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Old Apr 11, 2007, 4:58 PM   #1
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Hey there, I'm looking for a DSLR camera. I need it to take pictures at events and I realized that a standard camera won't cut it. The reason is because I want the pictures to have that "glossy" look. You may know what I am talking about. I think I need something from Nikon since I hear they are really reliable. I need to take pictures at events which would be in the day and night and would need a good zoom (I assume I will need to get a lens seperately) to take pictures at stages for performers. A good flash would be great as well. I'm assuming that something like what I want to do would mean I might need extra batteries and memory cards in case I am at events for a long period of time. Also, taking pictures in rapid succession would be ideal, since you need to be prepared for anything that might happen to get it on film. Also, no delay from pressing the button would be wonderful - I really dislike my current Sony camera for taking SO long after I press the button for the picture to be taken, the same goes for taking one picture after the other. I have a Kodak which seems to take pictures instantaneously so It seems like something very possible. Finally, something with a not-so-steep learning curve would be nice - I am really just interested in pointing and shooting, not fiddling with settings, but I assume a DSLR might mean that won't be the case so much. Thanks!
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Old Apr 11, 2007, 8:11 PM   #2
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I've been a nightclub photographer for 2 years now, and I've owned and used around 35 high-end compacts, and the more favoured prosumer SLR style models such as the P880, Pro 815 and S9600. More recently making the jump to DSLR with the Canon EOS 300D and just now... The XT/350D.

DSLR is a pretty new game to me, but I've had a fair crack at the point-and-shoot whip and I've spent the better part of the last month researching the entry-level DSLRs. So I'll reply from an experienced consumer perspective more than professional. (Remember I'm only an amateur myself).

I honestly found that for my line of work, the prosumer fixed lens cameras were more than enough. The P880 is a very capable camera in all situation. It served me well, and I was sorry to see it go.
We rely on photography sales as a bulk source of income, and so our photos have to be sharp and colourful. The P880 did a fantastic job. I only decided to upgrade to DSLR because my interest has grown and I want be more creative with my photography.

I spent the entire week of last shooting with my new 300D and although the potential was clear, the camera itself was let down by the lens. It soon became clear to me that the lens would become the most important and expensive part of my photography.

You will probably need to ask yourself the same questions I asked myself a few weeks ago.

(1) Do you have a healthy budget to invest in expensive kit?
(2) Do you know enough about DSLR photography to make the investment worthwhile? In other words would you actually aim to use the features, or would you stick to the preset modes?
(3) Do you really need DSLR?

The fact you mentioned that you want point and shoot makes me wonder why you're looking into DLSR?

Somebody once said to me on one of my threads, "Buying a DSLR won't instantly make you a better photographer" and that was clear within the first few hours of shooting last week. If you don't understand how to use the camera properly, your photographs will suffer.
And I've shot some better photographs with my P800 than some SLR photographers are posting online.

I should also mention that the reason I returned my 300D was that I discovered slight mirror and focus screen damage. Keeping the inside of the camera clean, and dust on the sensor was something I never had to worry about before.

You may be better getting yourself a high-end (SLR style) fixed lens model such as the P880, or the Digimax Pro 815. Those are both capable of producing high quality images in all environments, with optional manual controls if you feel like being a little adventurous.
The P880 had no problems with the low-light, even with the fast moving colourful lights strobing the target. Almost every shot was perfectly focused and exposed, although I had configured the manual settings through weeks of trial and error.
If I had to recommend any non-DSLR camera to a nightlife photographer, I'd recommend the P800.

I persoanlly would never go back to point-and-shoot. DSLR brings a whole new dimension to photography and if you don't currently have any real interest in developing your skills, buying a DSLR may well change that.

If I had to recommend one to you, based on the research I've done recently, I'd say look at the Canon EOS XT/350 or XTi/400D - Olympus E-500 - Sony A100

Those seem to be the favoured models amongst the experienced photographers, and all availible for less than £400 online.

I chose the 350D because the 300D made such an impression on me. And, 98% of the people I'd asked on this and other forums all recommended it.

Good hunting
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Old Apr 11, 2007, 8:35 PM   #3
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1) Money - I will put out the money if I need to but I don't expect to need to buy a VERY top of the line camera.

2) I know nothing abot DSLRs

3) I think so.

I think I should post something I put on another forum since it's quite a bit:

The "gloss" thing I was talking about may be pretty much subjective, but this. I think it could be post processing or something.

So let me give you a bit more story - I'm going to be doing a website where pictures at events/parties would be a big part of it. So I've stated that I would want a zoom to get a good view of performers on stage from a distance in case I can only shoot at a less than prime (far) spot. What I'm doing is going to be pretty new here, the only "competition" in this field basically tells people to go with whatever camera they have, focus on having a certain number of Megapixels on the camera and that's all. So, I want to do it right, I want to have the pictures with that "gloss". So it'll be pictures of people at parties, posing, etc. It would be mostly but not always at night. Here's something else, I'm in the Caribbean and doing this would mean ordering from the internet and working just on the opinions of nice people like you With this said, I don't think I NEED a professional camera, and I would hope I can get away with spending around $500 US. That probably wouldn't be a reality but I would at least like to get the information and know how much I would need to. So I've learned that I need to focus on the lense(s) but I don't know much about this. I've had the D40/80 suggested before but again, getting people's suggestions is what I need since I can't use these things before I buy. I'm no photographer, never used a DSLR, but I am a fast learner, having a camera that doesn't take much to operate would be ideal too!"
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Old Apr 11, 2007, 8:41 PM   #4
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To be honest, I'd say buying DSLR could be a bad move for you. Aside from the fact you know nothing of how the cameras work, and have no interest in using any manual settings, you have to appreciate that the standard lens kits which come with these cameras are pretty bad.
For zoom power you're going to have to invest in a zoom lens. Just google that now and see what you find... Expensive!

Look at the zoom power on the SLR-like, fixed-lens models I mentioned there. And in addition, you can purchase a telephoto lens to increase zoom range at a fraction of the cost of a DSLR zoom lens.

Unless you've got a few hundred to throw at the camera I'd forget about DSLR and stick with the high-end P/S cams.

You can get a P880 for less than $400 on the eBay.

And, don't be worried about how the camera will look. The P880, with a telephoto lens and flash unit can look like a professional DSLR to the untrained eye.
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Old Apr 11, 2007, 8:55 PM   #5
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You see, I don't mind learning it a bit if I have to. The same goes for the money if I have to pay around $1000 Us I guess that would be OK. The site I am doing would have advertising, so if I'm looking at this as being a "business" expense I guess going a little deep in my pocket would be worth it to stand out since other sites just use standard P&S cameras. Now I'm looking at the Nikon D80 along with the Rebel - I think my problem is that I need someone who is doing exactly what I intend to, to get a proper suggestion, I think. I think you being int he nightclub setting is a good guage. Do you have a flickr profile with those sorts of night-time low light pictures by chance so I could look at them? What is the P880, a Canon?
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Old Apr 12, 2007, 3:21 AM   #6
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No I don't use photo storage sites. I own a very large club promotion company with a dedicated website.

The P880 is Kodak.
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Old Apr 12, 2007, 5:21 PM   #7
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On your budget, I'll tell you this; you will get the best possible quality pictures by getting a DSLR and some appropriate prime lenses. The question for you is whether or not you're willing to deal with a certain amound of inconvenience and extra work. Zoom lenses that are bright enough for this kind of shooting would be well outside of your budget, so that leaves prime lenses which do not zoom, meaning you'll need to switch lenses as the shooting situation changes.

I'll start by telling you what I do in shooting situations similar to what you want to do. My brother performs live at some local bars, and the lighting is the worst you can possibly imagine. The last place I shot him at, he was illuminated by a single, dim, red light bulb, probably not even 60 watts and not even close to him. This is a situation that by most standards would be considered impossible.

My camera is a Pentax K100D. It has very good high ISO performance, taking decent quality photos at ISO 1600. However, that isn't enough. A decent digicam can sometimes do pretty well at 800, so at best this might be a 1 stop advantage. What puts it over the edge is pairing it up with a bright lens. Mostly I shoot with my 50mm f/1.7. With the crop factor, that's about 75mm, a moderate telephoto. On a typical point & shoot, at that focal length it would probably be closer to f/3.5, or roughly 4 stops darker. Paired with the high ISO, that makes the camera about 8 times brighter than a typical p&s (approximating).

If I had to be farther from the stage, I'd use my 135 f/2.5, which while about a stop darker than the 50mm, would be about 200mm equivalent which for a p&s would normally require an ultrazoom. Ultrazooms tend to have worse high ISO performance than those with more moderate zoom ranges.

The camera also has built-in stabilization, so that allows me to shoot at some pretty slow shutter speeds and get away with longer telephoto. This feature is becoming more common though, so it's not the biggest advantage.

Now that I've got the brightness I need, I then need to deal with the issues of weird colored lighting and the fact that I'm still going to end up with underexposed shots. Because of that, I shoot everything in RAW. The K100D isn't the best at RAW shooting because it can only shoot 3 RAWs in a burst and then needs to clear the buffer. On average, it can shoot 1 RAW per second. However, my Panasonic FZ30 was only able to shoot 1 RAW every 3 seconds, and on most p&s cameras that actually support RAW, that's much faster than average.

Once I get the RAW files on my computer, I can then adjust the white balance however I like. When you shoot JPG, WB is basically a filter applied to the raw data by the camera, but shooting RAW lets you work it out on your own using software like Photoshop. This helps correct for mistakes, for inaccurate AWB, or for a variety of effects. Sometimes I'll create two images of different white balance and blend portions together. For example, I might have one that has correct skin tones and another that has more accurate stage lighting, and then blend them together to make my brother look more natural.

As far as cost, I didn't pay much. My 50mm f/1.7 and my 135 f/2.5 were $30 and $20 respectively. However, they are used manual focus lenses. If that's not an issue for you then the Pentax is probably the best option for you. If it is though, and I'm assuming it is, you'll need to shop around for newer autofocus lenses and see what you can afford. I believe Canon has some cheaper prime lenses available that might do well. Just remember, the lower the f value, the brighter the lens is (and typically the more expensive it is).

One last thing, keep in mind that a lower f-value (wider aperture) also means shallower depth of field. Longer telephoto also means less depth of field. When I shoot my brother playing guitar at f/1.7, I can get him and the microphone in focus, but the background isn't, and the end of the guitar isn't either if it's pointed in my direction. That is the compromise made in order to get improved sensitivity.
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Old Apr 12, 2007, 6:21 PM   #8
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I'm being advised that since I know nothing about DSLRs for what I want to do I should look into getting something along the lines of this: http://panasonic.co.jp/pavc/global/l...z50/index.html
for the zoom. But should I stick with a DSLR or not? I don't know much about this at all.
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Old Apr 12, 2007, 6:50 PM   #9
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I think the Panosonic camera you linked to would be a very good choice for you. It is what termed DSLR "like". The lens is fixed, so you don't need to change lenses for a vaiety of shooting situations. This camera has Image Stabilization whick is a very good function. With long zoom shots there is much more of a tendancy to blurr photos.
I would suggest that you look for reviews of this camera. I don't know if there have been any as of yet, but you can go to http://www.dcviews.com/ for links to multiple reviews.
Good luck and enjoy!
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Old Apr 12, 2007, 6:59 PM   #10
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Here's the direct link:http://www.dcviews.com/_panasonic/fz50.htm
It look like this is not a simple point and shoo camera. You will be required to do your homework to use this camera as well. It isn't for the novice. The DC Views rating at the top right are excellent. There also, you can see the skill level required on the bar scale. Four stars all around is exceptional!
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