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bittersweet May 27, 2004 9:19 AM

Hi everyone. I'm new here, I've been browsing through Steves Digicams and I found it exceptionally helpful. Anyway, I'm looking for a camera (it'll be my first digital camera), but I'm quite stuck as to which to choose.

I'll be using it mostly just to take casual pictures, not heavy photography, but I need something that has a good shutter speed since I take lots of sports actions, and those that I have always comes out blurry.

My friend lent me a Nikon Coolpix 3100, I liked it as a point and shoot camera, but it's pretty bad on the moving target department - even if the Sport function is selected.

Any recommendations? I would prefer those from Nikon, but I'm very much open for other models.

slipe May 27, 2004 11:01 AM

Few cameras can generate their maximum shutter speed in any given light. You put the camera in sports action mode and it opens the aperture all the way so that it can use the highest shutter speed available. In bright light that speed is fast enough to freeze most action. If not it increases the ISO. Only in the most unusual situations will the aperture stop down because the shutter can't go any faster.

Look at the aperture rating of a camera and that will give you an idea how well it might do with action shots. Most digitals with built-in lenses have a best aperture of f2.8 at wide angle going smaller as you zoom. All cameras with a f2.8 aperture at say ISO200 will generate about the same shutter speed for a given light. Some might be slightly better or worse with noise as you increase the ISO, but that is pretty close between cameras with the same sensor as well.

What I'm getting around to is that any f2.8 digicam you pick up will probably give about the same shutter speed in sports mode as the Nikon 3100 you tried. Some might be a little more aggressive than others in boosting the ISO, but you get poor pictures with high ISO and little sensors. Most cameras let you set the ISO manually if you want, but I'm not sure the 3100 will do that. If the 3100 is about your price point, what you got is what your are going to get in sports mode with anything you buy. The 3100 has a 1/3000 shutter speed which will freeze most things pretty well. The lens just isn't fast enough to generate that shutter speed in most situations. Same with any other f2.8 camera.

You can get a faster lens. The Olympus 5050 has a f1.8 lens. The Canon G5, Sony 828 and Sony 717 have f2 lenses. They let in twice the light of a f2.8 lens which means twice the shutter speed. They are pricier. You might look in Ebay for a used Sony 707, 717, Oly 5050, Canon G3 or even G1 if your main motivation for buying a camera is action shots. Even those can't compare to a DSLR, but they are a little better than what you have tried.

bittersweet May 28, 2004 12:59 PM

I see. Thanks for the explanation. Honestly, I don't really mind paying extra / more just so I can capture fast moving targets better, but if I go and get a DSLR, I might pay too much for things I probably wouldn't really use much.

And thanks for the recommendations, I'll definitely look into them.

digcamfan May 28, 2004 1:09 PM

Hi Bittersweet,

Welcome to the forum :)

Given that you would like to shoot sports, purchase a Panasonic FZ10.

12x OPTICAL zoom, IMAGE STABILIZATION, good reviews.

You can purchase one here for $499 shipping included.

You have not indicated where you live but Vanns is in Missoula, MT and has an excellent reputation!

In my humble opinion, the FZ10 (get the black body) would serve your needs admirably.


P.S. Get at least one 512 Secure Digital Memory Card.

There are four here at $144 ea, shipping free.

Disclaimer: I do not know this ebay seller.

slipe May 28, 2004 9:44 PM

The FZ10 is a f2.8 camera, but it maintains f2.8 all the way to 12X. That gives almost twice the shutter speed at full zoom than most of the super zooms. The Canon S1 is f3.1 at full zoom and is also stabilized. 4Mp is stingy for me as I have a wide format printer, but if 3Mp is sufficient for your needs the S1 is about a hundred bucks cheaper and seems to be a good camera. Now that I have used stabilization I won't ever have another large camera without it. It not only lets you take telephoto shots in more lighting conditions without a tripod, but is also great for available light at wider settings. The stabilization doesn't help for subject movement though.

I bought a silver FZ10 because a black camera gets too hot in the Florida sun. I take it out in my open boat and even the silver one gets pretty warm. I would buy the silver again but it has a problem. The way the small viewfinder sits out from the camera you get reflections from the silver surface in bright sunlight that wash out the viewfinder. I put an eyecup on the camera and it is fine. But I agree with digcamfan that black is preferable if you don't take it in the hot summer sun too much. I recommend an eyecup even for a black one.

The battery will not fill a 512Mb card I don't think. Unless you plan to carry a spare battery a large card is a waste. I have a spare battery but don't usually carry it. I get over 150 best quality shots on a 256Mb card. 512Mb and a spare battery might be a good idea if you plan to take it on vacation. Several people on the Panasonic board recommended the Eagle Imports battery for $20. I got one and it works fine. The Canon S1 uses less expensive CF memory and NiMH AA batteries, so it is inexpensive to have spares. There was a post on dpreview that Amazon has a 512Mb Sandisk CF card for $58 after rebate with free shipping.

Mikefellh May 29, 2004 1:56 AM

If you're a serious sports shooter, you may want to go with a dSLR.

bittersweet Jun 3, 2004 2:20 AM

Hi! Thanks for the replies!
digcamfan: FZ10 seems like a very nice camera. I mostly take pictures of my brother's Track & Field competitions, so I'd definitely look at this - and at $500? Not bad.

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