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Old Jul 20, 2010, 8:00 AM   #1
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Default Camera for low light (concerts) - D5000 - E-620 or else?

Hi,

I’m trying to find a desicion and have done intensive research throughout the internet. Still I didn’t find a solution, so here’s what I’m trying to find out:

Where I'm coming from and what I'd like to do:

I have an Olympus E-510 right now. I have been dissapointed with the pictures regarding highlight clipping and noise in low light situations. I’m shooting photos at rock-concerts in clubs quite often, but I’m using the camera for everything else too. I’m not a professional and I do not want to use software afterwards to make the pictures look much better – I’d rather like to get them “finished” as much as possible from the camera itself. I’d like to use a zoom-lens (28-150mm 35mm-equivalent). The pictures will be used on a webpage but also printed on posters (60x80cm) quite often. I do not want to spend much more than about 800 EUR / 1000$.

So my priorities seem to be:
- very good dynamic range (also in highlight)
- low noise even with high ISO
- very good quality jpeg pictures right from the cam
- very good AF also in low light (and maybe without AF-assist-lamp)
- image stabilizer

What annoys me:
- AF–assist with repeated flashlight (as on my E-510)

What I’d find useful: (not make-or-break)

- tilt/swivel LCD-screen
- Button for depth-of-field-check

I have been looking at the Nikon D5000 and did like it very much together with the 18-100mm kit-lens. But I could also upgrade to the Olympus E-620, as dynamic range has been improved.The Kit-lenses (14-42 and 40-150mm) are quite good – though I’d like something more like a “superzoom” even better for my purpose, so I don’t have to change the lens within a concert.

Looking at test-pictures on the internet and reading the reviews I found, that both camers got a very good dynamic-range (though the D5000 is much better at ISO 1600 and up). But the pictures from the E-620 look much more “finished” – the pictures from the D5000 look as if you’d rather have to optimize them (contrast, sharpening…).

So – is there anyone experienced out there who has used both of these cameras and could give me indication which way to go?
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Old Jul 20, 2010, 8:22 AM   #2
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The e620 is good till 1600iso, so if you need better low light the APS-c would be the obvious choice. You will also gain better shallow dof with the APS-c of the d5000. So if you need 3200-6400iso, the nikon is the better choice.

But there is only one relatively low price fast prime that will AF on the d5000. The AF-s 35mm. All the other primes are AF lenses and will not AF on the D5000. But you will have about 130 lenses to choose from.

The oly has a better jpeg engine. Any lenses you mount will have IS with oly's ibis. The nikon you get IS only if you buy IS lenses. They are a bit more then non IS models.

Kit lens wise, the oly has the better kit lenses. IMHO the best kit lenses on the market.
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Old Jul 20, 2010, 9:46 AM   #3
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Thanks for your comment. I just found the Pentax K-x. It seems that the noise oft Pentax is quite similar to the D5000 - but it does deliver sharper and more "finished" images according to some High-ISO-samples from reviews on the internet.

Does the the K-x have any major flaws or would this probably be the best choice for my usage?

EDIT: Pentax-Lenses (or Sigma/Tokina...) seem to be siginificant weaker than Olympus Kit or 18-100mm Nikon
...and the K-x AF-assist means: repeated flashlight... (aargh!)

Last edited by Hanseat; Jul 20, 2010 at 10:25 AM.
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Old Jul 20, 2010, 10:31 AM   #4
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The biggest knock I have seen on the K-x is that it tends to clip highlights, and its RAW data has essentially no more info than the JPEG. Nikon has a very nice Auto D-lighting feature that retains highlight and shadow data, and the NEF files (Nikon RAW data files) have a lot more "head room" if you are willing to work with RAW data. If you want to stay strictly with JPEG, even though there is the blown highlights issue, the Pentax gets very high marks for how well they do with their JPEG compared to other cameras, and the low-light capability of the K-x is deemed to be pretty comparable to that of the D5000.
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Old Jul 20, 2010, 10:59 AM   #5
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Would it be possible to adapt some image parameters if the D5000 (sharpening, contrast...) to make the jpegs look more "finished" like those from the Pentax or the Olympus?
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Old Jul 20, 2010, 12:19 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hanseat View Post
Would it be possible to adapt some image parameters if the D5000 (sharpening, contrast...) to make the jpegs look more "finished" like those from the Pentax or the Olympus?
Yes. The suggestion is commonly made to up the sharpening from 3 to 4 or 5 and increase the contrast (if memory serves). Nikon tends to set their cameras on the soft side for JPEG processing, and the fashion generally is to push these further. But the Pentax has been praised in particular for the job it does on optimizing the JPEG in-camera. Tweaking the Nikon settings makes it comparable to how Canon sets its in-camera conversion. But Pentax just does this particular thing very well apparently.
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Old Jul 20, 2010, 1:24 PM   #7
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Do you have any samples of images taken in the concert lighting you're referring to that you could share (without the EXIF stripped out, so that we can see the camera settings used and get a better idea of the lighting conditions)?

Unless lighting is unusually good, I suspect your expectations are unrealistic if you want to have images printed on "posters (60x80cm) quite often" with the types of kits you're describing.

Even with a relatively bright lens (i.e., f/2.8 or brighter) at higher ISO speeds, you may not be satisfied with the image quality at print sizes that large (as blur from subject movement will be more obvious at larger print sizes, as will degradation from noise and/or noise reduction). Of course, viewing distance also comes into the equation (as poster size prints are usually viewed from further away).

But, with a super zoom type lens that only has f/5.6 available when zoomed in much (meaning you'd need shutter speeds 4 times as long for proper exposure at a given ISO speed compared to a lens with f/2.8 or brighter apertures available), I'd expect images to be full of blur from subject movement and look quite soft at print sizes that large, even at ISO 3200; unless the lighting is much better than I'd expect and you're very good about timing your shots when the performers are motionless (meaning a very low number of keepers).
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Old Jul 20, 2010, 1:26 PM   #8
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Thanks for your comment. I think that both the K-x and the D5000 would be quite a stepup from what I have. But you're probably right, that my pics would suffer because of the moving subjects.

As I'm leaning towards the Nikon D5000 (because some reviews mention highlight clipping of the Pentax and the absence of AF-indicator in the viewfinder), I'd like to know what you'd suggest.
I did not want to invest a fortune, and just a prime lens (with maybe f/1.4) seems to be a little bit restricting. I really like to have a wideangle perspective and focus on details in other pics. Changing lenses within the concert seems to be a problem.

I do not have samples on hand taken with my E-510 - I do have some samples from a concert two years ago - pictures taken with a small Fuji S5500 - heavy blurred, but you may get an idea about the light conditions.

http://www.gymnasium-allermoehe.de/G...vy%202009.html

Last edited by Hanseat; Jul 20, 2010 at 1:49 PM.
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Old Jul 20, 2010, 2:11 PM   #9
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Nope... I can't tell because that's a flash based album and the images displayed don't have any viewable EXIF information (metadata in the image header that can let us know the camera settings used for things like ISO speed, Aperture, and Shutter Speed).

Plus, exposure was all over the board (typical for concert lighting unless you're using manual exposure after taking an average reading for performers when they're "under the lights"; and/or very good about understanding a camera's metering behavior and using metering modes and exposure compensation to adjust for proper exposure), plus White Balance was way too warm (typical for Auto White Balance in concert lighting), which can make it more difficult to tell what the proper exposure should be. I'd post some examples with EXIF information for better responses, so that members can tell the camera settings being used.

In very good concert lighting (not the dimmer lighting sometimes found in clubs), I'd expect to need an f/2.8 lens to get your shutter speeds up to around 1/250 second at ISO 1600 (which means you'll still have some blur from any rapid subject movement, but it won't be that bad as long as you don't blow up the prints too large).

With a lens that only has f/5.6 available, I'd expect to need ISO 6400 to get shutter speeds that fast (meaning noise and/or degradation from noise reduction).

If lighting is lower, expect worse results.

IOW, I suspect your expectations of blowing up prints to 60x80cm on a frequent basis to be a bit unrealistic with the type of kits you're looking at, if you want anything approaching decent quality.

Now, you could probably get away with timing your shots and taking them when the performers are virtually motionless with a good camera and a dimmer lens (like the ones you're looking at) without maxing out the ISO speed settings, and get some keepers that aren't too bad (provided you don't mind a very low percentage of keepers).

But, I'd think about getting brighter lenses, even with a camera capable of acceptable results at higher ISO speeds.
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Old Jul 20, 2010, 2:45 PM   #10
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P.S.

BTW, your Fujfilm S5500 has a relatively bright zoom lens (f/2.8-3.1). So, with a lens that only has f/5.6 available when zoomed in much (as in the lenses you're considering for a dSLR), you'd need to be shooting at ISO 1600 to get the same the shutter speeds you were getting at ISO 400 with your S5500 (meaning lots of blurry photos unless you increase ISO speed substantially, resulting in higher noise levels and/or loss of detail from noise reduction). IOW, don't expect a dSLR to get around the issues you were having if you go with a dimmer lens (as in the lenses you're looking at now) for use shooting moving subjects in lower lighting, as the lens on your Fuji was roughly 4 times as bright when zoomed in much (meaning shutter speeds 4 times as fast for a given ISO speed and lighting for the same exposure, as compared to the lenses you're looking at now if you zoom in much with them).
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