Move up to an SLR for this project?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by mailbox@cpacker.org, Mar 9, 2007.

  1. Guest

    I'm starting a major project in
    which I'll shoot a lot of landscape
    images in raw format, archive them,
    and process them in various ways.
    I bought an Olympus SP-350 for the
    proof-of-principle stage of this
    project because it was the cheapest
    that produced raw-format images and
    also worked with a freeware time-lapse
    controller, which, as it turned out,
    I didn't use.

    But so far the SP-350 has met my needs in
    terms of flexibility and control (except
    for zoom convenience, which I complained
    about in another thread). Given that the
    Olympus SLRs have about the same megapixels
    as the SP-350, I would move up -- to any
    make of SLR, for that matter -- only if I
    knew that an SLR would produce obviously
    better images, for reasons of optics or
    whatever. Has anybody here had any experience
    with both species of camera to have an
    opinion on this?

    --
    Charles Packer
    http://cpacker.org/whatnews
    mailboxATcpacker.org
     
    , Mar 9, 2007
    #1
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  2. wrote:

    > But so far the SP-350 has met my needs in
    > terms of flexibility and control (except
    > for zoom convenience, which I complained
    > about in another thread). Given that the
    > Olympus SLRs have about the same megapixels
    > as the SP-350, I would move up -- to any
    > make of SLR, for that matter -- only if I
    > knew that an SLR would produce obviously
    > better images, for reasons of optics or
    > whatever. Has anybody here had any experience
    > with both species of camera to have an
    > opinion on this?


    You will essentially always see a significant image quality difference
    between small-sensor and DSLR cameras. The DSLR lenses generally make
    *another* significant difference.

    I can't, however, comment on the SP-350 specifically.

    I'd suggest you look at the sample pictures posted in reviews at
    dpreview.com, if they have a full review of the SP-350. That'll give
    you pictures taken of identical subjects under controlled conditions,
    and you should be able to reach a fairly informed judgment on whether
    the upgrade is worth the money for what you're doing.
     
    David Dyer-Bennet, Mar 9, 2007
    #2
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  3. Guest

    On Mar 9, 5:12 pm, wrote:
    > I'm starting a major project in
    > which I'll shoot a lot of landscape
    > images in raw format, archive them,
    > and process them in various ways.
    > I bought an Olympus SP-350 for the
    > proof-of-principle stage of this
    > project because it was the cheapest
    > that produced raw-format images and
    > also worked with a freeware time-lapse
    > controller, which, as it turned out,
    > I didn't use.
    >
    > But so far the SP-350 has met my needs in
    > terms of flexibility and control (except
    > for zoom convenience, which I complained
    > about in another thread). Given that the
    > Olympus SLRs have about the same megapixels
    > as the SP-350, I would move up -- to any
    > make of SLR, for that matter -- only if I
    > knew that an SLR would produce obviously
    > better images, for reasons of optics or
    > whatever. Has anybody here had any experience
    > with both species of camera to have an
    > opinion on this?
    >
    > --
    > Charles Packerhttp://cpacker.org/whatnews
    > mailboxATcpacker.org


    Well, this question has been discussed to death in this newsgroup many
    times, but just to give you a basic rundown:

    A digital SLR will give you the following advantages over a compact
    camera:

    - The option to use much higher quality lenses than what's available
    on a compact camera.

    - Greater dynamic range.

    - Much better low light (high ISO) performance.

    - Greater control over the depth of field.

    - Much shorter shutter lag.

    If you're only shooting well-lit landscapes that don't have deep
    shadows or bright highlights, you might be OK with a compact camera.
    But in general, yeah, an SLR will give you noticeably better pictures.

    -Gniewko
     
    , Mar 9, 2007
    #3
  4. Guest

    On Mar 9, 5:58 pm, David Dyer-Bennet <> wrote:
    > wrote:
    > > But so far the SP-350 has met my needs in
    > > terms of flexibility and control (except
    > > for zoom convenience, which I complained
    > > about in another thread). Given that the
    > > Olympus SLRs have about the same megapixels
    > > as the SP-350, I would move up -- to any
    > > make of SLR, for that matter -- only if I
    > > knew that an SLR would produce obviously
    > > better images, for reasons of optics or
    > > whatever. Has anybody here had any experience
    > > with both species of camera to have an
    > > opinion on this?

    >
    > You will essentially always see a significant image quality difference
    > between small-sensor and DSLR cameras. The DSLR lenses generally make
    > *another* significant difference.
    >
    > I can't, however, comment on the SP-350 specifically.
    >
    > I'd suggest you look at the sample pictures posted in reviews at
    > dpreview.com, if they have a full review of the SP-350. That'll give
    > you pictures taken of identical subjects under controlled conditions,
    > and you should be able to reach a fairly informed judgment on whether
    > the upgrade is worth the money for what you're doing.


    Good suggestion. Also, Flickr recently added a feature that lets you
    search for pictures based on what camera they were taken with. That's
    a good way to see what's possible with different cameras (accounting
    for differing levels of photography skills, of course).

    -Gniewko
     
    , Mar 9, 2007
    #4
  5. wrote:

    > Good suggestion. Also, Flickr recently added a feature that lets you
    > search for pictures based on what camera they were taken with. That's
    > a good way to see what's possible with different cameras (accounting
    > for differing levels of photography skills, of course).


    Ah, that's a good idea. I used something similar (on pbase.com, I
    think) to decide which ultra-wide zoom to use; I searched for photos
    taken in the 12-24mm range and considered what lenses they were taken with.
     
    David Dyer-Bennet, Mar 9, 2007
    #5
  6. Mark² Guest

    wrote:
    > On Mar 9, 5:58 pm, David Dyer-Bennet <> wrote:
    >> wrote:
    >>> But so far the SP-350 has met my needs in
    >>> terms of flexibility and control (except
    >>> for zoom convenience, which I complained
    >>> about in another thread). Given that the
    >>> Olympus SLRs have about the same megapixels
    >>> as the SP-350, I would move up -- to any
    >>> make of SLR, for that matter -- only if I
    >>> knew that an SLR would produce obviously
    >>> better images, for reasons of optics or
    >>> whatever. Has anybody here had any experience
    >>> with both species of camera to have an
    >>> opinion on this?

    >>
    >> You will essentially always see a significant image quality
    >> difference between small-sensor and DSLR cameras. The DSLR lenses
    >> generally make *another* significant difference.
    >>
    >> I can't, however, comment on the SP-350 specifically.
    >>
    >> I'd suggest you look at the sample pictures posted in reviews at
    >> dpreview.com, if they have a full review of the SP-350. That'll give
    >> you pictures taken of identical subjects under controlled conditions,
    >> and you should be able to reach a fairly informed judgment on whether
    >> the upgrade is worth the money for what you're doing.

    >
    > Good suggestion. Also, Flickr recently added a feature that lets you
    > search for pictures based on what camera they were taken with.


    Pbase allows image viewing based on camera model also.
    Millions of images in many cases...


    --
    Images (Plus Snaps & Grabs) by Mark² at:
    www.pbase.com/markuson
     
    Mark², Mar 10, 2007
    #6
  7. On Mar 9, 4:12 pm, wrote:
    > I'm starting a major project in
    > which I'll shoot a lot of landscape
    > images in raw format, archive them,
    > and process them in various ways.
    > I bought an Olympus SP-350 for the
    > proof-of-principle stage of this
    > project because it was the cheapest
    > that produced raw-format images and
    > also worked with a freeware time-lapse
    > controller, which, as it turned out,
    > I didn't use.
    >
    > But so far the SP-350 has met my needs in
    > terms of flexibility and control (except
    > for zoom convenience, which I complained
    > about in another thread). Given that the
    > Olympus SLRs have about the same megapixels
    > as the SP-350, I would move up -- to any
    > make of SLR, for that matter -- only if I
    > knew that an SLR would produce obviously
    > better images, for reasons of optics or
    > whatever. Has anybody here had any experience
    > with both species of camera to have an
    > opinion on this?
    >
    > --
    > Charles Packerhttp://cpacker.org/whatnews
    > mailboxATcpacker.org


    I would say that landscape photography is one of the least likely to
    need an SLR. The SLR is more of a must for things like macro
    photography, where you must see the actual optical focus to view the
    depth of field, and to eliminate viewfinder parallax.

    With landscape photography, you usually are not worried about depth of
    field, and you are far enough away that parallax error is no concern.

    Yes, a more expensive camera may have better optics, but that is not
    an SLR vs non-SLR issue. Admittedly with an interchangable lens SLR
    you have more flexibility in what lens you use. But in daylight
    landscape photography you generally can use a tripod, and medium
    aperture settings, which does not stress lens performance.
     
    Don Stauffer in Minnesota, Mar 10, 2007
    #7
  8. Scott W Guest

    On Mar 9, 12:12 pm, wrote:
    > I'm starting a major project in
    > which I'll shoot a lot of landscape
    > images in raw format, archive them,
    > and process them in various ways.
    > I bought an Olympus SP-350 for the
    > proof-of-principle stage of this
    > project because it was the cheapest
    > that produced raw-format images and
    > also worked with a freeware time-lapse
    > controller, which, as it turned out,
    > I didn't use.
    >
    > But so far the SP-350 has met my needs in
    > terms of flexibility and control (except
    > for zoom convenience, which I complained
    > about in another thread). Given that the
    > Olympus SLRs have about the same megapixels
    > as the SP-350, I would move up -- to any
    > make of SLR, for that matter -- only if I
    > knew that an SLR would produce obviously
    > better images, for reasons of optics or
    > whatever. Has anybody here had any experience
    > with both species of camera to have an
    > opinion on this?
    >
    > --
    > Charles Packerhttp://cpacker.org/whatnews
    > mailboxATcpacker.org

    You did not give enough information to really know how much gain there
    would be for you to move to a DSLR. When I got a 20D I did a number
    of comparisons between it and my Sony F828, both camera are 8MP. The
    20D pretty much blew the F828 out of the water for image detail as
    well as having a lot less noise. Even using just the cheap kit lens
    the 20D still was way sharper then the F828. However making 8 x 10
    prints with both it takes a very close look to tell the difference,
    both make very sharp prints at that size.

    It really depends on what you are going to do with the images, if you
    are going to be viewing them at the pixel level then a DSLR will
    likely be a lot sharper.

    I also note that the SP-350 does not go very wide, so this might be
    another good reason to get a DSLR.

    In the end it really comes down to what you are after in your images.

    Scott
     
    Scott W, Mar 10, 2007
    #8
  9. Guest

    On Mar 10, 10:54 am, "Don Stauffer in Minnesota"
    <> wrote:
    > I would say that landscape photography is one of the least likely to
    > need an SLR. The SLR is more of a must for things like macro
    > photography, where you must see the actual optical focus to view the
    > depth of field, and to eliminate viewfinder parallax.
    >
    > With landscape photography, you usually are not worried about depth of
    > field, and you are far enough away that parallax error is no concern.
    >
    > Yes, a more expensive camera may have better optics, but that is not
    > an SLR vs non-SLR issue. Admittedly with an interchangable lens SLR
    > you have more flexibility in what lens you use. But in daylight
    > landscape photography you generally can use a tripod, and medium
    > aperture settings, which does not stress lens performance.



    This is what I was wondering about, whether an SLR
    would make a enough of a difference in landscape
    photography to make it worth the money. I'll be
    using a tripod, it will be daylight (always close to
    noon, in fact), and the trees I'm shooting will
    be a couple of hundred feet away. The only concern
    I have is sharpness. I'm basically satisfied with the
    sharpness I've got, but I don't want to miss out on
    the opportunity to improve it if it can be done.
    The SP-350's narrowest aperture is F8. Suppose I had
    an even narrower aperture and I compensated with
    longer shutter time. Isn't that supposed to
    compensate for any deficiencies of the lens?

    As for the Web sites with pictures from different
    cameras -- they all look great!

    --
    Charles Packer
    http://cpacker.org/whatnews
    mailboxATcpacker.org
     
    , Mar 11, 2007
    #9
  10. J. Clarke Guest

    wrote:
    > On Mar 10, 10:54 am, "Don Stauffer in Minnesota"
    > <> wrote:
    >> I would say that landscape photography is one of the least likely to
    >> need an SLR. The SLR is more of a must for things like macro
    >> photography, where you must see the actual optical focus to view the
    >> depth of field, and to eliminate viewfinder parallax.
    >>
    >> With landscape photography, you usually are not worried about depth
    >> of field, and you are far enough away that parallax error is no
    >> concern.
    >>
    >> Yes, a more expensive camera may have better optics, but that is not
    >> an SLR vs non-SLR issue. Admittedly with an interchangable lens SLR
    >> you have more flexibility in what lens you use. But in daylight
    >> landscape photography you generally can use a tripod, and medium
    >> aperture settings, which does not stress lens performance.

    >
    >
    > This is what I was wondering about, whether an SLR
    > would make a enough of a difference in landscape
    > photography to make it worth the money. I'll be
    > using a tripod, it will be daylight (always close to
    > noon, in fact), and the trees I'm shooting will
    > be a couple of hundred feet away. The only concern
    > I have is sharpness. I'm basically satisfied with the
    > sharpness I've got, but I don't want to miss out on
    > the opportunity to improve it if it can be done.
    > The SP-350's narrowest aperture is F8. Suppose I had
    > an even narrower aperture and I compensated with
    > longer shutter time. Isn't that supposed to
    > compensate for any deficiencies of the lens?


    Smaller aperture gives you more depth of field, not more sharpness. For
    a small sensor point-and-shoot you probably want to be shooting at
    around f/4, for an APS-C DSLR around f/8. Beyond that you start losing
    sharpness again due to diffraction.

    http://www.photozone.de has many lens reviews--if you look at them
    you'll see a consistent pattern--sharpness increases with reduced
    aperture to a point then starts decreasing again--where exactly that
    point occurs depends on the lens and the camera.

    They also have links to their test software (I don't recall now whether
    there's a free trial or what the limits are if there is)--you could make
    up a test chart and profile your own camera to see where it hits its
    peak sharpness.

    --
    --
    --John
    to email, dial "usenet" and validate
    (was jclarke at eye bee em dot net)
     
    J. Clarke, Mar 11, 2007
    #10
  11. Jim Guest

    wrote:
    > I'm starting a major project in
    > which I'll shoot a lot of landscape
    > images in raw format, archive them,
    > and process them in various ways.
    > I bought an Olympus SP-350 for the
    > proof-of-principle stage of this
    > project because it was the cheapest
    > that produced raw-format images and
    > also worked with a freeware time-lapse
    > controller, which, as it turned out,
    > I didn't use.
    >
    > But so far the SP-350 has met my needs in
    > terms of flexibility and control (except
    > for zoom convenience, which I complained
    > about in another thread). Given that the
    > Olympus SLRs have about the same megapixels
    > as the SP-350, I would move up -- to any
    > make of SLR, for that matter -- only if I
    > knew that an SLR would produce obviously
    > better images, for reasons of optics or
    > whatever. Has anybody here had any experience
    > with both species of camera to have an
    > opinion on this?
    >
    > --
    > Charles Packer
    > http://cpacker.org/whatnews
    > mailboxATcpacker.org
    >


    This is my experience with this point, I have owned a Nikon CP8700 (8MP)
    for several years and I now have a D80 (10MP).

    The D80 delivers images that are sharper and crisper. This fits in with
    the conventional wisdom. The 8-10 MP difference is not much.

    But the difference between the two cameras shrinks quite a bit if your
    work flow includes an editor with some sort of sharpening, I use unsharp
    mask in the GIMP editor but they all work and a bit of gamma and or
    color tweaking.

    An issue you don't mention but might consider is how the camera handles
    - can you get "in sync" with it? I tried a Pentax before I settled on
    the Nikon and it handled a little better than the Nikon - a number of
    the common operations were easier & more natural on the Pentax. You
    want to be able to be consistent with the camera you end up with for
    this job.

    Jim
     
    Jim, Mar 11, 2007
    #11
  12. Mark² Guest

    J. Clarke wrote:
    > wrote:
    >> On Mar 10, 10:54 am, "Don Stauffer in Minnesota"
    >> <> wrote:
    >>> I would say that landscape photography is one of the least likely to
    >>> need an SLR. The SLR is more of a must for things like macro
    >>> photography, where you must see the actual optical focus to view the
    >>> depth of field, and to eliminate viewfinder parallax.
    >>>
    >>> With landscape photography, you usually are not worried about depth
    >>> of field, and you are far enough away that parallax error is no
    >>> concern.
    >>>
    >>> Yes, a more expensive camera may have better optics, but that is not
    >>> an SLR vs non-SLR issue. Admittedly with an interchangable lens SLR
    >>> you have more flexibility in what lens you use. But in daylight
    >>> landscape photography you generally can use a tripod, and medium
    >>> aperture settings, which does not stress lens performance.

    >>
    >>
    >> This is what I was wondering about, whether an SLR
    >> would make a enough of a difference in landscape
    >> photography to make it worth the money. I'll be
    >> using a tripod, it will be daylight (always close to
    >> noon, in fact), and the trees I'm shooting will
    >> be a couple of hundred feet away. The only concern
    >> I have is sharpness. I'm basically satisfied with the
    >> sharpness I've got, but I don't want to miss out on
    >> the opportunity to improve it if it can be done.
    >> The SP-350's narrowest aperture is F8. Suppose I had
    >> an even narrower aperture and I compensated with
    >> longer shutter time. Isn't that supposed to
    >> compensate for any deficiencies of the lens?

    >
    > Smaller aperture gives you more depth of field, not more sharpness.


    I'm not sure that's necessarily true.
    Most lenses perform best, sharpness-wise, when stopped down 2 to three stops
    from wide open. This has nothing to do with DOF. You could be shooting the
    same flat target, and you'll almost invariably get sharper results when
    stopped down a bit.

    I suspect this would also be true with small-sensor cameras, since it's a
    lens characteristic, and not a sensor characteristic.
    --
    Images (Plus Snaps & Grabs) by Mark² at:
    www.pbase.com/markuson
     
    Mark², Mar 11, 2007
    #12
  13. Guest

    On Mar 11, 11:46 am, Jim <> wrote:
    > But the difference between the two cameras shrinks quite a bit if your
    > work flow includes an editor with some sort of sharpening, I use unsharp
    > mask in the GIMP editor but they all work and a bit of gamma and or
    > color tweaking.
    >
    > An issue you don't mention but might consider is how the camera handles
    > - can you get "in sync" with it? I tried a Pentax before I settled on
    > the Nikon and it handled a little better than the Nikon - a number of
    > the common operations were easier & more natural on the Pentax. You
    > want to be able to be consistent with the camera you end up with for
    > this job.


    I won't rule out sharpening by software if I
    can "legitimize" it to myself in the context of
    what I'm doing, but I'll cross that bridge when
    I come to it.

    The handling issue is turning out to be a factor.
    I want the exact same zoom for each scene, which
    I'll be shooting on successive days. The way I get
    this with the SP-350 is to zoom to maximum focal
    length and then give the spring-loaded lever a
    predetermined number of quick pushes to back out
    that number of steps and no more. I'll be able to
    decide in the next few days whether this is
    practical.

    --
    Charles Packer
    http://cpacker.org/whatnews
    mailboxATcpacker.org
     
    , Mar 12, 2007
    #13
  14. Guest

    On Mar 11, 10:35 am, "J. Clarke" <> wrote:
    > wrote:
    > Smaller aperture gives you more depth of field, not more sharpness. For
    > a small sensor point-and-shoot you probably want to be shooting at
    > around f/4, for an APS-C DSLR around f/8. Beyond that you start losing
    > sharpness again due to diffraction.
    >


    Interesting. I had assumed that there was no lower limit to aperture,
    thinking that the less area of the lens to contribute to distortion,
    the
    better.

    --
    Charles Packer
    http://cpacker.org/whatnews
    mailboxATcpacker.org
     
    , Mar 12, 2007
    #14
  15. wrote:
    > On Mar 11, 10:35 am, "J. Clarke" <> wrote:
    >> wrote:
    >> Smaller aperture gives you more depth of field, not more sharpness.
    >> For a small sensor point-and-shoot you probably want to be shooting
    >> at around f/4, for an APS-C DSLR around f/8. Beyond that you start
    >> losing sharpness again due to diffraction.
    >>

    >
    > Interesting. I had assumed that there was no lower limit to aperture,
    > thinking that the less area of the lens to contribute to distortion,
    > the
    > better.


    It's why a lot of the small-sensor cameras have a smallest opening of f/8.
    This, coupled with the limited maximum opening, reduces the range of
    apertures available. Of course, some recent DSLR zoom lenses have maximum
    openings of f/5.6 at the tele end, so are similarly restricted in
    range.....

    Cheers,
    David
     
    David J Taylor, Mar 12, 2007
    #15
  16. Scott W Guest

    On Mar 12, 12:39 am, wrote:
    > On Mar 11, 11:46 am, Jim <> wrote:
    >
    > > But the difference between the two cameras shrinks quite a bit if your
    > > work flow includes an editor with some sort of sharpening, I use unsharp
    > > mask in the GIMP editor but they all work and a bit of gamma and or
    > > color tweaking.

    >
    > > An issue you don't mention but might consider is how the camera handles
    > > - can you get "in sync" with it? I tried a Pentax before I settled on
    > > the Nikon and it handled a little better than the Nikon - a number of
    > > the common operations were easier & more natural on the Pentax. You
    > > want to be able to be consistent with the camera you end up with for
    > > this job.

    >
    > I won't rule out sharpening by software if I
    > can "legitimize" it to myself in the context of
    > what I'm doing, but I'll cross that bridge when
    > I come to it.
    >
    > The handling issue is turning out to be a factor.
    > I want the exact same zoom for each scene, which
    > I'll be shooting on successive days. The way I get
    > this with the SP-350 is to zoom to maximum focal
    > length and then give the spring-loaded lever a
    > predetermined number of quick pushes to back out
    > that number of steps and no more. I'll be able to
    > decide in the next few days whether this is
    > practical.


    It would seem that a DSLR with a fixed focal length lens would be
    perfect for what you are looking at. The cost is really getting
    pretty low for a setup like this.

    Scott
     
    Scott W, Mar 12, 2007
    #16
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