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Old Feb 17, 2006, 11:15 PM   #11
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kkaemingk wrote:
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Zoom is not critical as long as the pictures are clear. I have the Olympus RS100 which is great out doors with plenty of light but I am not satisfied indoors.
That's a very nice camera (Olympus E-100RS). You don't see them very often.

It's also got a nice long stabilized zoom lens. So, you may want to go back through your photos and see what focal lengths you typically shoot at with it to help with a decision on what may meet your needs the best if you decide to upgrade.

I noticed the zoom is not critical comment (it may be more important than you think if you've been using much. as your Olympus has a much greater focal range compared to most cameras). ;-)

Many editors can see camera settings used for a photo by looking at EXIF information in the image headers.

The actual focal range of the lens on your Oly is 7-70mm, but it gives you the same angle of view as a 38-380mm lens on a 35mm camera. It's also relatively bright (f/2.8 at it's wide angle position, only losing a half stop to f/3.5 when you're zoomed in all the way.

On the downside, it's limited to ISO 400 (and make sure you set the camera that way for the fastest shutter speeds in low light) But, it's probably clean enough from a noise perspective that you could get away with underexposing a tad deliberately to get shutter speeds faster, and brightening the images later with software by using a -EV setting with exposure compensation when shooting.

For example, using a -1.0 EV setting would get you shutter speeds twice as fast (with underexposed images that you could brighten later with software). They'll have more noise this way, just as if you shot at higher ISO speeds. But, the sensor used in your Oly is probably good enough to do that with, especially if you use one of the popular noise reduction tools to clean them up (and we can give you links to free tools for this purpose).

For best results (unless you plan on a flash, which isn't going to cycle fast enough for many users tastes for sports use, especially since you're probably used to fast frame rates), I'd get a DSLR with a bright lens (or lenses). Also, using a flash is tricky (as already mentioned), trying to get the light just right so that your'e not overexposing closer subjects to get adequate exposure of further subjects, etc. (and you need to wait for it to recycle when shooting at full power with most or you'll underexpose followup frames).

Getting enough ambient light so that you don't have a big difference in foreground and background brightness without getting motion blur is also tricky with a flash (even if it didn't bother the players).

A KM DSLR (5D or 7D) would be a good choice since they have built in anti-shake for every lens, along with ISO speeds up to ISO 3200.

Something like a Canon EOS-20D is a favorite for sports, because of it's fast focusing and frame rate (faster than any of the entry level DSLR models), along with ISO 3200 capability (but a stabilized lens will cost you more since there is no anti-shake built into the body).

You may not need stabilization if your lenses are bright enough (and you'll need bright lenses to help freeze the action).

If you get a DSLR, I'd probaby go with something like a Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX in a zoom for indoor sports. These run around $800 and are available for most DSLR models.

Stabilized lenses in this focal range with a constant f/2.8 aperture will set you back more (for example, a Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM lens sells for around $1,700

If you can get close enough and use your feet for zoom instead, get a bright prime or two. The major DSLR manufacturers have 50mm primes (non-zoom lenses) that are f/2.0 or brighter (smaller f/stop numbers = larger apertures = brighter lens = faster shutter speeds) for under $100.

You can find 85 and 100mm primes that are f/2 or brighter, too (but, these will cost you a bit more than a 50mm).

You may find that a standard zoom gives you enough range if you can get close, too (for example, something like a Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 XR Di is available in most popular camera mounts for around $400).

But, I wouldn't go with anything that didn't have at least f/2.8 or larger apertures (represented by smaller f/stop numbers) available throughout the focal range in a zoom (and you can get brighter lenses if you use primes instead).

Note that lenses will appear to be longer on most DSLR models, compared to using them on a 35mm camera. So, you need to multiply the actual focal length of a lens by 1.5x (Nikon, Pentax, KM DSLR models) or 1.6x (Canon Rebel XT or EOS-20D) to see how the angle of view compares to using one on a 35mm camera. IOW, a 50mm lens may behave like a 75mm lens on a DSLR.

Again, before deciding on amount of focal range needed, I'd go back through the photos you've taken with the Olympus and see what focal lengths you were trying to shoot at.

If your existing editor doesn't give you this information, download irfanview from http://www.irfanview.com (it's free).

You'll see camera settings used under Image, Information, EXIF after opening an image with it. If you get confused over what you're looking at, you'll see a "copy to clipboard" function when viewing the EXIF information. Then, you can just use Edit, Paste to copy the data into a forum post and users will be happy to help out.

Both the actual (7-70mm) and 35mm equivalent (38-380mm) focal lengths for your Olympus may show up. So, you'll need to make sure you're using the right one to see what focal lengths you shoot at for comparison purposes when lens shopping (if using the actual focal length in the EXIF, you'll want to multiply it by 5.429 to get the 35mm equivalent focal length with your Olympus).

It's not as hard as I probably make it sound. I just want to point out that you may be using more zoom than you think for the desired framing, since you've got a pretty long lens on your Oly when zoomed in.



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Old Feb 18, 2006, 2:30 PM   #12
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You may very well be able to stick with a digicam rather than invest in a digital SLR. There are two attributes that will be important - a wide aperture (there are some digicams like panasonic and at least one sony that have an aperture of 2.8 or better at the full zoom0 and at least decent performance at ISO 800.
JohnG which exact models of digicam's from panasonic would you recommend?
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Old Feb 18, 2006, 2:51 PM   #13
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I have read you reply through many times. Thanks for your expertise and background. I looked at some of my E100RS gym shots and my favorite ones are between 15.00 mm and 30.00 mm for the focal length. I am thinking about the KM DSLR 5D. I can get the 5D for $650 delivered with a basic 18-70 lens.

Which lenses exactly would you recommend for me on that camera? Is there a beter camera in that price range?

JimC wrote:
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A KM DSLR (5D or 7D) would be a good choice since they have built in anti-shake for every lens, along with ISO speeds up to ISO 3200.

If you can get close enough and use your feet for zoom instead, get a bright prime or two. The major DSLR manufacturers have 50mm primes (non-zoom lenses) that are f/2.0 or brighter (smaller f/stop numbers = larger apertures = brighter lens = faster shutter speeds) for under $100.

You can find 85 and 100mm primes that are f/2 or brighter, too (but, these will cost you a bit more than a 50mm).

You may find that a standard zoom gives you enough range if you can get close, too (for example, something like a Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 XR Di is available in most popular camera mounts for around $400).
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Old Feb 18, 2006, 3:36 PM   #14
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I looked at some of my E100RS gym shots and my favorite ones are between 15.00 mm and 30.00 mm for the focal length.
That means that your photos were being taken at focal lengths with the same angle of view you'd have using focal lengths between roughly 80 and 160mm on a 35mm camera.

On an entry level DSLR, that means you would be shooting with lenses with focal lengths ranging from about 55mm to 105mm (they'll appear to be aobut 1.5x as long on most DSLR models, compared to these focal lengths on a 35mm camera).

You can't crop as much as you think and still have enough left over for many uses. But, for web use, you could probalby get by with a bit less zoom after cropping.

So, I'd probably look at getting a bright f/2.8 standard zoom and give it a shot. I'd probably go with a Minolta 28-75mm f/2.8.

That would give you a 35mm equivalent focal range of about 42-112mm on a DSLR (you need to multiply the focal length of a lens by 1.52x on DSLR models from KM, Nikon or Pentax to see how the angle of view compares to the same lens on a 35mm camera). Lenses appear to be a little bit longer on a DSLR compared to film cameras.

That lens will set you back about $400.00 new.

If you can't find one, you could get the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Xr Di for around the same price.

Then, as budget permits, if you need something longer for prints where you may not want to crop, save some money towards a 70-210mm zoom lens that has a constant f/2.8 aperture throughout it's focal range. The Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX lenses are popular (around $800 new).

Sometimes you can find some good deals in the used market, too. My favorite vendors for used lenses:

http://www.keh.com

http://www.bhphotovideo.com

http://www.adorama.com

Quote:
I am thinking about the KM DSLR 5D. I can get the 5D for $650 delivered with a basic 18-70 lens.
The 18-70mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens isn't bright enough for indoor sports. Ditto for the kit lenses you'll see with kits from other DSLR manufacturers. Your shutter speeds will be too slow (and anti-shake won't help with blur from subject movement).

In a zoom lens, you'll need one with f/2.8 available throughout the focal range, and in most indoor lighting, even that is not going to be bright enough to insure a high percentage of keepers shooting at higher ISO speeds.

It's tough shooting moving subjects indoors with a camera. Light is much lower than it appears to the human eye, and the camera must keep the shutter open long enough to expose the images, based on the maximum available aperture (larger apertures are represented by smaller f/stop numbers), and ISO speeds available.

As a low budget alternative, pick up yourself up a 50mm f/1.7 for about $100. They're getting hard to come by so you may need to go used.

This would have a 35mm equivalent focal length of about 75mm when used on a DSLR like a KM 5D or 7D (and it's sharper and brighter than an f/2.8 zoom would be anyway).

Then, use your feet for zoom as needed. If you're only using the images on the web, you could get away with a bit of cropping if needed.

For outdoor sports, the 70-210mm f/4 would be a good bet (only available used). If you shop carefully, you can find 'em for around $100 to $150 or so (it was less not long ago). I'd probably avoid the rest of the Minolta 70-210's (except for the Minolta f/2.8 variety, which are excellent but not inexpensive lenses).

If I were shooting in the same conditions (indoor sports at those focal lengths) on a budget, I'd use two primes (50mm f/1.7 and 100mm f/2), and swap depending on where I was able to stand and shoot from. A 100mm f/2 is pretty hard to come by though . I found one at the used department at http://www.adorama.com a while back for $299

But, a zoom would give you more flexibility for framing without using your feet as much.

You'll need to get used to depth of field differences with a DSLR (depth of field will be shallower than you're used to). So, you'll have a learning curve upgrading.

Your Oly is probably about as good as it gets for most sports use in a non-DSLR, shooting for web use, despite it being an older model.

It's extremely fast, with a sensor that has excellent dynamic range and noise characteristics (since you've only got 1.5 million photosties in a 1/2" sensor, the photosites are much larger and able to gather more light compared to the newer ultra-zoom models with small sensors and more megapixels). It's lens is also bright (f/2.8 through most of the focal range, only dropping 1/2 stop to f/3.5 at a 35mm equivalent focal range of 380mm), and it's stabilized.

You could probably squeeze another stop out of it, too (underexposing a stop by using -1.0 EV exposure compensation at ISO 400 and brightening the images later with software to simulate ISO 800, getting faster shutter speeds), then clean them up with something like Noiseware (and they have a free community edition you can try/use).

What kind of shutter speeds were you getting in the gym lighting with it, and what ISO speed does the EXIF show being used?

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Old Feb 23, 2006, 11:17 PM   #15
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I really appreciate the time you are taking to educate me. I would like to back up a step. If I said I was willing to spend around $1,000 for clear gym pictures what equipment would you suggest?
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Old Feb 24, 2006, 2:15 AM   #16
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kkaemingk wrote:
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I really appreciate the time you are taking to educate me. I would like to back up a step. If I said I was willing to spend around $1,000 for clear gym pictures what equipment would you suggest?
You're not going to get a perfect solution with a $1,000 budget.

So, you'll need to compromise.

As I said in my last post,

Quote:
If I were shooting in the same conditions (indoor sports at those focal lengths) on a budget, I'd use two primes (50mm f/1.7 and 100mm f/2), and swap depending on where I was able to stand and shoot from. A 100mm f/2 is pretty hard to come by though . I found one at the used department at http://www.adorama.com a while back for $299
Given the price of the camera like the KM 5D, that solution would eat up your budget, if you could get them at a reasonable price used.

But, I just noticed that a copy of this lens (100mm f/2) with scratches and even some dust inside it just went for $547 on Ebay. So, even my suggested budget solution would be probably be outside of a $1000 limit with a camera and lenses going with a Maxxum 5D solution with these choices. These lenses are getting pretty hard to come by, and pricing is a matter of supply and demand on the used market.

I'd probably go with 50mm f/1.7 and use my feet for zoom (the solution that Vatechtigger suggested -- see the very first reply in this thread).

But, you'll need to decide how much hassle that would be.

Then, see where you're running into any limitations with that setup and shop for an additional lens (or lenses) as budget permits.

If you want to try a zoom, then you may be able to find a decent zoom on the used market with f/2.8 available throughout the focal range. But, a prime is going to be a safer bet to make sure you've got something bright enough is light is very dim.

Freezing action in a school gym is going to be a challenge for any camera model, and you'll most likely want relatively bright lenses (no dimmer than f/2.8 throughout their focal range, and you may need to stick with brighter primes for the highest percentage of keepers).

You'll also have a learning curve. You'll have a very shallow depth of field shooting at larger apertures (how much of a scene is in focus as elements in it are further away from your focus point). So, you'll need to practice and learn how to compose and shoot quickly to get the desired results (which will only come with experience).

If you can, see if you can take a photo or two in the gym lighting (as it would be when you'd take photos of indoor sports there), and post the EXIF information here (you can copy it from Irfanview using the copy to clipboard function, and just post it here with Edit, Paste from your browser menu in a forum post). It doesn't make any difference if it's blurry not, as long as it looks OK from an exposure perspective (brightness of image).

That will give us a better idea of how bright a lens needs to be since we can see aperture, shutter speed and ISO speed to estimate light levels, and we may be able to come up with an alternative or two.

A zoom would give you more flexibility for framing and you may be able to find something suitable in an f/2.8 zoom used.

If light is good enough so that ISO 3200 isn't needed, you may be able to get by with one of the other entry level DSLR models, too, depending on lens selection.

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Old Feb 24, 2006, 10:23 AM   #17
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The reason for my renewed push for a shopping list is that some salesmen tried to confuse me. As I was looking for the Konica Minolta 5D and 1.7 prime, one suggest the Nikon D50 and 1.4 prime would be better for the same price. One suggested I had to go up to the Rebel XT with a Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Auto Focus Standard & Medium Telephoto Lens and spend $1,150 to get my sharp low light pictures. I want to start with a good base and then I am willing to add another lens etc. as I go. Is there any concern with Konica Minolta getting out of the digital camera business? Is the 5D still a good camera for a starter with its less expensive lenses? Your only goal is to get me taking good pictures so I trust you far more than a salesman. I could stretch to $1,200 if it would be better down the road. If the 5D has better features and saves me money on the lens that would fine also.

I also did the homework you gave me (I am a teacher after all). Here is the EXIF info from a gym shot with the lights on. It is daytime and a little light was coming through the door but not much. This is from a picture across the gym of the basket at the far end. This would be at the fartherest extent of my needs right now and I could use my legs to get closer when necessary.

File Name: IMG_0940.JPG
File Size: 397,051 Bytes
File Type: JPEG
Exif Byte Order: Little Endian (Intel)
Manufacturer: Canon
Model number: Canon PowerShot S2 IS
Image orientation: Top, left
Resolution (width): 180 pixels per inch
Resolution (height): 180 pixels per inch
File date and time: 2006:02:24 08:05:03
Y and C positioning: Centered
Exposure time: 0.1000 seconds
f number: 3.5
Exif version: 0220
Date time of image: 2006:02:24 08:05:03
Date time digitized: 2006:02:24 08:05:03
Component config: YCbCr
Compression: 3.0 bits per pixel
Shutter speed: 1/9 seconds
Aperture value: f/3.5
Exposure bias: 0.0 stops
Maximum lens aperture: f/3.5
Metering mode: Pattern
Flash: Flash did not fire, compulsory flash mode
Lens focal length: 23.8 mm
FlashPix version: 0100
Color space: Standard RGB
Image width: 1600
Image height: 1200
Focal plane X res: 7111 pixels per inch
Focal plane Y res: 7142 pixels per inch
Sensing method: One-chip color area sensor
Custom rendered: Normal process
Exposure mode: Auto exposure
White balance: Auto white balance
Digital zoom ratio: 1.0
Scene capture type: Standard




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Old Feb 24, 2006, 11:53 AM   #18
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Hmm, I seem to be missing something. I can't tell from the EXIF what the ISO was. Without that it will be difficult to calculate what is needed. DId you have the ISO manually set? if so, to what value?
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Old Feb 24, 2006, 11:57 AM   #19
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JohnG wrote:
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Hmm, I seem to be missing something. I can't tell from the EXIF what the ISO was. Without that it will be difficult to calculate what is needed. DId you have the ISO manually set? if so, to what value?
I should be able to figure it out by examiing some pics. I think the Oly models like that went to ISO 320 via Auto ISO. Let me do some digging.

But, if you could set it to ISO 400 and repeat the tests, that would tell us for sure.

Edit.. Ooops... I see you used a Canon for that photo. I thought the shutter speeds looked pretty slow.

Can you set it to a fixed ISO speed and repeat the test and post the EXIF? Canon models are more difficult to discern exposure from using Auto ISO (since they tend to be a little off compared to most). I should be able to figure it out if you can set it to a fixed value. A different camera model would probalby be best to estimate it though (your Oly E-100RS).




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Old Feb 24, 2006, 12:46 PM   #20
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As you can see I switched cameras from a Canon Powershot S2IS back to my old reliable Olympus E-100RS. The Canon never shows the ISO speed rating in the EXIF.

File Name: P1010015.JPG
File Size: 320,848 Bytes
File Type: JPEG
Exif Byte Order: Little Endian (Intel)
Image description: OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Manufacturer: OLYMPUS OPTICAL CO.,LTD
Model number: E100RS
Image orientation: Top, left
Resolution (width): 72 pixels per inch
Resolution (height): 72 pixels per inch
Software used: V151-77
File date and time: 2000:01:01 00:00:00
Y and C positioning: Co-sited
Exposure time: 0.0167 seconds
f number: 2.8
Exposure program: Creative program (biased towards depth of field)
ISO speed rating: 200
Exif version: 0210
Date time of image: 2000:01:01 00:00:00
Date time digitized: 2000:01:01 00:00:00
Component config: YCbCr
Compression: 3.5 bits per pixel
Exposure bias: 0.0 stops
Maximum lens aperture: f/2.6
Metering mode: Pattern
Light source: unknown
Flash: Flash did not fire
Lens focal length: 16.8 mm
FlashPix version: 0100
Color space: Standard RGB
Image width: 1360
Image height: 1024
Scene type: Directly photographed image


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