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Old May 10, 2010, 10:36 AM   #1
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Default P+S with fast shutter speed for kids under $300

Hi,

I've had Canon point + shoots up to now, but I'm missing all the good shots of the kids - by the time the shutter closes, the kids have moved; expression has changed; etc.

I want to stick to a small sized camera to slip in my pocket/bag; have fast 'click' action; have good quality prints.

The Nikon Coolpix S640 seems to have fast shutter speeds, is this my best bet? All recommendations appreciated!

Thank you!
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Old May 10, 2010, 10:46 AM   #2
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Indoors or Outdoors?

What you're talking about has nothing to do with shutter speeds.

The delay you're seeing is due to Autofocus lag time. IOW, how long it takes the camera to lock focus on your subject before it takes a photo. The best way to approach that kind of thing is to "half press" the shutter button to allow the camera to lock focus on your subject (and most cameras will give you an indication like a steady green light in the viewfinder or LCD when focus is locked), reframe as needed, then press the shutter button the rest of the way down to take the photo when you get the expression you want (since there will be very little delay after focus is locked before a camera takes the photo).

The lower the light (for example, indoors versus outdoors), and the lower the contrast (for example, trying to focus on a solid color versus something with patterns in it), the longer it's going to take a camera to lock focus. Indoors, a camera with an Autofocus Assist lamp can help out.

If you read the Review Conclusion sections here, you'll usually see Autofocus time discussed. But, again, keep in mind that in lower lighting, Autofocus is going to take longer, especially if the camera doesn't have an Autofocus Assist Lamp to help out.
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Old May 10, 2010, 10:52 AM   #3
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Jim: what about B&W mettering? Does it take time to measure accordingly to different settings? And will ISO changing modify shutter speeds?
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Old May 10, 2010, 11:12 AM   #4
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Cameras do take time to meter, etc. But, that time is usually very fast compared to the time it takes a camera to lock focus, especially in lower light.

Yes, other factors like ISO speed impact shutter speeds. But, I don't think that's what the OP is having problems with from what I can tell from the problem description. When you press the shutter button down, the vast majority of the time involved before the photo is taken is related to Autofocus Lag time, especially in lower light.

If it were actually keeping the shutter open long enough for kids to move much before it closed, you'd have nothing but blur in most lighting. ;-)

You'd want to use a flash indoors with a point and shoot model anyway (so shutter speed should be at least 1/30 second by default with most models using a flash in low light indoors). So, what the OP is describing sounds like Autofocus Lag time to me (since the shutter doesn't open and close until focus is locked, which is the vast majority of the time you need to wait before a photo is taken after depressing the shutter button all the way down). But, using a "half press" (to lock focus first), then pressing it the rest of the way down at the opportune time will eliminate most of the lag time with most cameras.
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Old May 10, 2010, 11:37 AM   #5
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Thanks. Yes then, I guess I am talking about autofocus lag time. Most of the shots would be indoors. I do already prime it using the 'half press' but that still doesn't give the shot I was trying for.

Maybe I need to rephrase the original request to "what point + shoot is best for taking pics of fast moving kids indoors?!"

thanks!
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Old May 10, 2010, 11:43 AM   #6
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I'd look at the Conclusion Sections in reviews here for discussion on Autofocus speed, as well as shutter lag times (after focus is locked with a half press).

But, don't assume the times you see are for all lighting (as in lower light indoors, Autofocus will take longer). Other factors will also impact AF speed, including how much you're zoomed in, since most lenses are dimmer on their longer end (making it harder for a camera to "see" well enough to focus), how much contrast your subject has, and more. I'd lean towards a camera with an AF assist lamp if you are taking a lot of photos indoors in low light and find lag time to be unacceptable (or consider a camera that can use an external flash with a more powerful Autofocus Assist beam built in).
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