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Old Nov 14, 2007, 1:28 PM   #1
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My wife has given me the go ahead to look for a new camera. Basically, we're looking for a camera for my wife to use, mostly indoors and in low light situations, to take photos of our three small kids. Will also use camera for the occasional dance recital or school functions in dark auditoriums. The camera will probably only be used in Auto mode. As always, image quality is very important, more than having a lot of unused features on the camera.

I'm pretty sure she wouldn't like the size of a dSLR so I'm looking at either the Canon a650 or G9 (due to our familiarity with Canon). Our old S30 was great (until it she dropped in on a stone floor a couple years ago), much better than our current a530. Would having IS help improve pictures taken indoors and help cut down on the graininess and darkness of indoor pictures? I'm guessing shutter lag would be improved compared to the S30.

Also, for my own knowledge and for comparison, how would the Nikon D40x with kit lens (which does not have IS or VR) compare to the G9 IS in low light situations? Does IS (with or without zoom) make a big different when compared to the D40x?

Thanks and I look forward to your recommendations and insight.....
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Old Nov 14, 2007, 1:47 PM   #2
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orangeman wrote:
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My wife has given me the go ahead to look for a new camera. Basically, we're looking for a camera for my wife to use, mostly indoors and in low light situations, to take photos of our three small kids. Will also use camera for the occasional dance recital or school functions in dark auditoriums. The camera will probably only be used in Auto mode. As always, image quality is very important, more than having a lot of unused features on the camera.

I'm pretty sure she wouldn't like the size of a dSLR so I'm looking at either the Canon a650 or G9 (due to our familiarity with Canon).
That's not going to work for dance recitals and school functions on a stage.

You really want a DSLR with a bright prime (fixed focal length versus zoom lens) for that kind of thing unless you want to use an external flash and flash is allowed.

Otherwise, you're just going to get a lot of blurry photos at a dance recital with most cameras, unless you can catch the performers when they're motionless.

You need higher ISO speeds *and* a bright prime (f/2 or larger apertures, represented by smaller f/stop numbers) to get fast enough shutter speeds at ISO 1600 or ISO 3200 for moving subjects on a school stage. Even an expensive f/2.8 zoom lens is not bright enough, much less the kit lenses around.

The lenses on the cameras you're considering are very dim as you zoom in more, and they aren't capable of delivering quality images at high ISO speeds.

I'd go with a 100mm f/2 or 85mm f/1.8 Autofocus lens for dance recitals on a DSLR model if I were you. Even with ISO 1600, you can expect some motion blur at f/2 (much brighter than the lenses you can get on non-DSLR models made now, and brighter than most zoom lenses you can buy for DSLR models). A school stage is not as bright as it looks for capturing a moving subject.

Note that if you go with the D40 or D40x, you'll have to use manual focus though (those models won't work with lenses that don't have a focus motor built in like the primes you'll need to use to get fast enough shutter speeds).

If you want to try it with an external flash on a non-DSLR model that supports one, that would be an option as long as flash is allowed and you can get close enough to use one OK, depending on the power of the flash you buy. I wouldn't go that route (I'd go with a DSLR using a bright prime).

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Old Nov 14, 2007, 2:09 PM   #3
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P.S.

The question about IS is more complex to answer.

With the non-DSLR models, your shutter speeds are probably going to be slow enough that you can take advantage of it in the conditions you're asking about to reduce blur from camera shake.

The problem is that it won't help with motion blur from subject movement. So, you'd have to practice getting photos of the people on stage when they're motionless to get keepers.

But, a DSLR model can use high enough ISO speeds with a brighter lens on it, that the IS will be of less benefit in that type of lighting. That's because the shutter speeds you'd be able to achieve will be faster than you'd need to prevent motion blur from camera shake.

If you were using a dimmer lens on a DSLR (for example, a typical kit lens versus a prime), then it would become more beneficial to have stablization. But, then you're back the the problem of motion blur from subject movement with a dance recital. ;-)

The best solution (at least in my opinion) for dance recitals is to use a DSLR with a bright prime (fixed focal length versus zoom lens with f/2 or brighter apertures available) with a camera model that has usable ISO 1600 or higher sensitivities with acceptable noise levels.

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Old Nov 14, 2007, 2:25 PM   #4
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Thanks JimC, I'll discuss that with my wife. However, if she is still hesitant about a dSLR what is your opinion of the a650 or G9 for general "family" photography around the house in lower lighting situtations? Are there better options?

Does the performance of adSLR usually beat a digicam (for example, the ones mentioned above vs a D40x or XTi) inmost situations (when using kit lens in AUTO and without IS)? Except for very infrequently the photos will be mostly of the kids around the house in dim household lighting and probably with a flashand in AUTO.




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Old Nov 14, 2007, 2:44 PM   #5
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As long as you can use a flash (and stay within the rated flash range), then either non-DSLR model would work OK.

I'd read Steve's reviews of them here and pay close attention to the review conclusion sections (last page before the sample images in each review) for discussion on things like autofocus speed, flash quality/recycle times, image quality indoors and outdoors and more.

But, for best image quality, I'd go with a DSLR if budget permitted.

In conditions where you use a flash (for example, with a kit lens on a DSLR model), an external flash is best for that purpose versus a camera's internal flash, too. An external flash is also best with a non-DSLR camera.


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