Trying to decide among these cameras - would love some insight

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Jim S., Dec 4, 2003.

  1. Jim S.

    Jim S. Guest

    I am getting ready to get my first digital camera and want something
    that is simple to use, but is also fully featured. I am on the fence
    about needing manual focus. Anyway, I am trying to decide between
    these, and I would love any info that compares/contrasts/reviews or
    ranks them:

    Minolta DiMAGE G500
    Canon PowerShot A80
    Nikon Coolpix 4300
    Kodack Easyshare 6490
    Kodack Easyshare 6440

    Also, I am in the dark about quite a few things, such as the benefit of
    having JPEG, TIFF and RAW formats. I am also concerned about battery
    life and whether or not a rechargeable is the way to go over simple AA,
    which would eliminate the Canon.
    Anyway, I am a newbie, so be gentle! :)

    Also, what is the difference between regular memory and "flash" memory?
    Pathetic, I know...

    TIA!
    --
    Jim S.
    Jim S., Dec 4, 2003
    #1
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  2. Jim S.

    CR Optiker Guest

    On Thu, 04 Dec 2003 22:15:38 GMT, Jim S. wrote:

    > Minolta DiMAGE G500
    > Canon PowerShot A80
    > Nikon Coolpix 4300
    > Kodack Easyshare 6490
    > Kodack Easyshare 6440
    >
    > Also, I am in the dark about quite a few things, such as the benefit of
    > having JPEG, TIFF and RAW formats. I am also concerned about battery
    > life and whether or not a rechargeable is the way to go over simple AA,
    > which would eliminate the Canon.

    Jim...

    First off, I suspect others will direct you to http://www.dpreview.com/,
    which seems to be the preferred review site. There are also others. If you
    go there, maybe the quickest and most concise ways to compare cameras is
    the "Side by Side" feature in the links listed in the left sidebar. That
    lets you select several cameras and lists their specs in adjacent columns.
    However, you will find that it may be a little confusing if you don't
    understand a lot of the terminology. That said, try the link "Glossary" in
    the same sidebar and see if that helps or confuses.

    Relative to formats...RAW, JPEG, TIFF, I'll see if I can help there.

    RAW is the raw data from the sensor, without the internal image processing
    and standard formatting applied. In generally, unless you read and process
    it through the software viewer that comes with the camera, it's useless.
    The advantage is that you have available the image data without anybody
    else's preferences (the camera manufacturer) superimposed...no sharpening,
    noise reduction, color balance, etc. I would guess that a beginner wouldn't
    have much use for it...maybe when you get to be a fanatical purist. :)

    TIFF is an uncompressed format (though there are comnpresseed TIFF formats,
    but I'm not sure if any of the digital cameras use them) and so there are
    no losses of data as occurs with some other compressions - JPEG for
    example. It is an old standard format, and it typically results in a large
    file. However, if you intend to do any image editing or other processing of
    your own - contrast enhancement, significant resizing, touchup, others -
    it's best to start with a high resolution TIFF image. If you will primarily
    be doing snapshots with minimal image editing or processing, you don't
    really need TIFF images. Personally, in my professional work, as a digital
    imaging scientist, I ALWAYS record a TIFF image and save it as a read-only
    archived image (never to be altered), and make a working copy from it when
    I want to make changes.

    Remember too, it won't be long before you take a look at an iamge and think
    to yourself "...if I'd just composed that to eliminate that (whatever) at
    the side, it would have made a better picture." That's when you'll start
    cropping to imporve your pictures and appreciate high resolution images.

    JPEG is a "lossy" compressed format. You generally will have at least a
    couple of JPEG format compressions available - for example JPEG and FINE
    JPEG, or maybe also EXTRA FINE JPEG, but I see the Kodak shows only a JPEG
    still image foramt. If you'd saved and downloaded a TIFF image, you could
    then save a copy as a JPEG, and most viewers or image editing software
    would allow you to select a compression level. On a scale of 0 to 100 with
    100 being minimal compression (largest files) and 0 maximum compression
    (smallest files), I find that for most purposes, 75 or 80% is a reasonable
    compromise that still gives adequate quality for many of my purposes.

    The major difference is file size. For example, for the Minolta DiMAGE
    G500, at highest resolution, with a 64 MB memory card, you can store about
    30 images at FINE compression quality, but about 51 at NORMAL quality.

    All that said, I recently bought a 5 MP camera with RAW, TIFF and three
    JPEG compressions available at full resolution. On a 256 MB card, I'd get
    33 RAW, 17 TIFF, 50 JPEG EXTRA FINE, 98 JPEG FINE, and 166 JPEG STANDARD
    images. I've found that at least for the present, I'm satisfied with the
    JPEG FINE images which are around 2 MB each. I will probably eventually go
    to the EXTRA FINE for most images and be quite satisfied, but if I used it
    at work, would probably get a bigger card and save everything in TIFF.

    I looked at some of the cameras you are considering early on in my search
    that ended with the Minolta DiMAGE A1, and some in my search for a camera
    for my daughter that's currently leaning towards the Canon A80. I
    eliminated the Kodak 6490 early on from my list because it didn't offer a
    format other than JPEG - no TIFF or RAW. That's probably OK for you. I was
    very impressed with it's user friendliness. In fact, when my wife picked it
    up and turned it on, she said it was the first digital she was able to
    quickly and easily take pictures with without getting confused.

    It looks like you aren't overly concerned about whether it's compact,
    medium or SLR-like since those are all represented. You might take a quick
    look at some of the long zoom cameras, although if you stick with the price
    range and want 5 MP, it will be tough to find one, but the A1's 7X optical
    zoom was one of the points in its favor, and I think you'd really have fun
    with a long zoom.

    For my daughter, I settled on 3 MP or 4 MP being enough for her needs, so
    settled on a short list of the Canon A80, Fuji FPS5000, Minolta DiMAGE
    S414, and Oly C740. These all run from 3+ to 4+ MP with 3X, 4X and 10X
    zooms. All can be had at either Costco Online or Amazon for anywhere from
    $300 to a little over $400.

    Since it's a surprise gift, the problem is guessing her priorities...would
    she like an apple or an orange :) ...that is to say, 10X zoom or compact
    size. That's the big issue. Compact size are 3X or 4X zoom, and the 10X
    zooms are more SLR-like, with the Oly a little less so.

    Have fun. I'm sure others will come in with some help on your questions.

    Optiker
    CR Optiker, Dec 4, 2003
    #2
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  3. Jim S.

    Jim S. Guest

    CR Optiker,
    I can't thank you enough for the long, detailed response. Many, many
    thanks. And I will be sure to go to dpreview.com and check it out.
    Thanks so much for the info!
    --
    Jim S.
    Jim S., Dec 5, 2003
    #3
  4. Jim S.

    Ben Thomas Guest

    Jim S. wrote:
    > I am getting ready to get my first digital camera and want something
    > that is simple to use, but is also fully featured. I am on the fence
    > about needing manual focus. Anyway, I am trying to decide between
    > these, and I would love any info that compares/contrasts/reviews or
    > ranks them:
    >
    > Minolta DiMAGE G500
    > Canon PowerShot A80
    > Nikon Coolpix 4300
    > Kodak Easyshare 6490


    I have the DX6490 and love it. Even though it doesn't offer any file formats
    than JPEG, the image quality is excellent! TIFF and RAW are all well and good
    if you don't want to take many photos before you have to download them to a PC
    or xdrive (portable battery powered hard drive that reads flash memory cards).
    I've noticed some people saying recently that it's very hard to tell the image
    quality difference between TIFF and JPEG from some cameras, and that the JPEG
    images look fantastic when printed up to A4 size. Sure JPEG might not be as good
    at A3 size, but is that your main concern? Not mine.

    I can upload some photos I've taken with my Kodak DX6490 for you decide if the
    JPEGS are good enough.

    --
    --
    Ben Thomas - Software Engineer - UNICO Computer Systems
    Melbourne, Australia

    Opinions, conclusions, and other information in this message that do not
    relate to the official business of my employer, UNICO Computer Systems,
    shall be understood as neither given nor endorsed by it.
    Ben Thomas, Dec 5, 2003
    #4
  5. Jim S.

    Roy Guest

    On Thu, 04 Dec 2003 22:15:38 GMT, "Jim S."
    <> wrote:

    <snip>

    > I am also concerned about battery
    >life and whether or not a rechargeable is the way to go over simple AA,
    >which would eliminate the Canon.


    I'm a happy owner of an A80. I'm not sure what you mean by your
    statement above, but the fact that the Canon takes AAs is an
    advantage, in my opinion.

    I have three sets of rechargeable NiMH AA batteries, although two
    would have easily sufficed. They work well and economically, at 2200
    mAh, they last quite a long time even with constant flash and display
    use. You'll find that NiMH batteries are not that expensive anymore
    and easy to find. And if you happen to run out of juice somewhere
    despite carrying spare sets, you can always hop into a drugstore and
    get a set of disposable AAs if you need to keep taking pictures. Not
    an option with a proprietary battery pack.

    >Also, what is the difference between regular memory and "flash" memory?


    If you mean RAM as "regular memory", then that doesn't retain data
    stored in it after power is removed. Flash memory is non-volatile
    "RAM" in that it'll keep the data without power. Unlike an EEPROM, it
    has a rewrite lifespan that's much greater (virtually limitless as far
    as real use is concerned) and also has very fast write cycles in
    comparison.

    Roy
    Roy, Dec 5, 2003
    #5
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