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Old Jun 30, 2004, 8:43 PM   #1
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I run an non-profit animal sanctuary and need camera suggestions. Most shots will be of animals, mostly farm animals, wildlife,and domestic pets. The farm animals runaway if you get too close so I'll need a good zoom.But I'll also be doing peoplepictures of our volunteers and at events. In general, primarily unposed, moving objects.

The photos will be used for merchandise (t-shirts, notecards, mugs etc) for 8x10 gifts for sponsors, for e-newsletters and for our website www.sashafarm.org.

The only digital camera I've used is an old1 megapixel Kodak and I've never used a 35mm. But I'm fairly good withcomputers and such and I'm very eager to learn more about digital photography and not afraid of a camera that requires a learning curve. But ease of use is still important.

I've been asking friends about their cameras and the main complaint isthetime "lag" with autofocus and the the high probabilty of the subject moving before the picture is captured. This could be an issue with constantly moving animals.

I'm willing to spend what is necessary, but as we are a non-profit,I do need to get great value for the money. Plus if anyone knows of a place that gives discounts to IRS recognized non-profits,PLEASE let me know. And in the non-profit world we know it never hurts to ask......if anyone has acamera they would like to donate for a tax deduction, we would be very grateful. Heck, we'll even name an animal after you! Thanks!
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Old Jun 30, 2004, 10:54 PM   #2
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The problem is going to be cost.

Most non digital SLRs (dSLRs) have shutter lag (what your friends talked about.) And that is a serious problem. You can get used to it and anticipate the animals and thereby produce better results. But you'll never be perfect at it and you'll always miss some shots.

So it's partially a question of how much annoyance you are willing to put up with. If you are willing to deal with that lag, then there are more cameras that would work for you. If you aren't, then you need a dSLR, which is expensive (about $1000 for the cheapest ones.)

It sounds like quality matters. You'll want to get good pictures to give out as gifts, and make quality tshirts and other stuff. To do that, you'll need good sharp pictures, which means you'll probably need image stabilization built in. There are several cameras that now have it. You can also get it in some lenses for Canon and Nikon dSLRs (I think there is even a new dSLR that has it built into the camera.) But again, those will add even more to the cost.

The Lumix FZ10 has an image stabilized lens, but not that high in the MegaPixel department. 4MP isn't bad, but by modern standards it a little behind. If you took full frame shots for the 8x10 shots you'd do well I bet. It has a fairly long telephoto, but not a very wide one. So if you really want some wide sweeping landscapes of the farm, it won't do that very well.

There are other cameras with image stabilization, and I know almost nothing about them or that Lumix. Some one asked about cameras for birding, and this came up (and stuck in my mind.) So you'll have to hope others offer some suggestions so you have more choices to look into.

I hope that helps.

Eric
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Old Jun 30, 2004, 11:20 PM   #3
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You learn to take most of your shots with pre-focus if you don't have a DSLR. You depress the shutter halfway and let the camera focus on the subject. With pre-focus the shutter lag on the FZ10 is only 1/5 second. Not as fast as some but not bad. It also has continuous focus so it will continue to update the focus if your target moves while pre-focused. It also continues to focus right up to shutter release if you just take the picture without pre-focus. You get a lot fewer blurred shots with continuous focus when photographing things that can move unexpectedly.

4Mp is good for a decent 11 X 14 print. You don't want to have to crop very much though.

The stabilization and 12X Leica designed lens that maintains f2.8 throughout its range is excellent for wildlife photography. People are doing well with telephoto extenders that take the lens from 420mm equivalent to well over 700mm. I haven't found a need for one but might eventually be tempted.

Another possibility is the Minolta A2 with a telephoto extender. The camera is 8Mp and stabilized, but the 200mm equivalent lens isn't sufficient for wildlife photography without extending the telephoto range. It has a 28mm wide angle that is good for scenic, architectural and interior photography. It is an excellent all-round camera with a tracking focus, which is a continuous focus that will continue to track the target if it leaves the center of the view..

Stabilization makes life a lot easier for a camera with a long telephoto. You can capture things in the shade at full telephoto without a tripod.
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Old Jul 1, 2004, 2:06 PM   #4
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kyocera has got some goo and FAST cameras!

Ed
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Old Jul 1, 2004, 6:58 PM   #5
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Thanks for the helpful replies! The cameras that people keep mentioning to me are the Olympus 5060, Olympus 8080, or the Fugi S7000. Any thoughts on these for my purposes?

Sasha Farm Animal Sanctuary


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Old Jul 1, 2004, 9:24 PM   #6
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sanctuary wrote:
Quote:
Thanks for the helpful replies! The cameras that people keep mentioning to me are the Olympus 5060, Olympus 8080, or the Fugi S7000. Any thoughts on these for my purposes?
The Olympus 5060 has a lens that is equivalent to 27mm-110mm in a 35mm camera. The Olympus 8080 has a lens that is equivalent to 28mm-140mm in a 35mm camera.

The Fuji S7000 has a lens that is equivalent to a 35mm-210mm in a 35mm camera.

The Panasonic FZ10 mentioned by both Eric and Slipe has a lens that is equivalent to a 35mm-420mm lens in a 35mm camera.

In addition, the Panasonic lens is stabilized (allows you to take photos at slower shutter speeds without a tripod, compared to a non-stablized camera).

Here's the problem.... if you need a longer focal length lens to bring the subject in closer (as implied in your original posts), then you can get motion blur from camera shake at longer focal lengths. As a general rule of thumb, you want to use a shutter speed that is 1/focal length. So, if taking a photo at 100mm equivalent zoom, then you'll want to use a shutter speed that is a least 1/100 second. If taking a photo at 300mm, then you need a shutter speed that is 1/300 second or faster to prevent motion blur. This isbecause movement is magnified as more zoom is used. Unfortunately, light does not always permit shutter speeds as fast as needed.

Most digital cameras do not have any type of image stabilization to help compensate for camera shake. So, at longer focal lengths, a tripod is often needed (depending on the light available) to prevent blur from camera shake.

In a camera system with a stabilized lens, you can shoot at much slower shutter speeds without a tripod. This makes it much easier to get sharp photos at longer focal lengths, in a greater variety of lighting conditions.

So, you'll need to decide if you want a camera with higher optical zoom (like the Panasonic's 420mm equivalent). Depending on how "skiddish" the animals are, it would make getting "tight" shots much easier (since you could take the photos frommuch further away). If you do want a camera with this much zoom, then stabilization is highly recommended to prevent blur from camera shake.

There are not a lot of cameras (at least, current models) with any kind of image stabilization. In consumer (non-DSLR) grade cameras, your choices are pretty much limited to the Minolta DiMAGE A1 or A2; Canon Powershot S1 IS, and a few Panasonic models like the DMC-FZ10. Both Canon and Nikon make stabilized lenses for their SLR models, but then your budget will need to increase substantially.

Out of the non-DSLRmodels, the Panasonic has the brightest lens at longer focal lengths (F2.8 throughout it's zoom range), as well as the longest zoom (420mm equivalent).You'll need to decide how much optical zoom you really need.

As far as shutter lag, most non-DSLR models will have a certain amount of lag. You can usually find a way to get around this limitation (see Slipe's comments).

Basically, no one camera is perfect for all purposes. I take most of my photos at full wide angle, so the Olympus models would be a "better fit" for my needs. For others, a camera like the Panasonic may be a better fit.

One more note.. I'd buy the camera you choose from a vendor with a no restocking fee policy. That way, if you decide that the camera you purchase does not meet your needs (despite your best efforts), you can get a refund if you are not satifisfied.


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Old Jul 2, 2004, 10:26 AM   #7
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JimC wrote:
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sanctuary wrote:
Quote:
Thanks for the helpful replies! The cameras that people keep mentioning to me are the Olympus 5060, Olympus 8080, or the Fugi S7000. Any thoughts on these for my purposes?
The Olympus 5060 has a lens that is equivalent to 27mm-110mm in a 35mm camera. The Olympus 8080 has a lens that is equivalent to 28mm-140mm in a 35mm camera.

The Fuji S7000 has a lens that is equivalent to a 35mm-210mm in a 35mm camera.

The Panasonic FZ10 mentioned by both Eric and Slipe has a lens that is equivalent to a 35mm-420mm lens in a 35mm camera.

In addition, the Panasonic lens is stabilized (allows you to take photos at slower shutter speeds without a tripod, compared to a non-stablized camera).

Here's the problem.... if you need a longer focal length lens to bring the subject in closer (as implied in your original posts), then you can get motion blur from camera shake at longer focal lengths. As a general rule of thumb, you want to use a shutter speed that is 1/focal length. So, if taking a photo at 100mm equivalent zoom, then you'll want to use a shutter speed that is a least 1/100 second. If taking a photo at 300mm, then you need a shutter speed that is 1/300 second or faster to prevent motion blur. This isbecause movement is magnified as more zoom is used. Unfortunately, light does not always permit shutter speeds as fast as needed.

Most digital cameras do not have any type of image stabilization to help compensate for camera shake. So, at longer focal lengths, a tripod is often needed (depending on the light available) to prevent blur from camera shake.

In a camera system with a stabilized lens, you can shoot at much slower shutter speeds without a tripod. This makes it much easier to get sharp photos at longer focal lengths, in a greater variety of lighting conditions.

So, you'll need to decide if you want a camera with higher optical zoom (like the Panasonic's 420mm equivalent). Depending on how "skiddish" the animals are, it would make getting "tight" shots much easier (since you could take the photos frommuch further away). If you do want a camera with this much zoom, then stabilization is highly recommended to prevent blur from camera shake.

There are not a lot of cameras (at least, current models) with any kind of image stabilization. In consumer (non-DSLR) grade cameras, your choices are pretty much limited to the Minolta DiMAGE A1 or A2; Canon Powershot S1 IS, and a few Panasonic models like the DMC-FZ10. Both Canon and Nikon make stabilized lenses for their SLR models, but then your budget will need to increase substantially.

Out of the non-DSLRmodels, the Panasonic has the brightest lens at longer focal lengths (F2.8 throughout it's zoom range), as well as the longest zoom (420mm equivalent).You'll need to decide how much optical zoom you really need.

As far as shutter lag, most non-DSLR models will have a certain amount of lag. You can usually find a way to get around this limitation (see Slipe's comments).

Basically, no one camera is perfect for all purposes. I take most of my photos at full wide angle, so the Olympus models would be a "better fit" for my needs. For others, a camera like the Panasonic may be a better fit.

One more note.. I'd buy the camera you choose from a vendor with a no restocking fee policy. That way, if you decide that the camera you purchase does not meet your needs (despite your best efforts), you can get a refund if you are not satifisfied.


I agree. The FZ10 is a great camera used for the right purposes, but it really depends what you want and need. Its long zoom and image stabilization may be just the ticket for you. 4MP will be enough to do great 8x10 as long as you're not cropping much. In most cities camera stores will rent cameras too, so that may be an idea if you aren't sure which one you want.

VC
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