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gobucks Dec 19, 2005 10:50 AM

I would like to purchase a camera to upgrade from my Canon A70. The main consideration is buying a camera that can take excellent low light pics with no flash. My daughter suffers with seizures and has a type that is triggered by a flash. I am considering buying a portable light on a tripod to take place of a flash. I have not been successful with my A70 taking a great pic. I slow down the shutter to try and capture as much light possible, but no luck getting the camera still and keeping my daughter from moving. Any suggestions on camera in the 6-8 megapixel range, maybe just in the low end SLR category. Thanks for any help.

bernabeu Dec 19, 2005 11:18 AM

your issue is not the camera/film but the 'speed' of the lens

to accomplish low light portraits you will require alens with a large apperture: f1.4 suggested, but f2 as a minimum

you will also need a recording medium capable of decent (noise free) images at iso 400-800

eg. an f1.4 lens at iso 400 will enable a shutter speed of 1/60 at indoor lighting levels

most P&S cameras will not be adequate

IMO: the KM 5D with 50mm f1.4 (75mm equivalent) sounds tailor made for you

gobucks Dec 19, 2005 12:21 PM

bernabeu,I am a noob and was just wondering a couple of things about your reply. 1. recording medium? Do you mean: compact flash, SD, etc? If so, different types of medium allow for noise free images? Is there a preferred? 2. what is a P5S camera? (Point and shoot?)

E.T Dec 19, 2005 1:40 PM

Memory card type doesn't affect to it.
But sensor (size and quality) and AD-conversion affect to it. Also processing of RAW data is equally important.

gobucks wrote:

2. what is a P5S camera?
My vote goes for double typo, first forgetting to press/missing shift-button, then pressing key next to intented key.

airshowfan Dec 19, 2005 6:51 PM

In other words, it's a "P&S" (point-n-shoot, as opposed to an SLR).

I agree that a fast lens would be best. A camera that does well at high ISOs would also be great. SLRs can do both. Here are some recommendations:

Fixed-lens cameras with relatively fast lenses:

- Olympus 5050 (f 1. 8 )
- Sony F707, 717, and 828 (f 2.0, can stay at f 2.2 up to 5X zoom!)
- Canon G6 (f 2.0)
- Olympus C8080 (f 2.4)
- Nikon 8400 (f 2.6)

Fixed-lens cameras with good high-iso performance:

- Fuji S5200 (a.k.a. S5600)
- Fuji F10
- Fuji Z1

And any digital SLR will have good high-ISO performance AND allow you to use even faster lenses, which is why SLRs are much better for low-light situations than fixed-lens cameras are. SLRs will cost you a lot more, though. Really fast 50mm lenses (equivalent to 75mm or so on a digital SLR) are fairly cheap, but if you want a wider field of view (which you will when shooting pictures of people in a room, etc), then you need a really fast 35mm or 20mm, and those can get pricey. Still, a wide-angle lens (like an 17-or-18-to-something-mm) that is not that fast (f3.5 is most common) will still take better pictures at high ISO than any fixed-lens digital camera (except maybe for the Fujis listed above).

slipe Dec 19, 2005 7:49 PM

f2 is only an f-stop better than the standard f2.8. That is the same as going from ISO 100 to 200. True optical stabilization will give 3 f-stops for still subjects. In non-DSLR cameras with small sensors you probably still can't take good indoor shots without flash with f2 unless the camera has good high ISO capabilities as well.

The Fuji F10 has great high ISO capabilities. The 5Mp sensor in the Z1 doesn't come close to the F10. DCRP reports that details start getting destroyed at ISO400 with the Z1 where they are still intact at ISO 1600 on the F10. Some good examples in these reviews: and

The F5200 has the same sensor as the Z1, so I would wait for some good reviews and tests before assuming it is a high ISO machine like the F10.

DCRP says the Sony T9 also has better than average high ISO capabilities with details not starting to be destroyed until ISO 640. That isn't much better than the Z1, but the T9 also has optical stabilization. ISO 200 on the T9 with stabilization will give you the same hand held abilities as the F10 at ISO 1600 with much cleaner shots. The problem is that stabilization doesn't help for subject motion, just hand shake. A tripod accomplishes the same thing as stabilization a lot better. The T9 still appears to be an excellent compromise with both above average ISO capability and true optical stabilization.

Something I find helps a little for hitting a moment of null motion both in the subject and your hand is a good burst mode. The Panasonic FX9 has both a good burst mode and stabilization. It isn't very good at high ISO though.

The perfect camera would be a DSLR with a fast lens. But that is a pricey option with the fast lens.

You might do OK with your A70 on a tripod with lights. The halogen work lights at Home Depot are cheap and do well with a homemade diffuser or reflector – or even bounced off a low white ceiling.

gobucks Dec 19, 2005 9:33 PM

Great info. That gives me several options. I was thinking that an SLR would be the only way to go, but it may be possible to get some good pics with a couple of the fixed lens models listed. Although, if I am going to make the investment, maybe an SLR will be a good choice for the long haul. The problem with digital cameras, like computers, seems to be they eventually outdate. It would be nice to get a digital camera and learn all of it's traits and have for the next ten years.

airshowfan Dec 20, 2005 4:11 AM


The problem with digital cameras, like computers, seems to be they eventually outdate. It would be nice to get a digital camera and learn all of it's traits and have for the next ten years.
That's what the megapixel-hype marketing people wants you to think, and it's not really true. Sure, they keep coming out with cameras that make it easier and easier to take sharp pictures. But if you get a camera and you're happy with the picture quality of the shots you're taking, there's no reason to ever replace the camera (except the temptation of getting a camera that does more things for you and/or that gives you better control over more aspects of the picture-taking, making it even easier to get good pictures).

The analogy between cameras and computers is a bad one for a very important reason. A computer is a machine that runs software. A camera is a machine that makes an image file out of a real-world scene. It's important for computers to run new (or new-ish) software so that you can open the files that are sent to you, use the latest web browsers to surf AJAX sites (or whatever), play the games (and other fun things like Google Earth or whatever) that your friends are talking about, etc. In other words, because the software world changes, old computers that can't run new software are just not as good anymore at what they are supposed to do. Cameras, however, will always have to face the same lighting situations, the same kinds of real-world events, etc. It's not like there is less and less light in the world or something. So cameras will always be as good at taking pictures as they are now, while computers will become not-as-good at running current software.

I have bought a few new cameras over the past few years - I went from a 2-megapixel Fuji 2800 to a Panasonic FZ10 to a Canon 10D. I did not get new cameras just because new and better cameras came out. I got new cameras because I felt that, as a photographer, I was ready to harness and control the more advanced features of a fancier camera. I "outgrew" my cameras. The reason why I got new cameras is because I wanted more control.

If you want a camera that you will find "interesting" and that you will not want to replace, get an SLR. Once you figure out all the ins and outs of a nice fixed-lens camera, you will probably want an SLR. However, once you've figured out all the ins and outs of an SLR (which takes a long long long time), then there's just nothing left to get, other than fancier lenses, or an SLR that is only a little better.

You're right - better fixed-lens cameras are indeed released all the time, which may make you (as the owner of a fixed-lens camera) fell like you're missing out. If you get an SLR, this won't really happen, because older entry-level SLRs and newer pro-level SLRs just aren't that different in terms of what you can do with them, what you can make them do. The newer and nicer ones have faster burst modes, faster focusing, higher resolution (not that much higher), and that's about it.

gobucks Dec 20, 2005 7:51 AM

Thanks airshowfan, never looked at it that way. Personally, I get caught up in my own wanting the newest and latest. But, with this investment, it will need to suffice for a long time. SLR is sounding better all the time.

peripatetic Dec 20, 2005 9:41 AM

If you have an idea of your budget we could make some SLR suggestions.

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