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Camera Suggestions  
User currently offlineFlyer From Canada, joined May 1999, 32 posts, RR: 0
Posted (11 years 6 months 1 week 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 2383 times:

Hello everybody. I have steadily become really interested in aviation photography over the last few years but never really got serious till now. I am currently looking to upgrade my Olympus D-540 (3.2 MP with 3X optical zoom) to something with a higher resolution and better zoom (5 MP at least.) Is it better to go with a high resolution camera with a zoom of only 3X optical or is it better to get something that has a lower resolution but a higher zoom like 10X optical zoom? Optical image stabilizer I assume should be a must. I'm sorta on a budget and want something under 900 dollars. I just want a camera that will take really sharp, crystal clear images good enough to get on to airliners.net because the last 10 or so photos I have tried to submit with my current camera have been rejected mostly because the pictures are not that great quality. Something tells me airliners.net won't accept anything below 4 MP it seems so what is a good resolution to have to get accepted mostly? Of course, I haven't really experimented with my camera that much. I pretty much just point and shoot but I can't really see what else you can do to improve the image without a higher resolution. I get right up to the planes to without having to use any zoom on my camera and they still aren't acceptable. The problem is a lot of times, the pictures turn out kinda dark and sometimes grainy. Another problem is I get too close and parts of the plane are cut out so I also want a camera that can have a wide angle lens attached to it as well so that I don't get parts of the plane cut out. Again, I'm not looking at 1500 dollar cameras although that would be nice but I need to save that money for university and flying. One camera that I was looking at that fits my budget and seems to have good features is the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ20K. With 5 MP and a 12X optical zoom with optical image stabilizer, seems like a good price to me for those features but does anybody have any experiences with this camera and would it take good photos (to airliners.net standards?) A Nikon or Canon would be nice but the goods ones seem to be always on the pricey side. But does it have to be a 1000 dollar camera to have pictures accepted here?

9 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineMadViking From Canada, joined Jul 2003, 204 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (11 years 6 months 1 week 5 days 6 hours ago) and read 2363 times:

Flyer: I'm in the same boat. I saw that Panasonic Lumix in a Future Shop add last weekend retailing for about $550. CAD here in Toronto. However I'm leaning towards the Canon (don't know the model type) which is similar to the Panasonic with a 10X optical lens, image stabilizer and uses a compact flash memory card retailing for about the same price. What I really want is the Pentax Digital SLR as I have several lenses from my current Pentax SLR, but have to wait until the prices come down.

Correct me if I'm wrong but the Mega Pixel is not as important as the strength of the optical lens. The Canon in question is a 3.1 or 3.2 MP.

I'd go with the Canon, knowing it's reputation but I'd welcome anyone else's input. I bought the HP935 last year with 5.1 MP and a 3X optical lens and I am very disappointed with the results. And the battery consumption forces me to carry 2 sets of spares otherwise the day is a writeoff! A knowledgeable person at a camera store told be they were at a HP seminar where HP admitted to them the number of complaints and problems they have experienced and are now trying to produce a better product. Doesn't help me!

User currently offlinePhilhyde From United States of America, joined Aug 2003, 679 posts, RR: 1
Reply 2, posted (11 years 6 months 1 week 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 2359 times:

You've got a lot of questions, but let me give you some advice. Until recently I was in the market. I settled on the Canon Powershot Pro1.

First of all, don't get hung up on the megapixel spec. Case in point - some very respected cameras - Canon Digital Rebel (300D), EOS 10D and Nikon D70 - have 6MP ratings. In all practicality, you don't really need more than 5-6MP with today's technology.

A little technical review - a higher MP rating will not always produce "better" pictures. The CCD sensor in your camera is a square microchip with sensor dots - the number of dots on the CCD the resolution in pixels. A 2MP CCD has 2 millions sensors on the CCD. The maximum possible size of the picture (1600x1200) is constrained by the size of the CCD.

Now, the reason that a higher MP rating will not get you better pictures is because of the size and compactness of the lens found on most point-and-shoot (non-SLR) cameras. The crux of the problem - the size of the CCD is limited by the size of the image that the lens can project on it. What this means in practice is that you can get more noise at higher ISO levels with a higher MP point-and-shoot camera.

This point is illustrated by comparing the results achieved with a digital SLR camera, like the Digital Rebel. Even though it is rated at 6MP, which upon subjective examination is not very "high", it gets much better results because of the increased size of the lens (and CCD).

Now some practical advice. The camera that I settled on was the Canon Powershot Pro1. I have to interject that I was buying used. Before the Canon, I purchased a Minolta Dimage A1. I took the best advice, which was to shop around and buy the camera that felt right, not necessarily the one with the best spec. The A1 was a 7x zoom (200mm equivalent) and 5MP. It felt good in my hand and had superior auto-focus performance when compared with the Nikon Coolpix 5700. I was extremely pleased with the camera, but I had to return it due to a failure of the image stabilizing circuit.

I took the A1 back and was able to "upgrade" to the Canon Powershot Pro1 for a total price of $600 (this is a $1000 camera new). It was a few months old and on consignment, plus for that price I got two extra batteries and a 256MB card.

The Canon (current top-of-the-line point and shoot) is an 8MP camera with 7X zoom (200mm eq.), and has adjustable ISO level, and anything above ISO50 produces noise on lower light situations. However, in good light I am very pleased with the results, and the overall quality is much better than the Minolta. The lens on the Pro1 is Canon's "L" series, which is their best.

In closing, my advice is to explore the market and find what you like. If you can swing one of the ~$1100US Canon Digital Rebel packages, you might be happier in the long run. Those cameras take such good pictures without much effort. I really thought I had settled on the Coolpix 5700 until I realized how slow the AF was and the fact that it just felt bad in your hand. By contrast, the Pro1 feels, well, like a professional camera.

HoustonSpotters Admin - Canon junkie - Aviation Nut
User currently offlineFlyer From Canada, joined May 1999, 32 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (11 years 6 months 1 week 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 2337 times:

The thing I thought is that I don't necessarily need a camera with a powerful zoom because I usually take pictures of planes on the ground and I'm usually right up close to them on the tarmac so its not a matter of zooming in on the plane but the quality of the photo but does a powerful zoom change that?

A Canon Digital Rebel would be fantastic if only it didn't cost so much. This is more a hobby and I don't think I should be spending that much if I don't plan on making this a professional career or something because only people who are that serious would spend that. I am serious but its kinda silly that I would buy such a expensive camera for solely the purpose of taking pictures of airplanes just to get them on here. Unless I was going to take photos for National Geographic, I would not be too sure it would be worth it. Isn't there a good camera out there where I can take just as good photos and get them hosted here without having to pay over 1000 dollars? I love this hobby, but for the cost of that camera is a half year at university for me.

User currently offlineFlyer From Canada, joined May 1999, 32 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (11 years 6 months 1 week 4 days 17 hours ago) and read 2303 times:

Here's the most recent photos I took. Please tell me what's wrong with them. They both said "bad quality" and one said "bad motiv" what ever that means.

[Edited 2004-11-16 16:09:32]

User currently offlineFlyer From Canada, joined May 1999, 32 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (11 years 6 months 1 week 4 days 17 hours ago) and read 2296 times:

Or view the full size photos. Those didn't look so good.


[Edited 2004-11-16 16:18:38]

User currently offlinePhilhyde From United States of America, joined Aug 2003, 679 posts, RR: 1
Reply 6, posted (11 years 6 months 1 week 4 days 16 hours ago) and read 2285 times:

If only you want a camera to take close up pictures when you are physically on the ramp, then I would say that you don't necessarily need something as fancy as a DRebel or even the Pro1. As with any purchase, it makes sense to set a budget and get the most you can within that amount. In my case, the $600 I spent on the Pro1 was flat out the most I could spend on a camera. Most of the nicer point-and-shoot models seem to have nice zooms (7-10x) anyways and in the end you want the most optical zoom you can get. Even if you don't want it, it's better to have when you need it. To address one of your initial questions, I would rather have a 3MP camera with 10x zoom than a 6 MP camera with 3x zoom.

HoustonSpotters Admin - Canon junkie - Aviation Nut
User currently offlinePhilhyde From United States of America, joined Aug 2003, 679 posts, RR: 1
Reply 7, posted (11 years 6 months 1 week 4 days 16 hours ago) and read 2282 times:

To address your photos, the second one I assume is bad motive. Here is some explanation:


Upon quick inspection, both photos appear grainy and the second one is a bit dark. The top one I could also see getting rejected for ramp clutter (that might be badmotive also).

HoustonSpotters Admin - Canon junkie - Aviation Nut
User currently offlineStaffan From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (11 years 6 months 1 week 4 days 14 hours ago) and read 2271 times:

Resize the photos to a smaller size and learn how to post-process them in photoshop or similar program before you upload them. No camera I know of will give you photos that don't need any post-processing before publishing.


User currently offlineFlyer From Canada, joined May 1999, 32 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (11 years 6 months 1 week 4 days 12 hours ago) and read 2264 times:

I have adobe Photoshop 7.0 and use it before I submit my photos but I'm some what illiterate to the program and defiantly need lots of help fixing up photos on there. About the only thing I know how to do is auto levels and colors and things like that because its just a click of the mouse. In Photoshop, can you actually sharpen the image to make it look like it has a better resolution? When I'm saving the photo, the Jpeg options window comes up and asks me how big I want the file to be from low to maximum. I think its the Jpeg compression page and I know this plays an important role in how your photo will end up looking like. If anybody here has Photoshop 7.0, I need lots of help using it.

I guess I'll have to see if I can get a camera with a better zoom. Or maybe I should get a little bit of both? I actually read somewhere on another thread here that a guy has the same camera I do and he gets his pics accepted all the time. If that can happen, then my camera should be able to do it too. I once got a photograph accepted on jetphotos.net that was taken with a 2 MP camera with no optical zoom and yet they too have yet to accept any of my recent photos taken with my 3.2 MP camera.

Again, the only camera I could really find that doesn't cost a fortune and has both decent MP and a great zoom is the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ20K. It actually has a 12X optical zoom so its better than most other cameras but I know Panasonic doesn't specialize in cameras like Canon or Nikon do but Panasonic is a good brand in most of their other electronics so I can somewhat assume their cameras are pretty good but does anybody have experiences with this camera and would it be worth it? The cost makes me think to I mean, we live in a society in where you get what you pay for meaning mostly, the more expensive something is, the better quality it is but does it just cost less because of the name?

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