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Old Mar 7, 2007, 8:37 PM   #1
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Hi, I am a musician who is looking to buy a camera with the primary additional functions of recording my music performances I play. I'm looking for a good quality stereo mic in it(hopefully with adjust recording gain or dynamic gain) as well the feture ofhandling dark areas like from a bar or low level light source. I like to take pictures so I preferring to go with a camera as opposed to a video camera. I need solid fps as well. I don't care for high resolution or crazy zoom. Something that a working musician can use to analyze and record/store performances. The megapixel on the camera doesn't have to be higher then 5.0. Any idea's are extremely helpful to me.
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Old Mar 7, 2007, 8:54 PM   #2
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The cameras most suitable for low lgiht photos (and your performances would likely fall into that category) are Digital SLR (dSLR) models that have the ability to shoot at higher ISO speeds (which is how sensitive their sensors are to light) with bright lenses.

But, none of them have the ability to record audio the way you way to. They don't have movie modes, stereo audio (most would not record any audio at all, much less in stereo). I'd have to spend some time digging around, just to find a dSLR model that lets you attach a voice note of a few seconds to an image. Their primary purpose is capturing high quallity still images, with the versatilty of interchangeable lenses (and you can get them much brighter than available in fixed lens models) with much higher usable ISO speeds (thanks to their larger sensors with more surface area for gathering light).

Some of the Olympus non-DSLR models do have stereo audio available now when recording movies. But, ISO sensitivity leaves something to be desired and the lenses are nowhere near as bright as you could get with a DSLR (and that means motion blur in less than optimum lighting due to slower shutter speeds needed for proper exposure)

I'd suggest more than one device for your needs. When you try to get a camera that tries to do everything, it usually doesn't do any one thing very well compared to what's available in models with less ambitious design goals.

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Old Mar 8, 2007, 12:49 AM   #3
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yeah slr is not what i need. What about getting a infra red camera in the mix?
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Old Mar 8, 2007, 7:57 AM   #4
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The vast majority of digital cameras have a filter over their sensor designed to block out most IR light (because it causes some color contamination). There are some exceptions (some older camera models, a few of the Sony models with "Nighshot". and a couple of newer models introduced that target law enforcement and astronomy). But, it really doesn't help much with the motion blur aspect (exposure times would still be longer than desired), and the images won't have the color you want.

Look.. you're talking about needing to capture images in low light bars (your first post mentioned " dark areas like from a bar or low level light source".

That demands a lot from a camera. I've got one local restaurant I go to from time to time here with live music in the lounge, where I need to shoot at ISO 3200 (which is 4 to 8 times as sensitive to light as most non-DSLR models would be usable at), using a 100mm f/2 lens (which is at least twice as bright as the lenses you'll find on most non-DSLR models), just to get shutter speeds up to around 1/20 second (which is *still* not fast enough to freeze movement unless the subject is very still).

That combination of higher ISO speeds with a much brighter lens gives me shutter speeds of around 8 to 16 times as fast as most non-DSLR cameras, and it's not good enough in some lighting like this. There are some exceptions, but most non-DSLR models will have unacceptable noise levels at ISO speeds above around ISO 400 to 800 (if that, as some get pretty bad above ISO 200), and their lenses have a largest available aperture of around f/2.8 (smaller f/stop numbers are brighter).

So, whatever solution you go with, I'd make sure to buy the camera from a vendor with a good restocking policy, because the results you want may not be there if the light is real low. If you've got good stage lighting, that's one thing. If not, you're probably going to need a DSLR to get any usable images in a dimly lit bar without unacceptable noise or motion blur.

Some of the newer Fuji models have higher usable ISO speeds compared to most other non-DSLR models (some have settings for ISO 3200). I'd start your search looking at them (and look at the ISO speed they have available to them in the specs). Higher is better. But, just because a model has a setting for higher ISO speeds, doesn't mean you'll be happy with the results. The higher the ISO speed, the poorer the image quality (but, if it's not set high enough for the lighting and lens, you'll get motion blur from subject movement). This one is probaby the best you'll be able to do in a non-DSLR model, and it may not be good enough if you don't have stage lighting. Sorry, no stereo. ;-)

http://www.steves-digicams.com/2007_...i_s6000fd.html

If video is a big consideration, I'd suggest trying a site that specializes in video cameras. That's not us.

You may need to use a flash to get images in real low light. Then, the other stuff is not as important, provided you can stay within the flash range and flash is allowed.

Will you have stage lighting, or are you reliant on the lighting from the bar area? How dim is it (candles on tables, or relatively good incandescent type lighting)? Without stage lighting in a dimly lit bar, you'd be stretching the limits of a DSLR with a bright lens (and I don't mean the kit lenses either -- you need a bright prime), much less a non-DSLR model, unless you can use a flash.

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Old Mar 8, 2007, 12:12 PM   #5
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The Canon S3 has probably the best stereo sound in a regular digital camera. Stabilization helps in limited light but is no help for capturing subject movement. The S3 has a decent flash but you can't use an external unit. It isn't very good at higher ISO. There is some good freeware for working with audio files, but there aren't any controls for it in the camera.

Movies from digital cameras are surprisingly good in normal room lighting, but still photos require a flash or high ISO capability. Stabilization works OK in normal room lighting as long as the subject isn't moving. I know of no camera with good high ISO capability and stereo sound.

Some of the hybrid cameras have stereo mics. The Sanyo Xacti VPC-CG6 has the advantage of MPEG4 compression, which will give you around four times the movies for a given memory card compared to the S3. Digital stabilization seems to work reasonably well for movies but is nearly useless for still photos. The CG6 wouldn't be very good for limited light still photos and the flash is weak.

JimC isn't trying to rain on your parade. There really isn't a single camera that will do everything you want – at least not that I am aware of. Your best bet is probably a dedicated movie camera plus a good low light camera like the Fuji F30. If buying both isn't in your budget you will probably have to choose between good stereo movies and good low light still photo capability.

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Old Mar 8, 2007, 6:41 PM   #6
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Here's one suggested starter kit if you're on a tight budget for a system that lets you shoot in much lower light than most models without a flash. If you've got more budget to work with, there are more solutions available:

Pentax K100D for $479.95 at B&H
+
Pentax 50mm f/1.4 Autofocus Lens for $219.95 at B&H

There are also some rebates available to lower your cost even more. You'll see links to the forms in the listings.

Then, use your feet for zoom (this is a fixed focal length lens, not a zoom). That camera/lens combination gives you ISO Speeds up to ISO 3200, and a lens that's 4 times as bright as the zoom lenses on the Fuji non-DSLR models, allowing shutter speeds 4 times as fast for any given lighting and ISO speed, since f/1.4 is exactly 4 times as bright as f/2.8 (which is the brightest aperture available on most non-DSLR models).

If you zoom in any with the Fuji models mentioned, the difference will be even greater (to the benefit of this Pentax package), since the zoom lenses on the Fujis we're discussing lose light as more optical zoom is used. This Pentax model also has a stabilization system built in to reduce blur from camera shake, and it's a relatively small camera for a DSLR. No video or audio recording.

Then, get a dedicated video camera for the rest.

If you've got more budget to work with, there are other solutions available. I'm just giving you one lower cost solution in a DSLR/lens combo for low light use to try and meet the still image requirements of getting images in a dimly lit bar.


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Old Mar 9, 2007, 2:11 AM   #7
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Imagine......

Musician goes to gig, drums or no drums but always cymbals. Phone, mp3 player for ride, Now add on camera, video camera and laptop to do music???... It's like being a portable electronics store. Having a car, phone, laptop, camera, video camera? Then all the peices of a small drum set..Bahh...That's why I say, if I need to document a gig,I need a camera for the web site shots and a video for a analaztion of the playing. Thats why im looking for both.



Thanks for the comments, it does help!


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Old Mar 9, 2007, 9:28 AM   #8
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Try the little Fuji F30 that Slipe mentioned. It won't have the stereo audio. But, it's a smaller camera that does much better than most non-DSLR models at higher ISO speeds in low light. Just make sure to buy it from a vendor with a liberal return policy in case it doesn't work well enough to meet your needs.

If you can use a flash for the still photos, that opens up your options to more choices.

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