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Dig May 6, 2004 6:25 AM

I am going to a jazz club this weekend and am soliciting opinions as to the best $500 or less camera that will work well in low light and takes video.

I have a Canon A70 and typically it is not very good for low light settings like a stage in a club.

I realize the it is a lot to ask for but I am sure there must be a camera out there that can do abetter job in that price range relative to the A70. With the A70 Isetit ISO 200, shutter priority, EV to +2,white balance and the shutter speed to anywhere from 1/10 to 1/30 and then point and pray. The results are not too bad with a little help from PS but I would like something that is a little better.

So is the S1, A80, A75 better than the A70 or is there a non Canon model that is better? Also video is important.


JimC May 6, 2004 6:55 AM

You've got a couple of things working against you, trying to use these models in low light.

One is the brightness of the lens. The A70, A75 and A80are all around F2.8 at wide angle, and around F4.8 at full zoom (far less light can reach the sensor through the lens when using zoom with this lens design). The S1 Pro lens is brighter using zoom (onlydown to F3.1), but not brighter at the wide angle end.

The second is that they have very small, very dense CCD's. This means that the size of each photosite on the sensor must be smaller, too. As a result, they are unable to gather as much light, without turning up the gain (as you do when you increase ISO speed). Unfortunately, this also amplies noise.

So, you either have too much noise, blur from too slow of a shutter speed, or both.

Out of the Canon Models you mentioned, the A80 should have the best noise profile at higher ISO speeds. It's using a larger (1/1.8" or .556"), less dense Sony CCD, compared to the smaller 1/2.7" (.37") CCD in the A70 and A75.

However, it's lens is not any brighter.

The best solution would be a DSLR, with a bright lens. These have dramatically larger sensors, and can be used at much higher ISO speeds, compared to a consumer camera.

This would be outside of your budget.

In your price range, I'd probably try to locate something like a Canon Powershot G3 (not the G5, since the G5's 5MP 1/1.8" CCD will have higher noise).The G3 isusing the same CCD as the A80 (4MP Sony 1/1.8"), but has a much brighter lens. The G3 lens is rated at F2.0/F3.0. So, it would be twice as bright at wide angle (F2.0 is twice as bright as F2.8 , with even more difference when using zoom.

This would allow faster shutter speeds to help prevent motion blur, compared to the smaller models you are looking at. The 4MP CCD is also a better low light performer (compared to the smaller 3MP CCD used in the other models).

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