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Digital camera comparison


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I've been doing research, and I found the camera I want, even if I can't afford it at this time.


The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-F717. I checked it out last night at CompUSA and I must say, this beauty is impressive. I was able to get it to focus at a spot about an inch away from the lens. The zoom acts much like a telephoto, definately bringing things in nice and close, and the wide angle has a very broad range area. Another feature you don't see on most digital cameras is the standard size 58mm lens threads for the addition of screw-on filters. What does this mean for people shooting minis? It means you can get so close with this particular camera that you can not only see the nose-hairs, but into the brain cavity!! :love:


The camera is exceptionally light, even moreso than my Nikon N65 film camera. The shape is designed so you can fit it in your hand and steady the camera under the long lens, adding to stability when shooting without a tripod or monopod. What's even better is that the body swivels on the lens base, so you don't have to peer through the viewfinder at all, which leads me to another wonderful feature... that you can switch  between the TTL viewfinder or the viewscreen on the back.


Oh, and it does movies as well. At a price tag of $899 ($799 on the Sony website) this is a camera only for the very serious. With a nice 5.24, megapixel rating, 5x Optical Zoom, and 2x precision zoom, manually selective focus points, available hot-shoe for a full flash, a built-in popup fill flash, and USB compatibility, this camera is sweet. It's also extremely easy to just pick up right out of the box and start using.


Looking at the pricetag of the Sony, a lot of you are wondering why I'd even bother mentioning it. Because it is a beautiful piece of work, and for me to say that about a digital camera is something to be considered. I'm a die-hard film photographer.


I did look at some less expensive cameras.


The Nikon Coolpix has a less expensive pricetag than the Sony. I looked at both the 3100 ($349) and the 2100 ($249) cameras which are generally more affordable to the person just looking for something that will get the job done. Being Nikons, they has the backing of an excellent company that has been making photographic equipment for decades.


The 3100 has a 3.2 megapixel, which the 2100 has an effective 2.0. Not super-high in the grand scheme of things, but if you're just looking to post pics on the web, this should work just find.


The focal length of these two is the impressive part. They are on par with the Sony mentioned above. Not quite as close, but still pretty darn decent. These cameras are very small, able to fit in one hand easily, and so for those used to handling larger cameras it can be a transition. They also do movies and are USB compatible. They also have threads for tripod/monopod use.


Now, what I didn't like about them is the size (I like to be able to really hold my camera) and that it doesn't have a hotshoe where I could add a larger flash. Also, no filter threads. That was a common theme I've been seeing on a lot of the less expensive digital cameras. I'll get to filters and why I find them important in a moment.


The Nikon cameras are very nice for those who just want to shoot some picture and not worry about a lot of stuff. They have decent zoom functions, macro, and easy to manuever menues. They aren't quite as easy to use right out of the box as the Sony was so I would advise reading up on the manual before use, but this seems to be a running theme with Nikon in general these days.


All in all, if I had the money, I'd definately go with the Sony for it's versitality. It could easily function as my "I want immediate results" camera and replace the film camera for a number of shoots. It still can't replace the film for such things as Christmas, birthdays, or when I go on a serious shoot (there are some things that are better with film). But for cons or minis or just tooling around, the Sony is the perfect digital for the professional who just wants something to snap photos with.


The Nikons are something I recommend for the less serious photographer. For the average person, these cameras will do just fine for any use you could imagine for a camera, from Birthdays and Christmas to vacations. They are half the cost of the Sony, which alone makes them attractive, are lightweight, fairly simple to use, and for the most part act just like any other point and shoot camera.


Now, you're wondering why I feel filters are important. I look for threads on a camera lens because of various reasonings.


1) I want to be able to add a UV filter. Not only does this help render clearer, more concise color, especially outdoors, but it helps protect the main lens from dirt and scratches. It's much easier to replace a screw on filter than a lens.


2) Polarizing filters. These beauties allow a person to shoot through glass without glare, can greatly reduce glare for outside shots and... when shooting minis can reduce the glare and "hot spots" that can often be achieved even on a Dullcoated mini under proper lighting conditions. Always a plus.


3) I like to play. I've got fog filters, star filters, colored ones, graduated colors, diffusers... sometimes I just go out shooting and I enjoy utilizing various filters for various reasons, especially when I'm working with black and white film.


4) Close-up filters. Even the most macro of autofocus cameras can't get as close and I want to. I've taken shots of items that weren't even a centimeter high and blown them up into 8x10. It's amazing what effects occur when you take something that small and make it so huge. Also, when shooting minis, I find close-up filters are almost necessary if you want the detail and want to be certain about clarity. Most good digitals can get clear shots, as we've all seen, but the closeup filter means less work for me in Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro.


So, for me, the ability to use filters is a must. It might not be for you, so consider what you want your camera to do, how much you'll be using it, and what it's primary function will be. Then with that decision made, make your choice as you see fit.


I did look at some other cameras, but for price and functionality, they did not come close to the three cameras mentioned above. Either the batteries weren't working (so they couldn't be tested) or they lacked a feature that the above cameras had. Mostly it was price tag. Some were much more expensive with less features.  :glare:


What I give here is a low-down on what I saw at Best Buy and CompUSA last night. For the price, these cameras were the best to be seen. The Sony I only saw at CompUSA, but the Nikons could be had at both places for the same price.


YMMV, but that's my take on the best digitals for price and functionality.  :D

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About the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-F717, a buddy of my (and a Reaper fan) at work has that camera, and the hardware is sweet.  When it comes to digital cameras, you pretty much get what you pay for from what I can gather, but at the same time just becuase it's worth the money doesn't mean it's afforable.


Like I said, the hardware is sweet.  Now, I'm not trying to sound like Daddy to tell you what you should and shouldn't buy.  The DSC-F717 is professional quality.  If you can afford it, more power to you, but as long as you don't need the extra hardware, save you a few extra hundred bucks because there are ALWAYS the hidden costs.  You'll need to buy a carrying case and an extra Memory Stick.  You may already have a suitable case, but if you'll be taking high res shots, it's going to eat up that 32MB Memory Stick that comes with it.  Other options you might want to consider is a separate recharger and another battery.  I have yet to encounter a significant problem with my infoLithium running low on me, but that's my lifestyle.


Good luck shopping.

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I gotta save up the cash first  :p


But it is one sweet camera.


What's even sweeter is the filter size is the same as my Nikon N65, so all my filters will fit on it, including my closeup filters, so, in reality, with that Sony I will literally be able to see up the nose of a miniature.

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Last camera I bought on Ebay ended up having a light leak. I don't know what kind of condition it's in when buying used if I can't really see if first. I might look into that option, but I'm leery. Besides, buying it brand new in the box means I'd have a full warranty, and a guarantee from the store I've purchased it from. I'm going to look around some more maybe this weekend to see what other stores are selling it for. Maybe I can find it cheaper somewhere that's a little more reputable than CompLoser(USA).



Edit: Although, now looking at some of the stuff that they are selling with it, I'm drooling even more. :love:


2x Telephoto

Wide Angle Fisheye

Polarizing Lens

UV Filter (which I'd get anyway)

FD Filter

Sony Flash (although I'd like to know if it's dedicated or not)


But I don't need yet another tripod or carrying case. I already have two tripods and three carrying cases, although that hardshell case is sweetness in itself. If I can gather the money together in the next month and a half, I may end up getting one of the big packages then selling what I don't need back on Ebay to make up some of the difference.

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Okay, I've done some looking around at Ebay and other sites. That Sony is very affordable if you know where to look. If I'm good with my money until the 27th of October I'll be holding that sweet thing in the palm of my hands, along with a bunch of accessories.


If you want to be able to take more than 10 or so pictures at a time, get at least a 128mb chip. Sony does make one up to 1gig for the camera, but on their site it retails for $599, which is about the cost of the camera (you really can get it for that price at some places). I found the camera at one site (using a Google search) that had the basic Sony in box, new, for $515, which is extremely affordable. Also, right now, Sony is offering a $75 mail in rebate, which just sweetens the whole deal.


Ebay, the prices seem to average out in the $500 (for just the camera) range up to around $800 for a ton of accessories including filters, x2 lens, wideangle lens, polarizing filter, UV filer, FD filter (helps to filter out interior style lighting) tripod, carrying case, extra memory chips, USB cable, and case. Some of the Ebay auctions even offer up a beautiful hardshell case for a sweet price of around $50. Not bad at all. If you just want a nice digital, going with just the camera and maybe an extra 128mb chip will run around $600 or less. If you pay more, you get more, and this seems to be a really popular camera.


I've also read reviews on this thing, and with the white color balance feature, nightshots/lowlight photo option, and mpeg capability, this seems like it's the perfect digital camera. I'm certain that in the next year they'll come out with something even better, but for the price, this can't be beat. It even starts to compete with the Nikon I mentioned above, now. Of course, price-wise, the Nikon will still be less expensive with a good camera company behind it, but Sony has a good reputation in the electronics field. I've read the reviews and have yet to see something negative about it. The only thing people seem to have a problem with is that it's a lot bigger than most other digital cameras. To me, this is a major plus for the Sony as it makes the camera easier to hold and you don't end up with your finger in front of the lens. I never could get the hang of holding something smaller than my wallet.  :oo:

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FWIW... I have the Nikon Coolpix 5000.  It has all the same features, except that it takes an adapter ring to be able to utilize filters (but said ring is only $12).  The biggest advantage was getting away from the proprietary sony memory cards to the much more friendly compact flash variety.  That let me get the IBM 1GB Microdrive. Which I adore...  The optical zoom isn't quite as nice on the Nikon, but there are a series of telephoto addon lens out for ($149 - $300 depending on zoom factor) as well as fisheye, wide-angle, etc...  I've got UV, Polarizer and Flourescent light filters for mine already... Next is the big daddy telephoto!  :love:


The other reason I went with the Nikon was that the max shutter speed (important for action shots (why I bought the camera)) is an impressive (for digital) 1/4000th of a second whereas the F717 is 1/2000th.  A huge difference when you're talking about taking photos of someone travelling at 150+ mph :)


FWIW: I bought mine off of the internet from someone I found on price grabber for $789 over a year ago.  The Microdrive was $239 (also from price grabber).  The filters and adapter were a combined $32...

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Sony just announced a new release... the F828.


8 megapixels :love: plus everything on the F717 plus more. It's got a wider range, but is still the same function. Mmm... $1000 of camera goodness.


Will I go for it? It depends on the initial reviews when it comes out in November. The good thing about this release is that it will bring the cost of the F717 down. It's already falling and seems I find a better price every day. I've seen the F717 for as low as $509 online so far, and on Ebay it's been going for less and less.


The deal with the Nikon (and mind you, I own three Nikons, and my first one was a Nikon) is that the filters it uses can't be used by my film camera. With the Sony, it's got the same lens size, 58mm. A very common standard for lenses. This means each and every filter I purchase can be used by both cameras. I don't have to buy a whole new set. I already have a converter to change my 52mm filters into 58mm, but with the step-up or step-down rings when you focus in over-close or over-far, you get a faint shadow around your picture. Considering that most viewfinders are only showing about 80-90% of the picture as it is, that's a good 15-25% of your picture showing a black vignette.


Also, the telephoto and wide angle lenses, as well as polarizer, UV filter and LD filter can all be had for the Sony, which, as mentioned above, will also work on my Nikon.


And dedicated flash. You gotta love a dedicated, bounceable flash.  :love:  To me this is an absolute must for taking macro/close-up shots. Reduces glare while giving you plenty of light. So I can use a diffused, reflected fill flash to illuminate my and other small objects I take pictures of.


Also, I found on the web a small, portable setup for sale specifically for taking pictures of small objects, like jewelry. It's compact, has flanking lights, and a background that's interchangeable. I'll see what I can find on it and price it, although knowing how anal I am about taking pictures I'll be investing in this one soon.

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I just played with my parents' Pentax Optio 550 over vacation and would have to give a shout out to the folks at Pentax for this camera.


For a point-and-shoot camera with decent manual control, it's pretty sweet.


5.0 megapixels, 5X optical/4X digital zoom, Maco and (!) Super-Macro functions, SD or MMC, loads of auto and manual functions. Pretty nice.


I guess it runs for about $550 (appropriately enough), which seems a nice price for so much digital goodness.


I played extensively with the Macro and Super-Macro settings, naturally, and would have to say that this camera is perfect for shooting minis. I shot a series of butterflies at Butterfly World in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, and only using ambient light (no flash) was able to capture some very decent up-close shots. I practically rested the lens against some of the insects and still managed to shoot steady, clear, bright shots (all without the use of a tripod). Good stuff that.


So for those in the market for a high-end consumer camera (I guess you could call it prosumer), this is a good piece. Digital Photography Review (Here) gives it good marks. You may want to check it out. I know I'm pining for one. I only have a Nikon Coolpix 775.

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Hubby got me one for my birthday, the Pentax Optio S, (3.2 megapixels, 3x optical zoom)


it was under $400.


I like everything about it, except the size, it is too small.  It literally will fit into an altoids box.


but ignoring that complaint, I get great shots of minis.



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I'm never satisfied.


Now I'm looking at the Nikon D100. I only have to buy one set of lenses since it has the same F-Mount my N65 has.


Also means only one set of filters.


But, in price, it's about $600-$800 more than the Sony F717.


But... it's so pretty!!!


and it's 6.1mp instead of the 5.24mp on the Sony. Both cameras have wonderful reviews, but the Nikon has more versitality, not to mention the Sony, as I've discovered, doesn't have much in the way of being able to manually set the camera's apeture/shutter speed. The Nikon does.


What does this mean?


I can control the picture. I can set the depth of field (VERY important in mini pictures) and....


I can add a bellows.


What's that? It's a vital tool in closeup photography to allow you to get really close up.


With the proper equipment (closeup lenses, bellows, macro lens, manually setting of apeture) I can take a photo of a single eye on a miniature to show detail if the iris, black, and white dot were done seperately in different colors.


Oh, the possibilities.


So, now I'm looking at saving about $1500 instead of $800 for my digital camera.


This is why I haven't bought one yet. I'm so picky!!

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Sounds pretty good, Ary. But remember, the digital camera you have NOW, will always be more useful than the one you want to get LATER.


Camera specs change almost every week. It would be a certainty to say that by the time you have gathered the $1500, another, snazzier camera will have hit the market.


I'd say, get a decent camera, one that you would feel comfortable using, and later, if you want to upgrade, sell it and in the meantime save to make up for the difference.

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