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Pegleg Sep 13, 2006 9:28 AM

I do photos for my wife, who is a theatre costume designer. I've been using an Olympus 2020Z, but it's getting kind of old, and the photos aren't up to modern standards of clarity (i.e., what one tends to see nowadays).

I'm looking for a fixed lense camera, under (well under!) $700, and as close to the following:8-10 megapixel, 8x optical zoom, good indoor shooting, but center-weighted metering and image stabilization (if necessary: I always use a tripod). The problem in theatres is that (1) I cannot use a flash (too distracting to the actors), (2)although many shots are dark, sometimes someone is in bright white clothes, lit by white light, so I need to get that rendered properly, but without washing out the rest of the scene, and (3) sometimes there is action in stage.

Many theatre shots differ from portraits in that the actors are on opposite sides of the stage, and it is dark between them, but they need to be in focus, with colors rendered accurately.

OK. What I've looked at so far are Fuji S9000 and Kodak Easyshare P880. Am I on the right track? (Yes, I know the Nikon D2, I think it is, is amazing. But at $3000, far too much, since I'm not a professional.)

Thanks, and if this has been discussed before, please point me in the right direction. I tried a couple of searches without luck.


kenbalbari Sep 13, 2006 10:45 AM

I think you're pretty much on the right track. Though, you should know that an entry level DSLR plus kit lens can be had for under $700 as well. The Pentax *ist DS can be found for under $500, the K100D for under $600, the Nikon D50 under $700, and the CanonRebel XT for around $750, all with an 18-55mm kit lens.

In the fixed lens department there is also the 10MP Sony R1, right around $750, which gives DSLR performance (includes a DSLR sized sensor), as long as you can live with never being able to upgrade it's 24mm-120mm lens.

You should also consider 6MP models like the Canon S3, Fuji S6000, and Sony H2 in the mix, as well as the 7MP Sony H5.

1eyedeer Sep 13, 2006 5:02 PM

I have also been looking for a new digital camera - to replace an old Panasonic Super Zoom which I bought second hand on E-Bay to take wildlife shots. The Sony H2 or H5 seem to be suitable replacements and there are some pictures from another forum ( under Sony Talk - H5 Onstage (lots of photos). They were taken without flash and increased ISO sensitivity, and seem very relevant to your interest. We have two other digital cameras which are great in daylight, but poor in low light with no flash, so the H2 and H5 look interesting. I have no direct experience of these cameras, but user reviews seem very positive.

Pegleg Sep 13, 2006 7:10 PM

Thanks! Those shots are what I'm looking for. I had found the site of a French or Belgian photographer who was a pro, used a $3000 camera, and had the best shots of dancers I've ever seen. But there's no way I can justify that much money for a camera, for 4-8 shows per year.

I've been spending the evening printing 4 mpxl shots from a variety of cameras. I'll keep you posted on what I decide, and why.



kenbalbari Sep 13, 2006 11:35 PM

Peg, you might want to check out my answer in this thread. It was about shooting action, but more about low light. And there's a link there to some shots taken in a concert hall with the Fuji F30, but they give a good idea of what the best a point and shoot is going to do in those situaitions.;forum_id=87

Here are some of the images:

Also, you might be interested in the choices the photographer made. She choose to use average metering, and then use a -1 EV compensation to prevent blowing out highlights. Once she had the exposure right she didn't have to reset it.

Obviously, in a theater with alot of dark areas, in the audience and behind the stage, and only a small brightly lit area you actually want to expose, average metering is going to lead to overexposure, which is why she had to adjust it down. I'm not sure if that's the best way to deal with that situation but it's one way. If lighting isn't going to change much through the night, though, that might be more reliable than relying on pattern metering to get it right every time. But with more zoom, you might have more different lighting conditions between different shots, so you might be better off with a reliable center-weighted metering.

Pegleg Sep 14, 2006 7:46 AM


I looked at the shots and thought "I know this guy" and, indeed, I do! Scott Treadway acts at Flat Rock Playhouse, in NC. My wife was assistant costume designer there for one summer. Damn, it's a small world!

Good photos, too.


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