kodak bodies.



    If the it works like the D100, I won't complain at the price they're offering.
  • Reply 18 of 30
    escherescher Posts: 1,811member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Eugene

    I would probably choose the Nikon D70 because of the 1/500s external flash sync, shooting speed and AF.



    It's never quite easy to compare. I would pick the Nikon D70 body over the Digital Rebel body any day. But it also costs $400 more, which is almost a 50 percent price jump. In my eyes, the D70 is much closer to the Canon 10D and Nikon D100, both in terms of price and performance.



    I'm looking forward to seeing Canon's followup to the 10D. I was hoping to buy a new digital camera (prosumer or DSLR) by this summer. But now I will probably wait another 6 - 12 months to decide. I think that both the Nikon D70 and succesor to the Canon 10D will be attractive choices, but I'm also highly interested in a smaller DLSR body like the Pentax *ist D (preferably a second generation succesor), which also takes AA batteries.



    The DSLR field is still wide open. There are no clear winners. I'll wait.



    Back on topic for dviant: At the lower end of the price range, I think the Canon PowerShot G5 would be an excellent choice for reliable baby photography. It has a fast lens for good indoor photography, will give you sharp 5MP images that need no post-processing, and the built-in flash is better than average too.



    At the higher end, the Canon Digital Rebel or Nikon D70 DSLR cameras would be nice choices, but definitely more pricy. Finally, you should also consider simply reviving that "Nikon FE2 from college." In real life, it might perform better than any digital camera (other than the high-end DSLRs).



    Escher
  • Reply 19 of 30
    eugeneeugene Posts: 8,254member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Escher

    [B]It's never quite easy to compare. I would pick the Nikon D70 body over the Digital Rebel body any day. But it also costs $400 more, which is almost a 50 percent price jump. In my eyes, the D70 is much closer to the Canon 10D and Nikon D100, both in terms of price and performance.



    First of, all, it's not $400 more.



    Body only:

    Rebel = $899

    D70 = $999



    w/kit lens:

    Rebel = $999

    D70 = $1299



    The D70 comes with an 18-70mm F3.5-4.5 lens. The Rebel comes with an 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 lens. So the Nikkor glass has a bigger aperture at 70mm than the Canon at 55mm! The Nikon lens also has an AF-S motor and ED glass elements while the Rebel's lens has neither of Canon's equivalents. Both lenses are worth their respective prices. The front element of the Canon lens rotates while you focus so, that makes it a chore to use with a circular polarizer filter and basically impossible to use with a decent hood. It's just that one is only worth $100 while the other is worth $400.
  • Reply 20 of 30
    escherescher Posts: 1,811member
    Thanks for spelling things out for me, Eugene. I spaced out when I imagined that the D70 body was $1300. That's obviously the price of the body and lens kit. The obvious technical advantages of the D70 body and lens over the Digital Rebel kit make it a much better proposition despite the higher entry-level price/initial investment.



    With the Digital Rebebel kit, the included lens is kind of like the tiny throw-away memory cards included with digital cameras. It's a crutch to tide you over, hopefully for a short period only, until you can afford something better and more useful. On the other hand, the lens in the D70 kit is of good enough quality to be useful long term. I guess that's worth the extra $300 for Nikon's body/lens kit (assuming you have the money or can wait to save it up).



    Escher
Sign In or Register to comment.