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Old Jul 29, 2009, 12:16 PM   #1
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Default best compact for concert shots?

I attend a lot of gigs and like to take stills of the performers. Ideally one needs a DSLR or prosumer model for this but bulk and security/search issues often make this a problem. Anyone have advice on the best *compact* for this purpose- so far I've been ok with a Fuji Finepix F30, because of its good low light performance and manual speed setting to allow sharp pics of moving perfomers under lights.
This is of course a few years old now and I wondered if anyone could recommend a better unobtrusive compact camera which combines great low light sensitivity, a decent optical zoom and manual shutter speed control...
any thoughts appreciated!
thanks
Bill
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Old Jul 29, 2009, 12:37 PM   #2
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Default best compact for concert shots (ps!)

answerig my own question it seems the F200EXR is likely to be the answer... or step up to the new Olympus EP1 which is rather a different animal...

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Old Jul 29, 2009, 3:07 PM   #3
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... or step up to the new Olympus EP1 which is rather a different animal...
My hesitation there MIGHT be the AF. DP Review just posted a review of the camera and overall gave it a glowing review. One of the big warts, IMO, were their comments about poor AF in general, and low light in specific. So, that may be an expensive alternative that doesn't quite meet your specific needs.
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Old Jul 29, 2009, 3:40 PM   #4
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Once you move to the compact and have to use the back LCD to frame and shoot, you'll be sticking out like a sore thumb for security to see and come kick you out, unless you happen to be in what seems like one out of 100 concerts where picture taking is actually allowed these days!

You almost need to go to a camera with an eyelevel electronic finder, like the Panasonic FZ28 or the just introduced FZ35/38 replacement where you can shoot and review without using the back LCD that everyone else can see.
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Old Jul 29, 2009, 4:33 PM   #5
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answerig my own question it seems the F200EXR is likely to be the answer... or step up to the new Olympus EP1 which is rather a different animal...
It's got a larger sensor compared to most non-dSLR camera models, and Fuji has a better reputation compared to most for good image quality for a given sensor size. But, I wouldn't jump to any conclusions before the reviewers have a chance to see what it can do.

In any event, I wouldn't consider it to be as capable as a dSLR for concert type photos, as you'll usually want a very bright lens, as well as higher available ISO speeds for best results. My preference for those types of shots is a Minolta 100mm f/2 AF lens using a Sony A700, usually at ISO 2000+ to keep shutter speeds at a reasonable level, even with very good stage lighting. In lower stage lighting, I'll increase ISO speed to much higher levels.

f/2 is four times as bright as a typical zoom lens on a model like that Fuji at the same focal length (most are going to be at f/4 or smaller apertures by the time they're zoomed in much, and f/2 is four times as bright as f/4, allowing shutter speeds four times as fast for the same lighting and ISO speed). The larger sensors found in dSLR models usually have much better Dynamic Range as ISO speeds are increased, too. IOW, I wouldn't want to use a model like that Fuji for low light photos if I had better alternatives (i.e., a typical dSLR model with a brighter prime).
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Old Jul 30, 2009, 8:59 PM   #6
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Thanks much for your comments

John, I think you're right and having looked at the EP1 instore its substantially larger anyway;
Greg, take your point but I've been using my F30 without problems from the LCD- also in many situations compacts or "small personal" cameras are allowed but there's a "no professional or detachable lens cameras" ban - more a question of getting it in (pocketed) through security
Jim- yes, I'd love to get an A700 with 100mm in but this often just isnt practical!

Of what's available it seems my choices would be either stick withthe F30 or go for the F200EXR *unless* anyone thinks if I got the Lumix LMX3 (which I'd love to have, esp the wide angle, for other purposes) that the better lens, extra stops and definition etc would mean I could compensate for the short zoom by cropping afterwards... hmmm....
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Old Jul 31, 2009, 1:14 PM   #7
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On a tight budget, I'd grab an entry level dSLR with a 50mm f/1.8, set it to ISO 1600, try to get good seats for the framing needing, and shoot. ;-) Or perhaps get a zoom with f/2.8 available at all available focal lengths on a bit better budget. I sometimes use a Tamron SP 35-105mm f/2.8 Autofocus zoom lens with my Sony A700 when I want more versatility for framing (wider shots of the stage, plus being able to zoom in more on individuals). But, my Minolta 100mm f/2 AF lens yields sharper images if I give up the wider shots. ;-)
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