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Old Feb 25, 2006, 11:57 AM   #1
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Ok, I'm a college student at Maritime and a photo-enthusiast, I mainly take black and white, and often find myself in low-light situations when on the ship and wanting to take photos of the shore at night (i end up either with nothing or blurrly shots from leaving the shutter open long, i have a 1970 film SLR). I'm looking to spend up to $500-$600, and the models I'm looking at is the Olympus e300, Canon Digital Rebel 300/350, or Nikon D50. I want to know which of these make the best low-light pictures, and also offer good shots with a telephoto lens. thanks. If there isnt much difference id go with the Olympus since its the cheapest.
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Old Feb 25, 2006, 12:55 PM   #2
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For the price, the D50 is hard to beat. It's build quality is also a bit better in its class. Although all DSLR's will yield great results, the E-300 would be the 3rd choice, as its smaller sensor size limits image quality at higher iso's. Also, there is a lack of inexpensive lenses available to grow your system.
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Old Feb 25, 2006, 1:34 PM   #3
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DorkUnderwater wrote:
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Ok, I'm a college student at Maritime and a photo-enthusiast, I mainly take black and white, and often find myself in low-light situations when on the ship and wanting to take photos of the shore at night (i end up either with nothing or blurrly shots from leaving the shutter open long, i have a 1970 film SLR).
If you're taking photos of the shore at night, you need a tripod.

You can't expect to hand hold a camera and get decent photos in near darkness.

You can increase ISO speeds to help, to a point, using a very bright lens to go with a
DSLR. But, it's not a perfect solution, and depending on the light levels, it may not be enough. You will also more noise in photos as ISO speeds are increased. So, for cityscapes and similar photos of night scenes, a tripod is strongly recommended.

My personal choice in the entry level DSLR lineup is the Konica Minolta Maxxum 5D. It's got ISO speeds up to ISO 3200 available, and anti-shake with every lens, including bright primes.

But, anti-shake is no substitute for a tripod if your taking photos of cityscapes at night and want the best quality. Hopefully, the seas are calm when you're trying to take these photos. ;-)

The Nikon D50, KM 5D, or Canon Rebel XT are all good choices. You may also want to look at the Pentax DSLR lineup.



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Old Feb 25, 2006, 1:42 PM   #4
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the Dimage A1 also has anti-shake, im wondering which of these are better. i could still get a blurry shot if i have a tripod on a ship that is rolling or heaving, so i'd need a camera that has little noise at high ISO. which do you think is best at high ISO? ive read a few reviews that talked about this, just because you can get it to a high ISO doesnt mean it'll be without noise. and arent there also hacks for firmware so you can do high ISO?
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Old Feb 25, 2006, 2:01 PM   #5
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The DiMAGE series models have much smaller sensors compared to a DSLR, and will have higher noise as ISO speeds are increased.

As for firmware hacks for ISO speed, there was one available for the original Digital Rebel (EOS-300D) to give users the ability to use ISO 3200 with it.

But, AFAIK, there are no firmware hacks to give ISO 3200 to the newer Digital Rebel XT or the Nikon D50.

But, you don't *really* want to use ISO 3200 unless you need it, as noise levels will increase with ISO speed. I use it with my KM Maxxum 5D sometimes in very low light conditions, when shutter speeds would be too slow to stop motion blur without it.

But, if light is better, I'll reduce ISO speed.

A cityscape type shot (your shots of shorelines at night) will also tend to have worse noise than an evenly lit image (because you have a much larger difference in bright and dark areas). So, a lower ISO speed with longer shutter speeds is the preferred way to get those types of shots (using a tripod, of course).

Now, having given my "speech" on the right way to do it :-), here is a hand held snapshot I took at ISO 1600 using a Minolta 28mm f/2 at f/3.5 and 1/25 second with a Konica Minolta Maxxum 5D not long after sunset.

It was shot at 5:40PM on December 12, 2005 (20 minutes after sunset, which was at 5:20PM here).

Shot in RAW and converted with Adobe Camera Raw 3.3 Beta using the "as shot" white balance (auto set in camera), then downsized with Irfanview to 800 pixels wide using Lanczos and saved as JPEG for web viewing. No other Post Post Processing was applied.

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Old Feb 25, 2006, 9:04 PM   #6
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JimC-

That is a wonderful shot! It graphically shows the need for high ISO numbers to capture an image of the quality that you have displayed. I am sure the raw image technique helps as well.

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Old Feb 25, 2006, 9:22 PM   #7
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There wasn't much technique to it. I just loaded the file to convert it, and saved it. I left the sliders at their default position. :-)

If I were planning on using it for something, I'd play with them some (noise reduction, etc.). Since the OP was interested in taking photos of shorelines at night, I remembered taking this snapshot a while back, and downsized it for posting here to demonstrate what the camera is capable of.

But, if I had more time and a tripod, I'd have used lower ISO speeds and longer shutter speeds (probably with a bit smaller aperture, too). I was down 1 1/2 stops from wide open (shot at f/3.5 with a 28mm f/2) for a bit better sharpness. But, one more stop would have helped.

From a ship, I guess that could present a problem though (the longer shutter speeds part, not the tripod part), depending on the size of the vessel and how calm the seas were. This one was taken from shore (River Street in Savannah, GA), while waiting to board a riverboat for a dinner cruise.


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