Camera recommendations (digital and point-and-shoot)

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Mark Frank, Aug 12, 2003.

  1. Mark Frank

    Mark Frank Stunt Coordinator

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    Looking for a new camera(s). Until now, we've always used a standard point-and-shoot film camera. The Samsung we currently have is a piece of junk and 1/2 the pictures we take turn out fuzzy even though it's supposed to auto-focus. I'm ready to throw it in the trash.

    I've considered buying a digital camera and am leaning towards a 3.2MP from possibly Canon or Nikon because I've heard their the best. What would you recommend in the $250 - $325 range?

    Secondly, am I insane to think it's a good idea to also buy another point-and-shoot camera? I know everyone and their brother is buying digital these days, but there are also advantages to having a standard point-and-shoot. Quick picture taking, cheaper professional prints, and I find most of them, even good models, are only $100 - $150. I would prefer 3x zoom and want a date/time stamp option but those are my only requirements besides an excellent picture. Anyone got good recommendations for one of these cameras?
     
  2. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    I'm also thinking about buying a new camera this year, and it will probably be a digital camera. However, there are still very good reasons to go with traditional film.

    - We here at Kodak really need you to buy film!!! [​IMG] (seriously, buy more film)

    - Traditional photos are easy. Point, shoot, develop, prints last for more than 50 years.

    - Archival quality. The lifetime of digital prints can be as short as a few years, if you use the wrong inks and paper. If you plan to print your own photos, you need to shop for a printer that provides for long-life inks and papers. Or make sure the professional printer is using long-life printing method.

    - Color accuracy. Printing at home, you may need to make sure your camera and printer have the appropriate calibration software so that the colors are printed accurately. Is this standard yet? I don't know. Maybe professional printers have this all figured out.

    - Cost. Digital cameras and printers are more expensive than a decent P&S film camera.

    I think the main benefits of digital photography are:
    - It's cool. People like neat new gadgets.
    - You see your pictures when you take them, rather than having to wait a few days (or months) to finish the roll and get it developed.
    - You can share digital pictures with friends and family far more easily than film prints.

    At the very least, buy a Kodak Digital camera [​IMG] (Note: I don't work on film or cameras at Kodak.)
     
  3. Matthew Todd

    Matthew Todd Second Unit

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    I just bought a Canon Powershot A300 3.2 megapixel digital camera for just under $200. I have nothing to compare it to (this is my first digital), but so far I'm happy with the results. It seems to have enough adjustments and variability to do what I want with it.

    Matt
     
  4. Max Leung

    Max Leung Producer

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    Well, you could have your digital photos printed at a photo printer place (like Costo, Wal-mart, professional photo lab, etc). Archival lifetime shouldn't be an issue in this case, unlike printing at home with a regular inkjet.

    Unless you get the Epson 2200 printer, which has archival lifetime of approx 40-80 years, depending on who you talk to. I have one of these (expensive) printers, and it is nice. [​IMG]

    You can also touch-up your digital photos with Photoshop or other, hopefully less expensive, graphics manipulation software. Typically I would do color correction and red-eye removal with Photoshop.
     
  5. Mark Sherman

    Mark Sherman Supporting Actor

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    A good Point and shoot cannot grow with your needs while an entry Level SLR can (longer zoom lenses, and better flashes to reduce red eye). I was at Walmart and they have a Canon Rebel on sale with the lens for about $250.00. it has all of the bells and whistles on it for advanced shooting, But it also has the Fully auto mode that Sets every thing for you F stop, and Shutter along with focusing.

    The best part about an SLR is that you are looking through the lens and not a view finder that way you know exactly what the camera is focusing on.


    Good Luck and happy hunting
     
  6. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    I recently purchased a Canon Powershot G3 camera, and just returned from my first trip using the camera. While the prints I made may not be "archival quality", I can retain the original digital images on CD indefinitely and reprint whichever photos I need at my leisure.

    We spent 9 days in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. I returned with about 480 digital photos, and probably deleted another 100 or so on location. Out of those, about 100 were deemed worthy of becoming 4x6 prints. We also have a couple of shots that will become 8x10 prints -- I've done one already of a bull elk that looks terrific.

    If you consider the cost of developing all the bad photos you end up taking with a point and shoot 35mm, the cost of digital photography is a lot more reasonable. In my example above, I used the equivalent of about 23 rolls of film, yet only "developed" about 4 rolls.
     
  7. Chris Hovanic

    Chris Hovanic Supporting Actor

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    I would go with a Cannon. Their digital cameras take super pictures. My brother has an older 2MP cannon that takes super sweet pictures as does a good friend. They both have made nice 8X10 prints of their digital pictures.

    If you go digital do not go any lower than 2MP which should not be a problem with your price range.

    As Mark Sherman pointed out an entry SLR has lots of expansion possibilities. My wife has the Cannon Rebel and its pictures are excelent and on full auto I can even use it. A down side to the SLR is the size. A point and shoot can be quite a bit smaller and that may or may not be an issue, everyone likes something different.

    Good luck on your quest for the perfect camera!
     
  8. Drew Bethel

    Drew Bethel Screenwriter

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    I just bought an Olympus 5050 that is really for the "prosumer". It's little brother - the 4000z - is loaded with features and has gotten fantastic reviews. Check www.pcworld.com or www.steve-digicams.com for the details.

    The 4000 is right at home as a point and shoot digicam but if you want to get fancy with super macros and such it can also go fully manual - which seperates it from the other dozens of 4000 meg pixels out there. It's no G3 but then again the G3 is going online for over $500.

    PS. The 4000 can be found online for ~$320 or less.
     
  9. Cam S

    Cam S Screenwriter

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    I would also say go with anything from Canon. I've owned the S30, G2, and now the G3, and loved all of them. Even the S30 with it's 3mp's provided me with fantastic quality shots and awesome prints even with 8x10 prints. The S400 seems like it would suit your needs nicely, or if you would like more manual controls, then maybe the S45 or S50? Either way you can't go wrong.
     
  10. Andrew Pratt

    Andrew Pratt Producer

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    Its a Canon lovefest! Seriously I've owned several digital cameras from Kodak and now Canon and I highly recomend the Canon A60 and A70 models. I convinced my boss to buy the A70 as well and he's damn picky about what he buys. Some of my friends have Sony's and an Olympus and while the picture quality isn't too bad I prefer my Canon and its got more manual modes and is generally easier to use (ergonomics etc)
     
  11. Aaron Reynolds

    Aaron Reynolds Screenwriter

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  12. Max Leung

    Max Leung Producer

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    Hey Aaron...I wonder if those Fujitsu printers using those Fuji Crystal paper (or whatever it is called) have adequate archival life? Of course, these printers were designed for digital photos (or scanned film negatives). I'm assuming they are using the recommended ink as well.

    I'm still drooling over digital SLRs...I really dislike guessing how a picture turns out, even after previewing on an LCD. I'd rather not waste the shot in the first place, even with the convenience of digital. An SLR camera could tell me immediately if I am overexposing, have bad focus, etc. Although things get tricky when you have to use a flash...hmmm.
     
  13. Aaron Reynolds

    Aaron Reynolds Screenwriter

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    Fuji's Frontier (along with Noritsu's and Agfa's digital minilabs) don't use inks to print their digital images; they use a set of little LEDs to sensitize a regular piece of photographic paper that is then chemically processed.

    So once again, archival life depends on who's looking after the machine. Fuji's Crystal Archive paper, though, is reputed to have the best lifespan (when properly processed).
     
  14. Mark Frank

    Mark Frank Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for all the replys. I'm leaning towards one of the following digitals - Canon A70, Canon S230, or Canon S400. I am pretty much a novice at this point, so all the manual controls won't do much for me right now. I think I'll buy the digital and then see after a month or so if I think it's worth it to also buy a 2nd non-digital camera.

    I checked out Steve's DigiCams as well as Digital Photography Review. Both sites go into incredible depth with each review.

    Thanks again for the advice!
     
  15. David_Moechnig

    David_Moechnig Stunt Coordinator

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    I got an Olympus C-730 UZ back in April. I love the features that the camera offers. 10x optical zoom lens (3x digital), 3.2 MP, full manual mode, accepts XD picture cards and Smartmedia, takes excellent quality pictures. I have taken probably 1200 pictures since I got it and have been very happy.
     
  16. Dave Morton

    Dave Morton Supporting Actor

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    I just received my new camera last weekend. I ordered it online from a place out of New York. PM me if you want the place. But I ordered in on wednesday afternoon and it was at my house on Friday afternoon. I got the Nikon N75 SLR with a 28-100 mm lense, film, strap, UV lens cover for $300. It has automatic focus and is really easy to use. I already used my first role of film and the pictures are fabulous. Much better than a 3.2 meg digital camera can provide, imho.
     
  17. John Kilroy

    John Kilroy Stunt Coordinator

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    A couple of things to add:

    Someone pointed out that shorter zoom lenses might be preferable. I would go a step further and recommend you get a fixed focal length (non zoom) lens on your point and shoot. Here is why:

    -It will make your camera smaller and lighter.
    -It will make your camera less expensive.
    -You can zoom with your feet. Seriously, most point and shoot zoom lenses don't offer any magnification that you can't achieve by moving closer to the subject.
    -Zoom lenses tend to let in a lot less light than a fixed focal length lens, especially at the tight end (e.g., 80mm on a 28-80 zoom). The practical effect of this is that your point and shoot will automatically choose a slower shutter speed, which can create blurry pictures from your hand shaking as you press the shutter release. Also, nearly every point and shoot automatically turns on the flash when you get down to 1/30 of a second or less, and flash on a point and shoot can make for ugly pictures. Compounding this, if you are zoomed in trying to get a tight shot of a subject 50 feet away, that will be when the low amount of light getting through the lens triggers the flash. And guess what? Most point and shoot flash units are only good for about 10-15 feet, rendering a brightly lit foreground full of junk and your subject in darkness.

    If you decide to go with a digital point and shoot, I don't have many ideas. I went out and blew a wad on a Canon digital SLR.

    If you decide on a film point and shoot, may I recommend a Yashica T4 Super? It is a cheap looking camera that will not get stolen. On the inside, it has guts of glory, and the lens is german (zeiss) glass which will give you very sharp pictures. It is a 35mm lens, with an aperture of 3.5 which is very good for a point and shoot. It also has a very good exposure algorithm, smart enough that I shoot slides with it and get correct exposures on about 90%. It is very solid, despite a cheap appearance. I have taken it all over the world, in lieu of about $15,000 worth of pro Canon SLR gear in the closet, and it has done a fine job. I fell of the tallest alp in Germany, camera in hand, and due to the way I was holding it, it took confusing but perfectly exposed pics all the way down, and I have a bizzare record of my descent. The T4 has been discontinued by Yashica, but can still be bought new on Ebay. They sold for $150 new in the box at retail.

    I also own an Olympus Stylus Zoom 140 DLX. It served me well, but I tend to take the Yashica with me, because it is smaller, lighter, and has better exposure logic. If you want a point and shoot with a zoom, I can recommend the Olympus.

    Wow, that was long. Glad this is the off topic forum.

    Edited for a typo.
     
  18. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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  19. John Kilroy

    John Kilroy Stunt Coordinator

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    With regards to focal length, there is also perspective to consider. Our perspective (using our eyes) is about 50mm (some folks would argue 10mm either direction). This is a "balanced" focal length that we are used to seeing the world at. Most point and shoot fixed focal length lenses are around 35mm, so it is slightly wider than our usual perspective. This is market-driven: 35mm is a good focal length for a point and shoot (great for group shots and pictures of people in front of landmarks, and so forth; it also requires a less expensive auto-focus system.

    This is an over simplification, but telephoto lenses have the visual effect of magnifying background objects and wide angle lenses magnify foreground objects. Have you ever seen a sunset shot in which the sun was just huge? That's a telephoto lens, probably 400-600 millimeter. A shot with a large subject in the foreground and a background that seems to go on forever, or a very deep, three-dimensional sky, is a wide angle lens, probably somewhere between 15 and 28 millimeters.

    Again though, most point and shoot zooms do not reach the upper and lower focal lengths at which perspective becomes anything more than subtle.

    The people I see using point and shoot zooms by and large just plant their feet and use the zoom for cropping, where a couple of steps forward or back would accomplish the same thing, and they would have a lighter, smaller, cheaper camera with better optics.

    Nice camera by the way, Scott. I had a chance to use one with a 550EX flash and stofen diffuser attached. Fantastic portraits. I was going to get one if I didn't end up getting the SLR.

    Of course, 245mm (the effective focal length of your G3 zoomed in with the adapter attached) is way too close to the bears for my comfort. [​IMG] I photographed 1000 pound grizzlies at Katmai with a 600mm lens, and I was very nervous when a couple of them looked at me.
     
  20. HienN

    HienN Stunt Coordinator

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    Another recommendation for the Canon A70. It can be used as simple point-and-shoot but has enough manual controls and advanced features that you can grow with it. Personally I also like the fact that it uses AA batteries (can be rechargeable or not) and has incredible battery life. It is not the smallest or lightest with the batteries, but is still compact enough to carry around all day without worrying about the weight or size. dpreview here: http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canona70/
     

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