New Digital Camera - Recommendations?

Discussion in 'Photography' started by John Berggren, Jul 19, 2006.

  1. John Berggren

    John Berggren Producer

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    I'm looking to get a new digital camera soon.
    I'd like to upgrade my MP count, I'm currently at 3.1 on my old camera.
    I also want to have a high quality optical zoom.

    I work outdoors and also in controlled light situations and want the results to be capable of being used for both web sites and for print advertising, photoshop, and dvd projects. I'm also looking at practicing my hand at portrait and art photography.

    Additionally, I have a stack of Best Buy gift certificates that would be ideal for this use.

    What do you recommend?
     
  2. Buzz Foster

    Buzz Foster Second Unit

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    I am picking up a new Cannon S3 IS today. 12x optical zoom, 6MP. It can reportedly read up to 4GB SD cards.
     
  3. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

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    From your list -
    print advertising
    portrait
    art photography

    This strongly suggests to me that you should look into an SLR.

    The larger sensors in SLRs deliver less noise;
    Higher ISOs;
    RAW format for better post-processing;
    The flexibility in focal length is unmatched in small format digital;
    Options like DOF preview are VERY nice to have for art photography;
    The ability to isolate subjects in a shallow DoF is FAR greater than in any current non-SLR;

    Look into the Canon and Nikon SLRs. If none of those fit your budget (factoring in lens purchases), then look at the Canon S3.

    -Scott
     
  4. Alf S

    Alf S Cinematographer
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    Yep..I'd go with SLR too in those scenarios.
     
  5. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer
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    An SLR will offer much more flexibility, but it comes at a much higher cost and steeper learning curve. FYI, a lot of the point and shoot cameras also offer RAW format support (my several year old Canon Powershot G2 supports RAW).

    That being said, if you do really want to expand your photography skills, definitely look into an SLR. I purchased a Canon 350D (aka Rebel XT) dSLR several months ago, and have really been enjoying the camera. I've spent much more on lenses than I did for the camera body, so plan your budget accordingly. You can get started relatively inexpensively by just buying the camera with the kit lens, but you will probably quickly outgrow that lens.

    An excellent site for reviews on digital cameras and discussion forums is www.dpreview.com . If you decide on a dSLR, www.photozone.de is an excellent site for detailed reviews on lenses (mostly Canon and Nikon mounts).
     
  6. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    If you want certain capabilities (like larger sensor size w/ lower noise/higher ISO, shallower DoF, etc) normally reserved for the DSLR realm but do not wish to take quite that kind of leap, then you might want to consider something like the Sony R1.

    http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/sonydscr1/

    The Sony R1 could make a good alternative if you have no intentions to spend lots of $$$ on SLR lenses w/ a DSLR rig. Certainly, having 24mm wideangle (35mm equiv) is nice and would cost you some extra $$$ to get on a DSLR. [​IMG]

    If you don't care about the sensor size (and the consequent characteristics like shallower DoF), then this other newly announced Fuji SLR-like camera might be interesting to check out:

    http://www.dpreview.com/news/0607/06...ilms6500fd.asp

    Fuji's been making some "noise" lately w/ their latest incarnations of low noise SuperCCD sensors used in their F10/11/30 subcompact cams -- I bought an F11 for my mother, and noise level is indeed very well controlled almost (but not quite) as good as DSLRs. This newly announced S6500fd seems to use the latest revision of those sensors as found in the F30. Certainly worth checking out if you're considering this class of cameras.

    _Man_
     
  7. Aaron Reynolds

    Aaron Reynolds Screenwriter

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    When looking at SLRs and on a budget, don't skip over the offerings from Pentax. While they don't have a bells-and-whistles top end model, their consumer and mid-level stuff is very competitive on both quality and price.

    They also have a long history of great lenses, all of which can be used on the new bodies.

    I actually use a mid-level body of theirs, the DS2, in a professional capacity -- it's small, light, fast, and has an absolutely excellent viewfinder.

    The DL can be had cheap right now because a new body is coming out in about a month. The new body has body-side anti-shake, meaning that even if you mount a lens from 1962 on your camera it can take advantage of anti-shake.
     
  8. Rob Gillespie

    Rob Gillespie Producer

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    Nikon D50. Best bang-for-buck in the DSLRs and one of the best all-rounders too.
     
  9. Aaron Reynolds

    Aaron Reynolds Screenwriter

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    I don't want to get into a camera vs. camera fight -- but I really don't think the D50 is worth the extra money over the DL/DL2 (currently it's about $200 more at retail in Canada) if you don't have an investment in Nikon lenses already.

    The D50 is bigger, heavier, has a poorer viewfinder and a smaller LCD. The lens kitted with it is also poorer (though this doesn't matter much if you're buying a better lens off the bat).

    But anyways, if John's not looking for an SLR it's not much of a discussion.
     
  10. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    Pentax certainly does seem to make nice bodies for the prosumer DSLR market. However, personally, I'd be hesitant to buy into a Pentax system at this point given how things are going in the DSLR market. Unlike the film days, there seems to be real concern now w/ established camera makers being driven out of business. It seems like only Canon and Nikon are safe from that concern, and I guess one might count Minolta as being reasonably safe as well since they got absorbed by Sony and will have the resources to compete (and sustain and grow the existing lens system). Smaller makers like Pentax and even Olympus have become endangered these days -- as was Minolta before the Sony acquisition -- though I imagine Olympus should end up doing fine, especially if they can garner a good niche w/ their 4/3 format.

    I guess your concern on this matter will vary depending on whether you need the SLR system to continue to grow and offer new products for your needs. If you do, then I'd suggest steering away from Pentax for now. If you don't, then Pentax might be a great option, especially if they do go under and used lenses become super affordable.

    As for glass quality, it seems to me they all make good quality glass though some might do a bit better than others in certain range of lenses and/or at certain price points. And of course, the bigger players like Canon and Nikon seem to offer more lens choices and more advanced lens features.

    RE: the in-camera anti-shake feature, I'm not so sure that's really the best way to go in the long run, especially if the camera maker is not a safe bet to stick around indefinitely. With in-camera anti-shake, you'll essentially rely on having a camera to provide that going forward as you invest in lenses. For me, I'm not sure I want my camera to have one extra way to break down a year or two from now and then not have warranty coverage for it -- Nikon and some others offer 5+ years warranty on lenses though Canon does not. Also, I'm not too sure, but it seems like lens IS works a bit better than in-camera anti-shake from what I've heard. But anyway, in-camera anti-shake certainly can be more cost effective than IS on the lens in most cases.
     
  11. Aaron Reynolds

    Aaron Reynolds Screenwriter

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    I don't know where your concern for Pentax's viability comes from -- they are currently breaking their own sales records in Canada for cameras. They, like Canon, have strong primary businesses that ensure that the 'prestige' camera line will stay in production. Actually, it's related to HTF -- Pentax make lenses for DVD readers and writers, and also make surveying equipment and endoscopes.

    If you are concerned about a manufacturer's viability, you should probably have a closer look at the ones who have cameras as their primary income.

    Why would you post such unfounded nonsense? I could easily post "Don't buy Nikon because they might stop making cameras!" and it would be just as true.

    As to the service issue, at a recent gathering of pros I was the only one who had not had to have my camera serviced within the first 10,000 exposures. Coincidentally, or not, I was also the only one who had a Pentax.

    As to cost-effectiveness, you're right on that one: I purchased as a smaller travel lens a Pentax K 300 f4 on eBay for $200. In what other camera system can you get a 300 f4 with anti-shake for $200?
     
  12. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

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    In today's world, I'd hardly call any statement on a camera manufacturer's viability "unfounded nonsense". The landscape is rapidly changing, and companies that were in fine shape not too long ago are either shuttering their doors or being swallowed up by other companies in the "new" digital world.

    The fact is, as far as SLRs go, Nikon and Canon own a vast share of the market. While I owned and liked a Pentax SLR and a Minolta SLR back in the film days, I didn't even consider them when I went digital - for exactly the reasons Man-Fai specified.

    Diversity is nice, but it didn't help Minolta... who merged with Konica before being swallowed up by Sony.

    -Scott
     
  13. Aaron Reynolds

    Aaron Reynolds Screenwriter

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    Scott, if you have data contrary to mine -- that Pentax is enjoying its most profitable year in the history of the company on the camera side of things and sold more cameras last month than in any other month in the history of the company -- then perhaps the idea that they could go out of business at any time would make some sense.

    However, Canon has run their camera division at a loss for a number of years now, which they can afford to do because it is a 'prestige' line and a small part of their company. I could make a case for Canon's shareholders getting fed up and demanding that the camera line be closed down. Certainly it would make more sense than Pentax closing down their camera line, which actually brings in money.

    So if you want to go down that path, the actual data would point to Canon being the next to pull out of the camera manufacturing business. Personally, I think that's nonsense.

    We're sidetracking the heck out of this thread, and I realize that I am part of it, but I cannot allow out-and-out falsehoods to stand. That's not fair to anyone.
     
  14. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

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    You're looking at it from a (current) profitability angle, while I'm looking at it from market share. Chances of longterm success of a company, and that company getting solid support from third party vendors, is tied closely to market share.

    There has been no "falsehood" stated here. Man-Fai and I only stated that we would be hesitant to buy a camera from a manufacturer that is not "leading the pack" in terms of market share, given the rapidly changing landscape of the digital market.

    Pentax makes good gear. I have no problem with the company. But I cannot recommend the products to anyone who is planning on sinking a ton of money in glass. Camera bodies are disposable - it's the long-term after market purchases that guide my decisions in this area.

    No falsehoods - just my personal bet on longterm viability. This thread was about recommendations. For a DSLR, I would recommend Canon or Nikon.

    -Scott
     
  15. Aaron Reynolds

    Aaron Reynolds Screenwriter

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    Scott, I see your point, but you're approaching this with "logic" that doesn't take the reality of the situation into account.

    Pentax have been making money on every camera for decades. Canon have been losing money on every camera for decades, but they sell more cameras. Canon are not going out of business because the camera line is excellent marketing for their business machines.

    However, Pentax's camera sales contribute very significantly to the company's bottom line, and have for the lifetime of the company. Much like Apple, they have been happy to always be a smaller player who makes money instead of the market leader.

    If you are concerned about long-term purchases of glass, note that Pentax have the longest comittment to old glass and continue to do so -- Nikon's comittment is very good, but Canon has already pulled the rug out from under their users once in recent memory and required a full re-purchase of lenses moving forwards. They're not likely to do it again any time soon, but my point is that there is a much larger Pentax pool to draw from in the used market.

    I don't dispute opinions or recommendations, just recommendations that are based on bad data. If I said "don't buy Canon because all of their cameras add a little date stamp to the corner of every picture", others would quite rightly dispute that.

    The biggest strike, IMO, against Pentax is availability in the USA -- dealers are reluctant to stock them and force purchasers to the web.
     
  16. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

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    Which, from where I'm sitting, is fuel for the perception of Pentax's "also ran" status.

    Where I am located, it is very difficult to walk into a local B&M and even find *one* Pentax DSLR. Forget about Best Buy and Circuit City... or the local Photo store chains. There is one locally owned dealer that carries Pentax, but rarely has a Pentax DSLR in stock - heavily favoring Canon and Nikon.

    If Pentax doesn't have the marketing muscle, consumer confidence isn't going to be there.

    I almost brought up Apple in my previous post. The thing about Apple is, before Steve Jobs returned, Apple was on very shaky ground. Now, Apple has genius designers and does a great job at marketing. This allows them to survive and flourish on a 5% market share. Still, try and find a Mac at a local electronics store. Can't be done. For a computer, it's not as much of a necessity for me to hold it and touch it and explore it before I buy it. Additionally, with Apple's notability for delivering a positive user experience, I feel comfortable buying blind.

    For a camera, I want to hold it. I want to take it out of the store and try it. I want to explore the menus and controls. Comfort and intuitiveness are very important in a camera. Even though I've owned several Canon cameras, I would never buy another Canon without handling it first - there are some Canon DSLRs that I find uncomfortable to hold, and I would not buy them.

    I buy much of my camera gear from a locally owned store where they let me bring it outside before I buy, and they let me try it with my own gear. If I can't try it, I won't buy it.

    The lack of availability in stores of Pentax gear locally certainly creates the perception, right or wrong, that the company is lacking (compared to Nikon and Canon - which are everywhere).

    Perception is everything.

    The notion that Canon loses money on every camera they sell is an argument for another day. I find it unlikely, but I haven't seen the data. I wouldn't be surprised if they lose money on DSLR bodies, but they probably make it back on glass and peripherals. Their p&s line, however, are hot sellers... Perhaps when you figure in R&D (since, unlike many other manufacturers, Canon builds almost all the components of their cameras), they lose money. But the development supports the company in other ways. R&D is a long-term investment for any company. It takes a long time to pay off.

    -Scott
     
  17. Aaron Reynolds

    Aaron Reynolds Screenwriter

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    Not being able to touch or use a camera is a perfectly good reason to not buy it -- ergonomics are incredibly important. (They are also, historically, one of Pentax's greatest strengths and why I like their gear -- they're probably the only company that really gets how important precise weight is for a lens.)

    I would never recommend that someone buy a camera that they couldn't use.

    As to Pentax USA's marketing, well, they're a pretty sad bunch over there. But out in the rest of the world we get to actually see their great products!
     
  18. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    Hmmm... I wonder if we scared John away. [​IMG]
     

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