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Old Nov 29, 2004, 4:17 PM   #1
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I'll be receiving a digital camera for Christmas, and I am in the process of searching for the best camera for me. I will mostly be printing 4x6's and pics for the web, so I know that 3-4 Megapixels should suffice. My dilemma arises when it comes to optical zoom.

I haven't really seen any good analysis out there that gives a good gauge of how high of an optical zoom you need for certain types of pictures. While a good portion of my photos will be relatively close, I would like the option to take pictures at arenas and stadiums. It doesn't seem that 3x Optical Zoom will be great for pictures like that. Would I have to get a 10x Optical Zoom for the best results, or would a 6x or 8x suffice?

Besides price, I would like have as small as a camera as possible. It seems like most of the 10x zoom cameras are a little bulky (I can only gauge from pictures, since I haven't seen many of them in person).

Any help would be appreciated.
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Old Nov 29, 2004, 5:10 PM   #2
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jersey,

i can tell you that 8 or 10x is not going to cut it in an arena. i have the panasonic fz1 which is fairly compact and has 12x optical and i can say that in the milw. bucks arena even being only 30 rows back from court the 12x wasnt enough.

you may want to check out some of the other areas on this site like the panasonic forum. i paid about $150 new for the fz1 about 3 weeks ago and my dad loves it.

you will not find much over 12x optical. i am told that if you increas the pixels you can crop and get some good up close shots.
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Old Nov 29, 2004, 5:14 PM   #3
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the optical zoom of the camera does, in part, dictate the overall size of the camera.

a lens that would give you a 10x optical zoom cant physically fit into a camera with the footprint of the sony T1. most cameras with that much zoom are going to have the look and feel of a SLR but can be much smaller. the S1 is a nice camera with a 10x optical zoom and isnt too much of a pain to carry around
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Old Nov 29, 2004, 6:36 PM   #4
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JerseyCane wrote:
Quote:
I haven't really seen any good analysis out there that gives a good gauge of how high of an optical zoom you need for certain types of pictures. While a good portion of my photos will be relatively close, I would like the option to take pictures at arenas and stadiums. It doesn't seem that 3x Optical Zoom will be great for pictures like that. Would I have to get a 10x Optical Zoom for the best results, or would a 6x or 8x suffice?
The difference between 8x and 10x isn't THAT large. Yes it matters but when you ar comparing the camera, you should just lump all the high-zoom into the same category and compare them.

One way to consider the size is as follows... take the 35mm equivalent max zoom, and divide it by 50mm. This will give you how much the object will be magnified compared to your eyes. In other words, a 50mm camera will show you exactly what your eyes see (and what fits within the frame of your eyes). For example, my Canon S1 IS with a 10x zoom has a max zoom of something like 350mm in 35mm equivalent terms (I need to check but that's roughly the specs of my camera). This is roughly 7x (350/50=7) so any object that you see with your eyes will be magnified 7x at max zoom.

I'll post some pics to show you some samples...

Quote:
Besides price, I would like have as small as a camera as possible. It seems like most of the 10x zoom cameras are a little bulky (I can only gauge from pictures, since I haven't seen many of them in person).
That's correct... all ultra-zooms (10x+ zoom) are "SLR-like" in terms of size... You will not find any compact or ultra-compacts with 10x+ zoom.
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Old Nov 29, 2004, 6:38 PM   #5
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Just to finish off the previous post, using high-zoom is tough without a tripod--even with image stabilization!

First off, I'll post a couple of pics my brother (who is a newbie and doesn't know how to use the camera--actually I don't know much either) in a basketball game...

Here is where he sat:

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Old Nov 29, 2004, 6:39 PM   #6
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Here is a zoomed in one...
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Old Nov 29, 2004, 6:40 PM   #7
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I think this is 100% zoomed in.. but I'm not sure if he moved closer to the court (I don't think he did)...
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Old Nov 29, 2004, 6:44 PM   #8
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Sorry about posting so many images... I'm not dial-up-like connection and this is slow as hell... anyway...

Here are the first of two pics I took just a few minutes ago to show you how much zoom you get with 10x zoom (note: the actual magnication will depend on the max 35mm equivalent value since some cameras start "closer" and zoom out.. As a side note, the higher the minimum 35mm zoom value (i.e. wide-angle) the worse it is for close-up pics like indoors within a room. So you are basically have to pick either distance or good indoor/tight pics)...

Shooting out my window at minimum zoom...

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Old Nov 29, 2004, 6:46 PM   #9
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I'm zooming into the center of the above pic... this is at 10x zoom...

All pics on the Canon S1 IS, which is not supposed to be good in low-light...
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Old Nov 29, 2004, 11:02 PM   #10
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Thanks Sivaram! Those shots definitely give me a good idea of what I'm looking for.
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