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Old 20th of July 2003 (Sun)   #1
SuperStu
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Default Advice: Buying Camera

Hi everyone!

I am a novice when it comes to taking photos, but I'm a technophile (check www.dictionary.com). I have recently moved into a beautiful area (in the Rocky Mountains) by a national park.

I have always loved nature, and find myself with the most spectacular photo opportunities while I'm in this area.

On to the purpose of this post:

I want to buy a digital camera that can do the flora and fauna of the area justice. I am looking at getting the G3 and a decent lens, but I'm not sure about compatibilities or even if the G3 is what I'm looking for.

I know that the G3 may be beyond the beginner level, but I learn quickly and have a strong interest in jumping right in! Is the G3 too 'fancy,' just right, or not fancy enough for what want to photograph?

As for the lens, I can't exactly walk up to a grizzly bear for a photo, but I do want close ups of the animals I encounter. What kind of lens would work for me? (There are many beautiful landscape shots as well, which would probably work better with a wide angle lens I'm guessing... but that's for later.)

Thanks so much in advance,
Stuart.
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Old 20th of July 2003 (Sun)   #2
billdcat
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Default Re: Advice: Buying Camera

I don't think I would say that the G3 is too fancy. It has all the automatic modes that the cheaper one's have, but the difference is that once you feel more comfortable with the camera, you can start playing around with the manual settings. It does not force you to learn everything at once. If you are wanting to "dive right in", I think you would end up feeling limited by some of the cheaper cameras as you start experimenting since they won't offer the kinds of manual override features that the G3 provides.

For close-ups (and as someone who has taken bear photos with my G3) I think you would want the add-on teleconverter to improve the magnification. Again, this is not something that to my knowledge the cheaper cameras have available as an option.
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Old 23rd of July 2003 (Wed)   #3
SuperStu
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Default Re: Buying Camera... 6 questions

Thanks Nathan! I appreciate your advice.

I have done further research think the G3 is the camera for me. I just need to know several answers...

1) Is the canon TC-DC58N tele converter lens a 1.75x magnification, or 1.5x? I know that the TC-DC58 is made for the G1 and the G2 and is a 1.5x, but if you look up the TC-DC58N on the net, many places call it a 1.5x as well... (I'd most trust the Canon site which only mentions it being a 1.75x once).

2) Does any tele converter work with the G3 as long as you have the right size of lens adapter/adapter ring?

3) Is a 2x tele converter (Kenko for instance) noticeably better than the Canon TC-DC58N for a newb like me?

4) Would the Kenko 8x telephoto lens for Dig Cams ( http://www.adorama.com/refby.tpl?refby=brate&sku=IKN832 ) work with the G3? What would you need to get it to work? Come to think of it... what's the difference between a tele converter and a telephoto lens?

5) Is it likely that I'll want/need filters and are 58mm filters readily available? Which filters are most useful for wildlife shots?

6) Beach Camera seems to have one of the best deals around... but I'm not sure if they'll ship to Canada. I'm waiting for a response from them. Have any other Canadians imported from the States and had good luck with a particular vendor?

Wow, that's a whole load of questions... I hope someone can help me out with some of these...

Once again, I appreciate your responses!

Stuart.
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Old 23rd of July 2003 (Wed)   #4
billdcat
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Default Re: Advice: Buying Camera

No problem.

1) Dang, my teleconverter is in my car so I can't compare model numbers, but the one I have is definitely 1.75x and it is the Canon model specifically for the G3.

2) I doubt it, but I can't say with authority. It is not just the lens mount, but also the distance from the main lens which is important. Chances are unless it is not specifically targetted at the G3, it either won't work or won't give the specified magnification. Someone can correct me if I am wrong, though.

3) I haven't tried any others besides the Canon lenses, so I can't really say either, but I wouldn't scoff at the extra .25 magnification. That would be noticable, and one of the things which always gives you the chance for better compositions is to be able to get tighter shots at a distance.

4) This particular lens I don't think will work with the G3 since the thread is too small. They advertise 28mm and 37mm mounts, while the G3 I believe is either 52mm or 58mm. There may be others out there which have the correct threading or are at least adaptable. Given that the link you provide seems to indicate that it will work across multiple cameras, it is perhaps likely that there is something else out there that may be for multiple cameras, but with a larger screw base.

5) Yup, there are filters in that diameter. At worst, you could use step-up rings, but that is a pain, is more expensive, and more awkward to change on the fly. I would highly recommend a polarizing filter, which definitely is available at 58 mm. I know of people who use the Cokin filter system with their G3 and are happy with the results (they use the P system, which is the larger of the two). I haven't used anything other than polarizing and neutral density filters myself, so I can't comment personally, but the people I have talked to seem to like the system. This way, you only have to deal with the mount for the filter holder. The filters themselves are just rectangular plates that slide into the holder. I am a bit biased on the point of filters in that the only ones I use are either polarizing or neutral density filters. Many filters out there are gimmicky and result in artificial-looking results. I focus on landscape photography. I am not against filters, its just that I have seen nature put on better shows than any filter can provide, and I like to be able to say in my final output that what you see represents what I saw when taking the photo.

6) As a Canadian myself, I avoid buying from the US because of duty, getting stuff across the border, and until recently the dollar exchange. In general, I have heard nasty stories about unexpectedly high duties and hard to deal with customs brokers. The G3 is a very popular model, and can be found at pretty much any camera shop in Canada worth their salt. Even London Drugs and Future Shop carry them. Chances are you could negotiate a better deal, or at least some extras. I ended up with an extra memory card and carry case thrown in.

Hope this helps!
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Old 23rd of July 2003 (Wed)   #5
Sheri
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Default Re: Advice: Buying Camera

I have a G3 and love it so I hope you won't misunderstand. I also have a 1.75 teleconverter and external 420EX flash. The camera is great for landscapes and flowers, no problem there. But if wildlife will be your primary focus, you might be better served by a camera with a much longer optical zoom. I participate on a Yahoo group called Digipets http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Digipets/ and have seen some stunning shots taken by a variety of cameras. One that impresses me alot is output from the Panasonic DMC-FZ1K. It is only a 2 megapixel camera, but it has a Leica 12X optical zoom. And you can add a teleconverter. It is cheaper than the G3, and almost totally automatic with no manual overrides. It has its own pros and cons and I have no first hand experience with it. I'd hate to trade my G3 for one, but would love to have one as a second camera.

Regards,
Sheri
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Old 23rd of July 2003 (Wed)   #6
SuperStu
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Default Re: Advice: Buying Camera

UGH!!! I just spent 20 Minutes composing a message to have it erased when my browser timed out.... what a pain!

Anyway...

Thanks Nathan and Sheri for your answers and advice!

As for importing to Canada... here is what my research has provided:

Customs Canada has stated directly to me via phone that digital cameras have no duty fees... only a $5 brokerage fee + GST on the item.

Canadian prices:
$969
$999
$1100
At various vendors. This price is for the retail camera box w/ its accessories.
NB: With GST - 969x1.07=$1037 CAN

From Beach Camera:
$669 US
+Shipping ~$45 US (I am waiting for an actual quote from them)
=$714 US

Converted to Canadian: $714 US x 1.45 = $1035 CAN
Plus GST: $1035 CAN x 1.07 = $1108 CAN

Now for the kicker! The price from Beach Camera includes the following:
G3 Camera
Camera Case
128 MB flash mem card
Lens Cleaning Kit
LA-DC58B lens adapter for G3
TC-DC58N 1.75x teleconverter for G3

Now you can see why I'm looking at importing...

Anyone have some advice on if I missed something? Anyone with a success story or a horror story of importing? Thanks for the input,
Stu.
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Old 23rd of July 2003 (Wed)   #7
RedShoesGirl
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Default Re: Advice: Buying Camera

Be sure to check out B&H in NY for prices too. http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh3/controller/home;jsessionid=1eiRk8P1If!612973806?ci=1&sb=ps&pn =1&sq=desc&InitialSearch=yes&O=SearchBar&A=search& Q=*&shs=canon+G3

looks like that have the camera for $525
teleconverter $110
lens adaptor $20

When I had my G3 for the short time I had it I bought the lensmate adapter per advice found here. It is more sturdy than the Canon one which is a good thing considering how big and heavy the wide angle converter was and I think it was less expensive.

Consider buying a large memory card - 256 for $80 or even less at CostCo and camera bags are such a personal preference I would not want one that was just thrown in as part of a kit.

B&H prices seem to be better than Beach and I can heartily reccomend them. I buy all my stuff from them (except for one purchase I made somewhere else and then kicked myself around the block for it!) — and have been extremely happy.

RSG
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Old 23rd of July 2003 (Wed)   #8
chrisp
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Default Re: Advice: Buying Camera

I just got into this digital photography thing at christmas and have gone through some of the same things you are asking about- so here's my 2 cents!

The G3 is a great learning camera. It can do 'point and shoot' like all the cheaper stuff, but you can also play with settings (either just a few or all) and experiment.

Play with the shutter speeed and leave everything else automatic. Or play with aperture. Or both. It's really quick and easy to experiment.

The zoom lens isn't quite enough, and I ended up buying a 2x teleconverter. Check through this forum, there are a bunch of posts with info, and one guys webpage with all kinds of lenses compared. You don't have to stick with Canon! but they do make pretty good stuff.

The stock zoom lens has lots of range and is pretty good. But a telecon is a very nice addition. Recently I've been trying to take pix of the underside of cars (don't ask!) and bought a wide angle (0.7x) which has worked out great as well.

so: the camera is a great learning tool, and can easily be adapted to do a whole lot more.

I've started bumping against it's limitations compared to $5000 digital SLR type cameras, but oh well! I'm not prepared to go there

first step- get a camera and take lots of pictures. When you start running into limitations, address them (like more lens or whatever)

for that, first step is adapter. Canon sells plastic ones for $20.. lensmate makes really sweet aluminum ones for $30 and are sooo much nicer. (check their website).

next step- add-on lenses
I went with an olympus tcon-17 1.75x tele. Some lenses are 2x tele but in reality are almost the same as 1.75x (so don't trust the numbers 100%!)
I also got a Canon wide-angle.
Some filters are nice (polarizer for water pix, and UV for general use). No need for a Neutral density filter, the camera has one built in that you can turn on and off.

mail order from the US to Canada is no big deal.
Best: if they send it US Mail / Canada post.. $5 handling fee plus taxes/duties.
Worst: Courier company like UPS .. all above fees plus usually $40 or more Brokerage Fee.

Rule of thumb: double the US price and that is close to what it will cost you in canadian$ to your door including duties and taxes and stuff (pretty close).
If it's $500 USD, it will cost close to $1000 CDN.
Right now exchange is a bit better, but it isn't that different.

If you mail-order something and it gets lost, is wrong, is broken, has to be returned, etc.. you're going to spend lots extra. Buy local if possible.

I bought my camera at a local shop. They were helpful, showed me a whole range of cameras (do this! some just seem to 'fit' your hand better than others).
I don't mind paying them a bit for the service.

On the other hand, they only sold canon lenses and accessories. Reading these forums, I found that other lenses could be slightly better/cheaper than the canon, and the lensmate adapters are really nice.

I bought the Olympus 1.75x tele lens and lensmate adapters mail order from the US. I bought the Canon wideangle lens and camera from my local store.

With digital cameras with LCD screens (the G3 one is awesome BTW, being able to swivel around is a really nice feature!!), you can fiddle with focus and stuff, so you can almost attach the camera to anything and get it to work. Some stuff works better than others though.

There's a few people selling attachment stuff so you can hook the camera to spotting scopes, telescopes, etc.. which can give you lots of magnification! Read the forums here for crystalview 8x scope... you can attach that to the g3 and get 30x magnification! cool


chrisP
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