Thinking about digital

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by Algoessailing, Sep 24, 2004.

  1. Algoessailing

    Algoessailing TPF Noob!

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    My backup body was borrowed from a friend and I recently returned it. Now I am in the market for another. I have come to the question which most, if not all, of you have already answered for yourself: go digital? My biggest hangup is that all of my equipment is Pentax, and they only offer one DSLR, the *istD. Yes, I should have started with a better camera to begin with, but I didn't want to spend a lot of money on a new hobby until I knew if I liked it. I thought film would be cheaper, but considering I'm averaging 2-3 pictures per roll that I actually like (not necessarily great shots), and my wife is deleting garbage off her 5 megapixel point and shoot before it gets printed, digital isn't sounding that expensive. So, on to my questions:
    1. is minimum ISO 200 ok for a digital, or am I going to be disapointed with that: not being able to shoot at ISO100, or even 50.
    2. How easy is it to determine proper exposure on the LCD screen, so I don't drive home 1000 miles from vacation and realize that the beach was washed out or that the mist in the air really did ruin that "great" location for a waterfall shot that I scaled down a 50' mud cliff, gear in hand, risking life and limb for.
    3. Am I going to say "Why didn't I do this before?"
    4. As a 2nd camera, are you digital people using a digital or film?
    That's all I can think of for now, thanks for any advice
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  2. photobug

    photobug TPF Noob!

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    Al- first, a few generalizations. Any of the current dslr cameras are capable of taking amazing pictures. Brand snobbism aside, it comes down to features/ergonimics of the body.

    One thing to remember- with the FOV crop factor of dslr bodies your wide angle lens is no longer quite so wide. A 35mm lens on the *istD will give you the same FOV as a 50mm on film. If you shoot a lot of wide angle stuff, be prepared to buy a new lens.

    To answer your questions in order (bearing in mind that I am slightly biased since I own the *istD):

    1- ISO 200 works fine in the *istD. Some sensors work better at different ISO settings. The dpreview site the bp22hot listed above has some comparison charts in their camera reviews.

    2- The LCD is adequate, but it's better to use the histogram for determining exposure issues. Most of the dslr bodies available have a auto bracket feature that takes 3 shots- as metered, over & underexposed. Often, combining the over & underexposed shots gives you a better shot than the camera is capable of in a single exposure.

    Here's an example- first, a shot from a single frame: single frame, and a shot of two frames combined: blended frame.

    3- Yes. But you'll still shoot film, because the one area where digital hasn't caught film is for really long exposures.

    4- I use a Contax RTS II for my backup camera (2 actually).

    Depending on your needs, Pentax is releasing a intro body called the *istDs at photokina this month. Updated electronics, some features missing from the *istD, uses SD instead of CF cards, etc. Should sell for about $800-900 USD for the body.

    Pretyy tough to go wrong with the current offerings. Since you have Pentax gear already the *istD or Ds seem a natural, but you need to compare bodies before you take the plunge.
     
  3. Harpper

    Harpper TPF Noob!

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    Yes, I agree with Jim. Too many people are way too concerned about which camera is better. I've seen many good and bad pictures from just about all current cameras so photography skill will always be the deciding factor.

    As Jim mentions what you really should be looking for are the features and ergonomics you want. Basically things that will help you take pictures and make it easy to live with day in and day out. For example, if the controls are laid out in a bad way then you'll constantly be frustrated while taking pictures and most likely miss the shot you want. It's happened to me using a few friends' cameras.

    You probably should also think about what type of photography you do on a regular basis because some features are necessary for certain types of photography while for others it would only be a luxury. Most consumers only think about which camera gives the sharpest noise free images, but I personally think current DSLRs are very close in quality. It takes lab testing (like at dpview.com) to show the difference which says a lot about how close they all are...but from what I've seen a lot of photographers lose the slight extra quality because of bad photography technique. If the quality is drasitically different then it's a safer bet that the photographer did something wrong.

    Jim, basically answered your questions but I would like to add that the LCD can be very useful to see generally if you got your shot right before going home. (It's saved me a lot of times) Although since LCDs aren't as color accurate and some camera's LCD are brighter or darker than others, it's not that great to check for exposure. Some cameras allow users to "calibrate" their LCD or have a highlight feature to show when you've overexposed certain areas...just another example why you should look for useful features. Although almost all DSLR cameras have histograms which is usually good enough.

    So go to a camera store and try them out. Would you buy a car without testing driving it first? You'll see what I mean if you do. Everyone has their own preferences in ergonomics, features, quality built, etc, etc, etc so one camera may just feel right when you use it while the others don't.
     

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