Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Final update on the camera quest

I went ahead and ordered the Sony HX100V ultra-zoom. For my intended purposes, photographs of high-contrast areas (mines) using the HDR mode and wildlife using the zoom, it's much handier and lighter to carry than a SLR, not to mention over $1,000 cheaper by the time you add in lenses and accessories for a SLR. A SLR would make the kittehs look better, but reality is that most of the photos I'm taking of the kittehs are with my iPhone 4 (because of the need to use HDR mode to pick out the highlights in TMF's glossy black coat), and it certainly takes better pictures than an iPhone. The only downside is that it's on nationwide backorder, so I have to pay full retail price and wait a few weeks for it to come in :(. But it's the best of the ultrazooms currently available, with sensor specs (other than actual physical size) similar to low-end DSLR's of five years ago, and will certainly work for what I intend to use it for.

Regarding DSLR's, I came to the conclusion that the lenses available for the Sony/Minolta SLR's aren't what I would want for my own needs. So what I end up with then is a Nikon D5100 with the 18-55mm kit lens and a 55-300mm Nikon zoom lens to handle my shooting needs. Nikon because their technology is a generation newer than Canon's and their sensor is faster and more sensitive than Canon's and their noise reduction technology for low-light shooting works far better due to the generation-newer processor and hardware, and that pair of lenses because they cover every normal shooting situation while still having better specs than the non-Nikon lenses available for the camera (such as Tamron's) while remaining fairly affordable (for SLR lenses).

The problem is that unlike Sony, Nikon eschews what they feel are "gimmicks" that I feel are necessities. For example, they do have HDR to deal with high-contrast shots like, say, a black cat on a light background, that would typically turn the black cat into a black hole in the background rather than let you see the black cat's highlights. But it's a half-assed implementation of HDR that uses only two photos (one underexposed, one overexposed) to do the work, instead of three like everybody else -- which means that there's no "normal contrast" image to merge missing details into. That's just one of the places where Nikon is solid from a standpoint of taking conventional photos, but does a half-ass job of implementing what they feel are "gimmicks". Well, I own a black cat (or vice-versa, heh!). HDR is *NOT* a gimmick for me!

So anyhow, I think what I'm going to do is wait out at least another generation. Canon has to be coming out with a new generation of digital cameras soon (otherwise Nikon's going to render them dead in the entry level DSLR market, the 3100 and 5100 are just that good), by the time their new cameras are on the market and available (probably this time next year), maybe they'll leapfrog Nikon on some of these "new" technologies that Nikon thinks are "gimmicks" but are a natural fit for the much faster digital processors in today's cameras. We'll see...

-- Badtux the Waiting Penguin


  1. Just don't let your kitties know you skimped on their portrait taking equipment, or they may show extreme disfavor with you -- like snubbing your next offering of kitty kibble (as if *that* would ever happen...)

  2. I see you noticed that the kittehs are somewhat... fluffy! Yeah, that's it, they're FLUFFY! Heh.

    I would more fear that they leave "presents" in my chair or in the footpath that I follow at night to reach the restroom. Nothing like stepping in a pile of steaming kitteh puke to teach a penguin a lesson about respect for kitteh, heh :).

    - Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

  3. In-camera HDR is iffy at best anyway. If you have Photoshop CS5 it handles HDR wonderfully. There are also other options for HDR.

    Looks like good choices for your camera gear.

  4. You'll have to let us know what you think of your new camera, after you've had a chance to play with it.

  5. The recent kitteh photos have been taken with my iPhone 4 using the HDR function, Tom. Nothing "iffy" about those photos -- they bring out TMF's highlights quite handily. Without HDR, he just looks like a black hole against the background of whatever he's sleeping on.

    So I'm a believer. Th eonly "iffy" thing is that because it's three quick photos rather than a single photo, you can't use a flash, so need good light to avoid high ISO's or long shutters that can result in noise or blur. Oh well.

    - Badtux the Cat-owned Penguin

  6. I have an Olympus E-510 which I'm quite happy with. I take photos of hummingbirds, and the occasional cat (phone camera is more handy for that.)


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