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Not quite a beginner, but ...
... someone who only ever uses "automatic" point and shoot..

I need a new camera, up to around $1400 in total, that is simple to operate but has to have the following functions:.

I need to take photos in large, dark conference rooms, of the room itself and of people on the podium - I therefore need to have a good flash, and the ability of taking photos without a flash but without any loss of definition. I also take photos of handshakes where I need to take photos in quick succession with a flash. I also take portrait shots but am given very little time to take these - I need good definition with minimum preparation..

I am told that SLR is the way to go. My current camera is a Nikon Coolpix 8400..

Can anyone help this techno dummy in layman's terms? many thanks...

Comments (7)

Yes, a DSLR is what you need. Its larger sensor allows higher sensitivity (to maintain acceptable shutter speed) to be set without much loss of image quality due to electronic noise..

Due to your stated usage (often no flash indoors) image stabilisation with be a big advantage. If you wanted to stay with Nikon you would need to get a VR lens to gain image stabilisation. Nikon D80 would be where you should start given your need for quick shot-to-shot operation. (Canon 40D also)..

However, some manufacturers have image stabilisation built in the camera body meaning that ANY lens you attach then gets the benefit. Pentax, Sony and Olympus offer this (not on all models)..

I presently use a Minolta 5D (Sony bought out their camera division) and am not so happy with the flash system as I think it produces too many half-shut eyes. (Something to do with the timing of the pre-flash). However if you buy a third party flash such as Metz, the problem goes away - but you'll lose the integrated TTL features. As people pictures are important to you it may be wise to stick with Nikon or Canon systems like the pros..

John.Please visit me at:http://www.pbase.com/johnfr/backtothebridgehttp://www.pbase.com/johnfr/digital_dartmoor..

Comment #1

J.

I presently use a Minolta 5D (Sony bought out their camera division)and am not so happy with the flash system as I think it produces toomany half-shut eyes. (Something to do with the timing of thepre-flash). However if you buy a third party flash such as Metz, theproblem goes away - but you'll lose the integrated TTL features. Aspeople pictures are important to you it may be wise to stick withNikon or Canon systems like the pros..

Yes, this is a significant issue. I use Pentax (with an external flash sometimes). Their 'P-TTL' flash system sends out a pre-flash a fraction of a second before the main exposure in order to judge the amount of light returned to the camera and hence set the exposure for the main flash. The metering works OK but the timing of the pre-flash makes people blink and often eyes are shut or half-shut. It's a real pain. I think Nikon / Canon sometimes use a similar pre-flash system which has the same unfortunate effect.



The way around this is to ensure that your camera or flash supports the old-fashioned TTL metering mode, whereby the flash is activated; the light returned to the camera is measured *during the flash*; and the flash is shut off when the exposure is correct. No pre-flash, so no lazy eyes. Some flashes will do this because they have a small meter in the flash unit which performs this function. Some cameras can do this if they have a special light-metering sensor in the camera body which measures the light intensity reflected off the CCD sensor during the exposure..

I can't tell you which models of camera and/or flash will support this 'old-fashioned' (but better, for your purposes) TTL flash metering mode but I know that there are several out there. I'm sure someone more experienced will be able to point you in the right direction. So to answer your original question: yes, you definitely want a DSLR; and (based on my experience) you want a flash unit that supports TTL metering to go with it..

Best wishesMike..

Comment #2

Thank you guys - you have been very helpful. If anyone else has anything to offer, specifically with the ideal camera to buy, I would really appreciate it...

Comment #3

Nannoo55 wrote:.

Thank you guys - you have been very helpful. If anyone else hasanything to offer, specifically with the ideal camera to buy, I wouldreally appreciate it..

Let's take your requirements....

"I need a new camera, up to around $1400 in total, that is simple to operate but has to have the following functions:.

"I need to take photos in large, dark conference rooms, of the room itself and of people on the podium - I therefore need to have a good flash, and the ability of taking photos without a flash but without any loss of definition. I also take photos of handshakes where I need to take photos in quick succession with a flash. I also take portrait shots but am given very little time to take these - I need good definition with minimum preparation.".

You use "definition" a lot. .

If the room is really big, then you will need several flashes to photograph the room. Or use a tripod and available light. Flashes don't degrade "definition". To get a good pic of a room requires a wide angle lens...something like 21-24mm in FF terms..

Taking pix of people at a podium requires a medium FL lens that is "fast", ie has a big aperture..

Many camera-flash systems can't recycle fast. So just buying a camera that has a 5 FPS burst rate will not get you that rate when using a flash. To get the combo going fast usually requires the flash to be set to non-TTL and adjusted to a low, fixed output. This means you need a very "fast" lens...something like a 50mm f/1.4..

The same lens you used to get the podium shots can be used for portraits...something like an 85mm f/2.0. Portraits don't need high "definition"...most often they need to be slightly soft. Portraits also need "soft" lighting, so most portrait photographers use a couple of umbrellas. Unfortunately, these take a bit of time and space to set up. If speed and portability are important, use bounce flash and/or a diffuser on your flash..

Nikon has the best flash system. Not sure you can get all this for $1400? But you can get started. Buy used equipment?.

Charlie DavisNikon 5700 & Sony R1HomePage: http://www.1derful.infoBridge Blog: http://www.here-ugo.com/BridgeBlog/..

Comment #4

Well. A DSLR with AF assist light. e.g. Nikon D40/D40x will help in low light focusing. These have good IQ and option of ISO3200. Consider only DSLRs for low light applications as yours..

Nannoo55 wrote:.

Thank you guys - you have been very helpful. If anyone else hasanything to offer, specifically with the ideal camera to buy, I wouldreally appreciate it..

Best Wishes, Ajayhttp://picasaweb.google.com/ajay0612..

Comment #5

I still need help and have two days to come up with the best camera for my work, as my boss has to submit a request! Help!!!! (And I am a point and shoot person, never learned to use a camera properly)..

Comment #6

1 day to get the following: D40 + 18-200VR + 2 Sb600 or 2 sigma ef530 super.

You will need the second flash for backlight. Point them both at the hopefully WHITE ceiling, unless you are far away in a BIG conference-room. Because if ceiling is some color, the color will reflect all over the subjects. Neutral grey would be fine though. Make sure the second flash gives a diffuse light BEHIND and/or OVER the subject.1 day of testing and getting the feel. Tough job, but not at all impossible..

Use A(utomatic) mode, no time to learn about aperture. With the 18-200 you can keep distance from your subjects and will increase Dof, meaning, more will be sharp..

Just make sure the second flash fires and isn't IN the picture!! Take some duct-tape to get the second flash in best performing position. You CANNOT use burst-mode because the flashes need time to reload. There is a work-around, but that would take more time and experience. Hopefully you're the only one there to take pictures, coz otherwise it might happen your flashes are triggered by someone else's camera...

Comment #7

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