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Old Sep 18, 2006, 11:45 AM   #1
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Is this option a "must have" in a digital SLR?

I would be using it mostly as a point-and-shoot camera, but I would like to be able to sometimes do photography in low-light conditions (i.e. inside a club or at a concert, etc) where lighting is not always the best or controllable. I would want a camera to be able to take these without a flash.

Looking for a camera that would be able to take good pics in the 1600 ISO or above, and someone had mentioned to me about the anti-shake feature (most photos I would take would have some sort of zoom used).

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Old Sep 18, 2006, 1:14 PM   #2
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Without flash you will need good high ISOs and need to use fast primes. Zooms re typically slow and are limited at f2.8. IS would help but I think faster lens would lot more unless you need to shoot a group of people at narrower apertures. Then you will need flash.


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Old Sep 18, 2006, 1:24 PM   #3
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By higher ISO's - what level?

I had been looking for 3200 ISO, but there are relatively few cameras which offer that, and most tests on ISO 1600 & 3200 are taken to simply show grain in a photo rather than how well it'll do in low light or fast action.


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Old Sep 18, 2006, 1:50 PM   #4
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Ok a couple points: First, if your goal is to freeze action, IS gives no benefit whatsoever. If, however you like the type of club shots where the photo shows movement (on the dancers part but no camera shake) then IS can be very beneficial. So, it depends on what your goal is.

schatham wrote:
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By higher ISO's - what level?

I had been looking for 3200 ISO, but there are relatively few cameras which offer that, and most tests on ISO 1600 & 3200 are taken to simply show grain in a photo rather than how well it'll do in low light or fast action.



The noise level is the comparing factor. Exposure is the same regardless of camera (for the most part - you may see 1/3 stop difference between cameras). But, in general, ISO 1600, f1.8 and shutter 1/60 will produce the same exposure on a Nikon D50 as on a Canon 30D as on a Sony Alpha. So, if they're all exposed the same (and all stop the exact same amount of action) they then are compared based upon the noise level signature.

So, say you're a Nikon guy. The Nikon D50 has better noise performance than either the D70 or D200 at ISO 1600. So, it's a better low light solution (the D80 has yet to be really seen/ tested thoroughly). But, it doesn't have ISO 3200.

The Sony also has relatively poor high ISO performance (as compared to Canon or the Nikon D50).

The Canon lineup (30D, 20D, 350D) has ISO performance equivelent to the D50. It's newest camera, the 400D is just out so the jury is still out on how it's noise performance is (since it's a new sensor for Canon and still using the old Digic II processor).

So, back to the original question: If you want to freeze motion more than high ISO performance is more important or the use of flash - in either case, IS is not very useful. If you want to hand-hold at slow shutter speeds to get steady shots of either non moving subjects or to show motion of the moving subjects than IS is incredibly useful.
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Old Sep 18, 2006, 2:37 PM   #5
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JohnG wrote:
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Ok a couple points: First, if your goal is to freeze action, IS gives no benefit whatsoever. If, however you like the type of club shots where the photo shows movement (on the dancers part but no camera shake) then IS can be very beneficial. So, it depends on what your goal is.
I don't have an IS camera myself, but I'm not understanding your conclusion here. If having IS gives you a 2 stop slower ability to hand-hold the camera, how does that not conversely affect the ability to set a faster shutter speed to capture more action-oriented shots?

I guess my understanding is that focal length, shutter speed and ISO all work in conjunction with one another, so how can IS be helpful in one instance and not the other?
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Old Sep 18, 2006, 2:42 PM   #6
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Don't forget the Pentax K100D, which has SR (IS/VR) built into the body of the camera and that makes any lens you put on the camera a SR lens. That is a real money saver compared to the cost of getting IS/VR lenses, which are much more expensive than regular lenses.

As was mentioned before anti shake will not stop action, it will only help with camera movement where you are using a slower shutter speed than is recommended.

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Old Sep 18, 2006, 3:10 PM   #7
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I'll give an example of what IS can and cannot do. This is a REALLY lousy picture, but shows exactly what what JimG is talking about.

I took this picture in Las Vegas with the K100D. It was taken handheld with an SMC M 24mm 2.8 lens (totally manual lens I bought in the early 1980s). The shutter speed was 1/8 sec. - I normally can't hold a can't hold a camera still enough to get a shot at this shutter speed, even with a wide-angle lens. If you notice, the buildings in the background are sharp. However, that darn taxi ruined the shot by coming around the corner, and there's no way this shutter speed is going to freeze it's motion. So the taxi's motion is obvious, while the stationary objects are sharp.

That's why IS would be great in museums, but not necessarily in clubs (where a fast lens and high ISO would mean a faster shutter speed).
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Old Sep 18, 2006, 3:28 PM   #8
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Not a "Must Have" really, though I wont give it up. Its a great tool to have in your toolbox, no more, no less.

In your specific conditions, taking pictures of people in the availible dark still requires a fast shutter to stop thier motion. Think fast prime lenses* and high iso settings. In general snapshooting, A/S is great because you'll rarely get blurred picture from camera shake unless conditions are WAY unusual.

For A/S your looking at Sony which might compromise on noise, or pentax. Although you could still buy a used minolta (out of production). Canon and Nikon offer stabilzed lenses (mostly telephoto) at a premium price, not as economical but still a good solution if it fits your budget.

*By fast prime lenses, I mean specifically a 35mm or 50mm f/1.4 or f/2. The 50mm is better for head and shoulders type shots because otherwise you need to get back kinda far, so I'd concentrate on what a 35mm will do to your budget if you want good no-flash indoor pictures.

Here is my newest favorite example of why I shoot a stabilized 6mp SLR:

Minolta 7D 1/20s f/5.6 at 17.0mm iso800 (Though I took some longer exposures too, and they came out sharp because of the A/S)
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Old Sep 18, 2006, 4:32 PM   #9
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I don't have an IS camera myself, but I'm not understanding your conclusion here. If having IS gives you a 2 stop slower ability to hand-hold the camera, how does that not conversely affect the ability to set a faster shutter speed to capture more action-oriented shots?
If you have a fast enough shutter to really freeze action, say 1/800 sec., you're not going to get any blur from camera shake either. So you can put the IS on, but you won't see any difference in the photo.

The studies showing up to 2-3 stops advantage are done using only slower shutter speeds, like under 1/60 sec. Or, with ultra zooms, at least well under 1/200 sec., or somewhere under the reciprocal of the zoom. At more normal to wide focal lengths, you won't have problems with hand held camera shake over about 1/60 sec, and you won't be able to get a useable shot with it at speeds below 1/4 sec. But in that range it might make the difference in whether you get a useable shot or not.

Now, this isn't based on personal experiece with it, but from sample photos from a number of reviews, but I do think there is still sometimes noticeable difference in sharpness with IS in some cases even with shutters as fast as 1/250 with moderate focal lengths. But at that point the differences normally amount to pixel peeping: not something you would notice in a normal sized photo.

And just because I certainly can hold my small point and shoot steady for a 1/100 sec shot, that doesn't mean I always do. I'm sure that there will be quite a few shots saved from operator error/sloppiness in practice even in conditions where it shouldn't be required. So I think it is still useful beyond low light/slow shutter shots.

But it won't allow you to use a shutter speed 2 stops faster than you otherwise would; it only allows you to go up to 2 stops slower. [And the degree of effectiveness is still open to some debate as well. The Sony Alpha review in dpreview, for example, says they found the IS to be worth about 2 stops in it's most effective shitter range. But I think the actual data they supplied suggests it was closer to 1 stop.]

An 85mm f/1.8 prime lens, on the other hand, allows you to shoot 2 stops faster than a typical f/3.6 or slower zoom lens. But it doesn't help if you want to shoot 2 stops slower. It won't help if you want to shut down the aperture to f/8 anyway for a more narrow depth of field, for example. It only helps if you want more light in for a faster shutter speed.

But the goal for low light shooting isn't shutter speed, it's more light. So a fast lens, higher ISO, or strong flash (or external light source) can help as much as IS in poorly lit situations, without slowing the shutter. Slowing down the shutter is just one way to get there. Whereas the goal for action shots without blur is a fast shutter.


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Old Sep 18, 2006, 4:56 PM   #10
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Great example, mtngal!
I don't think antishake is a "must" have but I think it's one of those features that can really help at times.
I personally put good high ISO performance above the antishake feature but I reckon that there are times when you really need a helping tool (e.g. slow lens, medium to poor light, no tripod/monopod) and antishake comes in real handy.
So, I guess that for the most of us that can't really fit a VR/OS/IS lens into our budgets, the antishake is a real selling feature. And, as a plus, you have all your lenses stabilized. That is a great thing to know. Maybe in-camera and in-lens stabilization should coexist rather than compete.
Personally, I'm having a hard time deciding between the D80 and the K10D. Unless Pentax really screws up at high ISO, I can't see myself paying more for the Nikon. Allthough, Nikon ergonomy and AF are so good, compared to the others. Auch, though decisions! Waiting for those reviews (Steve? Phil? we are waiting, guys...) so that I can finally get rid of some hard earned cash.
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