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Food-Friendly Camera?


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#31 feedmec00kies

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Posted 21 January 2008 - 10:56 PM

BUT as to just what excellent results can be obtained with a "compact" digital camera and daylight illumination, (with a little software assist maybe), have a look at the really splendid photos posted on eGullet by 'Chufi'. Skill matters more than equipment!

One recent example -
Posted Image
and if you check the EXIF metadata, you'll see that it was taken on a humble Canon A620 compact...

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I'll return to respond to the rest later, but I keep forgetting to say this and it's important, so I'll say it now.

First, that's not really so different from what I was saying originally. I was criticized for suggesting my "compact" digital camera as not worth the money. Having a good eye for detail and framing is more important than anything else.

Secondly, if you're using that picture as an example of depth of field using a "compact", keep in mind that that's in macro mode. Which wouldn't really help much for taking pictures of cakes, unless they're reaaaaaaaaaally small and cute. Mmmm, small cute cakes.

Anyway, more on the other things later. I'm tired and lazy. :raz:
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#32 jumanggy

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Posted 21 January 2008 - 11:30 PM

Sorry I didn't catch this before, onetoughtcookie, but Patrick S uses a Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT, price range from $395.00 to $784.95. :smile:
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#33 thdad

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Posted 13 May 2008 - 06:14 PM

Would anyone recommend a good point and shoot type digital camera that takes good pictures under a typical restarant setting -- low light, flash-less, close-up shots?

The camera shop recommended a digital SLR type camera, but it is too bulky and conspicuous to use in restaurants to take quick food shots. I am wondering if the new compact models with high iso settings and steady shot feature will result in better pictures.

#34 feedmec00kies

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Posted 13 May 2008 - 06:57 PM

Would anyone recommend a good point and shoot type digital camera that takes good pictures under a typical restarant setting -- low light, flash-less, close-up shots?

The camera shop recommended a digital SLR type camera, but it is too bulky and conspicuous to use in restaurants to take quick food shots.  I am wondering if the new compact models with high iso settings and steady shot feature will result in better pictures.

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The answer, in short, is no.

Sorry, but a DSLR (with a good macro lens) is really the only way to get what you want (a camera for low light and flash-less conditions, especially hand-held). To answer your specific question about ISO, high ISO settings on compacts are really grainy - I have a Canon Powershot S3 IS and don't go over 400... and 400 is the maximum I'll go, and I try to avoid that at all costs. The sensor size is much too small to produce quality pictures at those settings.

If you just want a good camera in general, check Digital Camera Resource Page . But, as I said, a compact is not going to give you very good pictures. Passable, maybe. But not good. And doubtfully any better than an older compact. And I say that as someone who owns one of the "higher end" compacts, one which is hardly "compact" anymore (the Powershot S5 IS listed is the successor to my camera).

Edited by feedmec00kies, 13 May 2008 - 07:05 PM.

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#35 rgruby

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Posted 13 May 2008 - 07:06 PM

Fuji seems to be the brand that has the best reputation for low light, high ISO settings in a point and shoot. The F31 in particular is well regarded.

But they dropped it in favour of an "upgraded" model that doubled the megapixel count at the expense of picture quality, especially in low light. Sigh. They have a new one, the F100, that I'm strongly considering - basically the upgrade to the upgrade of the F31. Oh - the F31s are selling for astronomical sums on ebay. Folks, it ain't a cure for cancer, it's just a camera.

But, I think I've read everything out there just about on the F100. There are some issues - not a whole lot of manual control if that matters to you. A bit of a clunky interface compared to the competition. No viewfinder. There may be some issues with a bit of a pinkish band running down the side of the picture in some circumstances for some users (erm, the photo folks are worse than foodies I think in their obsessiveness). Oh, they're in the over $300 range as well - so getting up near the top of the P&S price point.

I haven't actually even seen one yet, let alone used one though. What I know is purely word of mouth. But, overall, if low light shooting is important, definitely check out the Fuji.

Cheers,
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#36 rlibkind

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Posted 13 May 2008 - 07:40 PM

High ISOs will allow you to take photos under dim lighting situations, but they do not result in better pictures. They will, however, allow you to capture usable images that would be okay for email and web use. Just don't expect to make 8x10 prints of any quality. Keep in mind the higher the ISO, the "noisier" the resulting image. Although cameras vary in their ability to suppress noise, it starts becoming bothersome at ISO 400.

I'd suggest going with a camera that feels good in your hands and isn't too heavy. For the type of shooting you describe, you want a camera that can not only take a half-decent photo, but one that feels ergonomically good (and fits in your pocket or bag of whatever) so you'll take it along and use it. A "compact" point and shoot would probably work best, but if "pocketability" is paramount, go for a "subcompact". The former, however, will usually offer the best combination of features and picture quality for the dollar, and can still fit in many pockets; to get similar features and quality in the smaller subcompact, you'll pay more.

You will also want a camera whose autofocus system works well in dim light. (Most can, but some can't.)

If restaurant food photos is the primary way you intend to use this camera, make sure it can focus as close as two feet (most compacts can).

Some point-and-shoots don't offer shutter speeds of less than 1/60 of a second (slower shutters are when camera shake becomes pronounced, causing blurry photos); but that usually means they'll automatically increase the ISO to a level where it encourages noise. Other point-and-shoots will offer slower shutter speeds so you can shoot at a lower ISO. For those, you want the camera with image stabilization (IS) which allows you to shoot at 1/30 or even 1/15 without a tripod, which you obviously will not have available while dining. (Image stabilization is probably what you meant when you used the term "steady shot".)

You also don't need a camera with extreme zoom, since you won't be using the telephoto focal length. Something with a 35mm equivalent range of 35-105mm would be more than adequate. And don't worry about megapixels; just about any point-and-shot built today has as many as needed, given the sensor size, to produce very good photos.
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#37 SobaAddict70

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Posted 13 May 2008 - 07:55 PM

At some point I'm going to have to upgrade my camera to something more technologically advanced. The one I have now is a Nikon Coolpix L3.

It's barely passable when I use it in a low-light setting. Take Tailor for example. Given Chef Mason's insistence that flash photography not be used, I had to request an early seating in order to take advantage of the natural light that was still available when the restaurant opened last autumn. There's no way I'd be able to go past a 7 pm one top.

Lighting is everything.

edit: not sure about the actual ISO speed. great. one more thing to educate myself regarding digital photography. :angry: :huh:

Edited by SobaAddict70, 13 May 2008 - 08:00 PM.


#38 prasantrin

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Posted 13 May 2008 - 09:02 PM

But, I think I've read everything out there just about on the F100. There are some issues - not a whole lot of manual control if that matters to you. A bit of a clunky interface compared to the competition. No viewfinder. There may be some issues with a bit of a pinkish band running down the side of the picture in some circumstances for some users (erm, the photo folks are worse than foodies I think in their obsessiveness).  Oh, they're in the over $300 range as well - so getting up near the top of the P&S price point.

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You and me both! I've gone through all the forums, etc. etc., and I've even played with one (until I was set upon by a Fuji salesman). One guy on the dpreview forums (or maybe is was another website) has his F100 shots up on Flickr, and the close-ups are beautiful. However, they're in full daylight, not in dim restaurants. If you do a search on "Fuji F100fd" and other permutations on flickr, you can find some low-light shots, but no close-up ones sans flash.

Apparently Fuji is coming out with a firmware fix for the pink band problem (which I barely notice), so I'm thinking of getting it after that happens. Just thinking, though. I'd like the price to go down a little, too!

#39 rgruby

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Posted 13 May 2008 - 10:01 PM

But, I think I've read everything out there just about on the F100. There are some issues - not a whole lot of manual control if that matters to you. A bit of a clunky interface compared to the competition. No viewfinder. There may be some issues with a bit of a pinkish band running down the side of the picture in some circumstances for some users (erm, the photo folks are worse than foodies I think in their obsessiveness).  Oh, they're in the over $300 range as well - so getting up near the top of the P&S price point.

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You and me both! I've gone through all the forums, etc. etc., and I've even played with one (until I was set upon by a Fuji salesman). One guy on the dpreview forums (or maybe is was another website) has his F100 shots up on Flickr, and the close-ups are beautiful. However, they're in full daylight, not in dim restaurants. If you do a search on "Fuji F100fd" and other permutations on flickr, you can find some low-light shots, but no close-up ones sans flash.

Apparently Fuji is coming out with a firmware fix for the pink band problem (which I barely notice), so I'm thinking of getting it after that happens. Just thinking, though. I'd like the price to go down a little, too!

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I've read that the pink banding thing is caused by heat from the battery (and thus not fixable) or that it is easily fixable with the new firmware update. Who knows? From everything I've read, it's still a step ahead of the competition in the low light category, and holds its weight otherwise. Once again, if a P&S is what you're looking for in low light situations, check out the Fujis.I'm not even a customer (yet), just a dude going in that direction.
Cheers,
Geoff

#40 prasantrin

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Posted 14 May 2008 - 12:46 AM

Would anyone recommend a good point and shoot type digital camera that takes good pictures under a typical restarant setting -- low light, flash-less, close-up shots?

The camera shop recommended a digital SLR type camera, but it is too bulky and conspicuous to use in restaurants to take quick food shots.  I am wondering if the new compact models with high iso settings and steady shot feature will result in better pictures.

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The answer, in short, is no.

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feedmec00kies isn't asking for a camera that will shoot as well as a digital SLR, but a camera that will take better low light, flash-less, close-up pictures than what most point and shoots currently available will take.

This shot was taken in a low-light (though not very low-light) setting, was flashless, and was a macro shot. ISO was 400.

Here's another one.

And I think this picture is a pretty good example of what a point and shoot can do (unfortunately, the properties of the picture aren't available for viewing).

Are they as good as what you can get with a digital SLR? No. But are they good enough for what most people are using their digital cameras? I think so.

Edited by prasantrin, 14 May 2008 - 12:48 AM.


#41 feedmec00kies

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Posted 14 May 2008 - 09:42 PM

feedmec00kies isn't asking for a camera that will shoot as well as a digital SLR, but a camera that will take better low light, flash-less, close-up pictures than what most point and shoots currently available will take. 

This shot was taken in a low-light (though not very low-light) setting, was flashless, and was a macro shot.  ISO was 400. 

Here's another one.

And I think this picture is a pretty good example of what a point and shoot can do (unfortunately, the properties of the picture aren't available for viewing).

Are they as good as what you can get with a digital SLR?  No.  But are they good enough for what most people are using their digital cameras?  I think so.

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(Err, assuming you were saying that to me, and not that I was the poster talking about looking for a camera...)

I looked at the photographs, though, and did some calculations for shutter speed because I doubted they were hand-held. Take the first photo, for example. Looking at the EXIF data, it says the shutter speed is "529/100". I used the explanation from this page to convert the value to the shutter speed in seconds...

Shutter speed by APEX value. To convert this value to ordinary 'Shutter Speed'; calculate this value's power of 2, then reciprocal. For example, if the ShutterSpeedValue is '4', shutter speed is 1/(24)=1/16 second.


...Using my meager math skills, I found that the shutter speed is 0.0357 seconds.

The second photo has a longer shutter speed: 0.0692 seconds.

I decided to compare it to the the only macro+low light photo I have, which happens to be in a similar lighting condition as the first two. The shutter speed is 1/13 seconds (0.0769 seconds). I know that photo was taken in ISO 800, because it was taken when I first got my Canon Powershot S3 before I realized how much grainier photos became in the higher ISOs. I can see particularly in the bottom left corner. Maybe it is good enough for the usual user. I probably have very high standards. But I still see it as problematic. For photos of food for your own records, or for a 72dpi photo on the web, it's probably fine.

(BTW, there was no EXIF data for the third, but I'm not sure whether or not it was taken with the camera hand-held.)

FWIW, though, there is actually a pretty small degree of variation between the compact cameras on the market. A lot of it has to do with sensor size. Buy one that is generally highly recommended within the price range you're looking for, with the features (like manual settings, view finder, optical zoom capabilities) that you want. The previously-mentioned Fujifilm seems to be highly recommended specifically for it's low-light features, but I don't know much about it because I prefer to own a very well-rounded camera that allows for full manual control, rather than just something with more low-light capabilities.
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#42 prasantrin

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Posted 15 May 2008 - 04:10 AM

(Err, assuming you were saying that to me, and not that I was the poster talking about looking for a camera...)


Sorry...when I replied I was careless with the attributions.

I looked at the photographs, though, and did some calculations for shutter speed because I doubted they were hand-held. Take the first photo, for example. Looking at the EXIF data, it says the shutter speed is "529/100". I used the explanation from this page to convert the value to the shutter speed in seconds...

Shutter speed by APEX value. To convert this value to ordinary 'Shutter Speed'; calculate this value's power of 2, then reciprocal. For example, if the ShutterSpeedValue is '4', shutter speed is 1/(24)=1/16 second.


...Using my meager math skills, I found that the shutter speed is 0.0357 seconds.


Interesting--that's faster than they've calculated (right at the top of the EXIF page, they've got 0.026 seconds or 1/38.

Maybe it is good enough for the usual user. I probably have very high standards. But I still see it as problematic.


But wouldn't you be using film rather than digital, then? Some of the professional photographers I know only use film when they want their shots to meet their "very high standards." When they, or their clients, aren't as particular about a particular job, they go with digital.

The previously-mentioned Fujifilm seems to be highly recommended specifically for it's low-light features, but I don't know much about it because I prefer to own a very well-rounded camera that allows for full manual control, rather than just something with more low-light capabilities.

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Low-light features were highlighted (at least by me) only because the OP mentioned those specifically.

I have to admit, however, my desire for the Fuji F100fd was based on these shots, few if any of which were low light shots. Granted, this guy is a far better photographer than I ever will be, but his comments about the camera, along his comparisons of it to other point and shoot cameras, led me to believe this was a very good camera. He also has a digital SLR, of course, but when you travel to dodgy places or when you need to travel lightly or discretely (which was part of the reason the OP was looking at point and shoots), having a small point and shoot is preferable.

The camera also has aperture-priority and shutter-priority modes, giving one more control than usual for most point and shoots. I've read they're a bit of a pain to use with this camera, but if a person is in one location for a lengthy period of time (like a restaurant, for example), it's not too much trouble to set the camera at the beginning of the night, then leave the settings for the rest of the evening.

#43 feedmec00kies

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Posted 15 May 2008 - 09:09 PM

I looked at the photographs, though, and did some calculations for shutter speed because I doubted they were hand-held. Take the first photo, for example. Looking at the EXIF data, it says the shutter speed is "529/100". I used the explanation from this page to convert the value to the shutter speed in seconds...

Shutter speed by APEX value. To convert this value to ordinary 'Shutter Speed'; calculate this value's power of 2, then reciprocal. For example, if the ShutterSpeedValue is '4', shutter speed is 1/(24)=1/16 second.


...Using my meager math skills, I found that the shutter speed is 0.0357 seconds.


Interesting--that's faster than they've calculated (right at the top of the EXIF page, they've got 0.026 seconds or 1/38.


Uh yeah... I think I described my math skills as "meager" for a reason. :raz:

Maybe it is good enough for the usual user. I probably have very high standards. But I still see it as problematic.


But wouldn't you be using film rather than digital, then? Some of the professional photographers I know only use film when they want their shots to meet their "very high standards." When they, or their clients, aren't as particular about a particular job, they go with digital.

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Here's a point of reference I found for digital vs. film... except it's about 6 years old. Based on this article, the point is obviously that one is not purely better than the other, especially when you're dealing with 35mm film (and the equivalent in DSLRs). Large format probably still needs to be done with film. There really hasn't really been much in recent years, though, and it's because digital technology has kept improving and I think it's becoming more of an non-issue.

Regardless if the facts the article cites are still as relevant now as they were in 2002, I have to say that, for my uses, I prefer digital. A large part of is that I can exercise a great amount of control with post-processing - resizing, cropping, editing colors, etc. in ways I wouldn't be able to with film.. both financially and skillwise (particularly in the dark room). Digital technology has had a huge effect on democratizing the art of photography.

With the cost of a darkroom and its supplies, and the time and money needed to learn the intricacies of chemical developers and such, I would argue that my use of digital is actually about trying to meet my high standards, regardless if I am right or wrong in saying that there is no difference between digital and film.

Now, if I can only get enough money together for a DSLR and a few good lenses, I'll be very happy... :sigh: I can't get any real depth-of-field (which, IMHO, is actually pretty important in food photography, but I digress...) for the life of me, due to the small issue of a small sensor.
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#44 thdad

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Posted 16 May 2008 - 01:33 AM

Fuji seems to be the brand that has the best reputation for low light, high ISO settings in a point and shoot. The F31 in particular is well regarded.

But they dropped it in favour of an "upgraded" model that doubled the megapixel count at the expense of picture quality, especially in low light. Sigh. They have a new one, the F100, that I'm strongly considering - basically the upgrade to the upgrade of the F31. Oh - the F31s are selling for astronomical sums on ebay. Folks, it ain't a cure for cancer, it's just a camera.

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I did a quick internet search on the F31 model and there appears to be a lot of positive reviews for this camera. It appears to have achieved an almost cult status among users. Is this a good point and shoot digital camera in general?

The camera is still being sold in my part of the world for about $250 new. I am wondering if I should go ahead and take the plunge...

#45 rgruby

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Posted 16 May 2008 - 08:38 PM

Fuji seems to be the brand that has the best reputation for low light, high ISO settings in a point and shoot. The F31 in particular is well regarded.

But they dropped it in favour of an "upgraded" model that doubled the megapixel count at the expense of picture quality, especially in low light. Sigh. They have a new one, the F100, that I'm strongly considering - basically the upgrade to the upgrade of the F31. Oh - the F31s are selling for astronomical sums on ebay. Folks, it ain't a cure for cancer, it's just a camera.

View Post


I did a quick internet search on the F31 model and there appears to be a lot of positive reviews for this camera. It appears to have achieved an almost cult status among users. Is this a good point and shoot digital camera in general?

The camera is still being sold in my part of the world for about $250 new. I am wondering if I should go ahead and take the plunge...

View Post



Well, looking at some reviews for the models that replaced it, one reviewer stated that the F31 was perhaps the best reviewed P&S ever.

So, the reviews are generally (quite) positive. I think I'd probably go for one if I could find one for that price. The newer ones do have twice the megapixel count, the F100 has a 5x optical zoom instead of 3x, the face detection and/or image stabilization have undergone upgrades (I think). So, there are plusses and minuses, as always. But, the F31 does seem to be pretty much the best regarded P & S in low light conditions, as far as I can determine. And, they seem to be holding their own and then some in the resale market. (So, if you bought it and didn't like it, you might even be able to sell it at a profit on ebay.)

Is it possible for you to buy it and return it within 24 (or 72 or whatever) hours if it doesn't meet your needs?

Not having used one myself, I can't really tell you to go for it, but ...

Cheers,
Geoff

#46 feedmec00kies

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Posted 16 May 2008 - 10:33 PM

Fuji seems to be the brand that has the best The camera is still being sold in my part of the world for about $250 new.  I am wondering if I should go ahead and take the plunge...

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Well, if this helps...
DPReview comparison of the Fujifilm F31 and F100... clicky

No review for the F100, but here's one for the F31.

Edited by feedmec00kies, 16 May 2008 - 10:34 PM.

"I know it's the bugs, that's what cheese is. Gone off milk with bugs and mould - that's why it tastes so good. Cows and bugs together have a good deal going down."
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#47 rgruby

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 01:20 PM

Fuji seems to be the brand that has the best The camera is still being sold in my part of the world for about $250 new.  I am wondering if I should go ahead and take the plunge...

View Post


Well, if this helps...
DPReview comparison of the Fujifilm F31 and F100... clicky

No review for the F100, but here's one for the F31.

View Post


Just going to add that in the comparison chart, it lists the F100 as having aperture and shutter priority. It does not.

Cheers,
Geoff

#48 Village Idiot

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Posted 27 August 2008 - 08:39 AM

Canon G9/G10.

They have a hotshoe and full manual modes. But for the price you pay, you can get a used DSLR. Then again, P&S vs. DSLR kit.

I've seen some photos taken by a professional photographer with his G9 and you couldn't tell the difference between the photos taken with that and the photos taken with his Nikon kit until he told you.