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Old Aug 31, 2009, 10:19 AM   #11
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Ok so here goes......
I will be taking photos of life events, birthday parties indoor and outdoor, holiday celebrations (inside and outside), zoo trips, sporting events in gyms, musicals and plays (inside), music concerts (inside), graduations, etc. I want to be able to sit in the audience, bleachers or seats, and take a picture. I am ok with moving to get a better shot but it is sometimes difficult to get to the floor or front. Because most of the photos are candid, action shots I really want to be able to shoot fast. I do understand that I am asking a lot from a point and shoot but do not feel that I have enough knowledge to move up to a dslr at this time. I hope that makes my needs/wants clearer and can help.
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Old Aug 31, 2009, 10:33 AM   #12
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You're going to get blurry photos with a point and shoot model trying to take photos of indoor sports in a typical school gym (assuming you're talking about high school or below level sports).

Depending on how much subject movement you have, you may get blurry photos with some other types of indoor events, too (musicals, plays, etc.).

Indoor photos without a flash (especially of moving subjects) is *very* demanding on a camera (and the photographer).

IOW, you really need to move into a dSLR if you don't want a lot of blurry images, especially for the indoor sports. But, you'll also need very bright lenses (not the kit lenses you see bundled with dSLR models, as they're just not bright enough for that purpose).

Do you have a budget in mind?
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Old Aug 31, 2009, 10:45 AM   #13
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Well originally I want a canon rebel with the 10mp for about 599.00. Then I went to a store and the salesperson suggested the next one up at 749.00. By the time she was done, the total would be about 1200.00. I really want to stay around 600.00 but I know that that is not going to get me what I need and a dslr scares me a little. I don't know very much about settings and such.
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Old Aug 31, 2009, 10:54 AM   #14
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You really need to be using a lens with f/2 or brighter apertures (represented by smaller f/stop numbers) if you're shooting at ISO 1600 in a typical indoor gym (and ISO 1600 is the highest available ISO speed with the Canon XS and XSi). That rules out zooms. The most commonly used lens for most indoor sports like basketball with a camera limited to ISO 1600 in the Canon lineup is an 85mm f/1.8 USM (which sells for around $400 or so now). That means shooting from the sidelines and using your feet for zoom. That also limits the number of photos you can expect to take (you can't cover the entire floor with a fixed focal length lens like that). You could get some keepers with a less expensive 50mm f/1.8 if you're right under the basket and limit yourself to photos close by. It's a less expensive lens solution (around $100).

If you want to move into a zoom, you'll need one with f/2.8 available throughout it's focal range to get shutter speeds fast enough for most indoor sports at ISO 3200. That rules out many entry level dSLR models. In the Canon lineup, that means moving up to the T1i to get usable images at a higher ISO speed (ISO 3200+). In a budget zoom, the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 USM is a popular choice. It's around $800 right now.

In other words, it's not easy (or cheap) to shoot indoor sports unless you want a lot of blurry photos.

Now, if you limit yourself to photos when players are motionless, you may get some keepers with a lesser system.

For plays, concerts, etc, you may be able to get by with something other than an f/2.8 zoom (for example, one that can maintain f/4 throughout the focal range). But, your best bet is something like a 70-200mm f/2.8 (around $800 for a Sigma), for a higher percentage of keepers if the participants are moving much.


I don't want to be a "spoil sport", but I'm trying to set your expectations. Shooting indoor sports is *very* demanding on the equipment (and the photographers skill). IOW, if you want to capture action, your budget is not going to be sufficient for that purpose unless you stick with something like a 50mm f/1.8 AF lens shooting from close by (like under the basket for a sport like basketball, not the stands), which is one way to go if you have access to the floor.
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Old Aug 31, 2009, 11:14 AM   #15
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I doubt you'll be able to find a brand new FZ28. But, I would certainly do a lot of research on the FZ35 as it may be the best of all models listed here.
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Old Aug 31, 2009, 11:16 AM   #16
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Well Jim, hmmmm.
Thank you so much for responding. I appreciate your time and the information. I guess you proved one thing to me - I can't get a dslr b/c I couldn't follow all of that . So obviously my sports motion pictures are out. What about a upper end point and shoot to just capture my other events I listed previously. What type of camera would be best for that.
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Old Aug 31, 2009, 11:21 AM   #17
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Thanks, JimC, for merging things together here-

Some confusion was created, at leat in my mind due to a slip up in camera designations: Canon xs actually refers to the Canon SX-1, not the Canon XS, which is a DSLR camera. It is the long zooms: the Canon SX-10/20, the Kodak Z-980, the Nikon P-90, the Pentax X-70 and the Olympus SP-590 (the SP590 is the latest of the SP series) that are under discussion in this thread.

Now for clarity, lets pull together all of the proposed types of shooting as well.

(1) Sport Stadium shooting from the bleachers or seating area with the maximum amount of zoom and the least amount of shutter lag.

(2) Indoor Music Concerts

(3) Cheerleading

(4) Basketball Games

(5) Indoor Dance Recitals

(6) Football Games

(7) Horse Shows

(8) Garden Photos

(9) Dog or Pet Photos

(10) Christmas Gift Unwrapping

(11) Family Portraits

(12) Classroom or Class Photography

So there are an even dozen proposed photo situations, many with varying lighting conditions. Next we need to understand this particular class of cameras under discussion. All are super zoom cameras with a maximum optical zoom of between 20X to 26X optical zoom. The Olympus SP-590 has the greatest amount of optical zoom at 26X. Only two of the cameras listed have hot shoes that would accept an external flash to use in poor lighting conditions: the Canon SX-10 and the Kodak Z-980 camera. All of these cameras, without exception, use very small CCD type imagers. A small imager makes shooting under low light level conditions such as Indoor Music Concerts, Indoor Dance Recitals, Basketball Games, and Horse Shows, and getting good photos, almost impossible because these cameras cannot collect sufficient light during the short time the shutter is open to stop any action, or collect enough light to properly record the photo.

Naturally, the logical question is why can't these camera take that kind of photo? Well, every one of these cameras begin at an F stop of F 2.8 when the camera is in the full wide angle position and not zoomed at all. But,because as you zoom the lens outward (to a greater magnification level) the effective aperture available on the camera becomes smaller and smaller, this forces the camera to even lower and longer shutter speeds to attempt to record the photo.

The other consideration is why not just increase the ISO setting so these cameras will not need as much light to record the photo? With the small CCD type imagers that these cameras use, as the ISO speed is numerically increased, the electronic noise within the photo is also greatly increased.That leaves the photo looking very speckled with multiple very small dots of various colors, that is very unattractive.

Indoor Music Concerts, Indoor Dance Recitals, Basketball Games, Cheer leaders, and Horse Shows really require a DSLR camera to get really good action photos. Once again the question is why? Well, it is all about imager size and the lens used to take the photo. Let's deal with imager size first. DSLR cameras use a CMOS imager. That CMOS imager is an entirely different kind of imager and it is, on average, 15 to 20 times larger than any CCD imager. A much larger imager can easily and more quickly collect the needed light ro record a good looking photo. Now think about the rapid action you might find in basketball games, cheerleading, dance recitals, night football games, and horse shows, please.

To stop action, we must use numerically greater or fast shutter speeds to stop or freeze that action. If we do not have a shutter speed that will freeze the physical action taking place, we get a distracting blur in the photo. So the next question is how to we get faster shutter speeds? When we can increase the light in the photo environment, we can increase the shutter speed in the photo. The easiest way to increase the light in the photo to get a faster shutter speed is to use a "brighter" or "faster" lens. We are talking about numerically reducing the F stop here.

Not only do Indoor Music Concerts, Indoor Dance Recitals, Basketball Games, Horse Shows,and Football Game Photos taken from the stands need a DSLR camera, but those DSLR cameras have to be equipped with a lens with the largest possible aperture, like F 1.4, F 1.8, or F 2.0 to stop the action. Those F-stop settings are just not available on a super zoom cameras such as we are discussing here. And it is for that reason that super zoom cameras will just not properly and realistically handle photo challenges such as: Indoor Music Concerts, Indoor Dance Recitals, Basketball Games, Horse Shows and Football Photos, especially at night, taken from the stands.

If I have gotten too technical to explain this, I do apologize. In the balance of the photo situations described, in most cases, excellent flash range is required. Most super zoom camera have a limited effective flash range when using the camera's built-in flash unit of 10 to 16 feet at the most. Therefore, you need more light, which you can only obtain by adding an External Flash Unit mounted on the super zoom camera's hot shoe. Only two of these cameras are so equipped, the Kodak Z-980 and the Canon SX-10. Those External Flash Units also represent an additional cost of between $110.00 to $240.00.

So, to get really excellent photos in the 12 photo situations described, it is going to require not a bridge or super zoom camera, but a more able camera: a DSLR camera, equipped with the proper lens. Yes, that will represent a larger investment and more photo craft skills to get the photos desired.

I will, of course, be happy to answer any and all questions, but it would not be right for me to even say "give it a try" or something like that. The photo situations are as demanding as they get in photography and the correct equipment has to be used to get photos that you will be proud of when showing them to family, friends, or placing them in a memory album.

Have a great day.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Aug 31, 2009, 11:34 AM   #18
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Quote:
Well Jim, hmmmm.
Thank you so much for responding. I appreciate your time and the information. I guess you proved one thing to me - I can't get a dslr b/c I couldn't follow all of that . So obviously my sports motion pictures are out. What about a upper end point and shoot to just capture my other events I listed previously. What type of camera would be best for that.
Again, I just want to set your expectations. Hardly a week goes by that someone doesn't buy a new camera and asks why they're getting blurry photos trying to capture action in low light (and indoors in typical gym lighting, or outdoors in what appears to be a well lit stadium at night is very low light)..

The same thing applies to new dSLR owners, too. For example, there is a thread going right now in our Nikon dSLR forum started by someone that just purchased a Nikon D5000 two lens kit (with the 18-55mm and 55-200mm VR lenses) wondering why they got blurrier and blurrier photos trying to shoot football in a stadium at night. The camera is very capable. But, the kit lenses are not (for low light use capturing moving subjects without a flash).

The human eye adjusts well to lower light conditions (with the pupils opening up to let in more light). But, a camera is limited in a number of ways, including the available ISO speed settings you can use without unacceptable noise (or loss of detail from noise reduction), with higher ISO speeds allowing faster shutter speeds; as well as the brightness of the lens used (with smaller available f/stop numbers representing a brighter lens that's able to let in more light).

The aperture in a lens works much in the same way as the pupils in your eyes (opening up wider to let in more light when needed, with wider available apertures represented by smaller f/stop numbers -- also requiring a larger and heavier lens for a given focal length).

In order to properly expose an image (so that it's not too dark) in those types of conditions, the camera must keep the shutter open long enough (and if the shutter speed is not fast enough, you'll see blur from subject movement, hence the need for a brighter lens, with a camera that has higher available ISO speeds, which is how sensitive the sensor is to light).

There is no easy way around it. You need a camera with higher usable ISO speeds *and* a brighter lens (with wider available apertures, represented by smaller f/stop numbers) in order to allow shutter speeds fast enough to freeze movement in typical indoor gym lighting. The camera's focus speed also enters the equation (you need a camera able to focus fast enough to track moving subjects if you don't want out of focus images, even if you're using a system with high enough usable ISO speeds and a bright enough lens. Again, low light sports is *very* demanding on your equipment (and skill level using it).

I'll let other members chime in with suggestions on non-DSLR models that can handle other conditions you want to shoot in, as I don't track them as closely as I do dSLR offerings from major manufacturers.
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Old Aug 31, 2009, 11:53 AM   #19
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Thanks Jim! I appreciate it. I know I need a dslr camera with special lenses but I don't think that is an option for me right now, with cost and my obvious lack of experience.
Thanks again!
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Old Aug 31, 2009, 12:02 PM   #20
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TCN-

Take advantage of some of the resources right in your community. On September 27th I will start two digital camera classes for our local Community College that feature hands-on shooting as well as classroom work. I am sure you probably have a Community College in your area. Check out what classes they are offering.

That is a fun and very efficient method to upgrade your photo skills.

Have a great day.

Sarah Joyce
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