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Old Oct 23, 2005, 9:34 PM   #1
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I have a Nikon CoolPix 880 that I have been very satisfied with, except for a few things that I believe a new dSLR will correct.

One of the most significant problems I've had with the CP880 is shutter lag, but not your typical, everyday shutter lag.

You see, the photographs I care the most about are of my wife on horseback while she competes. These photographs are the result of constant panning (as she rides around) and zooming (to frame her and her horse as they move closer and then further away) of a high contrast subject across a variety of quickly changing backgrounds. This constant panning and zooming causes the autoexposure and autofocus systems to work themselves into a tizzy, often to the point where shutter lag is as much as 10-15 seconds, sometimes to the point that the camera doesn't actually take the picture, and a few times the camera has actually shut itself off.

I'm considering a dSLR that, either via a special lens (i.e. Nikon 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6G ED-IF AF-S VR Zoom, Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM), or built into the camera body (i.e. Konica-Minolta Maxxum 7D), will allow the AE/AF systems to work faster. I know that the various technologies involved are only billed as allowing you to take photos at slower shutter speeds while panning, but I'm hoping that these might also help with the problem I'm having.

Does anyone out there have any experience with what I'm talking about, or have any thoughts on the subject?

BTW, I've posted this message in the Canon Lenses, Nikon Lenses, Konica Minolta Digital SLR, and the New Technology forums and will be monitoring them all.
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Old Oct 24, 2005, 1:41 PM   #2
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Hmm, difficult question.

Surely a DSLR will be much more responsive than your typical point and shoot. I have a Canon 20D that feels faster than my film SLR's.

The technique I use for sports photography is to prefocus (ie press the shutter button half way down) on a spot on the ground and then let the subject "run in" to the frame.

For instance, if I were shooting horses, I would shoot at a fairly high shutter speed (1/500th) and shoot fairly wide.

I would prefocus the camera at the distance of the horse, by focusing on the ground at the same distance, then either let the horse run into the frame, or pan.

Because I've already prefocussed and held the shutter half way down, the camera would not be hunting for focus while I was panning.

You could get IS as a bit of an edge, but you don't have to.

I would recommend getting a fairly fast lens, F2.8 or faster at the wide end.

I never purchase a lens these days slower than F2.8. If your buying a DSLR, keep enough money in your budget to buy a decent lens, which I would classify as F2.8 or faster.

Take a look at Sigma or Tamron (I'm a Tamron fan) to find some reasonably priced F2.8 zooms.

-- Terry
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Old Oct 24, 2005, 3:40 PM   #3
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Re: Prefocusing

Too much prep for not enough pictures.

The sport is Desssage. The ring is 20m x 60m, and I'm typically in the middle of one of the long sides, with the Sun behind me. The performance is from 7 to 10 minutes long, and the subject will be anywhere from my far left to my far right, and from within an arms length to as much as 100 feet away.

I want to capture moments when something is going to happen, but since I don't know the routine as well as my wife (or the horse), I don't know where and when that's going to be. So I pan and zoom.

If I were to prefocus, I'd probably only get a single photograph every 30 seconds if I knew the routine. By panning and zooming,I get 30-40 per performance. And there are other considerations that determine if a photograph is a keeper. One is footfalls. My wife wants to keep the photograps that have one front hoof about to hit (or having just hit)the ground, like the photo below.

So I pan and zoom, hoping I get a good footfall, which is another reason I want to eliminate shutter lag as much as possible.
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Old Oct 24, 2005, 5:24 PM   #4
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I hear you.

I think if you used a fairly wide angle zoom and set your aperture at about F11, no matter what you shot, probably everything would be in focus.

Your depth of field would be from about 10 feet in front of you to infinity.

So then you could shoot away and crop down later.

As for quick focus, the Canon USM lenses focus lightening fast. I have a 50mm F1.4 that is nearly instantaneous focus.

You will probably need a zoom with equally fast focus, so perhaps check out the Canon USM zoom lenses.

Your interest seems to be to get as many good shots in one performance as possible, whereas if I were shooting, I would try to get a few really great shots.

From that perspective, it would be better to preplan where you are standing, based on her routine, and line up the shot.

Quantity, in sports and movement shots, does not always lead to quality.

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