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Friday, August 28, 2009


Dad's advice for buying a camera 2

Hi Dad,
Am thinking that you brought up a few valid points and I figure that I don't really need an SLR. So down to that do you have any advice? What size zoom would you think is useful to have? Basically want good snapshots at the end of the day but a camera that can play around with to get better shots. Sometimes we want to take pictures to use for a poster or flyers for things, otherwise something I can use to take nice photo's.
Love Mel

Hi Mel

First I'll give you two links to my blogs where I wrote about my cameras. This will give you an idea about why I have what I have:

Why two cameras?

Camera comparison

What size zoom depends on what you want to photograph. 3 x zoom is very common and for everyday photography it's usually fine. Sometimes I like to photograph wildlife. If you get too close then it moves away so my 12 x zoom on the fz20 is good. When there was a monkey on the roof of the house next door at Kompong Chhnang I could get a pic of just the monkey. (BTW, I have not cropped this pic.) With 3 x I would get the whole roof and would hardly see the monkey. If you want to take a pic of Iz or Hamad on the other side of the soccer field, you'll need a good zoom to take that pic. However you'll also need a camera good for action pics if you want to get them while they're moving. It can be a challenge to do that especially with full zoom. 5 x to 10 x is somewhere in between. That might suit you depends on how important those soccer shots are to you. You can also get more powerful zooms these days. Panasonic have one that does 18 x. I asked a guy who had one about it and he was pretty happy. Other manufacturers are bringing out cameras to compete with this. Not sure how good they are. The Panasonic Lumix lens has a good reputation. Read the reviews before you make a decision.

Here's an example of the sort of long-distance action you can get with an fz20. I took this at Scarborough back when I was last in Oz. BTW, someone once said to me that to get a lens on an SLR that does what I can do with my fz20, it would have to be about 45cm long. Another BTW, if you click on these pics you'll see a larger version.

OK. Some general info. If you go to my flickr page and take a look at my pics, see if you can see the difference between the pics done on the fx3 and fz20 and which do you prefer. I put that info into the tags at the side of each pic. You have to click on the pic to see it. You might think the fx3 is just as good but consider that in relation to what I have written in the blog—fx3 has its limitations. They may or may not be important to you. But if you want to take better shots you will probably want a camera with more features. BTW, fx3 and fz20 will have been superseded several times. The current models will have different names. Last time I checked the latest version of the fz20 was fz50. Not sure if it still is. It has a few more features and other improvements over mine. I like the way the LCD screen tilts so you don't always have to hold the camera up to your face. You can hold it at waist level or hold it over your head—and still see the LCD.

If somehow I lost both of my cameras I wonder what I would buy now. Rather than buy two cameras I could get a compromise, a camera that is fairly compact but has a lot of features. Canon have one called the G10. The Canon G series have a good reputation but these days other manufacturers are bringing out good cameras like it. Read some reviews and see if it does what you want. Some of the reviews will also mention other cameras to compare it with. Check out their reviews too.

There are two websites that have good reviews that I recommend:


Steves Digicams

Read a few reviews and see if you can get more idea of what you want from that. Also on these sites are user forums. I followed the Panasonic forums for about 18 months on Steves before I bought the fz20. People tell you what they like and don't like about their cameras. It is a good way to discover which camera to not buy. You can also join and ask questions yourself. If you have narrowed it down and you are not sure, you can ask people who use the camera, eg. 'Is this a good action camera? Is it good for night shots?'. They'll tell you.

One other thing to remember is that you can have the best camera in the world but if you don't have an artistic eye you'll still take lousy shots. You need to learn a bit about framing your shots. It could be worth visiting the library and borrowing a few photography 'how to' books.

OK, that's it for now. Feel free to send more questions.

BTW, I'll expect to see lots of pics of the new baby on facebook.



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