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Old Jan 15, 2010, 6:24 PM   #31
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The A550 will be out of the budget of the OP's, as the body alone is 1000 dollars, before lenses.
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Old Jan 15, 2010, 6:32 PM   #32
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I didn't mention the A550. ;-)
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Old Jan 15, 2010, 6:38 PM   #33
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opps i misread, my bad. was reading another post and mixed them up.
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Old Jan 15, 2010, 6:51 PM   #34
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My advise... Forget the Fuji. It's not really a viable solution if you can't use a flash. It's got a much smaller sensor (meaning higher noise levels and/or loss of detail from noise reduction as ISO speeds are increased), with no bright lens options available, and questionable AF performance. You're going to want a dSLR model in low light for better results.

You could use a non-dedicated flash with one of the other dSLR models you're looking at if a dedicated flash puts you over budget. Basically, you'd want one that is capable of measuring reflected lighting during the exposure, then terminating the flash when it sees enough reflected light for the aperture and ISO speed you have set (you'd use manual exposure and set the camera and flash to match for those settings, picking a shutter speed that allows the amount of ambient light you want to contribute). On the used market, you should be able to pick up something like a Sunpak 383 Super for under $100. They used to be under $100 brand new not to long ago. But, Sunpak quit making them (probably because there's not as much demand for non-dedicated flash models anymore, as new users want a fully automated solution). So, you'd have to hit the used market to find one now. You can still find something like a Vivitar 285HV in a non-dedicated new flash. But, that model doesn't have swivel (it's tilt only). It's still a good flash though.

There may be some dedicated flash options that would work and keep you within budget, too. For example, I've seen some cheaper flashes from Vivitar like their new DF-383 at around $129 if you don't need a lot of features. But, user reports are a bit mixed, depending on the camera brand they're used on (and build quality may not be the greatest).

Whether or not the camera you choose can actually focus in lower light with something like a kit lens is one question though. A brighter prime is a better bet in dimmer bar lighting if they do not have any stage lighting to work with.
By a dedicated flash do you mean one made by the manufacturer, let's say Pentax for the Pentax? Like the Pentax AF200FG?
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Old Jan 15, 2010, 6:52 PM   #35
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The lower priced A500 is still higher than the other models on his list. They had it at a better price recently during the holiday buying season, but it's back up to the original price again now.
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Old Jan 15, 2010, 6:57 PM   #36
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By a dedicated flash do you mean one made by the manufacturer, let's say Pentax for the Pentax? Like the Pentax AF200FG?
That would be one example of a dedicated flash (although that's a very weak flash and I probably wouldn't buy one like that).

By dedicated, I mean a flash designed to work with a particular camera type, that is able to communicate with it about the camera settings being used so that you don't have to use manual exposure and set the camera and flash to match for aperture and iso speed. That can be the camera manufacturer's flash, or it can also be a third party flash (but, you need to make sure a flash is actually compatible with the camera you buy, as many third party dedicated flashes won't work correctly with newer digital camera models).
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Old Jan 15, 2010, 7:04 PM   #37
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That would be one example of a dedicated flash (although that's a very weak flash and I probably wouldn't buy one like that).

By dedicated, I mean a flash designed to work with a particular camera type, that is able to communicate with it about the camera settings being used so that you don't have to use manual exposure and set the camera and flash to match for aperture and iso speed. That can be the camera manufacturer's flash, or it can also be a third party flash (but, you need to make sure a flash is actually compatible with the camera you buy, as many third party dedicated flashes won't work correctly with newer digital camera models).
Thanks for clarifying.

I think I'm sort of leaning towards the Pentax

Poking around on the Internet I see that the Pentax K-x with the 2 lens kit 18-55 and 55-200mm is going for about $649, which is well within my budget.
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Old Jan 15, 2010, 7:18 PM   #38
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It's a bit weaker camera in some areas, but it would be hard to beat for lower noise at higher ISO speeds compared to any other model at that price point. But, one question in my mind would be if Autofocus is up to the task of focusing in a dimmer bar with a dimmer kit lens on it. It would probably depend on how dim the bar is.
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Old Jan 15, 2010, 7:20 PM   #39
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If he is taking photos of the performer, they will be lit well enough that the AF locking is not a big issue in my opinion. If the performers are not lit, no one would be able to seen anything on the stage.
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Old Jan 15, 2010, 7:23 PM   #40
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What stage? I got the feeling from his description that these were dimmer bars without any stage lights. ;-)

You see that a lot in this area (live music in dimmer restaurants and bars with no stage lighting). Basically the exit signs over the doors are the brightest lights in the room, not counting the candles on some of the tables. ;-)
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