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Old May 10, 2006, 10:10 AM   #11
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Grdngrl36 wrote:
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style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"For the rest of your reply, it sounds like *awesome* info. I just wish I understood it more. I clearly need to take a class and learn all about these settings of F stops and such.
Well, the problem is that you can make all of the settings changes you want to, and if the camera is limited in the usable ISO speeds it provides (how sensitive the sensor is to light), and the lens is limited to the maximum available aperture (how far the iris opens up to let light in), then it will take longer to expose the images, resulting in motion blur from subject movement.

With a camera like the FZ30 shooting at ISO 400 and f/3.7 (largest available aperture opening on the long end of the lens) in a typical stadium at night, your shutter speeds are going to be down to around 1/30 to 1/40 second for proper exposure. Indoors, light may be even lower in some gyms.

Your existing camera is going to be able to use shutter speeds about twice as fast at f/5.6 and ISO 1600.

You've got two sources of blur to deal with. One is blur from camera shake, and the other is blur from subject movement. Only faster shutter speeds will help with subject movement part, and if the camera isn't sensitive enough to light (because of sensor and lens limitations), shutter speeds won't be fast enough. Faster shutter speeds will also help with blur from camera shake.

A person moving at normal walking speed (3 MPH) will move about 130 cm/sec. In 1/80 second, that person will move an average of 17 mm, enough to spoil a candid portrait where even 1/10 this amount of subject movement is enough to degrade the technical quality if such an image.

At smaller print and viewing sizes, it may not be that noticeable, depending on the percentage of the frame a person occpies, and their direction of travel.

But, I certainly would consider a solution that gives you faster, versus slower shutter speeds than you're getting now with your film SLR.

The 70-210-2.8-4 Vivitar lens that rduve mentioned buying for $80 on Ebay is twice as bright as your existing lens on it's longer end. f/4 is *exactly* twice as bright as f/5.6. These numbers are a ratio between the focal length of the lens and the diameter of the aperture iris.

The lens aperture iris works similar to the pupils in your eye. The camera opens up the iris in low light. That way, more light gets through to the film or sensor, and it can expose faster (hence, allowing less blur from subject movement since the shutter isn't open for as long). In order to have a larger available aperture, the lens needs to be larger for any given sensor or film size. That's why a brighter lens is larger, heavier and more expensive (although you can find some bargains on the used market).

One that can maintain f/2.8 throught the focal range is usually preferred for low light conditions (and f/2.8 is 4 times as bright as f/5.6, allowing shutter speeds 4 times as fast for any given lighting and ISO speed). But, some users do get by with less. It all depends on things like viewing sizes desired (since blur is not as obvious at smaller sizes), how fast the subjects are moving, what percentage of the frame a moving subject occupies, and their direction of travel.

ISO speed is how sensitive the film or sensor is to light. The higher the available (and usable since high means more noise) ISO speed, the faster the shutter speeds can be for any given lighting and aperture opening. Each time you double the ISO speed, the camera can use shutter speeds twice as fast for the same lighting and aperture.

Because a DSLR model has a much larger sensor compared to the models you are considering, the photosites (millions of tiny photodiodes in the sensor) have a much larger surface area. That means that they can generate a stronger signal for any given lighting level, requiring less amplfication (and the amplification adds noise). That's why DSLR models have higher usable ISO speeds.

Stabilization is a very good thing, because blur from camera shake is often worse than blur from subject movement, especially at longer focal lengths (since blur from camera shake is magnified as you zoom in more).

But, for moving subjects in low light, you're going to get *more* blur from subject movement than you are with your existing film SLR, lens and ISO 1600 film, going with a solution like the FZ30.

If you're going to use a slow (not very bright) lens, the best solution is going to be something like a Konica Minolta DSLR, since it has both anti-shake for every lens (even cheap ones), as well as ISO speeds up to ISO 3200.

BTW, rduve has both a Panasonic DMC-FZ30 and a Konica Minolta Maxxum 5D, in case you think the suggestions are biased. I use a KM Maxxum 5D myself (so, perhaps I am biased). ;-)

In better light (most of your shots, except for the marching band in stadiums and indoors), a model like the Panasonic would work just fine. In low light, it's going to have signficant limitations if you're taking photos of a moving subject.

No solution is going to be perfect in all conditions. You may be able to get some keepers with an FZ30 in low light if you take lots of photos, and the stabilization will help tremendously for the camera shake part.

But, if you go that route, I'd make sure to buy it from a vendor with a no restocking fee policy and use it in the low light conditions you're interested to see if it meets your expectations. If it doesn't, then you can return it without a big loss.

Between the Panasonic and the Fuji, I'd be inclined to go with the Fuji. It does have higher ISO speeds available, even though they'll be much more noise (similar to film grain) compared to a DSLR, or compared to the grain you see in modern ISO 1600 film. The Panasonic's lens is brighter on it's long end and the Panasonic has stabilization. So, that makes it a tough choice.

Neither camera is a good solution for the conditions you want to use one in. With one, you'll have more blur from camera shake, and with the other, you'll have more blur from subject movement.

So, I'd make sure to test your desired choice in the conditions you want to use a camera in within the vendor's return period.

But, if I were in your shoes, I'd go with a DSLR. If budget is very limited, go with something like a Canon Digital Rebel and use your existing lens. That would at least get you results about as good as you're getting now. Then, shop around on the used market for a brighter lens.

As an alternative, continue to use your film Rebel for the low light shots (and shop around for a brighter lens on the used market), and keep one of the ultra-zoom models for everything else.

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Old May 11, 2006, 8:51 AM   #12
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Wow!! Thanks for the info!! It was VERY helpful. I think I will keep my Rebel SLR for low lights shots for right now until I can get a digital w/some nice lenses. In general carrying all that bulk is not very appealing. 90% usage is general and not in a stadium anyway.

A few more questions & then I just have to buy! LOL Will shots indoors be horrible, you know your general family gatherings, b'days, holidays, Christmas, etc?

God, I know this is going to sound like a really stupid question but I'm wondering about other capabilities. Wondering why they are offering all the settings like, indoor, night shots, action shots if you really can't take those kind of pics w/this camera?

On the other hand, I'm thinking "Hellooooo" they wouldn't offer all those settings if they are useless now would they??

So, how well do they work? What if I wanted to take a pic outside at night around the campfire or of a lit bridge atnight or some of those pretty"city at night" shots? What about pics taken on very overcast days or dusk? How about those action shots like dogs doing agility or in the conformation ring? Just trying to come up with some other scenarios.

Again, thanks everyone for your replies, they have all been great!! You have all been very patient w/me as well! :-)


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Old May 11, 2006, 9:00 AM   #13
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You can't take photos without enough light. The camera must keep the shutter open long enough for proper exposure.

The scenarios you're describing (photos around a campfire, city lights, etc.) are very tough for any camera, even if it's got a stabilized lens, unless you're shooting non-stationary subjects using a tripod, or using the flash (and staying within the flash range).

Sure, you can get away with it sometimes, *with* a DSLR using a bright lens.

For example, 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. A non-DSLR model would not have been able to get these results without a tripod (it would have been *very* blurry and/or noisy).

I've posted it a couple of times before in the forums.

It was shot at 5:40PM on December 12, 2005 (20 minutes after sunset, which was at 5:20PM here). But, if it had been later at night, I probably would have needed a tripod (or I would have been stretching the limits of this model's anti-shake).

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 May 11, 2006, 9:03 AM   #14
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JimC wrote:
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You can't take photos without enough light. The camera must keep the shutter open long enough for proper exposure.

The scenarios you're describing (photos around a campfire, city lights, etc.) are very tough for any camera, even if it's got a stabilized lens, unless you're shooting non-stationary subjects using a tripod, or using the flash (and staying within the flash range).

Then why do they offer all these settings on this camera? Makes one think you can take photos like that.

Thanks again.
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Old May 11, 2006, 9:07 AM   #15
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The settings give you more flexibility, but they don't bypass Photography 101.

Three things determine the shutter speeds a camera can use for proper exposure:

ISO speed, Aperture and Light.

The camera has to keep the shutter open long enough for proper exposure. If you don't use a tripod when shutter speeds get too slow, you'll get blurry photos.

Tripods have been around for a long time.;-)

But, neither stabilization or a tripod will help with blur from subject movement. That's just the way it is. Also, these cameras are equipped with a flash when light gets too low (so that can stop moton). But,you have to stay within the rated flash range.

Around a campfire, a flash would probably work.

For cityscapes at night, you'llwant a tripod with most cameras.

But, you may not necessarily get results like that, even with a tripod.The lens I used for that photo was a very high quality lens, and I was only about 1 1/2 stops down from a wide open aperture with it (for a shot like that, smaller apertures are preferred). Lower ISO speeds are also preferred (even with a DSLR). That means slower shutter speeds using a tripod.
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Old May 11, 2006, 9:28 AM   #16
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JimC wrote:
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The settings give you more flexibility, but they don't bypass Photography 101.

See, I told you I needed Photo 101!!:-)

It sounds like I can still take indoor photos and things with the flash so overall, I'm willing to give this camera a try!

Any last parting "shots"???
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Old May 11, 2006, 9:32 AM   #17
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Try the out in a store to see what you're comfortable with. Many stores have demos you can play with. Make sure you like the ergonomics, control layout, speed of operation, viewfinder,menus, etc.

Each user is going to have different preferences in a camera, and any opinion you read in the forums is likely to be biased, including mine.

FWIW, I know of multipleFZ20 and FZ30 users thatupgraded to a KM DSLR.

Since you seem to place a lot of emphasis on low light shooting, I'd still urge you to consider that option. That way, you'd have a more flexible camera you could get better results with in more conditions.

In good light, the differences between them narrow. But, it sounds like you want something good for low light use, too. A DSLR is much better for that purpose.


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Old May 11, 2006, 10:07 AM   #18
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I was not happy with the FZ30 lowlight performance and upgraded to the KM 7D. The onboard flash on an ultrazoom will help indoors at home and some other places . If you have kids, I can imagine at some point you might end up having to take pictures of them on a stage without a flash and the Ultrazooms just won't cut it. I understand that at events like basketball or other indoor gym events ultrazoom performance leaves a lot to be desired also.

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Old May 11, 2006, 4:08 PM   #19
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JimC wrote:
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The 70-210-2.8-4 Vivitar lens that rduve mentioned buying for $80 on Ebay is twice as bright as your existing lens on it's longer end. f/4 is *exactly* twice as bright as f/5.6. These numbers are a ratio between the focal length of the lens and the diameter of the aperture iris.

What does "longer end" mean?

Ok, I have with much thought decided to try the FZ30, I think I will buy one of these "brighter" lenses you talk of for my SLR. NOW with all that said, I still think in a year or two I will also get one of the DSLR. Then I will start ALL over with the researching of Canon, Nikon or maybe the Konica several of you like! Hope you will all be there to help me out again!!

Oh, and most definately a photography class is in order for me!:-)
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Old May 11, 2006, 4:55 PM   #20
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When I say "the longer end", I mean more focal length (higher number in millimeters), narrower angle of view, more apparent magnification. ;-)

You mentioned shooting from the stands.

So, you're probably zooming in more to make your subjects appear larger. That's what I mean by the long end of a lens. If you were setting it to a lower focal length, you'd have a wider angle of view (less apparent magnifcation). I'll refer to that as the "short end of the lens".

However, if you're using a 35mm camera (versus a DSLR), a given lens won't appear to be as long. For example, the 70-210mm lens that rduve mentioned on a KM DSLR would be like using a 105-315mm lens on a 35mm camera. That way, the longer end would appear to be about the same as the 300mm end of your existing lens.

A 300mm lens (so that you have as much magnification as you have now on the long end of your existing lens) using your existing camera, that's also brighter, will cost you more for use on your Canon 35mm, compared to being able to use a shorter focal length lens on a DSLR for the same apparent magnification.

Most zoom lenses lose light as focal lengths get longer, and to get a brighter lens in longer focal lengths, the lens must be larger and heavier for the same brightness. That tends to add cost.

So, you may not be able to zoom in as much as with your existing lens if you want to get a brighter lens for your 35mm camera on the used market at a reasonable price (or you'd need to go with a fixed focal length versus zoom lens, and even then it may be cost prohibitive to find something much brighter, depending on your budget for one).

Another option would be something like a Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 with a 1.4x Teleconverter (that would give you f/4 throughout the focal range, with a 40% longer lens, making it close to what you've got now if you want to use it on your existing 35mm camera, only 1 stop brighter).

But, that's a larger, heavier and more expensive solution. So, you'd probably be just as well off buying a DSLR from a cost perspective and using a less expensive lens to get the same apparent magnification.

I do see some third party 300mm f/4 lenses around that aren't too bad from a cost perspective used (you would lose any zoom, but if you're using the long end of your zoom anyway, then it wouldn't matter much). Just don't underexpose ISO 1600 Fuji Superia X-TRA (otherwise the grain may be pretty bad, as it doesn't push well).

A 300mm f/4 would give you one stop over your existing lens at 300mm (your existing lens is f/5.6 and f/4 is twice as bright). It would be like being zoomed in all the way with your existing lens all the time.

I'd make sure to consider your future camera body upgrades. If you spend money on lenses, you'll want to make sure you can use them on the DSLR you choose later, too (or make sure you shop carefully and buy a lens you can get your money back out of when you sell it).

That is a nice thing about a DSLR. You're lenses become an investment. So, if you upgrade your body later, you just take your lenses with you within the same manufacturer. You could also do that with your existing lens if you get a Canon DSLR.

But, a typical lens like a 75-300mm f/4-5.6) on the used market doesn't sell for too much (less than $150 in excellent shape from a vendor like KEH.com), unless it's a stabilized lens. So, unless you've got an exceptional lens (or a bigger investment in other lenses), I wouldn't let that infuence my camera upgrade choice too much.

With a non-DSLR model, the lens is permanently attached. So, the entire camera depreciates as newer models are introduced.
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