Help for a beginner

Discussion in 'Digital Discussion & Q&A' started by PatK, Dec 12, 2009.

  1. PatK

    PatK TPF Noob!

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    I recently purchased a Kodak Z980. I've started taking waterfall shots and have to hand hold filters in front of my camera to get a slow enough shutter speed without too much light. I'm not in love with the pictures either. I am wondering if I should buy an entry level dslr or wouldn't it be much change from what I now have. I don't have unlimited funds and don't want to make another mistake. I need any advice that anyone could give me. I take mostly wildlife and nature shots. Should I switch cameras or learn to use the one I have?
     
  2. Shockey

    Shockey TPF Noob!

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    Can you post an example of the photo you don't like and point out what you don't like about it. That makes it much easier to answer your question as to whether a DSLR will help.
    Typically ISO noise and depth of field are the a couple of the major advantages to DSLR's...there are others of course.
     
  3. PatK

    PatK TPF Noob!

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    I tried to upload a photo, but no luck. Guess I don't know how
    But I just checked and it's in the gallery. If you can find it you'll see what I mean.
     
  4. Shockey

    Shockey TPF Noob!

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    That picture is blurry from motion and dull from lack of processing.
    Do increase your shutter speed or use a tripod and learn to do a levels adjustment and sharpen your pictures.
     
  5. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    There is a lot to be said for learning to use what you already have. Realistically, for nature and wildlife the Kodak will be somewhat limiting.

    I see in the specs, the lens on your Kodak has a 24x optical zoom. The lens designers at Schneider-Kreuznach (they make the lens) had to make a plethora of compromises to image quality to achieve that huge range. All the light that reaches the image sensor has to first go through all those compromises before it gets recorded.

    You are seeing those compromises in the image quality your camera lens will ultimately produce. Worse yet, you can't change the lens, nor mount the filters you need to use.

    Entry-level digital SLR's accomodate interchangable lenses and round screw-on filters.

    You can buy Nikon's least expensive digital SLR, the D3000, and mount any of several professional quality lenses on it, if you can afford to buy the pro glass.

    Actually, Nikon has 3 levels of lens quality. Nikon's lowest quality glass would likely surpass what is on the Kodak.

    It really boils down to how serious you are about making high quality images and if you're going to the trouble of hand holding ND filters to image waterfalls, you're pretty serious.
     
  6. PatK

    PatK TPF Noob!

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    Thank you, I should have come to this site prior to buying this camera. I am really serious about taking good shots, so I might just have to get a DSLR. Is it possible to get a good used one from someone who is trading up, or shouldn't I take that chance?
     
  7. Dao

    Dao No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Of course :)

    Over 80% of my camera equipments were bought used. You just need to look around. I mainly bought them from craigslist and ebay. Of course, when I bought stuff from a person locally through craigslist, I can check the item out before I pay.

    In fact, I saw someone here sell a used Nikon D50 with kit lens for $150 on craigslist. That's a steal!!

    Some other people in this forum mentioned that they bought their used gears from the local camera stores or some online stores that sell used equipments such as adorama, B&H and keh.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2009
  8. PatK

    PatK TPF Noob!

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    I've been reading about the Canon EOS Rebel xsi. What do you think of that camera for wildlife and waterfall shots? It seems like a good choice, but I'm not doing anything without advice from experts from now on.
     
  9. Dao

    Dao No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    The camera you mentioned or any other DSLRs should be good enough. All you need is pair it with a lens that can suitable for the type of photography you like.

    For waterfall shots, wide angle lens with a ND filter is a typical combination. Of course, it really depends on the situation because sometimes you may need a telephoto lens. A good tripod is also important for taking waterfall shots that require long exposure (to create the creamy looking water stream/falls).
     
  10. PatK

    PatK TPF Noob!

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    I have a tripod, so I'm good there. Now I have a dilemma as to what telephoto lens to get for wildlife shots. I need to keep the cost down. I was looking at a Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 IS, but have been told that it wouldn't allow enough light. So now I need suggestions on a lens that would be good for wildlife, but won't cost me a fortune. I need to keep both camera and lens in the $1000 range. I know that's tough. Any ideas would be great.
     
  11. Dao

    Dao No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Trust me, a fast telephoto lens is not going to be cheap. Fast lens means the aperture of the lens can be open wider to allow more lights hit the sensor/film at a given time. Usually they represent with a lower F number i.e. F/2.8, F/1.8, F/1.4 ....

    To have a fast telephoto zoom lens will cost too much. A fast telephoto prime lens (fix focal length) will cost less.

    i.e. EF 70-200mm F/2.8 cost more than 200mm F/2.8 lens

    As for the consumer lens, the EF-S 55-250mm IS lens is not a bad choice. At least for the money. Personally, I am not a wildlife shooter so I do not know too much in that area. However, I believe it should be pretty decent for wildlife shots inside a zoo. But for outdoor wildlife shots especially for birds shot, you need a lens with longer focal length.

    Sigma has some great telephoto lenses that people use at a lower cost than the oem counter part.
     
  12. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    For shooting in daylight an f/4-5.6 will be fine. It's only inside or at night you need a fast lens f/1.8 or f/2.8.

    For wildlife, you'll need to get close to the animal with a 250mm lens.

    Serious wildlife photographers gavitate towards 600mm prime lenses and gimbeled tripod mounts (expensive gear) .

    Two other points, and what follows is opinion.

    When you choose a camera brand you are also commiting to that brands lens lineup and general philisophical approach to camera and lens design.

    Right now, Nikon is making cameras that out perform what Canon has to offer when it comes to image quality. In general, equivalent Nikon cameras have better RAW image quality because they have more color depth, dynamic range and ISO performance. Nikon is accomplishing this with fewer mega pixels and most of their cameras also have color aware metering as well. Canon recently introduced their first camera (7D) that has color aware metering. You can check my claims about image quality by visiting the web site of an independent testing lab www.dxomark.com

    As far as used, the used entry-level Canon cameras generally out perform Nikon's earlier entry level cameras (D40, D60, D70, D80), and that's why I mentioned the commitment to a design philosophy, lens lineup, and the possibility you may want to upgrade for better image quality down the road.
     

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