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PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2007 6:37 am 
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I am definitely in the market for a digital camera but I need more assistance than what I can get at my local camera store. Whatever they have in stock at the moment is what they recommend. I am willing to buy a dslr, if that is what I have to do, but I really don't want to.
My hope is to find a compact super zoom, dslr-like camera.
I am looking to find a camera that has the following features.
Little to no shutter lag is one of the most important considerations. I would like a zoom that goes from about 28 to 200 (I can take more or less), has very sharp pictures, very quick and accurate auto focus, 6 mega pixels is the bare minimum, 8 or 10 is better, and is easy to maintain and mostly immune to dust. I would like it to have the ability to do fill flash. The ability to mount an external strobe is nice, but not mandatory. I would like some manual controls, but program modes if adjustable are OK.
Size and weight are not an issue.
I will be shooting mostly vacation pictures or pictures at family gatherings.
I haven’t figured out to make this happen, but I would like to take the photos, transfer them to a disk, and show them on my TV. I have experimented with this, but the results are really pretty bad.
I realize I have thrown a lot at you, but any suggestions are greatly appreciated. If a dslr is what I need, then at least I will know. That can become another topic.
Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2007 7:11 am 
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Hi David, welcome to the Cameralabs forums!

Sounds like you're still weighing up the pros and cons between a DSLR and a superzoom - we recently wrote this article which should help you decide!

Should you buy a DSLR or a super-zoom / compact

Should you decide a super-zoom is the way forward, the models which have most impressed us can be found in our Super-zoom best buys

And if you decide to go for a DSLR, check out our Budget DSLR best buys.

I reckon that first article will answer a lot of questions for you though, but feel free to come back with any other Qs!

Gordon


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2007 7:42 am 
Well I know that the Pentax DSLR's are weatherproof and you can geta 6.1MP version(Pentax K110D) for about $600 and another 6.1MP with Image Stabilization for $700(I think) but there is also the 10.2MP model the Pentax K10D with a very easy and effective auto fucos system with preset modes and manual modes so you can learn over time. So this sounds like the most reasonable camera for you.

Of course I shoot Nikon and would recommend the Nikon D80 with a 18-135mm AF lens that goes for about $1300 but is well worth the money.

-Nathan


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2007 7:52 am 
If he was going Nikon DSLR and couldn't decide between compact or dSLR, I would probably recromend a D40 or D40x not a D80.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2007 8:02 am 
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Hiya David. Your feature requests sound to me as though you'll have to opt for an SLR. The instantaneous shutter-release alone means you're going down the SLR road.

You left something out - money! How much are you prepared to spend?

Unfortunately no SLR's are going to be entirely dust-free but it really isn't a difficult thing to deal with.

I think if your budget is tight but you do decide to go down the SLR route then the Nikon D40X with the 18-135mm lens would make a great combination. Don't assume that SLR's are more difficult to use - they're not. All of them have Auto modes allowing you to worry about composition while the camera deals with everything else.

Let us know your budget and that will narrow things down a bit.

Zorro 8)

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2007 4:10 pm 
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Gordon, Thank you for those links. I have only had an opportunity to read the link on choosing between the compact or dslr. This ended in pretty much a tie.
My initial budget level is $500-$600 for the compact. If I absolutely can't find a usably responsive shutter (low shutter lag), then I would make the jump to dslr.
I like both the Nikon dslr as well as Canon. If I went with Canon, I think I would go for either the Rebel XT or XTi. If I went with Nikon, I would want one that has the little screw thing so could use auto focus lenses. The D80 with an after market wide range zoom (17-200, but a 28-200 would be just fine.) would work, as I would not have to be changing lens often, thereby minimizing dust.
Zorro, money is a factor, but secondary to making the right choice. I am really not convinced in the value of spending so much money. That's another reason I would use the after market lens.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2007 7:15 pm 
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Hi David.
You didn't really mention image quality. But to me this is the single most differentiating factor between a DSLR and a super-zoom.
But if you don't print A3 and only view on HD-TV resolution of 6MPix is the max that you should need. So the Nikon D40 fits the bill quite nicely, with a wide range of lenses to chose from.
One word of warning though if you're into family-pics: You want to shoot indoors, you don't want to shoot with flash (as this is disruptive) and you don't want to see noise in your pics! Right?
Thats the reason to go for a DSLR (plus the fast shutter release, etc.) plsu image stabilization. No super-zoom can fit this bill :!:
---------------
Lessons learnt: resolution is not so important as low noise at available light photography :idea:

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2007 7:01 am 
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I hope I am not mixing terms, but when I wrote "very sharp pictures", it was image quality to which I was referring.
Wouldn't an 8 mega pixel in a super soom deliver as good a picture quality as a dslr with the same pixel count? Aren't the lenses on the better quality compacts at least very good?
I note that some of the older cameras, such as the Canon S3 IS and XT generally get better praise for picture quality than the newer versions. Why would that be? Although to be fair, I haven't read all the reviews on this forum, but this seems to be the case on at least two others.
I have looked at the D40, but I was hoping to get one lens to cover my shooting, looking at the 18-200, but there isn't one for that model. In order to utilize such a wide range, I need to move up to the D80.
Another option is the Canon XT or XTi.
My preference in any of these is ease of operation and, frankly, none of them seem very user friendly. I will more than likely use the automatic settings, so having more of those notches or positions seems a good thing.

Tom, you mentioned something that hit a chord. The photographs I show on my TV just aren't as good as on my computer. I chalked that up to the larger screen showing more grain, as if I over enlarged the photo. I thought that was due to screen size, but you mention HD-TV, which is not what I have. Does graininess become more apparent with a larger TV screen, or is it a matter of picture resoulution, as in HD-TV compared to normal TV?

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2007 9:03 am 
Sensor size (amount of light you get on the sensor) has something to do with DSRL being "better" than a super zoom with higher pixel count, I think Gordon has written something about it somewhere?

You get good quality out of the Canon S3 IS (my father has on) but my experience is that it's somehow more defficult to use because of all the menus and settings. I get much better results in auto mode with my DSLR but it is a personal experience that might not apply to you.

My experience is also that it is hard to control depth of field with a super zoom where you can single out objects in the frame by letting front and bagground be out of focus (You can see examples in the User Reviews look for Minolta lenses). It has become very important for me to have control of depth of field so my future lenses will never be slower than f/4 :)

My father would stay with his super zoom since it's much smaller and it suit his needs and he can record video clips. I would always stay with DSLR since it has become a hobby and I can upgrade lenses to get different/better results. I have used both the XT and XTI and you can get great shots on auto mode without touching any of the button or dials.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2007 10:33 am 
David Berkowitz wrote:
I hope I am not mixing terms, but when I wrote "very sharp pictures", it was image quality to which I was referring.
Wouldn't an 8 mega pixel in a super soom deliver as good a picture quality as a dslr with the same pixel count? Aren't the lenses on the better quality compacts at least very good?
I note that some of the older cameras, such as the Canon S3 IS and XT generally get better praise for picture quality than the newer versions. Why would that be? Although to be fair, I haven't read all the reviews on this forum, but this seems to be the case on at least two others.
I have looked at the D40, but I was hoping to get one lens to cover my shooting, looking at the 18-200, but there isn't one for that model. In order to utilize such a wide range, I need to move up to the D80.


A few weeks ago, I've posted a review of a nice compact, the Canon Ixus 75. You can see there a comparison on noise levels between that camera and a Nikon D40.

Simply put, my Nikon D40 (6 mega pixels) delivers much better images than my Canon Ixus 75 (7 mega pixels). That's both in terms of noise level and quality. Noise levels are higher on compacts, because they have smaller sensors. The smaller the sensor, the higher the noise. A DSLR has the advantage of having a bigger sensor.

A typical DSLR zoom lens has over a dozen elements (the actual "lenses"). These elements obviously have a bigger diameter than those on a compact. So, better image quality. High end zoom lenses have elements that are made of special materials, that give them even better quality, or are used to correct what little aberrations there are. And you can change the lens on a DSLR, if you want to, to fit a particular purpose (portrait, macro, telephoto, etc).

One problem you will notice on a compact and not on a DSLR - or at least to a much lesser degree - is chromatic aberration.

Then there is the issue of depth of field. With a compact, you're stuck at having a very wide depth of field.

You mention not being able to use the D40 and the VR 18-200 together? I have that setting and use it without any problems.

I find one disadvantage on my D40, though. And that's that when I go out to take a few pictures to an interesting location, tourists keep asking me to take a picture of them with their compacts. People assume someone with a DSLR "knows what he's doing". :shock:


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2007 5:45 pm 
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David, as Luis mentioned: No prob to use the world's best super-zoom, the Nikon VR 18-200mm (end of advertisement), on the Nikon D40/x!
Second: Resolution is only part of the IQ equation - noise being the other (even more) important factor! And that is where DSLRs excel :!: :idea: :shock:
The major prob beeing that noise even comes up in ISO 100 pics of P&S cameras, namely in the darker parts. The D40 with 6MPix delivers better IQ than a P&S with 12MPix!

As to your TV: Even the best LCD-TVs or computer-monitors only have a resultion of 1920x1080 or 1920x1200 = 2MPix. So that is far beyond anything that even a 6MP D40 can produce. And for DIN A4 prints 6MP is also enough.
Your bad impression on your TV comes from the limited res of the TV-set not the IQ of your pics!

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2007 6:37 pm 
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This is actually getting exciting as I am starting to see light at the end of my tunnel, and it's not the oncoming train.
As I understand it, either of the D40 cameras will accept and auto fucus with Nikon's 18-200. It does seem odd to use a lens that costs more than the camera, but it is understandable if the end result is a better photo.
With this in mind, and considering costs, is the Canon XT or XTi a good option? If there is no image stabilization with their lens, then the conclusion would be to opt for either of the Nikons.

Tom, thanks for your insight on showing the pictures on a TV. My set is definately standard resolution. Interesting that we were considering upgrading the TV to a home theater. Are HD-TV's high enough definition to display good photos, along the line of showing slides on a projector?

This may be a stretch, but does anyone here know if you can use computer projectors to simulate a slide with good image quality?

And just in case I have forgotten, thanks all for your help. It really does feel nice to have a solid direction in which to go.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2007 7:06 pm 
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David Berkowitz wrote:
...considering costs, is the Canon XT or XTi a good option?

Have a look at Gordon's D40x review verdict page where he compares that camera with the XTi.

Now that you are actively considering DSLRs you may find it useful to forget all your preconceptions and not only broaden your research to include Sony, Pentax, Olympus etc. as well as Nikon and Canon but also consider models from the previous generation of cameras from some of those manufacturers. Some good value to be found and Gordon's reviews and other posts on this forum will definitely help.

If at all possible once you have a short-list of models see if you can get your hands on them see which feels most comfortable. Finally, don't forget that it is a lot cheaper in the future when upgrading your camera body to reuse your investment in lenses so you need to make sure your choice of body doesn't restrict your current and anticipated lens purchases.

Bob.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2007 7:47 pm 
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David, as to projection and TVs: I have both in my home and can say as much:
- Projectors: Impressive large pic, but not brilliant enough to please the crowd. Even projectors that are fine for (DVD-)films don't cut it as a slide-projector. Full-HD (1920x1080) is still a bit rare/expensive :(
- LCD-TVs: brilliant pic, you even have to be careful not to overdo saturation and contrast, real crowd-pleaser. Even HD-ready (1366x768) is not too shaby, but full-HD is ooh-aah :wink: ...and can be had for 1350EUR per 42" :shock:
The color-rendition may be better on your computer-monitor, but the sheer brilliance and size of the TV is so much better!
Also see this thread: http://www.cameralabs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=461

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2007 10:18 pm 
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I should add as a postscript about the TV quality, that if you connect your camera direct to your TV using the composite video cable supplied with most cameras, you will ony get a PAL or an NTSC picture at a resolution of 720x576 pixels for PAL, or a little less for NTSC - that's roughly one third of a megapixel and worse, due to the way PAL and NTSC work, it will also be interlaced, which means alternate lines are displayed giving a flickering effect.

This will also affect the best HDTV in the world if you connect your camera direct with a composite video cable.

To exploit the extra resolution of an HDTV, you'll either need one of the newer cameras with a component or HDMI output, or a TV with a memory card slot in the front, or some sort of device connected which can deliver your pictures at a higher resolution to the screen, like a computer.

So most people are watching slideshows on their TVs at 1/3 of a megapixel with a flickery picture, so it's no wonder a PC monitor, even running at 1 or 2 megapixel resolution with a non-interlaced image can look so much better!

Of course if you have a standard definition TV, there's nothing you can do to improve the situation, but if you have an HD set, make sure you're driving it at HD resolution to get the most out of it! And that means NOT connecting withn a composite cable!

Gordon


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