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Dizik
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Calling photography geeks

Sat Feb 10, 2007 11:12 am

Yo. The wife and I are wanting to get a digital camera, but I don't even know where to begin. It's been a couple of years since I've played around with cameras, but I'm not a complete idiot. So I'm wanting something that le's me play with things like the shutter speed, aperture, etc. The wife on the other hand, is more of a point and shoot person. She's never really tried to learn too much about cameras, mostly how to turn it on and how to push the button. So, she's wanting something similar to the Kodak EasyShare that her parents have. While it's a good series of cameras for those that don't play around with the shutter speed, aperture, etc., I just can't force myself to buy one.

So...any suggestions on finding a happy median? We want something that'll let her take great pictures around the hosue of us and our son, while I want something that'll let me play around with the camera and tweak the settings. The price isn't a big issue, but $500 will probably be the limit. I don't mind paying a premium for a camera if it's worth it. But I also don't mind spending $200 on another camera that'll do the same thing. Also, we're taking several small vacations this summer and spring, so hauling around a huge camera is out. I don't feel like having a lens that could rival the Hubble telescope hanging from my neck. So, the smaller the better.

Googling reviews on digital cameras gives a crapload of results, so I have no idea on who would be considered a trusted site or not. So...if you guys could give me suggestions and/or lead me in the right direction, then that would be sweet.
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steelcity_ballin
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Sat Feb 10, 2007 11:29 am

I bought my girlfriend a Canon a540 model for Christmas. It has point and shoot with auto settings for her, but you can still do things like set ISO modes and what not. It does not support lenses at all from what I can tell, and I do have a complaint about the viewer going blank while the flash recharges.

Mattsteg pointed me in the direction of this one, and I bought her a 2gb SD card for $20 bucks, couldn't resist. So far she loves it, but I haven't played that much with it. It might be worth looking into a comprehensive review of it.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6830120041

edit: typo.
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Hance
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Sat Feb 10, 2007 12:08 pm

The two photography sites I visit most are http://www.dpreview.com and http://www.steves-digicams.com The wife and I have a Minolta Maxxum 7D which is similar to the Sony DSLR-A100 . Sony bought Minoltas camera line so there arent any Minolta cameras anymore. A DSLR is probably more money than you wanted to spend but if you think that you will use the camera all the time you might want to think about the DSLR just because of all the extras you can use with one of them that you cant use with most digicams. The Sony A100 has antishake built into the camera body itself which works great if your taking photos in low light conditions and it works with any lens that fits the camera.
 
snapa
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Sat Feb 10, 2007 12:28 pm

I'd suggest the Canon G7 or G6.
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Dizik
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Sat Feb 10, 2007 12:34 pm

Thanks....keep it coming.
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Dizik
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Sat Feb 10, 2007 2:40 pm

Well, the Canon A710 IS is starting to look pretty nice. For $300, it doesn't look too shabby.
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Hance
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Sat Feb 10, 2007 2:55 pm

I have never owned a Canon camera but I have a Canon I9900 large format photo pritner its hands down the best printer I have ever seen. The A710 looks like a nice camera built in image stabilization is a bonus. Being able to use AA batteries is nice also. Get some good NiMh rechargeables and keep some plain ole AA's around for backup.
 
MrJP
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Sat Feb 10, 2007 3:13 pm

My main camera is a Canon Powershot Pro 1, which is fantastic but sadly long since discontinued and not replaced by Canon. That kind of thing is probably a bit OTT anyway if your wife prefers a simple point & shoot.

I bought my wife a Fuji F11 last year, which has turned out to be very good. It's extremely small, works well in full auto mode, but retains full manual controls. The main benefit of the Fujis is their good higher ISO performance, which means you can shoot successfully in lower light than most compacts without resorting to flash. It's better than my Canon in this respect, even if it can't compete in overall flexibility and lens quality. The only things I don't like about the Fuji are the limited range of the lens (not really a surprise for a very compact camera), and the fiddly adapter block arrangement for charging the battery or connecting to a PC. It was just about to be replaced by a new model (F30 I think) when I bought it, but I haven't really kept up with progress since then.

Even if you can get an SLR for your budget, I personally wouldn't recommend one unless you're really serious about your photography. Unquestionably SLRs give you better image quality than compacts and allow you to get pictures that just wouldn't be possible with a smaller camera. On the other hand, the best camera for the job is always the one you happen to be carrying with you, and from my experience with film SLRs it takes commitment to carry around a big bag with lots of lenses, whereas a camera that fits in your pocket is never a problem. Just a personal opinion before the flames come in! 8)

Second the recommendations for DPReview and Steve's Digicams. Both great review sites, and DPReview also has a great forum with lots of knowledgeable people.

The main thing to do is use reviews & recommendations to work up a shortlist, then get down to some bricks & mortar shops and actually handle the cameras. It's surprising how much you can get turned on or off a camera just by what it feels like to use, and I think that's more important than check boxes on feature lists. If nothing else, you can get the wife to come with you and get some revenge for being dragged around clothes shops in the past. :wink:
 
Flying Fox
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Sat Feb 10, 2007 4:41 pm

If you want that happy medium, nothing beats the Canon A series. Too bad they don't bring at least some of the manual stuff over the ultra-compact SDxxx/ELPA series, but that's just my beef. :-?

That manual mode 15s exposure means you can tweak to your heart's content and get some amazing low light shots. Be careful though, once you have learned all the settings, you will probably want a better one (may even be graduating to a D-SLR) later.
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crazybus
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Sat Feb 10, 2007 5:21 pm

DCResource is another great site for reviews and camera info. The reviews are not the in-depth reviews that DPReview gives but are quite good nonetheless. For camera recommendations it totally depends on what size of camera you're willing to deal with. The Nikon D40 SLR is looking really good at the moment as a compact, relatively inexpensive SLR, but it still runs around $600 and has its limitations. I've got a Fuji F30, which is the replacement for the F11 that was previously mentioned. It was probably the best pocketable camera you could buy at the time. It has great high-iso performance, shutter and aperture priority modes and can take some really nice pictures.
If you can handle the size, there are some really nice reasonably priced superzooms out there like the Canon S3 IS, Panasonic DMC-FZ8, and Sony DSC-H5. Each one of these has it's own strengths and weaknesses but I'd recommend all of them. My parents have a Canon S2 IS and I love it. Even though it doesn't do well above ISO 200, the combination of a fast lens (F2.7-3.5), image stabilization and a decent flash means it usually possible to get non-blurry pictures in most situations. I found that in decent indoor lighting I could leave the flash off and have even got clear pictures at 1/8s shutter speed handheld.
I'll reiterate what others have said about Canon. It's really hard to go wrong with their digicams, although the new G7 doesn't look like it's worth the money IMHO.
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etilena
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Sat Feb 10, 2007 5:27 pm

I'd second the Nikon D40 if your wife doesn't mind using the viewfinder instead of using an LCD for image framing. It's decently priced, gives really good pictures, and works without fiddling with the controls when you don't need them and there's the option to play with settings when you want to.

If that's not your cup of tea, would recommend the Canon A series cameras as well.
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mattsteg
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Sat Feb 10, 2007 5:51 pm

The D40's nice and all, but a couple of things to mention here:

If you want an SLR, you want an SLR. If you don't, you don't. You're making a big step away from pocketability with SLRs (or with some of the other larger cameras as well). If you want pocketability, keep that in mind.

If you want an SLR, try it in a store to ensure the grip is comfortable to you. SLRs can be awesome ergonomically, but a poorly proportiones SLR is just a travesty. To me, the cheaper canons fall into that category - they're just too small in the grip. Nikons are ergonomically very nice, but I haven't handled a D40. The other SLRs are nice also, but don't have nearly the lens availability that Canikon do.

Pretty much any SLR bar the high end ones can be set up as a point and shoot. For when you want control, it's much mroe accessible and available than on point and shoots. It's also more effective because the larger sensor in a DSLR means that changing the aperture actually changes DoF noticably rather than just altering the shutter speed you need to shoot at.

The downside of the D40 is that it's small size and low cost come at the price of needing to use only the newest series of lenses if you want autofocus. This isn't a big deal if you just like to shoot consumer zooms, but if you want to play with fast prime lenses you'll lose AF or have to go with a third party lens. A lot of the used lens market is devalued by this as well. None of this matters if you only want one or two complementary zooms, but if that's all you want you don't necessarily need an SLR.

Canon's A series is really great. They're compact enough to fit in a largish pocket, yet have lots of useful features. They're also really easy to use.

My main camera is a Nikon D70 SLR, and I love it. I've shot thousands of frames in the last year, and will shoot thousands more this year. I can't afford the Hubble Telescope, but I do have a lens that weighs 3 pounds, and greatly enjoy using it. For me, a large part of my vacation *is* hauling my camera and lenses around and making photographs. I also have a canon A80 which i use if I want to bring a camera but not an SLR. I've shot with it maybe 3 times in the last year. It's a nice camera, but my SLR spoiled me with both its usability and image quality. You *could* get a entry level new or lightly used DSLR for your budget, and it'd probably be one of the best picture-takers avaiulable at that price point, but it doesn't mean that it would be the correct choice for you, especially if your $500 budget now is all you want to spend on photo stuff in the near future. SLRs really start to shine when you have a speedlight, lens collection, etc. They do best as part of a system.
...
 
Hance
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Sat Feb 10, 2007 6:06 pm

mattsteg wrote:
If you want an SLR, you want an SLR. If you don't, you don't. You're making a big step away from pocketability with SLRs (or with some of the other larger cameras as well). If you want pocketability, keep that in mind.


Absolutely. My DSLR is big and heavy but takes really nice photos. I have a cheap point and shoot and its nice to carry around but the quality is nowhere close to that of the slr. For just everyday goofing off stuff I use the point and shoot. When I want something thats high quality it has to be the DSLR
 
Dizik
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Sat Feb 10, 2007 8:34 pm

I personally have no trouble on spending a boat load of cash on a camera, such as the D40 and others mentioned. The limiting factor is that my wife will be using it as well, and pretty much doesn't want to learn anything more than what she already does. And she doesn't want to be spending close to a grand on something she'll only use to take pictures around the house and when we go on vacation. She wants a point and shoot, and there's nothing wrong with that. So, that's what I meant by the happy median.

One day, I'll probably convince the wife to not be pissed at me if I drop some serious cash on my own personal camera. But that will have to wait for now. Just looking for something that's easy for my wife to use , takes great (for the price) pictures, while giving me a bit more control so I can play around with the thing. And, like I mentioned before, the smaller the better. Though I am a bit leery of the tiny cameras that are about as thin as a box of matches. Something that small and expensive is just waiting for me to drop and break it. So...as of right now, the A710 IS is my #1 choice. But don't let me stop you from trying to persuade me into getting something else. :)
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Hance
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Sat Feb 10, 2007 8:40 pm

You better plan on the cost of a photo printer if you dont already have one. If you buy anything but a Canon your crazy :wink:
 
crazybus
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Sat Feb 10, 2007 8:56 pm

A710 IS is a great camera, and it would definitely be at or near the top of my list for a camera in that range. Another camera you may want to look at is the new Panasonic DMC-TZ3 which has a nice 10x zoom lens and is now wide angle (28mm equiv.) The main drawback is that it forgoes many of the manual settings the A710 IS gives you. It's not available until March either. My sister has the older TZ1 and she likes it a lot.
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Sat Feb 10, 2007 10:29 pm

Don't get hung up on Canon. There are a lot of Sony haters here, but when it comes to pocket point and shoot with manual capabilities, nothing beats a Sony. Take a look at the DSC-H5, DSC-H2. The R1 unfortunately has been discontinued in the US but is a hell of a P&S with manual controls, and probably the best wide angle lens available for the price. A true pocket cam, the T100 has good ratings, as does the T10. I find Sony's cams intuitive and of good quality.

-LS
 
Flying Fox
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Sat Feb 10, 2007 10:35 pm

crazybus wrote:
A710 IS is a great camera, and it would definitely be at or near the top of my list for a camera in that range. Another camera you may want to look at is the new Panasonic DMC-TZ3 which has a nice 10x zoom lens and is now wide angle (28mm equiv.) The main drawback is that it forgoes many of the manual settings the A710 IS gives you. It's not available until March either. My sister has the older TZ1 and she likes it a lot.
The 10x zoom on the TZ* series definitely is a big selling point. However, Panasonic's infamous noise problems keep getting in the way. The TZ1's main drawbacks are the folded optics plus the noise. Hopefully the TZ3 will at least fix the optics. But even the latest models with the Venus III processor still has noise beyond ISO200. I just look at some pics from a FX01, same indoor setting, and one picture with the camera picking auto ISO800 which made the picture looked like crap. So this Panasonic noise problem is still going to be a problem. All round quality and features the Canon is hard to beat IMO.

Dizik, the A710 IS may have the new fangled image stabilization tech and the new 7-series moniker, but I would suggest you take a serious look at the A6xx as well. The fold-out LCD may be a feature that you may want to use even over the IS. It allows taking pictures at weird angles without guessing. Go out and try it, you may regret not getting that fold-out LCD even with the A710 IS, but of course, if you don't need that go for the 7-series with IS. 8)

Edit: as for the Sony, my main beef is not the Sony brand, every one should acknowledge their lens is no sloutch. Non-use of AA batteries and proprietary memory stick are my biggest problems.

Edit 2: Just checked the Sony models mentioned. The DSC-H5, DSC-H2 and R1 are "prosumers" cams. They are not really the category of Canon's A series. And they will be bigger than a large-ish pocket. The T100 and T10 should give a good run for money vs the Canon SDxxx/ELPH, but they are a tad expensive with less manual features (as in that class of ultra-compact cams). And they are like "match boxes" as the OP said.
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paulWTAMU
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Sun Feb 11, 2007 7:47 am

I don't get the big fuss over image stabilization unless you have a longer zoom camera; if its just a 4/5X then I've never really ahd a problem; my kodak I have doesn't have it, never given me grief. I just try to brace on something when zoomed all the way out.

But yes, Canons are the bomb :) If my wife wouldn't shoot me/refuse to sleep with me for a week, I'd buy thier current supershot model. The Canon S3 or something like that I think is the name. Its about 400 bucks though, whereas the 6 series is in the 2 and 3 hundreds range. Canon's strength is providing you with easy point and shoot functionality with numerous easy to use presets while still allowing someone that wants to to make manual settings do so. It's good for a split couple like you and your wife :)

Personally I won't buy Sony, still, and HPs suck in terms of reliability, IME. Kodaks aren't terrible but I still (in general) give Canon an edge in terms of preformance and ease of use. Olymp's I don't know much, never used 'em.
 
danazar
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Sun Feb 11, 2007 7:50 am

Canon is #1 in camera sales in the U.S. right now for a reason.
 
Sikthskies
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Sun Feb 11, 2007 8:03 am

i would personally go for the panasonic lumix fz-30. for the price nothing touches it. http://www.panasonic.co.uk/info/pukweb0 ... lumix.html

that is a list of awards associated with the fz range

http://digitalcameras.kelkoo.co.uk/b/a/ ... 24901.html

i'd rate it over any similarly priced cannon.
 
Flying Fox
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Sun Feb 11, 2007 3:37 pm

paulWTAMU wrote:
Kodaks aren't terrible
They still seem to have battery life issues, at least compared to the Canon.

paulWTAMU wrote:
Olymp's I don't know much, never used 'em.
They used to be pretty decent, but the menus have been dumbed down so much and the arrival of Aperture/Shutter manual settings on the A40 basically killed my interest in them ever since.

Dizik, looks like some are suggesting "prosumers" cameras with a not-so-compact body. Those usually have a bigger zoom lens (10-12x) and presumably more settings and quality. However, the wife may not like them as they are bigger than the regular "compact P&S" (the SDxxx/ELPH and the like are what they call "ultracompact") ones. Make sure she is ok with the bigger bodies of those ones first if you want to venture in that category. Otherwise, stay with the A-series from Canon. 8)
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Jive
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Sun Feb 11, 2007 4:30 pm

Sikthskies wrote:
i would personally go for the panasonic lumix fz-30. for the price nothing touches it. http://www.panasonic.co.uk/info/pukweb0 ... lumix.html

that is a list of awards associated with the fz range

http://digitalcameras.kelkoo.co.uk/b/a/ ... 24901.html

i'd rate it over any similarly priced cannon.


I had a Panasonic Lumix, forget which model exactly. But the image quality on it was horrid, no matter what settings. A picture from a good camera phone would rival the image quality that it had. I now have a Casio EX-Z1000, its an okay camera, but the image quality isn't the best either, its "good" at most.

The best camera i had was a Casio EX-Z750. More then enough pixels, it let you change ISO, macro, a few other minor settings, and had a lot of good point and shoot settings too. And the image quality of it was just spectacular in day shots. Any night shot would look like crap, especially if you are moving.
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Sikthskies
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Sun Feb 11, 2007 4:33 pm

not all lumix are great. i think its the fz 20 and upwards that are good.
 
Usacomp2k3
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Mon Feb 12, 2007 2:35 pm

Dizik wrote:
Well, the Canon A710 IS is starting to look pretty nice. For $300, it doesn't look too shabby.

My Aunt got that, and I was playing with it a bit over christmas. It is quite a nice piece of hardware, I'd highly recommend it. I personally own the Canon a620 (had the a520 before that), and also a Rebel XTi. The a-series, as has been mentioned is one of the best out there in easy of manual controls and good automatic settings. The lens quality is also top-notch for P&S's.

*Note, I am a self-proclaimed Canon lover
 
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Mon Feb 12, 2007 2:41 pm

Usacomp2k3, since you have used both the 6 and 7 series, can you comment on the fold-out LCD viewfinder? Do you find and it useful or not? Will you get that over the 7-series, etc. etc.
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mattsteg
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Mon Feb 12, 2007 2:44 pm

Flying Fox wrote:
Usacomp2k3, since you have used both the 6 and 7 series, can you comment on the fold-out LCD viewfinder? Do you find and it useful or not? Will you get that over the 7-series, etc. etc.
The fold-out can be extremely useful, mostly in the obvious situations (i.e. when you're composing at odd angles.) I love it on my a80 and miss it on my parents' a70.
...
 
Usacomp2k3
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Mon Feb 12, 2007 3:16 pm

Flying Fox wrote:
Usacomp2k3, since you have used both the 6 and 7 series, can you comment on the fold-out LCD viewfinder? Do you find and it useful or not? Will you get that over the 7-series, etc. etc.

It is so incredibly useful that I'd be reluctant to get a P&S without it (not really an option with an SLR). For example, this weekend I was up touristing in Atlanta with my girlfriend and while at the coke museum and other places, it just helps one to be able to compose a shot how you want without having to look completely dorky by being behind the camera when shooting things from knee-level. It also enables shots that would otherwise be almost impossible to frame, such as at a concert when holding the camera up over people's heads and still being able to see the viewfinder to frame things. The other thing is for self-portraits which I myself am a huge fan of. (for example, it'd be very difficult to frame a shot like this one without being able to see the viewfinder (ignore the misfocus)). That said, it depends on what you use it for; since i have fast lenses for my SLR, I don't really need IS on my P&S, but without the SLR, it'd be hard decision to make. IS vs. rotateable screen. I guess for me, since it's one of those things that I have, it would be really hard to go back to being without.

EDIT: it's also handy when shooting from a tripod since you can put it on there but not have to be immediately behind the camera to see (such as when you are taking a picture of the stars or moon, if you have a shorter tripod, it can be awkward or next to impossible to get behind it..especially one of those table-top tripods.

EDIT2: Here's an example of a ground shot with the screen angled up for composition. Here's an example of a shot at an Audio Adrenaline concert with the screen angled down.
Last edited by Usacomp2k3 on Mon Feb 12, 2007 3:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
mattsteg
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Mon Feb 12, 2007 3:26 pm

Usacomp2k3 wrote:
EDIT: it's also handy when shooting from a tripod since you can put it on there but not have to be immediately behind the camera to see (such as when you are taking a picture of the stars or moon, if you have a shorter tripod, it can be awkward or next to impossible to get behind it..especially one of those table-top tripods.
May as well add macro stuff to that as well, especially since you're not going to have a nice flash available and are going to have to use available light.
...
 
Usacomp2k3
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Mon Feb 12, 2007 3:30 pm

mattsteg wrote:
Usacomp2k3 wrote:
EDIT: it's also handy when shooting from a tripod since you can put it on there but not have to be immediately behind the camera to see (such as when you are taking a picture of the stars or moon, if you have a shorter tripod, it can be awkward or next to impossible to get behind it..especially one of those table-top tripods.
May as well add macro stuff to that as well, especially since you're not going to have a nice flash available and are going to have to use available light.

You mean, like this? Another good example is at acuariums, where you sometimes have to get a shot at angle angle to capture enough light that would put your face up against the glass or something.

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