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Old Dec 4, 2010, 6:26 PM   #1
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Default Superzoom and concert photos

Hello! I was hoping someone here would have some experience with the new "superzoom" cameras and low light photo taking. My family and I attend a lot of concerts (rock mostly) throughout the year. We try to get close to the stage, but many times we are 30-40 rows back. Does anyone have any recommendations for a non DSLR camera that has a solid zoom but also takes great photos in those types of situations?

We are looking at the Panasonic Lumix, Fujifilm, and Nikon zoom cameras. I also want something with solid picture quality. I'd investigated the Olympus 800 UZ but heard that the photo quality is sub-par and I'm hearing the same about the Nikon Coolpix P100.

Any advice is welcome. Thank you!

- Brian
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Old Dec 4, 2010, 10:05 PM   #2
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You'll have to choose low light or zoom if you don't want a DSLR - you can search the other posts here if you need the "why" as well.
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Old Dec 5, 2010, 12:18 PM   #3
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Funny thing about concerts. While they are the classic low-light situation, sometimes the lighting on stage is good enough for you to land useable snapshots of the musical subject without giving it the full DSLR treatment.

Now, the photo examples below were taken with a Panasonic G1 (a camera people say isn't much good above ISO 800) with a 45-200mm lens mounted on it. The subject was R&B artist John Legend performing at the Bloomingdale's holiday window lighting celebration in NYC. It was after dark.

Bloomy's is next door to my office and, since I was working, I only had a chance to run downstairs and crack off a few shots in Intelligent Auto mode. Nothing fancy. I was located about that "30-40 rows back" that the OP talks about. No post-processing of the images, either - just resizing for the Web (they're not quite as sharp after undergoing resizing). The results are roughly what you might get with a really good superzoom, maybe the Panasonic FZ40 or FZ100... or the Canon SX20 IS.
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Last edited by Biro; Dec 5, 2010 at 12:23 PM.
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Old Dec 5, 2010, 12:23 PM   #4
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Come to think of it... the Panasonic G1 is being offered for $399 by Amazon.com (at least right now). That and the 45-200mm for about $250 would bring you to a total of $650. Maybe a solution that the OP can manage?
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Old Dec 5, 2010, 5:18 PM   #5
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The cameras you listed aren't much good above ISO 400 and wouldn't gather anywhere near the amount of light of the Panasonic G1. You actually have a very easy subject by concert standards here since you're shooting a pianist. Nice pics btw.
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Old Dec 7, 2010, 5:02 AM   #6
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I think that we would all agree that a good DSLR such as the Nikon D-5000, D-90, or the Pentax Kx would be a much more ideal camera for stage or concert photography. However, sometimes we do not have the financial liquidity to handle a DSLR kit.

Among the m4/3 cameras, the Olympus EPL1 seems to be the best in terms of high ISO capability. The EPL1 can very creditably record stage and concert photos at ISO 1600 and ISO 2000 in a pinch.

But what about just superzoom cameras? Please forget about the Nikon P100 and the Olympus SP-800UZ. Those two cameras both have highly uncontrolled noise supression. There are several high ISO capable cameras worth considering, and some of them are now real bargains. Those cameras would be the Panasonic FZ-28, the Sony H-50, and believe it or not, the Kodak Z1012. Why are these three cameras able to capture good high ISO setting photos? Primarily, because they are unaffected by the big problem of high megapixel P+S cameras of today:excessive pixel density.

As the megapixel count increases, but the camera's imager remains static, to increase the pixel count camera manufacturers have to resort to making the photosites both smaller in physical size, and closer together. The photosite is the actual physical element of the camera's imager that records a single pixel on the image.As these photosites become smaller and closer together, the amount of electronic noise generated increases at a frightfully high rate. It is very much like the "Perfect Storm" for noise generation. The noise curve increase just goes over the edge and out of sight, rendering the image or photo unusable.

The FZ-28, the H-50, and the Z-1012 are either 9mp or 10mp cameras. They do NOT have a problem with pixel density, and all three have good noise suppression firmware. Let's take a look at how their photos look. Please bear with me, as I do not photograph rock concerts, rather I have done a lot of stage photography.

Here is what the FZ-28 can do:

http://anchorse.smugmug.com/Other/Pa...6_7E8jy-XL.jpg

Each of these three cameras have a limiting High ISO setting or a "sweet spot," where you can obtain the best HIGH ISO setting photos. For all three of these cameras, that "sweet spot" is ISO 800. So if you read the EXIF info on these three sample photos, you will find that they were all three taken at ISO 800.

Here is what the Sony H-50 can do:

http://anchorse.smugmug.com/Other/Ko...0_VjEcB-XL.jpg

This photo was taken from over 100 feet from the stage, and I was amazed at how well it turned out. Here is what the Kodak Z-1012 can do:

http://anchorse.smugmug.com/Other/Ko...6_c6bQ3-XL.jpg

Now here is one other option. The Sony A-230 (10mp again) can be purchased brand new from www.walmart.com for just $349. It is even cheaper used. Here is what the Sony A-230 can do:

http://anchorse.smugmug.com/Other/Ko...1_7kQvX-XL.jpg

Notice that the A-230 photos has a fast enough shutter speed to stop the juggler's ball in mid air.

So there are a few ideas for you. A tip of the hat to Biro for alerting me to this thread, as I had missed it.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Dec 15, 2010, 9:45 AM   #7
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I was looking for FZ28 but couldn't find it can anyone help???
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Old Dec 15, 2010, 10:16 AM   #8
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Did you Google: Panasonic FZ28
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Old Dec 15, 2010, 6:20 PM   #9
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A third-party seller at Amazon.com still has a few:
http://www.amazon.com/Panasonic-DMC-...2458646&sr=8-1

If that's too much money, the FZ35 still isn't a bad choice - for $200 less - at Adorama via Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Panasonic-DMC-...dp_ob_title_ce

The replacements for the FZ35 - the FZ40 and FZ100 - are good cameras. But 14 megapixels, in my opinion, is a bit too much resolution for thier tiny sensors. It think the FZ35 might be the best balance of price and quality right now.
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Old Dec 15, 2010, 8:24 PM   #10
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MiniCooper-

Have you really read post#6 in this thread and viewed the photos??
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