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Old Dec 21, 2004, 2:45 PM   #1
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After searching and reading endless post in this treasure trove of digital nirvana I am still a little puzzled. It seems to be fairly common that many of us are having problems with blurry pictures and such when trying to capture "quick pics" of our kids. I realize that many of these arise from user inexperience but I also gather that some cameras are more suited to this task than others.

For example I have used sub $200 Kodak dx3650 for seveal months and found it very suitable for quick point an shoot, however after "upgrading" to the Canon A80 I am finding it very difficult to produce a non-blurry shot of the little ones.


So I would like to draw on the wealth of knowledge here.

What do you recommend to be the best digital for this task:

1. easily captures non-blurry pic of busy subjects
2. portable (purse/pocket)
3. easily (on-the-go) replaceable or rechargable batteries (preferrably AAs or off the shelf batteries)
4. quality 5x7 prints
5. movie mode with sound (unlimited) 640x480
6. Less than $600

Not sure if shutter lag, startup time, image stablization and other features are significant in helping the relativly inexperienced capture good shots but hopefully those of you who are getting good pics of your little ones can share.



Thanks in advance, not just for myself as I am sure this would assist many who browse these forums.


Thanks Steve for hosting such a terrific site!


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Old Dec 21, 2004, 2:56 PM   #2
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In what conditions are you getting blurry photos (outdoors or indoors; day or night)? If indoors, are you using the flash?
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Old Dec 21, 2004, 3:16 PM   #3
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Not to sound too general but it is hard to narrow it down. It seems that it is difficult to get consistently non-blurry images in every environment. I mostly use auto or P modes and usually don't use the flash. I have tinkered with some of the more flexible modes but at this point dont' have enough knowledge or experience to use them effectively.

Attached is an example, this shot was taken in Auto mode at the school gym, midday with camera on mini tripod sitting on metal bleachers.
(I resized it to fit the forum limit)
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Old Dec 21, 2004, 4:27 PM   #4
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Your main problem appears to be that your shutter speeds are way too slow indoors without a flash. The photo you took was at full zoom, 1/2 second shutter speed at an aperture of f/4.9 (the maximum aperture available for your model at full zoom).

With shutter speeds this slow, and the fact that you were at full zoom (where camera shake is greatly magnified), even pressing the shutter button at all would have probably caused some motion blur, unless your tripod was absolutely rock solid. You'd be better off using the self timer with shutter speeds this slow. But, this would have probably still resulted in blur from subject movement (kidsare not going to be motionless for a full 1/2 second).

The shutter speeds you'll be able to achieve will depend on 3 factors: EV (Exposure Value, which is how light is measured), Aperture, and ISO speed.

See this table to get an idea of shutter speeds you'll have in different lighting. It's based on ISO 100; so each time you double the ISO speeds, you can use shutter speeds twice as fast.

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

Non-DSLR models don't do well for non-stationary subjects in existing light. If you need faster shutter speeds with your existing model, you'll need to increase your ISO speed (which will increase noise levels), then try to stay at full wide angle (more than twice as much light reaches the lens at it's wide angle setting with your model).

Fortunately, for a non-DSLR model, the A80 has lower than averagenoise levels with it's 4MP 1/1.8" CCD as ISO speeds are increased. So, if you can't use a flash, increase ISO speedand use a tool like NeatImage (http://www.neatimage.com) or Noiseware (available from http://www.imagenomic.com) to reduce the appearance of noise later.

Your best bet for existing light photos without a flashis a DSLR model with a bright lens. The Canon Digital Rebel using a 50mm f/1.8 (non zoom) lens is a popular choice. This model can shoot at higher ISO speeds with lower noise compared to the non-DSLR models (because it has a much larger sensor, with larger photosites for each pixel that are capable of gathering more light).

Another thing youcouldtry is to find a model with a brighter lens.The Canon G3 (discontinued 4MP model with an f/2.0-3.0 lens) is popular for lower light. Like your A80, it's using a 4MP 1/1.8" CCD, which has less noise than some of the newer models as ISO speeds are increased (but still much higher than a DSLR). The discontinued Sony DSC-F717 would be another model to consider (f/2.0-2.4 lens with a 2/3" 5MP CCD).Another lowercost option would be a used Olympus C-4040z.

All of these models would allow shutter speeds twice as fast as your A80 for any given ISO speed and lighting condition (thanks to their brighter lenses). But, even with them, you'd still need to increase ISO speed to get shutter speeds fast enough to get photos of non-stationary subjects without a flash indoors (and so noise will increase, too).

Again, your best bet for existing light photos without a flashof non-stationary subjects is a DSLR with a bright lens (Canon Digital Rebel, Nikon D70, etc.). DSLR models will work much better in lower light as ISO speeds are increased, compared to any of the non-DSLR models (which have much smaller sensors).

Of course, another option is to use a flash and stay within the rated flash range with your existing camera (or another similar model).



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Old Dec 21, 2004, 11:02 PM   #5
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Wow! Thanks for the info Jim. I have to admit it is a little overwhelming. (I could probably use a semester or two in digital imaging) However I am honored that you are taking the time to help out a newcomer.

Unfortunately my wife is even less digtially literate, so if I could trouble you further I would really like your suggestions.

She came to me and said "I really don't like this camera; it takes too long to snap the picture after I press the button and I miss or get blurry shots, and yes I am holding it halfway to focus first".

That was the statement that started me investigating. I personally haven't found another camera that offers much more bang for the buck than the A80 but I am willing to consider letting it go if I can find a viable replacement. Looking through Steve's reviews and the forums Sony seems to be a popular favorite but I hate to re-invest in yet another memory medium. But I will if needed.

Do you think the solution is entaled in overcoming a slight learning curve or would I be better off looking at a different camera?
Keeping in mind that a busy mother of 3 isn't going to feel the motivation to educate herself on the technical aspects of the device.

Thanks again, I really appreciate the help.

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Old Dec 23, 2004, 12:32 PM   #6
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Hi DaveDeal,

Welcome to the forum

Sounds like you have a very active household with your three lil youngsters.

If size of digcam is not a "deal breaker" (every pun intended...cant help it ) then you may want to consider the Panasonic FZ20.

You can find it for about five bills, 12x optical zoom, image stabilization (less blurred photos!) and it could serve as admirable dig cam for vacations when your kids are a little older and can appreciate YellowStone NP, etc

Just a thought...
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