[kegswindows] Re: shopping for a digital camera

  • From: Doug & Betty Pizac <pizac@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: kegswindows@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 30 Sep 2004 10:47:08 -0600


        I'm a professional photographer. I've been with The Associated Press
for 26 years. 

        You do NOT want to spend $200-250 for a digital camera unless you want
to make prints no bigger than 4x6, and even then the quality won't be
that great.  The cheap cameras use small chips, which mean big blowups
-- 4x6 is big. They will also have a significant time delay between
pressing the shutter button and actually taking the photo.  I've seen
delays of a couple seconds before the flash goes off.

        You'll find two specifications when you go shopping -- digital zoom and
optical zoom. You want optical.  

        Optical is where you have a zoom lens that moves back and forth to
produce varying degrees of enlargement onto the chip -- the same way
film cameras work.

        Digital zoom is nothing more than using a smaller portion of the chip
and blowing it up even more.  This would be like shooting a photo on
35mm film with a 50mm lens, making a print from half the negative and
say it was shot with a 100mm lens.  Yes, the perspective is equal to a
100mm, but being that the print was made from half a negative, the
quality is only half as good.

        Good cameras start around $500, and up. They also have a much shorter
delay between pressing the button and taking the picture.

        Also look at the memory card the camera uses. The industry standard is
compact flash (CF), which is used in quality cameras. The cheaper models
use memory sticks, etc. While there is no difference in storage quality,
I've found CF cards read/write and transfer images faster.

        Here's a good tip.  Take a friend's blank CF card with you to the
camera store and shoot some frames (outdoors, indoors and flash) using
the different models you're looking at. Make sure each set is slightly
different and write down the differences with the name of the camera. 
Then take the CF card home with you and look at the images on your
computer and print them out.  Then decide which set gives you the
results you can be satisfied with.

        Each camera has it's own file naming structure, but you don't know the
names until you look at the disk.  Thus, let's say your first test
camera is a Canon. Go outside and shoot a scene with a tree on the left
side of the frame and write it down. Then shoot your indoor and flash
photos. Put the CF card in a Nikon camera and shoot the scene with the
tree on the right side, followed by indoor and flash. Then an Olympus
camera with the tree in the middle, and so forth. Then when you look at
your images and decide the set that starts with the tree on the right is
best, you can cross reference that to the Nikon camera.

...Doug Pizac

Kurt Mincin wrote:
> I'm starting to shop for a digital camera and have in mind to pay about 
> $200...I'm willing to go to around $250 if need be.  A basic auto focus 
> camera.
> Any suggestions about what to look for?
> Thanks
> Kurt Mincin

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