Camera Advice

#1
As the title says...

I am looking for a camera that would give me a good quality pictures, video option and quite good zoom. I must say that the zoom is really important for me as the camera will be used a lot during travels. So, I have come across Nikon P500 that has 36x optical zoom (it’s apparently 'astounding'). I don’t really know how good that zoom is as I don’t really have too much knowledge about such stuff. I have read several reviews but did not find any explanation. Any advice....

I also thought that it would be maybe better to invest in a better camera and get SLR D3100. What would be the lenses equivalent for D3100 to have 36x or a bit higher zoom?


Thanks :)


SC
 
#2
Regarding Zoom. Firstly, ignore anything described as Digital Zoom as it is crap quality. Only take notice of the optical zoom, as that's the real thing and not some digital guesswork. Secondly, remember that anything over [about] 8 times zoom is hard to hold still enough to avoid some blur. So you need to steady the camera against something, or stick it on a tripod. Specially if you are focusing on a distant object. Unless you're not too bothered. Mind you, 8 times Zoom is quite a lot anyway, and frequently you won't use that much zoom. Having said that, even if you just rest your elbows on something solid, you can get a good pic with 10 x and more with a little practice.
 
#4
What Troy said is quite accurate (esp the bit about optical zoom versus digital zoom) but even then he hasn't gone quite far enough. Some cameras claim to have this magic 36x optical zoom, but it really isn't all that good. The equivalent in SLR lens terms would be something like a 700mm lens which really isn't practical or financially viable for most people. Also remember with a DSLR you have a much larger sensor than in a compact camera, so your image quality will be better anyway, meaning you don't necessarily need that 36x zoom.

If you do plan to do zoom work, get a tripod. If you get a tripod, get a good one. What will you be taking photos of on your travels? Personally when I go to new places I like wider angle shots than zoomed ones, but each to their own. And on that note, giving away my hand as it were, why a D3100? Why a Nikon?

Best possible advice - get into a camera shop (or two, or three) and get hands-on with the cameras they have in stock. My experience is that Nikons twist the wrong way (ie the opposite direction to every other make on the market), require at least two hands to operate even basic functions, and have fiddly visual menus. Canons on the other hand twist as standard (lefty loosey righty tighty), and can be operated with one hand using simple fuss-free menus without graphics all over the show. Equivalent to the D3100 would be something like the EOS 500D.
 
#5
What Troy said is quite accurate (esp the bit about optical zoom versus digital zoom) but even then he hasn't gone quite far enough. Some cameras claim to have this magic 36x optical zoom, but it really isn't all that good. The equivalent in SLR lens terms would be something like a 700mm lens which really isn't practical or financially viable for most people. Also remember with a DSLR you have a much larger sensor than in a compact camera, so your image quality will be better anyway, meaning you don't necessarily need that 36x zoom.

If you do plan to do zoom work, get a tripod. If you get a tripod, get a good one. What will you be taking photos of on your travels? Personally when I go to new places I like wider angle shots than zoomed ones, but each to their own. And on that note, giving away my hand as it were, why a D3100? Why a Nikon?

Best possible advice - get into a camera shop (or two, or three) and get hands-on with the cameras they have in stock. My experience is that Nikons twist the wrong way (ie the opposite direction to every other make on the market), require at least two hands to operate even basic functions, and have fiddly visual menus. Canons on the other hand twist as standard (lefty loosey righty tighty), and can be operated with one hand using simple fuss-free menus without graphics all over the show. Equivalent to the D3100 would be something like the EOS 500D.
I was just looking at Canon products. I have also noticed that Canon seems to have better reviews than Nikon has. There’s is no particular reason why I have chosen Nikon. I basically went on their web site and read all description for all cameras and chosen few that give an option of photos, videos and a good zoom in one within my price limit. The thing is that I want to combine all three, have a good quality of it and pay a decent price. I would really love to get a good SLR but at the present moment it’s rather impossible.
I’m planning to go to few remote and mountainous places in Asia so ill be taking pictures of landscape but also people that live there. It’s actually taking photos of locals and their daily life that interest me the most and I would not want to cause any discomfort to them while taking photos therefore, I thought about a good zoom.
I did go to few camera shops and it was helpful but I guess I need to read much more about technical stuff to understand what a shop assistant is talking to me about.
 
#6
What you're describing is called a "bridge" camera. One in the range between a compact and an SLR. Before I got my Nikons I was using a Kodak Z740 which has a 10x zoom and also does quicktime videos too. That model is old hat now and probably goes for £20 on E-bay. But a more recent model would be right up your street. Have a search for Kodak digital cameras and see if they have something that you fancy.
 
#7
Canon seem to be the one to buy, people I spoke to when I was looking couldn't praise it high enough. Ironically I ended up with a Pentax (very retro look) as my spec and monetary constriction couldn't stretch as far as a Canon.
 
#8
I'm not a photographer by any stretch of the imagination but I've had a Sony nex-5 for a few months and I've been amazed (from an unexperienced pov) at how good a phot they take

Its compact but really does the job.

Sorry no technical advice, but have a look at it
 
#9
Canon seem to be the one to buy, people I spoke to when I was looking couldn't praise it high enough. Ironically I ended up with a Pentax (very retro look) as my spec and monetary constriction couldn't stretch as far as a Canon.
for god's sake don't point it at yourself unless it's insured.
 
#11
PS All Pentax cameras are made by Samsung anyway. They used to be a major name in the camera world (the K1 was a great entry level SLR) but now the brand has been bought out by Samsung and nothing special.

Go speak to a camera shop and they'll advise you on which Pentax's relate to which Samsungs. The Samsungs are generally cheaper despite being feature-set and build-standard identical, so you'd do better with one of them.

That said I'd still buy Canon or Nikon, just for quality and compatibility. I have a 'cracked' EOS 300D from 2003 (Firmware cracked, bringing it up to EOS 10D standard, just plastic body and different controls, since the EOS 300D, unlike the 350/400 etc, was just a firmware-reduced EOS10D with a cheaper body an controls, but not actually optically different), and it still stands pretty firm alongside my EOS 20D from about 2 years later. Paired with a Canon 70-200 2.8 L series lens (non IS, couldn't afford) and a 24-105 IS L series, you can get great shots; either of those models can be picked up for very little now, you can easily get a Canon EOS 300D for under £100 and download the firmware crack off the webernet for a decent 7MP D-SLR for under £100.
 
#12
I like compacts because of the weight issue. If you're travelling a SLR is an added weight to be taken into account. But I guess it all depends on how seriously you want to take your camerawork. Zooms on compacts do not match up, plus some people prefer to make the decisions as opposed to letting the camera be the boss.
 
#13
I like compacts because of the weight issue. If you're travelling a SLR is an added weight to be taken into account. But I guess it all depends on how seriously you want to take your camerawork. Zooms on compacts do not match up, plus some people prefer to make the decisions as opposed to letting the camera be the boss.
On the same token, a lot of naive people seem to think that just 'having' a DSLR will give them better photos.

They'll give the ability to take better photos, but they don't just automatically give you one.

You see a lot of tourists wondering around London with Canon EOS450s with the in-the-box lens, in 'auto' operation mode. This probably won't actually give any better photo than the top of the range IXUS which actually cost less.
 
#14
I also thought that it would be maybe better to invest in a better camera and get SLR D3100. What would be the lenses equivalent for D3100 to have 36x or a bit higher zoom?
Multiplication zoom stats (IE '36x') are a bit misleading really.

The Sigma 100-800mm lens is an 8x lens.
The Sigma 18-200mm lens is a 11x lens.

Guess which one lets you read the names off pilots overalls as they low-pass over the runway, and which one barely lets you see what colour overall they're wearing.
 
#15
I have had a Sony Cybershot for a few years now. Compact and does everything you are looking for. I see the 14 megapixel is advertised on TV for £99, well worth the dosh and I might buy it for myself.
 

maguire

LE
Book Reviewer
#16
whoever mentioned the fz-38, the fz-45 is the newer and much improved model - it's got 58 reviews on amazon atm, 54 of which are four or five stars, as well as the 'what digital camera' gold award for 2011.

unless you're really strapped for cash, why would you want an eos from 2003, firmware cracked or not? the technology is by dslr standards now ancient, and I cant really see the point unless you've already got a fair bit of Canon glass kicking about.
 
#17
Troy mentioned bridge cameras - I am not a fan. The lenses cost absolutely tons, even if you go for the Four Thirds ones (swappable between Olympus and Panasonic?) and in my opinion if you're going to get a camera with switchable lenses get an SLR, not a hybrid. If you're a novice when it comes to camera operations, the Sony Alpha range (a290 and a390 in particular) are not bad start points. They're the closest to a Canon you'll get in terms of usage (ie no fiddly menus and ability to use them single-handed), the only drawback is the range of lenses available (you'll be looking to third parties like Tamron to fill gaps eventually) and the quality difference between Sony and the big boys (Nikon and Canon) --- which isn't that big a deal if you're not a pro / editing heavily.

For daily life shots, I take your point about non-intrusion, but you won't get very good "here's someone going about their everyday business" photos from a long way off. Everyday business is close up and personal. A kit lens (18-55 or similar) will cover most of your needs, if you had extra cash I'd highly recommend a 50mm prime lens for portraits (if you're going Canon the £99 f/1.8 is apparently very good it just feels very light, I have its big brother, the f/1.4 which feels like a lens should, but optically I've read very good reviews of both) ... oh, and maybe just ask people politely if they mind being photographed? Where in Asia are you going? (It's a big place and peoples' attitudes towards having their image captured vary wildly)
 
#18
Troy mentioned bridge cameras - I am not a fan. The lenses cost absolutely tons, even if you go for the Four Thirds ones (swappable between Olympus and Panasonic?) and in my opinion if you're going to get a camera with switchable lenses get an SLR, not a hybrid. If you're a novice when it comes to camera operations, the Sony Alpha range (a290 and a390 in particular) are not bad start points. They're the closest to a Canon you'll get in terms of usage (ie no fiddly menus and ability to use them single-handed), the only drawback is the range of lenses available (you'll be looking to third parties like Tamron to fill gaps eventually) and the quality difference between Sony and the big boys (Nikon and Canon) --- which isn't that big a deal if you're not a pro / editing heavily.

For daily life shots, I take your point about non-intrusion, but you won't get very good "here's someone going about their everyday business" photos from a long way off. Everyday business is close up and personal. A kit lens (18-55 or similar) will cover most of your needs, if you had extra cash I'd highly recommend a 50mm prime lens for portraits (if you're going Canon the £99 f/1.8 is apparently very good it just feels very light, I have its big brother, the f/1.4 which feels like a lens should, but optically I've read very good reviews of both) ... oh, and maybe just ask people politely if they mind being photographed? Where in Asia are you going? (It's a big place and peoples' attitudes towards having their image captured vary wildly)
I think I 've been misunderstood here. A typical bridge camera doesn't have interchangeable lenses just the one fitted lens. For example, I mentioned my old Kodak Z70, KODAK EASYSHARE Z740 Zoom Digital Camera such a camera was top of the range in it's day when DSLRs were ridiculously expensive. Such a camera has plenty of zoom, a quality lens and a number of functions, including making videos too.

Also the typical 18-55mm kit lens is ok for general use and landscapes but has poor zoom, which was what the OP asked for. Taking 50mm to be "normal" view, it only leaves the extra 5mm range of zoom, which will leave the OP dissapointed. Most people who buy a DSLR with a 18-55 kit lens soon get a 55-200mm, or a 70 - 300mm, lens to get the extra zoom range. But the DLSR and extra lenses goes beyond what the OP first asked for.
 
#19
Firstly let me ask your budget.
Any DSLR from the last 2-3 years will have a sensor that will outperform most compacts/ Bridge cameras (note I said most)
Dont worry too much about megapixels, a 4meg DSLR will still have enough etail to blow up to A3 without too much hassle.

The main issue with DSLR (and I own/ have owned several) is that no matter how good the camera, its weakest link is the glass on the front! I put my 24-70 f2.8 on my D90 and I get waay better image quality than using a third party lens. (and on a D700 its unbelievable)

Dont listen to all the canon fanboys, I used to use canon, then switched to Nikon. Main reason was ergonomics, they just feel better to hold/ use.
Also, are you serving? if so its worth remembering that the MOD buys predominantly Nikon equipment, so the chances of borrrowing the odd lens or flash here and there are better if using Nikon.

as one poster has said, get yourself to a proper camera shop (not Jessops!) London Camera Exchange are usually good (branches nationwide) as are Jacobs and hold/ use as many as possible.
Reviews online tend to be very subjective, some good impartial ones can be found at www.dpreview.com (with reviews stretching back several years)

have a browse on some photo forums- 'talkphotography' is a UK based site with some reasonable stuff.

some things to bear in mind.
Memory cards- Do not buy a camera that uses a 'weird' memory type- SD cards are pretty much the standard these days, carry 2 or 3 so that if one card gets corrupted (it happens) you dont lose all your images.
Battery- most cameras these days have lithium batts, so check how you will charge it- if it can be charged from USB it saves taking another charger- Go power monkey!
Case- cameras are very pinchable, use a case that will not scream 'I'm an expensive camera'

if you dont really need all the bells and whistles on your camera, consider something that is shockproof/ waterproof, my wifes lumix is wp to 3m, survives being thrown about by a 4 yr old and has gleaming image quality.

hope this helps
 
#20
You need to break down what you want from a camera. The three main solutions (ignoring smaller compacts) are:

Bridge Format:
The Shape of an SLR, but smaller and lighter with a fixed mounted (ie unchangable) zoom lens.
Pros: Smaller, lightweight, flexible, cheaper, easy to use.
Negs: Smaller sensor and therefore what you frame is what you get (not much cropping potential), zero resale value.
Alternatives: Panasonic FZ45, Canon SX30, Fujifilm HS20, Nikon P500.
Pick: Of those they are all fairly good apart from the Nikon, because they make tonk compacts.
Budget: £250-400
Photographically OK, but not stellar for general images.



Micro Four Thirds/ Compact Camera System
Newish (3 years or so) kid on the block, but has potential. They are designed to fill the gap between true compacts and dSLRs.
Pros: Small, lightweight, interchangeable lenses, decent picture quality, larger sensor than the Bridges.
Negs: Smaller sensor than dSLRs, no viewfinder (you can buy an EVF for some), harder to hold steadily, unbalanced with larger lenses.
Alternatives: Sony Nex, Oly E-P, Ricoh GXR, Panny GH/GF, Samsung NX
Pick: They are all decent but Sony, Olympus and Panasonic have the lead.
Budget: £500-1000
Decent travel alternative to an SLR and one well worth considering, but get a decent one not the cheapest available.


Entry/Budget Digital SLR:
Pros: Best picture quality and sensor size of all of them. Lenses available for any given situation.
Negs: Easily the most expensive. Harder to take an average to decent photograph with limited knowledge. Bulkier and heavier than the alternatives. Addictive and therefore even more expensive.
Alternatives: Nikon D3100 (D5000 is much better), Canon 550/600D.... erm and some others.
Pick: Either, whichever feels better in the hand, but Nikon is slightly cheaper at an entry level although that does have some drawbacks with lens motors etc.
Budget: £600-900 - caveat: this looks cheaper than the MFT system, but the MFT basic lenses are better and to achieve the same quality with a dSLR you will have to spend another £1000 or so.
Best system for photography, but you need to work at it to get the best images and be prepared to spend some decent dosh.

2nd hand dSLR:
Good idea in principle but you'd be shafted when it comes to video unless you buy a fairly modern version. You also need to do a lot of research and understand what you are doing to avoid buying a pup.


Regarding photography in Asia, you'll find that the locals are far less defensive about having their picture taken so you don't need to stand off as far. If they don't like it you will find out very very quickly! In light of that if you opt for a non Bridge camera you want to cover the range of about 17/18mm-200/300mm which should cope with most situations, but not in a one size covers all zoom lens because they are a massive compromise.

Given your situation (ie travel, need for video, lack of experience etc etc) I'd probably opt for the Olympus E-PL2 with the 14-42mm and 40-150mm kit lenses at about £600.

Why? Because it covers all your needs and is a decent travel solution. Oly has a better lens range than Sony and it will give much better pictures than the Bridge alternative. The size of the sensor means that you will be able to crop into a photograph much more, hence solving the zoom problem.
 
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