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Old Mar 28, 2008, 9:03 AM   #1
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Time for a new digicam.

My old olympus c720 with it's 8X zoom was nice, but, there was one thing about it that drove me nuts. It's autofocus stunk in certain situations. Whenever I would attempt to take pictures of my kids playing soccer or basketball, it was worthless.

There was one other thing about it that I didn't care for. It doesn't bounce worth a damn!!!! My wife found this out the hard way last summer on vacation.

Our emergency replacement was a cheapo vivitar 8400. It works OK, but, it eats batteries. It's 3X optical zoom is rather lacking as well.It has managed to misplace itself. I suspect it will pop up again as soon as we buy a new one.

So, based on my experience with these, I have a few needs or atleast wants.

Number one is manual focus or atleast, a competent AF. I have looked around and researched on the net. There are a few non SLR manual focus models, but, I'm not sure there are any in my price range which is somewhere under 300 bucks. If I am gonna spend more than that, I will just go with an SLR. But, being a hopelessly cheap person, I want to wait till they get cheaper. When one gets to 300 dollars, I might jump on it.

Other things I am looking for are 6X or better optical zoom and stabilization to make that zoom usable.

I don't much care about having a bazillion megapixels as, IMHO, anything beyond about 5 meg is overkill. For me, anyway. Video capabilities is another thing I am not concerned with. Ialready have acamcorder.

Yeah, I know. I want a lot for a little. And I will have a tough time getting it. I think it is possible though as I am a really big fan of used stuff. I am guessing that there might be something out there on feebay that fits my needs. Something with a good lense that might be cheaper because it is no longer competitive in the mega-mega pixel wars.

I have a few cameras in mind. The kodak p712 is one. Nice lense with optical stability and manual focus. Not sure if I can get one in my price range though. Also, I am a bit concerned with it's durability.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

thanks

pete




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Old Mar 28, 2008, 10:16 AM   #2
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Did some more looking around at used stuff on ebay. saw a nikon d100 that sold for just about nothing!!!!

Ithink this might be what I am looking for. Something that is no frill and built like a brick. It is as heavy and as big as a brick, but, to be honest with you, I kinda like that. I like the feel of a traditional sized SLR. Wish I could find something as indestructible as my old K1000 in digital.

There is a minolta Dimage7 on ebay that I might be interested in.

Any thoughts on this or other SLRs appreciated.

Thanks,

Pete
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Old Mar 28, 2008, 10:18 AM   #3
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Pete-

Threecameras come to mind that might interest you. The Sony H-3, which offers 8mp with 10X optical zoom, The Canon SX-100 which also ofers 8mp and 10X of optical zoom, and the Canon A-720 which is 8mp with 6X of optical zoom. All three camerashave image stabilization.

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Old Mar 28, 2008, 10:21 AM   #4
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I'm assuming you mean pics of your kids playing soccer and basketball outdoors in daylight. If you really mean at night in a stadium or a gym then you really need a DSLR with a fairly fast lens.

A camera that produces good images for outdoors sport that's within your price range would be the Kodak Z712. It's a 7MP, 12x (36mm-432mm equiv.), optical image stabilization camera that is currently available for ~$230 at Wal Mart, Kodak's on-line store and probably other sources as well. Kodak's on-line refurbished store currently has at least one that's available for ~$170 (carries a new camera warranty).

A very well lit gym and excellent photographic technique (panning, anticipating peak of action) would be at the very outside edge of the Z712's envelope.

If you need a camera that bounces well then check out the Olympus Stylus SW series.

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Old Mar 28, 2008, 11:01 AM   #5
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sarah,

thanks for the reply. i am considering the canon because i like the way the lense fully retracts making it almost as compact as crappy lense cameras.

any thoughts on used SLRs?
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Old Mar 28, 2008, 11:04 AM   #6
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ac,

I have considered the z series kodaks, but, was under the impression that they don't have stabilization like the p series. Is this correct? Maybe they use electronic rather than optical stabilization.

I might actually prefer electronic stabilization since it might not have the same quality as optical stabilization, but, may be more sturdy.


As for the focus requirements, I am talking about outdoor soccer, indoor basketball. Ranges of approximately 20-200 feet. My experience has been that autofocus just doesn't know what to focus on in this situation. This is why I really want manual focus ability.

I am leaning more and more to the used DSLR market.

BTW, I mentioned earlier a D100 that sold for "nothing". It was 102 dollars, but, I am kinda suspicious. I look at other D100s and it seems that D100 bodies in need of repair go for that or more. Either somebody got one hell of a deal or it is typical ebay BS.

There are other used SLRs going cheap though, especially older rebels and minoltas. I saw a luminix with the 12X leica that went for under 200 bucks.

Pete
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Old Mar 28, 2008, 11:15 AM   #7
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Image stabilization is useful only to correct for camera shake. It will not help you get a good picture of a moving object, such as a kid playing sports.

I own the Canon A720. It has 6x optical zoom, good, dependable autofocus with many different autofocus options, an option for manual focus, optional manual controls and good picture quality. It also has optical image stabilization, which can be turned off when taking action pictures.
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Old Mar 28, 2008, 11:59 AM   #8
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The Z612/Z712/Z812/Z8612/Z1085 all have optical image stabilization. I personally have a Z612 and can attest to the effectiveness of Kodak's ois. I've successfully shot stationary subjects zoomed to 420mm equiv. at 1/30 handheld and 1/8 sec. with the lens at 35mm. Good technique os required but it surely increases the percentage of good shots.

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"It is very true ois won't help you stop motion - the only thing that does that is a high shutter speed but that shouldn't be an issue in daylight. I've shot aircraft doing high speed passes at airshows when I was about 300 yds off of airshow centerline using full telephoto. I also have never encountered any circumstance were I've wanted to switch off the ois or when reviewing my shots found an indication that I should have switched it off.
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Old Mar 28, 2008, 12:22 PM   #9
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You're in a tough position. Here's the challenge:

For soccer you need the range of a superzoom (400mm + equiv).

For basketball you need good ISO 3200 performance (since no current digicam has 2.0 lenses).

There really isn't a great digicam anymore that does this. Fuji was doing some real nice things with high iso performance but they had to go with more megapixels and the high ISO of their latest cameras seems to be a step backward.

I'm not sure if their's currently a superzoom with acceptable 3200 performance. So I think you have to pick your poison - get a superzoom for better soccer shots and have worse basketball or get a shorter digicam to get better basketball and not be able to get soccer. My vote would go for the superzoom. Even the best digicam still gets very poor low light sports photos. So you might as well get decent soccer photos.

No doubt an SLR can do better, but not with your budget. Again, for soccer you really need a 300mm lens or longer if you're on a regulation field (i.e. not u7 or something). And for basketball you'll need a fast prime (2.0 lens) to get needed shutter speeds. THose aren't cheap. And, manual focus and 2.0 lenses for basketball are going to be a VERY, VERY, VERY tough combo. Because the focus plane is so shallow you have less than a foot to play with in regards to focus accuracy.

So, I wouldn't advise going DSLR for basketball / soccer unless you have a budget of at least $1000. You might be able to get a used body for $300 but you're not going to get good results with it and whatever lens comes with it for soccer and basketball.

In the end it's your money. I just wanted to give you an idea of what you're up against so you dont spend $300 and end up disappointed.
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Old Mar 28, 2008, 12:57 PM   #10
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That is a great shot, AC Smith-

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