Read the buying guide, still need advice

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by fuzzlekins, Nov 27, 2006.

  1. fuzzlekins

    fuzzlekins TPF Noob!

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    Hello!
    I am thinking of buying my husband a camera for Christmas. We already have a Sony Cybershot 6MP 3X zoom camera that is about 6 mths old. We bought that camera for its great battery life right before a vacation. We previously had an older, larger Olympus that ate batteries like candy. We also recently received a sony digital camcorder as a gift -- haven't even opened the box much less the instruction booklet on that one yet (intend to use that for baby). Anyhoo, here's why I'm thinking of another camera ... shutter speed and zoom. We just took a river cruise in Europe and while our Cybershot pics came out good overall, some were blurry because of the long processing time for low light shots w/o flash, we couldn't get a good zoom on castles we were passing on the river, and some moments pass by too quickly to catch on a Cybershot. I still love the camera for its compact size and simplicity b/c we're both total novices w/ a camera. So here's what I'm looking for ... fast shutter speed, stronger zoom (not looking to snap a wart on a toad a mile away -- just reasonably good), not too complicated, as compact as possible, good battery life, and as inexpensive as possible since this will be our third camera (not counting the Olympus that's in the closet). We will use the camera for two predominant purposes -- 1) travel (I'm a travel agent) and 2) baby photos (we're expecting a child through adoption) -- candid action shots, not portraits. Basically, we'd like a good idiot-proof camera just like the Cybershot but with faster shutter speed and more powerful zoom. We're not looking to become pro photographers. This may be asking too much but if Sony makes such a thing, even better b/c we have a Sony TV with a media slot. After a trip, we can pop our memory card into the slot and watch our slide show immediately on our TV -- love that. Suggestions?

    Thanks!
     
  2. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Welcome to the forum.

    First lets clear something up. You want a faster shutter speed to freeze your blurry shots. That's the right idea...however, that's not something that a better camera will fix. Just about any camera is capable of using a faster shutter speed (including the one you have)...but the problem is that to get the exposure in the light you were in...you need that longer shutter. It has nothing to do with the camera's processing time.

    There are three things that make up exposure. The shutter speed (length of time the image is recorded)...the aperture (the size of the hole in the lens (will be adjustable))...and the sensitivity (ISO setting).

    One of the problems for all photography...is dealing with lower light levels. To get proper exposure, we have to let in a lot of light...but the longer the shutter is open...the more susceptible we are to blurriness from camera shake and subject movement.

    The aperture in the lens is adjustable (on most cameras)...so the bigger the better. A bigger aperture will let in more light which means we can get a faster shutter speed. We call that a 'fast' lens. Aperture is measured in F stops...Lower F numbers means a bigger aperture. Read that again and remember it. It can get confusing. This is the best option for helping to freeze the blur.

    The other option we have...is to turn up the ISO setting. This will also help up get faster shutter speeds...however, there is a trade off. The higher the ISO, the more digital noise we get. Most 'point & shoot' digital cameras get pretty noisy at ISO 400 and higher. That's one reason why most of us prefer to use a Digital SLR camera, which has a much bigger sensor. They are bigger and more expensive though...but can help make much better images.

    So when you are looking for a new camera...you will want to look for one with a big maximum aperture...which is a low F number.

    Alternatively...if you use a tripod or some sort of camera support...you can get clear photos in just about any light...but that won't help for moving kids or when you are on the go.
     
  3. fuzzlekins

    fuzzlekins TPF Noob!

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    Thanks! Good info. The shutter speed isn't only an issue with low light though -- the Cybershot is just not a fast shutter speed camera which makes taking an action shot impossible. Of course, if there is a way to quicken shutter speed on it w/o losing photo quality, I don't know how to do it (that's not to say it can't be done). So an SLR camera would be the best bet? Any particular model suggestions?
     
  4. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I think what you are talking about is 'shutter lag'...the time between when you press the button and when the camera actually snaps the image.

    Yes, most cheap digital cameras are terrible for this. I can't even use one...it drives me crazy. Some of the more expensive P&S digi-cams are better though.

    A digital SLR camera (DSLR) would be your best choice for many reasons. The shutter lag is very quick. The image quality is much better than digi-cams...especially in lower light (high ISO settings). Much less digital noise. It's a much better investment. DSLR cameras don't depreciate as fast as digi-cams...and the lenses don't depreciate much at all (not the good ones anyway). The biggest advantage (IMO) is the size of the sensor. That's what gives you better image quality.

    The down side is that DSLR cameras are not cheap...although they are getting better all the time. The entry level cameras are about $500-$600 with the basic kit lens. You can get better lenses...but they aren't cheap either. However, they are an investment though....and you can use the lenses with other cameras in the same system.

    DSLR with lenses can be bulky and harder to travel with...although there are some smaller ones. But most of us think that the benefits out weigh the down sides.

    For entry level models...look at the Canon Rebel XT (or newer XTi). The Nikon D50 (or new D40). The Pentax K100D or the Sony Alpha.
     
  5. fuzzlekins

    fuzzlekins TPF Noob!

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    THANKS! :)
     
  6. britonk

    britonk TPF Noob!

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    Hi, I have the Nikon D50 mentioned by Big Mike, it's a great camera and as Mike says any lenses you buy for it will work on future Nikon's you buy. It has no (noticible) shutter lag and a maximum shutter speed of 1/4,000th of a second which is fast enough to catch the fastest moving objects with enough light.
     

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