Very confused beginner
Hi everyone,.

I am a newbie - so please forgive the dumb questions..

I am trying to replace my Canon SD410 which was stolen. I do love the idea of Nikon D40 but fear it is a little out of my realm of usage plus a little expensive. A friend of mine uses the SD700 IS but thought there might be something more up to date. Another friend says that P & S are a waste of time and I should just get the D40. Ugh!.

Any help, suggestions would be really appreciated..


Comments (23)

Unless you specify what you'd like to be photographing and how be it social gatherings, sporting events, birds, flowers, landscapes, paintings, et al and your constraints for instance, does it have to be small and light? budgetary issues? you're far from guaranteed to get useful advice. There's a tendency on this forum for people to reflexively recommend what they themselves have chosen, but their criteria are not necessarily the same as yours..

For instance, if you're shooting in low light a lot, the SLR paired with a reasonably fast lens will usually have quality advantages, but this isn't even necessarily true, because if the low light is happening at a show, you may be prohibited from bringing anything as large as a D40. If you're shooting birds on a shoestring budget, the long telephotos for an SLR may be out of reach compared to a superzoom...

Comment #1

Sorry about that told you I was I newbie!.

With my SD410 I took pics of gatherings, friends, vacations, etc. I would love to get more technical eventually, but at this point, I am still in the learning stages. Most of the time the photos are stored on my PowerBook and occasionally shared on facebook or the like. I was partial to Canon in the past because they were easy to use and were compatible with the Mac. Budget wise I would like to stay in the 300 range if that is possible. If not, and the recommendations are that I spend a bit more and I will get so much more then I will just have to save a bit more..

Thanks again...

Comment #2

If I may join the discussion here I would recommend that you look for another P&S but with a complete set of manual functions..

Mastering the manual functions will allow you to discover how technical you want to get and what that adds to the results you can get..

By the time you end up saying 'I wich my camera could do this' you may also be ready to look at more expensive and more complicated gear..

My liking goes towards Canon and Panasonic but I'm sure there are other cameras which deserve your attention...

Comment #3

Thanks! Do you have a model recommendation???? That is where I seems stuck...

Comment #4

Please understand, using a d-slr is no more difficult than using a d-P&S. All d-slrs have One or more simple "program" modes or "crative modes". that argument shuld not disuade you from the choice..

Generally, the advantage of any d-slr over almost all P&Ss are (not in any preference):Larger sensor, means more highlight and shadow detail.More accurate meter readings.More forgiveness of mistakes by the photographer.More flexibility and adaptability.Shoot in more light or less light (quite often).Less contaminating "noise" that P&Ss.Van..

Comment #5

To balance another poster's listing of advantages of the dslr:.

A dslr body will cost more than a whole high-end point and shoot camera. And then you have to buy lenses. Good lenses typically cost more than an entry level body..

Look at the Canon S3 IS. This is a "prosumer" level camera with a superzoom lens and video good enough that some people have sold off their video camera. (No, it's not the full equal of current video cameras, but the convenience of everything in one package balances that for many uses.) It is presently available at very favorable prices since it has been superceded by the S5 IS. Also, in Canon, look at the A640, which has been superceded by the A650 IS. In both cases you can get a lot of camera for the money because the new model is now out there. I'm sure there are analogous deals available with other manufacturers..

WillWill PrattBarrick Museum, UNLV..

Comment #6

If you've ever missed shots because your camera doesn't focus the split second the action is happening then yes, go for the dslr. I used my p&s over the weekend and it was so frustrating waiting for the focus lamp to indicate ready. However, I needed it for movie mode which the dslr can't do..

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Comment #7

You could look at the Ricoh Caplio GX100 or the Canon PowerShot G9. These are the two cameras that DSLR users often use when they aren't using their DSLR..

Of the two, I'd go for the Ricoh, because it has a wider angle lens.You name it, I've broken it...

Comment #8

Around the house we have a Canon A520 and a Panasonix LX-2..

Have a look at a Canon A640 with a swivel out LCD. It is very nice and does not cost much..

My Panasonix LX-2 costs a bit more but, besides all the normal manual settings, it also does RAW, which is why bought it.I can't say much about other brands (unless I repeat what I read of course)..

When I have trouble deciding I write down the list 'must have','nice to have' and 'why not' features and eliminate candidates which don't fit the bill.From there things become easier...

Comment #9

I've (not too long ago) made the move from a very good P&S ($300+) to DLSR (D40x). And now, I'm saving up for a D300 (or D200) because I will want to take my shots to the next level as far as camera technical ability and convenience so that I can concentrate more on the shot..

If you feel that P&S cameras don't shoot quick enough for you (shutter press to picture taking time), then DSLR will help you there..

If you want more control over what you can do with your shots (creativeness), then DSLR will help you..

If you're happy with the way your pics come out and with the performance with a P&S, then get a very good P&S..

If not; then, DSLR is like getting a Corvette when you've been driving a Camaro; is a Corvette in your budget?. Are you willing to pay for the higher octane and demands of the Corvette (more care/expensive lenses and accessories)?.

YOU have to weigh the benefits of the Corvette over the Camaro and determine if you want to put the effort, time and $ into the Corvette, for which you'll get better handling and performance (better capability of clear vivid shots, and more control with a DSLR). I say capability, because anyone with enough money can have a Corvette (or expensive DLSR), but still won't put the effort, skill or dedication to use it effectively..

Look at some of the pics you've taken and look at the quality of the pics that are posted here (in all fairness, look at the quality, not the composition - composition is a personal thing that only you can get better at, regardless of the camera)..

You have to make the decision whether to step up to the next level..

It's nothing bad if you're happy with the pics your P&S gave you - I've taken some great shots with my old Kodak 6340 P&S. In fact, I look at some of those pics, and am surprised at how good some of those pics really are (IMWHO - In My Warped Humble Opinion ..

Your needs and goals are the most important thing here - not the camera..

DSLR will give you more flexibility, control, and quality capability of the photo over P&S..

**** Warning: DLSR ownership may influence "DSLR Accessory Purchase Syndrome", which can be very rewarding, but also very expensive .



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Comment #10

I completely understand and appreciate everything you said I just wish I knew wish P & S to go with!!!..

Comment #11

Sounds like a trip to Wal-Mart, Cir City, Best Best, etc is in order. Some place you can pick up the camera and see if you like shooting with it. Check the return policy and go from there..

Good luck and write us back on what you bought...

Comment #12

Hey Trafalgar,.

First off - being a newbie is great because you get the wonderful experience of learning and achieving new things. Never be ashamed of asking questions .

I went about buying my camera a bit backwards..

I had a Olympus 300z. It took great pictures, but it was a bit too automatic for me. I wanted to be able to set focus, aperture, exposure manually. I had a look at some catalogues from the local camera stores and got a Fujifilm s6500fd on the basis that it manual controls and was nicely priced (AU$350). Only afterwards did I read much about photography (and by sheer luck it turns out that the s6500 is quite a nice camera :> ).

Digital cams generally go like this:* Small Compact - Light little rectangles you can take anywhere.

* Advanced Compact (or "Bridge") - Cameras with a DSLR like shape without the interchangable lenses. Bigger lenses, zoom, more manual settings. The ACs have a much more of a feeling of DSLR-like control without DSLR-quality or price..

* D-SLRs - total control over your camera.

Once you get out of the small compact range you're looking at cameras that don't fit in a pocket - so an early question is "Are you willing to carry around a larger bag (camera bag or backpack) when you might want to take photos?". If not find yourself a nice small compact. They take good photos (as you'd know from your s410) and a lot of them have manual modes to give you a bit more control and get a taste for exposure, aperture, iso. Zoom gets pretty high on these in recent models..

If you're looking at a larger camera budget starts to come in - When you say 300, are you talking US dollars, pounds, or vietnam dong? .

Advanced compacts range from US$150 - US$600 and are sometimes called Bridge cameras in that they give you a tantilizing taste of DSLR control. They hopefully have better lenses than the small compacts and better low light options (bigger lenses grabbing more light)..

They can usually take movies (which I don't think most DSLRs do much) and should be able to take filters (bits of glass that let you take special types of shots). They come with a fixed lens that can't be removed, but these can have quite good quality and zoom range (up to x10 odd) and if you're really keen you can usually find converter and telephoto attachments that screw into the lens thread (although I'd be saving my money for a DSLR at that stage). If you're going for a bridge camera also look for RAW picture capability (which gives better picture quality in some situations involving "digital noise")..

DSLRs go from US$500 and up. They can be purchased as a kit with a lens to start, or just as a camera body and then you buy high quality lenses that go with them. DSLRs give you better options for shooting conditions, cope with low light and high contrast scenes better and are all around fancy kit..

I can't say much more about them, apart from that I was extremely jealous when a friend of mine got a new one recently .

If you're a starter newbie you should have a look at a digital photography book (your trusty local library will have a heap of them) so that you have an idea about aperture, exposure, iso, depth of field, slow-sync flash, and what filters can do for you. A digital cam book will probably go into the differences between types of digital cam much more clearly than I can .

Don't be shy to go into a camera store (or more realistically - a few) and have a hands on with different cameras. Feel how they work, get an idea of the zoom on different models. I really like a manual zoom (on my s6500), you may end up deciding that DSLRs or bridge cams are too heavy for you or someone else who'll be using the camera (a common thread on "my wife wants me to get camera X" posts here)..

Oh, don't worry too much about how many pixels unless you're going into DSLR territory. In low end cameras the limiting factor on your image quality is probably going to be the cheaper lenses and anything above 5mp may not do you much good. Have a look at sample pictures people have taken ( is good for that) and zoom in to full resolution to see how the quality is instead..

Seeing as you seem to be looking in the advanced compact (slr-like, bridge) area I flung a query at the digicam comparison tool on this site -Format: SLR-likePrice (street): US$ 400 or lessRelease Status: Not discontinued (current or upcoming)Sensor photo detectors: 5 million or moreSensor type: CCDZoom wide (W): 38 mm or lessZoom tele (T): 200 mm or moreManual Focus: YesMin shutter: 15 sec or moreAperture priority: YesShutter priority: YesMovie Clips: YesUncompressed format: RAW.

Fujifilm FinePix S5200 Zoom Kodak P850.

I'm sure there are a lot more that'd suit you though, my own camera isn't listed there and it would meet the criteria I put in (and is better than the s5200). Best to look in those camera shops .


EDIT: Oh, and if you're looking to do a lot of low light hand shooting or zoom photos consider "Image Stabilization" - it reduces the effect of hand shake.Fuji S6500fd newbie..

Comment #13

Oh, and digital zoom is evil - when talking zoom think optical..

Comment #14

I agree - Digital Zoom found on P&S cameras is bad, bad, bad. Don't even consider that when purchasing a camera. It'll zoom you in, but the results are as ugly as a mud wall..



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Comment #15

OK - no digital zoom. got it..

One less category to worry about!..

Comment #16

All your non-DSLR options will have digital zoom, it can't be avoided. Just make sure that whenever someone mentions zoom you say "When you say zoom you mean optical zoom, right?". Everything a digital zoom does can be better done in post-production..

Back in the early days of compacts there were cameras that say "18x zoom" and which were something like 3x optical zoom and another 6x digital zoom. All you get out of these at the high end of the zoom is something good for a small photo on a web page..

RobFuji S6500fd newbie..

Comment #17

No. It is what is called a "bridge" camera..

It falls between the P&S (Point and Shoot) camera and the DSLR camera..

Bridge cameras have a fixed lens (not interchangeable like SLR cameras). The lens however, usually covers a pretty broad range..

Albert-OPlease visit me at

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Comment #18

Anne Jackson wrote:.

Question - is the s6500fd a dslr?.

I wish!.

I've decided today that I'm going to stay away from books on serious shooting composition for a while because of the danger of them talking about fast lenses and making me jealous .

RobFuji S6500fd newbie..

Comment #19

Bridge cameras have a fixed lens (not interchangeable like SLRcameras). The lens however, usually covers a pretty broad range..

Nope, sorry to disagree..

SLR's film or digital use the image coming through the lens for the viewfinder and have a mirror or prism to get it to the eyepiece. That's why they are called single lens reflex. The lens doesn't have to be interchangeable (look at the Olympus E-20 f'instance). And the lens can be interchangeable but it need not be a SLR (look at the Leica M8)..

And the alternative was a twin lens reflex (TLR) like the old Rollei's (beloved by wedding photographers many years ago when a wedding meant three rolls of film (about 36 photographs) and a tripod etc. (Fixed lens too: imagine how people coped.).

So single or twin lens reflex OK?.

Regards, David..

Comment #20

Just a thought: have you looked at this website's list of cameras that are "Highly Recommended", "Recommended" and so on?.

It's at

And will help shorten the list..

And on "Imaging Resource" there's a list of cameras for photo students (and a lot more lists besides)..

Here's the link:

Hope this helps. Can't say more as I have no idea of prices in your part of the world and so my idea of cheap and dear may be completely out..

Regards, David..

Comment #21

David Hughes wrote:.

Bridge cameras have a fixed lens (not interchangeable like SLRcameras). The lens however, usually covers a pretty broad range..

Nope, sorry to disagree..

SLR's film or digital use the image coming through the lens for theviewfinder and have a mirror or prism to get it to the eyepiece.That's why they are called single lens reflex. The lens doesn't haveto be interchangeable (look at the Olympus E-20 f'instance). And thelens can be interchangeable but it need not be a SLR (look at theLeica M8)..

And the alternative was a twin lens reflex (TLR) like the oldRollei's (beloved by wedding photographers many years ago when awedding meant three rolls of film (about 36 photographs) and a tripodetc. (Fixed lens too: imagine how people coped.).

So single or twin lens reflex OK?.

Right you are on all counts, I never said anything to the contrary. The Leica is a rangefinder, not a bridge camera. The poster asked if the s6500fd (a bridge camera) was an SLR. I answered the question..

Thanks .

Albert-OPlease visit me at

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Comment #22

Been there and done that ... Canon A 640 is simply superb ... excellent match between 10 MP, sensor, 4X zoom, uses AA batteries, not too big, flip out screen and reasonably fast shooter except with flash (and this is true of most point and shoots)... also great video ... like all A series it has fully manua mode to get acquainted with what a camera can do for you. Price should be good because is has recently been replaced by the A 650 IS (much more $$$$$$) now with most of the same features bu 12 MP, 6X zoom and image stabilization ...

(BTW A640 does not have IS because it doesn't really need it with only 4X zoom, though you are advised to always find a way of stabilizing the camera in your hand) ... another new product from Canon is the X1000 or something like that ... 10MP with 12X and IS but no view finder ... if you don't need a viewfinder, then it might be a good choice ..I recently lost my A 640 in an river ... replaced it with an S5 ....

I am Canon biased, but a lot of people will tell you that Canon consistenly makes better cameras for mass market..

Comment #23

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