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Posted: 1/3/2004 11:45:44 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/3/2004 11:47:24 AM EDT by Backstop]
I've decided to get into wildlife photography and need a digital camera.  But I don't know squat about photography.  I've just spent the last 1.5 hrs researching this, and I'm, uhh, slightly disoriented.  Here are my  requirements - maybe you folks can point me in the right direction.

Wants/needs/etc

1.  Digital and uses memory card - don't want to mess with a roll of film out in the woods.
2.  Not some crazy yellow kind of color - black is preferable.
3.  Don't need flash - but realize may have to buy one with it built in.
4.  Need zoom.  For instance, I'd like to get a nice shoulder/head shot of a deer (or other critter) at 100yds.  So, would I need a lens to change to when finished shooting at 25 yds?
5.  Point and shoot - I don't know how and don't want to learn how to adjust the speed/opening of the shutter.
6.  Don't need the "video camera" option
7.  I understand more pixels are better.  But what is overkill?  I'm not gonna publish them in a mag, just need some average quality photos.
8.  What is the difference between "optical zoom" vs. "digital zoom?"
9.  Can this be found for no more than $500?
10.  I looked at some bino/camera combos.  What do you think of those?

You'll have to excuse my ignorance in this topic.  Thanks in advance.

EDIT: Format
Link Posted: 1/3/2004 1:05:57 PM EDT
Serious wildlife photograhy probably demands a camera just a tad above a consumer-level point-and-shooter.

Two "prosumer" models that I' recommend are the Olympus E-20
[img]http://www.dcresource.com/reviews/olympus/e20-review/camera-front-angled.jpg[/img]
and the Minolta DiMAGE A1
[img]http://www.dcresource.com/reviews/minolta/dimage_a1-review/camera-front-angled.jpg[/img]

Both of these cameras have excellent built-in lenses that have zoom capability (no add-on lenses to buy). The A1 has a novel anti-shake feature that compensates for any image blurring due to small camera movement - very handy when using the zoom. The E-20 is built like a tank, with a very heavy-duty aluminum alloy body — should last for many years.

You might also look into a used Olympus E-10, which was the E-20's $1800 predecessor. They offer virtually all of the E-20's features (albeit 4 megapixels instead of 5), and can be had for under $600 on eBay – a *very* solid, easy-to-use camera.

(Plenty of good camera reviews [url=http://www.dcresource.com]here[/url].)
Link Posted: 1/3/2004 1:12:48 PM EDT
Skibane,
Thanks.  I've been reading this site:
[url]http://www.dpreview.com/learn/glossary/Optical[/url]

and have gained alot.  Didn't turn up in my search earlier, though...

I'll check out the links you posted.
Link Posted: 1/3/2004 1:22:44 PM EDT
Something I didn't think about until now:

Batteries should be AA or AAA.  Would be much more convenient, say on a camping trip with no elect.

Then again, how long (guess that would be measured in # of photos?) do the rechargeable batts last?
Link Posted: 1/3/2004 1:29:00 PM EDT
Please get something small.

These big ass camera with all the do-dad's are pointless for a person that wants a point and shoot.

I also see what the big deal is about having a lithium ion battery. Just buy another one and charge it when it dies in a 120 volt outlet.

Each battery in my canon has lastest longer then the 128 meg compact flash card so big deal.

The cost of the battery is the only downfall, which pays for itself imo.(about $30-$50)
Link Posted: 1/3/2004 1:33:19 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/3/2004 1:39:51 PM EDT by cduarte]
what is your budget? what you're describing is going to involve some pretty long lenses, somewhere in the 300mm range for 35mm equivalent. btw, on edit, I'd look for a used nikon F4 with a 300mm 4.5f or faster lens
Link Posted: 1/3/2004 1:37:01 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/3/2004 1:37:54 PM EDT by cyanide]
First thing I have to say is check out the reaction time of the shutter button and the record picture , it is going to be very hard to snap "nature in action" pictures with a digital camera, as they do not take a photo like a 35 mm camera does, there is a long lag time,  between pushing the shutter button and the --- picture being taken ---
Link Posted: 1/3/2004 1:47:10 PM EDT
Cannon just came out with the digital rebel. Just under 1000. High on the megapixel side but allows you to use regular 35 mm camera lenses.
Thus more optical zoom. digital zoom is the computers best guess on what it will look like closer. It pixelates and looks grainy/blotchy depending on the detail level you are looking for.
I agree that for the distances you are shooting for, you need a big lens. So say for another 200 or so you can get a good auto focus lens for the rebel that does 75-300mm.
Link Posted: 1/3/2004 1:53:36 PM EDT
Does it HAVE to be digital?

When I was younger I did some "wildlife photography" with my canon A-1 35mm camera.  With the power drive attached it can shoot over 5 frames per second, which is perfect for birds and elusive or fast-moving animals.  





I know - I'm just old and out of touch [:)]  I'll shut up and just go and mumble to myseelf in the corner now.
Link Posted: 1/3/2004 1:57:45 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Andrewh:
Cannon just came out with the digital rebel. Just under 1000. High on the megapixel side but allows you to use regular 35 mm camera lenses.
Thus more optical zoom. digital zoom is the computers best guess on what it will look like closer. It pixelates and looks grainy/blotchy depending on the detail level you are looking for.
I agree that for the distances you are shooting for, you need a big lens. So say for another 200 or so you can get a good auto focus lens for the rebel that does 75-300mm.
View Quote


Nikon has one too.  If you already own lenses and your lens manuf makes a digital that may be the way to go.  

Electronic magnification is not worth a thing as it juts magnifys the pixels.

I went with a Sony that records to a DVD rater then a Memory card.  Very good Hi Quality pix...However remember w/all these MegaPixels if you try to send pix they are a really slow process not to mention you cant save them here!
Link Posted: 1/3/2004 2:22:49 PM EDT
Originally Posted By DK-Prof:
I know - I'm just old and out of touch [:)]  I'll shut up and just go and mumble to myseelf in the corner now.
View Quote


[rofl2]  I needed a good laugh!

I just want digital for the ease of film issues.

What do you think of these two?
[url]http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/fujis602z/[/url]

[url]http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/olympusc5050z/page2.asp[/url]

These both represent about the max $$ i can spend.
Link Posted: 1/3/2004 2:57:58 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/3/2004 2:59:20 PM EDT by NoVaGator]
Ok, I'm a professional photographer, so here's what I'd suggest:

Shoot film. You can't properly equip yourself digitally for less than $2,250... and that wouldn't leave money for memory.

Go buy a used Nikon F100 and a new Sigma 70-200 mm f2.8 HSM EX lens. Also, get a 2x teleconverter.

You'll be in the $1,250 range.

In order to shoot wildlife, you'll need a "fast" lens. (When discussing lenses, "fast" means a large aperture or opening - like f2.8 - smaller numbers mean larger apertures.) You'll need this large aperture to shoot successfully in the low light conditions that you'll encounter in the woods, esp. early and late in the day.

BTW, if you want a head/shoulders shot of a deer at 100 yds, you'll need a 500 mm lens and even then you'll have to enlarge and crop the heck out of it. A 400mm lens will give you a field of view of about 10 yards wide at 100 yards. (I don't have a 500mm, so I'm not sure what the FOV would be.)

Bad news: there's no way you'll want to spend the money for a 500mm/2.8 lens. A "cheapie" 500mm/4.5 lens is around $3,300.



Link Posted: 1/3/2004 3:16:18 PM EDT
NoVaGator,

Guess I'm trying to take a Bentley tour in a Volkswagon, eh?

I'll just have to edit my expectations, and stay within the budget. [:D]
Link Posted: 1/3/2004 3:41:39 PM EDT
Originally Posted By DK-Prof:
Does it HAVE to be digital?

When I was younger I did some "wildlife photography" with my canon A-1 35mm camera.  With the power drive attached it can shoot over 5 frames per second, which is perfect for birds and elusive or fast-moving animals.  





I know - I'm just old and out of touch [:)]  I'll shut up and just go and mumble to myseelf in the corner now.
View Quote


[lol]

don't feel too bad DK, I still use my nikon F2 and 180 f2.8 non-ai lens (it was ai converted, but is still single coat). It takes fantastic pictures.
Link Posted: 1/3/2004 4:19:17 PM EDT
What do you think of these two?
www.dpreview.com/reviews/fujis602z/
www.dpreview.com/reviews/olympusc5050z/page2.asp
View Quote


The Fuji S602Z looks pretty decent, although the actual number of pixels it delivers is less than advertised (due to the funky CCD sensor that Fjui uses). The 6X zoom is nice.

The Olympus C5050 Zoom looks like it's built better than the Fuji (and includes rechargeable batteries and a larger memory card), but it only has a 3X zoom. Some of the other cameras in this rough price range have 7X or even 10X zooms, which would be an asset for shooting small wildlife (less so for deer and other big'uns). The ability to accept 3 different kinds of memory cards is nice.

BTW, the Minolta DiMAGE A1 only lists for about $100 more than the Fuji S602Z - well worth it, IMO.
Link Posted: 1/3/2004 4:26:36 PM EDT
Backstop,

What kind of wildlife photography are you talking about?  Trees?  Deer?  Birds?

It really makes a difference on the lens recommendations.  In any case, I HIGHLY doubt you'll be able to do what you want with a fixed lens camera.  You're gonna need a SLR.



NoVaGator,

That 70-200 with 2x is still not enough for birds, unfortunately, which is what I'm afraid he might be interested in.  
Link Posted: 1/3/2004 4:50:03 PM EDT
I'm not a professional photographaer but for the last 20 years I have been shooting Nikon F Series 35mm SLR's and currently own over $4500 in my camera body and lenses (not that much in the professional world).

I do agree that aperture is everything!

However, I recently bought a prosummer Nikon (5400) and for everyday outdoor photos (5x7 - 8x10) it produces wonderful photos that when printed on a quality printer with photo quality paper are almost as good as any film print I've ever produced.

Do not limit yourself with a point and shoot, as you become familiar with photography you will want to have control over aperture and shutter settings to control depth of field.

Look for something between 4-5 megapixels with aperture/shutter priority settings, look for optical zoom and avoid using digital zoom (in fact NEVER EVER use it!).

Find the fastest lens you can, ie. lowest F number.  Also a camera with good macro capability is a plus.

It should also have a "hot shoe" to allow the use of an external flash since no camera has an interanl flash good for anything other than "fill".

As much as I like film - I believe that the medium is radiply approaching the end of its practical life.  As DSLR's come down in price this will hasten the inevitable...

I could go on but - bandwidth is limited...
Link Posted: 1/3/2004 4:55:04 PM EDT
Link Posted: 1/3/2004 4:59:08 PM EDT


P.s. The lower end, (less than $1000.) digital camera's have very slow lenses, ie. requires more light for proper exposure. This problem is compounded with a telephoto lens. To make matters worse, it takes about 24 megapixals to equal the depth of detail of a 35mm color print.


Link Posted: 1/3/2004 6:46:36 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/3/2004 6:47:54 PM EDT by Backstop]
Probably just photos of deer, bear, hogs, etc.  Not interested in birds.  Such as I'm wandering in the woods and see a critter and want to take a photo.  Last few times I went deer hunting, I just sat in the tree and watched the deer rather than shoot.  So something along those lines also.

As before, I'm not looking for magazine quality photos.  Just something middle of the road - trying to keep the price down, ya know?

Also - trust me here.  I have no plans on learning the intricacies of photography.  Point and shoot is the way I want to go.  

Thanks for the info guys!  I've learned a lot. I will print this when the topic dies.
Link Posted: 1/3/2004 8:31:04 PM EDT
Originally Posted By brouhaha:
NoVaGator,

That 70-200 with 2x is still not enough for birds, unfortunately, which is what I'm afraid he might be interested in.  
View Quote


No, but it's the cheapest way to get to 400mm...even if he'll have to sacrifce 2 f stops because of the teleconverter.

I understand that the Sigma 500mm lenses are popular among birders.

I shoot sports. I rarely use anything longer than a Canon 300mm/f2.8...but that's still a $5000 lens.
Link Posted: 1/3/2004 8:50:33 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/3/2004 8:51:46 PM EDT by Penguin_101]
I know it is out of your price range, but I have the 35mm version of the Canon EOS Rebel. I now want the $1000 Canon EOS Digital Rebel ([url]http://www.canoneos.com/digitalrebel/index.html[/url]). 6.3 Megapixel. I have a HP digital camera myself.


Edited for spelling.
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