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Old Jun 9, 2011, 5:59 PM   #1
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Default Dude, I want to shoot surfing!

(I have tried to post this a couple of times so if the others show, my apologies for the duplicates)

I am looking for a camera to photograph surfing. The break is about 250 feet away, with rides taking the surfer another 150 feet away. I do not need close ups but would like the rider to be centered with about 10 feet around him visible in the photo. So the entire image would cover about 20 feet of space after zoom or crop.

I will not be printing very often and when I do, 8x10. Most will be for nice high res computer viewing and slide shows on the internet.

Here are my priorities.
$.....around $500 or less so I am thinking ultra zoom.
burst, need at least 4 shots per second preferrably higher with auto focus
long enough lens to cover the above
Sharp image and vivid colors. Want to see texture and definition in the spray.
HD video with autofocus preferably 1080.

I will do some editing in PhotoShop.

I have looked at the new ultrazoom from Canon but it seems too slow. Nikon P500 and Pan FZ100 look interesting but dont get great reviews for image quality. But maybe for my use it is a non issue. I would go for an older model if I could up the quality but still get sufficient lens and burst.

Please adivise. Thank you all!
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Old Jun 9, 2011, 6:17 PM   #2
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1080p and a fast burst mode requires a CMOS sensor, but CMOS sensors also produce softer images. A tiny sensor cam such as the ones you're looking at may also have some trouble producing the texture and definition you are looking for in the spray, though it depends on how high your standards are. The FZ100 is worth looking into, as it the Canon SX220/230 if the 14x zoom is enough for you.
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Old Jun 9, 2011, 8:00 PM   #3
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Based on my neighbor who shoots with a 400mm lens, I would need to replicate the FL of at least that. Not sure if that equals 14x or not. I could probably live with something less than 1080 HD but it would be nice. But I can not live with less than 4 fps burst.

I also can live with lesser quality at low light and or above 400 ISO. Just trying to find best in class for the FL that I need and the need to have some burst. I fully realize I am not going to get dSLR quality, but for computer viewing I am hoping to get some clear crisp shots.

If I am not fully satisfied, that is ok for now. I will keep the camera for point and shoot family stuff and perhaps then will save up for the real deal.

Any other thoughts?

Thanks for your feedback.
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Old Jun 10, 2011, 1:41 AM   #4
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Well you can look at the bridge cam offerings from Fuji, Sony, and Nikon as well. The FZ100 has really fantastic color and it's the fastest P&S I've ever used so I would recommend having a hard look at it. It's true that the IQ isn't the best, but it's generally regarded as being at least as good, if not better, than the other CMOS bridge cams.
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Old Jun 10, 2011, 1:51 AM   #5
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You will for sure need more than $500 for a full frame and good telephoto. Save up for a Nikon d700 and get at least a 400mm lens. I think sigma makes a decent one.

http://www.amazon.com/Sigma-120-400m...7685004&sr=8-2

Yeah $1000 so not too bad, 4.5 - 5.6 which will be fine for outdoors.
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Old Jun 10, 2011, 2:55 PM   #6
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I think I have done way more research on which camera to buy than I did when deciding to marry my wife!

But for my needs, I plan to go with the Sony HX100v. This camera seems to do it all and from what I have read, has better IQ then the FZ100.

It does not have quite as wide an angle, nor does it shoot in Raw, but those are not priorities for me. I especially like the, IQ, burst speed and the fact that is shoots 1080p HD video at 60fps.

If I am misguided with any of these opinions, please let me know. But overall, I think I will be pleased with the Sony.
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Old Jun 10, 2011, 3:37 PM   #7
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Although I'm not thrilled w/ the FZ100 IQ, I have my doubts the Sony would be better. Sony does, however, do a lot of i-camera sharpening so the images are almost certain to look sharper out-of-camera ... but artificially so. I had last year's Sony and returned it very quickly. Very slow, poor design, poor auto exposure ... Good luck with it.
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Old Jun 10, 2011, 10:55 PM   #8
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Even if you go with a bridge camera like the Fuji HS20 your burst are going to be limited to a few seconds in length at 3fps or 5fps. To get longer and better bursts you will really want to get a d-SLR. Also I noticed in the HS20 burst modes if you move the zoom during the burst (assuming your surfers will move towards you....) the focus starts to get ify as it has to hunt for it but if you keep the focal length the same the burst modes work good.

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Old Jun 11, 2011, 3:55 AM   #9
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Hi and welcome looking at your opening post I would say the camera you need is something like a canon 7d shoots around 8fps you would need a a nice long lens 400 and a CP filter would also be nice and then you can take the type of shots you want, But this is going to be expensive so it what price you want to pay. I don't think a P & S will get you what you want
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Old Jun 11, 2011, 9:30 PM   #10
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You essentially have three sets of problems and one body and one lens related, and the largest one is budget.

You can do everything you want with a superzoom with the exception of "Sharp image and vivid colors. Want to see texture and definition in the spray". To get those requirements will need a good lens and a reasonable body with at least an SLR sized sensor (APS-c).

Lens - The distances you are working at 250 to 400 feet with a field of view of 20 feet, is going to require a focal length of about 400mm to 500mm. That is usually expensive glass. Sharp image and vivid colors are primarily a function of the lens. Want to see texture and definition in the spray are also going to be determined by the lens. Here is an online calculator that will help you figure out the lenses you need based on the Dimensional Field of View.
Body - You can get away with as little as 6MP for 8x10s, if you wish to save money on the body. More resolution will provide you the ability to crop your images. Sensor size is going to help with the lens, as a smaller sensor will help amplify the lens' field of view. However the smaller the sensor the more noise it will create, thus obscuring the texture and definition in the spray.

You can go with a superzoom, but I believe that you will be disappointed with the results.

I would suggest the following....

A Sigma 150-500mm zoom for Nikon, since its a bit less than for the Canon - $1,050 which includes stabilization and with a telephoto lens of this length, you will need something (if you hand hold.) If you are going to use a tripod, then you can forget about the stabilization and look for an older model with out it that will cost a bit less.
Then, I would find an older Nikon body for it that does 4 FPS. It might not have 1080p but you are budget limited. If you want to go with everything, then the Nikon D7000 is a wonderful body, however it runs $1150
So for about $2.3K +/- you can get everything you want.

Going to a slightly older body like the D5000, you can still get 4FPS and your body costs comes down to $500 and it does video.

However the body is useless without a reasonable lens. So with the Sigma lens and Nikon body you are down to $1,500. You can also possibly look for a used one. I think that this will do pretty much everything you wish.

I would suggest that you take a walk along the beach, break water and out on the pier to see what others are using in terms of lens and body. I don't think I am too far off.
I don't see you hand holding the camera lens combination for long, so you will also probably need a tripod and a good head with a lens like this. Add another $300+.....

Good luck and good shooting.....


Last edited by interested_observer; Jun 11, 2011 at 9:49 PM.
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