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Old Oct 6, 2005, 3:25 PM   #1
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I recently bought the new and improved Canon SD550 and so far I've been fairly pleased with the picture quality (beats the SD500 for sure, where evidence of purple fringing was pretty strong). However, I've been noticing that in low-light situations the camera still struggles, expected I'm sure, with the red camera shake warning icon appearing. That said, will investing money in a small tripod help greatly reduce or elminate the blurry and/or soft results? Will I still see grainy effects? Am I being too unrealistic in hoping the pictures will come out as clean as my outdoor shots?
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Old Oct 6, 2005, 3:42 PM   #2
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The "rule of thumb" for preventing motion blur from camera shake is 1/focal length.

For example, if you're shooting more towards the "long" end of the zoom at around a 100mm focal length (or rather, the 35mm equivalent focal length with a model like your Canon). you'll want shutter speeds of 1/100 second or faster.

If you're shooting more towards the wide end of the zoom (perhaps around 40mm), you'll want shutter speeds of 1/40 second or faster.

Camera shake is magnified as more zoom is used.

Unfortunately, it's very difficult to get shutter speeds this fast indoors with a compact camera. What the human eye considers to be very good indoor lighting is dim to a camera's lens.

If you can hold a camera very steady, have a very smooth "trigger finger" for squeezing the shutter, have a very well lit interior, and try to stay at your wide angle lens setting, you might be able to get away without a tripod if you keep your ISO speeds set high (each time you double the ISO speed the camera can use shutter speeds twice as fast). But, higher ISO speeds add noise (the multicolored grain you see in images).

You need to stay on the wide end of the zoom for another reason, too -- more than twice as much light reaches the sensor at it's wide angle position, versus it's longest telephoto position with most compact models, including yours.

So, you usually need to use a flash or a tripod indoors with a camera like this (but a tripod won't help blur from subject movement). Also, if you use a tripod, then there is no need to set ISO speeds higher (keeping noise levels down).

So, yes, it's a good idea to use a tripod indoors with a camera like yours to reduce motion blur from camera shake, if you're taking photos of a stationary subject

If your subject is not stationary (i.e., moving people), you'll probably need to use your flash.

The rules are different with a flash regarding shutter speeds (since with most compact cameras, the subjects are not exposed well enough to see blur without the flash during the shorter exposure, sincethe flash burst is very short (usually around 1/1000 second, depending on your distance to subject). So, the flash has the impact of freezing the action (provided shutter speeds, ISO speed and aperture used don't allow enough light to expose your subject from light other than the flash burst).

It also never hurts to use a tripod, as this can help you think about your composition, and you can't always go by the "rule of thumb" for shutter speeds needed either. Some users need even faster shutter speeds to keep from getting motion blur from camera shake (and some may be able to hold a camera steadier).

But, a cheap tripod may be more trouble than it's worth (you'll want a steady platform), unless you plan on using the self timer to prevent camera movement while pressing the shutter button (and many camera owners use a self timer or remote shutter release anyway for that purpose -- even with a better tripod).


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Old Oct 7, 2005, 3:44 PM   #3
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I often carry a little Ultrapod for my pocket camera and an Ultrapod II for my larger ones. It is a composite material and weighs only 2 0z. The angled construction and Velcro strap allow you to attach it to many things like chairs etc. I've even grabbed a stick and used it as a monopod. They are around $9 + shipping online: http://www.pedcopods.com/instru01.htm
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Old Oct 7, 2005, 6:57 PM   #4
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Ultrapods are great! Strong too...I've used mine to hold something as small as a Minolta G400 & as large as a Canon D30 & 28-105mm lens!
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Old Oct 7, 2005, 10:49 PM   #5
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Your opinion is really appreciated (and thank you to the poster who gave me a nice referral of buying a tripod), I definitely learned a lot here. I have another issue that has been bugging me somewhat, which is that when using the manual mode I tend to see the red camera shake warning icon at full 3X optical zoom level, and we're talking about in pretty decent well-lit setting. Today's weather, for example, had plenty of sunshine and when I tried testing some shots at the open shopping mall, the camera would struggle. The green color bracket appears in conjunction with the warning light sometimes, and so would this constitute ignoring the warning icon? It is pretty odd how when I use the auto mode the red warning light doesn't appear. Weird, if you ask me. I guess there just really is no way around to getting a decent indoor results with a P&S camera unless you use a tripod(I hear Fuji F10 does a fairly decent job, but the drawback to this is that you will be proned to see more noise and loss of details, like color. Canon in this regard wins, at least according to those who have used both cameras.

I took my camera to Best Buy and the salesperson, with all due respect, seemed clueless. All she could tell me was that it is normal and that if I'm worried, I should buy a tripod. But doesn't this defeat the whole purpose ofowning a high end P&S camera priced at $499 when shooting in well-lit areas? Also, when I asked about the CCD sensor size, she immediately dismissed the inquiry by saying it has nothing to do with it. Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't you get better pictures if the CCD sensor is bigger, considering more light enter it?




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Old Oct 7, 2005, 11:22 PM   #6
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Elphman wrote:
Quote:
I have another issue that has been bugging me somewhat, which is that when using the manual mode I tend to see the red camera shake warning icon at full 3X optical zoom level, and we're talking about in pretty decent well-lit setting. Today's weather, for example, had plenty of sunshine and when I tried testing some shots at the open shopping mall, the camera would struggle.
It's probably not as bright as you think in the mall. The human eye adjusts well to low light (and a well lit interior is low light to a camera).

Also, by using 3x Optical Zoom with your model, only about 1/3 as much light gets through as when you're at your wide angle lens position (meaning shutter speeds 3 times as long for the same lighting conditions, since the largestavailable aperture, represented by smallest f/stop number), is only available at your lens' widest setting. So, you'll lose more light as more zoom is used with your model.

Quote:
It is pretty odd how when I use the auto mode the red warning light doesn't appear. Weird, if you ask me.
What ISO speed have you got it set to? See my previous post on ISO speed. If you're using Auto ISO, the camera will probably vary it between ISO 50 and 200 as needed. But, if you switch to a different mode and it's set it to a lower value, then it's not going to increase sensitivty as needed. But, you may need ISO 400 indoors if you're shooting a moving subject to have a chance at stopping motion blur (staying at your lens wide angle position to let in more light).

Quote:
I took my camera to Best Buy and the salesperson, with all due respect, seemed clueless. All she could tell me was that it is normal and that if I'm worried, I should buy a tripod. But doesn't this defeat the whole purpose ofowning a high end P&S camera priced at $499 when shooting in well-lit areas?
What you think is well lit is probably very dim to a camera. The vast majority of digital cameras are not going to be able to shoot indoors without a flash without motion blur (both from camera shake, and from subject movement if you are not shooting a stationary subject) -- especially if you're trying to useoptical zoom with a model that loses brightness as more zoom is used (most of them).

Even a DSLR can struggle indoors without a flash, and you'll still needa bright lens (larger apertures represented by smaller f/stop numbers)*and* higher ISO speeds (i.e., ISO 800, 1600, or even 3200).

If your subjectsare not moving, then you could probably get away with shooting at ISO 400 indoors without a flash with it in a well lit interior, as long as you stay near the wide end of the lens and have a very steady hand and trigger finger. You might be able to get away with ISO 200 in some cases, if your subjects are *very* still and you're using a tripod or monopod. But, take lots of photos to increase the percentage of ones without blur.

Quote:
Also, when I asked about the CCD sensor size, she immediately dismissed the inquiry by saying it has nothing to do with it. Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't you get better pictures if the CCD sensor is bigger, considering more light enter it?

The larger surface area for each photosite allows more photons to hit each one, so they can generate a stronger signal, requiring less amplification for equivalent sensitivity to light. That's why most DSLR models have ISO 1600 or even ISO 3200 available.

But, most non-DSLR models max out at around ISO 400.


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