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Old May 25, 2006, 10:40 PM   #1
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Hi, I'm looking at buying a 20D or 30D, mainly for use in shooting surfing and wildlife. I currently have a Panasonic FZ-20, which has taken some great shots but I'm starting to find it limiting. One thing that has stopped me going to DSLR in the past, is that the FZ-20 is f2.8 throughout the zoom range (35-420mm equiv.), so I thought that it would always be better in low light (than a DSLR with a mid-range lens). Obviously, I would like to be able to afford a 400mm f2.8 or a 600mm f4, but that's a distant dream at the moment! I like the look of the Canon 100-400mm f4.5-5.6, but was worried about the small maximum aperture at 400mm. The problem with the FZ20 was that noise was a big issue above ISO 100. What ISO would I need on a 20D (with 100-400 at 400mm) to get the same shutter speed as the FZ20 (f2.8) at ISO 100. Am I right in assuming that I could get similar low light performance with a 20D, (100-400mm lens at f5.6, ISO 400) as the FZ20 (f2.8 at ISO 100)? I'm relatively new to all this, and am finding the concepts quite confusing!

Thanks!
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Old May 26, 2006, 7:35 AM   #2
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You are correct in that a 5.6 lens at ISO 400 will provide the same shutter speed as a 2.8 lens at ISO 100. The 20D still has amazing noise performance at ISO 800. In fact as a sports shooter I've had to use ISO 3200 quite a bit - and as long as you properly expose the shot, even ISO 3200 cleans up nicely on the 20D.

What you have to be careful of when you get into the realm of low light is focus speed. Increasing the ISO doesn't increase the amount of light - so when you get into low light situations with a lens that has a 5.6 aperture you may have a little more difficulty with autofocus. That being said, the 20D with 100-400 will still perform much better than your FZ20 overall.

I have the 20d and 100-400 and it's a great lens and setup. The 20d I think is the best low-light camera on the market. The new 30d may be even better (because you can adjust ISO in 1/3 stop increments so you don't have to jump from 400 to 800 to 1600) - but it's only been out less than 2 months so I believe we need to wait and see if there are any major problems. I doubt there will be as the upgrades from the 20d were fairly minor.


Here's a recent shot at ISO 800 with the 20d and 100-400L - cleaned up a little with Noiseware Pro




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Old May 27, 2006, 5:50 PM   #3
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Thanks for the good advice John! I'm 99% sold on the 20D/100-400 now. It will be great to be able to shoot at higher ISO's - and that photo looks great at ISO 800! I'll be sure to post some photos once I take the plunge and spend the money!
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Old May 28, 2006, 12:28 AM   #4
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Once you have that combination, you'll also find out why so many of us would never use a camera with an electronic viewfinder. It's amazing how much better timing you can have in getting the shotwhen you are not also dealing with a slightly-behindviewfinderrefresh rate.
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Old May 28, 2006, 3:49 AM   #5
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Certainly the combination you mention will be much better than the Panasonic.

You have probably not taken into account the crop factor, which is that on the 20D/30D the Effective Focal Length in 35mm terms is (100-400)*1.6 = 160-640mm which is far greater than the reach you get with the Pana.

420/1.6 = 260mm actual focal length on a 1.6 crop. So something like the Sigma 100-300 f4 would only give up 1 stop and you gain perhaps 3-4 in terms of high ISO usability.

And of course the responsiveness and deep buffer and 5fps will help too.

The 20/30 plus a good telephoto lens will be a revelation for you.
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Old May 28, 2006, 10:04 PM   #6
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... Or if you can afford it, try something like the Sigma 120-300 f/2.8 EX then you don't have to give up anything: It's constant f/2.8 throughout the zoom range as on the FZ-20!

-> This is a surf/wildlife shot with a 2x TC (i.e. 600mm f/5,6) handheld - Try to do that with a 400 f/2.8 or 600 f/4: :lol: :-) :G

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Old Jun 1, 2006, 10:49 AM   #7
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Hi,

I'll just add to what John said, IMHO the 20D can't be beat in low light. I rely on it for low light situations. Even understanding how to expose properly in low light the 20D performs much better than my Mark II N.

I've used it (20D) countless times in some very dark gyms shooting basketballat ISO 3200 with an 85mm f/1.8 with very good results. Add a Noise filter like Noise Ninja or the one that John mentions and I think you will be very surprised with the results.

Joe
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Old Jun 1, 2006, 12:42 PM   #8
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yes, the noise levels of the 20D can be beat.... by the 30D, the finer control over the iso is very nice to have.


I'm using the 30D about a month now, and i love this feature. I'ts way great to finetune the noise levels, and still get the shutterspeed i want.
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Old Jun 1, 2006, 11:38 PM   #9
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Here is a shot with my 20d, ISO 3200, 100 - 400 lens, Indoor low-light. My FZ20 could never do this that is why I moved up to the 20d. Bigger sensor, higher ISO's, higher shutter speed.
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Old Jun 2, 2006, 1:18 PM   #10
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Hey Gardensurf, there is always another option for you taking into consideration that your ideal lens would be a 400 or 600 2.8 and I agree these are very pricey and you may need to sell one of your kids for it but have you considered a 70 - 200 2.8 with a 2x teleconverter? Sure would keep the cost down and you would have the freedom of a 2.8 through out or with the converter, a 4(?) through out to 400mm. Would sharpness change noticably? I tried test samples with and without the converter and found it was just as sharp if not sharper than the 100 - 400 and the 28 - 350 by themselves. I'd show you but I did the test some time ago and deleted the files.

The aperature does change slightly but remember, your outside for what your shooting. The other thing to keep in mind is that during these outside shots you'll probably be setting your aperature to around f8 anyway to obtain a 6400 or higher shutter speed which is more than enough to freeze the action.

This indoor, low-light shot is taken with the 70 - 200 2.8 and if memory has it ISO is 3200 and shutter was over 1000 speed. Slap a 2x teleconverter on it and I'm guessing shutter would change to around 640 - 800which is still plenty fast enough to freeze this image.
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