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Old Jan 21, 2007, 8:50 PM   #1
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I think my trusty Olympus C-750 is on its last legs, and I'm going to need a new camera. The most demanding use for one of my cameras is shooting soccer under stadium lights. The C-750 was sensational for daytime matches, but shots taken at night take extensive post-processing just to get borderline quality (blurs, lighting, etc).

I know the real answer is a DSLR with a high performance low-light lens, but I'm a high school soccer coach and the one using the camera is usually a student manager. Thus, I need a camera that is not prohibitively expensive, is durable, and relatively easy to train.

What I've read about the Olympus SP-510 makes me wonder if it might be a strong candidate. I understand their are serious concerns with noise at high ISO values, but I can't imagine them being worse than those I've dealt with on the C-750.

Normal shooting conditions are a tripod, shooting to an anticipated action zone with high-speed shutter, and significant zoom (usually somewhere around 8X).

Opinions on the SP-510 for this usage? Better options?

I've attached a typical post-crop & processing image taken with the C-750 during a night match. Photo taken at a distance of about 50 yards from a sideline tripod...stadium lighting....no flash.
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Old Jan 21, 2007, 10:21 PM   #2
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Coach,

You were right about the DSLR. Short of that, I don't think the SP-510 will be much better than the C-750 for night games. Take a look at the Fuji S6000 and S5200 before you buy.

the Hun

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Old Jan 22, 2007, 7:29 AM   #3
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I' d have to agree withrinniethehun


style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"The s6000 is probably going to get you the best results from a digicam but those will still be poor quality. Should be better than what you are getting with c-750 but still not usable for anything more than web post.
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Old Jan 28, 2007, 9:12 AM   #4
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rinnie and John--I appreciate the advice. The more I read about the Fuji line, the more it seems to be the way I need to go.

Other than the obvious differences in resolution in the Fuji line--s5200, s6000, s9000, and s9100--are there other differences that would make one of them best for the use I've described? Because lighting and shutter speed are my highest priorities, I would assume I would be shooting at a high ISO with the accompanying trade-off in increased noise. Although the price differential from the lowest to the highest model is significant, the s9100 is still within the prince range I would be willing to pay.

John, you say that, regardless of which way I go, I would be limited in my display options, to quality levels associated with web posting. I'm assuming the allusion is that I will not be able to get high quality prints at significant sizes. This is generally not a problem. Seldom do I print anything larger than 3 X 5 (I have a bulletin board montage of soccer pics in my classroom). The only other prints are a few shots a year that are converted into B & W and printed in the school annual (always small pics). The primary output is a digital album I present to each player at the end of the year on CD. Obviously, I would like to have the capability of high quality prints for other uses of the camera, but I assume that any of the models under discussion will not be stressed for that. I'm already getting that level of quality with my C-750 when I shoot under less than stressful light conditions.

I'm attaching a shot taken under daytime conditions with the C-750. Particulars of the shot are that it was taken at about 75 yards with a focal length of 63mm on the UZ lens. ISO was 50....f 3.7....1/800th shutter speed...Original pic 2288 x 1712, cropped to 576 X 467....late afternoon sun from the back of the photographer.


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Old Jan 28, 2007, 10:15 AM   #5
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The Fuji S6000fd is very good in low light. However, its maximum aperture is only f4.9 at full zoom (300mm). The S5200 is better than most of its superzoom competitors, but not as good as the S6000fd in low light if everything else is equal. However, it's not equal at full zoom (380mm), where its maximum apeture is f3.2. So my experience is that the S5200 is slightly better than the S6000fd in low light if you are at more than half zoomed out (maybe 150mm plus). The S5200 has ok images at ISO 800, certainly good enough for 4 X 6 images. Maybe Fuji will add image stabilization to the next ultrazoom it puts out. That would be great, but for now, I think the S5200 is best choice for low light sports shooters unless they are close to the action.
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Old Jan 28, 2007, 10:44 AM   #6
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Coach,

I agree with robbo's evaluation of the S5200 vs. the S6000. However, the S6000 has some features that (IMHO) would give it an advantage over the S5200. The S6000 has a wider angle lens (28mm vs. 38mm), which can help when trying to include more players in the picture...not only during game action, but also for a posed team pic. The S6000 has a manual zoom ring, which would be a lot better for following action coming toward or going away from the photographer...beats the little toggle switch on the S5200. It also has a manual focus ring, which may help when trying to isolate on a single player in a crowd. The S6000 has Fuji's new Face Detection technology, which should help with exposure control for player's faces. It also has a more powerful flash and a larger, higher resolution LCD. As robbo stated previously, there will be times when the advantage goes to the S5200, but I consider the S6000 to be more versatile, and better for your particular needs.

I purposely did not recommend the S9000/9100, as I don't believe it is as good in low light as the others previously discussed, and there have been numerous reports of problems with the S9000 (I don't know if Fuji has resolved those problems with the S9100).

Good luck with your choice.

the Hun

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Old Jan 28, 2007, 11:11 AM   #7
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Trojansoc wrote:
Quote:
John, you say that, regardless of which way I go, I would be limited in my display options, to quality levels associated with web posting. I'm assuming the allusion is that I will not be able to get high quality prints at significant sizes.
Quote:
I'm attaching a shot taken under daytime conditions with the C-750.
Coach,

What I was trying to say is that for the night games, the results FROM THOSE GAMES will still be rather poor quality even at 3x5 or 4x6.

Of course, it's a matter of perspective too. The photo you posted I would consider a decent 3x5 snapshot. There isn't enough detail to be better than that - mostly because you took the shot from so far away and had to crop so much.

But I certainly can appreciate that you're giving photos to these kids for free - so something is certainly better than nothing. But keep your expectations low for the night time shots - that's all I'm saying. Night time soccer stretches the best DSLRs and lenses to their limits and still you only get decent results.





For the daytime shots you can see a dramatic increase in quality if you shoot when the kids are closer - within 30 yards of your shooting position - or where the kids fill about 2/3 of your frame.







Having said all that, any of the cameras under discussion can produce great results when you don't exceed their limitations (true of any camera - even DSLRs).

Again, I think it's great you're giving these kids something to remember their season by. Good luck in your purchase
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Old Jan 28, 2007, 11:15 AM   #8
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Coach,

You could actually get usable images from the S6000fd at iso 1600, after a run through Neatimage or something similar. Also, the shooter may benefit from the S6000fd's much larger LCD (2.5") then the S5200 (1.8").

It's a bit unfortunate that the S6000fd's lens is slower at telephoto than the S5200, as robbo has pointed out, but I think the S6000fd's newer, superior sensor and processor help alleviate that.

One aspect with robbo touched on is the full zoom. The S5200 is at 380mm, which is a bit less than average for ultrazooms, but equivalent to what you have now. The S6000's zoom range is just 300mm, which is about 25% less than the S5200.
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Old Jan 30, 2007, 10:21 PM   #9
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Thanks to all who offered advice. Based on your recommendations and other research, I placed an order tonight for an s6000. The season opens next week. I can't wait to see what it can do.


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Old Jan 31, 2007, 8:58 AM   #10
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Good luck with your new cam, Coach, as well as with your upcoming season. Post a couple of pics to share with us when you get a chance.

the Hun

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