October 4th, 2004, 03:43 PM
Hello, I am new here in the forum. I am going to purchase my first dig camera. I have been looking at Minoltas DiMage Z3. Any input on this camera? Thanks.
October 4th, 2004, 09:29 PM
Always check the reviews. Both here and DPR have them.
Any late model camera is going to be a good start.
To properly answer we need to understand your requirements.
It's rare a digital camera will be good at everything so you have to tailor your needs and camera.
October 5th, 2004, 05:24 AM
Almost all cameras are good in some respect, so it's a question of figuring out what you need from the camera.
1. The format of the camera:
- Pocket. Fits in your pocket with ease.
- Compact. Makes a big bulge on your pocket, but would fit in a medium sized ladies handbag.
- Semi-SLR (as in it's got a viewfinder like an SLR, but not using a mirror). Pretty bulky, weight can be more than 10 oz's. Can have add-on flash, for instance.
- SLR. We're getting towards the Pro models, although some of them are less expensive than some of the advanced Pro "Semi-SLR". More flexibility through exchangable lenses, and massive ranges of "add-ons". Lots of settings and options to play with when you take the photos (and lots of things to get WRONG!). Perhaps for the more advanced.
- Medium format (i.e. bigger than 24 x 36 mm sensor). For the professional landscape or studio photographer. Not a beginner model.
This choice will influence when and where you can take the camera (carrying a 12 oz camera with another pound or so of lens isn't something you do at a dinner dance, unless you're really keen). Same thing if you're into mountain climbing or riding a bicycle...
2. Resolution. What are your plans for the photos?
- The lowest resolutions of "new" models are about 2MP, and go up to about 22 MP.
- With 4MP you can with a push get a decent 8 x 10 inch print, but to get a GOOD 8 x 10, you need at least 6MP. For full-page prints in a high-quality magazine (i.e the photo magazines you find in the shops), you'll need about 8MP.
- For web-photos, a 1MP camera is probably sufficent, and 1.3 - 2MP is quite fine, as long as you fill the frame and don't have to crop to make it look better. Remember, most peoples monitor is about 1024 x 768 or 1280 x 1024, so 0.8 or 1.2 MP would be enough to fill the screen for those cases. [Of course, I've got a colleague with a 6.3MP monitor...]
Of course, more pixels cost more.
3. What are the conditions when you take photos?
- sports require quick response from the camera. The professional level SLR's are quick autofocus and the time from pressing the shutter until the shutter is actually releasing is quick.
- landscape. Don't really matter about the speed of the camera, the mountains or trees will be there many seconds after you get the shot lined up, but you probably need to worry about the wide-angle side of the lens. A 38-mm equivalent is just about bearable as the wide-angle, but a 28 or 24mm equivalent is much better here.
- Wild animals/birds. You need long telephoto capabilty. Some of the compact/semi-SLR's have about 400 mm equivalent lenses, and that's pretty decent for these sort of things, but a (long/expensive!) telephoto lens on a proper SLR will be the best choice (and the most expensive).
- Indoors/low light. The smaller sensor size of many compact/pocket cameras mean that low light conditions get noisy. A bigger sensor size gives more isolation and less cross talk as well as better sensitivity to low light, so you're better off with a bigger sensor.
- Close-ups (Macro). If this is your thing, you need a lens that is capable of getting close to the subject. Many of the compacts can do this, but you need to check what it can and can't do before you buy.
-Flash. Particularly indoor, flash is quite useful. Built in little flash units are in almost all but the high end PRO DSLR's, and they have their limits. If you want GOOD photos from flash, you'd be looking at a camera that can take an external unit. That way, not only do you get MORE light, but you can, if you buy the more advanced units, bounce the flash off a wall or ceiling and get a more dispersed light.
-Under water. Some cameras are either designed for underwater, or have an optional water-proof outside casing that can be used for under-water photography. Most cameras are barely splash-proof, and can just about stand a little rain... Again, if you need to have a particularly waterproof camera, check each model and get one that matches your needs.
Getting the right kind in this category will not necessarily cost more, but you need to pick the right choice to get the best shots of what you want...
In the end, you'll have to think about what you're trying to achieve, how much money you've got to spend on photography, and get the best compromise for your purpose. And remember, MORE money doesn't necessarily mean BETTER. As with many skills-limited hobbies, 90% of the result comes from the operator! I know that some of the members on this forum could take a better shot with a $100 point and shoot than I could with ANY equipment in the world.
October 5th, 2004, 08:48 AM
On megapixels and printing - depending on your subject matter, you can get acceptable 8x10's from a good 2MP image. Of course, side-by-side with an image from a 6MP DSLR, they will be blown away, but if you don't have a DSLR, something is better than nothing. ;)
Nevertheless, I definitely think you should stay away from digicams with 2MP or less resolution. Getting something with 4MP minimum would be a good idea if you want to be happy with it for a while. Also, be sure the camera you choose has an optical zoom. Digital zoom is the same as doing a crop and interpolate in Photoshop, and the quality of that is going to be horrible (to those with DSLRs here: pardon me for a moment as I ignore the fact that your camera's images hold up to interpolation a bit better than those from a point & shoot). In other words, don't buy a camera with only digital zoom, and if your camera has both optical and digital zoom, disable the digital zoom and use the optical zoom only.