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Old Aug 27, 2004, 3:51 PM   #1
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I am taking a lot of shots at night under stadium lights of soccer games. The light is good enough to AF in, but I have to use flash to stop action. I kept my Minolta 5600 HS flash from my Minolta film camera, and it works with the Z3 (although the Z3 CANNOT use the 5600's AF ranging lights to help it AF in low light--that's a big disadvantage).The 5600packs a wallop for light compared to the on-board Z3 flash, and it also has its own batteries so I am not draining the camera to charge the flash. I have a couple of questions, though.

Here is a website with pics of some flash tests and night soccer pics I took.

http://community.webshots.com/album/180372930lgAMPW

I wanted to fool around with ISO, exposure compensation, and flash compensation. The flower pot shots were all shot at full zoom, shutter priority 400, with flash. That's about what I would shoot in the stadium. I was sitting in a lawn chair using a monopod at dusk/dark. If you look at the pic titles, it will tell you what changed. EV+1 for example was exp comp at +1, and FC+1 was flash comp at +1 and so on. all of these pics were uploaded at full size (1600 X 1200). Click the "view full size" icon at the bottom if you want to get a closer view.

ISO 200 seemed like about as high as I would want to go. 400 introduces color variations and noise. EV+1 seemed to get me a little needed boost in the exposure department.

Acouple of questions:

:?When I am following the action through the EVF duringa game, the display is plenty bright until I press the shutter partway down to AF. As soon as I push it, the EVF display goes to a much darker view. Often it's too dark to see what I am shooting. I am guessing that Minolta wanted to do me a favor and feed the actual exposure settings to the EVF. Trouble is, at 400/4.0 it's going to look like the inside of a coal mine until the flash goes off. This puts me into a little bit of a spot. Because stadium light is low, it takes a couple of seconds to AF. So I want to press the shutter partway and follow the action that way, but I can't because it is too dark. If I wait until I want to shoot before AF'ing, theAF takes2 seconds to do its thing and I miss the shot. Is there any way I can get full brightness out of the EVF with the shutter part way down at night?

:?I'll take any advice you experts have about how to get the most out of the camera in this low light situation. Thanks!


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Old Aug 30, 2004, 1:10 PM   #2
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Wow, zero replies! This must not be the hot topic this week. :-)
Quote:
When I am following the action through the EVF during a game, the display is plenty bright until I press the shutter partway down to AF. As soon as I push it, the EVF display goes to a much darker view. Often it's too dark to see what I am shooting. I am guessing that Minolta wanted to do me a favor and feed the actual exposure settings to the EVF. Trouble is, at 400/4.0 it's going to look like the inside of a coal mine until the flash goes off. This puts me into a little bit of a spot. Because stadium light is low, it takes a couple of seconds to AF. So I want to press the shutter partway and follow the action that way, but I can't because it is too dark. If I wait until I want to shoot before AF'ing, the AF takes 2 seconds to do its thing and I miss the shot. Is there any way I can get full brightness out of the EVF with the shutter part way down at night?
I talked to Mark at Minolta tech support "live" about this (877-462-4464). His reply was a little comical. Basically, he started out saying, "You should be using a film camera for this." I laughed, and said, "OK, I'll take that as a 'NO' answer."

What it boils down to is that Minolta does indeedsend the actual exposure settings to the EVF/LCD any time you push the shutter button part way down (BP). From what I can tell just fooling around with it, the aperture setting is the main culprit. I don't think that the brightness of the display after BP is affected by ISO setting or shutter speed. I did notice that in shutter priority mode, the display brightness BEFORE BP is affected by the shutter speed setting and the exposure/flash comp settings. But it is smart enough to know if the flash is on or not. Brightness before BP is not affected by shutter speed if the flash is on. Regarding the after BP dimming, it doesn't matter whether you are using on-board or external flash. I don't think it matters whether you are using flash at all. It's just that in daylight situations, there is so much light you would not notice any real dimming of the display.

Try this: grab your Z3 and turn it on in an indoor setting. Point it at anything that's just bright enough to AF, and press the shutter partway down. After the AF locks, notice how much darker the display is.

Mark stated that this is how most if not all of Minolta's digitals are configured. It's odd that a camera that is so smart in all other departments can't seem to do something as simple asgive you a readable viewfinder for a flash shot. He said he would put something in the Minolta suggestion box about it. It's possible that this would be a user selectable menu option in some future firmware release.
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