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  • what is the best digital camera? need your advice

    Howdy folks,

    First, a little background: I'm a print designer by trade, but haven't kept up with ALL of the latest and greatest technology out there. Especially when it comes to cameras.

    We are needing another digital camera here for the company I work for. Our budget is $500 (possibly a tad more...). This camera should fulfill many uses, the most important of which is frequent product shots that we take. Although I'm the print designer there I am also the default photographer there, as well. I do the best with what I have and then use Photoshop to clean 'em up.

    What is the best bang for the buck that I should look for? What's the highest megapixel rating out there now - 12 is it? What all features should I look at?

    I really need your help and any links or whatever knowledge you can impart to me would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

  • #2
    hi Hal. There's quite a lot of useful info already posted here about digital cameras, and there are some very knowledgable (and brilliant) members of the forum who will no doubt point you in the right direction.

    From my (an enthusiastic amateur) point of view, megapixels is only one of the important factors to consider. Almost as/just as/more important is the glass/lens at the front of the camera. And when it comes to lenses, that's waaaay above my pay grade I'm afraid.

    I use a Canon (always have) and am very happy with the results.
    Want to know what a true friend is? One who walks in when the world walks out.

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    • #3
      bear in mind that after a point, more megapixels isn't always better.

      What camera do you have already?

      What size prints do you normally make?

      Are you looking for a point and shoot, a compact, or a DSLR - or is that less important to you than the overall budget?

      The most versatile camera I ever owned was a Canon Powershot S2 1S. I say that because it could shoot macros as well as long-distance shots without having to purchase additional lenses and other equipment. It also had a good enough resolution to print 8 x 10 photos with no trouble. Unfortunately, after only 2 or 3 years of moderate usage it died and left me in a bind.

      My digital rebel was a lot more expensive and also a lot more limiting in that I only have the standard kit lens. To get the same versatility with this camera I would need to invest in a macro lens and a telephoto lens of some sort, and that is not cheap.
      Last edited by morea; 06-17-2009, 02:43 PM.
      "It's never too late to be who you might have been." - George Eliot

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      • #4
        Mine in bold.

        Originally posted by morea View Post
        bear in mind that after a point, more megapixels isn't always better.

        What camera do you have already? We had (it bit the dust) a Sony Cyber-shot, 5 megapixel. 10x digital zoom.

        What size prints do you normally make? Normally the product shots that we take only go in catalog sized mediums. Definitely nothing larger than poster sized.

        Are you looking for a point and shoot, a compact, or a DSLR - or is that less important to you than the overall budget? I am so camera ignorant I don't know what much of that is. Budget is the big thing. As I alluded to, our budget could be slightly larger than $500 if I could justify it. My company's pretty cool that way; I don't have to twist arms too much.

        The most versatile camera I ever owned was a Canon Powershot S2 1S. I say that because it could shoot macros as well as long-distance shots without having to purchase additional lenses and other equipment. It also had a good enough resolution to print 8 x 10 photos with no trouble. Unfortunately, after only 2 or 3 years of moderate usage it died and left me in a bind.

        My digital rebel was a lot more expensive and also a lot more limiting in that I only have the standard kit lens. To get the same versatility with this camera I would need to invest in a macro lens and a telephoto lens of some sort, and that is not cheap.

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        • #5
          Also, this Nikon was recommended to us:

          http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage....=1218061795563

          Any thoughts on this one?

          So yes, morea, a point and shoot is what I'm primarily looking for. (I'm slowly getting it....)

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          • #6
            Ok, it doesn't look like you need anything as expensive an a digital SLR.

            A lot of the so-called "point and shoot" and compact cameras on the market these days seem to have a higher megapixel count than what you were using before, and with these types of cameras you wouldn't have to worry about additional costs for lenses and whatnot.

            If you were happy with the camera you had before, you might want to consider looking for the same type so long as it met your needs and you don't need any additional features. I am not sure what model you are using but you could compare it with the competitors models (Canon, Fuji, Nikon) and see what you like best. Check reviews online for each and try them out at the store to see what you like the best.

            I would recommend buying the extended warranty though. Seems that lots of people have trouble with their cameras towards the end of the standard warranty period.
            "It's never too late to be who you might have been." - George Eliot

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            • #7
              DSLR:


              Compact/Point and Shoot


              If you're looking for something to do simple product shots to put in a catalog, I'd think a point and shoot would work perfectly for you. If you wanted more control of things like your depth of field, exposures or needed something high res at large sizes, the DSLR would give you more control over that. However, as Mo said, it requires different lenses depending on what you're trying to do. I have a Nikon D80, and use my pictures in magazines, but I sometimes need the huge pictures for a 2 page spread.

              A friend of mine has an Olympus 1050 SW and it does great shots for general use. It's also pretty durable. He takes it hiking and climbing and it can take a bit of a tumble.

              Do some more research and compare a few of the point and shoots, and some of the DSLR's and I'm sure you'll be able to find something that will suit your purposes.
              Art is always and everywhere the secret confession, and at the same time the immortal movement of its time.
              | Karl Marx |


              A desperate disease requires a dangerous remedy.
              | Guy Fawkes |


              | flickr |

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              • #8
                that is what I meant by DSLR and point-and-shoot, but this is what I meant by compact:




                More features than a P&S, some manual control, but not quite up to DSLR specifications.
                "It's never too late to be who you might have been." - George Eliot

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                • #9
                  Good call Mo.

                  I think something like that would be a great camera for your uses Hal.
                  Art is always and everywhere the secret confession, and at the same time the immortal movement of its time.
                  | Karl Marx |


                  A desperate disease requires a dangerous remedy.
                  | Guy Fawkes |


                  | flickr |

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                  • #10
                    One other thing, Optical zoom is the only one that matters, Digital zoom is nothing more than automatic cropping.

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                    • #11
                      ^ excellent point. Optical zoom is your friend. I believe that my powershot (which was an s2 1s, a few generations old) was 12x optical zoom.

                      those compacts are pretty simple to use (there are full auto and partial auto settings if you're not interested in learning all of the fundamentals), they give you more versatility (in my experience), and they don't usually cost all that much more than a point and shoot.

                      I would choose something in that range, and would expect that - depending on your location - you could find one for between $250 and $400 (US).
                      "It's never too late to be who you might have been." - George Eliot

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                      • #12
                        Digital zoom = useless.

                        I have a Nikon Coolpix 550. 'salright. Easy to use, 10MP. With proper setup and external lighting I'm sure it would take fine product shots. $200.

                        But heck, if you've got a $500 budget I'd go for one of the compact cameras so you can take advantage of the manual settings it would offer.
                        Last edited by Virgo Nightingale; 06-17-2009, 04:20 PM.
                        ___________
                        Burn the land and boil the sea, you can't take the sky from me.

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                        • #13
                          Digital Zoom = Bad

                          Oh....I see Virgo pretty much beat me to it *LOL* (damn ninjas!)
                          Art is always and everywhere the secret confession, and at the same time the immortal movement of its time.
                          | Karl Marx |


                          A desperate disease requires a dangerous remedy.
                          | Guy Fawkes |


                          | flickr |

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                          • #14
                            Great advice, all. Gonna use it and do some more research to see what I might find.

                            Thanks for your help!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              For $500 you can get yourself an entry-level DSLR, which has 10x the sensor size as any compact camera. The smaller the sensor, the greater the pixel density, and the greater the noise.

                              Each brand from Olympus to Pentax to Nikon to Sony have a body and kit lens you can buy for that much. The kit lenses aren't very good, but infinitely better than that on a digicam (aka compact, point-and-shoot, etc.), and you have the option to upgrade to a real lens once another $500 or so comes into the budget.

                              Product shots tend to involve a lot of macro detail (depending on the product of course), and I simply wouldn't consider a digicam for that. Digicams aren't meant for close-up work and besides which, the only advantages to a digicam include pocketability and long zoom ranges without a lot of bulk. Neither of those are relevant to an in-store camera for product shots, is it?

                              More important though is your lighting. Try to get at least one or two flash units, and proper diffusers for them (look into Gary Fong, Demb Flash Products, or Stofin). In order to save money, you can look for 3rd party brands like Metz, Sunpak, etc., then operate it either with the optical slave sensor or with a single contact PC-to-PC Sync cord (manual operation), so you can avoid spending the money on a flash made for your camera.

                              Setting up and lighting the shot properly will get you a significantly better picture with a bad camera than a good camera will get you with a poor setup - although both are important.

                              For example, this headshot below from a shoot yesterday, was taken with a $400 entry-level Olympus body and a $400 "standard grade" Zuiko lens. Not that far over your budget, if you ask me (ignoring all the expensive extras, of course)... Starting small with a system body means you can continue to upgrade with better lenses and lights as the budget allows, annually, monthly, or whenever you can afford - all in easy chunk payments. Much better investment for your business than a throw-away camera.



                              Don't be intimidated by a DSLR just because it looks professional or otherwise complicated. They all have the same Auto functions as your point and shoot if you really need to shoot that way, but they also have room to grow as you learn and advance.
                              Last edited by Ned; 06-18-2009, 09:45 PM.
                              Ned Yeung, A.C.E.
                              mediamainline.com
                              cyclopsphoto.ca

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