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Old Dec 21, 2009, 10:16 PM   #1
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Default DSLR Hangup - so UltraZoom recommendation requested

I'm a long time user of the site who hasenjoyed the in-depth reviews on all models. I've now found these forums and need to ask a question that is not your usual "which camera should I buy" variation. I currently have a Panasonic Lumix Z5 which is a 9MP and 10x zoom and have enjoyed it very much as a portable P&S for all occasions. I've owned a bunch of P&S models over the years and consider myself an advanced amateur who enjoys experimenting with the manual settings and doesn't mind snapping lots of shots in hopes of catching a gem.

My problem is that now as the kids are getting older I find myself at more sporting events and indoor low-light school performances, and am missing the shots. Not enough zoom to reach across the soccer field, shutter lag misses the basketball shots, and mandatory long shutter times in low-light performances results in blurred shots. The easy answer is step up to a DSLR with a couple of lenses, and I really love the specs and feel of the Nikon 5000 or the Canon T1i. But the showstopper for me is the intrusively loud snap-click sounds of the shutter on every shot. in quiet performance situations like school theater this is just a deal breaker (unless somenoe has a miracle model or idea to get around this).

As such I've been researching ultrazoom models with the following feature criteria:

Outstanding quality shots including great low-light performance
20x or higher zoom
Some sort of burst mode such as 4fps or better
Available HD video mode

I've set aside the Nikon P90 and Olympus 590UZ due to lack of HD video. So on my radar have been the Canon SX1 and SX20, Casio FH20, Kodak Z980, Panasonic FZ35, Pentax X70, Samsung HZ25W, and Sony HX1. My head is spinning from all the competing reviews on various sites that always seem to shoot down one model or the other for either excessive noise reduction, poor low-light performance, or lackluster burst mode. Neither price nor physical size are concerns.

So I'd welcome any personal recommendations for a model that would meet the above criteria. I'm expecting that high end model these days will shine at standard outdoor, daytime landscapes and still portraits. But catching my son's great basketball shot, a nice stop-action soccer kick, and my daughter in the school play and choir without the aggravating click-clack of a DSLR shutter is what I'm seeking. I'd still love to get on-board with a Canon T1i-class unit if anyone has a way around the shutter sound.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions !!
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Old Dec 22, 2009, 6:29 AM   #2
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If someone tells you there's a digicam capable of quality basketball shots AT A YOUTH (i.e. not professional arean with it's lights) level you need to see the photos to prove it. A number of DSLRs struggle with it. Some superzooms take halfway decent snapshots at soccer but none will do well.

As someone who shoots sports the shutter sound is completely irrelevant to participants. For school plays and such it's not much different - more and more parents in the audience have DSLRs (at least around me). Of course, there is a point - no one wants to sit next to the person snapping 2,000 shots.

The current crop of digicams can take amazing photos - but I still haven't seen any photos that demonstrate they can do it in the sporting realm - especially indoor sports like basketball. So remember, when someone tells you one can - ask to see the basketball photos.
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Old Dec 22, 2009, 7:04 AM   #3
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To get good sports photos, you need to be close. Nobody else that's close will care about the sound of your shutter.

To get good school event photos, you need to be standing in the back of the venue so you're not looking up at the stage. If you picked a good spot, the only people around you will be using dSLRs of their own, so they won't care about the sound of your shutter.
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Old Dec 22, 2009, 7:37 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by TCav View Post
To get good school event photos, you need to be standing in the back of the venue so you're not looking up at the stage.
I'm going to slightly disagree with this. I agree with the concept that you don't want to be shooting UP at a 3 or 4 foot stage. But, that doesn't necessarily mean the back of the venue. You need to be within the operating limits of whatever lens you have. For some schools, shooting from the back could require a 400mm lens. For others, 135mm might do. If you were using something like an 85mm 1.8 I would recommend you be no more than 25-30 feet away for example. It's absolutely great if you have lenses long and fast enough to shoot from the back so you can stand and aren't in people's way and even use a monopod for load barring and stability. But depending on the school that can be some expensive glass.

But I absolutely agree - if the stage is elevated you don't want to be shooting UP at it.
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Old Dec 22, 2009, 10:11 AM   #5
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Rob, it looks like you need to look into DSLR's with the right lenses for sports and fast action
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