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Buying a digital camera for the first time

Hello one and all! My wife and I are looking into buying our first
digital camera. We’ve read and looked around a lot but we are only
more confused. We don’t even know enough to ask a decent question.
All my previous camera work was done with an old but good Olympus
OM-1 35mm SLR. We want to go digital though if we can find the right
camera. I think it would be best to describe what kind of pics I
plan on taking and hope you folks can point me down a reasonable

1.) I want to be able to do macro photos such as jewelry and/or very
small nature shots.

2.) I want to be able to take landscape type wide angle shots.

3.) I want to be able to get telephoto shots of wild game in the
woods.(I want to hunt out of season and leave the animal in good

4.) I want to be able to use the camera for good old fashioned
snapshot, day-to-day use.

5.) Obviously I’d like to be able to connect a good sized flash unit
to it as well for lighting. ( I already have a large flash unit but
I’m not sure how well it will connect with a digital camera.)

Is there such a beast out there in digital land that can do all of
this? Will I need to be buying additional lenses or equipment?
Should I just buy a simple digital camera and do the fancy stuff
with my SLR Olympus? Expiring minds want to know! If possible I’d
like to hear about price ranges also as I doubt my 23 yr.old
firstborn male child will agree to being sold to get this camera.
His wife might get a little upset about it. Any help would be
appreciated and ,if need be, you can contact me outside the Orchid
realm. I just though this might be an interesting topic for other
newbies to the jeweler’s world.


I have a Minolta Dimage 7i. It fits the bill that you describe very
nicely. I purchased wide angle, telephoto, and additional macro lens
for it as well as various filters, such as red, blue, polarizing,
etc… All were available relatively inexpensive as it uses 49 mm
which is a size used for alot of film cameras. I think Minolta has
moved on to a 7hi since my purchase, but I am sure its still about
the same camera as the 7i. It has a hotshoe for attaching additional
flash units as well as a built in flash. Plus it holds and feels like
a good ol’ film SLR. It was under $700 when I purchased over 2 yrs
ago. Plus lenses, filters etc… And make sure you buy plenty of
rechargable batteries. Digital cameras, regardless of brand or
model, no matter what anyone tells you, like to be fed often,
especially if you use flash units and LCD screen for viewing your
shots. I keep 1/2 dozen sets of 4 fully charged , as well as a
powerpack that clips on my belt that equals aprox 6 sets of 4 AA
rechargables. I also own a Nikon 990 Coolpix(with all the
accessories-lenses, filters, etc… It was highly recommended at the
time I purchased it, but I can’t say it was a good idea. Its okay,
but the controls/buttons were not nearly as intuitive as the Minolta.
Very important for a multi use camera. I also have a very early model
of Sony Mavica that uses a floppy disc for storage, but it simply
isnt very technologically advanced-i.e, low megapixal resolution of
1.3mp and few if any accessories. It was a great point and shoot
camera for a beginner, but is very limited, however the newer Mavica
line appears to be pretty decent I think, but watch out for
proprietary memory storage on Mavicas. I owned a Canon Pro90 for a
while and loved it. It was nearly impossible to take a bad shot with
that camera, but I sold it to move up to the Nikon 990 for a higher
resolution. I wish I still had it- was great camera. I just thought
I had to have the bigger megapixel rated Nikon. Its a guy thing, you

Ed in Kokomo

Hello one and all! My wife and I are looking into buying our first
digital camera. 

Hello Michael,

As you have probably already discovered there are a daunting number
of options when it comes to making this decision. Given that let me
cut to the chase.

My wife and I have two Nikon CoolPix cameras, a 995 with it’s swivel
body and a 5700. They’re both great cameras, they’re good for pretty
much everything on your shopping list although the telephoto
capabilities are limited. In general our experience is that the
CoolPix cameras are good and they keep getting better. I believe the
Nikon 8700 now retails at about the same price we paid for our 5700
about 18 months ago.

Macro is very good on both cameras. She prefers the 995 because she
does a lot of nature photography, particularly close-ups, and the
swivel really helps her (sadly Nikon has discontinued their swivel
bodied cameras) while I prefer the 5700 for technical and jewellery
photography, partially because it’s laid out pretty much like an SLR.

With these cameras your lens options are limited since they’re
basically designed to be used as is. Unless you step up to the pro
and “pro-sumer” cameras the old idea of interchangeable lenses is
atypical. For wide-angle stuff though, assuming you mean wider angle
than normal, you can add a screw-on “filter” that gives respectable
results if you’re willing to accept a little softening around the
edges of the frame.

One thing I must say about the 5700, and I assume it would apply to
the 8700, is that you’ll need to spend some time reading the manual.
There is a bewildering amount of stuff packed into these cameras and
even though I’ve been into photography since the 80s I still needed
to stop, rewind and take it step-by-step when I picked up the 5700. I
think that’s just the nature of digital cameras: one needs a little
re-education time.

I’m not much of a snap-shooter so I tend to run full manual, manual
focus and care a lot about things like white balance and so forth.
My wife is less inclined this way and she uses many of the auto
features. These cameras can do all of this and so we’re both happy.
One nice little feature of the 5700 is that you can define user
profiles so that when one of us picks up the camera we flip it back to
our profile which recalls (most of) our preferred settings, including
where the photos are stored on the media. I find this very

Both have built in pop-up flashes and both accept external flash
connections but I don’t use flashes so I’m in no position to comment
one way or the other.

One thing worth thinking about when you’re budgeting for this
purchase is media. We tend to shoot at high quality settings so it’s
not hard to eat up a memory card pretty fast. On the 995, for
instance, my wife has a small handful of 256 mb cards which she swaps
in and out and then downloads to her laptop at the end of the day. I
put a 1 gig microdrive into the 5700 and we seldom have to swap that
out, but it does happen.

Another expense to consider is extra batteries. On a typical day my
wife can burn through 3 or 4 batteries without even trying. One gets
somewhere between one and two hours of continuous use out of a battery
so swapping just becomes a fact of life.

Last but not least I believe there are a number of threads in the
Orchid archives where people’s digital camera recommendations are
discussed. Of course a wide variety of cameras are mentioned but I
think it’s safe to say that a few of our other members have found the
Nikon CoolPix models quite satisfactory too.

FWIW I’ve found this site quite useful for digital camera
reviews, spec sheets, et al:

Trevor F.

Hi Michael: I don’t know what you’re price range is for the camera
but I recently bought a konica minolta that works great and has all
the features that you were talking about.The one I got was the A-2 It
has the macro as well as the telephoto and wide angle capabilities
plus a really neat antishake feature and a killer autofocus. The main
reason i got it was the one I bought a year ago didn’t have good
battery capacity. That’s a big deal with digital cameras because they
use so much power. With the new one I went for an airplane flight
took 180+ pictures with the battery on all the time and came back and
downloaded them all still on battery. It is so fully automatic that
even an inexperienced person like me can take great shots. Still it
has all the professional features you could want. With an extra
battery and the telephoto lens and a lot of extras it was about
1400.00 from wolf camera on the internet. (no sales tax)

Hope this helps you out. One of the reasons I bought it was to
photograph my work for my web site.

Good Luck
Harry Walter


I am an old SLR fan myself and like to be able to use different
lenses. I waited for somone to come out with a digital SLR that was
under a thousand. I got a Canon Digital Rebel for $900.00. It was
steep, but I love it. I have used it for everything. I am pleased
with the macro work I have done as well. In my studio, I get the
camera in place and can control most of the settings from my laptop.
I take the picture from the laptop, review it from the laptop and can
change settings all without touching the camera. I found a Sigma
28=80 Zoom lense that has a great macro function and by using a macro
ring, I can get as close as I would ever need.

Good luck,
Mike Buckner


Why not go to a large, reputable camera store and talk to someone
there? This is what I did and the recommendation(s) has been
consistent–Nikon has the best macro optics–and lots of options in
terms of digital cameras. The “camera” people can give you the best
based on what you want to be able to do and what you
already know–and show you the cameras. Judging from past discussions
on Orchid, “we” have our preferences and prejudices, so give yourself
all the options and make your own decision!!! Also, look on the
internet for good deals once you know what you want.



Yes Mike, there are beasts out there who can meet all your
requirements, but they are rather expensive (about $2000 up).

First, why don=B4t you check with Olympus, if you have been happy with
your present camera? They have made a new camera: C8080 (for about
$900), with 8 million pix., fixed zoomlens equivalent to 28mm -
140mm, macro capabilities down to about 2", pop up flash and a hot
flash shoe.

If all that is not enough for you, then you must go digital SLR.
But you left out the most important question: How large prints are
you going to make? If letter-size prints are large enough for you (
up to 8"x10"), then you can use most cameras with 3 million pixels
and up. The most important single component in any camera, film or
digital, is the lens. I would never buy a camera unless its lens is
made by a reputable lens manufacturer. This Olympus C8080 seems to
have a very competent lens! But for wildlife, 140mm tele is perhaps
a little on the light side.

Another possibility is a good film or flatbed scanner, and scan your
present films into your computer. Then you can keep using your old
Olympus. Both Canon and Epson make excellent combined flatbed & film
scanners for a reasonable price.

Check out these links:

Best regards,
Jon Holm,
Bornholm Denmark

If you have a goodly collection of OM-1 lenses (as I do,) consider
getting the “pro-sumer” Olympus model E-1. I recently went to a
Professional photographer’s “seminar” put on by Olympus. While the
OM-1 lenses are not automatic on the E-1, the tech rep told me that
an adapter would soon be available. I hope that this wasn’t just
’vaporware’ (in the software world, that is a product that’s
theoretically going to happen, but never does.)

David Barzilay
Lord of the Rings
607 S Hill St Ste 850
Los Angeles, CA 90014-1718