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Old Apr 7, 2015, 1:38 PM   #1
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Default Compact camera for indoor sports

Before everyone starts telling me that compact digital cameras are not good for sports I already have a Nikon DSLR that I use to shoot my daughters gymnastic competitions and understand that a DSLR is typically the way to go here.

What I am looking for is something I can use when I don't want to lug my DSLR out of town. Is there a compact-ish camera with a 20X or better zoom that is capable of what I am asking for?

I have been looking at the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS50, Canon Powershot SX-710 and Sony DSC-HX50VBDL.

Any thoughts if these would work?

David
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Old Apr 7, 2015, 2:34 PM   #2
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1. You need a large aperture (f/2.8 or larger, or numerically smaller) to be able to get fast shutter speeds without risking image noise by using high ISO settings. That is rare in a compact camera.

2. You need a phase detection AF system to get a sharp focus on a moving subject, especially when using a large aperture that provides a shallow depth of field. Compact cameras generally use contrast detection AF which is more accurate for still subjects, but doesn't work very well for moving subjects especially in low light/indoors.

So ... ahem ... "compact digital cameras are not good for sports."

You might be able to get by with a bridge camera like the Panasonic FZ200 or Sony RX10, but I don't think you'll have much luck with a compact camera. After all, if you could have done everything you wanted with a compact camera, you probably wouldn't have bought your Nikon dSLR in the first place.
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Old Apr 7, 2015, 2:51 PM   #3
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As long as you go in to it with the understanding that the pictures will not be as high quality, and you will not have a great percentage of keepers, the yes, you can do this with a compact high zoom camera.
Look for the largest aperture you can get, and the ability to manually focus. If you can pre-focus, shutter lag is minimal to nonexistent. Being familiar with the competitions already, you should have a pretty good idea where the shots you want will occur, and where to focus.
Are you going to get poster size wall hanger shots? Probably not, but you will get the memories.
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Old Apr 7, 2015, 5:29 PM   #4
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Compact cameras have much smaller image sensors than your Nikon dSLR, so you'd get much more image noise than you're accustomed to. And in order to get shutter speeds fast enough to avoid motion blur due to subject movement in low light, you'll need to increase the ISO, so you'll get even more noise, even if you can get a large aperture.
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Old Apr 8, 2015, 4:39 PM   #5
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Compact camera's with a 20x zoom would be of no use for indoor action whatsoever...
They all typically use a small 1/2.3" sensor (necessary for high-zoom in a small form)- which develop far more noise than your DSLR (all else being equal)- that's before you start to crank up the iso settings necessary due to the typically small apertures when using the long end of the zoom.
The only chance you'd have of getting some shots is if the arena is very well lit AND if you capture the said gymnast in one of the mid-routine poses on the beam/floor etc when less shutter speed is required- hence less harmful iso settings.

You might find the Panasonic's viewfinder would help a tad, keeping things a little steadier when shooting at slower shutter speeds for those "posing" moments...
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Old Apr 12, 2015, 2:25 PM   #6
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have you thought of using a video camera that takes stills?
something like the Panasonic HC range
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Old Apr 12, 2015, 4:06 PM   #7
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One of the reasons I was considering the Sony DSC-HX50VBDL is that I can use the HD video mode and it can take stills simultaneously. Several manufacturers also say I can take a still out of a video with included software but I don't know if that is really a good option...
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Old Apr 12, 2015, 4:12 PM   #8
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Video cameras (and still cameras that record video) typically use shutter speeds that are too slow to prevent motion blur due to subject movement while shooting sports/action. The motion blur doesn't matter much for video, but it will ruin stills.
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Old Apr 12, 2015, 4:33 PM   #9
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My Fuji X-S1 has two methods of capturing stills during video shooting. One of them takes a full resolution photo, but interrupts the video to do it, while the other allows continuous video, but only uses the video resolution for the still. I have mine set to the second method, because if I am shooting video primarily, I prefer it to be seamless. (not that I do much video, though)
The Fuji also has a bit larger sensor than most, but couldn't be considered compact, unless you compare it to a DSLR with the lenses necessary to equal its focal lengths.
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Old Apr 13, 2015, 2:11 AM   #10
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The Panasonic FZ1000 has 4K video, where each frame is a 8MP foto. In 4K Photo Mode, you can use all the settings, you use with stills. Works excellent for extracting stills.
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