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Old Aug 10, 2004, 6:47 AM   #1
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I would like to get recomendations on which camera to buy for taking shots at a Karate tournamant. Due to my sons involvement I find myself at these events regularly and there are some great opportunities that go begging for more skill than I have.

I realise the challenge may be too much without spending a lot of dollars which i don't want to do.

My current camera is a Minolta 7i. I have tried the continuous shots and also prefocus, but still struggle to get the shots. Any advice very welcome
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Old Aug 10, 2004, 7:12 AM   #2
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The obvious question is flash allowed (ie smaller aperture -> larger DOF)?
... next bet is probably one of the entry level dSLR and start "investing" in fast lenses (ie not the kit lens)! :-)
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Old Aug 10, 2004, 8:03 AM   #3
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I don't think a prosumer camera will do at all. You need the Nikon D70 or the Canon Rebel with a fast lens and a decent flash. I would go for the Nikon, the SB800 and a lens of at least F2.8. Dear, but again you will be some distance from the action, so you need the flash power which no prosumer camera can give, and again, most of the prosumer cameras suffer from shutter delay. Expensive, but no use wasting your money, The lens will depend on the distance from the action but the Nikkor 70/200 F2.8 VRIFED that I have is superb. Dig deep!
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Old Aug 10, 2004, 9:48 AM   #4
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It may help to know more about the conditions you are shooting in, and what problems you are having.

I suspect that your biggest problem is motion blur.

To freeze action indoors, a flash is usually required. However, I suspect that a flash would be a bad idea at these types of events. Even if you have a powerful flash, and can get close enough to the action to use one, it would be extremely distracting to the contestants.

You can increase ISO speeds to allow faster shutter speeds. Each time you double the ISO speed, the camera will be able to use shutter speeds twice as fast.

However, increasing ISO speed also increases noise levels. Even shooting at ISO 800, you'd probably still have ahigh percentage of your photos with motion blur shooting indoors at rapidly moving subjects with your camera (but try it to see what to expect).

In non-DSLR models, a camera like the Sony DSC-F717 is about as good as you'll be able to find. It's lens is rated at f/2.0 at wide angle, only stopping down to f/2.4 at full zoom (190mm equivalent). So, it's around twice as bright as the lens on your DiMAGE 7i. As a result, shutter speeds would be around twice as fast at equivalent ISO speed settings. It's noise levels aren't as bad assome other cameras in it's class, either.

But, I doubt you'd be happy from the results with it either (due tonoise levels at higher ISO speeds). A DSLR has a much larger sensor, with larger photosites for each pixel. As a result, they can shoot at higher ISO speeds with lower noise. Most are shootable at ISO 1600 in a pinch (or can be pushed even higher). Even at ISO 1600 (which will have high noise), the noise levels are likely to be equivalentto aroundISO 400 with your camera.

Your best bet is to go with a DSLR, with a very bright lens. If you can get close enough to the action, you may want to consider a prime (non zoom) lens. You can get relativelybright (i.e., f/1.4) lenses in shorter focal lengths for a reasonable price.

An example would be the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Autofocus Lens (under $400.00 from online discounters). The standard 50mm f/1.8 is under $100.00

Or, in a longer focal length prime lens (i.e., 100mm), you can get an f/2.0 lens for around $400.00 discounted from online vendors. An example would be Canon EF 100mm f/2.0 USM Autofocus Lens.

When comparing lenses, also keep in mind that a DSLR will have a "crop factor" (a.k.a. Focal Length Multiplier).

This factor is 1.5x for the Nikon D70; and 1.6x for the Canon Digital Rebel or Canon EOS-10D. So, a 50mm lens on the Nikon would give you a 35mm equivalent focal length of 75mm (50mm x 1.5 = 75mm). A 50mm lens on the Digital Rebel would give you a 35mm equivalent focal length of 80mm (50mm x 1.6 = 80mm).

So,a 100mm lens on the Nikon would be eqivalent to a 35mm focal length of 150mm; and a 100mm lens on the Canon would be equivalent to a 35mm focal length of 160mm.

In longer focal lengths and zoom lenses, your cost will go up substantially for a brighter lens (as well as the lens size and weight).

The aperture scale (in one stop increments) goes F/1.4, F/2.0, F/2.8, F/4.0, F/5.6, F/8.0, F/11, F/16, F/22... With each one stop move to a smaller aperture, you will need shutter speeds twice as long for proper exposure for any given lighting condtion and ISO speed setting.

The most affordable zoom lenses in longer focal lengthsthat are reasonably bright, typically maintain an f/2.8 aperture throughout their focal range. But, these can get "pricey" in longer focal lengths. Sigma does make some inexpensive ones (compared to some of the others). An example is their 70-200mm f/2.8 EX APO IF HSM Autofocus Lens. It's available for around $800.00 discounted, and you can get it in either Nikon or Canon mounts.

They also make a28-70mm f2.8 EX Aspherical DF lens that maintains f/2.8 throughout it's focal range. You should be able to findit discounted for under $400.00.

Again, multiply the focal length of these lenses by 1.5 for the Nikon and 1.6 for the Canon to see their 35mm Equivalent Focal lengths on these models (they are longer than their specifications indicate on a DSLR with a crop factor).

Of course, these don't have any kind of Image Stabilization like you'll get with the more expensive Nikon VR lenses or the Canon IS lenses. So, they cannot compensate for blur caused by camera shake. They will help you to get faster shutter speeds of moving subjects, though (compared to lenses that are not as bright).

Even with a DSLR with a relatively bright lens, you are likely to havesome percentage of shots with motion blur in most indoor lighting without a flash, taking photos of rapidlymoving subjects (i.e., Karate Match). But, at least you can get away with shooting at much higher ISO speeds to help improve your ratio of good shots to bad ones.

Here is a handy chart for estimating shutter speeds in various lighting conditions at different apertures. It's based on ISO 100. Each time you double the ISO speed, you can use shutter speeds twice as fast:


You can also get tools to reducenoise when shooting at higher ISO speeds. Here are some good ones. Again, try shooting at higher ISO speeds to see what impact this has on motion blur with your model (but you may not like the noise from it's 5MP 2/3" CCD).

Neat Image: http://www.neatimage.com

Noise Ninja: http://www.picturecode.com

Noiseware: http://www.imagenomic.com/

Note that Noiseware is a free product. It does have some limitations (for example, it strips out the EXIF information, which contains information about the camera settings used). However, it seems to do a pretty good job with noise.

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Old Aug 10, 2004, 7:32 PM   #5
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Of course I have to recommend the Canon DRebel... :blah:

I shot gymnastics meets, no flash allowed and terrible lighting... I get great results. Sometimes I'm forced to use ISO 1600. I clean things up with Neat Image. Works great.... Here's a nice sample from the $60 50mm f1.8 lens:

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Old Aug 11, 2004, 2:49 PM   #6
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Thanks to all for all help. I continue to be delighted with the amount of helpful people out on the net. Confirming the need for a SLR I shall start the planning

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