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Old Dec 18, 2005, 1:33 AM   #1
jdg
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Hello everyone and Happy Holidays!

I'm looking to upgrade from a Nikon Coolpix 5200 and need some helpful suggestions. I was looking at the Coolpix S4 because of the swivel and the 10x zoom but I have some concerns on the lower-light shakies.

Basically, I love my Coolpix 5200 ... It's the right size (I don't really want anything too much bigger than this), it's 5.0 MP (I'd like a little more than 5.1 ... 6.0+ really), it has a bunch of functions that I can use or ignore, and it takes great pictures.

Unfortunately, I've been trying to take a few photos in lower light settings. What I do is put it in the mode for night shots which seems to set the flash off at a delay (sorry, not really saavy here so I don't know all the terminology). It works great, as long as the wind doesn't blow and I hold my breath ... otherwise, I get a blurry picture. Does anyone have any suggestions as to what would fit the bill here while having some sort of shake-reducing technology? My Coolpix 5200 displays a little hand in the LCD Display when it's in the lower-light mode ...I know I can't move -- but it doesn't really work that well for me ... and I'm not sure BSS is a solution? I'm not particularly fixated on Nikon (though I do like their products). I would like to stay with something that supports SD/MMC however.

Thoughts, Suggestions, and/or Comments would be greatly appreciated.



-jdg
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Old Dec 18, 2005, 10:42 PM   #2
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Well if you like Nikon, I just bought the new Nikon Coolpix L1 and I love it!* It's so easy to use has lots of features and takes beautiful pictures.* You can get it for a really reasonable price too
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Old Dec 19, 2005, 12:04 AM   #3
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Thanks! How does it do in low-light situations though? My biggest issue with the 5200 is that my low-light pictures come out all blurry. I get the little hand flashing in the screen and I try really hard to stay still and not breath ... but ... I get blur an awful lot ...
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Old Dec 19, 2005, 5:09 AM   #4
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If you do not use tbe BSS mode you should learn how. It will go a long way toward taking care of your blurry picture problem and you probably will wind up not wanting to sell 5200 after you see how good it works
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Old Dec 19, 2005, 9:30 AM   #5
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I'll look through the manual for BSS and do some testing with it ... BSS = Best Shot Selector if I remember correctly? Any special tips for it?

Thanks for your input!
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Old Dec 19, 2005, 11:33 AM   #6
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Yes, BSS is Best Shot Selector. It is brilliant, and surprising other camera makers have not tried to copy it. It is simple, not much you need to do. Just put it into BSS mode from the menu, then when you take the picture, hold shutter the button down, and it will take a series of 10 pictures(or less if you release the shutter button) The camera will automatically save the sharpest one (and only one)on the memory card. So the odds are with 10 shots taken, your hands probably kept the camera steady for at least one of them. This is great for low light shots. I have taken 1/4 second exposures, hand held, that have come out well in low light. To me it is almost as good as Image Stabilization




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Old Dec 19, 2005, 1:36 PM   #7
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jdg wrote:
Quote:
Unfortunately, I've been trying to take a few photos in lower light settings. What I do is put it in the mode for night shots which seems to set the flash off at a delay (sorry, not really saavy here so I don't know all the terminology). It works great, as long as the wind doesn't blow and I hold my breath ... otherwise, I get a blurry picture. Does anyone have any suggestions as to what would fit the bill here while having some sort of shake-reducing technology? My Coolpix 5200 displays a little hand in the LCD Display when it's in the lower-light mode ...I know I can't move -- but it doesn't really work that well for me ... and I'm not sure BSS is a solution? I'm not particularly fixated on Nikon (though I do like their products). I would like to stay with something that supports SD/MMC however.

Thoughts, Suggestions, and/or Comments would be greatly appreciated.



-jdg
I don't think a new camera will necessarily help with this particular problem, because if it is what I think it is, it would happen with any camera.

I think what you're referring to is the slow-sync flash mode. What happens in this mode is that a slower shutter speed is used (say, 1/15s instead of the 1/60s speed that is normally used with flash) in conjunction with flash.This allowsyoutotake night portraits, e.g. a person standing in front of city lights. So the person is lit by the flash, and the background is properly exposed by the longer shutter speed.

So, with the longer shutter speed, subject movement is more likely to be captured unless the subject is really good at remaining still. This results in a kind of "ghost image". The other thing that results in a blurry picture is camera shake. At shutter speeds slower than 1/60s, this is more likely to be noticeable in your pictures. Best thing is to use a tripod. If you don't have one handy, try to find something to rest the camera on or against while you take the picture. If nothing's handy, use the best hand-holding technique possible - both hands on the camera, elbows close to your sides, and use the optical viewfinder instead of the LCD (since holding the camera at arm's length - which is what most people do when they're using the LCD as a viewfinder - is a less stable position).

All of this applies to pictures taken using any camera. If you're fortunate enough to have image stabilization in your camera, you don't have to worry as much about camera shake (but IS does not prevent blur due to subject movement). Nikon's Best Shot Selector won't eliminate blurriness from your pictures, but itwill at least help you weed out the most blurry ones.

I took the shot below using self-timer and a tripod. It was a 3 second exposure, so wetried hardto stay really still, butthere is a bit of movement of course, so we don't appear tack sharp in the photo.I had to make several attempts before I got one that was decent. Just to show you that what you're experiencing isn't exclusive to your camera.




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Old Dec 19, 2005, 1:40 PM   #8
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Thanks again!

How long does it take to fire off those (10) shots? If I was shooting fireworks or a fountain display or something ... time would be of the essence ...
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Old Dec 19, 2005, 2:23 PM   #9
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Another solution is a camera with high ISO capabilities. This makes the sensor more sensative, so the shutter does not have to be open as long for the same exposure. The downside is increaced noise. However, it will be difficult for you to get a camera just as small as the 5200 and 10x zoom with low noise capability.

A Fuji F10 will take care of your low light situations with ease, being able to go up to ISO1600 with about the same amount of noise as your 5200 does at ISO400. It also has the 6.3MP you want. However, it does not have viewfinder, the 10x zoom, or a SD/MMC card slots.

The Fuji S5200 will also allow better low light capabilities with a 10x zoom, but there is a little more picture noise than the F10 and is only 5MP.

The Canon S2 may be another good choice for you. It gives you 12x zoom, Image stabilization, but is only 5MP and has more noise than both Fujis and maybe even your Nikon.

As was mentioned before, Image Stabilization will reduce camera shake, but won't stop movement like increacing the ISO will. Each solution has it's own benefits.
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Old Dec 19, 2005, 2:44 PM   #10
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jdg wrote:
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Thanks again!

How long does it take to fire off those (10) shots? If I was shooting fireworks or a fountain display or something ... time would be of the essence ...
Oh, I guess I was mistaken...I thought you were trying to take night portraits when you mentioned that you had the flash on in your initial post. Sounds like you're simply trying to take long exposures.

So my next suggestion would be to turn the flash off unless you ARE trying to light something in the foreground. There isn't any reason to have it on.

And my recommendation for a tripod still stands. If you don't have IS, it will really help you get sharper pictures. It doesn't have to be a full-size one. A smaller, "table-top" model will do, as long as you have something to put it on.

Sorry, I don't know how long it takes for a Coolpix to fire off the 10 shots when BSS is on. Although I would guess that it would be partly dependent upon what shutter speed the camera is using. Some of the Nikon digicam users will probably be able to answer that question.
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