What camera to buy?


TPF Noob!
Jun 11, 2013
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Hey all!

I am looking to buy my first camera (that is not attached to my smartphone) ever and need some help!
I have a hobby in which I paint miniatures (Warhammer to be precise).
What I want to be able to do with my camera is the following:
-Film detailed tutorials on how to paint these models
-Take detailed pictures of the finished products
-Take pictures when I'm on vacation with my girlfriend or when I have a family weekend in such a way that I can be really proud of the results.

The two camera's Im stuck at at the moment can most likely do the last point I mentioned, so Im mostly conserned about the first two.
Since I found out that people in shops never understand what I want (and they tend to just want to sell me the brand that they get the highest margin of) perhaps this video is nice to show what I want to do with it.

This models is about 14 cm high, which is somewhat the highest model I would most likely paint. All other models are more in the 4-5cm range.

So what camera's am I stuck at?
The Nikon d3200 and the Sony SLT-a58
and with the nikon I'm also stuck with: 18x55 vr or 18x105 vr? (With sony I only have a budget for 18x55)

So the main thing I want to be able to do is: take 1080p movies of small objects that move alot (When I paint I dont keep the model fixed at one point, but I do want it to stay as sharp as possible).

These camera's are the most I can afford so my question: Any of these two? or a completely different camera (bridge maybe?).

Thank you very much!
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Detailed as in:




This is a 1/32 scale airplane and that red "Remove Before Flight" streamer is about 1/8" across. The nose wheel is about a half inch in diameter.

Any DSLR can do what you want, it's the lenses that make the difference. For close work you need a macro lens or extension tubes and some lights. For vacation shots a more versatile lens like a 17-70 zoom. Or you can get one that combines both.
Yes like that! But does it also provide video quality like that?
And the 18x105 would be the best choice than?
Yes like that! But does it also provide video quality like that?
And the 18x105 would be the best choice than?
I have no idea whether the video quality is good or not. I've never shot any video with my bodies, I'm just not interested in video and prefer stills. There are a number of people here that do shoot video so someone will probably chime in.

The 18-105 would probably be the better choice of those two, however I wouldn't say it's the "Best" choice by far. Focus distance on those two shots above was probably about 3". The minimum focusing distance of the 18-105 is about 18". That's not necessarily a bad thing though since one of the problems in shooting in macro mode is that once you get a camera in close there is very little room left for light. The flash on the camera is useless since the lens is in the way. I had two flashes with umbrellas on light stands over the top of the model for the first one and one on each side of the camera for the second. I needed a couple more but all I had was two.

Using the 18-105 at 105mm and as close as you can get will still require a lot of cropping but the D3200 has enough resolution to do that. Plan on a good tripod at some point, it is going to be a necessity.
Thank you very much, I was indeed also looking at tripods allready :). Hope to get some information from the people that shoot videos :). For the picture part I'm getting more and more confident that the 3200+18x105 will be a great choice.
Hi Arjan -sadly, both the D3200 and the A58 have a challenge with fine patterns on subjects - leading to a phenomenon called moire, seen in this D3200 video on a shingled roof at about 1:30 (note the dancing discolorations on the roof):

[please type vimeo.com slash 42769249 into your browser]

This can also happen to striped objects, patterned cloth, brickwork, etc. The A58 has a similar problem with patterned subjects (please watch at 1080p - see moire in the fence shadow starting at 0:12):

The $750 Nikon D5200 is moire-resistant (see example in the following post), is a great video/still camera, and, with macro lenses, will do a great job with your figurines - but you'll have to decide whether you want to make the additional investment in order to avoid shot-ruining moire.

Hope this is helpful,

Hybrid Camera Revolution
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Arjan - here are the D3200 and D5200 side-by-side. Please watch at 1080p - and note the difference between the cameras in the amount of moire generated on the chain link fence:

If you get the D3200, you can count on this phenomenon to show up when you least expect it - perhaps on your miniatures.

Good luck with your decision!

Hybrid Camera Revolution
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Thanks Bill, very helpfull reply! I'll see if I can make the additional investment :).

I posted this questions on some forums in order to get the best information (i hope) and got this reply:
Arjan- if a DSLR on a budget with movie capture is what your after, the A37 would seem the logical choice.
If you're considering a "bridge", Panasonic's FZ200 is the best all rounder (in my opinion...)- and I wouldn't entertain the Nikon as the AF is garbage.... on stills and movies...

ofcourse I want to know if people agree.
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Hi Arjan - that answer is accurate, as far as it goes. The A37 does have much better video autofocus than the Nikons, but like the rest of the Alpha cameras, it generates terrible moire on patterned subjects (see discolored bands of moire on the rooflines after 1:46 in this video).

I would not buy this camera for video. But if fast autofocus is important to you, the D5200 may not be the best option either.

If you want a still/video camera with:

- fast video autofocus,

- less susceptibility to shot-ruining moire,

- essentially unlimited continuous video recording (Nikons, Canons and Sonys stop recording after 30 minutes - they can be restarted, but this can be a problem for school plays and other events) and

- power zoom lenses with quiet autofocus motors that won't ruin your soundtrack

Panasonic has a couple of cameras you might want to take a look at. The new $750 interchangeable lens Panasonic G6, or, their more affordable bridge camera, the $490 FZ200.

I have the Panasonic FZ150, the predecessor camera to the FZ200, so I am familiar with its capabilities. The FZ200's big advantages are its smaller size, affordability, mic input jack, 720/120p slow motion and constant f2.8 lens for good low light performance. Its disadvantages are:

- a smaller sensor (somewhat lower still and video resolution than a DSLR),

- deeper depth of field (which is only a disadvantage if you like the DSLR shallow-depth-of-field look),

- non-standard 2.5mm mic input (requires a $5 adapter) and

- the fixed lens (if you like the flexibility of interchangeable lenses)

If you don't mind losing a little image quality, the FZ200 is a good choice, and is available now.

Again, hope this is helpful,

Hybrid Camera Revolution
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Here is a FZ200 informational video done by the terrific Marlene Hielema. The first part of the video (up to 1:47) is shot with the FZ200, the remainder is shot with the $1249 Panasonic GH3. The video has great information about the FZ200's autofocus capabilities and external sound input, but one of the most interesting things about it is what it says about the FZ200's resolution. If you look at the pattern on Marlene's glasses in the FZ200 shot and compare it to the image produced by the GH3 - the limitations of the smaller sensor become clear (please watch at 720p):

If you want higher video resolution, you'll have to step up to the G6 or the GH3. I am a GH3 shooter, and it is the best still/video hybrid camera on the market - but it may cost more than what I think you want to spend. The G6 could be a good compromise, if you can wait until it is released on June 21st.

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Here is a sample video from the Panasonic G6. Note the lack of moire on the straw boat at 0:26 and on the patterned fabrics at the market at 0:49 (please watch at 1080p):

Expert Reviews (UK) gave this camera 5 out of 5 stars

Trusted Reviews (UK) gives it 9 out of 10.

Steve Lynch of Small Camera Big Picture (US) calls it "A Complete Professionals' Package"

As a Panasonic TM900/FZ150/GH1/GH2/GH3 owner, I am confident that the G6 will be an excellent still/video value for your money. I would get one myself if my wife didn't already think I have some sort of sick Panasonic obsession :)

Good luck with your decision!

Hybrid Camera Revolution
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Wow! Did not expect such helpfull comments! Since Im a real beginner I didnt know where to start. Your posts are helping alot.
The GH3 will cost around 1000-1200 euros which is indead too much (I love the quality, but a budget is a budget :) ).
The G6 looks amazing aswell, but will run me around 700 euros, which is unfortunately still outside my budget (I will however look if I can find a good deal, allthough this might be hard since it will be new-new).

The FZ200 is right where I want to be regarding price.
The fast autofocus is a must, I am moving around alot with my hands and I dont want the viewer to go completely crazy from all the slow focussing (if there is focus at all).

and even thought the whole lens chaning that a DSLR offers is something I find really charming about the whole photography hobby/business I fear that eventually I dont want to change all the time between lenses.
So I am leaning more and more to bridge (I change my mind alot Im noticing but thats because of new information :) ).

Thank you very much and I will dig up more information for a bit longer and then Ill take my decision (The latest early July because I want my new camera when I go to france on holliday :)).
This is one of my videos shot with my Nokia, and it shows exactly what I do not want anymore (especially around 0:37-end):

and note that the models in this video actually dont move around that much (atleast in the same area, which I cant allways say when I paint).
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I'm not sure why autofocus matters that much for you. You're painting stuff in a pretty fixed location, and you don't WANT the camera to focus on your hands as they move by. You want it to stay focused on a fairly narrow range of distances near the center tabletop area where your brush is going to be active.

Moire is also not a huge deal, I don't believe. Moire is an optical fact of life, and any camera which is "Resistant" to it is simply filtering out the moire that exists already with a filter. This has a tradeoff of less maximum possible sharpness, though. Since you can also eliminate moire in post production software with anti aliasing (software) filters, and since the physical filters are pretty weak generally (due to the tradeoff), I wouldn't worry about this for buying a camera. If you buy one and dont like the moire, then just get some cheapo AA software and run videos through it before publishing them, problem solved.

What seems like it would matter more for you is macro focusing ability. I.e. how closely in front of the lens you can focus compared to focal length of the lens, two factors which work together to create a usable magnification factor. You want good macro ability for capturing tiny model details.

You also probably want a camera that can shoot at small apertures fast enough for video. This means either high ISO abilities (larger sensors like a DSLR will have) to let your camera utilize avialable light well enough, AND/OR buying some decent lighting equipment to provide the needed extra light.

Then if I were you, I'd set my camera to about f/16 or so, focus it so that the middle of the focus range is right about where your paintbrush is working, and just leave it there for all painting shots, at fixed focus, for maximum detail and magnification and depth of field. Then cut to a new scene if/when you want to show your face or the finished product, etc.

1) A camera that allows you to control aperture
2) Either a DSLR quality sensor, or lighting equipment to provide enough speed
3) Either a standalone lens (for DSLR) or a built in lens (for bridge, etc.) that allows a high macro magnification ratio.

I dont know much about non-DSLR gear, but if going that route (and Canon), an example would be a used Canon Rebel body (~$300-400) + a 50mm f/2.8 macro lens (~$200) = $500-600 total, + another $150 if you get a couple of cheap lights and your memory card to go with it, and a used multipurpose "kit lens" to go with it. There are also of course cheaper, but more limited / non-expandable options if you're sure this is ALL you want to do.
Thank you for your reply!
Would you say that the FZ200 has this ability? Or would you choose the Canon EOS 550D/600D over the Lumix?
I was watching more videos shot by the FZ200 and it looks really good, but most videos are about large opjects. (some about flowers and they looked really detailed).

Take in mind that I am someone who always wants the best but right now has to settle for something thats also affordable.

I want it to stay focussed on the model, and my hand is attached to this model. So I indeed do not want it to focus on my hand, but do want it to focus on the model nearby. With your reasoning, do you believe AF would damage this?

Getting lights is something I wanted to do anyway, so not sure if that is information that is usefull :)?

Thanks again! Im still learning and everyone is very helpfull
(sometimes so helpfull that it becomes confusing again because people tend to have different oppinions, but thats what I asked for :) ).

Have been spending the night reading review and am at that point where I cant see the big differences anymore.
I am "torn" between the FZ200, the Canon EOS 600D and the Nikon coolpix 510/520... help? :)
(The canon being the only DLSR, which I am finding more and more a probable problem, since the "need more lensen" thing might really not be something for me).

Again: thanks all!
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Looking at the FZ200, I noticed I also need a SDHC card.
Now I found:
Kingston SDA10/64 GB 60mb/sec
Kingstond SDA10/32 GB 100X

The 32GB is almost as expencive as the 64 gb, so whats the catch?
(As you might notice, Im getting more and more confident that the fz200 will be great for me, unless someone comes with THE argument not to take it ofcourse :) ).

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