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What Camera? Ideally Wan't To Be Able To Photograph Lightning


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7 replies to this topic

#1 Evening thunder

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    20th December 2010 - over 25cm of snow:

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Posted 21 July 2012 - 17:51

Hi,

I was wondering if anyone would be able to give some advise on which camera to get?
My current camera (Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ7) now unfortunately needs replacing.
I am looking to by a replacement and am not sure whether to stick with a good compact model or upgrade to something like a DSLR or Bridge camera.

I want to be able to take good photos and my current camera has provided me pretty well, but one thing I'd really be able to do (when we rarely get any thunderstorms!) is take some decent/good quality pictures of lightning. Does anyone have experience of this kind of thing and would I need a DSLR to set the shutter speed and everything correctly, or would it be possible to do it with a good compact like the one I had, that has some manual control for shutter speed, Aperture and exposure, and also has a 'starry sky' scene mode that can leave the shutter open for 15,30, or 45 seconds.
I tried to take some photos of lightning a couple times but on the couple with a bit of lightning in them, it appears a bit faint/transparent looking. The thunderstorms caught me out slightly though so I didn't have time to fiddle about with the settings in the dark.

DSLR's would probably be a step up for me but I like to take good pictures of landscapes, close ups, and weather. My budget is quite low so I would not be able to buy any of the more expensive makes and many lens kits etc. If I need a £500+ camera plus extras I may have to make do without good lightning shots, and if a good compact was capable of decent lightning shots I'd probably stick with that.

Many thanks. :)

Edited by Stormmad26, 21 July 2012 - 17:51 .

2014 so far.. (2013 in brackets)

Max temp/Min temp: 28.1°C - 24th July / -2.7°C - 14th Jan (29.2°C - 13th Jul/-4.4°C - 14th Mar)
Highest Gust / Wettest day: 54mph - 4th Feb / 25.0mm - 1st Jan (48mph - 18th+23rd Dec / 42.4mm - 21st Mar)
Days of thunder heard, or lightning seen: 11 (mainly distant flashes or a few rumbles, a few better events)

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#2 4wd

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Posted 21 July 2012 - 19:43

Night time lightning you can just repeatedly do long exposures e.g. 30 seconds, it gets harder through the day as you would need ND filters to get more than a couple of seconds. That will be much easier with an SLR.
There are high tech trigger units can fire a camera the instant a discharge occurs - you still have to have it pointing the right way though!

The only real drawback to SLRs (other than cost unless you buy used - not a bad plan) is the weight and bulk which can be a real dis-incentive to carry it sometimes.
So you end up wanting a capable compact camera too. Posted Image
If you're really interested in photography an SLR is well worthwhile and you will learn a lot of technique that helps with small cameras. You only live once.

#3 knocker

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 05:39

I would more or less agree with the above. Just to add that with SLRs there is a danger of fiddling around bying different lenses that can be an expensive business and like many upgrades you have to ask yourself do I really need all the gadgets unless you are very seriously into it. I had to give myself a very serious talking to recently about upgrading to a Nikon D7000

That being said there is nothing wrong with a good compact,

"Insight must precede application."
281c81c43c615177db549fa1fb75da6a.jpeg


#4 Evening thunder

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Posted 25 July 2012 - 10:24

Thank you both for your replies,

I'd like to be able to take lightning (in the UK? Posted Image ) photos like those 'crisp' clear ones you see rather than the images I've managed to catch so far. Although I think my camera had the possibility to maually set the kind of settings that are recommended for lightning, such as the long exposures 4wd points out. It's night time lightning I'm aiming for really so I might be able to get by without a DSLR for now (hopefully)

That's also a good point about cost with all the extra lenses etc, as I have a limited budget,
and as I normally like to go places and not have to carry a separate heavier bag and stand for a while screwing different lenses on, so might not use a DSLR enough to justify it at the moment. I will probably be better with a good compact for now and seeing if I feel the need for an upgrade later.
Also I don't really need images of a 'super' quality for large prints that DSLR's can do, as the ones I've had still have pretty good quality.

I went into PC World to have a look at some yesterday, and I might well get a bridge camera though if I upgrade as they have very good zoom without spending extra on lenses, and manual control still.
Anyway, cheers for your input Posted Image

2014 so far.. (2013 in brackets)

Max temp/Min temp: 28.1°C - 24th July / -2.7°C - 14th Jan (29.2°C - 13th Jul/-4.4°C - 14th Mar)
Highest Gust / Wettest day: 54mph - 4th Feb / 25.0mm - 1st Jan (48mph - 18th+23rd Dec / 42.4mm - 21st Mar)
Days of thunder heard, or lightning seen: 11 (mainly distant flashes or a few rumbles, a few better events)

My website + Weather Station data


#5 gpspete

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Posted 27 July 2012 - 14:20

Thank you both for your replies,

I'd like to be able to take lightning (in the UK? Posted Image ) photos like those 'crisp' clear ones you see rather than the images I've managed to catch so far. Although I think my camera had the possibility to maually set the kind of settings that are recommended for lightning, such as the long exposures 4wd points out. It's night time lightning I'm aiming for really so I might be able to get by without a DSLR for now (hopefully)

That's also a good point about cost with all the extra lenses etc, as I have a limited budget,
and as I normally like to go places and not have to carry a separate heavier bag and stand for a while screwing different lenses on, so might not use a DSLR enough to justify it at the moment. I will probably be better with a good compact for now and seeing if I feel the need for an upgrade later.
Also I don't really need images of a 'super' quality for large prints that DSLR's can do, as the ones I've had still have pretty good quality.

I went into PC World to have a look at some yesterday, and I might well get a bridge camera though if I upgrade as they have very good zoom without spending extra on lenses, and manual control still.
Anyway, cheers for your input Posted Image


Beware of bridge cameras (just a glorified compact) they do not have all the manual settings that a DSLR will have the zooms are just not as good for lightning pics 20mm lens will be good
looking at the present DSLR go to that well known webshop beginning with A or some of the others look at Canon EOS 1100D the best for the money cost about the same as a good compact or midrange bridge camera, or if you can afford more the all new EOS 650D
buy with the standard lens 18 to 55mm and of course the others in between then when funds permit get a 10 to 20mm wide angle zoom these cameras also have decent video capability albeit on the the 1100D just 720p but that will be better quality than 1080p on a compact, better quality lens bigger sensor etc.
then as the photography bug bites due to having a decent camera of course the lens collection with telephotos, macros, fish eye etc decent flash gun tripods filters, lightning trigger all have to be acquired well not really LOL Posted Image Posted Image

Edited by gpspete, 27 July 2012 - 14:27 .

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storm chase 2011 may 10th participant
storm chase 2010 may 8th participant
tornados seen on chase
WAKITA (OK) 10.05.10, MEDFORD (OK) 10.05.10, NW BLACKWELL (OK) 10.05.10
HARTLEY (TX) 18.05.10, DUMAS (TX) 18.05.10, STINNETT (TX) 18.05.10

#6 knocker

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Posted 27 July 2012 - 14:50

I was looking at this the other day. Well a man can dream. I've dealt with these people a few times and I would recommend them.

http://www.wexphotog...r-cameras/b3065

Posted Image

"Insight must precede application."
281c81c43c615177db549fa1fb75da6a.jpeg


#7 4wd

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Posted 27 July 2012 - 14:54

Yes Wex are good, not always the cheapest but great service and back up.
I would avoid Jessops for major purchases, lots of worrying stories about them recently, and had a rather strange experience with them myself Posted Image

#8 gpspete

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Posted 27 July 2012 - 16:08

my latest camera was purchased from Big Norman in Gibraltar they pay all duty/vat etc. so they are way cheaper in most cases
delivery was 3 days from order for me with free delivery, with next day on some stock that they keep in uk
they don't have every cam and you will get a euro/international spec. camera ie. different charger but they give you an adapter
or you may get international video spec. ie. longer recording time (not time limited as per EC non video camera rules) i did say may
you can check it out with them
i have also purchased from Simply Electronics in the past did not realise till i see the courier tracking as they used a .co.uk web address
that they were in Hong Kong video cam arrived in 4 days all duty's paid also but there prices are not as low but still cheaper than uk based retailers
same as above specification types
I have bought from jessops as at times they have special offers i got a canon 85mm lens cheaper from them then any other retailer a few months back so worth checking them out at times
reserved and picked up in shop just in case they went tits up
http://www.youtube.com/user/gpsranger



storm chase 2011 may 10th participant
storm chase 2010 may 8th participant
tornados seen on chase
WAKITA (OK) 10.05.10, MEDFORD (OK) 10.05.10, NW BLACKWELL (OK) 10.05.10
HARTLEY (TX) 18.05.10, DUMAS (TX) 18.05.10, STINNETT (TX) 18.05.10