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Need Digital Camera Advice  
User currently offlineJohnJ From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 1662 posts, RR: 2
Posted (11 years 11 months 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 3791 times:

Hello:

I'm considering the purchase of a digital camera. I've had poor luck in getting submissions to a.net published; out of about 50 submissions I only have two photographs on this site. I currently shoot print film with a Nikon N50 and an HP scanner, using Photo Shop for retouching. I remember in the past there was a fairly strict no digital photo policy here, but that seems to have been relaxed lately, I assume due to the improvement in the quality of this technology.

So, here are a few questions for those of you "in the know".

-First of all, will I improve my chances of getting photos accepted by purchasing a high-quality digital camera vs. using my current method of print film with a scanner?

-What is the best consumer-grade camera that would be suitable for this purpose? In particular, I've been looking at some of the Nikon Coolpix models.

-One of my other hobbies is railroad photography, and I've heard that digital cameras are unsuitable for that purpose due to shutter delay. It's tough to get a shot of a 100 m.p.h. train when the shutter doesn't fire at the exact moment you hit the release. The same will hold true with aviation photography. Is this still a problem on the higher-end cameras?

-How much memory should I plan on purchasing?

18 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineUngoMongo From Denmark, joined Aug 2001, 146 posts, RR: 1
Reply 1, posted (11 years 11 months 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 3759 times:

Hi JohnJ

If you watch some pictures here on the site, you'll see, that it's not a problem to catch fast moving objects. Remember incoming airplanes come in fast. So if it's possible to catch fast moving aircrafts, then it should be possible to catch fast moving trains too. But okay, some digital cameras have shutter delay like the Olympus C-700, which I sold. If you really would like nice results, then you should consider a DSLR. I know, they are expensive, but it's a nice piece of equipment.

Regards,

Kenneth



Becoming a dad is the greatest.
User currently offlineClickhappy From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 9644 posts, RR: 68
Reply 2, posted (11 years 11 months 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 3761 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW
PHOTO SCREENER

John -

What would your budget be? I would start with the camera, maybe something like a Nikon Coolpix 5700 or a Sony F707. You can always add more memory later.

As for film, I would think shooting slides would be an easier way to higher quality, vs. shooting prints.

Royal


User currently offlineJohnJ From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 1662 posts, RR: 2
Reply 3, posted (11 years 11 months 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 3748 times:

Thanks for the info, guys. My budget is $1000 or under.

As for slides, that's a medium I really haven't experimented much with. Don't I need a special (and expensive) scanner for slides? At any rate, I think I really have my heart set on digital, as I'll have other uses for the camera besides shooting plane and train pix.


User currently offlinePhotopilot From Canada, joined Jul 2002, 2769 posts, RR: 18
Reply 4, posted (11 years 11 months 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 3738 times:

Well I hate to rain on the parade, but getting photos accepted to A.net has nothing to do with the camera (digital or film) or the film (slide or print) at all. Each is simply a different recording media to work with.

Plain and simple it has to do with the photographer. Yes there is no doubt that every type of camera has limitations but all too often we find ourselves falling into the trap of saying to ourselves....."I could have got that shot if only I had "X" piece of equipment". But you can NEVER have it all, nor stagger under the weight of having it all, even assuming you can afford to have it all.

So learn to work within the technical limitations of what you do have. 95% of good photography is all about composition, timing, good exposure, and really "seeing" a photo in your mind before you press the shutter.

I have photos on A.net taken with Hasselblad (6x6 cm film), 35mm, fisheye, telephoto, 2 meg pixel digital and even a "pocket" 35mm camera with print film. My 2 megapixel digital (Nikon Coolpix 950) does have about a half-second shutter delay, but despite that, 23% of my A.net photos were taken with it. I just found a viewpoint where that silly half-second didn't matter and I have learned to time the peak moment better. Anticipate ! ! !

But please don't fall into the blame the equipment trap. It's too easy an excuse. If in 50 attempts you only have 2 acceptances, it for sure says that you are not taking a critical enough look at your own work. Instead, it sounds like you are living on the "hope" that the shot will make it. I don't have a lot of images on A.net, but whenever I do submit a photo I virtually know that it will be accepted. I have only had one single reject for an acceptance rate of over 95%. And I was indeed surprised at the one that didn't make it, but upon a harsher self-critique, I could see where the screeners were coming from.

Sorry if I sound like I'm on a soapbox, but I really do believe that equipment isn't the answer.

thanks
Steve


User currently offlineJohnJ From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 1662 posts, RR: 2
Reply 5, posted (11 years 11 months 2 days ago) and read 3726 times:

I'm far from a master photographer, but most of my photos seem to get rejected for scanning issues. And I will agree that in many instances my scans are a bit on the grainy side, by virtue of my use of print film. So at least the scanning portion of the rejections should largely be eliminated by shooting digital.

Getting photos on a.net isn't the only reason I'm buying a digital camera, but I figure if a camera is recommended by the individuals on this board who have had success getting pictures published with it, it must be a decent piece of equipment.


User currently offlineDC-10 Levo From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 3432 posts, RR: 3
Reply 6, posted (11 years 11 months 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 3710 times:

Here are a few recommendations from my post earlier:

http://www.airliners.net/discussions/aviation_photography/read.main/65269/4/

DC-10


User currently offlineBenyhone From United States of America, joined Mar 2001, 206 posts, RR: 3
Reply 7, posted (11 years 11 months 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 3705 times:

"...but I really do believe that equipment isn't the answer. "

That statement is very misleading. True, good photographs have more to do with the photographer & subject, than the equipment it was taken with. But, to get photos accepted on A.net, you have to have top-quality digital photography equipment. A perfect pin-sharp full-sun slide will get rejected if the scan of it turned out grainy or unsharp. That's purely an equipment issue, not the photographer. It's also why I have very few photos on this website, as my scanning & digital equipment is not up to A.net standards ... not because of my photography skills.

As for a camera recommendation, a friend (Jeremy Irish) just purchased a Nikon Coolpix 4500, and he is VERY pleased with it. His latest photos on A.net and on our website were shot with this camera.

Terry
Cactus Wings.com



Cactus Wings Photography, Phoenix
User currently offlinePhotopilot From Canada, joined Jul 2002, 2769 posts, RR: 18
Reply 8, posted (11 years 11 months 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 3697 times:

Hi Terry:

I was talking about the camera equipment, and not venturing into the realms of scanning equipment.

I own a flatbed scanner which when properly calibrated yields good results that are acceptable here on A.net.

For the chromes that I shoot and want digital files, I use a commercial pro-lab and have them drum scanned. This costs a minimum of $25.oo (Canadian Dollars - .64 USD) for a 25 meg scan (their minimum scan size) and upwards of $100.oo for a full 100 meg scan. But if I think the image is worth it, then I have the drum scan made. When you're spending your OWN money for these scans, you by nature become a very harsh critic of what you will send for scanning. It better be a tack-sharp original with spot-on exposure.

< But, to get photos accepted on A.net, you have to have top-quality digital photography equipment. > Sorry Terry, but simply not true. A full 75% of my images posted are shot originally on film, both chrome and neg.

< A perfect pin-sharp full-sun slide will get rejected if the scan of it turned out grainy or unsharp. > I agree with this totally which is why I spend what I think i necessary to ensure a top level scan. But that is a scanning equipment issue or scanning cost issue, and not what the original post asked, which was to go film or digital.

Digital cameras skip the scanning step, so in the present moment of time they are more convenient and offer images at a lower unit cost. But only up to a point. No digital camera can top a good transparency properly drum scanned.

So my end comments would be that if you want to shoot and submit a few absolute top quality images, then go transparency and drum scan and damn the expense. If you want to submit lots of images useful for A.net but not of the ultimate high quality of film, then go digital. It's the consumers choice. But either way, it is not the equipment that makes a great image, it is the photographer and his ability to see.

thanks
Steve


User currently offlineLjungdahl From Sweden, joined Apr 2002, 908 posts, RR: 36
Reply 9, posted (11 years 11 months 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 3694 times:

Not true.

As Steve pointed out, the photographer is 95% of the result.

Nowaydays, I have quite some photos accepted here on A.net...

http://www.airliners.net/search/photo.search?photographersearch=Johan%20Ljungdahl&distinct_entry=true

...and I do not have this top-quality digital photography equipment...

It's your skills that create the great photos, not the expensive equipment.

Maybe unfair, but true.  Big grin

Johan



User currently offlineJohnJ From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 1662 posts, RR: 2
Reply 10, posted (11 years 11 months 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 3687 times:

"So my end comments would be that if you want to shoot and submit a few absolute top quality images, then go transparency and drum scan and damn the expense. If you want to submit lots of images useful for A.net but not of the ultimate high quality of film, then go digital. It's the consumers choice."

My goal is not to produce absolute top-quality images and I'm not willing to part with $20 for a drum scan just to get a picture published on this site. However, if there is a digital camera available that will be good for general-purpose home use and has the added benefit of producing pictures of high enough quality that they're acceptable here, that's what I'm looking for. I agree that the photo composition and subject matter are up to me and that's where the real skill is involved, but at this point it seems most of my rejects are due to scanning issues. My hope is that the digital camera will circumvent that restriction so I can concentrate on shooting better pictures, not creating better scans. I like to take pictures. Scanning is grunt work to me.


User currently offlineCkw From UK - England, joined Aug 2010, 745 posts, RR: 16
Reply 11, posted (11 years 11 months 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 3653 times:

But, to get photos accepted on A.net, you have to have top-quality digital photography equipment.

Utter rubbish. Every day I screen and accept images which have been scanned from prints on a flat bed scanner. True, a lot will get rejected. But I also reject shots taken with the latest DSLRs.

Yes there is a higher rate of acceptance from those using top end DSLRs, but you must also realise that these are also the people to whom photography is a major part of their lives, have years of experience and a good eye ... for many A.net is only a small part of their photographic lives.

Most rejections are for reasons other than the equipment used - poor basic technique (eg. shot is out of focus, badly composed) or poor post processing.

I would strongly advise anyone not to upgrade their equipment in the belief that you will suddenly get high acceptance on A.net. Even an average 35mm SLR is and a reasonable scanner is more suited to quality aviation photography than most digital cameras bar top end DSLRs - IF you are willing to invest the time in the post-processing.

Cheers,

Colin






Colin K. Work, Pixstel
User currently offlineBenyhone From United States of America, joined Mar 2001, 206 posts, RR: 3
Reply 12, posted (11 years 11 months 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 3637 times:

"...But, to get photos accepted on A.net, you have to have top-quality digital photography equipment.."

By 'equipment' I also meant film scanners. Basically - the means from getting a film image to a digital image. I did not intend to say that just because you have a digital camera your image will be accepted - that's obviously not true. But - similarly, just because you have ramp access at a sunny airport will your image get accepted either. You've got to GET the image to the screeners somehow!

I'm not criticizing the A.net standards - I'm just pointing out that with low-end equipment (again, either a low-end digital camera or low-end scanner, doesn't matter) you will have a harder time getting images accepted. I'm also pointing out that because of the high professional standards that A.net has, the 'image quality' plays a very significant part in whether a photo is accepted, sometimes even if the photo itself is a beautiful shot. Owners of high-end digital cameras will have a somewhat easier process to get images accepted just by nature of their cameras.

At the end of the day, I'd rather see the top-quality photos on A.net than have the screeners accept my mediocre scans. Then again, I'm not into judging my photographic ability (or budget) by the number of photos I have on the website.

Terry
Cactus Wings



Cactus Wings Photography, Phoenix
User currently offlineStaffan From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (11 years 11 months 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 3638 times:

"I'm just pointing out that with low-end equipment (again, either a low-end digital camera or low-end scanner, doesn't matter) you will have a harder time getting images accepted."

With a 17-year old camera and a low-end film scanner, I have no problems getting stuff past the screeners. I'll admit, it was hard in the beginning, but once I learnt how to scan and properly process the scans, it all went with ease.
Photgraphic eqiupment is never better than the person using it.

Staffan


User currently offlineAAGOLD From United States of America, joined Nov 2002, 548 posts, RR: 50
Reply 14, posted (11 years 11 months 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 3626 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

In my experience I have found that digital images from high-end DSLR cameras do have a better chance of getting accepted. However, it's not necessarily because of the camera. Previously I was shooting with 30-year old Nikon FTN's. Great cameras that have served me well for years. Pictures I shot with those cameras using slide film were scanned with an HP PhotoSmart S20, a decent slide scanner (but not the best). The problem with the equation was the amount of post processing each picture took. When you take into account blemishes from developing and other factors introduced during the scanning process it would take upwards of 30 to 40 minutes per picture to get one ready to submit to A.net. And, then, the acceptance rate for those I submitted probably was about 30%.

I also had a Nikon CP995 which I used. The post processing required was much less, but the acceptance rate was still very low. The CP 995 is an excellent camera to take vacation photos, but it's not suited for aviation photography. The focus mechanism was slow and difficult to use, the processing time to store a single TIF was at least 30 to 45 seconds making it impossible to shoot more than one picture of each plane, and the zoom lens was terrible. Even so when this camera was new (last year) it was selling for $900. I still managed to get some photos accepted taken with the camera, but not many.

I have recently purchased a Nikon D100 and am extremely happy with it. The quality is excellent with just minor post processing. Auto-focus is fast and efficient enough and I can get up to five or six shots of a plane capturing the images in RAW. Needless to say my acceptance rate has skyrocketed because the images require much less post processing work where the opportunity to introduce imperfections is increased.

Before you spend that next $1,000 think long and hard if the camera is suitable and professional quality. That's what you're looking for. I don't know the camera you're considering, but compare its specs with the Cannon D60 and Nikon D100 for starters to see where it falls.

Art


User currently offlinePPGMD From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 2453 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (11 years 11 months 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 3617 times:

AAGOLD, you expected too much of the CP995, it's a great camera for someone that wants true control and expirementation, but for actions shots, you had to be prepared, and accept that you won't always get the shot. I shot the CP995 at a local car race and got several very good pictures, but I would only take up to two pictures a lap.

A question why were you shotting TIFFs?

I have shot close to 3000-4000 shots with that camera and never saw the need. Still shooting it now, I love it to death. Quite a few of my pictures on a.net right now are from that, but for the most part I use this for my everyday experimentation photography.

Now if given the chance I would jump on a D100, since it would end my relaiance on film.



At worst, you screw up and die.
User currently offlineAAGOLD From United States of America, joined Nov 2002, 548 posts, RR: 50
Reply 16, posted (11 years 11 months 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 3614 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

PPGMD, having roots in photography for many years I really didn't purchase the digitals as serious cameras. The original DC210 and CP995 were purchased as an alternative to carrying around a suitcase full of heavy 35mm and lenses, something for family and vacation to point and shoot. It wasn't until I got reinvolved in commercial aviation photography that I began to want and demand a more professional digital camera. You said it yourself, you could only take two pics per lap. That's not acceptable in an action setting and I'd be williing to bet you'd like to take more if possible.

I, too, love the CP995 for a lot of everyday, run of the mill photo ops, but it isn't suitable for aviation photography in my opinion even though I have a number of shots that were accepted by A.net and taken with that camera.

I was shooting TIFF to get the best possible quality for working in any software program. TIFF maintains much more info about the photo than JPG and, therefore, should yield better results when manipulating them during post processing.

I guess one thing I really hated about the DC210 and CP995 is that it wasn't shaped like a real camera. At least with the D100 I know I'm holding a real camera in my hands. I found the shape of the CP995 particularly difficult to hold steady when pressing the shutter. I neve got used to that.

Art


User currently offlinePPGMD From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 2453 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (11 years 11 months 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 3609 times:

Its good you asked never got use to it, because I have no problem hand holding it down to 1/8s reliably, and 1/2s with good luck. I have even hand held it down to a full second.

It was the first camera that I expirimented with for just about anything, wether it was multi-flash photography, or night exposures.


1 second hand held



At worst, you screw up and die.
User currently offlineAAGOLD From United States of America, joined Nov 2002, 548 posts, RR: 50
Reply 18, posted (11 years 11 months 12 hours ago) and read 3576 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

PPGMD,

You're right, it is a great camera capable of a lot of things, but the fact remains that there are some things it's not, again in my opinion, good for. I've taken some good pictures with the CP995, here's a few ...

Aircraft pictures ...


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Art Brett


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Art Brett



And a hand held night shot ...



and even some macro work that turned out nicely ...



But I couldn't take 4 or 5 shots at the highest quality level of the same approaching aircraft, nor did it offer the lens flexibilty of an SLR and, again, the telephoto on the camera itself I found useless. If you can be satisfied with these limitations then the CP995 is a great camera. I do have the fisheye for the CP995 and have gotten some interesting shots with it. I've heard some good reports about the 5700, but have no experience with that camera.

Good luck with your pics ...

Art


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