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Old Sep 2, 2004, 8:10 AM   #1
Hyoctane's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 34

I was going to use the camera a lot in low light(skating
rink) indoor action photography; photographing speedskaters in mid corner.
I would be anywere from 15 - 50 feet away from people skating at 5-25mph
mostly towards and then around me at times. The diagram below kind of
shows what it would look like with the < > being cones, the period being
the skater's track from right to left(exclamation where I take the
picture, and the asterix me.

Using my friends Canon 10d, need to be at 125(90 might do) shutter speed or higher, and ISO 200(400 if the camera isn't that noisey). Don't know too much about the aperture value.

Some of my choices have been the Nikon 5700(heard it was bad in low
light), then Fuji s7000, Nikon 8700, maybe Panasonic Fz20. I'm looking to spend
between $400 and $550. Given those specs could you maybe propose a good
camera??? Any help would be greatly appreciated

. . ! ! !
. . > . .
. <* .


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Old Sep 2, 2004, 10:25 AM   #2
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Location: Indian Rocks Beach, FL
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There are two possibilities. Get something with a hot shoe for an external flash or get something with a f1.8-f2 aperture. Better yet, get both.

I have a Vivitar flash with a zoom head that will reach out to well over 40 feet at f2.8 and will reach nearly 80 at f2. It wasn't an expensive unit. The only cameras I know of with a hot shoe that won't work fine with an inexpensive automatic flash unit are the Minoltas with a proprietary shoe.

There aren't many prosumer level cameras with f1.8-f2 lenses. All of them with large lenses have hot shoes though. The Sony 717, Canon G5 & G6 and the Olympus 5050 are the ones I'm familiar with. The extra f-stop lets you shoot at half the ISO for any given condition or shoot at twice the shutter speed at the same ISO.

The stabilization on the FZ20 is effective and a great feature. But stabilization doesn't help with subject motion. What is special about the FZ20 for your purposes is that it maintains f2.8 throughout the zoom range. That is almost as fast as the others when they are zoomed, and they don't have nearly the zoom range.

Another nice feature is continuous focus. You can pre-focus on the skater before you take the shot and the focus will continue to update to shutter release as long as the total motion toward or away from the camera isn't over about 8mph. Lateral motion isn't a problem as long as you keep the target in the same spot in the viewfinder. It wouldn't work for the shots with them coming almost directly toward you though. Pre-focus gets rid of most of the shutter lag – something you weren't dealing with very much with your borrowed DSLR. I think everything I've mentioned plus the ones you listed have the feature except for the 5050. You need to use manual focus and pre-focus on the spot where you want the shot for the skaters coming toward or away from you – shutter lag will give blurred shots otherwise. Manual focus isn't as fast on most cameras as pre-focus with auto focus, but you will learn how much to lead the shot.

Anything short of a DSLR is going to have disadvantages. Most prosumer cameras get noisy when you crank up the ISO. The G5 has a lot going for it. It has no EVF lag, has continuous focus and has a fast lens. The downside is that it goes to f3 at full zoom. The 5050 is discontinued but still available, but it has a poor telephoto range and goes to f2.6 at its limited zoom. The Sony 717 is the fastest at full zoom and has a decent zoom range. I have no idea how effective the holographic focus would be with a fast moving skater, but it is generally very good at low light focus.

Of the cameras you mentioned:
The Fuji is pretty fast at telephoto at f3.1 and has a very strong internal flash. I'm not crazy about the high JPG compression or that you have to shoot a 12Mp raw file to get really good quality. Set your browser to not resize and look at Steve's sample JPGs. If they look OK to you it might be a good choice.
The Nikons are f4.2 at full telephoto, which is too slow IMO for what you are doing. But it is a sliding scale in between and you might not need all of the zoom. Low light focus doesn't refer to a well-lit skating ring – my guess is that either will focus fine for you.
The FZ20 has a great zoom that maintains f2.8 through the range. I haven't seen a good review yet. I would want to see a review from one of the camera sites like Steve's, dpreview, Imaging Resource or Digital Camera Resource before considering it. The flash is much improved over the FZ10 along with some other good stuff.

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Old Sep 2, 2004, 11:46 AM   #3
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That was the most helpful reply I have every received, and many others have been quite helpful.

So, do you think the 8700 at half telephoto would be good as long as a flash is used?

This will probably be the determining factor

Thanx, :-)


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