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Buying checklist needed

by iem2005 / December 15, 2005 6:10 AM PST


i've searched this forum to see if there was a checklist for a little better than average camera. there are so many features, i'd like to know which ones really make the camera perform well. i hope this makes sense.

things that i am interested in are what features i should look for

- low light

- are AA battery cameras as good in terms of # of pictures you can take to proprietary batteries

- what accessories should i buy when i first get the camera besides a memory card. for example, when i bought my camcorder, people said that i should buy a uv filter to keep the lens from getting scratch.

- i know nothing about f stop, but i see it in reviews, but i don't know how to tell if one models f stop is better than another model

- is one type of memory card (sd versus compact flash for example) better than another

- how important is raw and tiff support? i know they are file formats, but much past that, i'm lost

- hot shoe. i have this on my camcorder and am interested to know how much this is used on a camera. i've been paying attention to people in the street that are using cameras, but so far i haven't see anyone using this feature. yes, i know that isn't a good survey, so i'd like input from the experts here

- are there any problems with the movie format being something other than avi. this seems to be popular.

- how important is it to have histogram? i'm not sure what it is, just that the canon models that i've read reviews of, say canon doesn't have this feature.

any help would be greatly appreciated helping me put together this checklist.

thank you

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by snapshot2 Forum moderator / December 15, 2005 10:05 AM PST

1. low light - look for a camera that has ISO settings higher than 400. There are a few (very few) that go to 1600. If a camera has a f2.0 lens (Canon G6) it is more desirable that a camera with a f2.8 lens.

2. AA batteries vs proprietary batteries.
Generally it makes little difference if you are using NiMH rechareable AA batteries.

3. Most small cameras have an automatic cover that protects the lens when the camera is off.
Most small cameras need an adapter to install a filter, this makes the camera bulky.

4. The smaller the f-stop number, the brighter the lens. See answer 2 above.

5. Type of memory card: the main difference is the physical size of the card. The other difference is cost to you. If the camera maker is building a small camera, he wants a physically small memory card.

Sony memory stick came about from greed. Sony brought out the memory stick so that they can control it. That means if you want to build memory sticks, you must pay Sony to do so.

The same thing applies to the xD memory card. It is jointly controlled by Olympus and Fujifilm.

The SD card and Compact Flash card is controlled by a consortium. Therefore lower prices for you.

6. RAW and TIFF -
TIFF is a photo file that has no compression.

RAW also has no compression and is a copy of what the camera sensor sees. It does not contain any white-balance, and other fine adjustments the camera will apply to the photo. You must use software to make the subtle changes to the photo. RAW is used by advanced photographers, it is not for everyone.

7. Hotshoe.....
Many people are interested in the hotshoe until they find out the price of flash units.....$300 to $400.

8. video formats....there are software programs to change one format to another, so it is not important.

9. Histograms
I would not dare try to explain the histogram, so here is a link to someone who can:


Here is a link that is very handy in explaining many aspects of the digital camera. You should bookmark this site, as it is very helpful:


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by iem2005 / December 15, 2005 1:32 PM PST
In reply to: Checklist

thank you snapshot.

the last link will give me the phd that i'm looking for (smile).

the items that i listed are the ones that i see the most in reviews. after reading what you wrote, some features seem more like hype then something that a beginner would use, but it's nice to know what i'll be spending all this money on (smile).

most specs have iso from 100 to 400, which i'm sure will be fine

ok, so the smaller the f number, the better. i definately have to read more on this.

now i know which memory cards to stay away from.

i can see now that at least for a while, i won't have a need for tif and raw files, i was more curious why the review make such a big deal about cameras that don't have this type of file support.

$300-400 for a flash, explains why i haven't seen many people using their hot shoe.
it seems that the flash the comes on many cameras pops up. are they really built for a lot of this type of movement? i suspect, based on the video that i take. that the majority of pictures i would be taking would be indoors, which means that i would need to use the flash on a somewhat regular basis.

i now feel like i am at the masters level in understanding the terminology (smile) - that you so much.

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by snapshot2 Forum moderator / December 16, 2005 12:18 AM PST
In reply to: checklist

When reading reviews, you have to understand that the reviewer is a camera "junkie", and wants everything.

I have seen reviews where the reviewer criticized a point-and-shoot camera for not having a feature that is only found on cameras that cost over $800.

If you ever see a review where the reviewer does not gripe about a lot of things, you should buy that camera immediately for it must be "perfect".

Pop-up flash has been on cameras for the past 30 years.
I have never heard of the pop-up failing.


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Format differences not so subtle
by E B / December 16, 2005 9:14 AM PST
In reply to: Checklist

Memory card formats are a little more complicated than what the last person explained. For example...

CF cards tend to be faster than many other formats -- but they also tend to use more power, so they can drain your battery faster. The CF spec allows a lot of variation, however, so two cards with the same memory from different manufacturers can perform at different speeds and draw different amounts of power (both in use and at rest).

SD, MemoryStick, and SmartMedia are all more strict in their requirements (I'm not 100% certain, but I think XD fits this category as well), so a card from one manufacturer is usually very close in speed/drain to one from another manufacturer. SmartMedia is the most battery efficient, but it's SLOOOOOW. XD is dying, since only two manufacturers support it (MemStick doesn't have the same issue -- sure, only Sony supports it, but Sony is HUGE and supports it in a lot of product lines, not just cameras). SD and MemStick are very similar in most respects, and have perhaps the best balance. Don't worry too much about MemStick -- compare prices online, and you'll see the gap between SD and MemStick prices has been virtually eliminated, particularly if you buy a non-Sony MemStick.

AA batteries are nicer than proprietary, I think, because they're so cheap to buy just anywhere. Get a proprietary battery, and some day it might be cheaper to buy a new camera than a replacement battery.

A note on taking video with your camera -- check to see whether or not it supports sound, whether or not you can zoom before and/or during the video recording, and what resolutions are available in video mode. All video is not created equal -- regardless of the format it's recorded in!

Speaking of zoom, if it is important to you remember to look only at optical zoom numbers, and ignore digital zoom numbers. High zoom (anything above 3x) benefits quite a bit from some sort of stabalization technology that is becoming common in many such cameras.

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memory cards
by iem2005 / December 26, 2005 1:39 PM PST

hi eb,

wow! thank you.
i had no idea that there were such differences between memory cards. i printed out your message and put it in my camera research folder.

after doing research for my camcorder last year, i learned about only paying attention to optiocal zoom and turning off the digital zoom.

hmmm, i never thought about checking the camera for sound. on the video that i've watched from a review, they had sound, so i guess i took that for granted.


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