Camera suggestions for RR pics

I am looking to buy a Digital SLR for modeling and rail fanning. Does anyone have recommendations for something under $1,000?
Or, what are you using? The most important feature is that there is no delay between the shutter button being pressed and the picture being taken.
--

Frank Rosenbaum
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On Sat, 3 Nov 2007 19:41:53 -0700, "Frank A. Rosenbaum"

I've go an Olympus E-Volt 500, around $700US.
http://www.olympusamerica.com/cpg_section/product.asp?product 92
Real good for outdoor use, and fast. I don't miss shots anymore.
Here's a shot I took of my son's n-scale just playing around, didn't do anything special. Just point and shot.
Warning: This is the full resulotion shot. about 1.2M
http://www.missouri-riverside.us/Graphics/JK171263.JPG
Jim
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Frank A. Rosenbaum wrote:

For no delay you'll need an SLR. The compact digitals all have a delay between shutter button press and shutter action. For under $1000 you migth want to look at the Canon line. Either the EOS Digital Rebel XT (aka 350D) at $943 (body and lens) or the slightly more expensive EOS 30D at $1080 (body and lens) will work good for you. Both camera bodies are in the 8 megapixel class and are available from B&H in NYC. Their web order system works quite well, from my personal experience.
I use an older Canon 10D with an image stabilized lens for my railfanning. This is a 6.3 megapixel slr camera. Don't be fooled into getting into a negapixel race. Unless you're going to be making huge blow-ups (over 11x14 inches) or doing severe cropping of an image, 8 megapixel will do you well.
--
Jack N2MPU
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Good morning Frank;

I use a Nikon D40 which is relatively cheap. It has both automatic and manual settings, a variety of lighting conditions, ISO range of 200 to 1600, a small built-in flash, shoots black & white, shoots RAW images with a resolution up to 3008x2000 pixels per inch. It will take you longer to get ready than the camera. It has a pixel resolution of 6 megapixels: unless you plan on very large prints, it will suffice. In addition to the camera, invest in some decent editing software as well if you intend to post pictures on a website. With RAW images and fine resolution, you're looking at about 130 pictures per CD. The lens has a left hand mount. Depending on how you use the camera, the battery may last you all day, and a 2 Gb chip will take 300 pictures or more. It will literally take auto focused flash pictures in near darkness.
Choose whichever camera best suits your needs. The above are suggestions, but will hopefully give you an appreciation of what you may need. Zoom lenses lend to a variety of distances and coverages, but overall have longer focal lengths. Don't be shy about acquiring a close-up lens filter kit.
Cheers, John

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Frank,
Your most important requirement makes this a bit more of a challenge. Most all digital SLR cameras with auto focus have a bit of a delay. The real question becomes how much of a delay can you tolerate. Someone else mentioned using a Nikon D-40; I have a D40x which I have had for about four months now and TOTALLY ENJOY. There is a bit of a shutter lag while the camera is focusing but I'd guess that is only about 1/3 of a second. For my purposes, that is not a problem at all. It is certainly much quicker than the old point & shoot model that I had previously. That seemed to take a full second or more. Your needs may vary a bit though.
I got mine from Ritz Camera who is having (or had) a special where you got the camera, two lenses (15-55 and 55-200mm zooms), a case, a battery & charger and two DVDs to tell you how to use the camera. I did have to buy a memory chip and I also purchased an extra battery.
Someone mentioned not getting caught up in the "pixel race" as they called it. I have a different slant on that. I was going back & forth between the 6mp D40 and the 10.2mp D40x. Finally a friend of mine who used to shoot professionally as a newspaper photographer said to spring for the larger image. Not because of the enlargement possibilities but because you may take a picture and see something that you want to crop down to. With the extra pixels, taking a relatively small portion of an image still gives you plenty of detail. I don't know if I'm making myself perfectly clear but I'm glad I have the extra "image" to work with.
But do a lot of reading online and visit a camera store or two. See what seems to work best for YOU. Because you are ultimately paying the bill and will be the one who uses it.
Hope this helps... if you want to discuss offline, drop me a line.
dlm
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On 11/5/2007 2:06 PM Dan Merkel spake thus:

>

Question: what if you focus the camera manually? (Maybe some folks don't realize you can actually do that with a digital camera.) Does that make the picture-taking process more instantaneous?
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Dave (and others),
That's a good question... to be honest, I've never tried it. This is just a guess but I would guess that it would eliminate the lag time for the camera to focus. Like I said, that is just a guess though.
dlm
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Good morning David;

It does once the lens is in focus and the distance remains relatively constant. Otherwise, the autofocus on my camera is faster than me. One thing about the auto-focus is it can be set up several ways. If shooting moving objects, I'd recommend a spot focus. I purchased the same type of kit as Dan and I find it a good camera although I would have preferred Canon's Rebel XT which was twice the price.
Cheers, John
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On Sat, 3 Nov 2007 19:41:53 -0700, "Frank A. Rosenbaum"

I have been very happy with my Pentax K100D and the older *ist/DS2 both are 6.1 MP DSLRs. Part of my choice is owning a large stable of Pentax film camera lenses. The K100D has a good anti shake system (the lower priced K110D does not) for 10MP there is the K10D.
The Canon USA guys show up at Altamont (Alberta-Montana railfan weekend) every year trying to convert us and a lot of the guys there shoot Canon 20d & 30d which give good results. Lots of Olympus & Nikon shooters there too.
All the top brands have suitable camera so I would look for these things:
1. One you find easy to handle, and like the controls, especially for shooting in rapidly changing light. 2. A good range of lenses & accessories 3. A camera that does not use proprietary or semi-proprietary memory chips
Megapixels are not everything and they DO NOT respond like silver halide does on film. The Canon guys brought some huge enlargements shot on one of their older 3MP cameras & you would not believe them (OK it was printed on their $14,000 printer, but still.....
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On 11/6/2007 1:05 AM Mountain Goat spake thus:

Yep.
There's a lot of misconception about how many megapixels are enough, to be sure, a lot of it engendered by the camera sellers in desperate attempts to get people to ditch their "old" cameras and spend bux on hew ones.
Here's how I explained it to someone I'm working for, who expressed to me that maybe the Canon 3.2 MP camera we were using wasn't good enough and that we might need, say, a 16 MP camera. I took him over to the screen of his iMac and asked him how many megapixels he thought the display was; after discovering that the screen resolution was set to 1440x900, this was found to be ~1.3 MP. So our modest little camera was almost 3 times the resolution of that display, meaning it was plenty good enough for our purposes. (In other words, you could stack almost 3 of those displays together to display a picture shown at full resolution from that camera.)
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Interesting. Even the HD TVs that are becoming so popular nowadays have images in only the 2.0 MP range.
And your analogy to the computer monitor is a point well taken. However, with my bad eyesight, I tend to run in the older 800x600 mode. Anyone using my monitor complains about how blurry & fuzzy the images on it are. So There s more than one variable at play here.
Perhaps the best display of the whole resolution thing I saw was at our local Sears store. There was an album with the same picture displayed in the same size but with different resolutions. In other words, the pictures were all 8x10 but they varied from a pretty low 72dpi up to a much higher resolution. I don't remember what the high end was but it was pretty obvious that with each picture, the image got progressively sharper. But I would think that at some point, there would be a dimenishing return on the increased image size.
For close-up model photography, things like depth of field, a good flash and a solid tripod might be of equal or greater importance in getting a really good picture.
dlm
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On Tue, 6 Nov 2007 13:59:12 -0500, Dan Merkel wrote:

Although you'll run into occasional problems with poorly written programs and their dialog boxes especially, you can right click the desktop, select settings, advanced, and try a custom font size. I have a very sharp 1920 x 1200 WUXGA laptop screen, and run with font sizes set to 160%. Very few problems, and I get the advantage of this very sharp screen (yep, it's 2 mp - just like the best HD TVs).
--
Steve

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On Tue, 6 Nov 2007 13:59:12 -0500, Dan Merkel wrote:

One more point: while I think it leaves most or all SLR digicams out, many of the better "prosumer" digital cameras (like the Canon S5 is) have variable angle LCD viewscreens that allow you to place the camera down next to the subject - like sitting on or near the track - and rotate the LCD so you can see it just by looking down at the camera, instead of tryiong to get your eye behind the viewfinder.
http://www.dpreview.com/news/0705/07050703canons5is.asp
(scroll down to the last image just above the bottom of the page)
--
Steve

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I have used the Canon Powershot S2IS for over a year, and besides the unbeatable price $379 at the time, the 2 reasons I bought the S2 was because of the flip screen and the 12x optical zoom with stabilization. I shoot a lot of band photos and the flip screen makes for using the camera at odd angles a breeze...like over a crowd. It should be noted that the Canon Powershot cameras also have 640x480 30fps video capabilites... which with a 2gig chip gives about 17mins of video.
The only downside to the S2 (and most other non SLR digitals) is the shutter lag time. There are some ways to mitigate this on the S2 - like using manual modes & pre-focusing, but it can be annoying sometimes. The problem is more pronounced in low light conditions... as it's harder for the camera to auto-focus - which is the reason there is a lag in the first place. Also since you can take 1000's of photos with a couple memory cards, you can just delete any bad shots.
Other than the shutter lag this is a great camera (and I'm sure the S3 & S5 are even better), full of functions, easy to operate, and a lot-o-bang for the buck.
Doug
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On Tue, 06 Nov 2007 22:50:45 -0800, stealthboogie wrote:

Ya, you betcha!! I still have an old Nikon Coolpix 950 (2mp) with a rotating viewfinder. In Siena a couple days after the Palio, the youth of the winning contrada were still parading around the narrow streets with horns and drums and ... the flags of their contrada folded diagonally and worn over their shoulders with the ends tied around the ring of a baby pacifier and the nipple in their mouths!! (of those not playing horns). Must be an Italian thang. I was on a crossing lane as they came by and the crowd at the intersection was three deep - but I culd get the shot by angling the lens down and forward and the screen down and back and holding it over head.
For anything other than live action shooting - and I don't think model shots fall in that area - the occasional "shutter" delay is no drawback. And just think of all the shots on your layout you couldn't get without sawing it in half or shooting blind - say, in the middle of the yard from track level - that a flexible or "variable" viewfinder can make doable.
PS - the S5 has a bigger LCD, 2.5", than the older model, and is up to 8 megapixels. You do need an adapter for macro shots closer than 4" (my old Nikon does it right down to 3/4" without an adapter)
One thing about the new Sony DSLR: at least Sony lets the buyers of their top end cameras have the option to use CF cards instead of restricting them to their proprietary (and more expensive) "Memory Stick" storage chips.
--
Steve

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Yeah I know... the S3 came out about 3 weeks after I bought the S2, and it also has the 2.5" screen & 6MP vs the 5MP on the S2, and it's Black! And of course the price was the same as the S2 was, and the S2 dropped $50. :(
I did purchase a bunch of adaptors,a wide & tele lens, and a set of filters. I recommend to anyone with a Powershot to at least get an adaptor & UV filter to protect the lens. Besides the lens cap that comes with the camera is annoying because it either falls off by itself (it's only friction fit) or if you forget to remove it before turning on the camera... that is the automatically zooms out and as such doesn't have a cap that fits tight. With an adaptor & filter you can fit a normal 58mm cap on.
At least the Powershots use the SD memory sticks... which can be picked up pretty cheap now. I don't know if the S3/S5 has been upgraded but the S2 is limited to a 2GB stick, and it has the weird quirk that you can only shoot 1GB of video at a time, so with a 2GB stick it will shut off after 1GB and you have to hit the video button again to continue. Would be nice though if one could use the 4GB HD... although I wouldn't recommend to use just a single 1 or 2GB stick for shooting photos only. Better off using several sticks so if one screws up you don't loose everything.
Doug
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Good morning Steve;

In addition to my Nikon, I have a Fuji 2600 which will focus down to about six inches. My Nikon is strictly viewfinder whereas the Fuji is real time viewing through either the viewfinder or display screen. I discovered your observation while shooting apple and cherry blossoms: use the display screen vice the viewfinder. BTW, a 6 mm lens is virtually a fisheye lens.
Cheers, John
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On Wed, 7 Nov 2007 08:04:48 -0400, John Fraser wrote:

Uh, yes, for sure. But I'm not sure what prompted that observation. Was it something on the DPR review page?
--
Steve

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Good morning Steve;

I noticed the focal length listed on the lens in the picture. It was an observation on my part. A true fisheye covers 180 degrees, but rectangular formats tend to be corner to corner. Still, it makes for some interesting pictures.
Cheers, John
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On Thu, 8 Nov 2007 14:17:04 -0400, John Fraser wrote:

According to DPR, the 35mm equivalent range for that lens is 36 - 432mm; so for the small "film" size the 6mm is just a mild wide angle, at least as I understand it.
--
Steve

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