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Old Jul 21, 2004, 2:46 PM   #1
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Hi,

I would like to buy a digital camera, mainly to put pictures online. Sure, it would be nice to be able to print some pictures, but that's not a big deal.

But since I know I will be taking a lot of pictures inside and outside - in rather dark conditions, I would prefer a camera with some manual functions to contol shutter speed etc.

I'm looking at the A75 which seems to be a decent camera for the price, but there seem to be an issue with focusing in the dark. And then there's the Canon G5 which should be good with it's low light capabilities, but I really feel like a $500 camera is a bit overkill for my use.

So I guess I'm looking for recommendations for a reasonably priced camera with reasonable low light capabilities.

Any suggestions?
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Old Jul 21, 2004, 3:38 PM   #2
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What kind of low light photos? With or without flash?

It's not so much the focus ability you will need to look at (although this is important). You'll need to look at how the model will perform at higher ISO speeds, which will be needed to prevent motion blur in low light conditions. Lens brightness will also be a big factor.

The vast majority of non-DSLR digital cameras are not very useable in these conditions (unless you'll be using a tripod, with non moving subjects, keeping ISO speeds set low; or using a flash.)

Otherwise, you'll havehave motion blur from camera shake/subject movement and/or high noise levels in your images from higher ISO speeds needed.

You may want to give more details on what type of photos you plan to take.


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Old Jul 21, 2004, 3:49 PM   #3
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he did say that $500 is a bit overkill for him, so a dSLR, while it may be preferable, is not an option for him, considering that the Canon Rebel & Nikon D70 start at around $1000.

If he's mainly going to be posting pics on the internet, he won't need a lot of resolution, so getting a lower (like 2 megapixel or 3 megapixel for example) resolution camera will help keep the pixel density, and the image noise, down, somewhat.

For example...

are there any cameras with...

1 megapixel on a 1/2.7" sensor (I think I've seen 2)
2 megapixels on a 1/1.8" sensor (minimum I remember is 3 or 4)
3 megapixels on a 2/3" sensor (minimum I've seen is 5)

???

also take a look at some of the sample pics on www.imaging-resource.com - I like the quality of the high ISO indoor portrait without flash pics from the Fuji F700, for example (even though the highest ISO (1600) forces you to use 1 megapixel resolution, which I think would still be fine for posting on the web).
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Old Jul 21, 2004, 3:56 PM   #4
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Thank you for your reply, Jim. I'll try to be more spesific.

I'm looking for a camera that's capable of taking normal indoor photos - people stuff, normally lit rooms. Other than that I will be taking pictures outdoors - street lighting, not pick-black-Blairwitch-Project stuff. Night time photos - yes, but not with ambient street light.

To narrow it down a bit: I will not be taking "action" photos, macro shots - all that stuff.

Does that help?
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Old Jul 21, 2004, 4:02 PM   #5
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If you're talking about situations where there is no light, suggest you get something like a Sony with the nightshot mode, like the F707...it also has a halogram laser focusing system which again is needed in darkness. The nightshot mode gives you those green pictures that are lit up by IR light...you can even add an additional IR light for more intense light (just like adding a flash for regular photography).
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Old Jul 21, 2004, 4:03 PM   #6
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Do you mean with or without a flash?
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Old Jul 21, 2004, 4:18 PM   #7
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Let me try to explain.

What is bright to the human eye, is not to the camera's lens. Chances are, indoors, you only have anEV (Exposure Value) of around 6. This is the amount of light you have. What you think is "normal room lighting" is dark to a camera's lens.

So, this can make it difficult to get sharp photos without motion blur indoors, unless you use the camera's flash, or a tripod. Outside by most street lighting will be even worse.

As a general rule, you want to use a shutter speed of 1/focal length or faster. In other words, if shooting at40mm equivalent zoom, you'll want a shutter speed of around 1/40 second -- just to help reduce blur from camera shake. At 100mm equivalent zoom, you'd need 1/100 second, etc. When using flash, slower shutter speeds can be used, because the flash is freezing the action.Also, keeping the camera at nearer to full wide angle can help a little.

You can increase ISO speed (the sensitivity of the CCD Sensor to light)to help compensate (but this increases noise).

For example: if shooting near wide angle with the Canon A75, at ISO 100, with an Aperture of around F2.8 (the largest available aperture), you'd need a shutter speed of around 1/8 second at EV 6 (typical indoor lighting) to insure proper exposure. This is too slow to prevent blur - even at full wide angle. If you're trying to shoot at ISO 50, the problem will be even worse (because you'd need an even slower shutter speed of about 1/4 second to get proper exposure). Forget even trying to use zoom in low light with this model in these condtions, since the lens is not bright enough.

Here is a useful chart. Again, what your eyes tell you is bright (indoors), is not to a camera. Note that this chart is based on ISO 100. So, each time you double the ISO speed (settable in camera), you can also double the shutter speed. However, increasing ISO speed will add noise to the photo.

http://home.earthlink.net/~terryleedawson/dcnotes/tables.htm

So, the camera choices you can use will be extremly limited. The Sony DSC-F707 (as mentioned by Mikefellh) or DSC-F717 models have larger 2/3" CCD Sensors, compared to the other models you are considering. The photosites for each pixel are also larger, so they can gather more light. This requires less amplification of their signal, to get the same equivalent ISO speeds. As a result, they have less noise at higher ISO Speeds.

They also have a very bright lens. Even then, in many lighting conditions you may find noise objectionable as you increase ISO speed to prevent blur from camera shake. The best option isa DSLR (like the Nikon D70 or Canon Digital Rebel). These have DRAMATICALLY larger sensors, and can shoot at much higher ISO speeds with lower noise..

However, these would be much more expensive (especially since you'll need to buy a good lens or lenses to go with them).

Note that there are a couple of products that can be used to reduce noise, when increasing ISO speed is the only way to get shutter speeds fast enough for proper exposure without too much blur from camera shake. Noise Ninja and Neat Image are probably the best two. Here are the download links:

http://www.picturecode.com

http://www.noiseninja.com


Of course, the easiest way, is just to use the camera's flash for your indoor photos, and use a tripod for any photos in low light outside of a camera's flash range.
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Old Jul 21, 2004, 4:23 PM   #8
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JimC wrote:
Quote:
Do you mean with or without a flash?
With flash inside. Outside? Well, the flash on a compact camera will hardly make a difference will it? So I would say no to that one.
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Old Jul 21, 2004, 4:26 PM   #9
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BTW, the Canon G5 you're looking at does have a much brighter lens compared to the A75 you are looking at. At full wide angle, it's lens is just as bright as the Sony DSC-F707/DSC-F717 models.

However, it has been criticized for higher noise levels, compared to the model it replaced (the 4 Megapixel G3). This is because the 1/1.8" (.556") 5 Megapixel CCD used, has smaller photosites for each pixel, compared to the 4 Megapixel Canon G3.

So, the G3 (if you can find one) would be a good choice, too (or at least MUCH better than the A75, which will be a very poor low light performer.

Although, you may still find it difficult to use without a flash or a tripod in many low light condtions.


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Old Jul 21, 2004, 4:32 PM   #10
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Wow, thank you for taking the time to write that reply, Jim! Really appreciate it. Found some new bookmarks there. The good thing is I actually understand what you say. At least it gives me some information to use when I go back to my search.
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