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Old Mar 31, 2008, 8:34 AM   #1
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Hi All

My Casio QV-R41 seems to have a dead sensor (it just sees blackness) so it's time to replace as I'm sure a repair will cost more than it's worth. I might as well turn this into an upgrade opportunity I've been very pleased with the Casio but two scenarios in which it has let me down are photos of bands at gigs and photos of motorsport. I would like its replacement to address these weaknesses, and keep and build on it's strengths of good 'normal' pics, very fast startup and shooting, great battery life, good build, small size.

Those of you who have cameras with a lot of manual control - what is your technique for these scenarios? At a gig you are stood in darkness but your subject is usually lit quite well and some distance away. With my Casio I would switch the flash off, max the ISO and try to hold as still as possible, but usually it would do a 1/8s exposure so it's blurry as hell unless I'm lucky. This would produce the occasional good result up close to the band but mostly dreadful from a distance. Here are some of my better examples, but you can see there's much room for improvement:

http://members.lycos.co.uk/subaru/pics/killers.jpg
http://members.lycos.co.uk/subaru/pics/hots.jpg
http://members.lycos.co.uk/subaru/pics/monkey.jpg
http://members.lycos.co.uk/subaru/pics/monkey2.jpg
These last two are better because I was only inches away - I was at uni in Sheffield while AM were gigging in pubs

I couldn't find a way of making it do a faster exposure. I wonder if one of the 'Best Shot' presets would have helped but I couldn't find one that forces a fast exposure, just extra long exposures for 'Sunset Mode' etc. I had similar problems trying to photo rally cars on the superspecial WRC stage in Cardiff which was in darkness but floodlit. At the F1 last year I struggled to focus on the cars despite the Casio being pretty fast; I expect the only way around this would be to have a lot of zoom and a fast and accurate aim.

What compacts should I be considering as replacement to my Casio then? I'm thinking of the Canon Powershot A720IS as I believe this offers a lot of manual control so I presume I could get it to do what I want in the above scenarios and leave it on auto for normal situations (holiday snaps and so on). It also takes AA batteries which I think is a positive point when you can get to a pack of Duracells but not to a power socket. That's unless the life suffers - my Casio was very frugal with its two 2100mAh NiMHs so good life is possible without lithium batteries. 6x zoom sounds nice and using SD cards which I already have is good, but it's just a bit too bulky. I previously had a Kodak DX3600 which was very good for its time but so bulky that it often got left at home, so I'm hesitant to get anything bigger than my Casio (89 x 61 x 33 mm).

Is there anything in an Ixus/Exilim type package which offers sufficient manual control for my needs? Alternatively, have the 'Best Shot' modes improved to accommodate the scenarios I mentioned? If so, and that would achieve the same goal, then perhaps that's the way to go, although it would be nice to have the manual option for the chance to develop some skill.

Cheers,

Ben
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Old Mar 31, 2008, 10:34 AM   #2
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Welcome to the Forum, Ben-

I was unable to get any of your photos to load so I could view them. From what you describe, these seem like either a low light for the band shots, or the need for faster shutter speeds for the action shots. You might want to look at the Fuji F-series camera. They do not have manula controls on most but they are good in low light and they will produce fast shutter speeds when outdoors.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Mar 31, 2008, 1:12 PM   #3
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As an owner of the A720IS, I'm very pleased with its picture quality, battery usage (I use 2000 MaH Eneloops), optical viewfinder and manual options. It's size is a plus - small enough to fit in a (large) pocket.

I don't know whether you'd be able to get a good photo with the A720 in a concert/club setting. If you adjusted the aperture to the widest setting and set your shutter speed to a relatively slow setting, you might have to bump up your ISO to a very high level (over 800) to get a picture that's light enough. At 800 the results would be barely acceptable, but 1600 is going to be terrible.
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Old Apr 2, 2008, 4:37 AM   #4
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Thanks for the replies. I keep changing my mind about the A720. It seems to offer all that I want except for the size, and I know I'd get more use out of something smaller. I've just missed the Canon cashback offer in the UK but I'm going to Taiwan in a few weeks so might I get a bargain out there although I'm not sure if I would get a worldwide warranty?

I had a look at the Fuji range but only the discontinued F30 seemed to offer what I want and it's larger and more expensive than the A720 anyway. Do you think the F40d's good low light performance would be sufficient to meet my requirements without my being able to control shutter speed?

One option I've found which seems to tick most of my boxes is the Pentax A30. My misgivings are the reviews are only good and not excellent, battery life seems mediocre and zoom is only 3x where the A720 offers 6x.

Since nothing seems to meet all of my wants, I wonder if I should hold off for a while until something new becomes available (anyone know of anything in the pipeline?). I do need a basic camera meanwhile though but could get something suitable for my mother who's yet to make the switch to digital, and pass that on to her when I find what's right for me. She would need a well-built, simple P&S but it would need to hold its battery charge well for infrequent use. I wonder about the Nikon S500 which seems a bargain at £99 in Jessops at the moment.
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Old Apr 2, 2008, 7:16 AM   #5
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If the A720 is too large for you, consider the Canon A590IS or A570IS, very similar to the A720 but smaller and with less optical zoom (4x).

The Nikon S500 is an OK ultracompact, but the new model, the S510, is better. Also consider the Nikon S200 or S210, which are similar.
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