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Gawjacpl Nov 22, 2005 5:19 PM

Hello. I'm looking to buy a camera (less than $500.00, if possible) to take pictures for our local high school. I have a Hp 620 (2.1 mp), but it cannot handle taking pictures for the football games; outside. I get pretty dark photos that are'nt very good. The idea of getting the camera is to take the pictures and post them on the school web site. I'm volunteering myself to do this, but I have zero knowledge about cameras. Can a digital cameras flash handle taking pictures from about 60 feet away in the semi-dark? Do I need to buya camera that has a flash attachment? I'm so clueless I hardly even know what questions to ask...Does anyone have any ideas? If so, you can answer me here or e-mail me at [email protected] Thanks for your time....

[email protected] Nov 22, 2005 7:07 PM

Most built in flashes are good for 30 feet or less.

You'd need adigicam with a hotshoe and a reasonably powerflash external flash.

For sportsyou need a camera that can do ISO1600 or ISO3200 (very sensitive setting for low light), and a very fast lens, likea 300mm F2.8 lens.

Maybe take a look at a Nikon D50, which is a nice entry level DSLR with sports shooting heritage (a la Nikon).

Then get yourself a nice zoom that reaches out to 200 or 300mm that has a max aperture of F2.8.

The whole thing might set you back $1300-1500, but with practice, you should have awesome football photos.

-- Terry

fofa Nov 22, 2005 10:38 PM

The Canon D50 is pretty assume. Has really good reviews. You can get it with a 2 lens kit for about $1000, or on the net I found that kit for $867. The kit lens seem to be pretty decent and the D50 is good at low noise (high ISO).
How ever an alternative would be the fuji S5200/S5600 which does pretty good low light, and is under $400 plus has a 10X (38 - 380mm 35 equiv.) lens. I just bought one (have not received it) for $304 with shipping. I was looking at both these cameras, and decided on the fuji because there was just much "bulk" with dSLR, but it does take dang good pictures.

tclune Nov 23, 2005 10:07 AM

Terry's advice is, as usual, very sound. ButI think you can get a setup that may be acceptable for your $500 budget. If you get a Panasonic FZ-20 (which has a hot shoe) and a Sunpak 383 flash, you can just squeek under your requirements. The Panasonic has a nice and bright ultrazoomlens which is 2.8 max aperture across its zoom range, and the little Sunpak will reach to about 60 feet max at ISO 100 and 2.8 (the guide number, 120 at 100 ISO, suggests that this is out of range, but my experience -- I have this setup -- is that you can reach pretty close to that.)

The big compromise that you'll be making on this setup is that it's not a good low-light rig. Not only does the ISO only go to 400 -- and it's quite noisy at that, but quite acceptable at 200 or below -- but the EVF is virtually useless in low light. You'll be shooting blind in low light situations, but that's not as awkward as it sounds. The main thing you need to do to accommodate that is to zoom less than you would if you had a clear viewfinder image, and crop the image after the fact. For any school uses, you can crop a 5 MP image and still have a very usable image.

I should mention that the Kodak 850 may also do this, and may give you a more usable EVF at low light. I just haven't used one, and so can't vouch for the usability of the setup. I love the FZ-20, and so I would opt for it anyway. But the Kodak does apparently have a noticeably better EVF and supports RAW format images, two big pluses. But it can't hold a candle to that great Leica lens. AFAIK, these are the only two ultrazooms in the $400 price range that have hot shoes.

The Sunpak is probably a good choice for either camera. This little beauty is only $80 (spend another $16 and get a StoFen Omni-Bounce diffuser for those situations where you are within 10 ft or so of your subject and can't use bounce flash for one reason or another). It is completely manual -- you set the flash from full to 1/16 intensity, based on a chart on the back of theflash unitfor the selected ISO rating and f-stop. I usually leave my ISO set to 100. For bounce flash, I do a quick adjustment this way: double the straight-line distance (assuming a normal ceiling height) and use that as the f-stop/intensity combo. I use the same for when Iuse the omni-bounce diffuser. It's easy to calculate and usually gets it just about right. The Panasonic manual suggests using what they call "preset" mode for external flash, but I have found manual mode on both camera and flash to be the most reliable way to get good pictures. It takes a little practice, but once you get the hang of it, it's pretty easy.

ETA: The Panasonic does not tell you what the focal distaince is in the viewfinder, so you have to eyeball distances. I grew up eyeballing distances, so that's what I would do anyway. But, in case it matters to you, you should be aware of that limitation as well before you buy.

rjseeney Nov 23, 2005 11:36 AM


The Canon D50 is pretty assume.
The D50 is made by Nikon, not Canon.

rinniethehun Nov 23, 2005 1:10 PM

Buy the Fuji S5200, buy some NiMH batteries and a charger, buy a 512 MB xD card, buy a case to hold everything and practice taking lots of pictures.

the Hun

tclune Nov 23, 2005 1:32 PM

rinniethehun wrote:

Buy the Fuji S5200, buy some NiMH batteries and a charger, buy a 512 MB xD card, buy a case to hold everything and practice taking lots of pictures.

the Hun

I wonder whether this is good advice. The 5200 has a max f of 3.2-3.5 across its range. So, even with the max ISO of 1600, you're only going to get about one and a half stop improvement over an FZ-20. That just isn't good enough for these conditions if I'm not mistaken. I think that an externalflash would be a necessity here. Is my thinking flawed (It certainly wouldn't be the first time...)?

rinniethehun Nov 23, 2005 8:07 PM

My advice was based on the fact that Gawjacpl wanted to spend less than $500 and has zero knowledge about cameras (which kinda rules out the DSLR approach), and that a camera is needed to take pictures in semi-dark conditions (I assumed this meant night games). Also, since the high school football season is just about over, I also assumed that this camera might be used to photograph basketball, volleyball and wrestling in a poorly lit gymnasium.

I just can't see a flash working across an entire football field...60 feet is a very good range, but a high school football field is 160 feet wide and 360 feet long and without effective flash coverage, the maximum 400 ISO of the FZ20 wouldn't be enough to freeze the action. Any flash bright enough to fill the entire field (or gymnasium) with usable light would most likely be banned to prevent blinding the players.

Maybe the S5200 isn't the answer, but it seemed to be a viable approach to a sports situation where a camera with megazoom, high ISO, and short lag time (all at a reasonable price) would be apreciated.

If any members have taken photos of night high school football games, with and without flash, please post them here.

the Hun

mtclimber Nov 23, 2005 9:02 PM


I surely do agree that the Fuji S-5200 is the best solution, however to increase the flash range, you may have to add an inexpensive slave flash and boost the ISO to 400 or 800.


Gawjacpl Dec 8, 2005 4:21 PM

I'm sure this is a dumb question, asked by a camera dummy, but how do I go about boosting the ISO? Or maybe my 1st question should be"ISO"? I'm guessing it has something to do with the cameras ability to take pictures at a faster rate, helping with the blur in pictures with moving I close? It's hard when you're so ignorant about a subject that you can't even make sense of what advice you's hard being me.:?

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