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Old Jan 31, 2005, 7:46 PM   #1
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I need a digital camera in the $300-$400 price range. I know thats not much. But it is the most I can do right now.......

I have 2 daughters, one is in winter guard with indoor competitions with no flash allowed, the other is into cheer where a flash is allowed. I know that I need a decent zoom because we are sometimes at the top of the gym watching.

please help.

Thanks,

Tina
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Old Jan 31, 2005, 8:33 PM   #2
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$300-$400 is good enough for a decent camera (not top of the line but decent)... but.... the problem is that nearly all hte consumer and prosumer cameras are not that great in low-light (indoors without flash would be considered as such). Furthermore, zooming lets in even less light so it is tough--especially with action shots...

The best ultra-zoom on the market (if you don't care about video) is the Panasonic FZ3. It is within your price range. However it has no flash hot-shoe for attaching external flash, which you will probably want to do where flash is allowed. So, you might want to look at one if the higher end ones like Pansonic FZ15, FZ20 or something like that. If you can't afford the FZ20 or FZ15 then I would just go with the FZ3 and rely on its built-in flash (which has a range of something like 3 meters or something).

Regardless of what camera you pick, action low-light shots will be tough... maybe you should see if you can buy from a place where you can test out the camera and return it without any cost...
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Old Feb 1, 2005, 1:20 AM   #3
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There are no cameras in your price range that will consistently give good shots of sporting activitiesat that range inside a gym. As mentioned above, the onlycamera that might zoom in close enough and still get the exposure is the FZ3, but even that is a stretch. The higher you zoom, the higher the shutter speed needs to be to cancel out your movement, and that doesn't even count the shutter speeds you need to cancel the movement of your subjects. You can add a much more powerful slave flash, but no flash is going to light up the gym floor from way up in the bleachers.

The FZ3 will give you the fastest zoom lens you can get in that price range (and even a few ranges above it). Increase the ISO as high as it will go, open the aperture all the way, and hope that you will get shutter speeds high enough to freeze the action.

PhilR.
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Old Feb 2, 2005, 10:50 AM   #4
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Thanks for your input and info. I have been researching and have decided on the Panasonic. Now the question is....if I am already spending that on the FZ3 should I just go ahead and spend the extra and get the FZ20??? I have looked at their info side by side and am still not sure. and when you add the extra battery, the larger sd card, and lens protector, bag,,etc etc,, I am not sure.

I am thinking this to death.......
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Old Feb 2, 2005, 1:29 PM   #5
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The FZ20 does have the addition of manual focus, which in sports photography can be helpful as it can cut down shutter lag time. If however you do not want to focus yourself, then the only other great practical advantage the 20 gives is more megapixels, which will allow you to print bigger prints.

The FZ20 does have a hotshoe, which makes it somewhat easier to add an accessory flash, but you can still do that anyway with any camera by using a slave flash.

Some people like the size and heft of the 20, but I like the more compact size of the 3. Both have the great 2.8 12x zoom lens.

One thing to consider is how high an ISO you can get with the 20. In your situation, you want as much as you can get. I don't know what it is, but you can find that in the reviews.

PhilR.
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Old Feb 2, 2005, 1:40 PM   #6
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Nothing wrong with putting some thought into a camera purchase.

Have you actually held the cameras? The FZ3 is considerably smaller than the FZ15/20.

I don't see much to recommend the FZ15 over the FZ3 unless you have use for the extra pixels. It doesn't have a hot shoe and the internal flash is about as strong. The FZ20 has a much stronger built-in flash and a hot shoe. And 5Mp. 3Mp will make a very nice 8 X 10.

You don't need lens protection IMO if you leave the lens hood on unless people regularly poke sharp metal objects toward you when you are shooting. My FZ10 lens is still pristine after over a year of use in some pretty challenging situations.

There are aftermarket batteries you can pick up cheaply. But the battery that comes with it will take a hundred pictures if you aren't sloppy about leaving the LCD on all the time. I do have a spare Eagle Imports battery for mine I paid $20 for and which seems as competent as the original. But I don't use it that much.

SD cards aren't that pricey anymore. You want a high speed card for either camera you choose, but you would want a larger capacity for the FZ20.

You might tend to carry the smaller FZ3 around more. And other than the greater flash range you will get about the same shots minus the extra pixels. Those extra pixels come in handy if you take a great shot you want blown up for your wall. But if you aren't going to print over 8 X 10 then 3Mp is plenty.


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