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slipe Mar 28, 2006 11:50 AM

Even for the specialized use of a school web page I wouldn't go with a student camera without an optical zoom. For small images online you could probably use up to 4X digital zoom, but an image at 4X digital zoom with a 4Mp camera gives 250k of digital information. Another way of putting it is that 4X digital uses 1/16 of the sensor. There are some pretty cheap cameras out there with optical zoom and they are much more versatile.

For memory you are requesting only compatibility between the cameras you purchase. You can't go wrong with SD. Just avoid Sony, Olympus and Fuji.

There are a couple of advantages to the Panasonic FZ20. It is f2.8 out to 12X zoom and gives the best available light capability of the superzoom stabilized cameras when zoomed out. It also has a hot shoe. I have a strong zoom flash unit for my FZ10 that will reach out to nearly 80 feet. And the unit cost less than a hundred bucks. Assuming your web page reporters will be allowed closer to the action than the back row of the stands you could get some pretty decent photos with a good automatic flash unit.

None of the Panasonic cameras you might consider use AA batteries, but the FZ20 is rated at 240 shots on its battery. Unless you will have large storage capacity and be away from power for long periods I don't find that a factor.

Movie mode probably isn't very important to you. At 2Mb/sec for VGA movies at 30fps you aren't likely to have large movies on your web page. Smaller movies at a lower frame rate would probably be more appropriate if you display movies at all, and any camera you buy will likely have that capability.

Sears has a clearance going on the KM E500 this week for $150. It is 5Mp with a 2 inch LCD of reasonable resolution, 5Mp and 3X optical zoom. It doesn't have full manual controls, but seems reasonably versatile: You could probably find something cheaper on a 3X optical zoom in a reliable brand online. You don't need 5Mp for a web page.

It is hard to recommend against a DSLR for indoor events. But with a lens of sufficient zoom and aperture your budget might not accommodate one. Everything else is a compromise.

JimC Mar 28, 2006 11:52 AM

reachval wrote:

Canon s2 IS seems to have been recommended to meet many needs. Would it also be good for photos of things like kids in a poorly lit auditorium on a badly litstage? Parents and kids posing together at award ceremonies in indoor light, etc.?
IMO, no.

I'd try to get a DSLR solution the first time around for budget purposes (perhaps even suggesting a low cost and high cost option). Foir example, in the Canon lineup, suggest an EOS-20D versus Rebel XT solution.

I can remember trying to get photos of a school dance recital a while back with a camera at f/2.8 and ISO 200. My shutter speeds were running around 1/10 to 1/15 second from the school's stage lighting.

As a result, the vast majority of the photos I took had motion blur from subject movement and/or blur from camera shake, and noise would have been a big problem at ISO 400 to try and get faster shutter speeds.

An ultra-zoom model would be fine for outdoors, but not for existing light indoors without a flash in poor school lighting (and you'd be outside of the flash range at most indoor events like this).

For sports use, even if you have a powerful flash, the flash can be annoying and distracting, not to mention darker backgrounds and exposure difficulties trying to properly exposue further subjects without overexposing closer subjects.

I'd suggest a DSLR for events like kids on a poorly lit stage, night sports, and indoor sports, since they have brighter lenses, as well as higher ISO speeds available with lower noise levels.


Rebel sounds good- but evenif I can come up with the money will it be difficult to use (i.e. I'm a novice- is it user friendly? )
Any new camera will have a learning curve, but you shouldn't have a lot of trouble getting used to it, and it's got scene modes like a Sports mode to help out.

If you like Canon, a complete package (not including extra batteries and memory cards) would look something like this:

Canon Rebel XT with 18-55mm kit lens (not suitable for sports, but good for wide angle shots of teams, etc. outdoors, or closer shots with flash indoors).

Canon 50mm f/1.8 - Inexpensive, bright and sharp for indoor use without a flash. Because the sensor on this DSLR model is smaller than 35mm film, this lens would have the same angle of view as an 80mm lens on a 35mm camera. Simply multiply the focal length of a lens by 1.;6 to see how angle of view compares to 35mm film.

Canon 85mm f/1.8 - Bright and sharp for something like dance recitals, plays, etc. It would give you the same angle of view as a 136mm lens would on a 35mm camera. This would probably be your lens of choice for sports like Basketball, too.

But, if the photos are for web use only, you could crop an 8 Megapixel photo from a 50mm f/1.8 lens to make it look like you used a 100mm lens and have 2 Megapixels left over. If you crop a photo to make it look like you used twice as much optical zoom, you have only 1/4 the pixels left over (but, for web use and small prints, you could get away with that).

Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG - f/2.8 available throughout the focal range for faster shutter speeds in less than optimum lighting (night sports in a stadium, and you may be able to get away with using it indoors, too). It would also be the lens of choice for outdoor sports use with a DSLR solution. This lens would give you the same angle of view that you'd have using a 112-320mm lens on a 35mm camera.

In the Canon Lineup, I'd also consider the EOS-20D. It's got better ergonomics, faster frame rates, larger buffer, better viewfinder, ISO 3200 (not available on the Rebel XT) and more.

If you stick with the Rebel XT, I'd consider the optional battery grip for it to help with it's ergronomics, and make sure you try out cameras you consider in a store to make sure you're comfortable with ergonomics, viewfinder, control layout, menus, speed of operation, etc.

E.T Mar 28, 2006 12:17 PM

Mercury694 wrote:

4.HP Photosmart 635...
I think we can strike out that immediately, HPs ("H**vetin Paska" as it goes in Finnish) have always been lousy in power factor...
Steve's review says it achieved just 60 shots before low battery warning... using high capacity NiMHs!

Image stabilization doesn't help in action photos... unless it's slow paced action like chessgame so if low light action photos are required there isn't much choises, maybe few Fujis and DLSRs... and only Fuji which also works with non-proprietary cards (CF) is S9000.
It can also take good quality videos and actually fits 15 mins into 1GB.


E.T. is also right about CF. It is a better media and will likely outlive SD.
It already did:
And it will outlive this backwards incompatible SDHC whose capacity limit is 32GB...even original 12 years old CF standard supports capacities up to 137GB.

Mercury694 Mar 28, 2006 3:03 PM

I have read some reviews that say that the Canon S2-IS I recommended above may not be as suitable in low light as I would have expected.I still recommend trying it though, it may suit your needs.

Of course a DSLR is better. But for the price, and considering that you are allowing students to use the cameras- I'm not sure I would buy a DSLR in your shoes. you can always find a better camera than the one you have, but in this instance I may choose something that has more marginal performance and has no lenses to lose break or be stolen. The body can still suffer those things, but one piece is easier to keep track of than 5 pieces is. If another camera will do in this instance, I'd be tempted to not buy a DSLR. To me it is more of a practical issue than an issue of what is the best camera you can afford.

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