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Photography Question 
Amanda 
 

Choosing a Digital Camera


Currently I have a Pentax K-1000. I've taken a black and white photography course and loved it. However my current camera isn't in great shape. I got it used from an uncle. I would like to get into digital photography, but i'm not sure what camera to get. I've looked at the digital calculators on this website, but i'm still a little lost. I want something that will give me the control that I had with my manual SLR, though i'm not sure that's possible with my price range. I have about 600 dollars for body, lenses, photoshop, etc. Since my budget isn't all that great, I was condsidering buying a camera used but don't know of any reputable websites. Also, my school is going to go on a photography trip to the Galapagos Islands in a few months, and I would like to have my digital camera for that and len(s) appropiate for that. Lastly, the school I go to is a public boarding school, there are no camera stores within walking distance-which is my only mode of transportation, so I would have to buy the camera online. Thank you so much for your help!


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4/13/2005 12:18:23 PM

 
Kerry L. Walker   Unfortunately, I don't think you are going to find a digital SLR in your price range, especially since you need the software too. Why not look into a good Pentax film camera? You should be able to get what you need in that price range. Check out adorama.com or bhphotovideo.com. Both have a wide range of products at good prices and both are reputable.


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4/13/2005 2:21:59 PM

 
Christopher A. Vedros
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/14/2005
  I agree with Kerry. The K-1000 is a great camera for students. If you are comfortable with a manual camera like that, why not stick with what you know? A $600 budget will not get you far in the digital SLR market. You could go with a digital point & shoot, but you would give up some of the control that you are enjoying.

B&H Photo has the Pentax ZX-M body for only $159.95. This is their successor to the K-1000, with all the manual grace plus 3 auto-exposure modes and a power film advance. It will use any lens or flash that might currently have for the K-1000. And at that price, you have plenty left over for another good lens and a decent scanner to put your pictures on your computer.


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4/13/2005 5:27:59 PM

 
Amanda    Thanks. I didn't think that 600 bucks would get me very fair. I've discovered that I already have photoshop on my computer. Apparently it came with it when we bought it last year. Thanks for the advise though, i'll look into it. You guys are great.


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4/13/2005 8:53:43 PM

 
Diane Dupuis
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/27/2003
  $600 would definitely get you a very decent prosumer camera. I have the Fuji S5000 and love it. (it's called the S5100 now). It has a 10x zoom, does great macros, can go fully auto or manual or anything in between. For $600 you could definitely get it, your memory cards, batteries and a bag! I believe once you go digital you won't be going back to film!


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4/17/2005 5:03:01 AM

 
Kerry L. Walker   I agree. Why stay with film? After all, who wants greater exposure latitude, greater dynamic range, ability to shoot either for prints or slides, etc? Sorry, the film guy has to strike back sometimes! No offense to the digital folks. There are some things I like more about film. Besides, I have a 25 year old camera that hasn't needed to be updated for better photos. The improvements in film have taken care of that.


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4/17/2005 8:10:42 PM

 
Diane Dupuis
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/27/2003
  Well, let's go back to the title of this thread "Choosing a DIGITAL camera".


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4/18/2005 3:59:15 AM

 
Diane Dupuis
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/27/2003
  Actually - I can't leave it at that... Sorry...
Everyone is entitled to their opinions and preferences.
I prefer to NOT pay for film and developing, to have printed only my favorite pix and not all my trial and errors (which is important when on a tight budget).
I love the opportunity to see immediately if I captured what I intended and the opportunity to try again while I'm still there!
I choose to not be stuck with one type of film in my camera until the end of the roll.
I don't need a scanner and I don't lose quality when uploading my pix to on-line contests.
I'm a digital gal. C'est la vie...
I've also learned to embrace the Post-it note and touch tone phones...


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4/18/2005 4:08:10 AM

 
Kara L. Hendricks
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/18/2004
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  I'm with Diane on this one.. I don't own an SLR but I did go Digital about a year ago and I have NEVER looked back!! Being able to see your image right away is PRICELESSS!!! No more film and developing purchases pay off right away.. Although I do plan to buy an SLR in the future my Kodak Easy Share has done me proud.. There are alot of Point and Shoot cameras on the market within your price range.. Fuji FinePix is an excellant camera for clarity and macro's just look deeper into the model # to purchase, some are better than others.. I think if you are going digital for the first time a Point and Shoot is the way to go.. They are simpler to use than a SLR. I'm a simple gal and don't like to have to worry about adjusting my shutter speed and aperature before a shot.. I might end up missing it.. Although an SLR would be a wonderful thing to have some day for portraits and set up images, I think at least one point and shoot is an absolute... My opinion.. Hope this helps.


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4/18/2005 6:55:56 AM

 
Kerry L. Walker   I knew I would stir up a hornet's nest with that one.


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4/18/2005 7:33:18 AM

 
Kerry L. Walker   "I've also learned to embrace the Post-it note and touch tone phones..."

Do you think I should upgrade from my hammner and nails and crank telephone?


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4/18/2005 7:42:55 AM

 
Amanda    Ok. So film or digital point in shoot. Are digital SLRs so different from film SLRs? I know how to use apeture/shutter speed. Would a point and shoot be good for the Galapagos trip? Or should I just hold off, do the best I can with the film, and buy a digital SLR later when I have more money?


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4/18/2005 11:14:18 AM

 
Kerry L. Walker   Despite my remark above (I like to have a little fun and stir up a little controversy), there really isn't a lot of difference between digital and film. I do prefer film for the reasons I listed but I will admit that digital has some advantages over film, like the ability to see what you shot immediately & the lower expense of shooting. The operation of the camera really isn't much different for digital than it is for film. Each is just a capture medium. The greatest advantage for the average photographer for film over digital is the greater exposure latitude but, with the immediate feedback of digital, you can check your work on the spot. For the money you want to spend, you can get either a very nice film camera with an extra lens or 2 or a digital P&S. The choice is really up to you and what you want to do with the camera.


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4/18/2005 2:23:49 PM

 
Karma Wilson
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/27/2004
  Okay, as somebody who has used both point and shoot digital and SLR digital I will chime in here. I have never used film SLR--so won't chime in there.

First of all for many "point and shoot" models the term "point and shoot" is a bit of a misnomer. With the fine pix S5000, which I had and used, you get control over aperture, shutter speed, ISO, etc.. I had aperture priority mode, shutter priority, full manual, etc... You have almost as much control as with an SLR it's just more complicated to use the point and shoot and you don't have as many options overall. For instance, my smallest aperture with my point and shoot was F 8. Now, I've read in Brian Peterson's book that really that equals much more on a point and shoot and it's the larger apertures that suffer on point and shoot. However, I was able to get shallow DOF more easily than deep depth of field on the S5000. Detail suffered in my storytelling shots unless light was superb. Also, any time I used ISO over 200 my shots were very grainy. More grainy than shots I take at ISO 1600 on my 20D.

With the S5000 you can get great 8x10s and decent 11x16s. With a digital SLR you get much larger.

Having used a DSLR I would never look back. But some of the best photos I've ever taken happened on my point and shoot. My two second place winners here happened on that camera. Still, there were some shots I could not get on that camera that I could on my SLR. In low light there is no comparison. The DSLR (with a spendy lens) is great. A true macro lens is SO much better than P&S macro which has literally no working distance. There are other advantages as well, and there should be for the price difference! But point and shoot cameras are great and have come a looooong way. I cut my teeth on my P&S and learned manual controls on it as well.

As far as the money saved in developing...with a digital point and shoot I would say it's an advantage. With the DSLR the cost of lenses and equipment is SO expensive I could develop LOTS of film for that money I'm spending. I still think it's worth it simply because with digital I WILL shoot the photos. With film the whole hassle and lack of control over my post processing would discourage me.

If you think you see yourself buying a digital SLR sometime soon then save your money. The Nikon D-70 is getting so affordable that I just saw an ad for one with no lens for $600. So on ebay it will be lower. If you save for a halfway decent all purpose lens you're half way there! But if you need a camera NOW then by all means look into a point and shoot like the S5000 or the S7000 (less zoom but more megapixels and options). Don't let lack of creative control stop you--you'll still have quite a bit.

I suggest you look around on this site at pictures taken by the point and shoot cameras to see what's being done on them. You'll probably be very surprised. I sure was. You can check my gallery for examples of both digital SLR shots and the S5000 point and shoot.

Now Kerry, what do you mean by exposure lattitude advantage in film?

Karma


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4/18/2005 8:03:59 PM

 
Christopher A. Vedros
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/14/2005
  Okay. This thread has drifted into a film vs. digital battle, and that's not really where it started.

The starting point was a student with a $600 budget, who loved the B&W photography course she took.

Kerry & I were just suggesting that rather than settle for something less than an SLR, she could upgrade to a newer film SLR that would still use any lenses or accessories that she has.

I was once a student on a budget. Saying that the $600 you've saved will get you halfway to a good digital SLR setup is not very comforting.

Film & digital both have their merits and limitations. But not every film user needs to "rescued" to digital.


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4/18/2005 8:51:10 PM

 
Amy M. Parish
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/25/2003
  Hi Amanda--with your budget, you may be able to get a used Canon Digital Rebel, or Nikon, maybe. But, here's something to think about. I am not sure about the Nikons, I have a Canon, so can only speak from that point of view. I have a Canon Film Rebel 2000, and then purchased a Canon Digital Rebel this year. The controls are almost identical, and they use the same lenses. So, with that $600 it might be best to get a newer SLR--and I would say get either a Nikon or Canon, because then when you can upgrade to digital it won't be a big shock for you and you should easily make the transition, and you won't need new lenses!! Seems like for $600 you should be able to get a Canon Film Rebel (about $200) and at least one good lens that zooms out to 200 o 300mm, not to mention the camera comes with a 55mm lens also. Something else to think about, since you have budget constraints (as I do too), what if you purchased an expensive digital SLR only to have it fall off the boat in the Gallepagos????? For someone with a dispensible income this would be a mere annoyance, but with a limited budget for camera equipment that could be devastating. The next thing I wanted to say, and don't get mad Diane, but if you are already proficient at using a real film SLR and want to continue with that kind of camera, don't bother with anything like the prosumer cameras (like the Fuji 5000 or 7000) or point and shoots. I have one, a Fuji, and it was a great place to start as I didn't have the knowledge or background in photography to understand how to use creative controls on an SLR-and I was happy with the pictures out of it. But, if you have the equipment knowledge already, and you are used to shooting with an SLR, you will be disappointed on many levels with a digital camera that is not a true SLR---it won't feel or look exactly like your film shots and that will bother you. Believe me, as great as the pictures are out of my Fuji, they pale in comparison to the pictures from my Digital Rebel-there is an amazing difference in clarity. And, chances are, you would outgrow that prosumer camera quickly and need to purchase another camera---more $$$. Last thing I wanted to say, be careful if ordering from any camera company online. Don't overlook places like Costco.com. They are a real retail company, maybe you have a store in your town, but in their online catalog they carry things like the film and digital Rebels and Nikons, and their prices include shipping and are lower in price than most camera stores. Also, Sams Club online or Walmart---Hey, Walmart actually carries the Canon Film Rebels in their stores. So, that's my advice. I have huge budget constraints, and I understand how it is! Be interested in Digital, you should be, but film is not the lesser photography medium. Honestly, if you make smart purchases now with a new film camera and lenses with what you can afford to spend now, you can make a good digital purchase later with a bigger budget and use those same lenses. I think that like a good film SLR, a really good digital SLR (not the prosumer or P&S) can last you many many years without you feeling the need to upgrade. I don't think I will be needing to upgrade for quite a while. Cheers!


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4/18/2005 9:59:12 PM

 
Karma Wilson
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/27/2004
  I think Amy gives some great advice. You'd probably be wise to follow it. However, I did want to add that I got a lot of detail with my S5000 in my prints. So much detail that when I showed people my portrait shots they asked where I had them "done". Those were printed out on my bubble jet printer! My friend said she thought they looked better than her film prints. So I think a lot of that depends on the specific camera and developing. A P&S with more megapixels would probably have a lot more detail than mine did and they hardly even make them at 3.2 MPs anymore.

Also, maybe things have changed but I wanted to order my camera from Costco and I didn't because the shipping was so much there. I ended up buying from a reputable online dealer. However, only go with the reputable ones because the one time I did order a lens from a lesser known dealer I had an AWFUL experience.

Trust me, I've lived on a budget and I think that digital SLR would be very hard to achieve for your right now. It's so expensive! I also think it's a bad time to invest in a digital SlR because I think in a year or two all of them will be made with full frame sensors and you won't have to worry about the digital crop factor when buying lenses. And I'll probably have to pony up to buy a new camera!

I'd NEVER want to use film after using digital, but you're already used to it and I think it's probably the way to go on your budget. But if you could get your budget up to $900 you could get a digital SLR set up with a very long zoom lens (not a pro lens, but an acceptable one).

Karma


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4/19/2005 6:35:35 AM

 
Kerry L. Walker   Chris, I wasn't trying to start a film vs digital debate. Well, yes I was, but only for the fun of it. I am a film user but not a digital basher. However I sometimes let my sense of humor run wild.

Diane, I was just picking at you.

Karma, regarding exposure latitude of film, shooting with digital is like shooting with slide film. Exposure latitude for digital is about the equivalent to shooting with slide film. To get a correct exposure, you need to be just about right on the money. With film, you can be overexposed by 3 or 4 stops or underexposed by about 1 stop and still get an acceptable photo. With digital and slide film, an overexposure of that much will give you a blown out picture. With a B&W film like Tri-X, the latitude is even greater.

Amanda, the decision you need to make is whether you want to just be a point and shoot photographer or you want to grow with the art. There is nothing wrong with just being a point and shoot photographer. It is not a sin. If that is what you want, by all means get a digicam. However, if you think you want to grow in photography, start out with a moderately priced film camera. You can get more for your money. Canon, Nikon, Pentax and Minolta all make very good film cameras (and digital too). Pick the one that you think fits your needs best. If, at some point in the future, you decide you want to make the crossover to digital, you can purchase a digital body and still use the lenses and flash you have for your film camera. Let's say you buy a Pentax ist* film camera. You can still use the lenses you have for your K-1000. Later, if you decide you want digital, buy the ist* D and you will already be familiar with the camera.


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4/19/2005 6:50:51 AM

 
Amanda    You mentioned slide film. On the trip I will be required to use digital or slide film. I've never worked with slide and I guess I'm more worried about going on a trip which will probably be my only one for a long long time, and coming back with no pictures because I didn't expose the slide right. I would like to get into digital, but I want to grow with the art as well. I go to a school for math and science but I'm considering majoring in photography, and while I really enjoyed the darkroom, photoshop is something that I can do currently, since there isn't one in town that I can use. Is slide harder then digital? What are the advantages of slide vs. digital? The pictures from the slide film will also be put into a powerpoint presentation.


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4/19/2005 9:32:46 AM

 
Kerry L. Walker   Well, here's one for the record books, a diehard film shooter recommending digital. I don't feel the need for the instant feedback of digital because I've shot for so long I feel confident I will get what I want when I shoot. (I'm not perfect so sometimes I goof but I usually get it right.) However, for someone who may have some trepidation, I say go digital. You can see immediately what you have. While I don't believe you will get the awesome results you can get from Velvia 50, you will get great results without the worry of whether you got the shot. Besides, you won't have to shoot such a slow ISO that a tripod is a necessity. My comment about slides was to point out that shooting digital is a lot like shooting slides. In other words, you have a small exposure latitude. But with the instant feedback of digital, you can tell whether you need to shoot another shot. You can also transfer digital to Powerpoint very easily. Buy the best digicam you can afford. Even if you go with a digital SLR later, you can use the digicam as a backup. Make sure you take plenty of memory cards. You will need them because you will want to shoot a LOT of pictures and it is better to have too many than not enough. Above all, have a great trip!


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4/19/2005 10:01:06 AM

 
Karma Wilson
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/27/2004
  Upon further reading I would suggest something in the digicam arena that has an "SLR" feel. Something like the Canon Powershot Pro 1. It is listed at $649 right now on Amazon. That gives you 8 MPs and the 7X lens is supposed to be quite good, but you would still need a memory card so that would over budget you. However, it's said to be noisy at anything other than 200 iso so look around and compare. The Fujifinepix S7000 is a bit less than that, but also has an SLR "feel" to it.

Good luck,

Karma


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4/19/2005 11:02:44 AM

 
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