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Old Feb 26, 2009, 12:38 AM   #1
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I need a camera to take ballroom dance photos. The dances are usually in hotel ballrooms and the dancers are moving quickly. My photos are either blurred or grainy. My old Olympus C-3040 took much better shots than my current Canon SD550 but I don't know why. What should I look for to get a camera that can catch the action? Any suggestions on cameras, specs, or settings to help would be appreciated.

Thanks,

Bonnie
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Old Feb 26, 2009, 2:49 AM   #2
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Bonnie-

I too am a ballroom dancer. You need a better camera. I am using a Panasonic FZ-28 with good results. Can you use a flash? If not here is what my ISO 800 result look like.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Feb 26, 2009, 1:10 PM   #3
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I have been comparing the specs on the Olympus C-2040 to other cameras and the one thing that stands out is the aperature range of F1.8 - F10.0. Is this the reason the old camera took better shots? I couldn't find any other point and shoot that had this range.

Thanks again - all help is appreciated.

Bonnie








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Old Feb 27, 2009, 10:43 AM   #4
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Bonnie - yes, the reason is because of that first number - 1.8. I don't believe any manufacturers currently make digicams with lenses that bright.

The question still remains - are you allowed to use flash or not?
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Old Feb 27, 2009, 11:51 AM   #5
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Yes, I am allowed to use a flash. The ballroom lights are on so the flash does not affect the dancers. It sounds like I need to go to a DSLR to get that lens. I'm surprised that Olympus once made a camera with this lens and now the latest cameras don't have it.

Thanks for the help.

Bonnie


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Old Feb 27, 2009, 12:16 PM   #6
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catlap wrote:
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Yes, I am allowed to use a flash. The ballroom lights are on so the flash does not affect the dancers. It sounds like I need to go to a DSLR to get that lens. I'm surprised that Olympus once made a camera with this lens and now the latest cameras don't have it.

Thanks for the help.

Bonnie

Actually Bonnie, the point about flash is - if used correctly, you don't NEED a fast lens. Here's a photo from my friend's dance studio taken at f8 and 1/80. The flash freezes the motion not the shutter speed (in the case of a 1.8 lens, that wide aperture allows for faster shutter speeds):



Now, your shots will be different of course. But you will get MUCH better results with PROPER flash use than you will ever get with wide aperture lenses. Now, there are different levels of quality. The above photo was taken using 2 flashes. Even better quality would have resulted from using strobe lights with softboxes or umbrellas. You're not going to be doing strobe work. And, I'm going to assume you don't even want to get into multi-flash use. Correct me if I'm wrong there. SO, assuming you are only going to use a single flash, here are the options:
  • digicam or dslr with built in flash = poor results. some will do better than others but none will do a good job - the flash is too tiny and not diffused enough.[/*]
  • digicam with external flash bounced off ceiling - this will give you the most natural look and provide the least distraction to everyone. Success is related to the power of the flash and height / construct of the ceiling (by construct I mean how reflective of light the ceiling is - a white celling obviously much better than black metal - ballrooms will be somewhere in between). With high ceilings of ballrooms it may be difficult to get good enough flash output for the flashes typically mounted on digicams.[/*]
  • DSLR with external bounced flash - same as above except now you have the ability to use higher ISO (which means the flash doesn't need as much power) and the ability to use larger, more powerful flashes. Realize though there may be some setups where bounce still isn't possible.[/*]
  • digicam with external flash un-bounced. The good news is you don't have to worry about the ceiling - this will work to some degree even outdoors. The bad news is, you'll now have red-eye issues. Also, with the lower ISO you'll have to use, there will be a stark contrast between your subjects and the background (i.e. they'll be exposed and the background wil be dark). Also, shoot in portrait orientation and your light source is to the side of your camera rather than above.[/*]
  • DSLR with external flash un-bounced. Same red-eye issue and same flash orientation issuebut you get to use higher ISO which means less stark contrast between your subject and the background.[/*]
  • DSLR with flash bracket - greatly reduces red-eye and keeps flash on top of camera. But this is a much bulkier setup and adds cost - not only for the bracket but also the cord or wireless transmitter necessary to operate the flash when it's not on the hotshoe. And, when the ceiling supports it you can still bounce the flash to get that benefit.
[/*]
NOTE: the downside of the external flash solutions is not only more money but also more bulk. You now no longer have something that fits in a small hand-bag or pocket.

So, given the ability to use flash, there are a lot of options available. Which solution you go with depends on what level of quality you want, what your budget is and how comfortable you are with added bulk of using an external flash.

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