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Camera upgrade - advice please

PostPosted: Mon Aug 24, 2009 10:31 pm
by Maris UK
I must start by stating that my primary interest (and knowledge) is not in photography, but the wildlife itself. I turned to photography primarily to assist with the identification of butterflies, moths and other insects, but have no background photographic knowledge. I currently use an ageing Canon Powershot Pro1 camera (28-200mm, 7x optical, 3x digital zoom).

I currently get quite good (though definitely not award winning!) photographs using the 'supermacro' setting when I am within 30cm of the subject. I have a 'dead zone' between 30cm and 1m where I seem incapable of getting any decent photos at all, and at distances further than 1m I use the zoom facility, often needing to resort to digital zoom (giving me up to x20) to get sufficiently large sized images for identification, though they are usually of quite poor quality. Another apparent disadvantage of my camera is that it takes a long time to focus, by which time my subject has often moved elsewhere! Apart from setting exposure, I usually shoot on 'auto' leaving the camera to optimise the shooting parameters.

I would like to upgrade my camera and aspire to shoot better quality images, but I'm unsure what camera to buy - I'm often overwhelmed by all of the technical specifications. User reviews are often quite contradictory and also revIewers usually seem to me to be photographing static close-up subjects rather than insects which are usually active!

I have considered staying in the same compact camera range and upgrading to the Canon Powershot X1 IS (or X10 IS) which have the range 28-560mm incorporating a new x20 optical superzoom. Is anyone familiar with this camera and would it be suitable?

I have also considered buying a Digital SLR camera instead, although I have no experience whatsoever with this camera type. If I buy DSLR, what lenses would I need to buy for use in the field for primarily photographing butterflies and over what distances from the subject would the proposed lenses function? Would I need to be constantly changing lenses in the field?

I am seeking a relatively 'easy to use' camera suitable for a novice photographer and would welcome any advice.

Thank you

Re: Camera upgrade - advice please

PostPosted: Tue Aug 25, 2009 5:39 pm
by Maris UK

Many thanks for your comments. I take very few wide angle photos (mainly of my garden!), so I could continue to use my existing camera for that.

Assuming I go for a DSLR, I think I'm unlikely to opt for a longer focal length lens, such as that Richard uses because of it's extra weight. Please can you advise what is the approximate maximum distance over which a 100mm lens is suitable for butterfly photography? (I know this depends whether I'm looking at a hairstreak or a swallowtail!).



Re: Camera upgrade - advice please

PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2009 3:36 pm
by Maris UK
Gan and Richard

Thank you both for your comments. I have decided to follow Gan's advice and upgrade to a DSLR. I've decided to remain with Canon and have opted for the entry level DSLR, the 1000D (which reviews well for the novice and is lightweight) and for the 100mm Canon macro USM lens which has excellent reviews. I'm looking forward to getting started with the new kit as soon as it arrives!

Thanks again


Re: Camera upgrade - advice please

PostPosted: Sat Oct 17, 2009 12:07 pm
by BotakWong
Hi everybody,

One thing to note - all entry level and "cheap" DSLR sensors are 2/3 size of a full frame DSLR. Full Frame DSLR being having a sensor size of 36mm x 24mm. Only a few DSLR cameras have that sized sensor - and they are not cheap nor entry level. So - those APS sized sensors (24mm x 18mm) are found on 99% of the DSLR's today - including Canon. For 99% of the applications, you can forget about the size difference between full frame and APS sensors. EXCEPT macro. Because only one macro lens today (Nikon 85mm) is specifically created for the APS sized sensor. All other macro lenses are calibrated for full frame sized sensor.

The reason why you should bother - if the macro lens state the reproduction ratio is 1:1 (life size) - that is only true if you mount the lens on a full frame DSLR. If you mount that macro lens on a APS sized DSLR, the lens is not giving you 1:1 anymore, but - 1:1.5 (1.5 times larger than life size). This is important if you want to measure the size of the object (butterfly, insect, etc) from the image you take. You need to multiply the lens reproduction ratio by 1.5 times.

Hope I don't confuse you guys?