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pocketcthulhu

advice on a camera upgrade?

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So I have a nikon coolpix that i can't remember when I bought it, and frankly using it to take pictures of mini's is just downright painful.

 

I was wondering does anyone know of a good entry level camera that won't break the bank? I would prefer to stay sub $200 and I have a friend who works at best buy so More than likely I would end up going through them for the discount.

 

thoughts?

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A year ago I bought the new Canon Powershot SX260 HS. Absolutely the best camera I've ever used. It is great for so many things, not just minis.

 

http://www.amazon.com/Canon-PowerShot-Digital-Stabilized-Wide-Angle/dp/B0075SUK14/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1361389000&sr=8-1&keywords=PowerShot+SX260+HS

 

I can't recommend it highly enough.

 

Andy

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I like my Panasonic TZ4. (I don't think they make it any more.)

 

**looks at Amazon**

 

Sure enough, they don't: http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B0011Z6D86/ref=dp_olp_refurbished/187-2817317-2523766?ie=UTF8&condition=refurbished

 

This looks like the next/current generation past the TZ4 at around the requested price range:

 

http://www.amazon.com/Panasonic-DMC-ZS8-Digital-Stabilized-3-0-Inch/dp/B004KKZ0HE/ref=pd_sim_sbs_p_5/183-9834827-7198428

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Here is a sample pic from the TZ4, just a snap, ambient room lighting, of a bones Gnoll with Flail refusing to fit on a regulation base:

 

Gnoll-141.jpg

 

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If you're going to buy it at best buy just go there and browse the choices. At that price point you aren't going to find many major differences among the major brand options. In my opinion for cheaper point and shoots the panasonics are a touch better and the nikons are a touch worse than the rest of the pack, but the differences are really pretty minor.

 

Go there, play with them all, pick your favorite.

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If you're going to buy it at best buy just go there and browse the choices. At that price point you aren't going to find many major differences among the major brand options. In my opinion for cheaper point and shoots the panasonics are a touch better and the nikons are a touch worse than the rest of the pack, but the differences are really pretty minor.

 

Go there, play with them all, pick your favorite.

unless I can find a great deal yea i'll probably get it from BB.

 

Here is a sample pic from the TZ4, just a snap, ambient room lighting, of a bones Gnoll with Flail refusing to fit on a regulation base:

 

 

 

Nice thanks for the sample, much better quality than what im dealing with.

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The features I have found most helpful in a camera in regards to taking pictures of miniatures are the following. Things to look at it when you're testing out the cameras, or researching them online.

 

1. Macro mode. It's a rare camera that doesn't have that.

 

2. Aperature/f-stop. When you take pictures in macro mode the area of focus is pretty small. So if you take a picture of a figure that has one arm flung forward and the other flung backwards, you'll often find you can get part of the figure in focus but not all of it. Increasing the f-stop allows you to get more of the figure in focus. Also helpful for dioramas or shots of whole units/groups. The kind of pictures people prefer for miniatures, it's ideal to get all of the figure in focus in each picture, but you can also use multiple pictures from different views to work around it. To mess with this requires manual mode settings, which I think are rare (if found at all) in the smaller and less expensive compact cameras.

 

3. White balance. The ideal is to have a custom white balance setting option. You set up how you're going to take your picture with the lights and such, and use something white to tell the camera what white is in your exact lighting conditions. Next best is to have a menu of choices for different warmths of flourescent and incandescent and so on. I was surprised to realize the other day that my little camera that was around your price range a couple of years ago, has custom white balance setting, so maybe that's becoming more common. This mainly affects how true the colour of your pictures will appear, and there's stuff you can do in photo editing software to tweak that as well.

 

4. Auto focus priority. There will probably be a section in the camera where you set whether you like to focus with the center point, various spots and possibly another option or two. This is something else you can mess around with if you're having problems getting enough of the mini in focus, you can try different settings here to see if it helps.

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What Wren said (as usual!).

 

I'm working with a 2005 Canon powershot and I can take fairly decent pics. And working with this relic has taught me a lot about pushing the hardware so that when I finally can get a new camera, I'll have a much better idea of what I'm doing. And to add:

 

5. Tripod. Get one. I have an old mid-70s relic that works fine, I think they're universally sized. Mine is the traditional floor-standing and I like that because I'm not limited by the desk size, I can put it right up against the desk or pull it back a ways.

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You might also consider an older used model. Something that used to cost $400-600 a few years that you might get for the price you're willing to pay now. Also, if you have or plan to get a newer iPhone or iPad, those cameras may be close enough to the quality of the price of camera you're looking at, and in the case of the phone, even more competitive in size. (Though granted fewer bells and whistles. I don't know enough about Android phones to know if they have comparable quality cameras, but I have to imagine at least some do.)

 

I mention those possibilities because of a recent experiment I did that I've pondered posting. I recently bought the camera I was looking at in another post in this forum, and I'm testing it out to make sure I like it because Best Buy has a good return policy for that. So I took all the four cameras I had in the house and took pictures of the same miniature using my picture taking studio set up, and also just a desk lamp on my desk WIP type environment.

 

That was a Fujifilm 7 year old advanced digital (so it has all the manual settings, but you can't swap out lenses, I think it was $450 when purchased), a 2-3 year old Lumix compact like you're looking at ($220 purchase price, though I got it on sale), iPhone5, and the new almost DSLR Sony ($500).

 

I looked at zoomed in and regular crop sizes of the miniature. The new Sony was the best quality. The oldest camera, the Fujifilm, was the second best. The iPhone performed surprisingly well, taking the brightest of the pictures. (Though since everything is automatic, there could be other miniatures where it would be more annoying to use.) The cheapie Lumix was pretty dismal. Which also helps demonstrate that megapixels are not the only story! The Lumix has 14 megapixels compared to the Fujifilm's 6.3 MP.Sensor size is also pretty important to picture quality, and was one reason I bought the Fujifilm in the first place.

 

So you might also consider whether you want to try Ebay or other resale channels. You could research higher quality cameras from 2-4 years ago to see if they're reselling in the range you want to pay. A great site to use for researching digital cameras is http://www.dpreview.com. They post sample pictures, including macro ones, and they keep their past reviews on the site.

 

I am looking to sell my Fujifilm now, though I was figuring I'd look for someone local or that I meet at cons so they can save on shipping. There are probably other people looking to do the same. (If you really are interested, I'll be happy to talk about that, but my advice is offered generally, not as a lure to get you to buy my camera. ;->)

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While megapixels aren't a driving factor anymore, there is a cut-off for that. My 4MP Canon p&s is really grainy, I would benefit from a higher resolution image.

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Also look for low light. That will let you take good pictures without tripod. If you look at my newest pics in LTPK4 you will notice that they do not blur, but were taken without tripod. I have both floor and table tripods, but taking pics with them slows you down. BTW they were with a Nikon L610.

 

BTW CashWiley 4 mp should not be grainy for normal pic sizes. When I post pics here they are less than 2mp. The last I posted were less than 1mp. Are you using digital zoom? That might make the grainyness.

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1080P Hi-Def television images are 1920 x 1080 px. This is right about 2 megapixels. If, after cropping, you still have at least that resolution you should be fine for any online work. Print can use higher resolution, but if you're printing, you're likely to be not larger than 8 x 10 @ 300 dpi (7.2 mpx).

 

Note: If you ever want to see absolutely every flaw in your painting, print at 8 x 10. At best, it's humbling.

 

Physically larger sensors tend to have better quality pixels -- less noise, mostly. Physically smaller sensors and lenses (like on camera phones and small P&S cameras) have deeper depth of field, since the physical size of the opening in the lens is smaller. You'll note that these compete; welcome to the world of photography, where everything is a tradeoff. :;):

 

The biggest cause of noisy photos is low light. If your camera is pushing its ISO (sensor sensitivity) up to keep a short exposure, the natural light variation can be dramatically amplified. If possible, keep your camera's ISO at its native level, commonly ISO 100 or 200. Even if you're at your native ISO, there is more chance for random noise on a long exposure, so more light is almost always better, as long as you have control of the light.

 

Flash is orders of magnitude brighter than indoor ambient under all but exceptional circumstances, but pop-up flash is very bad for seeing detail, since it's almost perfectly aligned with the lens (thus, no shadows to define the shape). Off-camera speedlights or studio lights are fairly strongly preferred for the best quality photos. That said, a couple of desklamps can be used to take very serviceable photos. Just make sure they're the same color light.

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Also look for low light. That will let you take good pictures without tripod. If you look at my newest pics in LTPK4 you will notice that they do not blur, but were taken without tripod. I have both floor and table tripods, but taking pics with them slows you down. BTW they were with a Nikon L610.

 

BTW CashWiley 4 mp should not be grainy for normal pic sizes. When I post pics here they are less than 2mp. The last I posted were less than 1mp. Are you using digital zoom? That might make the grainyness.

I have noticed the digital zoom adds a lot of "grainyness" and I avoid it like the plage

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