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Old Dec 2, 2009, 4:35 AM   #1
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Default Need a camera for pics of kids/pets/vacation

I'm looking for a camera to take pictures of the kids with. I haven't had a decent camera in years and asked for a camera for Christmas this year.

It will be used for pictures of my children who play sports (basketball, football, softball, swim, tennis) and their school functions (plays, awards, etc.). The indoor photo opportunities generally have poor lighting. Also will be used for general snap shots, pets and vacation photos.

I would like to stay in the $200 range as far as cost goes. I am easily overwhelmed when looking at all the different models and brands, so I tried to narrow it down by looking in Consumer Reports. Their recommendations were Nikon Coolpix S610, Canon Powershot SD1100/1200 IS Elph, Canon Powershot A590 IS. I haven't seen any of those cameras recommended here and am not committed per say to any of those, I'm just looking for a starting point.

To additionally complicate matters, my husband bought me a Kodak Z915 at Office Depot on black Friday. It came with the camera, 4 AA rechargeable batteries and charger, and the camera case for $149.00. Which is a good price and seems to have good reviews, but not great. The Kodak cameras we've had in years past didn't take the best pictures. I'm pretty sure I'll be returning it unless someone can tell me otherwise.

Thanks,

Lyn
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Old Dec 2, 2009, 8:01 AM   #2
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It will be used for pictures of my children who play sports (basketball, football, softball, swim, tennis) and their school functions (plays, awards, etc.). The indoor photo opportunities generally have poor lighting. Also will be used for general snap shots, pets and vacation photos.

I would like to stay in the $200 range as far as cost goes.
Welcome to the forums Lyn!

Unfortunately, there is no camera on the market which is going to meet your needs. Not for $200. Some of the superzoom cameras on the market will get you snapshots of the softball, tennis and football (provided it's daytime and not under lights). But they're not capable of taking indoor swim or basketball shots. The lighting is too poor and the subjects moving too fast for digicams to get good shots. And, we're talking the $400-500 superzoom digicams here, not the $200 pocket sized ones. Digital cameras are advanced now, but not that advanced. Action photography - especially in low light is one of the most challenging types of photography from an equipment perspective. That's the realm where a DSLR and appropriate lens is still necessary to get decent shots.
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Old Dec 2, 2009, 8:25 AM   #3
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Hi there, Lyn-

Welcome to the Forum. We're very glad ypou dropped by.

The Canon A590 was a top camera from last year. It has 3X optical zoom, and is ISO limited, The A-590 is a good snapshot camera, but it is not really adapted to your requirements, such as outdoor sports, indoor sports, school plays, and indoor shots, where unusually high Flash Ranges are required, or in place of flash, the ability to use very high numerically high ISO settings that allow the camera to take photos in existing light conditions, with shutter speeds sufficiently high to stop the action. Snapshot cameras have a Flash Range (the distance from camera to subject) of about 10 to 12 feet. School plays and indoor sports require Flash Ranges at distances of 20 to 40 feet. That is a huge difference and something that snapshot cameras just cannot do. So too, the Canon SD1100/SD1200 cameras face the same problems, short zoom and very limited high ISO capabilities.

The Nikon S-610 does not focus well in low light environments. The Kodak Z-915 has been rated by CNET as one of the Top Ten Cameras of 2009. However, like the A-590, the SD 1100, and the SD 1200, it too is a snapshot camera, with limited capabilities, I am sorry to say.

Your requirements really require a very competent DSLR camera and that is not within your stated budget. The sad fact is this: no snapshot camera, under $200 has the photographic capabilities required to take the kind of photos you have listed.

When you move up a level to the super zoom cameras such as the Panasonic FZ-35 (18X optical zoom and about $325) you have much more zoom available, and you begin to achieve some, but not all, of the numerically higher ISO capabilities that you need for shooting without flash.


The FZ-35 can shoot at ISO 800, it has a tracking focusing system that is needed for active indoor sports, but at ISO 800 you will have rather low shutter speeds that will not stop the action of the sport and blurring will become a factor in your images.

A DSLR like the Canon T-1 is able to use ISO speeds of up to 6400 and that would let you stop the action is sport like basket ball and the like. However, it would require an extra lens to do so, further increasing your investment.

The Kodak Z-1012 is no longer manufactured, but it is often available on E-Bay in the $200 to $235 range, like the Panasonic FZ-35 it has 12X optical zoom, and can operate at numerically higher ISO speeds up to ISO 800 allowing it to take photos like the one I have attached which was taken without flash from a distance of 70 feet at ISO 800 of some rapidly moving dancers.

I wish that I had a better answer for you, but photography is determined by the laws of physics and when you have photo environments with low light and fast action, you need better equipment. Have a great day.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Dec 2, 2009, 9:27 AM   #4
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Let me add that I live in a small community and the sports pics are going to be taken at at distance of about 15-20 ft. We don't have great sport facilitys here and even at that, it's little league and jr hight sports. If I need to I can get up close to snap a picture of a play etc. We live in a small historical town and have older schools/building which are poorly set up, so everyone understands. I understand I'm not going to get a top of the line performer for $200, but I do want the best in that price range. If I could afford a fabulous DSLR I would have had it long ago. At this point whatever I can get is better than what I have, which is old old old. I just want something where you don't have to fuss with the camera to get one good shot or miss it by time you do get the camera to cooperate.
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Old Dec 2, 2009, 10:05 AM   #5
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Lyn-

The key phrase in your most recent post is this one:

"...I just want something where you don't have to fuss with the camera to get one good shot or miss it by time you do get the camera to cooperate..."

What you are asking for is full automation under some trying circumstances. You asked for something under $200, but the best I can suggest with very good automation and an excellent flash range up to 20 feet is the Sony H-20 camera which sells for around $220.00. The Sony H-20 is the best in class for automation and flash, so perhaps that might be a better solution. It cannot handle indoor sports photos without flash, but if the flash was used it would cover you out to 20 feet.

Sarah Joyce
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