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Old Feb 27, 2006, 9:18 AM   #1
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As I am waiting for my FZ7 to arrive I started thinking about this whole high ISO performance thing. Then it hit me, I never bought high ISO film! I mostly used ISO 200 and from time to time would use 100 or even 400. But I never bought anything higher then 400 because I didn't want the heavy grain. In fact I didn't even buy Kodak film because of that, just my personal taste. So why do so many people feel that high ISO performance is "critical" to make a good digicam? Just because you can shoot at ISO 800 or 1600 doesn't mean you should or would. I only personally know of one person who used ISO 1000 film. He would sit up in the top bleachers at his sons hockey games and take pictures with a 300mm lens. Even freezing the puck in the glove hand. But that is very specialized work.

Don't get me wrong I do want good ISO 200 and 400 because I think I will use it, but I don't really see why some demand performance levels for something that we just would not have done in film. Maybe I'm in the minority on this and everyone else was using the high ISO films. Let me know.

-Brett
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Old Feb 27, 2006, 9:36 AM   #2
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Getting acceptable results with high ISO color film is tough.

If you need to shoot in conditions requiring it, give Fuji Superia X-TRA a try. It's available in speeds up to ISO 1600, and many local camera stores carry it.

If you don't need this ability very often, you can find 35mm SLR models on the market at bargain prices.

Just make sure you're using as bright enough lens for the conditions you'll be shooting in. You can give up the advantages of higher ISO speeds quickly if you use a lens that's not very bright. ;-)

Yes, some people do need high ISO ability... Sports (indoor, night sports, or even daytime if light is low), concerts, plays, dance recitals, street photography at night, or any conditionis with less than optimum lighting, especially with moving subjects.

Of course, the downside is that you usually need a DSLR to get there, using a bright lens. Due to their larger sensors, that adds size, weight and cost since the lenses will need to be much larger and heavier for equivalent focal lengths and apertures.

So, any choice is a compromise. Some users may never need higher ISO ability, and you can get a far more compact camera with much better focal range than you could find in a DSLR if you want lenses of equivalent quality and brightness (and it takes more than one lens to do that, comparing a DSLR with a camera like some of the Panasonic models).

No one choice is perfect for every user in every condition. So, you make tradeoffs, based on how you'll use a camera (and you may decide that you need more than one type of camera, depending on the conditions you'll be shooting in).


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Old Feb 27, 2006, 10:05 AM   #3
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JimC wrote:
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So, any choice is a compromise. Some users may never need higher ISO ability, and you can get a far more compact camera with much better focal range than you could find in a DSLR if you want lenses of equivalent quality and brightness (and it takes more than one lens to do that, comparing a DSLR with a camera like some of the Panasonic models).

No one choice is perfect for every user in every condition. So, you make tradeoffs, based on how you'll use a camera (and you may decide that you need more than one type of camera, depending on the conditions you'll be shooting in).

Your comments very well illustrate the point I was trying to make. It is about compromise and how you use the camera most of the time. I can't imagine anyone who NEEDS to consistently take images at concerts or sporting events to be using anything other then an SLR. But from time to time you can get by with this on almost any consumer camera.

What bothered me was that I see a number of posts, mostly elsewhere that are extremely critical of the Panasonic high ISO performance. So I just wanted to get a more honest evaluation of how important it REALLY is. To each his own I guess.

Thanks for you thoughts.

-Brett
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Old Feb 27, 2006, 10:24 AM   #4
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you make a good point about high ISO's. I think what drives the desire for high ISO's is the fact that there are cameras out there that can do it and others wish their camera did too. Having a DSLR that can take fairly noise-free 800-1600 and even usable 3200 just represents one more picture that they could take that you may not be able too with your camera that is capped at 200-400.

If DSLR's couldnt' do it, there probably wouldn't be much demand for it. But as it stands, it creates a digital covet.
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Old Feb 27, 2006, 11:48 AM   #5
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You make a good point, Brett. I use my fz5 90%+ outdoors and seldom need anything faster than iso80. (I do have lowlight sunset or fogsituations where the noise level is aggravating for larger 18 x 24 prints, but that's asking alot.)However, if I had acceptable higher iso I would use it quite a bit more indoors. I prefer not using a flashat family gatherings/parties. I just want to pick up the camera and shoot - no flash. That requires shutter speeds of at least1/50s. Depending on the lighting, that's not going to happen at iso settings less than 400. The Fuji f10/11 is apparently able to get decent quality at iso800 but they don't have image stabliization and that is still going to be needed at 1/50s. Acouple ofyears and we should have that capability in a fz style camera. I may pick up an f10 to see how it does while I'm waiting. No real complaints here. I'm enjoying the digicam evolution/revolution big time!
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Old Feb 27, 2006, 12:07 PM   #6
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fmoore wrote:
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The Fuji f10/11 is apparently able to get decent quality at iso800 but they don't have image stabliization and that is still going to be needed at 1/50s.
Nah... you don't need stabilization at 1/50 second shutter speeds at wider focal lengths.

The rule of thumb for hand held photos is 1/focal length (and you'll want to go by 35mm equivalent focal lengths), since camera shake is magnified as more optical zoom is used.

For example, if you're shooting a focal length of 30mm, you'll want 1/30 second or faster. At 50mm, you'll want 1/50 second or faster, at 100mm, you'll want 1/100 second or faster, etc.

But, this is only a rule of thumb, as some people can hold a camera steadier than others (and some may require even faster shutter speeds).

Also, your technique can play a big role. If you're careful about how you hold the camera, slowly squeezing the shutter button, you may be able to get by at much slower shutter speeds. In addition, you don't have to worry about mirror vibration with a non-DSLR model.

As for the Fuji, keep in mind that it's lens drops off to around f/5 on it's long end (which is only equivalent to 108mm). So, some of the Panasonic Ultra-Zoom models shooting at ISO 400 could get shutter speeds 50% faster than you could with an F10 at ISO 800 with properly exposed images, if you zoomed in much with the Fuji.

That's because if you zoomed in much with the F10 you'd be at f/5, and some of the Panasonic models would still be at f/2.8 (around 3 times as bright as f/5) at the same focal length.

At wider focal lengths, motion blur is likely to be just as big of an issue (if not a bigger issue), compared to camera shake, if you're shooting moving subjects.

But, both are nice to have in some conditions, and you can use far slower shutter speeds with it, compared to without it, especially at longer focal lengths since camra shake is magnified as more optical zoom is used.

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Old Feb 27, 2006, 12:53 PM   #7
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Well, I can only attest to the fact that I can't get acceptable noise levels with the fz5 indoors withoutusing theflash. Where I get 1/4s at iso80 I might get 1/13s at iso200 and maybe 1/25s at iso400. Neither the speed nor the noise is really acceptable. If the f10 could give me 1/40s at wide angle and iso800 with acceptable noise, maybe that would be sufficient.I didn't realize the f10 closed down that much at full 3x zoom. Oh well. Like I say,in a couple of years we should have the best of both worlds.
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Old Feb 27, 2006, 1:00 PM   #8
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fmoore wrote:
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You make a good point, Brett. I use my fz5 90%+ outdoors and seldom need anything faster than iso80. (I do have lowlight sunset or fogsituations where the noise level is aggravating for larger 18 x 24 prints, but that's asking alot.)However, if I had acceptable higher iso I would use it quite a bit more indoors. I prefer not using a flashat family gatherings/parties. I just want to pick up the camera and shoot - no flash. That requires shutter speeds of at least1/50s. Depending on the lighting, that's not going to happen at iso settings less than 400. The Fuji f10/11 is apparently able to get decent quality at iso800 but they don't have image stabliization and that is still going to be needed at 1/50s. Acouple ofyears and we should have that capability in a fz style camera. I may pick up an f10 to see how it does while I'm waiting. No real complaints here. I'm enjoying the digicam evolution/revolution big time!
Fred you really show the issue many have. Family photo's in low light. Now I understand someone not wanting flash. But what will every film based PS camera do in that situation even with ISO 400 film? Most of the time the flash will auto fire and you can't stop it on many film cameras. Even many SLR cameras in P mode seem to do this. What I think we are seeing is the expectations of digital are getting higher then what most people thought was fine for film. Digital gives us show much freedom, control and flexibility that we tend to do things we would never have dreamed of with film. That's just my take anyway.

-Brett
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Old Feb 27, 2006, 1:02 PM   #9
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moore wrote:
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Well, I can only attest to the fact that I can't get acceptable noise levels with the fz5 indoors withoutusing theflash. Where I get 1/4s at iso80 I might get 1/13s at iso200 and maybe 1/25s at iso400. Neither the speed nor the noise is really acceptable. If the f10 could give me 1/40s at wide angle and iso800 with acceptable noise, maybe that would be sufficient.I didn't realize the f10 closed down that much at full 3x zoom. Oh well. Like I say,in a couple of years we should have the best of both worlds.
Yep... as a small camera with usable ISO 800 for existing light use, it's not a bad choice if you stay on the wide end of the lens (not that there are many alternatives yet). ;-)

But, I probably wouldn't try to zoom in much indoors with one if you want to keep shutter speeds up, and you do lose some detail as ISO speeds are increased (as you do with most small cameras anymore, as in camera noise reduction in the image processing pipeline in newer models will tend to reduce it).

Or, if you don't really need one quite as small, pick up something like an older Olympus C-3040z on the used market. It's got an f/1.8-2.6 lens on it, with relatively clean results at ISO 400 (especially if you run them through modern tools to reduce it). It's lens is more than twice as bright on it's wide end compared to the F10, and several times as bright on it's long end compared to the Fuji's long end.

So, you'd get faster shutter speeds with it shooting at ISO 400, compared to an F10 shooting at ISO 800 at any equivalent focal length.


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Old Feb 27, 2006, 1:54 PM   #10
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bmccoy wrote:
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What I think we are seeing is the expectations of digital are getting higher then what most people thought was fine for film. Digital gives us show much freedom, control and flexibility that we tend to do things we would never have dreamed of with film.
You got that right! Once you see the possibilities up ahead you tend to forget the impossiblities you left behind. Speaking of which, how's that FZ7 doing? Among other things, I'm curious as to how the dcr6600 works with it, but I don't think you have that wa lens.
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