europachris wrote:I'm looking for recommendations on digital cameras. We currently have an ancient Sony DSC-P30 1.3 Megapixel camera. Yes, 1.3. But, I've always been impressed with the picture quality and sharpness as long as I don't go past 5x7 on the print size. It has a large, good quality lens, so it makes the most of what it has. But, it is indeed starting to show it's age and obsolescence. It has taken all of the pictures I've posted here, for better or worse.
I also have a much more ancient Canon FTb 35mm SLR that I enjoy playing around with that really takes amazingly sharp shots, and dug it out the other day to run some film through it and have it processed and scanned into digital format at the lab to see how that looks.
Anyway, dilemma #1 is to go with either a point and shoot digital or more of the SLR style. I'm a quality freak, and most point and shoots have such tiny lenses as to be really poor. If your lens is junk, the rest of the camera won't matter. But, an SLR is larger, etc.... So, we all want the lens of an SLR with the size of a little point and shoot - which bends the laws of physics.
Dilemma #2 is just sorting through the vast array of cameras available. I've had excellent luck with Sony, and used a Canon that I liked a lot (Powershot A530 or something like that). But there are just tons of them out there. What's really good?
I see cameras now with 12 megapixels. Is this for real? Are they truly 12 MP or are they 6 MP and interpolate the rest into a 12 MP shot? Are we getting into diminishing returns with this size of picture?
I'm been shooting semi professionally since I was old enough to buy a Canon EOS T90 and have had more cameras than I'd like to reveal, but I may be able to give you a little information that might help. I switched from medium format to digital back when the Olympus C2020Z came out. Wonderful camera...wish I still had it. Sold it to a friend who still uses it daily.
Canon, Nikon, Olympus...in that order.
I prefer the Canon CMOS sensor over the Nikon as I think it's warmness makes a better image for my clients and myself. This is personal preference and you should look at both. The Canon S3 is considered by many to be the perfect compromise between a P&S and a DSLR. The newer S series are improved even on the S3. Unless you truly have a desire to send more on glass than the camera and want to tote a larger, heavier body and at least on other lens, I'd say look hard at the S series Canons. I currently have 3 Canon DSLR bodies and many lenses, yet I find myself grabbing either my wife's Canon 510 or my daughter's 410 when we go somewhere. I just don't want to haul the big boys out. If you feel you want the extra creativity you can get from an SLR body, look hard at the Canon Digital Rebel series. The newer XTi DSLR are nearly the same as the 30D and 40D for a lot less money. Many of my friends who shoot professionally have a few XTi bodies as backups. They shoot with a 1 series, but use the XTi for sports or a second shooter at an event.
Go and actually touch the cameras you think you like. For me, the ergonomics of the camera are very, very important. I add a battery grip to all my bodies as I often use big lenses such as my Sigma 50-500 "Bigma" or a 70-200 2.8 and I feel the grips fit my hand better and the extra weight better balances the camera with the heavier lenses. You may like the Canon's features, but the feel of the Nikon may fit you better. Also, play with the menus and controls. This is where going to an established camera shop can really help. If you can find a salesman who really knows the cameras you can find out pretty quickly if one brand has a control layout or feature tree that fits the way you think better. This is important stuff. I've had a few friends switch to Nikon for the control reassignment flexibility that was missing on some of the Canons. I don't see it as an issue, but you may.
Read the reviews carefully. Don't read the forums...until you have it nailed down to one or two cameras. There is much vitriol spewed and hand waving on those forums that can skew your thinking. Als check out Steves digicam http://www.steves-digicams.com/
Both sites give about the most unbiased, comprehensive reviews you'll find anywhere.
As far as megapixels....you already know the answer. Anything over 2MP is overkill for pretty much anyone other than a pro. If you're not printing over 8 X 11, you simply do not need more than 2-4 MP. Sensor pixel density is also important here as many camera models (Fuji for example) will claim higher pixel count, but they are reducing the pixel size to allow for higher pixel count on the same size sensor. There are still plenty of sports photographers shooting with 2 MP Nikons and getting published. MP is marketing...plain and simple.
There is so much more, but I think you have all the info you need to make an informed decision. Research data is plentiful on this topic. I strongly recommend you do most of your research "hands on".
Let me know if I can assist in this.