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Old Jun 9, 2008, 10:54 AM   #1
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I am really hoping somebody here will be willing to help us out. Here is my situation. We used to own a Sony Cybershot F717. Loved it. Especially liked the colors it produced as well as how great it managed in low light settings.

We currently own a Nikon D40x. My husband is pleased with it but it is too much for me. I take a lot of pics of my kids - usually inside. I am looking for something as close as possible to the Sony we used to have. I am not set on it having to be a Sony but am looking for something with equally good low light production. Which of the new Sony Cybershots is comparable to the f717?

I would really appreciate any suggestions/assistance.

Thanks!!!
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Old Jun 9, 2008, 11:05 AM   #2
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None of them.

Your Sony DSC-F717 is one of the best non-DSLR cameras ever made for shooting in low light. It uses a 2/3" sensor with only 5 Megapixels (meaning much larger photosites for each pixel than you'll find in any current non-DSLR model). Because of the larger photosite size, less amplification is needed for equivalent sensitivity to light (which is one reason it's got great image quality).

Your Sony's lens is also much brighter than the lens on any current non-DSLR camera from any camera manufacturer. It's got f/2 available on the wide end of it's zoom range. Wider apertures (which is basically how large the aperture opening is) are represented by smaller f/stop numbers (since it's a ratio between the focal length of the lens and the diameter of the aperture opening). That's roughly 3 times as bright as a typical kit lens shipped with a dSLR if you don't zoom in any with the kit lens (they're brightest at their widest zoom setting).

When you zoom in, the difference is even greater (to your Sony's favor). Your Sony has a largest available aperture of f/2.4 on it's long end (zoomed in all the way). In contrast, a typical kit lens (like an 18-55mm lens) only has f/5.6 available on it's long end.

Note that f/2.4 is six times as bright as f/5.6, allowing shutter speeds 6 times as fast for any given ISO speed and lighting.

Nobody makes a lens that bright for a non-DSLR camera model anymore. Sorry. If you want a non-DSLR model, you'd need to compromise on the low light part. Some of the Fuji models aren't that bad in low light (for example, the new Fuji S100FS). But, that one is as large and heavy as many dSLR models (and it's lens is nowhere near as bright as the lens on your Sony, meaning you'd need to use higher iSO speeds to get shutter speeds as fast).

What you need for your D40x is a brighter lens. I'd look at lenses that have f/2.8 available throughout their focal range (4 times as bright as f/5.6 like you'd have with most kit type lenses). Note that because your D40x doesn't have a built in focus motor, you'll need to make sure the lens you have does (for example, Nikon AF-S or Sigma HSM lenses) unless you want to use manual focus.

Or, just get a good external flash instead.

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Old Jun 9, 2008, 11:18 AM   #3
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Just to make sure we're on the same page...

If you're concerned about things like less blur from subject movement in lower light without a flash, you need to look at models with brighter lenses (smaller available f/stop numbers, which means more light gets through) and higher available ISO speeds (which is how sensitive the film or sensor is to light). Those variables allow you to get faster shutter speeds.

But, you mentioned color accuracy...... That's probably just a white balance setting issue if that's all you're concerned about. Either use one of the White Balance presets to match the lighting (for example, Tungsten); or use a Custom White Balance (your D40x has the ability to measure the temperature of the lighting by measuring it from something white or neutral gray, and applying the same White Balance to other images taken in the same lighting). The Auto White Balance on most cameras leaves a lot to be desired in artificial lighting. If you change it to match the lighting, you'll get much better results.

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Old Jun 9, 2008, 11:24 AM   #4
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Thank you for your reply. Huge dissapoitmet as far as the Sony goes. As for the lens we currently use a 18-135 and have a SB400 light. Would you conside this acceptable? We are having problems with the colors looking natural, skin tones and washed out effect.

thanks again!
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Old Jun 9, 2008, 11:41 AM   #5
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That's probably not a white balance issue (the camera should be using a white balance that matches the temperature of the flash, which is closer to daylight), unless you have your ISO speed set too high (which can let more ambient light into the image, at a different color temperature compared to the flash).

If your skin tones are washed out, that's most likely due to overexposure instead.

What metering mode are you using? Most metering systems will heavily weight the focus point using Matrix (a.k.a., multi-segment) metering. So, if you focus on a lighter subject, you may get an underexposed image (too dark). If you focus on a darker subject, you may get an overexposed image (too bright). Nikon models are usually pretty good with metering using Matrix. I'd probably avoid spot entirely, unless you're very careful what you're metering on (because it won't take anything except the spot into consideration for metering).

How about your Exposure Compensation settings (and with some cameras, the same setting is also used with flash). Try dialing it back to a -EV setting (pointer in the viewfinder to the left of center when the +- button is pressed) for a darker exposure if your images are consistently overexposed (too bright and washed out).


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