Camera Advice Please

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  • Anthony_UK 23 Nov 2012 21:04:06 2,497 posts
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    My girlfriend loves her camera but after borrowing a DSLR for a day out, she now fancies an upgrade for her birthday.

    Only problem is I'm pretty clueless when it comes to camera's, and was hoping one of the faithful could point me in the right direction. I've read that 'bridge' cameras are something in between a compact and DSLR which might be more suitable for a relative novice? with the Fuji S4500 seeming to be highly recommended.

    I've a budget of around 200, but I'm all ears for any advice you can give me.
  • skuzzbag 23 Nov 2012 21:41:45 5,644 posts
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    Personally I would always go for the DSLR but for 200 you might be struggling to get something for 200 the Canon 1100D is pretty incredible for the 300 price and the 18-55 MK2 kit lens is also much better than the older MK1 (which frankly was shit).

    The range won't be as good as a bridge camera (18-55 vs 24-720) but it will perform better (a simple rule of thumb is the larger the range the less the quality) and if she wants to later on she can replace the lens.

    Also I wouldn't worry about having to buy a "novice" level camera. Just get a DSLR and get on with it. The mechanics are surprisingly simple as pretty much all DSLRs have in full auto/semi-auto/manual modes - a lot of people live in aperture priority mode for example which is semi-automatic.

    Edited by skuzzbag at 21:44:56 23-11-2012
  • RobTheBuilder 23 Nov 2012 21:43:29 6,521 posts
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    You can't go wrong with a Canon DSLR.
    They are so full of features, but easy to use simply if that's what you need (by all accounts anyway).

    The Olympus PEN is a good bridge, but it might be over your budget.
  • skuzzbag 23 Nov 2012 22:01:07 5,644 posts
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    You could go for a second hand Canon 1000D more amazon links sorry at under 200 which would I think give you enough change for a hood for the 18-55 (which would improve image quality slightly).

    Crap just noticed these are body only.

    Edited by skuzzbag at 22:02:06 23-11-2012
  • mal 23 Nov 2012 22:34:19 22,550 posts
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    @RobTheBuilder In case there's any confusion, the Oly PENs are not bridge cameras - they're mirrorless (cos you can change the lens, which you can't on a bridge camera).

    Yeah, if you're going cheap DSLR, go Canon. I'm a Nikon fanboy, but I have to admit that Canon has the cheap glassware that'll work on any body, and Nikon don't so much, mainly because the settled on the electronic EF mount earlier than Nikon did with their all-electric F mount, so there's more old designs and old kit out there.

    Cubby didn't know how to turn off sigs!

  • RobTheBuilder 23 Nov 2012 22:43:02 6,521 posts
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    @mal I don't think you'd go wrong with a Nikon either, but all the photographers I know say Canon first.
  • TheRealBadabing 24 Nov 2012 00:02:37 1,312 posts
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    If 2nd hand is appropriate for a present, you could get a cheap Canon DSLR (400D or thereabouts) and possibly trade the kit lens for the a 50mm f/1.8 lens.

    As has been mentioned, the old kit lens was a bit of a dog but by getting a fixed focal length like the 50, what you lose in (limited) zoom you gain ten-fold in quality (and fun).
  • AaronTurner 24 Nov 2012 00:12:44 7,736 posts
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    Olympus E-PL1's having been going for outragious prices recently if you can still find one.
  • Anthony_UK 24 Nov 2012 01:41:04 2,497 posts
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    That's all great, thanks guys!
  • Tonka 24 Nov 2012 06:47:19 20,430 posts
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    Stay away from the EPL1. It takes nice images but is hobbled by a frustrating interface. Also, if they break you have to send them off to Olympus instead of having your local camera lab fix em.

    Buy an LX7 instead

    If you can read this you really need to fiddle with your forum settings.

  • AaronTurner 24 Nov 2012 07:24:38 7,736 posts
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    I'd completely disagree with that. I like the Olympus menu system and the epl1 can be bought for nearly half the price of an lx7 but with all the added benefits of a far larger sensor and an interchangeable lens system!
  • skuzzbag 24 Nov 2012 08:54:13 5,644 posts
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    They are great cameras but what she liked about dslrs might not be present in the cheaper end of the pen series, ie the immediate controls.

    I had a 400D and it was a great little camera.
  • jenguin 1 Dec 2012 14:17:10 152 posts
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    As an alternative to a bridge, or a DSLR - you could try a Canon G12 . . .

    It may be a compact, but it will have better manual controls than any budget DSLR. ISO, shutter speed, and aperture all have their own dedicated manual dials.

    Edited by jenguin at 14:17:21 01-12-2012
  • billythekid 12 Dec 2012 08:51:08 11,138 posts
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    .
  • boo 5 Apr 2013 15:30:43 11,783 posts
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    *bump*

    Looking for some advice from the knowledgable peeps around here...

    Having got back into Lego in a big way recently, I've started photographing it, partly for reviews and whatnot and partly because, well, I'm a dorky collector who likes to have a photographic record of his collection.

    My problem is lighting.

    At the moment I use two sheets of A2 white card at right angles (which gives a 'studio line', so I might look at a more flexible sheet that I can bend), and a DSLR with a Speedlite attached.

    What I'm finding is that even with the flash, small aperture shots are taking 10 seconds or more, and the variation between a daytime shot and a nighttime shot is incredible, the white card coming out as anything between white and rosy pink.

    I'll have to figure out how to do white balance correctly, and probably invest in Photoshop Elements (I just use iPhoto at the moment), but I reckon the first step is better lighting.

    Would I be better getting a couple of spotlights, or a 2nd slave flash?

    And if it's spotlights, do I need something 'photographic quality', or can I just buy a couple of lamps from B&Q or the like?

    Cheers!

    Just Another Lego Blog

  • henro_ben 5 Apr 2013 15:36:53 2,216 posts
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    If you just use normal lamps you'll get a colour cast if you're using a flash as well - tungsten will look yellow if your colour temperature is set for the flash, the flash will look blue if you set for tungsten.

    If it's lego I'm presuming the things you're photographing aren't too big - so you could buy a light tent. Alternatively you could make your own light box out of white foam core board. Either will bounce the light around from a single strobe quite nicely.
  • SClaw 5 Apr 2013 15:40:27 826 posts
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    You may find you get a lot of milage out of simply making your own reflectors to bounce available light around a bit. Assuming you aren't looking at huge stuff, a good wattage lamp a nice reflector (or suitable DIY) may give you the extra lighting you need. I certainly wouldn't run out and buy spots before you try home made solutions.
  • henro_ben 5 Apr 2013 15:46:48 2,216 posts
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    I made myself a box out of white foam core board & masking tape - think it cost about 10 in total.

    Is quite flexible, as long as you're not photographing anything huge!

    Just flash + light box

    Flash + light box + snood/gobo.

    As it's all held together with masking tape I just take it apart when not using it & hide it under the spare bed ;-)
  • boo 5 Apr 2013 15:55:30 11,783 posts
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    Cool! Off to the craft shop this weekend!

    Thanks.

    (And cool photos, H_B!)

    Just Another Lego Blog

  • monkman76 6 Apr 2013 07:10:32 4,266 posts
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    @boo -
    If you're having to expose for 10 seconds your flash simply isn't effective. Assuming you're using a detachable flash unit rather than just the pop-up flash, it should be easily powerful enough to fully illuminate something small and close like your Lego - even in a pitch-black room, and even at small apertures.

    I suspect your flash is not firing at full power, or anywhere near. Is your camera or flash on a setting that balances flash with ambient exposure? For what you're doing you'd be better using 100% flash exposure. Are you using a Nikon? If so I may be able to help with the setting names :). As I say any decent speedlite should be able to fully light something small and close-up without breaking sweat, even at very small apertures.

    Failing that are you somehow blocking or misdirecting the light from the flash? Every time it goes through a diffuser or bounces off a surface it loses multiples of its power.

    If you're sure you're at the flash's maximum power output and you need a very small aperture you could always try increasing the ISO - anything up to about 800-1000 should still preserve plenty of fine detail on a modern DSLR.
  • monkman76 6 Apr 2013 07:13:08 4,266 posts
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    Also - sack PS Elements, get Lightroom, it's fooking brilliant :)
  • mal 6 Apr 2013 07:15:05 22,550 posts
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    He says he's using a speedlight, which I believe is Canon code for a strobe/flashgun.

    Cubby didn't know how to turn off sigs!

  • monkman76 6 Apr 2013 07:17:26 4,266 posts
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    Right. Well even though that's the dark side, I'm quite sure one Canon speedlite can fully expose his Lego without needing help from ambient light ;)
  • superdelphinus 6 Apr 2013 08:42:24 8,060 posts
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    Yeah Lightroom 4 is outrageous for the 80 or whatever it is now
  • boo 6 Apr 2013 14:49:41 11,783 posts
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    Hi - thanks for all that.

    Yup, It's a Canon EOS 450D, plus a Canon Speedlite 420EX. The flash is several years old, but it's in good condition. I have to confess to not being au fait with the various settings on the flash, so I just connect it up, switch it on and let it do it's thing.

    I find that if I want a decent depth of field and I'm shooting in the evening, so without the benefit of much daylight, choosing an aperture of F22 gives me an exposure time of anything between 10 and 15 seconds.

    I'm using a tripod, so the image is sharp enough, but the colours do come out a bit peculiar.

    If you have a look at this blog entry, the first two photos were taken, using the flash, but near a window in strong daylight. The third picture down, where I'm demonstrating gearwheels, was taken on the same table, with the same white card base and backing, but in the evening under domestic lighting. The flash fired, but like I say, the exposure was a good 10 seconds, and I've ended up with a colour cast on the white background.

    (Edit - I've just had a look. That photo with the colour cast was a 100mm f2.8 macro at f16 for a 15 second exposure.)


    On a sort-of-related topic, I'm still using iPhoto. Last time I looked, there was about a 50/50 split between the Aperture camp and the Lightroom camp. Is that still the case, and it's personal preference, or is one significantly better than the other these days?

    Edited by boo at 14:52:09 06-04-2013

    Edited by boo at 14:54:27 06-04-2013

    Just Another Lego Blog

  • mal 6 Apr 2013 15:21:40 22,550 posts
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    Yes, if you're shooting for long exposures the flash will only have illuminated a fraction of that exposure, so no matter how powerful it is it'll be a footnote compared to the ambient lighting. That's what's causing the odd colour casts, though usefully as you're using a white background, it shouldn't be too hard to use that as a base for fixing the white balance in post processing. If you're not shooting RAW for this, you should be.

    I'm slightly surprised you need to stop the aperture all the way down to f/22, but I suppose if you're shooting at close focus it's feasible that you can't even open it up a stop without getting blurred lego.


    Edit: On that last shot it does look like you're not making best use of the flash. You can see the warm pinky cast from the indoor lighting, and just a sliver of blue cast from the flash. If the flash were being bounced about more, the whole shadow cast by the indoor light should be blue. Not that that would improve the shot, but it should get you closer to being able to just use the light from the flash, which'll make getting the white balance right a lot easier.

    Edited by mal at 15:27:59 06-04-2013

    Cubby didn't know how to turn off sigs!

  • boo 6 Apr 2013 19:19:43 11,783 posts
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    Cheers - I'll have a play around.

    Just Another Lego Blog

  • Nth 7 Apr 2013 13:09:04 3,121 posts
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    boo wrote:
    Hi - thanks for all that.

    Yup, It's a Canon EOS 450D, plus a Canon Speedlite 420EX. The flash is several years old, but it's in good condition. I have to confess to not being au fait with the various settings on the flash, so I just connect it up, switch it on and let it do it's thing.

    I find that if I want a decent depth of field and I'm shooting in the evening, so without the benefit of much daylight, choosing an aperture of F22 gives me an exposure time of anything between 10 and 15 seconds.

    I'm using a tripod, so the image is sharp enough, but the colours do come out a bit peculiar.

    If you have a look at this blog entry, the first two photos were taken, using the flash, but near a window in strong daylight. The third picture down, where I'm demonstrating gearwheels, was taken on the same table, with the same white card base and backing, but in the evening under domestic lighting. The flash fired, but like I say, the exposure was a good 10 seconds, and I've ended up with a colour cast on the white background.

    (Edit - I've just had a look. That photo with the colour cast was a 100mm f2.8 macro at f16 for a 15 second exposure.)


    On a sort-of-related topic, I'm still using iPhoto. Last time I looked, there was about a 50/50 split between the Aperture camp and the Lightroom camp. Is that still the case, and it's personal preference, or is one significantly better than the other these days?

    Edited by boo at 14:52:09 06-04-2013
    Aperture hasn't had a big update since the start of 2010 and most users I know have moved to Lr or Capture One. Apple's secrecy is not what pro users need, they want updates. Get Lr and you won't regret it.
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