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 Digital camera help required 
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Joined: Sat Mar 29, 2008 1:42 pm
Posts: 1503
Location: Cornwall
Post Digital camera help required
Allthough I have used a SLR camera for slide work for years, I have a point and shoot digital (Fuji Finepix S5700) and allthough it does a great job 90% of the time I am struggling to control light exposure levels on bright days I am supposed to be able to alter settings but its very awkward, so I was thinking maybe to upgrade somewhat to a Nikon D5000 or similar but I keep thinking will I want to lug it around and will it let me manually focus and change aperture like my old camera? if it wont I will be no better off than I am now as the picture quality of the Fuji is OK when I get it right.

So if anyone has one of these Fuji's and has sussed how to make it do your bidding I would love to hear from you! and owners of the entry level DSLR's can you do the job completely manually by looking through the lens and using the light meter?

Perhaps I should say my main interest is in photographing plants and flowers often in close up and garden views and landscapes.

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Charlie, Growing climbers in Cornwall http://www.roselandhouse.co.uk


Mon Mar 22, 2010 1:33 pm
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Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 2:25 pm
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Location: Suffolk, UK
Post Re: Digital camera help required
Hi Charlie
I can't help with the fuji but can confirm that you can do all of the manual stuff with the Nikon DSLRs that you could with a conventional SLR. That said, although my old film SLRs were very manual, I rarely use manual on my Nikon D90 (or on the D50 or D80 I had before it). I agree though, it's nice to have the flexibility to be able to use it in manual mode when necessary.
I tend to shoot everything in "RAW" format and then process it using Nikon NX Capture 2 software on my PC. I know it feels like cheating compared to the limitations of dark room techniques with film, but shooting in RAW means I can change loads of stuff in computer if I need to, including expsoure by a couple of stops either way if necessary. As long as the original in camera capture was sharp enough (you can't fix that after the event!) it's amazing what you can retrieve in post processing.
Pete

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Mon Mar 22, 2010 9:52 pm
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Joined: Sat Mar 29, 2008 1:42 pm
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Location: Cornwall
Post Re: Digital camera help required
Brilliant, thats what I needed to hear, so you just need plenty of memory (probably no more than I use now taking several pictures on several settings in the hope I bracket where I should have been :) )

I notice most of these entry level DSLR's have 18-55mm lens fitted are they OK or do you need to get something better? I should say that although I have a range of lens I can not remember the last time I took the 55mm off the camera but all my lens are of Pentax thread and unlikely to fit a new camara

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Charlie, Growing climbers in Cornwall http://www.roselandhouse.co.uk


Tue Mar 23, 2010 8:06 am
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Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 2:25 pm
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Location: Suffolk, UK
Post Re: Digital camera help required
Hi Charlie
I bought my Nikon D90 with a kit 18-105mm lens. I hardly ever need to change that one although I do also have a longer zoom (70-300mm) and a portrait lens.
One slight issue with changing lenses on DSLRs is the huge risk of getting specks of dust on the digital sensor. I had problems with that with my D50 (the first DSLR I bought) but the later Nikon DSLR models usually have an autocleaning sensor facility (the sensor vibrates to dislodge any dirt) and it's not been a problem so far with my D90 (presumably due to this feature).

You're right about needing a reasonable amount of memory - the D90 has a 12 megapixel sensor which, as you'd expect, uses more memory per shot than a lower resolution sensor. I normally use an 8Gb SD card with mine and, shooting in RAW, that gets me about 539 shots per card.

Hope this helps.

Pete

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Tue Mar 23, 2010 10:20 pm
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Joined: Mon Apr 07, 2008 10:24 pm
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Location: Bristol, UK
Post Re: Digital camera help required
Hi Charlie,

For close-up, you can't beat a good macro lens and there's where even an entry level DSLR can really shine. I use my DSLR for a lot of macro photography of plants and seeds and I find it is possible to get quite good photos indoors with the built-in flash... I use the "M" manual setting to get maximum depth of field, switch the flash on and away I go. It's trivial to override the autofocus, the Canon lenses have a switch to disable it.

An example - Opuntia seedlings (species unknown).
Image

This sort of photos is a pain to take with a standard lens, if you get close enough to fill the frame then you're below the minimum focusing distance and if you use a telephoto (which WILL fill the frame), you've got to stand at the other side of the room, worrying about camera shake.

I know, some of the compact digitals have a macro mode, but unless you have a lot of control over the exposure (to increase depth of field) and focus, they can be a pain to use.

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Thu Mar 25, 2010 8:18 pm
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Joined: Wed Dec 09, 2009 10:20 am
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Location: Eastbourne UK
Post Re: Digital camera help required
Can only agree with what has been said.

But just to add a few comments. I have the Canon 400D, and a couple of extra lenses, the most useful of which is a macro lens,the Canon EF 100mm, which produces pretty good quality images. The standard 18-55mm lens is not bad, I would like better but so far have found nothing to improve on it for less £600-£900. Although shooting in RAW does produce quite impressive results (however as the file is too big for some purposes, by the time the file has been reduced I find the quality is back to what it would be shooting in JPEG! ~ would be interested in others' comments on this) I also use a telephoto lens for 'close ups', the Canon EF 75-300mm, the inevitable foreshortening producing some interesting results.

I almost always use the manual setting for close-up work, the control over focusing and aperture being crucial to getting the desired result. When I first had this camera I was in fact disappointed with it, it was not until I used the manual settings that I discovered what it could do, and was then quite impressed with the results. (It must say something for the standard lens that you have to pay nearly twice what the camera cost in the first place to find better)

I started out in photography in the days of the dark room, and have always worked on the basis that that is where much of the final picture is created. At art college a day in the studio would be followed by several days in the dark room. So I make free use of photo editing software, mostly Corel Photo-Paint X3, but also Adobe Photoshop.

Just a final thought. I also have a close up lens that simply attaches to the standard lens as would a filter. I bought it for occasional use, especially when out and about without the macro lens, which is quite heavy to carry around. It cost just a few pounds and produces very acceptable results.


Fri Mar 26, 2010 8:07 am
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Joined: Mon Oct 29, 2007 6:45 pm
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Post Re: Digital camera help required
I play around with close-up photography a little bit myself as I find the effect far more satisfying than say, a landscape shot. There are lenses you can buy specifically for this purpose but I achieved very satisfactory results using my old kit 18-55 lens.

The key to good close-up photography is getting the focus point absolutely spot-on. This often means taking the shot and then reviewing it on the back screen. Once you're happy with that and the depth of field, take the shot download it and quite simply crop the picture. In other words you don't have to fill the frame with the desired object in order to get a great shot. Just make sure your focusing is perfect and crop it later.

It's about making the best of what equipment you have I think and if you can't afford or dont want a dedicated lens then your standard lens will always get you a good result if you get the settings right. This method may not be so effective when using a compact as I've noticed that the picture quality drops away significantly once you start cropping. It's not just about Mega Pixels (My Canon DSLR has a 'poultry' 8MP) but the size of the sensor itself and compact sensors are much smaller than DSLR ones. DSLRs will always get you a better picture and are far more flexible but ONLY when you take them out of manual mode and understand the basic aperture / shutter speed / depth of field principle. Aperture is probably the single most important aspect and understanding what effect it has on shutter speed and how you can counter it by adjusting the ISO.

If you use your DSLR in automatic mode then you will struggle to see any difference between it and a half decent compact. They are designed to be adjusted manually and tinkered with.

With regards to your specific problem Charlie concerning getting a good exposure on bright days have you tried adjusting the exposure compensation? Most cameras will allow you to manually increase or decrease exposure (in other words, over ride the decision of the light meter) by 2 stops or more which can brighten or darken your picture to your liking. Alternatively if you have a camera with RAW function you can take a picture on the darker side and brighten it when processing. JPEGS are not so flexible in this regard.

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Sat Mar 27, 2010 8:08 am
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Joined: Sat Mar 29, 2008 1:42 pm
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Location: Cornwall
Post Re: Digital camera help required
Thanks for all the imput guys, much appreciated.

Yes I know about adjusting the exposure Mark, its just the method on the Fuji I find awkawd My previous compact (a Kodak) was pretty straight forward.

I have just re read this section and discovered why I have been having problems, the option I have been trying to use is semi automatic so as you alter the apeture it alters the shutter speed so you don't get very far :oops:
But I have now found a completely manual setting with a light meter so I will have a play torrow and report back.

As a camera it takes a good picture (just not all the time!) see below
Image

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Sat Mar 27, 2010 4:53 pm
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