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Old May 11, 2010, 2:32 PM   #1
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Default Superzooms and action sports

I'm thinking about getting a camera like the panasonic FZ35 and am wondering how it does with capturing action? Is there a better choice?

Another question is how much difference is there between the 18x of the panasonic with the 24x of the Nikon?
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Old May 11, 2010, 2:34 PM   #2
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Not the best for action, that can be said for pretty much all point and shoot, to much shutter lag
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Old May 11, 2010, 2:44 PM   #3
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Everything is relative. It depends on what you mean by "action" and what your expectation is as far as how good the results need to be. I will say this - shooting sports is difficult and very equipment intensive. If any type of sports work is a requirement make sure you see actual photographic evidence for how well a certain camera does FOR THE SAME TYPE OF ACTION. For example, soccer in good light is a VERY different sport than indoor basketball. They're both different than auto racing. In my experience on the internet there are lots of people with opinions on gear for sports shooting - only a very small number of people are basing those opinions on real hands-on experience. Those people will have photos to back up their opinions. If you don't see photos of how the camera performs for that type of action - buyer beware.
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Old May 11, 2010, 2:55 PM   #4
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The sports I'm thinking about would be baseball and soccer. My son in particular wants a camera to take pictures of baseball games.

He was thinking about a dslr, but wants more zoom than he could afford in that realm.
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Old May 11, 2010, 3:00 PM   #5
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Agreed with JohnG. I've been quite successful photographing daytime youth baseball with a $150 fully auto p&s (except that everything is in focus and the backgrounds can be distracting). But when it comes to my son's hockey games the p&s was basically useless. I even tried a low end APS-C DSLR with a kit lens, and it's very difficult to get passable shots without pushing to higher ISOs. The guys getting outstanding hockey photos are shooting full frame with f2.8 lenses. ...and yes I'm jealous.

My best results indoors with the cheap lenses were shutter priority @ 1/500, ISO800, exposure compensation @ -1 or even -2, then adjusting exposure in PP. I've found that ice rinks vary wildly in lighting quality and sometimes you get lucky. I'm sure basketball, volleyball, gymnastics, outdoor night games, etc. are all similar.

In daylight things get a bit easier.
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Old May 11, 2010, 3:01 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Davidjolly View Post
The sports I'm thinking about would be baseball and soccer. My son in particular wants a camera to take pictures of baseball games.

He was thinking about a dslr, but wants more zoom than he could afford in that realm.
in what capacity does he want to take photos. As a fan at major league sporting events? Or amateur sporting events? Where would he be shooting from in either case? How old is your son? What is the intended use of the photos? Just a hobby or does he want to shoot for yearbook or local newspaper or something else?
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Old May 11, 2010, 3:01 PM   #7
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In good light and some good reading of the action and where the play will develop. You should get some decent shots with the megazoom.
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Old May 11, 2010, 3:11 PM   #8
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My son is 20, is a fan, mostly interested in major league and would be shooting from almost any where in the park. We've been touring the major league ball parks a few at a time and wants to capture some of the experience. Entirely hobby shots.

He almost had a clerk convince him that dslr was the way to go, but I know the kind of lenses he can afford won't get him into the action.
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Old May 11, 2010, 3:27 PM   #9
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You can go with a dslr, like a canon t1i but you will need the right lens as you said. Something like the ef 70-300mm would do okay at MLB games. But that lens alone is 500 dollars. So if he has great timing, he can get some good static shots with a megazoom. Not DSLR quality, but you may get some good shots. But if he is in the upper deck. Not to many camera will be able to give you a great shot.
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Old May 11, 2010, 7:34 PM   #10
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Good superzooms are not cheap. Even not-so-good superzooms are not-so-cheap. Any dSLR with a decent lens will give better image quality than any P&S. The leading new action dSLRs seem to be the Pentax Kx and Canon t1i. The Kx is currently the top-rated non-pro camera for high-ISO shooting, which you need for action sports. And it's sturdy. And it supports trap-focus -- aim somewhere, hold the shutter down, and when something comes into focus, SNAP! Like a poor guy's AF, eh? Ah, but lenses...

Good fast long AF lenses are expensive -- zooms more so. But are speed and AF absolutely necessary? How much do you want to spend? There are trade-offs, work-arounds -- slower and manual lenses cost MUCH less, but require a little more attention. A superb legendary manual Vivitar Series 1 (Vers. 1 or 3) 70-210/3.5 zoom can be had for US$50-150 and will deliver magazine-worthy results with trap-focus and practice. A bit lighter is my manual Tamron 60-300/4-5.6 (well under US$50). Another favorite is the underrated AF Pentax FA100-300/4.7-5.8, usually around US$100 -- a little slower, so boost the ISO on the Kx and still get great results. I'm no birder but I've got my best bird shots with that 100-300.

Any good action photography requires thinking about what and where the action is and will be. Know where excitement is about to occur and be prepared for it. I'll enable trap-focus and continuous drive, aim and prefocus at a critical point like a finish line or goal, and snap everything that comes into focus there. I'll look for places where players tend to do something and concentrate there, etc. The old photojournalist's rule: f/8 and be there.
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