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Old Mar 13, 2003, 8:28 PM   #1
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Default best digicam for fast pictures

hi im looking for a camera under $500 that can take good quality indoor pictures. the subjects are fish and so the camera has to be able to take fast pictures with little lag time and good focusing ability. ive been eyeing the canon powershot g2 but have been turned off by the fact that you actually need to install software to get the pictures from it. any advice would be much appreciated. currently i have a fujifilm 3800zoom but its not cutting it. its very difficult to get a good clear shot of a fish in an aquarium while its moving(even just a little). so here is my cry for help hehe. thanks again in advance to anyone who can help.
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Old Mar 13, 2003, 8:49 PM   #2
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Get a camera that works with an external flash that you can place at the top or side of the tank - well away from the camera. Maybe a small slave flash as well for balance, or a white reflector on the other end of the tank.. The typical flash duration is 1/1000 sec at the longest so if that is the only light source, it doesn't really matter what the shutter speed is. It will take some experimenting to figure out how to set things up, but that is one of the big advantages of digital - you don't have to wait for the film to be developed as do your experiments.
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Old Mar 14, 2003, 2:03 AM   #3
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Yes, an external flash attached to the camera via a cable is best for shooting fish in an aquarium, with the flash pointed down from the top.
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Old Mar 14, 2003, 2:26 AM   #4
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what about for pics without the flash? would the flourescent lighting of the tank be enough? i know ive gotten lucky a couple times and gotten a few good pictures without the flash. honestly the pictures look washed out when the flash is on and i like how the pictures look without the flash. the thing thats really hard is that the fish move and the shutter speeds on my fuji arent fast enough. so thats why i was asking what camera would have faster shutter speeds and what not. enlighten me because i know next to nothing about cameras hehe thanks guys,
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Old Mar 14, 2003, 3:04 AM   #5
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Capturing light with any camera is a balance of shutter speed and lens opening (f-stop). The larger the lens opening (smaller f-stop number), the higher shutter speed is required to compensate (and vice versa, think of a pan-balance scale, the scale Lady Justice is holding). If you have less light available for the camera, that means the lens will have to open more, AND the shutter speed will have to be longer due to the less available light.

The maximum shutter speed for your current camera is 1/500th of a second, but you will only need that in the brightest daylight. What I'm saying here is it's not the maximum amount of shutter speed available, but the amount that is needed to take a picture of the scene. For instance, for many indoor shots (without the flash) the camera will select a speed slower than 1/30th of a second which means if you are holding the camera with your hands (rather than on a tripod) you will get camera shake. If you turn on the flash, the shutter speed will jump up to compensate for the brightness of the flash.

Think of it this way...you have two cars, one can do a max of 80mph, and the other can do 300mph...sure the latter car has a maximum faster speed, but if you are only driving it on city streets (obeying the speed limits) in bumper to bumper traffic, neither car will be faster. A camera with a faster maximum shutter speed will still take a picture of the same scene using similar shutter speeds as the camera with the lower maximum shutter speed, and the same would go for a film based camera.

Suggest you do some reading on photography, visit your local library, and/or surf the web. The following site is a free online "book" gives you a lot of the basics about cameras including shutter speed and lens opening (aperture):

http://www.photocourse.com/

As for the G2, the only benefit it has (in this case) is adjustable ISO sensitivity (increasing this will make the CCD more sensitive to light which will mean higher shutter speeds (but it will also induce more noise into the picture, the Fuji appears to be locked on 100ISO) and shutter priority mode (you choose the shutter speed, the camera chooses the lens opening (within the limits available), the Fuji appears not to have this mode, only aperture priority mode, but if you close down the lens that would bump up the shutter speed as explained above).

There's a lot to learn and read about, but the most important thing is practice.

- Note, I haven't use any of the above mentioned cameras, this is based on general information about photography and what has been posted in Steve's reviews about the cameras.
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Old Mar 14, 2003, 7:05 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike_PEAT
...If you turn on the flash, the shutter speed will jump up to compensate for the brightness of the flash. ...
Not likely the shutter speed with change, but the light from a flash only stays on for something like 1/1000th of a second.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ptahkeem
honestly the pictures look washed out when the flash is on and i like how the pictures look without the flash. the thing thats really hard is that the fish move and the shutter speeds on my fuji arent fast enough.
It does take a fair amount of work to get good flash photos. Easier to figure out with digital since you have instant feedback, but still not simple.

The camera is not the issue. Lighting is your problem. To get a camera that would allow shooting with the limited amount of light you have, you should figure on spending well over $2,000US plus another chunk for a lens. And even then, you might not be able to get to a high enough ISO.

Go to your library - there have been books written on taking pictures of fish in aquariums (I think I have one somewhere).
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Old Mar 14, 2003, 9:08 AM   #7
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In addition to the above advice, you can also do excellent aquarium photos by paying close attention to existing lighting conditions. In every aquarium there are one or more places where lighting is optimal - the problem is to get the subject into that light.

I've found that patience is one of the "virtues" necessary for good aquarium photography. Find the light, set up, pre-focus and wait for a subject to enter the "zone."

Obviously a camera with low shutter lag is important, as is getting some sort of black backdrop behind you, even if that's something as simple as having someone hold up a piece of black cloth. The idea is to limit reflections from the glass.

Here is a shot I took at the Denver Ocean Journey using exactly these principles. Natural, optimal light, decent camera (1.5 megapixel Sony DSC-D770) with black backdrop behind to kill reflections.

Lin

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Old Mar 14, 2003, 10:59 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike_PEAT
...If you turn on the flash, the shutter speed will jump up to compensate for the brightness of the flash. ...
Quote:
Originally Posted by BillDrew
Not likely the shutter speed with change, but the light from a flash only stays on for something like 1/1000th of a second.
To correct your correction, I just tried it and pointed the camera under my desk and it said 1/2 of a second (and it was under exposed at that speed), I turned on the internal flash and the shutter speed jumped up to 1/30th. Maybe we're meaning two different things, but that's what I meant. There were other situations where I have seen the shutter speed set even faster when I turned on the flash (yes, I realize the significance of the 1/30th barrier).
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Old Mar 14, 2003, 12:48 PM   #9
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so um should i go ahead and get the g2? and i understand that flash is necessary to take quality pictures of fish. i just wanted to know if this camera would be able to take decent pics in low light conditions indoor. i dont have $2k to spend on a camera as im a college student and my fuji has been great but i think i need to move on to something with more settings so i can mature as a photographer hehe. anyhow just to make the question more focused would the g2 be a good buy or is there another camera that you guys would recommend to me? thanks again
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Old Mar 14, 2003, 1:10 PM   #10
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Good lighting is necessary - flash may be helpful in many cases, but the "necessity" is good lighting. Improper flash will do as much harm as good.

A recommendation of a particular camera for this purpose should only be made if the person has actually used the camera for this purpose. I can't neither recommend nor deny the G2 as a candidate for this purpose. What you need to do is to research the specifications of this camera and get some feedback from someone who has actually tried it.

I've found that unless you have excellent light available, either from proper flash or from the aquarium lighting itself, you will definitely need higher ISO capabilities. If you want a suggestion for a camera which can handle the job with poor lighting, my suggestion would be to look at the new Canon 10D (6 megapixel)which has excellent ISO capabilities to ISO 1600. Another excellent, but more expensive alternative would be the Kodak DCS-720X (2 megapixel).

My experience with my consumer/prosumer cameras has been that few of them (the camera used for my other post was a professional model) do a really great job with this type photography. A combination of shutter lag, poor high ISO performance, slow autofocus, etc., makes for the necessity of lots of "work-around's" to get reasonably good results. Maybe save your money and get something like the 10D ($1495 U.S. average) or a used D30, etc. and you will have a better chance at successful aquarium photography.

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