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General Digital Advice Needed

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TwoBoy
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General Digital Advice Needed

Unread post by TwoBoy » Fri Jan 14, 2005 9:29 pm

I think it's fair to post the following:

1. You need to buy a camera which suits your pocket. Some people can afford to pay plenty, others not.
2. Ideally you need a camera with a 10X or 12X zoom if you are buying a fixed lens digital. This is possibly the cheapest route. Probably R4000 - R8000.
3. When buying a DSLR the price of the camera is only the tip of the iceberg. Good lenses cost buckets of money - anywhere between R8000 and R80000 each!!! :shock: The camera body will be somewhere between R9000 and R60000. :shock:
4. Some cameras sold here cannot be serviced here. :evil: This has been a major issue with me and for that reason I buy Canon who have a jacked up service centre in Midrand. This is common sense, not a plug. :D There is nothing worse that finding your camera has to be sent to the "North Pole" for service and the costs are out of your control.
5. Camera makers normally produce an excellent range of lenses but no way will the "consumer" lens give you the same result as the "pro" lenses. That is why you see some many of those "white" lenses at major events.
6. Some 3rd party lenses are fine but always try before you buy. It is possible that compatibility problems can occur. The Sigma EX series are good lenses generally.
7. I always suggest digital - my reason is that film will eventually die out to a large degree and digital photos are more easily rendered into usable prints.
8. In less than a week in the Kruger I am likely to take 1200-1500 shots, if I keep 100 that would be a lot. Just think of the savings compared to film. Of that 100 it will end up at about 50. That equates to 60 films saved!!!!
9. Digital means you can just keep on shooting with no added expenses. All you need is enough storage.
10. A really good yardstick is to look at a digital with a sensor of 6mp plus. The Canon's and Nikon's in this range will cost you roughly between R9000 and R15000 - add a decent zoom lens and that's another R16000-R20000. You will then be able to get the "Getaway" type stuff.
11. Digital camera prices are more here than in the USA or UK - The USA is very cheap but on R10000 you might save 10% buying in the UK. It's not worth the hassle - buy the camera locally. That way you will not get any warranty problems. You could fall foul of Customs also.
12. Camera Retailers make used car salesmen in Jules Street (Jhb) look like saints. Be sure to shop around and you do not have to be nice to them. Invariably their sales staff have poor product knowledge and try to push specials. Don't feel that you cannot speak to the manufacturer - you can!
13. With the rapid advances in DSLR's the one you buy now will probably be obsolete in about 2 years. Be prepared to upgrade. For those with less cash available some good used units are slowly reaching the marketplace but you must test before you buy.
14. There are 2 excellent Internet resources for reading up on various makes - DP Reviews and Steve's Digicams - do some research before spending money.
15. Be prepared to spend money - once the bug bites you are in it for keeps! That fancy new lens you dream about is waiting for your wallet.

Image Stabilized Lenses/Cameras:

IS is reasonably new technology and is well worth paying for. The results show that IS is one of the best moves forward. I will not buy another non-IS telephoto lens!

Other Issues: Dust on Sensors:

A lot has been written on this subject all over the internet. It is not the catastrophe it sounds. Minimize lens changes in dusty places. Have a blower available - do not use "canned air". Don't leave cameras or lenses open to the elements.

Hope this helps.

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bwana
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Unread post by bwana » Fri Jan 14, 2005 11:39 pm

Good post. I think it suffice to say the going digital isn't going to save you any money in the short term though. Heavy initial investment and more susceptible to the never ending technological advancements rendering products almost obselete after a year or two. And as you say once the bugs bitten you better start saving!!
A good rule to base your purchases on is to buy the best that you can afford, because if you dont and you get into it, you will want a camera with more control and lenses that are faster etc.
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TwoBoy
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Unread post by TwoBoy » Sat Jan 15, 2005 10:09 am

Bwana's comment that digital does not save you money short term is very true. The saving is long term. However, do not panic too much about obsolence. The now so-called obsolete Canon 10D will give you good prints of up to A2 size. And this is all 95% of us ever need.

If you are buying new this is what you can expect. The Canon 20D costs about R14000, the 300D about R9000 or less. Similar quality Nikons much the same. A 100~400 Zoom lens will cost you about R9000 or R16000 for the best. A 24~70 lens about R4500 or R9000 for the best. That's all you need apart from CF Cards which are expensive but last virtually forever. Shutter life is about 50000 cycles. Re-chargeable battery life is about 600 shots per charge.

This means you will lay out about R25000 - R45000 for really good kit which will last you many years if properly cared for. High quality lenses generally do not lose value and sell readily so although the initial investment is high I would expect to recover between 70-75% if I were to sell.

For those not so serious, the R4000-R8000 fixed lens camera is the alternative but don't expect the same quality from them.

You choice of purchase should be based on what you want to achieve in the end.

Whatever you do just make sure local service and repair facilities are available. If they are, your camera will never hassle you. If they aren't you can guarantee grief. This is Murphy's Law.

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2nd hand

Unread post by Hedrus » Wed Jan 19, 2005 1:12 pm

Hi
Second hand lenses are commonly available as people upgrade.You can keep an eye on the Junkmail and some dealers also trade lenses on new ones so check it out and ask about it at your local dealers.Be sure to test the lens extensively before you buy. I also have a classiffied section on my site were people can sell.You should contact the sellers directly. Check it out here. http://outdoorphoto.co.za/forum/classifieds/
My suggestion is to know what you want and know your prices. Don't make a decision to buy a lens if you haven't even considerd that model before.
If you are certian that you love photography and that is what you want to do you could invest in lenses.The lens is the heart of the sharp image.Rather spend more on good lens than on the most expensive camera body.

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Unread post by Hedrus » Fri Apr 01, 2005 5:28 pm

Hi Francois
Lets see if I can help in a way.
My suggestion is to always shoot at the highest resolution.Except if you really know you need low res for some quick e-mail job.
But assume you are shooting you wildlife photos, always keep the camera at highest resolution because you never know when "that " shot will be happening.
You must be prepared to print to the biggest size.
What you made mention off is not really a resolution issue but rather a lab issue.Or should i say an aspect ratio issue.The aspect ratio of the digital camera pick up is different of that of film.
You should tell your lab to pint the full picture.
Lets say we use to do a 6x8 in film we now need to do a 6x9 if they want to print it on 6x8 paper you get the squashing of the photo you talked about.So if you tell the lab about it they will rather cut the paper longer instead of squashing the image.
Aslo keep in mind it is very easy to downsize a photo from the original big file but to upsize it creates all sort of problems.

I hope it helps.

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Unread post by Meg » Sat Apr 02, 2005 8:36 pm

Argh - I just wrote a whole explanation then some keyboard shortcut I didn't mean to type stole it :x

Here we go again...

I think the quality is something to do with the amount of detail recorded. My first digi camera was a Sony F707 which could shoot 5MP, 3.2MP and some smaller res as well. For each setting there was also a choice between high and normal quality. What I noticed is that the normal quality had less detail - in fact, 3.2MP high quality was probably better for large prints than 5MP normal quality.

Detail seems to take a lot of memory - if you take a shot of something pure black, or of nothing at night with no flash, you will notice that the file size is very small. However, if you take a shot of something with a lot of detail and varying colour you will see that the file size will be far larger.

Of course, I may be completely wrong, but my observations led me to this conclusion. With the cost of memory so much lower these days than it used to be I'd say always take the best quality & highest res available. You never know when a LITS may appear and you'll want a big print! Of course, there is more that large prints depend on, like the physical size of the sensor, but this usually doesn't get advertised on spec sheets except for DSLR's.

Hope that helps!
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Unread post by DuQues » Mon Apr 04, 2005 9:24 am

Meg wrote:Detail seems to take a lot of memory - if you take a shot of something pure black, or of nothing at night with no flash, you will notice that the file size is very small. However, if you take a shot of something with a lot of detail and varying colour you will see that the file size will be far larger.

You are almost there.
The tabel gives three options per sizesetting: TIFF, Fine and Standard. What are these?
TIFF is an uncompressed filesetting, Fine is JPG with low compression, Standard is JPG with higher compression.
As Meg has said already having just a bit of detail in the picture will compress better, so the actual files will become even smaller. Good examples of that are the webcam pics, they range from 26 K to something like 32 K. Same shots, but more or less detail. With the smaller files more bytes got chucked out, leaving more space for photo's on your card.
However this compression is "lossy", a pixel that is almost black next to a black pixel will become black and that bit of detail will never come back!
This is why Meg found out that 3.2 Mb fine gives better quality than 5.0 Mb standard.

TIFF doesn't have this, it does compress a bit but not in a lossy way. The files are much larger. Note that in the highest setting they state that you can have no TIFF on a 16 Mb card.
This is however the setting you want to use for wildlife, wedding photo's and the like. The other settings are more for snapshots and the Web.

Other people may have the possibility to shoot in RAW-mode. If you have that use it! The camera will dump the raw data onto your card, without any processing. This means that all the changes you want to make (whitebalance for instance) can be done later in your digital darkroom. See it as an undeveloped film, if you keep the raw-files you can redevelop your film in different solutions, as many times as you want.

Hope this helps you a bit.
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Unread post by DinkyBird » Mon Apr 04, 2005 8:00 pm

Another question for you photography guru's:

When one reduces a digital pic's image size, (not the file size) how is it done by eg Photoshop. Are pixels discarded or changed in size?
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Unread post by DuQues » Tue Apr 05, 2005 9:14 am

Unfortunately the answer is yes.
Pixels are a set size. If you have a photo which is 3000 by 2000 pixels and you want to display it in an size of 1000 by 334, 2000 by 666 pixels get a permanent vacation.
In other words you just reduced the photo a a third of its quality.

This, combined with the lossy compression JPEG does means that if you edit a photo, save it, edit again, save again the quality is in a very steep downwards pointing curve. So keep your originals, and save the processed photo in a separate place.
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Unread post by DuQues » Tue Apr 05, 2005 9:54 am

DinkyBird wrote:Thanks a lot for that DQ!!!
So obviously I am also not seeing the true quality of the pic on a screen thats resolution is only 1024x768 (my pics are 6 Mega Pixels)?

You are if you are viewing it at 100%, but then you see only part of the photo.
BTW if you want to set one of your photo's as wallpaper remember that your screen has a different ratio to photo's.
Photo's have a ratio 2:3, your screen 3:4 so in most cases you should resize your photo to a larger size than your screen resolution and then crop it to the right size. That way you don't have to use the "Stretch" function when setting it as wallpaper, nor will you have gaps on the top and bottom of your screen.
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General Digital Advice Needed

Unread post by arks » Sun Apr 17, 2005 7:05 pm

I hope you experienced digital photographers can help me a bit.

First, I've been told that most/all digital cams have a (sometimes substantial) shutter delay, which I would find very frustrating when trying to capture a split-second moment or sighting.

Second, what about the auto-focus lenses, which I gather is what DSLRs use? Don't they also slow things down?

I've been using an Olympus OM-2S for years and while it has some semiautomatic features, I generally use it fully manual. Plus I now have two camera bodies, so I no longer have the frustration of always having the wrong lens fixed and no time to switch (why is it that it's always the wrong lens?!?).

While I see many advantages to going digital, I'm also wary of differences in operation that I may find frustrating. Advice?

thanks, arks

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Unread post by simonb6 » Sun Apr 17, 2005 8:24 pm

Arks

Don't have the bandwidth to answer in detail, but....
DSLRs have no shutter delay - I have a Canon EOS-300D (Digital Rebel in the USA) and it's superb - I use it on fully auto - in the park, I have it on the "sports" mode which seems to give the best mix of shutter speed, depth-of-field (or lack thereof) and autofocus accuracy (see Madach's post about photographing birds in flight). I have also disabled the auto-switch-off function so whem I'm out, the camera is permanently ON - I have 3 batteries so no problems there.

As for lenses - I've taken just under 600 pics in the last week and never needed to change lens once - i use a Tamron 28-300mm lens (equivalent on a DSLR to about 50-480mm).
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arks
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Unread post by arks » Mon Apr 18, 2005 1:46 am

Thanks, Simon, for your advice, and for pointing me to Madach's most interesting post, which I was surprised (and a bit embarrassed) to find was sorta addresssed to me. I'm glad I found it as it's fascinating!

For some reason, this particular forum doesn't seem to resognise me when I enter it and doesn't flag the new threads or those that have posts I haven't read. I haven't encountered this in the few other forums I've visited (Kruger, and Animals etc) and wonder if any of the moderators know why this happens. (Suppose I should post this directly to the moderator).

Anyway, much thanks, arks

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Re: some digital camera questions

Unread post by Erwin » Wed Apr 20, 2005 9:36 am

arks wrote:I hope you experienced digital photographers can help me a bit.

First, I've been told that most/all digital cams have a (sometimes substantial) shutter delay,

This was one of the reasons that kept me from going digital. My first digital Camera (FinePix 7000S) has a shutter delay of more than a quarter (0.37) of a second. No use when trying to take action shots. (What this little camera lacked in shutter response, it definitely made up in picture quality)

Referring to simonb6's post, - shutter delay on the 300D is only evident when shooting multiple frames (2.5 FPS). The reason for this is that the mirror moves up & down between frames. On models where one gets 10 FPS out of the camera, the mirror is locked up between takes. This eliminates "waiting-for-the-mirror-to-return- before-I-open-the-curtain-again"

Though the "burst reaction time" of humans is fairly high, one still needs a lot of practice to eventually successfully synchronize perceived action and shutter press. This is where multiple shots come in handy, predict the onset of action, press the shutter for a second or two, and with a bit of luck, the right moment is captured. When one speaks to professional photographers who have taken that single "wow"shot, they will admit that it comes off a strip of film containing before & after frames. Ever heard the roar of motor drives on Wimbledon just as Lendle is about to serve?

arks wrote:Second, what about the auto-focus lenses, which I gather is what DSLRs use? Don't they also slow things down?[


Autofocus lenses are much quicker during moving action shots than manual focusing. AI servo functions on cameras may even increase the lens's auto focus functionality by "following-focusing"the moving object. In the beginning I also felt out of control by not be able to set the focus manually. Eventually I learned to trust the lens.

arks wrote:While I see many advantages to going digital, I'm also wary of differences in operation that I may find frustrating. Advice?


Go for digital. (You eventually will) I can write a book to convince you. The advantages outweigh the cons by far.

*Burst reaction time amongst animals (and humans) is the time delay between perceived stimuli, cognitive translation in the brain, messaging from the brain to the body to react, and the body actually reacting.
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Re: some digital camera questions

Unread post by DuQues » Wed Apr 20, 2005 10:05 am

Lets make sure we are talking about the same things first; there are compact camera's and DSLR's.
Compact are, well, compact, and lens and body are one piece. They are reasonably priced.

DSLR are fairly big bodies with exchangeable lenses. They are not reasonably priced in comparison to the compacts. Body + Lens could cost you 24.000 rand, in an extreme case you can go up to 880.000 rand. Not bad for just one body and one lens is it?.

arks wrote:First, I've been told that most/all digital cams have a (sometimes substantial) shutter delay, which I would find very frustrating when trying to capture a split-second moment or sighting.

Not quite true. Compact camera's have that, DSLR's have no delay whatsoever. With some compacts (Like Erwin pointed out) it is too much of a delay to be really workable, especially when shooting wildlife or young kids.

arks wrote:Second, what about the auto-focus lenses, which I gather is what DSLRs use? Don't they also slow things down?

Auto focus (AF) is great. You don't have to worry about focus, the lens is in 99.9% of the time correct, so you can take the time to frame the photo. See the tutorial about shooting birds in flight, Madach would not even have tried with manual focus (MF).
Compacts always have auto focus, on a DSLR you have one or more focussing points. There is choice of AF or MF, but only on AF lenses. MF lenses, well you have to do the work yourself.

arks wrote:While I see many advantages to going digital, I'm also wary of differences in operation that I may find frustrating.

Big question: What are you used to? If you are used to a SLR you will find the step to a DSLR very easy. Painting with light will stay that way no matter if you are using film or chips.
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