Go Back   Steve's Digicams Forums > Digicam Help > What Camera Should I Buy?

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old Nov 16, 2006, 11:13 AM   #1
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 64
Default

A couple of thoughts on my experiences and constraints:

- Most of my experience has been using regular point & shoot cameras. Easy, fun...but nothing special. I have friends that have Digital SLR's and I have used them some though right now I'm not quite ready toinvest the time and money needed to maximize the benefits of a dSLR.
- Most of my shooting is at sporting events (mainly football but some basketball/hockey)with some wildlife and indoor events (family related) mixed in. I can sacrifice quality indoors if I have a camera that can improve my quality of pictures at sporting events.
- Also, I like to use the video options at concerts (I attend 2-3 per month) but my previous cameras had very poor sound quality in anything but acoustic environments. Again, this is a secondary feature I would like to be able to use.
- I have 3 or 4 SD cards ranging from 128MB to 1GB and I want to continue to use these so buying a Sony camera is not an option here.

Price isn't too big of an issue, though as I stated previously I'm not wanting to jump into the dSLR realm just yet so for purposes of this discussion I'll set a price cap of $500.

Currently, I've been looking at the Canon PS S3 IS and the Kodak Z612. I am willing to consider other models if they would be a better fit for my needs. Thanks in advance for your help.
mctrees02 is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Old Nov 16, 2006, 11:44 AM   #2
Moderator
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 8,529
Default

This is a tough one. It really depends on what your expectations are.

Let me preface all of this by saying I do a lot of sports shooting, so I may have much higher standards than what you are looking to achieve, so keep that in mind as you read.

In my opinion I haven't seen any evidence ANY non-DSLR produces acceptable qaulity shots of indoor sporting events. But my definition of acceptable and yours may be different. I've seen a lot of theory and discussion but I have yet to see 20-30 photo examples of a digicam succeeding at indoor sports. And, IMO, if your stated goal is sports you don't want to invest in a camera and take 300 pictures and have 1 or 2 be OK. So, IMO, you should not count on any digicam giving you indoor sports shots. If it does, it's a huge bonus but don't plan on it.

So, lets talk outdoor sports and what features are important in outdoor sports photography:

1. AI-Servo focus accuracy and ability to track a moving subject.

2.Frame rate

3. Shutter lag - amount of time from pressing the button until the first shot fires.

4. Ability to give you the necessary shutter speeds

5. Right focal length for the sports

6. Subject Isolation.

But I'll save some time. Neither camera will dowell at 2,3 or 6.

They both have effective focal length of 420-430mm. From a sports shooting perspective that focal length will allow you to shoot from first base line to third base line of a high school baseball diamond IF YOU"RE ON THE FIELD. If you're in the stands it will be somewhat short. For football or soccer, 400mm is good for about 35 yards of coverage. So, you need to be on the sideline / touchline if you want decent coverage. But there isn't a digicam out there that is going to do any better. The key here is that YOU as the photographer have to work within those limitations - you have to get close to the action. If your aim is to sit in the stands don't expect any camera to give you good sports shots.

As to the right shutter speeds - both cameras will require good lighting - that means daylight - not heavily overcast (i.e.. dark clouds) and certainly not any games under lights. But, in daylight you should be fine with either.

So, so far I've just tried to illustrate where the limits are for using EITHER of these cameras. Just want you to understand so you can decide if a digicam can still meet your expectations - if it can't you'd be wasting $400.

Assuming you're OK with all those limitations: on spec there is no clear cut sports winner. So, I suggest the following - it's what I suggest to all people looking for a camera with specific shooting needs - find people that use one of these cameras to shoot sports. Look here, look at dpreview.com and any other forum. Search pbase and other photo sites for example photos using these cameras in a sports shooting evironment - preferably for the sports you want to shoot (although baseball performance will be much like softball, football will be very much like soccer, etc.).

Be VERY, VERY cautious of folks recommending a camera for sports work if they've never used it for sports shooting. Sports shooting is VERY demanding of equipment - so I don't care if the camera takes great landscape shots or great shots of their kid playing in the grass - that's no where near the same as shooting sports. I know the S3 is very popular so you should be able to find someone who has used it for sports. The Kodak, I'm not familiar with but the advice is the same. I can't stress this point enough. There have been several people on this forum in the past year or so who have bought a digicam to shoot sports and they've been disappointed. But everyone's expectations are different. That's why it's important to see pictures - if you find someone that has a gallery of shots for a sport similar to what you want to shoot and the quality of those photos is in line with what you want to produce then that's all the answer you need.

Having said all that - I will also add, 2 big benefits to the S3 are:

1. It has image stabalization - with a focal length that long, it can be a huge help.

2. The movie mode is top-notch for a camera. Don't know if it's OK for concert work, but it's as good as there is out there on any camera.

Best of luck in your search!
JohnG is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Nov 16, 2006, 3:28 PM   #3
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 64
Default

Thanks for the info John. I should have probably clarified when I said "sports shooting." While some shooting is at field level, most of pics are from big college games where I can't get on the field so I'm taking pictures from the stands. In those pictures, I'm not as much looking for a focal point as I am "shooting the scene" that's going on at that moment. I have a friend who was the head photographer at Texas A&M the past few years for the athletic dept so I havesomewhat of an understanding of what I need to take "action shots" at a game. Hereare a fewexamples of the photos I typically take at games:











K...so I snuck one in that I obviously didn't take from the stands!

An example from tennis...



A few from golf...







Sorry if I posted too many picutres in the thread. I'm trying to provide a thorough sampling of the type of pictures that I tend to take. With the exception of the golf pictures and the one from A&M/OU. they tend to me more "scene" based rather than having a definite focal point. As I said, a lot of my work is still pretty novice (and all those photos are at least a year old) as I begin to get a better grasp on photography. Unfortunately, of all of the photo sites that I know that shoot sports, they are all using dSLR's so for me to do what I really want to it sounds like I'll have to have that type of camera.

My biggest question then would be this:Will I be able to take "better quality photos" with the super zoom cameras than I can with the point & shoot that I had? Would there have been a noticeable difference in color, sharpness, and clarity (assuming I have the appropriate settings in the camera) in the photos that I displayed above? Thanks again for your help.

One other thing, would there be another super zoom that I might want to consider? From what I was reading, the Canon and Kodak both run of regular batteries instead of having a built-in rechargeable. Is that common in the super zooms or would other brands offer the built-in battery?


mctrees02 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Nov 17, 2006, 9:01 AM   #4
Moderator
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 8,529
Default

mctrees02 wrote:
Quote:
My biggest question then would be this:Will I be able to take "better quality photos" with the super zoom cameras than I can with the point & shoot that I had? Would there have been a noticeable difference in color, sharpness, and clarity (assuming I have the appropriate settings in the camera) in the photos that I displayed above? Thanks again for your help.

One other thing, would there be another super zoom that I might want to consider? From what I was reading, the Canon and Kodak both run of regular batteries instead of having a built-in rechargeable. Is that common in the super zooms or would other brands offer the built-in battery?

Your shots wil be better, but only to a degree. It looks as if the top 4 photos are allin the eveningunder lights. That's tough conditions. You'll get sharper shots because you have more focal length. But, you aren't going to be able to get shutter speeds to stop motion. So, if you want the same exact types of shots as you have here, you'll get sharper photos - and the IS in the Canon will be a big bonus.

But, only to a degree. I would think the OU game photo will get somewhat better, but in that situation you have a subject coming directly towards you - the toughest thing for predictive focusing to handle. So, you can't expect a $400 digicam to handle that as well as a $1300 DSLR with a $2000 lens on it. But it will get better.

On the tennis shot - you can help that with your focusing technique - the newer camera will definitely help as focus should be better but you still need to focus on a single player - either the server or the returner. Even using a DSLR, it's very difficult to get that much area in-focus. You basically want to use as narrow an aperture as possible (highest f-stop) and as little zoom as possible - IF you want to try and get both in -focus.

Right now, both look out of focus. But no question the superzoom will help you on the golf shots.

Having said all that, I also want to add - shooting from the stands like that I think it would be a waste of money for you to invest in a DSLR. It's too far removed from the action and the angles are too akward to really get good action shots. So, I think you're right to stay with a digicam.

So, bottom line - yes you will get better photos - but it won't be a quantum leap forward.
JohnG is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Nov 17, 2006, 12:29 PM   #5
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 64
Default

Thanks again for the input John. Luckily I found my point & shoot at home last night so I am going to take my time in deciding which camera to purchase. Knowing that I want to progress into a dSLR in the future...I might just wait and save up the money until I feel that I am ready for the dSLR. I did stop by a local store last night and look at the Canon (after the not-so-nice sales rep got new batteries for it with my encouragement) and also looked at some of the entry level dSLR's. After reading about the new Nikon D40 that will be coming out next month, I might just wait to purchase that and/or see what if it's release effects the price on the d50.
mctrees02 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Nov 22, 2006, 8:09 PM   #6
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 163
Default

get the Kodak P712 or the Lumix FZ-50.

both have a hot shoe.

as does the Fuji S9000.
romphotog is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Nov 23, 2006, 12:04 AM   #7
Senior Member
 
mtclimber's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Oregon, USA
Posts: 18,143
Default

However, it is most probably wise to keep in mind your ultimate goal, which most likely seems to be a good quality DSLR camera. A string of lesser quality ultra zooms will just delay your progress to that DSLR ultimate goal.

Just my two cents worth.

MT
mtclimber is offline   Reply With Quote
 
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 12:57 AM.