Go Back   Steve's Digicams Forums > Digicam Help > What Camera Should I Buy?

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old May 17, 2009, 2:17 PM   #1
Junior Member
 
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 4
Default Not superzoom but DSLR and lenses for dancing, castles, sports, and more?

I'd been considering the T1i, but had noticed the SX10 when looking for my next camera. However, based on what I've read here and elsewhere, it doesn't necessarily handle a lot of movement while taking pictures.

I enjoy taking pictures of things with a LOT of movement - in particular, ballroom dancing (indoors, hotel ballrooms, gymnasiums), figure skating (arenas), and other sports. I'm huge on photographing show jumping, which mostly takes place outdoors. Some days may be sunny, others cloudy, and the motion is very fast. As well, I'm big on scenic pictures while on holiday. This summer is England/Wales/Scotland, and will involve a lot of outdoor photography, including many castles.

Something fairly important, a lot of my shooting is WITHOUT flash.

I've had reasonable success with my Canon A720IS - a fair amount of great horse pictures (if it's sunny), and a few good ballroom and skating shots. Lots of great scenic pictures. I've also enjoyed shooting video with it, and the videos look decent on my television and online.

I've always planned to upgrade, but am unsure where to turn. Handling movement is very, very important for me. Would something like the T1i be a place to start? I'm frustrated that the XSi series doesn't do video. And for lenses, I'm clueless there. Are there any cheaper lenses that are good for movement? I don't always need a lot of zoom, is it possible for get something cheaper for when I don't need the zoom, and more expensive for when I do? I admit, I cringe at the idea of spending as much as or more on a lens as I do on the body.

Budget is flexible, but not into the multiple thousands range. I'm looking at starting now, and then possibly adding on later.

Thanks to anyone that actually reads all of this and has some recommendations!
jumpinbug is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Old May 17, 2009, 4:42 PM   #2
Super Moderator
 
Mark1616's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 7,452
Default

Firstly welcome to Steve's!!!

Before I get onto the rest you mention video, this is something that is very new to dSLRs with only 4 dSLRs having it (Nikon D90, Canon 5D mkII, Canon T1i and Nikon D5000) so it is still improving. One thing that currently does not work well on a dSLR for video is to AF while shooting so if this is needed then I would look at the Panasonic GH1. If the video feature is just a nice have then you will be fine with any of them.

Now back to the main part of your question. A dSLR is going to do a much better job than the SX1 for shooting in the low light environments, there is not a single P&S camera that can do nearly as well as dSLR in these cases. Having bright glass (wide aperture/small f number lenses) will really help as you need light to get a good focus, but the improved high ISO performance of a dSLR knocks the spots off the P&S cameras. I have a SX1 and would say that the noise at ISO 100 is about the same as my Canon 5D at ISO 800 or 1600. This gives the ability to get the good quality results in low light.

Before we talk specific lenses there are a few things to consider and get more info on. What sort of distances are you looking to shoot over when doing the ballroom shots as long as you are close as I would expect then you won't have to spend the earth. When you shoot is there a particular way you like the subjects framed, so in ballroom you want to get both dancers full length? For the skating this will probably need something a bit more expensive if you want to do a good job. The good news is the very high ISO of the T1i which means you might be able to get away with an f4 lens so something like the Canon 70-200mm f4, but we are not talking huge range so you would need to choose your time to shoot. Lastly the show jumping, here you will want a longer lens so something in the region of 300mm possibly longer to you have good coverage. Everything is a compromise in this game be it lens quality, zoom range, aperture etc etc. Basically gives us as much info as you can so we can point you in the right direction. I know you say that you don't fancy spending more than the body on lenses, but having good glass will make a huge difference. If you only use cheap lenses then you are wasting money with a high resolution dSLR.

I will stop here as will be good to get some feedback from you to better be able to point you in the right direction.

Last edited by Mark1616; May 17, 2009 at 4:45 PM.
Mark1616 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 17, 2009, 6:27 PM   #3
Senior Member
 
TCav's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Washington, DC, Metro Area, Maryland
Posts: 13,572
Default

Shooting indoors is the tough part of what you want to do, especially the dancing. You'll need faster shutter speeds and there isn't much light. Appropriate large aperture lenses will cost as much as, if not more than the camera.

And if you really want to shoot video with a dSLR your choices are limited as are your capabilities.
TCav is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 17, 2009, 7:32 PM   #4
Junior Member
 
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 4
Default

Thanks for the feedback so far!

I had wanted the video in a DSLR as I'm just so used to switching back and forth with it on my A720IS. I'm assuming that the 720 didn't have autofocus during video either, since it's relatively old in digital camera years.

I'm wondering though if it makes more sense to go with something without video such as the XSi, and keep using my 720 for video, as does the T1i really improve upon the XSi? I'm seeing other improvements, but do they realistically make a difference for an amateur like myself?

Regarding distance for ballroom, I'm often front row, a few feet away. Other times I may be shooting further across the ballroom. Because the dancers circulate to go by all the judges, I tend to shoot what is directly in front of me. I do both full body shots and closer shots of upper body and feet.

Again with the show jumping I tend to be opportunistic - I usually sit right up against the ring with the best angle I can find for shooting a particular jump or jumps. I use zoom at times, but not really a ton as I want to be shooting multiple jumps in quick succession, rather than trying to adjust. I have some enlargements from my 720 and love them - they're certainly not pro quality, but they're still lovely.

I'm not looking to go pro. I enjoy taking my own pictures to enlarge and display, and share with friends and family both via print and online. I may wind up teaching yearbook one year, and sometimes teach computers so do basic photography and editing.

To give an idea of prices where I'm at, before tax, I can get the T1i for $950 (body, lens), XSi body for $600, 18-55 kit for $730, or a few other kits that run from $900 to $1050.

Again, thanks! I'd used Steve's years ago when researching my first digital camera, but hadn't ever visited the forums. Great place!
jumpinbug is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 17, 2009, 8:15 PM   #5
Senior Member
 
TCav's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Washington, DC, Metro Area, Maryland
Posts: 13,572
Default

The big differences between the XSi and the T1i are that the T1i can capture video and has a 15MP image sensor v.s the XSi's 12MP sensor.

You're correct about the AF in your A720IS not refocusing while a video is recorded, but with the larger image sensor in a dSLR and the larger aperture lenses needed for what you want to do, errors in focusing will be more apparent when shot with a dSLR.
TCav is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 18, 2009, 4:54 AM   #6
Super Moderator
 
Mark1616's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 7,452
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by TCav View Post
The big differences between the XSi and the T1i are that the T1i can capture video and has a 15MP image sensor v.s the XSi's 12MP sensor.

You're correct about the AF in your A720IS not refocusing while a video is recorded, but with the larger image sensor in a dSLR and the larger aperture lenses needed for what you want to do, errors in focusing will be more apparent when shot with a dSLR.
A more major difference in this situation is the top end ISO performance of 12800 on the T1i, this is 3 stops higher than the XSi, so you can get the same exposure in much darker conditions or a faster exposure in the same conditions. Lets say that with the XSi you were shooting ballroom and were able to get a shutter speed of 1/50s at the ISO 1600, with the T1i you could get a shutter speed of 1/400s by using ISO 12800. Now the only unknown quantity is the noise levels at this high ISO but I would expect that it is not going to be great, then again nor is the noise on the XSi at ISO 1600 so if you halved both of them to get better noise you still have 3 stops extra to shoot with.

The A720 does have AF when shooting video however as TCAV said with a small lens then slight focus innacuracies will not be noticed, with the large sensor on a dSLR then you have to have accurate focus to get good results.

For lenses to suit the sort of shooting mentioned then I would look at some of the following lenses.

Canon 50mm f1.8 great in low light if you are shooting up to about 15ft
Canon 85mm f1.8 amazing lens and good for about 20ft with super fast focusing.
If light is not so low you could use one of the f2.8 lenses in the 16/17/18-50mm range as these will give you the ability to adjust framing. I'm not sure about the focus speeds on a lot of these lenses.
Staying at f2.8 but going a bit longer the Sigma 24-70 can do well, AF is not amazingly fast or too slow, I have one as a backup lens and I've had a friend use it on a XTi shooting in a gym for close work. The only thing with the 24-70 if you had it as your main walk around lens then the 24mm is not that wide on a crop body as it gives the same field of view as about 38mm on a 35mm camera.
Now going longer for the outdoor work it doesn't sound like you need to go too long and if light it good as a very entry level you could look at the Sigma or Tamron 70-300 lens, I personally think the Tamron is a little better, but neither is great. The best 70-300mm lens is the Canon USM IS 70-300, do not whatever you do get the Canon 75-300 IS.

You don't need to do all these things in one go and can add lenses easily at a later date to improve your shooting ability in different conditions.

There is a lot of information to take in and it is worth making the right choice without spending more than you need so I would say choose the most important things and how they can be covered within your budget.
Mark1616 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 18, 2009, 6:17 AM   #7
Senior Member
 
TCav's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Washington, DC, Metro Area, Maryland
Posts: 13,572
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark1616 View Post
The A720 does have AF when shooting video ...
From the Canon A720IS User Guide, page 80, under "Movie Shooting":

"The camera will automatically adjust the exposure and white balance to suit the shooting conditions during recording. ... The focus and optical zoom settings remain fixed for subsequent frames at the values selected for the first frame."
TCav is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 18, 2009, 6:20 AM   #8
Super Moderator
 
Mark1616's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 7,452
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by TCav View Post
From the Canon A720IS User Guide, page 80, under "Movie Shooting":

"The camera will automatically adjust the exposure and white balance to suit the shooting conditions during recording. ... The focus and optical zoom settings remain fixed for subsequent frames at the values selected for the first frame."
I was basing it on Steve's review which says "The A720's movie mode produced terrific results. There are several modes to choose from (Standard, Compact (160x120), Color Accent and Color swap), as well as resolutions of 640x480 or 320x240. The frame rate when using standard mode is 30fps. Overall, our movie samples were great. There was minimal amounts of compression noise, and the AF system did well at keeping up with fast moving subjects. The onboard mic captures sounds that are close to the camera very well but does not adjust when you are using the 6x zoom, so don't count on picking up sounds from far away." so if that is not the case I blame Steve LOL.
Mark1616 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 18, 2009, 10:58 AM   #9
Moderator
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 8,529
Default

Let me add something else to the discussion. You're going to have some different challenges with the ballroom dancing. The DSLR will absolutely allow you to get faster shutter speeds than your current camera. The CHALLENGE is - because of the larger sensor and the physically longer lenses with a DSLR, less of the image will be in focus. When you're shooting with the lenses Mark suggested it is extremely difficult to have two people in focus at the same time. This is why wedding photographers use FLASH. And why a professional photographer for ballroom will use flash or strobes and not use wide apertures. So, I just wanted you to be aware that you'll have this issue - it's a fact of physics.

I would also second the advice from Mark that the higher ISO capability of the T1i will be essential for what you want to shoot. ISO 1600 just won't be enough for gymnastics and often figure skating.

Realize for those sports though - you're going to have to invest in some expensive lenses. The 50mm 1.8 and 85mm 1.8 would give you the shutter speeds you need but NOT the reach. The 50mm lens is good for about 15 feet and the 85 is good for about 25 feet. So the 50mm is a very poor choice for either gymnastics or figure skating. The 85 can work for gymnastics PROVIDED you have floor access and can move around to be positioned by each aparatus. If you don't have that access, the 85mm is too short to shoot from stands or a gallery. Now you're talking about needing something like a 70-200 2.8 lens (least expensive option capable of sports work is the Sigma 70-200 2.8 at about $800). This is where you will need ISO 3200 and 6400 for gymnastics and figure skating.

So, to summarize - balroom dancing will continue to be an issue if you are not allowed flash because you won't have the DOF you need so you'll often get only one partner in focus.

Gymnastics and figure skating you'll need to spend a lot of money on a lens capable of the shutter speeds you'll need. DOF isn't a problem (assuming singles skating and not pairs) as there is only one athlete - although realize you won't always have the complete athlete in focus - extended arms and legs may be out of focus. For most sports photographers this is OK as long as the face is in focus. But coming from a digicam background this is a shock to many new DSLR users.
JohnG is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Jun 1, 2009, 10:45 PM   #10
Junior Member
 
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 4
Default

Thanks for the advice. I picked up the T1i and the 1.8 50mm lens. So far so good.

Now I just a lotto win for some more lenses.
jumpinbug is offline   Reply With Quote
 
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 1:06 AM.