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Hello All.

I am the graphic Designer at a small commercial printer, and we are looking at buying a digital Camera. Our budget is about $1000-$1500.

I am a 35mm film enthusiast, however I have little to no experience with digital camera's.

Can anyone recommend a good one? For that price range can we get a fully manual one.
I really hate automatic camera's. However it will need to have a automatic mode for some of the less technically minded people there, along with those who have a NO experience with manual exposures etc...


The camera will also have to take high quality photo's as some of them will go to press. Color accuracy is important also.
If our budget is no large enough to allow for a good camera, how big of budget do we need? We would rather spend $2500 and be happy with what we have, the spend $2500 in a year and have a $1000 piece of crap sitting on our shelf.

Any who would be appreciated.


Thanks
 

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Nick, I have been looking at the Minolta Dimage 7i, the Sony 717 and the Nikon 5700 and have decided upon the Minolta. It has more of the feel of a SLR camera, and is better balanced for my hands. As well, it has a range of 28mm-200mm equivalency to a SLR, which is quite rare (most digital cameras with a high telefoto focal length do not come close to a wide angle focal length of 28mm).
 

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Having purchased a Nikon 5000 earlier this year I am very pleased with the camera. The 5700 seems to be identical picture-quality wise; they both run in the 1500-2000 range. Nikon USA seems to be discontinuing the 5000 in favor of the 5700, so deals may be forthcoming soon; Nikon's US web store is offering a $100 rebate (no idea if a Canadian address is eligible though).

5+ megapixels is great; auto and manual modes are very useful (you can predefine 3 modes as well as the fourth "full auto" mode). Shutter lag is very low and poor shutter lag was the main reason I kept my money till recently. If possible, test shutter lag in store before you buy.

I was frankly suprised at the color accuacy; at first I hadn't considered that one major advantage of digital cameras is they don't have film's unbalanced color sensitivity, but it makes sense once you think about it (forget the polarizer, the sky is BLUE). Auto and manual white balance is available.

Because of my job I was able to compare it to a half dozen or so cameras from Sony, Canon, & Kodak. The serious photo nuts (the ones who are a little concerned about digital quality) prefer my Nikon or the Canons, while those less demanding of quality liked the easy to use Sonys. As for me, the 5000 was the first camera that met my image quality expectations. For my uses, the 28mm (equivalent) minimum focal length was critical, but most 3x optical zoom cameras will go down to 35mm (equivalent). The 5000 can also zoom to 85mm and can accept 2x and 3x teleconverters (56-170mm and 84-255mm respectively). Another great accessory (and reasonably priced) is a slide adapter that creates excellent hi-res slide copies (and maybe film, not sure). Nikon has downloadable firmware updates (Mac and Windows) that constantly add and/or improve features and performance, a nice touch, so you may want to check nikonusa.com for any features you require (eg RAW format, supported in v1.7) that may not be documented in printed literature.

Battery life is about 1 week, and with a 128 card I can store 52 hi-res (5.24 megapixel) images. I have a second battery and they charge in about an hour. iPhoto recognises the camera seamlessly.

Because new image sensor technology is just coming to market, I wouldn't spend more than about $1500 for a serious digital quality requirement; in 2-3 years the newer sensors will be at that price point. The newer sensors can create any color from each pixel (rather than using 3-6 pixels to make up a single color (RGB) as the current sensors do).

In essence, you will have a 10 megapixel-equivalent image from a sensor that today would be 3.3MP.

The new sensors are called (something like) "Fomblin" and are showing up in the megabuck models this winter.
 
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