Need New Camera Advice

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by Ayanla, Sep 11, 2009.

  1. Ayanla

    Ayanla TPF Noob!

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    I will try to keep this as succinct as possible. I am looking for a new camera. I am not a photographer, but I want something better than a P&S. I am willing to put some money into a camera/lenses, but I don't want to just blindly buy something I know almost nothing about. I do have some interest in learning to take better photos, but I have very little artistic sense, so I have no illusions about becoming a professional photographer.

    My main concern is zoom capability. I take pictures frequently from a distance in various lighting conditions - kid's concerts, conventions, etc. I'd like a camera/lens that would allow me to get quality shots from a distance indoors and out.

    Secondary is general people/living being shots both indoors and out. Nothing fancy, just general snapshots of my kids, family, dogs, cats etc.

    Third is the ability for the camera to grow with my knowledge and ability. I'd rather have a camera with options I don't use yet. That way I can learn and improve.

    I'll do tons of research before I actually purchase, but I was hoping to get some opinions/ideas from people who know more than me to start with. Otherwise I'm just throwing darts in the dark.

    Thanks so much for your help.
     
  2. Montana

    Montana TPF Noob!

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    Without a budget in mind, its hard to recommend. Sure, we can recommend a basic beginner model and kit lens. But if you like shooting kids concerts and other indoors shots, I would recommend some fast primes on virtually any body. If you want to dump lots of money to get a great high ISO performing camera....just say the words.....LOL. So, welcome and .......budget?
     
  3. Ayanla

    Ayanla TPF Noob!

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    Sorry! I don't really have a fixed budget in mind. I'm more concerned with getting the results I want. There is a desire to get a good deal and not overspend for my needs, but I'm not on a tight budget.

    My current P&S is a 5mp kodak with 3x optical zoom that I paid, I believe, $80 for. It has 10x digital zoom, but I can't fathom when digital zoom would ever actually be useful and I've never used it to any decent success.

    Brief summary of how I've used my camera in the last year:

    My kid's instrumental/choral concerts- They were on stage with stage lighting, the room itself was low light. Theater seating. I was 5-15 rows back. Challenges - every shot is a distant group shot. Can't take shots of my kids individually. Shots are dark and grainy.

    Convention - Guests on stage with normal "hotel" lighting, the room itself was also normal hotel lighting or slightly dimmed. I was 20-30+ rows back. Challenges - every shot was distant, unrecognizable, dark, and useless. Even when I got up and moved as far as 3 or 4 rows back, I got the same results.

    Inside my home - Candid shots of the kids, dogs, my nieces/nephews etc. Household lighting, various times of the day/night. Challenges - Delayed shutter results in a lot of closed eyes. Harsh flash results in a lot of "demon" eyes (I know this isn't a camera issue as much as a lighting/user issue, but having to be close to get a decent shot doesn't help). No ability to take multiple quick shots in succession due to both shutter delay and the camera "resetting" the shot after each click.

    Does this help at all with knowing what direction to send me in? I'm happy to answer anything else.
     
  4. Village Idiot

    Village Idiot No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    ^^

    Two of the optimum choices for performing arts photography that are currently being offered by camera companies will run you about $2400 and $2700. That's not including a quality lens that will let you use those cameras to their full pontential. Those run about $1500-$1700 new.

    Can you get away with buying a $600 camera and a $200 lens? Yes. The real question is can you live with the quality of those shots.
     
  5. PhotoXopher

    PhotoXopher TPF Noob!

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    My main concern is zoom capability.
    Lens issue, not camera. Any DSLR can use zoom lenses made for it.

    I take pictures frequently from a distance in various lighting conditions - kid's concerts, conventions, etc. I'd like a camera/lens that would allow me to get quality shots from a distance indoors and out.
    This will cost money as you'll need a 'fast' lens, f/2.8 or better. Prepare to spend $800 or more on just one lens (80-200 f/2.8 for example on the low end).

    Secondary is general people/living being shots both indoors and out. Nothing fancy, just general snapshots of my kids, family, dogs, cats etc.
    The kit lens is typically good enough for this, however you would benefit from something like a 28-70 or so f/2.8 lens. Wider if you're usually in a small area.

    Third is the ability for the camera to grow with my knowledge and ability. I'd rather have a camera with options I don't use yet. That way I can learn and improve.
    I'd personally recommend the Nikon D90, I have one and love it and it sounds exactly like what you're looking for. It has excellent low light ability for those situations you mentioned above (concerts, etc). It can also control wireless flash units (SB-600, SB-800, SB-900), use a GPS to geotag your photos, fire off 4.5 shots per second, and let's not forget the built in video it has for capturing those moments another way without having to bring extra gear... and much, much more.
     
  6. Village Idiot

    Village Idiot No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Red eye is caused by the iris of the eye being open to let in light in darker conditions and the reflection of a direct flash off an eye. A DSLR won't necessarily fix this. Using a light source that is off axis from the lens will.

    Ed: Can I personally recommend a 5D MKII? I own one and it's high ISO performance is leaps and bounds above the D90.
     
  7. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    In some respects, you are asking for the impossible. I have shot kids concerts and even with a 200mm 2.8 prime on a full frame it is necessary to get closer than a few rows back. I have also used a powerful flash unit to cover 50 feet or more. The first row might be 20 to 30 feet back from where a child is on the stage. Moreover you also need a good shutterspeed of 1/200 sec. if you are not familiar with shooting with heavy lenses or are shooting movement. You need to up the ISO, but that has the potential to add camera noise to the picture. Camera position is also important.

    There are a lot of problems to be solved in this type of shooting and equipment is only a part of the answer. It won't solve them all. I would say that from a stationary position in the audience, (unless you are perhaps in the front row) it is next to impossible under low light to get really great shots with minimum equipment.

    skieur
     
  8. bigtwinky

    bigtwinky No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    As you dont seem to want to become a pro, are you really in need of a dSLR, high end lens and so on? One of the most expensive things to photograph (due to equipment needs) are indoor events with lower light. This is why they say wedding photography is is expensive to do as you need alot of high end gear.

    If you want a more advanced point and shoot, with the ability to somewhat grow into it, learn to shoot it manually, I would think about looking at the Canon SX1 IS

    Its 10 mega pixel camera, which is more than you need
    It has a 20x zoom, compared to your 3x zoom you have now
    CMOS sensor, digic IV processor (recent), HD Movie, RAW files,
    IS = Image Stabilization

    Its a great bridge camera.
    Another option is a Canon G10. The zoom isn't as long, but its a great camera with good image quality.

    Neither will match a Canon 5D Mk II with a 70-200 f/2.8 IS lens, which will set you back $3500 at least. The SX 1 IS sells for about $550.
     
  9. Antithesis

    Antithesis No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Depending on your budget, you could get a Nikon D90 (around $1000), which is capable of decent high-ISO shooting without much image degradation. For lenses, you could look at an older, push-pull type 80-200mm f2.8 (~$500 on ebay or keh.com), which should get you some ok shots depending on the lighting, you may have to crank the ISO up pretty high (1600-3200) to get to 1/200th of a second shutter speeds. There are also some medium telephoto prime lenses like the 85mm f1.8 which might be useful as well, and can be had for under $500 a piece.

    Like others have said, the cheaper, plastic "kit" lenses will not be usable indoors without flash. It's just the reality of photography, and what makes it so bloody expensive, lol.

    Assuming you probably don't know too much about photography though, these numbers probably sound absurd. The prices attached to them probably sound even worse.
     
  10. Ayanla

    Ayanla TPF Noob!

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    I'm not expecting any miracles or photos I can sell or anything. I'd just like to get shots where you might actually be able to tell who the people are. I don't necessarily need to see the freckles on their nose.

    I am actually relatively satisfied with what I'm getting in the "general photography" category. It's not award winning quality, but at least it preserves the memories for me. It's the short zoom and slow shutter speed that I'm particularly frustrated with. With my current camera, at any distance beyond 5' or so, I sometimes feel like I'm just taking pictures to say I took them as the image quality and zoom level is so poor as to make the resulting image useless.

    I think bigtwinky may be more on track with what I'm looking for, an upgraded P&S or an entry level DSLR/lens kit that I can learn on without being too overwhelmed. I was looking at the D90, but I don't even understand what lenses are good for what, so it makes it tough for me to make informed choices without spending a lot of time researching each individual feature. While I'm doing lots of research, it's easy to get overwhelmed when you're trying to research something basically from zero knowledge.
     
  11. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I can certainly relate to that! :)
    It is hard to understand what people are really saying and to weigh up the costs and benefits against your expectations and enthusiasm when you have little experience of actually using the gear to understand how the different elements affect each other.

    If your still keen to go down the DSLR route then I would say get a decent entry level camera body and its kit lens and get some shooting done - play around and see how your shooting and where you feel that your lacking something in the camera.
    I think the key thing though is to understand that a very cheap DSLR setup is not going to give you vastly more than a very highend point and shoot (typically at that level they take on the name bridge camera as they have more customisable features like a DSLR would save for the removable lens). DSLRs tend to be a bit of a money sink - oh they are fantastic when used right and they offer a lot of customisation and expansion - but that is not always for everyone*

    *oh and don't think that DSLRs are overly complex - once you get a bit of practice and afeel for things they start to become a little more simple and easy to understand.
     
  12. bigtwinky

    bigtwinky No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I'm still thinking that the SX 1 IS (or something similar) will fit your need. If you said you wanted to learn the art of photography, do some nature or portraits and so on, then I'd look at a dSLR. I have friends who are snap happy and love their bridge cameras.

    The one irk though is that you mention fast shutter. To get a fast shutter, you need high ISO. P&S, bridge and entry level dSLRs kinda such as high ISO. This is the turning point I think, to decide how important this is.

    I think you'll be VERY satisfied with the zoom of the SX 1 IS. I believe its the longest zoom in its class, most are 8x - 12x. But really, the ISO performance won't be that stellar. And it won't get better until you plunk down thousands of dollars (dSLR + lens) and the time to learn how to use it.
     

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