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PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 10:41 am 
Hi, I am thinking about buying a new digital camera and I know you here all the time, the poor lost words of a confused new user, but I could use someone's advice out there.

I am considering upgrading my digital camera (after owning a simple Fujifilm point and shoot digital camera, so old not even worth mentioning the type) because I am a bit of a technophile who is starting to get into digital photography.

I would like to buy a superzoom that can also do the occasional movie and has a full range of features. I have heard so many conflicting stories and all of this discussion about about ISO settings and noise problems and to be honest I am completely lost. In the moment, I like the Cannon Powershot S3 or S5 range (still not sure of the difference, too many conflicting reviews and of course the S5 is new) or something like the Panasonic Luminex DMC FZ50 ( I like the full body feel). However, I am not totally sure if one of those are what I am looking for.

Can anyone give me some advice: I basically want a competent superzoom with a range of features that can take some good photo album size pictures (not interested in blowing up or supezooming into the picture) and can take the occasional decent quality video when needed. I hope something like that exists.

I would appreciate the advice.

Plus, could someone give me a easy to understand explanation of the ISO settings and noise?

Thanks,

John


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 1:26 pm 
Hi Cpt Chaos, both the Canon Powershot S3 and S5 will do what you want ie. take photos and video, both have 12x optical zoom the main difference is the S3 has a 6Mp sensor and the S5 has a 8Mp sensor and is newer and more expensive.
As for explaining about ISO will leave that to either Gordon or Thomas to answer as they will be able to go into greater detail than me.

P.S. BTW welcome to Camera Labs


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 1:40 pm 
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The ISO value describes how much light the camera needs to produce a well exposed picture: The higher the ISO (read "sensibility") the less light the cam needs.

So what is the effect if you shoot the same scene with ISO 100 and say ISO 800? As the camera needs only 100/800=1/8 of the light at 800 ISO than it needs at 100 ISO, it will close the aperture (increase depth of field) and/or use faster shutter speeds (reduces the risk of motion blur).

That may lead you to using only high ISO, but there is also one drawback: If less light hits the sensor, the signal/noise-ratio gets worse and shows up in the pic as something like grainy structures or small color blotches, or (as Gordon would say) watercolors.

As a rule of thumb: A DSLR at 800 ISO is as noisy as a point&shoot at 100 ISO

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 1:57 pm 
Thanks for all of the great information so far, this website is fantastic! I really appreciate the help.

So now that I understand what ISO is now in a basic sense, what is an acceptable camera for a hobbyist when it comes to the ISO settings? I hear all of these reviews about alot of the megazoom and the noise becomes bad above 400-800 on some cameras (eg. Lumix DMC FZ50). Is it really so bad for those hobbyists that are interested in printing pictures in the standard picture print range?

Thanks for all of your good advice, you guys are fantastic!!!


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 2:13 pm 
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Hi John!

Wenn Du in Frankfurt lebst, könnten wir uns auch in Deutsch unterhalten. Aber dann würde uns hier keiner mehr verstehen :wink:
Well, if you already are willing to carry a Pana FZ-50 with you and you have some additional budget, you could also consider say a Nikon D40x which is far better in the noise-department then the Pana.
And as I already said in this thread http://www.cameralabs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=648 , low noise is not only important when you shot at ISO 800-1600 but also when shooting at ISO 100 - as it influences also the noisiness of the darker parts of your picture.
Gordon has a lot of pictures in his reviews / galeries that you can look at to find out, whether you are bothered by noise...
But in the end it's a question of money: Low-noise costs some serious money :(

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 Post subject: a recommendation
PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 2:38 pm 
Hi tombomba2

Vielen dank für ihre hilfe!!!!!

I have been doing some research out there and to be honest, I dont know if I am ready for the world of DSLR cameras yet and the ache of lens that go with it. I am only a hobbyist and am interested in a well round SLR like camera and want to take the occasional video as well (dont want to invest in a digicam, either). I would say that I am one of those enthusiasts who is middle of the road (wants a few more bells and whistles than a simple point and shoot, but doesnt know if I am ready for the world of DSLR world yet).

Any suggestions (jdm. ein Geheimnis verraten für mich) on a middle of the road camera that can fit that bill and has acceptable noise issues?


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 2:45 pm 
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Hi Chaos-John :wink:
Just onelast question before the barrage of suggestions hits the fan:
If you look deep into your soul: Are you perhaps more into video-filming with the occasional still-photo (very nice small HD-camcorders out there) or are you more into still-photos with the occasional video :?:

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 Post subject: video vs stills
PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 2:59 pm 
Hi tombomba2

I am more of the still picture type with occasional video. I currently use an old digital camera (not worth mentioning) and I would say that I primarily take stills, but every now and then, I shot a short video because of something funny (e.g. something that my son does, etc).

I wanted to upgrade to a more powerful and versatile digital camera with a superzoom and has a broader range of functions. Something with the feel of a full body SLR (because I dont know if I eventually want to make that transition or not). I am just an amateur hobbyist that is broadening (slowly) his skills as a photographer. That was why I was looking at the lumix FZ 50 or the Cannon S3 IS or the newer S5 IS (but I am open to others too). But I am so confused when it comes to all of these different cameras and conflicting reviews from various places.

I hope that gives you a better idea.

Thanks for the help and advice.

John


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 3:06 pm 
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Ah, ok!
I'll vote for the Lumix FZ-50 then!
I know someone who made 5000 (!) photos with this cameras in New Zealand and was not disappointed.

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 Post subject: FZ50
PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 3:25 pm 
Thanks for the help tombomba2,

One question about the FZ50, Ive read the reviews here and elsewhere and they talk about that it runs into problems at ISO 200 and above, How bad of a problem is that? I have to admit that I am relatively new to all of this and so I would have to ask, is it a problem that a hobbyist or amateur would see? I am not sure what all of this discussion is about?

Ive seen the samples in the review but is that when the picture is blown up, cropped, etc. Do you see this kind of noise in a standard picture size?

Do you know if this camera or any other one performs good in a variety of environments (indoors, low light,etc)?

Thanks


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 3:56 pm 
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As super-zooms share the same small sensors like point&shoots, they suffer from the same noise (more or less).
So well, you might not call it a problem or even see it in smaller prints. As long as you're not going to buy a DSLR, the noise of a FZ-50 is in the top group of the small-sensor camers.

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 Post subject: If I decide to go DSLR
PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 4:27 pm 
tombomba2

THanks a million for all of your help and taking the time and having the patience with me.

One last question for you, if its not too much.

If I decide to go into the world of DSLR, is it difficult for someone who doesnt know alot about digital photography?

What are the general pros & cons? Is there a general entry level DSLR that has some of the features that I want without the complications (I would have to give up video option, but to be honest, I dont think it is that important to me).

I am just a bit intimidated about the field if DSLR cameras because I know next to nothing about them and I dont want to invest in a lot of lens or in hte end invest a lot of money only to be disappointed because of the complexity.

What choices do I have out there for decent image quality, a good zoom and not investing a small fortune and not have to be a rocket scientist to figure out all of the options. (if those options together exist).

Or, as a dedicated hobbyist who is used to point & shoot, should I look for one of the Superzooms with SLR like qualities

Thanks


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 5:00 pm 
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You need not fear the complexity of a DSLR. A Nikon D40(x) is a very good example of easy to use features. Let me assure you: even with my D80 I almost always use fully automatic. And the good thing: It almost always is right with the exposure, white-balance etc.
So to repeat it: With a DSLR it is (1) switch on (2) point (3) shoot :lol:
The major differences to super-zooms like the Panasonic FZ-50 are:
- less noise with darker subjects
- If you want to have image stabilization (very important!) plus a 10x super-zoom you have to invest at least (!) double that of the Pana.
- The DSLR+Super-zoom is bulkier than the Pana
The finer points are:
- DSLRs have a real optical view-finder. Look through the D80-viewfinder in comparison to the Pana to make an educated decision (beware: some people never go back to LCD-viewfinders after a look through the real thing)
- DSLRs tend to star up faster (1 or 2 seconds)
So you have to invest a considerable amount of money and carry more weight around to get that extra image quality that the pros need.
Other than that the Pana "remains one of the best super-zooms around and is available at a compelling price" (quote Gordon)

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 9:42 pm 
tombomba2 wrote:
Hi John!

Wenn Du in Frankfurt lebst, könnten wir uns auch in Deutsch unterhalten. Aber dann würde uns hier keiner mehr verstehen :wink:
:(


No, we would not... or would we :wink:


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 10:21 pm 
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Hi John, I'd also like to welcome you to the Cameralabs forums!

Basically as you've already guessed, ALL non-DSLRs have noise issues these days, pretty much at anything above 100 ISO. If this noise douesn't bother you, or you generally make smaller prints, or you mostly shoot at 100 ISO, then they're fine.

But if you want low noise at higher ISOs, can't stand the look of noise, or want to make large prints then a DSLR is the only answer. They're also generally quicker to handle.

If you still want a superzoom, then it comes down to comparing features and handling, as they all have similar image quality.

I've compared most of the models in our Sony H9 verdict here:

http://www.cameralabs.com/reviews/SonyH9/verdict.shtml

Gordon


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