A question for u Vicky Steele if youre about…

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    Hi Vicky, as Im really getting serious about finding the right Digital Cam to buy, and doing endless research (it seems) 8-/. Choices choices !!!! I wonder if its OK if I ask you about the camera you used for your LOVELY piks of those dark pillars. I see you are a graphic designer which leads me to presume your cam will possibly be of higher spec than what most people need. However in particular Im interested in:

    Brand and Model?



    Optical (not digital) Zoom specs?

    Anything else you might give advice on would be much appreciated.



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    Thanks Vicky for your further comments.

    “I can do as much video as my memory card will allow. I have 1gb, so that gets me 15-30 minutes depending on what resolution I use.”

    That sounds really good. I take it your cam is over a year old? What would be the next model that replaced yours?

    There really is a lot of things to consider. Connectivity is a biggie for us, like our little analogue TV is on the way out but we dont watch it that much at all, and we’re not keen on getting the latest and greatest to replace it. We just dont need that. From my research today I see DigCams that are HD, and within that spec, some of the brands appear to be proprietry in their formats if you want the best viewing options. Proprietry mem cards and proprietry cables :-/ … So one has to consider what further purchases are needed before going this route.

    As far as connectivity for better viewing and editing, my Mac has FW800, but only USB1 and some DigCam software is not Mac compatible, and that has the only DVD drive I own. My PeaSea is XP ProSP2 and USB2, and theres options there for connectivity. Soooo more often than not these purchases “cast circles waaay beyond themselves”. Ive been reading reviews and stuff most of the day and found a really excellent website dpreview.com which tells you all sorts of stuff. Amazing resource. Some of it way above my head.

    “However 18x optical sounds great! For my work I don’t need to do much zooming, but it would be really useful for other things. Like birds!”

    Ha ha my thoughts exactly… like ‘fishers. ๐Ÿ™‚ …. yes in my research Ive seen face detection everywhere. There really is some wonderful features these days. Im trying to get my head around such things as the diff between digital zoom and optical zoom, focal length etc etc. so its all a learning curve…




    I can do as much video as my memory card will allow. I have 1gb, so that gets me 15-30 minutes depending on what resolution I use. Long enough to get a butterfly emerge from start to finish, pretty much ๐Ÿ™‚ Like you say, not exactly HD but good enough for some applications. Computer screen resolution is only 72dpi, so most cameras are good enough to produce nice movies and pics for slide shows and web. Ok on a plasma or LCD, but certainly not video camera quality.

    Digital zoom can be a bit of a pain if you want to crop and then enlarge a picture. The resolution does drop. However I’ve experimented with really close close-ups using a mixture of optical, digital and macro, and got great results. I got an amazing picture of what I think is a Red Admiral caterpillar lurking amongst my Yellow Admirals and the detail is breathtaking. However 18x optical sounds great! For my work I don’t need to do much zooming, but it would be really useful for other things. Like birds! One feature I’d recommend (and I think most cameras have it now) … face detection. Makes a big difference, especially when taking group photos.

    For the record, My sister has a Panasonic – an older model, but she loves it.



    Thanks for your comments! Zooming and Macro is a valuable feature to me. It would be a real boon too if the video (which it looks like most stills do these days) is of reasonable quality but doesnt have to exactly be HD quality… how good is the video on yours and whats the max time it can run for Vicky? Of course they tell you in the shop s that videocams are juuuust poor enough that you should buy a Still as well, and visa versa. Mmmm now I wonder why that might be ; /.

    Ive just been looking the panasonics pamphlets just to get a broad overview of the feature list. Just saw the TZ15 Model is spec’d at 18 X Optical and furthermore theres an “extra optical zoom function that extends this out to 28.7x …of course the small print says at that level it goes down to 3 megapixel mode …. still, looking at the example shoot they gave it looked quite good.




    You get more than a “few” good ones Gill! You take wonderful photos – one of my favourites was the one you took of the little ladybirds making more little ladybirds.

    One thing I’ll say for my little Fuji – the battery life is AMAZING. I take a load of pictures and movies and charge it once every 3 months, if that. I love all the manual settings I can make, but equally, when a photo opportunity presents itself, I can hit auto and still be guaranteed of a good shot. It is perfect for what I do for a living.

    The biggest optical zoom I’ve seen is 15x (on my brother-in-law’s digital SLR). He has a 10 megapixel camera – a Fuji as well. He’s a very arty photographer and with 10 megapixel he can print up to A0 easily.



    Hi Swanwong and Vicky….. Oh Vicky… I just shoot many photos and get a few good ones ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

    Yes those blackbird photos are mine Swansong… I LOVE my camera! Tis a Finepix S5100 10 x optical zoom. I’m not very techie at all but have found this camera excellent, once I got used to it. It wasn’t dear… just over $500 I think. Got all sorts of features that I don’t understand and don’t use….



    Hi Vicky, thanks for your prompt and comprehensive reply.

    “It is VERY confusing picking a camera”
    Heh, youre NOT wrong there. I couldve bought one ages ago, but the fact is I just havent had the inclination to wade through the massive hype, keep up with new features, and sorting the features I need apposed to the ones I dont. Unfortunately I always like to do my research before I purchase such things or maybe it is fortunate when you can get caught out on things like battery wear.

    To make it more confusing, I want a Video to replace the analog cam which died about 5 years ago. I know both stills and movies venture across into each others territory but apparently not well enough to have one to do both satisfactorily. With the price point of VideoCams these days a separate purchase is doable.

    I always said Id wait till Movie Cams went digital B4 we replaced our one. Im tempted to wait till flashmemory comes more into its own in this arena. No moving parts unlike HDD based systems or DVD. And formats are another issue….here today gone tomorrow. The biggest caveat though is BATTERIES! I heard of an old couple who just dont use their digital anymore coz it chews batteries like nothing on earth! So it seems with the raft of new features theres a raft of new caveats. Batteries my case in point…never used to be a problem. Our old SLR (analog) only uses relatively cheap lithiums which lasts ‘forever’.

    “One day I’d like a bigger optical zoom”
    I just saw a panasonic Video Cam in a pamphelet I brought home and hubby was looking at it… and the 1st thing he sees????? I couldnt believe it …a ‘fisher zoomed in at 42X. It showed you the difference between zoomed in and zoomed out and all I can say is stunning! [well we all know ‘fishers are stunning anywayz but this time I’m meaning the zoom ๐Ÿ™‚ ]… From a mere dot to a full screen! WOOOOOOW!

    Yes actually the megapixel thing is not as bigger issue as it was because the latest Stills have really moved forward in this area from what i undersrtand. I was really struck with the clarity of your piks though and I thought it would be just really interesting to know.

    Because of the nature of what I do, I know that manual = control. I dont like these “stepped” arrangements when you need finer control. Its just figuring out what you NEED to control manually. Therein lies the rub.

    What is the max Optical Zoom on Stills youve seen? From memory so far Ive only come across about 10. 15 tops. Wonder why stills are way behind Videos in this arena?

    If youre looking on Gill, did you take those piks of the blackbirds on your site? They are lovely piks too.




    Hiya Swansong!!!

    I’ve got a Fuji Finepix F31. It has all the features I need without going to an SLR (which I would like one day) and it was a really reasonable price. It has a huge amount of manual settings, and in-camera settings – my favourite is one called Flower which is what I use for caterpillars ๐Ÿ™‚ When my Cybershot got stolen (grrrr) I researched a lot of cameras and ending up choosing the Fuji – I found that some cameras have added features which mean you don’t need maximum megapixels to get a fantastic quality image (less megapixels means a smaller file size, which is often important to me). There’s a lot of settings I need to be able to change manually, depending on what I want the photo for. Mine is 6.3, and that is good enough for print and screen (I design for both). One day I’d like a bigger optical zoom – mine has a mixture of optical and digtal (3x optical and up to 18.5 with digital). It is pretty good, but I still have to sneak through bushes sometimes to get good closeups of birds! Butteflies are caterpillars are definitely better posers ๐Ÿ™‚

    Gill has a Fuji too, although I can’t remember what model – and she takes fantastic photos (Gill is a wonderful photographer anyway though, she’d probably take great pics with a disposable).

    When I bought this camera, there was actually a newer model available, with a higher megapixel setting, but the one I chose has a higher ISO rating and more features so it made it a better camera (and a less expensive one!). I use the macro setting alot – I can set it manually, but some of the camera settings automatically use macro (i.e. Flower). It also has an excellent auto setting where it is very forgiving and will take a good picture no matter who pushes the button.

    It is VERY confusing picking a camera, and a lot depends on what use you have for it. And the advantage I have, being a designer, is that I use software products that can further enhance a photograph.

    I think a lot of cameras are similar these days, but I’ve had several different kinds and I am happiest with the Fuji for ease of use and quality.

    I met a professional photographer earlier this year who came and took pictures of my garden for a magazine. She explained a lot about cameras to me. To be a photographer for a living, the camera required is pretty specialised, but even she agreed that my Fuji was pretty jolly good.

    Hope this helps!

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