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Old May 5, 2004, 10:31 AM   #1
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 39

Looking for a new camera that I can use in a gym, with fast moving subjects. My sons wrestle and I'm missing memorable shots. Willing to spend up four to six hundred on a camera that wont give be blurred, unrecognizable shots.

What are the key features that I should look for in a digital camera being used for wrestling pictures?

Anyone had success with their camera under similar circumstances?

Thanks for your guidance.
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Old May 5, 2004, 10:54 AM   #2
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Savannah, GA (USA)
Posts: 22,378

Unfortunately, what is bright to the human eye, is not to a camera's lens. Photographing Indoor Sports is challenging to a camera. In order to get fast enough shutter speeds to prevent blur, you need to increase ISO speed (and have a very bright lens).

With consumer (non-DSLR) cameras, this often results in unacceptable noise (similiar to film grain), because you are turning up the gain from the sensor to increase ISO speed/sensitivity to light (which also amplifies noise).

So, the best solution for this type of photography, is a DSLR. These cameras can shoot at much higher ISO speeds (1600 - 3200) with lower noise, compared to non-DSLR models. Note that you will have still have some noise (but they work much better than non-DSLR models). You also need a fast (bright) lens to go with one.

This solution will be well outside of your proposed budget. The two lowest cost DSLR models now are the Canon EOS-300D (Digital Rebel) and the new Nikon D-70. Both of these models will run you about $900.00 - $1,000.00, without a lens. A bright (i.e., F2.8 at longer focal lengths) lens can run you a good "chunk of change", too. The "kit lenses" are really not bright enough for this use.

About the least expensive solution (at the high end of your budget)that I would consider trying would be something like the Sony DSC-F717. It has an ISO 800 setting (borderline for your purpose), and it's lens is very bright (F2.0/F2.4) lens. However, you may bevery unhappy with the results at higher ISO speeds (noise levels) -- limiting it's usefullness to smaller prints. You may also find that ISO 800 is still not fast enough to stop the action, so expect a percentage of your photos to have some motion blur. If you go this route, I'd suggest buying one from a vendor with a no restocking fee policy -- just in case you decide you can't live with the results.

If you can afford a DSLR like the Nikon D70 or Canon Digital Rebel, and can afford a decent (bright -- wider aperture/lower F-Stop Number Rating) lens, then this is your best bet (well over $1,000.00 with a decent lens).

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Old May 7, 2004, 5:49 PM   #3
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Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Indian Rocks Beach, FL
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In your price range I would recommend a Canon G3/G5, Oly 5050 or Sony 717 and an external flash. Dedicated flash units are pricey but automatic flash works fine and you can get good power at a reasonable price.

Those are a stop faster than most cameras in the range for available light, and the faster lens increases your flash range at a given ISO. You would have to use a high ISO to have a chance of capturing any motion in available light and as Jim pointed out the small prosumer sensors give a lot of noise when you do that. I doubt you would find ISO 800 acceptable and even ISO 400 is crappy with the small 5Mp sensors. The G3 would be more acceptable at ISO 400 because of the lower density of the sensor, but the tradeoff if 3Mp compared to 5 for the others.

Vivitar makes an automatic flash unit with a zoom that will reach out to 70 feet with a f1.8/f2 lens. It is in the $80 range online. A strong flash unit is probably the only way you will get satisfactory pictures with a prosumer camera if flash is allowed and you can get close enough.
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