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Step up from a Nikon D80?

by wazure / May 15, 2010 6:07 PM PDT

Hi, I had a Nikon D80 and while I liked the quality, it was too heavy to lug around on trips. I want to buy a more compact digital camera, yet still with megazoom ability, and a little higher resolution. Higher than 10.2 (what the Nikon D80 was). And hopefully less than $500. Picture quality is important and speed is somewhat important, but would sacrifice that for quality.

Thanks! I've looked though cameras on CNET again and again and still don't know which is the best fit!

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If were just talking megazooms
by kalel33-20416052469708587370302374692233 / May 15, 2010 11:06 PM PDT

Then I would look at Canon SX20 or the Panasonic FZ35. Since you are relegated to megazooms then you're going to take a big hit in speed, especially the autofocus speed. You're also going to have a camera that is poor in lower light when compared to your D80 and everyone knows that you'll take a hit in image quality.

If you had the budget then I'd say to wait until the Sony NEX 3 comes out and buy the 18-200mm lens with it, but you'd probably more than double your budget.

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Just curious
by kalel33-20416052469708587370302374692233 / May 15, 2010 11:08 PM PDT

Why do you need the extra resolution? Do you do major cropping or print extremely large prints? Because if you don't do either then it won't make any difference.

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by wazure / May 16, 2010 7:03 AM PDT

thanks everyone for all your good ideas! the only reason i was looking for higher than 10 mp is to have greater photo quality, but is that a misnomer on my part? does a higher resolution not equal a better photo quality necessarily? that's unfortunate about the autofocus speed and low-light pics, since i often find myself taking night pics. i do need to be able to zoom somewhat though, since in my travels i often can't get that close to objects or animals. the Olympus SP-800UZ sounds very tempting! although they say video can't zoom well, but i don't use that often. thanks everyone, you really made my day with all your help! this camera hunting ain't easy! Happy

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It's a misnomer
by kalel33-20416052469708587370302374692233 / May 16, 2010 8:19 AM PDT
In reply to: response

Actually pushing the megapixel limit on small sensors(such as every single point and shoot) has a an negative effect on image quality. Take for instance the Olympus 800UZ that was recommended, one review stated this.

"The Olympus SP-800UZ's main drawback in terms of image quality is noise. Even at base ISO, the effect of noise reduction is evident in the form of detail smearing, while noise itself takes over in the images at the higher settings. This means that despite the high resolution, the images do not really stand up to being printed at large sizes"

So, because of the noise reduction and poor ISO performance, you cannot print large prints and gain an advantage, nor can you shoot in low light because the noise/grain would ruin the photo.

That's the reason why you see the Canon S90 and Canon G11 as the best point and shoots in low light, because they don't try to cram as many pixels in as they can, use a large sensor(for a point and shoot), and have a larger aperture lens.

Here's an article that you can read to understand megapixels and how little, nowadays, they affect IQ. Years ago, a person jumping from a 2-3MP to 5-8MP was a big increase but today, 99.9% of the population needs no more than 8MP and most could do with just 3MP, because most people don't print larger than a 4x6 or even print.

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Example of High Megapixels and Noise Reduction
by snapshot2 Forum moderator / May 16, 2010 9:44 AM PDT
In reply to: It's a misnomer

Here is a photo from the new Sony W330.
14.1 megapixel and ISO 80.

While the photo is downloading it will be see at 100% of it size.
You will have to scroll around to see all of the photos.
This is called pixel peeping, but it shows a lot.

Look at the blue sky, it looks grainy.
Look at the tree limbs, no sharp detail at all.
When you get down to the grass, notice that you can not distinguish any blade of grass. Is is just a mush.

When the photo finishes downloading it will resize to fit your screen.
Just click the photo and it will revert to full size again.
Examine it well, looking for detail.

Too many megapixels and too much noise, plus Heavy Handed application of noise reduction.


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Megapixels is not the way to keep score.
by STEVEDOAKMD / May 17, 2010 7:16 PM PDT

My NIKON D700 has 12 megapixels, the same as my NIKON D200 which is now in reserve, but the quality is in a different world. The D700 is world class in image quality and ability to handle high ISO, easily up to ISO 6400 under many conditions. One simply has to put images on a computer and see how far he can blow them up without losing detail. The best program I have found for this is ACDSEE from the of the same name.About $50 with 30 day free trial. Just draw a little box around the area of interest, click inside it and it expands to fill the screen. Then I keep CAPTUREWIZPRO from PIXELMETRICS.COM sitting barely in sight on the edge of the screen, hit the designated hot key, draw a box around what you want to capture and it automatically assigns an ascending name. Both programs are completely intuitive. So I don't speak of "Cropping" but speak of "Zoom & Grab." One doesn't lose as many pixels that way.

Too bad you don't have the D80 anymore. You can play the megapixel game all day but you won't win that way. Speed and image quality go hand and hand at least with Nikon. The D200 had a practical high ISO of 1600, with the same noise levels (low) as the D700 has at ISO 6400.It is my general understanding that the generation I skipped, the D300 was good for ISO 3200.

If you can get along without vibration Control, the Tamron 18-200 from is about $230 after rebate, with the 18-250 above that and by recollection, the top of the line 18-270 with VC will set you back about $600. It is my general feeling that serious photographers should BY-pass the kit 18-55 lens with the 55-200 added on and just go for something like 18-200 or 18-250 or 18-270 from Tamron or Nikon or Canon, from the very start. Then it is all there, all the time.

Canon furnishes a 28-135 lens on one of their DSLR cameras with a APS C detector and this is a mistake, since loss of the 75 degree FOV with 18 mm is tragic. Experienced users see through the trap but people who are the natural purchasers of this sort of camera get caught up and have no idea wht they are missing out on.

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It depends on what you need and what type of camera
by hjfok / May 19, 2010 9:42 AM PDT

For a megazoom and PS camera, having more MP is not improving image quality.

For a full frame D-SLR or medium format digital camera, it depends on what your need is. For sports and action photographer, one does not need a lot of megapixels, as can be seen in models like the Nikon D3, D3s, Canon 1D Mark IV. But for those who do studio work, art work, need large prints and detail oriented work, having more MP can improve quality, especially many of these end up in large prints. These can be seen in models like Nikon D3x, Canon 1Ds Mark III and Canon 5D Mark II. So how many MP depends on what you need. Many people who own a full frame or larger camera also own a high quality large format printer. So they can benefit from more MP. In this category of camera, having more MP does not affect image quality much.

I also need to correct your statement that Canon outfit the APS C size camera with 28-135mm lens is a mistake. I don't know how familiar you are with Canon lenses. But the EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens is an EF lens, meaning that it is NOT specifically designed for APS-C size cameras. The EF 28-135mm lens can be used for full frame and film cameras. On the other hand, the EF-S line is specifically for the APS-C cameras. Canon does have the EF-S 18-200mm IS or 18-135mm IS lens for the APS-C size cameras.

Nikon also has the 24-120mm VR lens which is similar to the Canon 28-135mm lens, both of these can be used with full frame, film camera and the APS-C sized cameras. This focal range is not a mistake. Different people have different needs. Fanatics of wide angle will want a wider lens with 16-35mm or wider (35 mm equivalent, or the 10-22mm for the APS-C sized cameras). For those who like all-in-one lens, this may sound like a limitation. Most photographers have a collection of lenses, wide angle, general purpose, mid range tele, long tele, macro, etc. So having these different focal length options give us more options, an advantage to buy into Canon and Nikon, not a disadvantage. Both Canon and Nikon have a long history from the film eras, so Canon's 28-135mm and Nikon's 24-120mm lenses reflect that they are mindful of the needs of both their new and old customers. So be careful about your accusations, do some research first.

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Also, don't forget

They are also bundling APS-C Canon DSLRs with the 15-85IS lens.

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by hjfok / May 19, 2010 10:01 AM PDT

I like mid range tele more than ultra wide angle, so I usually carry a 17-55mm f/2.8 IS for the old Canon 30D (24-105mm f/4L IS for the newer Canon 5D Mk II) and my EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS lens. This covers most of my needs on most days.

However for a person who likes ultra wide angle more than mid range tele, then he/she may want to have the 10-22mm lens for APS-C size camera (or 16-35mm lens for a full frame), and carry a 28-135mm lens for other general purpose use.

Now why will someone not want everything in one lens 18-300mm, or maybe even 18-500mm? I'm not kidding, Sigma has the 18-500mm lens.
The reason is that these super zoom lenses 18-200mm or longer focal range generally have lower image quality, more distortions, etc. The defects show more readily in full frame high MP D-SLRs than the APS-C size cameras. So people who upgrade to full frame should not skim on their lenses, especially if the reason to upgrade is to have higher image quality.

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