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July Mar 31, 2009 10:30 AM

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I am looking for a camera for a friend, for reasonable quality pictures of dogs at play. Shooting is generally outdoors in good light, occasionally indoors (when flash is OK). Other friends get good results with Canon Rebels, and hear good things of other brands. They almost invariably use the Basic Zones. Looking at the EXIFs of their pictures, dogs wrestling near camera are generally in the 90mm-120mm range. Dogs chasing each other are as far as 300mm (probably limited by the lenses being used). Image stabilization seems highly beneficial. Minimal shutter lag is essential, or the result is"doggonit". Reasonable MP is helpful, as action shots are difficult to compose on the fly.

If money and camera weight were not an issue, The Canon XSi with two lenses, perhaps the Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 USM IS for indoors and dogs nearby, and the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 USM IS for the longer shots. The Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II would be nice at a later date.

Before thinking on the lenses, however, I would appreciate hearing of other options on the camera itself. If a point-and-shoot, such as the Nikon Coolpix P90, would get reasonable results for me, I would just as well not pay for a Canon XSi, carry the weight and the bulk.

Thank you for hearing me out,


p.s. this is my first post; July is the month of my birth.

AndyfromVA Mar 31, 2009 10:53 AM

I think superzooms can take reasonably good photos of dogs at play. Here are some examples from various superzooms:

July Mar 31, 2009 11:15 AM

Thank you, Andy. The pictures look quite good at the resolution displayed. Two questions: Can such results be obtained consistently at the shutter lags these cameras have; and is the IQ sufficient for a decent 8 x 10 print?

July Apr 1, 2009 8:52 PM

Thank you again, Andy. I have now had the opportunity to look at the specs for the three cameras you suggest, and a couple of others. I found reviews here at Steve's for the Canon SX10 IS and the Sony Cybershot DSC-H50. The Nikon Coolpix P90 seems too new to have been tested.

The conclusion seems that the combination of warm-up and shutter lag is prohibitively long for my friend's purposes. Even the shutter lag by itself can be expected to be over 1 second. By that time the dogs are gone. Their movement at play is too unpredictable to make much use of pre-focusing. It apperas that the dSLR will also give better low light performance and somewhat better autofocusing than the superzooms.

The lack of comment from other members of this forum seems to confirm this opinion. Therefore "case is closed" for type of camera. I will recommend one of the dSLRs for my friend, likely the Canon XSi for the simple reason that I and most of our mutual dog fanciers are familiar with the Rebel line.

fldspringer Apr 2, 2009 6:41 AM

I've gone from a bridge cam to a DSLR for dog action pics and I've not looked back. If you have pre-focused, the shutteris, for all pracical purposes,instant.

I've gone with Olympus because it allows more reach with the lenses, and I'm big on telephoto. I'm sure most DSLRs would do quite well.

I started with the E500 and its two kit lenses. Today's version is the E520/14-42/40-150, which has image stabilization built into the camera. the kit lenses are quite good. The kit is a good value for the money.

Here's a couple from my old E500 and 40-150 kit lens.

if your interested inmore of my dog action pics, you can go to my site:

Most of the photos are E-3/50-200.


AndyfromVA Apr 2, 2009 8:45 AM


Today's version is the E520/14-42/40-150, which has image stabilization built into the camera.
Nice action shots!

If you don't mind spending the money and changing lenses, a DSLR/lens combination like the one above will make it possible to take much quicker, better looking action pictures than any ultrazoom point and shoot.

July Apr 2, 2009 10:31 AM

Thank you, Greg. The pictures are gorgeous and the action is certainly sharp enough for my purposes. The portrait illustrates another reason to go with a dSLR: nice background blur.

You also bring out the point of IS. In camera or in lens is the first question. So far I have discovered that in camera saves money; in lens allows user to see that the image is stabilized before shooting. The second question is whether an action shot taken at 1/500 sec or faster needs IS in the 40-150mm range that you were using.

Olympus is well worth looking at. It is difficult for me, however, to decide on kit vs. more expensive lenses, in that I'm less than certain as to how my skills and needs will develop, an what rate.

Thx again.

July Apr 2, 2009 10:32 AM

I'm quite convinced, Andy. Thank you.

JohnG Apr 2, 2009 11:18 AM

July wrote:

The second question is whether an action shot taken at 1/500 sec or faster needs IS in the 40-150mm range that you were using.
The easy answer is - NO - is will have no benefit to this type of shot. When getting into DSLRs and lenses it's important to buy, as much as possible, according to need. I.E. buy the tools that best fit the job you intend to use the equipment for. No single manufacturer / camera is the absolute best at everything. So, whenever you buy one over the other you are often giving something up. I have several lenses with IS and several without. I also do a LOT of action photography. For this type of situation at the foal lengths in question, IS is of very little benefit.

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"There are certain situations where IS is beneficial but this isn't one of them.

JohnG Apr 2, 2009 11:21 AM

one additional note: my comment was not to say Oly isn't a solution worth looking at. For your needs it could do quite well - they've got fantastic lenses and the action you're covering at the apertures you'll be using won't require the better focus systems that Canon or Nikon employ. So Oly could indeed be a great solution if you like the ergonmics of it.

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