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Old May 30th, 2012, 11:11 AM   #16
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Re: Recommendation Needed for Newbie

Don't the point and shoot cams have limits on how long a video clip can be? Seems to me that I read somewhere that the Sony DSC-HX200V has a limit of 29 minutes before you have to start a new clip. That may be a problem for some people (like me) and not for others.
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Old May 30th, 2012, 02:21 PM   #17
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Re: Recommendation Needed for Newbie

Yes, you do have a 29 minute clip length limit, but you can stop and restart (a pain for long form events, but not THAT big a deal if you stay on top of it, and lots better than 12 minutes <wink>).

Not familiar with the Nikon, but check the video specs carefully, "HD" is not always HD... I believe the Sonys are the only ones offering 1080/60p - you should look at what frame rates are important to you. It takes more computer horsepower to process 60p, but I like the results and being able to freeze a frame with a fairly sharp result. I'm pretty sure that all the major brands have a superzoom with video, it just will come down to specs and image quality.

Part of the attraction of the superzoom is not needing an add on telephoto. Unless you're doing spying or something, the HX200 ought to cover you - keep in mind it "boasts" a 2x digital "clear zoom" that actually isn't bad... I have it around since I don't have super long glass for the SLT cameras, and it's a nice compact cam, with decent video. Honestly, I wouldn't blow up the photos to larger prints, the .jpeg engine doesn't do the optics justice, IMO. Of course when compared to the image quality from an A65 (24mpixel and 60p video), it's not even close.

You didn't mention if you were willing to explore shooting with a full size DSLR style cam, but it's another option, and I'm loving the SLTA65, almost to the point of being willing to lug a full size kit around with me again! Compact cameras are pretty darn good and so handy to take along, but the images almost pop off the screen with the A65, and all my old Minolta glass (collected on the cheap) works great.

Depending on your still camera requirements/expectations, the latest Alpha releases (A77/A65/A57) might be well worth looking into? With a "budget" up to $3K, you've got quite a few possibilities, including a couple different cams for different uses if you shop smart/lightly used.
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Old May 30th, 2012, 03:30 PM   #18
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Re: Recommendation Needed for Newbie

A limit on the length of the videos wouldn't be an issue for me.

We're at the point now where things get to be REAL confusing for a noob like me. Video camera, compact DSLR, full-size DSLR, etc. I'm sure there are some major differences between them, but deciphering those and figuring out exactly which one would fit my needs seems extremely daunting.

The way I look at it, if the difference between the quality of the video from the compact DSLR to a video camera or full-size DSLR is markedly different (like 10x better...which I know is a very subjective number :) then I'd consider shelling out the extra cash for the better quality camera. But, for what I'm looking to get out of the camera, if we're talking only a slightly better video quality between them, I'd rather spend less (obviously). I'm just not versed enough in those differences to be able to make that call right now.

Would love to hear your thoughts...
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Old May 30th, 2012, 03:52 PM   #19
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Re: Recommendation Needed for Newbie

I guess to put it another way, I'd consider my current Sony Handycam HDR-CX190 to be a 2 or a 3 on a scale of 10 for what I'm looking it to do. Can any of the proposed options...compact DSLR, full-size DSLR, or video camera...get me to an 8 or 9?
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Old May 30th, 2012, 04:37 PM   #20
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Re: Recommendation Needed for Newbie

I just looked up the specs on my current handycam and it has a 25x optical zoom. Maybe that info. will help in suggesting an upgrade?
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Old May 30th, 2012, 06:55 PM   #21
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Re: Recommendation Needed for Newbie

Ron -
Sorry to add to the confusion, let's see if we can't narrow things down a bit...

Your current camera is a basic "consumer" device, designed to get "OK" results shooting video and stills on auto in typical situations... it's doing that, except you are positioned far enough away, it's at the far end of what the cam can do - there's a reason pros are usually a lot closer to the action, or have seriously big lenses with 5 figure prices. Small consumer devices simply can only do so much, but they are not bad if used within their limits.

Your rating of 2-3 is probably fair given the capabilities and cost of the camera, and you're realizing you want MORE... now you'll need to define what you're after, and how you'll be using whatever you step up to - so perhaps a good question is whether this is for "casual" use or are you hoping to move towards the "pro" end? I'm presuming from your previous posts that this is more or less a "family cam", and you just want the best quality possible? If that's the case, it's a bit different from being paid to shoot, and that's something to consider.


Around here, you'll find the advice when the Q is asked "what camera is best?" is "the one you have with you when the opportunity for a great shot presents itself!", meaning that a big fancy (expensive?) camera that resides in your CLOSET is not a good purchase!! This shouldn't be overlooked in your quest.

Then, if you look around, you will find that the vast majority of DVi members have severe incurable GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome, not fatal, or even that hard to live with). This means that the phrase "grab a camera" must typically be uttered along with a description of WHICH camera one is speaking of... as one camera often does things another one won't, so we have a "few" (numbers left undisclosed to protect the innoc... er... guilty... er...). This is a great place to discuss gear, because there are plenty of users of virtually any video related item here!

SO, before you get too far into the forest of options, ask yourself what sort of camera would you be comfortable shooting, and be willing to drag along with you? I'll presume something at least reasonably portable, but that still leaves a LOT of options.

Ultimately it will be up to you to decide what will work best, and then you'll have to either buy a few of the "possibles" or if you can go shopping and put hands on the candidates, do that to find what "feels right". You've got a pretty good "shopping/comparison list", but it runs from a higher end video camera to a P&S hybrid to a DSLR/SLT. Your budget could probably buy one of each... and that might even be the answer, return or resell the ones you find yourself not using!



At the moment, I'm quite impressed with the A65, since I am re-using a lot of the "accessories" and lenses I already had anyway, and it's just a "fun" camera to shoot with (I'm seeing others describe this and the A77 the same way, so I guess "fun to shoot with" is important!). BUT it's not fitting in any pocket, and so there will still be some "little" cameras in my collection!!

You might look at the A57, which just came out, and has the digital clear zoom, and add lenses as needed - keeping in mind that the clear zoom will still not get you TOO far, even on a 200mm lens, you're still at a modest 400mm. You can see where a "superzoom" compact fits in... if the quality you can get is acceptable... I'm still mixed on that myself, the A65 has already spoiled me rather thoroughly with the images it's putting out, but I'd hate to try to find a 800mm+ lens!



One "tech point" - bigger (in physical size, NOT megapixels...) sensors will generally mean better images, better low light performance, plus more professional looking depth of field. Those things are check boxes you should put on your "list" when trying to decide, and learning to differentiate between "classes" of camera - I believe the HX has a similar sensor size to your CX190, maybe just a tad bigger, the higher end video cameras will be a tiny but not insignificant bit larger, and SLR/SLT cameras will be relatively HUGE by comparison.

Another "tech point" you ought to be considering is AUDIO - NO camera will be able to get even halfway decent audio at the ranges you are talking about unless there's sound reinforcement in the room, and then it will be competing with the noise around you - did I mention there's a reason the pros move in a bit closer? The reason for pointing this out is that I've got some pretty "wimpy" little pocket cameras, but if shot within their capabilities, you can get surprisingly good results, and even shooting the "best" camera, there are limits if you can't get a decent shooting position for video and audio...

May add to the confusion, but hopefully will be of help...
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Old May 30th, 2012, 10:40 PM   #22
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Re: Recommendation Needed for Newbie

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I just looked up the specs on my current handycam and it has a 25x optical zoom. Maybe that info. will help in suggesting an upgrade?
No, and for all the reasons that Dave just mentioned as well as Adam's warning that the 25x/10x etc. ratings will not tell you very much that is actually useful for what you want to know.

Fundamentally, the problem here is that: (a) the CX190 has a tiny lens; (b) the camera has a tiny sensor to record what comes through that lens; and (c) the camera's components are such that Sony can make a profit when the camera is sold at $200. These factors mean the camera will work for some people and not for others. You have discovered that, for some of what you want to do, the reach of the zoom overwhelms the camera's ability to deliver the pixels you want.

Would the alternatives suggested here satisfy you? Maybe. But maybe not. Really, the only way for you to get a handle on this question at this point is for you to actually lay hands on some of the cameras at a dealer. So, again, I suggest you take your CX190 and an SD card to a dealer and shoot some comparison footage at the distances you want to use. Take the SD card home to your computer and check out what the cameras gave you. That process will tell you more a lot more clearly and more directly what you want to know about how easy the cameras are for you to use and how well or how poorly they do what you want to accomplish. At the very least, it will give you a frame of reference to ask the more pointed questions that will get you closer to what you want to do.
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Old May 30th, 2012, 11:04 PM   #23
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Re: Recommendation Needed for Newbie

Panasonic DMC-GH2 with 100 - 300mm zoom? Both for $1500. Put the camera in 1:1 crop mode? I think the mode is called Teleconvert, tele ex or something.

What about the SONY NEX-VG20? It allows swappable lenses too.
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Old May 31st, 2012, 08:59 AM   #24
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Re: Recommendation Needed for Newbie

"I'm presuming from your previous posts that this is more or less a "family cam", and you just want the best quality possible?"

You nailed it. And I have to say, I love the civility of this message board and the humor...so not the norm on message boards these days. :)

I'm leaning towards getting a point and shoot DSLR/SLT since I need both a new camera and video camera. From what I'm reading in these posts, it sounds like that route would be a huge upgrade from what I'm currently using any way you slice it. Is this a correct assumption?
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Old May 31st, 2012, 11:37 AM   #25
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Re: Recommendation Needed for Newbie

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You might look at the A57, which just came out, and has the digital clear zoom, and add lenses as needed - keeping in mind that the clear zoom will still not get you TOO far, even on a 200mm lens, you're still at a modest 400mm.
Could you explain what exactly this means in layman terms...still a bit confused on what the 200mm & 400mm numbers mean? Sorry for the remedial request! :)
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Old May 31st, 2012, 01:53 PM   #26
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Re: Recommendation Needed for Newbie

Well, the easiest way to help you grab onto the terminology is to say that traditionally VIDEO cameras have a silly "25X" or something like that on them, which is pretty much meaningless until you know "25x what"? You need to dig into the specs and find the "35mm lens equivalent" (at least they usually use a term like this, as lens ranges are somewhat standardized).

Generally the smaller the mm #, the "wider" the lens/frame/image, and the larger the mm #, the "longer/tele"

Let's take a simple example of a DSC-TX100v, which boasts a whopping "4x optical zoom" - IIRC they list the "wide" as 25mm, and the "tele" as 100mm equivalent so 4x 25=100. Where this gets tricky is that since the video will be 16x9 (widescreen format) and the 35mm equivalents are usually roughly 4:3, there will be some "variation" in exactly how "wide" or "tele" a given camera/lens will be in actual use. With DLSR's there is also a crop factor related to the typical APS-C sensor, which is smaller than a 35mm frame, so it's usually regarded as having a 1.5 multiplier on the 35mm # (yeah, more confusion, sorry...)

Sony (and most other brand) handycams used to be around "35mm" on the wide end, and as I mentioned earlier, they've "widened" the wide end (which also shortened the tele end commensurately, part of the dynamics of lens block design, "give a little here, lose some there") to around 26mm, which doesn't sound like much, but it lets you be in closer to your subject in small rooms (family events). I suspect your 190 is one of those with a "wider" lens range, so it loses a bit on the "25x", menaing that a camera a couple model years earlier with "25x" on it would have had a bit more tele range, if that makes sense.


A typical "kit lens" on a DSLR is probably an 18-50mm (meaning not a lot of zoom), there are lenses that don't zoom at all (fixed or "primes"), and various zooms. A lot of times you'll find something like a 70-200 or 70-300 "package" with a DSLR kit, so you can put a longer lens on when needed. Really "long" lenses will cost you $$$, better to move closer to your subject if at all possible, but this new "clear zoom" Sony is tossing into the A57 (darn new feature the A65 doesn't have!) makes an interesting proposition, as you get a supposedly clean "digital double" of the lens range (Phillip mentioned the Panasonic GH2 also having a similar feature).

Purists will say that ANY digital "zoom", whatever the marketing name, will still degrade the image, but newer cameras have so dang many pixels, you're probably never going to notice (and HD video is native only about 2Mpixel, so there's lots of interpolatin' already going on!!). I'm planning on picking up an A57 myself, primarily for that feature, which gives my lenses more potential for travel/nature/moon shots!

AS I mentioned, something like that little HX200 superzoom will have FAR more lens range "built in", but there will be compromises due to the size/sensor size/weight/price range. I like the small size cameras for what they WILL do, but sometimes it's tough when you really zoom in on the images in post and realize they are not as "clean" as they look at "normal" sizes. It's been particularly painful since the 24Mpixel images the A65 takes are just incredibly crisp and clean...


As a practical consideration, when shooting video, a camera needs to be relatively close in to get decent sound, it's just physics, and good sound is regarded as being as important as good video - bad audio is terribly distracting! So you can see why smaller cameras have been moving to wider lens ranges - camera is closer to the "hot zone", gets better framing and audio, consumer happy.

BUT, sometimes, particularly with stills, you want to be able to "take the shot" from some distance and still get good results. That's where zoom comes in, and your specific interest is to have it for video as well. Remember it's significantly harder to stay framed when you're at high tele ranges - little movements are magnified, A LOT, thus the early suggestions for tripod or monopod support if you're shooting long.

I personally like the Sony Alphas because the image stabilization is in the camera BODY, not the lens, so for video and low light shooting, you get better results with cheaper lenses (did I mention relatively cheap old Minolta glass <wink>?). Handycams and P&S hybrids will usually have some sort of image stabilizing built in. You'll still need extra support to shoot "long", whatever you shoot with.


With a "fixed lens" like a handycam or P&S, you're mosly stuck with the in camera lens block and whatever range or optical zoom it can deliver. Add on lenses may or may not be an option, I usually carry a wide angle adapter for "ultrawide" shots, but seldom a tele...

In the end you can compare specs, and lens ranges of your possible options (remember that DSLR/SLT cameras are BODIES, and you can get a HUGE range of lenses both native and via adapters in many cases), but you'll need to try out a few options to see what meets your needs.

My suggestion that it may mean several cameras was somewhat serious, but for family use, it's harder and harder to justify a dedicated video camera - unless you NEED continuous clips that are over whatever clip length "limit" the still cameras have (you can always stop and restart, up to the size of the memory card), you can get some excellent video from the newer "hybrid" cams - some people don't find it comfortable to shoot video with a P&S or DSLR format, but it's very doable once you get used to it, especially if you've shot DSLR style cams for a while...


When doing your budget, a hybrid camera probably will make the most sense, be sure to factor in the entire "system" when comparing... particularly if you go SLR/SLT there can be quite the "investment" in flashes/lenses/batteries! My last set of upgrades hinged on the "cool factor" of the new Sony NEX cameras vs. having to buy all new leses... in the end a biger "old school" camera was the best choice, thus the A65.

I'm still likely going to be using a TX or HX series camera for the day to day stuff, and I can hand that to one of the kids to shoot with too, so they can join in the fun! Thus the suggestion for a couple of cameras!

Now you at least know enough to be smarter than the average "customer service" guy you'll run into in the store! Hope it wasn't too much, but as you've found, you get your questions answered around here!

And yep, it's a very civil forum, unless you mention copyright, then you get "spirited" discussion!
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Old May 31st, 2012, 02:33 PM   #27
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Re: Recommendation Needed for Newbie

Thanks again for the reply. Haven't had a chance to digest just yet, but wanted to ask for a further clarification in layman terms in the meantime...

In your 70-300 lens example, I'm assuming if you're at 70 you're not zooming at all? If you zoom out to 300, approximately how many feet closer to your subject will that get you? Is this something that can be approximated?
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Old May 31st, 2012, 03:37 PM   #28
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It does not actually move you closer and nobody rates their cameras that way. It might be interesting or useful if they did so, but but nobody does. They use the "35 mm equivalent" because a fair number of buyers understand that from experience with 35mm cameras.

However, I'll give a shot at giving you an answer by going back to the example I gave you when I asked how much zoom you wanted.

We're talking about the 5 foot tall dancer standing on stage 50 yards (150 feet) away from the camera.

We aim at her with my NX5u, with its large glass, multiple sensors, and long "20x" zoom. Sony says the "35 mm" equivalent for this lens is 29.5mm at full wide and and 590mm at full telephoto. (In theory, this is approximately twice the reach of the 300 mm equivalent lens that you asked about). The 5-foot-tall dancer will be seen full frame -- head near the top of the frame, feet near the bottom. Up closer, at 25 yards, we're talking a head and shoulders shot.

With my CX550v (similar to the current CX760v), Sony says that the 35mm equivalent range is 29.8 to 299 mm. (That is roughly equivalent to the 300mm lens you asked about, although it is definitely wider on the wide-end.) At full (300 mm) zoom, the 5 foot tall dancer will only be about half the frame -- that is, feet at the bottom of the screen and top of head in the middle of the screen.

What this actually means for image quality is hard to say because that can be affected by other factors including lens quality and sensor size. This is hard to understand until you you actually check out some of the suggested cameras.

One thing for Dave and Phillip: can you comment on the audio recording and monitoring functions of the cameras you have suggested? The last time I looked at any DSLR cams, you needed dedicated audio recording devices to get good audio. That works well for some folks but may be too cumbersome for use with a family cam. There have been some other issues. For example, the NEX VG20 that Phillip mentioned is a very interesting camera (though probably out of Ron's budget when you add $600 for the 70mm-300mm zoom lens in addition to the $1600 for the body). However, it has peculiarities such as a delay in audio through headphones, which would be a big issue for me. Things may well have changed on this front with the DSLR/SLT cams, and I do not know enough to comment further.

Another point for Ron is that, just as many still cams can now shoot very nice video, many of the new smaller video cams shoot high-megapixel photos. For instance, Sony's CX760v supposedly shoots 24 mp stills. My CX550v cams will shoot 14 mp stills which has been great for my needs. It is small enough to be a "convenience cam" for me. For somebody else, it might be too large for that role.

In short, there is a lot of cross-over here which translates to a lot of opportunity for having a personalized set of media tools. Again, however, Ron needs to pick up some of these and do a little shooting to find out more about his preferences.
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Old May 31st, 2012, 10:09 PM   #29
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Ron - you'll really need to pick up a few different cams after finding out what their lens range is to get a feel for what a given "mm equivalent" lens will do. Look up the lens for your 190 on the Sony site, it'll still be expressed in the same terms.

Lenses expressed as "70-300" or in the case of the VG20 "18-200" merely give you some idea of what to expect. 70mm is actually already firmly into the "zoom" range if you're comparing to a 18/24/26mm equivalent "wide" lens. As a practical design consideration, you'll find SLR lenses in relatively limited "multipliers" (IOW, a 70-300 is actually only a little over "4x"!, and the 18-200 is a non-marketing headline worthy "10x"...), as it's harder to design and manufacture the larger lenses required for larger sensor areas, and still offer good image quality throughout the lens range. Smaller cams manage to get away with more, partly because image quality expectations are lower, and "marketing" considerations will dictate specs that look great, but as you've found out, may not look good in real life shooting!


Jay - no audio monitoring at all on the Alphas (so it's easy to do something dumb like forget to turn the shotgun mic "on"... fortunately only during "testing"... so far!). Onboard mics are not terrible, but not great either - 1/8 stereo jack is provided, and I got an adapter mount for the Sony shoe so I can mount a nice shotgun, which reduced the noise generated by the focus motor to almost acceptable (downside to autofocus... may well shoot manual for that reason!). For family stuff, the onboard mics are usable, the shotgun doesn't add too much bulk (there are SMALL shotguns available for these), but I'd still probably want another source for a serious event shoot. Honestly the A65 upgrade was to update earlier Alpha bodies for stills, but the quality of the video was excellent (as are the stills), so in the spirit of all the "cinematic" footage that's so popular... I'll be using the cam for video too!

For a wedding/event I'd probably have a couple CX700's running and use the A65 for glamour/shallow DoF work, and I usually have some small strategically placed digital recorders going.



Jay is correct that the handycams also typically shoot stills - I wouldn't count on the results for anything much over a 4x6 print, or anything you need to crop - the images are "OK", but as with my earlier observation, don't get overly picky, or you'll be upset with the compression/jpeg image mangling. Again, I've used a CX series cam more than once for the "family cam", and as long as your expectations are realistic, it's not bad at all. FWIW, the video cameras tend to take better video with the stills as an "additional marketing point"

There's not a "perfect" camera out there, but lots of good ones, and you learn to figure out what you need and grab the appropriate one for the situation and what level of gear you're willing to drag along.
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Old June 1st, 2012, 10:01 AM   #30
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Re: Recommendation Needed for Newbie

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Look up the lens for your 190 on the Sony site, it'll still be expressed in the same terms.
Sony lists the CX190 range as 37mm to 1075mm, which pretty much points up how misleading plain specs can be. As Ron has discovered from use, the size and quality of the CX190 components are such that the quality of imagery is not maintained throughout that impressive sounding range. Yet, another example of why you need to actually see and handle the little cams before you buy one.

Quote:
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Smaller cams manage to get away with more, partly because image quality expectations are lower, and "marketing" considerations will dictate specs that look great, but as you've found out, may not look good in real life shooting!
Exactly right.

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Jay is correct that the handycams also typically shoot stills - I wouldn't count on the results for anything much over a 4x6 print . . .as long as your expectations are realistic, it's not bad at all.
Again, this can be highly variable depending on the camera and the uses intended for what you are shooting. On the one hand, with the CX550v, I've been able to make 11 x 17 blow-ups of photos of intersections for use in trials and depositions that were better than the shots made by the lawyer's older Nikon DSLR. It was simply a case of a CX550 having a decent lens and more megapixels when used in photo mode. On the other hand, these were full-wide shots (not heavily zoomed) and those 11 x 17 prints were not going into a gallery for sale as fine art. Also, the CX550 has a small flash attachment, but it is pretty weak. It is fine for the photos I take but somebody else with more extensive still photo needs will find it limiting and without any option for adding an external flash. This is a YMMV situation so we are back to saying that it is time for Ron to test some of these cams and see how well or poorly they meet HIS expectations.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Blackhurst View Post
There's not a "perfect" camera out there, but lots of good ones, and you learn to figure out what you need and grab the appropriate one for the situation and what level of gear you're willing to drag along.
Dave made this point before. I've quoted this now because it is so fundamental that I think it deserves re-emphasizing. Hopefully, Ron now has some tools to help him evaluate cams.
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