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Old Dec 22, 2006, 12:19 AM   #1
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All the research I have done on my three camera choices has only served to confuse me more. If I tell you what I need it for, maybe someone will just pick one for me. I am trying to decide b/t the Canon S3, the Panasonic FZ7, and the Sony H5--I realize this is a common question, but like I said, I am having a hard time coming up with an actual choice.

I am a novice, definitely a novice compared to alot of you. I have a S2 at work and I love the pictures the megazoom will produce. I need a new camera for home use, and my main subject is...kids, kids, and more kids. Kids that unfortunately move fast and don't stand still for the shots that I want. Kids that go to dance recitals indoors and soccer games outdoors. Kids that have beautiful light freckles across the bridge of their nose that I love to get closeups of.

The whole video thing doesn't interest me at all, and the price difference between the three cameras is not enough to be a decison swayer for me. The battery issue doesn't arouse any feelings one way or another either.

The Panasonic is supposed to have more noise, but will my novice self really notice that?

The S2 that I use takes fabulous outdoor pictures, but sometimes has trouble in the school auditorium, for example, both with noisy photos as well as trying to lock down the focus when pressing the button halfway down (it seems to really have to "search" sometimes). I spend a lot of my time with the button halfway down so I can be ready, but sometimes they move somewhere that is nowhere near where I focused on them in the first place.

The IS is important to me; I seem to have shaky hands I guess and have to really try hard to get clear pictures of moving targets.

So being that my main need is a superzoom which will photograph busy kids and their various activities, inside and out, does anyone have a clear winner for me? I just can't read one more review, they are all running together.

Thanks in advance for any and all help.
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Old Dec 22, 2006, 2:43 PM   #2
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Tallis,

As you've already noticed, every camera has it's trade-offs. Also, as you've already experienced, it's the low light shooting that cause the greatest difficulty. I shoot a lot of sports - indoor sports during fall and winter so I feel your pain. I'll also say that all 3 are going to have issues with both noise and focus indoors - just like your S-2 does. Also the limited top shutter speed of 1/1000 on the H5 is very worrysome - you can easily go over that on your outdoor sports shots.

Fuji currently has the only decent low light digicams on the market - the F30 has probably the best high ISO performance but it's focal length is limiting - useless for soccer and for the plays, you'd need to be within 30 feet to get acceptable results IMO. The S6000 has more zoom (although at only 300mm equivelent it isn't long enough for soccer - it's really only good for about 20-25 yards of coverage, beyond which you either have to accept not cropping down to fill the frame with your subject or if you do crop down having subjects with poor focus or loss of detail - this isn't a knock on the camera at all, just a limitation of a 300mm lens used on a moving subject) but does not have IS. So I'm not sure there is a digicam on the market right now that would successfully meet all your requirements. If the s6000 had IS it would come the closest - the only area you would really suffer is in shooting soccer.

But if you want to be able to shoot the recitals, shoot soccer and have I.S. I'm afraid the only solution currently capable of all 3 is a DSLR - and for shooting those things, it's a fairly pricey undertaking.


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Old Dec 24, 2006, 3:44 PM   #3
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OK, so if I bumped up to an entry-level DSLR, do you have a recommendation for me? I'd like to say that I could take a class or two to buffer my skills, but in all actuality I'm not sure I could carve out the time. Anything I would learn would have to be derived from the manual or sites like this. The lenses issue also concerns me...I'm not sure I can spend a lot of money on a camera and then have to wait a long time to ba able to afford the different lenses that I might need.

So I have been looking at the Pentax K100D and the Nikon D50. A few questions:

1. Would either one of those do better than the other in the school auditorium situation?

2. How much moeny in lenses am I looking at to shoot the soccer scenes? Soccer doesn't start until the spring, so I could save up BTW, my subject is only 7 and plays soccer on the "little" fields, so all my shots are from the sideline anyway.

Thanks again for your assistance!
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Old Dec 26, 2006, 9:21 AM   #4
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Tallis,

The Pentax and Nikon should be fairly comparable in high ISO performance for the auditorium shots. The challenge becomes selecting a lens that has the necessary aperture value - and that's a case-by-case basis. It really comes down to whether or not a 2.8 aperture is good enough for the light in the auditorium and the level of motion. Can you post some sample shots with your current camera - hopefully with the EXIF still intact (EXIF is the information about the camera setup imbedded in the picture file - it will tell me ISO, aperture and shutter speed).

As for soccer, how big is their field? 50 yards, 70 yards, what? If you can give me a general idea I can let you know how much of the field you can cover with a particular lens.
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Old Dec 26, 2006, 10:33 PM   #5
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Well, I can answer the second part of your question. She plays small-sided soccer, so the fields are only 30 X 35 yards max. She will in theis type of set-up for at least two more years, after which the size bumps up to about 45 X 60.

All photos taken in the auditorium have been taken with the school's S2 IS, but unfortunately they are housed on my computer at work. (I am the IT person where my daughter goes to school, so work & home interests get blended quite a bit.) I won't have access to these pix for another week--gotta love winter vacation. Any auditorium pictures I have here at home are from a few years ago, and have been taken with my terribly outdated and somewhat temperamental 2 MP Olympus P & S, so I'm guessing that won't help you any. I can post them in a week if you are still interested.

Just now realizing that my only camera at home is a 2 MP REALLY underscores the need for me to buy a new camera!
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Old Dec 27, 2006, 1:23 AM   #6
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For flash photography the recycle times are slow. So make sure you get the shot on the first try, I'm testing the Canon XTi dSLR and it is super fast compared to my S1IS and focuses just as quick.
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Old Dec 27, 2006, 6:22 AM   #7
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Tallis,

Well, on those size fields, a 70-200mm lens (or similar) will be sufficient for your needs.
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Old Jan 6, 2007, 9:10 AM   #8
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John, Here is a a picture taken in the auditorium (that is obviously worthless to me). The camera seems to have the most difficulty when the subject is against that dark stage curtain. I have no idea if the exif information you need is still embedded, but hopefully this will give you an idea of my issues. I was asking my husband about the Nikon vs. the Pentax as far as a future purchase goes, and he seems to lean toward the Nikon, mainly because he had a Nikon film SLR years ago. I still don't know if I am ready to make the leap to a camera with interchangeable lenses, but knowing that I am going to be in this auditorium situation fairly often, but I still want to shoot small-field soccer, I just don't see any other choice. Thanks again for your help!


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Old Jan 6, 2007, 9:21 AM   #9
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Just for comparison purposes, here is one taken outside, close-up.
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Old Jan 8, 2007, 6:27 AM   #10
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Tallis,

Yep, that auditorium shot is brutal. Unfortunately I don't think the exif is there - probably because the image was converted to a .GIF file at some point. Do you have any auditorium images that are still JPEG? The challenge is going to be determining what type of lens you would need for these auditorium shots. Another question - approximately how far from the stage are you? Is it possible for you to be at about the same distance every time?

As for Nikon vs. Pentax - I don't use either, but I would lean towards Nikon - why? Because they have a larger selection of NEWER autofocus lenses available. Pentax cameras can be used with any pentax lens ever made, which is great forphotography buff types but it doesn't sound like you want to be messing around with manual focus lenses.
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