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eradicator Feb 24, 2006 9:13 AM

I have a Minolta Z1 which I like very much but can't seem to get past having blurry pictures when zoomed (no OIS). I am looking to get either the Nikon D50 with the 18mm-50mm or perhaps another SLR like camera with OIS such as the Fuji S5200. There is a pretty big price difference so I am looking for advice.

I would be using this camera mostly indoors to take photos of my family (two very young/fast moving kids). I have been unhappy in the past with most cameras at the ISO400 range when trying to shoot in low light. I would ideally like to stick with SD for memory and AA for power if possible.

I realize the SLR would be larger and not have the zoom capability with the lens I would be getting but would it be my best bet for capturing my active family day in and day out? I already have a Panasonic DMC-LZ2 for snapshots. I am also attracted to the D50's ability to photograph at high ISO with very limited noise.

Thanks in advance for any comments.

JimC Feb 24, 2006 10:47 AM

The Fuji 5200 does not have image stabilization. But, it does have higher ISO speeds available compared to your Z1.

As for the Nikon D50, forget the 18-55mm kit lens for indoor use, unless you plan on using a flash. You might be able to get away with using it in some lighitng if you had relatively still subjects. But, it's not that bright of a lens for this purpose.

I'd get one for outdoor use, or indoor use with flash anyway, but you'll need something brighter for existing light shooting without a flash.

You'd give up the advantages of higher ISO speeds quickly if you zoomed in much with the kit lens.

The lens on your Z1 will be about 4 times as bright as the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens if you zoom in much with the kit lens. So, you'd need to use ISO 1600 on the D50 to get shutter speeds as fast as you could with ISO 400 on your Z1.

The Z1 lens can maintain f/2.8 throughout most of it's focal range, only losing 1/2 stop to f/3.5 on the long end (which is DRAMATICALLY longer than the long end of the Nikkor kit lens).

The kit lens will drop off to a maximum available aperture of f/5.6 if you zoom in much with it (and the f/2.8 you'd have with your Z1 at equivalent focal lengths is 4 times as bright as f/5.6)

So, get yourself a bright prime like a 50mm f/1.8 if you're on a budget. It may not be just right for focal length purposes (it could be too long in some areas), and you'd need to use your feet for zoom in larger areas if it's not long enough. But, it's bright, sharp and inexpensive.

Then, as budget permits, get yourself a wider prime for when you need it for closer quarters so that you can get a bit more of a scene in the frame (you can only back up so much). ;-) Something like a 28 or 35mm are popular choices for indoor use without a flash in close quarters.

You may also want to look at third party choices like the Sigma 30mm f/1.4. f/1.4 is but twice as bright as f/2, 4 times as bright as f/2.8, 8 tmes as bright as f/4 and 16 times as bright as f/5.6

If you want a zoom lens, make sure you get one with f/2.8 available throughout the focal range (f/2.8 is the brightest zoom you can get in most camera mounts) for indoor use without a flash.

Larger Apertures = Smaller f/stop numbers = more light gets through = faster shutter speeds for the same lighting and ISO speed. A brighter lens adds size, weight and cost. But, the "kit lens" just isn't going to cut it for kids running around indoors if you can't use a flash. Even a bright prime will have limitations indoors.

Also, unless you've got some experience with an SLR shooting at larger apetures, you'll have a learning curve.

Depth of Field (the amount of the scene that's acceptably sharp as you get closer or further away to the camera compared to what you're focusing on) will be very shallow at larger apertures with a DSLR. A non-DSLR model will have dramatically greater depth of field for any given aperture, 35mm equiovalent focal length and focus distance.

So, you'll need to learn how to cope with a shallow depth of field, especially at closer ranges to your subject, in order to achieve the desired results shooting without a flash indoors.

bobbyz Feb 24, 2006 10:52 AM

I don't have kids but I do shoot my sister's kids and friend's kids but why do all people having kids want to shoot kids only indoors and that too without the flash? I never understand this. This is #1 question from anyone trying to get into dSLRs. Now I have got it out of my system, here is some info.

To shoot indoors without flash, you need fast lens. Even in typical US household, you will need f2.8 or bigger, like f1.8. The high ISO of dSLRs is a big plus but I would go for faster primes. To start with you can buy cheap 50mm f1.8 lens. Canon has it so pretty sure, Nikon will also have it.

To shoot indoors, you don't need big zoom but more of a wideangle. IS can be helpful (I have FZ1, FZ5 and 100-400L) but I prefer IS in long zoom lenses. Your kids are not going to be sitting still (like you mention) so IS can not help in you in those situations.

Hope it helps.

JimC Feb 24, 2006 10:53 AM

P.S. - As an alternative, get an external flash for your Z1 and use it, or use the camera's built in flash. ;-)

But, if you want to take existing light photos without a flash, a DSLR with a bright lens is a better way to go.

JimC Feb 24, 2006 11:04 AM

One more comment. I personally wouldn't limit yourself to models using Secure Digital media. Larger memory cards are very inexpensive anymore. I decided to go with a Konica Minolta Maxxum 5D for low light use (uses CompactFlash media).

It's got ISO speeds up to ISO 3200 available, as well as anti-shake with every lens, including bright primes. I keep a Minolta 28mm f/2 on my 5D more often than not when indoors.

But, these are sold out at many dealers now, since the Sony/KM announcements, and I don't know how soon Sony will start shipping new camera models using the Maxxum/Dynax lens mount yet.

It may not be for a few months or so (they said summer in a previous interview, and we're still waiting on any product launch announcements from them for a DSLR model based on Konica-Minolta's technology and lens mount system).

Make sure to try out any models you consider in a store to make sure you're comfortable with them (ergonomics, viewfinder usability, control layout, speed of operation, etc.).

eradicator Feb 24, 2006 11:07 AM

Just some furhter clarification. I would not mind using the flash so would that mean the kit lens 18-55mm would be OK for the Nikon? I am just not that happy with the Z1 and would like to get something that takes great photos indoors with minimal user adjustments as my wife seems to take most of the photos. Zoom is important.

I would ideally like an all around camera and if it not an SLR than that is fine but I am in not in a position to purchase multiple lenses at this time.

Perhaps a PowerShot S2 IS?


JimC Feb 24, 2006 11:11 AM

eradicator wrote:

Just some furhter clarification. I would not mind using the flash so would that mean the kit lens 18-55mm would be OK for the Nikon?
It should be fine if you can use a flash.

Shutter speeds are not critical when you use a flash, because the flash burst is so short (usually 1/1000 to 1/10000 second depending on your range to subject with most), the subject is only exposed well enough during the flash burst, freezing the action.

The only time you usually run into diffulty with motion blur using a flash, is if light is too good, or you have ISO speeds set too high (so that ambient light contributes enough to the exposure to see subject movement).

Using default settings, you should be fine with the kit lens if you can use a flash indoors, with the camera's AF assist helping out for focus purposes if light gets too low, provided your range to subject isn't too great and you don't try to zoom in too much in lower lighting.

eradicator Feb 24, 2006 2:25 PM

So should I go for something like the canon S2? It seems to get very good reviews and has image stabilization and a long zoom.

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