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Author Topic: Which camera to buy?  (Read 3033 times)

steve-n-sueC

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Which camera to buy?
« on: July 04, 2018, 08:19:06 AM »
We are going to scratch off one of the big items from our bucket list this fall, by attending the Albuquerque Balloon Festival.  That said, I want to buy a camera instead of trying to take amazing pictures with my cellphone. 
My requirements are:
  Digital
  $200 range or less
  must take videos
  comfortable size
  tripod mount
I am sure that all of the experts on here will have their own "favorites".  I am interested in hearing from you.

Thanks
Steve-n-Sue
   


   
Steve-n-Sue
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docj

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Re: Which camera to buy?
« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2018, 09:35:35 AM »
There's no question but that a better camera would help with photos at the Balloon Fiesta; most of the real good photo opportunities require a good telephoto lens.  The cameras on the higher end phones are pretty good, but none of them truly provide an excellent telephoto experience.  As someone with a PhD in physics and optics, I could go through a long explanation of why a tiny lens can't ever duplicate the results of a large one, but I'll skip the details for this post.  But, unfortunately, the advent of pretty decent cell phone cameras has really decimated the "point and shoot" camera market which is where your $200 budget would put you.   The number of point and shoot cameras being sold these days is much smaller than it was a decade ago.

Personally, I carry a Canon T5i DSLR with an 18-400mm zoom lens, but that's not going to fit into your budget.  You might want to look at the mirrorless cameras being sold by Sony and many others.  They have many of the attributes of a DSLR in a smaller, slightly less expensive package.  However, I'm not sure you'll be able to stay within your budget.  I did look at Amazon's listings while writing this response and I noticed that there are a number of vendors selling "gray market" (out of geographic region with no warranty) for prices as low as ~$350.  There's nothing wrong with going that route as long as you understand that you can't get the device repaired under warranty, but the probability of needing repair probably isn't all that great.
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jymbee

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Re: Which camera to buy?
« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2018, 09:40:45 AM »
At a two hundred dollar price point your choices are going to be pretty limited. Might try searching for some used cameras-- there's a lot of good buys out there in the used market.

We are going to scratch off one of the big items from our bucket list this fall, by attending the Albuquerque Balloon Festival.  That said, I want to buy a camera instead of trying to take amazing pictures with my cellphone. 
My requirements are:
  Digital
  $200 range or less
  must take videos
  comfortable size
  tripod mount
I am sure that all of the experts on here will have their own "favorites".  I am interested in hearing from you.

Thanks
Steve-n-Sue
   


 

Larry N.

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Re: Which camera to buy?
« Reply #3 on: July 04, 2018, 09:45:12 AM »
Your price range limits what I otherwise would recommend. But although I've not looked into cameras like that, I'd suggest at least a 10 to 1 (or more) zoom lens and minimum of 5 mp (megapixel) resolution. One with a viewfinder* (not just a video screen on the back) would also be my preference, but those are getting harder to find in that price range. Depending on your needs, I'd also consider whether it should be pocket size (zoom is really limited on most) or whether a strap around the neck (or a camera bag) is an acceptable means of transport.

Jymbee makes a good point too, about looking at used cameras (sometimes they're pricey, sometimes you can find a good bargain) at various camera dealers (big box stores rarely carry used).

Generally, though, Nikon, Canon, Olympus, Pentax and Sony are among the better brands.


* I prefer a viewfinder because I don't have to worry about the sun washing out the scene and because bracing the camera against my head makes for a more stable platform than holding it at arms length to see the screen on the back
Larry and Mary Ann N.
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blw2

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Re: Which camera to buy?
« Reply #4 on: July 05, 2018, 03:05:22 PM »
it's been 6 years now....wow it's had to believe it's been that long ago...
anyway, I bought myself a birthday present of a Nikon Coolpix P510
Being an old film SLR camera guy I wanted a DSLR, but the price of the body + lenses to get a good one was too high....so the Nikon was a compromise.

I have been extremely surprised and happy with it.  Good photos in my opinion.  It has a really good lens for what it is. Seems like a pretty big objective lens to bring in lots of light
the numbers...42x F3.0-5.9 optical zoom lens (24-1000mm equivalent)
On the 24mm end it's plenty wide IMHO (my go to lens back in the days of film was a 28-70 zoom, I found the 28mm useful). 
The long zoom telephoto 42x optical is staggering.  Like a telescope.  I'd think it would be great for the balloon festival....long reach lenses are useful at airshows anyway, so I'd think the same there...

No longer made of course, but I bring it up just a a possibility to look into that 'class' of cameras.  I don't even know what it's called...kinda like an SLR but the lens isn't removable....
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allenb12

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Re: Which camera to buy?
« Reply #5 on: July 06, 2018, 06:31:13 PM »
Refurbished Canon PowerShot SX530 HS for $192.00 direct from Canon with a one year warranty.  Equivalent to a 1,600 mm zoom.  We currently have three Nikon DSLR and many lens from a fisheye to 300mm.  This camera is a very close second and certainly a lot lighter to carry around and much cheaper.
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jackiemac

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Re: Which camera to buy?
« Reply #6 on: July 06, 2018, 08:21:10 PM »
No expert but if you get handheld make sure it is optical zoom....
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Larry N.

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Re: Which camera to buy?
« Reply #7 on: July 06, 2018, 08:51:16 PM »
No expert but if you get handheld make sure it is optical zoom....
An excellent point, Jackie. Electronic zoom loses sharpness quickly, worse as you zoom in.
Larry and Mary Ann N.
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steve-n-sueC

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Re: Which camera to buy?
« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2018, 12:33:17 PM »
Refurbished Canon PowerShot SX530 HS for $192.00 direct from Canon with a one year warranty.  Equivalent to a 1,600 mm zoom.  We currently have three Nikon DSLR and many lens from a fisheye to 300mm.  This camera is a very close second and certainly a lot lighter to carry around and much cheaper.

Thanks for all the replies, especially allenb12. I looked at the Canon PowerShot refurb that you recommended and it looks very good for the $$.  My only concern is that it is an electrical zoom, which a couple of others do not recommend. But the reviews I have found are good, and I'm probably gonna pull the trigger on this one.

I will post my results once I get it and have time to try it out.

Thanks to all
Steve-n-SueC
Steve-n-Sue
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docj

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Re: Which camera to buy?
« Reply #9 on: July 15, 2018, 06:42:10 PM »
Thanks for all the replies, especially allenb12. I looked at the Canon PowerShot refurb that you recommended and it looks very good for the $$.  My only concern is that it is an electrical zoom, which a couple of others do not recommend. But the reviews I have found are good, and I'm probably gonna pull the trigger on this one.

An electrical zoom is just a way of selecting smaller and smaller sections of the CCD and blowing them up to fill the frame.  Your picture quality degrades as you zoom because you are using fewer and fewer pixels in the picture.  Unfortunately, that's all you can do with inexpensive cameras that use tiny lenses with only a few optical elements.  A true optical zoom lens is a complex computer-designed device with typically 15 or more optical "elements".  No offense intended but the zoom lens I'm currently using with my DSLR cost >$600 and that's not considered a lot.  You're not likely to find that in a $200 camera.
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Larry N.

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Re: Which camera to buy?
« Reply #10 on: July 15, 2018, 08:37:37 PM »
To take doc's comment a tad further, the electronic "zoom" is just the same as taking a "normal" picture (not zoomed), selecting a small piece of it, then blowing it up to the same size as the original. But the specified Canon model apparently has a 50X optical zoom (plus 4X "digital"), so as long as you stay in that range (and for most things you will), you'll have decent quality pictures without the graininess or pixelation.
Larry and Mary Ann N.
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  de N8GGG

docj

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Re: Which camera to buy?
« Reply #11 on: July 15, 2018, 10:51:17 PM »
To take doc's comment a tad further, the electronic "zoom" is just the same as taking a "normal" picture (not zoomed), selecting a small piece of it, then blowing it up to the same size as the original. But the specified Canon model apparently has a 50X optical zoom (plus 4X "digital"), so as long as you stay in that range (and for most things you will), you'll have decent quality pictures without the graininess or pixelation.

Here's a review of it. I would be concerned about the lack of an electronic (or optical) viewfinder.    I would find it awkward to have to use the LCD display when the zoom was fully extended.  It won't be the easiest thing to keep your subject in the picture.  Have fun with it. https://www.pcmag.com/review/333007/canon-powershot-sx530-hs
Sandie & Joel

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8Muddypaws

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Re: Which camera to buy?
« Reply #12 on: July 15, 2018, 11:19:03 PM »
An electrical zoom is just a way of selecting smaller and smaller sections of the CCD and blowing them up to fill the frame.  Your picture quality degrades as you zoom because you are using fewer and fewer pixels in the picture.  Unfortunately, that's all you can do with inexpensive cameras that use tiny lenses with only a few optical elements.  A true optical zoom lens is a complex computer-designed device with typically 15 or more optical "elements".  No offense intended but the zoom lens I'm currently using with my DSLR cost >$600 and that's not considered a lot.  You're not likely to find that in a $200 camera.

I think on the Canon you'll find that electrical zoom means that you push a button to zoom in and another button to zoom out, a motor actually moves the optical elements to accomplish it.  I used an SX model as my pocket camera until last year.  It made good JPG images but would not shoot a RAW format.  I replaced it with a mirrorless SLR.

What you're referring to above is electronic zoom.
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SeilerBird

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Re: Which camera to buy?
« Reply #13 on: July 16, 2018, 02:42:35 AM »
There are three types of zooms. Electric, mechanical and digital. All bridge cameras have electric zoom. That simply means a motor is used to move the lens. As Larry explained the number of pixels used in the image remains the same. A digital zoom reduces the number of pixels as it zooms in electronically and pixelates the image. The only way you can get a mechanical zoom is to get a dinosaur DSLR. That is all that they use is a mechanical zoom. So to recap, DSLRs use mechanical zoom, bridge cameras, pocket cameras and cell phone cameras use electronic zoom and some of them use digital zoom. You can use mechanical zoom and electronic zoom without issue. With digital zoom you get pixelization. Here is a great image to show the difference between digital and optical zoom:
« Last Edit: July 16, 2018, 02:44:51 AM by SeilerBird »
I would like to apologize to anyone I have not yet offended. Please be patient and I will get to you shortly.
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jymbee

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Re: Which camera to buy?
« Reply #14 on: July 16, 2018, 09:55:35 AM »

8Muddypaws

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Re: Which camera to buy?
« Reply #15 on: July 16, 2018, 03:38:20 PM »
They will have to pry my DSLR out of my cold dead fingers.   ;)
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SeilerBird

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Re: Which camera to buy?
« Reply #16 on: July 16, 2018, 03:49:33 PM »
They will have to pry my DSLR out of my cold dead fingers.   ;)
No one is trying to take your DSLR. No one wants it.
I would like to apologize to anyone I have not yet offended. Please be patient and I will get to you shortly.
Favorite 2017 shots:
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Hammster

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Re: Which camera to buy?
« Reply #17 on: July 25, 2018, 07:51:49 AM »
It's unlikely you will find even a used DSLR with video for $200. That's a huge stretch. On top of that you'd need to buy lenses so that would definitely push your budget over $200.
Bridge (which is what Brad was referring to) cameras could be a good choice. If you were considering point and shoot, save your money and just use your phone. Not a lot of photo quality difference between the 2 at this point. Bridge camera could give you a bit more flexibility on how you set up a shot resulting in less editing in the computer later.
As others have mentioned, keep an eye on how much of the zoom is "digital zoom". You really don't want it, or at least very minimal amount. Even if it means not being able to zoom in as close as you'd like. No sin in cropping an image later (I know this goes against my not editing in the computer comment, but it's one exception I'd accept).

SeilerBird

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I would like to apologize to anyone I have not yet offended. Please be patient and I will get to you shortly.
Favorite 2017 shots:
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docj

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Re: Which camera to buy?
« Reply #19 on: August 06, 2018, 02:40:15 PM »
Yes it hurts but it is true.

https://petapixel.com/2017/03/03/latest-camera-sales-chart-reveals-death-compact-camera/

With all due respect, the primary thrust of this article is to show that smartphone cameras have devastated the camera market across all categories, with the greatest damage being done to sales of point and shoot cameras.  Yes, DSLR sales are down but, as the article notes, they have stabilized to some degree.  Mirrorless alternatives to DSLRs account for only a limited number of sales.

Here's a quote from the article:

Photographer Sven Skafisk took the latest 2016 CIPA camera production data and created the chart above showing that compact cameras have continued to decline while DSLR and mirrorless camera sales seem to have stabilized a bit.

IMHO, smartphone cameras are a reasonable replacement for compact, point and shoot ones.  Many inexpensive compacts used plastic lenses with limited optical capabilities and few had the pixel count of today's smartphone cameras.  For people mostly interested in taking snapshots of friends or "I was here" photos to share on Facebook, smartphone cameras are wonderful.  Heck, my Pixel 2 even lets me include Augmented Reality artifacts such as R2D2 in my photos if I want to spice them up a bit.

However, the principles of optics remain the same. no small aperture lens can compete with a large aperture one if your objective is cropping a small section out of a photo and blowing it up to fill a screen.  Nor will a lens with a "couple" of optical elements compete with a modern zoom with more than a dozen elements made from a mix of different optical glass in order to ensure a minimum of chromatic dispersion and a flat focusing field across the entire frame. 

I'm not a pro photographer by any means, but I like my photos to be more than just "I was here" shots. On our Facebook travel blog, I carefully select what I photos I post and I crop and Photoshop many of them.  Sure, I could blog with my smartphone, but, to me, that would take away the "art" aspect of photography that I enjoy.

So, I'll continue to lug around my "dinosaur" camera with its 18-400mm zoom because, for me, it makes photography more than just a snapshot.
« Last Edit: August 06, 2018, 02:50:24 PM by docj »
Sandie & Joel

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SeilerBird

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Re: Which camera to buy?
« Reply #20 on: August 06, 2018, 02:51:13 PM »
With all due respect, the primary thrust of this article is to show that smartphone cameras have devastated the camera market across all categories, with the greatest damage being done to sales of point and shoot cameras.  Yes, DSLR sales are down but, as the article notes, they have stabilized to some degree.  Mirrorless alternatives to DSLRs account for only a limited number of sales.

Here's a quote from the article:

Photographer Sven Skafisk took the latest 2016 CIPA camera production data and created the chart above showing that compact cameras have continued to decline while DSLR and mirrorless camera sales seem to have stabilized a bit.

IMHO, smartphone cameras are a reasonable replacement for compact, point and shoot ones.  Many inexpensive compacts used plastic lenses with limited optical capabilities and few had the pixel count of today's smartphone cameras.  For people mostly interested in taking snapshots of friends or "I was here" photos to share on Facebook, smartphone cameras are wonderful.  Heck, my Pixel 2 even lets me include Augmented Reality artifacts such as R2D2 in my photos if I want to spice them up a bit.

However, the principles of optics remain the same. no small aperture lens can compete with a large aperture one if your objective is cropping a small section out of a photo and blowing it up to fill a screen.  Nor will a lens with a "couple" of optical elements compete with a modern zoom with more than a dozen elements made from a mix of different optical glass in order to ensure a minimum of chromatic dispersion and a flat focusing field across the entire frame. 

I'm not a pro photographer by any means, but I like my photos to be more than just "I was here" shots. On our Facebook travel blog, I carefully select what I photos I post and I crop and Photoshop many of them.  Sure, I could blog with my smartphone, but, to me, that would take away the "art" aspect of photography that I enjoy.

So, I'll continue to lug around my "dinosaur" camera with its 18-400mm zoom because, for me, it makes photography more than just a snapshot.
Joel, I am telling you to ditch your dslr. Keep using it forever if you wish. However DSLR sales did level out for a bit but the fact remains they are still way below what they used to sell. Your arguments about plastic lenses sound like the type of logic used twenty years ago by the film crowd who kept telling me that film would never die. Film had better definition, better saturation, better signal to noise, blah, blah, blah. They had a hundred reasons why they would never switch to digital. Ten years later film was as dead as a doornail. And then film cameras became worthless in the resale market. In a few years dslr sales will be so bad that reselling one will become almost impossible. But as always, the people who have spent money on dslr systems refuse to see the future because it effects them financially.

My photography is a lot more than a snapshot with my cell phone. It is just as legit as the ones I took with more expensive cameras.
I would like to apologize to anyone I have not yet offended. Please be patient and I will get to you shortly.
Favorite 2017 shots:
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hedhunter9

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Re: Which camera to buy?
« Reply #21 on: August 06, 2018, 10:32:44 PM »
My wife takes action shots of our MX races... So she needs zoom... fast focus... continuous shots... etc... So DSL was our choice..
We bought a Canon Rebel kit with the 70/300 zoom that gets the most use for her..  and it works great.. She doesnt know a thing about cameras.
I put it on sport mode and she just  clicks away... With its fast auto focus, it does a very good job...
 It has more features than I can even think of using..

Bob
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docj

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Re: Which camera to buy?
« Reply #22 on: August 08, 2018, 04:03:38 PM »
My wife takes action shots of our MX races... So she needs zoom... fast focus... continuous shots... etc... So DSL was our choice..
We bought a Canon Rebel kit with the 70/300 zoom that gets the most use for her..  and it works great.. She doesnt know a thing about cameras.
I put it on sport mode and she just  clicks away... With its fast auto focus, it does a very good job...
 It has more features than I can even think of using..

I suggest that she look at the Tamron lenses that fit the Canon Rebel.  I have the 18/400 second generation Tamron zoom which is a big improvement over the 28/270 first generation.  Much faster and more reliable auto-focus.  I don't think Canon even offers a zoom with that much range and, if they did, I probably wouldn't have been able to afford it.  With the "multiplication" effect of using a less-than-full-frame sensor, the 400mm translates to >600mm.  I've been able to take some remarkable pictures with it and my Rebel T5i.
Sandie & Joel

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SeilerBird

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Re: Which camera to buy?
« Reply #23 on: August 08, 2018, 04:12:29 PM »
I suggest that she look at the Tamron lenses that fit the Canon Rebel.  I have the 18/400 second generation Tamron zoom which is a big improvement over the 28/270 first generation.  Much faster and more reliable auto-focus.  I don't think Canon even offers a zoom with that much range and, if they did, I probably wouldn't have been able to afford it.  With the "multiplication" effect of using a less-than-full-frame sensor, the 400mm translates to >600mm.  I've been able to take some remarkable pictures with it and my Rebel T5i.
:)) I love Tamron lenses. I had a 150-600 that I used on my Sony A55 and it knocked my socks off. Very reasonably priced and the optics were just as good as the L lenses I used.
I would like to apologize to anyone I have not yet offended. Please be patient and I will get to you shortly.
Favorite 2017 shots:
https://photos.app.goo.gl/y0HbMU5KYa2hx02E3
My portfolio:
https://goo.gl/photos/Cx4SaYhGfYFShSty7
My Grand Canyon shots:
https://photos.app.goo.gl/Nc1AT8tQp25wJwfm1

docj

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Re: Which camera to buy?
« Reply #24 on: August 08, 2018, 04:19:49 PM »
Joel, I am telling you to ditch your dslr. Keep using it forever if you wish. However DSLR sales did level out for a bit but the fact remains they are still way below what they used to sell. Your arguments about plastic lenses sound like the type of logic used twenty years ago by the film crowd who kept telling me that film would never die. Film had better definition, better saturation, better signal to noise, blah, blah, blah. They had a hundred reasons why they would never switch to digital. Ten years later film was as dead as a doornail. And then film cameras became worthless in the resale market. In a few years dslr sales will be so bad that reselling one will become almost impossible. But as always, the people who have spent money on dslr systems refuse to see the future because it effects them financially.


I agree that improved plastics may eventually make the plastic vs glass issue moot and today's CCD's have effective ISO speeds so high that the light gathering ability of a larger lens isn't all that much of an advantage.  But nothing can change the principles of physics which result in smaller apertures exhibiting greater diffraction effects than do larger apertures at equivalent f-stops.  The net effect of diffraction is to reduce image sharpness.

Diffraction affects each lens differently and as pixel size decreases diffraction usually shows up earlier.  Therefore, the very small CCDs and lenses used in smartphone cameras will exhibit these effects more than will larger DSLR CCDs and lenses.

Here's an article that explains and demonstrates diffraction effects:  https://fstoppers.com/studio/fstoppers-original-what-lens-diffraction-and-when-does-diffraction-happen-6022
Sandie & Joel

2000 40' Beaver Patriot Thunder Princeton--425 HP/1550 ft-lbs CAT C-12
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SeilerBird

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Re: Which camera to buy?
« Reply #25 on: August 08, 2018, 05:00:24 PM »
Joel I understand diffraction. I studied it in my college photography classes. If I showed you a photo you could not tell me if it was taken with a cell phone camera or a dslr just by looking. If the images are that good then diffraction isn't an issue.
I would like to apologize to anyone I have not yet offended. Please be patient and I will get to you shortly.
Favorite 2017 shots:
https://photos.app.goo.gl/y0HbMU5KYa2hx02E3
My portfolio:
https://goo.gl/photos/Cx4SaYhGfYFShSty7
My Grand Canyon shots:
https://photos.app.goo.gl/Nc1AT8tQp25wJwfm1

jymbee

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Re: Which camera to buy?
« Reply #26 on: August 08, 2018, 08:36:23 PM »
They had a hundred reasons why they would never switch to digital. Ten years later film was as dead as a doornail. And then film cameras became worthless in the resale market. In a few years dslr sales will be so bad that reselling one will become almost impossible.

IMO that's not an applicable analogy-- film vs. digital. That was a revolutionary change while the merits of today's systems being discussed here are more evolutionary. Smartphone camera systems have had a dramatic impact on the number of people taking images. Today, the saying that "everybody is a photographer" is by and large true. People that never even owned any kind of camera are clicking away and sending billions of images around the world.

By she virtue of the numbers alone the portion of market share attributable to entry level camera systems will continue to grow and outpace DSLRs, but DSLR systems will be around in substantial numbers well beyond a decade.

steve-n-sueC

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Re: Which camera to buy?
« Reply #27 on: August 22, 2018, 06:31:13 PM »
     OK, many thanks to all for your thoughts, opinions, and explanations.  I should have known that there are some photography experts on here, same as any other subject!  LOL!
     I did pull the trigger on the refurb Canon PowerShot SX530 HS. Been playing with it for a few days. So far the most intricate shot I have pulled off is a zoomed in picture of hummingbirds at our feeder. Also took a movie zoomed in of them. Both came out surprisingly well. I think with practice, I will be extremely proud of my purchase. It is certainly capable of much more than the operator is!!!!!

Thanks to All for your replies!
Steve-n-Sue
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Larry N.

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  • Westminster, CO
Re: Which camera to buy?
« Reply #28 on: August 22, 2018, 08:13:29 PM »
Steve, if you haven't already, look through the pinned topic at the top of this segment, the Photographic Tips topic. There's a lot of stuff in there that can help your understanding of photography.
Larry and Mary Ann N.
2016 Newmar Ventana 3709 -ISB6.7 XT 360HP
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blw2

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Re: Which camera to buy?
« Reply #29 on: August 22, 2018, 08:31:53 PM »
50x optical zoom, wow.  My old Nikon is only 42x and it seems incredibly long to me....that thing must zoom in like the Hubble...you must have been counting the lice on that bird!
Brad (DW + 3 kids)
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