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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Posts
    6

    Digital camera newbie needs help deciding! :)

    Hi everyone! I have registered for a digital photography course this fall (an elective for my major) but we need to use our own digital cameras. I have never actually owned a digital camera, but have used them occasionally. In other words, I am a newbie, so I need some help. I filled out the survey below.

    Budget

    * I was hoping to not spend any more than $500.

    Size

    * Nothing too huge. I will need to take it to class.

    Features

    How many megapixels will suffice for you? For the course, it is REQUIRED to have a 3+ mega pixel or larger format

    * What optical zoom will you need? (None, Standard = 3x-4x, Ultrazoom = 10x-12x, Other - Specify) No idea!

    * How important is “image quality” to you? (Rate using a scale of 1-10) 8

    Do you care for manual controls? Yes. It is REQUIRED to have:
    - Manual white balance controls,
    - Manual exposure and shutter controls,
    - Manual or lockable focus


    General Usage

    * What will you generally use the camera for? Class is the main motivation for buying. But I will be definitely using it for personal use (goodbye disposables!)

    * Will you be making big prints of your photos or not? I would like to have that option, but it will not be the deciding factor.

    Will you be shooting a lot of indoor photos or low light photos? Probably, yes

    Will you be shooting sports and/or action photos? Yes, I know at least one assignment involves this

    Miscellaneous

    Are there particular brands you like or hate? Not yet

    Are there particular models you already have in mind? Unfortunately, no...

    In summary, the minimum requirements for the class is:
    • 3+ mega pixel or larger format,
    • Manual white balance controls,
    • Manual exposure and shutter controls,
    • Manual or lockable focus,
    However, I would like something that is above the minimum requirements since it will be for personal use. Perhaps even a video recorder would be neat.

    Thank you very much for your time! Any help at all is appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Los Altos, CA
    Posts
    2,635

    Thumbs up A couple of candidates...

    Here's this site's review of the Fuji s6000fd, and also the review of the Panasonic DMC-FZ50.

    Those are two cameras each having the manual features your course requires, each having its own merits and demerits. I'd say most people on this forum would suggest that the Fuji is more capable indoors, the Panasonic outdoors. If you're capturing fast-action sports, definitely the Fuji would be your choice, with its ability to shoot fairly cleanly at ISO 1600, which the Panasonic cannot. The Fuji has a wider wideangle for scenery shots (28mm vs 35mm), and the Panasonic has a longer maximum zoom for animal and bird shots (420mm vs. 300mm). Moreover, while the Fuji's lens extends from the body for zooming, the Panasonic's does not, making it easier to add telephoto or wideangle extenders and/or filters.

    For me personally, the Panasonic's image stabilizer would close the deal. I'm not EVER buying another camera for myself that doesn't employ this very helpful feature. If you're shooting mostly short focal length shots, you may not notice the difference (I can't seem to hold a Fuji steady for anything slower than about 1/40 second, but Panasonic cameras, I can shoot at 1/2 second, to give you an idea of the differences, at least in my case).

    For your class, the instructor may well also require you to shoot from a tripod, so maybe the stabilizer thing is no issue for comparison. Good luck with your choice, I have a feeling either one of these cameras would get you through the course?
    Let a be your umbrella!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Illinois, USA
    Posts
    1,129
    The Canon S3 is pretty affordable right now and meets all those requirements and then some (fantastic movie mode). It does suffer from poor low light (without flash or a tripod for a long exposure) noise, but most any non-DSLR that isn't a Fuji will be pretty similar. The Sony H5 is also a very nice camera, if you can still find one. I wouldn't recommend the H7/9 though. If you wanted something a little more compact, the Canon A630 I'm pretty sure has full manual, and is also cheaper than all listed above.
    I have a camera. It takes pictures.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Posts
    6
    Thank you both SO much for your help! I feel less stressed now. I will be looking up those cameras after I post this. If anyone else has any other camera suggestions that I should consider, please let me know. Thanks again!

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