Photography/New Camera

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Question
Hi Pat,

I was an intermediate photo student in high school but it's been a few years since then and I only ever learned to use film cameras. I really want to get started with digital photography but not sure what camera to get. I'm not looking to do it professionally but more for myself so I get out of the house and to help with my depression. I want a camera like my film one where I can adjust the focus manually. I hear that the Nikon D3300 is a good starter camera but I would like your opinion about what camera is best for going from film to digital.

Thanks,
Kelli

Answer
Hello, Kelli,

I only have experience with one digital camera: Pentax. However, I can still express an opinion. We started with a Pentax film camera. That was my husband's choice. However, when I went digital, I chose to continue with Pentax for one reason: I had a collection of lenses that would fit, which meant I didn't have to buy new lenses. The Pentax has an advantage over both Nikon and Canon: the image stabilization is in the camera, not the lens. What this means in practice is that you can use inexpensive lenses (lenses with stabilization are expensive), and you can use existing lenses. This also means you can buy used lenses for a very low price. If you decide on the Nikon because of the price, please be aware that you will very quickly spend the money you saved on the fact the lenses are more expensive.

The reason Pentax has this unique feature is that it has a patent on the device. I have heard rumors that Nikon and/or Canon have developed their own in-camera mechanism, but I haven't verified this.

I priced the Nikon, as well as the Pentax K-3 (which is not their latest model, but close to it). The difference in price for the camera body (depending on where you buy) is only about $130. The newer model includes GPS information in the image information, and has modified the image stabilization so you can track stars at night. (I wish I had waited for this model, but the K-3 is a fantastic camera). The K-3 also has another interesting feature for what it's worth. The ISO settings go up to 51,200. You get a very, very grainy picture at that high ISO, but I have been able to use 3200 and even 6400 with reasonable results, depending on the situation. And to give you an example of what you can do in terms of lenses, I like to do bird photography. I acquired a very simple lens (variable aperture, which means no aperture adjustment), manual focus, that goes out to 1300mm. If the light is good, I can tack on a 1.7x extender and go out to 2200mm. This lens only set me back $280, and they are available cheaper now. I have gotten some excellent pictures with this; the only drawback is that if you point at the sky close to the direction of the sun, you will get fringing.

Digital is a whole new experience. There is so much more you can do with digital. You will be astonished. But it does take a little getting used to. It never bothered me much, however. You can learn to use one feature at a time.

So I am a diehard Pentax user. Make of it what you will, but give it some thought. Look at reviews. And that's my opinion for what it's worth. Feel free also to solicit other opinions.

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Pat G

Expertise

I can answer questions about the artistic aspects of photography, and tricks for shooting landscape, scenic, macro, and animal photography. I am familiar with Pentax SLR cameras, both film and digital. I have also done work in urban photography and creative photography, and I am familiar with creative uses of filters and lenses. I am familiar with composition and color theory, and know how to make use of light. I can answer questions about things like lightning photography and moon photography. I spend time studying the techniques of the well known photographers. I work exclusively in color. Although I travel anywhere and everywhere in pursuit of landscape and scenic photography, my main area of expertise is the American southwest, and I am familiar with many scenic areas. I also have familiarity with the plants of the Sonoran Desert, having studied not only their appearance but also their uses, including ethnobotany. See my educational credentials for other art that I do.

Experience

I have spent the last ten years as a semi-professional photographer, selling my work on the internet, and having won international honors. The gallery of my most recent work, where I usually post frequently is http://patgoltz.deviantart.com/ I will take questions about how I did various photographs.

Education/Credentials
The first prize I won for my art was when I was in third grade. I have a bachelor's degree in art from Ohio Dominican University, where I learned mainly ceramics and glaze calculation. I have also done various kinds of fiber arts. In addition, I do digital landscapes, abstracts, and fractal art.

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