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Old Dec 14, 2004, 10:18 AM   #1
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Hi. I am looking for a great camera with fast shutter speed, great indoor photos (low light) and excelent outdoor photos too. I am currently in Europe and planning to take pictures of places, museums and monuments and also low light parties (no red eyes). And at last, great battery life. WITHOUT taking in consideration money, of this 4 ones which one should I buy:



Nikon Coolpix 5200 SonyDSC - P93 Sony DSC - P100 Canon Powershot 95
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Old Dec 14, 2004, 1:10 PM   #2
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Actually, for museums where you may not be able to use a flash, none of them is likely to do a good job.

Their lenses aren't very bright (start out at around f/2.8, losing brightness as more zoom is used), with smaller 5MP 1/1.8" sensors which are not the best for noise at higher ISO speeds.

You'll probably need to use a flash indoor with these smaller cameras for moving subjects to prevent high noise and/or motion blur. As far as redeye, you'll have it in many conditions with smaller models, since their flash is located so close to the lens.

For non-moving subjects where you may not be able to use a flash (i.e., Museums that may not allow a flash), you'll want to use a tripod to prevent blur from camera shake and/or noise from higher ISO speeds.

A DSLR model is better suited for low light without a flash or tripod, since they have far less noise as ISO speeds are increased.

In non-DSLR models, you'll want to look at something with a brighter lens for existing light use if you can't use a tripod or flash. I'd suggest something like a Sony DSC-F717 (f/2.0-2.4), which has a lens that's at least twice as bright as most models, with a 5MP 2/3" CCD. So, it would let you use shutter speeds twice as fast as most models at full wide angle, with even more difference when using zoom.

The G Series Canons also have bright lenses. If you can find a used G3 this would work well. Otherwise, I'd probably be inclined to go with a G6 (skipping the G5). Despite it's densor 7MP 1/1.8" CCD, it seems to do a better job compared to the 5MP 1/1.8" CCD with noise.

http://www.steves-digicams.com/2004_reviews/g6.html

Another option would be the Konica-Minolta DiMAGE A1. It's got built in anti-shake technology, and a lens that starts out wider than most at a 35mm equivalent focal length of 28mm. It's lens starts out at f/2.8 (not as bright as the Sony DSC-F717 or Canon G Series models I mentioned, since their f/2.0 is twice as bright as f/2.8 ). The A1 has a 5MP 2/3" CCD like the Sony DSC-F717.

The anti-shake feature of the Konica-Minolta DiMAGE A1 would work well for stationary subjects and reduce blur from camera shake. It's noise levels are also lower than the Sony DSC-F717, once you adjust for the A1's true ISO sensitivity (which is about 2/3 stop brighter than it's rated ISO sensitivity).

http://www.steves-digicams.com/2003_reviews/a1.html

Or, go with an Ultra Zoom model with a stabilized lens to help reduce blur from camera shake. Examples would be the Pansonic DMC-FZ3, DMC-FZ15, and DMC-FZ20 models. These all have lenses that maintain f/2.8 throughout their aperture range (so they're not as bright as the Sony DSC-F717 or Canon G Series models at most focal lengths, but do have anti-shake).

The Ultra Zoom models will have higher noise as ISO speeds are increased compared to the other models, though (their sensors are smaller and denser).

There are pros and cons to the various approaches. The models with the brightest lenses would allow faster shutter speeds for moving subjects in lower light (since stabilized lenses and anti-shake won't help blur from subject movement).

But, a stabilized lens can give you 2 to 3 stops for hand held photos in settings like a museum where you don't have to worry about blur from subject movement -- keeping the Noise Levels of the ultra zoom models in mind.

You'll want to use noise reduction software later if shooting at higher ISO speeds with any camera. The two most popular tools are Neat Image (http://www.neatimage.com) or Noiseware (http://www.imagenomic.com).

A much better solution for low light use if budget allows (and you don't mind the extra size and weight) would be one of the entry level DSLR models like the Nikon D70 or Canon Digital Rebel. Then, make sure to buy a bright lens like a 50mm f/1.8 to go with one. Both Canon and Nikon have 50mm f/1.8 lenses for under $100.00 at most vendors.

http://www.steves-digicams.com/2003_reviews/300d.html

http://www.steves-digicams.com/2004_...nikon_d70.html

Pentax also has a new entry level DSLR model out now:

http://www.steves-digicams.com/2004_reviews/istds.html

A prime (non-zoom) lens like this would be very bright and inexpensive, giving you a 35mm equivalent focal length of 75mm on a Nikon D70, or 80mm on a Canon Digital Rebel.

The DSLR models have much larger sensors, and can shoot at higher ISO speeds with lower noise compared to the non-DSLR models. Check for current rebates when shopping for these models if you decide to go with a DSLR.

Also, I'd make sure to buy from a "Trusted Vendor", checking customer reviews in the price search engines like our Camera Buyer's Guide

You may also want to buy from a vendor with a no-restocking fee policy, in case you are not satisfied with the results. I'd also suggest trying out models you consider in a store before buying.

Finally, I'd suggest reading the reviews here for models you consider, paying close attention to the review conclusion section (where you'll usually see autofocus speed and reliability, cycle times between photos, image quality indoors and oudoors, etc., discussed).

If you can use a tripod for your museums, and a flash for moving subjects indoors, then the models you're looking at would be OK (but, make sure to check each model's flash range in the specifications section).

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Old Dec 14, 2004, 2:42 PM   #3
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Jim,

Great write-up, as usual. Given the number of people hitting this section with very similar 'which camera' questions - I'm wondering if it would be possible to maybe publish a comparison chart of the cameras in Steve's suggestion page. The chart could include your standard features (focal lenght or zoom, aperature values, MP, sensor size, shutter lag, etc.) plus several 'checkbox' categories such as 'Good in low light' or 'IS enabled' or 'flash hotshoe' etc. This might give people a quick way to narrow down to a few models and would also give you and the administrators a simple page to direct people to and which categories they should concentrate on. It's easy for me to suggest since I'm not an administrator:blah:but I thought it might be a time saving device in the longrun.



John
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Old Dec 14, 2004, 7:17 PM   #4
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Thanks for all the in-depth info. It was great, but I needed to know between the four I mentioned. But thanks anyways for your time and effort!

ElĂ*as
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Old Dec 15, 2004, 6:13 AM   #5
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eliasorozco wrote:
Quote:
Thanks for all the in-depth info. It was great, but I needed to know between the four I mentioned. But thanks anyways for your time and effort!

ElĂ*as
Elias, my point is that none of these models are really going to be suitable for low light without a flash or tripod. They all use the same 5MP 1/1.8" CCD, manufactured by Sony, and they all have relatively slow lenses (start out at f/2.8, dropping in brightness as more zoom is used to f/4.9 or smaller apertures at full zoom).

So, shutter speeds in low light without a flash will be virtually identical between them if you set ISO speeds the same. Without a flash or tripod in lower light (i.e., typical indoor lighting), you'll get motion blur from shutter speeds that are too slow, or high noise if you increase ISO speed.

With a zoom lens, you usually see two apertures listed (the maximum available aperture at wide angle, and the maximum available aperture at full zoom). Some higher quality zoom lenses can maintain a constant aperture throughout their zoom range. The models you're looking at all start out at f/2.8 at wide angle, dropping off to f/4.9 or smaller apertures at full zoom.

Aperture is a ratio of thefocal length of the lens and thesize of the aperture iris opening.

When shopping for cameras and lenses, the aperture scale (in one stop increments) goes f/1.0, f/1.4, f/2.0, f/2.8, f/4.0, f/5.6, f/8.0, f/11, f/16, f/22... With each one stop move to a smaller aperture (represented by larger f/stop numbers), you will need shutter speeds twice as long for proper exposure.

Here is achart you can use to get anidea of the shutter speeds required for any EV (Exposure Value, which is how light is measured) and Aperture. It's based on ISO 100. So, each time you double the ISO speed (settable up to ISO 400 in most compact models), you can use shutter speeds twice as fast:

http://home.earthlink.net/~terryleedawson/dcnotes/tables.htm

So, in typical indoor lighting, with an EV of 6, at an ISO speed of 100, using a camera with an aperture of f/2.8 (only available at the wide angle lens setting for the cameras you're looking at), the camera would need a shutter speed of approximately 1/8 second for proper exposure.

The "rule of thumb" to prevent motion blur from camera shake is 1/focal length. So, if you are shooting at around 40mm (near the wide angle lens setting for most compact models), you'd want shutter speeds of 1/40 second or faster to reduce motion blur from camera shake.

As you can see, 1/8 second won't "cut it" without a flash or tripod. Even if you increased ISO speed to 400 (which will be very noisy with smaller CCD sensors), you'd only get shutter speeds up to around 1/30 second. Now, this may be "close enough" to prevent blur from camera shake, but you'd still need to worry about blur from subject movement, and you'd have a lot of noise/grain in your photos at ISO 400.

AnEV of 6 is typical forhome interiors with lights on. So, if light is lower than this, even slower shutter speeds needed to properly expose the image.

Forget about using zoom without a flash or tripod with these models in low light (less light reaches the sensor using zoom).

So, I'm just trying to set your expectations (i.e., you can't expect to shoot without a flash or tripod with these models indoors without motion blur and/or high noise).

If you are able to use a flash,the Nikon Coolpix 5200 appears to have the most powerful flash, followed by the Canon Powershot A95.

As far as your redeye concerns, the Nikon Coolpix 5200 you're looking at has a built in feature to reduce it (these smaller cameras will still have redeye, but Nikon is reducing it in the camera versus you using software to reduce it later).

I'd read the reviews, paying close attention to the review conclusion sections to see more pros and cons of these choices.



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