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Old Mar 17, 2006, 3:51 PM   #1
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Tapachula, Mexico

Anyadvice on how the Canon S2 IS/ S3 IS performs in lower light conditions?

I have seen some excellent images of birds with both cameras but not sure howthey would perform in lower light at 380mm or over 500mm (with tele converter).
I will be taking photoes mainly in good light but depending on the otters some photoes may be taken at at late dawn, early dusk and in the shade.

I am prepared to use a tripod

Any advice welcome!

cheers julian
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Old Mar 18, 2006, 3:29 PM   #2
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I have the S2 IS. At maximum zoom, wildlife in any very dark shade is difficult to photograph because the shutter speed will be between 1/10 and 1/30 of a second. For a start this means subject movement will defeat most attempts, and secondly at maximum zoom anything under 1/30 is pushing the limit of the IS.

A tripod/monopod/shoulderpod would help if the subject would stick around long enough to get set up.

I generally only go as far as ISO 100, I open up the aperture (depth of field becomes an issue), and underexpose by 1/3 to 1+1/3 stops. I also use the camera in continuous mode on high speed so that I take at least two or three exposures.

Less zoom improves things considerably - but you don't get close.

If the S3 IS has a better ISO 200 this would be a big win in low light.

Getting focus is a problem in low light with low contract subjects that lack strong vertical lines. For example, dull birds are difficult because they're often lacking in sharp lines - the camera tends to choose to focus on branches in front or behind the subject. It's not impossible, but you may have to pre-focus more than once to get the camera to choose the right subject - I try to pre-focus on any sharp vertical near the actual subject. I think the S3 IS has a optional/additional new multi-spot evaluating focus system - maybe this will help, maybe it won't. If S3 IS sports-mode performs as advertised and truly does focus faster, this would be great too.

I guess in low light my success rate is something like 1 in 20 - normally subject movement defeats me. Sometimes some post-processing helps - it will definitely be needed to correct deliberate under-exposure.

So in a nutshell, in low light, where wildlife is moving, maximum zoom is hard to get results with - but it's worth trying because if you take enough exposures occasionally things work out.

I'm thinking about a tele add-on - it would be useful in good light, not sure about bad light.

If I thought I could be bothered carrying the kit, a digital SLR would have a much better hit rate in low light due to higher ISO, better focus technology, better response time and burst-rate. The high ISO might make up for lack of IS.

See any of the wildlife samples at my flickr pages to see what's possible (many were taken in very shady conditions:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]

The New Zealand Robin (easy - likes to listen for insects you've disturbed in the leaf-litter).


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Old Mar 19, 2006, 9:49 PM   #3
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mchnz wrote:
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I have the S2 IS.

I love the water lily shots you have uploaded on flickr. Are they straight from the camera or is there any post editing involved?

Did you shoot from a tripod?
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Old Mar 19, 2006, 10:55 PM   #4
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I normally add a note on what I did - I normally only tweak the gamma, brightness or contrast.

These were hand held shots. I think I used a POL filter on one of the images (where noted). No special colour-mode was used.

All the Waterlilly shots were taken in a pond in the Begonia House at the Botanical Garden's in Wellington, New Zealand. The windows have had some kind of white-wash applied which evens out the sunlight - makes for great lighting. The pond is raised above the floor, rather than sunken into it, making it very easy to shoot. With the zoom it's a bit like shooting fish in a barrel (actually, shooting fish in the same pond is proving quite difficult :-)).

I added two more to the set today:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/6860837...7594080043179/

buddhasghost wrote:
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I love the water lily shots you have uploaded on flickr. Are they straight from the camera or is there any post editing involved?

Did you shoot from a tripod?
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Old Mar 20, 2006, 11:48 PM   #5
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Beautiful bird picture and I really enjoyed your gallery, mchnz. Great work with your S2!!!
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Old Mar 23, 2006, 4:25 AM   #6
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The S2 is not a great low light camera. The focus will hunt in low light situations at max zoom. You will definitely need a tripod. For daylight shooting it's a fantastic "chilled" wildlife cam.
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Old Mar 23, 2006, 12:33 PM   #7
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Having an S2 myself, I totally agree with you comments. I also find the macro AF to be poor.
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