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Old Jan 15, 2010, 2:09 PM   #11
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That would simplify your selection considerably (being able to use a flash), as you can use the flash to freeze the action, as long as the establishment doesn't mind you using one (and I've had bars and restaurants ask me *not* to use a flash because it disturbs the atmosphere and irritates the patrons). It all depends on where you're shooting, the type of patrons that frequent it, and your rapport with the owners of that establishment.

I'd budget for a good external flash for the system you end up deciding on (to make it easier not to get a "deer in the headlamps" look with your photos).

Was there a reason you were looking at those three models? My assumption is that you're trying to keep the costs down. But, I'd still look at a brighter lens for situations where you can't use a flash (and even if you can use a flash, a brighter lens will help your camera "see" better to autofocus in dimmer lighting).

What kind of total budget are you working with?

What you probably want to use is something like a Nikon D3s with nicer lenses for best results (but, that kind of solution can be a bit pricey). So, I'd give members an idea of what kind of budget you have for a system in order to get better informed responses (so you can try to come up with a good compromise).
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Old Jan 15, 2010, 2:39 PM   #12
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I suspect that flash won't be so useful. Direct flash will cause close objects to be overexposed and more distant objects to be underexposed. And bounce flash won't very well either because I suspect that many of the venues don't have white ceilings. And while the performers might not have minded the flash on a P&S, the flash on a dSLR and especially an external flash will be a lot brighter.

I think large apertures and high ISOs are the only way to get shutter speeds fast enough to get satisfactory results.
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Old Jan 15, 2010, 3:05 PM   #13
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The reality is - if you are doing this as a JOB and as a credentialed member of the media you need BOTH. You'll want to use the wide aperture & primes when you can but sometimes you'll need flash - if you need the shot, you need the shot. And you can get quality flash shots without bouncing it. It's done all the time - you just need to learn how to use flash. Having said that, Pentax probably has the worst flash system out of all those in consideration. Nikon is the best.

This is why it was important to determine if this is for professional or personal use. Look, when shooting for a job - you don't want to spend 2 hours collecting shots if you're only making $50 for the photo (no idea what the OP is making for his photo). You want to get in, get your shots and get out.

Again, as a credentialed media representative you also have the ability to talk with the venue ownership. Normal 'rules' don't apply to the media per se. But you still don't want to spend 2 hours cranking off 400 flash photos and annoying people.
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Old Jan 15, 2010, 3:38 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by JimC View Post
That would simplify your selection considerably (being able to use a flash), as you can use the flash to freeze the action, as long as the establishment doesn't mind you using one (and I've had bars and restaurants ask me *not* to use a flash because it disturbs the atmosphere and irritates the patrons). It all depends on where you're shooting, the type of patrons that frequent it, and your rapport with the owners of that establishment.

I'd budget for a good external flash for the system you end up deciding on (to make it easier not to get a "deer in the headlamps" look with your photos).

Was there a reason you were looking at those three models? My assumption is that you're trying to keep the costs down. But, I'd still look at a brighter lens for situations where you can't use a flash (and even if you can use a flash, a brighter lens will help your camera "see" better to autofocus in dimmer lighting).

What kind of total budget are you working with?

What you probably want to use is something like a Nikon D3s with nicer lenses for best results (but, that kind of solution can be a bit pricey). So, I'd give members an idea of what kind of budget you have for a system in order to get better informed responses (so you can try to come up with a good compromise).
Good questions.

I was originally very close to deciding to buy the Fuji S200EXR. It's gotten good review and I thought it would be the step up I needed.

However, given the price ($450 to $500) I wanted to see it and handle it before I bought it. No stores in my metropolitan area carry it. I live in Chicago, and so that surprised me. I wrote to Fuji (both in the US and Japan) and all they could do was give me online sources and also tell me that many camera stores in NYC carried it). I'm not going to fly to NY to see the camera, and I'm very hesitant to pop for that kind of money for something sight-unseen.

I started to wonder whether it was time to just grow up and look at a DSLR. I also thought that it might be a good idea to spend a little more, to get a camera that would ultimately be more flexible and give me a little more room for growth.

My budget had originally been about $500, but I'd be willing to go to about $800 to $850. Of course less is better.

I started to do some preliminary research which is how I came up with the 3 models I did. Plus I know people who each own a DSLR of each manufacturer, though not the models I listed. Quite frankly, for each of these people, they use their DSLRs exactly as one would use a point and shoot, albeit a tad bit heavier.

My preliminary research showed that all 3 models had gotten very good reviews. I had not though thought much beyond the kit lens. A big oversight on my part.

I'm wondering if I could still pull together something that would be decent for the money?
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Old Jan 15, 2010, 3:49 PM   #15
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One advantage of DSLR..is that you can build. You can stick with the kit lens for example..and see how that goes and then purchase another for specific purposes.

With P&s you are limited to just what they can do. I had a Fuji camera and it needed repair. Would have cost $300 Fuji said the lens needed to be replaced. Not spending the $300 meant I have no camera. Yet spending $300 meant I invested in something older.

Buy into a DSLR..(My thoughts) means if one or the other Body or lens craps out...I am not completely out of dough I can replace either and care on.

BTW for $850 you can get the KX with 2 lens here in canada...cheaper in the US.

The other comment about P&S is that you maybe 'flash' limited...
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Old Jan 15, 2010, 3:54 PM   #16
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Well in my family I have a t1i and my brother has a pentax K-x. Both are better for your needs they have the highest ISO range in the "entry level" dslr market at 12800. You can get the shots with the Pentax k-x at clubs, with a good flash like the metz 48 or 58 or pentax flash also. The metz's is an excellent flash and is an excellent value at 200-225 dollars for the metz 48, and 350-400 for the 58.

Since price is a concern. The T1i is at 815 dollars for the 2 kit lens at online retailer till sunday when the canon 200 dollar rebate offer ends. So it may go back up to 900+ after this sunday. The Pentax K-x with the 2 kit lens, with the longer 300mm zoom is 720, and about 650 with the 200mm zoom. I have shot in clubs with both cameras now. And though the canon is a bit faster in getting a AF lock. The pentax can hold it's own. But the key is a good flash with the kit lens.

You may want to consider investing in a medium telephoto prime in the 85 to 100mm range. It will make the shots better. That will add about 350 to the cost of the system.

Last edited by shoturtle; Jan 15, 2010 at 4:12 PM.
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Old Jan 15, 2010, 4:19 PM   #17
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The tough part is that a body plus an appropriate large aperture lens will max out even your recently increased budget. Appropriate lenses would be Canon's 50/1.8 (~$100) and 35/2.0 (~$320), Nikon's 50/1.8 (~$140), 35/1.8 (~$200) and 50/1.4 (~$320), and Sony's 50/1.8 (~$150).

Nikon has the best selection of inexpensive fast lenses, but only the 35/1.8 will autofocus on the D5000. That's probably a good focal length for what you want to do, but the D5000 doesn't have as high an ISO settingas the Pentax K-x and the Canon T1i. But since the T1i is close to your maximum budget all by itself, and there aren't any inexpensive fast lenses for the Pentax, I think the D5000 with the 35mm f/1.8 G lens is your best bet.

And, of course, on your budget, an external flash is out of the question.
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Old Jan 15, 2010, 4:31 PM   #18
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That's a tough Call at under $850...

I'd eliminate the Fuji. No offense to Fuji owners, but it's not going to give you the flexibility you'd get with a dSLR in low light (for one thing, noise would be too high, no brighter lenses available, may have issues with Autofocus in light as low as you'd find in a dimmer bar).

I dunno... On a tighter budget for shooting in those conditions. I'd probably lean towards the K-x from what I've seen of it's higher ISO speed ability in samples. I just don't think you'd do any better in a model capable of it's results at higher ISO speeds for what it's selling for right now. It's around $549 with an 18-55mm kit lens from what I can see of current prices online.

It probably won't be able to Autofocus in light as low as comparable models from other manufacturers. That's speculation, as I haven't seen any controlled conditions tests of one in various light levels yet. But, from what I've seen of tests from higher end Pentax models like the K7, and what I've seen from owner opinions of users that have more than one brand of camera including the K-x, the K-x is still lagging behind other manufacturer's cameras in the Autofocus area, even though it's improved over some of the earlier Pentax models.

But, in conditions where you may not want to use a flash, it would probably have the edge compared to other cameras within your budget for the ability to capture images with acceptable noise levels *if* you're using a brighter lens on it.

Then, the question becomes if you spend what's left over from your total budget on a brighter lens, or on a better flash. I'd probably lean towards the better lens, going with a non-dedicated flash to start out with (used if need be).

But, therein lies a problem. I just don't see a way to fit a brighter lens into your budget with current Pentax prices on them. It looks like the prices from Pentax have increased lately on some of their primes, and a third party lens like the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 is going to put you over budget, too (especially once you factor in the price of a flash). You could go MF. But, an AF lens would be best with a model using a smaller viewfinder. Grrrrrr

I'll update with more thoughts as they occur, and perhaps some of our other members will chime in with their thoughts, too.
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Old Jan 15, 2010, 4:33 PM   #19
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TCav has a point (Nikon with a 35mm f/1.8 AF-S lens on it). Even though the body is a bit higher, and noise may be a bit higher, you would have a fast lens option in a reasonably priced prime. Then, go with a used non-dedicated flash (Sunpak 333 Auto, Sunpak 383 Super, Sunpak 433D), setting the ISO speed and aperture the same for the camera and flash using manual exposure.
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Old Jan 15, 2010, 4:37 PM   #20
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If you are seated or standing in the audience behind the stage. The 50mm and 85mm would be more effective then a 35mm if you want to isolate on one performer, not the whole group.
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