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Pen Photography Discuss the techniques and equipment for perfect pen pictures.


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Old 01-19-2013, 07:58 AM   #1 (permalink)
 
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Default Need Camera Recommendation, and two reviews.

I'm looking for recommendations on a point and shoot camera. I'd like one with good macro focus and light/white balance metering qualities.
I primarily use a camera for taking stills of woodturning projects. That's not to say I wouldn't like one that would work well for landscape,
vacation, and social occasions. And one that took pretty good movies wouldn't go amiss for youtube videos.

What follows is a fairly lengthy account of my experience with two cameras. If you want, you can skip over that to the last paragraph,
and just give your recommendations. Also I'm looking to stay under $200. I paid less than $100 for the A410 and SZ-20 mentioned below.
I'm not interested in entry level SLRs because I have neither the means nor the will, to spend $500-$600 on a camera, and then add several
thou$and in accessories and lenses, so please don't waste your time.

I formerly received for my birthday, a Canon A410 3.2 megapixel with the old style CCD sensor. It sounds clunky compared to the features
and specifications of today. Actually, it had a great interface, and it was a real joy to use. You hardly had to think about it to get good pictures
with the auto settings. It also had a fair range of manual settings when one wanted to dial in white balance, ISO, and exposure settings for stills.

And use it I did - all the time for approximately 5 years. I took it everywhere; to turning club meetings, to my shop, to work, on vacations,
on walks and errands. It met it's demise on my last trip. Either the sensor or a ribbon failed, and any photos were grainy and filled with lines.
It was a sad day for me.

Thinking to upgrade this camera, I bought a Olympus SZ-20. It's a 16 megapixel camera with the new CMOS sensor, and a greater range of ISO,
and exposure settings. It has a 35X optical zoom and a 2cm macro. Also it will take better movies. (After all the Canon didn't have any sound
whatsoever, and it's frame rate was really sketchy. With all those obviously superior features, how could I lose?

Well. The Olympus proved to be a great disappointment. For stills, it's an abysmal failure. The first thing is that for some odd reason,
Olympus decided to reset the timer feature after each shot. It won't stay set. Then to make it worse one must scroll down a list of
settings to get to set the timer settings. To make that even more excruciating, they put on one of those darn fiddly scroll wheels,
which, more often than not has you selecting the wrong feature... There's no HDR feature on this camera
(where you combine three shots with three different exposures) so one must use a software HDR. But with the timer the way it is,
even with a rock solid tripod, I suspect that fiddly scroll wheel and the stupid timer feature would make even the software HDR useless.

So much for taking 50-100 still shots with ease.

The worst thing is that focusing and metering are unreliable. On any backlit shot, indoors, outdoors, at close range or from 20 feet away,
the exposure was always incorrect. I took a trip around UGA campus with the family in late afternoon and the exposures were terrible.
I took a trip to Tallulah Gorge and the exposures were terrible. I took closeup shots of flowers in broad daylight and the focusing
and the exposures were terrible.

There are also little nit picky things about the camera I didn't like either, like the overlarge loop on the lanyard. It hardly does any good
when the thing slips off your wrist, over your hand, past the camera, and then dangles from the camera like a wily escape artist.
I finally knotted the darn thing to keep from dropping the camera.

Another thing that's fairly annoying is that there's no hard copy of the manual. Last thing I want to do is scroll through an on board manual,
and repeat searches through the manual while eating up the batteries. And it does eat up that proprietary battery with that large LCD screen.
The nice thing about the A410 was I could use AA batteries. With 8 rechargeables, I could have 4 in the charger, 2 in the case, and 2 in the camera,
and easily cover a days worth of shooting. Another battery eating thing about the SZ-20 was it has no sight window.
So I was faced with getting another $30-50 battery.

Also there are a bunch of bell and whistle presets on the SZ-20 - which are nice if the thing will take good pictures, but really useless if not.

To top it all off I kept getting "picture errors" message when I went to review shots I'd taken. At first I put it down to the clunky little SD card I had.
After getting a much bigger SDHC card, I still got those "picture error" messages, so I figure the camera is just screwed up.
It's got some glitchy thing that if all the settings are a little hinky, makes it error out.

Anyway, I'm looking for something to upgrade my old Canon that will be an equally easy camera to use.
It doesn't have to be the latest and greatest- it could be a little older but "tried and true" camera.
In fact, the A410 was an older, tried and true camera when I bought it.

Thanks for your attention and recommendation.
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Last edited by underdog; 01-19-2013 at 08:12 AM.
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Old 01-19-2013, 09:04 AM   #2 (permalink)
 
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I purchased Canon's S5 IS in Dec. '07 after seeing and trying an S1.
Then I purchased the S3, and went on to the S5 at approx. $400. eBay's got them on much cheaper now!
I also purchased a compact power adapter, so I can sit in my big chair and read the manual all I want. I haven't used batteries in it for ages.
Of course, it's not my travel camera, just my pen pic camera.
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Old 01-19-2013, 09:16 AM   #3 (permalink)
 
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Like you, I've been considering the purchase of a new point an shoot camera.

For the past two years, I been using a Canon S95 on "Auto". The photos are outstanding. However, in the past week, I been looking at the features of this camera and it has just about every option that the larger, more expensive, SLR cameras have.

You can ever shoot a photo of an object and keep it the original color and leave the surounding area in black and white.

Needless to say, I am no longer looking for a new camera.
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Old 01-19-2013, 09:34 AM   #4 (permalink)
 
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[quote=Fireengines;1491460]Like you, I've been considering the purchase of a new point an shoot camera.

For the past two years, I been using a Canon S95 on "Auto". The photos are outstanding. However, in the past week,
Quote:
I been looking at the features of this camera
And that camera is?
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Old 01-19-2013, 12:39 PM   #5 (permalink)
 
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I think he's refering to the S95 that he's been using. He's been comparing it to the SLRs and seeing that it's really a good camera with the features of an SLR. So, now he's not really looking anymore. He's satisfied with it.

Unfortunately at $279, it's out of my price range...
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Old 01-19-2013, 12:51 PM   #6 (permalink)
 
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I has an s5 is for a while. I LOVED that camera. It took excellent macro shots, and generally high quality pictures. I have a cannon PowerShot SD1400 IS right now. Its OK, some of my friends have the same camera and love it. I think they tried to cram too many pixels on the sensor and I've never been thrilled with the quality of the images. I also have a Nikon D3100. Its only a few months old and I'm still figuring out how to use it, but I definitely haven't spent thousands of dollars in accessories to go with it.

I also wanted to say that if you go over to flickr you can search for a camera and see images posted with it. http://www.flickr.com/cameras/

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Old 01-19-2013, 01:21 PM   #7 (permalink)
 
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I use a Canon SX120is. I take pen pictures and pictures for the articles I write with it. The pictures in the article on the home page (Laser Leftovers) were taken with it. It has auto settings plus full manual settings. I would not have a point and shoot camera that did not have manual settings. I searched and found a used one at Camera Exchange for $89 and new ones from $160 to $250...there are a few on eBay. Good luck with choosing your camera.
Do a good turn daily!
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Old 01-19-2013, 01:30 PM   #8 (permalink)
 
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I don't know if you still have the Olympus or not but they do have downloadable PDF manuals for all their cameras in the Product Support section. The one for your camera is about 68 pages long.

SZ-20 &gt Product Manuals

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Old 01-19-2013, 02:15 PM   #9 (permalink)
 
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Thanks Curly.
Unfortunately all the hard copy manual in the world won't compensate for a camera whose metering and focussing aren't reliable.

When I found this review on the Olympus SZ-20, I began realizing it wasn't just my amateur skills causing the problems:

Olympus SZ-20 review - Digital Camera - Trusted Reviews
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