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What the shit is a MegaPixel [Buying a Camera]

MalReynoldsMalReynolds The Hunter S Thompson of incredibly mild medicinesRegistered User regular
edited June 2012 in Help / Advice Forum
I'm looking at digital cameras, trying to find one that's the best value for the money; the most I'd want to pay is $400, but it doesn't need to be anything really flashy. Just a nice camera that takes good pictures. Every place I look seems to have decent cameras at around that pricerange anyway, but the specs are just... confusing and I have no real idea what most of it means. Does anyone have a camera near that pricepoint that they can vouch for?

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    Knight_Knight_ Dead Dead Dead Registered User regular
    Personally, my favorite small compact camera is the S100. As long as you don't want crazy telephoto, the S100 is probably the best all round pocketcam imo. Good sensor, decent effective focal length min/max, and quite small.

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    Mmmm... Cocks...Mmmm... Cocks... Registered User regular
    To answer the question in the title (not really your question...) there is a point where megapixels become pretty useless.
    Most of the time its beyond what it needs to be just because "hey its a spec".
    You need a decent lens which usually isn't mentioned on those stupid spec sheets.

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    LanchesterLanchester Registered User regular
    edited June 2012
    One of my jobs through college was at a place selling cameras. I'm no expert, but I know enough to sell them.

    For your price range, megapixel and zoom will be the main things. You'll be talking point-and-shoot cameras and not the ones with the separate lenses.

    Megapixel is the amount of pixels in each picture taken. For example, if you have a 6 megapixel camera, your picture resolution is 3000 x 2000. Mmmm...Cocks... is right, you do plateau at some point with megapixels.

    The other thing is zoom. Make sure you get optical zoom and NOT digital zoom. Digital zoom is just like looking at a picture on your monitor and zooming in, it essentially is like cropping the picture and you lose those pixels you are no longer seeing. Thus, degrading the quality of your picture. The other common thing people don't realize is that they want a camera with a lot of zoom, which is fine...but the flash for those cameras only travel 10-15 feet, so if you ever want a lot of zoom and you're taking pictures in low light, your flash won't do anything for you.

    If you want to know more advanced stuff like aperture, just ask...but that usually is in regards to your lenses and ends up being out of your price range.

    EDIT: I highly recommend trying to get a camera that has some kind of image stability (Canon's point-and-shoots will have an IS in the model name, ie Canon Powershot 500 IS). It's basically something that helps stabilize the camera when you're trying to take a picture if you have shaky hands. The more you zoom, the more a little twitch in your finger while trying to take a picture could cause a blurry photo.

    Lanchester on
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    DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    Megapixels are a fucking meaningless term if what you're trying to determine is picture quality. I always use cnet for reviews on point and shoots.

    What is this I don't even.
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    LanchesterLanchester Registered User regular
    Darkewolfe wrote: »
    Megapixels are a fucking meaningless term if what you're trying to determine is picture quality. I always use cnet for reviews on point and shoots.

    I wouldn't go to the extreme of saying meaningless. It does have some influence, but definitely not as much as people think

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    SentrySentry Registered User regular
    http://xkcd.com/1014/

    Yeah, personally I use a Canon DSLR which I love, it's like, first generation and maybe 6 megapixels? But the quality is astounding. You can probably get an old used DSLR for around 400, and I'd probably recommend it, but otherwise I think checking CNET is a good idea too.

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    MagicToasterMagicToaster JapanRegistered User regular
    edited June 2012
    Lanchester wrote: »
    Megapixel is the amount of pixels in each picture taken. For example, if you have a 6 megapixel camera, your picture resolution is 3000 x 2000. Mmmm...Cocks... is right, you do plateau at some point with megapixels.

    An added point. The true value of Megapixels can be seen when creating physical prints. If you have a camera that can give you 3000px x 2000px output, you wont get the same quality when you print 4"x6" and 8"x12".

    MagicToaster on
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    DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    Lanchester wrote: »
    Darkewolfe wrote: »
    Megapixels are a fucking meaningless term if what you're trying to determine is picture quality. I always use cnet for reviews on point and shoots.

    I wouldn't go to the extreme of saying meaningless. It does have some influence, but definitely not as much as people think

    Well, it meant something when we were comparing 1 megapixel cameras with 2 megapixel cameras. It's not meaningful on any current, new camera, because it doesn't indicate what it purports to be marketing: how good the picture detail is.

    What is this I don't even.
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    fightinfilipinofightinfilipino Angry as Hell #BLMRegistered User regular
    if you're looking for suggestions on cameras, you can check out Digital Photography Review. (aside from having an...unfortunate URL) the site is very reputable among amateur and professional photographers alike.

    sounds like you're really looking for a simple point-and-shoot? you can't go wrong with the Canon Powershot IS cameras. great image quality, image stabilization, decent-to-good optical zoom, and relatively inexpensive.

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    tinwhiskerstinwhiskers Registered User regular
    I guess I'm wondering what you want this camera for. Because $400 is getting really close to the bottom edge of the DSLR camera range. You can get a cannon EOS Rebel T3 for $500 new at best buy-- or $600 for the T2i which is much better.

    It may be one of those things where you are better served looking for a used DSLR or saving rather than buying a not DSLR, so you haven't spent $300 that only does half of what you want it to do now that you really like this photography stuff.

    6ylyzxlir2dz.png
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    MalReynoldsMalReynolds The Hunter S Thompson of incredibly mild medicines Registered User regular
    I'm not a photographer; it's mainly for carrying around when I take trips places. There's a ton of good information in here, and I believe I am now well informed enough to make a non-foolish purchase.

    "A new take on the epic fantasy genre... Darkly comic, relatable characters... twisted storyline."
    "Readers who prefer tension and romance, Maledictions: The Offering, delivers... As serious YA fiction, I’ll give it five stars out of five. As a novel? Four and a half." - Liz Ellor
    My new novel: Maledictions: The Offering. Now in Paperback!
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    LanchesterLanchester Registered User regular
    edited June 2012
    Yeah, what are you wanting it for? If you want something that is more portable, then a SLR isn't in the cards. You really are right on the edge of low end DSLR's. SLR's far outweigh anything you could get in a point and shoot. Those will last longer (meaning they don't become obsolete as quickly), and you can upgrade easily by buying new lenses.

    Back to the picture quality conversation. Darkwolfe is right, we've pretty much hit that plateau point where megapixels just doesn't matter that much anymore. Lenses are what gives you quality pictures, not megapixels. That's why you see photographers and media (especially ones at a sporting event) that have lenses that are so big, they literally need a stand for it. I'd say, if you ever plan on doing a lot of photo editing (cropping) or printing big prints (16 x 20, poster sizes, etc.), then you'll need more megapixels.

    Personal opinion - get a DSLR if you can (you can always get better lenses in the future), but if you're looking for a good point and shoot; I'd suggest Canon. DON'T get Kodak or Casio. One of the reasons Kodak is going out of business is because they made terrible cameras. I saw more Kodak and Casio cameras come back broken then any other brand.

    Lanchester on
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    DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    A DSLR is too much of a pain in the ass to haul around when vacationing unless you're really passionate about taking good shots. Point and shoots take amazingly high quality photos these days. And still fit in your pocket.

    What is this I don't even.
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    GnomeTankGnomeTank What the what? Portland, OregonRegistered User regular
    edited June 2012
    DSLR's are amazing, but lets be honest: They aren't the most portable thing in the world. I have a Canon Rebel XTi, and it's amazing, but everywhere I take it I have to take a huge bag with me that contains my two lenses, space for the camera body, extra battery, extra memory cards (these are small of course, but it's crap to carry). Plus I am constantly worried about having the expensive lenses nicked out of the bag while I am trying to take a picture, or having the bug crashed in to and breaking one of the lenses or the camera body. It's just a headache unless I am setting up to take very nice pictures.

    I've been seriously considering grabbing a nice P&S for when I just want to go to the park and take pictures of my kid playing and stuff. I just don't always want to lug my DSLR with me everywhere.

    GnomeTank on
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    Oh c'mon FyreWulff, no one's gonna pay to visit Uranus.
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    MushroomStickMushroomStick Registered User regular
    Darkewolfe wrote: »
    A DSLR is too much of a pain in the ass to haul around when vacationing unless you're really passionate about taking good shots. Point and shoots take amazingly high quality photos these days. And still fit in your pocket.

    I was just about to post this. I have a DSLR and I take more pictures with my phone because the DSLR is just too much of a pain in the arse to haul around.

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    Sir CarcassSir Carcass I have been shown the end of my world Round Rock, TXRegistered User regular
    My wife recently got this and it's pretty awesome: http://www.amazon.com/Canon-Digital-Stabilized-2-7-Inch-Vari-Angle/dp/B005MTMFHU/ref=sr_1_69?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1340300549&sr=1-69&keywords=powershot

    It's a good midpoint between a point and shoot and a DSLR, to my unknowledgeable self.

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    TexiKenTexiKen Dammit! That fish really got me!Registered User regular
    I have a Canon Powershot SD1200 IS and coupled with a 2GB card it's all I need for 400 something photos. The auto focus is great, it's got a very good light sensor so it doesn't auto flash all the dang time and has good motion blur protection on non flash shots, and it's nice and compact so I can put it in my shirt pocket or back pocket and it's not cumbersome. I got it a few years ago for 200 bucks, whatever the current Canon equivalent is now would be my bet. I use my camera occasionally for work and mostly for standard photos and some trips, and it works perfectly. The battery is also very good, goes weeks without a charge.

    For reference I have had a few Kodak point and shoot digital cameras that all got worse with each new model and had way too much motion blur, and I had an Olympus P&S camera that was just the worst.

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    DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    @MalReynolds You might be interested in looking over this article. Learning the manual controls will let you take better shots. Having fixed buttons for manual controls is really nice, much better than using a touch-screen interface or tic-tac sized buttons to navigate an on-screen display to get to them. Having multiple control dials is huge. In case you cannot afford something with multiple control dials or lots of buttons for manual controls play around with the controls and interface and pick one that makes sense to you; personally I need to be able to quickly adjust aperture, ISO and shutter speed otherwise when using other peoples' cameras I'll just leave the thing in the auto mode that seems most appropriate (never really happy with that situation though).

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    SentrySentry Registered User regular
    Darkewolfe wrote: »
    A DSLR is too much of a pain in the ass to haul around when vacationing unless you're really passionate about taking good shots. Point and shoots take amazingly high quality photos these days. And still fit in your pocket.

    I was just about to post this. I have a DSLR and I take more pictures with my phone because the DSLR is just too much of a pain in the arse to haul around.

    Yeah, but the opposite is also true. You can get a lot of decent shots with an iphone, but for some quality shots I like having my DSLR. Although walking around with it is an absolute pain and just screams "I'm a tourist!" whenever you're in a major city. It's definitely not for everyone.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    wrote:
    When I was a little kid, I always pretended I was the hero,' Skip said.
    'Fuck yeah, me too. What little kid ever pretended to be part of the lynch-mob?'
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    MushroomStickMushroomStick Registered User regular
    Sentry wrote: »
    Darkewolfe wrote: »
    A DSLR is too much of a pain in the ass to haul around when vacationing unless you're really passionate about taking good shots. Point and shoots take amazingly high quality photos these days. And still fit in your pocket.

    I was just about to post this. I have a DSLR and I take more pictures with my phone because the DSLR is just too much of a pain in the arse to haul around.

    Yeah, but the opposite is also true. You can get a lot of decent shots with an iphone, but for some quality shots I like having my DSLR. Although walking around with it is an absolute pain and just screams "I'm a tourist!" whenever you're in a major city. It's definitely not for everyone.

    I think we can agree that, for your average person, a point and shoot that fits in their pocket can still take pretty damn nice pictures while being convenient enough to actually get used.

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    wonderpugwonderpug Registered User regular
    Knight_ wrote: »
    Personally, my favorite small compact camera is the S100. As long as you don't want crazy telephoto, the S100 is probably the best all round pocketcam imo. Good sensor, decent effective focal length min/max, and quite small.

    Seconding this. There are plenty of other good options as well to fit more specific wants/needs (I'd personally opt for the Olympus XZ-1 if I were in the market), but the Canon S100 is just a solid, awesome-performing camera that is great enough that you can indeed just blindly and confidently recommend it to people who say things like:
    • best value for the money;
    • the most I'd want to pay is $400,
    • doesn't need to be anything really flashy
    • Just a nice camera that takes good pictures.
    • I'm not a photographer
    • it's mainly for carrying around when I take trips places
    • specs are just... confusing and I have no real idea what most of it means.

    Just get the S100 and focus on enjoying your camera instead of fretting about how to choose one. :)

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    DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    Cameras don't take good pictures, people who know how to use cameras do. I haven't really found a camera with an auto mode that could take decent pictures outside of pretty specific lighting conditions. This isn't to say you cannot take good pictures with a compact P&S, you'll just need to figure out manual controls if you want to shoot outside of ideal lighting conditions, unless you're fine with the flash washing things out or making faces shiny. Also important is whether you're chronicling/archiving or trying to make visually compelling photographs. If you're just archiving experiences, any camera from a major camera brand set to auto everything will do.

    If it's predominantly used for travel you may want to look at a longer optical zoom. I find 4X optical to be fine for general purpose photography, but if you cannot get reasonably close to your subject then it's not going to take up much of the frame. Those superzooms aren't nearly as pocket-able though. I'm saving my bucks for this cause I'm sick of my photos being shitty phone pictures cause I never have my DSLR on me and the G1-X is a bit too large.

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    MalReynoldsMalReynolds The Hunter S Thompson of incredibly mild medicines Registered User regular
    Sentry wrote: »
    Darkewolfe wrote: »
    A DSLR is too much of a pain in the ass to haul around when vacationing unless you're really passionate about taking good shots. Point and shoots take amazingly high quality photos these days. And still fit in your pocket.

    I was just about to post this. I have a DSLR and I take more pictures with my phone because the DSLR is just too much of a pain in the arse to haul around.

    Yeah, but the opposite is also true. You can get a lot of decent shots with an iphone, but for some quality shots I like having my DSLR. Although walking around with it is an absolute pain and just screams "I'm a tourist!" whenever you're in a major city. It's definitely not for everyone.

    I have a midget on my payroll that takes care of screaming that for me pretty handily.

    I'm not looking for anything with a telescoping lens or anything like that; the S100 looks to be what I'm looking for. I've been traveling a bit and I'd like to take a few pictures of the places I've come across for experience archiving. Thank you everyone for the quick responses!

    "A new take on the epic fantasy genre... Darkly comic, relatable characters... twisted storyline."
    "Readers who prefer tension and romance, Maledictions: The Offering, delivers... As serious YA fiction, I’ll give it five stars out of five. As a novel? Four and a half." - Liz Ellor
    My new novel: Maledictions: The Offering. Now in Paperback!
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    Jimmy KingJimmy King Registered User regular
    My wife recently got this and it's pretty awesome: http://www.amazon.com/Canon-Digital-Stabilized-2-7-Inch-Vari-Angle/dp/B005MTMFHU/ref=sr_1_69?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1340300549&sr=1-69&keywords=powershot

    It's a good midpoint between a point and shoot and a DSLR, to my unknowledgeable self.
    My wife and I just bought one of those a few weeks ago. Neither of us know much about photography stuff either, but it seems to be a really good camera for the price. My only concern is that we've now spent about as much as we would've on a used dslr, have a camera that's nearly the size of a dslr (it is a bit smaller, and we don't have to carry around 5 lenses), but isn't quite as good.

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    asukoasuko Registered User regular
    If you're thinking about the S100 you should take a look at the Olympus TG-1 (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00803WNOK/). I'm taking mine to Hawaii for a few weeks and can't wait to get shots in the ocean and around waterfalls. It's pretty great for taking around traveling and as an added bonus it can take a bit of a beating.

    In previous travels I've used a Nikon D60 but I got tired of carrying around the DSLR bulk. Also it's nice not to worry about wrecking the lens when out and about.

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