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Michael Levine
(Trout) - F

Locale: Long Beach
Specific budget camera question. on 04/04/2012 20:09:50 MDT Print View

Can someone talk me out of getting a Panasonic DMC-FH25K? I chose it because of the reviews, price, and the 5.3 oz weight. I'm a bit concerned about

What I'd love is something small and light for under $200 that I can take with me on some trips. I shoot mostly big scenes like mountain ranges from afar, and would like the option of printing large format pictures, but I'm okay with the pixelation that comes with my budget. Sorry for the lack of lingo, but like, more towards what my eyes can see, and less close up stuff.

Also could anyone help me understand what is meant by the wide angle lens lingo descriptions include? For example 28-112mm. Is that just saying it can take a picture 4x wide and 1x tall? (112/28) <-- my math.

Slightly concerned about a proprietary battery given that my trips will likely include 2-3 weeks of hiking, though perhaps a spare can be had cheaply.

My previous camera I'm hoping to upgrade from is a Canon Powershot A1000 IS, which I've broken the LCD screen on, and in retaliation it ate my Germany pictures. I'm hoping to even the score by throwing it in the trash.

* sorry you all must get these a lot. I swear I'll PIF to the gear list forum, which I frequent more often =)

Edited by Trout on 04/04/2012 21:57:18 MDT.

John Nausieda
(Meander) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Coolpix on 04/04/2012 20:25:14 MDT Print View

Unless you are printing large or need flash the old Coolpix system is pennies on the dollar.I'll walk you through it, but please be sincere.

Michael Levine
(Trout) - F

Locale: Long Beach
Specific budget camera question. on 04/04/2012 21:54:35 MDT Print View

I always forget to include something. I'd like the option to print large. I was okay but a bit mixed due to some pixelation in printing a large format with Canon Powershot A1000IS, for reference.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Specific budget camera question. on 04/04/2012 21:57:39 MDT Print View

"Also could anyone help me understand what is meant by the wide angle lens lingo descriptions include? For example 28-112mm. Is that just saying it can take a picture 4x wide and 1x tall? (112/28) <-- my math."

Forget all of this guessing.

From the days of 35mm film, the standard lens emerged that was about 50mm in focal length. It had a view that was supposed to be most normal compared to human vision. Then anything with a shorter focal length, like 10 or 28mm, was considered to be wide angle, and that is what you would use for the Grand Canyon. Anything with a longer focal length, like 112 or 200mm, was considered to be a telephoto lens (more like a telescope) for making distant objects look closer. A zoom lens that could variably encompass 28 to 112mm of focal length would be rather versatile.

There are some modern zoom lenses that go even wider on the wide end and even longer on the long end. However, there tend to be optical compromises when the ratio from one end to the other end gets beyond 1:7 or so.

--B.G.--

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Specific budget camera question. on 04/04/2012 22:03:09 MDT Print View

"I'd like the option to print large."

That relates more to the sensor size (megapixels). You can print large with a small megapixel sensor, but you won't like the results. The more megapixels you have, the larger you can print. However, I have one perfect wildlife photo that I got with an 8 megapixel camera, and I was able to print it perfectly at 20x30 inches. That took a lot of intermediate work.

Most people get something with 10 or 12 megapixels and then they are done. If you go up to 14 or 15 megapixels, that just makes the intermediate work simpler.

However, if you shoot 15 megapixels with poor lenses or with poor technique, you will have a larger crappy print.

--B.G.--

Michael Levine
(Trout) - F

Locale: Long Beach
Re: Re: Specific budget camera question. on 04/04/2012 22:47:00 MDT Print View

Bob thanks for all the info, that definitely clarifies the lens angle stuff.

How does one go about figuring out the quality of the lens? I've heard this matters a lot, but am not sure I've seen this in stat sheet metric. That's what's made me rely more heavily on reviews, simply figuring people would complain if the lens sucked. Is there a better way to tell?

I found the following, and am posting it for posterity in case someone stumbled on this because it was a question I was going to ask Bob but researched and figured out.

"How many megapixels do I really need for my purposes" - a quite common question. The following table provides an overview of megapixels in relation to the max. recommended print size - ROUGHLY. A print resolution of 300dpi corresponds to magazine quality. "Acceptable" prints don't require 300dpi but e.g. 2MP will not scale to something like 20x30cm without a severe loss of quality.

Megapixels Resolution common print size (rougly 300dpi)
2 MP 1600x1200 10x13cm / 4x6"
3 MP 2048x1536 13x18cm / 5x7"
4 MP 2400 x 1600 18x23cm / 6x8"
6 MP 3000x2000 20x30cm / 7x10"
8 MP 3600x2400 30x40cm / 10x14"
12 MP - better more 4200x2800 40x60cm / 16x24"

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Specific budget camera question. on 04/04/2012 23:30:10 MDT Print View

It is very difficult to measure camera lens quality by simple means. There are some complex means, and for big camera lenses, they are often measured and reported on web sites such as DPREVIEW. Small camera lenses have lots of compromises due to their size. But then, you are probably not buying a small camera for the fantastic optical quality of its lenses.

--B.G.--

Michael Levine
(Trout) - F

Locale: Long Beach
Re: Re: Re: Re: Specific budget camera question. on 04/05/2012 09:20:08 MDT Print View

Makes sense Bob.

So I'm comparing cameras, and I'm having an interesting time of it. $390 (Canon PowerShot S95) to $140(Panasonic DMC-FH25K).

I'm seeing they both have a 28mm lens capability (probably horrendous phrasing), 8x zoom on the cheap one, 3.8x on the expensive, 720p video on all, cheapo is 16megapixel, expensive is 10, LCD is 3" on the expensive, slightly smaller at 2.8" on the cheapo. Both have 4.5* with lots of reviews (granted some of the el cheapo stars could be from a "value" standpoint).

So from what I'm seeing, it seems like el cheapo rules the day, which confuses me as people are reviewing fancy cam as recently as yesterday.

Andrew Stow
(AndyS) - F - MLife

Locale: Midwest USA
dpreview comparison tool on 04/05/2012 13:44:13 MDT Print View

Canon has a 50% larger sensor, which will be an advantage. It has one more stop ISO and a faster lens (F2.0 - F4.9, vs. F3.3 - F5.9) so it will be a better low-light performer. In fact, each sensor pixel has more than double the area, since it's 10 MP vs. 16. It also appears to have more options for manual shooting modes, if you'd like to play with that sort of thing. I believe they're placing it as more the photographer's point&shoot, rather than a casual p&s.

If I were in the market for a point and shoot today, I'd get the Canon unless cost was the most important factor.

Michael Levine
(Trout) - F

Locale: Long Beach
Re: dpreview comparison tool on 04/05/2012 14:16:53 MDT Print View

that makes a lot of sense. How do you know the sensor size? Panasonic lists "1/2.33-inch", but it took some odd article on the site you mentioned to find the info for the Canon, which is "1/1.7-inch". I'm wondering how you compare those numbers to get 50% larger. I'm in no way saying you're wrong, I'm just saying I don't understand despite trying to.

Is there a tomshardware.com (Computer site) equivalent for cameras? Toms is a miracle site that occasionally posts "best computer for under 300, for under 500, for under 750, for under 1k, etc." Or a site like notebookcheck.com where they rank specs of something compared to the current market climate?

Will Webster
(WillWeb) - M
Review site on 04/05/2012 14:32:56 MDT Print View

Dpreview.com is a good source of information on cameras, from mass-market p&s to pro DSLR.

As Bob mentioned, the Canon S95 and its successor the S100 are aimed at serious photographers who demand a lot of manual control, RAW capture, and the benefits of a larger sensor.

Michael Levine
(Trout) - F

Locale: Long Beach
Re: Review site on 04/05/2012 14:40:47 MDT Print View

Okay I'll spend some time on dpreview.com.

How does one identify and gauge sensor differences? It sounded like megapixels = bigger printable size, but now I'm a bit confused as to maybe sensor size being more relevant?

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Specific budget camera question. on 04/05/2012 14:57:10 MDT Print View

I had this conundrum a couple years ago. I was looking at a Canon S95 vs a SD 1200IS.

They were both 10MB, but the actual sensor on the S95 was 50% larger.

S95 had wider angle 28mm vs 35mm

S95 had wider aperture f/2.0 vs. f/2.8

S95 had a larger screen 3.0" vs. 2.5"

S95 had higher video resolution

SD was lighter 120g vs 193g

SD had a view finder

SD was significantly smaller and thinner.

SD had better macro capability (focus better on close objects).

I ended up with the SD due to weight, size, and view finder. The view finder was big for me... easier to hold the camera steady, the screen can be turned off to save battery life.

I have been pretty tough on this camera. It is usually thrown into my pocket. Have dropped it several times. I am happy with pictures.

What I hate is that you cannot charge it via the USB port.

John Nausieda
(Meander) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Review site on 04/05/2012 15:05:03 MDT Print View

I have an S95 and seriously thought about upgrading to the S100 because of the new sensor. At this point I'm glad I did not upgrade . From DPreview:
Canon's new purpose-built CMOS sensor in the S100 is capable of capturing images that are detailed, nicely saturated and very clean, especially at the lower end of the camera's ISO scale. The new CMOS sensor gives slightly better image quality than the previous-generation 10MP CCD - an improvement that is subtle but noticeable, especially at higher ISO settings. While the 2MP increase in sensor resolution over the S95 is modest in terms of the additional detail that the camera can capture, the 20% increase in total pixel count does help to offset the effect of noise at a given display size/magnification.

Although the S100 has a broader (24mm - 120mm) zoom range than its predecessor the S95, we've found that the new lens is not as uniformly sharp across the frame. We've tried no fewer than five sample cameras for our studio testing, and in the worst cases significant decentering of the lens causes one side of the frame to be noticeably out of focus in our studio scene (shot at a subject distance of approximately 1 meter). In all cases, moderate to strong softening occurs at the edges of the frame. This is very apparent in our studio comparison tool, where it is easy to spot any visual discrepancies at a pixel level. However, this does not tell the whole story, in our real-world sample shots decentering has been much less of an issue and most of our shots are not overtly blurred by the lens (take a look at the 'lens' page of this review for more detail).

A cause of genuine frustration though is that even though Canon has extended the range of ISO settings on the S100 up to 6400, when auto ISO is used, the ISO sensitivity span is capped at a maximum of ISO 1600. It is possible to adjust the auto maximum from ISO 400 to 1600, but it stops there. If you want to shoot in those higher ISO settings you'll need to select it manually in any of the PASM modes.

Edited by Meander on 04/05/2012 15:08:20 MDT.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Review site on 04/05/2012 15:19:12 MDT Print View

"It sounded like megapixels = bigger printable size, but now I'm a bit confused as to maybe sensor size being more relevant?"

The number of megapixels will have a big influence on how large of a print you can produce from it. The physical size of the sensor generally influences the color noise within the sensor. If you take 10 megapixels and pack them all into a tiny space, they are so tightly together that the light color produced in one pixel will bleed over slightly into the next one (color noise). In contrast, if you take 10 megapixels and pack them over a larger sensor, they are not so tight, so they bleed over less, so the purity of your image is a little better.

The average viewer doesn't see enough detail to know whether there is color noise or not. However, when you start blowing it up to large print size, interesting things can be found. For typical snapshots, it doesn't matter.

As it turns out, one leading camera manufacturer has been making its own digital sensors by its own technology. Most of the rest of the manufacturers use another technology, so color noise results are quite different. Most of the P&S camera manufacturers use generic digital sensors that are even worse yet.

--B.G.--

Will Webster
(WillWeb) - M
Size matters on 04/05/2012 15:24:03 MDT Print View

To my mind, sensor size counts more than megapixel count in determining enlargability. I have a big (20 x 30?) print on my wall that came from a 6-MP camera; it looks great. Of course, it was an APS-C DSLR with a $1000 lens. Just about any p&s on the market today has more MP than can be justified in relation to lens resolution or noise levels.

Michael Levine
(Trout) - F

Locale: Long Beach
Re: Re: Re: Review site on 04/05/2012 15:42:33 MDT Print View

wow are you guys ever helpful, thanks!

Bob I can't thank you enough for patiently answering all my questions. A scholar and a gentlemen, sir.

This thread has I think settled me onto the s95. I think I can find a new one for about $300, or maybe a used one a bit cheaper. I didn't think my budget was over $180 or so, but you've talked me into it.

*edit, unless someone can talk me out of the s95 or into something else. =)

Edited by Trout on 04/05/2012 15:53:32 MDT.

John Nausieda
(Meander) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Re: Re: Review site on 04/05/2012 15:55:52 MDT Print View

Note the S95 comes with no physical manual. This book in wonderful and I downloaded it from the author's website. I have it as a PDF and in a format that works on the Ipod touch as well at no extra cost.
http://www.amazon.com/Photographers-Guide-Canon-PowerShot-S95/dp/0964987562/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1333662752&sr=1-1

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Size matters on 04/05/2012 15:59:33 MDT Print View

My first impression in reading your post was that I would use an iPhone if I wanted a sub $200 digital camera. Battery life is the only drawback I see.

I agree, in general, sensor size is a good measure. There are 10,000 other things that add up to a camera that makes good images. Color and contrast are big factors, as well as the lens, low light sensitivity, the camera's internal software and the algorithms used to go from sensor to file, etc. I like dpreviews information; they have handled so many cameras and seen the good, bad and ugly.

In photography school we used to joke about the quality of the image being proportional to the cost of the equipment, with the joke being that the nut behind the lens has a lot to do with it. But, if you want big prints, you need big hardware. Squeak a few more dollars out of your budget for the best camera you can afford. Of course it will be obsolete before UPS makes it to your front door.

Spare batteries are relatively inexpensive and light. There's no sense in sparing the use of the camera for the sake of battery life. You pay dearly in time and money to get to a wonderful wilderness location, and you'll want lots of photos. SD memory cards are so light there is no excuse for not having spares.

A tripod or some sort of camera mount will improve the quality of your photos too.

Another alternative is to carry a 35mm point and shoot for prints. The Olympus Stylus models are dirt cheap used and will rival any $200 digital for resolution and print quality.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Size matters on 04/05/2012 17:11:40 MDT Print View

"My first impression in reading your post was that I would use an iPhone if I wanted a sub $200 digital camera. Battery life is the only drawback I see."

I have an iPhone 4 with something like 5MB. It is okay for macro shots. But if I need to crop a picture and then enlarge the size, it is awful. The iPhone does a lot of things well, but IMO picture taking is not one of them. I hate it as a camera most of the time. Now if I took the time needed to properly compose a picture, that might resolve my dislike. But photography is low on my list of important things to do on a trip.

But... it can be multi-use. Unfortunately, mine usually stays in the car where it belongs :)