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Thread: thoughts of a digital newbie

  1. #1

    thoughts of a digital newbie

    While I've been digitalizing and processing old pics and slides for some time now, it was only about 3 months ago that I got a digital camera. This was for all the usual reasons, plus increasing dissatisfaction at the declining standard of film processing (esp. in the UK; Germany is better).
    My old camera was an OM-1. I decided I needed something reasonably lightweight (so no dSLR), but I had about 400 euros to spend. I also absolutely needed a viewfinder, because I cannot see a distant scene and a screen with the same pair of glasses. A viewfinder also helps stability (and horizon straightness) from the way you have to hold the camera. While my ambitions go well beyond just 'point and shoot', I am very much an amateur. So in the end I decided on a bridge camera, and got a Canon SX40 HS, with which I've taken about 600 photos (i.e. more than in the last three years with the OM-1.)
    A digital camera takes some getting used to. The viewfinder image is cluttered, but at least you see what you're going to get. On Automatic, except in very standard lighting, the exposure is quite wrong (too bright). So I only use Manual, which is a bit fiddly, and it's far too easy to change settings you didn't intend to change. Greens and greys tend sometimes to be (much) too blue, esp. if there's a lot of orange in the picture, but that doesn't really matter as I've processed about 10,000 digitalized images and know my way around. The autofocus is mostly reliable, but not if you take a shot in a hurry. The manual focus is very difficult to use, and I only use it for astronomical photos where the AF has problems finding the motif. The zoom (to 810mm) is fantastic and vastly increases the versatility of the camera. It has enabled me among other things to photograph Jupiter with its moons, and to produce outstanding shots of the Moon. I suspect I am going to miss the very shallow depth of focus I could get with the OM-1, but all in all, I think the quality of the pics is as good. As with most modern devices, about 80% of the facilities are surplus to my requirements. I don't need video, nor do I need 'correction for mercury vapour street lighting' (!).

  2. #2
    tbob's Avatar
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    Re: thoughts of a digital newbie

    The rot has already set in if you are questioning colour rendition and autofocus. Soon you will feel the tug and pull of "maybe if I had a slightly more capable camera". Then the vortex will suck you in.

  3. #3
    Mito's Avatar
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    Re: thoughts of a digital newbie

    It's incurable. Once the "umm if's" start, lookout. I speak from experience.

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    Re: thoughts of a digital newbie

    Welcome to the digital world
    If the camera is consistently over-exposing you will find a menu where you can adjust it to under-expose from what IT thinks is correct ...I usually have my camera set to minus one stop to avoid burning out wanted highlight detail.
    The other quick way is to when taking half trigger to include more sky [brightness] in viewfinder so camera stops down ... once you get the 'ready' confirmation you lower camera for the shot you want ...After using various bridge cameras this half-trigger technique is second nature ... though these days cameras are so quick to focus it is a matter of a split second.
    Usually these cameras have a variety of viewfinder options from just the image to the cluttered 'image plus settings info' so the answer is in the menus again
    I used P mode when I bought my latest camera .. it has so many bells and whistles that I was scared that I might set it wrong ... until I got to know it a bit better.
    YES ... I took more photos in the first five months of digital than in the previous twenty years of film. even though back then it cost a packet it didn't cost what those 20 years of film had and I was getting consistently better results compositionally with the flexibility of the zoom lens.
    A big difference between film and digital is that with digital you also have the editor as a companion tool to the camera instead of being locked into what the film lab produces for you. Even though one can scan and adjust with film as hyou say you have been doing.
    I cannot imagine using film again, unless to simply use up the film stocks in my fridge the past decade ... though some drool over it
    Finally you are lucky with your bridge camera that you do not suffer from the 'interchangeable lens sickness' ... that of wondering continually what extra lens to buy [ and arn't they so expensive] ...I have mild attacks of it now I have changed to M4/3 but with buying a x10 lens I know I don't HAVE to change lenses, so don't really need to buy any. If I want to indulge there is my MFT to M42 adaptor and my legacy lenses to ease the pain
    Last edited by jcuknz; 28th December 2012 at 07:11 PM.

  5. #5

    Re: thoughts of a digital newbie

    Quote Originally Posted by tbob View Post
    The rot has already set in if you are questioning colour rendition and autofocus. Soon you will feel the tug and pull of "maybe if I had a slightly more capable camera". Then the vortex will suck you in.
    I doubt it. The autofocus has failed me three times out of 600 (apart from the astro pics, which puts unusual demands on it), and the colour rendition not very often. With my old camera, after I digitalized the images, I adjusted the colour in maybe 15% of the pictures. With the new camera the problem has arisen five or six times (i.e. 1%), and I've learnt how to correct it very quickly. I've grown used to pictures 'as shot' being imperfect; with the new camera I have about 15 technically imperfect pictures out of 600. Obviously out-of-focus pics can't be corrected, but I had more when I focused manually.

    I'm not saying this camera is the bee's knees. But I think you'd have to pay at least 10 times as much for something 20% (optically & electronically) better. I would not trust this camera if I wanted to take sports photos (which I don't), and as yet I have no idea how good its macro function is (not really my thing). But I can take an 810mm lens up a mountain without noticing it -- that is a huge gain.

  6. #6

    Re: thoughts of a digital newbie

    Quote Originally Posted by jcuknz View Post
    Welcome to the digital world
    If the camera is consistently over-exposing you will find a menu where you can adjust it to under-expose from what IT thinks is correct ...I usually have my camera set to minus one stop to avoid burning out wanted highlight detail.
    I notice the over-exposure in shade (e.g. in woodland scenes), at dusk, and at low light indoors. The camera clearly thinks all pics ought to look as if they've been taken in broad daylight. But I've simply gone over to manual -- it's slower, and you have to make sure you don't press the wrong side of the wheel by mistake. But you can see in the viewfinder what the picture will look like lightwise, and as long as you're not in a hurry, it's no great problem.

  7. #7

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    Re: thoughts of a digital newbie

    You need not go into manual mode to change exposure, as the exposure compensation is right under your thumb. By pressing the four way button up (+/-) and rotating the wheel, you may set the camera to expose more or less, and it is clearly visible in the viewfinder. It is a very fast method of making the camera expose the picture differently than the automatic setting.

    There's also a nifty addition to most of Canon's p&s cameras, CHDK, with which you may see live histogram, live warning for over- or under-exposure, and it also lets you save RAW files. That software can do many more tricks, as capture lightning or run programs for various tasks, as focus stacking and other things. PowerShots have more power than many people think.

  8. #8

    Re: thoughts of a digital newbie

    Quote Originally Posted by Inkanyezi View Post
    You need not go into manual mode to change exposure, as the exposure compensation is right under your thumb.
    This is no faster than Manual mode, and in addition, gives you less information. At least with Manual you know what your aperture and shutter speed are. The problem with the wheel on this camera is that even slight excess pressure will launch a menu you don't want. And I find the P setting altogether pointless, frankly.

  9. #9

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    Re: thoughts of a digital newbie

    P for Pointless, A for Advanced...

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