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Old Sep 12, 2009, 7:28 AM   #1
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Default Looking for 2 cameras - ideas appreciated

1. Looking for a DSLR.
uses:
primary - taking shots of grandkids at sporting events (football, baseball, basketball, etc.) So, yes there will be action shots under varying conditions.

secondary - mostly fair weather shots of landscapes.

I'm currently leaning toward the Olympus E-620. It has good reviews, light weight, decent kit lenses, and is reasonably priced. Long ago I had Oly 35mm cameras (OM2 and OM10) and lots of lenses and was happy with the results. Never owned a DSLR.

2. a Point and shoot.

uses:
primary - pics in Nightclubs and Dance halls. My wife and I are into Cajun dancing. I like to take pics while on the dance floor.

secondary - Snapshots on the trail while hiking and geocaching.

I currently have a Panasonic TZ5 and it does pretty well, just wondered if there is anything that might be better suited.


I'm hoping that folks with real world experience can give me some info to ponder.
Thanks in advance.
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Old Sep 12, 2009, 7:58 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Old Dog View Post
1. Looking for a DSLR.
uses:
primary - taking shots of grandkids at sporting events (football, baseball, basketball, etc.) So, yes there will be action shots under varying conditions.
For sports, you need a camera with a fast AF system. That, infortunately, rules out the Olympus you're considering. For indoor sports, only Canon and Nikon have large aperture, medium telephoto lenses necessary for getting fast shutter speeds in poorly lit HS gymnasiums.
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Old Sep 12, 2009, 8:06 AM   #3
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Another thing to consider is that buying cameras from two different manufacturers means you'll get two different software CDs. While loading the manufacturers' software is usually optional, if you want to use it, it might be better and easier if you only had to install and learn one application instead of two.
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Old Sep 12, 2009, 8:20 AM   #4
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Take a look at the Panasonic Lumix FZ 35 Point and Shoot. Only had mine a week but find it to be an amazing camera.
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Old Sep 12, 2009, 9:55 AM   #5
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Quote:
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... For indoor sports, only Canon and Nikon have large aperture, medium telephoto lenses necessary for getting fast shutter speeds in poorly lit HS gymnasiums.
A noteable exception is Sony's Zeiss 85mm f/1.4. It is an extraordinary lens, but it comes at an extraordinary price. ($1,370) Both Canon and Nikon have 85mm f/1.8 lenses that cost almost $1,000 less.
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Old Sep 12, 2009, 11:43 AM   #6
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Old Dog,

Before you purchase a DSLR kit, you should understand some things regarding sports photography. That way you can make an informed decision.

Sports photography is tougher than it looks. Lots of people who don't shoot sports have opinions on what gear to use or how to do it. Most of them are wrong. There are 4 components to shooting sports and all 4 are important:

1. Technique. It isn't rocket science, but sports shooting does require good technique and a good amount of knowledge and practice. It is NOT a point-and-shoot type of photography. You're not going to put a camera in Sports Mode and just fire away and get a lot of good shots. It also requires technique in post processing. Especially while you're learning - you'll need to do a lot of corrections to your images to get the most out of them.

2. Right camera body. Any DSLR is going to be a huge improvement over a point-and-shoot. And for general all purpose photography you'd be hard pressed to recognize the difference in photos between a shot taken among any of the current DSLRs on the market and comparable lenses. But not so with sports photography. TCAV elluded to one of the critical success factors - Autofocus capability. With sports you need quick, accurate focus. BUT, one thing that is critical that you won't see in professional reviews is the camera's ability to track moving subjects. A good camera body not only continuously focuses, but "guesses" where your subject will be so it can "cheat" a little bit. This becomes more difficult in low light. In this area there is a very big difference among DSLR bodies. Even within a given camera family. There is a tremendous difference between the focus ability of a Nikon D3 and a Nikon D60. The second important attribute of the camera body is High ISO performance. Even during daytime sports I will find myself shooting at ISO 800. For indoor sports and night sports under lights, ISO 3200-6400 is the norm.

3. Lens. You also have to have an appropriate lens for a given sport. Take basketball. To shoot basketball for HS and below you are either using a camera at ISO 3200-6400 and a lens of f2.8 or shooting at ISO 1600 and using a f1.8-f2.0 type lens (like the 85mm 1.8s TCAV mentioned). For baseball, reach is more important. If it's little league you need 200-300mm lens IF you're right on the field. By HS level you need 300-400 if you're on the field, 500mm if you're behind the fence. For soccer, at least 300mm, preferably 400mm for full field - again if you're right on the field (always add 100mm more if you're behind a fence). Now, most consumer lenses are f5.6. That's fine if it's bright daylight. In heavy overcast conditions you may not be able to get fast enough shutter speeds and by dusk you won't be getting many photos at all. Under lights, such a lens is useless. Once you're under lights you need a f2.8 lens (and still ISO 3200-6400). So, imagine if you wanted to shoot HS baseball under lights? Now you're looking at a 300-400mm 2.8 ($4,000-7,000). That gets pretty expensive.

4. Access. This is an often overlooked part of it. No matter how much you spend, you're not getting good HS football photos under lights from the stands. Too far away, poor angle (you don't want to shoot down on your subjects). For little league and youth football, you can get pretty close to field of play so good shots are easier. The further kids move up, the more restrictive the fields get. Which means the tougher it is to get good photos. Good football or soccer photos from outside the fence are very difficult. You can get some but so much of the action is too far away to get many.

Everything is a compromise though. What equipment you need depends on the sports you shoot, level of play (i.e. U4 soccer is a small field, teeball is a small diamond - those are very different than shooting HS level sports). It also depends on what level of quality you want. The more quality you want the more you have to spend.

So, you have to provide a little more info on the level of play your kids are in. Then we can advise on lenses. One thing I can assure you - you're not going to shoot indoor basketball with ANY dslr and kit lens. For basketball, volleyball or indoor swimming, gymnastics you're going to need a more specialized lens.

I'll get to camera systems in my next post.
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Old Sep 12, 2009, 11:54 AM   #7
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OK - Camera Systems.

As I mentioned any DSLR will do a better job than a point and shoot. But certain bodies and systems do a better job than others. When it comes to sports shooting, Canon & Nikon are the kings of the hill. 99.9% of pro sports shooters use one or both of those systems. They have the widest variety of sports capable lenses, best AF systems and some of the best high ISO performance. Right now, Nikon is king of the hill at the pro and semi pro level. Canon is right behind. Canon has just announced a new semi-pro body (7d) that is aimed to compete with Nikon's D700 and D300 as semi-pro sports bodies. Here are the bodies I would recommend, by system, for shooting sports:

Nikon: D3, D700, D300, D90
Canon 1dmkIII, 50d, 40d(if you can get one),T1I (new 7d when it comes out - positioned between 1d and 50d)

Sony: A700 only (it's the only body in Sony's camp I've seen any decent sports photos from)

Pentax: K-7

Oly: maybe E-3 but I really wouldn't recommend - I've never seen indoor sports photos from it so I can't recommend it can do the job.

Now, again you have to decide how important the sports shooting is. In good light the Oly DSLR you are considering will do a pretty good job. Canon & Nikon will do a better job. And there's absolutely no comparison when you get indoors.

Of the lot, the T1i is the least expensive sports camera option I would recommend. Nikon's entry level DSLRs are stripped down a bit in the AF department. You have to move up to a D90 in Nikon to get a good sports camera. The other thing to recommend Canon & Nikon is the availability of sports capable lenses. They're going to have more than Pentax, Sony or Oly.

Now, remember, I'm not saying Pentax, Sony or Oly are going to do a very poor job at sports. Not at all. It's just the cameras from Nikon (D90 and above) or Canon (T1I, 50D) and their lenses are going to do a noticably better job - especially when you talk about low light sports. But only if you keep in mind all 4 aspects I mentioned in my last post. Remember, the body & lens are only half the equation.
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Old Sep 12, 2009, 12:13 PM   #8
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Thanks to all for the excellent information. This is exactly the kind of input I am looking for. As I get more data and do some serious research, and check my wallet, this information will help me make a final decision.

Any more thoughts on the subject welcomed and appreciated.
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Old Sep 12, 2009, 5:15 PM   #9
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Take a look at the Sports & Action Photos forum. When you see photos you'd like to be able to take, see what equipment was used to take them.
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