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Old Oct 11, 2012, 7:05 PM   #21
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I know the OP asked for a DSLR for better quality pictures. It seems hard, however, to get a DSLR and a fast lens for less than $1,000. Would the picture quality of a Panasonic FZ200 with its constant F/2.8 max aperture and 25-600mm zoom range be enough? Let's say the maximum aperture at full zoom of a 70-300mm lens is 5.6. So at 300mm (450mm equivalent on Pentax and Nikon entry level DSLR's), you would get about 1/4 the light at the same shutter speed. So you would be comparing a 12 megapixel image at ISO 800 (on the FZ200) with a 16 megapixel image on the D5100 or T3i or K5 or whatever. I believe that on some DSLR's the ISO 3200 image might be sharper. But would the simple convenience of a single lens covering the range with the constant aperture make the Panasonic a reasonable alternative? No, I don't have the FZ200. I have a Sony A55 and a Nikon P510. However, I wonder about it as I am interested in sports photography, too, and I can't afford to spend a bundle on the top lenses.
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Old Oct 12, 2012, 6:28 AM   #22
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A constant f/2.8 aperture in a superzoom would certainly be an interesting and welcome development. Notice that Steve's Preview doesn't mention it at all. Also, the manual has "Depending on the zoom position, some of the values cannot be selected." interspersed throughout, when referring to selecting an aperture.

I'm a little suspicious about this feature, and will wait to see how it actually works in practice.
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Old Oct 12, 2012, 7:59 AM   #23
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I agree that the Pentax K-30 is a good bet. It is sturdier that the k-r and runs good video. The k-r shoots video as well but is restricted to 16:9 ratio for HD. I also agree that natural lighting is more preferable than flash, though you will either have to get the white balance right for the indoor shots or hope that you can correct it in photoshop..

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Old Oct 12, 2012, 12:14 PM   #24
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Re: flash. I want the built-in/pop-up for indoor regular family stuff (birthdays etc.) and I can see how adding an external flash for larger indoor events (graduations etc) could be helpful. For the watersports however, outdoors it is not allowed (mimics lightning flash and could result in event cancellation or delay) and indoor the swimmers are too far either way.

I appreciate both the similar and differing opinions and experiences with the recommended cameras and lenses. At least I have excellent advice in terms of narrowing my choices and looking at pricing options.

I was curious as well about a super zoom camera instead of SLR and tried out two (Sony with 30X) and Nikon (with 42X). I was impressed that the photos were quite clear given that it was hand held ( I could read the labels on boxes on a far wall that were on a high shelf (the lighting there was bright), but when trying to follow and capture customers who were strolling around the store, I found that the autofocus was very slow. Too slow for my needs, so I took these cameras off of my list. It might be that I don't know how to manipulate them appropriately, but this did seem to be problematic. My daughter's point and shoot focuses much faster.

Lastly, my mother has an older Canon film camera that she doesn't use anymore. She has a Sigma 70-210 f/4:5.6 lens and an external flash I could have if it was compatible with my new camera. Would this lens be useful to me for water sports? I don't know anything about it.

Thanks again for the many replies.
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Old Oct 12, 2012, 1:22 PM   #25
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Even at graduation cerimonies, flash doesn't work very well, unless it's really strong.

Superzooms have lenses with variable apertures that get smaller at longer focal lengths. Since most of your shots will be at longer focal lengths (unless they let you in the pool), a smaller aperture won't help you. That's why you need a dSLR with a large aperture zoom lens.

As for focusing, there are two types of autofocus systems: Phase Detection, and Contrast Detection. Contrast detection AF systems are more accurate for stationary subjects, but for moving subects a Phase detection AF system is faster and more accurate. Phase detection AF systems are bigger, more complex, and more delicate than contrast detection AF systems, so they are only available in larger camera bodies like dSLRs. For what you want to do, a superzoom camera will not perform well.

Canon introduced the EF-Mount for its autofocus lenses in 1987. If your mother bought that lens before then, it definitely will not work with a modern Canon dSLR. EF lenses all have "EF" engraved on them somewhere. Older lenses used the FD-Mount and have "FD" engraved on them somewhere.
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Old Oct 12, 2012, 1:52 PM   #26
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I have the 42x optical zoom Nikon P510. It does not focus fast at full zoom. It doesn't focus fast in dim light either. However, the Panasonic superzooms focus pretty fast. At a local camera store last weekend, I fiddled around with an FZ200. It focused fast on a distant dimly lit box while a Fuji X-S1 had problems focusing (although the picture quality seemed slightly better iwht the Fuji). I had the FZ28 and it focused fast. The FZ47 focused faster. I believe the FZ00 is faster yet. Don't know if the focusing speed would satisfy OP, nor the image quality, but it may be worth it to investigate.
I take pictures of soccer games with a Sony A55 and a pretty decent Tamron 70-300mm lens and sometimes, I wish I had the extra 150mm of focal length and/or a max aperture of F/2.8 at full zoom.
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Old Oct 12, 2012, 2:18 PM   #27
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The "FZ"'s do focus swiftly (I have the FZ-150)- and the f/2.8 aperture of the FZ-200 certainly opens up some new doors for a super-zoom.
Of course- the speed of composition is as important as anything- and no zoom lever will match the twist of a lens barrel...
Oh, if the FZ-200 had a "twisty" zoom....
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Old Oct 12, 2012, 2:21 PM   #28
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Yeah, that's always been a problem I've had with P&S cameras: the lack of a manual zoom.
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Old Oct 12, 2012, 9:27 PM   #29
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Thanks very much for the additional info. Very helpful. I'll check for the markings on the Sigma lens to see which it is.
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Old Oct 12, 2012, 11:30 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SIMON40 View Post
Oh, if the FZ-200 had a "twisty" zoom....
If the FZ-200 is worth considering, then maybe the Fuji X-S1 is too. The X-S1 does have a "twisty" zoom but, more importantly, it has a larger sensor than any other super zoom, including the Panasonic FZ-200.
The X-S1 doesnt' have the 2.8 constant aperture of the FZ-200, but its larger sensor more than makes up for it. I haven't done the math, but I'm guessing that it's on par with the FZ-200 at the long end and even brighter at the wide end.
I don't have first hand experince with it, but most online reviews mention the autofocus as being quite good. By the way, here's a link to Steve's review of the Fuji X-S1: Fujifilm X-S1: the First 100 Days
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