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Old Sep 14, 2007, 8:29 AM   #1
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This is my first post. My first digital camera purchase was easy. I got a Canon SD450: it was cute, could take movie clips, and had color accent.

Now I want to upgrade and my problem is I started reading forums. I have diverse needs. Iwant something for travel pictures, take indoor sports shots, and I've got boat races coming up. I've kind of narrowed the choices to the Panasonic FZ18 because it seems to have something of everything, and the Canon G9 for some explicable reason that I am drawn to it.

I am a real novice, but am reading everything I can get my hands on (so much still goes over my head). But I would like a camera that has good image to start with, and that is conducive to growing with. Any input is greatly appreciated.




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Old Sep 14, 2007, 10:01 AM   #2
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Quote:
...take indoor sports shots...
A DSLR is usually required for most indoor sports. You'll also want a bright lens (usually a fixed focal length versus zoom is needed to get something bright enough for some sports, even shooting at a very high ISO speed). For example, a 50mm f/1.4, 50mm f/1.8, 85mm f/1.8, etc. These types of lenses are much brighter than zooms.

Otherwise, you'll get too much motion blur from subject movement with most cameras.

With non-DSLR models, you've got multiple issues working against you for indoor sports. One is that you'll have higher noise levels as ISO speeds are increased. You'll usually need ISO 1600 or ISO 3200. Another is that the lenses are not bright enough (most start out at around f/2.8 on their wide angle end, and lose light as you zoom in more). Something like a 50mm f/1.8 is roughtly 2.5 times as bright as an f/2.8 lens (allowing much faster shutter speeds for a any given lighting and ISO speed). Another issue is focus speed and ability to track moving subjects, and yet another issue is the delay you can get with an Electronic versus Optical Viewfinder.

Indoor lighting is much dimmer to a camera than it appears to the human eye and you'll need relatively fast shutter speeds for a rapidly moving subject (which will require high ISO Speeds and a bright lens). That usually dictates the use of a DSLR and bright prime (fixed focal length lens).


What kind of indoor sports shots? Would a flash be allowed? How close will you be?
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Old Sep 14, 2007, 10:48 AM   #3
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First, I want to thank you for your great reply to a novice. It seems I have a lot to learn! I will be taking pictures at martial arts events. Most of the time I will not be that far from the subjects. I have ruled out an slr because, besides the cost, I need to travel light. I know there is a big step-down to anything less, so I'm looking for the best quality at that level, plus a camera that while has manual settings will be realistic for someone just getting into the game.

I even thought of the new Canon 950sd as a great little camera; but I thought why invest so much money when there is not that much room to grow with it.I know each camera has it's own "quirks," so I'm hoping to find one that while challenging, won't be impossible! (yet great image etc...is this asking too much).


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Old Sep 14, 2007, 11:12 AM   #4
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Well... I'm afraid that the image quality is probably going to be very bad from those types of cameras for martial arts.

This Panasonic model has a high sensitivity mode that boosts ISO speed up to 6400 that could help with any motion blur problems. But, the images are probably going to be unsatisfactory (to put it mildly) if you try to use it for anything other than small prints. I haven't seen any high ISO samples from this model yet to know what to expect. But, with a sensor that small, with resolution that high, noise (and/or loss of detail from noise reduction) is going to be a problem at higher ISO Speeds.

If print sizes are kept very small, you may be able to get away with it. But, I'd probably wait for some higher ISO speed samples before passing judgement on even small images.

If you can use a flash, and you're close enough to stay within the rated range, that can help solve some of it (since you could shoot at lower ISO speeds). But, a flash may not be allowed (and it could be very distracting to the participants).

For indoor photos of moving subjects, your best bet is a DSLR with a bright lens on it, unless you can use a flash and stay within the rated flash range. I'd find that out before selecting a camera (is flash allowed). Otherwise, you'll probably end up with blurry and/or noisy and/or soft images from noise reduction trying to take photos of martial arts indoors without a flash with this type of camera.


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Old Sep 14, 2007, 11:26 AM   #5
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Dossy-

So just to recap, you have ruled out a DSLR camera.

In the martial arts events it seems as if you will be close to the action. Will that be true for other sporting events as well? If that is the case, you could get by with a small 3X optical zoom pocket sized camera that has the capability do very well in that kind of low light level shooting environment such as a Fuji F-31, or a F-40. if you needed more zoom capability, then you would have to consider the Fuji S-6000, which is a much larger camera physically.

Fuji seems to dominate this low light level shooting environment with their specialized imagers that are tuned to low light/high ISO shots, such as the one that I have attached which was taken with a Fuji F-40.

The IQ, or image quality will not be as good as a DSLR camera, by a good measure, but you can without flash record the event rather well.

Sarah Joyce

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Old Sep 14, 2007, 12:06 PM   #6
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Thanks guys!

So it seems I need a small (preferably wide-angle) P&S for indoors. That leaves me with my other decision, boat races and an upcoming trip to Hong Kong. Any suggestions for a non dslr with decent zoom and image quality? Are the superzooms better in idea than reality?

I'm drawn to the Canon G9 because of the combo of size and features? Will this camera be difficult for a relative newbie?

All input welcome!


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Old Sep 14, 2007, 12:46 PM   #7
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It's not so much the small and wide angle part. It's that the Fuji models Sarah mentioned have lower noise at higher ISO speeds compared to competing camera models.

Fuji makes their own sensors and has optimized some of their cameras for existing light shooting. The F10/F20/F30/F31D series Fuji models are probably as good as it gets for that purpose right now in non-DSLR cameras. But, for boat races, you may want a longer lens. Fuji does make some models with longer lenses that do better than most (for example, the S6000 that Sarah mentioned). So, it may be a good compromise (but, I wouldn't personally want to use anything over around ISO 800 with it, which means that you may still get some motion blur, depending on the light).

A lot depends on the lighting you'll have (bright spotlights versus typical gym type lighting) for the martial arts type shots. Have you got any samples from another camera now so we could get an idea of what kind of lighting you're trying to shoot in?

As a general rule, you'll need high ISO speeds with a bright lens for rapidly moving subjects indoors. Otherwise, you'll get blur from movement (especially hand/foot movement).

A lot of it is subjective. So, I just wanted to set some expectations. I would not expect to get good 8x10's out of most non-DSLR model indoors without a flash.

Even with a DSLR and bright prime lens, indoor sports is very demanding on a camera (and photographer).

How much motion blur are you willing to tolerate, what percentage of keepers you're willing to live with, and more enter in to the subjective part of it. A bit of motion blur can even add to the appeal of some shots (but, may make others virtually useless).

The print/viewing sizes also enter into the equation (since motion blur and image quality issues are not as obvious at smaller sizes). If you take lots of photos and can catch the participants when they are relatively still, you can also get more keepers.

For something like Boat Races, a Super Zoom type model would be probably a good way to go. I have not seen any higher ISO speed samples from the FZ18 yet (the model you sound interested in). So, I'm being cautious with expected image quality as ISO speeds are increased. As a general rule of thumb, these types of cameras do not do well at higher ISO speeds for indoor use with moving subjects without a flash. For something like boat races, chances are, it would be fine and you'd appreciate the longer available focal length.

As for the G9, it's got an Auto mode. So, I wouldn't be intimated by this type of camera. But, I don't know how well it would do for the martial arts or boat races type photos (which would depend on your vantage point, since you may want a longer lens).

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Old Sep 14, 2007, 2:43 PM   #8
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Dossy-

Our own JimC has pretty well covered the details on Fuji's offerings. The Fuji S-6000 might be the perfect camera for you. It has a zoom range of 18mm to 300mm in 35mm terms. The zoom is quick, direct, and a manual ring. It does not have any IS or image stabilization. It does well at high ISO settings. And yes, I agree with JimC, the S-6000 does well at ISO 800 and below. Above the ISO 800 setting, IQ, or image quality degrades measurably.

Concerning the Canon G-9: I own the G-7, and I have used the G-9. However, it is not a very capable camera at high ISO settings, so its ability to stop action, as in your martial arts photos, would be limited. It is a great camera if you can keep the ISO setting at 200 ISO and below. In contrast you could be using the Fuji S-6000 at ISO 800 or 1600 in a pinch. That is a huge difference in low light ability and shutter speeds. So, IMHO, I really don't see that the Canon G-9 would be a very capable camera for your described needs.

If you are close to the action a Fuji F-31 (now quite hard to find) or the F-40 would cover your needs. If you needed more zoom, then the Fuji S-6000 is the logical choice with its 10.3X optical zoom range.

Sarah Joyce

You might be wondering this: if the Fuji F-31 is the king of the high ISO/ low light level shooting environment venue, how well does it do outside. So here is a F-31 outdoor sample for your reference.



Here is a photo taken with the Fuji S-6000 at ISO 1600. This was handheld and no flash was used at all. Yes, there is some noise. If it is tolerable, well, I will leave that up to you.






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Old Sep 14, 2007, 3:56 PM   #9
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Thanks again for the info. The 6000 was one of the cameras I was looking at. Any word on the Fuji s-8000? Right now I'm open to all possibilities!




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Old Sep 14, 2007, 7:33 PM   #10
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Dossy-

Personally I do not know if the Fuji S-8000 has been released for sale yet, and there is no professional review for the Fuji S-8000 that I have seen thus far.

Sarah Joyce
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