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Old Dec 21, 2009, 3:55 PM   #1
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Default low light, fast action, low price ??

I need a camera for taking shots of theatre shows in normal room light (school hall). Some of the action is dance and so I need something that works at decent shutter speed. Ideally with a good zoom (x15 ish), ideally also with a good wide angle if I need to get close to the stage but still get everything in.

I've looked at a friends Canon G10 but the best I can manage is about ISO400, f2.8, 1/60th.
I think I need to do better than this. I'd like to manage
ISO400, f2.8, 1/250th

So which cameras can manage this ? I guess a higher ISO that has good noise characteristics would be a fair alternative.

The other small issue is that I'd like to only spend $300 !!

Thoughts ?
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Old Dec 21, 2009, 4:00 PM   #2
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I would like a nice little 4-bedroom apartment in Manhattan, nice view of Central Park, I only have $250,000 to spend.

I guess we're both out of luck. :-(
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Old Dec 21, 2009, 4:09 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by khblue1 View Post
I've looked at a friends Canon G10 but the best I can manage is about ISO400, f2.8, 1/60th.
I think I need to do better than this. I'd like to manage
ISO400, f2.8, 1/250th
Well, you can't change the laws of physics. If you needed ISO400, f2.8 and 1/60 to have a properly exposed image, you can't just increase shutter speed. It's a tripple constraint. If you increas shutter speed you must also increase ISO and/or aperture.

1/250 is 2 stops faster than 1/60.

You could achieve that with ISO 1600 and f2.8.

Some of the digicams have gotten better at their high ISO performance. Certainly there are models outside Canon which do a better job of it. The real problem is not many will maintain that f2.8 aperture as you zoom out. So you would need to be right up by the stage to get f2.8. Still, even at 1/125 you'd get some shots.

So, what's the max distance from stage you need to get shots from? This will help determine what focal length you need from a camera.

Keep in mind results aren't going to be stellar - you need a DSLR to get quality ISO 1600 shots but you should be able to get some decent shots.
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Old Dec 21, 2009, 4:54 PM   #4
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"I would like a nice little 4-bedroom apartment in Manhattan, nice view of Central Park, I only have $250,000 to spend."

4 BR’s are very hard to find overlooking central park. I have a 2 BR I could sell you for that price. Oh wait...I thought you said $2,500,000...

Sorry...

the Hun
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Old Dec 21, 2009, 5:43 PM   #5
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I know that I'm asking the impossible but I figure if any community can find me a good compromise it's this one. ( Peripatetic - I'd point you to a good estate agent but I'm British, over visiting the inlaws so I don't have the contacts ;-)

I guess a usual distance would be 6 metres from the stage.
I know it's not a simple conversion but our 12x zoom Konica Dimage z3 is a powerful enough zoom. Not sure how to figure out the focal length from that.

I can take pictures with the z3 but to get the shutter speed the image is very very dark.

Realistically I know that I need to spend $800 on a dSLR but I haven't got that money so how close can I get? Is there something like the G10 but that has better light gathering. I don't want to spend $300 barely improving the performance from the z3.

The obvious alternative is second hand, but if I had to buy new what would I go for?
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Old Dec 21, 2009, 6:20 PM   #6
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FUJIFILM FinePix S200EXR ?
( I can pick up a refurb in Cardiff, back in the UK for 279 pounds. $450)
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Old Dec 21, 2009, 7:49 PM   #7
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khblue-

As JohnG has indicated the laws of physics are involved here. Due the very small imager used on most P+S cameras, they are not well suited for stage photography. I do a lot of theater photography, and when I was new at the game, I thought that I could do it with a P+S camera. Well you can squeeze and get images but, believe me they will not be very good.

A DSLR camera with an imager that averages 15 to 20 times the the pin head sized CCD imager found in a P+S camera is the only realistic answer. Minimum ISO settings will be ISO 800, with moves upward to ISO 1600 and ISO 3200 necessary when lighting changes on stage.

I have attached a photo sample taken at ISO 1600 and you can see that all the action is still not totally stopped by the available shutter speed.

Have a great day and a Merry Christmas.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Dec 21, 2009, 10:59 PM   #8
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Thanks, that's a fabulous photo and very clear example.

dSLR may have to wait for my budget to catch up. I'll see if anyone can come up with a top end P+S that'll do these ISO settings well enough.
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Old Dec 22, 2009, 1:55 AM   #9
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I was just trying to adjust expectations a bit.

What sort of pictures are you trying to take?

Good theatre photography is mostly about access. A DSLR doesn't help hugely because people in the row in front of you tend to get a bit annoyed with a huge lens resting on their head.

Once you have access even modest equipment is okay because the requirement for the long zoom lenses goes away. So something like a Panny LX3 or Canon S90 would work very well.

I have never seen a photograph taken from a seat in the audience that was anything other than a poor momento. If it's for recording family moments then I would suggest a video camera instead.
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Old Dec 22, 2009, 8:42 AM   #10
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If a DSLR is out of the question. Here is what an Panasonic FZ-28 can do. Notice that the person is still. That made the slow shutter speed quite workable.

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