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Old Nov 28, 2004, 5:49 PM   #1
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Hello world! I am starting to look for a digital camera to replace my Canon S230 and I want one with a larger aperture so that I can take photos in the wee small hours of the morning. The Canon has a maximum aperture of f2.8 and I would like something larger. The Olympus C4040 would have been a good choice, but is no longer available.

Richard
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Old Nov 28, 2004, 6:19 PM   #2
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Do you want something with a really fast lens or one that the marketing department of the company stuck on the front of the lens but really isn't useful? Frequently you will find that the camera will claim F2.8 or f2.0 but that aperture is ONLY available at the absolute widest angle. Zoom, even a millimeter, and the maximum aperture of the lensdrops to f3.5.

Sure, you will have a lens that the specs say is f2.0 but you can rarely if ever use it.
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Old Nov 29, 2004, 10:08 AM   #3
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I want a camera that is good in low light situations - so the answer is a fast lens. I realise that most Compact camera are f2.0 at the widest angle and (maybe) f5.9 at the longest focal length, but that does not surprise me since the f number is a ratio of focal length to diameter!

Richard
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Old Nov 29, 2004, 10:53 AM   #4
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junkman wrote:
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I am starting to look for a digital camera to replace my Canon S230 and I want one with a larger aperture so that I can take photos in the wee small hours of the morning.
Richard, you may need a lot more than a lens with a larger aperture if you want to take photos in the "wee small hours of the morning".

Heck, you really need an f/2.0 lens shooting at higher ISO speeds just to get shots in "well lit" interiors without a flash or tripod unless you have very steady hands and a stationary subject (although a model with a stabilized lens with a stationary subject may be another way to get shots without a flash or tripod).

So, you really need to better define what you need. If you're looking to take photos outside in dim light at night, you're going to need a tripod, period. Otherwise, shutter speeds will be too slow to prevent motion blur from camera shake.

To put things in perspective, you typically have an EV (Exposure Value) of around 1 takingphotos of subjects under a full moon at night. At ISO 100, using a lens with an aperture of f/2.0, you'd need shutter speeds of 2 seconds for proper exposure. Even at ISO 400 (which will be noisy on non-DSLR models), you'd need shutter speeds of 1/2 second, which isfar tooslow to prevent motion blur from camera shake, even at full wide angle.

Even under street lights,you typically only have an EV of around 4. So,using a camera with an f/2.0 lens, shooting at ISO 400, your shutter speeds would only be around 1/15 second (still too slow to prevent motion blur from camera shake for many users -- even at full wide angle). But,if you have very steady hands (and a non-moving subject), this would probably get you "close enough" if you didn't use any zoom with some models (but with noisy photos froma non-DSLR model since you'd be shooting at ISO 400).

Now, you may be able to get away with model with a stabilized lens at f/2.8 in this kind of lighting at higher ISO speeds(but you'll still need to shoot a stationary subject, otherwise you'll have motion blur form subject movement).

You may want to better define what you mean by "photos in the wee small hours of the morning".

It sounds like you may need a DSLR model capable of shooting at very high ISO speeds, coupled with a very bright lens. Even then, you may need a tripod, depending on lighting.

Now, if you really want to know the models that havehave bright (i.e., f/2.0 lenses at wide angle), in non-DSLR models, here is the "short list" (non-discontinued models):

Canon Powershot G6,Panasonic Lumix DMC-LC1,Leica Digilux 2,Sony DSC-F828.

Of course, noise profiles will vary between these models (with the Sony likely having the highest noise as ISO speeds are increased).

Now, you can still find some of the discontinued models in new condition if you look around (for example the Sony DSC-F717).

Of course, the DSLR models are vastly superior at this if you get a bright lens to go with one (thanks to their ability to use higher ISO speeds with lower noise). Depending on what you are looking to shoot, you may be better off buying an entry level DSLR, and getting a bright prime (i.e., 50mm f/1.8 or f/1.4) lens to go with it.


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Old Nov 29, 2004, 11:37 AM   #5
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junkman wrote:
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I want a camera that is good in low light situations - so the answer is a fast lens. I realise that most Compact camera are f2.0 at the widest angle and (maybe) f5.9 at the longest focal length, but that does not surprise me since the f number is a ratio of focal length to diameter!

Richard
All pocketable cameras I know of are f2.8 at best – slowing with zoom. You have to go considerably larger than your Canon to get f2.

A consideration might be the Panasonic FZ3 if 3Mp is sufficient for you. It maintains f2.8 all the way to 12X. It also has stabilization. The combination gives excellent low light capability. The stabilization doesn't help much for subject movement, but it is still hard to beat f2.8 at full zoom for action in anything short of a DSLR. It isn't pocketable though.

If you need more pixels, the FZ20 has the same capability, but it is FAR from compact. It is light for its size, but it is bulky.


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Old Dec 3, 2004, 12:55 AM   #6
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I guess that what I really mean is "I would like a good low light, compact camera" while realising their limitations.

Obviously a DSLR would be the ideal solution, but that is not what I am looking for at the moment.

Richard
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Old Dec 3, 2004, 1:04 AM   #7
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The Canon G6 and the Panasonic LC1/Leica Digilux2 all go down to F2.0, and the Olympus C5050 goes to 1.8. But none of those is exactly pocketable... Am I missing any other "better than 2.8" cameras? The Nikon 8400 has an f2.6 lens but that's not that much better.

Pocketable? Sorry. I think you're gonna have to settle for F2.8.

DCM
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