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Old Jun 1, 2005, 10:43 AM   #1
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Hi and thanks for reading.

I've got my first job as a reporter in a couple of weeks for a martial arts tournament and want to get a good quality camera which will last me a good 2 years+

The pictures I take will be placed on websites. The venues are normally indoors in dim light but the 'action' will be taking place in a lit ring.

I'm looking at spending up to $500 but as I've never done any photography before want a camera I can just 'point and shoot'.

It needs to produce high quality images and be able to take high speed shots as the fighters can be very 'animated'. Also I want it to be able to take a series of shots in very fast succession by me just holding down the button or something.

FinallyI need one with a good optical zoom as sometimes when the fighters enter the arena they could be up to 75 meters away.

Could you offer me some advice on this.



Many thanks!!
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Old Jun 1, 2005, 10:58 AM   #2
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Quote:
It needs to produce high quality images and be able to take high speed shots as the fighters can be very 'animated'. Also I want it to be able to take a series of shots in very fast succession by me just holding down the button or something.

FinallyI need one with a good optical zoom as sometimes when the fighters enter the arena they could be up to 75 meters away.
Your shutter speeds will most likely be too slow to get many usable photos indoors in low light (and a well litring is probably gong to be low light to a camera).

If you can use a powerful external flash (which may be distracting to the contestants and not allowed), and get close enough, that would help (the flash burst itself can have the impact of freezing the action, depending on your settings, since the subject is not illuminated well enough except during the flash burst).

Otherwise, you will probably need a DSLR with a bright lens (which will be outside of your price range). Even then, you'll need to take lots of photos (usinghigh ISO speeds) to get many keepers.

If a DSLR is outside of your desired budget, I'd suggest a model with a bright lens (larger available apertures, represented by smaller f/stop numbers). Most compact models will lose a lot of light as zoom is used. So, you'll probably need to stay towards the wide angle side of the lens, and shoot at ISO 400. That will mean getting closer than desired.

But, even with ISO 400, you may have a lot more motion blur than desirable, and noise will be bad at higher ISO speeds from most non-DSLR models.

You can reduce the appearance of noise using software (NeatImage, Noiseware and Noise Ninja are popular tools). But, this will destroy some detail. If print sizes are kept relatively small, you may find it acceptable to do it this way, if you can take lots of photos to get some keepers without too much blur.


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Old Jun 1, 2005, 11:51 AM   #3
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Being a martial artist myself & having been to a few... competitions & tried to photograph some, DSLR is the only real choice for quality pictures.

You'll need VERY high shutter speeds or you'll get a blur of whatever action moment you're trying to capture (unless that's what you want). And if you're standing 75 meters (246 ft) away to boot, you'll need a very good set on lenses to go with the camera to accomodate the high shutter speeds. The zoom will darken the images considerably. Unless you plan on making this a business, this is an expensive setup.

You say you need a high quality & posting on web sites, what resolution are you aiming for?
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Old Jun 1, 2005, 1:40 PM   #4
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If you can double your budget and go with one of the entry level DSLR models with a bright prime (50mm f/1.8 to start out with, getting closer to the action), that would be a better way to go.

Else, if I were you, I'd look to the used market. You can pick up a used body for not a lot of money now (something like a Canon EOS-D30 can be found for under $500.00).

The lenses you'll need are what is going to cost you (you can always use Manual Focus if light isn't good enough for an entry level model to focus well). But, if you keep an eye out at local Pawn shops, camera stores, ebay auctions, etc., you can sometimes find some good deals on brighter primes.

I bought a Nikkor f/2.0 85mm MF (Manual Focus) lens not long ago for $40.00 at a Pawn Shop). LOL An f/1.4 or f/1.8 AF would be better. But for 40 bucks, what the heck. It works on an older Nikon 35mm SLR I've got. ;-)

From the distances you're talking about shooting from, you'll need some *serious* (read Large, Heavyand Expensive) glass. You'll want to get closer to the action if possible to keep your lens cost down -- letting you use shorter primes for the job.


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Old Jun 1, 2005, 4:06 PM   #5
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Thanks a lot everyone. This info is helping me to know what I need. Guess it's gonna cost a lot then. Can you get auto focusing digital SLR's? it's the 'point and shoot' I'm mainly bothered about.
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Old Jun 1, 2005, 4:32 PM   #6
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Swerve wrote:
Quote:
Thanks a lot everyone. This info is helping me to know what I need. Guess it's gonna cost a lot then. Can you get auto focusing digital SLR's?
Yes, you can buy Autofocus Lenses for a DSLR. But, in lower light, sometimes Manual Focus works better.

Most Autofocus Lenses will also allow you to manually focus (but some are easier to switch focus modes with compared to others).

Quote:
it's the 'point and shoot' I'm mainly bothered about.
Since you say you've got no experience in Photography, I would suggest thinking about renting a modern DSLR, along with a few bright lenses to get a better idea of what you'd be getting yourself into, before spending a lot of money.

I'd probably go with a couple of bright (f/2.0 or brighter) prime lenses, and something like a Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 HSM EX to get a better idea of what it will be like lugging a larger lens around (and how much focal range you're likely to need for the shooting you want todo).

Then, take a lot of photos at various ISO speeds to see what to expect from autofocus speed, exposure accuracy, noise, motion blur, etc. That would give you a better idea of how much money you'll need to spend to get the quality you need (and how much practice it would take to get there).

If you need longer lenses, you'll need to increase your budgetsubstantially. For close ranges, you can probably get by with an entry level DSLR model and a short prime and come out within a $1,000.00 budget. But, for longer ranges, you'll need larger, heavier and more expensive lenses.
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