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Old Feb 20, 2009, 5:58 PM   #1
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I have been researching new cameras on line and have been very focused on the number of frames per second (fps). The hang up on fsp is driven by the desire to take photos of my daughter at high jump competitions. I have simple point & shoot that will take photos at a rate of about 1 fps. I have better luck trying to time a single shot for which I have a low success rate. In the time of about a second she goes from the ground over the bar and lands on the pad. Fortunately, the events the events are typically in broad daylight so lighting does not seem like it would be a problem. In addition to the high jump, I am interested in shooting some soccer, nature / landscapes and general family stuff. Based on these things I am trying to find a camera with higher fps, good zoom for soccer, ect. I mostly print 4x6 but may occasionally do 8x10. I had a Canon AE-1 program and a couple lenses for years that I loved so I am not afraid of SLR. I fully recognize that the best solution is a DSLR with multiple lenses but do not want to spend a fortune. I really do not want to put much more that $700-$800 in the camera, and would prefer less that $500.



Some of what I have looked at are:

Fujifilm FinePix S8100fd 13.5 frames per second (3Mpix), 6.8 frames per second (5Mpix) 27 - 486mm approx $280

Nikon Coolpix P80 4 frames per second, 6 frames per second, 13 frames per second for 30 frames (3Mpix) 27 - 486mm Approx $400

Canon EOS Rebel XSi with 18-55mm IS lens 3.5 frames per second $650 plus lenses

Canon EOS 40D with 28-135mm IS lens 6.5 frames per second $1100 plus lenses



Some questions I have are:

What do I really need for fps? Would 3.5 be enough or do I need more?

Should I be concerned if the Mpix drops to 3 or 5 at the high speeds?

If I have the Point and shoot with a big zoom will I notice image degrading at 4x6 or 8x10?

What do I need to look at for focus speed? I assume the camera will do the focus during action shots?

When shooting multiple shoots will the view finder go black at each shot or will I still see the action?

If I go with DSLR what lenses will I need?
What else should I be considering?
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Old Feb 20, 2009, 6:55 PM   #2
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Since the performance doesn't last very long, getting a high frame rate is a good idea. Both the Canon dSLRs are very good at sports. They both have autofocus systemsthat work well for sports/action/wildlife.The 40D is better, of course, but the XSi is better than any other dSLR priced anywhere near it.

Yes, with a dSLR, the optical viewfinder will go black as the mirror flips up out of the way while the shutter opens, and will return after the shutter closes. But even while shooting continuoulsly, you can still see the subject well enough to frame a moving subject.

What lens you'll need depends on where you'll be when you're shooting. Do you have some examples of shots you've already gotten? They would contain the focal length the camera used while taking the shot, and that would be helpful to determine what lens you'll need for a dSLR.
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Old Feb 20, 2009, 7:04 PM   #3
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Well, in general FPS isn't very important for high jump. That is an event where timing is more important. The problem with your current camera is likely the 'shutter lag' or the time it takes from shutter press to taking your first photo. With a digicam you want to pre-focus on the cross bar and hold the focus lock and time the shutter release for the peak moment over the bar. I've never used a digicam for sports so I can't say which have the least shutter lag when pre-focused. I'm guessing most of the superzooms today will do fairly well at that (as long as you're pre-focused and holding the half press of the shutter to keep focus lock). You want to capture the jumper just coming over the bar:



Now, soccer is completely different. FPS are a definite bonus there. But also focus tracking. You can't really pre-focus in a sport like soccer you want to be able to focus and track a subject. So if you're going to buy a superzoom (if it's full field soccer you'll want more than 400mm equiv focal length preferably over 500) rather than a DSLR you'll want to be sure it has AI-Servo (continuous focus) capability. I can't speak to the latest models on the market but as of a year or so ago there still wasn't a non DSLR with very good focus tracking capability. So it made it difficult to get quality soccer shots. But a lot depends on how much quality you want. I''m sure they're more than capable of a few decent snapshots. The 8100fd was one of the better ones on the market but it still did poorly with a subject moving toward/away from you according to the posted reports I read.

Here's the thing though - a DSLR absolutely will be capable of better shots - mostly because of the focus tracking capability. If you go DSLR I'd stick with Canon or Nikon. Pentax and Oly don't fare too well in the sports department compared to Canon or Nikon. Sony isn't great at the entry levels - you have to jump to the A700 to get a quality sports camera. And it competes very well, but the lower models do not. The XSi is probably the entry level camera I'd recommend. The Nikon D60 isn't very good for sports - you have to jump to the D90 to get a camera with quality AF.

But, here's the problem - the kit lens for any DSLR isn't going to do you much good for soccer - OK for high jump if you're right there within a few feet. For the soccer, you'd have to invest in an additional lens - the cheapest budget zoom is the Tamron 70-300. It's a budget zoom so slow to focus compared to a quality lens (still better than a digicam though). The next step up the food chain is the $560 Canon 70-300 IS USM. That's about as good a consumer lens as you can get - much faster to focus than the Tamron and a bit sharper. But if it's full field you better be right on the field - if you have to be behind a fence, 300mm lenses will be way too short - you'd want something like the $1000 sigma 50-500 if youre outside the fence. I will tell you this - sports shooting is very demanding on equipment. High jump is probably one of the least demanding but soccer is difficult. A dslr alone is not a magic solution. You need the right lenses for the job. For instance the lenses above will only be good for games in good light - dusk or under the lights they'll be no good. So you have to decide if you're willing to spend the money to get appropriate lenses. If not, you'll likely be disappointed with the results. But, with the right lenses the results can be quite good:



In a DSLR the shutter happens so quickly you won't really notice it going black.
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Old Feb 21, 2009, 1:14 AM   #4
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Thanks TCav & JohnG for your input.



I attached a jump shot that I have taken. The quality is pretty pour when I compare them to the shots that John attached. Reminds me what I miss about my film SLR. I always love the clear picture of the person with the background out of focus using a long lens. For the high jump I think I will be able to get pretty close to the action but may still like the longer lens for the shorter focal range. The distance in soccer is definitely the challenge. When my daughter moved to the full size field the chance to get a decent shot is almost gone. For most games I still have the freedom to move around the field



I just want to make sure I am clear on your responses. Choosing a high frame rate is the right idea.



Clearly the Canon 40D would do the job best. I assume I could get the full sequence from the take off to the pad. The down side of the 40D is going to be the added cost plus an increase in size and weight. I do a lot of hiking and don't want to haul a big camera bag around.



With the Rebel XSi would I be able to get a decent sequence or would it be hard to catch the action going over the high jump bar? Would I still need to time a single shot or is 3.5 frames going to catch enough action?



Since my daughter will graduate in about three year I don't know if the big dollar telephoto is a great investment for a recreational photographer. So I think the 70 – 300 would be a good choice. Do the 2X doublers work or are they a waste of money?



What you recommend something like a 28 – 135 on the shorter range?

Also I see some of the lens say they have image stabilization, isn't that built into the camera?
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Old Feb 21, 2009, 7:21 AM   #5
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schent1 wrote:
Quote:
With the Rebel XSi would I be able to get a decent sequence or would it be hard to catch the action going over the high jump bar? Would I still need to time a single shot or is 3.5 frames going to catch enough action?
Quote:
Do the 2X doublers work or are they a waste of money?
Quote:
What you recommend something like a 28 – 135 on the shorter range?
Quote:
Also I see some of the lens say they have image stabilization, isn't that built into the camera?
The problem with trying to capture the whole sequence is it messes up the key shot - her going over the bar. I wouldn't recommend that approach with the XSi.

A 2x TC will not work on a lens like the 70-300. Even a 1.4x TC will not work. The lens won't AF with either and the image quality will be too poor. The TCs were designed for the more expensive lenses.

The 28-135 is a very nice lens - it was my walk-around for years when I shot with a 20d. The problem is - you need to remember the sensor of the DSLRs you're considering is smaller than 35mm film. That means the cameras have a 'crop factor' - 1.6 for the cameras you're considering. That means 28mm will have a field of view of a 45mm lens. That's not very wide. For my needs at the time that was OK for walk-around but I also had a 17-40 for when I wanted wide angle.

Image stabilization is lens-based in the Canon system. ANd that isn't going to change any time soon. They claim it's better than in-body. But in reality they have a lot of money and R&D invested in it and it's a profit maker so they're not going to reverse course and put it in a camera body any time soon. Nikon is the same way. Oly, Pentax and Sony have it in the camera body.
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Old Feb 21, 2009, 8:05 AM   #6
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The shot you posted was at a focal length of 10.7 on a Sony W7, which is equivalent to a 51.5mm lens on a 35mm film SLR, which would be the equivalent of a 32mm lens on a Canon dSLR with an APS-C image sensor. You may also notice that JohnG's shot is framed tighter than the shot you posted, so if that's the kind of shot you want,you could use something longer.

For the shallow depth of field you spoke of("I always love the clear picture of the person with the background out of focus using a long lens"), you would need a lens with a large aperture. The W7 has a smaller image sensor, and at the f/6.3 your shot was taken,the depth of field was quitedeep. A dSLR will do a much betterjob of limiting the depth of field for you.

I think the higher frame rate is a good idea in order to get a meaningful sequence of shots, any of which might be interesting. But I beleive JohnG said that the frame rate isn't as important as the timing of that single shot going over the bar. (JohnG, please correct me if I've misstated your position.) Either way, the 40D may be overkill for the High Jump, but would be nice for Soccer. But since size and weight are a major consideration ("I do a lot of hiking and don't want to haul a big camera bag around"), perhaps the XSi would be a good compromise.

There are some good lenses, from Canon and from third parties (Sigma, Tamron, Tokina) that will handle the Soccer shooting for you.If you can shoot from the sidelines, a 70-300 would probably work, but if you shoot from the stands you'll need something longer.But to do the High Jump shots, you may want something shorter and with a larger aperture. Maybethe Canon50mm f/1.8 would be a good choice. The 28-135 is a nice lens, but it doesn't have the large aperture that will let you get a shallow depth of field. And while 2X teleconverters can be useful in emergencies, even the highest quality teleconverters have a negative impact on image quality.

While some manufacturers use sensor shift image stabilization in the camera body, Canon (and Nikon, btw) use optical image stabilization in the lens, so they can be used to stabilize the image on their film cameras as well. Image stabilization reduces, if not eliminates, motion blur due to camera shake. For sports shooting, you'll be using fast shutter speeds, so stabilization isn't really necessary. But the stabilization in Canon's kit lens is nice, and will be more handy for other types of photography than for shooting sports.
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Old Feb 21, 2009, 9:41 PM   #7
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TCav & JohnG, you input has been extremely helpful.



I think this is my last question for now. Is the frame rate on the Canon 40D & XSi variable or set? In other words can you set the frame rate on the 40D to say 2 frames per second or will it always be set to 6.4. Or set the XSi to 2 Frames per second?
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