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Digital Cameras(21 posts)

Digital Camerassnapdragen
Feb 16, 2003 8:20 AM
I've decided to break down an buy a digital camera. I'll have to convince my 35mm I'll always love it best, but I just can't see carrying it on my bike when I do the AIDS/LifeCycle ride in June.

So - for all that have a digital camera, what kind did you get, how do you like it, why did you choose your particular camera?

One thing I've noticed, the "official" photographer for my bike club always has extremely dark shots -- she's using a digital, but it's like she's shooting 100 speed film indoors, with no flash, even with the outdoor shots. What would cause this, so I can avoid it?
Canon A40...The Walrus
Feb 16, 2003 6:31 PM
I rented a Canon G2 last year and was pleased with its performance, but it was too expensive (around $700 at the time); the A40 has many of the same features, but is only $250. I was also looking at the Panasonic Lumix and the Kodak 4230 (check the reviews at, but just felt better about the Canon. It has some options that might or might not be useful to you--there are supplemental lenses that can be attached that extend the range of the standard lens, there are modes that record in Black & White or in sepia, there are Auto, Manual and Programmed Exposure modes and what they call a "stitch" program that allows you to create seamless panoramic shots from a series of separate exposures. I've only had it a week, but so far I'm really happy with it. One rule of thumb, based on the cameras I've encountered so far--stick with the ones made by camera makers, not computer or electronics manufacturers.

As for your friend's underexposed shots, see if the camera has the option of adjusting the sensitivity; most cameras do have a way of raising or lowering the equivalent of the film speed. Typically the default is equal to ASA 100. Also, if these are indoor shots, the flash might not be up to the task.
Canon A40...snapdragen
Feb 17, 2003 8:13 AM
Thanks for the info, being a Canon SLR owner, I will definatly check out their digitals.

Real happy with my Olympus D510. . .js5280
Feb 16, 2003 7:35 PM
Here's a previous post I made on digital cameras. I was looking for a camera around $200-250 at the time and the D510 was a great value when I was looking. In regards to exposure, must cameras now have a method for adjusting exposure, sometimes automatic, other times they have manual settings similar to ISO film speed. My Olympus has both and I'd say most decent camera nowdays have this ability. A good photo application usually has touch up features which can save a photo with poor exposure, saturation, or contrast issues. Basic touch up software usually comes with most cameras. Here's my original post and additional resources...

The D510 is no longer available, not sure of the new replacement model number offhand. Nice pictures, good adjustibility w/out being overwhelming, durable, takes nice action shots, easy to use and interface w/ the computer. Here's some digi common rules of thumb.
Brand? A common saying is buy a digital camera from a camera manufacturer (e.g. Olympus) and not a computer, film, or media manfacturer. They should have a leg up on the what's really important, the camera and len. Makes sense but probably less important with the growth of the industry.

How many megapixels (MP) do you want? Typically 2-3MP is good for PRINTING smaller than 8x10, 4-5MP PRINTING 8x10 or larger. If you're posting on the web, you'll probably shrink them to <.5MP (e.g. 800x600) anyways. If you view them on your monitor, 2MP is probably the max size. While 3+MP gets you better quality, it comes with a storage space penalty both on the camera media and your hard drive.

Zoom? Optical zoom is much better than digital zoom. Digital tends to pixelate pictures (i.e. lose definition) I don't use the digital zoom very often because of this. Usually you get a mix of both at that price range (>$200+). I don't recommend getting a camera without some zoom, it's very handy.

Batteries? Digi's eat batteries. I love my Olympus cause it takes stadard AA batterys or CRV3 lithums. I bought some AA NiHH rechargables and they work great, I've taken close to 100 pics w/out running them out. And if they did, I can buy batteries anywhere. I have heard some have digi's propritary batteries (I think Sony) that don't alway hold charges very well and expensive to buy a backup battery.

Media (Film)? Plan on buying a memory card, most cameras come with WAY too little space. You'll take a LOT more pictures using a digital. A 128MB Smart Media goes for about $50 now and will hold dozens to hundreds of high quality pictures. There are some cameras with propritary media (again Sony) and that can be more expensive.

Are you taking Action shots? If so, think about time it takes for the camera to open and be ready to take the shot. Also, make sure you can pre-focus. That is, point the camera to where you'll eventually take the picture, push the shutter button half-way to "pre-focus", this gives the camera time to focus and get the exposure set, continue to hold it down, pan to your target, pan with the target to the spot you pre-focused, click the button the rest of the way to snap the picture. Lag is common problem with digi's and unless you pre-focus, your picture may snap later than you wanted and/or be out of focus.

Other great resources. MTBR (Mtn. Bike Review) has a lot of posts on what digi to buy. They share a TON of pictures there, just do a search. Then there's, another sister site of RBR.

(Okay Gregg, when do I get my commission check for promoting all the Consumer Review sites?)

Here's a sample of my D510 (ah, Stockholm), but it's been reduced to 800x600 (about 300KB file size so I have to host it, RBR only takes up to 200KB). The full size looks even better.

Real happy with my Olympus D510. . .snapdragen
Feb 17, 2003 8:15 AM
Oh! I want to go there!!

Thanks for all the excellent information. Time to do some research!

Do you shoot manual SLR?Kristin
Feb 17, 2003 7:18 AM
It sounds from you post like your a bit of an enthusiast so I'm going to assume you shoot manual SLR. I just did research into the DSLR market and its hoplessly expensive right now. Don't hope for interchangeable lenses, SLR or manual features unless you've got $2000 to plop down. (And that just gets you in the game.) I can hardly wait till the D-SLR's come down in price so that us enthusiasts can afford them. (Though, I'm not sure I beleive yet that they will ever shoot gallery quality stuff.) JS's post was really good.
Do you shoot manual SLR?snapdragen
Feb 17, 2003 8:11 AM
Sure do - I am hopelessly attached to my *first* camera - a Canon AE1. The thing is a workhorse! My niece keeps trying to con me out of it--gee auntie, I could really use your camera in my photo class.... Have to check into finding her a used one.

I want the digital mainly as my "point and shoot".

what do you mean come down in price?ColnagoFE
Feb 17, 2003 9:17 AM
The good ones used to be 4-5 megapixels only a few years ago and they were in the 10k range...I'd say they've already come down in price quite a bit. That said...I can see a digital camera for high end studio apps, journalism and snapshots, but conventional film seems to still have an edge for high-end artistic applications.
I'm talking about D-SLR'sKristin
Feb 17, 2003 10:09 AM
So the price has come down on decent Canon D-SLR's from $10,000 to $4599. Geez, let me run right out and buy one today. I simply stated that the DSLR market is not available to ametuer enthusiasts yet. And that is true.

There are primarily two reasons that digital hasn't overcome the small pro & ametuer markets. First, its too expensive for small income pro's and ametures to afford. Second, they can't compete with medium and large format on quality. Once those two obsticles are overcome, film will go away.

I'm thinking about becoming a retro film junkie, but I'm not sure yet. Are you a photographer? What do you shoot?
I used to beColnagoFE
Feb 17, 2003 11:36 AM
Went to photography school out of high school. Ended up specializing in architectural and some studio photography. Got burned out on the business end of it and decided I likes it better as a hobby. I still have a 4x5 camera that I should probably sell. Already sold my studio strobe set and various lighting equipment. I have heard that most of this stuff has gone digital so I'm sure I'm way behind the curve these days with current tech. Can't imagine ever using it again. I also have a pretty nice Canon F-1 with a decent set of lenses. The thing is a real tank though and you don't want to carry it with you hiking unless you want a weight workout. Takes great pix though. For most of the pix I take these days I just use my Olympus point and shoot. Works great and I can carry it in my pocket. I'm thinking of getting a digital one of these days, but don't want to pop for the $500+ a good one (4 megapixel and compact) would cost.
Have you seen the new Canon EOS 1Ds?Kristin
Feb 17, 2003 12:17 PM
Holy Cow she's pertty, but high maintenance from the get go. The price tags start at $7000. I'm not sure how much you've been following the market, but these babies are getting pretty good. This camera could do anything my Elan could and will accept all of my EF lenses. However, I got my Elan body for $500.
I haven't really kept upColnagoFE
Feb 17, 2003 1:18 PM
In fact I don't even think the current Canon lenses work with my F-1...everything is auto these days and I just haven't kept up. My dad has a Nikon N-70 that I think is pretty neat for a serious amateur SLR. Thats about all the exposure I have to the new cameras though.
Oh, and I hear you on burn outKristin
Feb 17, 2003 12:21 PM
I decided last year that I wouldn't seek pro-photography. I have a friend who grew up with a 35mm in his hands and became a pro. His trial-n-error shots are 10 times better than anyting I've ever produced, and he gave up the business because he was working 80 hour weeks and only pulling down 40K a year. I'd rather keep it as a hobby. Same with singing and hiking.

I posted a question about outdoors jobs on Outdoor Review not long ago. I think the best advice was the guy who said, get a job that allows you to earn lots of money and take long vacations. Then thrive in your hobbies.
not letting your job be your lifeColnagoFE
Feb 17, 2003 1:14 PM
I think the key is to leave your job at the door when you leave. Ideally you'd do something that you love for $, but in the end not many of us are that lucky and some compromises come into play. If you make good $ and have decent vacation time you can make lots of things tolerable, but how great would it be to work a job that you never wanted to leave?
Oh, and I hear you on burn outsnapdragen
Feb 17, 2003 5:43 PM
"get a job that allows you to earn lots of money and take long vacations. Then thrive in your hobbies"

Yes! During a wilderness survival class, when we were introducing ourselves, I realized everyone was defining themselves by their jobs. When it came my turn, I said, " I am an I.S. Technician, but in my real life I ride bikes, hike, kayak, play with my dog, shoot photos...." The guide said "Oh, you work so you can play!!"

Heres to playtime!
re: Digital Cameraspdg60
Feb 18, 2003 10:39 AM
After much research on my first digital camera purchase, I decided the Canon Power Shot S30 fit the bill.

Boy did it ever!!! Great photos, easy to use, small, etc. From everything I have seen, people I have talked to, I believe the Canon's are one of the best digi cam values going. Go with a Canon.

As an aside, a buddy of mine who has money to burn was in the market and was looking to spend @ least $500, also purchased the Canon S30 at the recommendation of a sales person. He is a picky guy but has told me that was the best purchase he's made in quite a while.

Do your homework. You will find that the Canon's are worth seriously considering IMHO. Good luck.

Check for reviews. I purchased mine online and saved about $40 with no shipping problems whatsoever.
Olympus 2100UZJohn Ryder
Feb 18, 2003 2:12 PM
2.1 megapixel
10x optical with stabilizer plus 2.7x digital
Full manual control
49mm threaded lens
Uses 4 "aa" batteries
Lots of other features

I guess only downsides would be it uses Smartmedia cards which only go up to 128mb and its discontinued.
Olympus 2100UZJohn Ryder
Feb 18, 2003 2:14 PM
Olympus ZoomThe Walrus
Feb 18, 2003 6:11 PM
That's a pretty impressive zoom--was that using only the optical segment? I don't see any of the coarseness that seems to come from using digital zooming.
Olympus ZoomJohn Ryder
Feb 19, 2003 9:21 PM
Yes, thats just Optical zoom. I don't use the digital zoom on top of the optical too much. I find that the 10x optical is enough and it does get a little coarse when using both.

Moon shot.
Using both 10x optical plus 2.7 digital.
re: Digital Camerassnapdragen
Feb 23, 2003 6:10 PM
Thanks to all for the suggestions - I went with the Canon A40, bought it today. I've made it halfway thorugh the manual - and taken a huge number of pictures of the dog. She's getting pi**ed at me so I'd better stop...