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Old Aug 16, 2004, 5:47 PM   #1
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This will be our 1st digital. We are amatures taking pics of our 4 young kids. Shots are often indoors where wide angle would be beneficial for family groups.Also, my husband would like reasonably good pics of our son playing hockey (the most demanding of conditions due to lower light, faster action, zoom needed, glass in the way). I am mostly interested in a very short delay--both prefocused and autofocused. We were looking at Olympus 770, Minolta Z2 (now Z3 but little info on it) and Panasonic FZ10.Could any of these get OK hockey shots and the quick spontaneous shots I'd like? WillI be dissappointed with the lack of wide angle? Should I be looking at a low zoom wide angle camera with the option to add a zoom lens and if so which ones? Or do I need to resign myself tobuy themuch more expensive digital Rebel withadditionally pricey lens for my wide angle and zoom needs? Thanks!
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Old Aug 16, 2004, 10:26 PM   #2
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sbebs wrote:
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This will be our 1st digital. We are amatures taking pics of our 4 young kids. Shots are often indoors where wide angle would be beneficial for family groups.Also, my husband would like reasonably good pics of our son playing hockey (the most demanding of conditions due to lower light, faster action, zoom needed, glass in the way). I am mostly interested in a very short delay--both prefocused and autofocused. We were looking at Olympus 770, Minolta Z2 (now Z3 but little info on it) and Panasonic FZ10.Could any of these get OK hockey shots and the quick spontaneous shots I'd like?
Not in my opinion if Hockey is mandatory. Are you sure you want to take photos at these games? :-)

Well, it probably depends on what kind of quality you are willing to accept from the photos, and the number of "keepers" you'll be happpy with.

Indoor sports are very demanding on a camera. Not even considering autofocus lag, cycle times, etc. -- you're going to have a difficult time getting the shots without high noise and/or motion blur with a non-DSLR model.

Using zoom, the Panasonic will have the brightest lens out of models you are looking at. It's lens is able to maintain a constant f/2.8 aperture throughout it's zoom range. The other models you're looking at lose some of their brightness as more zoom is used.

Well lit indoor sports have an EV (Exposure Value) of around 8. This is about the same as night sports, like a baseball game under bright lights.EV is the way the light is measured. What is bright to the human eye, is not to the camera's lens.

Ifthe indoor hockey matches arewell lit,shooting at ISO 400 (maximum ISO speed for the Panasonic), youshouldbe ableget shutter speeds up to around 1/125 second. This may not be fast enough to stop all of the action, but may good enough get catch some good shots. Noise (similar to film grain) levels at ISO 400 will be very high from these models. So, it depends on the quality of photos you are willing to accept. If your viewing/print sizeswon't be too big, you may find them OK (noise tends to blend in more at smaller sizes).

As far as autofocus, you will probably need to try and anticipate where the action is going to be in advance -- half pressing the shutter button on a spot, then waiting until just before the action arrives and pressing the shutter button the rest of the way down. I' read Steve's review conclusion section about autofocus and cycle times. For spontaneous photos of kids, etc., you'll likely have the same types of issues. Also, the flash is very weak on this model, and low light focus isn't the best. It does have the ability to use an external flash. I'd read Steve's review conclusion section about autofocus and cycle times.

http://www.steves-digicams.com/2003_reviews/fz10_pg5.html

If you jump upto the Digital Rebel, you're going to spend more on just one lens suitable for Hockey, than you'd spend on the entire camera with the Panasonic.

About the cheapest suitable zoom lens for a hockey game is likely to be the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX APO IF HSM Autofocus Lens. It lists formore, but youcan find it discounted for around $799.00 from reputable online vendors now:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=productlist&A=details&Q=&sku=14 8317&is=USA

On a camera like the Digital Rebel, you'd have a 35mm Equivalent Focal Range of 105-320mm with this lens. This is because you must multiply the focal length of a lens by 1.6x to get the35mm Equivalent focal length when it's used on the Digital Rebel.

With this one, you could shoot at ISO 800 at get your shutter speeds up to around 1/250 second. This is a tad slower than the rule of thumb for motion blur caused by camera shake at maximum zoom, but I think it would "close enough". You won't be taking all of the photos at fullzoom anyway.

ISO 800 on the Digital Rebelwill beMUCH cleaner than ISO 400 on the Panasonic. You could also go to ISO 1600 if you really needed to (but the higher the ISO speed, the higher the noise).

Canon does make a 70-200mm f/2.8 IS lens (stabilized), but then the price goes up to around $1,650.00 discounted from online vendors:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=productlist&A=details&Q=&sku=23 4444&is=USA

So, if you got the Digital Rebel with the kit lens (which will give you a 35mm equivalent focal length of about 29-88mm), along with the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX APO IF HSM Autofocus Lens (which I think would be your best bet for hockey), then you'd looking at around $1,700.00 (plus the cost of memory cards and spare batteries). I'd probably get a 50mm f/1.8 too for low light use around the home (this lens is under $100.00).

Note that the Digital Rebel with this Sigma Lens is not a small, light package. Your looking at close to4 pounds for the camera/lens combination. A longer, bright lens for a DSLR gets a bit heavy.

Note that you can get some good tools to reduce noise, if you want to give one of the other models a try. Here are the two best ones:

http://www.neatimage.com

http://www.picturecode.com

I'd read the reviews carefully, paying particular attention to the review conclusion sections. This is where Steve discusses things like Autofocus Speed/Reliability, EVF Useability (Electronic Viewfinders tend to "blank out" between shots, making it difficult to follow the action), Cycle times (time between photos), etc.

If you go withone of the other models you are considering (for example, the Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z3), keep in mind that shutter speeds are going to be slower when using zoom compared to the Panasonic, or much slower than a camera like the Digital Rebel.

So, you may have a very high number of shots with motion blur. The lens on the Z3 stops all the way down to f/4.5 at full zoom, and is likely to be at around f/4 for most focal ranges you'd be at. F2.8 (as you'd have on the Panasonic) is twice as bright as f/4. So, that would bring your shutter speeds down to around 1/60 second with the Z3 at ISO 400 for Hockey.

I personally would not even consider the Olympus for this use (even though it's lens is a little brighter than the Minoltas),since shutter speeds will be too slow to prevent motion blur from camera shake at longer focal lengths for hockey.

Whatever direction you go, I'd make sure to buy from a vendor with a no restocking fee policy. So, if the model you choose doesn't work well enough for the quality you want, you can return it for a refund.

Personally, if Ihad to take photos at a hockey game, I'd probably go with theNikon D70 or D100 in the Nikon lineup -- using the Sigma lens I mentioned above (it's also available in a Nikon Mount). I have nothing against the Digital Rebel, I just prefer a Nikon (I already own a Nikon SLR, and have also owned a couple of their Digital Cameras).

Quote:
WillI be dissappointed with the lack of wide angle? Should I be looking at a low zoom wide angle camera with the option to add a zoom lens and if so which ones?
Why don't you try out some cameras in a store to get a better feel for what kind of field of view you have with different focal length lenses. Then, come back and ask more questions about cameras that may be suitable for what you determine you need.

Personally, I find the typical wide angle setting on most models fine for me. Others may want to go wider.

Quote:
Or do I need to resign myself tobuy themuch more expensive digital Rebel withadditionally pricey lens for my wide angle and zoom needs?
Actually, the kit lens goes pretty wide with the Digital Rebel. It's an 18-55mm lens, which gives you a 35mm equivalent focal length of 29-88mm (you must multiply the actual focal length of a lens by 1.6x to see how it will work on the Digital Rebel).

Sigma also makes a new lens that gives you a 35mm equivalent focal range of 28-200mm on the Digital Rebel (it's their Sigma 18-125mm f/3.5-5.6 DC Autofocus Lens). It's around $269.00 discounted, and comesin Nikon or Canon mounts. It's not bright enough to be suitable (IMO) for hockey games. But, it's a good general purpose lens, and gives you much more focal range in a single lens than the "kit lens" you can get with the Digital Rebel.
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