03-16-2015, 03:00 PM
#1
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hi folks,

I know nothing about photography, so look at this as a recommendation for a complete newbie.

Right now I use my samsung s5 to take photos, and then the wife uses her samsung s4.  we have an older panasonic camera (I don't know the exact model as I'm at work right now - it's a 6 or 7mp camera) that we simply don't use...probably because we feel our phones are sufficient enough being that we don't know how to take advantage of any of the features for a standalone camera.

anyways, we're starting to travel more these days before we decide to have kids.  I'd like to have a quality camera for great photos when we travel, and for daily use to when the need arises.

what do you guys recommend?  my budget, I'm guessing, is probably around $1,000ish, with that possibly being flexible, if a deal is worth spending a little bit more.

do you have any site recommendations for newbies or books to read?  I'm going to see if our local community college offers and photography classes.

thanks!

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 03-16-2015, 04:03 PM
#2
  • freddy
  • Banned
  • San Diego, California, U.S.A.
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Andrew, I'm in the market for a new, higher end, point and shoot camera.  The one I am looking at is $400.00 (the upcoming Panasonic Lumix DCM ZS50: www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2477859,00.asp).  Like you, I know almost nothing about cameras.  I am also waiting on this book to arrive: www.amazon.com/gp/product/1133597408/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1.  I want to do a bit more than always have the camera on iA (Intelligent Automatic) and I'm hoping this introductory book will give me some pointers.

Frankly, the more I read reviews of various cameras, the crazier it seems to get.  I know I do not want a DSLR or mirrorless camera as I know from personal experience they are way too sophisticated for me to start off with.  I think a lot will depend on the amount of time we are willing to put into learning a bit of basic photography as well as learning how to use the features of the cameras we ultimately choose.  

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 03-16-2015, 07:01 PM
#3
  • CRAusmus
  • Senior Member
  • Going from Texas to Georgia
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Fuji Rumors just tweeted a great deal on the Fuji X30.  It's one that I have been looking at for quite sometime.

I also hear great things about the RX100III, and the RX10.  However if I was going to buy a Sony I'd go for the a6000.  Interchangeable lenses and you can score a great deal.

My favorite option in your price range is a X100T though.  Great camera, on my list for sure and after I get a few more lenses it'll be in my bag with them. However it is a rangefinder style so it might not be what you are looking for.

However if it's a high end Digital Point and shoot you want, the RX100III gets my vote.

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 03-17-2015, 07:15 AM
#4
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thanks for the replies so far.  I'll read more into them when I get some time tonight.

briefly, this is the camera I bought a few years ago that I still have: http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/panasonicfz8/

would it suffice to start to learn the art?  should I pick up a lens for it?  if so, which?

I also came across this: http://www.amazon.com/Nikon-18-55mm-3-5-...B003ZYF3LO

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 03-17-2015, 09:22 AM
#5
  • freddy
  • Banned
  • San Diego, California, U.S.A.
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I think that, based on what you are looking at, you are going to have to devote a little time, at least, to learning the camera and what you want to do with it (types of photographs, etc.).  If you have your mind set on a DSLR then the Nikkon D3100 that you pointed to here has been superseded at least twice since this one came to market.  You may find that the newest model may still come within your budget.

One last thing.  Should you get a camera that comes with a lens but where the lenses can be switched out, learn the camera with the original lens first.  Other lenses, especially large zoom lenses, will add another layer of learning, can be quite a bit heavier, and require extra equipment (such as a tripod) to be most effective.  Whatever you decide on, please keep us posted and let us know what you ultimately decide to get.

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 03-17-2015, 07:28 PM
#6
  • freddy
  • Banned
  • San Diego, California, U.S.A.
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Andrew, over the last couple of days I have been checking out this site: http://www.digitalcamera-hq.com.  I have been reading their "Guides & Tutorials" in the top drop down menu and am finding a few helpful things .

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 03-17-2015, 08:00 PM
#7
  • CRAusmus
  • Senior Member
  • Going from Texas to Georgia
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(03-17-2015, 07:15 AM)andrewjs18 Wrote: thanks for the replies so far.  I'll read more into them when I get some time tonight.

briefly, this is the camera I bought a few years ago that I still have: http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/panasonicfz8/

would it suffice to start to learn the art?  should I pick up a lens for it?  if so, which?

I also came across this: http://www.amazon.com/Nikon-18-55mm-3-5-...B003ZYF3LO

This is just my opinion, but if I were going to get a Nikon DSLR I'd get the lowest version that uses their best lens technology.  Currently this is the 610.  Great camera, but it is 1499 as a kit.  However you might be able to find one used for less, just buy it from a reputable camera place (online: Adorama, B&H Photo, KEH).  Just my opinion.  You may never see a need to upgrade from the 3k or 5k series, but if you ever did, any investments you made in lenses would be a wash if you upgraded to an FX camera.  Just one of the reasons I like the a6000 so much.  It's a great way to get your feet in the E Mount that Sony uses, and you have a whole array of bodies that use that mount that are phenomenal cameras in the A7, A7s, A7r, and A7 MKII...

The Panasonic you listed is absolutely a good starting place.  All you really need in my opinion is a camera that gives you control over all the settings so that you can learn how the settings work together to make a photograph.  So any camera that will give you manual control over your shutter speed, aperture, and your ISO will allow you to control how your camera sees light.  I really like to shoot in either Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority mostly.  This allows me to control the setting I feel is most important for the image I want to make, but it allows me to control that setting to adjust the other settings to make that image as I want it made.  Shooting in these modes you just have to find what is the most important thing in your image.  Are you shooting action?  Shutter Speed is your most important.  Want to control depth of field? Switch to Aperture Priority.  Don't neglect the other setting though, be aware of what you're shooting at no matter what mode you're in.

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 03-18-2015, 12:22 PM
#8
  • freddy
  • Banned
  • San Diego, California, U.S.A.
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I have to second Clinton's advice on shopping with B&H Photo and Video bhphotovideo.com.  They are outstanding, Andrew.  If, for some reason, you are in Manhattan then a visit to their store is a must.  I usually order over the internet with them and have never had a problem.  However, my very first digital camera was purchased at the store itself.  The place is unbelievable!  By the way, when I bought the camera at the store, I had them ship it to my home and because it was going out of state I did not have to pay tax on it.  Also, shipping is usually free.

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 03-20-2015, 07:43 AM
#9
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Andrew - I can't add much to what you've already learned here (B&H is great, DPSreview and other review sites are useful).

However, once you've narrowed down your options, if you want to save a few dollars, do a search on your local Craigslist. You can sometimes hit the jackpot and get what you're looking for for substantially less than elsewhere. You'll have to give the item a thorough check-up, but I've never had regrets about using Craigslist for items like this. 

No warranty, of course, when you buy it this way. 

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 03-20-2015, 03:33 PM
#10
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(03-20-2015, 07:43 AM)yohannrjm Wrote: Andrew - I can't add much to what you've already learned here (B&H is great, DPSreview and other review sites are useful).

However, once you've narrowed down your options, if you want to save a few dollars, do a search on your local Craigslist. You can sometimes hit the jackpot and get what you're looking for for substantially less than elsewhere. You'll have to give the item a thorough check-up, but I've never had regrets about using Craigslist for items like this. 

No warranty, of course, when you buy it this way. 

+1   I got my Nikon D7000 this way and found an older Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 manual Japanese lens on Ebay for great prices.  Biggrin

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 03-20-2015, 06:24 PM
#11
  • CRAusmus
  • Senior Member
  • Going from Texas to Georgia
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Photoventure just posted this article on compact cameras that can match DSLRs in quality.

http://www.photoventure.com/2015/03/20/5...251d30275d

All but one have a viewfinder, which I personally prefer, but others might not prefer one...

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 03-21-2015, 11:35 AM
#12
  • Mel S Meles
  • On the edge, ouch
  • 44.4899° south of the North Pole
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One possibility.

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 03-21-2015, 01:22 PM
#13
  • Mel S Meles
  • On the edge, ouch
  • 44.4899° south of the North Pole
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(03-16-2015, 03:00 PM)andrewjs18 Wrote: hi folks,

I know nothing about photography, so look at this as a recommendation for a complete newbie.

do you have any site recommendations for newbies or books to read?  I'm going to see if our local community college offers and photography classes.

I have been shooting seriously for only six decades, digital for 8½ years, and so I am still learning.  I have two pieces of advice, however.

  1.   First and most important, be honest and truthful with yourself as to what you want to photograph, and where and when you realistically will be using the camera.  I cannot emphasize enough that the best camera is the one that you have with you, and the worst camera is the one that you left at home because it was too much bother to carry around or because you had so much other luggage with you on the trip, the camera “would just get in the way.”  For almost exactly 40 years, I lugged around a substantial film SLR, two-thirds of that time with an 85 mm f/1.2 prime lens mounted on the camera body and a 35 mm f/2.o lens in a separate pouch.  When I was in my 20s, that rig was a badge of honor and prestige; by the time I was in my 60s, that rig spent most of the time at home, and when my bride and I went out, she carried the only camera we always had with us, an Olympus clamshell mju, in her purse.  When I went digital, I went to the other end of the size spectrum (and also, for the first time, had a zoom lens so I did not have to change lenses in the field).  I take a lot more pictures these days than I did in the last years that my main camera was a big SLR.  
  2.  Second, depending on your assessment above, consider dynamic range.  You will find a lot of gearheads around who are obsessed with megapixel counts and sensor size, and -- if they mention dynamic range at all, which is quite rare -- have no grasp of how important dynamic range is and almost certainly are using to wrong metrics to assess it.  Many poseur camera reviews never mention dynamic range at all.  But dynamic range is every bit as important to real-world photography as it is to the performance of a large orchestral work of music.  Your Samsung S5 has decent resolution, but it has crappy dynamic range, and while you may not have put your finger on the reason you want a better camera, chances are pretty high that limited dynamic range is why you are not fully satisfied with the images it produces. 

Generally, but not a linear correlation, the larger the sensor a digital camera has, the greater the inherent dynamic range it is capable of producing, and, for any given size of sensor, the lower the megapixel count, the greater the dynamic range the sensor can deliver:  it is the effective size of the indvidual photosite that determines the “well” (photon capacity) it has.  As a general rule, a smaller camera will have a smaller sensor, because the size of the sensor directly affects the size of the lens the camera must have, especially at the long end of its focal length extension.  The Photoventure article that CRAusmus links to mentions the Fujifilm X100T, a fairly compact camera which mates a relatively large APS-C size sensor and a superb 23 mm (equivalent to a 35 mm lens in full frame) lens; but if that body were mated to a 100 mm equivalent focal length lens, the resulting camera would no longer be compact; if you want a camera that has even a moderately long lens extension, it either must have a small sensor or the lens will be large (and the maximum aperture at the long end likely will be limited).  

There are two technological fixes that will allow an expansion of dynamic range.  One, found on many compacts from Canon and Nikon, for example, is “just a trick”:  the camera sets itself (when requested to expand dynamic range) deliberately to underexpose the entire image, then processes the underexposed image in its JPEG engine to bring up the exposure.   It is a trick that any photographer with an editor for post-processing can do manually by deliberately underexposing the frame at the time of shooting.  This works somewhat because small sensors are more likely to overexpose highlights (“blow” or make the portion of the image to go all white) than they are to underexpose shadows (“block” or make the portion of the image to go all black); and years of watching television screens and computer screens have inured many of us to living with imperfect black -- and the processing to bring up an underexposed shadow in the JPEG engine does make the blacks imperfect:  it adds digital noise, which can be suppressed digitally, but only at the expense of loss of detail and introduction of edge artifacts.

The second way to enhance dynamic range is to take two captures of the same shot in very quick succession, at different exposure values, then combine the shots in the JPEG engine to use the highlight parts from the underexposed half of the pair and the shadow parts from the overexposed half of the pair.  That technique, called HDR (high dynamic range), is offered as a feature on some compact cameras, where sometimes more than two captures, each at a different exposure value, are combined.  It works well with still (non-moving) subjects, but because there is some time lag between the captures, it is less successful for action photography or where light conditions dictate slower shutter speeds. 

There is one small sensor camera technology that has a specialized form of HDR that sidesteps the time-differential problem.  Certain models of Fujifilm compacts made from the end of 2008 to the end of 2013 employed a proprietary technology that Fujifilm called EXR.  The EXR sensor was essentially two sensors interlaced with each other and individually controlled by the camera's CPU.  Each pair of adjacent photosites had one photosite controlled separately from the other photosite.   At certain user settings of the EXR cameras, one half of each pair could be programmed to expose as much as two f-stops lower than the other half; when the outputs from the two were combined in the JPEG engine, the EXR sensor could give a two EV expansion of dynamic range over the capability of any other maker's camera with a non-EXR sensor of the same size.  And, in fact, many tests have proved that a Fujifilm EXR camera with a 2/3" (8.8 mm x 6.6 mm) sensor can deliver a wider dynamic range than competing cameras with 1" (8.8 mm x 13.2 mm) sensors (not used in HDR mode), which are twice as large.   And, because both sets of the EXR sensor images are exposed at the same time, the images of moving subjects are (unlike sequential HDR images) coincident.   Of course, the pixel size of the resulting image from an EXR exposure must be half the size (0.707x high and 0.707x wide) of the number of photosites, because in EXR dynamic range mode the sensor uses two photosites per pixel.   The last generation of EXR sensor Fujifilm cameras comprised the Fujifilm X10, the Fujifilm X-S1, and the Fujifilm XF1; those were the only EXR cameras to have 2/3" CMOS sensors; earlier EXR cameras, the F200EXR, the F70EXR, and the F300 through F990, had smaller EXR sensors, and some of the earlier models had CCD rather than CMOS sensors.   All three of the X10, X-S1, and XF1 are 12-megapixel (4000 x 3000 pixels) cameras when set to "Large" size, but 6-megapixel (2816 x 2112 pixels) cameras when set to EXR dynamic range mode.

Here is a handheld photo of a dog and his man that illustrates what a 6-megapixel EXR image looks like (you can see the full size of this image at the link below the image):
 
[Image: J2VgidT.jpg]
 Copyright 2015, Mel S. Meles

Here is a link to see the image above at full size:  Moments after sunset, Oregon Coast

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 03-21-2015, 01:30 PM
#14
  • freddy
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  • San Diego, California, U.S.A.
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Mel, thanks for a most helpful writeup here.  I just ordered a Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS50.  Like Andrew, I know pretty much nothing about the intricacies of taking decent (or better) photos.  I just knew that I did not want a DSLR for just the reason you describe here.  I'm hoping to get reasonably comfortable and somewhat competent with the camera by the time I go to Scotland in September.

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 03-21-2015, 02:18 PM
#15
  • Mel S Meles
  • On the edge, ouch
  • 44.4899° south of the North Pole
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(03-16-2015, 03:00 PM)andrewjs18 Wrote: do you have any site recommendations for newbies or books to read? 

Perhaps ancillary to the main question, I discovered (when I was about 50) that reading a copy of Ansel Adams's The Negative (a thin book that is full of foundational knowledge and cannot, therefore, be rushed through) on airplanes was a greater chick magnet than walking a dog or ordering a glass of High West Campfire on the rocks in a singles bar.  Just sayin'.

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 03-21-2015, 02:30 PM
#16
  • Mel S Meles
  • On the edge, ouch
  • 44.4899° south of the North Pole
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(03-21-2015, 01:30 PM)freddy Wrote: I just ordered a Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS50.  Like Andrew, I know pretty much nothing about the intricacies of taking decent (or better) photos.  I just knew that I did not want a DSLR for just the reason you describe here.  I'm hoping to get reasonably comfortable and somewhat competent with the camera by the time I go to Scotland in September.

I cannot keep up with all of Panasonic's myriad models, but I know some of them are quite good. One neat thing about digital is that you do not need to spend a fortune on film to make all of the mistakes that are so valuable to learn from. 

As you have loads of time before your trip, you might try something that I did some years back:  set your camera (if it will allow you to do so) to shoot in black and white (monochrome) and give yourself a few photo assignments to shoot in that mode.  (Example:  imagine there is a phoot contest with the theme "Ugliest Building in the City," and you go out and photograph it from every angle to bring out the true essence of its awful ugliness.)  Rich color has an independent appeal to the senses, and therefore can mask mistakes of perspective and composition and distractions of unrelated clutter; but in black and white, it is just you and the light and the shadows.  If you can master black and white composition, your color photographs will be the better for it. 

Johnny and Jamie Mahoney and Richard (evnpar) have posted some excellent b&w compositions in the Photo Gallery thread; I commend them to you for study.

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 03-21-2015, 04:01 PM
#17
  • freddy
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  • San Diego, California, U.S.A.
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Thanks, Mel. Smile

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 04-18-2015, 06:52 AM
#18
  • Barrylu
  • Senior Member
  • Portland OR
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Taken with my cell phone. Believe it or not it is the best camera I own. I just wanted to share my Koi Pond in the back yard. Everything is growing. Spring is here and the Koi are out wanting to be fed.
[Image: OO8uXI1.jpg][Image: eKzpQQi.jpg]

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 04-18-2015, 05:22 PM
#19
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Very nice, Barry, and I can see some lovely SOTD photos that you can take there!  Biggrin

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 04-19-2015, 04:06 AM
#20
  • freddy
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  • San Diego, California, U.S.A.
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Beautiful, Barry.

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