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Old Dec 15, 2004, 12:37 PM   #1
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Hi All;

I recently purchased a KM Z3 to replace my Olympus C3000 Zoom and am terribly disappointed in every respect.I absolutely should have done more research than I did before making that purchase, so I cant cry over spilled milk.

My primary use of the camera is shooting basketball games in gymnasiums. Zoom is important to me as I am typically 50 - 75 feet from the action.I understand action shots in low light, from a distance presents many challenges because of the opposing dynamics of motion (fast shutter speed) and low light (longer shutter speed) with use of a zoom thrown in to further complicate the situation. I cant expect perfect pictures but am looking for an upgrade in quality over my Olympus C3000 Zoom.

The Olympus has served me well doing an OK job. I usually shoot with ISO200, +1.3 EV, auto white balance zoomed to the 3x optical limit with a 1.4x Telephoto and no flash. At that distance,using teh flashjust doesnt seem to make a difference one way or the other except to use up mybatteries quicker. If I shoot 150 pictures I will typically have about 35 or 40 keepers, most of which have some degree of blur and noise and are darker than I would like, although editing can fix that problem (dark pictures)provided the picture isnt too dark.

So, I am asking for opinions on where to go from here. Again, spontaneous indoor action shots in low light situations with use of a zoom. I am looking for a picture with less noise, less blur and not too dark. I understand that stepping up to a digital SLR would probably solve most of my problems but for economic reasons thats just not an option at this point. I would like to stay in the $500.00 and under price range but might spend a little more.

Any recommendations, help or advice would be greatly appreciated. Now, what to do with this Z3 that is keeping papers on my desk from blowing away....


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Old Dec 15, 2004, 12:48 PM   #2
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In a reasonably priced digicam you aren't going to do better than the FZ3 IMO. F2.8 at zoom ranges is about as much light as you are going to get.

You have 2 options IMO. The best solution is a DSLR that lets you shoot at high ISO.

The other is to get something with a hot shoe or sync cord connector and get an automatic zoom flash attachment. I have a unit that cost about $75 and will reach beyond 50 feet at f2.8 and ISO 100. That would be reduced in a camera that lowers the maximum f-stop with zoom.

You might consider a slave flash for the FZ3, but that isn't terribly handy at a basketball game. There is some discussion on the Panasonic board. You might ask there about the practicality and what is available.


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Old Dec 15, 2004, 1:05 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply

An external flash is probably not an option for logistical reasons.

A digital SLR could be in my future in a few years, probably when the price point is in the 750.00 range

When you reference the FZ3 are referring to my Minolta or to one of the Panasonic models? I can tell you that the Minolta Z3 is just flat out not acceptable and even after playing with various settings, I have yet to produce even one acceptable image using it as described in my initial post.

Perhaps someone could recommend some specific settings to try with the Z3?

Again, my Olympus blows the Minolta into the weeds even when I shoot fully automatic, zoomed out with a telephoto. Perhaps tonight I will post a sample image.

Again, thanks for the input, it is truly appreciated.
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Old Dec 17, 2004, 10:30 AM   #4
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David -- I wrote you a private message to reply, but the long and short of it is that NO (affordable) camera or lens will provide good quality hand held shots indoors without a flash when the focal length is as wide as the Z3's is (420 mm). To get sharp images at 420 mm handheld, your shutter speed must be at least 1/400 of a second (the image stabilization on the z3 will help, but not too much) and if the stadium isn't lit up blindingly bright, you probably won't be able to get enough light into the camera to support such a short shutter speed without a flash.

I think that may be one reason you're disappointed with the Z3. Suggestions to help
(1) Shoot at a high ISO setting and remove the excess noise with a computer program

(2) Use a monopod to reduce some camera shake (presuming you can't use a tripod due to space concerns)

(3) Shoot on - 1/3 (or lower) ev, or on Tv mode with a shutter speed of at least 1/300 (when fully zoomed in) and boost levels in a photo editing program.



Good luck!


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Old Dec 17, 2004, 10:38 AM   #5
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Look at the Panasonic FZ3. Imagine stabilization adds 2-3 f-stops (or 8X as fast shutter speeds with same f-stop) plus it maintains F2.8 throughout the entire zoom range.

You could also look at the FZ15 or FZ20, depending on total price. To stay around $500 the FZ15 would most likely be the best bet after you buy a 62mm adapter (Pemeraal or Phayee, or whatever you like) and a 62mm UV filter (protector) plus a camera case and a card.

In fact unless you really need the extra MP or manual focus, you'd probably be better off with the FZ3, considering its smaller size. You could then add a 62mm adapter, nice, big SD card, UV filter, and you'd be all set.
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Old Dec 17, 2004, 11:11 AM   #6
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I confused the Z3 with the FZ3, Any of the Panasonic FZ cameras will give you either twice the shutter speed or twice the light as the Z3 at telephoto ranges. I think the C3000 is actually a little slower than the Z3 at telephoto, so I guess you are just getting more noise at ISO200 with the Z3. Otherwise your results should be about the same as the C3000.
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Old Dec 17, 2004, 1:33 PM   #7
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Thanks a ton for the post.

Actually, I have been eyeing the FZ20. Just working on a plan to sell this to my wife

Could you explain the 62mm UV filter? Where could I look online for one? Purpose? Price?

IBUYDIGITAL has the FZ20 for under 400 bucks. like $366 and 15 bucks for shipping

The Minolta uses SD cards and I bought 2 512 32x Lexar cards so Im all set there. Also have a great bag so Im good there as well....

After doing the research I should have done on the front end of this deal, it is my conclusion that one of the Panasonic FZ cameras would nost probably come closest to meeting my needs.

Perdendosi gave me several things to think about with my Minolta so I will give them a try as well.

Thanks guys!
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Old Dec 17, 2004, 1:49 PM   #8
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Many people use a UV filter as lens protection. I just use the lens cap and have a little device to tether it to the camera so I'm not always looking for it. I've never felt the need for lens protection while I am actually using the camera. Once you get in the habit of removing the cap after you turn the camera on and replacing it before you turn it off it seems fine to me. The lens does retract enough to protect a UV filter when the camera is off if you want to go that route.
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Old Dec 17, 2004, 2:05 PM   #9
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gotcha

I have never had a problem using the lens cap so thats the route I will take
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