Should you buy a DSLR or Point and Shoot Digital Camera? - Digital Photography School

Should you buy a DSLR or Point and Shoot Digital Camera?

Dslr-Point-And-Shoot

“I’m using a compact point and shoot digital camera and i would like to ask it is worth it to upgrade to a DSLR camera? How huge a difference do DSLR cameras make compared to compact point and shoot digital camera?”

Thanks for the question – I’ll attempt to keep my answer brief and not too technical. This is a question that I’m regularly asked, increasingly so as the price of DSLRs have dropped and become much more in the reach of the average digital photographer’s budget.

Before I start this post you might like to check out two posts looking at the Top DSLR Models and Top Point and Shoot Cameras as voted by our readers.

Let me declare up front that I own both a Point and Shoot digital camera (a Fujifilm FinePix F30) and a DSLR (a Canon EOS 5D). I like having both because I do feel they compliment each other and are each suited for different situations. My preference in terms of quality of shots is with the DSLR but for convenience the point and shoot sometimes wins out.

I also want to say up front that the digital camera industry is constantly evolving and changing. The lines between DSLRs and point and shoots are blurring (or at least this seems to be the intention of manufacturers). What I write below unfortunately will have elements of generalizations in it as I classify hundreds of cameras (each with their own distinctive features) into two camps.


Are Megapixels Everything?

Before I get into the Pros and Cons of DSLRs vs Point and Shoot digital cameras I want to address a common misconception that I regularly hear among digital camera owners – that a cameras megapixel rating is the main thing to consider when determining a camera’s quality.

The fact is that megapixels are NOT everything. Despite point and shoot cameras now coming with up to 10 megapixels (Casio released one last month) their quality level is not necessarily has good as a DSLR with only 8 or so.

The main reason for this (and there are many as we’ll see below) is that the image sensor used in point and shoot digital cameras is generally much smaller than the image sensor used in a DSLR (the difference is often as much as 25 times). This means that the pixels on a point and shoot camera have to be much smaller and (without getting too technical) collect fewer photons (ok I lied about the technicalities). The long and short of it is that because of this point and shoot cameras need to work at slower ISO levels which means that they produce ‘noisier’ (or more grainy) shots.

A lot more could be said on sensor size – but trust me, smaller sensors significantly reduce the quality of an image. I’d much rather have a camera with less megapixels and a larger image sensor than the other way around.

This is one factor that needs to be considered when choosing between a DSLR and point and shoot – but let me run through some more:

DSLRs

DSLRA quick definition - unfortunately some camera manufacturers in recent months have released cameras with the DSLR label that technically are not. For the purposes of this article I’ll define DSLR’s as cameras that have removable lenses, that have a reflex mirror which allows live optical viewing through the lens taking the image. ie DSLR’s use a mirror that allows you to see the image you’re about to shoot through the view finder – when you take the shot the mirror flips up allowing the image sensor to capture the image.

Some cameras these days are being touted as DSLRs because you have ‘through lens viewing’ but they are not true DSLR’s – (Digital, Single, Lens, Reflex). This does not necessarily make them a bad camera – but in my opinion it there is a distinction between them.

DSLR Strengths

  • Image Quality - I’ve already covered this above in my discussion on megapixels and image sensors – but due to the larger size of image sensors in DSLRs which allows for larger pixel sizes – DSLRs are generally able to be used at a faster ISO which will lead to faster shutter speeds and less grain.
  • Adaptability – DSLR’s ability to change lenses opens up a world of possibilities for photographers. While my point and shoot has a nice little 3x Optical Zoom (and many these days have longer ones) my DSLR can be fitted with many high quality lenses ranging from wide angle to super long focal lengths depending upon what I’m photographing (and of course my budget). Add to this a large range of other accessories (flashes, filters etc) and a DSLR can be adapted to many different situations. It should be noted that when it comes to lenses that the diversity in quality of lenses is great. Image quality is impacted greatly by the quality of the lens you use.
  • Speed – DSLR’s are generally pretty fast pieces of machinery when it comes to things like start up, focussing and shutter lag.
  • Optical Viewfinder – due to the reflex mirror DSLR’s are very much a what you see is what you get operation.
  • large ISO range - this varies between cameras but generally DSLRs offer a wide array of ISO settings which lends itself to their flexibility in shooting in different conditions.
  • Manual Controls – while many point and shoots come with the ability to shoot in manual mode, a DSLR is designed in such a way that it is assumed that the photographer using it will want to control their own settings. While they do come with good auto modes the manual controls are generally built in in such a way that they are at the photographers finger tips as they are shooting.
  • Hold it’s value – some argue that a DSLR will hold it’s value longer than a point and shoot. There is probably some truth in this. DSLR models do not get updated quite as often as point and shoot models (which can be updated twice a year at times). The other factor in favor of DSLRs is that the lenses you buy for them are compatible with other camera bodies if you do choose to upgrade later on (as long as you stay with your brand). This means your investment in lenses is not a waste over the years.
  • Depth of Field – one of the things I love about my DSLR is the versatility that it gives me in many areas, especially depth of field. I guess this is really an extension of it’s manual controls and ability to use a variety of lenses but a DSLR can give you depth of field that puts everything from forground to background in focus through to nice blurry backgrounds.
  • Quality Optics – I hesitate to add this point as there is a large degree of difference in quality between DSLR lenses (and point and shoot cameras are always improving) but in general the lenses that you’ll find on a DSLR are superior to a point and shoot camera. DSLR lenses are larger (more glass can add to the quality) and many of them have many hours of time put into their manufacture (especially when you get into higher end lenses). I strongly advise DSLR buyers to buy the best quality lenses that they can afford. It it’s the difference between a high end lens on a medium range camera or a medium range lens on a high end camera I’d go for quality lenses every time as they add so much to photos.

DSLR Weaknesses

  • Price – while they are coming down in price (especially at the lower end) DSLR’s are generally more expensive than point and shoot digital cameras. Also consider that you might want to upgrade your lens (as kit lenses are generally not of a super high quality) or you may wish to add more lenses later and that this adds to the cost of a DSLR.
  • Size and Weight – the only reason I take my point and shoot out with me is on those occasions when I don’t want to lug my DSLR (and it’s lenses) around with me. DSLRs are heavy and sizable and when you add a lens or two to your kit bag you can end up with quite the load!
  • Maintenance – a factor well worth considering if you’re going to use a DSLR with more than one lens is that every time you change lenses you run the risk of letting dust into your camera. Dust on an image sensor is a real annoyance as it will leave your images looking blotchy. Cleaning your image sensor is not a job for the faint hearted and most recommend that you get it done professionally (which of course costs). This is a problem that is being rectified in many new DSLRs which are being released with self cleaning sensors.
  • Noise – DSLRs are generally more noisy to use than point and shoots. This will vary depending upon the lens you use but while point and shoots can be almost silent when taking a shot a DSLR will generally have a ‘clunk’ as the mechanisms inside it do their thing. I personally quite like this sound – but it’s something that is a factor for some.
  • Complexity – while DSLRs are designed for manual use this of course means you need to know how to use the tools that they give you. Some friends that have bought DSLRs in the past few months have told me that they were a little overwhelmed at first by the array of settings and features. The learning curve can be quite steep. Having said this – all DSLRs have fully Automatic mode and many have the normal array of semi-auto modes that point and shoot digital cameras have.
  • No live LCD – in many DSLRs the only way to frame your shot is via the optical viewfinder. Some photographers prefer to use a camera’s LCD for this task. This is another thing that is changing with more and more new DSLRs having a ‘Live View’ LCD which enables you to frame your shots without looking through the view finder (update: please note that Live View isn’t perfect – check out the comments of NormMonkey below who shares more.

So what DSLR do I recommend?

Let me point you to a recent post here at DPS listing the Top 20 DSLRs as owned by our community members. I am a Canon fan myself but the Nikon DSLRs on the list get great reviews as do the others. Also check out the new Canon EOS 40D that’s just been announced (available now for preorder at Amazon).

Point and Shoots

Point-And-ShootWhile some people write off all non DSLR’s as inferior I think they’ve got a lot going for them and would highly recommend them depending upon the level of photography that you engage in, your budget, the things that you’ll want to do with your photos and the subject matter that you will be shooting. You’ll also notice below that I note that the Point and Shoot market options available are improving. Some of the weaknesses I note are being improved by manufacturers lately on some of their models. Here’s some Pros and Cons of point and shoot digital cameras.:

Point and Shoot Digital Camera Strengths

  • Size and Weight - to be able to slip a camera in a pocket as you dash out the door to a party is a wonderful thing. These days point and shoot cameras can be slim and light – to the point of not even knowing you’ve got them with you. This is great for parties, travel and all manner of situations. Of course some point and shoots can be quite bulky too (especially some of the super zoom models on the market).
  • Quiet Operation – this was the thing I noticed about my new point and shoot the most. Not only didn’t my subjects not notice I’d taken shots of them at times, once or twice it was so quiet that even I didn’t notice I’d taken a shot.
  • Auto Mode – the quality of images produced in point and shoots varies greatly, but in general they shoot quite well in auto mode. I guess manufacturers presume that this style of camera will be used in auto mode (or one of the other preset modes) mostly and as a result they generally come pretty well optimized for this type of shooting (as do many DSLRs these days).
  • Price – in general point and shoot digital cameras are cheaper. Of course you can go to the top of the range and spend as much as you would on a cheaper DSLR, but most are in a much more affordable price bracket.
  • LCD Framing – as I mentioned above, many digital camera users prefer to frame their shots using LCDs. Point and Shoots always come with this ability and some even come with ‘flip out’ screens that enable their users to take shots from different angles and still see what they’re shooting.

Point and Shoot Digital Camera Weaknesses

  • Image Quality – point and shoots generally have small image sensors which means that the quality that they produce is generally lower. This is slowly changing in some point and shoots but in comparison to DSLRs they still have a way to go. It’s worth saying however – that if you’re not planning on using your images for major enlargements or in professional applications that the quality of point and shoot cameras can be more than enough for the average user. Manufacturers are making improvements all the time in their technology and even in the last year or two I’ve noticed significant image quality improvements.
  • Smaller ISO range – once again this is changing slowly (my point and shoot has the ability to shoot to 1600 ISO) but in general ISO ranges are more limited in point and shoot cameras – this limits them in different shooting conditions.
  • Speed – point and shoot digital cameras were always notorious for their slowness, particularly their ‘shutter lag’ (the time between pressing the shutter and when the image is taken. This is constantly being improved but the instantaneous feel of many DSLRs is still not there with point and shoots when it comes to shutter lag, start up and even focusing time.
  • Reliance upon LCD - most point and shoot digital camera rely almost completely upon their LCD for framing. While some enjoy this others like to use a viewfinder. Most point and shoot cameras have view finders but they are generally so small that they are almost useless. Some models don’t have viewfinders at all (increasingly a trend).
  • Manual Controls Limited – many point and shoot cameras do have the ability to play with a full array of manual settings and controls (or at least make it difficult to do so). They often come with ‘aperture priority’ and ‘shutter priority’ modes which are great – but quite often the manual controls are hidden in menu systems and are not as accessible as on a DSLR (if they are there at all).
  • Less Adaptable - while they are highly portable point and shoot cameras are generally not very adaptable. What you buy when you first get them is what you are stuck with using for years. Some do have lens adapters to give you wider angles or longer zooms but generally most people don’t go for these accessories.

Which Point and Shoot digital cameras do I recommend?

Once again let me point you to the Top 10 Point and Shoot Digital Cameras as used by the DPS community. There are some fantastic cameras in the list including the Canon PowerShot Pro Series S3 IS.

Should You Buy a DSLR or a Point and Shoot Digital Camera?

This is ultimately a question that you need to answer for yourself. My answer is to have both (I’m fortunate to be able to do so) but if I had to choose between one or the other I’d get a DSLR based upon my experience level, the type of photos I take, my desire to use manual settings and the quality of image that I’m after.

If your situation is different to mine however and you want a portable camera that takes good pictures that you’ll mainly use for small prints and emailing that you’ll mainly shoot in auto mode – you’ll probably be quite happy with a cheaper point and shoot.

Further Reading on DSLRs:

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Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

  • Ankit Gindoria

    Thanks a lot for the information…

  • Jen

    Great article. Thanks for sharing.

  • Zulfahasan

    Very good info. I’m a newbie and looking for good DSLR for a beginners.

  • Aish

    Hi,
    I have tried to do some research on which is best for my need, but these things are way over my head! I’m just a beginner, I like photography and to be frank at present I want to buy a good camera mainly for night shots(low light) like downtown or nature and casual use.Can you please suggest me a modern,digital SLR camera, with good resolution (above 20mp) and higher optical zoom.my range is around $700.
    I’ll be looking forward for your response.
    thank you

  • guest12

    I am looking for a military camera for our coming training this weekend. Can you suggest how much megapixel should I have for a DSLR to capture rapid movements?

    Ann-marie
    http://www.ricecamera.com/

  • Punit

    hi let me know how is Sony Nex6 camera. does it give the same desired result as a DSLR

  • Josua Mudreilagi

    Buy a smartphoe Nokia Lumia 920 or Lumia 1020. Should be within your range.

  • http://www.tech-scoop.com/ Benny Singh

    thanks a lot really its a good n informative article, i m a beginner to photography it will help me a lot Thanks again
    http://gotechin.blogspot.in/2013/12/how-to-buy-good-digital-camera.html

  • Akash Singh

    what do you mean with optical zoom ? zoom depends on the lens you buy. if you want more zoom get a 18-200mm lens. as for the DSLR , nikon d5200 is a good choice for your budget. Or maybe even 5300 if you can throw in some more money. I prefer mirrorless cameras though, especially the new micro 4/3 cameras like panasonic lumix gx7 , fujifil xe2 or olympus omd e5 but they would be quiet out of your budget. so yes, 5200 is a good choice, you can probably get a nice zoom lens along with it for 700$

  • Akash Singh

    yes it does, mirrorless cameras have come a long way now. image quality is same as DSLR and they are cheaper as well. I am looking forward to buying a panasonic lumix gx7, its really beautiful. the only thing you need to be careful about is that if you’re into sports photography, mirrorless are still not as fast as DSLR’s but difference isnt too much.

  • Henry

    I know I’m late to the party. If you are willing to buy used, any dSLR with 8 or more MP will do the job. But this has nothing to do with rapid movements. A semi-pro body will rattle off 5 or more frames per second allowing you to capture the moment by using “burst mode”. The key is going to be getting a lens with a wide aperture (f/2.8 min). This will allow you to get nice sharp (high shutter speed) shots as well as subject isolation. A zoom might be more practical for what it sounds like you will be doing. 70-300 is ok, but the 70-200mm f/2.8 is much better. You can always rent these to see how you like it first. I hope this helps.

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  • Nandakumar Edamana

    Good article :)

  • Gues

    Darren, while there is a lot of good information here a good bit of it is out of date and somewhat confusing given the advances in photography in recent years. Please include a date of when an article is published so readers at least have a bit of context to the vast, detailed but old references you make. IE your top 20 list of DSLR cameras is mostly for 2005-2006. Overall still a great article!

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  • Stijn Van Damn

    disatvantage for DSRL : if you are nearsighted, you need your glasses to make pictures. Not the case with Point & Shoot.

  • C.M.PANDYA

    Your article is not clear and point to point.
    And anybody would not like to read so.. many extra words written by you in this article.
    So pls make your article point to point and compact, easy to understand and more focused on technical details.

  • C.M.PANDYA
  • http://www.thetop16.com Goodfav Magazine

    These round-ups are continually being updated as new models are released. There were some Sony’s, but they were surpassed recently. I’m sure they’ll be back in there soon.Here are another Best Alternative Dslr Camera from http://thetop16.com/2014/07/best-alternative-dslr-camera/

  • Compact cameras

    I really love the information that you managed to compact into such a clear article.

    http://compactdigitalcamerareviews.net/

  • http://batman-news.com Jessicathunder

    Hi,
    I’m heading to Malaysia in a week and want to buy a Fujifil X-T1. Any comments about said camera?

  • Manik

    Which P&S camera is with Most Manual Setting

  • Manish

    Hi I want to buy a DSLR for the first time and after doing lot of search I selected canon eos 1200D to buy .As my budget is also low around 500 dollar..so I want your view whether this item for the first time DSLR is good or if some other models are there then you just suggest me.

  • dfsdf

    ahhahaah :D “with good resolution above 20mp” how dumb some people can be … 8mp is enough for everything… and the lass pixels , the better acctually. the only way you would ever use 20mp is if you are going to do 50×10 meter billboards with your photo printed on them . Seriously .. how dumb can you be .

  • eltoncormier

    No – you should buy one of the best cameras on the market (just see rankings like http://www.tope.com/toplisted/ for example).

  • Mikky Jhone

    very much useful …thank you

Some older comments

  • Bob Vanderheiden

    September 23, 2013 06:02 pm

    I used to answer questions quite often, but not lately. I'm surprised at how many people have been asking questions on this ancient thread (Six years! That's four or seven generations of digital cameras.) but not getting responses. Let me try to answer a few.

    I'm the admin for a Flickr group for owners of Canon G15 digitals. Expect me to pitch the G Series, but I saw a couple of questions about the SX Series, so I'll hit those briefly. First up since my last comment more than a year ago: Lisa wants a dSLR. Canon's Rebel series is the company's starter line, and they're good -- I had no trouble talking my older brother into buying one over the summer. Yes, they take their shots much faster than a point-and-shoot (P&S), but generally cost twice as much, are much heavier, and because of their large sensors must have large lenses with limited zoom.

    Lesson 1: Speedy shooting and superzoom lenses don't go together. If you want a dSLR, with their awesome light sensitivity, high pixel count and interchangeable lenses, forget the10:1 or even 5:1 zoom lenses. A 3x zoom is pushing it. However, if you want a very large zooming range, you must get a camera with a small sensor, such as the Canon SX models.

    Mahantesh, I don't know either the Canon or the Nikon model. If you're still looking, you need to ask an experienced camera-shop sales person to show you. Both makers are excellent.

    For the Canon Rebels, or for other brands' entry-level dSLRs, many people buy a pair of zoom lenses to get the range found in an average P&S. One handles the wide shots for indoors or up to a mild zoom; the second takes over for sports and some scenic shooting. The setup costs less than $U.S.1,000. For the very sharpest shots, and for excellent low-light shooting, people get a non-zoom lens. That's where most people started with the film SLRs of yore. But with a P&S, you can get a fairly sharp 12x zoom lens for a good price. That's where the older SX150 came in. The more zoom you buy, the less sharpness you'll see. Nothing can be done about it -- that's physics for ya.

    Lesson 2: Larger sensors do better in low light. Almost every P&S uses a tiny sensor, smaller than your little fingernail. That sensor has all the circuitry needed to collect and organize data from up to 16 million photosites -- those are the spots that produce pixels. Naturally, more dots mean smaller dots; smaller dots mean there's less surface area to collect light from the lens. Therefore, those little sensors don't take great after-dark shots, aren't as crisp and bright indoors.

    A dSLR sensor is dozens of times larger -- up to the size of an old 35mm film negative, although most are about half as big. But almost all the P&S cameras have the tiny sensors. A few, such as the G Series (and it's super-compact brother, the S Series), have sensors about twice as large. Still, they're barely more than a half-inch across diagonally. Ask at your camera store for a larger sensor if you want good low-light photos, or plan to do big prints -- page size or larger. Nikon's Series 1 is excellent, and offers interchangeable lenses, too. You'll pay more, though.

    Lesson 3: Phones don't take very good photos. If you think I'm saying the standard photo sensor is too small, you can guess what I think of in-phone cameras. Generally, they're very poor for anything but web postings, especially in low light. No controls, no zoom; you can't even control the focus. Almost any camera will be a step up (Shelley, that's for you).

    Shelley asks about "bridge" cameras. That's what the G Series and Series 1 cameras are. They bridge the gap between snapshot cameras and serious, bulky, expensive dSLRs. I'd suggest getting something simpler to start. They don't have long zoom lenses -- usually 5x or less. They offer more control over the shooting and post-camera image prep. Their better electronics shoot faster upon startup, at the press of the shutter, and between shots. You pay for all this. Get used to shooting with a simpler camera that still offers creative control. If you later decide you want to do more than the camera lets you, THEN is the time to consider a bridge or dSLR model.

    Also, Shelley, until you have shot thousands of frames and had to evaluate whether to keep or pitch each one, you are not remotely ready for professional photography. But go for it! You can spend less time fighting to get the technicalities right and spend more effort on the artistic side with a simpler camera. It still will offer you control over the image, but it won't control you. I'd say buy a bridge (high-quality non-SLR) camera to start, with the assumption you'll know enough in a year or two to upgrade. Be sure to talk to your college counselor about art studies, and also enroll in the most basic photography classes offered. Photography on a professional level is extraodinarily competitive. Be prepared for people trying to talk you out of it. Listen carefully to their arguments, then continue your studies in photography.

    Danny: The very best printer cannot fix a digital image that results from too little light or too much, or from a blurry or distorting lens, or from poor interpretation of JPEG algorythms. And the images from a crummy camera are not worth the time an artist with Adobe Photoshop would have to invest to make them presentable. So I'd go for a better camera instead of betting on a good printer. I looked up the Nikon L820 on my go-to reference site, cnet.com. They test almost all the new cameras, and from what they wrote, I'd say it's not exactly the camera for an experienced photographer. Besides, I don't go much for the sharpness and contrast of 30x superzooms. Unless you're particularly interested in filming birds or baseball players (neither while moving, by the way), I'd suggest something with a good 5x zoom, like the bridge models mentioned above.

    I mentioned the size of photosites a few paragraphs ago. It's not just an educational exercise, Danny. Light photons are the life of photography. Tiny sites capture only a small share of the photons a large site can grab. With more photons come more sensitivity to shades of gray or color. One reason dSLRs have 12- or 16-bit resolution is the size of the sensor spots (in addition to having faster, more-powerful processors). Instead of something being black, white, or a few shades of gray, those badly over- or under-exposed areas contain detail that can be evaluated and depicted. So the quality makes a discernable difference, particularly to an experienced photographer like yourself.

    Film is a wonderful but dated medium. It is restricted by the physical grain of silver halide crystals, the freshness of the developing chemistry, and even the accuracy of thermometers that keep the process within tolerances. The discipline of a 24-frame roll is useful, but there's something to be said for shooting like crazy when the whales are jumping near your boat in Alaska, not worrying about changing cannisters. I deleted a hundred bad whale shots, keeping 12, and will have to cut that down to 3. What a luxury, after husbanding 3 rolls of film for a whole vacation a few decades ago! I gave up lugging around my Mamiya and a ton of glass more than 10 years ago, and am getting better photos than ever. The small sensors have better resolution than ASA 100 film, and the better Canon and Nikon dSLRs (among other brands) are even sharper.

    Good luck, everyone. --Bob

  • Danny

    September 22, 2013 10:59 am

    Greetings from Canada. Correct me if i'm wrong. Quality difference you talk about between DSLR and point and shoot is only relevant in printing photos. And therefore the limitations is that of the printer, so it should not matter the difference in quality. Please nobody laugh, but I'm advancing from my Canon SLR film camera, And it is with a sad heart that I leave my film camera, for it has disciplined my shooting to a roll of say 24, and has made me a better photographer over the 35 years. In your opinion, does the difference in quality really matter. After all, it is that unique light, that special angel, or smile that we seek and not the machine-gun shooting so often seen today.

    I'm tied of lugging around lenses, and bulky equipment, especially in my travels.
    What do you think of the Nikon Coolpix 16 MP Digital. L820 with 30x zoom

    Really really, would appreciate your point of view. Or anyone else.

  • Shelley

    August 25, 2013 12:42 am

    Hi I'm a beginner at cameras I have a point and shoot, also I use my iPhone 5, but I want to start college to do photography on a professional level and wondered what camera is best to start with a bridge or a DSLR, I've been reading online and don't know where to start I'm very confused, please help :)
    Thank you

  • Kaushik

    July 31, 2013 06:03 am

    Hello,
    I have "Canon PowerShot SX150 IS Point & Shoot". Can you tell me about this camera if it is comparable to top 10 point and shoot camera available? And how do i produce very good photos with this camera?

  • Gail

    April 19, 2013 07:48 pm

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  • Peter

    October 17, 2012 12:55 am

    i currently have a DSLR, Well as you have mentioned above, it isn't quite. Its a Samung WB5000. i love it, it does what I need it to. My problem is... for my next camera, do i move up to a more professional and better camera, or do i stick with point and shoot. Trouble is I will definately notice the quality of image on a budget camera....

  • Mahantesh

    September 28, 2012 05:27 pm

    I am planning for a Point and Shoot camera, of below 10000INR. I am considering the choices
    1. Nikon S6300
    2. Canon Power Shot SX150 IS...
    Which one is better of the both. ?

    And also please inform me if any of the good cameras in the same range...

    thank u.

  • Lisa W.

    August 13, 2012 02:54 pm

    Point and shoot was what I needed. But soon learned they were just that piont and shoot and you may get the few seconds delay of the picture you wanted...UGH!!! I have always had an old Pentax K1000 and I learned how to adjust by practice and reading and watching what others had accomplished. At a time I thought I was pretty good all around photographer after 25 years, Getting the shots with a 110-300 zoom (my right arm) without a flash and capture it perfect. Now the new is DSLR..........Thinking of the Rebel cause it's closest to what I have used. I don't like change but it's time to move on and up. Which camera would you pick for me with limited funds but the most I can get in a DSLR Camera? What would it be my peeps? I need your help. Would love to enter and win one. So if you know of any competitions I would love to know of it.
    Peace out,
    Lisa W.

  • rmvandy

    May 31, 2012 03:46 am

    Aaron: I looked up your Kodak MAX. It is a good camera from a good company -- I had a nice little Kodak digital about 8 years ago. Your model is about a year old, and many things have happened in even that short time. But aside from that, there are a few limitations in quality that superzooms bring. It is not what most serious photographers would call a bridge camera, but it has many qualities, including a choice of video formats.

    A bridge camera, almost by default, saves files in raw, or non-JPEG, format. Most shooters don't need that, but serious photographers demand it in a bridge camera.

    The second difference is the Z990's primary advantage -- its powerful 35x zoom. The physics of optics limit the sharpness and brightness of these long lenses, especially zooms (as compared to fixed-length lenses that sports and wildlife photographers use). The lens elements and groups of lenses move in specific relationships with each other, and absolute precision is not possible. Further, a lens system cannot be perfectly optimized for wide, super telephoto and macro all in one, so minor compromises are made to balance the lens' capabilities. It just cannot be as sharp at any focal range as a shorter zoom, such as found on bridge cameras like the Canon G series or the Canon S100.

    Third, the small, 1/2.3-inch CCD sensor is merely average, and not in the bridge range of sharpness or light sensitivity. (Quick lesson: The sizes hark back to the early days of television, when video tubes were measured across their working surface. A 1/2.3" sensor is 10/23 of an inch diagonally -- less than half an inch.) The G and S models have 1/1.7", which doesn't seem like much but has about half again more surface area to capture the light. As a result, it's OK in daylight, but (according to PCmag.com, a reliable source) not in lower-light situations -- at least when zoomed. It has a fairly bright f2.8 stop at wide, but is f5.6 when zoomed, so about 80% less light is getting to the sensor when you zoom in.

    Fourth, surprisingly, is the 12MP image. Combined with a small sensor and smaller lens opening, this reduces the amount of light that each photo site (the little square where the photons are converted to signal) can receive. that means that darker photos will have more "noise," the random quality-reducing effect visible especially in shadows or in indoor and night shooting.

    Now selling at about $200, it remains a good camera, and the measure of quality really is the photographer's pleasure with his prints. You are enjoying your camera, which has many of the features of a bridge, but not quite the image quality. I was sold on the Canon G-11 a couple of years ago by another commenter on this site, and remain happy with it. As you might expect, the bridge cameras are usually the most expensive models in the non-dSLR category, and the price reflects the cost of better electronics, larger sensors, higher-quality lenses (usually 3x to 6x max zoom), faster shooting, and more features.

    Nikon, Sony, Fuji, and others now have interchangeable-lens bridge cameras; Canon does not, instead offering the G1x with a massive sensor and 4x zoom. All of these bridge models cost almost as much as a basic dSLR, but offer advantages in size and weight, while still offering excellent images and quick shooting.

    The superzooms are not really compact, not at all as sharp in low light, and not as quick or as capable in rapid shooting as a dSLR. They have the powerful advantage of their long lenses when shooting in good light, but those shots may not be as sharp as one shot with half the zoom power but using a better sensor and digital conversion chip. It's all a matter of personal choice, and it sounds as if you chose very well to meet your needs.

    --Bob

  • Aaron

    May 28, 2012 03:24 pm

    I use a bridge camera. They work great and its almost a DSLR. I use the Kodak MAX Z990. Look it up!

  • Adam

    May 22, 2012 02:22 am

    This article is super outdated, but people are still commenting on it - I don't suppose you could update it with newer camera models now that the lines between the two grow ever closer? Clearly this is a very popular article, but I smiled when you said Casio released a P/S with up to 10 megapixels; I think an update or rewrite would be awesome and much appreciated.

  • Ryan

    May 3, 2012 06:11 am

    In your case I might recomend a bridge camera. They can be a it more expensive than a small p/s but they usually offer many manual controls and even a manual focus ring with manual zoom on some of them. For instance Fujifilm FinePix HS20 EXR and HS30 and 40. they run around $299 -$400 CAD. Also there is the Canon PowerShot SX40, Pnasonic Lumix DMZ FZ150, Nikon P510, ect. Which can be from $250 - $500 CAD.

  • virtual720

    April 12, 2012 11:51 am

    The dSLR raw files recover so much, from shadow areas and especially over-exposed areas. I am able to make hdr photos fairly easily. Make my photos look much better than point and shoot once.

  • Angela

    March 15, 2012 03:32 am

    I am a mom and love taking pictures of my son. I have a sony cybershot DSC-W120 right now but my son moves too fast and it ends up taking forever to get good pictures. I am leaning towards getting a dslr camera for faster speeds and was looking at the Nikon D3100 and the Canon T2i. Which would you recommend and why?

  • Calle

    January 22, 2012 06:38 am

    Love your post. It pours out the most out of everything in the difference between the two types of cameras. As with most others, me myself prefer dSLR's, but (like you) I also have a compact, for easy shooting in the highlight of moment. I can't wait till mobile phone manufacturers manages to get the quality of their built in cameras to the same level as neat compacts. Today, well, at least mine, is nothing but a Trudy. Anyways, cheers on your article Darren!

  • aceofhearts

    January 18, 2012 05:36 pm

    i am very much interested in photography as an art .. although i have done some good photography earlier but always with low quality phone cameras.. i have never used a camera like DSLR or a good quality point to shoot camera.. i am not a photography professional but a busy engineer who wants to own a camera.. budget is not much a concern but i want anybody to recommend what should i buy...
    i want to learn the technicalities of this art and i believe that if you take a picture take it perfect.
    my uses will be generally personal ones like parties, nature ,travel or some clicks just for fun

    please recommend me whether i should buy a DSLR or a point to shoot and some model suggestions if any

    thank you

  • Bob

    January 18, 2012 02:42 pm

    Mary: Pardon my not answering sooner. A new Canon G1X has just been announced (Jan. 2012) that offers a sensor slightly larger than 4/3 format, with a 14.2mp image. At that relationship, the G1X will have one of the finest low=light capabilities of any non-dSLR. It is somewhat larger than the Canon G12, its nearest predecessor, and heavier. Its frame rate, response time, tilt-and-swivel viewscreen, 100%-coverage viewfinder and video are all quantum leaps above the G12 and with the best of the "bridge" cameras -- those non-dSLR cameras attempting to provide everyday cameras for professionals, or top-of-the-line P&S models for the rest of us. We Canon fans were wondering when "our" brand was going to finally stop being walked on by Sony, Nikon and others. I think this will be light-years above the quality and a few solar units beyond the Lumix -- including its expected $799 (U.S.) price.

    Daverr: Interesting comparison, showing both weight and megapixels in the table you identified. A great reference for people who are thinking about traveling with their cameras. I gave up on my film SLR because the size and weight of camera, lenses, filters, batteries, film cannisters and flash were becoming outlandish. A good P&S or a bridge camera provides excellent travel photography options, but can't compare with the quality of dSLR for things such as sports, weddings and artistic work.

    Dakshinamoorthy: This being a reader response thread and not Mr. Rowse's commentary, I don't think he's likely to see your comment. He's created a very popular and active site, and this thread was created in August 2007; I don't know if Mr. Rowse has updated his commentary since. Check his other weekly blogs for more recent discussions. The HS20 is now a year old, but still a competitive camera. Its 30x zoom is its selling feature, not its tiny sensor, even at 16mp. It will not do well in low light or zoomed at medium to full telephoto in anything less than full sun. This would be a fair choice for a bird-watcher or maybe a sports fan, but even though it looks somewhat like a dSLR its capabilities are fare lower -- except for telephoto and some of the scene modes. The HS20 is a very good superzoom, and much lighter and cheaper than a dSLR, but it's image quality is probably only "acceptable," not a bad thing, just not equal.

    David: You've seen my biases if you've read my comments the past year or so -- I usually say stick with the bridge models. If you are getting good pictures and don't feel you've missed opportunities, no need to change. People who like to have top quality equipment and are ready to pay for it would probably upgrade, if they've been disappointed in what they've been working with. But the quality of bridge cameras are close enough to dSLR for most purposes, and offer great convenience. When your current camera seems just inadequate or is wearing out/damaged, don't automatically switch to dSLR; consider a newer model of your current unit, or shop for improved features in other bridge cameras. If that doesn't satisfy you, then you should go dSLR.

  • David

    January 17, 2012 10:03 am

    Hi,

    I am an amature to photography, with very limited use of dslr's.
    I brought a bridge camera to try to teach myself the basics of photography.
    i've been with my bridge camera for about 2 years, and i now feel that i am able to upgrade to a dslr.

    I was wondering if i should upgrade or stick with my bridge for a bit longer?

    and advise would be a great help.

    Thanks :)

  • Dakshinamoorthy

    January 12, 2012 02:48 pm

    hello Mr.Darren Rowse
    that was really an amazing blog.

    I have a confusion on the following two products.
    what would you recommend?

    A DSLR or Fujifilm Finepix HS20EXR Point & Shoot (Black)

    I find this model from fujifilm is really tempting..

  • daverr

    December 27, 2011 06:37 am

    DSLR s are getting smaller anf lighter day by day, or shall I say mirrorless cameras instead of DSLR. Here is a DSLR camera weight comparison table that will give you an idea: http://dslrpassion.com/component/content/article/60-equipment/154-dslr-camera-weight-comparison.html

    Some MFTs and NEW cameras are already in the compact camera territory weight wise. I alwats choose the DSLRs by the way...

  • Bob

    December 23, 2011 09:45 am

    I am intrested in takeing digatal pictures but wish to make poster size prints what cameras should i be looking at to purchase and or type of equpment will be needed?What I have now distorts at magnification

  • Jonathan Ng

    December 19, 2011 07:34 pm

    The main comparison should be high end Compact camera or low end DSLR . This is because they cost about the same . Oh yeah do a comparison between smartphone camera and a point and shoot

  • mary

    December 10, 2011 02:23 am

    Just located this site. Enjoy it. The point and shoots are getting better every day my Lumix lx3 is an outstanding camera. Love my Canon 40 D. I spent the money ang purchased a fine 50m lens. So nice to have it. Any comments on the four third cameras? I picked up the Lumix Gf2. Interesting mix of features. Horrible shutter lag,but takes very nice photos.

  • Jim

    November 29, 2011 01:43 am

    Excellent article. I've been thinking of getting a DSLR because I want to spend more time with photography - and you explained the differences very well.

  • Bob (aka rmvandy)

    November 14, 2011 01:22 pm

    I have used the feature on my Canon G11 only once, and don't recall the steps. If you don't still have the User Guide that came with the SX30 IS, you probably can find a digital version on canon.com. The Flickr website has member groups for your camera, and is a great resource for answering questions like yours. You can join at no charge.

    This topic is more about choosing, not using, a type or model of camera. Best wishes,

    Bob

  • Shirley

    November 14, 2011 12:54 am

    I have a Canon SX 30 IS point and shoot and love it. I am somewhat confused with the SCN feature where I can shoot and take picture in selected color keeping all other in black and white. I cannot figure out what to do with the dropper and exactly how to use that feature. I believe I need to use the disp but not sure which way to go plus or minus and how exactly does that choose a color? I find this site the most helpful I have seen.

  • Bob (aka rmvandy)

    November 11, 2011 06:30 pm

    Attiya: ISO numbers are the equivalent of film sensitivity to light. And like film, the more sensitive it is to light, the more grain is visible. (Smaller ISO numbers work in bright light but not evenings or indoors. Larger numbers, better in dark, but might not capture detail in very bright situations.)

    Each ISO number is equivalent to a doubling of sensitivity to light. The camera's shutter speeds and f-stops are likewise chosen to equal a doubling the light that reaches the film (or, in our case, the sensor). Thus, in low light, you can open the aperture, slow (lengthen) the shutter speed, or change the ISO to a larger number.

    I'd suggest your looking at other sites on the web to get more info, because this can be a lengthy topic. My favorite source is cambridgeincolour.com (note spelling of colour).

    Summary: ISO is the way you set your camera for sharpness and lack of grain, where a smaller number is better. Its effect is to allow you to set a low number in bright conditions for maximum detail or to choose a high setting in bright light to allow much shorter shutter times. In dim conditions, you can have a shorter shutter opening with large ISO numbers, but with a loss of detail and contrast.

    Bob

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  • Attiya

    November 1, 2011 01:22 am

    can anyone tell me the importance of ISO settings? like ISO 800, 1600, 2400 and etc. what is the difference between these ? thanks my camera is SONY DSLR 500

  • Kratom

    October 30, 2011 05:44 pm

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  • kim@usb microscope camera

    October 26, 2011 02:11 pm

    I think it depends on the trends you want to be in, what is the reason you wanted to have that kind of camera and the price, it best suitable for your needs or not. That is the basic question in determining what you want.

  • DrOrange

    October 22, 2011 04:28 pm

    Thanks Bob!
    I'm not substituting the camera for a microscope. I plan on taking pictures of slides through it. :)
    I hope I get some free time soon to get to know my G11 a bit more.

  • Bob (aka rmvandy)

    October 19, 2011 06:13 pm

    I didn't see anything on the Best Buy site (you could search for yourself), but found some accessory collections on Amazon. That's how I got most of the accessories I have, from a package that included a camera bag, the essential adapter tube, plus tripod, wide, tele, and filters. In the set I bought, the macro was an attachment to the wide-angle accessory lens, which could be unthreaded from the wide and used alone. However, the macro feature on the G-series Canons is excellent, but it (and probably the add-on lenses) will not substitute for a microscope.

    So conduct some searches for yourself, and provide your generous grandmother with the URLs. A few advisories: "Lensbaby" is a system, and you don't want to get a macro without the basic setup. Also, Amazon has a Vivitar telephoto accessory lens, which is an excellent brand, so if you can get a Vivitar macro accessory lens (plus the adapter tube), that's a good product. The kit I bought contained Opteka lenses, which are acceptable but not world beaters.

  • DrOrange

    October 19, 2011 05:37 pm

    Thanks so much for that reply Bob!
    Can you please direct me to a site where I can buy a macro lens for my G11? My grandmother says she'll go buy it for me but I'm not sure which one is the right ones. Preferably a link from Best Buy? That's the site she seem comfortable with.

  • Bob (aka rmvandy)

    October 16, 2011 06:14 pm

    Doc: Many topics here. I'll try to cover a number of them briefly.

    "I think I'm on semi auto." The dial near the shutter release shows a variety of modes. Your user manual, small enough to slip into your shirt pocket, will describe them, but the basic one is Auto, the green symbol. It does everything but decide whether you're shooting wide or telephoto. It works as well as on any camera, but it doesn't know the difference between a backlit scene, a subject that is much brighter or darker than average, or whether you're trying to capture motion. This site offers dozens -- hundreds? -- of tutorials that will help you get more quality from the shots you make, provided you have the time to do some serious study and research. It's really worth it.

    You can get the camera to make some of the decisions for you: Use the SCN selection, then with the Function Set button, select the type of scene you're shooting. Again, it will take some spare time (maybe while you're riding public transit, or during television commercials?) to memorize a few of the functions that would match scenes you want to shoot.

    "Medical instrument": I, too, have read that it's popular with dentists who need clinical photos. With a (somewhat expensive) ring flash, it's excellent for dental photography, lab work, hobbyist closeups, etc. Look up the ring flash; it's really useful for flat illumination with minimum glare.

    Formalin: I'm not a chemist, but I don't believe the fumes are caustic to cameras upon brief exposure. Just make sure any splashes get wiped down. It is, however, electronic, and could be hazardous in explosive atmospheres. Same with any camera, cell phone or MP3 player that's not waterproof (and thus vaporproof). For shooting microscope slides, you can buy a macro attachment to use with the G11's macro setting to get a larger image. (Check the user manual to learn a bit more about attaching accessory lenses to the camera via accessory tubes.)

    Photos through a microscope: It may well work; try it. While on a vacation, a tour guide took photos with many tourists' cameras (including my G11) through a telescope. I'm guessing you can also shoot through a microscope. Be careful not to rub the lens against the viewing aperture of the microscope. You have an advantage over film cameras of old in that you can view the slide on the live-view screen, and make adjustments as needed. Use a low ISO value (200 or lower) to ensure maximum clarity and contrast, and strong illumination. You may need a tripod to hold the camera steady on the microscope for long shutter openings.

    Whether using Photoshop is "cheating": Absolutely not. Professional photographers have always adjusted the exposures of their prints to make up for perceived shortcomings in the negatives. It's like saying a painter can't paint over a part of the canvas that didn't work out. However, using Photoshop to alter a news photo in a way that changes the truth of the image -- adding or deleting people, changing faces or other facts of the image -- is worse than cheating, it is fraud. There's nothing fraudulent about adjusting the contrast on a microscopic slide to reveal unclear truths of the digital image, but if adjustments are made, they should be documented within the commentary.

    I recommend that anyone who is seriously into photography either for work or personal enjoyment take a photography course at the local college.

    Bob

  • DrOrange

    October 15, 2011 04:04 am

    ummm more questions.. Wondering about those post processing stuff. I usually adjust some of those options on the "exposure" tab on photoshop. Isn't that cheating? sort of? Just wondering... @_@

  • DrOrange

    October 15, 2011 03:23 am

    I've been reading some of the previous posts and you guys made me love my G11 more! Thanks!
    My G11's more than a year old and I know I still haven't used it to it's full potential. I THINK I'm on semi auto. I just twist stuff and if I like the results then no problem. I'll have to get to it know it a bit more when I get the time. Busy with school...

    I read about the whole G11 "medical instrument" thing from the previous posts and I can say my G11 has been really great help during lab work taking photos of cadavers and microscope slides. With all the hype about DSLRs people have been asking me if it was one. It does look a bit like one though with all the dials on it.

    Just wondering about the safety of it during lab works. The lab smells strongly of Formalin.. will this, in any way, affect my camera? What should I do to keep it safe? Any tips on taking photos through a microscope?
    Also curious about those macro lens stuff (really don't know technical words, sorry). What difference does it make with using the usual macro shooting? My mom wants to take shots of her patients' teeth and I think my cam would be easier for her to handle than the much more complicated DSLR.

    Tried reading other sites but things are just too technical... Hope someone out there can put it in simpler terms. :)

  • Bob (aka rmvandy)

    September 5, 2011 04:51 pm

    No, I coded it wrong. But when I clicked on the text, it DID show the right web page.

    Bob

  • Bob (aka rmvandy)

    September 5, 2011 04:49 pm

    Let me start with Iceman, then get to JC2011. I don't know every camera, so I look at cnet.com for reviews, and compare their comments with what I already know about other models (and their earlier reviews; these guys are very consistent in their evaluations and grades).

    CNET, a division of America's CBS television and radio network, reviews electronics. This review (did I code this right?) tells me that the P500 is not a camera for "great pictures," as you had hoped. Because it offers a 30 or 35x zoom, it surrenders sharpness for range. CNET says its focus is dull all across its range. The less your lens zooms, the more likely it is to retain sharpness. This camera is not good for enlargements or cropping.

    Further, it is not good in low-light situations, says CNET, nor does it take great videos.

    For the best of the Nikon point-and-shoots, consider the P7000. It offers a 7x zoom, better sharpness, better low-light capability, and good video. Its Canon comparable is the G12 (but 5x zoom). I have the earlier model, the G11, which is similar to the G12. Both the Nikon and Canon have sharp lenses, larger photosensors, and many of the functional advantages of a dSLR without the price (and, of course interchangeable lenses). The larger sensor means better dynamic range (brightness ratios and color saturation), and better performance under low light. These two are superior to every camera in their manufacturer's P&S stable. If you check CNET for a particular camera, it will list several comparable competitors; use that to see what Panasonic and Sony, for example, offer in the same performance range.

    I thought I wanted a megazoom like the P500, but Stratman showed me that for my quality expectations, I should go with the G11. (Nikon did not have a P7000 then).

    If you're working within a budget, CNET allows you to search by price, too, and to pick features of importance. I'd suggest considering a smaller zoom range, probably no more than 8x.

    JC: DSLRs are great if you will be shooting in low light or other difficult lighting situations because their sensors are orders of magnitude larger, and hence, have cleaner low-light or shadow resolution. The difference is literally like comparing the surface area of a postage stamp to a pencil eraser. That means they have larger lenses, more room for electronics, as well as more built-in programmatical features. Heavier, too.

    For daylight shots and flash photography indoors, P&S cameras are generally satisfactory for enlargements up to 8x10 inches or mild cropping.

    My local newspaper has a tech reporter who wrote that a 10-MP sensor has the resolution of a 35mm negative. (That means you can blow up images from both to the same size and the graininess will be about equal. What he didn't say is that when a film negative is blown up beyond its capability, it begins to look very grainy, with edges getting blurry. But a digital shot will start showing the square or rectangular pixels. Aesthetically, I'd prefer film!)

  • JC2011

    September 4, 2011 12:36 pm

    This is a great breakdown between the two types of digital cameras. I currently own a point and shoot camera, but I would like to step up to a DSLR one day to have higher quality photographs. I think the cons for the DSLR are worth the extra quality you can obtain with them.

  • iceman

    September 3, 2011 01:25 pm

    great article on what type of camera to buy
    but i just wanted to know what you thought of the Nikon Coolpix P500 Digital Camera, would this be a camera you would recommend to someone who wants to take great pictures but is not to great at the techno stuff that is common on more advanced cameras?
    thank you for any information you can give

  • Stratman

    August 27, 2011 02:54 am

    @ Jerry,

    The Nikon D7000 is a high specc'ed midrange FX (1.5x crop body) dSLR and its most direct competitor is generally said to be the Canon's EOS 60D. If you compare both the D7000 and the 60D by the sensor's dynamic range and specifications alone, the D7000 is said to have a slight edge over the 60D. In the real world, most people are hard pressed to tell the difference in image quality of the two competitors.

    There are other factors that you should consider between the two: pricing (in some countries, the D7000 is a bit dearer), the handling, size, control layout (Nikon's controls and buttons seem to be scattered), user interface and more importantly, the lenses. Nikon's lenses are generally more expensive than Canon's for the same kind and class. Canon has a wider range of prime lenses and photographers who prefer non-zooms tend to pick Canon.

    Ergonomics-wise, this is something that you have to experience for yourself by trying out both models at a retail store. Some people don't like the clutter of Nikon dSLR controls and Nikon's menu layout, preferring Canon EOS instead. Others like the handling and feel of the bigger Nikon hand grips, so they buy Nikon. It's very subjective.

    If you're a demanding photographer, always put optics before the camera body in order of importance. Lenses will last you for decades if taken care of properly and don't get obsolete as fast as dSLR bodies. A cheap dSLR body with high end lenses will outperform an expensive dSLR body with a cheap kit lens in terms of image quality.

    Stratman.

  • atts

    August 26, 2011 03:00 am

    am planning to buy DLSR sony alpha 550...anybody who has already used this would like to comment on the pros and cons..? secondly, i would also like to know that whether DSLR are complex to use and understand in case you are buying DSLR for the first time
    thanks....

  • Camera Photos

    August 25, 2011 10:05 am

    It?s actually a nice and useful piece of information. I am happy that you simply shared this helpful information with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.

  • Ian

    August 20, 2011 12:22 pm

    i havent had experience with the d7000 but i've heard nikons are more difficult to use than other dslrs like canon

  • Jerry

    August 20, 2011 08:07 am

    Hi all,

    Im seriously interested in purchasing the Nikon D7000 series and wanted to hear comments regarding that DSLR. ??? anybody have experience with this model.????

  • barca96

    August 10, 2011 04:20 pm

    @Stratman & Bob

    Many many thanks for the response!!
    I am not in the USA though so Craiglist and eBay is out of the question for me.
    Since a wide angle lens cost a bomb, wouild a Sony digital camera with a "sweep panorama" function suffice?
    However, I have a worry with those because the photos become wide and narrow. Or can they be expanded to a normal size?

  • Bob

    August 8, 2011 01:28 pm

    Ian:

    If the prices you list are in U.S. dollars, then I'd guess these are used cameras. If that's the case, you'll want to test them to ensure that all the important featues work as expected. For example, I have a camera that is perfect for my needs except that the dial on the back, which I have to rotate to adjust settings in Manual mode or for self-focusing has bad electrical contacts. I have to use a standby feature, holding a button and pressing the up/down positions on the dial to adjust settings. That's barely tolerable, because like Paul Q, above, I started shooting in manual control in my teens -- I mean the 1960s!

    So take a memory card and shoot some frames, load them on your computer, and see how they come out. Test all the features. Ask whether the original user manual is included (although you probably can get an Acrobat file from the camera manufacturer's web site).

    If the cameras are more than a few years old, they will have smaller file sizes. You'll probably want something that offers 10 megapixels or so. On P&S, more is overkill because they lose low-light capability at larger pixel counts. On dSLRs, because their sensors are several times larger, the photo sites (that create individual pixels) are much larger, so have better low light performance. With 10 Mp, you can get a good 11x14-inch print from a full frame

    Daniel: My comment about the mic was regarding the noise that autofocus lenses and zoom motors make when shooting video. If you use a tripod when recording video, then you can turn off autofocus as long as your subjects stay within focal range. Check the camera's guide for what that will be at different f-stops. At f1.8, you will have a much narrower focal range than at f8.

    The kit zoom lenses aren't "bad," they're just not as good -- sharpness when you crop (but you won't have to crop as much) or especially lower light levels. But for video, they will be more useful. Plus, the ability to zoom even for stills is helpful for scenic shots where you can't approach the subject for framing -- a mountain range, or a city across a bay.

    I've been married many years to a non-photographer, and even if they really love you, a non-photographer doesn't understand why it takes more than three seconds to take a picture! That's why I've downgraded from a film SLR to a point-and-shoot Canon G11. I can either go mostly auto and shoot fast, or take my time adjusting manually while my wife isn't waiting in boredom. Photos are still very good, and I know of at least one photographer who has only the G11 and sells amazing photos in galleries. You'll get great photos with the Sony and its APS-c sensor with a 35mm lens.

  • Ian

    August 7, 2011 12:03 pm

    hi
    i have two cameras im looking at
    one is a p&s, at $76
    the other is a dSLR at $112
    my only photo taking experience has been with cell phones
    i do like taking pictures, and i am willing to put in the time to learning how to use a dSLR camera
    is it worth it for getting the more advanced camera if i've never used one befor considering the price?
    or should i see if i really would need a dSLR camera and go for a p&s to start?

  • Yasir Imran

    July 24, 2011 06:16 pm

    Very informative article regarding DSLR & Digital cameras. I prefer DSLR but its cost strict s me to buy it.

  • mike the rebel t3i guy

    July 15, 2011 04:08 am

    DSLR is way better in my opinion. Personally I use the Rebel T3i

  • Paul Q

    July 10, 2011 12:51 am

    I started out with a gently used Pentax K1000 when I was in grade 9 in the 1980's; that same camera was used to take photographs of my newborn son over a decade later, because the point-and-shoots didn't cut it. When it came to digital, I went with a point-and-shoot Fuji Finepix, because it was all I could afford for digital photography. There is no doubt that point-and-shoot is convenient, simple, inexpensive, and unobtrusive, but that's often trumped by the speed, responsiveness, control, higher quality, and better feel of an SLR. I upgraded my P&S to a digital Superzoom, which bridged both worlds but still didn't deliver the quality and response of an SLR. When the Pentax K-x came out, the price was right and I bought one; a wonderful camera that allowed me to use all of my old favourite Pentax lenses. I never wanted to touch another P&S again, until I saw the Fuji Finepix XP10: An inexpensive, pocketable, waterproof P&S. It's the camera I can take to the beach or to a party without worrying. As much as I love my Pentax DSLR, the small, tough, waterproof P&S cameras do have their place. That said, if I had to choose just one camera, it would be my Pentax K-x.

  • Daniel

    July 1, 2011 06:11 pm

    Bob thank you very much for the answer.
    1. I want 1080p or 1080i, yeah progressive is better than interlaced but 1080i works good as well for my needs.
    2.I don't know if Sony A55 supports light or uses the AF light but I will want to use a 35mm F1.8 prime lens for my first buy and skip the kit lenses that are kinda cheap and bad.
    I read a lot about DSLR's lately and about lenses, and I got to the concluzion that a prime lens is better for a photographer rather than the kit lens because it makes you move and think more before you take a picture. And the optics are better in the prime lens. And the 35mm F1.8 has outstanding low light performance.
    There was a problem in deciding if I should buy the 35mm 1.8 or the 50mm 1.8 but I have studied hard and I am not going to do close portraits all the time so I need the wider angle, and sincer it's on a APS-C senzor, the 35mm will be like the 50mm on the full frame, meaning the normal vizion, not wide, not telephoto so that's why I will buy the 35mm 1.8.
    3. I wil use a tripod or something though I have steady hands so that won't be a problem.
    4. I won't review my photos and videos on my cameras like 99% of the people, even when I had P&S, so I won't do this in my DSLR either, I rather concentrate on taking a perfect photo or video and then worry about it home when I inspect it on my pc.
    5. Whit the prime lens beiing my fisrt lens I won't do zooming :) And about the sound, I thing for videos, when I need it I will buy an external mic.
    6. Yes that is an important thing, the controls, even though the Sony A55 has the worst grip compared to the T3i and D5100 :( But let's say that the controls won't be a really big problem.
    About the batteries and the memory cards, I think I will buy a spare battery because unlike D5100, both sony and Canon have a small battery life.
    And about the P&S + a dedicated video camera I am not sure about it, because the first thing that I want is a very good camera and P&S ... well let's just say that I consider a DSLR a next step in my life though it's not a bad idea.

    Thanks you very much for wasting your time to help me, I will consider everything you said.
    I will buy the camrea in the autum since I am starting now to put away cash and a friend will bring me the camrea from the US (a 850$ camera costs 1400$ in my country - romania) so I have time to think more deeper.

    I am 20 yrs old and from childhood I was into making pictures and videos so this DSLR will be like a dream come true for me. And in the last week I learned a lot about DSLR's (before I didn't knew a thing lol) so that makes me think that if I like this so much I relly must love DSLR's.

    Again, thank you for your time Bob, take care.

  • bob

    July 1, 2011 04:44 pm

    Daniel:

    I never shoot video, so this is not going to be a lot of help, but these still are considerations:
    1. What kind of HD do you require? Make sure the system you want is one the camera offers -- whether 720p, 1280p or 1280i.
    2. Determine whether the camera can support a light for night video. Some can use the built-in rangefinding light because they have very low light capabilities.
    3. Consider how difficult or easy the camera will be to hold steady during recording. Generally, dSLRs are a bit more steady than a lighter camera like the Sony because of their mass and balance..
    4. You probably will be reviewing the video on-camera, so test whether the viewscreen is sharp enough for that purpose. If the camera offers a digital zoom during playback so you can get a better look at the image, so much the better.
    5. Speaking of zoom: Not all cameras will zoom, let alone zoom quietly, while recording video. Same with autofocus being quiet.
    6. The controls for recording must be in convenient locations for starting and stopping the video without having to move your hands to balance and pan/tilt and hold during the action.

    I find that holding a camera to my eye, rather than using a viewscreen, allows me to hold it more steadily. That may be an important consideration for you when you video. Consider buying a handgrip that attaches to the tripod mount, in addition to buying a tripod or monopod for video.

    Don't forget that you will have to own a large number of memory cards and several batteries. If the camera you choose uses very expensive batteries or has short battery life, or requires cards other than SDHC, you will be spending a lot more than you think. So check the specs on battery life and recharging time.

    Finally: Many excellent video cameras cost half the budget you propose, and because they're purpose built, they will probably offer superior results. They use a much smaller sensor (about a third of an inch across) than the cameras you mention, so can work with smaller, lighter lenses with good zoom factors. You may wish instead to buy a good P&S plus a video cam rather than a dSLR.

    Either way, if you have a camera brand you're already used to using, staying with the brand will make learning the transition easier. And if you upgrade your camera in the future, buying the same brand will allow you to reutilize lenses you already had purchased.

    Good luck with your purchase.

    Bob

  • Daniel

    July 1, 2011 09:43 am

    Hey guys, I want to get some cash to get a DSLR camera. I had and I played with many P&S cameras but I feel that I need something better.
    I will also use my camera for making small movies, I know that I am asking much for a DSRL but I will use the camera for movies also, that's why it's important to me.
    I love the specifications of the new Sony A55 (and A33) because they have a DSLR senzor, they have changeable lenses, but they don't have the mirror that the rest of the DSLR's have ... you get the point, you can't actually call them DSLR's but they perform like DSLR's, the good thing about them is that they use a better focusing during video, which is the things that atracts me most.
    I mean before I knew about the Sony A55 I was trying to decide over Canon T3i and Nikon D5100, but now that I have seen so many videos where the 2, Canon and Nikon focuses and videos with the focus speed of the Sony, I really feel that Sony is better if you consider filming as a secondary thing at a DSLR camera.
    I mean, I really like the T3i and the D5100 (you can now see that I want a DSLR at the 800-850$ price range) but the Sony A55 just beats the crap out of them with the focus speed in videos.
    I repeat, I will be doing videos also so that's why it's important to me, I really don't need much manual options in videos (even though the T3 has some nice manual controls in video mode) and I don't want to use manual focus.
    The point: Is Sony A55 a good DSLR if I want to make videos without using manual focus compared to the Canon T3i and Nikon D5100? Because I really want to hear an answer from people with greater knowledge
    than me.
    Excuse me for my english if I made some mistakes. Thank you very much in advance for your replies and if you want to speak and explain more me email is this: thesurrealninja@yahoo.com
    Have a nice day.

  • Abhinav

    June 28, 2011 09:52 pm

    I'd say the difference b/w a DSLR and a P&S camera is almost the same as in driving an automatic and a manual drive.A pro can squeeze even the last ounce of power from an automatic effortlessly whereas a novice may stall even with a manual drive.
    All said and done I guess at the end of the day the real secret is looking at the image if you have captured, the memories it invokes, the joy it brings to you and my friend thats the time when the real thing itself matters....the moment immortalized in that image.

  • Bob

    June 13, 2011 03:33 pm

    Paige -- This is probably obvious to you, but not necessarily to other readers here: You can use your film lenses on a Canon dSLR. And although resolution of even the top, professional-grade digitals don't approach film, a well-shot, well-framed subject at 10 megapixels will yield a sharp 10 x 14-inch print.

    Based on your experience, you will find that the top "bridge" compacts will be adequate, and you won't have to go into dSLR. The PowerShot G12 is Canon's top non-reflex, and is used by many professionals. Check the web site of your choice for comparable models from other makers: for example, the Nikon P7000.

    Going this way lets you get used to the digital technology before buying into the more-expensive dSLR category. Besides, you'll still be able to carry this along, as you suggested, both for use as a "guide," as you put it, and as a backup. Many people who have both a compact and a dSLR find the smaller camera advantageous for many purposes, such as slipping into concerts, street photography, and roughing it.

  • Paige

    June 11, 2011 10:10 am

    Im new to this, and found this article while trying to decide between the cameras. I currently have a Film SLR. Its a Canon EOS Rebel SII and i wont have access to where i usually developed my film and printed, and there aren't many quality locations to pay to have film developed for you near me. I was hoping to get a camera to use when i can't use the film camera, or to use as a guide for what i'm shooting with the film. Im not sure what to go for. A P&S would let me log my photos, but a DSLR would let me just take them. and it could log photos for me too.

    Any Suggestions?

    I also would like to upload my photos to the internet, and a digital camera would be MUCH easier than having to develop, print, scan every photo.

  • Bob

    June 6, 2011 04:34 pm

    Ted: I haven't laid hands on an Oly E-series, but have looked at a couple of reviews (see dpreview.com, for example) and am impressed by the compact's specs. You can also find user reviews on Amazon and Cnet.
    The E-PL2 has a higher pixel count than the D80, but in a smaller sensor. On the other hand, it's a CMOS sensor, which has performance advantages. It's all too much for most normal people to suss out in their heads, but I think I'd try the Oly over the older dSLR.

    I was seriously thinking that could be the way for me to go when I break my Canon G11, but I sorta promised myself I wouldn't get into the interchangeable lens game again. But I'm not buying this year, and you are. I like your thinking on this being an alternative to the bulk and complexity of dSLR. Functionally, the E-series "handles" like a dSLR because of the controls on the lens barrel. And yes, this is a bit different from P&S.

    The challenge is thinking like a photographer: How do you get the most from the equipment you have, and what advantage can you gain from the next step up? Do you need the capabilities? If you felt before that the D80 wasn't overkill, then the PL2 won't be too much, either. And it certainly will be less obtrusive.

  • Ted

    June 5, 2011 08:12 am

    Thanks for the great advice Stratman!

    What do you think of the Olympus E-PL2? I know it is a micro 4/3 and not a dSLR; but I am now thinking it may be a bit easier to carry around than the D80 while still allowing me to learn the art of an interchangable lens camera.

  • Stratman

    June 5, 2011 02:25 am

    Reading Bob's gushing compliments left me blushing, because I don't really consider myself an expert as I'm still on the learning curve. Thanks anyway, Bob. :-)

    @ Ted:
    Although the Nikon D80 is outclassed by Nikon's current offerings and by its competitors like Canon and Sony Alpha, it is still a formidable dSLR. Its direct rival was the old Canon Rebel XTi/EOS 400D which was pretty expensive back then. All else being equal any dSLR will take much better images than any point-and-shoot camera.

    We're talking about a 10 Megapixel DX-format (APS-C) sensor in the D80, which is far larger and more sensitive than any compact P&S digicam. You'll be able to take low light images at ISO 800 with almost zero digital noise compared to even the PowerShot S95 or G12, both @ ISO 800.

    Since you're offered a used one for just USD450 inclusive of the AF 18-55mm f/3.4-5.6 kit lens, I think it's a good deal - especially if the camera is in very good shape with no malfunctions. The fact that it's a second hand camera will put you at ease compared to a brand new PowerShot G12 about the same price.

    I mean, if I were going on a hike up the Inca trail to Machu Picchu, I would worry less risking a used camera than a brand new one. Which means I'd pay more attention to the hiking and climbing more than to the well-being of my photographic equipment (in the country where I live, we don't have insurance for cameras).

    Recently a friend of mine invited me to climb a steep quartz ridge overlooking the city of Kuala Lumpur, thinking that I would enjoy taking landscape photos and I said no, if I were scaling this rock I would definitely leave my dSLR and lenses behind for sure.

    I'd say go for the Nikon D80. Whether you intend to make it as a stepping stone into the wonderful-but-expensive world of dSLR photography and advance from there or use the D80 as a family oriented camera as it is, you'll be amazed at the high quality images it's able to produce compared to any small pocket camera.

    As with all dSLRs, there will be some learning curve involved, e.g. understanding of the camera's various exposure and metering modes and most of all, handling and technique but in time you'll get the hang of it.

    One of my favorite gear reviewers is Gordon Laing, who runs the Cameralabs.com website. He gave pretty high marks for the Nikon D80. Have a look at his brief video tour first and then read his review later.

    cheers,
    Stratman

  • bob

    June 4, 2011 05:03 pm

    Stratman: You always amaze me with your knowledge of equipment and how to take advantage of its features.

    Ted: You sound like you're leaning more towards the dSLR. I wasn't clear, I guess, about the quality of similar-pixel-count comparisons between a dSLR and P&S. The former have much larger sensors (part of the reason that they can't have tiny lenses) than the latter. The advantage of larger sensors, even with similar pixel counts, is that individual photo sites (as they are called) are many times larger, and thus can recognize detail in much dimmer light with less noise (snow, grain). Plus, the larger package allows for more-powerful electronics (for its year of manufacture) than P&S. So they CAN get better results in low light, but not for motion. However, that's not a requirement you listed.

    Also, I wasn't talking about photography skills , but camera skills. The dSLR is more complex and complicated, and takes longer to become familiar enough to use quickly in changing situations.

    The quality of a set of photos in different circumstances and conditions will be more dependent on the skill and imagination of the photographer than on the quality or type of equipment. And by skill, I mean recognizing and evaluating light, contrast, motion and interest; in using the equipment properly; and taking advantage of arcane options that you might not even find use for. Example: In-camera color swapping, changing color saturation, building a panoramic shot -- things that can be accomplished with popular photo software after you get home.

    Used or refurbished S90s are good alternatives to buying a new S95, too. Making a decision within budget limits and time constraints is sure frustrating! But the D80 is half as old as your wife's A10, and tech has moved so fast in the past few years that both are obsolescent. But certainly not useless.

    If you go for the D80, you will always be able to upgrade to a newer model and take the lens and any other equipment with you. And the 18-55mm lens is more than a single lens; it is a zoom that goes from standard (medium angle to 3x as wide. These wides are great for travel panoramas, capturing the big scene in Machu Picchu, or snapping your wife across the bus or the cantina table.

  • Stratman

    June 4, 2011 03:32 am

    @barca96

    If you take your interior shots seriously, I would recommend using your mom's EOS 500D with a proper ultra-wide zoom lens rather than using add-on wide angle lens converters. P&S compact cameras tend to focus hunt with a shutter lag in low light and struggle to keep the digital noise down at high ISO sensitivities.

    Furthermore, most wide angle compact cameras start at 24mm, which may be wide enough for exteriors. For cramped interiors you need to go wider than that. A ultrawide zoom lens with a focal length starting at 10mm is a good start, although there are newer lenses from Sigma like the 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM that currently holds the record as being the widest UWA lens (it starts at 8mm). The downside of this lens is that its maximum aperture is rather slow at f/4.5 and its bulbous front lens element makes using add-on filters impossible.

    Recommended lenses for interiors: Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8, Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM and the Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM. The Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 is a constant aperture lens throughout its focal range (it takes it more light, good for low interior lighting) but its zoom range is pretty short to be truly versatile. Ken Rockwell also shares his techniques on using an ultra-wide zoom lens, which you can read here.

    Using the Steinzeiser wide angle converter will not give you the same sharp and reduced wide angle distortion compared to a dedicated ultra-wide angle lens, unless you like the faux fish-eye lens look. Bob has pretty much covered the subject of undesirable, added distortion using an add-on converter so I won't go into this further.

    Think of the ultra-wide lens as an investment as you're a property realtor. You want to impress your clients with attractive interior shots. If you hire a professional photographer to do the job for you, he or she will not show up with a point-and-shoot camera for sure. :-) When it comes to professional-looking interior images, nothing beats your mom's 500D and a true ultra-wide angle zoom lens.

    Unfortunately none of these UWA lenses fit into your budget as they typically cost at least USD700. If this is too much to spend, it's perfectly OK to buy pre-owned lenses as they will be much cheaper. Look on eBay or Craigslist for such lenses. My personal recommendation would be the Canon EF-S 10-22mm lens, not because I also happen to own one, but as the result of 1 year's research into selecting the right UWA lens for my needs.

    hope this helps and good luck! :-)

  • Ted

    June 3, 2011 09:42 pm

    Thanks bob; will watch out to see if Stratman pops on :). But you still had some good information.

    The used D80 with 18-55mm lens that I am looking at is $450; but if it is not any better picture quality due to similar light sensitivity and resolution as more recent P&S cameras like the S95, then maybe I really should re-think.

    I am certainly not averse to learning actual real photography skills (it could be fun once I get more free time!) but am very budget constrained (hence looking at used/refurb units). So just looking for the best value/performance for family photos and vacation photos pretty much. We would also still have my wife's Pentax Optio A10 (not sure how that one fits in with performance).

    So I like the concept and supposed benefits of the dSLR. But do I gain much from going with a d80 with a single lens?

    Thanks again!

    *sorry if repost - website is acting up :(

  • Ted

    June 3, 2011 09:39 pm

    Thanks bob; will watch out to see if Stratman pops on :). But you still had some good information.

    The used D80 with 18-55mm lens that I am looking at is $450; but if it is not any better picture quality due to similar light sensitivity and resolution as more recent P&S cameras like the S95, then maybe I really should re-think.

    I am certainly not averse to learning actual real photography skills (it could be fun once I get more free time!) but am very budget constrained (hence looking at used/refurb units). So just looking for the best value/performance for family photos and vacation photos pretty much. We would also still have my wife's Pentax Optio A10 (not sure how that one fits in with performance).

    So I like the concept and supposed benefits of the dSLR. But do I gain much from going with a d80 with a single lens?

    Thanks again!

  • Ted

    June 3, 2011 09:37 pm

    Thanks bob; will watch out to see if Stratman pops on :). But you still had some good information.

    The used D80 with 18-55mm lens that I am looking at is $450; but if it is not any better picture quality due to similar light sensitivity and resolution as more recent P&S cameras like the S95, then maybe I really should re-think.

    I am certainly not averse to learning actual real photography skills (it could be fun once I get more free time!) but am very budget constrained (hence looking at used/refurb units). So just looking for the best value/performance for family photos and vacation photos pretty much. We would also still have my wife's Pentax Optio A10 (not sure how that one fits in with performance).

    So I like the concept and supposed benefits of the dSLR. But do I gain much from going with a d80 with a single lens?

    Thanks again!

  • Bob

    June 3, 2011 01:01 pm

    @barka96: A very quick answer, with little detail: You will get better shots with a dSLR on a 2-year-old 500D than most (maybe any) new P&S at that budget. Stratman probably has better info, because he's a Canon dSLR owner and authority on several websites. He'll probably tell you about a 15-55mm Wide Angle lens that will have better performance for architecture than compacts. (Better lenses reduce the distortions -- rounding of walls as they reach the corners, for example.) The 500D has better sensitivity than P&S units. Plus, you're used to it, so you'll be able to put the new lens to use with little or no fuss.

    @ted: Again, if we're lucky Stratman can help you admirably. He owns the excellent S95 and is knowledgeable about Nikon dSLRs; I'm not. However: The older Nikon has the same resolution, and probably not much better light sensitivity, as the S95. If you're hiking int Machu Picchu (and isn't that the only option?), you'll appreciate the weight and size of the S95. SLRs have some technical advantages like speed and rapid-fire shooting, plus more menu bothers to take advantage of them. The S95 is much easier to use.

    Note: If you need a viewfinder (I do sometimes), you'll need either the 500D or a different compact. I have and love the G11 with a true optical viewfinder, and the Canon G12 is better still. Not shirt-pocket size, but much lighter and thinner than the 500D. The price is probably 25 percent more than the S95. But for a true compact, the S95 is hard to beat.

  • Ted

    June 2, 2011 09:55 pm

    Hello,

    Thank you for the very informative posts! I have recently been looking to get a camera with improved picture quality than my wifes old pentax p&s.

    I would be using it mostly for family photos and for vacations (e.g. If I am going to go see macchu picchu I want good photos ;) So I had been considering an entry DSLR however this article has me questioning that due to their bulkier nature and the extra expense of the good lenses.

    I had been considering getting locally a used nikon d80 with a nikkor af 55mm lens. However might it be better for me to pick something up like a refurb canon s95 p&s?
    Thanks for any advice!

  • barca96

    June 1, 2011 03:29 pm

    At the moment I’m using my Mom’s Canon 500D with a wide angle extension called the Steinzeiser 0.5x58mm.

    Do you think it’s better to stick to my mom’s Canon 500D and spend some usd300-400 to buy a proper wide angle lens for it or
    can I better just get a digital camera for around usd300-400 with a good wide angle lens.I know that some digital cameras come with wide angle lens. Or is it inferior to the ones on DSLR’s?

    I mean, if I want to upgrade to a wide angle lens, the amount of money spent, I could get a digital camera. And if the quality and “width” is more or less the same, why not I buy my own camera although it’s not a DSLR. Cause do I really need a DSLR to reach my objective of making living rooms and all appear bigger (or fitting everything in 1 photo)?

    Many thanks in advance

    p.s. Im a realtor.

  • Nirmal

    May 27, 2011 11:40 pm

    @ Startman.

    Thanks a lot....... for your technical information on my query.

    I was using Nikon s200 p&s for last 3yrs. So now feel to go 1 step ahead.

    Will be getting a Nikon dslr 5100 soon for my photography adventure. I know its a enpensive hobby ... :)

  • Stratman

    May 27, 2011 05:45 pm

    @ nirmal,

    My comrade-in-arms "Bob" has pretty much covered everything you need to know, but in hindsight he
    probably missed on your original question: "Which lens can i use in Nikon DSLR 5100 to get the optical zoom of 36X in P&S camera?"

    The answer is none! This is because it is not possible for any dSLR lens manufacturer to come up
    with a huge zoom ratio of 36x to achieve the range from 22.5mm to 810mm like the Nikon Coolpix P500. At present, the longest zoom ratio for a dSLR zoom lens is the Tamron SP AF 18-270mm f/3.5-5.6 VC, and that's only 15x worth of zoom range.

    A theoretical dSLR zoom lens with a 36x zoom range would be too complicated to design while minimizing loss of light transmission, chromatic aberration (purple fringing), distortion/pincushion while maintaining an acceptable degree of sharpness. Even if such a lens is made, the end result would be a HUGE zoom lens that is extremely expensive, overly large and heavy and impractical to use. In the end, nobody will buy one.

    Experienced dSLR photographers know that the shorter the focal range, the sharper the lens will be - that is, all else being equal. Prime lenses are fixed focal length lenses, e.g. 24mm, 28mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm, 100mm, 135mm, 300mm, 500mm and so on.

    Because prime lenses do not have complex lens arrangements, they are simpler to design, have minimum transmissive light losses and are the sharpest lenses in the dSLR world.

    Due to their very simple optical architecture, you can have 50mm lenses with super-large apertures like f/1.0 and f/1.2. These are heavy and expensive lenses that excel in low lighting conditions and have
    extremely shallow depth-of-field. As of 2011, f/2.8 is the biggest aperture that zoom lenses can have - there are none with apertures that can go larger than f/2.8 due to design-to-cost ratio.

    Next in line are short focal range zooms, e.g. 10-22mm (2.2x), 11-16mm (1.45x), 17-40mm (2.35x), 18-55mm (3.05x), 24-70mm (2.9x), 24-105mm (4.37x), 55-250mm (4.5x), 70-200mm (2.86x), 100-400mm (4x), etc. These lenses are generally not more than 5:1 in terms of zoom ratio.

    After this comes the mid-focal range zooms, e.g. 15-85mm (5.6x), 18-105mm (5.8x), 18-135mm (7.5x) and
    so on. These are generally kit lenses that comes with the dSLR camera. Most of them are relatively inexpensive and have decent optical performance. One such exception is the excellent Canon EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM, which is surprisingly sharp for a kit lens (it's fitted to some Canon EOS 7D kits)
    and covers from the superwide to mid-telephoto focal lengths.

    Finally it's the long focal range zooms with a focal multiplier more than 10x, e.g. 18-200mm (11.1x), 18-250mm (13.8x), 18-270mm (15x) and 28-300mm (10.7x). Because these lenses have to cover such a wide range, from wide angle to telephoto you will be trading high optical quality for convenience. Instead of carrying 2-3 lenses, you can have just one single lens fitted on your camera.

    These lenses are also called "travel lenses" as using only one lens means a much lighter load for vacations. Most "superzooms" are on the affordable side, with the exception of the Canon EF 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6L IS USM (USD2.6k). Because of its very high price relative to its optical quality, serious Canon L-lens enthusiasts and professionals generally don't buy or use this particular model.

    The reason you can buy P&S cameras with a 36x zoom range is because their lenses are very small compared to dSLR lenses. They're easy to design and cheap to manufacture. The Nikon P500's actual focal range is 4-144mm and the diameter of the internal optics are much smaller than dSLR lenses.

    As you gain experience with the Nikon D5100, sooner or later you will find limitations of the AF-S 18-55mm VR kit lens and look into better quality lenses. I can tell you from personal experience that as a hobby, dSLR photography can become a very expensive affair. :o)

    Hope this helps,
    Stratman.

  • Nirmal

    May 19, 2011 04:07 pm

    @ Bob

    THANKS A LOT..............!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    The informations you provided were soo valuable and helpful !!!!

    So as a biggner with slr , am planing to go ahead with Nikon 5100 and 18-55mm lens.Earlier I was using Nikon Coolpix SX 200 (2007) with 3x optical zoom.

    I hope i will be happy with Nikon 5100..

  • Bob

    May 19, 2011 01:05 pm

    Nirmal: I'd suggest waiting to buy extra lenses until you get the feel of the new D5100. Besides, superzooms only exist in the P&S realm, and for good reason. They have mediocre quality; if linked to an upper-beginner's model like the 5100, owners would demand their money back and forever condemn the maker's product to their friends.

    I'm confident you'll get good shots with a Nikkor DX lens of 200mm or less. Note though, that an "everyday" or "standard" lens size for 35mm film is 45-55mm; for the D5100 it's very roughly 22, and for the P500 it's 6mm. Be careful when comparing sizes; some are listed as "35mm equivalent," and that allows even comparison. Back to the point: Use the stock 18-55mm lens for a while, and see what genuine holes in your camera life need filling. Then get the best you can afford for that narrow need. For example: To shoot family/children in the home or within 20 feet (6m), you might want a fixed (non-zoom) 20-24mm lens with large aperture like f2.0.

    dSLRs have more pixels, sure; but those pixels fill a sensor that is orders of magnitude larger than the ones on P&S cams. This makes them much more sensitive to varying contrast (called dynamic range), so you can more easily detect very close shades and hues that would look the same on small cameras' sensors. Suddenly, the former P&S shooter can see the pine needles on a distant tree, even note the fresher color of younger ones. (The same advantage shows on birds, furry animals, reptiles, bright-white clothing, and even seams in black tuxedos.

    But the tiny photo sites (where the pixels are formed on the sensor) of a P&S don't have the capacity to see that fine variation. So the lenses for them can be of equally lower quality. Not that they're bad, but they are not as good. I had a 35mm film camera with a (for 1975) very advanced zoom: 3:1. I could see the loss of contrast from the kit lens. And the P500 has 35x zoom! To accomodate that magnification, the designers have to surrender some sharpness and dynamic range.

    If you look at the pro level of Nikon lenses, they cost about 1.5x the camera cost, and have no more than 10x (most are 3-5x).

    Next: The sensor is smaller than a 35mm film frame, so the lens is more powerful in its zoom. I'm not sure, but the ratio is about 2:1, so a 300mm zoom is equal to a 450-600mm film on a full-frame camera. You're getting twice the zoom it appears to provide.

    Also: With the higher megapixel count, you can crop more without quality loss (compared to P&S), so a shorter lens still allows you to make sharp, tightly edited photos. Even less need for all that zoom power.

    Last: Maximum opening (small f-number) is greater on shorter lenses than telephotos. This allows more chance of choosing the exact shutter speed (or background-blurring "bokeh" with changed f-stop) when you shoot. Put another way, you can shoot with less light or lower ISO than with a long lens or zoomed-in shot.

    So: dSLR cameras aren't suitable for superzoom lenses, and manufacturers therefore don't offer any. You don't need to shoot at extremely long focal lengths because your dSLR has superior resolution, allowing for tighter crops later. Finally, don't try to buy everything right now that you "might" need. Just get enough to get started and discover what you really wish you could do if you had that second (and maybe third).

    Did I say "finally?" Mistake. Not mentioned, but essential for outdoor shooting, is a Circular Polarizing lens filter. You probably already know that, but it's good to include in this discussion for future readers.

    Best wishes with an exciting new camera!

  • Nirmal

    May 17, 2011 05:34 pm

    I am planing to buy Nikon DSLR 5100.( http://www.nikon.co.in/productitem.php?pid=1423-f4320ceaf9 ). ..

    The only factor am confused is the optical soom of Nikon COOLPIX P500 (http://www.nikon.co.in/productitem.php?pid=1410-2e114e213c&display=technicalspecifications )..

    Which lens can i use in Nikon DSLR 5100 to get the optical zoom of 36X in P&S camera?

  • Ryan

    May 15, 2011 07:28 pm

    Fantastic article, some really great tips on buying , keep up the good work

  • Bob

    May 13, 2011 05:18 pm

    I wish I could keep track of details (or be able to find hem as fast ) as Stratman!

    Brandy: I'm not keeping close track of features, but think that P&S options are a good way to go. The cost of dSLRs and the range of lenses you need for superb zooming is two or four times the cost of the best P&S cams. None of the latter can do everything and do it well. (In the camera world, "super zoom" means 20x zoom or higher now, and up to 35x. Zooming tight like that is not needed for family-oriented photos, and would even interfere with people shots. The sharpest will be in the 3-5x range.)

    Here's a thought: Both Stratman and I (as RMvandy) are moderators on flickr's http://www.flickr.com/groups/notslr/ -- and our members have a huge variety of point-and-shoot digitals. Why not join our group and post your question there? Many of us have Canon's great G-series (G11 and G12) and the small but powerful S95. There're lots of other brands represented, and those who have a model that meets your requirements will let you know.

    To stay under $1000 U.S., you'll probably need to skip the dSLRs -- at least without buying more than one lens. As Stratman notes above (maybe far above), a superzoom lens isn't going to be as sharp as a moderate zoom, so you'd need a couple of sizes to extract a dSLR's quality. And you'll want a fast (small f-number, like 1.8 or 2.0) lens for depth of field and low-light shots.

    It may be better to stick with the "bridge" cameras, those at the top of the all-in-one lines of the major cameramakers. Check previous postings for possible web sites for comparing cameras. The one I like for ease of use (but it's not the best) is cnet.com. Type in one camera model and work your way through the editor's review. You'll get a screen there that lets you compare features (but not photos and detailed specs).

    Thousands of better photographers than I have said that the best camera is one that you have with you. If you buy a bulky camera, or one that's difficult to use, it won't matter how well reviewed it is, or how great its pictures are if you didn't bring it.

    Pick what you'll use. And have fun in the hunt!

    Bob

  • Brandy

    May 13, 2011 04:04 am

    I'm interested in a camera with great low light picture quality, video capabilty, has a super zoom, and can shoot in RAW.
    It can be either a DSLR or a Point and Shoot.
    I'm not professional, but would like to get into taking pictures of family and friends for fun!
    I would like my price range to stay under $1000.
    I've been researching cameras for months now, and just can't decide on one!
    The few that have caught my eye are:
    Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100
    Canon G12
    Nikon D3100
    Leica V-LUX
    Canon EOS 60D
    I would greatly appreciate any helpful information anyone may have! I hope to hear back from someone soon!

  • Kristen Bruckner

    May 10, 2011 06:20 am

    Thank you for this article! It was tremendously helpful. I am looking to 'upgrade' from my pretty simple point & shoot to something with greater abilities. I actually did a Google search for CSC vs DSLR cameras and found your article. Thank you for the help. (I think I'll move up to a CSC, then eventually go all the way with a DSLR).

  • Stratman

    May 7, 2011 08:58 pm

    @ Luiz:

    It's very hard to make recommendations unless you specify a range as your budget. At this time of writing, price delta between the enthusiast-level Canon EOS 60D and the consumer-level EOS 600D (both share the same DiGiC 4 processor, 1MP resolution Vari-Angle LCD, wireless Speedlite flash trigger, 63-zone iFCL metering, HD video recording and 18MP CMOS sensor) isn't that significant.

    The EOS 60D is obviously the better specc'ed model, with a higher burst shooting rate, larger hand grip, JPG and RAW buffer, all-crosspoint, 9 point AF sensor and a slightly larger and brighter viewfinder, in-camera RAW processing and a higher shutter speed of 1/8000sec. The downside, other than its higher asking price is its larger bulk and heavier weight.

    In terms of image quality, there's very little to distinguish between the EOS 60D and the EOS 600D/Rebel T3i as both models share the same sensor and metering system.

    If you're traveling a lot and wish to carry a minimum number of lenses for weight savings, I'd suggest the EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS wide range zoom and the very inexpensive EF 50mm f/1.8 Mk II prime lens for low light situations.

    If you're looking something from Nikon that is very close to the EOS 60D in terms of product positioning, look into the new Nikon D7000.

    It's best that you walk into a camera store and try out the dSLR that suits your needs best (remember that "wants" and "needs" should be distinct from one another). You don't want to buy a dSLR that ends up as the proverbial "white elephant".

    hope this helps,
    Stratman

  • Stratman

    May 7, 2011 08:42 pm

    @ Bob:

    Both the Canon PowerShot S95 and G12 share the same high sensitivity 10MP 1/1.7" CCD sensor as the G11 (and the older S90). Currently 10MP seems to be the sweet spot for P&S cameras and as the G11/G12/S90/S95's sensor arrays are already tiny at just 2.03 µm per pixel.

    It'll be a while until Canon finds a way to boost the resolution up to 14.7MP while keeping the noise levels as low as the present 10MP sensor used by the G11. Alternatively, Canon might retain the max resolution at 10 Megapixels while improving the sensitivity of the sensor further.

    The S90/S95 series' shutter speed range is limited from 15sec to 1/1600sec, vs the G11/G12's 1/4000sec. I find this rather limiting because I can't open up the aperture for shallow DoF in very bright sunlight without severe overexposure despite the ISO already at its lowest value.

  • Luiz Cunha

    April 18, 2011 08:06 pm

    Hello everyone!
    How are you guys doing?

    Well, to be honest I never really considered the idea of having a dSLR for one reason only: it´s size! I always thought it would be a pain in the neck carrying it around, thats why I always went for the P&S cameras, although it doesn´t need to be an expert to notice the difference between the pictures.

    But recently I completly change my mind. Ok, I still think it´s not the best thing having to carry that big thing around(specally when you are traveling light), but the quality and range of pictures you can take makes it worth it!

    I´m no expert when it comes to setting up configurations in the camera, but when you have a good equipament it´s easy and fun to learn.
    I spent a couple hours reading your discussion, so now I have a better understanding of how things work with a dSLR, but still I think the best thing to do befor buying one, is to ask people who really know how to use one.

    @Stratman, I notice you always give great advices to everyone, if you or anyone else could help me it would be very nice.

    I still don´t have an specifc budget in mind. Sometimes it´s worth it to spend a little bit more, specially when you buy something that you will be able to use for a long time.

    My idea is to take pictures of landscapes(I´ve been traveling a lot around Europe), also spontaneous pictures of my friends and family, and so on.
    I don´t need the biggest zoom avaible on earth, but it would be nice to have a good range as well.
    At first I don´t plan to buy mora than 1 lense, but later on when my photoskills improve I definetly will invest more money into it.

    So, that´s pretty much it. I´m sorry if my msg is too long guys.

    Well, if any of you could point me to a good direction and advice me which camera to buy, I would be very happy.

    Thanks a lot!!!
    Luiz

  • Bob

    April 10, 2011 01:27 pm

    I'll try to answer Chuck and Hope at the same time. I spent a half hour looking at the specs for the two cameras Hope mentioned, and added a third -- which is probably slightly better for a few reasons.

    I was thinking in exactly the same way about 15 months ago, and was advised by another contributor here that the megazooms would not satisfy me. Their problem: NOT SHARP. The more that manufacurers push the zoom range, the less quality the lens can get anywhere along its wide to zoom limits. You can get much sharper shots from a 5x zoom with 10 megapixels than a 35x with 12-14. that means the blowups, whether 4x6 inch or 8x10, will look better, and will allow for more cropping.

    Because a sharp shot was my primary concern, with the option of full manual control a close second, my new friend on this site, Stratman, suggested the Canon G11 (now it's the G12). It's thinner than the superzooms (kind of retro looking), and has functions on a number of dials instead of being buried deep in a menu system. And unless you're planning to take photos of birds on the wing or spy through distant apartment windows, the 5x zoom is plenty. I got great shots on vacations in Alaska and Spain. A more-compact model is Canon's S95, a bit cheaper, but 4x zoom, and truly pocket sized. The superzooms are almost as large as a dSLR. A more-compact camera is more likely to be carried along, and thus get more use.

    So, in the superzooms: My first choice would be the Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ100. It has a quality Leica 24x lens and quick shooting, a fast burst mode, and full HD video (if that's important). Next the Canon PowerShot SX30. It's the slowest between shots, but also rated best for color and lower-light levels (higher ISO settings, which you'll need because of the long lenses). Third the Nikon. Although it's fast, the sharpness and color quality don't meet the Canon.

    Better still: Canon G12 or S95. Not mentioned yet is the sensor size, and these two are about twice as large, so they will have better low-light performance and more levels of brightness between washed-out white (or blown-out solid colors) and details lost in the dark. You just can see more. They have 10 megapixels, which seems like a loss, but fewer pixels on larger sensors means better performance at low light levels. Nikon has a newish competitor to the G12, but it's not rated quite as well.

    The superzooms cost $400-450, The G12 about $450-500, and the S95 around $400. The superzooms have electronic viewfinders, the G11 a real optical viewfinder, and the S95 none.

    I bought the Canon G11 in Feb. 2010, and the G12 has a few improvements. I suggest the G12, or even a gently used G11. The Canon S95 is perhaps the best shirt-pocket camera, with many of the G12's features -- except the viewfinder, flip-and-twist screen, and multiple control dials.

  • CHUCK

    April 7, 2011 03:52 am

    I need to buy a camera for my daughter. She is by no means a professional, so she will not need multiple lenses but she doesn't want another simple point and shoot. She has an interest in photography, but really wants terrific quality pictures, particularly when traveling on vacations.

    Could you possilby steer me in the right direction, ass uming a budget of $400 at the low end and $700 at the high end?

    I greatly appreciate any feedback!

  • Hope

    April 2, 2011 02:19 pm

    Hi there,

    First I have to thank everyone for their informative posts. I've been trying to decide between a dSLR and large zoom P & S for a while now and am inching closer to a P & S. I don't have the disposable income to keep buying lenses so I think I'll abandon the Nikon 3100/Canon T2i decision. I do however now need to choose between the Nikon Coolpix P500 or the Canon SX30IS. Any advice would be most welcome.

    Thanks in advance,

    Hope

  • Bob

    March 28, 2011 07:35 am

    Denis: This is not my area of expertise, being neither a Nikon nor (any longer) a film person. However: I have read that if you buy a camera with a smaller-than-35-mm sensor (which many of the lower-priced models have), the effect is to multiply the lens' focal length. The lens will still create a full-frame refraction, but the sensor will be a fraction of the surface area. It has the efect of cropping, and is called the cropping value (or something like that). So if you see specs for a camera that say either (50mm "equivalent" or "1.6x" cropping factor, it has a smaller sensor. In fact, the specs for the better cameras name the sensor size.

    For more information, check cambridgeincolour.com (note spelling), go to Tutorials. Under Advanced Topics, select "Digital Camera Sensor Sizes...".

    Your 50mm lens may become the equivalent of a 130mm, for example. And they will have greater depth of field than before (or, put another way, you won't be able to blur out a background as thoroughly).

    Good luck with your new camera.

    Bob

  • Denis

    March 25, 2011 12:45 am

    I'm am / was a serious 35mm photographer. The Nikon N90 is my camera of choice, my point and shoot was my Leica M5. The M5 a point and shoot?, well it was smaller, don't laugh. Those were the days w/o digital manipulation and it was about getting the picture at that moment. Based on my Nikon lens collection, I'll be going for a Nikon DSLR. All the rambling aside I have a question, lens wise. Does a 135mm etc, equate to a 135mm on the DSLR? ie: covers the same field of view? Thanks for this site, it was very informative.

  • Stratman

    March 2, 2011 12:12 am

    @ pooja,

    I am in agreement with Bob with regards to the Sony NEX-series cameras. I have tested the NEX-5 at one of my regular camera retail stores and the store manager informed me that very, very few customers bought either the NEX-3 or the NEX-5.

    Most of his customers go for either high compacts like the Nikon Coolpix P7000, Canon G12 and S95 or if they want to go straight to a large APS-C sensor, buy proper dSLRs instead. Some like the small size of the NEX-series cameras while others dislike the handling and weight, especially when mated to the large Sony 18-200mm f.3.5-6.3 OS zoom lens.

    While it's true that the dSLR-like sensor in the Sony NEX series take more superior pictures, you have to also consider other factors like handling, resale value (Sony updates their products too often), after sales service and prices of their accessories.

    good luck with your choice :-)

  • Bob

    March 1, 2011 07:21 pm

    Pooja: I took a quick look at cnet.com's video review (didn't read the full review), and the NEX-5 seems pretty good. The summary by CNET's editor, though, warns that enthusiasts (and people used to using upper-end p&s or any dSLRs) will find the camera frustrating in its limitations. For one, she said the color is off; another, the 18-55mm lens has unpleasant distortion at both ends (and although it's not particularly fast, it has a steamin' CMOS APS-C size sensor (that's very good, and 14.2mp is also very good) with an ISO of about 18,000. Excellent for low light. But her third big problem was that, in bright light, it's almost impossible to view the screen, and there's no viewfinder.

    She rated it 3.5 of 5 stars, which is pretty good. Readers mostly graded it 4 or 5 stars, and only three gave it 1-2 stars. You'll have to decide what kind of lens to get it with. I'd look really hard at whether a new, 18-200 or so lens is good enough for the money; otherwise, the 18-55 is fair. Look for parallel horizontal and vertical lines at wide and telephoto ends of the zoom. If they're too crooked, everything will print with distortion.

    Interchangeable lenses in a compact -- now that has possiblilities, particularly with the superior sensor. So, since you're just getting into it, it may be a bit of a challenge, but should be something to grow into without it being to complicated to appreciate for someone "just starting," as you say.

    It's bulkier than the top "bridge" cameras like my Canon G11 (or the new G12), the ones between "point and shoot" and the digital Single-Lens Reflex (interchangeable lens) cameras. Not for pockets.

    Best wishes.

  • Pooja

    March 1, 2011 01:37 am

    Hi there,
    What do you think about the sony NEX-5? I am just starting to get a into photography,strictly as a hobby.Besides,i dont want to do away with the image quality and don't really have a big budget.

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  • Bob

    February 8, 2011 01:47 pm

    Frank: I'm surprised you got this far down the comments page -- it's been here for years, and nobody has posted in a couple of months. About the noise: Digital cameras may make a bit of noise when the lens is operated or zoomed, but probably not more than the rustling of clothing. dSLRs, with their flopping mirrors and flapping shutter curtains, can be quite a bit noisier. Be sure to find how to turn off noises and alert sounds when you're still in civilization. I haven't used electronic shutter sounds, or beeps and such, for more than six years, and really don't miss much from it. Besides, they don't warn me of the most important threats: croooked horizons, camera motion, wrong exposures, white balance.

  • frank montressor

    February 7, 2011 07:00 am

    Great article and it will cause me to do some more research b4 I plunge in.
    Your article certainly points out things to be cautious about and since I love taking
    wildlife pictures, camera mechanical noise is a concern I need to balance with powerful zoom and quality photo enlargement. I just like the throw it in my pocket ability. Two cameras seem to be the best choice. Thanks

  • Stratman

    December 4, 2010 06:46 pm

    @brwnsgr

    Both Canon and a well known third party company called Lensmate, makes threaded filter adapter rings for the SX30 IS.

    The only compelling reason for you to buy the filter adapters is for special effects filters, such as polarizer filters neutral density (ND) and graduated neutral density (GND) filters usually used to enhance landscape and seascape scenery. Photographers have been using them for decades long before Photoshop was invented! However, you don't need an ultraviolet (UV) filter as digital cameras are not sensitive to UV light, so don't buy a filter adapter just to attach a UV filter.

    If you have not joined Flickr, you may want to mingle with fellow SX30 IS owners here. Black furred pets and dark colored objects do not influence sensors but the camera's metering system, which is a totally different topic. However low light and high ISO photography indoors like in stadiums, clubs and dim restaurants is NOT amongst the SX30 IS' strongest points. High ISO photography is a task best tackled by P&S cameras like the Panasonic Lumix LX3/LX5 or the Canon S90/S95 thanks to their large aperture f/2.0 lenses and extra high sensitivity sensors.

    It's best that you visit a camera store and test the cameras mentioned in the few comments above. There is no such thing as the "best camera" as everyone has their own needs in a camera and no camera is perfect. Only you can decide as to which is the best model that suits your needs. That is why many people end up owning several cameras, from bulky and heavy dSLRs to the tiniest compacts, one for every occasion. :-)

  • brwnsgr

    December 4, 2010 12:43 pm

    I stumbled on this site about a week ago and I've been coming back to it every night. I've been staying up way past my bedtime...so much great stuff to read up on!

    @Stratman: You mentioned Canon's ability to accept effects filters. Is there a discussion on this site that talks more about these?

    @bob: Thanks for speaking further about Stratman's comments. Unfortunately , I happen to have most of the things that are limited by the smaller sensors...I love to go to night clubs with my friends, I own a black dog, and I have dark skin with black hair. Fortunately, I like wearing bright colors! :) Maybe that will help with the light!

    I can't wait to get a new camera to start learning how to use it from scratch!! I still have my trusty PowerShot SD800 IS until then...

  • Bob

    December 4, 2010 09:35 am

    To clarify the meaning of Stratman's sensor comments: The standard measure is the diameter of an old vidicon (video) picture tube. the workable surface was a bit more than half that diameter. A G-series sensor is called 1/1.7" size, and is a circle of 10/17ths of an inch; The SX30 is 10/23".

    According to Wikipedia, the approximate size of 1/1.7" is 43 square millimeters. The 1/2.3" is about 25mm2. Since both have 10,000,000 picture elements, those on the SX30 are little more than half the size. (Maybe less; I ignored the "sides of the box" between elements.)

    These elements are light wells. They capture and count photons, and with half the capacity, the mathematical odds of getting equal distribution of photons from a solid-color target is greatly reduced. The result is that you naturally get more spot variation (blotchiness and loss of color accuracy) and, at lower light levels, annoying noise (snow or static, as on a poorly received television signal).

    Cameras with smaller sensors can partly make up for this by avoiding lower exposures. They have a longer minimum shutter speed (1/4000 on G vs 1/2000 on SX), and lower maximum ISO. So you can't shoot in places as dark as you could with a larger sensor. And what you get even in average light or in shadow will lack contrast. Further, the in-camera processing to create the jpeg images often performs more averaging between adjacent pixels, so detail (as well as contrast) is lost.

    That's a major reason that Canon switched from 14.7mp in its G10 to 10.2 in the G11/12s. Same sensor size, fewer pixels that capture more light.

    It doesn't matter much for the most common photo situations: flash shots at home or parties, daytime landscapes and people shots, etc. But it'll limit quality for stage performances, night shots, dark colored pets, and even very dark skin, clothing and hair. Use plenty of light where you can. These smaller sensors are still vastly superior to those of five or more years ago, and even many more recent ones.

    And the presets (such as portrait, landscape, fireworks, night) process the photos for better rendition without your having to do as much tweaking with photo software.

  • Stratman

    December 2, 2010 02:33 am

    @ brwnsgr

    Agree with Bob and Shaheen with regards to the Canon PowerShot G12 being the better all-rounder P&S camera for its expandability, especially when you factor in the add-on adapters from Canon, Lensmate and Opteka to accept effects filters. If I didn't own the G11 already, I would buy the G12 without any hesitation.

    The SX30 IS is an entirely different breed of P&S camera as its biggest selling point (pun intended) is its massive 35x optical zoom (24-840mm, 35mm film equivalent). It's a great camera for long distance shots in good light, but its burst rate is on the slow side, managing just 1.3fps which is kind of slow for action oriented photography. The SX30 IS is perhaps the closest P&S ultra-zoom camera looking like a dSLR and its new shape slightly resembles Canon's professional-line, 1D Mk IV dSLR. The new SX30 IS makes my old PowerShot S3 IS look like a toy camera, by comparison!

    From the high ISO quality point of view, the tiny 1/2.3" CCD sensor cannot match the bigger 1/1.7" sensor used in the Canon S95/G12 and Nikon Coolpix P7000 or the 1/1.6" sensor in the Panasonic Lumix LX-3 and LX-5. If you're not into high ISO photography, the SX30 IS should be fine for general photography. At this point you have to decide between tremendous focal range vs low light performance.

    Between the Canon G12 and Nikon P7000, both have their strengths and weaknesses. The G12 gives you one extra stop's worth of shutter speed at 1/4000th of a second and articulating screen while the P7000 maxes out at 1/2000 sec. On the other hand, the P7000 offers a longer ranged optical zoom, a fixed LCD with twice the resolution and a slightly bigger optical viewfinder but its operational response is a bit slow.

  • brwnsgr

    December 2, 2010 02:19 am

    Okay! Okay! G12 it is. I'm a gal, so it's in my blood to ask the same question in multiple ways when it comes to making a decision. :) Looks like one person on the gift list is done...ME!

  • shaheen

    December 2, 2010 02:02 am

    Hi. i have already said that look no further than the canon g12. period.

  • brwnsgr

    December 1, 2010 02:14 pm

    Thanks so much for the responses, Shaheen and Bob. I've been looking at the SX30 IS, G12 and S95. I gotta admit...I like the girth of the first two. Makes them look like more serious cameras (never mind the actual skills of the user!). Is the SX30 even comparable to the latter two?

    I think I need to copy this whole discussion in Word and print it out (over 200 pgs). That way I can go back through and probably get most of my questions answered (more than once, I bet!).

  • Bob

    December 1, 2010 05:40 am

    @Shaheen: I'm pleased to know that the G12 has the speed to capture action the instant you press the trigger. That's not the case with the G11, and is the reason that Stratman and I, who LOOOOve our older model, won't recommend it for action and multi-frame shots.

    @Brwnsgr: A dSLR is probably the only way to get decent "bokeh," or background blurriness. You need a fast lens, which means an f-stop of 2.0 or lower. Also, all-in-one cameras have small sensors and a lens that's placed very close to them, so they cannot get very blurry, like an old-school camera could. Compactness is great, except for that feature. It means you automatically get large depth of field.

    The G12 and Nikon (what, 7000?) are quite a bit larger than others, and have very sharp lenses and sensors. Many people really like the Canon S95, which uses the same sensor as the G11/12, but is more the standard compact size and weight. It does not have the swivel screen of the G12, nor an optical viewfinder. On the other hand, it has an f2.0 lens (at wide angle only), so you can get more blurriness (or "bokeh") with it. It has most of the functions, if not the convenience, of the G12. For a wide range of usage, including quick snapshots and serious work, the G12, as Shaheen says, will satisfy all your photographic needs.

    bob

  • shaheen

    November 30, 2010 11:47 pm

    look no further than the canon g12. it will satisfy all your needs of photography.

  • brwnsgr

    November 30, 2010 10:24 am

    Love, Love, Love this site!! I may be on the wrong discussion, and my apologies if so, but I'm wondering if there is a P&S that offers the ability to capture great sports shots. I'm so not a pro at photography, but want to get to know my camera and all that it has to offer. This site and discussions are going to be a valuable resource! Not ready for a dSLR and not really sure I'll ever progress to one. I'm the one that normally has the camera for social gatherings, so I want a great indoor option and would also like to produce blurry background photos with a clear shot of the subject up front. What's a good choice in a Canon (or Nikon) P&S that will come close to achieving this? Thanks!

  • Stratman

    November 26, 2010 05:43 pm

    @ suchin

    Sure, send your money our way and we'll buy a Leica and shelve this discussion altogether. Let me know your email address and I'll send you my PayPal invoice.

  • suchin

    November 25, 2010 10:25 am

    You can shelve the whole discussion by getting a Leica. Fab image quality. Small camera.

  • Me

    November 23, 2010 09:56 pm

    Mega-zoom. Fijifilm finepix HS10 or S200EXR. Canon SX30IS all good cameras.

  • St Louis Photographer

    November 22, 2010 05:47 am

    For personal photos, we use point and shoot. When we shoot professionally, we use dSLR's. I think the biggest selling point for us is the lenses. No point and shoot comes even close to being able to do what a simple 50mm 1.4 lens can do. Plus you have the ability to change the function of your camera just by switching lenses.

  • hari

    October 28, 2010 03:10 pm

    I purchased it at infibeam dot com - from what I could see the prices are very reasonable compared to most other online and even regular shops in India.

  • shaheen

    October 28, 2010 05:55 am

    hi hari, can you reveal from which website you ordered this camera. did this website offer the cheapest price?

  • hari

    October 28, 2010 01:48 am

    Thanks manjul! Didn't see your comment before I posted mine.

  • hari

    October 28, 2010 01:44 am

    Hi Stratman, thanks.

    I already have a Flickr account here: http://www.flickr.com/vharishankar/

    I will follow your advice and join the Flickr group for S1500.

    I really like the manual controls of this camera. However, I realize that AUTO mode shooting is not the best option for this camera and I quickly got used to selecting the correct shooting mode. Images at ISO 400 are usable but slightly noisy, but at ISO 800 it becomes a bit grainy overall but this is typical of a camera of this range and type.

    The image stabilization so far is great. Even in the night mode. Now what I need are opportunities :-)

  • Manjul

    October 28, 2010 12:59 am

    congrats Hari :) do experiment

  • Stratman

    October 28, 2010 12:43 am

    @ Hari,

    Congrats on your new camera! If you haven't done so already, create a free Flickr account (if you have a Yahoo email, you can use your present Yahoo ID) and join one of the Fuji S1500 group and also do join our Flickr Digital P&S Camera Club.

    You'll see a mixture of photos in the image pools, ranging from mere snapshots to really awesome images. Share your best work there! If you have any questions or anything to share, feel free to post in either group. :-)

  • hari

    October 27, 2010 09:42 pm

    Hi,

    Finally got the S1500 delivered. Right now getting familiar with it. So far looks like a very nice camera! Love the grip and feel of this camera. Nice and solid. Will get back later with a full review.

  • Manjul

    October 26, 2010 08:13 pm

    Hi, i recently purchased a dslr nikon d3100 have very thing less weight(1 kg including lense 18-105) and live mode but am happy as image quality is not less than any other dslr.

    now question is DSLR or CDC , i will simply say 2 things

    1>Could you spend more?
    2>Really passionate about photography ?

    IF both are yes than go for DSLR if both are no than go for cdc i.e point shoot, if one is yes and other is no go for canon IS20 or SX210 IS or nikon cool pix P100 or colpix L110 :-)

    as simple as that, my father had a slr camera he purchased once in his life and i also bought a dslr, although very costly than my father purchased it. :(

  • hari

    October 25, 2010 11:59 am

    Thanks, shaheen.

    The local dealers are very reluctant to sell Fuji somehow. Most of them try to push Canon or Nikon models. Also they don't have slightly older versions of most cameras and stock only the latest, thus making the price higher. I think their margins are lower for old models as they can only sell at a reduced price and there is less demand.

    Also many of the camera shops don't allow you to test cameras, especially the more expensive ones before buying. Maybe I should look for a shop where I can test the camera fully before purchasing.

  • shaheen

    October 25, 2010 06:10 am

    hi hari,
    congrats on your new acquisition and hope you cherish a long happy life with it. :-) keep us updated ! regarding the local dealers, you are right. but one has to put his/her foot down and demand from them what you want to buy. for this, pre-purchase thorough research is very essential.

  • hari

    October 24, 2010 04:05 pm

    Hi shaheen,

    I have visited the site and read the comparisons. To me the prices on them are quite high, especially here in India. I have ordered the Fujifilm S1500 and I will give a review of it once I receive it.

    The local camera dealers are an uncooperative bunch and sell the cameras at near maximum retail price which means it is very expensive -- sometimes 20% more than the dollar rate quoted on international websites. Online stores seem to be a much better solution so I ended up ordering it online.

  • shaheen

    October 24, 2010 05:16 am

    hi hari, from your query to me its quite clear that you have still not visited the following link:

    http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/Q110superzoomgroup/

    my friend, i strongly suggest that you do that. it will put all your doubts to rest. :-)

  • hari

    October 23, 2010 12:58 am

    I'm most likely going to take a look at the Fujifilm s1500 at a local dealer and then buy it online. I found an Indian shopping website with a good price on it and I just want to physically take a look at the camera before buying it. So far the S1500 has been the model that has attracted me the most price-wise and feature-wise.

    It's really great value for money considering that it is a bridge camera and I am quite satisfied with the reviews of it online. Yes, it has some drawbacks but 99% of the time I don't see those issues ruining my sleep.

    You're right that I will have to settle for the EVF though albeit reluctantly. Anyway, I am not worried about the brand so much now having read so many reviews online -- the quality differences in actual picture quality for a majority of P & S (+bridge) cameras seem to be so minimal for all but the most demanding of photographers (who should be owning dSLRs anyway). Owning a Fujifilm Camera might actually make me stand out amidst people with all those Canon and Nikon P & S ultraslim models!

    Good to have your advise so far and I'll get back to you on the purchase (when I make it).

  • Stratman

    October 23, 2010 12:14 am

    @ Hari,

    There's not much anyone can do for you since your needs do not correspond with your allowed budget. As far as internal optical viewfinders go in P&S compact cameras, they have become a rarity these days. I can tell you that although my old Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W150 has an auxiliary, zoom coupled viewfinder it's far too tiny and inaccurate to be really that useful.

    Reality check time. Look around you - how many P&S cameras today sport optical viewfinders? Virtually none! Manufacturers have decided that very few people actually use those tiny viewfinders anyway and the omission of the OVF allows the rear LCD to be much larger. None of Canon's current lineup of PowerShots, except for the G-series have optical viewfinders.

    Because ultra-zooms don't have mirrors like dSLRs, the only way to compose through the lens is via an electronic viewfinder. I'd suggest that you check out the Fuji S1500 at a dealer - you might forgive an EVF's shortcomings after all. Good luck.

  • hari

    October 22, 2010 09:47 pm

    Stratman, I'd almost made up my mind on the s1500 until I checked and saw that it doesn't have an optical viewfinder - I realize that it's usually difficult to put one in budget superzooms. Otherwise it appears good enough for my needs. I think that I can easily give up the benefits of other models at the price I can get such a decent camera.

    I am really disappointed though that it doesn't have an optical viewfinder when I am sure that I read somewhere that it did. Pity about that, but for the price it seems like the best option bridge camera. I hate the dumbed down ultra slim digi cams which you usually get at this price from other brands.

    Maybe I'll think about this for a couple of days before I make any decision though. Thanks so much for the assistance. It's been frustrating searching for a decent camera at a reasonable price with an optical viewfinder + decent manual control.

  • Stratman

    October 22, 2010 08:52 pm

    @ Hari,

    The Fujifilm Finepix S1500 is one of the lowest priced ultra-zooms in the market. But you get exactly what you pay for. I haven't read any professional reviews that test this camera's image quality yet but it appears that it's a basic, no-frills ultra-zoom.

    There are compromises that you'll have to accept with this model:

    - The widest focal length is only 33mm. Today's P&S cameras with wide angle zooms generally start with 28mm, with 24mm being currently the widest.

    - 97% coverage on both the electronic viewfinder and the rear LCD. I don't know why Fujifilm could only offer three percent less than full coverage as even basic P&S compacts offer a 100% sensor coverage.

    - Top shutter speed of only 1/2000sec.

    To answer your question: All ultra-zoom P&S cameras, including the Fuji HS10 have electronic viewfinders, not optical ones. If they had optical through-the-lens viewfinders, they would be dSLRs.

  • hari

    October 21, 2010 10:46 pm

    Hi bob, problem is that many camera stores here are manned by non-technical staff who try to sell you megapixels and push the models that want to dispose of. I am wary of approaching any camera store without proper information and I'm trying to settle down on a couple of models before I actually visit a store. Moreover, the collections in these camera stores here are not comprehensive and I feel it might be better to use ebay.in to purchase a model that is recommended by people here.

    shaheen, thanks. The Fujifilm hs10 is again a bit pricey for me currently. Does hs10 have a viewfinder? I don't need a very high zoom lens.

  • shaheen

    October 21, 2010 06:32 pm

    hi hari, visit the following link which shall put to rest all your doubts and queries:

    http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/Q110superzoomgroup/

    if i were you i would opt for the all rounder fujifilm hs10.

  • Bob

    October 21, 2010 04:13 pm

    Hari: It looks like it's time to start working directly with a camera store you trust. We can continue to come across makes and models, trying to compare them on line (this is what I did for a solid month), or go into the store with a couple of firm needs and a price ceiling. When you have a couple of finalists, that's the time to compare data on line -- photo quality at high ISOs, problems with lens distortion (zooms often get "purple fringing" at contrast edges near the periphery) that will harm your careful compositions, color and contrast.

    Look at sites that review lots of cameras, see if they allow you to directly compare features of two or more cameras, and provide sample photos with critiques (see cameralabs.com, cnet.com, or cnet.co.uk, for example).

    I wish you the best of luck.

  • hari

    October 21, 2010 01:32 pm

    Hi, Stratman, thanks for the recommendations. Nikon Coolpix p7000 doesn't appear to be available in India. The lack of optical viewfinder on the Lumix LX3 / LX5 is a definite disqualifier in my opinion, considering that they are also pricey here in India.

    I found around another camera which looks promising for my needs and is much less expensive than Canon here. The Fujifilm S1500 looks a great value for money. What is your opinion? Is this a camera that is worth purchasing?

  • Stratman

    October 21, 2010 01:52 am

    @ Hari,

    As an owner of an old PowerShot S3 IS, I can tell you that low resolution electronic viewfinders (EVFs) are no fun at all. While they usually provide 100% coverage of what the sensor sees, EVFs are grainy and can be hard to see in very bright sunlight or very dim lighting.

    You might want to check out the Panasonic Lumix LX3 to see if its price has dropped to affordable levels. The LX3 is outdated and replaced by the new LX5 with a slightly higher powered zoom lens. At 24mm, both are wider than either the G11 and the S90.

    As for the optical viewfinder, the G11/G12's viewfinder is rather poor with a 77% coverage. I use it sometimes to save battery power or when the sunlight totally washes out the LCD display. You might want to invest in an external optical viewfinder like the ones offered by Voigtlander. Michael Spotts reviewed his Voigtlander viewfinder here.

    Note that neither the Panasonic Lumix LX3 nor the LX5 offer a built-in optical viewfinder but you can still use the external Voigtlander on both cameras by slipping it onto their flash hot shoes.

    Nikon makes better dSLR bodies than Canon but sadly the same can't be said for their mainstream Coolpix P&S cameras. Nikon also tried hard to compete with Canon's famous S/SX ultra-zoom PowerShots with their home brewed L and P-series ultra-zooms but they fell short in the optical quality arena.

    You might want to check out the new Nikon Coolpix P7000, which is Canon's G12 direct competitor. The P7000 is probably Nikon's first high end P&S camera done right.

  • hari

    October 21, 2010 01:16 am

    Apologies if I seem very inquisitive of these subjects, but it has been a real pleasure to read your knowledgeable replies. Thanks so much to Stratman and Bob for the patience in enlightening me and others!

  • hari

    October 21, 2010 01:15 am

    Stratman. Thanks for the analysis of dSLRs and the temptation of dSLR owners for upgrading lenses. I can understand the point about lenses and I am not really so much into photography that I see a real 'need' for a dSLR at the moment. More important than that, these points dissuade me from looking at dSLRs.
    1. I cannot afford spending on expensive or even the lower end lenses,
    2. I am concerned of the additional weight and bulk for being on the move
    3. I don't shoot fast moving sports or human subjects so much. I doubt I would exploit the full benefits of dSLRs at all.

    What other brand and model other than Canon would you suggest for a P & S "bridge" camera? I am seriously thinking of Nikon or Panasonic, but not Sony (as I'm not a big fan of sony).

    As mentioned an optical viewfinder is a must for me as I am into outdoor photography and often in bright sun light (as in the tropics). What has really frustrated me even more is that modern entry-level and mid-range digicams are stripping out features and dumbing down cameras for the masses.

  • Stratman

    October 21, 2010 01:03 am

    @ Hari,

    You have my sympathies. At this juncture you have to decide between a camera that you want and a camera that you need. You can either save up towards the G11 or buy something within your means now. Alternatively, if you have plans to travel either to the U.S. or Southeast Asia you may opt to buy the G11/G12 in those countries. Hong Kong appears to sell dSLR lenses cheaper than elsewhere. Europe is not the place to buy cameras as they are generally priced a lot higher there.

    The reason the EOS 1000D is cheap is because it's Canon's entry level EOS model and they're competing heavily with the low end models from Sony Alpha and Nikon. Canon may be losing money by cutting the prices of the 1000D but they gain once you start buying additional lenses and accessories.

    Once you start going into dSLRs, you'll be tempted to upgrade lenses. With dSLRs, the lenses matter more than the camera body itself. Bridge cameras like the SX20 IS are also good alternatives but they can be limiting if you're a demanding photographer. A bridge camera is usually a fixed lens P&S camera with a powerful zoom lens. The fact still remains that they use tiny 1/2.3" sensors or smaller, which restricts their use to low ISOs and in good lighting.

  • hari

    October 20, 2010 07:46 pm

    Thanks a lot for your advise, bob. Problem with the G series is that it is SO.... SO expensive in India (for a non-DSLR) camera. Even the Canon EOS 1000d, the entry level dSLR is cheaper here. I am not sure whether I should go for a dSLR as I am clueless above lenses and have no idea how to use such a camera to its full potential. Also lugging it around on holidays would be tiresome.

  • hari

    October 20, 2010 03:01 pm

    I just compared prices in www.ebay.in and the price of SX30 and the G11 is almost the same. Rs. 26,000 + which is around $580!

    SX20 is slightly cheaper but not by much. It's around the range of $480 - $540 when converted from INR.

    If any local camera stores have it cheaper, I would look at it. As it is, the price is quite heavy for a non-DSLR camera, even though it is top-end (all in one) in the P & S range.

  • Bob

    October 20, 2010 02:19 pm

    What a frustrating situtation customs and shipping must be!

    I took a quick look on amazon again when you listed the SX20 and SX120. At less than half the price of a G11, the SX120 offers a very good feature set for a compact. The -20 is about 75% more, and probably will never get into a pocket. (G11, USD499; SX120, 199; SX20, 349.) They do not seem to offer RAW files, which provide better photo control and image correction options. RAW also keeps the total photo data, 10 or 12-megabyte files, instead of JPEG-compressed files of 10 to 20 percent the data size. It makes a huge difference in detail.

    Super-zoom lenses (10x and beyond) often are not quite as sharp as 4x or 5x zooms at comparable settings. It's the compromise necessary in lens design to get the longest telephoto. If you are a wildlife or sports photographer, a longer lens may be very important; otherwise, we often think we need more than we really will use. With a huge zoom range, people spend a lot of time winding the lens in and out trying to decide what to do with the shot, and often end up going for more in the frame.

    Although the SX20 has a viewfinder, it appears to be electronic, and as such would only reproduce (in poorer resolution) what appears on theVari-Angle LCD screen. (I see no objective optics for the viewfinder on the front view of the camera.) Still, that would be very helpful in very bright light, or in "polite" mode for theaters and such. And I really like having the Vari-Angle.

    The SX120 is more compact and less expensive, and has a smaller image sensor (10mp vs 12.1mp). I didn't compare the features very closely -- but no viewfinder. Both cameras have a "big brother," or newer version -- I'm not familiar with the line, so I don't know which. There's the SX30 and SX130. The -130 looks like a reasonably priced upgrade, only about 15% more in price, but has a 12mp (vs. 10) sensor and a 12x (vs. 10) zoom. Canon made a mistake a few years ago going to a larger pixel-count sensor in the G series, and dropped back to an excellent 10.1mp model. I don't think it's the same unit being abandoned in moving to the SX30, and hope Canon isn't making the same mistake. Just don't know.

    However: I think for the money, the SX20 or SX30 is a good option. If I were picking between the two series, I'd probably go for them, not the 120-130. Be sure to check review sites for comparisons of image quality and features.

  • hari

    October 19, 2010 11:30 pm

    Check Amazon.com or one of the sites advertised on this page. (When you click on an ad, it registers for the Digital Photography School. If you buy through the link, a small commission goes to DPS, which is how this forum and many others are funded. I am not affiliated with DPS, but appreciate it very much.)

    Actually one of my problems is that I live in India and most, if not all overseas companies do not ship electronic goods to India due to customs regulations. Hence unable to buy online through international stores. Even if allowed, the shipping charges would be exorbitant, making it a very expensive proposition!

    And I checked and found that the Powershot G11 costs $577.77 in india (when converted from INR), which is a bit too high. most of these cameras seem excessively priced in India.

    A catch 22 like situation.

  • hari

    October 19, 2010 03:28 pm

    Thanks a lot Stratman and bob.

    I was also thinking of the Canon Powershot G series, which looks great. I am looking for a P & S with a decent optical viewfinder as i hate the digital screen and would much prefer to hold the camera close to my eye.

    So thanks a lot. I am looking for the best deals on G11 or G12. My next camera will not be a subcompact P & S but most likely the G series.

    What about the Powershot SX series? Particularly the SX 20 or the SX 120?

  • Bob

    October 18, 2010 04:57 pm

    With Stratman as my editor and adviser, I could go far.... Plus, he gets hands-on time with many of these cameras. The G12 is much faster than I thought. Excellent! The Lumix has certainly gotten good reviews.

    @Stratman: We need to get in touch sometime.

  • Stratman

    October 17, 2010 08:18 pm

    @ Hari,

    You've come a long way from the original DiGIC processor, 5MP PowerShot S50 that takes the power hungry, Compact Flash memory cards my friend. A lot of improvements in the PowerShot lineup had taken place since your trusty S50 was released more than 6 years ago.

    Bob has pretty much summed it all nicely with his recommendation of either the G11 or the newest G12. The 461,000 pixel, 2.8" (not 2.7" as erroneously stated by Bob) Vari-Angle LCD screen is a far cry from the tiny 1.8" low resolution LCD that you've gotten used to.

    The new G12 shoots almost twice as fast as the G11, at 2 frames/sec in Program AE mode and 4.2 frames/sec using the reduced resolution, Low Light mode. If the price difference isn't that great, I would recommend the G12 over the G11. With a top shutter speed of 1/4000th of a second and a built-in ND filter, either the G11 or the G12 would suit your needs nicely.

    I like the pseudo-dSLR like handling of the G12, but like Bob, am happy with my present G11. I'm hard pressed to justify buying the new G12 as I'd incur losses in selling off my G11 just to enjoy the incremental upgrades the G12 offers.

    Alternatively you may also want to check out the new Panasonic Lumix LX-5, with a wider 24mm lens if you don't mind switching brands. I ruled out the compact S90/S95 since you had mentioned that you preferred a more sturdy and solid feeling camera.

    happy buying,
    Stratman

  • Stratman

    October 17, 2010 07:46 pm

    @ Allie,

    At this point, you have to separate your wants from your needs.

    Does everyone want a dSLR? Sure. Does everybody need a dSLR? Not necessarily. I got myself a dSLR because I missed the feel, handling and performance of my old film 35mm SLRs. I'm a gear head and wouldn't think of nothing upgrading my 450D to a prosumer level model like the EOS 50D.

    I later found out that not only dSLRs can be a very expensive hobby if I didn't exercise self-restraint, because I'm tempted to purchase additional lenses that I may or may not really use. But then that's dSLRs are all about - virtually unlimited expandability playing with fast zoom lenses and sharper prime lenses. More often than not, better lenses cost more than the camera itself.

    The camera that gets the most use is my present PowerShot S95. That's because it's small enough for me to have it tucked into my belt pouch, without trying to look that I'm carrying a digicam. :-) I'd bring my PowerShot G11 and my old S3 IS only when the situation warrants it.

    My EOS 450D gets the least use as I seldom travel for photo shoots. Although it's one of Canon's lightest and smallest dSLR bodies (the EOS 50D is bigger and heavier still), it's my lenses that ultimately bog me down. Sometimes I have trouble figuring out which lenses to take along with me, for weight restriction reasons.

    If size and weight are genuine concerns to you, look at the more compact and travel-friendly 4/3rds dSLR like the new Olympus E-450. That is, if you don't mind having to put up with the limited choice of lenses that are available for the 4/3rds format. The Olympus E-450 kit is not exactly cheap compared to a Nikon D3100 or a Canon EOS 1000D, but if you're willing to settle for its twin kit lenses and not buy any additional lenses, the Olympus should be an ideal camera for the long term.

    You may also wish to consider a much cheaper all-in-one option, such as Canon's latest PowerShot SX30 IS. Armed with a 24-840mm fixed zoom lens (35x zoom), it is currently the world's highest focal zoom ratio bridge camera. It is big and heavy compared to P&S cameras, but still lighter than dSLRs with a zoom lens attached.

    The only additional accessory you may want to buy for the SX30 IS is the compact Canon Speedlite 270EX external flash, which is not only more powerful that the built-in pop-up flash but offers bounced flash capability. It makes a very versatile travel camera and inexpensive at the same time.

    Remember, the camera that gets the most use is generally the one that travels with you the most often. Buy a dSLR only if you can truly justify getting one.

    hope this helps.
    Stratman

  • Bob

    October 17, 2010 05:16 pm

    Allie, Hari: Read back a couple of months. Both Stratman and I (I may be listed as Vandy or RMvandy) have discussed the Canon G11 extensively as a top-of-the-line point-and-shoot camera (we prefer calling it an "all in one"). Canon just released a PowerShot G12, which adds a dial and a few electronic features. It essentially matches and updates the G11. Current prices? Check Amazon.com or one of the sites advertised on this page. (When you click on an ad, it registers for the Digital Photography School. If you buy through the link, a small commission goes to DPS, which is how this forum and many others are funded. I am not affiliated with DPS, but appreciate it very much.)

    The G11 may be selling for under $350 on the street, but is listed at $499 on Amazon, the same price as the G12. The latter offers an improved image stabilization system, 720p HD video with stereo sound, and some electronic features not on the G11 (which has an earlier IS and standard 480-line video). Both are excellent; with the same sharp 5x zoom lens that starts at a relatively wide 28mm.

    The G series is the top of Canon's non dSLR line, and outperforms all but a very few other all-in-one cameras. They have extensive direct, dial (not deep in a menu) control over focus, f-stop, shutter speed, ISO, scene, mode, metering, manual focus, macro/normal focal range, timer, flash, and exposure compensation. Among those, dedicated dials control exposure compensation, ISO, mode (manual, auto, Av, Tv, etc.). The others are operated by pressing a dedicated button or position on the control dial, then operating the control dial. This camera is very convenient for manual or partial automatic control. The G12 has an additional dial for shutter speed and aperture.

    A one-touch function menu provides access to features such as white balance, RAW/jpeg image size, flash power setting, exposure bracketing and focus bracketing. And yet, it has an excellent full-auto capability for when you hand the camera over to a friend for a shot of you in front of the Eiffel Tower.

    Both have the variable-angle flip-out screen -- not the largest at 2.7 inches, but one of the sharpest, with nearly 1/2 million pixels. Further, both have a hot flash shoe that accomodates automatic control of several excellent Canon flashes, and they have that rarest of compact-camera features: a real viewfinder.

    This is not a camera for sports shooters -- it's sluggish at 0.7 frames per second, and its 5x zoom reaches only to the 35mm film camera equivalent of 140mm. But add-on lenses allow you to shoot super wide or with up to 2.4x more zoom, as well as macro.

    For many pros, this is the camera they take when they don't want to lug the big dSLR and a sack full of glass. For many amateurs, it's the travel camera, the street shooter, the pick for a kid's birthday party or even a rock performance.

    Look for a lovingly used G11 for a good deal. Don't go for the older G10; it has more megapixels, but the sensor is not as good according to many professional reviewers.

    The just-released Canon S95 is a much more compact camera with the same sensor and a 3.8x zoom, but not the dials, flash shoe or viewfinder. About $400; its predecessor, the S90, goes for about $350. Both will slip into a shirt or Levi's pocket; not a G11/12 -- more like a pocket on cargo pants, or the coat.

    Hari, your vacation shots on flickr were very sharp -- I wish I could see some of the sights you have! I think you'd enjoy the extra quality in either of the above cameras, but I never suggest people push beyond their comfort level --whether it's the price line or the minimum megapixel count or ability to control the whole shot in manual mode.

    By all means, look on your browser for reviews of either of these, and then compare the cameras the reviewers list as similar. And best wishes with your new camera.

  • hari

    October 16, 2010 06:03 pm

    i currently have a dilemma.

    I own an Canon Powershot s50 for around 6 years which I used for some great photography (and I'm mainly satisfied with image quality on the whole, considering that I don't do any printing and don't nitpick photos).

    i want a simple P & S camera that will allow me more flexibility and manual control than the crap i see in camera shops these days. the S50 can be considered a P & S and yet it has more manual control than most P & S cameras i see today. and I am not a fan of ultra-slim design. I like holding a solid camera in my hands and the S50 is one such.

    Could anybody recommend a reasonable quality P & S camera that while not being on the level of a DSLR is at least not a "photography for dummies" kind of toy? I would like one with a quality lens, manual focus, manual aperture, manual ISO and so on. Many of the current P & S models seem to lack one or more of these features.

    Budget $350-400 mark (converted from Indian rupees)

    For an idea of the kind of pics I take, please look at my flickr stream: http://www.flickr.com/photos/vharishankar/

    Thanks in advance!

  • Allie

    October 3, 2010 04:57 am

    Thanks for such an informative article. I've been looking at whether to get a new point and shoot or a Digital SLR. I'm still not sure what will fit my situation better and what points to be flexible on. I'm moving to Italy on a Study Abroad next semester and would love to take a nice camera that will allow me take amazing pictures of my travels. I'm a amateur for sure but would love to make it a hobby and know that at one point I really want a SLR. My price range is around $500 but I am willing to buy a slightly used "newer" camera model.
    My largest concern right now about buying an SLR is the weight and size, I want to backpack around a bit as well and don't want to haul or worse break anything too nice or expensive.
    Does anyone have any suggestions for light SLR's that will allow for great pictures and quality still? Or any point and shoot cameras that they are very impressed with?
    I'm feel like there is so much information out there its just hard to know what's best! Thanks!

  • Om

    September 24, 2010 10:21 pm

    @Stratman: Thanks for your reply.

    Of course, I was referring to the photographer, i.e., myself when I quoted Adam's views. And by upgrading that, I meant polishing my skills.
    Anyway, many thanks for your insightful replies.

    Regards
    Om

  • Stratman

    September 16, 2010 08:30 am

    @ Shaheen,

    The 4/3rds system cater for a niche market, not the mainstream market. There will always be people who want an interchangeable lens system but don't want a large camera body and lenses but their numbers are small.

    Here's what you need to know about 4/3rds and micro 4/3ds (MFT) systems:

    - No 4/3rds or MFT cameras are priced as low as the cheapest dSLR in the market, e.g. EOS 1000D, Sony Alpha A230, Nikon D3000.

    - The majority of lenses made for both formats are same brand manufacturers and they're not exactly cheap. Sigma is the only third party company to enter the 4/3rds market. Even then, Sigma's offerings is a mere handful. Tamron and Tokina don't seem to be interested at this point.

    - Micro 4/3rd lenses cannot be used on 4/3rds bodies but the reverse is possible using an adapter. Some SLR lenses can be used on 4/3rd cameras via a mechanical adapter, but you lose AF and electronic aperture settings.

    - 4/3rds cameras are dSLRs. Micro 4/3rds cameras are also called EVIL (Electronic Viewfinder, Interchangeable Lens) cameras. The Olympus E-P2 you mentioned to Om earlier is an MFT/EVIL camera, therefore it's disqualified as a dSLR.

    - Viewfinders on 4/3rds dSLRs are much tinier than APS-C format dSLRs. Compare an Olympus E420's viewfinder against, say the EOS 550D. And I'm not even talking about film 35mm SLRs or full frame dSLR viewfinders.

    - Selective focus with 4/3rds is lesser than traditional dSLRs due to their wider angle lenses and smaller sensors. 4/3rds cameras are more suitable for landscape photography or anything that benefits from deeper DoF.

    - 4/3rds sensors being "not significantly smaller" than Nikon or Canon's APS-C? That may be true, if you regard 30 to 40% smaller as "not significant". 4/3rds cameras also suffer from more noise than APS format cameras.

    - Press photographers and professionals don't use 4/3rds dSLRs to cover important events. When was the last time you saw one with say, a Panasonic GH-1 or an Olympus E-420?

    The most obvious advantage of a 4/3rds system over conventional dSLR is the former's compact size and light weight. That's about it.

    That said, there IS a market for the 4/3rds system but it's a very niche market. Those who buy them simply want something that takes better IQ than compact P&S cameras but don't want to own a bigger, traditional dSLR. People who are serious about dSLR photography generally do not choose 4/3rds.

  • Stratman

    September 16, 2010 07:36 am

    @ Om,

    Film SLRs have always adopted the 3:2 aspect ratio, therefore dSLRs continued to conform to this image proportion. P&S cameras use 4:3 aspect ratio to match television sets and computer monitors that were not wide screen in the earlier days.

    I think you misinterpreted Ansel Adam's famous saying. When he mentioned of the "twelve inches", in his time he used large format cameras that were huge and needed a tripod for his legendary landscape images. 12 inches behind the camera actually referred to the person who takes the photos, not any camera component in the literal sense.

    You cannot upgrade that component, because it's you yourself. If you really understand the philosophy behind Ansel Adams' saying, you should know by now that the camera body doesn't matter much.

  • Om

    September 9, 2010 07:58 pm

    @Shaheen: Thanks for your reply, friend.

    @Shaheen and Stratman:
    Namaste!
    You see, I am not against the 4/3 system, but the lenses that this system supports stand nowhere in comparison to Canon as the latter has a much greater variety and versatility. And the aspect ratio of the electronic sensor in the 4/3 format is 4:3, as against 3:2 of the APS-C format. I don't think though, that the aspect ratio's influence optical performance. Maybe Stratman can illustrate more of the weakpoints of this system and enlighten us.

    Anyway, you mentioned that the 60D is a good choice. But then, first of all, it isn't yet available in India, and secondly, I can keep on scanning and wanting the higher end dSLR bodies, but they simply never end.I'll first be tempted by the 60D; then the 7D; and then I'll think "Full frames are better!!!". So, I think I have to draw the line somewhere.....As Ansel Adams said, the most important component of a camera is twelve inches behind it; so I'll try to upgrade that component as much as I can. Again, may I request friend Stratman to give his take on this (60D as another dSLR option instead of 550D).

    Regards
    Om

  • shaheen

    September 9, 2010 07:32 am

    @OM, i suggest you do what Stratman recommends and suggests. He is the GURU ! However, do have a second look at the Canon 60D if you can afford it. Its 5.7 fps capability will come in very handy.

    @stratman, I meant to say that the four thirds cameras allows changeable lenses. I mistakingly called them DSLRs. Actually they are Digital Cameras. Regarding the choice of lenses, the ones present already would have sufficed for OM. Besides, new ones are coming out periodically from different manufacturers that are compatible on all four thirds format cameras, irrespective of the manufacturer of the camera.

    The only idea behind suggesting him four thirds camera was to save him lugging around a lot of weight. moreover these cameras are not that bad because their sensors are not significantly smaller than that of canons' or nikons'.

  • Om

    September 9, 2010 12:02 am

    @Stratman: Namaste!!!

    Thanks, thanks a lot again. I have almost solidified my choice of the dSLR and the lenses now...what I think is that I'll go to a Canon experience zone and test for myself the lenses 70-200mm f/4 L IS USM as well as the 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM. If my inexperienced eye notices somewhat poorer optics in the latter, I'll go with the former. So, thanks friend.

  • Stratman

    September 8, 2010 08:35 pm

    @ Om,

    Namaste! Your question is actually quite common on Flickr groups and has been asked repeatedly by newbies.

    Generally it's "universally agreed" that 300mm is the ideal starting focal length for serious wildlife photographers. Because of this Canon also makes the EF 300mm f/4L IS USM telephoto lens. It's a prime lens, not a zoom. Prime lenses area always sharper than their zoom counterparts, but you don't have the convenience of adjusting the focal length, obviously. It costs approx USD1,886 and its faster f/2.8L counterpart costs three times more, so I won't go into that.

    You can also opt for the EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM lens, but you cannot use the Canon EF 1.4x II Extender with it (the Extender only works with certain L-series zooms). You might be able to use third party tele-converters like Kenko and Sigma though. Do note that if a 3rd party tele-converter costs you one f/stop of light, your max aperture will drop to f/8. You may have AF issues and definitely a dimmer viewfinder with such a small aperture.

    Anyway, yes - IS does help to a certain extent, but it won't freeze action or motion. 3 f/stops in shutter advantage helps only when your slowest shutter speed is at least, 1/320sec. (accounting for the 1.6x crop factor) at 200mm. With the 550D, that wouldn't pose much of a problem as this camera is capable of decent, low noise images when pushed to ISO 1600-3200, which raises your shutter speed.

    IS is only effective when the shutter speed is relatively high and you are not in a moving vehicle. Being in a bouncing vehicle is guaranteed to ruin your shots, even with IS and monopod.

    If the light is so dim that your shutter will drop to 1/30sec or lower, use of a fixed tripod with the IS turned off is the best solution.

    Before IS was invented, wildlife cameramen with 35mm film SLRs had to contend with manual focus lenses and certainly no stabilization. But that didn't stop them from getting great images of animals in the wild. Try to find old LIFE or National Geography magazines from the 1980s and you'll get the idea.

    Yes, IS is a boon...but relying on it all the time (I am guilty of this too) makes you a lazy photographer.

    You know you have IS and as it provides a safety net against blurry camera shake induced images, you're actually not becoming a better photographer. How you hold the camera is very important too. If you are able to squeeze off sharp images at 200mm without the aid of IS, you're better than most people.

    Ideally, you should go for the EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM if you need IS. (Note: "Wanting" and "needing" are separate issues). Are you able to buy this lens? This is a favorite amongst serious amateurs and pros alike (non-wildlife shooters) and you get image stabilization as well.

    If cost is a great issue, then starting off with the EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM wouldn't be such a bad idea. You get both IS and a longer reach of 300mm at the same time. :-)

  • Om

    September 8, 2010 04:30 pm

    @Stratman:
    Namaste!!!
    Whew!!! You're mindblowing, friend. Reading your reply, it felt I was actually viewing all the lenses, one by one, in front of my very eyes. I must admit that you indeed have, a lot of command over the subject. And that's why I love reading your write-ups and posting more queries!

    So, after going through your very helpful reply, word by word, a new query, that was latent in my mind, has popped up.

    For wildlife photography, do I really need an IS lens? I mean, as you suggested, the 70-200mm f/4 L is optically superior (after all, the 'L' label) than the 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM. But the second last term: Image stabilization (IS) is pinching me again and again.

    See, don't say now that I am comparing two different lenses with different features, but then friend, I know that IS can help shoot at 2 or 3 shutter stops slower than that permissible (example 1/100s for 100mm lens on FF) value. And as you said, I will most probably take my shots with the cam hand held, or with a monopod in a safari vehicle. Will IS (for steady shots) not be a boon then? Yaa, the 70-200mm f/4 USM L is optically superior, but could it happen that I may never witness its superiority due to hand movement at the wrong time when an IS lens could have done better (though with little degraded performance)?

    Yup! That's it. Waiting for my friend's another great advice.

    Hope that does not trouble you (much!)
    with regards
    Om

  • Stratman

    September 8, 2010 01:33 pm

    @ Om,

    Namaste. I missed your paragraph about the possibilities of downscaling to the EOS 1000D with better lenses.

    Here's my take on the subject: The EOS 1000D is for absolute beginners and Canon placed this model at the start of the EOS lineup, to capture the low end market that Sony Alphas and low end Nikons had been trying to dominate.

    I don't know how Canon's price structure is in India, but basically it should be similar to SE Asia. The price difference between the 1000D and the 450D (check for local availability of the latter as it's already discontinued in Europe/North America/Japan) is minimal. The price difference between the 1000D and the 550D is however, substantial. This is because the 550D is currently Canon's latest and flagship model.

    Eventually you will shoot in RAW for the most flexibility in tweaking your final image. Although the 1000D supports RAW images, its A-D conversion is only 12 bits. It's the only EOS camera with a 12-bit analog-to-digital conversion (all the rest are 14 bits). A 14-bit chip will give you more color possibilities during post processing with Canon's DPP, Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom, etc.

    The 1000D lacks the front infra-red sensors for the remote wireless trigger (useful for tripod shots) and the rear IR sensor to momentarily turn off the LCD when you hold the camera up to your eye. This not only saves power, but prevents the bright LCD from distracting you.

    Most obvious is the 1000D's smaller 2.5" LCD display. All other Rebel series, EOS cameras have 3" displays. Less obvious is the lack of a rubberized finger grip in front, which can make the 1000D a bit slippery to handle if you have a heavy lens mounted on it. The 1000D doesn't have Highlight Tone Priority but it can shoot continuous JPGs until the SD card is full.

    Current batches of 1000D are Taiwan made. The 450D/500D/550D are generally Japan made. This may or not be a big issue for you, but I'd rather buy a Japan made dSLR. (Nikon D90 and D5000 are Thailand made, fyi).

    My recommendation is that your lowest end model should ideally be the 450D (for the reasons stated above), as it's not much more expensive than the 1000D (again, check with your local camera retailers). If you want video as an option, the 500D is still around and should be cheaper than the latest 550D.

    Will the be 1000D here to stay? Yes. People who buy this model are those looking for the lowest priced EOS dSLR possible and they don't really care about its 12-bit RAW conversion, the small LCD display and lack of features that are found in the higher EOS models. As mentioned earlier, Canon needs a low end model to address the lucrative low end consumer market and probably won't bother to upgrade the 1000D.

    I should think the price difference between lenses are greater than dSLRs bodies (amongst the Rebel series). When I say "Rebel series", I'm referring to Canon's consumer models, from the first 300D right to the latest 550D.

    For basic macro lenses:

    - for product, flower photography and short telephoto portrait work, the EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM does nicely.

    - for insects and dangerous animals (e.g. poisonous snakes), go for the EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM as it has a longer focal range and a longer working distance.

    For basic telephoto zoom lenses:

    - barest minimum: EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS
    - if you can afford it, the EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM but the EF 70-200mm f/4L (non-IS) is optically and mechanically more superior for about the same price.
    - avoid buying the old design, EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 USM III. Mediocre performance compared to the EF-S 55-250mm IS.

    To complicate things further: If you are absolute sure that you will buy a FF body like the EOS 5D series in the future, then you should consider avoiding any EF-S and third party brand lenses catering only for cropped frame sensors.

    Go to the best store where you intend to buy your dSLR and take the opportunity to test out the above lenses, if available. I'm sure the store assistant wouldn't mind. :-)

    Stratman.

  • Stratman

    September 8, 2010 04:50 am

    @ Om,

    Wow, that's some list of lenses you have there. ;-)

    It helps to state whether one is a student on a budget or is going to make money out of photography. If you're a semi-pro with the aim of earning revenue doing e.g. wedding photography, event coverage, selling photos online, then the lenses that you buy will pay for themselves in due time. If this is purely a hobby, you have to draw the line somewhere (we all do).

    I will first discard the lenses that you're very unlikely to be able to afford on your budget:

    - Any Sigma APO zoom lens with a constant aperture of f/2.8.
    - Sigma 300-800mm f/5.6.

    The general perception of Sigma super telephoto zoom lenses is that they're a mixed bag. You may end up with a copy with AF miscalibration issues (which is fine if you don't mind resorting to manual focus). I'm not qualified to comment on Sigma zoom lenses as I've never used one or have read many endorsements from serious amateurs who own one.

    The EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM is quite a good package in a telephoto zoom lens, with image stabilization but it's still nowhere near the optical and build quality of the slightly cheaper EF 70-200mm f/4L USM (non-IS).

    Serious wildlife photographers sometimes prefer to use manual focus, because of the critical depth-of-field due to the narrow field of view of such lenses. Sometimes the camera can inadvertently lock on to the grass or foliage in front of the animal, which can spell a big difference between a sharply focused image and a poorly focused one. That's when switching to MF helps a lot.

    Telephoto zooms tend to be heavy lenses and because of this, most pro-grade zooms (like the EF 70-200mm f/4L USM) provide a tripod mount. This provides the correct balance and center of gravity as the lens far outweighs the dSLR body. For instance, the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM is a beast of a lens at 1.47kg. I've tried one with my 450D and it's hard to maintain a good grip after a few minutes. After 15 minutes, my arms get tired.

    The EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM should be more manageable at 760g, almost half the f/2.8L's weight. Well, that's the price you have to pay for a larger constant aperture, f/2.8 lens.

    Because of the weight issues, it will be difficult to hand hold a zoom lens and expect tack sharp images even with the aid of image stabilization. In my experience, IS helps but is not a miracle substitute for a stable surface (e.g. tripod or a bean bag).

    If you're on a moving vehicle on a safari trip, you're unlikely to get a sharp photo of that gazelle in the distance - even with IS switched on.

    Shooting at telephoto focal ranges is best used with a tripod or at least, a monopod. With a tripod, it's best to turn off the IS function (some Canon lenses automatically disable IS when it senses that it's on a stable platform like a tripod) as the IS gyro mechanism will tend to induce blur on a tripod.

    If image stabilization is not that important to you (the price difference between an IS-equipped L-series zoom and one without is substantial!), I would suggest the EF 70-200mm f/4L USM. You can later buy the Canon EF 1.4x II Extender (which is actually a tele-converter lens and not exactly cheap either). This will boost the focal range to 98-280mm but at cost of 1 f/stop, which means the lens' max aperture drops from f/4 to a slower f/5.6.

    The field of view of the EF 70-200mm f/4L USM, coupled with the EF 1.4x II Extender will be 98-280mm x 1.6 (your 550D's crop factor), therefore giving you a "reach" up 448mm. Expect a bit of optical quality loss when an extender is used but hey, it's still much cheaper than a Sigma APO 200-500mm f/2.8! :-)

    Other lenses:

    Canon EF 50mm f/2.5 compact Macro:
    Skip this one as it only provides 1:2 magnification ratio. What you want is true 1:1 magnification. The EF 50mm f/2.5 compact Macro can only achieve 1:1 reproduction if you combine with Canon's Life-size converter. You're better off with the EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM which is cheaper than both items combined. Do note that EF-S lenses cannot be used on 35mm film or full frame digital EOS cameras.

    EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM:
    Costs a bit more than the EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM, but worth every Rupee if you're into macro photography. Very sharp and also doubles as an excellent portrait lenses. Recently replaced by the more expensive EF 100mm f/2.8L IS Macro USM. Provides a longer working distance than the EF-S 60mm.

    Tamron zoom lenses:
    The only ones that I think are worth considering are the long zoom range, AF 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 VC model, with image stabilization. Slow aperture and soft images at the telephoto end, which is expected in this type of lens. A good choice for traveling light with a single lens, when convenience is more important than pure optical quality. Much cheaper than Canon's EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS. If you prefer the latter, buy pre-owned ones as its resale value is low compared to brand new.

    Tamron's SP AF 70-200mm f/2.8 Di LD (IF) zoom offers a faster aperture at f/2.8, but its AF consistency is so-so. Canon's EF 70-200mm f/4L USM blows it out of the water in terms of optical, AF and build quality.

    Disclaimer:
    This is all my subjective and personal opinions. I also assume that the above lenses are within your financial constraints. The bottom line is that you have to decide between having the convenience of image stabilization, as with the EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM or better optics and build quality with the EF 70-200mm f/4L USM. Both are priced within the range of one another.

    hope this helps. :-)

  • Om

    September 8, 2010 12:59 am

    @Stratman: Nice insights. I agree with your opinion about buying lenses, i.e., thoroughly exhausting the lenses I have first and then buying other ones.

    Now , dear friend, may I request you to guide me as to if my following selection of lenses is right, considering that I would go for wildlife photography:

    1. EF 70-300 mm f/4-5.6 IS USM== Rs. 42295 ($ 850 approx)
    or Sigma equivalent of above
    3. Sigma APO 100-300mm f/4 EX DG HSM
    4. Sigma APO 120-300mm f/2.8 EX DG HSM
    5. Sigma APO 120-400mm f/4.5-5.6 DG OS HSM
    6. Sigma APO 200-500mm f/2.8
    7. Sigma APO 300-800mm f/5.6 EX DG HSM
    8.Tamaron telephoto zooms
    9. EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM
    10. EF 50 mm f/2.5 Compact macro
    11. Sigma macros

    Or alternatively, please let me know, a basic telephoto and a macro which I should immediately purchase with the kit lens(18-55mm) to be ready for a good number of situations. Any other suggestions are also most welcome. And since it is said that lenses are more important than the camera body, would you instead suggest a 1000D and more lenses from the cost I save from buying the 550D? (i.e., 1000D+good lenses or 550D+OK lenses). I am not swaying from my choice of the 550D, but would just like to know.

    @Shaheen: Thanks, friend. Actually I think I should not tread on the 4/3 route, as the lenses available, as Stratman said, are not plenty, as compared to Canon or Nikkor.

    And I will hopefully buy the lenses you suggested, but only once I see myself to that stature.
    Till then, as friend Stratman said, I'll improve upon myself rather than on the lenses.
    And, in reply to your suggestion on Fujifilm HS-10, I am seriously considering photography as a career option, and would prefer to delve into the world of dSLRs. Of course, since I am an engineering student right now; I have limited budget but would prefer to start off with modest steps.

  • Stratman

    September 7, 2010 05:37 am

    @ Shaheen:

    Just leave the guy alone! He narrowed down his choices to either the Nikon D90 or the Canon 550D and has since decided on the latter. Your pushing suggestions on the Olympus MFT cameras down his throat is not helping him at all.

    If you really know about the Olympus E-P2 and the E-PL1, you should know better that they are NOT dSLRs at all. Neither camera has a reflex mirror/optical viewfinder and due to this, rely on EVF and the rear LCD for framing. The EP-2 alone costs about a thousand bucks, which is more than either the D90 or the 550D in kit form.

    You also neglected to mention that MFT cameras have a crop factor of 2x. Coupled with a smaller area sensor with even smaller pixel pitch, that translates to deeper DoF and higher ISO noise. And how many types of lenses are available for the Olympus compared to EF/EF-S and Nikkors? What about third party lenses from Tamron, Sigma and Tokina for the Olympus 4/3rds mount?

    So please, for the sake of Om - don't confuse him any more than he wants.

    Peace, bro. :-)

  • shaheen

    September 7, 2010 03:43 am

    @Stratman, you are quite right. But what i felt right for him i recommended him. As for me, the 7D would be the DSLR to go for along with the other lenses. If i had the money today, i would definitely go for the lenses i have listed.

    @OM, you should also have a look at the Olympus EP-2 or the E-PL1. Its a four thirds format DSLR and its sensor is not significantly smaller than that of the Canon's or the Nikon's. But, its lot lighter and so are the four thirds lenses.

  • Stratman

    September 7, 2010 01:31 am

    @ Shaheen,

    Ummm...Seriously, don't you think if Om could afford any of the L-series lenses you mentioned, he would've gone for at least the EOS 7D as his first dSLR?

    I've often seen this kind of badly placed recommendations in various Flickr groups where the writer doesn't put into consideration of the original poster's purchasing power and actual needs. Many of them don't even own such lenses and simply quote based on what they've read in reviews to newbies.

    I'm sure Om would be more than happy to accept donations from you to buy the lenses that you've recommended. Ask him for his PayPal email address. :-)

    @ Om,

    Good for you, my friend. Once you've bought the 550D, be sure to open a free Flickr account (if you're serious, consider upgrading to the Pro account, only USD25 a year) and join groups like the Canon 550D group. Take some time to get acquainted with the camera with its kit lens. Do note that the EF 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS is a decent lens, meaning neither mediocre nor that excellent. There many users that like the kit lens, despite it being cheap. There's also at least one Flickr group dedicated to that lens.

    There will be a time when you realize that you want more out of your camera, but remember to take baby steps. Do not rush into buying lenses that will only end up in your closet later on. Learn how to get the best out of what you have first and only add lenses as necessary.

    best regards,

    Stratman

  • Om

    September 6, 2010 04:27 pm

    @ Stratman:

    Namaste!!!
    Thanks again, dear friend, your advice was, as always wonderful!
    I truly understand what you mean to say, and I must admit that I was just drifting pointlessly between which cam has which features when I should have concentrated more on polishing my creativity. I will stick to your advice now-- I'll buy a good entry level DSLR, the EOS 550D, and start shooting right away!! And of course, how can I blame you for anything, you're the one who has influenced me a lot, and will continue to do so.

    Will continue to read each and every one of your postings as eagerly as always;

    With great regards
    Om

  • shaheen

    September 6, 2010 07:07 am

    Hi Om, I would seriously recommend that you DO NOT go for the KIT lens offered with the Canon 60D. Their optics is inferior in quality as compared to fast lenses. Its like buying a BMW with ordinary tyres and driving it on low octane fuel. If I were you, I would buy only the 60D body and buy the following lenses made by Canon:

    1. Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L USM Lens or the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Lens
    2. Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS L USM
    3. Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 L IS USM Macro Lens

    The last lens will be very useful for macro photography. You must have noticed that I have listed lenses with f/1.2 to f/5.6 maximum. This is because these lenses will allow you to shoot razor sharp pictures even in low light conditions and very useful in capturing action/high speed moments. Of course, these will be expensive, but in my opinion one should go for as fast lens as your budget allows. Secondly if you opt for the L series USM lenses when going for the lenses listed above, then there is nothing like it. This is because these lenses offer the ultimate in quality. But of course, these are very expensive. If you want to stick with only one lens to meet most of your shooting requirements then it would be the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS L USM.

    To see reviews of these lenses, visit the following URLs:

    http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/Canon-EF-50mm-f-1.2-L-USM-Lens-Review.aspx

    http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/Canon-EF-50mm-f-1.4-USM-Lens-Review.aspx

    http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/Canon-EF-70-300mm-f-4-5.6-IS-USM-Lens-Review.aspx

    http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/Canon-EF-100mm-f-2.8-L-IS-USM-Macro-Lens-Review.aspx

    By the way you did not mention anything about the Fujifilm Finepix HS10 I had recommended in my previous post?

  • Stratman

    September 5, 2010 03:23 am

    @ YankeeDDL:

    Thanks for your glowing praises, but I am still learning as I go by. :-)

    I see your concerns needing to use Live View. All P&S cameras rely on Live View for framing, with the exception of those having an auxiliary optical viewfinder, e.g. the Canon G-series and older models in the PowerShot range.

    The Live View concept on dSLRs didn't appear until 2005 when Canon introduced the old EOS 20Da, which was a special model adapted for astro photography. The 20Da differed from the mainstream 20D by the omission of an infra-red blocking filter on its sensor (allowing IR wavelengths to be recorded by the sensor) and Live View.

    Without the LV, users will have a very difficult time focusing on distant heavenly objects like stars and constellations using the optical viewfinder. Having LV means you can accurately focus on a star and magnify the image on the LCD screen. Prior to this, the use of the rear LCD in mainstream dSLRs was only to preview photos that had been recorded.

    Camera makers soon realized the potential of introducing LV for its consumer and prosumer grade dSLRs, with video recording (once enjoyed by P&S camera owners) made possible. Because dSLRs are heavy and heavier still when fitted with high end lenses, you'll find it impractical or nearly impossible to shoot via LV without the use of a tripod.

    Canon makes use of its main sensor for recording images with LV. The mirror has to be locked up in order the light to expose the sensor in real time. Two LV modes are available: Quick AF and Live Mode. The former makes use of phase change detection for auto-focusing, the same way if you were to take pics using the optical viewfinder. Phase detect AF works a lot faster than Live Mode, which uses contrast detection AF, as with P&S cameras.

    With the Quick AF, the mirror needs to flip down momentarily while the camera auto focuses using the phase detect system. The AF points are actually embedded on the reflex mirror.

    If you use the Live Mode, the mirror is locked up so the camera has to rely on the sensor's contrast detection instead. The downside is that it takes seconds to the AF to lock on accurately, compared to milliseconds with phase detection AF.

    Sony realized Canon's LV problems and they decided to tackle the problem by fitting a secondary sensor dedicated to LV. The advantage of this approach is that Sony Alphas use the much faster phase detection system for LV but at a cost of having a smaller viewfinder. As the secondary sensor is a tiny one compared to the Alpha's main sensor, it cannot provide 100% frame coverage and can only magnify the image up to 2x.

    The Canon approach, which uses the camera's main sensor gives you a greater magnification of 10x with 100% coverage.

    You can understand the differences between Canon and Sony's LV modes easily by watching the video tours by Camera Labs on Youtube. Click here for the Canon 450D. Sony soon realized their own pitfalls on relying on the secondary LV sensor and with later models such as the Alpha A550, they introducing the flip-up mirror approach like Canon, as demonstrated here.

    (I do hope the links above work perfectly in my post though).

  • Stratman

    September 5, 2010 01:59 am

    @ Om,

    Sorry for posting a corrupted link to Chris' Levitan's site. There's no way for me to preview or edit my post. The corrected and better link is here.

  • Stratman

    September 5, 2010 01:51 am

    @ Om,

    Namaste!

    If you happen to be reading this, first off all I'd like to apologize if you felt slighted in any way. :-(

    Let's get some things straight:

    I am just one of the readers of this blog and am in no way associated with DPS, financially or otherwise. Darren Rowse started this post relating to "Should I buy a dSLR or a P&S camera", it's not "Which dSLR should I get?". I make no claims as being the resident expert on cameras and I only pass knowledge on what I know. I do not get paid for posting in DPS and I do this on my free will and my free time.

    Your original question was whether the EOS 450D or the 100D would be the better of the two. That's easy for me to answer, because both are almost similar in terms of features only their prices differ. If you want to throw in the 500D for comparison, no problem either.

    Looking back at our previous correspondence, I think you'll agree with me that you wanted feedback to help you narrow down to your choice in your first dSLR. I noticed that in several of your posts, you were getting ahead of yourself and I assume you've been doing research on your own. That's fine by me.

    As time passed, I noticed that you were going off tangent from your original question, which is to find out which Canon model is suitable for your needs, so please correct me if I'm wrong. This is not a case of you already owning Brand X, and you want to know the right lenses for your photography needs. That would be much easier to respond to, because you have already scoped the choices based on the brand and model that you've chosen.

    Now, Om...if you asked a similar question on Flickr discussion groups, I'll tell you what to expect:

    - If you asked a question in a Nikon group, obviously the members will advocate Nikon.
    - If you asked the same thing in a Canon group, they'll tell you that Canon is the way to go.
    - If you posted this on a Flickr group where members own various brands, the answers you'll get would depend on whatever brand of dSLR the member is using. Some may own both Canon and Nikon dSLRs and they'll tell you the good and bad about the models that they own.

    You'll receive many versions of replies that will just confuse you even further.

    While Flickr is a great community to learn photography and gear, I've noticed that most members have little patience for wishy washy newbies who still can't make up their minds whether to get A or B. Most of them would give short replies which won't help you at all. They can also elect whether to ignore you completely, or give remarks that make you feel most unwelcome. Trust me on this.

    I know that cameras aren't cheap in India. They're also expensive in some countries like Venezuela. It's not really the question of how much they cost, but the affordability of certain models. If one makes USD1K a month, it's going to be difficult to convince that person that a dSLR costing three times his monthly salary will give him great results, unless that person wants to make money by going professional.

    In the end, someone will eventually say to you that while the members of the group are helpful, they are not there to "spoon feed" you with information when you should be doing research on your own as well. Some newbies went as far as to press on, with remarks like "Awaiting your soonest reply" and "No comments? Anyone?" again and again.

    My friend, you have to ask yourself whether photography is what you want to indulge in the first place or you just merely want to discuss gear and their merits. The way I see it, by prolonging your purchase you're missing a lot in terms of experience. If you had bought, say a 450D by now I'm sure you'd be taking many good photos.

    Think of all the missed opportunities you've lost by dragging on your predicament further.

    I have seen some of the work by amateur photographers from India (on Flickr) and I'm impressed with their work. Many of them own the entry level 1000D or the old Nikon D60 with affordable lenses - yet their images are surprisingly good. Some of their work are awesome.

    With all sincerity, I'm going to share you a piece of advice: dSLR bodies or the brand doesn't matter much. People don't judge your images by the dSLR that you own, but by your personal creativity. This is something that cannot be bought and cannot be compared in review sites.

    The reason I didn't want to address your last question is - no matter whether I recommend Canon or Nikon, you'll still find the downsides in either of them. If I wanted to satisfy your concerns, I'd say "Om, just buy both and be done with it!" ;-)

    What I don't want is to be blamed for influencing you into making an incorrect purchase. We all live and learn and you can't run away from that.

    Whether you end up choosing a Nikon D90 or an EOS 550D or the new EOS 60D, what really matters is the end results that you produce, am I right? Does 4.5 fps in the D90 mean you'll take better pics than the slower, 3.7fps 550D? Any seasoned photographer will tell you the answer would be "no".

    Or for that matter, would the new Canon 1Ds Mk IV professional camera in your hands automatically make you become a better photographer than a mere PowerShot G11 owner?

    In case you missed RMvandy's earlier replies to you, our mutual friend Chris Levitan, who runs his photo website has some of his work featured in a few commercial sites and he gets paid too. I asked him whether he intends to upgrade to a dSLR and he said no, although he could afford one he prefers his G11, which is a lot cheaper than either the D90 or the 550D.

    Do you think you can come up photos like he could? Because I honestly admit that I cannot. Although I own a 450D and a G11 myself, he has an amazing personal creativity and an eye for detail that I don't have.

    If I were you, I'd start with a good entry level dSLR that I can afford, build up my photography skills and only upgrade the body and lenses when I can justify doing so.

    Good luck with your final decision, my friend.

    best regards,
    Stratman

  • Om

    September 4, 2010 02:01 pm

    @Stratman: Thanks for your time.

    You see, I take my decisions after pondering over them for sometime....(it has just been two and a half months anyway). For me at least, an equipment of the cost of a DSLR isn't one that has to be bought just based on personal opinions, but after some time of research and findings. I saw this place as one of those places where I could interact with people like you--and to learn some good things.Hence to sum up, it is not about asking questions and taking the decisions--but about interacting with each other and sharing what we know, and absorb what we don't.

    Thus you see, we all are learners anyway, and have just taken an enthusiastic dip into the vast ocean of knowledge.

    Regards
    Om

  • YankeeDDL

    September 4, 2010 07:52 am

    Stratman,

    man you're better than an encyclopedia. I mean it (in the best possible way). I stumbled upon the Canon Pellix in Wikipedia (I did say I wanted to learn ...) and that's what triggered the question.
    Your answer is very comprehensive and that actually makes me think I was not very clear :)
    The point I was trying to make is that having a digital sensor to take images, rather than a film, gives the advantage that ... it can be "exposed" constantly to provide liveview which would then be exactly matching what the camera sees.
    I guess it's not clear to me why would you need a 2nd sensor in the viewfinder to enable a liveview: you have the (large) sensor right there, but you shield it with a mirror, project the light in a prism and get the image from there. Seems more cumbersome that it has to be.
    Of course, your remark on using the viewfinder to handle the camera "properly", makes sense, but I have to take your word for it: personally, I quite like to use the liveview, especially, for example, when taking close-up of flowers, or when I leave the camera on the ground: in both cases, putting your eye in the viewfinder is impractical ... if even possible.

    My conclusion was, that it was ... odd, that in a market like today, where everyone looks for new niches, nobody has a "DSLR without mirror" (I hope this is not blasphemy in a digital photography forum :) ): while that would, obviously, NOT be an actual DSLR, and would have the drawback of no viewfinder, I would imagine it may be attractive to some (me, for one).

    In any case, thank you again for your time and precious feedback.

  • Stratman

    September 4, 2010 03:18 am

    @ Om...

    Your first post was dated July 9th 2010 in which you were deciding between the EOS 1000D and 450D.

    I don't mean to offend you, but almost two months have passed and you still haven't made your decision yet. You started to drift into other subjects and now you've deviated to the new EOS 60D and the Nikon D90, which are totally different cameras altogether.

    Don't be too nitpicking over "the Canon has etc, etc but the Nikon has etc, etc" because they have their own merits and demerits in which only you can decide. The more you read inputs from me and other people, the more confused you get. Making a decision is better than going round in circles as you're getting just nowhere.

    If you can't decide by the end of September, may I suggest that you just flip a coin. Heads = Canon. Tails = Nikon. :-)

  • Stratman

    September 4, 2010 02:58 am

    @ Steph,

    I would suggest that you try out the Canon PowerShot SX20 IS (20x zoom) or the Panasonic Lumix FZ35 (18x zoom) if you need a long zoom lens at a store. Both models have very good lenses for a P&S bridge camera and with ultrazooms, optical quality is something that you have to consider. All ultrazooms suffer from image softness at the telephoto end (the longest focal length) due to the complex optical elements in the lens.

    Both cameras have their strengths and weaknesses. The SX20 IS is larger and has a useful flip-out LCD screen, which enables you to capture stills and videos from odd angles, e.g. above crowds and on the ground. As with all of its predecessors, it takes four AA alkaline and NiMH rechargeable batteries (I would recommend the latter as they're more economical). If you need a more powerful flash, you can buy the Canon Speedlite 270EX, which has a tilting head for more natural looking, bounce flash indoors.

    The SX20 IS gives you vibrant colors (a trademark of Canon P&S cameras) but it has a rather slow continuous shooting speed, a plodding 1 frame per second. That's rather slow and is ill suited for taking photos of running kids, pets and certainly not hummingbirds.

    The Panasonic Lumix FZ35 has a shorter reach (18x zoom) but it starts out at a wider focal length of 27mm. It has a faster lens, with a minimum aperture at the telephoto end, f/4.4 (the SX20 IS is slower at f/5.7). When photographers mention "fast lens", it refers to the amount of light it lets in thus allowing faster shutter speeds. It has nothing to do with the lens' auto-focus speed, which is a different subject so don't get confused! :-)

    Compared to the SX20 IS, the FZ35 is more compact and can capture RAW format images which the SX20 IS can't (it's limited to JPG format). RAW images are larger in size and require post processing with the supplied software but with RAW you have the advantage of controlling shadow noise and highlight clipping. You don't have to shoot in RAW mode if the whole process is complicated but as you gain experience, it's nice to know that the FZ35 can shoot in RAW. As for the continuous shooting speed, it's more than twice that of the SX20 IS, at 2.3 frames/sec.

    Low light, high ISO performance is also something that you'll need to evaluate. Both cameras have relatively small sensors compared to dSLRs and you can see the difference yourself here. The Canon EOS 450D's images are also included as a reference - you can see why dSLRs excel at high ISO sensitivities.

    The downsides of the Lumix FZ35 is that it has a fixed LCD screen, no hot shoe for an external flash and uses expensive proprietary lithium ion batteries. If you don't mind the Panasonic's disadvantages, the FZ35 would be a very good choice.

    Although I'm largely a Canon fan, I am disappointed with the latest breed of PowerShot cameras from Canon. All of them, except for the 2008 model, SX1 ISl have very slow shot-to-shot speeds. Aesthetics and specification wise, I would prefer the Lumix Z35. It looks very much like a mini-dSLR and you have the option to shoot in RAW. Too bad there's no provision for an external flash, but that's acceptable for me.

    Camera Labs' reviews is one of the easiest reviews to understand. I'd recommend that you check out the reviews of the PowerShot SX20 IS and Panasonic FZ35 by clicking on the respective links.

    Be sure to follow Gordon's very useful video review of the two cameras at the end of both reviews!

    Good luck with your final choice.

  • Stratman

    September 4, 2010 02:06 am

    @YankeeDDL.

    Edit: I didn't proofread my last post to you. The EOS RT was Canon's first pellicle mirror based SLR with the EF lens system, not the last. Canon followed up with the pro-grade EOS 1N RS a few years later in the mid 1990s. Since then there were no pellicle mirror EOS models and no Canon dSLR in history had one.

  • Stratman

    September 3, 2010 08:00 pm

    @ YankeeDDL.

    The only differences between a dSLR and a film SLR is the recording medium, additional electronics like digital signal processors and accompanying circuits and of course, the rear LCD to check your images.

    The mirror/pentaprism/penta-mirror configuration has always been the traditional way in designing a dSLR. The viewfinder blackout happens when the mirror flips up and the shutter opens, allowing the the light to be recorded on the digital sensor. The duration depends on the chosen shutter speed. At 1/4000th of a second the whole process is so fast that it's impossible to get blurry images unless you're using a 4,000mm telescope or deliberately move the camera while tripping the shutter.

    It's no different than that of a compact P&S camera - your camera holding technique and shutter speed spell the difference between tack sharp and blurry images.

    Advances in dSLR technology has allowed the use of Live View to compose images, but using Live View impractical for hand held shooting. Live View is better suited for tripod mounted photography, e.g. landscapes, self portraits and macro photography. Why is this so? With dSLRs you're supposed to hold the camera to your eye and frame via the viewfinder. That is the proper way of handling and shooting pics with a dSLR.

    Furthermore, the contrast detect AF employed by Canon dSLRs with Live View is rather clunky or very slow, depending on the Live View settings (Quick AF or Live Mode). P&S cameras also use contrast detection for AF, except that they auto-focus way, way much faster. Some of Sony's Alpha dSLRs have full time Live View as they have an additional sensor to in the prism housing to record live view feed.

    Although Live View focusing is as fast as compact P&S cameras, there's a downside to Sony's design:

    a) You won't get 100% frame coverage in Live View, compared to e.g. a Canon 550D.

    b) The viewfinder is smaller than rivals as the Sony has to fit the secondary Live View sensor into the top housing.

    Canon's last pellicle mirror SLR was the EOS RT. It was a boon to sports and action photographers who need the fastest continuous shooting available as it doesn't involve a moving mirror.

    There's also a flip side to every coin. Pellicle mirrors mean you'll be faced with these issues:

    a) Briefly dimmed viewfinder image as the lens stop down to a small aperture.

    b) Loss of light transmitted to the film surface, about 2/3rds of a stop.

    Today, everyone wants a brighter viewfinder and maximum transmission of light to the digital sensor, otherwise they would have wasted their money on fast lenses.

    For this reason, pellicle mirror dSLRs have never been popular with mainstream photographers. The old EOS 40D can achieve a respectable 6.5 frames/sec while the new 7D gets off at 8 frames/sec. That's very close to the 10 fps achieved by the discontinued EOS RT.

    An interchangeable lens camera without the mirror/prism setup is called an EVIL camera. It stands for Electronic Viewfinder, Interchangeable Lens. The difference between a traditional optical viewfinder and an Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) is like night and day. EVFs are not very effective in dark or very bright conditions, suffer from refresh rate lags in dim lighting and consumes a lot of power.

    Because EVIL cameras are designed without the traditional reflex mirror/prism design, they cannot be called Single Lens Reflex cameras.

    Hope this addresses your questions. :-)

    Stratman

  • Om

    September 1, 2010 11:47 pm

    @Shaheen: Thanks for your very helpful reply!

    Actually Shaheen, I have been keeping an eye over the 60D for some time, and it just released in London on 26 Aug, 2010. So, maybe it will take some time to arrive in India... I guess its price with kit lens to be around Rs. 50000 here ($1000), what do you say?

    @Stratman: Waiting for your reply..

  • shaheen

    September 1, 2010 08:09 pm

    @OM, forget the canon 550D. Go for the latest Canon 60D. It shares most of the features of the fantastic Canon 7D, like the 18 megapixel sensor and full HD recording. The best part is that it offers a burst rate of 5.3 fps. Its higher than that of the Canon 550D and the Nikon D90 !

    its true that Nikon cameras and lenses are considerably more expensive than Canon DSLRs and lenses in India. For more on the Canon 60D, visit:

    http://www.dpreview.com/news/1008/10082620canoneos60d.asp

    you can also do side by side comparison on www.dpreview.com click on the link buying guide>side by side comparison, once you are at the website. i don't know 60D's price.

    if you can spend 25000/- rupees then you can have a go at the fulifilm finepix hs10. its a 10 megapixel, 30x optical zoom, 10.3 fps, with a back-lit cmos sensor, prosumer camera. www.dpreview.com has reviewed the camera and said about it, that it features a lens so good and versatile that you will be glad that you cannot change it ! since action photography is your main concern, higher the burst rate the better. the review of the hs10 at www.depreview.com can be viewed at:

    http://www.dpreview.com/news/1002/10020206fujifinepixhs10series.asp

    http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/Q110superzoomgroup/

  • Om

    August 31, 2010 08:58 pm

    @Stratman: Thanks Stratman, for your very sound advice on my earlier post...

    I was wondering over the importance of the burst speed available in the DSLRs..... and I think they matter a lot for a nature( wildlife/bird) photographer. The EOS 550D provides a nominal 3.7 fps upto 6 RAW or 34 JPG images; the Nikon D90 provides slight more 4.5 fps upto 11 RAW or 100 JPG....
    I consider that both the Nikon D90 and Canon 550D are at par as far as the output (low light, good light, everything) is compared. But then, three things linger in my mind:

    1. The D90 has comparatively higher burst shooting rate and greater (11 RAW, 100JPG against 6 RAW, 34 JPG) buffer capacity. Will that affect me on that crucial moment while photographing a mischievous quick bird? I know of course, that pro-level SLRs offer much greater burst rates; but I need to consider my budget too;

    2.For almost the same price, Canon 550D offers more features than D90 in that it has full HD recoding at a variety of frame rates. I know I have to decide my priorities between stills and videos, but an extra feature does attract one!

    3. You said earlier that Canon lenses are cheaper than the Nikkors, but is this trend prevalent even in India, in case you happen to know? Here, in India, photographic gear costs a lot more than in other countries.

    In short, a future serious nature photographer has to decide between the Nikon D90 and Canon EOS 550D based on the above three factors (burst rate factor for fleeting wildlife, extra video capability and price of overall system, which I plan to build gradually)

    So, that's it. Sorry, if I trouble you; but then I needed to rearrange and sort all my thoughts out here and have them examined by someone experienced. Hope you understand.

    Thanks, and waiting for your reply, as always!!

  • steph

    August 30, 2010 05:51 am

    Hi. i'm wanting to get a new camera. And I have been researching for months and all this stuff gets to be so confusing to me. So I need your help please.
    This is what I'm looking for in a camera:
    1. long zoom - 10X OR MORE
    2. Good overall camera
    3. Good quality pics up close, far away, inside and outside, low light, etc.

    my budget is $350-400.

    And what are the key things I need to be looking for in purchasing a digital camera?

    Here are some i've been looking at:
    1. canon powershot SX20 IS & SX210 IS & SX1210 IS & SX130 IS
    2. samsung HZ35W, HZ15, HZ30W, HZ10W
    3. pentax X90
    4. Casio EX-FH20
    5. Kodak Easyshare Z981
    6. Panasonic Lumix ZS7

    I am not a professional. I just want to get a good camera for what i pay for. i will be taking pictures of wildlife at my parents hill country home. i love to take pics of hummingbirds, my kids outside and inside, school functions that are both in and outside. Just want to be able to get good quality photos of whatever it is i take a pic of - up close and far away.

    thank u

  • YankeeDDL

    August 25, 2010 07:35 pm

    Hello again; seeing the latest comments triggered a question and ... well, it seems silly but I haven't been able to come up with an answer.
    The question is, why do digital-SLR still need a mirror? (yes, I do understand that without a mirror, technically, they won't be SLR again).
    The point being: as far as I understand it, the whole point of an SLR was to be able to see in the viewfinder the exact same optical path as the film.
    With a film-based camera, this can be realized with the mirror and the pentaprism. There are other creative solutions (Canon Pellix?), but that's beside the point.
    The mirror does also introduce a small time delay for which, technically, you could be moving the camera while the mirror lifts.
    Now, with the digital cameras the mirror seems more of a limitation than anything: you can see exactly what the sensors see in the live-view screens, without prisms, cropping factors, and virtually no delays.
    So the mirror in the DSLR server the only purpose to keep using the viewfinder: does it not?
    I suppose it's a matter of preference, but wouldn't you expect to see "DSLR" without mirror/viewfinder? I'm sure I'm missing something here ...

  • Stratman

    August 24, 2010 04:44 am

    I wholly agree with Bob's take on practicing to get the most out of your camera well before you go on your trip to India. The worst scenario to be caught in is struggling to find where the controls are or which exposure settings to use when you're taking that "golden shot".

    With static subjects like landscapes and buildings you'll have the luxury of time on your hands, but if you're taking photos of people on the streets (or street photography style), you'll have time just to compose and shoot. Generally strangers don't have the patience if you ask them to pose for your camera while you fiddle with its controls.

    Chris Levitan's work on Levimages.com is a testament that one can produce masterpiece images without using a dSLR. He knows the limitations of his camera (the Canon G11) and instead of allowing his camera to limit his photography style, he manages the fullest use of a P&S compact without having to resort to expensive dSLRs.

  • Bob

    August 23, 2010 12:44 pm

    Buddha Prince:

    I gave up on lugging around a leather sack full of lenses about 20 years ago, switching to compact 35mm cameras from an SLR. You CAN get excellent photos from less-expensive cameras. Stratman and I both own Canon G11s. We know an amateur who shoots much of his public work on the G11, and has sold quite a few via his website www.levimages.com .

    Many are carefully composed and shot landscapes, and others carefully composed and shot abstractions. Note the common denominator. He has far more imagination than I, and a dedication to charging the battery, grabbing his coat and camera, and working.

    If you are getting impressive shots with your non-dSLR now, by all means step up to a more-expensive camera with more features to exploit. Stratman has excellent suggestions. I hope you are finding other people near you who can work with you face to face, perhaps at a college photography class or a friendly camera store where you can become a regular customer.

    India sounds fascinating, a great place to get pictures of people and history. Many times, you'll need to shoot quickly. If you're working with a brand-new camera, you won't know it well enough to really utilize it; you may be quite disappointed. Be sure to practice daily, day and dark, indoors and out, with your new camera. If you don't have time to take at least 500 photos and examine/critique them before the vacation, you won't get your money's worth out of any new, expensive camera.

    Pick a couple of the photo challenges (at least one that you think you won't like or do well at) on this site for your pre-trip training. It will really open your eyes to the camera's potential, and to new artistic possibilities.

    bob

  • Stratman

    August 23, 2010 09:23 am

    @ Buddha Prince,

    You said you're going the dSLR route but you're also considering the Nikon Coolpix P100. That is not a dSLR but a bridge P&S camera with a fixed lens.

    Consider the latest Nikon D3100 instead. It has a higher resolution of 14.2 Megapixels, fitted with the new EXPEED 2 DSP chip, full HD video recording @ 24p and has the Nikon F-mount, which means you can fit all types of AF Nikon lenses, not just the AF-S or AF-I versions. The D90 also has the F-mount whereas the D3000 and D5000 can only autofocus with AF-S and AF-I lenses.

    "Creative masterpieces", lighting and lenses go hand in hand. Photography is all about capturing light, in case you forget that. Your photography will be severely limited if you're not willing to buy a good external flash like a Nikon Speedlight unit. The built-in flash is best used for daylight fill-in light to light up shadows.

    Lenses will make a lot of difference to your resultant images, not so much with the dSLR body. If you're serious about dSLR photography, you will soon enough realize the limitations of your kit lenses. You will then appreciate a fast lens like the Nikon AF 50mm f/1.4G, which is an excellent low light prime lens. Sooner or later you'll end up with more than five lenses (including your initial two kit lenses) or at least with two additional higher quality lenses.

    Professional photographers may not necessarily use a high end Nikon D3x, they can use the cheaper D90 if they want to. If there is something that they will NOT compromise, it's the glass. You won't see wedding photographers or serious amateurs showing up at an event with cheap kit lenses.

    Ask veteran members in just any dSLR group on Flickr and they will tell you the same thing. Optics is everything and dSLR bodies don't matter that much as you might think.

    Good luck.

  • buddha prince

    August 23, 2010 07:22 am

    @ Stratman, RMVANDY

    Thanks for the advice previously. I have decided to go with NIKON.

    My budget: ZAR 5000

    (ZAR = South African Rand ... $ 1 = Approx ZAR 7.5)

    Options:

    ZAR 4500 NIKON P100
    ZAR 6000 NIKON D3000
    ZAR 8000 NIKON D5000
    ZAR 10 000 NIKOND90 (Double the budget)

    (All with twin Nikkor VR Lens kits)

    The 2 questions:

    1. The D5000 seems worth adding a bit more to be happier in the long run. Do you agree?
    2. Is the D90 sooo much better than the D5000 that I should wait, save up an buy much later?

    I am going on holiday to India in 3 weeks, and need your guidance to make a good decision here.

    (PS. I am looking forward to creatng some great art, but in the future will NOT be the guy with the top of the range Nikon for ZAR 50 000, or have 5 lens, and lights etc etc. My photograpy goals - great creative masterpieces with family members in them).

    Thanks.

  • buddha prince

    August 23, 2010 07:07 am

    @stratman, rmvandy,

    Guys, I have decided to go the SLR route after your advice and my research. Nikon seems to be the camera for me.

    The options: (ZAR = South African Rand, approx 1 $ = 7.5 ZAR)

    ZAR 6000 - Nikon D3000 with twin NIKON VR Lens Kit (18-55mm, 55-200mm)
    ZAR 8000 - Nikon D5000 with twin NIKON VR Lens Kit (18-55mm, 55-200mm)
    ZAR 10 000 - Nikon D90 with twin NIKON VR Lens Kit (18-55mm, 55-200mm)

    My planned budget : ZAR 5500

    The question:

    I am willing to add a little more to the budget but only if the extra value is worth it. That being said, which should I go for. Is the D5000 is very good option to get over the D3000? Is the D90 sooo much better than the D5000 that I should wait and save up for the D90 (almost double my budget)?

    Regards,
    Youlin

  • Peter

    August 19, 2010 07:56 am

    Aside from noise, the larger sensor on dSLRs allows for more shadow information to be captured, which can then be recovered in post-processing. I'm always amazed at how much information that my dSLR raw files recover from shadow areas and especially over-exposed areas. My point and shoot, on the other hand, which shoots only jpg, is basically unable to recover any detail from shadows and forget blow-outs.

    Great article.

  • Stratman

    August 18, 2010 10:36 pm

    @ Shruti,

    I would suggest at least the Nikon D5000 (skip the poorly specc'ed D3000) or the better-still, D90 which can autofocus with other Nikon AF lenses, not just the AF-S or AF-I kind . As for a lens, if you adamant on owning one do-it-all lens for convenience, the Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED AF-S DX VR II Nikkor would be your best bet. A cheaper alternative would be the ones from Tamron, e.g. AF 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC, with image stabilization.

    Long focal range zooms generally suffer from soft center images at the telephoto end and some focus hunting issues. If you're into serious photography for the long term, you'll soon realize that you will need a better lens.

    When it comes to lenses, you have to compromise between convenience and superior optical quality. If you want both in one single lens, you probably can't afford it.

  • Shruti

    August 13, 2010 04:14 pm

    I Ve been following all your comments..it has been quite useful..i Ve been thinking of buying an slr..but i wantthe convenience of a single lens that covers a wide range..for i don't want to keep changing lenses and it also adds to the bulk ill have to lug around..is it a good option to buy Just the camera body and buy the lens separately?if so..Wat lens do you suggest?the camera..id prefer a Nikon..waiting for you valuable suggestions..
    shruti

  • rmvandy

    August 1, 2010 06:43 am

    Claudette:

    Stratman has asked the important questions, mostly regarding the light. I always rely on what he suggests, so your camera should be able to meet your needs.

    The orange cast is caused by the lights. The Olympus should have a setting for light type, so look for that and change it to Incandescent -- unless your lights are the twisted fluorescent type. The colors a camera will reveal depends on the light: orangey for incandescent, bluish for sunlight and cloudy/overcast, and greenish from fluorescent. If you preset the camera, it provides more accurate color than you can reach by adjusting later with photo software.

    Depth of field is what causes loss of detail in the background or lets it go soft -- depending on your needs. larger f-stops (smaller apertures) improve sharpness not just on the focal point, but some distance nearer and farther from it. If you want soft backgrounds, you risk softer subjects. And smaller apertures need more light or longer exposures (the latter increase risk of motion-induced blur).

    Sharpness is also acquired by either careful focus or motionless camera/subject. Autofocus tries to accomodate a broad range, sometimes not choosing the best focal range for your subject. If you can, switch to manual focus and adjust carefully. Also, autofocus depends upon greater contrast than the face of a doll likely provides. And it takes a moment for the focus to be set; if you press firmly on the shutter release, it may expose before focusing has been finished. It all could be working against you.

    Motion is the next problem. Image stabilization is not as effective for macro as regular shooting -- your camera is moving the lens or image plane around to accomodate any motion, so it can cause blurring on its own. Try with it turned off. If you are working with both the camera and doll on the bed, it's too easy for either to move in relation to the other, especially if you are supporting yourself while you shoot. If possible, isolate the camera from the bed/doll with a tripod or use a piece of furniture. If you can't, use the timer so the shutter goes off without your having to press the release. That removes another source of motion.

    I have to say this, so don't take it wrong -- When using macro, the camera setting must be Macro, and it must set up within the distance specified by the user manual. Depth of field is limited, so if, for example, you are focusing on an ear, the eye may be out of focus. Choose the target of greatest importance.

    You also may need more light to induce the camera to use a smaller aperture (larger f-stop number) for greater depth of field for the whole face to be in focal range.

    Set the camera for the largest file size -- either RAW, which Stratman asked about, or extra fine JPEG with the largest number of pixels when saved. JPEG tries to save file space by cutting detail, and every time you edit and resave, the detail goes down some more. So when you start editing, save as TIFF. The file may get larger as you go.

    Check the tutorials on this site for full how-to lessons on close-up photography, still life, or table-top setups. Other sites may also have complete guides.

    I hope you find something in the above that meets your needs. Good luck.

  • claudette

    July 30, 2010 11:48 pm

    HI... thanks so much for answering my questions. First of all I like my camera and I am sure it is capable of taking a good picture. I am sure it is me that is the problem. I have read the book..made adjustments and have tried just about everything. I basically would love to put it on one setting and leave it there for great pics of my dolls. I don't normally use this camera for anything but my doll pics. I have a sony for other pics. It is small and fits good in the purse and is fine for outside. This camera is a bit bigger and I basically bought it just for my doll selling. I have a website and sell my dolls on ebay with all the pics in a template.
    now for your questions.

    1. I usually use the jpg format

    2.I use two studio lights with umbrellas, there is a ceiling light overhead because I use my bed as a table, and I have another light which shows true colors...they are photo bulbs..so not sure what they are..I am not photographer thats for sure...lol.

    3.I have owned my camera for a year and a half..can't say I am tired of it because it is a nice camera but it takes me to long and I have to take to many photos to get what I like there for to much time is wasted

    4.with the camera I have now it seems my pics always have somewhat of an orange overcast and I edit them for the white balance. Even on the macro setting I still can not get that clear crisp look and important details like veining and capillaries to show. I did purchase photo lights which do help a bit. I take my pics in the same place all the time so it would be convenient to have my camera on a setting that I could just leave and use all the time. I always have the image stabilizer on also. I usually just use auto because it is easier but sometimes I use the neutral lighting and that helps a bit too.

    5. I am basically open to any suggestions..just so it works for me. I am overwhelmed when I look for cameras and options and do not want to make the wrong choice again

    6. I basically just use my camera for my doll pics for selling purposes. I have another camera for outside use.. my dolls are what I want a specific camera for so that I can leave it on a setting and never change it so it would save me time and frustration. Taking 200 photos got get 20 good ones is very stressful, time consuming and aggravating to me.

    7. well as far as a new camera...I dont want to spend that much, not over 300 because I just want it for my dolls... I am willing to keep this one only if it can do the job I need it to do. There are so many choices in this camera that is overwhelms me and not knowing about photography and having no time to take a class, it would be good just to find a good setting..or should I say the correct setting to get the best pics it can take. I know it can take good ones as every now and then I get one..lol.. I do position the doll and move around to take the pics from different angles and I have even been using a tripod for extra steadyness which helps a bit. I think my basic problem is detail and color.
    I really am open to any suggestions with a new camera or this one.

  • Stratman

    July 30, 2010 02:55 pm

    Hi Claudette,

    Your SP-550UZ ultra-zoom is actually a good camera in its class, but fine tuning the white balance for tricky lighting situations can be a somewhat frustrating affair.

    You have two options as I see them:

    a) Retaining your Olympus SP-550UZ and learning how to extract the best out of it or;

    b) Entirely replacing your present digicam with a new one.

    I'll get back to you on this, but I'll need you to answer these questions first:

    1. Have you ever shot RAW images with your Olympus, rather than JPG format?

    2. What kind of indoor lighting do you use to illuminate the doll models? Do you have studio lighting or use makeshift table lamps? If use to the latter, is your lighting the tungsten or fluorescent kind?

    3. How long have you owned the SP-550UZ and are you getting tired of it?

    4. List down other shortcomings of your present camera that you've found to be detrimental to getting awesome images.

    5. Are you open to digital SLRs or prefer to stick to P&S cameras like your SP-550UZ?

    6. What other kind of photography do you take other than your dolls?

    And finally:

    7. What is your expected budget and your absolute (e.g. never-exceed) budget for a new camera?

    These questions will help us in narrowing down your choices.

  • claudette

    July 30, 2010 03:45 am

    I presently have an Olympus SP-550UZ 18X OPTICAL ZOOM 28MM WIDE DUAL I 15FPS burst rate camera. I can never seem to take a great pic or the same pic each time..it is complicated for me and although there are times I get a great pic..most of the time I don't. I know it is me and probably not the camera and it has soooo many setting and choices it just overwhelms me. I was looking to see if a point and shoot would serve my purposes better. This is what I need the camera for and basically all I use it for. I am a reborn artist ..which is painting dolls in oils and making them look like real babies..I take pics of them in different positions mainly on a table with some props. I am fairly close to the subject each time so zooming in is not really nessesary. I need to find a camera that will take a good crisp pic, pay attention to the details and not have an orangey over cast most of the time.. there are so many cameras out there and I am not looking to spend a fortune but was wondering if you or anyone had any suggestions for me.. I usually take lots of pics and pic out the best ones. I need help desperatel because a great pic does help sell the doll...thanks for anyone who answers..
    Claudette

  • Stratman

    July 24, 2010 10:08 pm

    @ Om,

    Asking whether to buy Canon or Nikon is akin to asking whether to buy a Maruti-Suzuki or a Mahindra-Renault. :-) They both have their merits and demerits.

    OK, I'll try to be as brief as possible without rambling on too much, so I'll use easy-to-digest point forms. Hope this is OK with you.

    - The Nikon D90 is not an entry level dSLR (the D3000 is). It's positioned slightly below the Canon EOS 50D and the EOS 550D. In terms of RAW sensor performance the D90 beats both Canons, at least on paper. In real world shots, you can't tell the difference between the D90 and the 550D at very high ISOs.

    - The EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM is better than the EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS (in terms of build and AF speed), but for a bit more money the EF 70-200mm f/4L USM (non-IS) will be your best long term investment, if you can afford it. Otherwise, go for the EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS, which is a great value-for-money zoom lens. .

    - Money saved by getting the EF-S 55-250mm f4-5.6 IS instead of the EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM means you can allocate your remaining budget for a Canon Speedlite flash, (e.g. the 430EX II) and maybe a BG-E5 battery grip. When you've hit the limitations of the EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS zoom, you may as well jump straight to the optically excellent EF 70-200mm f/4L USM.

    - Avoid the EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 USM or Mk III USM zoom, which are old designs from Canon. The EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS is actually optically superior to both of them for the same price range.

    - Don't buy the EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS separately. Get the 500D kit, it's much cheaper than buying separately.

    - If you're buying the 500D body only, look for better alternatives to that kit lens. For long term, these four lenses come to mind (in descending order of price):

    1. EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM
    2. EF 17-40mm f/4L USM
    3. EF-S 17-85mm f/4.0-5.6 IS USM
    4. Tamron SP AF 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di II VC. IMO, the Tamron gives you the best value for money and there's an even cheaper non-VC (Vibration Compensation) version available.

    - IMO the EOS 500D gives you the best bang for the buck, as it's now priced lower than the 550D, which is a recent introduction. You get some features borrowed from the 50D, like vignetting correction and a high res 920k pixel LCD screen. However the 450D, at its max ISO of 1600 is less noisy than the 500D. 12MP vs 15MP won't be much of a difference in real world photography.

    - If you've ever considered the EOS 1000D (which is quite a good entry level dSLR), it's worth paying a bit more for the EOS 450D. You get 14-bit RAW conversion, spot metering and IR sensors for the wireless remote and to turn off the LCD screen automatically.

    - No need to splurge on the new EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM. For a lot less money, the recently discontinued EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM will deliver equally sharp images, providing your camera technique is polished. The price gap between the two lenses is quite significant.

    Bottom line:
    1. If you're going the Canon route, the 500D is more than enough for your daily needs.

    2. If you're not sure how far this new hobby of yours will take you, go for the best value-for-money lenses.

    3. Don't forget that you'll be needing premium accessories like camera bags, tripods, monopods, flash, spare batteries, filters, remote triggers, lens hoods (except for any L-series lens or Tamron lenses, as the hood is included). All this gear will come up to a substantial amount.

    4. Canon brand lenses are more often cheaper than Nikon lenses of the same kind. You can use any EF lens made by Canon, even from 1987 (when the EOS line was first introduced). Note that manual focus, mechanically controlled aperture FD lenses before 1987 cannot fit on any EOS camera.

    I don't read up on Nikon lenses, therefore if you're going the Nikon path you'll have to do some research on your own.

    OK, that's it from me. Signing off.

  • Om

    July 24, 2010 06:58 pm

    Stratman and rmvandy: Thanks for your insightful replies. So, it is better to buy a cheaper entry level DSLR, with only the features that I need, and buy good quality lenses. I figured out the following lenses:

    1. EF 70-300mm f/3.5-5.6 IS for wildlife and bird photography
    2. EF 18-55mm IS for general purpose people's photography and landscapes at 18mm wide end
    3. EF 100mm Macro L IS USM for photomacrography

    As per my budget, I plan to buy the first two lens in a few days, and the latter one later, it being the most expensive. Do you have a suggestion regarding my choice of the above lenses, or would you like to suggest some alternatives? As I said earlier, I am mainly interested in nature photography (landscapes, waterfalls, flowers, insects, birds, animals, etc primarily).

    Now comes the ancient question, which I know, you will hear for the 1000th time: Should I go for a Nikon system or a Canon system?!!!
    You'll consider the above question as religious, but I have to ask which system among the following would you go with, along with the reason:

    1. a Canon entry level (say 550 or 500D)+ above Canon lenses [about $ 1680 in India, for 550D excluding macro]
    2. a Nikon entry level (say D90)+above lenses of Nikkor brand [ about $ 1450 in India, excluding macro and 70-300 mm Nikkor at wide end f/4.5, while for Canon at wide end f/4]

    3. Canon entry level(500 or 550D)+above lenses of third party
    4. Nikon entry level(say D90)+ above lenses of third party

    And if you suggest Canon, which one among 500D and 550D if I don't need HD recording, just quality stills and by budget permits both the cams. Do you suggest 500D + more expensive lenses or 500D + little less expensive lenses?

    Sorry If I sound unreasonable and repetitive, but I feel a person of your caliber is the best to consult before jumping into a thing. Thanks!!!!!

  • rmvandy

    July 23, 2010 12:45 pm

    It's almost like finding a favorite, old Ray Bradbury book and rediscovering some short story about being lost on Mars: How could I use this tool; what does that strange symbol bode? I remember this, how did it affect my progress last time?

    I didn't want to divert you from the excitement and broadened limits of an upgrade, and I'm sure in a few months you'll be thinking about it again. Not much will change; no magical lens or function will appear to make the research you conducted obsolete. You seem to be pleased to set aside the million questions and doubts we all accumulate when we try to pick the "best match" to our desires. (And I don't mean the crush you had on Ruthie in third grade.)

    I had a Kodak in 1965 that stretched my budget. It was just a box camera, but had two focus settings, two f-stops, and a flash. I discovered that opening the flash door cut the shutter speed in half -- I didn't even need to put a bulb in it. Little tricks can make a big difference. You'll still feel limited, but empowered in other ways because you'll know how to get more from your camera.

  • YankeeDDL

    July 23, 2010 07:32 am

    Stratman, Rmvandy,
    I'm actually fairly familiar with silicon and sensors :)
    It's everything upstream that I have ... ehmm ... let's say that I have room for improvement.
    I took your suggestion and started from page 1. Of the user manual of the S3.
    I had done it already, but few pages were enough to see how much I had forgotten. I've place the camera handy for me to grab on the fly whenever there could be an opportunity. More experimenting means more learning, more questions and probably will trigger more experimenting again. We'll see where that leads me.
    Cheers!

  • Stratman

    July 22, 2010 02:07 am

    @ Om:

    I'm afraid you've been grossly misinformed. The Live View feature first appeared in the EOS 450D, followed by the EOS 1000D (introduced later in 2008) and of course, the 500D and 550D. There are two LV modes for the EOS 1000D and 450D: Quick AF mode (using phase AF detection) and Live View (contrast AF detection).

    On the 500D and 550D, an additional Live View mode was introduced: the Face Recognition Live View for people portrait shots.

    The Live View mode is not meant for "low light photography" as you mentioned, although you can still use it for night shots, using the viewfinder would be a lot better. The Live View mode is better suited for landscape shots on a tripod or macro photography where 100% frame coverage and precise manual focus is essential.

    I can tell you that the Live View mode is either clunky or painfully slow. Quick Mode means you have to press a separate button which flips the mirror momentarily while the camera uses phase detection for fast auto focusing. You still need to depress the shutter button to take the image. The downside is that the mirror slap makes noise and introduces vibration. This makes Quick Mode less suitable for long exposures where you don't want any kind of vibration ruining your shot.

    The other Live View mode works exactly like the AF on a P&S camera (contrast detection), but it is very, very slow to focus compared to any cheap compact digicam. You'll want to use this for macro shots or night photography on a tripod. Manual focusing works best with Live View. You can appreciate the whole story right here, in the video tour.

    Umm..the 63 zone iFCL metering on the 550D is by no means a magical feature that gives you award winning images. Some 550D users in a few Flickr groups have reported metering inaccuracies, but it could be that they got problematic copies. Then again, the calibration of the meter can vary within batches and from body to body. It doesn't mean that you won't be able to take awesome images with the 500D's 35-zone metering. As your experience grows, you'll be relying less on the metering and more on your instincts.

    If you really want very accurate metering, buy an external hand held light meter instead. For this reason professional photographers that shoot fashion and models indoors or outdoors rely on a handheld light meter instead of the camera's built-in metering.

    As for the dSLR of your choice, you must remember this: the camera only captures light. It's up to you whether you need the features a particular model has and whether you're willing to pay extra.

    Photographers (that's you) determine whether the resulting shot would be outstanding or looking like an uninteresting pics. A very capable photographer can take excellent images even with a P&S camera like the Canon G11, while a 1D Mk IV pro-grade dSLR in the hands of a total noob will take mere snapshots.

    If I were you, I'd start with a good entry level dSLR and invest in quality lenses (the EF 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS is an average lens, neither mediocre nor excellent) instead. Camera bodies continue to depreciate while lenses go the opposite direction - they get more expensive every year.

  • Om

    July 22, 2010 12:39 am

    @rmvandy: I completely understand...it's fine. Yes, I have now decided to weigh EF series over the EF-S series. This is because EF lenses fit over both full frame and cropped sensors, while the EF-S aren't that versatile in that they can only be used on the cropped sensors due to their smaller image circles. And as you said, our cameras are full of loads of features, limited only by our imagination. However, the fact that I can't use telephoto lenses on my powershot and a variety of other lenses is the main source of my dissatisfaction with the P&S and reason for deciding to move into the DSLRs......Hope you understand.

    @Stratman: I was wondering over the utility of Live view in DSLRs… Though they can be useful in low light situations, is it really good to have live view built in the DSLR? Actually, in deciding between the Canon 500D and 550D, I have come to know that the 500D does not have live view focusing, while the 550D has it. Is this feature really necessary and worthy enough to push me more towards the 550D?
    Also, the 550D has 63 zone evaluative metering, while the 500D has 35 zone evaluative metering. I guess metering would be more accurate in the former. But again, is this feature the major persuader for me to own a 550D?
    I am an aspiring nature and wildlife photographer…. and wish to build my photographic system gradually… Since the full frames are too expensive to start off, I have set my eyes upon the upper end entry levels. I have heard many people saying that the entry levels are not worth buying due to their smaller APS-C sized sensors. The full frames are much more useful. So should I wait to raise my funds (that will take a lot time) and then buy a full frame, or start off with a entry level and some lenses (the Canon EF 70-300mm IS USM and the kit EF-S 18-55mm IS along with the EF 28-105mm USM) without losing anyway?? I have planned to buy the EF and not EF-S lenses for this very purpose of later putting them on a full frame as EF-S have smaller image circles. Please help!!!

  • rmvandy

    July 21, 2010 02:53 pm

    Sorry, Om, I started writing just before your message arrived. It looks like you and I were on the same wavelength about your point #2: pixel size. My paragraph 4 shows the APS-C with 1 mp per 18 mm sq, making the pixels about 4x the size of those on my Canon G11 (10.1mp on 43 mm sq.). That's a huge, huge difference. APS-C is not necessarily a beginner's quality. I like your idea, though, about being able to use what you have when you upgrade.

    I just came back to add that I still need to learn a lot -- I don't think I've used half the possibilities built into my camera. Plus, I make a lot of mistakes. I need to practice, read, experiment. I just keep looking at the links in sites as I read online, and now have 23 I use for reference. Plus, I joined Digital Photography School here.

    Being able to find actual sensor sizes is one thing; knowing how to use them is what i still need to work on.

  • rmvandy

    July 21, 2010 01:20 pm

    If there were one perfect camera, it would be the only camera bought! You make a good point about not entering the SLR market at the bottom of the line -- for example, the 550D you had researched has features and capabilities many others don't. Also, a lot of people looking into this string could benefit by reading their user manuals closely and searching through the lessons in this site for ways to extract more value from the cameras they have.

    After the experience, we come away with a better idea of what we can do, how we could do it better, and what features our next cameras need to lift us to the next level.

    The "megapixel war" you mentioned benefitted the consumer in the first few skirmishes. The 6mp your camera offers are not as sharp as the capability would be now for the same capacity. But later in the war (which, fortunately, appears to be over), the companies were squeezing in a few megapixels but losing the advantage the extra count should have provided. It boiled down to two problems: Logic chips to interpret the signals from sensors, and the ability of sensors to gather light. The latter was hampered by size.

    In the 550D, for example, the sensor is an "APS-C," roughly the size of the APS camera system film frame (after which it was named). It is about 329 mm sq. It has 18mp, or about 1mp per 18 mm sq. Your camera has 6mp on, probably, a 1/2.5". It has about 24 mm sq., or about 1mp per 4 mm sq. (Top bridge cameras are using 1/1.7" chips, which are 43mm sq., almost twice as large as yours, but probably with fewer pixels/mm).

    By comparison, cell phones now have 6mp sensors about 1/6", or 4.3 mm sq.

    Smaller pixels can't catch as many photons while the shutter is open, and the laws of averages have adjacent units of area capturing a range of photons during the same single exposure. So you get only one unit of area per pixel, and their signals will vary enough to be visible when enlarged. If, though, you have a pixel that contains several units of area, its average exposure is more consistent. Thus, less "noise," or variations in color and brightness. Smoother images, with details not overwhelmed by the average variations.

    That's the huge advantage of dSLRs: much larger sensor, larger area per pixel, more light and more even light.

    So where's that put us in the megapixel wars? The consumer was dragged in, but the camera makers let us excape.

    The new cameras now have the same surface area in their sensors, or maybe a bit larger, but fewer pixels. The variations are less, and the pictures will be sharper. It also allows the camera makers to give you a wider range of shutter speeds or, correspondingly, ISO settings. So your older camera, which offers only up to 800 ISO, might now be available with 3200-6400 ISO. MUCH better in low light!

    The megapixel wars, in addition to squeezing more megapixels into a limited patch of silicon, also gave the chip foundries more experience in making larger chips without losing a large percentage to flaws. That makes it cheaper (relatively) to make larger sensors. First battle, more pixels per mm. Second battle, more mm per chip. Third battle, improve the other electronics. Fourth battle, keep the chip size, but drop pixel count.. That's roughly how it went. The result was more sensitive and accurate pixels as well as more of them.

    We should not go back, and there's no reason for a good camera not to have 10mp or more. And it's better for you now. Here's the quick answer:

    10mp = 3648 x 2736 pixels (my camera, a Canon G11).
    6 mp = 2816 x 2112 pixels.
    3 mp (~=HD) = 1820 x 1020 pixels.

    When you shoot and want to crop out the left half of a frame because your children are on the right (so you are enlarging them), you lose 1/2 of your pixels. If you want to make an enlargement, you can only go half as large as you could with a full-frame image without seeing pixels and noise.

    So to a point, more pixels is better -- and the sensor makers have reached that point.

  • Om

    July 21, 2010 01:12 pm

    @Yankeeddl: "if you own a bridge: you run the risk of spending your money to get something only incrementally better but somewhat limited." Actually, the validity of this statement depends on what kind of a photographer you are. If you are a keen or serious amateur who is willing to delve into photography, and to examine the effects of the various polarising filters, lenses, extenders, etc on your pictures to get more creative, and to be able to control your camera (and hence your final pictures) to a greater extent, than DSLRs are definitely better than most P&S. Obviously, owning a DSLR does not mean you get awards winning shots everytime, even P&S are excellent cameras. It is the photographer you captures photos; not the camera.

    And, talking about the resolution of the CMOS/CCD sensor, remember two things:

    1. The greater the resolution of a camera's sensor (more MPs), more of the finer details you will be able to capture, with lesser pixelation on enlargement.

    2. But there is a shortcoming to whooping megapixels, and that is for two sensors with the same resolution (same MPs), the one with the larger area will have much greater SNR (Signal to Noise Ratio) which means that the larger sensor will have much lesser noise (or grains in film terminology). This is where the term pixel density arrives: it is the ratio of the total resolution of the sensor to its area, or in other words, the number of pixels per unit area. Therefore, the lower the pixel density, the lower the resolution, and greater the size of individual pixels, and hence the more photons of light they capture, leading to better performance in low light. Thus a lower MP APS-C sensor is better for low light photography.

    @Stratman: I was wondering over the utility of Live view in DSLRs... Though they can be useful in low light situations, is it really good to have live view built in the DSLR? Actually, in deciding between the Canon 500D and 550D, I have come to know that the 500D does not have live view focusing, while the 550D has it. Is this feature really necessary and worthy enough to push me more towards the 550D?
    Also, the 550D has 63 zone evaluative metering, while the 500D has 35 zone evaluative metering. I guess metering would be more accurate in the former. But again, is this feature the major persuader for me to own a 550D?
    I am an aspiring nature photographer.... and wish to build my photographic system gradually... Since the full frames are too expensive to start off, I have set my eyes upon the upper end entry levels. I have heard many people saying that the entry levels are not worth buying due to their smaller APS-C sized sensors. The full frames are much more useful. So should I wait to raise my funds (that will take a lot time) and then buy a full frame, or start off with a entry level and some lenses (the Canon EF 70-300mm IS USM and the kit EF-S 18-55mm IS along with the EF 28-105mm USM) without losing anyway?? I have planned to buy the EF and not EF-S lenses for this very purpose of later putting them on a full frame as EF-S have smaller image circles. Please help!

  • YankeeDDL

    July 20, 2010 11:37 pm

    @ RMVandy
    I haven't got the 550D yet. And I'm still not sure I will get it.
    There are two things that are clear now (thanks to you and Stratman:
    a) I have margin for improvement on my S3 which I should certainly investigate
    b) Neither a new P&S or a DSLR will be the 'perfect' solution for me. Which is a reassuring confirmation of what I thought (and the reason why I came to this site to begin with), and yet it's strange because I consider myself a pretty standard, relatively un-aspiring and un-pretentious user. One would think there would be plenty of options and instead ...

    It seems to me that the bridge cameras have been dragged into the megapixels race: I'm quite happy with the 6Mpix of the S3 and I wish there was a camera with 6Mpix using a more updated pixel technology so to have a better performance at higher ISOs. This, coupled with a more recent autofocus and s hot shoe for the flash, would make it -in my opinion- a very attractive camera for non-professional users.

    On the DSLR side: going for an entry-level DSLR makes little sense (always IMHO) if you own a bridge: you run the risk of spending your money to get something only incrementally better but somewhat limited.
    That's actually why I was pondering the 550D: not the best of the prosumer cameras (for which you'll have to fork quite a premium) but certainly above the bunch.
    At that point though ... you get to wonder whether you need such beast (18Mpix?!?!).

    As I write, I'm convincing myself that I should improve myself first, until I really feel 'constrained' by the S3's capabilities, and only then look for a DSLR.
    Makes sense?

  • rmvandy

    July 20, 2010 05:25 pm

    YankeeDDL:
    I know that lots of people, and for good reasons, dislike using a built-in flash. Memory shots of the kids roughhousing or fingerpainting at home seems an acceptable time to break with that preference. Here's a thought about flash: It has the ability to stop motion as effectively as a shutter speed of about 1/2000 sec. (that's the duration of the flash). Because it provides bright light, it could solve your problems if you set the camera so it doesn't delay in focusing.

    (I'm not trying to dissuade your choice of upgrading, just offering a solution you can use with the current camera.)

    It requires manual settings. Flash on, focal range for maximum useful depth of field, experimenting with f-stop a few times. With manual settings, the camera can shoot almost the same instant you press the shutter.

    With autofocus off, set your range for about 1/3 beyond the closest you'll shoot. For example, if you will be shooting in a room about 12 feet from you to the wall, and the kids no closer than four feet, set focus for 6-7 feet. Depth of field will cover roughly 4-12 feet. Try it and check the results, then adjust as needed. There's a page in www.cambridgeincolor.com on depth of field that explains it better and provides a calculator.

    These are common techniques used by pros shooting indoors, such as at weddings, basketball games, etc. After a while, you'll get an intuitive feel for what settings you need.

    It's a method you can use with your dSLR, too. The Canon 550D is a LOT of camera in the APS-C format (a fraction of the 35mm format, but many times the sensor size of a pocket shooter). I looked at the page you provided -- thanks. Wishing you the best of luck with your new camera. Write back after you've had it a while to let us know how it's working for you.

  • Stratman

    July 20, 2010 01:09 am

    @YankeeDDL

    Glad that you found our comments useful. :-)

    Casio is renowned for for coming up with innovative nifty features such as high speed captures and other novelties but in my opinion, very few general users would use them for everyday photography. Unless you're really into high speed photography or video, you won't miss such features anyway. That said, there folks who find niche features like high frame capture useful, perhaps in their line of work or hobby.

    Canon could have adopted Casio's marketing strategy, but they prefer to concentrate on image quality and ease of use in a P&S camera. Since Canon also manufactures its own lenses, it has the upper hand in designing high quality lenses for its non-dSLR cameras, i.e. compacts and bridge ultra-zooms.

    IMO, Panasonic is Canon's direct competitor in the P&S ultra-zoom market segment. Panasonic Lumix' FZ series cameras are legendary and gives Canon owners a run for their money. In fact, if I didn't start off with Canon P&S (I started off with the PowerShot A80 and S2 IS), I would've gone the Panasonic route a long time ago.

    If you're comparing the macro capabilities of the S3 IS and a dSLR with a true macro lens, you'll see a big difference. While the S3 IS is capable of zero cm macro focusing distance, its lens is locked in wide angle position. Barrel distortion is very evident at such close distances - an undesirable trait in dSLR macro photography. Although you can use the normal macro on the S3 IS, it doesn't quite give the frame filling, shallow depth-of-field and magnification capability that a true macro lens can.

    That said, dSLR photography is a rewarding hobby but unless you know how to restrain yourself, you'll be tempted to buy additional lenses and accessories that you may or may not really need. I'm speaking from personal experience, lol... If you're not into expanding your photographic equipment, the Panasonic Lumix FZ35 should serve you well for general photography.

    The SX20 IS holds its own, but unfortunately it has a very slow continuous burst rate that will rule out sports and action shots. Your S3 IS' burst rate is a lot faster than the current crop of PowerShot ultrazooms (except for the CMOS based SX1 IS with HD video and 16:9 aspect ratio rear LCD).

  • YankeeDDL

    July 19, 2010 08:51 pm

    Hello Stratman and RMVandy,
    again thank you for your kind and informative replies.
    Manual zoom is OK for me. Autofocus is a must though.
    In general, today, for me, convenience takes a precedence over optical quality. This said, the fact that I'm looking for options is a clear indicator that I'm not totally satisfied.
    About the S3, by the way: I'm perfectly happy with the behavior outdoor. I could only wish for a better macro mode (I like shooting flowers, amongst other things). I wouldn't be replacing the S3, rather complementing it with something that works better especially indoor; which is also why another P&S is not 'that' attractive (i.e.: being only marginally better indoor ).
    I had a look at the Lensmate website: the existence of lens-mount for a P&S blew me away. Pity that, it seems, the lensmate for S3/S5 is out of stock. I'm sure I can find something on eBay (although in Europe it may get a bit trickier).

    I had a look at the review of the Casio EX-FH25 (there's a recent one on DPReview) and the outcome was lukewarm, at best (http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/Q110superzoomgroup/page3.asp).
    It's fast indeed, but the low-light performance seems to be below par (which is a bit surprising for a BSI sensor). Panasonic FZ35 seems to be superior to the Casio in every aspect (according to DPR of course)
    I realize that if I wait for the "perfect" camera, I'll never buy one, but I still feel I'm having to compromise too much.
    That's actually how I ended up to this website: after DPR's review I found myself contemplating the Canon SX20 and the Panasonic FZ35 both of which are lather large cameras. So I wondered about taking the extra step for a DSLR instead. And here I am: still a bit skeptic about DSLR, and not sure whether a new P&S would make a difference.
    By the way, DP School is a fantastic website: I feel like I've learned more about photography in the 4~5 days I've been browsing it than in my past. And with feedback like yours in the comments ... well, I couldn't really have asked for more.
    So, thank you again.

  • rmvandy

    July 18, 2010 02:10 pm

    Yankeeddl: I posted a comment on June 3 (above) about the Casio Exilim EX-FH25 (about $310). It's not a dSLR, but has lots of possibilities because of its fast-response CMOS sensor. It takes 40 frames/sec in burst mode, and thus is great for parents and sports fans. And, meeting other interests you named, it has 20x lens system and HD video, with the ability to shoot 1,000 frames a second (that's SUPER slo-mo). Look for the posting and then check on line for specs.

    How sharp its lens is when zoomed tight I don't know. And having to sort through the 10-40 shots you'd get every time you hold down the shutter will be challenging.

    I think that's a good alternative to a dSLR, with a good price. I'm not trying to divert you from an SLR, I'm just not enough informed on them to suggest anything

  • Stratman

    July 18, 2010 03:04 am

    @ yankeeDDL

    No SLR zoom lens comes with a motorized zoom control, if that's what you were referring to. They never had and never will. Here's why:

    - Motorized zooms defeats the purpose of total control, i.e. stepless, precise zooming.
    - A manual zoom allows you to take interesting zoomed in and zoomed out photos, using a slow shutter speed and zooming at the same time.
    - The lens would be a complicated design, not to mention added weight and cost of manufacturing. The bigger the lens, the more powerful motors required.

    P&S cameras have very small and lightweight lenses, therefore it makes sense to have motorized zooms. But their zooming operation is not stepless, but in small discrete steps. This won't matter to P&S owners but for SLR/dSLR users, stepless zooming is critical for accurate framing. If I'm not mistaken, the new Fuji HS10/HS11 ultra-zoom has a manual zoom.

    AF speeds are always faster in a dSLR than any P&S camera. This is because the AF sensors on the dSLR body are larger and more sensitive than ones on P&S digicams.

    As brother RMvandy pointed out, long focal range zooms (9x and above) will not be optically sharp. Canon has the EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS and the very expensive L-series, EF 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6L IS USM and neither lens are renowned for their optical prowess. Long focal range zooms have more glass elements in them, which means the light has to go through all those elements before hitting the film plane or sensor.

    However, there are situations in which e.g., the EF-S 18-200mm IS may prove useful: for light traveling and photojournalism, where image quality isn't as important as missing vital photo captures due to changing lenses. When it comes to lenses, you can't have your cake and eat it too. You have to decide between optical quality and convenience.

    I still have my PowerShot S3 IS and I don't think I'll be upgrading it. It can still be a valuable asset where dSLR cameras are disallowed, mainly for security reasons. It's noisy at ISO 400 and pushing it to 800 is worse still. That said, the S3 IS a compact ultra-zoom - it's stealthy and lightweight, compared to the SX20 IS. That camera still excels for daytime photography at low ISOs.

    But that's a fact with small sensor P&S cameras. I only wished I had waited and gotten the PowerShot S5 IS instead because I can mount my Canon Speedlite 270EX or 430EX II flash on it. The built-in flash often results in redeye effect on human subjects due to its low height relative to the lens.

    There's still life in your S3 IS. Just buy a Lensmate 52mm adapter for it and you can use effects filters like polarizers and even graduated ND filters. Plus, when the adapter is mounted it helps to protect the lens while looking cool like a miniature dSLR. :-)

  • yankeeDDL

    July 17, 2010 05:37 pm

    Ah, typo:
    Somehow though I think that shooting with a better sensor with no flash, is always better than with a smaller one and no flash.

    Should read
    Somehow though I think that shooting with a better sensor with no flash, is always better than with a smaller one and flash.

    Also, I forgot to mention: in my experience with the S3, the image becomes quite noisy using ISO > 200. At high ISO (800) it's just rubbish: you can take shots for the heck of it but it almost bothers me looking at those images afterwards.

  • yankeeDDL

    July 17, 2010 05:28 pm

    Hello rmvandy,
    what can I say: thank you SO much for all the info and suggestions. It's all very, very helpful.
    Some comments: the main subjects of my photos are my 2 young kids. I don't need to tell you what it means in terms of photographic challenges :)
    Just last night I've tried hard to take a good shot of one of them giggling and rolling, but to not avail: the S3 was not fast enough to focus in indoor lighting settings.
    I'm by no means a "good" photographer, which, I'm sure, does not help, but -I think- I can appreciate a good photo and I do try to get better.
    I do understand your comments on the quality of zoom lenses and it's clear to me that making a 12X zoom for a 'small' sensor is a different story than making one for the large sensors of the DSLR.
    You're probably right on the 5X being enough on a good camera, but the G11 is not what I'm looking for. I shoot also videos and the G11 for some obscure (to me) reasons has been capped to VGA mode: if I need to 'up' the bar, I'd like to have 720p capabilities.
    I had a look at the Canon SX20 and it's certainly a step forward over the S3, but given the sensor size I'm afraid I'll have similar problems, indoor, as the S3. Although, the SX does have a hot shoe, which, with a good flash, perhaps, could solve some of the problems. Somehow though I think that shooting with a better sensor with no flash, is always better than with a smaller one and no flash.
    I've had the chance to use the Panasonic DMC FZ50 for a few days: quite an impressive piece of hardware, with massive Leica lenses and a 20X zoom, but I did find it comparable (in terms of focus speed and low light imaging) to the S3. I realize I'm blowing off with few words 4 years of technical progress here: the FZ50 is undoubtedly a better camera, but not from the perspective that I'm interested in.
    Lastly, given my non-professional photographic requirements, the superzoom lenses for the DSLR could be a good choice after all.

  • rmvandy

    July 17, 2010 02:31 pm

    Hi, Yankeeddl. I looked briefly at Amazon, both the D550 you've been looking at, and the S3. Almost any new camera will provide faster sensors, with sharper enlargements. I'm not up on dSLRs (I decided to avoid lugging around all those lenses and other accessories). Instead, I bought the G11, which is the top of Canon's non-dSLR line.

    You'll get much faster exposures with a new camera; the S3 has a top ISO setting of 800, and the D550's is 12,800 -- 16 times brighter. You will rarely use that setting, but it even half of that is the difference between a one-second exposure on the S3 and about 1/200 on the D550.

    Because the dSLR has a CMOS sensor with 18 megapixels, you can expect much sharper, crisper shots with the option of tighter cropping. And the software that comes on disc with new cameras has some great features.

    About extreme zooms: The farther they reach, the more trouble they have staying sharp and bright across their range. You may consider a 12x as "decent" on an all-in-one, but the camera companies know it wouldn't suit the quality of an SLR. Where you'd hope to see high contrast between dark and light subjects, you're more likely to see murky color instead of pure blacks and whites. Contrasting edges, such as tree branches in winter, are more likely to display "purple fringing," or blue-violet edges. Superzooms seem like a great thing, but not if you're unhappy with the quality of the prints you make. The fringing is prominent on the periphery, so -- with newer, high-megapixel sensors -- you can crop and enlarge with less pixelation.

    Canon has a 38-300mm and an 18-200 in the EOS line (Canon claims the largest range of SLR lenses in the business). Because of the limits of superzoom lenses, these may not be as sharp as you could get with a couple of lower-zoom lenses. Many Photographers don't buy any zooms, relying on a series of "prime" (as in "one") focus lenses. Supersharp.

    Lens "power" ratings (like 12x) are more common in compact cameras because, having different sensor sizes, their millimeter ratings vary widely for the same aspect angle. It allows for easier comparison between dissimilar models. Millimeter sizes are the same between cameras of similar types (two APS-C cameras from different makers will both see the same angle with a 28mm lens, for example).

    You might be surprised to find that a 70-200 mm and one covering wide angles will be as good for you as the old 12x you're replacing. That's all I worked with when I had a film SLR. I had thought I'd need a superzoom, but have found the G11 with 5x (plus an add-on teleconverter) is just great. Even without the teleconverter, it's good for most purposes. However, I was glad to have the extra pull when I went to Alaska and shot wildlife.

    The auto mode: I suspect every current Canon lens is controlled by the camera -- but you can manually focus, and may have to manually zoom. Autofocus is probably much faster on a new-model dSLR than on the S3.

    Almost everything about a dSLR will be better -- except weight and size.

    Look at www.usa.canon.com for more specifics on the camera lines and the lenses. Strangely, the site has not been updated to include the 550D, but it may be the Rebel T2i.

    Also, zoom lenses don't transmit as much light to the sensor as primes. Look for low f: numbers for more light.

    Write back to let us know how you like whatever camera you end up choosing.

  • YankeeDDL

    July 16, 2010 10:10 pm

    Sorry, a few more questions:
    - once the lens is mounted, would I have the option to use it in "auto" mode like in a non-DSLR? For example, to zoom from the body and to auto-focus?
    - if the answer above is yes, then should I expect a similar response time as in a non-DSLR? (e.g.: the time it takes to focus ...)
    Thanks again ...

  • YankeeDDL

    July 16, 2010 10:06 pm

    Hello, I just read this article and hoping to get a few clarifications.
    I own a -relatively outdated- Canon S3 IS.
    I'm quite happy with it but I do feel its shortcomings in low light conditions (indoor I typically have to use the flash, even with lights on) or with fast moving subjects.
    I've been debating for months now whether to get a DSLR (I seriously doubt that a more recent non-DSLR camera would alleviate the issues above).
    While I like the idea of owning a good DSLR camera (I have in mind the Canon 550D), I have, for the moment, no intention of going around with a backpack full of lenses.
    And here come the questions: I have zero knowledge/understanding of lens options/variants.
    If I get a 'standard' package with body+lens (one example: http://www.amazon.com/Canon-European-Digital-3-0-Inch-18-55mm/dp/B0037KM2IS/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1279280985&sr=8-2) do I end up with an "all purpose" camera that is as flexible as the S3 IS?
    I do appreciate having a decent zoom: the 12X of the S3 IS proved useful many times, and I have the feeling that it will take a small fortune to buy a lens for the 550D with a 12X zoom (or so). Is that right?
    Which brings to another question: why is it , that the DSLR lenses don't have a simple nX zoom description, in addition to the focal length (18-55mm)? I suppose that the zoom factor is 55/18 = ~3X, is that right?
    I don't 'need' a 12X zoom, but 3X is certainly NOT enough for my needs.
    Any suggestion would be welcomed. Thanks.

  • Om

    July 12, 2010 09:59 pm

    @Stratman:
    Thanks for the explanation. I understood it now......I guess that a typical optical lens, can at its best focus on objects at distance equal to or more than a small multiple (quite close to 1) of its focal length. Do you agree? Considering this, the P&S indeed has a closer focusing distance.....isn't it?

    @rmvandy: I own a Canon Powershot SX100 IS which unfortunately has no provision for attaching any add on teleconverters or accessory lenses..... so I have to remain contented with the inbuilt fixed lens.......

    You're lucky to have spotted a bear though.... wish I could too someday.............

  • rmvandy

    July 12, 2010 06:14 pm

    To give you a sense of what Stratman means when referring to the different cameras having the same "35mm equivalent," a 1/2.6" sensor is about 25 mm sq., and a 1/1.7" is about 43 mm sq. -- and a 35mm is about 24 x 36mm, or 864 mm sq.

    Yes, I have a bridge camera, the Canon G11. I've been using Opteka-brand add-on converters. With the 2.2x teleconverter and the 0.45x wide-angle converter, I get, effectively, a 20x zoom out of my 5x G11. As with a native 20x zoom, the quality is not equal to a lower multiple. But at my native 5x, I likely have superior clarity to a camera with 20x capability shooting at 5x. (I'm actually getting 11 times the reach when not considering the wide-angle converter, but many superzooms start out much wider, so their maximum reach is about equal to a G11 with converter.)

    The G11 has a bayonet mounting ring around the base of the lens. An accessory tube extending around and beyond the lens has threads to accept the accessory lenses. These have 72mm objectives, gathering much more light to pass into the G11 -- more effective than a 35mm-type teleconverter that sits between the prime lens and the camera body. However, clamping several more layers of glass onto a carefully designed lens cannot be expected to improve the quality. I see chromatic aberrations -- the common "purple fringing" around high contrast edges at the outside of the shots. I've seen worse in test shots on line made with other cameras unmodified by add-ons.

    Yes, I believe you are right about less depth of field. I should think harder before writing. A wide-angle has greater depth of field than a tele, doesn't it? And we'd be making the lens "longer" with the converter.

    Not to put my error in a good light, which it doesn't deserve, but cameras using tiny sensors located close to the lens have greater depth of field (when calculated as a 35mm equivalent -- there it is again). The old box-bellows-glass plate cameras of Ansel Adams fame had depths of field of sub-centimeter size when taking portraits. Witness the famous photo of Abraham Lincoln, with his eyes sparkling and his nose out of focus.

    So yes, you can get good enlargements with the accessory lenses. I got several photos of a brown bear in Denali National Park about 100 feet away, and you can see individual hairs in enlargements. Once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I could shoot in seconds and get quality.

    Makes me smile.

  • Stratman

    July 12, 2010 05:27 pm

    @ Om.

    You're confusing the effective focal length with the native focal length. Your camera's widest end is actually 6mm, not 36mm. The EF-S 18-55mm's widest end is 18mm and not 29mm. Only when you factor in the magnification factor (or crop factor) does your camera have a 36mm field of view in 35mm SLR terms. Therefore your camera has a crop factor of 6x, or six times smaller than that of a 35mm film camera, or a full frame dSLR.

    The same goes for the EF-S 18-55mm lens. On a crop frame Canon body, you'll have to multiply it by 1.6x as the sensor is 1.6x smaller than that of a full frame dSLR. Although it's physically impossible to fit this lens on e.g. an EOS 5D full frame dSLR (1x), the same lens will give you exactly 18mm field of view on the 5D.

    Because P&S cameras come with varying sensor sizes, manufacturers will quote the 35mm equivalent to make it easy for buyers to know its effective focal length.

    For example,

    * Camera A has a 9mm lens giving a 36mm field of view (35mm equivalent).
    * Camera B has a 4mm lens giving a 36mm field of view. (35mm equivalent)
    * Camera C has a 6mm lens, also giving the same 36mm field of view (35 mm equivalent).

    Do the three cameras have a 36mm lens? No! Their focal lengths are actually 9, 4 and 6mm respectively. It's only when the lenses are matched with their respective sensor crop factors that they are equivalent to 36mm focal length on a 24x36mm film camera (or 35mm format).

    If your Canon starts off with 36mm at the widest, then you'll be having one heck of a big telephoto zoom lens, starting at 36x6 = 216mm (35mm equivalent)!

    The effective focal length is never printed on the rim of the lens. If it says 4.4mm-12.1mm then its widest focal length is 4.4mm and its telephoto side is 12.1mm. If you examine your photos' EXIF data you'll see that the focal length is always stated based on its native focal length, not the 35mm equivalent.

  • Om

    July 12, 2010 03:54 pm

    @Sratman: Thanks again. I am unable to understand how P&S have closer focusing than DSLRs.....although I agree that some P&S even have 0 cm focusing distance....again agreed that P&S have extremely short focal lengths at their wide end-- my Canon has 6mm--but that in 35mm equivalent terms is a whooping 36mm for my 1/2.3 inch type CCD sensor (crop factor=6). For, say a DSLR with kit lens's wide end as 18mm, the 35 mm equivalent is around 29mm (assuming crop factor as 1.6). Comparing 29mm and 36mm, the former is wider, and conclusively the DSLR should provide closer focusing distance than the P&S........but what's wrong in this argument?

    @rmvandy: Thanks for your reply.
    " I think that’s it — but basically, when you move the lens farther from the sensor, you should see less light but greater depth of field." True, the sensor plane illumination will decrease in getting closer to the subject, but the depth of field should decrease, after all the aperture is wide open. Also, you said you own a bridge camera-- have you tried making some sort of modifications to it-- like adding lenses, etc as I have read in some Flickr groups. The images the people show as being taken after such modifications are really stunning-- perhaps even better than DSLRs. I really doubt if these modifications really work without any aberrations and distortions... What do you feel?

  • rmvandy

    July 12, 2010 01:49 pm

    Stratman, as usual, your response is brilliant. Om, I was wrong when I used the term "extension tube" as equivalent to "teleconverter." I have not used an extension tube or bellows.

    As Strat notes, an extension (and teleconverter, too) moves the lens farther from the sensor. the f-stop is calculated as a ratio of the [distance from the film plane to front of lens] to width of the objective lens. I think that's it -- but basically, when you move the lens farther from the sensor, you should see less light but greater depth of field. I wish I knew with more accuracy. You probably can find the answer on wikipedia; it seems to be an exhaustive source on optics.

    Regardless, either product will reduce the sharpness of the prime lens. It's like asking Lance Armstrong to race with his seat jacked up four inches. Changing the precise conditions to which the lens was matched induces undesirable conditions. I used a teleconverter (tripler) with a telephoto macro/zoom. I got the pulling power of a 630mm lens, but lost both sharpness and contrast. It was not a good tradeoff, but I was too young and inexperienced to appreciate it.

    In fact, as good as the multifunction lens was (it was very good in its time), it was not excellent in any mode. If you are shooting for "serious photography," to use your term from above, you probably want several excellent prime (that is, single focal-length) lenses. That would include a macro, but probably not an extension, converter or diopter.

    But search flickr.com for "reverse macro." People mount camera lenses backwards to get sharp macro shots. Could be a lot of fun, and very effective. Macro shooting is fun but not usually a large part of personal photography or professional (published) work.

    Whatever choices you make, remember that you need to enjoy what you have, and not worry about the equipment -- it's the thought and care that goes into a photo that makes the biggest difference.

  • Stratman

    July 12, 2010 03:28 am

    Sorry for the duplicate post. I think Darren's WordPress plugins may need some tweaking.

  • Stratman

    July 12, 2010 03:20 am

    Om,

    The lenses on P&S cameras are of very short focal length, (typically 5-6mm at the wide end) thus allowing you to get very close to the subject. DSLR lenses are larger in diameter, have larger image circles and need to have a further distance from the film or sensor plane.

    The close up picture mode sets the EOS 1000D on Single shot and single AF, while putting the metering mode to partial metering. It has absolutely nothing to do with Macro, unlike P&S cameras. It will not turn its EF-S 18-55mm into macro mode. Don't get confused. You still need a 1:1 macro lens for life sized pictures.

    Extension tubes are the cheapest way of allowing your lens to get closer to the subject, thus almost filling the frame. With dumb extension tubes, you will have no AF ability and you'll have to shoot at wide open aperture. You will also lose light and depth of field in the process. In addition, any lens attached to a tube will have no infinity focus. There are smart extension tubes that pass the electronic signals from the dSLR body to the lens, you'll get AF and aperture control, but you'll still lose light, depth-of-field and infinity focus.

    Extension tubes give better close up with shorter focal length lenses, like a 35mm compared to a 70-200mm zoom.

    A bellows does the same thing as extension tubes except that with bellows you can continuously vary the lens distance. Other alternatives include add-on diopters which are thin magnifying glasses and close up lenses like the Raynox DCR-250. Diopters and close up lenses add chromatic aberration generally degrades the resulting image.

    In the macro world there is no substitute for at least a true macro lens with 1:1 magnification. You can add extension tubes for greater magnification but the primary lens should be capable of true macro.

    Any dSLR can be used for "serious photography". But you have to define what "serious photography" means to you, because it translates differently to different photographers. The Nikon D90 has better dynamic range than both the EOS 450D/1000D but Canon offers a wider range of lenses than Nikon. Canon lenses are also cheaper than Nikon's for the same type of lens. Canon's high end primes are said to be optically superior to Nikon's. When you buy a dSLR, you're not buying just the camera - you're looking into the entire system of lenses and accessories.

    In any case, you should really compare the D90 to Canon EOS 50D in terms of features, not the Rebel series.

    Finally, a DoF preview button is useful for macro as you want to verify the DoF before tripping the shutter. It is not required for general photography. I'm sure D3000 owners don't really bother about their camera lacking one.

  • Stratman

    July 12, 2010 03:17 am

    @ Om,

    The lenses on P&S cameras are of very short focal length, (typically 5-6mm at the wide end) thus allowing you to get very close to the subject. DSLR lenses are larger in diameter, have larger image circles and need to have a further distance from the film or sensor plane.

    The close up picture mode sets the EOS 1000D on Single shot and single AF, while putting the metering mode to partial metering. It has absolutely nothing to do with Macro, unlike P&S cameras. It will not turn its EF-S 18-55mm into macro mode. Don't get confused. You still need a 1:1 macro lens for life sized pictures.

    Extension tubes are the cheapest way of allowing your lens to get closer to the subject, thus almost filling the frame. With dumb extension tubes, you will have no AF ability and you'll have to shoot at wide open aperture. You will also lose light and depth of field in the process. In addition, any lens attached to a tube will have no infinity focus. There are smart extension tubes that pass the electronic signals from the dSLR body to the lens, you'll get AF and aperture control, but you'll still lose light, depth-of-field and infinity focus.

    Extension tubes give better close up with shorter focal length lenses, like a 35mm compared to a 70-200mm zoom.

    A bellows does the same thing as extension tubes except that with bellows you can continuously vary the lens distance. Other alternatives include add-on diopters which are thin magnifying glasses and close up lenses like the Raynox DCR-250. Diopters and close up lenses add chromatic aberration generally degrades the resulting image.

    In the macro world there is no substitute for at least a true macro lens with 1:1 magnification. You can add extension tubes for greater magnification but the primary lens should be capable of true macro.

    Any dSLR can be used for "serious photography". But you have to define what "serious photography" means to you, because it translates differently to different photographers. The Nikon D90 has better dynamic range than both the EOS 450D/1000D but Canon offers a wider range of lenses than Nikon. Canon lenses are also cheaper than Nikon's for the same type of lens. Canon's high end primes are said to be optically superior to Nikon's. When you buy a dSLR, you're not buying just the camera - you're looking into the entire system of lenses and accessories.

    In any case, you should really compare the D90 to Canon EOS 50D in terms of features, not the Rebel series.

    Finally, a DoF preview button is useful for macro as you want to verify the DoF before tripping the shutter. It is not required for general photography. I'm sure D3000 owners don't really bother about their camera lacking one.

  • Om

    July 11, 2010 06:13 pm

    @rmvandy: Thanks, for your reply!

    Actually, I know of teleconverters of 1.4x and 2x used for tightening the composition by multiplying focal length. But I don't think extension tubes can serve the same purpose.... I agree though that ext. tubes tighten the composition,but by allowing photographer to move in closer to the subject. Do you really think, that like teleconverters, they can double the focal length of a lens? Have you used such an arrangement before? Also, as you said, switching to manual mode to preview depth of field is a good way.....but only approximately. Focal length increase can mimic stopping up the aperture, for example, right?

    @Stratman: Waiting for your kind advice on my earlier post...

  • Om

    July 11, 2010 06:10 pm

    @rmvandy: Thanks, for your reply!

    Actually, I know of teleconverters of 1.4x and 2x used for tightening the composition. But I don't think extension tubes can serve the same purpose.... I agree though that ext. tubes tighten the composition,but by allowing photographer to move in closer to the subject. Do you really think, that like teleconverters, they can double the focal length of a lens? Have you used such an arrangement before?

    @Stratman: Waiting for your kind advice on my earlier post...

  • rmvandy

    July 11, 2010 04:24 pm

    Om:

    I'm long out of touch with film SLRs, and have never bought a dSLR. However, about extension tubes: I had one and it serves to multiply the "length" of the lens. (It is really a spacer -- mine contains a plano-concave lens -- mounted between the lens and the body.) Thus, a doubler would change a 55mm to 110, a tripler to 165mm. The effect of doubling or tripling the lens value is to allow the image to appear larger while still maintaining a meter (or major fraction) of distance from the subject while enlarging the subject.

    But they did not really serve as "macro" accessories -- at least not way back when. I don't think that's changed.

    When I took a college TV-studio production class, we had "diopters" that were threaded on like a filter to the front of the camera lenses to allow tighter closeups (and thus "macro"-type shooting. I don't recall seeing them on line or in camera stores, but they may be available. I recall them having unacceptable chromatic aberrations, creating rainbow fringing.

    Stratman can provide superior information on current models and modes. I guess that, per your question 2, the "close-up" mode may be equivalent to a digital zoom -- discarding the outer 50% or more of the image to give the impression of macro. I hope not, though. Question 4: Possibly, depth of field can be previewed by switching to manual mode, thus allowing you to see the effect of changing focal point through the stopped-down lens.

  • Om

    July 11, 2010 03:02 pm

    Sorry , due to a problem with the browser, comments got repeated.....the immediately preceding comment is complete, but the one before that is not......

  • Om

    July 11, 2010 02:58 pm

    Thanks again Startman for your time.

    You said:

    " P&S cameras have very short distances to their sensors thus allowing you to get very close to the subject. DSLR lenses don’t work that way, because the distance from the sensor to the rear lens element is much further away. The rear lens element requires some distance to stay clear of the swinging reflex mirror."

    1. I remember people putting extension tubes/ bellows between the DSLR body and the lens for shooting macros, as it allows them to move closer to the subject. Considering that way, using extension tubes increases distance of CCD/CMOS sensor from the rear lens element......and this should allow closer focusing for a DSLR as compared to a P&S (as the former has greater sensor to rear lens element distance). What's your take on this?

    2. The manual of the EOS 1000D says that it features a "close up" mode. Will this mode-
    *not work if the lens I use is not a dedicated macro lens
    *or, it will work without dedicated macro lens but the magnification will not be 1:1 or greater, or in other words I won't get true macros?

    3. Further, which among Nikon D90 or EOS1000D/ EOS450D better for serious photography?

    4. I have come to know that the entry level Nikons like the D3000 don't have depth of field preview button. I feel this is really essential, particularly for close-ups and portraits. Whereas, even entry level Canons feature them. What do you think, isn't this feature necessary?

    Thanks in advance for your reply.

  • Om

    July 11, 2010 02:51 pm

    Thanks again Startman for your time.

    You said:

    " P&S cameras have very short distances to their sensors thus allowing you to get very close to the subject. DSLR lenses don’t work that way, because the distance from the sensor to the rear lens element is much further away. The rear lens element requires some distance to stay clear of the swinging reflex mirror."

    1. I remember people putting extension tubes between the DSLR body and the lens for shooting macros, as it allows them to move closer to the subject. Considering that way, using extension tubes increases distance of CCD/CMOS sensor from the rear lens element......and this should allow closer focusing for a DSLR as compared to a P&S.

    2. The manual of the EOS 1000D says that it features a "close up" mode. Will this mode-
    *not work if the lens I use is not a dedicated macro lens
    *or, it will work without dedicated macro lens but the magnification will not be 1:1 or greater, or in other words I won't get true macros

  • Stratman

    July 11, 2010 03:40 am

    @ Om,

    Thanks for the compliments. :-)

    The EF-S 18-55mm kit lens that is issued with every EOS 450D and 1000D (you cannot buy either as body only) doesn't have a macro mode. When you're dealing with macro in dSLR photography, you cannot compare the macro mode built-in into P&S and bridge cameras.

    P&S cameras have very short distances to their sensors thus allowing you to get very close to the subject. The Canon PowerShot ultrazooms since the S2 IS are renowned for their ability to focus at 0cm (yes, zero), allowing the subject to literally touch the lens. Most P&S cameras have macro modes with a 2-5cm working distance.

    DSLR lenses don't work that way, because the distance from the sensor to the rear lens element is much further away. The rear lens element requires some distance to stay clear of the swinging reflex mirror. DSLRs have no macro mode. For you to have macro capability you need to buy dedicated macro lenses with a true 1:1 magnification ratio. This means that the image of the subject would be as large as what the sensor records. A lens with a 1:2 magnification will capture images half of the actual subject size.

    For Canon, there are six dedicated macro lenses available. They are all prime lenses and not zooms.

    1. EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM
    2. EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM (recently discontinued)
    3. EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM (the only model with image stabilization)
    4. EF 50mm f/2.5 compact Macro (this is a 1:2 magnification lens; an additional Life Size Converter is required to get 1:1 magnification)
    5. EF 180mm f.3.5L Macro USM
    6. MPE 65mm f/2.5 1-5x Macro (manual focus only)

    The cheapest of the lot is the EF 50mm f/2.5 Compact Macro, but it doesn't give you 1:1 magnification. If you have to buy the Life Size converter, you're better off buying the EF-S 60mm f/2.8 instead. The MPE 65mm is not an autofocus lens but a manual one. It has an adjustable high magnification of up to 5:1 and is a specialty macro lens. The depth of field of the MPE 65mm is so shallow that precise focus is achieved only through manual focusing. Hence it doesn't carry the "EF" prefix as EF lenses are always auto focus (with manual override).

    Your choice of a macro lens depends on your budget and what you intend to shoot. For product photography, the EF-S 60mm should suffice. For insects and dangerous animals (like snakes) you need a further working distance as you don't want to get too close to them. Thus, the EF 100mm and the EF 180mm lenses would be the better choices.

    Macro lenses are expensive due to their long focus range, from near to infinity. With the exception of the MP-E 65 and the EF 50mm f/2.5 Macro, the other four models also serve as excellent portrait lenses for taking photos of people.

    hope this helps,

    Stratman

  • Om

    July 9, 2010 05:34 pm

    Hello all!!

    Thanks Stratman and rmvandy for your insightful discussions. I am thinking of buying a Canon 450D or 1000D with the 18-55mm IS kit lens. Will I be able to shoot Macros (magnification 1:1 or greater) with this lens? Does this lens feature a macro mode, or will I have to buy a dedicated macro lens?

    Actually, in my current bridge camera, I have an option in choosing between "Normal", "MF" and "Macro" modes. Does such option feature in DSLRs? Or I have to use dedicated lens only and there is no other option??

    Thanks for your reply!!

  • Stratman

    July 3, 2010 12:18 am

    @ Josh,

    Exactly.

    If cameras could be likened to firearms used by security personnel, the M16A2 assault rifle would be the dSLR with higher firepower and long range, while a sidearm would be a compact P&S digicam. The M16 would be unwieldy for close quarters combat while a 9mm or.45 pistol would be more suitable.

    There are venues that prohibit bringing in anything looking like a professional camera but permit P&S cameras to be brought in. That said, in some major cities the local police are more likely to question photographers toting a large dSLR with a long lens than a small pocket digicam.

  • Josh Louw

    July 2, 2010 02:36 am

    I also like having both a DSLR and a point and shoot camera... Something small I can have in my pocket if I don't want to take my SLR with bag and lenses and filters and and and the rest with me everywhere I go. Would NEVER part with the SLR though.

  • Stratman

    June 22, 2010 01:20 am

    Agree with rmvandy that same camera brand work flow processing software gives slightly better results than generic RAW post processing software like Adobe Photoshop. There are no international standards when it comes to RAW images as each camera manufacturer designs its sensors differently. Nikon has its NEF format and Canon uses its CR2 RAW format.

    If you shoot JPGs, any good post processing software will do the job if you need to tweak the images.

  • Stratman

    June 22, 2010 01:07 am

    @ shaheenazk:

    There are a few factors affecting the prices of dSLRs and lenses for a given country:

    - currency exchange rates against the Japanese Yen or USD
    - economies of scale (the bigger the market, the cheaper the item would be)
    - taxes and import duties
    - income per capita of the country
    - shipping and logistics costs, etc

    I'm no economist, perhaps someone else can answer your question better than I can. :-)

  • Stratman

    June 22, 2010 12:58 am

    @ Buddha Prince:

    Between the Nikon D3000 and the EOS 1000D I'd pick the latter. All Rebel series EOS cameras since the 450D onwards comes with Live View, which uses contrast and phase AF detection. Live View allows you to take photos via the rear LCD, pretty much like with a P&S camera.

    Live View is best used on a tripod for taking landscapes in low light and close up macro shots when manual focus is preferable. You can magnify the image by 10x for a precise manual focus. Please go through the video tour by Camera Labs for a better understanding.

  • shaheenazk

    June 21, 2010 11:09 pm

    I wonder why the Canon DSLR lenses so expensive in India?

  • rmvandy

    June 21, 2010 08:23 am

    Forgot to mention: DVDs included in camera kits provide a variety of software specific to the brand. Each advanced model (thus all dSLRs) can save in the manufacturer's RAW format. Not all other software lets you edit such photos. You then can save them as jpegs, etc.

  • rmvandy

    June 21, 2010 04:16 am

    Buddha Prince: Have you used the search terms "camera review," and the camera model you're considering? (Also try looking for reviews of your lens choices.) You'll get back a host of sources that conduct professional comparisons, many with sample photos. Also, you can compare used camera prices at ebay.com and amazon.com. Both will reflect U.S. prices, and Stratman offered the important caveat that both popularity and local availability may affect prices outside the states.

    I took Stratman's advice on checking specific models (and you've chosen your options), then conducted searches. Unfortunately for you, I cannot offer any help on dSLRs, except to suggest that, if you have several years' experience you'll do well to start looking at models above entry level, and carefully consider whether the camera uses a workflow you're used to -- if available, it will make your work easier. It took a few afternoons of selecting and reading reviews to make my own decision.

    I chose the Canon G11, which has many SLR functions without the bulk or fast lenses. I'd already decided against another SLR after using lesser point-and-shoot digitals and finding their shots generally acceptable for 8x10 and smaller enlargements or tight snapshot crops. My point is that the easy part was deciding between SLR and other, and then came the challenge of whittling down my options.

    I think everyone should conduct these searches in addition to finding helpful experts like Stratman. Best wishes, and keep in touch as you work through the decision process and after you've used the camera for a while.

  • Buddha Prince

    June 21, 2010 03:22 am

    @Stratman

    Thank you for for the rapid response. In my budget I have the following options: NEW NIKON D3000 with 18-55MM lens / NEW CANON 1000 With 18-55MM Lens/ USED CANON 350D with 18-55MM Lens and SIGMA 55-300MM lens. What would you recommend?

  • Helen Oster

    June 21, 2010 01:02 am

    @Stratman

    I've been following Darren for a while, he does a great job - and I'm a regular on many Flickr groups, too, including the Canon DSLR group!

    Helen Oster
    Adorama Camera Customer Service Ambassador

    http://helenoster.blogspot.com
    helen.oster@adoramacamera.com

  • Stratman

    June 21, 2010 12:58 am

    @ Buddha Prince,

    The EOS 20D is a pretty old model by today's standards. You're much better off looking for a used EOS 40D, IMO. It has Live View and is more popular than its more expensive successor, the 50D.

    Do note that professional photographers generally don't baby their cameras and gear. Expect scratches, scuffs and dents on a dSLR used by pros compared to amateur photographers that take pictures as a hobby.

    If your colleague uses the 20D very frequently, it's likely that its shutter count to be very high. The 20D is rated to 100,000 shutter cycles (or clicks) before the shutter needs replacing by the Canon service center. You can use this free software to check the actual shutter count of that 20D. The camera needs to be connected to a computer or laptop running this program via a USB cable.

    I have no idea how much to offer for the 20D. It depends on which country you live. For example, dSLRs and lenses are cheap in the U.S. but very expensive in countries like Venezuela and India. If you have a local online photography community, check its websites for classified ads.

    Good luck!

  • Stratman

    June 21, 2010 12:38 am

    @ Helen,

    You're welcome. I have no affiliation whatsoever with Adorama but your online store and B&H Photo Video are often recommended by members of the Flickr Canon dSLR User Group. Unfortunately I live in SE Asia and shipping charges from the U.S. is expensive therefore it makes more sense for me to shop locally.

    Anyway, it's awfully nice of you to drop by, I didn't know Adorama has a Customer Service Ambassador that reads this blog. :-)

  • buddha Prince

    June 20, 2010 06:06 pm

    Guys, thank you for the previous advice on my journey to choose between a SLR and a point and shoot. A professional photographer colleague had agreed to consider selling his used Canon 20D to me. My questions: 1) I need to make an offer. What is a reasonable price to pay? 2) Quality SLR's like the 20D should last a lifetime. What are the major things I should check to ensure the camera is in good condition to buy. Thank you for the wisdom.

  • Helen Oster

    June 20, 2010 04:19 pm

    @Stratman

    "Adorama.com, a renowned and dependable online seller in the States..."

    Excellent summary - and thanks so much for your kind words re Adorama Camera.

    BTW if you ever need advice, or after-sales support concerning an order from Adorama Camera, you are most welcome to contact me directly.

    Helen Oster
    Adorama Camera Customer Service Ambassador

    http://helenoster.blogspot.com
    helen.oster@adoramacamera.com

  • Christy

    June 20, 2010 01:42 pm

    Thank you Stratman and RMVANDY...you've both been a world of help...I'll let you know what I end up getting, and give you updates as I go...

    Christy

  • Stratman

    June 20, 2010 03:39 am

    @ Kaye,

    A small lens packing a 14x optical zoom will not give very good results at the telephoto end. P&S cameras with tiny sensors, small lenses and long focal range will trade optical superiority for compactness and light weight. The SX20 IS has a larger lens and gathers more light than the SX210 IS.

    Larger lenses (by this I mean the diameter of the optics, not the aperture of the lens) generally yield better sharpness with less with reduced optical flaws or artifacts than smaller lenses. The flaws won't show up at small web resolutions but will be apparent when viewed at 100% size on your screen.

    That's the dilemma here - you can't have your cake and eat it too. I've always taken very compact P&S ultra-zoom cameras with a grain of salt. I have an old PowerShot S3 IS with a 12x optical zoom and I've tried a friend's SX210 IS. Her camera gives very soft results when zoomed all the way in compared to my old S3 IS.

    Here's an example of the SX210 IS' sharpness when zoomed in. Cameras Labs has a good review on this model too. It scored only 16/20 for its optical quality, which you'll find in the verdict.

    I'm not saying the SX210 IS is a bad camera but it's not an excellent one either. Don't be afraid to tote a larger ultra-zoom like the SX20 IS, Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ35 or the Fujifilm HS10 (full reviews not out yet) - there are many young women photographers that use full sized dSLRs,

    BTW, my experience has taught me that people in a group shot with several photographers taking their pictures at the same time tend to look at photographers with larger cameras than those with compacts. It's a public perception that the bigger and serious looking the camera, the more attention they have to give to the one with the larger camera. :-)

    You have to decide whether optical quality and features are more paramount than the camera's size and color. :-)

  • Stratman

    June 20, 2010 03:02 am

    @ Christy,

    OK, here goes a very long read. First off, USD1K will NOT buy you a dSLR body coupled with an excellent lens.

    Canon makes better lenses overall than Nikon, but Nikon has better bodies for the same price point. Canon brand lenses are also cheaper than Nikon brand lenses. Third party lenses costs the same whether they're for Nikon, Canon or Sony Alpha. When it comes to dSLRs, optics make a lot of difference to an image quality and perspective compared to the body.

    Kit lenses have optical performance that is average: neither shabby nor excellent. DSLR manufacturers bundle with cheap kit lenses to make entry level dSLR kits reasonably priced. Of course, the higher end models are often fitted with more superior lenses as a kit lens. For example, the Canon EOS 5D MkII comes with the superior EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens, which is a high priced lens if bought separately.

    I'm a Canon shooter therefore I know Canon bodies and gear more than I know Nikon or Sony, so bear with me. :-)

    There are several options for you that I can think of. I don't live in the USA so I'll base the price according to Adorama.com, a renowned and dependable online seller in the States.

    Option 1:

    Adorama's Rebel T1i bundle which includes the EF-S 18-55mm kit lens AND the EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS zoom for USD900. Add another USD100 and you can get the EF 50mm f/1.8 Mk II prime lens, it's the cheapest lens in Canon's entire range but surprisingly optically sharp for its low price. Many Canon amateur photographers own the EF 50mm f/1.8.

    Total cost: USD1K.

    Option 2:

    Rebel T2i kit plus EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 USM. The EF-75-300mm has a longer reach but it's a poor lens and lacks image stabilization. Many folks at the Flickr group would prefer the EF-S 55-250mm IS to the EF 75-300mm, which is an old lens design. Add the EF 50mm f/1.8 prime lens for another USD100.

    Total cost: USD950

    Option 3:

    Rebel T2i body only at USD600. As there's no lens, I'd suggest that you go for the EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM for an additional USD530. This lens is much better than the EF-S 55-250mm IS and it has a faster focusing and quiet USM lens. Bear in mind that Option 3 leaves you with only ONE lens and you'll have to stretch your budget a bit further.

    Total cost: USD1,130

    Option 4:

    Same as Option 3, but with the all-rounder EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.5 IS zoom for an additional USD574. The EF-S 18-200mm is a "jack of all trades, master of none" kind of lens. It's suitable for traveling light or for covering events and there's no time to change lenses, where functionality is more important than image quality.

    This lens is expensive due to its long focal range and image stabilization. With this lens you'll cover the entire focal lengths of 18mm (wide angle) to 200mm (telephoto). At the telephoto it may not yield superior results compared to the EF-S 55-250mm IS or the EF 70-30mm IS USM.

    Total cost: USD1,174

    The reason I recommended the Rebel T1i is because:

    a) for in some markets, it can be sold separately. The older Rebel XSi is only available with the EF 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS kit lens. It's never sold alone but always with a kit lens, whether you like it or not.

    b) it has a high resolution 920,000 pixel LCD screen compared to the XSi's LCD (230,000 pixels)

    c) 15MP sensor gives you more detail for cropping.

    d) It offers video recording (if video is your thing) while the XSi does not. The T1i was Rebel's first model to offer video recording.

    e) Some additional features like adjustable Auto Lighting Optimizer and adjustable Highlight Tone Priority. The Rebel XSi also has both, but you can either turn them off or on (no adjustable levels).

    f) Creative Auto, which is actually Aperture Priority for novice users.

    The latest Rebel T2i is still new therefore it costs USD800 (body only) and it won't leave you much for at least a decent zoom lens. As you can see from the pricing, the lens will determine the total cost of the camera.

    If you can swing for the very excellent and popular EF 70-20mm f/4L USM lens, expect to pay USD624. The stabilized version is even more costly at USD1K, equal to your budget for a dSLR and lens. Some people advocate the EF 70-200mm f/4L USM over the EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM if optical quality is more important to you. The "L" stands for Canon's Luxury range of lenses and they are weather proofed with better build quality.

    You can also go for third party lenses from Tamron, Tokina and Sigma but there are good and bad models among the lot. Plenty of research is needed before you decide on a third party lens.

    Hope this helps. :-)

  • Christy

    June 19, 2010 11:53 pm

    @ Stratman...

    Thanks...believe me, I know distractions! And I've been out of town for a week, so no problem at all!

    Yes...similar...I want to be able to take all sorts of photos...I want in-flight photos which rmvandy talked about in his response, and I want take full-body photos definitely, but I'm interested in macro and telephoto also...I love the extreme close-up photos of feathers, or eyes, or feet, etc. I also love the distant shots, and action shots...and maybe the night shots...can I say I want it all??? ;-)

    My budget is about $1000 US dollars. I also have an ad for a place called Mikes Camera here in Denver and it doesn't include the zoom, but shows it...it says "$699...includes 18-55mm VR Zoom-NIKKOR lens, camera case and DVD" (I'm thinking instructional DVD...), and also can add 55-200mm VR Zoom-NIKKOR lens for $150, or add a 70-300mm VR II Zoom-NIKKOR lense for $190. This would work in my budget, and I'd be willing to learn everything about it!

    rmvandy warned me about the bulkiness, but I already have a decent P&S camera, so I won't mind that. I will be going to Costa Rica in the fall to see the Raptor migration.

    Thanks!!
    Christy

  • Stratman

    June 19, 2010 06:36 pm

    @ Christy,

    Sorry for forgetting to reply, Christy....I guess I got sidetracked by the relentless postings by a certain poster earlier and didn't know you were waiting for an answer.

    I'll try to come out with a lengthy reply later tonight, but meanwhile please have a look at this Flickr group.. Are these the type of shots you hope to emulate?

    And more importantly, what is your absolute budget?

    cheers,
    Stratman

  • Kaye

    June 19, 2010 03:09 pm

    Thanks everyone for the reply and also opening up my eyes to other choices. Now, I have two options, Canon Powershot SX210 IS or Canon PowerShot SX20 IS.

    Can you please help me picking the right camera for me. I like the portability of sx210, and the color which is pink. But does it give me sharp images? On the other hand the sx20 gives better grip for the camera and articulating LCD, oh wait the viewfinder makes me feel like a photograper. LOL.

    Now, as I have said before I only care for the sharp pictures, easy to use, great in lowlight and great experience of photography. But, part of me feels that sx210 will be just another digital camera.

    Thanks all in advance:)

  • Christy

    June 19, 2010 09:38 am

    @ Stratman...

    I had sent the following in on June 6 and RMVANDY responded but left a few questions open for clarification from you if you could please...

    (June 6) Hi…I’ve been reading this all day…so many choices! You guys really know your stuff! I am looking to get a camera…I currently have a fairly old Gateway P&S – it takes decent pictures…I even cropped one and then blew it up to 8×10 and it was good…unless you look really close…but on the wall, it looks good. I also worked in the past with an old Minolta FILM manual camera with a 200mm zoom – sorry…don’t know all the jargon!! I enjoyed learning on the old Minolta, but it’s INCREDIBLY cumbersome. I am definitely still a beginner but I am willing to learn.

    I am very interested in a DSLR camera. I am a volunteer at a birds of prey rehab center and I want to be able to take vivid, clear pictures of the birds in our flight cages – if good enough, I’d like to blow them up and sell them at our functions. The birds could be any distance from me, but our largest cage is our eagle enclosure, and it’s 108 feet long, 18 feet high…we enter at one end and all the eagles are up on a high perch at the opposite end…it’s tough to get close pics in those cages. We also have a hard time taking pics of the birds flying from end to end…it’s usually the luck of the draw getting a good shot of one in flight with my Gateway. Also, the flight cages are vertical 1×2 slats with 1? gaps between…so ultimately, if the sun is out, our birds look like jailbirds! (becasue of the shadows). Everyone says you get better pics on a cloudy day, but then the birds don’t SHINE as much!!

    I have weighed all the information you all have given, and looked at different cameras. I am a Costco fan, be it good or bad, and they have a Nikon D5000 for $840, a kit, of course, with 2 lenses (and Stratman, I know your feelings for lenses out of kits). They also have the Canon EOS Rebels for $750 ( T1i) & $760 (SXi) and $600 (XS), kits too. One more is the Sony A230 for $550. I am willing to learn all the technical details. Would you recommend one of these over the other? or would you completely get away from this type of store? I know they don’t have the people with the knowledge, but they will take anything back if you don’t like it!!! ;-)

    (today June 18th - (colorado)) I also would like to possibly use the camera for night pictures of owls...flash is OK. any suggestions???

    Thanks so much!

    Christy

  • rmvandy

    June 19, 2010 09:28 am

    Kaye: I'll make the same recommendation to you that Stratman made to me several months ago. I had written that I wanted a superzoomer -- something with 12x or more zoom, 12mp sensor, plus manual control (the manual, program, shutter priority or aperture priority that Stratman mentioned as P/A/S/M. I owned and successfully operated a film SLR in the '70s and '80s, but got tired of lugging around a heavy camera and bag full of lenses, flashes, filters....

    A good digital all-in-one (I don't like the term point-and-shoot, it sounds too pejorative) offers control over how the camera records your images, is easy to use in automatic mode, works fast and -- most important -- takes sharp pictures. As you may have seen in Stratman's earlier entries, superzooms don't shoot as sharply as cameras with lower zoom ratios -- say, less than 5x. He took your model question and extended it to the better cameras in the same field -- superzooms. And his comment on newer 10mp sensors has been right on for months.

    I had a massive lens for my old SLR; it had a 3:1 zoom ratio, and that was excellent in its time. More recently, I had 2x and 3.4x; both were a bit limited in my opinion. But when you look at test photos taken by some web sites, you'll see that at very long settings, zooms lose contrast and sharpness. And there's not that much to gain beyond 5-8x in terms of composition. (Except for the purple fringing!)

    The longer zoom ratios are usually in the bulkier cameras that have the SLR form. If you don't mind that, and expect to make large blowups regularly from long shots zoomed way in, stick with the cameras Stratman named. His opinions are practically revered. Digital SLRs start below $600, and offer a bewildering range of features and tricks. Top P&S (sound of teeth gritting) cameras sell just below that, and you said you didn't want to regret paying in the SLR range for something not SLR.

    As good as the Canon G11 is, it approaches that price, selling for $450-499 -- but I really love it. Not as small as most, but with a good lens and sensor, plus a real feature package and manual control knobs instead of functions buried deeply in menus. It also has a rotating/pivoting screen that's very bright and sharper than most. A slightly cheaper option (about $50 less?) is Canon's S90. Its soom isn't as long, but it's much smaller and has the same functions (mostly) and sensor. For size and weight, it goes with a fixed screen, and has no viewfinder (which the G11 has -- a feature rare on P&S cameras). A few weeks ago I mentioned reading an ad for a Casio Exilim EX-FH25 (about $310). Scroll up a ways and see what I wrote. You might be interested.

    I'm not up on other models, but perhaps another reader can name some of the smaller options that are very satisfying.

  • Stratman

    June 19, 2010 02:25 am

    @ Kaye,

    Unfortunately Nikon has never been known for optical quality in its Coolpix bridge camera lineup. Nikon's expertise lies in its dSLRs rather than its P&S compacts. The Coolpix L100 is a bridge ultrazoom camera and it severely lacks major features found in its competitors, namely Canon, Panasonic Lumix, Olympus and Fujifilm.

    That said, Canon's S/SX series of ultra-zooms outsell Nikon Coolpix L and P series of the same category. I've read reviews on Nikon's P90 and P100 and both models got lower ratings than, e.g. the Canon SX1/SX10 IS.

    For a bridge camera, it doesn't have a Program, Aperture/Shutter Priority and Manual mode and lacks an electronic viewfinder (EVF). Ultrazoom P&S cameras are large and heavy therefore it's more natural to compose photos using the EVF instead of the rear LCD screen,

    The lens fitted to the L100 is kind of mediocre and exhibits undesirable traits such as chromatic aberration (or purple fringing). I would pass this one if I were you. (It's also a discontinued model, no surprise here).

    Decent ultra-zoom bridge cameras include the Canon PowerShot SX-series (eg. SX10 IS, SX20 IS). Both have great optical quality (they share the same 28-560mm lens) and you can use any Canon Speedlite EX external flash on them. Should you buy a Canon dSLR someday, the same flash unit can be shared between both cameras.

    Another worthy consideration is the new Fujifilm Finepix HS10/HS11 which promises 10 frames/sec burst mode and a sensitive back-side illuminated CMOS 10 Megapixel sensor. Down scaling the megapixel count to "just" 10MP is more than adequate for large prints and also improves the camera's high ISO performance.

    Canon did this to their current PowerShot G11 which was introduced in September last year and test shots from reviewers confirmed the G11's lower noise at high ISOs compared to its predecessor, the 14.7MP PowerShot G10.

    The Fujifilm also sports a whopping 30x optical zoom (24-720mm) which has a wider angle lens compared to Canon's offerings (28-560mm). As the camera is relatively new, it hasn't been thoroughly reviewed by the popular camera review sites yet.

    The downside is that the Fujifilm HS10 is on the large and bulky side (that's to be expected with camera with a 30x zoom) but it looks so much like a real dSLR, without the costs involved (like buying additional lenses). While it has a hot shoe for an external flash, Fujifilm doesn't make a flash unit for this model. You'll have to use third party brands and use manual flash mode.

    If the external flash issue is not of a concern to you, I should think you'll be very pleased with the Fujifilm HS10. In fact, I might consider buying it to replace my aging PowerShot S3 IS. The HS10 has a top shutter speed of 1/4000sec, equal to many entry level dSLRs. It also has the usual P/A/S/M modes expected in a good ultra-zoom P&S camera. Shooting in aperture priority and manual override modes will give you more flexibility, which you'll appreciate if you're serious about learning photography.

    Be sure to test the Fujifilm HS10 or the Canon SX20 IS at a camera store rather than buying online. You'll want to evaluate its weight, size and handling. Personally, if I were to give up my expensive dSLR hobby and stick to one travel camera, I'd pick the Fujifilm HS10 although I'm largely a Canon fan.

    Hope this helps. :-)

  • Kaye

    June 18, 2010 05:06 pm

    BTW. I'm also open for other came suggestions. Thanks! :)

  • Kaye

    June 18, 2010 05:05 pm

    Hello guys, I want to buy a camera and I'm eyeing for Nikon p100, I'm just an amateur photographer.

    I will use the camera for travel(local and foreign), taking pictures of scenery, friends night-outs and events. I just want to have a good zoom, macro and crisp photos (just for amateur photography)

    I don't want to go far and buy an SLR since I don't have any plans to buy different lenses. But I don't want to regret also buying something so close to SLR that I'll regret.

    Please someone help me with this dilemma. Would Nikon p100 will suffice my needs?

    TIA

  • rmvandy

    June 16, 2010 02:10 pm

    You ask, can I explain manual focus more clearly when it's impossible to see the subject through the lens: You estimate the distance by pulling the camera away from your face and use the naked eye. You dial it in by turning the focus ring on the lens. As Stratman and Shaheen explained in depth, an autofocus mechanism has to "see" the subject. If it has insufficient light to register the range, it may use a focusing light. That may not be bright enough. Fortunately, the eye is more sensitive than the camera (which is why we can see the stars easily at night, but a camera needs seconds to minutes to record them).

    The reason you may be able to estimate the distance better without looking through the camera is that less light will reach your eye through a camera's optics than is needed to see the focusing feature of the camera. (Some use a grid, some use a split image, to make focusing easier, but neither can be acceptably discriminated in low light to focus.)

    Focusing to infinity: All lenses "can" focus to infinity, but virtually no "good" telephoto lens is focused on infinity alone except a celestial telescope. (Cheap cameras, such as the single-use film cameras, cannot be focused and are set to register acceptable focus at infinity. They also have somewhat wide-angled lenses.) Infinity is the far end of the focal range. That you don't know how to set a lens to infinity makes me wonder whether you are ready to dive into things you are already asking questions about. To get the camera to automatically shoot at infinity, point it at a mountain or other object a few hundred yards or more away. To manually set to infinity, turn the lens' focus ring all the way to the infinity (sideways 8) symbol.

    Manually focusing an autofocus lens: An AF lens is "primarily' expected to be used in autofocus. That by default makes manual a secondary function. It does not make it inferior. Secondary does not mean second in quality. It means the method most people would choose second, not first.

    Focusing manually is possibly more accurate than using autofocus but almost always slower for well-lighted subjects. I examined how my camera set its focal point by switching to manual after autofocus. It chose to focus beyond the subject because that offered depth of field to infinity -- in other words, everything beyond the subject would be in focus (and nearer things would be less likely to be in focus). In that example, I could have focused more sharply manually. A lens has an acceptable sharpness within its depth of field, determined by whether a reasonable enlargement would show a lack of focus at the far or near boundary of its depth of field. Therefore, with the camera intentionally focusing beyond my subject, the subject could have appeared out of focus in an extreme enlargement or crop.

    Manual-focus-only lenses are not superior per se to AF. I don't even know if you can buy an MF lens designed for a dSLR. And I don't think you should, especially considering your admitted inexperience with SLRs.

    So you don't have to worry about accuracy of the lens in manual vs. auto; you have to worry about the accuracy of the programming or of yourself.

    Based on the questions you ask and that you are unfamiliar with many common terms and concerns, I hope you are prepared to spend a lot of time practicing, taking classes, and reading up on this fascinating and rewarding hobby. Otherwise, you'll just be frustrated by the expense and challenges.

  • Stratman

    June 16, 2010 10:39 am

    @ God's Friend:

    Please take note of my reply very carefully:

    OK, so you sent me the link to the Nikon India website (I assume you're from India) which points to the Manual Focus lens category.

    I'm going to have to ask you this question beforehand: Are you buying a digital SLR or an old film SLR? This is because, with the exception of the PC-E tilt & shift lenses - all the other manual lenses that are listed are the bayonet mount type for the old Nikon SLRs from the 1970s and 1980s.

    Are you looking to buy a digital D5000 or an all manual, all-mechanical FM10?

    Here's the lowdown:

    - You CANNOT use any bayonet mount manual Nikkor lenses on any Nikon dSLR or any film Nikon SLRs that use the Nikon F mount. If you want to use those old manual Nikkor lenses, you have to buy a bayonet mount 35mm film Nikon SLR. Such cameras have NO autofocus capability whatsoever. You set the shutter speed on the body and the aperture on the lens barrel.

    - Tilt and shift lenses use specialty optics that require very fine focusing, that's why they are manual focus only. Are you going to take professional architectural photos? Because that's what T&S lenses are for and they are definitely not cheap. Such lenses can be used only with certain Nikon dSLR models.

    - If you expand on the "Related Products" tab, you will see the types of Nikon cameras those manual lenses are meant compatible with. This is more important than the general "Manual lenses" tab.

    - Nikon is the only camera company that still makes old, early 1980s bayonet mount lenses because there's still a demand from Nikon film SLR shooters that own old FM2, FE2, F3 35mm film cameras. Yes, there are people who prefer film to digital, They would scan their negatives into JPG or TIFF images and store those files in their computer.

    - I'm going to say this for the last time. All autofocus lenses have a manual focus override in case the AF mode doesn't produce satisfactory results. There is no difference in optical quality whether you shoot in AF or MF mode because it's the same glass is the the lens barrel. The feel of the focusing ring depends on whether the lens is a cheap model or a professional grade lens.

    - A dSLR is nothing more than a fancy light tight box to capture images. It is not the camera that makes award winning photographs. It's the person behind it. In most cases, the camera doesn't matter. You do.

    - Please do some research on your own as well. There are so many photography blogs and gear review sites that will help you choose your first dSLR.

    For my parting words to you, I'd like to share this very invaluable link which I found to help you decide between Canon or Nikon dSLR.

    Best of luck! :-D

  • God's friend

    June 15, 2010 02:51 pm

    Thanks Shaheen and rmvandy for your very helpful replies.

    @Shaheen:
    You said that in low light conditions, I might use a fast AF lens with IS, but will it compete with an MF only lens under the same conditions?

    Next-- D5000 is no better than D3000 as it offers exposure bracketing which is absent in the latter. However, both of them lack the depth of field preview button, which, I think, is absolutely essential atleast in close-ups and landscapes. Any amateur photographer too deserves it. It is but, essential for a good SLR. In that way, I think D90 is a true entry level (though it's quite professional too) SLR....it offers DoF preview too.

    @rmvandy: You said: "In manual, however, you can estimate the distance and dial it in when it’s impossible to see the subject through the lens (manual or auto).". Can you please explain this point more clearly?
    Are all telephoto lenses focused at infinity? And how does one focus at infinity?
    Lastly, one thing remained unanswered--Does the MF mode in AF lens work as accurately and cleanly as a MF only lens? Or does it go treated like a secondary function? What about the image quality of MF mode in AF lens as compared to a MF only lens?

    @Stratman: Actually, when I talk about a MF only lens, I am not talking about the older Nikon lenses I may have inherited. For a better understanding on what I mean, please visit this link:

    http://www.nikon.co.in/products.php?categoryid=34

    It lists the MF special purpose lenses. Apart from these, in the right pane in that webpage you can see the MF only wide angle, telephoto, normal lenses etc. All of these are compatible with all Nikon newer D series SLRs. There is no such option available with Canon wherein I must stick to the AFs---EF or EF-S series except for the 6 MF lenses you described. It is in this light that I think Nikons (say D90) are more compatible and versatile than Canons (say 1000D) for a particular photogenic situation. I agree MF mode is available in an AF lens---but does it compare with an MF only lens?
    What do you think?

    @all: Actually, I am buying my first SLR. Since SLRs are not things to be continually changed every few months, I want to be careful enough to buy one which is most compatible with the variety of MF and AF lenses available. I don't want myself to be trapped in a situation which demands more of a MF lens than an AF lens (even in MF mode). And, rightly, if MF only lenses are indeed compatible with Nikon D90, why should I head towards a Canon 1000D then? (which is compatible only with EF and EF-s lenses). Of course, D90 costs more than 1000D, but lets leave that for a moment.(Although this factor pushes me more towards a Canon in that I can invest the remainder sum in a good lens later). What do you feel?

  • rmvandy

    June 15, 2010 01:17 pm

    God's Friend:

    Both Stratman and Shaheen know far more about dSLR models and some functions than I, and have written extensively to help you learn the answers to your questions. I thank them for broadening my knowledge, too. But one concern of yours continues to appear in your questions: Apparently, you have great concern with the accuracy of autofocus, and whether an AF lens can be as accurately focused manually. It depends entirely on your vision. Including when light is low. (Your June 15 question about answer 3 really does not matter; there is no advantage of one technology over the other in that case -- nor in overall sharpness. Individual models may vary in quality though.)

    Autofocus is a bit easier to understand if you consider automatic transmissions in modern cars. You can place the car in Drive and allow it to pick shift points and RPM, or you can slip the lever into 2 or 1 at a time of your choice. The quality of the transmission and engine don't change. And with the lenses, their quality remains regardless of your choice of auto or manual focus.

    Manual focus is a "secondary function" only because the primary function, AF, is most popular. In the early days of anything automatic, automation is secondary; later, auto is the primary choice, or function. Like the car, or autocompletion in a cellphone for texting.

    Here are limitations: Autofocus needs good light to do its job. So does manual, in that you must be able to clearly see the center of the mirror where it splits the image to show out-of-focus conditions. In manual, however, you can estimate the distance and dial it in when it's impossible to see the subject through the lens (manual or auto).

    Next, auto often chooses the center point as its range target. If you compose the frame with your prime subject off-center, you may find that the subject is also out of focus. Different cameras have different options for focal points, with higher-end cams generally having more options. As Stratman noted, if you want an off-center prime subject, you point the camera directly at it to utilize autofocus, lock it, and then re-aim.

    If the pride of lions and the brush are directly in line, the AF system defaults to the nearer object in its field. That is the time to switch to manual. However, at long ranges -- those at which you need a telephoto, and at which you are likely to be shooting lions -- the distance between brush and lion will likely fall within the depth of field of the lens. Generally, your lens will be focused at infinity anyway.

    The situation would be different for birds in trees. You may be within 20 feet, but size changes the situation, as does bright sky as a background, and shooting through branches that are at different distances from you. Here you get into "critical focus," I think it's called, wherein you manually set the focal point to encompass a range. A photographer may try to shoot through foliage, trying to throw the near field out of focus, by setting his lens to focus beyond the bird. The depth of field -- literally the depth, or distance in the field of view that will be in acceptable focus -- includes the subject and items beyond, but the nearer are out of focus. This is much easier to illustrate than describe, and is illustrated well on various web pages.

    People who shoot wildlife and sports must be able to grab the shot immediately. To do that, they set the focus manually so there's no autofocus delay. And, as both the experts above noted, you can ALWAYS switch a recent dSLR AF lens from auto to manual focus.

    You will make a lot of mistakes at first, so make your mistakes at home or the zoo, not on the once-in-a-lifetime safari. Practice, compare, analyze, modify your methods, and practice again. That would have been very expensive in the days of film (I say from experience).

    By all means read the web sites Shaheen suggests, and find others by searching for specialized photography terms and comparing sites returned. And Stratman's recommendation of finding Flickr user groups was a big help for me a few months ago.

  • shaheen

    June 15, 2010 02:04 am

    @god's friend, if you had gone carefully through the article provided at the following link:

    http://digital-photography-school.com/what-is-a-fast-lens

    you would have known by now that in low light conditions, a fast lens will make your day. any lens upto F4 is considered fast. F1.2, F1.4, F1.8, F2.0 and F2.8 are considered excellent lenses for low light, HANDHELD (that without using a tripod) photography. But then these lenses are heavy and expensive but I will not talk about the expenses involved here. It is for you to decide. Even the variable focal lenses like 80-200mm 2.8 with image stabilization will be a sharp lens as compared to a 80-200mm F5.6 with or without image stabilization. These heavy and fast lenses are generally weather-sealed also.

    Lets come to macro lenses. They are built for the specific purpose of taking macro shots. Manual focus will allow you to choose the area you wish to focus on unlike in auto-focus. Good composture and exposure will depend upon how skilled you are. :-) And again for blur free images in low light conditions, the lens should offer atleast F2.8. If it comes with image stabilization, the better.

    Regarding focussing meachanism, expensive lenses are well damped, therefore the focussing mechanism is very smooth unlike focussing mechanism of cheap quality and third party lenses. Thus, it is again for you to decide that what are your priorities.

    I agree with you that the Canon 1000D is better than the Nikon D3000 for the reasons mentioned by you. However you can look at D5000. It offers much more than the D3000.

  • God's friend

    June 15, 2010 12:51 am

    @Stratman: You said in point 3 that I would work fine with AF telephoto as well. But what if the lighting is really poor? Wouldn't MF lenses (instead of MF mode in AF lens) be better?
    And what about shooting macros? Aren't they better shot with MF lenses? The image can then be composed more suitably, rendering a more satisfying exposure.

  • God's friend

    June 15, 2010 12:45 am

    Thanks Shaheen and Stratman, for your replies. I get it now. You said that AF lenses can work in MF mode too, but I have read that the "feel" of the focussing mechanism in there is not good, and MF in AF lenses tends to be treated as a secondary function. Is it so?

    And yes, don't you feel Nikon D3000 offers too less as compared to its competitor Canon 1000D among entry level cams. It has no exposure bracketing, no DoF preview. The Canon 1000D on the other hand has both of them at almost the same price.

  • Stratman

    June 14, 2010 10:19 pm

    @ God's friend:

    Well, I'm afraid you've been greatly misinformed. I'm going to be brief this time:

    1. All Canon EF lenses can switch to Manual Focus on demand. So can Nikon's AF lenses. So can third party lenses that are compatible with either the Canon or Nikon mount. All you have to do is to flip a switch on the lens or pull on the focus ring, easy as pie.

    2. Canon dSLRs can set their AF focusing points to user selectable center AF, all-points AF (this mode can sometimes can cause the camera to lock on to an off-center subject depending on the lighting levels and contrast). So does Nikon. Experienced photographers almost always use center AF and recomposing the shot if necessary.

    3. Autofocus capable lenses have NO correlation to its optical sharpness. If you have determined that you have a slightly miscalibrated Canon EF or Nikon AF lens you can always send it back to their respective service centers for recalibration. Why would you want to buy a MF telephoto lens for the Nikon D90 when there are Nikon and compatible Nikon mount AF telephoto lenses?

    The EOS 1000D can even use the super expensive Canon EF 800mm f/5.6 USM super telephoto (if you can afford that lens) but those who own such lenses usually have professional EOS 1D or 1Ds series bodies. Only the 1D/1Ds are capable of very accurate and fast AF focusing with "slow" apertures of f/5.6 and slower.

    It's been said that over 99% of bad images are the result of photographer's error, inexperience, or sheer ignorance rather than a case of a bad camera or lens. And yes, I have had my share of bad images too. Everyone makes novice's mistakes at the beginning.

    If you take shots of a pride of lions and your SX100 IS instead focuses on the nearest bushes, the solution is very simple: use center point AF instead of the Face Detect AiAF focusing mode.

    Lastly, I want you to take a look at the Canon Wildlife image pool on Flickr.

    Seriously, do you have any complaints on the quality of those images? They are all shot on either Canon EF lenses or third party autofocus lenses. There are no manual focus only lenses in the EF range of zooms and telephoto primes.

  • God's friend

    June 14, 2010 08:20 pm

    By the way, if you're wondering which MF lenses I am talking about, they are the 24mm f/2.8 Ultra wide , 105mm f/2.8 macro,55 mm f/2.8. Now, for example, can I use a 105mm macro MF on a EOS system, say 1000D, or will I have to work only with the AF version? I cannot be more specific.

  • shaheen

    June 14, 2010 07:31 pm

    Hello God's friend, almost all the lenses of almost all DSLR models regardless of the make can be manually focussed too even if they are autofocus. The camera body will have a switch for MF/AF which can enable manual focus or autofocus as and when you wish. So if you go with the Canon 1000D with an AF telephoto, you can always use MF mode to manually focus with the AF telephoto.

    I would like to make another important point here. A prime/fast telephoto lens whether manual or autofocus will always be much sharper and faster than a variable focal lenth telephoto lens. For example a AF Nikkor 300mm f/2.8 IF-ED lens will be much sharper and faster than the AF-S VR Zoom- Nikkor 70-300mm
    f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED lens. Same goes for Canon lenses or third party lenses.

    Since you interested in nature as well as wildlife photography I suggest that you opt for a prime/fast lens and this will enable you to capture fast action moments even in low light conditions.

    To understand my point better you may visit the following links:

    http://www.tawbaware.com/canon_lens_test2.htm

    http://digital-photography-school.com/factors-to-consider-when-shopping-for-a-dslr-lens

    http://digital-photography-school.com/what-is-a-fast-lens

    hope the above information helps you in arriving at a decision. :-)

  • God's friend

    June 14, 2010 06:29 pm

    Thanks, again for your answer. One final query:

    Since I am interested in nature (which includes wildlife photography as well) photography, if I am to photograph a pride of lions behind a bush (the photograph I take must have blurred bush and distinct and clear pride), I would prefer MF lenses to focus on the pride rather than use AF as the camera's processor won't distinguish between the bush and the pride. What's your take on this? Can I still go with a Canon 1000D with an AF telephoto? Or a Nikon D90 with a MF telephoto would be better?

    Actually, I am confused between the compatibility of Canon and NIkon. Although I currently own a Canon SX100IS, I am afraid with EOS series, I will have to use EF (which are all AF) lenses, and few MFs, if at all. I've read that MF only lenses (like those of Nikkor-the newer ones) are a great asset to a wildlife photographer. What are your views from a purely unbiased state of mind?

    Thanks again. And yes--do forgive me if I seem foolish--I am new in this field, but very serious.

  • Stratman

    June 14, 2010 05:41 pm

    @ God's friend:

    1. Canon has tens of millions of digital EOS owners worldwide (not counting the film EOS owners) and nearly all of them use auto focus mode on their lenses, except for those who use the manual focus only, specialty lenses. With dSLRs you have to review the body separate from the lenses, although the entire system of accessories and their prices should also be put into consideration. To answer your question, it

    2. Not unless you have access to lots of older Nikkor manual focus lenses. Unless you inherited plenty of non-AF Nikkor lenses, it would only make more sense to buy the Nikon brand. Again, not all old Nikkor lenses may fit digital Nikon dSLRs.

    3. Nikon's midrange models have better high ISO performance than Canons, but Canon EF/EF-S lenses - especially with image stabilization are much cheaper than Nikon's ED lenses with Vibration Reduction. Same-brand lenses are almost always better than alternatives from third parties like Tamron, Sigma and Tokina for the same type of lens.

    A DoF preview button is important when you're taking close up macro shots of small objects if you need to determine the degree of DoF, especially in Live View mode. The DoF preview also helps if you're shooting wide angle landscapes with a graduated neutral density filter to determine where the darkened parts of the filter begins.

    The D3000 is Nikon's current entry level dSLR and lacks a Live View feature and AE bracketing. Both are essential features in a modern dSLR (even most P&S compacts have AE bracketing). If you're set on Nikon, get the D5000 or D90. For Canon, I would recommend either the EOS 450D or their latest 550D if your budget is below USD1000.

    You have to define what kind of photography you want. If you wish to shoot action and sports, you'll need a dSLR body with the fastest continuous burst rate. If you shoot in low light, you'll want a dSLR that has good high ISO characteristics. If you prefer to take scenery and landscapes, choose a dSLR with the least noise reduction at low ISO sensitivities.

    Please join photographic communities such as Flickr (it's free and if you have a Yahoo ID you can readily register) and find the groups that are related to your interests. Find the camera model under Flickr groups, subscribe to them and ask your detailed questions there.

    Don't ask stuff like "Which is better? Nikon or Canon?" in specific Canon or Nikon groups because the members there won't like that sort of question. If you join the Canon dSLR Users Group for example, it's better to ask something like "Newbie question: Is the Rebel XSi or the T2i the better purchase?" and I'll guarantee you'll get many replies from members (perhaps one from me as well).

    Also, don't join a dSLR Flickr group which doesn't restrict to any brand/model just to ask "Is Nikon better than Canon? , because you're likely to start off a thread war. Nikon users will tell you to go Nikon, Sony Alpha owners will persuade you to buy Sony and Canon fans will start countering with their arguments.

    I have my own reasons for sticking to the Canon make and you'll have yours in choosing a particular dSLR brand. Good luck.

  • God's friend

    June 14, 2010 02:33 pm

    Thanks very much Mr. Stratman for your very helpful and prompt reply.

    Well, I was wondering after reading your reply what the final verdict is....

    1.Is it that since Canon dslr's support only a few (6) MF only lenses, aren't they less versatile as compared to nikon?

    2.Isn't it better to have a Nikon SLR which can support plenty of AF as well as MF only lenses?

    3. For a photographer who would like to venture into mannual focussing as well, aren't Nikon models better?

    And one thing I read in the specifications of Nikon D3000 is that it does not have the depth of field preview button. Doesn't that take away its credibility to qualify as an SLR as the photographer can't see what exactly he is photographing (especially in close ups and landscapes)?
    Then, it does not feature the essential quality of a true SLR: you get in final image what you see in the viewfinder?

  • Stratman

    June 14, 2010 01:49 am

    @ God's friend:

    1. Not true. In order to understand Canon's EF lens mount, you have to know the history of the EF (Electro Focus) system. Canon introduced the EOS 650 and 620 35mm film SLRs in 1987, replacing their old FD mount lenses. The principle behind the EF system is to have the auto focusing mechanism AND electronic aperture control built into the lens instead of the camera body. Canon decided this was the future of their lenses but made older Canon 35mm film SLRs with their FD mount lenses obsolete. Needless to say, this move initially didn't make Canon owners happy. They had to sell off their entire gear to embrace the EF technology.

    Nikon on the other hand, preferred to have a geartrain driven AF system in which the AF motor is built into the body instead of the lens. The company wanted to retain their existing user base who have amassed their arsenal of manual focus Nikkors. Therefore Nikon made available (then) newer SLR models that have the AF mechanism built into the body. Such models are able to use AF-Nikkor autofocus lenses or the manual ones from the past.

    Canon's EF system assured that all EOS film bodies are able to use autofocus EF lenses. The aperture is electronically controlled via the body and not on the lens, as with the old FD mount lenses. You cannot use FD mount lenses on any EOS body, whether film or digital.

    There was one exception though. From 1991 to 1994, Canon made the only non-AF body SLR - the Canon EOS EF-M as a low end model. It can still use EF lenses but with that camera you have to focus manually. It was based on the EOS 1000 film SLR, but without autofocus, a built-in flash and quartz date printing. Since then all other EOS bodies are autofocus bodies.

    In the EF system, only six manual-only lenses exist:

    1. The MP-E 65mm f/2.8 macro lens. (It has a 5:1 magnification that the depth of field is too shallow for precise focusing)
    2. Five TS-E tilt & shift lenses for perspective and architecture photography.

    The above lenses are non-AF, therefore the prefix "EF" is not used to describe such lenses.

    2. All Canon EF lenses have manual focus override via an AF/MF switch, but only ring USM based Canon lenses are able to offer full time manual focusing (you can manual focus without flipping the AF mode to MF). With cheaper EF/EF-S lenses that employ the AFD micro motor AF, you can damage the AF mechanism if you try to turn the focus ring while the lens is on AF mode.

    When do you use manual focus mode with an AF lens?

    - When the light is too low for the dSLR's phase detection AF system to calculate accurate focus.
    - When you shoot macro images, because of the very shallow DoF.

    And no, you cannot have autofocus with a manual focus only lens! That's impossible!

    Hope this helps.

  • Stratman

    June 14, 2010 12:59 am

    @ Amit,

    Glad you're enjoying your new Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX1. Please look into the Flickr group related to your camera and your photographic interests. Participate in their discussions on how to get the best out of your camera.

    Happy shooting!

  • God's friend

    June 13, 2010 06:40 pm

    HI!

    1. I read in a book that canon dslr's don't support MF only lenses, while nikon ones support AF as well as MF only lenses. It mentioned that AF lenses have MF mode of operation also. How far are these statements correct? If so, then aren't Canon camera's inferior to nikon in that they don't support MF only lenses?

    2.Further, can all AF lenses be used in MF mode too? And are there MF lenses that can be used in AF also?

    Thanks!

  • Amit

    June 7, 2010 08:07 pm

    @Stratman
    It’s been almost a month since I brought Sony DSC Wx1 on your advice. I am really enjoying it. It’s so small that I carry it with me all the time. And the HD video recording is an added bonus. I am clicking at every thing :) . Just dropping by to say thanks again for helping.

  • Christy

    June 6, 2010 05:32 am

    @rmvandy...

    Thanks...That is good advice on taking photos in the cage. I do have a budget, and the flash units will have to come in the future, but your idea about putting them up in the cages is great! Do the DSLRs have the motion sensor you mentioned? Or would that be something I'd have to buy? I'd also like to take pictures of owls at night...flash is OK...what do you think?

    I would still like stratman's input on the models above, but I think I'll take your advice and go into a camera store to talk with someone...I'd be able to handle them more than at Costco. What about looking online at used cameras?

    As for using the camera on vacation, I am going to Costa Rica to see the Raptor Migration in October, and although it's bulkier, I want to take the camera with me. I may end up leaving it in the hotel part of the time, but I definitely want it along. I'll have my P&S too.

    Thanks again for the info!
    Christy

  • rmvandy

    June 5, 2010 01:23 pm

    Christy:

    I'd like to compliment you on two things: First, you mentioned cropping and enlarging a photo to 8 x 10, and that the print shows pixillation only when you look at it up close. How sad that more people don't think as you do! A photo on the wall, like an art litho or even an original oil, is not meant to be examined from inches away. Second, in asking for Stratman's advice on comparing or choosing specific cameras, you have exhibited excellent judgment. I don't know the models as he does.

    But among the questions you ask, I am able to offer some thoughts. First, shooting the raptors: You will want a camera that can take rapid-fire photos. Because you're not burdened by the cost of film and of printing each frame to check for acceptability, dSLRs are certainly the way to go. But do you want to make a major expenditure based solely on the criterion of taking pictures where you volunteer? How convenient will this be when you take a vacation, or want snapshots at family gatherings? All your needs should be considered.

    But the wildlife photos will be easier if your camera has a high burst rate. You can then pick the one with the nicest composition or wing extension. It also should have little or no delay between pressing the shutter release and pictures being taken, because you have few opportunities and they don't last long. If you buy a camera with a somewhat large sensor (15 mb or more), you'll be able to crop more tightly and won't need to zoom in and out on the birds.

    For best lighting, overcast avoids the shadows you mentioned, but requires a slightly slower shutter speed. You want to shoot at 1/500 or faster. You may also want to get a powerful flash unit and acclimate the birds to seeing it go off. Maybe you'll want two, with the second being slaved (going off automatically after the flash on=camera fires) for balanced lighting or to put the remote high in the cage.

    As I wrote earlier for another reader, the Casio EX-FH25 has many of the features you seek, but is not an SLR. It costs much less than the dSLRs you mentioned. If price is no consideration, you should go to a top-flight camera shop and pick something that Costco doesn't handle. You might even want to mount the camera high in the cage and buy an infrared trigger to capture the birds in flight. Stratman might be able to advise on high-quality SLRs. I know my G11 is not highly suited to the narrow task of capturing avian motion in the cage, and probably no pocket-size camera is, either.

  • Christy

    June 5, 2010 08:12 am

    Hi...I've been reading this all day...so many choices! You guys really know your stuff! I am looking to get a camera...I currently have a fairly old Gateway P&S - it takes decent pictures...I even cropped one and then blew it up to 8x10 and it was good...unless you look really close...but on the wall, it looks good. I also worked in the past with an old Minolta FILM manual camera with a 200mm zoom - sorry...don't know all the jargon!! I enjoyed learning on the old Minolta, but it's INCREDIBLY cumbersome. I am definitely still a beginner but I am willing to learn.

    I am very interested in a DSLR camera. I am a volunteer at a birds of prey rehab center and I want to be able to take vivid, clear pictures of the birds in our flight cages - if good enough, I'd like to blow them up and sell them at our functions. The birds could be any distance from me, but our largest cage is our eagle enclosure, and it's 108 feet long, 18 feet high...we enter at one end and all the eagles are up on a high perch at the opposite end...it's tough to get close pics in those cages. We also have a hard time taking pics of the birds flying from end to end...it's usually the luck of the draw getting a good shot of one in flight with my Gateway. Also, the flight cages are vertical 1x2 slats with 1" gaps between...so ultimately, if the sun is out, our birds look like jailbirds! (becasue of the shadows). Everyone says you get better pics on a cloudy day, but then the birds don't SHINE as much!!

    I have weighed all the information you all have given, and looked at different cameras. I am a Costco fan, be it good or bad, and they have a Nikon D5000 for $840, a kit, of course, with 2 lenses (and Stratman, I know your feelings for lenses out of kits). They also have the Canon EOS Rebels for $750 ( T1i) & $760 (SXi) and $600 (XS), kits too. One more is the Sony A230 for $550. I am willing to learn all the technical details. Would you recommend one of these over the other? or would you completely get away from this type of store? I know they don't have the people with the knowledge, but they will take anything back if you don't like it!!! ;-)

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    Thank you, Christy

  • Stratman

    June 5, 2010 03:12 am

    @ god's friend

    Generally people who buy Olympus 4/3rds dSLRs are those who want better looking images than P&S cameras but don't like the bulk and weight of traditional dSLRs. The 4/3rds sensor takes 4:3 aspect ratio images and that's how the Four Thirds name came about. Traditional dSLRs all take photos in 3:2 aspect ratio.

    There is a trade off with 4/3rds dSLRs - you compromise shallow Depth of Field and sensor noise. Which is fine if you don't require the shallower DoF with APS-C and full frame dSLRs and you're heavily into low light shooting. Still, the image quality of the Olympus E-450 should surpass even the much coveted Canon PowerShot G11 and Panasonic Lumix LX3.

    When you buy a dSLR, you should look into the total system rather than the camera itself, if you're going for the long term. Going Olympus means you're limited to original brand Olympus Zuiko lenses as the Leica brand lenses for the Panasonic Lumix is incompatible. Be mindful that Olympus 4/3rd dSLRs including E-450 lack in-body image stabilization and Olympus does not make optical image stabilized lenses.

    Same brand lenses are more expensive than ones made by third parties like Sigma, Tamron and Tokina. I'm not sure if they make lenses compatible with the Olympus. It's the same with accessories like external flashes. Third party manufacturers like Nissin, Metz, Vivitar and Sunpak prefer to make flash units for the more popular brands like Canon, Nikon and Sony.

    Only you can decide if going the Olympus route is worth it.

  • Stratman

    June 5, 2010 02:37 am

    @ Paul

    Any good dSLR like the Canon Rebel XSi and Nikon D5000 are able to fit your Celestron telescope. You need a special T-adapter from Celestron and a lens mount that attaches to the dSLR body. Check with the Celestron customer service what you really need and which adapter model is best.

    For astrophotography you may have to look into higher end dSLRs that have low noise sensors for very long shutter speeds but there are people who have successfully used even the affordable Rebel XSi. Some have resorted to DIY external cooling using peltier cooling devices to reduce or eliminate hot pixels. Digital camera sensors get hot when very long exposures are used, resulting in false "stars" in the final image.

  • God's friend

    June 5, 2010 12:23 am

    I was wondering if I purchase a DSLR of a particular brand, say Olympus, does it place a restriction on the lenses I can use on it? Do all of them have to be of the same brand as the camera body i.e. Olympus? Or I can use lenses of another brand on it?

    What are your views on the Olympus E-450 ? I am moving from my high end P & S to the DSLR range, and am an amateur photographer. What about the compatibility of different lenses on this model? Please explain your views on the E450 in a little detail.

    Thanks!

  • Paul

    June 4, 2010 12:00 pm

    Hi,

    I own a Celestron C5 (1250mm). I am thinking of putting a DSLR on the end for terrestrial shots.

    Any suggestions on what to look for in a camera and options that will be more useful at the longer distances.?

    Thanks.

    Paul

  • rmvandy

    June 3, 2010 04:09 pm

    Buddha Prince:

    Again, Stratman has the details and insight.

    I'm so pleased with my G11 that many of my photos could be SOOCs. However, I learned darkroom techniques in the '60s, and had my own, so I almost always want to punch the contrast or fix a color problem. Also, all the software allows you to crop, even the on-line drugstore print options (I use walgreens.com, a drugstore chain with a photoprocessor in a store near my home; cheap prints).

    Today I saw a newspaper ad for a fine local store (Keeble and Suchat, Palo Alto, California -- home of Stanford University) and it listed a newish Casio Exilim EX-FH25 (about $310). Check it out: it has a 10.1MB back-illuminated CMOS sensor and 20x zoom. It can shoot 40 frames per second in burst mode (great for sports or catching kids in motion, but a real memory burner). It also shoots slo-mo HD video at 1,000 frames per second for specialty work, but I don't know how useful that would be (nor how much memory that'd take).

    The backlit CMOS has better low-light response than most other sensors. The 20x lens is a bit too long to be truly sharp, I suspect, as Stratman noted; it also is difficult to hold the camera rock-steady as needed at 580mm telephoto (35mm equivalent). The camera has a shape and probably feel of an SLR, which should interest you.

    Casio also has an older EX-FH20 with 9MB sensor and most of the same features (about $250). These look like they could be excellent choices for many people, but I haven't looked at any reviews or photo comparisons. Don't forget to do that for all your finalists!

    You can show your appreciation to your favorite photo website (such as this one) by clicking on one of its sales links when you're buying. That's about the only way these sites remain viable.

  • Stratman

    June 3, 2010 05:40 am

    @ buddha prince

    Replies to your questions:

    1. There are three unofficial categories of photographers. The first group consists of "Photoshoppers" who are probably decent photographers but they are very skilled at post processing their images using software like Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. They come up with awesome but surreal looking photos, some not even matching the original scenery. IMO, these people are more like artists than photographers.

    The second group also post process their images (usually RAW images) and fine tune their images to correct for optical imperfections in the lenses that they use, exposure compensation and for tone curves

    The last group of photographers are purists who insist on uploading SOOC (straight out of the camera) images as they are - no tweaking at all. There are a few Flickr groups that cater for only SOOC shooters. Their philosophy is that uploading SOOC images forces you to be a better photographer, as with the old school film era.

    The most popular post processing software is perhaps Adobe Photoshop CS4/CS5, Lightroom and Aperture. The best RAW processing software is the one that comes with the CD-ROM that accompanies the dSLR kit. For example, Canon's Digital Photo Professional (DPP) is best used for RAW images shot with Canon cameras (whether an EOS model or the PowerShot S90/G10/G11). You can however, use free post processing software such as GIMP.

    2. There is no such thing as a lens that "does it all", which explains why dSLR hobby can become really, really expensive. Purists prefer prime lenses (fixed focal lengths) as they are optically superior to zoom lenses due to the simplicity in the optical design. Others choose short focal length zooms as a compromise. Long focal length zooms, e.g. 18-200mm and 18-270mm lenses are more suitable for traveling and photo journalism convenience rather than for the ultimate image quality. They are not sharp lenses, especially towards the telephoto side but permits you to use one single lens for light traveling.

    Once you have more than two lenses and an external flash, you'll need a good SLR bag to protect your investment. Good quality SLR backpacks like Tamrac and Lowepro can be expensive, depending on the model.

    If you're starting out with a dSLR, prioritize the lenses before the camera body. A cheap EOS 450D with a high quality EF 17-40 f/4L USM lens will give you better results than an expensive EOS 7D with an EF-S 18-55mm IS kit lens.

    Bear in mind that dSLR bodies continue to drop in price, while lenses get more expensive each year. Canon's L-series ("L" means Luxury) lenses hold their resale value quite well. All "L" lenses use very fast focusing and quiet USM AF motors. They're also made from metal components with some weather sealing against the outdoor elements like dust and very light rain. L-series lenses are however, not waterproof.

    3. The G11 is perfect for landscape, general and street style photography, but is ill-suited for sports photography. If you need something like a 30x range zoom (24-720mm), look into the newly introduced 10 Megapixel Fuji Finepix HS10. It uses a smaller 1/2.3" CMOS sensor than the G11 (1/1.7" CCD). For an ultrazoom, it's quite heavy and looks and feels like a dSLR, but it's a non-interchangeable lens camera. It has a hotshoe for an external flash, but since Fuji doesn't manufacture flash units you'll have to use a third party brand and adjust the flash power manually.

    Remember that when you step into the world of dSLRs, it can become a wallet draining hobby. There are people who bought low end dSLRs as they were inexpensive, thinking that they would take better photos (turned out that they're just snap-shooters) but sold them and replaced with more simple P&S camera suitable for their needs.

    If you're on a budget, I suggest that you look for gently used, second hand dSLRs and lenses.

    Good luck with your choice.

  • Buddha Prince

    June 3, 2010 03:46 am

    Dear Stratman,

    Thank you for the wisdom. Excellent points. I did refer to Flickr and the photos are really amazing.

    3 questions:

    1) On Flickr there is mention of "processing" photos. I assume that this means changing the levels, tones etc with a sotfware program. What program would you recommend?

    2) Regarding your comments on the Lenses, should you wish to buy a DLSR Body and one good lens to enable most shots. Which lens would you buy? (You were right, I do like the feel of a DLSR in my hands. It also has a psychological effect of being a professional photographer)

    3) Can you recommend an alternative to the G11 with a larger zoom range?

    Thank you again.

  • Stratman

    June 3, 2010 02:37 am

    @ Buddha Prince,

    RmVandy has provided a useful insight deciding between a P&S and a dSLR camera.

    Before you make your decision, you have to consider the following:

    a) How far are you taking this photography hobby of yours?

    b) What kind of photography do you intend to take most?

    c) Are you willing to continue spending on additional accessories and/or higher quality lenses?

    You mentioned that the G11 is too expensive for a P&S camera. Actually the price is right, considering that it's not the average compact P&S camera that takes excellent daytime shots but perform poorly at high ISOs. The G11's price is about that of Canon's EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM lens. And that is the cheapest 1:1 magnification lens in the Canon lens lineup. I haven't even mentioned the EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM zoom or the EF-S 10-22mm f/3.4-4.5 USM ultrawide zoom lens!

    There are other alternatives, like the new superzooms such as Fuji's new HS10 with a CMOS sensor and a new Panasonic F75 superzoom that will be launched later this year.

    Once you step into dSLR territory, you'll soon realize that the kit lens that's supplied with the body has lots of limitations. They're generally yield soft looking images and are not sharp at the telephoto end. They have variable maximum apertures, for example the EF-S 18-55mm supplied with the EOS 450D/500D/550D have a slow f/5.6 aperture at the 55mm focal length.

    You'll still need a telephoto zoom lens, at least the affordable but quite passable EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS zoom. If low light is your kind of photography style, you'll need a very fast prime lens or a zoom lens with a large, constant aperture. Neither types of lenses are considered affordable.

    Then you'll definitely need a powerful flash with tilt-and-bounce capability, like the Canon Speedlite 430EX II, which is not that cheap.

    Think carefully before you make your choice. If you visit the Flickr website, look for groups like the PowerShot G11, Fuji HS10, Olympus SP-550, PowerShot SX1 IS. You'll be amazed that so many images are of awesome quality - and none of them were taken with a dSLR.

    What constitutes the ingredients of an inspiring and creative photo? I'll let you in a little secret:

    1. The person behind the camera (that's you).

    2. The quality of the optics (lens).

    3. The camera body itself.

    Note that I listed the camera last for a very good reason. A digital camera is nothing more than a fancy light-proof box that captures images. The lens collects the light waves and bend them before hitting the image sensor. The person who takes the picture determines whether the final image would be a masterpiece or a mere snapshot.

    Even if you can afford the state-of-the-art EOS 1D Mk IV professional grade dSLR with an EF 24-105mm /f4L IS USM lens but haven't grasped photography skills and don't have an eye for creativity, a skilled photographer with a cheap PowerShot P&S compact can easily beat you, hands down. I've seen many awesome images taken with even the very old Canon G9, mind you.

    If you like the feel of a dSLR in your hands and enjoy the experience taking photos with one, that's a different story altogether. The reality is, one doesn't really need a dSLR to take superb images. A good ultrazoom P&S camera can come close to a dSLR in most situations.

    Hope this helps.

  • Stratman

    June 3, 2010 01:24 am

    @ JimTroy,

    You know the saying "the more things change, the more they stay the same?. This holds true with single lens reflex cameras, whether film or digital. Although this year sees the entrance of EVIL cameras (Electronic Viewfinder, Interchangeable Lens) like the Sony NEX series, I do not believe that dSLRs will fade into the oblivion.

    EVF viewfinders have their share of shortcomings:

    - they are hard to compose in very bright sunlight and very dim lighting
    - they consume a lot of battery power
    - you cannot see the effects of graduated Neutral Density filters through them
    - most EVFs today are still grainy hardly matching true TTL optical viewfinders
    - you cannot gauge the depth of field through an EVF

    Sony has had its share of successes and failures in their history of introducing new technological products. Remember the floppy disk based Sony MAVICA digital cameras of the 1990s? They died a dismal death. Both Canon and Nikon had the resources to explore something like the MAVICA, but they didn't. Instead, they preferred to wait the right storage media for digital cameras which would be practical and publicly acceptable.

    While their R&D on digital cameras went on, Canon and Nikon continued to improve on their film based SLRs. It wasn't until 2005 when both companies introduced entry level dSLRs for the consumer market that dSLRs really took off in terms of sales and popularity.

    I have to disagree with you that sensor size has no bearing on image quality. It does. Image quality goes beyond just sensor noise, there's the depth-of-field to be considered as well. The larger the sensor size, the more light it collects without needing to boost ISOs. Its S/N ratio and dynamic range increases as well.

    A medium format 6x7 dSLR like a Hasselblad yields the least noise and the shallowest depth of field, while a tiny cellphone camera goes quite the opposite. Canon and Nikon has vested a lot of money into their lenses for their full frame and crop frame bodies - they are not going into the 4/3rds format, which involves a risky investment on their part; not to mention diluting their current dSLR and lens market.

    EVFs are nothing new to Canon or Nikon - they've had experience with their EVF based ultrazooms like the PowerShot S5 IS and the Coolpix P90. Sony is far behind either company in terms of dSLR sales and as you know the Alpha brand of dSLRs are based on the old Konica-Minolta platform. Sony knows it cannot beat either Nikon or Canon at dSLRs, so the have a free hand at exploring EVIL cameras.

    If Canon or Nikon wanted to make EVIL cameras, they would have done this years ago, but they did not. Granted, there will be a niche market for EVIL digicams, but it will be a small, niche market. DSLRs are here to stay. The market for their full frame and crop frame lenses are too large to ignore and purists would balk at the thought of losing an optical viewfinder to an electronic one.

    When was the last time you saw press photographers and professional lensmen using Panasonic GH-series or Olympus 4/3rds dSLRs?

    I thought so.

  • rmvandy

    June 2, 2010 02:22 pm

    Because you acknowledge that photography is an art, you'll surely agree that it takes a great deal of study and practice to reach the level of artisan. If you're in your first year or three of shooting with art as a goal, you probably would do best starting with less-expensive equipment -- the reason is that as you develop skill and style, you'll probably find that your initial camera doesn't do exactly what you want. Considering your last questions first, I'd say don't buy an SLR until you've exhausted the capabilities of whatever all-in-one camera you choose.

    Actually, you shouldn't feel (or be) limited by your equipment; it's largely a matter of thinking artistically and setting up your shots. If you believe the G11's price is too high, the Canon S90 offers most of the features of the G11, I hope people with experience with Sonys, Kodaks, Fujis and Nikons pitch in here!

    Your numbered questions:

    1. Most cameras are about the same for capturing color and light variations until you get into models with large CMOS sensors. They're expensive, so the cameras are made to match.

    2. For special effects, you'll have to check the review sites. My Canon G11 offers some in-camera color swapping, in addition to special modes that many others don't have. You'll find they're fun to play with, but probably won't be featured in your work. (For example, I just came back from 12 days in Alaska, and shot 1,200 frames with only a couple dozen in special modes.) Besides, software like PhotoShop, PhotoShop Elements and Lightroom does a better job. Software for your computer that comes with the camera isn't properly reviewed, but I think Canon's is good for full-frame tweaking -- not for spot fixes. You're also seeking shallow depth of field. Few digital cameras excel at that. But it can be done well, with experience and planning.

    3. Read reviews comparing software named above. Most non-commercial photographers (and many who are) find Elements to have plenty of features. Again, as you note, it's a matter of knowledge and practice applying the tools well.

    4. Should be no problem moving photos to digital frames from any model camera. You can make standard prints on your home inkjet, or more cheaply by uploading to a neighborhood chain-store's web site. Remember, photos will generally not be viewed under a magnifying glass, so a little pixilating is completely acceptable. Considering your price control on the camera, printing a "contact sheet" with a dozen photos at home will let you prepare for a $2 (US) 8x10 print from the drug store.

    Unsolicited advice: Consider taking a photo course at a community college or adult school, or join up with the on-line class at this site. You'll get great ideas, and will benefit from the discipline of progressively more difficult assignments.

    Lastly, I think setting a tight budget is a great idea that too many people don't consider. Stick to your price limits and your dreams!

  • Buddha Prince

    June 2, 2010 05:52 am

    Dear Jim and Rmvady,

    Thank you for the detailed responses. I appreciate the time and effort. Looking at the content of the response, it seems that the Pro's of the SLR does not outway the Pro's of an advanced point and shoot camera with the manual settings.

    MY FINAL QUESTION:
    (I am new to photography, please excuse my duplication of something you may have already answered).

    My most important requirement is that I would like to be able to manually use the features of a camera not to just take good pictures but to make photographic art and preserve the images of my friends and family.

    This would entail:
    1) Great capture of light, and color. (Hardware for Photographic Art)

    2) The ability of the camera to add unique effects, i.e. focus on subject and blur backgrounds etc. (Hardware and Software Combination for Photographic Art)

    3) Be able to manually apply the right amount photography knowledge to a level to create that art on the camera. (Sotfware for Photographic Art)

    4) I would like to get each member of the family a digital photo frame to continually display the images. However we may want to print larger photos for a special family vacation or event etc.

    In light of the above, (and not accounting for the size and weight disadvantages of the SLR, i.e. focusing on best output of photos), can you categorically say that the SLR will not add that much more value towards what I am looking for?

    Please supply me with your response of the preferred camera from the two.

    P&S
    If it has to be a point and shoot then ideally I would like to pay as less as possible (G11 is great, but too expensive for a point and shoot)

    DSLR
    $450 - $500

    Thank you again. Truly appreciated that you are able to guide me here.

  • rmvandy

    June 1, 2010 08:53 am

    Thank you, Jim, for your well-considered view. I'm not so sure, based on some people more expert than I, that very high zoom ratios are superb. Essentially, the optical engineers, even wth modern programming, have difficulty balancing very wide and very narrow fields of view in a single lens package. But the flopping mirror in SLRs is surely going to fade, and as lenses get better the sealed package will steal more of the SLR market. (And who wants to buy tons -- well, several pounds -- of glass to screw onto an SLR when a built-in zoom can supplant them?

    I just returned from a vacation in Alaska, where I needed wide-angle shots for landscapes and shipboard interiors, and tele for wildlife. Using my Canon PowerShot G11 with accessory lenses, I was able to modify my zoom range from 5:1 up to about 20:1. (Yes, I succumbed to the "pounds of glass" option, but really more like ounces.) The far end of telephoto remained somewhat sharp, but with some blue fringing; light gathering was good, with the much-larger (72mm) objective lens collecting about 4 times as much light (based on surface area). Between a carefully designed 5x zoomer and a matched multi-element 2.2x multiplier, I believe my shots will be sharper than someone would likely get with an all-in-one camera sporting a 20x lens and a sensor of equivalent quality. (I include the 0.45x wide-angle accessory to estimate the total of 20x on my G11; the tele gives about 11x total.)

    Next consideration: CCD sensors are reaching maximum pixel density for the amount of light the lens systems can gather. Superior, but more-expensive, CMOS sensors are the answer to better image quality. To get enough sensitivity for low-light or night shooting, ISO must be boosted. It is computationally achieved by (essentially) amplifying the photon count for each pixel, and applying an algorythm that is supposed to compensate for errors and variations between adjacent pixels. The math doesn't match the quality of larger objective lenses that capture more photons, and thus need less manipulation to produce a color/brightness value.

    For average photographers, which includes almost everyone who relies on web sites such as these, you are exactly right. Of course, we all want to think that we're above average, but I'm straying from your point: Almost every camera that can produce a large file size can produce a good enlargement. (We can't go around shooting jpegs of 1-2mb and expect them to look good at 16 x 20 inches. We need to shoot in RAW for maximum retained sharpness, or have a 10-12mp sensor and both a choice of large pixel count and of compression software that lets us save larger files.)

    We also should have vibration compensation.

    So based on your observations and Buddha Prince's wishes, we come to this: A magazine-quality photo is not really that great. Print media uses 120dpi to maybe 180dpi. Newspapers are at the lower end, and as low as 60dpi. A 120-dpi image of 10 x 10 inches is only 1.4mp! Magazine quality is not measured in DPI, but in color, contrast, composition, and interest. And maybe I have those backwards. A well-shot 3-mp photo will make a very nice 8x10-inch print, and most cameras made recently can do that.

    In the $450-500 range, look at the camera I recently chose (with the help of Stratman, a regular contributor here): Canon's PowerShot G11. Canon also makes the S90, which is similar in lens (3.8x, f2.0 vs. 5.0x, f2.8) and sensor, but is more designed for a pocket and simple operation. The G11 has separate knobs for shooting modes, ISO, and exposure compensation; buttons give access to metering and spot focusing. By pressing on the control wheel's cardinal points, you can switch to manual focus; between normal and macro; set flash to off, on or automatic; or set the timer. You also can easily adjust flash brightness, JPEG/resolution, light color-temperature, color styles, exposure bracketing, continuous shooting (when you'd press shutter and hold for a string of shots); and neutral-density filter.

    My friend bought a Nikon D5000 dSLR, and while he has many more features in his camera, I have the easiest access to the ones most likely to be used. He has trouble remembering how to access his useful features, and sometimes gets stuck in modes he doesn't want. And his prints of up to 11 x 14 are no sharper.

    The G11 also has an LCD viewscreen with twice the pixels of most others, even though it is fractionally smaller than 3 inches diagonally. It also has a viewfinder for those times you're shooting in bright sun and can't read an LCD, or if you want to shoot with the LCD turned off in church or a show. The viewfinder is not an exact match to what gets shot; it captures 77 percent, and has a bit of parallax, but almost nobody offers viewfinders. This alone disqualified most cameras from my search.

    Whether Buddha Prince is experienced with manual settings or wants to become so, I must say the Canon G11 or S90 is a good choice. For real control in a small package, I am thrilled with my G11 -- whether for its higher quality 10mp sensor (compared to its earlier 12-mp), 5x lens, extensive software for use on your computer, or view screen and viewfinder, whether for its easy-access feature set or compactness compared to dSLRs (it's bigger and boxier than most compacts though), this camera is a winner.

    Sorry, I don't remember enough about other brands and models. But I did decide that my original demand for high MP count and large zoom ratio were ill-conceived, and chose the quality of output instead. I'm not at all disappointed.

  • Jim Troy

    May 30, 2010 11:37 am

    I enjoyed the comprehensive comparo between P&S cameras and DLSRs in general. I don't know when this was written but I find most of the discussion current. But not all of it. I would have compared only top line superzoom point and shooters with DLSRs and here I would have mentioned that 30x zoom in a single fixed lens is doable from 24mm. This is a significant advantage probably permitted because of the small sensor and smaller optics. Also that the vast, vast difference in sensor sizes does not really translate into such a vast difference in noise level that appears mostly in darkened areas of the picture. P&S also seem to be more versed at video without having the clunky SLR mechanism which as I see it, is on its way out as it really has no function other than to add weight and noise - see various Micro Four-Thirds models. I think I shall champion the cause of better sealed fixed-lens cameras. Really quite simple P&S pocket cameras can do very nice photography. For the occasional very large blow-ups one can zoom in and take multiple shots then stitch them together. Some P&Shooters take bracket shots to greatly improve the detail and lower noise levels of twilight shots. (1) I think the SLR mechanism will be gone in two or three years and (2) better superzoom P&Shooters will continue to improve faster than their large outfit brethren. Time will tell. Thank you for your great write-up, your skill and for letting me discuss this with you. JT

  • Buddha Prince

    May 30, 2010 03:21 am

    Greetings All,

    MY GOAL:

    Purchase of a camera.
    Take my magazine quality photos.
    Focus on Family pictures and family events. (Preserving their Images as best a possible)
    Apply photography knowledge to take the best pictures.

    MY QUESTION's:

    1) Should I be focused on getting a point and shoot with:

    a) Larger image sensor (for the quality shots)
    b) Manual Functionality (to apply the photography knowledge)
    c) High ISO
    d) Wide angle Zoom lens approx 20x (for the odd distant shots)

    2) Should I get a light weight entry level SLR? (It achieves the points above and will deliver in much greater benefit than any P&S)

    3) Can you recommend a P&S or DSLR in this regard? (Price $450-$500)

    Some that I have seen:
    (P&S) NIKON Coolpix P100
    (DSLR) Canon 350D / 1000D

    Thank you for your time.

  • Stratman

    May 18, 2010 03:49 pm

    @ god's friend:

    This useful link will answer ALL your questions on the metering modes. If the embedded link doesn't show in this post, try this version: http://tinyurl.com/24l8pcx

    Kids & Pets mode is usually a short cut mode for noobs who don't know the essence of photography. What the camera does is to set to an automatic or Program mode, turn the continuous AF and image stabilization (if available) on and perhaps, activate burst shooting mode as no not to miss candid shots.

    Experienced shooters usually photograph tigers using a long focal range telephoto or zoom lens, with the dSLR set on aperture priority as they need to control the depth of field of the image.

  • God's friend

    May 16, 2010 08:16 pm

    Hello!
    I am recently visiting a tiger reserve...........(!!!!) and taking alone my Canon PowerShot SX100 IS...

    I wanted to enquire how I can improve the quality of wildlife shots (tiger???!!!) I take.... and in which mode should I photograph the animals? I guess I won't require Shutter speed priority mode, since I am unlikely to see a tiger hunting, rather a tiger relaxing. Is aperture priority or Kids & Pets (better Image stablisation) mode better? How about Program mode??

  • God's friend

    May 16, 2010 08:11 pm

    Thanks all for your informative insights!

    My camera has 3 metering modes:
    Matrix
    Spot
    Centre weighed

    Can you please explain each of these in detail giving examples?
    I have a slight hint that centre weighed lays more emphasis on central subject's intensity and decided exposure. What about the other two then?

  • God's friend

    May 16, 2010 08:07 pm

    Thanks Stratman and rmvandy for your great help. I am finding this place really helpful to develop more on my clicking skills.

    I had a query regarding metering......I know it is process by which camera's processor records ambient light intensity. But on my Canon SX100 IS, there are three metering modes: Spot metering, evaluative and center weighted. I know the last method lays maximum emphasis on intensity at the centre of the scene and accordingly decided exposure. What are evaluative and spot modes for? Can you please explain with an example?

    I guess evaluative is somewhat manual in the sense that the photographer can decide the way metering is done.....but how??

  • rmvandy

    May 16, 2010 12:31 pm

    Sued:

    Sorry, our messages crossed in the ether.

    All the cameras are roughly the same in a given feature set, probably all going to 1/2000. As Stratman mentioned above, there's a programming hack called CHDK (search the web) for Canon that allows you to set many features beyond the built-in advertised specs. I don't know if other brands also have such a hack.

    The easy way to find the specs for almost any camera, and often to compare them on the same screen, is at CNET.com. Click Digital Cameras below the search bar. Now you need to narrow down the search results in a way that does not eliminate either of the cameras you want to compare. Click on each camera you want to compare, and at the bottom of the screen, click Compare Selected. (I wanted to search for "shutter speed," but when I clicked "all features" in the choices, shutter speed did not appear.)

    Or, you can search for each model separately, using any reviewing site you want.

  • rmvandy

    May 16, 2010 09:07 am

    Here are some amplifications to Stratman's notes.

    Almost all camera lens focal lengths refer at some time back to the standard of 35mm film SLRs. When Stratman mentions in #2 a multiplier value, it is the number you multiply the lens focal length by to get its effective length on the camera in question. It differs because 35mm film frames are about 24 x 36mm; digital camera sensors are almost all smaller (and many are smaller than 5 x 7mm). On my bridge camera, a Canon PowerShot G11, the lens' focal length is 6.1-30.5mm (28-140mm equivalent). Without this standard reference, photogaphers (and camera salespersons) would be just stuck.

    Next, remember that a "fast" lens is one that has a small f-stop number -- it opens very wide, and for a given level of light, the shutter speed will be faster (shorter) on an f2.0 lens than an f2.8. Also, fast lenses have a shorter depth of field (DoF). That's an important term meaning the minimum and maximum distance that can be in focus. Narrow DoF allows you to focus in on a specific item in the frame. It also can mean that if you have many points in the frame you'd like to be in focus, you will have to make a decision: Wider lens, greater DoF; smaller stop (larger f-number), greater DoF; more light (allowing smaller stop), greater DoF.

    Fast lenses usually cost more, and also deliver cleaner, crisper shots (usually -- if you focus carefully).

    Lenses with larger zoom ratios usually cost more than the reverse. If they don't, it is because they are probably not as good. In camera lenses, you almost always get what you pay for, when bought from a similar type of store or under similar taxation. Read around the web on different brands.

    Under #3, you ask about a 105mm "macro" lens. Stratman can correct me, but I don't know that macros are measured quite that way -- more like ratio, as he notes. (I had a macro-zoom lens in the '70s that allowed me to shoot either normal or macro photos, and the focal length was irrelevant for the latter.) But any lens with only one focal-length value is a fixed lens, and any with a range is a zoomer. Let's say 50mm is the mid-range lens (as it was in 35mm film SLRs). One that has a range mostly below 50mm is a wide-angle zoom, over 50 is a telephoto zoom, and one that mostly balances the line is a wide- to tele-zoom.

    And remember, in almost all digital cameras with a built-in lens, the focal length is much smaller than in my example above.

  • sued

    May 16, 2010 06:11 am

    which p & s camera has more shutter speed ?like 1/8000, 1/ 10000.canon or fuji?

  • Stratman

    May 16, 2010 12:46 am

    @god's friend asked:

    "1. The lens required for Macro photographs. I guess although that 105mm f/2.8 would be fine enough, which lens do you think should a beginner necessarily possess for macros?"

    That depends on the sensor field of view crop factor (FOVCR). On non full frame bodies, e.g. Nikon FX dSLRs, Sony Alpha A-900 and Canon 1D and 5D series, a 105mm lens will give you exactly 105mm focal length (as with 35mm film SLRs). If you mount a 100mm lens on a crop frame Canon, you'll get a field of view of 160mm. On DX Nikon bodies and crop frame Sony Alphas you'll get 150mm.

    You should look into 1:1 magnification when it comes to macro lenses. This means a 5mm x 12mm sized object will be recorded as a 5mm x 12mm image on the sensor. A 1:2 magnification means the recorded image is half as large. On the other hand, a 5:1 magnification means the same real life object will appear five times larger on the sensor.

    There's a cheaper way of increasing magnification by using extension tubes (which have no lenses in them) but you cannot focus at infinity distances.

    "2. The lens required for landscape photography. Here again I think 24 mm f/2.8 would be fine. But please guide."

    24mm is considered very wide on a full frame body. On a crop frame Canon body, you'll get just 24mm x 1.6 = 38.4mm, which is actually not wide enough. To obtain an equivalent of 24mm on a film SLR, you'll have to go for ultra wide lenses, e.g. 15mm. The shorter the focal length and the bigger the maximum aperture, the costlier the lens will be!

    It's not uncommon for crop frame dSLR owners to go for wide angle zoom lenses in the region of 10-22mm.

    "3. The zoom lenses required necessarily, I mean for general nature photography.

    That can be anywhere between 200mm to 400mm at the telephoto end, depending on your needs and your budget. If you're buying a Canon EOS or Rebel dSLR, recommended beginner Canon zoom lenses include the EF-S 55-250mm IS and the EF 70-300mm IS USM. However these are slow lenses, maxing out at f/5.6 at the telephoto side. Serious amateurs and professionals would go for constant aperture zoom lenses like the EF 70-200mm f/2.8 IS USM, but they're heavy, large, attracts more attention and not to mention very expensive.

    Specialist wildlife photographers generally shun telephoto zooms in favor of prime telephoto lens as they're optically sharper.

    "Also, when I say 105 mm f/2.8 macro lens, does that mean the lens has a fixed focal length of 105 mm?"

    Yep, it means that you have a prime lens with a fixed focal length of 105mm and a maximum aperture of f/2.8.

    "And the aperture, is the minimum f-number 2.8 or is it fixed?"

    On refractive lenses, it means that the f/2.8 is the biggest aperture it can give you. It's not fixed. Depending on the lens, it can stop down to f/22 or f/32.

    Fixed aperture lenses are like the ones used in reflective mirror telescopes or telephoto lenses for astrophotography or extreme telephoto length shots. There's no way to control the aperture with reflective telephoto lenses. You're stuck at its one and only aperture.

    "Further the aperture of lenses in SLR, is it controlled by rotating the lens barrel? If not, what is rotation of lens barrel for?"

    In the old film days, SLRs had an aperture ring on the lens barrel which you rotate to set its aperture. Old Canon lenses from the 70s had an "A" setting on the ring, which denotes automatic aperture selection on Program and Aperture Priority film SLRs.

    Since the Canon EOS came out in 1987, the old FD mount lenses are discontinued in favor of electronically controlled focusing and aperture control. The SLR body sets the aperture via electronic signals to the lens. This is also true with Nikon dSLR lenses today.

    On prime lenses, the ring serves as a manual focus ring in situations where the camera is unable to perform auto focusing accurately or for specialized manual focus lenses. Zoom lenses have an extra ring to adjust the focal range. Old zoom lenses from the 70s and 80s are usually of the push-pull type, instead of twist-and-turn to zoom in and out.

    "Lastly, what is the role of focal length in making a lens wide angle or telephoto?"

    As a general rule of thumb, the longer the barrel length, the longer the focal length of a lens. Wide angle lenses are not limited to landscapes, they're useful for shooting in tight interior spaces, street photography or to exaggerate people's and pets' faces when shot at very close range.

    While telephoto lenses are not just limited to sports or wildlife photography, they also make great portrait lenses to deliberately blur the background or to take very tight field of view shots of scenery.

    You'll need to do some reading on your part if you want to learn more. Here's a good place to start. Wikipedia also has a wealth of easy to digest information on lenses.

    Good luck!

  • Stratman

    May 15, 2010 11:51 pm

    @Aarun:

    All bridge cameras do not have a reflex mirror, therefore an electronic viewfinder is used in place. There are good and bad points of electronic viewfinders:

    The good:
    - An EVF gives you 100% viewfinder coverage as it gets the image from the sensor. Except for pro-grade bodies, consumer dSLRs typically give you 97% coverage.
    - You can take images of a bright source of light without the camera blinding you, as the EVF is an image from the sensor.
    - Minimal viewfinder blackout except when the camera processes the image briefly.
    - You get the camera information superimposed on the EVF display.

    The bad:
    - EVFs are grainy, even with today's advancement in LCD viewfinders.
    - EVFs have trouble composing in very bright sunlight or very dim light
    - EVFs consume power, which optical viewfinders do not.
    - Superimposed information display can be distracting for critical shots

    Bridge cameras may have a manual mode, but you cannot set the shutter speed to it's maximum and at the largest lens' aperture at the same time. This is because bridge cameras do not have a focal plane shutter like dSLRs. Its shutter is a hybrid mechanism, using the lens' iris and the sensor acting as an electronic shutter. DSLR shutters are always mechanical and since they operate independently of the lens' diaphragm, you can have a max shutter speed and the largest lens opening at the same time. .

    Bridge cameras employ smaller sensors, typically from 1/2.3" to 1/2.5" to accommodate the long focal zoom. Which means poor high ISO performance and it some cases, noise reduction is apparent even at low ISOs. Noise reduction eliminates grain but it also destroys textures in your image.

    Bridge cameras have shallower depth-of-field compared to dSLRs, but you can use the telephoto focal lengths to isolate the background from the main subject.

    I don't know much about Panasonic's bridge cameras but Canon PowerShot ultrazooms are more popular. With the free CHDK (Canon Hack Development Kit), you can add lots of features to Canon P&S cameras. Like the ability to use blazing fast shutter speeds up to 1/10,000sec and automatically capture lightning strikes.

    My transition period from my a bridge camera to a proper dSLR was three years. If you're thinking of getting a dSLR next year, it's better to skip the bridge camera altogether. Consumer level dSLRs, like the EOS Canon 1000D, the old Nikon D40/D60 and Sony Alpha A-230 have gotten cheap to the point that they rival the price of a Canon PowerShot SX1 IS. Even as a long discontinued camera, the Nikon D40/D60 are a formidable dSLRs.

    The only reason you would want to buy a bridge camera is when you want to travel light as possible and don't want to carry extra lenses.

  • God's friend

    May 15, 2010 08:17 pm

    @rmvandy: Thanks very much for your prompt reply! Well, let me be a little more specific this time. Basically I want to know about:

    1. The lens required for Macro photographs. I guess although that 105mm f/2.8 would be fine enough, which lens do you think should a beginner necessarily possess for macros?

    2. The lens required for landscape photography. Here again I think 24 mm f/2.8 would be fine. But please guide.

    3. The zoom lenses required necessarily, I mean for general nature photography.

    Also, when I say 105 mm f/2.8 macro lens, does that mean the lens has a fixed focal length of 105 mm? And the aperture, is the minimum f-number 2.8 or is it fixed? Further the aperture of lenses in SLR, is it controlled by rotating the lens barrel? If not, what is rotation of lens barrel for?

    Lastly, what is the role of focal length in making a lens wide angle or telephoto? Is it that shorter focal length means more angle of view and hence wide angle lens, and greater focal length means smaller angle of view and hence telephoto lens? (??????)
    These questions may appear very elementary, but they have been hovering in my mind for quite sometime. Please guide. Thanks!

  • rmvandy

    May 15, 2010 01:26 pm

    Aarunn: Something happened -- I posted a longish response to your request for info, and it went into the bit bucket. But I remember part of it: The FZ30 is a five-year-old model. You would probably get a better camera if you bought the new FZ35 or FZ38 (same camera, different numbers in different nations). Check out the reports on review sites.

    But if you found a very good price on a new or lovingly used FZ30, and are buying to try out your hand at manual control before making the jump to dSLR, that is an excellent idea. A year or two of practice with a less-expensive camera -- as long as it is working well -- can tell you whether you have the temperament for the complexities and mass of a dSLR.

    God's Friend: SLR means single-lens reflex, an old term for cameras that reflect an image from the main lens into the eyepiece. It provides an almost exact image of what will hit the focal plane -- either film or sensor. That includes focus. The mirror that reflects the image into the viewfinder and its optics flips up when the shutter is released, and the light has a straight path to the shutter and then film (sensor). SLRs allow the photographer to change lenses and still see the size and focus of the image being shot -- which most old-school cameras could not.

    So to be precise, SLR is the mechanics, but the mechanics allow its greatest feature: lens interchangeability.

    The rest of your question is surprisingly complex, and I can only answer briefly. Others will want to add to my comments.

    Should have been #1 and 2: Spare battery and memory card.
    1. You will probably want more than the "kit" lens that comes with an SLR. We usually want a wider set of options for wide, close-up, and tele than the stock lens. You probably will want an excellent mid-range zoom that goes from about 28mm to maybe 70mm.
    2. You may instead want a wider lens, no larger than 50 mm and as low as 18-24, instead of 28-70. The smaller numbers are great for indoors and street work.
    3. Many people also pick up a telephoto that starts where the main lens drops off (at the larger number).
    4. The flash built into cameras is very limited. It's always a good idea to have a flash that takes advantage of your camera's automatic adjustment features.
    5. A good bag with comfortable strap to carry everything, and another that'll protect the camera with one lens -- the one you've mounted for the day's shooting.

    The list can get enormous -- people will recommend different tripods and filters, and other useful tools for special functions.

    Who wants to add something?

  • God's friend

    May 14, 2010 04:42 pm

    Hi!
    I currently own a Canon SX100 IS, and I am really pleased with the variety of shooting modes that it offers: Av, Tv, P, A, etc.... and the quality of images. It is almost similar to a DSLR: of course the lenses cannot be changed. I wanted to know what truly makes an SLR.... By definition, it is the cam that allows the photographer to see exactly what he's shooting....But this " through the lens" feature is supported by all new LCD based P & S cams. Does the difference then lie only in image quality and changeability of the lenses?

    I am an amateur photographer, but serious in the field. If I upgrade my equipment to a DSLR, what other accessories (lenses, flash, etc) will I essentially need? Also, what must be the basic (fundamental) lenses I must necessarily own? (I mean the most "general" or "standard" type of lenses and filters, etc)? Please help.
    Thanks in advance!

  • aarunn

    May 12, 2010 07:32 pm

    Im a Beginner in photography... was using a Kodak Digicam for couple of yrs and wanted to Upgrade being found that SLRs are priced around 25k range ( Canon D1000..NikonD3000) decided to buy one of them
    While doing some Net surfing i found this website and Read this article... :) and now i feel i must go for a brige cam/point shot cam before going to DSLR s ...to be familier with those manual modes and all

    kindly suggest a Good cam... how good is Panasonic FZ30?

  • Stratman

    May 11, 2010 01:05 am

    @ Amit,

    Good decision! I have three P&S cameras (two Canons, one Sony) and a Canon 450D dSLR. My lens, flashes and other accessories cost more than the dSLR kit I originally bought. I only take my dSLR to places where it's worth lugging the gear (and risking damage or theft) for a serious photo shoot where I'll be taking hundreds of images. Otherwise my Sony DSC-W150 goes with me in a belt pouch for candid, unplanned photo captures.

    Although I have a Sony Ericsson W995 camera phone with 8.1 Megapixels, the DSC-W150 takes much better quality photos than my cellphone, hands down. Cellphone cams are handy and convenient when image quality is not paramount - they are good for landscape shots in daylight but are poor for people portraits and low light night scenes.

    I would have bought the DSC-WX1 if I hadn't already bought my DSC-W150. The WX1 is actually a fun camera and it's got a nifty automatic panoramic mode....you'll love it! :-)

  • Amit

    May 10, 2010 11:29 pm

    Thanks Stratman for the great advice. I don’t think I’ll be able to carry a dSLR to the places I generally like to take photos. Never thought of it that way.
    I’ll go with WX1, I like that camera.

  • Stratman

    May 10, 2010 08:30 pm

    @ Amit,

    IMO, your should narrow down to these questions before deciding:

    a) What sort of photos do you normally take?

    b) Which would you normally carry - a small P&S camera or a large dSLR?

    c) How frequently do you take photos?

    d) How serious are you about photography?

    Sony is slashing prices of the Alpha A200 because it's an obsolete model and they want to rid of their old stock. I've heard of lots of people who purchased a dSLR because they were offered for a cheap price but only to under-use them. Some end up selling them and going back to compact P&S cameras.

    The "best cameras" are the ones that you would readily take with you and you won't mind the hassle of bringing it along.

    If you're seriously considering a dSLR, you must look into the entire system, which includes the lenses, flash, memory cards and accessories. You have to account for the price of the lenses, the availability of cheaper third party compatible lenses, etc. DSLR photography can be a very expensive hobby - you'll soon find the limitations of the kit lenses that come with the camera and sooner or later you'll want better ones. Once you've accumulated a considerable amount of lenses and accessories and you want to switch brand (e.g. Canon, Nikon or Pentax), you'll have to sell off the entire gear.

    The Sony DSC-WX1- while not exactly a stellar P&S camera (I've tried one at a store), it takes better images than lesser Cyber-shot models in low light. I didn't like its very small plasticky rear control pad and it didn't feel solid in my hands. I thought of upgrading my metal body, DSC-W150 to the WX1 but decided against it.

    Even the sales guy at the Sony Center told me that in his experience, the Carl Zeiss optics (actually they're made under license by Sony) on the older W-series compacts are better than the Sony G lens.

    If I were you, I'd buy the WX1 first, enjoy taking photos and take my time choosing a dSLR brand later. Don't be tempted to get a dSLR just because a seller is dangling a bargain price tag in front of you.

  • Amit

    May 10, 2010 04:35 pm

    I was in a store to get a Sony wx1 and found that the store was giving out sony dslr-a200 on a heavy discount. the wx1 was $326 and a200 for $377. i had already spend a month deciding between a dslr and point and shoot. but this offer is really tempting to go for the a200.
    Please help me make a decision, the offer wont last long.

  • Debra

    March 20, 2010 05:21 am

    Thanks Stratman and rmvandy for your prompt and thorough advice!!!!

  • Tariq Khan

    March 18, 2010 11:51 pm

    Nice article, it helped me to chose between point and shoot and DSLR.

    Thanks.
    Tariq

  • Gabriel Zamora

    March 16, 2010 10:39 am

    ok, thank you very much for your answers, they have been very helpful, and now i will prevent to do it (ihave never done that, by the way)

  • rmvandy

    March 16, 2010 07:33 am

    Hey, boys and girls! If you buy a camera after reading this, or recently got one after getting recommendations here, how about writing us other readers to let us know about your choice? We'd like to know:
    o0o What camera you're moving up from,
    o0o what your top picks were and why,
    o0o how you made your final choice,
    o0o is it making you happy,
    o0o do you use a cool feature that future buyers might like,
    o0o where'd you get it and how was the store's service.

    Or just a couple of the above.

    After recommendations from commenters here, I chose the Canon PowerShot G11 (as if you hadn't noticed my preferences in answers above). I didn't want another SLR, but thought I wanted a long-zoom (15x or above) lens and 15+ megapixels.

    Stratman questioned me, and determined I was an experienced shooter who misconnected zoom and megapixels with image quality. Sometimes your definitions change!

    The G11 has 5x zoom, 10 megapixels, the ability to micromanage your exposures, and RAW as well as JPEG file format. The RAW format is a step towards professional quality, and the 10 mp sensor has better quality than the 15's that it replaced.

    I already threw away my research notes, but I was looking at some of the superzooms named by others above. Although it's bigger than some, it's still quite compact for its capabilities. Lots of knobs to adjust things instead of having to click and scroll through endless menus just to change most shot settings.

    I bought through amazon.com, about $US 450. I can't download photos via USB as it should (only by using a card reader), so I'm sending the camera back for replacement.

    The pictures and possibilities are great.

  • rmvandy

    March 16, 2010 07:13 am

    Gabriel:

    I second that emotion. Although the sensors don't burn through with instantaneous exposure to the sun, aiming at and holding the camera on the sun (or as Stratman notes, laser pointers and bench lasers) is a bit like focusing your eyes on them. And, as you probably learned in grade school, even one or two pair of sunglasses is not adequate protection for staring at the sun or welding. If you think of it that way, you'll probably never damage your camera's image sensor.

    And if the light doesn't blind them, the intensely hot spot might literally overheat and wreck the microscopic elements and wiring in the sensor.

    Back to Debra and the G11 for medical-office use: I hadn't thought of bleach being used to sterilize instruments, and of course you mustn't autoclave the camera (and probably not the dive case). But you know your bactericides and how plastics and latex react to them, so use that as a guide, of course.

    Yes, I got carried away in listing all the flash attachments designed to function well with the camera. (Maybe I was daydreaming of what I'd do if I were to take the padlock off my credit card.) There are accessory lenses, too, for close-up, wide angle, and telephoto use. In this accessorizing the G11 is unusual. Only the more complex, heavy and expensive SLRs, as seen in the TV crime shows, offer better opportunities, I think.

    As for CSI and other shows using Nikons: Many companies pay for product placement, and Nikon may be one of them alongside Coca Cola, Hewlett-Packard, and Apple.

  • Stratman

    March 16, 2010 04:53 am

    @gabriel

    Don't do it!

    You have to remember that your camera lens also acts as a magnifying glass which converges light onto a small circle of focused light onto your sensor. Taking pics of sunrise or sunsets is OK, but never point your lens directly at the midday sun for more than a few seconds. You can severely damage the sensor by doing so.

    If you're taking pictures of the sun (e.g. solar eclipse), you need to place a strong neutral density (ND) filter in front of the lens to cut down the light. With dSLRs that are not on Live View mode, the shutter and sensor are protected by the reflex mirror, but P&S cameras have electronic shutters with no mirrors involved.

    As long as you can view the image on the LCD, you are in Live View mode - which means the sensor is exposed to whatever light there is. All P&S digital cameras operate in LV mode.

    The same goes for high output laser pointers, e.g. 50mW and above. Powerful lasers pointed directly into a P&S camera's lens can leave a scarring mark on the sensor and permanently damaging it.

  • Stratman

    March 16, 2010 01:54 am

    @Mark

    IMO, the PowerShot S90 is the best P&S camera in the sub-compact category. Heck, I would have bought one, in addition to my existing G11 if the S90 had a back up optical viewfinder.

    I've often encountered situations where the midday is so bright that it's impossible for me to compose a shot using the LCD. My carry-everywhere Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W150 has a zoom coupled viewfinder and in such bright situations I have to resort placing my camera at eye level and shooting via the viewfinder instead. I know it's not an accurate means of composing, but at least I can see what I'm pointing the camera at.

    Less difference between a dSLR and a P&S? Never! There's more to it than just advanced sensors and fast imaging processors in a dSLR.

    Even when the day comes when small sensors in P&S cameras approach those of APS-C dSLR sensors in terms of dynamic range and low noise levels, there's one problem that even advanced technology cannot overcome - laws of optics and light physics.

    Due to the small lenses employed in pocket P&S cameras, the depth-of-field is extremely deep. F/2.0 on your S90 is roughly equivalent to f/8 or f/11 in a dSLR and probably f/22 in a medium format camera. It is impossible to isolate the background from the main subject with a small lens P&S.

    If you have a camera cellphone, just look at photos that you've taken. You'll notice that EVERYTHING is sharp and in focus. The cellphone's camera has an even tinier pinhole sized lens than the S90 - therefore the depth of field is much greater than the S90.

    You will never get a deliberately out-of-focus background from a cellphone cam, let alone quality bokeh, if there's such thing as visible bokeh from a cellphone cam.

    Giving an example, my Sony Ericsson G705 phone has a fixed focus, 3.6mm lens. That's very wide indeed. Even at f/2.8 (the G705 selects the aperture, shutter speed and ISO automatically) objects in front and in the background come up all sharp. That might be desirable for landscape shots, but certainly not for portraiture.

    Now don't get me wrong! The S90 is a formidable sub-compact in its class. Its f/2.0 lens is the largest aperture in such a pocketable camera, but it's not a constant aperture f/2.8 throughout its entire focal length.

    Which means to achieve f/2.0 you're limited to 28mm and thereabouts. At full telephoto (105mm, 35mm equiv) the S90's max aperture drops to a slow f/4.9. Even the bigger G11, at 140mm (35mm equiv) is slightly faster at f/4.5.

    Due to cost and weight considerations, P&S cameras don't come with constant aperture zoom lenses. Therefore, dSLRs will never replace P&S cameras for the ultimate photographic and imaging flexibility.

  • Stratman

    March 16, 2010 12:52 am

    @rmvandy

    Wow, you really pulled out all the stops on that reply, brother! lol . :-) Debra didn't elaborate her exact specialty in her medical profession. I don't know if the WP-DC34 was ever intended to be used in bio-hazard conditions, if it were CDC Atlanta and the World Health Organization would have given the seal of approval for use in medical science. :-)

    The rubber seals would deteriorate if exposed to decontaminating agents like chlorine found in bleaching solutions. Nay, I was just saying that the G11 is a very modular (and affordable) camera with many optional accessories. Short of a dSLR for use in forensic work (notice the characters in CSI and CSI:NY use Nikons with macro ring flash?), the G11 should be more than adequate for "before" and "after" images of a patient .

    cheers.

  • Gabriel Zamora

    March 15, 2010 02:29 pm

    It is dangerous or harmful for the CCD sensor of a digital camera to point it directly to the sun? even more if it action is at the noon sun?

  • Mark

    March 15, 2010 08:15 am

    The Canon S90 is quite a mix up. A superb sensor and better quality photos than your average point and shoot.

    Maybe we will see less difference between DSLR and point and shoot in the future? The one point that is most important is having your camera with you when the opportunity strikes. Unfortunately the DSLR is too big for some situations.

  • rmvandy

    March 15, 2010 07:39 am

    Debra:

    I regard Stratman's advice very highly, which is why I bought the G11 a few weeks ago. Like many instruments and specialized equipment you'd have, this will require some learning and practice by you and your staff.

    Perhaps he listed the waterproof housing because it provides a clean instrument that can survive wetness. Price is about $170. One extra product that may be important to you is called a ring flash (Canon Model MR-14EX). It virtually eliminates the problems of shadows when taking closeups, and reflections are less trouble, too. This, perhaps with an add-on close-up (macro) auxiliary lens, is combination Canon reportedly created for dentists.

    A ring flash is an electronic flash using the same kind of lamp as those found built into cameras. It differs in being a ring of light that encircles the lens. With regular flash you can get harsh shadows; this surrounds the target with light. The unit actually uses two semicircular flash tubes, which are independently adjustable. That will allow you to set them either to create or avoid shadowing.

    List price is $750 but it's available for $500 on line -- about the same price as the G11. An alternative is an LED ring light for about $70. It's not nearly as bright, and the color may not be close enough to daylight for accurate reproduction of skin tones. Its illumination range is one to 9.75 inches. (Find either on Amazon.com by searching for ring light.) Finally, there's a Canon light pair called MT-24EX that lists at $1,100 and is available for about $700. These units cannot be attached if you use the waterproof housing, and they would negate the sterile advantage of using the dive case, anyway.

    I suspect, though, that your procedure rooms have adequate lighting for photography of body surfaces. But you can create a more easily reproducible standard of lighting and camera settings for your before-and-after shots if you use an attachable strobe.

    As the "owner" of your "business," you can decide the standards to set and how to budget or depreciate the cost of what essentially becomes a medical instrument.

  • Stratman

    March 15, 2010 02:02 am

    @debra

    For general photography without the need for long zoom shots, I would highly recommend the Canon PowerShot G11. While it's not a pocket P&S camera, it fits into a handbag or a desk drawer nicely when you need it.

    The G11 is Canon's flagship, non-ultrazoom compact digicam. With a hot shoe, you can add the more powerful and more versatile Speedlite 270EX flash gun. It supports wired and wireless (albeit from third party brands) triggers for taking photos of your patients, when the G11 is mounted on a tripod.

    Its image quality is very exceptional for a non-dSLR camera and the G11 earned many favorable reviews from camera websites. See some awesome examples of user photos in Flickr <a href="

    Its macro capability up to 1cm means you can take close up shots of say, skin lesions, etc. Need larger close up shots? There are optional add-on macro lenses for it, although you'd need a special adapter for the lens.

    Canon has a heavy duty waterproof WP-DC34 underwater housing for the G11, which means you can take pics of fish and coral - all the way to 40 meters in depth.

  • Stratman

    March 15, 2010 12:51 am

    @sss

    Nikon has never been known to be successful with their Coolpix ultrazooms. The company excels in the midrange and high end dSLRs, but not bridge cameras like their P-series. Canon is a lot better in this area, with their ultra-successful S2/S3/S5/SX1/SX10 and SX20 IS models.

    Furthermore Canon S/SX ultrazoom owners (and other PowerShot models) are lucky to have the Canon Hack Developer's Kit (CHDK) add-on software (free) which allows the special functions originally not intended for the camera.

    26x zoom should not be your priority in choosing a bridge camera. Such extremely long focal ratio lenses will always lose in image sharpness at the telephoto end, chromatic aberrations and wide angle barrel distortion.

    If you like sweep panorama, have a look at the Sony DSC-HX1 (Exmor CMOS sensor) which supports that feature. Low light performance is never a selling point of P&S cameras (ultrazooms included). That's where Four Third sensor cameras come in and dSLRs too.

    If I were you wait for professional review sites like DPreview, Camera Labs and Digital Camera Resource to actually test the HS10.

    I own an old PowerShot S3 IS myself, although I seldom use it nowadays can be useful in situations where I need telephoto in good lighting conditions. My current workhorse digicams are the EOS 450D, PowerShot G11 and an ultra-compact Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W150.

  • Debra

    March 14, 2010 10:32 pm

    I am a physician and need a camera for before and after shots --- which one would give me the best quality with the best ease of use (since my nurses/employees are not professional photographers --- or even close). I hope that you can help!

  • rmvandy

    March 14, 2010 05:21 pm

    Thanks, Stratman, for putting CNET in context among review sites. Yep, they are very fast with reviews (it is a division of on of America's largest television networks, CBS, and in ways they're treated as a deadline news department). Sometimes they have good photo comparisons, but I didn't notice any for the Nikon. And, of course, the Fuji hadn't been released even for reviews by Saturday.

    I'm glad you listed the other test sites.

    As for panoramas: I think I found that most recent mid-range and better cameras -- or the pc/Mac software that comes with them -- have the capability to create them. The free supporting software that comes with cameras should get more attention in reviews, I think.

    sss: In addition, the feature is built into many photo applications, some of them possibly free downloads. I'd note that cnet, again, has a list of applications, but I don't want to drag my fingernails down Stratman's chalkboard!

    Happy shooting. Drop a line here a while after you get your camera so all the readers can get your impressions. I'm curious, too.

  • Stratman

    March 14, 2010 03:06 pm

    @sss

    I would recommend that you wait for professional camera sites to test the Nikon P100 and publish images taken with it before buying it.

    Do note that a 1/2.3" backlit CMOS sensor will not the yield the same high ISO image quality compared to a 4/3rds format digicam, let alone an APS-C dSLR. A tiny sensor cannot simply match the light gathering properties of a bigger sensor.

    Panoramic sweep assist and multi-exposure capability (for twilight scenes) are actually not new features.

    In April 2009, Sony introduced both features in their DSC-HX1 (9MP, Exmor CMOS sensor). It's capable of a 10 fps burst rate. The problem is that ultrazoom cameras don't have the large buffer capacity that dSLRs and 4/3rd cameras do.

    So, you fire off a 10-frame burst. The camera locks up for like, 30 seconds after that as its processor struggles to process all the JPG images one at a time. Which means, you'll miss a candid photo opportunity while the camera is busy.

    A comparison with the Canon SX20 IS would be unfair, as it's equipped with a CCD sensor. You have to pit the Nikon P100 against Canon's excellent SX1 IS, which also has a 10MP CMOS sensor. Like all Canon ultrazooms, the SX1 IS has a panorama stitch assist (but not panorama sweep), a good fast burst mode of 4 fps and more importantly, RAW format shooting.

    As a side note, Nikon has never been known to excel in the ultra-zoom market. Nikon makes terrific midrange and high end dSLRs, but historically its ultra-zooms have never been up to Canon's image quality.

    I'm happy with my 2006-era PowerShot S3 IS, which is one of Canon's most successful ultrazooms. It may not have the sharp, 460K dot LCD the Nikon P100 has or the 26x zoom ratio (the S3 IS had only 12x zoom).

    Sharp images and low chromatic aberrations at the telephoto end is more important to me than a really long zoom range. It's an old marketing tactic, like the so-called Megapixel race (more is better) - so manufacturers try to build a higher zoom ratio lens into a point-and-shoot camera to beat the other guy (ultrazooms are considered P&S as they are NOT dSLRS).

    As rmvandy had pointed out, you'll be compromising image quality with a longer zoom ratio lens. If I were you, I'd wait for real world test results from DPreview, Digital Camera Resource, Imaging Resource and Camera Labs websites, to name a few before shelling out my money on the P100.

    I've never considered CNET to be a reliable review source for photography products, even though they are very quick to make announcements of new, upcoming models. Reading the specs is one thing, looking at test picture results is another.

    good luck! :-)

  • sss

    March 14, 2010 02:23 pm

    Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii Mr.rmvandy,
    Thanku so much for bearing with me and answering each one of my questions so patiently............All your pointers havebeen considered and will hopefully help me make a sensible decision on the camera selection.
    Panoramic mode is still on my list and since I dont really tke print outs of my images ,but rather prefer viewing them on the PC or sending them by email,I think I'll go for the hs 10 .In nikon p100 there is only panoramic stitch assist mode and we wont get a 280 degree view ????
    ONCE AGAIN .....THANKS FOR YOUR SUPPORT..........
    rgds
    sss

  • rmvandy

    March 14, 2010 07:25 am

    OK, sss, this is about as well as I can do without actually testing the cameras myself.

    The cameras are so much the same that they seem to use the same 10-mp, back-side illuminated CMOS sensor. The zoom ratios are almost the same. The video capabilities are virtually the same (if not identical; I wasn't paying close attention because I was focusing on the sensor). However: The Nikon is smaller, lighter, comes with a paper manual (does the Fuji?), has a higher-resolution display, and is available now.

    As CNET noted, the superzooms, those that go way beyond 5 or 10x, are simply not as sharp as lenses with lower values. You just can't shoot through that much glass that's only an inch or so wide and still get a razor-sharp image at the end. CNET wrote that people who want a lot of tricks and features, but not high resolution (sharpness and contrast) will find the Nikon to be good. (And, since it is much the same as the Fuji, it as well.) If it will be your primary or only camera, they say steer away. (From both, I'd guess.)

    By the way: back-side illuminated cmos sensors are called that because the order of layering the metals and silicon are reversed, and the metal circuitry, which usually resides on the front, go to the back. Or, put another way, the epitaxy is backwards. No, not an obvious name to me, either. This is likely to be the technology most better cameras go to in a very few years, I think.

    So: BSI CMOS is said to have better light sensitivity because there is no "wiring" blocking the light from reaching the semiconductor layer. Plus, CMOS requires lower power. Finally, because CMOS is the technology of current superchips, there's a lot of designer and foundry expertise available to improve the product. The last sentence is my opinion, and not necessarily accurate.

    Lastly, the panorama mode. I used mine only one time in the last dozen vacations. When you blow it up, it still can be only as wide as the biggest single-sheet print you're able to print (or buy). And in most albums, that's a 12-inch (30cm) max. But if you think the panorama is important, AND TO YOU all other things are equal, go with your panorama pick, the Fuji. If you want it ASAP, as your messages ask, go Nikon. Unsure? Get opinions from a few Nikon and Fuji owners on their opinions of quality.

    But the final decision is yours.

  • sss

    March 13, 2010 09:32 pm

    hi,
    Thanku so much for sharing yr opinions with me........
    You already recommended CMOS CAMERAS and so now thats cleared .But I would like to know which camera would u prefer for the best combination of features amongst p100 & hs 10?
    Sweep panorama is high on my list as is aleast 26 X and low light function.Hope u will help me conclude my hunt for the right camera .
    Xpecting yr reply asap..

  • rmvandy

    March 13, 2010 05:48 pm

    Please let me apologize to SLMS, with whom I was abrupt last night. I blame only myself. I hope you were able to use the link.

    When I was searching for a new camera, I thought I wanted a 20x or 30x zoom with lots of megapixels. Another reader here -- Stratman -- helped me greatly by seeing that what I needed wasn't the same as wanted. Stratman was right. I searched some more and ended up with his recommendation with fewer megapixels and less zoom, but a few features I really appreciate.

    That's what all of us have to do.

    Have I been mistaken for an instructor here? I'm just a curious photographer like the rest of you. My knowledge base is not in comparing modern electronics or the advantages of a specific camera over another. But I'm pretty good with the concepts of lenses, light, and some shooting techniques.

    I wish I knew a "best place" for finding your answers. Usually, you have to use your imagination, discoveries and stubbornness to find what you need to know. How serendipidous that just this evening I was reading on the web about ccd vs. cmos (at howstuffworks.com). It said that CCD, being the more mature technology, had the advantages ***on the date the article was written***. When was that, though?

    CCDs, though, consume 100x the power of CMOS (that's why, it said, CMOS is used extensively in cellphone cameras). You'll find a higher ratio of CMOS sensors in the higher-end SLRs. There must be a good reason that higher-priced cameras have them, but it didn't register in my thick head. I think they cost more, but when included in the cost of a more-complex, expensive SLR, the price is relatively less important. But its advantages in small cameras? I don't know, but if I couldn't pick between two otherwise-equal cameras, I'd probably go CMOS. Gut feeling, and sometimes the gut has a memory the brain can't recall.

    Please search the photography sites for yourself. I looked all over Wikipedia.org and howstuffworks.com, but didn't get a qualitative comparison out of them. I didn't look at Canon or Nikon or Fuji sites because they write to sell more than inform. Look for things on this site, or CNET, or -- well, see what else you can find.

    And I know that's not a specific answer to the P100 versus HS10 quandary.

    There are so many cool features that one camera has that another doesn't -- such as sweep panorama here, auto-stitching of panoramas there, special low-light function, a megazoom that can fill your frame with a hummingbird at 100 yards -- you just have to find the one that's most important, that you're already searching for or had decided before that you needed. Go with that.

    What, REALLY, will you use? The rest is just extra nuts in the candy bar.

  • sss

    March 13, 2010 02:02 pm

    Hiiiii,
    I hav chkd both nikon p 100 and fuji hs 10 in the internet not tested ,.The main diference i could feel is that there is no sweep panorama mode in p 100 and a 4 optical zoom diffr as a beginner in your DPS & PHOTOGRAPHY FIELD .In p 100 VR & sensor (5way ) stabilization is there ,will it give good result?waiting for your perfect decision to buy a camera .
    please compare with canon sx 20 IS also.

  • sss

    March 13, 2010 01:40 pm

    hi,
    canon sx 20 IS ( ccd sensor ) or nikon p 100 (cmos sensor ) which one will give more clear picture?which one has good features?

  • rmvandy

    March 11, 2010 04:04 pm

    Sorry, slim, but I didn't know either camera. The search for answers took me about an hour.

    The two products are roughly comparable in possibilities, but the fact is, I just didn't want to keep searching for data after I found this web page that compares the two for you:

    http://asia.cnet.com/reviews/digitalcameras/0,39005881,45197453p,00.htm

    I think both will do the water torture for you, but asia.cnet.com doesn't seem to think the color and detail is excellent. And the Fuji isn't out yet. Are you really in such a hurry for a camera that won't be released until March 20 that you need me to find an answer ASAP? Maybe if you'd taken your own hour for your own needs, you'd have found that out.

    But hope the information helps.

  • slms

    March 11, 2010 02:14 pm

    Hi MR .RMVANDY ,,,,,,,,,,whats your opinion about NIKON P 100 26 X, 10MP .please advice me after comparing with fuji hs 10 .can i take photos of water droplets with nikonP 100s specification ?want a fast reply!!!!!!!

  • rmvandy

    March 11, 2010 10:22 am

    @7777:

    I had a rainy day with backlighting, so I shot some frames to see how the showers appeared against a dark background. They were not impressive. At 1/320 sec, the drops were visible streaks. At 1/1000 sec the drops were specks of white. Here's how I translate the need from that. Rain is going as fast as it ever will, being in equillibrium between gravity and air resistance. Same with waterfalls. Kids splashing in a pool, jumping in a puddle, squirting a hoze -- those are water droplets decelerating upwards, but possibly moving faster than raindrops. You'll want the fastest shutter possible.

    I also took some shots with the flash on to see how that affected the visibility. Not much help, but some. The closer drops, being a bit better lit, were brighter but out of focus. That won't apply if the water and the source are close together. And I keep thinking of a photo I saw decades ago of a woman with long hair emerging from a pool: she whipped her head and hair back, and the water and all were stopped in dramatic clarity. That took a model, excellent equipment, and lots of shots.

    And Stratman, commenting for another reader above, knows things I don't: Which camera is going to be too slow in responding to your press of the shutter button to catch the image you want. It's honorable and impressive that you know just what demands you set for minimum performance. But I'm afraid it will take a great deal of experimentation, and frustration, before you get the shot of your dreams.

    Go for it! The pictures you get until then will be all the better.

  • Stratman

    March 8, 2010 12:34 am

    @slms:

    If you're into action photography and want take fast continuous shots, the PowerShot SX20 IS is NOT for you. It's a slow poke. Consider the Fuji HS-10 instead as it has a very much faster burst rate. I may be a Canon fan but I have to say that the SX20 IS' burst rate is very poor.

    @ar:

    Not true. I don't know which photo gallery sites you're inferring reject P&S camera images but I can tell you that thousands of P&S camera owners have taken superb images with their compacts.

    Unless you peek at the EXIF data, you wouldn't know if they were taken with a Canon A620 or an EOS 1D Mk III when viewed on your computer screen. This is especially true with wide angle landscape images with deep depth-of-field. Very hard to tell the difference.

    The camera is only a fancy light tight box to capture images. It's the person who really knows how to make use of it that distinguishes resulting award winning-like images from mere snapshots. It's called "photographer talent" which doesn't come with the camera or owner's manuals.

    Have a look at the various images on Flickr's photo pools and you'll see what I mean.

  • ar

    March 7, 2010 04:33 pm

    DSLR is the best.... Canon EOS most of it... with a P&S Camera you can't make a money, but if you got DSLR, with less than 2 years, your invested money to buy that DSLR is returned, why?, cause you can sell a picture you've taken to free royalty web site, but if you use P&S Camera, the website will said " your image is blurred or not crisp"

  • slms

    March 7, 2010 01:57 pm

    please advice me...............canon powershot sx 20 IS or fuji hs 10 ..which one will be good for fast moving object shots ??

  • vandy

    March 4, 2010 05:57 pm

    @7777:

    Most cameras now have the capability. You need to be able to lock in a minimum shutter speed of 1/1000 sec., a zoom range of 5x or more, and probably be able to lock in a focal range so the camera can snap the instant you press the shutter release. You have to be able to test these things in the camera store or find a better adviser than I.

    The point is that these shots either have to be planned for, or you and your camera have to be able to respond instantly.

    I'm sorry I can't suggest a bunch of models. I searched for my own needs, and just bought a Canon PowerShot G11. It's a great, if somewhat complicated, camera if you're not into setting things up yourself. It sells for about $450-500. I've seen Stratman on this string comment positively about the Canon PowerShot S90 (~$400). I looked it up on cnet.com and it provided these cameras for comparison: Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS1 ($220), Sony Cybershot DSC-W290 ($180), Sony Cybershot DSC-H20 ($225), and Sony Cybershot DSC-WX1 ($290). Dunno why it loaded up on Sonys, not to mention at half the price.

    I'll keep checking back here. Good luck in your search.

    Ideas, anyone else?

  • shaheen

    March 4, 2010 03:42 am

    @7777,
    If I were you, I would have waited for the HS10. Then would have taken a few shots with the HS10 (once available) as well as with the SP-800UZ and then arrived at a decision.

  • 7777

    March 3, 2010 02:12 pm

    Hi...,,,
    Finally which camera i hav to buy to capture moving objects,splashing of water drops ? or just clearly give me the specs of a camera to capture these kind of snaps.like shutter speed?, iso ?,aperture?, F?if anythig else is there include that also?why you people are not advicing olympus sp 800 30x ?
    Actually fuji hs 10 is not launched yet and nobody has any xperience with this,in this case shall I have to go for hs -10??!! whats your opinion?

  • vandy

    March 3, 2010 12:20 pm

    @Shaheen:

    Thanks re: f-stops. Yeah, I got the wide-open stops in the next-to-last paragraph, but something above said f4.2, which according to the CoolPix site is the lens's average value. I left out the closed-down f11 because using the tighter f-stop would lengthen the minimum possible shutter speed.

    And my language was unclear regarding the motion of water drops. I wrote, "So if you were trying to get drops frozen in midair, your subject’s motion is four times as far (blurrier)...."

    I should have typed, "Shooting at f2.8 will let you set the shutter at, say 1/1000 sec., but zooming loses 3 (or 4) f-stops, so your shutter will be open 3-4 times as long. The drops can thus fly 3-4 times as far, causing more blur."

    I found another error: I typed the wrong value for the Sony, which should have said “35mm camera conversion: 33mm (1-5/16 inches)”; I typed 1-5/15.

    1/4000 sec. for shutter speeds was unheard of when I was learning photography in the 1960s. Top cameras might offer 1/1000; those were focal-plane shutters on the best, like Hasselblads and Leicas. As well, they were full-frame cameras, 120s and 35mm, so the curtains had to really fly across the film. The size of the sensor in a 1/1.7" is actually only 7.6 x 5.7 mm. (Found that yeasterday; value was based on the working surface of ancient television vidicon tubes.) Much smaller than found in dSLRs, even the new 4/3 format. (My new Canon G11 is 1/1.7".)

    If I weren't such a tightwad, I would have bought a good dSLR with maybe a 35-70 and 70-210 zoomers. Cropping with a lens gives you much more detail if you decide to crop something really tight in PhotoShop later.

  • shaheen

    March 2, 2010 06:58 pm

    Hi audrey-g,
    I have downloaded the manual of the HS10 from FujiFilm website and on page 87 it says that it is possible to select Sepia, Black&White, Vivid contrast, Standard contrast modes.

    http://www.fujifilm.com/products/digital_cameras/s/finepix_hs10/pdf/index/finepix_finepixhs10_manual_01.pdf

    @7777, I do not know about its availability in USA. I live in India. I suggest you contact customer care, USA, for information on its availability in USA.

    @vandy, the focal length of the HS10 is Wide: F2.8 / F11.0, Telephoto: F5.6 / F11.0

    http://www.fujifilm.com/products/digital_cameras/s/finepix_hs10/specifications/index.html

    Shutter speed is:

    (Auto mode) 1/4sec. to 1/4000sec.
    (All other modes) 30sec. to 1/4000sec.

  • audrey-g

    March 2, 2010 05:38 pm

    this is an absolutely good ammount of information here!! thanks guys!
    @shaheen
    thanks for the detailed info on comparison of sensors. i saw the reviews and specs of cams (HS10 and S200)

    what drove me to the s200 in the first place was its super macro function,( which is also present in HS10) and the Barcketing mode with Film Simulation BKT (PROVIA / Standard, Velvia / Vivid, ASTIA / Soft). this feature is not present in the HS10. i am after photos like macros with a soft focus. do you know if this will be possible with HS10?

    as for its weight, i am not really bothered because it is always lighter than carrying a bag of different lenses! and more convenient too (no changing of lenses). this suits my hobby purposes fine.

  • 7777

    March 2, 2010 02:26 pm

    Thank u verymuch for yr instant replys......is THE HS 10 AVAILABLE IN THE US????!!!!!!!.

  • rmvandy

    March 2, 2010 11:12 am

    @7777: Did anyone mention that the FinePix HS10 will not be available until April? (Don't remember where I saw that.) I don't know if that means you have 30 or 60 days to decide on this model, but if you're looking for a more immediate buy.....

    I have more about making your camera decision near the end, but before that,

    @paul:

    The FinePix web link you cited in your message previous to the one in which you attempted to correct me has these lines in its specifications:

    Lens Fujinon 30x optical zoom lens, F2.8 (Wide) - F5.6 (Telephoto)
    Lens focal length f=4.2 - 126.0mm, equivalent to 24 - 720mm on a 35mm camera

    Therefore: The focal length, contrary to your admonishment, IS different. Further, your statement "that '35mm equivalent' number is actually useless for younger photographers" is not only in error, I submit that the 35mm equivalent is essential to ALL serious photographers researching digital cameras.

    Because different manufacturers use varying sensors and sensor sizes, the lenses may differ as well -- especially among cameras with non-interchangeable lenses, such as the all-in-one HS10 in discussion. I guess you're saying that the HS10 "is" a 35mm equivalent. But it emphatically is not, as indicated by the data provided by Fuji itself (above).

    For example, my current Canon G11 is 6.1-30.5mm, defined in my user guide as equivalent to a 28-140mm lens for a 35mm camera.

    I used to use a 35mm Mamiya-Sekor 500 DTL (which I pulled out to check), and the standard lens was 50mm. My high-school camera (in the '60s) was a Yashica 635 (checked that one, too). The latter shot both 120 film (2-1/4" square format, aka 6cm) and 35mm. Its lens is 80mm, average for 120 film, but when loaded with 35, the exposed width is a bit more than half the 120, so the camera specs listed the lens as equal to a moderate telephoto lens of 135mm when using 35mm film. I think the focal plane, or exposed width, for 120 is 55mm, and for 35mm film it's 24mm. Length is, what, 36mm? That'd be a 3:2 ratio.

    Further, I have a small Sony U60 (underwater) camera. It has a 5.0mm (7/32") lens which is specced as "35mm camera conversion: 33mm (1-5/15 inches)."

    That's my hard evidence that lens sizes for cameras do not have exact correspondence unless they have the same full-frame focal plane image size. Which is why manufacturers and review sites alike persist in using the equivalency data. But since I have not looked into dSLRs, I do not know that all brands and models have exact equivalency as did all 35mm SLRs (and, I think ALL 35s whether SLR or other).
    :)

    But back to the buyer and camera in question. The HS10's wide-angle equivalent of 24mm is rather wide, and these often produce "barrel distortions," in which squares and rectangles seem to bow out in the middle. It's usually not obvious for pix of splashing water or kids' sports photos. Its long 720mm will make it difficult to hold the camera steady enough to avoid blurring the pictures, even with antishake engaged. The owner handbook will provide more info.

    The aperture, which is a sort of light-gathering ratio, is a fairly fast f2.8 when shooting wide angle, but because of the extreme zoom, it is f5.6 in telephoto. (A theoretical perfect aperture would be f1, but the absolute best I have ever seen is f1.2, which is something like a 50 percent light difference.) So the HS10 is not bad, but that's three or four shutter-speeds slower zoomed than wide (what, 88 percent light loss?). So if you were trying to get drops frozen in midair, your subject's motion is four times as far (blurrier), or the ISO (sensitivity, which relates to sharpness) is 1/16 as good (grainier, more speckling). (Or maybe it's three times for motion and 1/8 as good. I'm pretty sure it's the former.)

    So for those action shots of the kids and of splashing water that you said are driving factors, shoot at wide to maybe no more than 3x zoom for best stop-motion, and set the camera for 1/500 sec or shorter, and let the camera set the ISO.

    Bob

  • newbie

    March 2, 2010 08:26 am

    For a newbie new to DSLR's what do you guys think about the Nikon D3000

  • Paul

    March 2, 2010 06:56 am

    @vandy:

    nothing about a lens changes whether it's on a digital or 35mm camera. the only thing that might change is the angle of view because of a different sensor size. to be sure, a digital camera with a "full-frame" sensor would have the exact same feel as a 35mm camera using the same lens.

    so... the focal length is not "different."

    that "35mm equivalent" number is actually useless for younger photographers. it's only useful for people who have a lot of experience with 35mm cameras and want to have an idea for the way the lens might seem on a particular digital camera. but the lens has not changed-- it's subjective.

    the APS-C sized-sensors are smaller than 35mm, so the lenses "seem" to be more telephoto on a digital camera than on a 35mm. but the same result could be achieved on the 35mm simply by cropping in on the photo.
    :)

  • vandy

    March 2, 2010 06:31 am

    About lens "sizes": If they are all listed as "35-mm equivalent," then the smaller number is wider. It seems counterintuitive, but think of them as "power," with a bigger number equaling more reaching power. (This is not at all the same as the power ratings of binoculars, but can be thought of that way.)

    Why "35-mm equivalent?" Because different cameras, using different sized sensors, have different focal lengths for the same wide angle or telephoto power. So camera-makers and reviewers need to convert them to the old standard of 35-mm SLR lenses. I looked at asia.cnet.com (searched for "hs10"), and it compared the HS10 to a Nikon Coolpix and an Olympus. It looks like the HS10 has a 24-720 mm (35-mm equivalent) zoom range. That's verrrrrrrry powerful. But compared to the other cameras, it is about 50 percent heavier and 10-20 percent larger.

    The review does not say the shutter speeds nor lens speed (the "f:" number, in which smaller is better for fast-moving objects). This seems to be a very new release and may not be available everywhere. I didn't try, but check the fuji website for details and its marketing puff.

    Also, hard to say which will give a clearer picture in optical (lens) terms. What I mean is, different makers have different methods and patents on their lens-making.

    And thanks, Shaheen, for providing the asia.cnet link.

  • shaheen

    March 2, 2010 06:10 am

    Hi 7777,
    The lower the number on the lens, the wider it is. In the example given by you, 24mm is the widest. It will cover the widest field of view compared to a 26mm, 28mm or a 35 mm lens. That is why a fish-eye lens, which covers almost 180 degrees of view, is typically 10mm or lower.

    To find the answers to your other questions, please visit:

    http://www.fujifilm.com/products/digital_cameras/s/finepix_hs10/features/page_02.html

    The HS10 should be available in April, 2010.

  • shaheen

    March 2, 2010 06:05 am

    Hi 777, to know the answer to your questions please visit:

    http://www.fujifilm.com/products/digital_cameras/s/finepix_hs10/features/page_02.html

    I would not recommend Olympus because the technology involved in FujiFilms lense, CMOS sensor etc are better. The lower the number, the wider the lens is. E.g. out of 24 , 26 , 28, 35...24mm is the widest. It means that it will cover the widest angle compared to a 26mm, 28mm or a 35mm lens, when composing a picture to shoot. That is why fish-eye lenses are typically 10mm and lower.

  • 7777

    March 2, 2010 05:48 am

    Hi,
    if the lens mms are 24 , 26 , 28, 35.....in these which one will have more wide angle?how will we calculate?which one will give a clear picture?

  • 7777

    March 2, 2010 05:42 am

    Hi ,
    will we get clear snap from hs -10 of falling water drops, splashing of water,water falls ,moving objects .what is the normal shutter speed ,iso and aperture to take such snaps?is it with the HS10?please chk about olympus sp 800 for the same purpose.price and weightwise its less.is it,hs 10 ,available in us?

  • shaheen

    March 2, 2010 03:56 am

    The HS10 features a Back Side Illuminated CMOS sensor whereas the S200EXR comprises a CCD sensor. The Back Side Illuminated CMOS sensor offers a 200% increase in sensitivity over a conventional CMOS sensor.

    In CCD (Charge-Coupled Device) sensors, the pixel measurements are processed sequentially by circuitry surrounding the sensor, while in APS (Active Pixel Sensors) the pixel measurements are processed simultaneously by circuitry within the sensor pixels and on the sensor itself. Capturing images with CCD and APS sensors is similar to image generation on CRT and LCD monitors respectively.

    The most common type of APS is the CMOS (Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor) sensor. CMOS sensors were initially used in low-end cameras but recent improvements have made them more and more popular in high-end cameras such as the Canon EOS D60 and 10D. Moreover, CMOS sensors are faster, smaller, and cheaper because they are more integrated (which makes them also more power-efficient), and are manufactured in existing computer chip plants.

    When more light is allowed to reach a Back Side Illuminated CMOS sensor, it can be more sensitive to light and this is useful for taking night shots. Typically, images snapped at night using high ISO sensitivity are dotted with digital artifacts. But BSI sensors allow users to get better low-light shots as the ISO sensitivity can be decreased while retaining the same amount of light capture as higher ISO settings.

    You may be wondering why Fujifilm is using BSI sensors when it has its own Super CCD EXR which can deliver good night shots, too. The company told CNET Asia that in order to highlight the essence of speed for the megazoom HS-10 (it can rattle off 10fps at full resolution), the firm decided to incorporate BSI sensor in the shooter. That said, it will not scrape its inhouse-developed sensor for the BSI variation, but will instead work on the Super CCD EXR and improve this for future cameras.

    This brings us to another trait of BSI sensor-equipped snappers: These cameras can capture fast action shots with ease, with some even rivaling the continuous shooting modes of dSLRs. Most entry-level dSLRs have a rated speed of only 3 or 4fps.

    http://asia.cnet.com/reviews/digitalcameras/0,39001469,62061250,00.htm

    Although the S200EXR features a 12 MP sensor it is not significantly much than the 10 MP sensor of the HS10.

    The HS10 features a wider lens at 24 mm as compared to the 30.5 mm that of the S200EXR.

    The HS10’s 30x lens has a twist-barrel manual zoom unlike the S200EXR.

    The HS10 can record movies in full HD 1920 x 1080, UNLIKE S200EXR. Also the HS10 can freeze the action at up to an amazing 1000fps unlike the A200EXR.

    The HS10 has a bigger LCD screen at 3", whereas the S200EXR has a 2.7" LCD screen.

    The HS10 is also lighter at 666 g. The S200EXR weighs 865 g.

    Hope these facts will help you on deciding which FujiFilm camera model to go for. As for me, I would prefer the HS10. It should be available in April, 2010.

  • audrey-g

    March 1, 2010 07:27 am

    i have read some of this long list of replys and i did not find anything on 'bridge cameras'. these are cameras that are on the high end p&s and have longer zoom and full manual controls. i owe a fuji finepix s5600 bridge camera and it is quite good considered i am a beginner in photography. i use it on full manual and i get good results. the only thing that bothers me is the limited depth of field between each f-stop, that is, it is very difficult to put foreground and background completely out of focus. however fuji is improving in both the sensor sizes and the zoom lenses, together with super macro mode. the frame is still bulky, but not as heavy i suppose. and i do not have to carry (or to buy!) different lenses.
    while in the future i will invest in a dslr, right now i am thinking of upgrading my bridge camera with another bridgre camera also from fuji - the s200exr. compared to dslr, it is way much cheaper and suits my hobby purposes fine.

    @shaheen do you think the hs10 is better than the s200exr? i did not know it existed before i saw your post! i might consider buying that instead of the s200

  • 7777

    March 1, 2010 05:25 am

    thanx shaheen

  • shaheen

    February 28, 2010 06:08 pm

    hey sudeesh, I suggest you go for the Fujifilm FinePix HS10. It comprises the world's first Fujinon 30x optical zoom in a compact camera installed with the high speed CMOS Sensor. The widely renown Fujinon Lens are used popularly in numerous situations including satellites in outer space, TV/film, security and compact cameras. With the highly adept manufacture of Fujifilm, high precision optic and technology are provided for the best 30x optical zoom.

    http://www.fujifilm.com/products/digital_cameras/s/finepix_hs10/

    Dpreview has said about the HS10 that it has "A lens so good you’ll be glad you can’t change it". Fujinon lenses have been used in an orbital satellite to capture high-resolution photos of the surface of the moon.

    The FinePix HS10 also features a full HD movie mode (1080p/30fps) with stereo sound, and the camera’s mini HDMI output allows you to easily display ultra clear high definition photographs and movies on high definition televisions. A new Super High Speed Movie function allows you to freeze action and capture breathtaking movies at up to 1000 frames per second for amazing slow-motion movies that reveal the hidden world of events that normally occur in the blink of an eye.

    http://www.dpreview.com/news/1002/10020206fujifinepixhs10series.asp

    It seems to be a very fine all-in-one camera I am also planning to buy it as soon as it is available here in India.

  • vandy

    February 28, 2010 01:54 pm

    Dear 4x7: A very challenging subject. If you're thinking of those drops that splash up into crown-shaped uh-- splashes, that's a very specialized technique. I saw it written up in a popular magazine in the 1960s, and it took a lot of equipment and preparation.

    However, if you want something that'll stop the motion of splashes by kids jumping in puddles, many cameras have the potential. It boils down to a fast shutter, which also requires that either the lens or the image sensor catch a lot of light. So minimum: The camera must be designed to let you lock in a fast shutter speed.

    Well, that's the start, anyway. That water is moving away from the puddle fairly fast, and you need a shutter speed of 1/500 sec. or better to capture it at one place in time. I'd say a shutter speed of 1/2000 or faster, which is about how long a xenon flash tube lights. That's what's in an electronic flash, and some of them also have controls that cut them off sooner. So if the shutter is too slow, the strobe may be fast enough. (Your question really needs more answer than this, though.)

    Check the message streams on flash photography. Many of the more advanced all-in-one cameras, and probably all the dSLRs, handle a separate strobe.

    Problem: To catch splashes in the act, lighting needs to come from a direction other than attached to the camera -- otherwise, the flash goes right through the drops. So if you use a flash, it needs to be somewhere like 90 degrees away from the angle your camera is aimed. (I'm sure there's someone on the flash stream who knows better than I.)

    Or the sun has to be pretty bright so everything reflects enough light to be seen on the picture you take.

    Those amazing drop/splash photos you've probably seen where the liquid is brightly colored? Very shallow pan of viscous paint or ink, very fast shutter, probably two strobes slaved to the shutter, with the flashes and camera on tripods, prefocused. Lots of failure shots before the one, magical image appears. But regular stop action is quite possible with mid-price cameras and patience.

  • 7777

    February 28, 2010 05:49 am

    IF AM PLANNING TO TAKE A PICTURE OF SPLASHING OF WATER DROPS ...WHAT R THE SPECIFICATION FOR THE CAMERA?

  • vandy

    February 28, 2010 05:23 am

    @Sudheesh:

    Although I don't know those cameras, I did a lot of research on superzooms before deciding against them for myself. Your needs and interests may well differ. Some superzooms (10x and above) use digital zoom to reach their total telephoto power; make sure that the value is all "optical zoom" when comparing. (When you zoom digitally, it's the same as cropping the negative; you get fewer pixels, thus less detail.)

    Also, all-in-one cameras (I don't like the term point-and-shoot because it only applies to the simplest models) don't have the light-gathering capability of dSLRs because of smaller lenses and apertures, smaller chips. If you want to take lots of indoor or evening shots, or switch lenses for closeups, macro, or sports, dSLR is your best choice. Seems, though, that you've already considered those factors. And compacts are, well, compact! I quit the SLR path because I got tired of lugging a big bag of lenses, film, filters, cleaning gear... and missing shots setting up.

    The big benefit for long lenses is in being able to print shots without cropping them with software. The disadvantage is that long shots are hard to hold steady, and lenses lose their resolution at long focal lengths.

    See my post from Feb. 18 for more on zoom lenses. Also, for more info on your camera choices, compare them on sites such as (my favorite) cnet.com, which has video as well as extensive reviews written by editors and owners. You can compare your finalists from Olympus side by side.

    If you're buying online, you provide financial support for the service (like this one, or cnet) when you click on the seller's icon on the service's web page. Just a thought, if you appreciate what you see here or there.

    But the main thing is that you choose something that seems right for you. Photographers do better with cameras they are comfortable with than those they aren't. And to paraphrase Stratman, who posts here, "The most important factor in a good camera is the carbon-based element behind the lens."

    Best wishes.

  • sudheesh .kv.

    February 27, 2010 09:19 pm

    I am planning to buy an olympus sp 800uz 30x,14 mp or 590 26x,12 mp. wthats your opinion about these models compare to dslr cameras ?is it possible to take water drops , moving objects without any shake with sp superzoom models??xpecting a fast reply....................

  • PEG

    February 25, 2010 06:52 pm

    what do you guys think of the sony h20?

  • Stratman

    February 24, 2010 11:45 pm

    @Alison,

    Congrats on your new PowerShot S90 and thanks for sharing your excellent images on your blog! As the great photographer of the 1930s - Ansel Adams once remarked, "the single most important component in a camera is the twelve inches behind it".

    Of course by "twelve inches" Adams was referring to the person taking the photos and based on the huge, large format film cameras in his era. Someone else in recent times mentioned rather bluntly, "if you can't take decent photos with Canon's cheapest gear, the most expensive (gear) won't help you." I couldn't agree more!

    If you already taking splendid images with your old Digital ELPH 1200, your new S90 will open you up to more shooting possibilities.

    Both the S90 and G11 share the same 10MP low noise sensor - one's personal choice boils down to whether one needs external flash capability, remote trigger, a swivel screen, slightly larger LCD screen, optical viewfinder, higher shutter speeds, a bigger maximum aperture, a longer zoom and of course, compactness.

  • Alison Turner

    February 24, 2010 08:25 am

    I love my Canon s90 Powershot point and click! I had a Powershot IS1200 and bought a s90a month or so ago. I talk about the difference here:

    http://alisontravelsblog.blogspot.com/2010/01/does-size-matter-cannon-powershot-1200.html

    I have yet to get a DSLR, but I am really happy with my pictures from the s90

  • Stratman

    February 19, 2010 01:48 am

    @Vandy

    Well said, I couldn't agree more.

    Ultra-zoom bridge cameras use much smaller image circle lenses that suit their equally tiny imaging sensors. There's a price to be paid for their lightweight construction and compactness - their light gathering properties are not as good as dSLR lenses.

    And as you said, long focal length ratio telephoto zooms have its shortcomings. They're convenient for travel (you need just one lens) but absolute IQ will always be compromised, especially in the areas of barrel distortion, chromatic aberration, vignetting and corner sharpness.

    Just to correct you - the G11 (congrats on your purchase!) sports 10MP while its predecessor, the G10 had 14.7MP to be precise. Some people argue that the higher resolution in the G10 offsets its noisy CCD sensor and there's more detail to be had.

    I'd rather settle for a scaled down 10MP high sensitivity sensor in the G11. Its 2-stop advantage over the G10 is worth its price of admission.

    And do join the Flickr G11 group - we have about 1,000 members to date and there's plenty to learn from veterans who are into off-shoe flash photography and add-on accessories. :-)

  • vandy

    February 18, 2010 05:48 pm

    Stratman et al:

    Thank you so much all of you for asking and answering questions. I had to read every comment posted in the last 3 years.

    When choosing between dSLR and point/shoot, think also about how carefully you frame your shots. If you're the type who prints directly from the memory chip, you may prefer a good p&s because many have in-camera editing with fun features. I don't like using digital zoom; I'd say don't use it unless you are a straight-to-the-printer photographer. You lose too much quality, and won't be able to enlarge your work as far.

    I have some notes on super-zooms farther down.

    So Strat, I had been searching for a few weeks online for a good viewfinder camera. I ended up a few days ago fixated on the G11, which you described so carefully. Your review has solidified my choice. My current box is a Kodak EasyShare Z730. It's a 5 Mp, 4x zoom equivalent to a 33-132 mm (35 mm camera). I found the pictures to be somewhat flat in detail, contrast and color. Further, it just didn't give me clean enlargements via PhotoShop or the simple EasyShare software. I hope the Canon G11 will be a good step up.

    I'm glad you noted that it's probably better than some p&s compacts with longer lenses because of the quality of the sensor. I also read that the 10 Mp sensor produces visibly better pix than the 12.2 it replaces. Between that and a sharp 5x lens, I'm going to get a vast improvement over my fairly adequate but limited Kodak. And, it has a low-light shooting mode that combines multiple quick exposures to layer up a detailed, lower-noise image than standard exposures.

    My first and only SLR was for film, a 1973 Mamiya. I bought a (for the time and for an enlisted Coast Guardsman) fairly expensive Vivitar Series 1 70-210 mm macro-zoom. Between that, a tripler, and a stock 55 mm lens, I was a happy camper. Of course, I was in my 20s, and had the endurance to lug all that steel and crown glass in a massive camera bag. It was loads of fun to use, but I just don't wanna hump it around anymore. And, as good as that was in its time, which was above average, it doesn't compare with good zooms in SLRs today.

    I'm going to Alaska, and would rather have a camera I can pack into a coat pocket. Sure, my work won't be as sharp, and I can't get as zoomed-in on critters, but I'm entering old-fartdom, and would rather tweak shots in PhotoShop than try to get perfect composition in the viewfinder. I only print about one in 10 or 20 shots now that I can take hundreds per trip.

    I got some good mentoring from a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer when I worked at one of the first newspapers to routinely publish digital photos (Thanks, Kim Komenich!). Plus, I've lost opportunities trying to set f-stop, shutter speed, focus, zoom and compose -- when I could get them with a p&s preset for expected conditions.

    For you who want 20x zooms or giant telephoto lenses, here are the problems:
    1. Each lens element absorbs some light, and not in all wavelengths -- no matter how hard the designers try. And you need more glass in front of the sensor (or film). And the more you want to stretch the lens' focal length, the more elements and thickness the light must traverse. Less light, slower shot.
    2. Some of the unabsorbed light is refracted and reflected by flaws, washing out detail and softening the photo. More random light, less contrast.
    3. That big tube full of quartz and silica (and the rare earths and heavy metals that are added to the glass to vary the refraction, or balance the color transmission of the whole lens system) and the sturdy rings and brackets that hold things in place or allow them to shift for zoom/focus can be pretty heavy. That's going to put strain on the lens mount and you. Pointing that mass can be slow (compare aiming a pencil vs a vacuum. And as you tire from holding it, you start to shake a bit.
    4. At long telephoto, all motion is amplified -- both in the subject and the lens/camera/photographer system. To rectify this, you need to get more light to the focal plane (film or sensor). Slower shutter speed? More motion problem. Faster ISO? More electronic noise. Wider aperture? You can't go very wide with a long lens -- it's a function of length vs. smallest opening in the system. Anyway, if you go wide, you lose depth of field (which can be a good thing for separating your subject from background) but magnifies even minor focal misadjustments.
    5. The bigger the zoom ratio, the more all these problems combine to reduce the quality of your image. I've had better luck with good exposures that I've had to crop and enhance in PhotoShop Elements (and even in Kodak's free software) than with really long shots.
    6. This and and a couple other numbers are for things I've forgotten to add.

    So search the web for data on your camera choices (I like cnet.com), and test, test, test those long lenses and huge arrays. I recognize that a powerful zoom in an SLR with a large sensor and properly balanced imaging chip will provide better shots than a similarly long shot in a compact, with its smaller sensor. The sensor in SLR vs. many compacts and subcompacts is like the difference between shooting with a 35 mm vs. a 110 (which has a negative about the same as 8 mm).

    Okay, it's late, I wrote about 500 words too many, and too many topics. But if it helps, it's worth my time.

  • Amna

    February 12, 2010 10:49 pm

    @ stratman

    Thanks sooo much for your quick reply! Our internet was down at home so it took me forever to get back to this page and reply. I joined flickr per your suggestion and will be reading into it before making a decision.
    I'm starting to lean towards the g11 or Lumix instead of the dSLR. I don't want to carry around the cam and lenses.
    Thanks agan!

  • Paul

    February 11, 2010 04:08 pm

    @bo_ :

    There are SOME compact cameras with large sensors. Unfortunately, they are NOT inexpensive... yet. (examples: Leica X1, Sigma DP2.)

    There are huge advantages to these, primarily NO MIRROR SLAP-- so the camera does not shake, and it is not attention-getting like a machine-gun dSLR. Also, there is less potential for mechanical failure, and the cameras are smaller. (This may be a disadvantage for macho-men like me! ;))

    Also, as far as my brain works, this could allow for faster burst shooting.

    SOME day I do believe the SLR will die. My neck is sore from straining into an OVF... for serious fast photography (sports), I basically need at least one of my eyes wide open looking at the scene, not the blasted tiny window of the camera. With a live-view, we can even compose the general area using our peripheral vision, and keep both eyes on the action. If "real-time optical" view is the only reason for SLR, then it's irrelevant to me, and to anyone who would rather see the entire field to anticipate action. Not to mention, the view displays are becoming faster.

    I want a large sensor with a fixed 50mm/1.4 lens in a compact camera... and I want the LCD to tilt. A portrait photographer would hardly need anything else! (Even though he would not look like a professional!!!)

    Paul

  • MM

    February 2, 2010 07:51 pm

    I have shot all my pictures till date with a canon S3 IS and am quite happy but now I get handicapped with speed and response time and DOF...

    http://www.captivecaptures.blogspot.com/
    http://www.wow-wonderworks.blogspot.com/

  • Stratman

    February 2, 2010 04:20 am

    @amna,

    The EOS 1000D is a good entry level Canon dSLR (you may also want to consider the EOS 450D for its bigger 3" LCD screen and it's not much more expensive than the 1000D) but you have to weigh some issues with any dSLR.

    If you are an avid photographer and enjoy the experience of taking photos with a dSLR, get one by all means. If dSLR photography is going to be your new hobby, it can get very expensive. You start off with the kit lens, outgrow it and then start looking for better optics. You'll soon realize that high quality lenses don't come cheap and some cost more than the 1000D starter kit itself!

    However, if your aim is to get a decent camera without the bulk and weight of dSLRs, there are quite a few high end P&S cameras that can take awesome images. Consider for example, the Panasonic Lumix LX3, Canon G10/G11 compacts which take better images than the average point-and-shoots with some dSLR-like flexibility.

    There's no point in buying a dSLR only to realize that taking it with you is a cumbersome and worrisome thing.

    Have a look at the Flickr photo pools and browse their discussion groups. To participate in discussions you need to sign up as a Flickr user (it's free) first.

    - Canon dSLR Group
    - Canon EOS 1000D
    - Canon PowerShot G11
    - Panasonic Lumix LX3

    A camera is nothing more than a box that captures light and processes images. You are the artist and your photos depend on your imagination and technique. An experienced amateur or professional photographer can take more inspiring images with a Canon G11 compact than an inexperienced person with a high end professional grade dSLR.

    Hope this is of some help!

  • Amna

    February 1, 2010 10:43 am

    Hi ya'll,

    Sooo, I read through all of the comments and now I'm super confused. Please help.

    I am currently camera-less so I really need help. A quick rundown of my experience and all that:
    I started off with a Kodak Advantix LONG ago. (Yea, I know..those were lame). Then around 2005, I got my first P&S; the Casio Exilim, mostly because at that time, it was the first flat, slim, cute one. After that got stolen in 2008, I got another Casio..I think the Vx7 or Ex7.. That one was an ok camera, although I loved all the different settings it had. (ebay, food, and pets especially)
    I travel A LOT because of my husband's job. In the past year or so, we've been to over 6 countries. We also get moved around a lot...so I have a lot of stuff to photograph. A couple of months ago while in Bali, my camera died. I don't know what happened; it made an odd whirring sound and then just quit on me. Right in the middle of vacation. :( Luckily the hubby has a pretty good camera on his cellphone (N97)...so it wasn't TOO bad.
    Anyhow, I've been wanting to get a DSLR for a while now. I've really been looking at the Canon EOS 1000D, or in America, I think its called the Rebel XS. But, the thing is, I've never really used one, and have no idea where to begin.
    I would like to take nice photographs when I travel/move to new and exciting places. Also, I'm an artist and I sell my paintings, so I need better pictures of them. One more thing I would use the camera for is my sister's bakery. Taking pics of cookies, cupcakes, and wedding cakes...etc. <--but not so much, since I only go home every 3-4 months.
    My budget is around $650. For now, at least. I can spend another 2-300ish in a few months if need be. Should I get the Rebel/EOS 1000d??
    Thanks in advance for all ya'lls help.

  • Stratman

    January 29, 2010 04:13 am

    @ kat.

    A decent bridge or ultrazoom camera will serve nicely if you're not into serious photography. Bear in mind that EVF ultrazooms generally don't yield better results than true dSLRs, especially for low light, high ISO shots as they use tiny CCD or CMOS sensors found in P&S pocket cameras.

    I've been using Canon PowerShot S2 and S3 IS since 2005 and I can tell you for a fact that apart from the built-in telephoto zoom lens, ultrazoom cameras don't give you better image quality compared to the Panasonic Lumix LX3, PowerShot S90 or PowerShot G11 for low light, high ISO shots. I found the S3 IS optically limiting in some situations and decided to try a dSLR for a change.

    That said, I stil keep my old S3 IS. As it has tiny dimensions, it's useful when I need the telephoto power in good lighting when my 450D is too conspicuous and bulky to bring along.

    And contrary to popular belief, dSLRs are not just for "professionals".

    Many novice shutterbugs are happy with affordable, entry level dSLRs from Nikon, Canon and Sony for that matter. You can tell serious amateurs and professional photographers from beginners and hobbyists on a tight budget from their shooting techniques and the dSLR model, lens and gear that they use.

    (It is highly unlikely you will spot a professional photographer using a Canon Rebel XS with a kit lens for a wedding photo shoot OR a novice with a Canon 1Ds Mk III mated to an EF 24-105mm 4L zoom lens)

    For your budget, I would suggest that you consider the excellent Panasonic Lumix FZ35 if you want RAW shooting capability but won't be using a hot shoe mounted, external flash or the Canon PowerShot SX20 IS for its versatility (supports external flash but no RAW image format).

    Be sure to follow the video tours at the end, they'll help you visualize how the cameras handle and function in real life. Both are on more-or-less equal terms as far as fixed lens, ultrazoom cameras are concerned - and around your expected price range.

    Good luck!

  • Stratman

    December 26, 2009 11:21 pm

    @ Jen,

    Congratulations on your Rebel XSi! :-)

    I presume your XSi kit comes with the EF-S 18-55mm IS zoom, which is a pretty standard kit zoom. The other kit comes with the EF-S 18-200mm IS, which is actually cheaper than buying the body + 18-200mm separately, which is an option for certain markets. In Japan, the XSi (aka Kiss X2) comes with two lenses - the EF-S 18-55mm IS and EF-S 55-250mm IS.

    I got the EF-S 55-250mm IS separately on eBay and it's a decent piece of glass despite its low price. It won win any awards, but many Rebel XSi and T1i owners have this very affordable lens as their beginner's zoom. The other lens in the same price range is the old EF 75-300mm III USM, which lacks image stabilization.

    Between the two, I'd recommend the 55-250mm for its IS feature. You'll find the image stabilization useful with the lens zoomed out and shooting with low shutter speeds, without needing a tripod. You'll lose just 50mm worth of focal length compared to the 75-300mm, but at the telephoto end it's hard to frame pictures hand held.

    I haven't tested the Tamron 18-270mm VC lens but I've read mixed opinions about it. Generally you'll be sacrificing sharpness and fast apertures with long zoom ratio lenses for convenience. They're complex to build and cost more than shorter ratio zooms. Professional wildlife and sports photographers don't use such 15x zoom ratios for this reason. At 270mm, the Tamron will give you a maximum aperture of f/6.3, which means your viewfinder will be a bit dark and you'll need high shutter speeds and/or high ISOs.

    When it comes to resale value, same-brand lenses sell for a better price than third party brands. Canon EF L-series lenses hold their value best compared to non-L EF lenses while EF-S ("S" stands for short backfocus) lenses usually have low resale values.

    A good idea is to resort to lens rental services such as LensRentals. This way you can try out the EF-S 18-200mm or any other zoom and macro lenses that you like for a few days.

    As for macro lenses, go for lenses that offer a true 1:1 magnification. The EF 100mm 2.8 macro USM comes with pretty good reviews from owners and reviewers like. It's good for taking pics of butterflies and small animals that scurry away (or dangerous animals like snakes) if you get too close.

    Another alternative is the new Tamron 60mm 2.0 macro, which is priced competitively against Canon's EF-S 60mm 2.8 USM macro. The EF-S doubles as an excellent portraiture lens and is ideal for product photography where you don't need a longer working distance.

    Remember that when it comes to lenses, you get exactly what you pay for. Buying brand new, quality lenses is a big commitment. Many beginners opt for used lenses to minimize the risk of buyer's remorse in case they find their purchase becomes the proverbial white elephant.

    Hope this helps and happy holidays to you too! :-)

  • Jen

    December 26, 2009 03:27 am

    Hi All!

    I got a brand new Canon XSi for Christmas this morning. I have already starting taking pictures. I love the new camera. My birthday is in less than two weeks and my husband offered to buy me a lens to go with my camera for my birthday present. I have been researching for quite some time and am now looking at additional input from others on what lens I should look into. I want a great lens with a long zoom range as I will be heading out west this summer for vacation and plan to take pictures of everything. I also want a great Macro lens for taking close up pictures of flowers, insects and small animals as we live on a farm and have a huge selection of interesting things to photograph. I have a pretty good idea of what I want for a long range lens (looking at the Tamrom 28-270mm or the Canon 18-200mm). No idea what I really should be looking at for a Macro lens. Any input or ideas? I would love to hear it...thanks so much! Happy Holidays to all!

  • Lakota

    December 25, 2009 11:26 am

    I've got a point and shoot, and the main favourite about is that you can film videos with it on the double. Its very excellent for security purposes, catching it in the blue. The picture quality of something is based on how knowlegable the user is.

    Point and shoot is exactly what it is, point and shoot. You'll never be able to do that with a DSLR without holding your camera like a bazooka. On top of that, you don't need an expensive tripod for point and shoots because of how lightweight they are.

  • Stratman

    December 24, 2009 01:37 am

    @ Tejendra:

    Your choice whether to buy a dSLR or P&S camera depends on your needs and how often you take photos. DSLRs give the best image quality with the right lens combination, but they're bulky, heavy and conspicuous. In public places like shopping malls for instance, security guards are very quick to spot someone toting a big, black dSLR with a long lens.

    Before 9/11, security personnel wouldn't bother with tourists and hobbyist photographers shooting with dSLRs. Nowadays, in certain places anyone being seen taking photos with a dSLR is viewed with utmost suspicion. You're less likely to be spotted if you use a compact P&S instead. In a crowd of non-photographers, people take photos with their cellphones and compact cameras. Anyone with a dSLR will certainly stand out from the crowd.

    If you're at Starbucks and take pics with a small and stealthy P&S compact, nobody will pay much attention unless you use flash. Using a dSLR automatically invites undue attention to you. If the store manager or staff don't know you personally, they may chase you out of the premises.

    Security and paranoia issues aside, many owners of dSLRs also own a prosumer compact, such as the Canon PowerShot G10/G11 or S90 as their second camera. Not everyone relishes the idea of lugging their dSLR and lenses around, e.g. for hiking or light travel - so they would bring their compacts instead.

    DSLRs are expensive equipment. When the situation doesn't demand it, I'd rather leave my EOS 450D at home and take my G11 with me. If I don't bring my G11, my Sony Cyber-shot W150 is always with me for unexpected photographic opportunities (it's much smaller than the G11).

    When it comes to cameras, I discovered that there's no such thing as "one size fits all". There's a proper time and place for big, bulky dSLRs and small ultra-compacts. :-)

  • Tejendra Solanki

    December 23, 2009 09:53 pm

    i was really confused before reading this article. actually i was planning to buy point and shoot camera but in my mind some confusion was there about these 2 different categories, but now i m sure that i will buy DSLR only...
    thanx a lot for these informations.

  • matblogger

    December 7, 2009 09:12 pm

    Being a complete newbie in the DSLR arena I just recently purchased the Nikon D3000 after retiring my faithful Canon IXUS 850 IS. I have found much satisfaction while using the DSLR even though it is a little bit more larger to carry around. This site has been a great inspiration actually and I also penned my 2 cents in a recent blog post as well: http://preview.tinyurl.com/yebcqnb

    Thanks! :)

  • Stratman

    November 12, 2009 07:18 pm

    Jen,

    As Canon dSLRs bodies go, if you need video recording capability (I don't!), the Rebel T1i has it (along with Face Detect AF, DiGIC 4, an extra 3 Megapixels more) but currently being the flagship model in the budget Canon dSLR range, it's more expensive. On the opposite end the Rebel XS is slightly cheaper than the XSi, but IMHO the Rebel XSi gives you better value in the long run.

    Usually people who buy just the body alone have the higher quality (and more expensive) lenses in mind or that they already own such lenses. (Same-brand lenses are generally superior to third party brands). The EF-S 18-55mm kit lens is quite OK for its build and optical quality, if you don't mind starting off with a kit lens. Its image quality is neither terribly soft nor terribly sharp either.

    I'd suggest that you also pick up a Canon EF 50mm 1.8 II prime lens as it is the cheapest in the entire range of Canon lenses. While it's not particularly sharp at wide open apertures but stopped down a bit, it gives amazingly sharp images for its low price. It's very lightweight and affordable, about 3.5 times cheaper than the next-in-line EF 50mm 1.4 USM.

    I know a few guys who have the EF 50mm 1.8 II despite owning Canon's costly L-series lenses. I asked them why they bought it: It's cheap, yields surprisingly good images (at middle apertures), doesn't bog them down with weight and if it accidentally breaks, well...the financial loss isn't that bad. Of course there are much sharper portrait lenses from Canon (the modestly priced EF-S 60mm USM macro is a good choice) but for the low price of the EF 50mm 1.8 II, one can't complain of its shortcomings. Great for low light shootings and casual portraits.

    Canon also offers the Rebel XSi (EOS 450D) with the bundled with the 18-200mm IS kit zoom for certain markets in Asia (not sure if this bundle is available in the U.S.) but due to the lens' high price this kit version actually costs more than the more upscale EOS 40D with the 18-55mm IS lens. The camera store where I bought my EOS 450D said that most of his customers who could afford the the 18-200mm IS kit bundle preferred the EOS 40D.

    If you prefer to buy the XSi body alone and select the lens individually, AND you're on a budgetary restraint, I'd recommend that you look into the focal lengths that you're more likely to use and spend more on such lenses.

    For example, if you're into landscape or indoor photography , choose a better wide angle zoom lens with larger apertures.

    For people shots (portraits), spend more on a better standard-to-short telephoto zoom or prime lens. If wildlife photography is your reason for buying a dSLR, look for a very good zoom lens in the 70-300mm focal range.

    When I browse the photo equipment classifieds, I find that people who are selling their lenses cite severely under-utilized them as the #1 reason, with upgrading to better lenses the #2 motive, while switching brands or to Canon full frame bodies (if they're selling EF-S lenses) third. Many people rush into buying their (often expensive) dream lens and end up selling them later.

    BTW, if you're still interested in a single general purpose travel zoom lens, the Canon EF-S 18-200mm IS is still a decent all-rounder. I wouldn't buy it brand new, but would look for a used one in good shape. It's handy when I just want to sling my top-loading case and not the entire backpack, but the 18-200mm's not my immediate priority now.

    On the subject of user's comments, you can check out Canon's site here: http://tinyurl.com/4r4knh.

    Good luck with your purchase! :-)

  • Jen

    November 12, 2009 07:41 am

    Thanks Stratman...I am still looking at lens and cameras, but am hoping to at least get a DSLR for Christmas...just trying to decide if I should ask for just the body and save the extra $100 towards a lens, or just get a kit lens on the camera and save for more later.

    Any ideas?!? Also, what are people's opinions/feelings about the Canon XSi (which is my favorite thus far in my research and hands on tests)?

  • Jacob Morris

    November 12, 2009 01:46 am

    Thanks, I think that I will be going with a SLR. Great article

  • Stratman

    November 4, 2009 07:57 am

    Hi Jen,

    I was initially intrigued by Tamron's super wide ratio (15x) 28-270mm zoom lens (hey, they have an even longer version now: 28-300mm!).

    I've read mixed reviews of the Tamron - some say it's a godsend while others aren't optimistic with its image quality at certain focal lengths, especially on the extreme telephoto side. AF performance is also rather slow due to the complexity of the zoom.

    Furthermore, at 270mm the largest aperture you'll get is a rather slow f/6.3, which means your viewfinder will be darker at that point, you'll also have to boost your ISO (increased noise), need to use higher shutter speeds and you get less shallow depth of field.

    I did consider the Canon EF-S 18-200mm IS zoom lens for my Rebel XSi but when I found out its price (and balked at it), I ended up with the much more affordable EF-S 55-250mm IS lens instead with a lots of change to spare. Obviously, the 18-200mm option alleviates the need to swap lenses - so it's very convenient for traveling light and you're less likely to get dust into your sensor as you're not changing lenses.

    Coupled with my 18-55mm IS kit lens, the total focal length range I have now is 18-250mm. The EF-S 55-250mm is actually a light lens, it's not much of a back breaker to carry it along in my camera bag. I find that for general photography, I use my 18-55mm more often than the 55-250mm.

    I've read articles that narrower zoom ratio lenses generally give sharper images than super-wide ratios. Perhaps it might be prudent to buy a decent and affordable short ratio tele zoom, e.g. 70-300mm and see if the performance and results please you. Upgrade only when you feel it's money well spent on a much better telephoto zoom lens.

    Anyway, a random check on Amazon shows the average price of a brand new Tamron 28-270mm DI II VC lens hovers around USD1,300. Might be a a good idea to buy a pre-owned one for a few hundred bucks and try it out. If you don't like it, at least your losses would be minimal.

    Just my two cents. :-)

  • Stratman

    November 4, 2009 06:18 am

    Hi Cheryl,

    I have the same problem as you do.

    I own a PowerShot S3is and it's served me well since mid 2006. It was an upgrade

    from my previous S2is and I got the S3is because its sleek black color looked more like a

    dSLR rather than a toy. :-)

    Your S5is has the newer DiGiC III image processor (vs DiGiC II in the S2/S3), a larger 2.5" LCD, a hotshoe for external flash units, a bigger 8MP sensor, face detection AF and had its ISO extended one stop further to ISO 1600. However it shares the same zoom lens from the old S2is.

    All the three Canon ultrazooms had one common bane: the use of a tiny 1/2.5" CCD sensor.

    In the S5is, the sensor has a pixel density of 32MP per square centimeter. That's pretty crowded and meant that less light reaches the tightly packed individual

    photodiodes.

    Why did Canon retain the same 1/2.5" sensor instead of increasing its size? The answer

    is: to achieve the same maximum effective focal length of 432mm without having to

    redesign and fit a larger and heavier zoom lens.

    Since the camera's 12x zoom is 72mm at the telephoto end, the field-of-View "crop factor"

    of the camera is 6x (432mm divided by 72mm). That's how Canon managed to achieve a (then)

    whopping max focal length of 432mm (35mm film equiv). Now you know why compact P&S

    cameras can achieve 140mm focal lengths with relatively small lenses! :-)

    You didn't mention the S5is AF modes you used to shoot wildlife, but your camera's AF has three modes: Face Detect AF, FlexiZone and Center AF. I'm guessing that you didn't use the Center AF mode, which meant that your S5is often focused on other objects, perhaps the nearest ones - that you didn't want.

    To switch to Center AF mode, press your Set button until the center rectangle turns white instead of green (green means FlexiZone AF). Once your S5is is set to Center AF, it should only focus on whatever's at the center of your viewfinder or LCD display. If it can't lock onto your desired subject, it usually means there's not enough contrast or light for the camera to focus properly.

    Digital zoom is found in most, if not all non-dSLR cameras. It's a cheap means of getting a tighter shot at the expense of image quality. You won't find digital zoom in dSLRs because of this.

    What digital zoom does is amplifying the individual pixels that your sensor receives, therefore images will look blurry and pixelated. Your S5is however, has a "safety zoom" feature which warns you the point where your images will start to degrade. Whatever you do, don't exceed that limit (it's indicated in your viewfinder). Another option is NOT to use digital zoom at all. Instead, shoot with the largest resolution available using just the optical zoom. Crop the part that you want in your computer and discard the rest of the picture.

    All zoom lenses tend to yield softer images and suffer from focusing difficulties at the telephoto end. Zoom lenses are handy because you don't need to switch lenses (in a dSLR) but there's a price to be paid: less-than-sharp images. That's why prime (fixed focal length) telephoto lenses are often favored by professional photogaphers - they are much sharper because prime lenses aren't complex like zoom lenses. The catch is that you're stuck at that focal length and you have to move closer to or farther from the subject to compose.

    Stepping into dSLR territory for the first time is usually a headache for the novice. I'd suggest that you start off with a decent (not necessarily fancy) dSLR body and invest in a good, sharp lens instead of the other way around.

    I prefer Canon myself because even their basic models (e.g. Rebel XS, XSi and T1i) are made in Japan. Except for the upscale models, lower end Nikons like the D90 are made in Thailand to help lower their end prices.

    While it's not necessarily a bad thing, but as far as dSLRs are concerned, I would expect dSLR bodies to be made in Japan. Low cost P&S cameras are another story, Canon, Nikon and Sony all have overseas factories in China, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand to take advantage of cheaper labor.

    If you like Canon, the Rebel XSi (aka EOS 450D) delivers a lot of camera for the beginner. Don't bother with the slightly cheaper Rebel XS (EOS 1000D), for just USD100 more (or thereabouts), the XSi gives more bang for the buck. Although the entry level Rebel XS was introduced after the XSi, the latter is still more popular amongst novices and seasoned dSLR photographers alike.

    (And if you buy a Canon Speedlite flash, you'll be pleased to know that you can also use it on your present S5is!) :-)

    I'd suggest that you read up the many professional reviews on budget dSLRs. Pay attention to the image quality, especially taken at high ISO speeds. Some cameras are sharper, some noisier, some have too agressive Noise Reduction that details get smudged, etc.

    Wishing you happy dSLR hunting! :-)

  • Cheryl

    November 3, 2009 11:44 pm

    I am an amateur hobbyist with dreams of someday taking it further. People have told me I have a creative eye and should quit my day job. I know I'm not ready for that. Which is why I love this website.

    I have owned the Canon S5 IS for nearly two years. (Actually, some of the information on this site helped me choose this camera as my step up from a Kodak compact digital that worked very well).

    Although I enjoy using my S5, I find that the digital zoom does not meet my needs. The camera occasionally chooses to auto focus on something other than my subject, and every picture seems to need adjusting. It does very, very well outdoors, but it's sometimes too slow to capture birds in motion or wildlife running by. I have shot two weddings for friends, and other than the occasional out-of-focus subject or grainy, pixelated zoomed-in candid picture, it's done fairly well. Ironically, it seems to work very well in Portrait setting, even for things not considered portraits!

    However, I am planning to upgrade soon. I LOVE outdoor photography, seem to be getting into weddings (just got another request), and like spontaneous, candid, zoomed-in shots. The Canon S5 IS limits me, particularly in zooming. It just isn't good enough, and after cropping, the quality is horrible. Perhaps I'm doing something wrong?

    I'm considering the Nikon D90 or the Nikon D5000 (both with lens kits). I have a lot of older SLR equipment that I'm hoping might work, as well, such as Cokin filters, various lenses, and other toys I've collected prior to the digital camera frenzy.

    Can't make up my mind, and I still have a lot to learn! But, for what I need from a camera, I DO KNOW that my P&S -- even with all the manual controls -- is limiting my style of photography.

    If anyone has any suggestions for me, I'm all ears. My budget is approximately is no more than $1,500 including lens.

    This website has been very helpful, and I'm anxious to keep reading. Thanks to all for their suggestions and dedication to providing real answers for real users.

  • Jen

    November 2, 2009 09:52 am

    I am looking to get a DSLR in the near future. I have been an avid (although ametuer) photographer for about ten years and want to move up from a point and shoot. My dad had SLR cameras/lenses before digital came around and thinks I should get a camera body and skip the kit lense and just get one really good lense. I am interested in taking pictures of wildlife (Yellowstone National Park is coming up this summer as a vacation), but at the same time my husband and I are starting a family, so I want a camera that will be great for family and home pictures. I am looking at a Tamron 18-270mm lense instead of getting the kit lense, but wasn't sure if that was going to work for everything I am looking at. I know I have lots of research to do still, but was hoping for some input into what the best DSLR might be and what you thought about single lense versus kit and additional lenses. Thank you so much for the help...your articles have already helped a great deal!

  • Stratman

    October 31, 2009 08:46 am

    @Lemonginger,

    Firstly, my disclaimer: I don't work for Canon and neither am I a professional photographer or professional reviewer. :-)

    After reading your interesting comments and prerequisites for your first digicam, may I strongly suggest that you consider Canon's latest PowerShot G11 (I've just bought one two days ago and am extremely pleased with it).

    Here's why:

    1. The Canon G11 is neither bulky nor expensive like a dSLR. Of course, dSLRs when you are proficient with handling them, yield much more superior picture quality than the average compact or ultra compact. Of course, size is relative - so if you're comparing the G11 to say, the PowerShot A590is or the SX200is the G11 is obviously bigger by comparison.

    2. The swivel-out LCD screen can be useful when taking photos of your dishes or people from odd angles which is hard to do with fixed LCD screens. If you don't like photographing with the LCD jutting out, you can easily fold it back, flush with the camera's back - just like with a fixed LCD monitor. The G11's 2.8" screen is adequately large for composing photos and its 400,000 dot resolution is tack sharp for playback viewing.

    3. Photographing food is best accomplished in natural ambient light or indirect flash. The G11 has a more sensitive sensor compared to most compact P&S cameras and can take surprisingly good photos in low light. Of course, dSLRs are a lot better when coupled with "fast" lenses, but such high performance lenses are heavy, bulky and often cost more than the G11 itself!

    4. The G11 has a "Smart Auto" mode specially tailored for novice users. It can evaluate not less than 22 photographic "situations" in real time and automatically adjust the camera's settings depending on the situation. As you get more proficient with the camera (and photography), you can explore the "Creative Modes", including aperture, shutter priority and manual modes. All G-series Canons (with the exception of the discontinued G7 model) permits you to capture in RAW format in addition to the standard JPG picture format. You can start off with shooting in the normal JPG format and progress to RAW as you get more experienced. :-)

    5. Don't like how the built-in flash makes pics of your culinary work appear "flat"? You buy the inexpensive Canon Speedlite EX270 external flash. With its vertical bounce capability and more powerful flash output, you can experiment with bounce flash techniques (indirect flash) that can give a more natural looking image than with direct flash. Of course, Canon's better 430 EX II and 580 EX II strobe units are more powerful and flexible than the 270EX, but they are expensive, heavy and can make handling the G11 a bit tricky. There's also Canon's specialized flash units for serious close up flash photography, like the MT42EX ring light (requires a separately sold adapter for the G11), but I doubt you'll want to get into that. But it's nice to know that several accessories meant for Canon's digital SLRs can be used on the G11.

    6. Should you someday decide to upgrade to a Canon dSLR such as the EOS series, the Speedlite EX270 flash can still be used with your future EOS/Digital Rebel series. Of course, by this time you may be already buying a 430EX II or 580EX II flash. As a minor side note, I am pleased to learn that the RC60-E3 wired remote control switch I bought for my EOS 450D is also compatible with my new Canon G11. :-)

    7. The Canon G-series cameras are renowned for their image quality and features by many professional and serious amateur photographers alike (most likely they're existing Canon dSLR users) as a smaller and lightweight back up camera. The G-series is also a boon when they don't feel like lugging their heavy dSLR equipment around. Canon dSLR users are likely to own the better Speedlite flash strobes, therefore they can use their existing Canon flash units on a G-series camera. The G-lineup (except for the G7) can shoot pictures in RAW format (as I mentioned earlier), a format favored by pros and advanced amateur dSLR users.

    Price-wise, the G11 is slotted in between Canon's entry level dSLR (the Rebel XS or EOS 1000D) and the cheaper A-series PowerShots. It's also priced (strangely) similarly to Canon's PowerShot SX20is, which is a "bridge" or ultra-zoom camera, but in my opinion the G11 should fit your requirements better than the heavy and bulky SX20is.

    I was also pleasantly surprised by the G11's affordable introduction price - I initially expected it to cost the same as Canon's EOS 1000D (Rebel XS) with the bundled (cheap) 18-55mm kit lens. People who opine that the G11 (or the recent G10)'s price is expensive don't realize that the G11 is actually a lot cheaper than the old (but still formidable) Canon G6 from 2004 and is also cheaper than the PowerShot SX1is ultra-zoom.

    Admittedly I'm a huge Canon camera fan. I've owned several digital and film cameras in the past - a Canon AV-1 (film), EOS 620 (film), PowerShot A80, A620, S2is and presently, an old Nikon EM (film), S3is, G11, EOS 450D and a Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W150 ultra-compact.

    My views of the new G11 are based on the literally tens of thousands of photos I've taken since 2004 using all those digicams combined. Through personal experience I have learned the pros and cons of each model that I've owned - not just features and performance-wise but their image quality characteristics too.

    Personally I would rate the G11's image quality somewhat in between my former PowerShot A620 and my EOS 450D dSLR (but I think it's a bit closer to the EOS's image quality).

    The G11 is by no means a perfect compact digicam (there's no such thing as a perfect digital camera). Continuous shooting is at a disappointing snail's pace (about 1.1 frames/sec max) and is not a suitable camera for photographing sporting events or action packed scenes. While its competition may offer HD or full-HD video recording, the G11 could only muster the old standard, 640x480 pixel video resolution.

    Canon could have designed the G11 with full HD video recording, but I guess the company targeted this model for advanced still photographers who don't really care about video recording (like me) rather than the casual user who prefer full HD video capability at the expense of image quality (as with the slightly pricier PowerShot SX1is ultrazoom). It's also possible that if the G11 had full HD recording (like the PowerShot SX1is), the eventual price of the G11 would be a lot higher making it less affordable.

    As for the sheer bulky appearance of the G11, the camera actually feels lighter than its looks suggest. Casual and first-time users are apt to make the bulk/weight as an issue, but seasoned dSLR photographers will tell you that actually prefer a bit of heft in a camera. A compact digicam that is too light doesn't feel solid in your hands and a bit of extra weight helps to steady the camera for hand held shooting.

    I've read some users' reviews as saying that the G11 is "complicated to use", but in actuality it's not. In all likelihood, they graduated from a basic point-and-shoot model therefore all the myriad features in the G11 look like they have to learn rocket science. :-D

    Size-wise, the G11 won't fit into your pants pocket easily, but it makes an ideal all-around general purpose travel camera. So there you have it - the G11 can be used casually using its easy "Smart Auto" mode or as creatively with its other modes (like manual mode). You decide how "complicated" or "simple" the G11 is going to be for you, not the other way around!

    There's no such thing as "one size fits all" digital camera.

    Small and stylish ultracompacts are pocketable but they generally don't yield exceptional image quality. dSLRs are the exact opposite - they take the best photos (especially mated to really expensive lenses) but are expensive and large. Bridge cameras (ultrazooms) offer you the convenience of one single long zoom lens, but their image quality still cannot surpass that of dSLRs. Ultrazooms are generally bigger than compact digicams, but smaller than dSLRs.

    Therefore based on the scenarios and requirements you've posted, it seems like the G11 should fit your bill nicely.

    Lastly - don't just take my word for it. Sure, there are many other excellent competing point-and-shoot digicams, like Panasonic for instance but if you need to have just one camera (for now), I implore you to check out the online reviews on the G11 first and perhaps, try one out at a local store.

    Hope this helps and I apologize for the very long read! :-)

  • Valarie

    October 27, 2009 05:59 am

    Hi,
    I am a mother of two (one tolder and one infant) kids. I want to be able to capture great pics, fast even then they are moving in almost any condition or location. I do not want to spend a fortune (or half of their colleget tuition, lol). Can someone help me find a camera that will help me capture my kids every action and still stay within the price range of $160-$200. I hope this is not unrealistic.
    Thanks

  • Birdie

    October 26, 2009 05:09 pm

    I have 5 ultra zooms (18x or higher). I call them tweener cameras (in between point and shoot compacts and DSLRs). In my opinion, in that category of camera, Panasonic produces the best quality images. Nikon's vibration reduction is not as good as Panasonic's image stabilization and I have shaky hands and tend to sway a little when trying to stand perfectly still. Olympus ultra zooms produce soft images. Kodak has an extra step change some settings and the color isn't that good. I can't remember why I didn't try a Canon. It could just be they were the last to go ultra zoom or it could be people were complaining about some feature when I was ready to buy. I do not use the movie making feature of my cameras. Ultra zooms have a sports preset if you need to take a quick action photo and cut out motion blur. I use the sports preset for fidgety birds but it would probably work just as well with fidgety kids. Otherwise, I mostly use aperture priority. I almost never use Auto. The Auto setting with any ultrazoom always seems to produce overexposed photos and crazy depth of field. I play with exposure a lot. All of my ultra zooms have viewfinders or I wouldn't have purchased them. I only use the LCD to review and discard photos at the end of the day and I have to take my glasses off to do it. For me, it's the lug factor with DSLRs. I'm not lugging around a few lenses and a tripod. Also, with finding birds in their natural environment, there's no time to change lenses. The bird is on the ground one second, in a distant tree the next and then he's taking off - running, flying or swimming. My photogtaphy improved over my rookie year, not because of the camera, but because I got out more and used the Panasonic FZ 28 and 35, consistently. It reduced my "think before you press" time. Whatever you decide, just get out and use the camera a lot so steps/decisions are automatic and you can change some settings without looking.

  • lemonginger

    October 21, 2009 01:45 pm

    Thanks for a great forum and great information. I am a caterer/consultant. I have a lot of handy and talented friends with great equipment who have taken great photos for me but friends are gonna help so much 'til soon their interest in my entrepreneurship will wear out. I am a complete novice. I'd like to be self sufficient and I have said photography friends willing to give me lessons. If I buy my own camera and learn I won't be at the mercy of favours or hiring out!
    Needs:
    Stills predominately
    print worthy for posters, promo cards, business cards, tags, event decor, advertisements
    web shots including:
    details as big as a banquet hall decked out or, a room full of party goers enjoying my luscious foods, to as fine a detail as the edge of that all natural, whole grain, vegan pie crust I finally perfect into a light and flaky masterpiece or the swarovski I've hand sewn into a bride's bouquet.

    I don't necessarily have a budget but I need to be realistic (no i don't have 90K or 1.2M burning a hole in my pocket! eek), catering has a lot of expenses and I'm expanding currently but I know I'll save in the long run because photo shoots and buying pics from photographers at events I do are costly!
    If I can use it on exciting moments in life as well, great!

    What should I get?

  • Stratman

    October 2, 2009 04:12 am

    Having owned a Canon PowerShot A620 and a PowerShot S3is (both having PASM and scene modes), I discovered that the maximum shutter speeds of 1/2500sec and 1/3200sec respectively cannot be achieved at certain focal lengths and larger apertures.

    I first thought Canon deliberately restricted the maximum shutter speeds as not to compete with their dSLR models, and then I read that it turned out to be more of a design constraint in its iris and electronic shutter combo.

    After five years of experience with P&S digicams (even using manual exposure settings sometimes), I finally saw the difference with dSLRs - their constant maximum shutter speed across all apertures and the higher quality bokeh in portraits. It was something none of my PowerShots could achieve (except for my S3is being able to blur out backgrounds but only at long focal lengths) and I decided to explore dSLR territory.

    I'm happy with my EOS 450D, recently bought in July 2009 and was amazed at the difference it made with portrait shots. The only thing that I'm not happy is that unlike fixed lens digicams, sooner or later I got tempted with the thought of buying more and more lenses.

    Although a extremely rewarding pastime, dSLR photography can turn into a very expensive hobby. With fixed lens compacts, once you buy one - that's pretty much about it. Aside from the Lensmate 52mm adapter I got for my S3is (for fitting a circular PL filter), I was never tempted to buy Canon's optional wide angle or teleconverters.

    The S3is lacks a hot shoe, so there wasn't a need to buy a proper flash unit. Canon does have a slave flash unit for its PowerShot A and S-series compacts, but it requires to be mounted on a bracket. It's too much of a hassle to attach the slave flash and it's a fixed, forward firing type - no tilt or swivel capability.

    That said, I'm glad that I decided to buy a dSLR for the sheer experience and true enjoyment of photography - at the same time having compacts digicams for ease of carrying around. :-)

  • Fernando Lemos

    September 7, 2009 07:19 pm

    I own an Olympus C750 UZ. This has been a perfect company for me untill now because it can operate as a simple point and shoot camera in auto mode, but it also allows completly manual handling. I'm now ready to take the next step and get a DSLR. The only problem is the price...
    However, I do feel the need of improving the quality of my shots, and have more options on things like aperture, iso and so on.
    thank you for this post, it was inlighting.

  • lisa

    August 22, 2009 10:25 am

    The comments here have been great!!! I am also looking for a really good camera to take pics of my son playing sports and general fun stuff. I have been looking at the p&s's, since I do not think I am ready for a dslr. I am willing to spend about $200-$400. Any good suggestions---and anyone know of any good deals, or where I should purchase the camera?

  • Mary

    August 18, 2009 08:57 pm

    This was very helpful. Thanks for scaling down the technical terms. I'm currently camera shopping and have been searching many online guides. This has been the most helpful and objective article I've found. Thank y ou.

  • jenero

    August 14, 2009 04:54 am

    I brought my 1st P/S in 06, then up graded to the Kodak z712 is. which I still use. it's a good cam, has the pasm functions that gives me the opportunity to create a photo more to my liking. Am in the market for Dslr, for better quality.

  • Ab

    June 17, 2009 03:15 pm

    Hmmmmm. Interesting challenge. Check out the Canon powershot SX10 IS as a p&s suggestion. It has 20x zoom and 10 megapixels and is around $300. But........

    Oh my god! You are going to Africa!!!!!! Wow...I am jealous. And please, don't walk up to A LION !

    My first thought is to strongly urge you to get an inexpensive DSLR package with a wide to telephoto lens such as a Canon Rebel xsi with 18-55mm lens and also a 55-250mm lens and deal with the heavier camera. (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0029X64QU/ref=asc_df_B0029X64QU827077?smid=A163DSNSCVE8H3&tag=shopzilla_rev_1340-20&linkCode=asn) very good deal by the way with the $200 instant rebate. The quality of your images will be much better and you will be able to print a large image of let's say....A LION. A trip to Africa does not come around too often and photography ops are plentiful for wildlife. However...you will have to deal with more weight (which is not really that heavy considering you will be in Africa) and I know you don't want that (you should really trade the extra weight for better quality images)

    I would say that image quality and sharpness are extremely important factors that you must weigh before making your decision. If you do get a P & S chances are you will not get a hi quality shot zoomed in at 10x, 15x etc. shooting lions in Africa or a head first slide in to 3rd base.

    Both of the lenses in the package above have IS-Image stabilization which you definately want. You also need to consider that purchasing a DSLR also means you need to buy memory cards, an extra battery and a bag...which they have for an extra $40 bucks...it's a photo backpack. You probably wouldn't have to change lenses too much-you would mainly be shooting with the 55-250mm...if you did want to shoot a landscape or wider angle shot you have your other lens too. You will definately spend over $1,000 on the DSLR package with accessories. I could write all night on the topic....it's coming down to having to carry more equipment and a heavier camera that costs 3 x's as much vs. one smaller and lighter camera that still can get you good images if you are not too far away. ...but you will definately see a large difference in the DSLR. You will also have a lot more options if you plan to grow as an amatuer photographer. If you have any other ?'s I am happy to give my input.

  • Elaine

    June 17, 2009 01:32 pm

    Thanks for the quick response!
    1. I am planning to spend $300-$500. I'd be willing to spend more if it would get me good quality photos and still meet my other criteria.
    2. I will be traveling to Africa later this summer and want a good camera for the trip, with a good zoom so I don't have to actually walk up close to, say, a lion. As for sports, I plan to use it to photograph family members surfing, playing baseball, basketball. Mostly, I'll print small photos (4x6 or 5x7), though it'd be great to be able to occasionally print an 8x10. Nothing bigger.
    3. As for giving up quality, though, I'm not sure how to answer that. If there were a camera that was as compact, light, and easy to use as a megazoom seems to be, but produced as good quality photographs as a dSLR, that'd be ideal. But I'm strictly an amateur, and mostly, I'd like a camera that makes me look like a better photographer than I am.

  • Ab

    June 17, 2009 12:36 pm

    Hello Elaine. I would love to help you but I need to know a few things 1st.
    1. What is your budget?
    2. What do you plan on doing with your wildlife/sports photographs? Will you be printing and at what size?
    3. how much quality are you willing to give up? (this goes along with #2)

  • Elaine

    June 17, 2009 10:12 am

    I've been looking for a camera and trying to decide between a dSLR and a megazoom. This article and discussion has been very helpful in clarifying the choice. Despite concern that I may be giving up something as to the quality of the images, I think a point and shoot with a long zoom is the better option for me because I don't want to deal with carrying around and changing lenses and will use the camera far more if I can just pick it up and shoot. I'm interested in the long zoom in anticipation of photographing wildlife on an upcoming trip, and for sports photography. I've think I've narrowed down the options to the Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ28 (18X zoom, small, light, easy to use -- from what I read); the Olympus SP-590 (slightly bigger and heavier but with a 24X zoom that's reportedly hard to focus when fully extended-- but it's new and there aren't many reviews out there), and the Canon SX10 IS. I want the camera to be easy to use -- but I do want to get good photographs out of it. Can anyone help me figure out which of these three is the best choice? And are there other similar cameras I should be considering? Thanks!

  • Amy

    June 6, 2009 07:09 am

    This is a great article, but I have some questions. Most of my camera hunting will have to be online as I live in the middle of nowhere, but it would be nice to have some questions answered by someone knowledgeable (aka you guys :)) I am mainly interested in shooting macro stuff. I have used just a little Kodak p&s as well as my little sister's Nikon dslr ( I don't know the model number, but I know it wasn't one of the expensive ones as she didn't spend more than $500 on it). I have trouble getting the crispyness and focus that I want with the p&s, and I found the Nikon to be easy to use and more "camera"ish. I don't completely suck at photography, but I am not even a real good amateur (think good shots on flickr). I was initially looking for a lower level dslr to have the option of changing lenses, but I wonder if I might be better off spending my money on a nice p&s. I would like some control as I have no problem with learning and experimentation. Any help out there camera people? :)

  • Sue

    May 27, 2009 11:53 pm

    Hi Ab,
    Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing your opinion. I looked at your pictures and I am in awe (and way out of my league)! What a great trip that must have been. My husbands car just died so I will be car searching instead of camera searching for the next week or so. I really appreciate you pointing me in the right direction. Can't wait to get started! Well, good luck with your future pictures and watch your back around those bears! Thanks again, Sue

  • Ab Sonnenburg

    May 27, 2009 02:02 pm

    Hello Sue,
    Well...as far as reccomendations on a DSLR you are going to be choosing between Nikon and Canon most likely. There are of course other brands but none have as many lenses to choose from or better image quality...and it's really all about the lenses...2nd only to the person behind them. When I made my choice from a point and shoot to a DSLR I chose Canon....mainly because I was already familiar with their cameras. For you the choice is up to you...you can't go wrong with either. The only area that Nikon has that will make any difference to you being that you will be taking pictures of kids in sports is the auto focus system...Nikon has a slight edge over Canon. There are a few other differences but none are much to make a difference. I belong to a photography club and I would say that it is pretty equal as far as Canon users and Nikon. The better images don't come from the one's with the better cameras...they come from the better photographers.
    So...as far as particular models go....there are a couple of new models just released that are good for video capture as well. The Nikon D5000 (and the Nikon D90)...and the Canon Rebel T1i. They are both a step above entry level DSLR's and are priced reasonably..around $1,000 with a lens. If you don't care about video then consider the Canon Rebel XSI; entry level ...or the Canon 40D or Canon 50D; both a step above entry level...I recently upgraded from a Canon 40D to a 50D and both are great cameras...the 50D has 15 megapixels compared to 10 for the 40D. If you would like to see some of the images I took with my 40D and my 50D visit my webpage http://lenzfreak.smugmug.com/?preview=1.

    Just be sure you pick a lens that has IS ...Canon (Image Stabilization) or VR-Nikon...(Vibration Reduction) which will allow you to shoot handheld without worrying too much about a blurry photo result. Also...get somethng with a good zoom range...Canon makes a 55-250mm or a 70-300mm...both have IS. I am not as familiar with Nikon lenses but here is a place you can check them out. I hope this helps you. http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/shop/6222/Digital_Cameras_SLR_Digital_Cameras.html

  • Nathan Segal

    May 27, 2009 04:44 am

    One thing that I didn't see in this article was the importance of batteries and making sure that one uses Lithium Ion batteries instead of NiCads. The other thing I didn't see mentioned is the importance of carrying extra battery packs on location, not just for extra power when a battery runs out of juice, but also if a battery suddenly decides to die on location. There's nothing worse than losing your battery power without a backup.

    Nathan

  • Sue

    May 26, 2009 09:19 pm

    Hello Ab,
    Thank you so much for your reply. I would love to look into purchasing a DSLR camera. I really would not want to lose picture quality due to the zoom on a point and shoot. So if I could bother you one more time, I'd like to ask which DSLR you would recommend for a beginner with room to grow. I know I probably shouldn't worry much about advanced options seeing as how i don't really know what I am doing but I would like a camera that is a step or two above average in case I am able to catch on quickly. I would like to be able to hang on to this camera for a long time if I will be spending more money . Thank you again for your time, Sue

  • Ab Sonnenburg

    May 25, 2009 07:22 pm

    First thing....what are you willing to spend on a camera? If your budget is $200-$300 you will want to buy a decent point and shoot digital camera with a good optical zoom range (digital zoom doesn't matter-once you're in the digital zoom the quality goes bye-bye) and one with around 10 megapixels so you can print large poster sizes. Also consider the size that you would feel most comfortable with....larger cameras feel more like a camera you can put your hands around...smaller ones are more convenient-you can put it in your purse or pocket. also...get something with a good sized lcd-2.5 or 3 inches. The Canon powershot SX10 IS is 10 megapixels and has a very long 20x optical zoom ...but the more you zoom the more you give up in quality with these cameras.
    If you're not too tight on money and you are considering getting a bit more serious (without becoming a pro) then consider buying a DSLR. This takes some learning and practice to know what you're doing but the capabilities you will have are greater. The cost of a decent DSLR is going to be around $500-$1500 depending on if you buy new or used....check out Craigslist. Look into the Canon Rebel series. Most DSLR's come with a lens. you will also want to buy a small bag & a memory card or 2...they're cheap-around $20-$40 for a 2 or 4 gigabyte card. Also...if you are going to be shooting your kids playing sports, a DSLR is going to be a lot more cooperative when it comes to catching action compared to most point and shoots...you usually have to click the shutter and hold the camera for a second or so....with a DSLR you push the shutter button and it is recorded instantly...no shutter lag whatsoever. I hope this helps somewhat....oh...you can always rent a DSLR for a couple days to really be sure you want to spend the money.

    Read more: "Should you buy a DSLR or Point and Shoot Digital Camera?#comments#comments" - http://digital-photography-school.com/should-you-buy-a-dslr-or-point-and-shoot-digital-camera#comments#ixzz0GVSuDIGE&A

  • Sue

    May 25, 2009 07:32 am

    Hello there,
    I am looking for advice on a camera purchase. I am a mom that loves to take pictures of her kids. My children are in sports and I can't get enough photos of them. I am still using an old film camera ( it is a Minolta Maxxium 300si) but the pictures come out much clearer and brighter than if I use my son's digital camera which is a Nikon with 7megapixels and I believe a 5 optical zoom lens. The pictures from his camera tend to turn out either blury or very grainy. Yes, I am well aware this could be my fault. I am not looking to become a pro, I would just like a great camera that will help me to take fantastic pictures of my kids. Maybe have a great shot turned into a poster for their room. Anyway, I don't know a thing about what to look for so any advice would be greatly appreciated. I would like to learn more about cameras but reading some of your posts, well, it just seems confusing! Help please! Thank you!

  • Rami

    April 18, 2009 12:06 am

    Thank you very much, I have learned a lot.
    So, what do you think about the SONY DSC-HX1 ?

  • ch3ryl

    April 1, 2009 12:29 am

    really enjoy this piece - as I am moving on to my first DSLR soon. :)

  • noelito m lacsamana

    February 15, 2009 11:07 am

    thank you very much for the very informative article on buyers guide to cameras both point and shoot and dslr. I hope i can start taking good pictures with my dslr. thanks again

  • Fumu

    February 11, 2009 11:37 am

    Great web site. Lots of good info. I have a Lumix DMC FZ7 that has been a wonderful camera. It replaced my Pentax MZ50 film SLR. It has been wonderful to point and shoot with gay abandon and not worry about processing costs. I have just recently upgraded to the Pentax K20 DSLR. Now I have the best of both worlds. Lots of work ahead for me to refamiliarise myself with a true SLR but I look forward to the challange. Despite this, the Lumix will not be too far from hand has it has brilliant manual capabilities but best of all, it will do video...low quality but better than nothing.

  • The_Stig

    January 29, 2009 06:30 am

    Great webite Darren - I stumbled across it looking for an answer to a question I had.

    For a long time I had a Canon S2-IS, and I grew in interest and ability to where it could no longer do what I wanted to do. But when I had it I was able to make some nice pictures as my knowledge grew. I've had my eye on a SLR (Canon 50D), but came across a deal that I absolutely could not refuse on a lightly used Fuji S9100. Nope, it's not a SLR, but it allows a lot of control over the shots. It's been fun learning how to adjust things more in-depth to get the shots right, and it's nice step up from what I was using and still gives me room to grow. I'd have to agree with one of the above posts - in many cases it's more about your knowledge than your equipment. For example, just because someone can afford a Ferrari doesn't mean that they'll be able to outrun BMW's on a track if they don't know how to drive it. The point is, keep growing in knowledge and practice, practice, practice. That will do more for your enjoyment of this hobby than dropping a lot of money, discovering you're not sure (or have no interest in) of how to take full advantage of all the controls to make spectacular pictures. Once you get a feel for what you like to shoot and where you can improve, you can make a solidly educated decision on what equipment to get on the next go around.

  • nandhagopal

    January 22, 2009 05:28 pm

    Hai Shaheen,
    Once I was in same confusion, ( u can check above Nandh says: December 18th, 2007 at 5:31)
    So I keep trying to find out a way, how to find out a right lens according to distance.
    And finally I got the formula for that in the website only. Actually this different from your question, but I like to share here.
    Now, what you said about (Olympus 570 UZ- 20x) it is a bridge camera.
    And it’s also good for under any kind of situation for beginners.
    First how to calculate the zoom, which is mentioned in ‘X’.
    If, a camera has 10x zoom (i.e. is tele) Then, think what about the wide angel ?
    Suppose wide zoom has 26mm / 27mm / 28mm. According to this, it might differs.
    E.x. for Zoom ‘ X ’ calculation:
    If, Wide angle 26mm, Tele 10x zoom (26 x 10 = 260mm) The lens is 260mm.
    If, Wide angle 27mm, Tele 10x zoom (27 x 10 = 270mm) The lens is 270mm.
    If, Wide angle 28mm, Tele 10x zoom (28 x 10 = 270mm) The lens is 280mm.
    Olympuz 570 UZ -20x (this camera wide 26mm, tele 20x (26 x 20 = 520mm) so, this is 520mm lens.
    New launch: (Olympus 590 uz – 26xzoom) (wide 26mm x tele26x = 676mm lens)
    Try below formula for considering a lens according the distance & subject.
    Distance in Feet (X) : 20
    Subject Size in Feet (Y) : 1
    Distance in inches (A) = X * 12 = 20 *12 = 240 inches
    Subject size in inches (B) = Y * 12 = 1 * 12 = 12 inches
    Magnification (Z) = 1.5 / B = 0.125
    (1.5” std. 35mm film camera)
    Lens Focal Length in Inches = A / ((1/Z)+1)
    =240/((1/0.125)+1)
    =240/(8+1)=240/9=26.6667 inches
    Lens Focal Length in mm =26.667* 25.4=677.164
    Lens Focal Length in mm=677 mm
    677mm lens, it will cover the distance & subject.
    Thanks & Regards,
    Nandhagopal from India.

  • nandhagopal

    January 22, 2009 05:26 pm

    Hai Shaheen,

    Once I was in same confusion, ( u can check above Nandh says: December 18th, 2007 at 5:31)
    So I keep trying to find out a way, how to find out a right lens according to distance.
    And finally I got the formula for that in the website only. Actually this different from your question, but I like to share here.

    Now, what you said about (Olympus 570 UZ- 20x) it is a bridge camera.
    And it’s also good for under any kind of situation for beginners.

    First how to calculate the zoom, which is mentioned in ‘X’.
    If, a camera has 10x zoom (i.e. is tele) Then, think what about the wide angel ?
    Suppose wide zoom has 26mm / 27mm / 28mm. According to this, it might differs.
    E.x. for Zoom ‘ X ’ calculation:
    If, Wide angle 26mm, Tele 10x zoom (26 x 10 = 260mm) The lens is 260mm.
    If, Wide angle 27mm, Tele 10x zoom (27 x 10 = 270mm) The lens is 270mm.
    If, Wide angle 28mm, Tele 10x zoom (28 x 10 = 270mm) The lens is 280mm.
    Olympuz 570 UZ -20x (this camera wide 26mm, tele 20x (26 x 20 = 520mm) so, this is 520mm lens.
    New launch: (Olympus 590 uz – 26xzoom) (wide 26mm x tele26x = 676mm lens)
    Distance in Feet (X) : 20
    Subject Size in Feet (Y) : 1
    Distance in inches (A) = X * 12 = 20 *12 = 240 inches
    Subject size in inches (B) = Y * 12 = 1 * 12 = 12 inches
    Magnification (Z) = 1.5 / B = 0.125
    (1.5” std. 35mm film camera)
    Lens Focal Length in Inches = A / ((1/Z)+1)
    =240/((1/0.125)+1)
    =240/(8+1)=240/9=26.6667 inches
    Lens Focal Length in mm =26.667* 25.4=677.164
    Lens Focal Length in mm=677 mm
    677mm lens, it will cover the distance & subject.
    Thanks & Regards,
    Nandhagopal from India.

  • Peter Harker of Bowen Nth Queensland

    January 21, 2009 09:24 pm

    Hi What a fantastic way to gain knowledge from an expert. I have just purchased a 2nd hand Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ5 and by looking at your website I got a number of excellent tips.
    Great work team.
    Peter Harker Bowen Nth Queensland

  • Shawna

    January 1, 2009 01:50 am

    Wow this is a great post!
    I feel that I am a pretty good ameteur photographer with my P&S, mostly with my compositions- but I know I have a LOT to learn! I was contemplating buying a DSLR but wondered if I should and if I was ready? Thanks to everyone here sharing their expertise it helped me make my decision.
    Oh, in case you are wondering, I realized that I really NEED to learn the inner workings better of a camera before I can put a DSLR to good use- SO I will be purchasing a high-end ($800) P&S before moving up.

  • Nancy

    December 26, 2008 03:12 am

    Hi, My daughter had a Sony Cybershot DSC P-150 stolen from her. She liked the camera but now wants a digital SLR. Does not take many pictures and size is of course different. What is better? She originally paid close to $500.00 for Cybershot but I don't want to spend even that much to replace camera. What to do?

  • Ab Sonnenburg

    November 3, 2008 02:44 pm

    Shaheen, there is really no comparison between a long optical zoom (like the one you are referring to) and a dslr with a long telephoto lens. The differencene between the 2 will be noticably different right away. Not only in the final results but in the options you will have when shooting. If you want you could do a comparison on your own. Go to a camera shop where they rent camera's and lenses; Rent a good dslr like a Canon 40d or if they have it a 50d. Along with a 300mm or 400mm lens and tele extender. Of course you will need a tripod for truly sharp results. To answer your other ? about the results from the tele converter and lens adapter tube....You will not get great results....the more adapters and extenders you add, the more quality you will loose...even with a dslr. It really depends on what you are going to be using your photos for. If it is purely for enjoyment and the final result will not be a large print to put in a portfolio or in a frame on a wall somewhere then you will be fine with the stuff you are considering. I have tried the p & s with long optical zoom and the results did not satisfy me. I invested in a dslr and have grown as an amatuer photographer quite a bit. Just the fact that you have a dslr will send you on your way to learning more about photography and will open up a lot more doors as far as what you are able to do. But remember this....just because you have a great expensive camera and the best lenses that money can buy will not make you a better photographer. The most important piece of equipment is what's behind the camera...you. If you gave Art Wolfe a $9.99 disposable camera from the grocery store and gave an amatuer the best equipment possible and had them shoot the same thing, I bet Art Wolfe would walk away with pictures worthy of gracing the pages of National Geographic. The other guy...he may get lucky and come out with 1 keeper out of 500 shots.

  • shaheen

    November 1, 2008 05:33 am

    I am so fortunate to have found you that you have answered all my queries so well. thank you. don't worry, you did not offend me, its just that i felt strange that you found my initial query inappropriate and funny. anyway forget it.

    what you think about olympus 570-uz's 20x optical zoom? Olympus claim that "the SP-570 UZ provides a wealth of creative control without the expense of an SLR". Do you agree? do you think that their 20x optical zoom along with TCON-17 (1.7x) Tele Conversion Lens + Lens Adapter Tube (CLA-10) will give me great results even though the 570-uz is NOT a DSLR?

    I totally agree that i would always want longer and longer focal lengths. i want such a focal length that i should be able to click the black pupil of a bird a mile away. At the same time i am a huge fan of macro photography.

  • Ab Sonnenburg

    October 31, 2008 12:10 pm

    12x optical is 432mm. That is the best comparison I can get. Most p & s cameras don't go past 12x optical zoom. It is not a good comparison though because when you get past about 5 or 6x optical zoom on a p & s the quality is gone. But with a good super telephoto lens attached to a dslr you will achieve good quality right to the end of the zoom range. Or if you are using a prime (fixed focal length) lens even better quality can be achieved. And actually I was wrong about the longest lens. The absolute longest still camera lens on the planet is made by Nikon. It is 4500 mm. I don't know if it is compatible with tele extenders or not but I do know that there are only 4 in existence and they are approximately 1.2 million dollars. Excuse me if I offended you with my answer but I did not realize that you were so fortunate to be able to say that $ is no issue. I wish I could say that. Anyway ....if you are looking for serious focal length to shoot close ups of birds or dangerous wildlife or anything small that you can't get close to, you will be fine with 500-600mm's along with a tele-extender. The bottom line is....camera's are not telescopes and no matter how long your focal lenth is...you will always want more. Happy shooting.

  • shaheen

    October 31, 2008 04:07 am

    Let me first thank you for the prompt reply. However, I do not agree that my query is inappropriate and funny. Money is not a problem here. The reason I asked you this question was that it has not been answered anywhere on the internet. Atleast what I know of. Sometimes I want to capture something that is perched high on a mountain or a building but quite far away. For example, an eagle on a highrise building which i have mananged to locate. Now without a powerful zoom lens, i cannot take a close detail of just its head, if i wanted too. I could give you many more examples like these but I suppose you must have got my point. It does not matter if I am about to begin to explore DSLRs.

    Can you also tell me how much zoom is 1200mm in terms of X for example 2X, 3x, 5x or 10x or more optical zoom?

  • Ab Sonnenburg

    October 30, 2008 05:18 pm

    You need to do a little research on slr's it seems. The fact that your question asks what it does tells me that you are just starting to consider getting one. A dslr body is just a very good base for your photography tools. The lenses available to use with a dslr are where your big decisions will come. To answer your ? though...the longest telephoto (zoom) lens that I know of would be a Canon 1200mm. If you use it on a 1.6x crop body you will be at 1920mm. You can use a 2x extender with it to make it 3840mm. The cost for this monstrous beast is astronomical. You could put a down payment on a very nice house (in some states you could buy a house for less)for about the same amount you would pay to own a 1200 mm lens...about $90,000. It weighs 36 lbs, it's almost 3 ft long and the tripod that you need to use it would require you to join a gym. I don't even know if you can get one anymore. There aren't even that many that actually get used...Sports Illustrated owns 2 of the few in existence.
    So as you can see, your question is really not appropriate being that you are at the beggining stages. I must say though ...it is kind of a fun question...you need to ask yourself, what do you want to do with your interest.

  • shaheen

    October 30, 2008 05:17 am

    hi, i want to know that what is the maximum possible optical zoom possible in DSLRs today? which is this lens and which DSLR it fits? Can you give an idea of the maximum possible zoom by providing a picture at no zoom and then the same picture at maximum zoom??

  • Dan@school

    October 2, 2008 12:44 pm

    Actually, my view on the whole subject is a lil different from everything i've read thus far...

    it basically comes down to owning two cameras... first and foremost, if you're reading this, you're probably going to want to get a dslr anyways, so get one where you can upgrade to FULL FRAME later... meaning, either canon, or the new sony alpha line... the reason for this is that, well, full frame has many more advantages, the biggest for me would be the much larger viewfinder (thus far easier manual focusing).

    That shouldn't be a big purchase though, as the entry level cameras for either sony or canon are around $500. if you can, get JUST the body without the lens, and put the money you saved from not buying the lens kit towards buying a higher quality lens. (you'll have to do research on that one, but key things to look for is the quality of the glass itself [i.e., APO]).

    also, avoid the super zoom lenses for SLR's at all costs... if you want a lens that can go from 20mm - 300mm, you're better off not owning the lens at all... as you'll get very poor quality for the tradeoff of less lens changes (and besides, you didn't just buy a DSLR so you could keep the same lens on it all the time, did you? 0:-) )

    anyways... my suggestion would be get two lenses off the bat, one that can do a range of approx 20-70, and another that can do the range of 70-300... (those are approximate values, you'll probably find the ranges to be smaller, but you get the idea).

    okay, having said all that (eesh, that was long, sorry folks!), lets move onto the second camera that in my opinion, you should get...

    well, the idea everyone shares is to get a point and shoot... i'd like to take that one step furthur... the whole reason one would get a point and shoot would be for convenience, but what can be more convenient then... a camera phone...

    that's right... instead of buying a good point and shoot... just put that money towards a good camera phone and you'll be set =)... this offers several advantages, but primarily... you'll have your camera with you... always...

    and then you can take your dslr with you whenever you actually expect to take a photo... and use the camera phone when you don't expect to take a photo...

    just my two cents... er... more like two hundred cents o.O

    --Dan @ School

  • Patrick Charm

    July 13, 2008 02:19 pm

    hi!
    I'm an amature photographer.
    Well...i'm about to buy a new DSLR, and on the top of the list was Sony ALPHA series. I think i'm getting Sony Alpha350. First of all, it has 14.2 megapixel, got liveview function with 2.5fps burst mode.
    And the price of it was only US$ 799 including 18-70 lens. Can anyone of you tell me why shouldn't i buy that camera? ANd if so, which camera should i be gettin with reasonable price like sony and that price depreciation last longer?

    thanks

  • Abner S.

    July 6, 2008 05:48 pm

    Dan-you definately should not see what you are seeing. I would return it and get a new one or a different camera all together-for $300 you should be able to pick up a Canon S5IS. It is the same type of camera that you have-body style. It doesn't have 10 mp's like the one you got but it is a very good p&s camera. It also has the same zoom range as the one you got-12x. The image quality is very good. If you have another $200 you can get the Canon G9 which is one of the best P&S camera's on the market. Good luck.

  • Dan Petrelli

    July 6, 2008 09:14 am

    I could use some help. I bought a Kodak Z1012 IS and I've been trying to decide whether to return it or not. Even when I'm not zooming, it takes pictures which appear either grainy or blended upon any close inspection. Blow it up to real size on a computer and the colors begin to bleed together, like in a watercolor. Is this a failing of the model? I've tampered with the manual settings, and while they allow me to capture daylight more accurately than the Auto setting, they don't help this "watercolor" problem. Can anyone help with some advice?

  • Ben Jones

    June 14, 2008 10:01 pm

    The greatest deciding factor in the DSLR upgrade decision isnot the abilities of the camera but the ability of YOU. Only go for a DSLR if you understand fully and completely what is going on inside. There is so much more that can go wrong with a DSLR than a compact and if you don't know what you're doing properly then simply don't bother. A DSLR will not make you a better photographer. Most likely it will complicate the process.

  • GallopingCat

    June 7, 2008 11:10 pm

    I think one important issue is public safety. Walking around questionable areas with expensive DSLR equipment, especially when you are travelling, might not be the wisest idea. Unfortunately, some of the most interesting and grandest objects to take photographs of sometimes are near areas where the staff at the hotel you are staying at warn you to be careful. Just a thought.

  • Abner S.

    June 1, 2008 07:03 pm

    Wow! 6 mo's since the last comment. OK..well I guess I'm the perfect candidate to post a reply. I have been shooting for the last couple of years on a Canon S3IS P&S. That is an excellent camera with a very long zoom-12x optical which is the equvalent to around a 400-500 mm telephoto lens. However when you get to the 6x's plus end of that the quality goes bye bye. I just purchased a Canon 40D dslr with a couple of good lenses. It is amazing how much more you can do with this camera. The 2 bottom lines are;
    1. $$$$ ...Are you committed and serious enough to spend thousands of dollars for a good camera body, 2-3 good lenses (that will cost more than all but the very top of the line SLR's), filters-each lens takes a different sized filter, bag, tripod-good one's are expensive, multiple memory cards, battery, lens hood's), Adobe Photoshop.
    2. Are you willing to carry around the extra weight of everything you need to take with you including a tripod if you are into landscape/wildlife?
    If you don't plan on becoming serious about photography either as a hobby or profession, if you plan on making 4x6 or 5x7 prints, and if you don't like a heavy/large load with you then I highly suggest you get a good point & shoot like the Canon S5IS, Canon SD series-most are 10 mp's, or the highly recommended (by pro's) Canon G9; 12 mp P&S. important note; megapixels are definately not everything to look for in any camera.

  • qalballah

    January 8, 2008 05:19 am

    THANKYOU for this post. So useful. Explained things in clear terms.

  • nandh

    December 18, 2007 05:31 pm

    I would like to by a point-shoot camera.
    Pixels is 6 mp enough. So, i go for Canon S3IS, what u recommend as above.
    But i want to know about the lens.
    I am instrested in Potrait, Wildlife & Birds Photography (ZOO) actualy my expection is to cover more than 400-600mtrs.
    Even i dont know hot to calculate the between distance to lens.
    How to consider the lens for my photography.
    So, Please guide me to reach my aim.
    Thank,
    Nandha.

  • Jake

    November 30, 2007 03:57 am

    I have both. I have the nikon d50 which is my primary camera because I am a person who loves to shoot in all manual (it gives me the feeling I truly own a picture and the camera was only a tool not a crutch). I also own a olympus stylus 720 SW. This was for my social life. Its shock, water, heat, and cold proof. Perfect for those spontaneous things that happens with friends.

    Now here comes the cons of each since u have already heard the pros

    Con's Dslr- heavy and expensive. One thing that most people don't take into consideration is looks. People give u very strange looks when u have a large lens like the sigma 10-24mm lense on it. (Personally I love it because they ask stupid questions like how many mega pixels that thing has. When that is a very ignorant question in many cases because Mega-pixels are nothing if there is no room to put them on a sensor.)

    Con's P&S- bad image quality, far less control, no viewfinder is a big one for me, and no looks :p

    Unless you know how to control iso, Shutter speed, and Aperture stay with P&S. Because there is no point in buying a 500 guitar if you can't play a cord.

    Then when you know how these elements affect a frame move up and and enjoy the fun of a DSLR

  • Barnaby

    October 22, 2007 11:51 pm

    I just bought the Olympus E-500 on clearance, and I have been playing with it for the last two days. I am very happy with the quality of the photos, and the auto-mode suits most of my purposes very well. Perhaps the only thing I regret about getting a dSLR is the lack of video mode, plus the size of the camera. I am travelling for a year in Canada, and I indend to spend weeks in the Rockys taking photos, but I also would like to spend ages partying with a smaller, more versatile camera with a video setting. Thus, the expenditure of another $250-400 seems justified, considering that it will be for a year.
    In short:
    dSLR pros- high image quality, manual zoom, manual f-stop, iso, shutter, etc, but still with very good Auto mode, can get very good lenses.
    dSLR cons- no video, bulky, expensive (lenses cost more)
    So on the whole, a dSLR's pros far outweigh the cons unless you are desperate for video or pocket-shooting.

    On the other hand, I could just remember things!

  • Asim

    October 14, 2007 02:05 pm

    I completely agree with Carl.

    As on today one may really wonder if it is really worth the effort for a hobbyist (PS) to getting toward Pro-hobbyist(cheap DLSR). The advancement in normal ps and bridge cameras are really fast paced. It may really not be as pleasant an experience initally considering the effort. For layman better keep patience and persistence (chewing gum) as the learning curve is pretty steep from novice and amateur to pro-hobbyist to pro.

    Better anyone buy Bridge SLR like S5IS Canon or Kodak Z series with very good chromatics and optics.

    For Pro-hobbyists like me, the Pentax K100D (i like that) or Nikon D40, D50 is the choice to make.

    For Pros no limits..

  • Peter

    October 14, 2007 04:52 am

    I am off to buy the casio ex-v8sr for the sole purpose of macro photography in the operating room. I have a DSLR but used my sony cyber shot with 10x lens for years with great success until it died and then my nikon S10 also with great success until it was stolen. I have tried all P&S, including leica etc and found the focusing capability of the casio the best to get into a small space of 1" wide and 1" deep with perfect focus the best...multiple AF modes. Not sure though technically advantage of 3x versus 7x lens helping me with macro but I have found that works even though I believe it helps zoom principally. I have found that I can get a sharper image with a smaller size file with the better lens.

    Hope this helps.

  • Photothusiast

    October 6, 2007 05:11 am

    I bought the Canon s3, and I've yet to be disappointed with the quality of the pictures. It got the best reviews of a point and shoot camera within a price range even 200-300$ more then it costs. I strongly recommend this camera to anyone who wants an advanced point and shoot with the ability to take great "off the cuff" auto mode photos as well as a great deal of control over settings in manual mode.

  • BeReal

    September 26, 2007 02:16 pm

    I think the decision would primarily depend upon the user's interest. a casual photographer doesnt need a DSLR. and if a newbie is interested then i think he must initially start with a gud PnS cam like the S3 IS, etc. Once you know how to work on some manual functions and the technicalities, then move onto the DSLRs.

  • Paxson

    September 25, 2007 04:32 am

    Like most people who post messages in places like this, I suffer from sporadic bouts of gearhead-ism. It's easy to forget that taking great photos is (give or take) 80% setting up a great shot, 15% knowing how to use your camera, 4% the camera itself, and the last 1% is just plain stupid luck.

    Case in point: I won a Backpacker Magazine photo contest a couple years back. Aperture? Film speed? No idea. The photo worked because the sunset over the Alaskan ocean cast the icebergs in surreal shades of orange and pink. The camera was a 2mp Canon A40. 2mp, right.

    Get out there and take some pictures.

  • Spoteria

    September 5, 2007 05:03 pm

    Recently I was searching for a point and shoot camera and I decided on the Fujifilm F31fd. The camera provides manual functions such as the aperture or shutter priority. The night shots was fantastic!

    I feel DSLR is a good investment only if you are thinking of becoming a serious photographer. For the start I will go for a good digital point and shoot camera. If my photography develops into next level of interest and I do not mind carrying a DSLR when I travel, I guess I really do not mind getting a DSLR.

  • John

    September 1, 2007 07:07 pm

    My Canon 300D has been stolen. Together with all three lenses. That camera just was fantastic. However, I couldn't spent all theta money again to instanstly buy another DSLR.

    I decided to give a P&S camera a shot and got the Canon IXUS 60. I am really positively surprised. And I love the video feature, which I never could do with the DSLR before. Of course another DSLR is still on my shopping list. But I do not want to miss my IXUS anymore.

    Yes, both systems complement each other

  • Ken

    August 31, 2007 08:52 am

    As these type of questions are asked for new photography enthusiast, as like my self, I certainly suggest to start with P&S. I just bought a Canon IXUS70 and am happy with it. To a certain extend I can learn to use different 'manual' setting thats available with the camera. Since I am stil learning how to get good pictures, I have not concentrate on detail tecnicalities. Until I feel I am able to get good decent pictures with my P&S I wll then later consider looking at DSLR.

  • elmer

    August 29, 2007 05:16 pm

    in my case, i would prefer having both. but since i dont have the budget, i only have a point and shoot.

  • Terry

    August 29, 2007 05:55 am

    I have both. The reasons I have the DSLR are all mentioned above. The P&S, mostly covered. The other reasons are:
    1) Theft. P&S in my pocket is way less obvious and less appealing of a target than my Lumix. Especially relevant for travelers.
    2) Video. No, it's not professional quality, but if a picture is worth a thousand words, a video could be worth a thousand images. Scenario: The palm trees swaying in a hurricane.
    3) Underwater. DSLR underwater cases are like 1000 USD. I got a bag for my Lumix for 15 USD. Again, not pro, but fun at the pool or snorkeling.
    4) Sturdiness. Just like beetles survive greater falls than people, small cameras survive greater falls than big'uns. (with exceptions).

    My Panasonic Lumix (DMC-FX9) is ALWAYS with me. Leica optics guarantee quality images, and the size is just right. It also does great macro without requiring another 300 USD lens. ;)

  • Christel

    August 29, 2007 02:46 am

    Heather Kay: Thanks for the explanation.

  • Bo_

    August 27, 2007 04:11 am

    I have a Canon Ixus 40 (elph in the US) and a Canon powershot s3is. The Ixus fits in my shirt pocket - and therefore I can use it everywhere. The s3is was my "upgrade" to a real camera - and I love it - I use all the manual settings - but I have to admit that the DOF and the noise are problematic. To ensure a decent picture - I need an ISO of less that 200 (I normally only use 100 or 80) or else… And I can only get a narrow DOF with macro - or when I use max zoom. And it has a 12x zoom - so to take a good portrait I need a great distance…

    I sometimes wonder why no one builds a "non-DSLR" with a large sensor - exchangeable lenses? The mirror with its mechanic parts we don’t need and therefore it will be cheaper than a real dSLR - and I will be able to afford it ;-) Okay there's probably some technical reason why..

  • William

    August 26, 2007 09:23 am

    I got similar questions from my friends many times. My standard reply to them is "what do you want to get from the digital photos"

    It looks nice to carry a DSLR with big lens running around but it is heavier and most likely more expensive. It requires some level of technical skill and most important - the work after taking the photo.

    I usually recommend the beginner to have a simple pocket size point and shoot camera first. The new P&S camera product reasonable quality pictures. I always stress that photography is largely depends on the mood, the time you take the photo. The more you do, the better picture you can make. Carry a big camera may hinter the creativity for ordinary people

  • Matthew Miller

    August 26, 2007 05:48 am

    Lizzy -- Pentax K10D (and presumably its successors) will give you a dust-sealed dSLR at a relatively affordable price. Probably better-sealed than the Sony R1, actually.

  • Lizzy

    August 25, 2007 02:17 pm

    I have a higher end P&S Sony R1 and I love it for what I shoot. Altho it looks like a dslr and has the RAW capability, manual settings, scene modes etc...for me it works the best because of shooting in so much dust. My biggest fear of moving into a dslr is dust along with the expense of various lenses. I may not have a choice as there are few cameras coming out that will fill the footprints of the R1. The combination of limited budgets, small end user groups, desired results, ease of operation, and total expense, make for a niche market that few cameras manufactures care to fill.

  • Matthew Miller

    August 25, 2007 01:05 pm

    Er, what cameras are being marketed as dSLRs when they're not? If you mean the new "live view" feature on some models, note that they *all* also can operate in normal mirror-to-viewfinder mode.

  • Darren

    August 25, 2007 08:17 am

    Thanks Norm Monkey - great commments on Live View!

  • Carl

    August 25, 2007 06:55 am

    Here's another subtle point: P&S cameras are usually designed to produce "snappier" pictures right off the bat, while dSLRs are usually calibrated for a more neutral output. Those moving from a P&S to a dSLR will see this and wonder why the dSLR picture doesn't always look any better. I have both types of cameras and I find I must frequently sharpen and enhance my dSLR pictures to give them a bit more zip.

  • Ken Laninga

    August 25, 2007 06:01 am

    I bought a $1900. DSLR but took it back and got a SILENT camera; the shutter sound scared away the big game I was shooting.

  • NormMonkey

    August 25, 2007 03:49 am

    I've thought off-and-on about getting a P&S for the pocket-size convenience for a long time.

    I keep deciding not to. I figure
    (a) if an image is worth taking, it's worth taking with the best equipment;
    (b) why buy an expensive camera and leave it on the shelf?
    (c) I can take just my camera and one attached lens in a smaller pouch to specific events, if I want less weight (not quite the same as P&S, but less weight than my full kit);
    (d) I could the P&S money towards some quality optics.

    It's true there's no dSLR substitute for having a tiny camera in-pocket, available at all times. I'd just rather get in the habit of bringing my good camera with me everywhere, instead.

  • NormMonkey

    August 25, 2007 03:30 am

    A quick note about Live View on dSLRs: this feature is not designed to work the same way it does on P&S cameras. Users planning to jump from P&S to a dSLR with LV, who plan to use it to frame their shots the same way they do with their P&S, will be sorely disappointed.

    The Live View in a dSLR helps the photog deal with situations like ground-level or above-head shooting, when you can't see through the viewfinder. You pay a price, though: there's a shutter lag when using LV (the mirror snaps down and then back up), and the LV can't focus well. As well, the displayed histogram on the LV may be off from the actual shot, especially for edge cases (long exposures, IR photography).

    --

    Technical details: dSLRs have their AE and AF sensors behind the mirror. While the mirror is up out of the way for Live View, the camera can't focus nor can it get exposure info (beyond adjusting the sensor's sensitivity). When the user wants to take a shot, the mirror snaps back down so the AE and AF sensors can do their thing. As well, the shutter must close and the sensor must be cleared and reset. Then the mirror snaps back up and the exposure proceeds as normal.

    More technical details: In a P&S camera, the AE and AF can be done using data right from the sensor. The much larger sensors (smaller DoF) and finer optics in a dSLR require using the traditional AF methods.

  • char*

    August 25, 2007 12:57 am

    I have a Nikon D50 and I am looking into purchasing a P&S camera as well. I don't carry my DSLR with me for the reason of I have so much additional equipment (Lensbabies, extra lenses, batteries, filters, etc...) and I don't like half done shots. Needless to say I can't just whip it out like you can with a P&S so for those "moments" you just want to catch right then and there I think a P&S is a smart addition. I think it is very beneficial to have one of each and each one have strengths and weakness that can compliment each other.

  • Heather Kay

    August 24, 2007 08:14 pm

    Christel, the noise referred to was mechanical, not image. By their very nature a DSLR has a lot of mechanics to operate the mirror and shutter, and make a satisfying, if noisy, shutter clunk.

    P&S cameras can be almost silent, even if the manufacturer has added a "fake" shutter sound for psychological reasons.

    :o)

  • Prashant

    August 24, 2007 07:10 pm

    Since I use my photos only for collection purpose, and for sending them via email, I find P&S camera very good. I have got a Canon Powershot SD1000, and it is much much better than what I had expected. :-)

  • Christel

    August 24, 2007 04:59 pm

    May I say that the DSLR's are not noisier than compact camera's?
    Because of the small sensor in a compact cam, the pixels stand very close to each other and create so more noise.
    And the DSLR's do have most of the time a better noise reduction. Look at a picture made with an 350D at ISO 1600, and a picture with an compact cam at ISO 1600.
    In my opinion is the compact cam more noisy than you ever want.
    Or am I wrong?

  • ROB

    August 24, 2007 01:19 pm

    Another great article and observant responses too.

    I say both as Cedric noted! The dSLR for the creativity, flexibility, high shutter rate, etc, etc and the P+S for the small size, have it with me all the time convinience.

    Also as Shawn said, I would love RAW in my P+S. Most though have antiquated implimentations which renders it too slow to be usable.

  • Loyd

    August 24, 2007 08:07 am

    I agree with Cedric. Best to have both.. I find my canon digital elph stuck in my pocket going everywhere with me, while my DSLR gets left behind for many events either from fear of theft or damage..

  • Dennis

    August 24, 2007 06:45 am

    Most people will "upgrade" from point and shoot to DSLR. so in that case, they too have best of both worlds

  • Cedric

    August 24, 2007 03:44 am

    Well, personally I find quite convenient to have one of each as you cannot always carry your DSLR with you.

    I'm quite happy with Ricoh Caplio R6 but new shock and water proof Olympus SW 790/795 might be the perfect companion of a DSLR too as it they get access where DSLR's can hardly go.

    Regrettably RAW format is only available on the Panasonic LX-2 / Leica D-Lux 3.

  • shimonkey

    August 24, 2007 03:37 am

    When people ask me this, I usually ask if they like to use all the settings on their point and shoot. If they are the sort of person that tends to be happy with auto & "night", they're probably not going to enjoy the myriad settings on a DSLR, and the quality improvement of pictures is going to be minimal i.e. not worth the cost and size.

    I say this having shot with a point and shoot for two years before my DSLR, and I tried about every single setting and trick I could with that little camera before I decided I'd hit the limits of what it could do technically.

    I do agree with EL about depth of field. It is the first thing one notices about using an SLR compared to a point and shoot and it's a beautiful thing.

  • Shawn DeArmond

    August 24, 2007 02:44 am

    Another drawback of P&S cameras is that they tend not to save RAW file formats. I could be wrong, but I seem to remember that many of them did do RAW several years ago. Now, I think the only Canon P&S camera that supports RAW is thier G9, and that was re-added since the G8 didn't have it. Don't know if they're still making the S70, but that one has RAW too. Personally, I would love to buy the SD870 IS, but without RAW, I don't think I'm gonna.

    A friend just referred me to your site, by the way; good work!

    Shawn

  • EL

    August 24, 2007 02:13 am

    One big disadvantage of point and shoots which should be mentioned is that they tend to have large depth of field at every f/stop. The article mentions depth of field flexibility in terms of lenses and settings for a DSLR, but the issue is really more a function of the camera formats.

    Even shooting wide open (at the lowest f/stop) it can be quite hard to get the nice blurred background with the very small sensor of a point and shoot (I have seen it said that at normal focal length, the depth of field of a point and shoot at f/2.8 is about the same as a DSLR at f/13). This can be great for things like macro photography, but makes it quite difficult with many point and shoots to get nice blurred backgrounds.

    I learned this the hard way when I bought a long-zoom point and shoot a couple of years back -- the biggest frustration I had was the enormous and inflexible depth of field.

    EL

  • Glen

    August 24, 2007 01:55 am

    Not actually answering the question, I would suggest a camera that occupies the middle ground between P&S and DSLR. I'm very pleased with our Canon S3IS and Lumix DMC_FZ7. Not the superior quality of a DSLR but both have manual controls that a P&S usually lacks.

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