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Old Feb 2, 2005, 4:17 PM   #1
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I purchased a Canon Powershot Pro 1 in Dec 04, having told the shop assistant that I wanted a camera for taking pictures of my children playing sports, (primarily football, horseriding and gymnastics) preferably with a good zoom. I have found that the focus is so slow that I have lost every shot I have attempted - but have 00s of shots of my daughter landing after her vault or after the show-jump.

I have come to the conclusion that I need to cut my losses and purchase a new camera (unless anyone can tell me what I'm doing wrong with my Powershot?) Can someone please advise what I should buy? I would prefer a camera which is not too big and heavy.
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Old Feb 2, 2005, 6:49 PM   #2
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I will assume you are shooting inside a gym. In order to get the shutter speeds you need for athletics in a low-light situation such as a gym, you will need a camera that will allow you to get high ISO's, and will also allow you to focus manually and therefore avoid autofocus lag. If you watch what the pro's are using at the gym's/courts, you will see them using digital SLR's (known as DSLR's). Take a look at the reviews for the dslr's from Canon, Nikon, Fuji, Olympus, and Minolta.

PhilR.
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Old Feb 2, 2005, 7:17 PM   #3
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Thanks for your comments. I haven't experimented at all with manual focus. I previously had an SLR (film) camera, but always used it on one of the pre-set (usually sports) mode. I tried the Canon EOS300D, which has a sports mode, before buying the Powershot, but I found this to be very large and heavy.

The Canon Powershot Pro 1 can be pre-set to various settings.I will take your advice to try manually focusing. Can you please advise me on the other settings which I should use? - for the gym shots inside with poor light, and for outdoor shots of horseriding/football? Sorry to sound so dumb on these things!
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Old Feb 2, 2005, 8:01 PM   #4
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The Pro1 has about 3/4 second shutter lag if you just press the shutter. In manual focus it is still about 3/10 second. But if you hold the shutter button halfway to pre-focus it takes the shot in less than 1/10 second. That is probably what you want to use.

You can pre-focus on the point where you want to take the picture – like the vault bar or jump. Then hold that and follow your daughter until she gets to that point. Another approach is to engage the continuous focus and pre-focus directly on her before she gets there. The continuous focus will adjust the focus until you push the button the rest of the way. Most continuous focus has a limitation of about 7 or 8 mph directly toward or away from you, but the horse could be moving at 25mph at a 30 degree angle and probably not exceed that.

Camera testers don't use continuous focus or test it. I think they use their DSLRs for their personal photography and continuous focus just isn't on their test menu. So I have no idea of the relative merits of the Pro1 continuous focus. You just have to look for the feature and hope for the best. It works well on the two cameras I have with it and is a necessity for dynamic shooting without a DSLR.

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Old Feb 4, 2005, 6:15 PM   #5
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Thanks for your comments, which are very useful. I am going to try to experiment this weekend and put your suggestions into practice
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Old Feb 4, 2005, 6:33 PM   #6
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Best thing is what has been mentioned above, namely pre-focus and then take the pic...

Another alternative is to use the continuous mode. According to the specs, it looks like the PRo1 can shoot 2.5fps (that means 2.5 pics per second) for a maximum of 6 photos (after that it slows down). Try shooting in continuous mode. You may not capture the exact moment you have in mind but you'll get better pics than now. Set it to continuous mode and press the button just before the shot you want. Hopefully, the shot you want is one of the 6 shots that you'll take within 3 seconds.

There is a new patch for Pro1, which speeds it up supposedly... might want to update the firmware if it's not the latest...
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Old Feb 4, 2005, 6:43 PM   #7
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I agree about the importance of pre-focusing for action shots. I have taken lot of pictures of baseball games and track meets. If I antiicpate where I am going to be shooting, and press the shutter button halfway before shooting, I usually get decent, focused shots.

I currently have a Fuji FinePix S7000. It also has a continuous mode, which has proved to be quite useful. It also has a quite usuable ISO setting of 400, which allows me to increase shutter speed to reduce blur. It has an even higher setting of 800, but the noise is a usually a bother then.

Like you, I have considered DSLR's ,but right now size and money considerations have kept me experimenting with what I have now.

Good luck!
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Old Feb 4, 2005, 9:33 PM   #8
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I shoot a fair amount of indoor sports... particularly gymnastics... The other big problem you will face is the poor lighting... i did a quick check on the specs of your Pro1. While it has a good lens as far a maximum aperture (2.4 to 3.5) it only goes up to ISO 400. I've got a 20D and in most gyms even with my lens wide open at 2.8 I'm forced to shoot ISO 1600 and most likely ISO 3200. So even if you over come things like autofocus and shutter lag you'll probably still end up with a lot of blur...

The only way I've been able to get descent pics I'm afraid to say is with a DSLR and a fast lens...

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Old Feb 9, 2005, 4:04 PM   #9
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You're right about the problem with poor lighting. I took all of the suggestions for increasing the shutter spped (no flash, manual focusing, TV mode with 200 shutter speed, continuous shots). I captured some great shots (mid-air, flying over the vault!), but the light was VERY bad, and the picture quality was not that good.

I also took some shots of a hockey game. These were outside, so light was not a problem. I got some good action shots, but the picture quality seemed very poor.:?
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