Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Choosing a Camera - Tough Decisions

This last week found me looking for a new camera. It was tough. I know essentially nothing about cameras, and basically just want one that does what I need and nothing more. I am not a technophile, I just want function.

Sue asked me how I made the decision and it seemed like a subject for the blog. I am satisfied with my little Panasonic Lumix for general use. But it does not give me the clarity of detail that my quilts need for people to enjoy them or for competitions. As a result, professional photography was my largest business expense last year.

I started at Holly Knott's website and went to the article on photographing quilts. I bought the recommended light bulbs, my DH built light stands and a mounting board for photography. I put the camera on a tripod, read the directions for light balance, delayed shots, bracketing and shot my quilt. The photos I got were better, but no where near the quality from a professional. The details seemed somewhat dull and lacking in comparison.

Several comments from the SAQA Yahoo group helped me understand that a different camera was necessary. So I began researching cameras;
Consumer Reports had a recent evaluation that helped. My first trial decision was the Canon Powershot G11.

Once I figured that out, I asked several thousand friends (SAQA & Quilt Art) about the camera and their experience and got back wonderful information including where to go for reviews and experiences with different cameras.
See: dpreviews.com

Since my memory for technical stuff is limited, I put all the comments and reviews into a Word document that later proved very helpful since I went with a different camera than the Cannon.

I knew I was strictly interested in a camera for the studio, not one for vacations, family photos, etc. So weight, size, video, wide angle zoom were not important.

Some of the cameras suggested were (in no order) : Canon XS1 OIS, Casio Exilim 10.1, Nikon CoolPix P60, Nikon D700, Canon 5dMk11, Nikon D90, Canon Powershot G11, Panasonic Lumix LX3, Cano EOS Rebel xsi, and Nikon D3000, Panasonic Superzoom DMC-FZ30 and DMC-FZ35.

Two comments really caught my attention. One from L L Wiener said in short, that one could not get the same clarity of detail in a point and shoot digital that one got from the old SLR.

J Warner reported that she got a Nikon D3000 and the difference compared to her Canon Powershot was dramatic.

Next I called the photographer I had used for years for an opinion. Turned out that he had bought my first choice as a back up camera, but took it back and got a different camera because the original one did not meet his needs. He recommended that I talk to George at Biggs Camera and put myself in his hands.
I talked to George, told him my needs and budget limitations and got a recommendation for a different camera than what I was considering.

So again, I researched the new one and compared it to the others. When I looked at the information from my on-line friends, their information verified what I had learned from George. So, my decision was to get a Nikon D3000. It is a beginner level SLR with great reviews.

Other useful suggestions were get a used camera from a reputable dealer. Adorama, Calument and Norman Camera were recommended as well as our local Biggs Camera. And check with Gregory Case who is a resource for SAQA members.

So far, so good.
George set it up for me and I have been taking some practice shots. I plan on rephotographing the quilt tonight. Will be very interesting to see what the difference is. Hope this was interesting.