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Old Mar 4, 2004, 5:03 AM   #1
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Default Please help out Newbie : Camera Recommendations

Hi All,

I'm pretty much a newbie when it comes to digtal photograhy so please bear with me.....

I'm in a band and we're looking at purchasing a digital camera in order to take good quality shots at our gigs... Below are the requirements, and if you would be so kind as to look at these and let me know of any cameras that you experts would recommend.

- Looking at spending no more that 500
- Most of our gigs are in dark venues, with back lighting
- Venue is very smoky due to smoke machine and smoking
- Photos are for the web site and not really for printing
- Would like to take around 50 Pics per gig
- Would like to transfer directly onto PC via USB or Firewire
- Ability to review photo after taking and then delete retake if necessary
- Be upgradeable to more memory in future

Any recommendations/links/info etc etc very much appreciated.
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Old Mar 4, 2004, 8:14 AM   #2
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I looked at the photos on your web site. You had a comment that the photos were take by Annie Page.

What camera, lens (focal length/aperture), and film speed is being used?

You'll need to shoot at higher ISO speeds and larger apertures (smaller F-stop numbers) to get shutter speeds fast enough to prevent motion blur in typical concert lighting. Unfortunately, low light photos at higher ISO speeds are the worst conditions to use a digital camera in (due to noise). Noise is similiar to film grain, only worse.

For this purpose, a Digital SLR with a fast lens (able to gather more light) is desirable. Digital SLR's have dramatically larger sensors than non SLR models, and handle low light conditions much better (provided you have a bright lens to go with it).

Good cameras for this purpose would be the Canon Digital Rebel (EOS-300D) or the Canon EOS-10D. These have much larger sensors, and can shoot at higher ISO speeds with lower noise. Again, you'd need a fast (larger aperture/smaller F-stop rating) to go with it (and a fast lens for an SLR can be expensive).

Sometimes, even these may not be totally adequate. I know of one user complaining about the noise from a Canon EOS-300D being too much for concert photos at ISO 800 with a relatively fast lens (and this camera will handle noise MUCH better than non DSLR models). He made the switch from film to digital for concert photos.

He's using a Canon EOS-300D with the Canon 50mm f1.4 USM and Canon 100mm f2 USM lenses. He chose non zoom lenses, since these are less expensive (especially for bright lenses). The lenses alone (and they are not even zoom lenses) probably ran him around $800.00 US discounted.

So, unless you are ready to triple your budget, I'd suggest looking at a camera like the Sony DSC-F717. It's lens is rated at F2.0/F2.6.

This is around twice as bright (able to gather more light) compared to most cameras.

F2.0 is twice as bright as F2.8 (an F2.8 maximum aperture is more typical on most cameras).

You'll probably need to shoot at ISO 800 in some lighting to get shutter speeds fast enough to prevent most blur. The noise will be VERY bad at ISO 800 in low light, so the photos may not be that good (lots of detail lost from noise, but smaller photos for web use may help to mask it).

There are software packages designed to reduce noise, so you'll probably want to use something like Neatimage or Noise Ninja to post process the photos using software. Both have downloadable trial versions:

http://www.neatimage.com

http://www.picturecode.com

One more note:
If the Sony DSC-F717 is outside of your budget, you may want to consider the Canon G3 (not G5). The G3 lens is brighter than most (F2.0/F3.0), and it's 4 Megapixel CCD has a good noise profile (for a non DSLR camera). This model does not have an ISO 800 setting. However, tests show that it's ISO range (50 to 400) is closer to some other cameras 100 to 800 range.

Whatever you choose, I'd buy the camera from a vendor with a no restocking fee return policy, in case it doesn't meet your expectations (excessive noise and/or motion blur).
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Old Mar 4, 2004, 8:43 AM   #3
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Jim,

Thank you very much for taking the time to post such a detailed reply, much appreciated.

As for what we use currently... it is a complete "lucky dip" from mates cameras, to very basic ones, to some half decent 4MP digital ones.

One thing we actually do like is the slight motion blur effect as seen in these photos taken with a "bog" standard digital camera that a friend used.

http://www.greenhaus.co.uk/gigs/garage20030531.htm

These are the sort of photos that we would love to be able to recreate on a regular basis, but we so many different people taking photos it's hard to do.

The idea we had was to get a camara and then the photographer on the night would use our camara with some pre-setup settings.

As for the G3, that is one that has been mentioned to me and it looks good from the various reviews and reports on it.

Also, a cheaper one that was mentioned was the Canon PowerShot A80

Thanks again for your helpful post.
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Old Mar 4, 2004, 8:50 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greenhaus
As for the G3, that is one that has been mentioned to me and it looks good from the various reviews and reports on it.

Also, a cheaper one that was mentioned was the Canon PowerShot A80
The lens in the G3 is around twice as bright as the lens in the A80 (the G3 would allow you to use lower ISO speeds for less noise, and/or faster shutter speeds for less blur).

Again, I'd make sure to buy from a vendor with a no restocking fee return policy. You may not be satisified with the results from a non DSLR camera (autofocus delay in low light, noise, blur).
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Old Mar 4, 2004, 12:19 PM   #5
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From my experience, the PowerShot Axx series camera's are pretty good.

But if you want more options for low light, faster/slower shutter speed, etc., I would look into the PowerShot Gx series. I have a G3 and like it very much.
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