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Old Mar 3, 2007, 2:33 AM   #1
Beejygirl's Avatar
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I'm after a bit of advice. I want to move up from a three year-old 4mp Canon point and shoot camera to something with a bit more advanced features.

I love my little Canon and it has taken some lovely pictures in the past. Only problem is that it is very slow - I do a lot of dogsport - eg agility (you know the kind of thing - over jumps, through tunnels etc) - and want a camera to take photos at competitions and also pictures of my new puppy who never seems to stay in the frame long enough for my old camera.

I've been looking at some of those 'bridge' cameras, eg Canon S3IS, Fuji 6500, Canon G7, Panasonic Fz7/8 etc....

My main considerations are:

1) Speed of shot - there's no point taking a photo of a dog's tail :lol:

2) Picture quality

3) Size/ weight

4) Cost - I have around £320 to spend - that's about US$620

I'd rather not get an SLR as I don't want the hassle of extra lenses (how MUCH are they!!) and it being a faff to lug one round. You don't take a nice photo if the camera's at home.

Am I looking in the right place? Any suggestions greatly appreciated.
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Old Mar 3, 2007, 7:13 AM   #2
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Are the agility competitions indoors or out?

I understand shutter lag is a problem, but so will proper exposure. With any camera you select you can help the shutter lag by doing one of two things:

On a jump, pre-focus on the jump. With practice you'll get a feeling for how long the shutter lag is on any camera you use - when you pre-focus the shutter lag should be constant for that camera. So after a little while you'll have a feeling for when you need to press the shutter button before or during the jump to capture the dog as it reaches the apex.

When the dog is running - use a pan technique that is keep the camera following the dog as it runs and while you're pressing the shutter button. It takes some practice but this will keep the dog in the frame even for longer shutter lags.

The 6500 is going to give the best results indoors but it is not stabilized so it requires a steadier hand - I wouldn't recommend using it at full zoom and using the LCD to frame - you'd want to hold it up and look through the viewfinder - it's more stable.

I would look at the reviews of these cameras on this site as well as on dpreview.com - look for comments regarding shutter lag. One or both reviews should mention it.

Also, I believe Sony or Kodak just announced a new camera - check out the news section on Steves that should be an ideal bridge camera for action shots - 15x zoom plus predictive focusing (an important feature that cuts down on shutter lag). You might consider looking at that and waiting for it to arrive - although I expect it will be very pricey. Still, another option.
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Old Mar 3, 2007, 2:30 PM   #3
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What you are asking for righfully fits into the DSLR range for all practical purposes. The Leica V-Lux 1 might fit you needs but is out of your price range. My suggestion would be to re-examine your feelings on DSLR's Then save your money and wait until you can afford the Leica or a DSLR. Somthing in the Nikon D80, Canon XTI, Sony A-100 or Pentax K10D range.
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Old Mar 4, 2007, 1:17 AM   #4
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With how inexpensive DSLR's have gotten (What the high P&S used to be).... I wouldn't bother.... and why many of those models are rapidly being done away with.

I doubt there will even be another generation of them... at least not near the development they were and like one model per manufacturer.

You can possibly afford it go Entry DSLR, C Rebel XTi, Pentax K100D, Nikon, etc.
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Old Mar 4, 2007, 6:43 AM   #5
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Beejygirl wrote:
My main considerations are:

1) Speed of shot - there's no point taking a photo of a dog's tail :lol:

2) Picture quality

3) Size/ weight

4) Cost - I have around £320 to spend - that's about US$620

I'd rather not get an SLR as I don't want the hassle of extra lenses (how MUCH are they!!) and it being a faff to lug one round. You don't take a nice photo if the camera's at home.
Bearing in mind a couple of points; your criteria above and that the puppy is growing fast, the Olympus SP550UZ seems particularly suited to your requirements especially noting the continous shooting speeds. A quick Google shows it is offered for GBP290
by Buyacamera (leaving enough to add one of the conversion lenses, x0.7 or x1.7 I think they are, to increase the zoom to 850mm + :shock:

Also as John mentioned Sony have two new cameras to match up against the Olympus; the Sony DSC H7 & H9 with 8.1 MP, HDTV for video, 15x stabilised zoom, auto face detection, 1/4000, ISO 3,200, 31mm - 465mm - n.b. the Oly goes down to 28mm and 20mm with the conversion lens - (Sonys are shipping April in the USA for MRP US$400 & US$470 as against Oly 550 at US$499 - although I am sure that will drop now the Sony's are out).

Sony stress the ability of these cameras for action and low light (especially using their RAW mode and in-camera editing) - however they can't of course hold a candle to a dSLR (no excuse for the pun). It also seems the Oly is better at continuous shooting s the Sony's can only manage 2.2 fps for 100 shots (at 8MP though). The burst rate of 7fps (15 frames) plus pre-capture of 5 frames (before you press the shutter) should be great for capturing the dogs in full flight.

You didn't mention how large your prints are going to be but anything up to 8" x 10" or even 11" x 14" should be no problem at all from one of those cameras.

One point of note is that there may well be a delay before the Sonys hit the UK market. So the puppy will have grown considerably in the 3 - 4 months before it's available in the UK. Also the only real difference (it seems) between the DSCH7 & H9 is screen size (115k and 2.5" against 230k and 3.0").

Olmpus SP550UZ

7.1 MP
US$450 - 499
4.3" x 3.1" x 3.1" (should fit your hands well)
28 - 504mm (x18 and f2.8 - 4.5 means great for your landscape photography & portraits. Add one of two conversion lens to widen or lengthen (up to 850mm) :?
365g - Lightweight
ca 600 shot on 2700mAh (class leading)
AF Assist lamp (low-light help)
IS (Image Stabilisation) (low light help)
10 x ISO settings covering 50 thru 5000 (yes really ! At 5000 it drops to 3 MP and probably the noise will obscur the photo - still it's there to be used in an emergency :O
20 different image resolutions (inc. 3 Raw plus jpeg+raw) (+ in-camera editing of Jpeg & Raw)
2.5" LCD and EVF - both auto adjusting
Full Manual Mode - bulb to 8 mins (however fastest shutter is only 1/2000)
pre-capture (5 frames) and up to 7 fps burst rate for 15 frames (really ! However that's at a lower resolution of 3 mp - still great for the children's & dog's action photos)/ It actually does 15fps at 1.2 MP but not so great for prints although OK for emailing.
AF Predict (good for moving children)
Multiple WB modes (inc. custom) and also WB compensation (adjust red / blue)
20+ scene modes (inc. 2 x underwater)
Underwater housing available
Movie mode (30fps 640 x 480)
and so on and so on, there are many more features.

Obviously none of the features of the 550 on their own will match the equivilant feature on a DSLR, but it is such a feature packed package, that covers all your bases, so it may be just what you are looking for, especially bearing in mind your criteria
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