Sunday, December 3, 2006

Upgrading Your Camera System? Plan Wisely!

Further Website Reading:

CompactFlash (CF Card) official site
Secure Digital (SD Card) official site
Minolta SRT-101 film camera information
Pentax K1000 film camera information

Storage Issues

Writing our digital images to CD media for storage are increasingly not the best option, since we've upgraded our cameras from the Nikon D70/D100/ D2H bodies to the D200/D2Hs/D2Xs cameras. The new bodies write such large file sizes, that it's getting more difficult to burn anything but a DVD data disk to store the raw images these produce. And what do we do with raw HD movie clips, when they record at a gigabyte per minute? This demonstrates that higher-capacity storage gear (like DVD burners and HD/DVD, BluRay disks and servers) have to be added to archive the larger files you'll write. That's the big issue as cameras now are built to document scenes in higher and better definition. That's one of the many issues you have to consider even before purchasing these newer cameras, like an HD camcorder and still cameras, even the more affordable ones.

What Fits?
Before diving into the options for purchasing replacement gear, don't lose sight of your most important option: Purchase the gear that fits what you're shooting for. If you plan on capturing family pictures or video to share with family and friends, do you need something that can bang off 8 frames per second? The camera prices tend to ramp up depending on the build quality. Therefore, gauge your purchase point based on the amount of shooting you wish to do as well as the image quality. And that means that the most crucial investment in camera gear should be the lenses. One can capture a tack-sharp image with the digital and film cameras being produced, as long as first-rate glass stands between your subject and the captured image. Always bear in mind that all a truly great camera must do is remain consistent, and most camera systems do just that. Google such terms as digital lens quality, camera optics, and other words or phrases that relate to lens reviews, since many worthwhile articles and lens tests have already been archived after being published in magazines and websites. Visit photo-specific sites, making certain that you weigh your decision against others' recommendations, understanding that some sites may actually be driven by a camera manufacturer instead of by independent reviewers.

Camera Cards
Scanning quickly through the Canon line of cameras, for instance, entry-level digital SLR's can produce 12.8 megapixel jpegs, while big papa EOS-1Ds Mark II can shoot a 16.7 megapixel image at 4 fps. With the capability of capturing raw images as well, camera users will be filling their 1-gigabyte cards up really fast. So, CF cards (CompactFlash), SD cards (Secure Digital) and other recordable/rewritable camera media need larger capacity, or you'll be spending more time pausing during your photo shoot, just to download your filled memory cards. Try buying higher-capacity cards, and you'll see the seemingly endless names and sizes of cards being introduced. You may want to go to the official CompactFlash and Secure Digital sites to sort through the confusion. While searching Google online, you'll quite often see many camera cards being sold at more affordable prices. Are they reliable? Will they also write fast enough to keep up with the camera you're interested in, at its fastest shooting speed? Will these cards be compatible with your camera? Those are questions that the prospective buyer must answer, in order to make a sound and logical decision before making a commitment to buy. And there's new technology on the horizon as solid state media has to perform faster than all the cameras being released.

Forward Compatibility
Quite often, we make purchases before taking a look at the needed accessories under consideration. Just because you purchase the same camera system, a new body may not be forward-compatible with some camera accessories you have in your arsenal. Several years ago, for instance, the Nikon D1-model bodies were being sold at discount in order to make way for the D2 system. The new cameras were built with updated electronic flash integration, making the flash units on the D1 line obsolete with new models. There are so many bodies within the Canon and Nikon digital systems that it can make your head swim. Camera manufacturers from Agfa to Toshiba are releasing digital cameras of all types, with more features that will make buyers more confused than ever! The only way to keep your mind focused is to ask yourself what you really want your camera to do.

Don't get Frustrated
A new body or system takes unlearning the hardware and/or firmware from what you've gotten used to using. Cameras are like automobiles. While you've adjusted to its qualities and shortcomings, the realist inside knows that you're living on limited use with what you have, since each day begins to test your comfort level as you're outgrowing your gear. Each day you still have your old gear, it slowly depreciates in value. Some people like to update their equipment regularly, which yields more money from your old equipment. One brand of equipment has better resale value, while another depreciates more quickly. Don't ask me which, though, because my gear is issued by work!

Patience, Patience
A good number of people have said that purchasing any new camera system will cost twice the amount of the retail cost of the cameras alone, in order to completely upgrade gear. For instance, with the addition of the AG-HVX200 camcorder (which was purchased in June), there are still several critical pieces of equipment that still need to be purchased to be able to maintain a smooth workflow from shooting footage to archiving the files. Be honest with yourself, in order to make the jump a successful one. Rushing too quickly to upgrade can make your daily work quite frustrating. Perhaps you've noticed that I had no recommendations. That's because you must make your own decision, by asking and answering your questions and researching all the options you have.

A Sadder Note
There are currently, about 25 DSLR bodies available from the larger and more popular camera manufacturers, in my estimation, that are currently in production in the U.S. market. But there are less, now, than I had originally thought. Konica and Minolta, who had joined together a number of years ago, had ceased production of their camera business, since March 31, 2006 according to their website. They also plan to slowly phase out their color film and photographic paper products, completing complete termination by the end of March next year, 2007. There is no longer official support for their film cameras, but their digitals are being supported by Sony. Do some of you remember learning photography with the 35mm film work horses, the Minolta SRT-101 and the Pentax K1000? Many schools purchased those cameras since they were durable and affordable. All you needed was a roll of film and hands to adjust and fire the camera. No beeps, color displays, or worries about dead batteries (as long as you could estimate the exposure) or even a light to moderate rain. Those cameras were so sturdy, it seemed like they could be used to actually hammer nails.

You know, I'm going to hunt for both of those cameras on eBay.

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