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Old Jul 11, 2010, 10:06 AM   #1
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Default What P&S to buy? Low light, dog & people photos.

I've been reading this forum for a while while trying to decide what P&S to buy. I think I've decided on a camera but I'd really appreciate if you'd speak up if I've overlooked something or made an incorrect assessment/assumption. I would like to spend as little as possible...max around $300 to $350.

While I do take some outdoor photos, I think the majority I take are indoors. Most of them are of people or my dogs. When I take photos of the dogs I can not use a flash as their eyes tend to "blow out" so I'm intersted in a camera that does well in low light with no flash. The other type of photos I take are simply of the house/decor. There I don't want a flash either.

I don't care about video at all. I've never used it on my current P&S camera and I don't expect that I'll use it on the new one.

The three cameras that I've been considering are the Panasonic FZ-35, ZS7 and the Canon S90. Initially I thought the FZ-35 would be best but then I started thinking about my shooting habits and realized that I really seldom want or need that much of a zoom. My priority would be a camera that does better in lower light.

Right now I'm leaning toward the Canon S90. Would this be a good choice for me? Not as much zoom but seems to do better in low light from what I've read. Is there something I haven't read about that would work better? (There are so many cameras on the market that it's so easy to get lost!)

While I know an SLR would do better than any P&S in low light, I don't want one. I own and have used an Olympus OM1 for many years and it was a fun hobby for a long time but I just don't want to drag around the pieces anymore.

Anyone? I've got a new pup arriving this week and I am so unhappy with my old Sony DSC-P93!
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Old Jul 11, 2010, 11:42 AM   #2
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Whitdobe-

Welcome to the Forum. We pleased that you dropped by.

In your $300 to $359 price range, there seems to be just one camera, the Canon S-90, that will really meet your needs. Above your budget line is the Samsung EX-1/TL500 at $399, that has an even faster lens. The Ex-1 has a focal length of 24 to 72mm with an aperture range of an amazing F 1.8 to F 2.4.

You can develop additional camera choices if you are willing to use Bounce Flash for your photos. Bounce the light from an external flash unit off a white ceiling produces very soft muted lighting, that would not adversely affect your pet's eyes in photos.

Yes, it would require the use of an accessory external flash unit, but the photo quality would be enhanced and that would give you a wider selection of camera choices, while dramatically improving your photo quality.

I have attached a photo showing you the kind of lighting that I am talking about. If that kind of lighting is acceptable, then there will indeed be more cameras for us to explore within your budget.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Jul 11, 2010, 12:37 PM   #3
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Thank you mtclimber for both the welcome and the information!

A bounce flash....now why didn't I think of that. I own one for my old Olympus SLR. Hmm, I guess that wouldn't work would it because digital cameras don't come with a hot shoe like I had on the old SLR. I slid the bounce flash into that.

I know that dog and people photos would be OK for me with a bounce flash since I've done that with my old SLR. I'm not as sure that the house photos I take would work as well. (I know, call me weird. Interior decor boards as a hobby = need lots of house and furnishings photos.) Anyway, most home photos have more "atmosphere" if I work with the existing light rather than use a flash.

Hmm, you've given me some things to think about. Thanks again!
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Old Jul 11, 2010, 2:09 PM   #4
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Whitdobe-

Please keep in mind that there a good Slave Plashes that have adjustable flash heads and they work very well indeed with cameras that are not equipped with a hot shoe.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Jul 12, 2010, 11:39 AM   #5
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I went to go look at a Canon S-90 today. Man, it's small. I mean tiny. I've pretty much ignored digital cameras for the past 5-6 years and I guess there's been quite a size revolution in that time period.

I didn't buy the s-90 and I'm not sure I will. I have a lot of trouble thinking of owning a camera that tiny. I have no reason to own a camera that tiny.

Shoot, I'm actually considering a really cheapo SLR like the Olympus E-420 just to avoid the size issue. Man, I really don't want to drag around all the stuff associated with an SLR.

I'm gonna have to do some more reading, think about this and really PAY ATTENTION to the sizes when I read write ups on cameras.

I don't know what I'm going to do....but I really doubt that I'll buy the S-90.
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Old Jul 12, 2010, 12:27 PM   #6
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Quote:
A bounce flash....now why didn't I think of that. I own one for my old Olympus SLR. Hmm, I guess that wouldn't work would it because digital cameras don't come with a hot shoe like I had on the old SLR. I slid the bounce flash into that.
What flash model?

If it's an older non-dedicated flash, you could probably use it on most hot shoe equipped cameras, as long as it has a non-TTL auto mode (where you use manual exposure on the camera and set the aperture and flash to match the aperture and shutter speed you set on the flash); or use manual power settings instead.

But, you do need to watch out for higher trigger voltages with older flashes, as that can damage the electronics in some cameras (which is why I was asking about the model number, so I could search for it). See this Sticky Thread about Trigger Voltage issues:

http://forums.steves-digicams.com/fl...l-cameras.html

If you had a good external flash, you'd get better results (you could bounce the flash from a ceiling for more diffused lighting, versus the "deer in the headlights" look you can get with a direct flash), allowing you to eliminate any blur from subject movement, as well as get better image quality by keeping your ISO speeds set lower.

In a slightly larger non-dSLR model, the Canon G11 should have about the same engine as the S-90, and it's got a hotshoe for an external flash. It looks like it's running around $449 now:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc..._3632B001.html

In a dSLR for less, about the best price wise in kits with a lens would be the Sony A230 and Sony A330 kits that include a Sony 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 Autofocus Lens (which gives you about the same angle of view you'd get with a 27-88mm lens on a 35mm camera) for approximately $399.95 and $418.95 respectfully, from what I can see of current dSLR listings under $500 at B&H:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search...280+4288580242

But, you'd need an adapter to use a standard hotshoe attached flash with these Sony models (provided it's got a safe trigger voltage level). That would set you back around $15. Here's one:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...oe_Adapter.htm

Note that the Sony dSLR models with live view (A300, A330, A350, A380, A390, A500, A550) are the only dSLR models with a fast Autofocus Live View system if you prefer to use the LCD for framing instead of the optical viewfinder. Other dSLR models will focus much slower in Live View mode. But, the optical viewfinder is smaller with the A330, as compared to the A230 without live view (you'd need to use the optical viewfinder for framing with the A230). Pros and Cons.

Here are some dSLR models for under $500 at B&H (a reputable vendor), sorted by lowest price first:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search?Ns=p_PRICE_2|0&ci=6222&N=4288586280+4288580 242

I'd try out any model you consider in a store to make sure you're comfortable with the ergonomics, menu system, viewfinder, speed of operation, etc.

Let us know what flash model you've got and we can try to figure out if it would be usable on a modern camera with a hotshoe.
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Old Jul 12, 2010, 12:53 PM   #7
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Wow, you've given me a ton of stuff to consider and research. Thanks.

The flash that I used with my OM-1 is a Thyristor Sunpak Auto 266D Dedicated Series. Had to drag out my big SLR bag and paw through everything to find it. I don't think it's a terribly good flash but, it was adequate for my needs when I was using that camera. Certainly better than the built in flash.

I'm guessing that I'm not gonna have a new camera before the new pup arrives. Now I'm considering buying some flim for the old SLR. A new battery too. Haven't used that in years.
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Old Jul 12, 2010, 1:21 PM   #8
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if S90 was too small, consider G11 - they both have the same sensor. G11 is larger and might be more comfortable for you, it also has a hot-shoe for a dedicated TTL flash and works really nice indoors and outdoors. it was a really great fun to leave my usual camera bag at home and only take G11 for our family outings lately.

Don't know anything about Sunpak 266D, but my 16-17 years old Vivitar 283 (Korean made with 6.3V triggering voltage) works nice with all my cameras, although I use it a lot less than Canon and Metz flashes.

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Old Jul 12, 2010, 1:22 PM   #9
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Quote:
The flash that I used with my OM-1 is a Thyristor Sunpak Auto 266D Dedicated Series.
That flash is not going to work in TTL modes with modern digital cameras.

However, it's got a non-TTL Auto mode where you could use manual exposure on a camera, if you set the camera's aperture and ISO speed to match the flash. That way, it would measure reflected lighting during the exposure using it's built in sensor on the front of the flash, terminating the flash burst when it sees enough reflected light for the aperture and ISO speed you have set on it (and the back of the flash can show you the range of distances you can shoot within after you set it that way if you look at the scales on it's back). I just read reports from two different owners that said the 266D has a trigger voltage in the 7.x volt range when measuring it.

Just search for Sunpak 266D Trigger Voltage using Google and you can find some comments about it.

Personally, I'd consider that trigger voltage to be fine for hot shoe use in a modern camera (although some people like to stick with under 6 volts with some cameras instead).
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Old Jul 12, 2010, 1:38 PM   #10
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I was describing a Digital Concepts Slave Flash, with a tilt-able head, that sells for around $40 to $50 and will work with any digital camera whether it has a hot flash or not. Thus you have no compatibility issues at all.

Sarah Joyce
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