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Old May 19, 2006, 6:08 PM   #1
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I need an ultra zoom, with stabilization and fast shutter speed...I need to be able to shoot indoors where there's movement and get pix that aren't a blurred mess.

So far, I'm down to Canon Powershot S2 IS, Konica Minolta DiMage Z5, Olympus SP-500 Ultra Zoom, and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-F27.

I've read thru the posts, but didn't see any comparing these. I've been thru steve's 'best cameras' list and done additional research--now I need to buy.

Any advice? Thanks in advance...

Margot
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Old May 19, 2006, 7:00 PM   #2
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margot wrote:
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I need an ultra zoom, with stabilization and fast shutter speed...I need to be able to shoot indoors where there's movement and get pix that aren't a blurred mess.
OK... let's discuss this a bit. Just because a camera has faster shutter speeds available, doesn't mean that you can actually use them and get properly exposed photos.

The camera will need to keep the shutter open long enough to "expose" the sensor.

How long it needs to stay open will depend on three factors:

* ISO speed (this represents how sensitive the sensor will be to light). The higher the ISO speed, the faster you can expose the image

* Light (and what's bright to the human eye is not to a camera's lens).

*Aperture (this represents how much light is getting through the lens to the camera's sensor, with lower f/stop numbers representing larger apertures). This works similar to the pupils in your eyes. Wider apertures allow more light to get through, which lets the camera use faster shutter speeds to expose the image. The widest aperture available depends on the lens (and most lenses lose a lot of light as you zoom in more).

Anti-shake will do no good for motion blur from subject movement (it only helps with blur from camera shake). Usually blur in low light is caused by a combination of both.

Is it necessary to take the photos without a flash indoors? If so, and your subjects are not stationary, you're probably not going to be satifisfied with any of the cameras on your "short list".

Let us know more about the conditions and whether or not you can use a flash.


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Old May 19, 2006, 10:51 PM   #3
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Here's the deal...I bought a FinePix2800Z 3 or 4 years ago w/ a great [for then] optical zoom [6.0 + 2.5 digital] and 2MP. It takes great stills outdoors, but any movement and I get blur. My 2nd son is graduating high school in about a week--the last 3 weeks I've taken Prom pix indoors and out, award banquets [indoor] and general senior memorabilia shots. Out of probably 300 shots I've got about 5 usable ones...friends with more recent [but less expensive] cameras got great shots, indoors and out [thank God]. Almost every shot has blur from movement, and by the time the shutter snaps, the kids have moved to another room!

This camera has given me great service over the years, but again, mostly for outdoor or well-lit indoor stills. The ability to shoot candids is almost non-existent [nieces, nephews, etc--I have to switch to my 30 yr old SLR!]. I was never able to shoot my kids playing basketball or playing in the pep band [again, movement in low light]

Now, I'm a pretty skilled Photoshop editor, and have used the camera lots in my work as a freelance graphic designer for a fast food chain--but food is still. Most of our stuff is deployed via the web, so the 2MP has been ok. But now I need something that will take portraits [I've done some really great ones, even with this camera, as long as they're outside and frozen...] but I do NOT want to miss shots of graduation, reception, etc.

I'm not a photo-techie, so I'm not sure about specs [ISO, etc]. But I know that friends and both of my kids get great shots with their Kodak EasyShare and lower-end DiMage cameras...

So, to recap...I need the zoom, need decent shots of normal movement [I'm not talking sportscenter], decent portrait ability, ability to shoot indoors and get some candid shots [ie of a reception, etc.]

Hope that helps. I don't want to spend $1400, either.

Thanks...Margot
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Old May 19, 2006, 11:38 PM   #4
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If you want IS, then the Olympus SP-500 is out because it does NOT have IS. Another camera you might want to add to the list is the Fuji S5200. Although it does no have an IS like all of the other, it has an anti-blur mode. What that is is it boost the shutter speed and the ISO to take a blur free picture. The thing baout Fuji is that they have a great sensor that allows use a higher ISO then other camera while still keep a clean picture. I am not going to say that it is as good as an dSLR but its the best you can get with a pns digital camera.

Also if you look at the review from dpreview.com, the panasonic FZ5 is actually a better camera thenthe FZ7 in terms of handling noise. Since BOTH camera have the same size sensor, but the FZ7 so they just packed more MP on the same sensor. I dont know the price difference between the two, but you might be able to save a few $$ if you get the FZ5. But on the other hand the FZ7 has a bigger LCD screen, more shooting mode, more MP, better video mode and a bigger battery to start out with.

I've got a chance to test all of those camera for about a week except the Canon and the panasonic FZ7, I used the FZ5, same camera thought. I like the Fuji the best and bought that one because it was the best deal and offered more for the money. The KM felt kinda cheap to me. The Olympus SP-500 didnt have IS or anything similar to it and with a superzoom camera, I thought it was important to have. The panasonic FZ5 was real close but it did no have manual zoom and the fuji did (Found out later that the manual zoom on the fuji was junk and didnt work as well as I though).

This is just my $.02 on it, I am not an expert photographer just an amature who loves these toys. But I have played and handled many different camera and researched them enought to have a good understanding of it.
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Old May 19, 2006, 11:41 PM   #5
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Can you use a flash?

If so, then motion blur shouldn't be a problem if you're within the flash range indoors (because the subject would not be properly exposed except during the flash burst, and the flash burst is so short it can freeze the action).

If you can't use a flash and stay within the rated flash range, then it's a another ballgame (most cameras won't work well enough without a flash in most indoor condtions if you're taking photos of a moving subject).

Your Fuji is going to be especially bad in this area (without a flash), since it's limited to ISO 100. Almost any popular camera can go to ISO 200 or more. Each time you double the ISO speed (which represents how sensitive the sensor is to light), the camera can use shutter speeds twice as fast for the same lighting and aperture.

So, most cameras are going to let you get shutter speeds at least twice as fast as your Fuji in low light.

Your Fuji also loses a lot of light as you zoom in more. It's down to a maximum aperture of f/4.8 on it's long end (most optical zoom). Smaller f/stop numbers are better for light gathering ability.

So, yes, almost any camera would be an improvement over your Fuji.

From your descripton of problems, it also sounds like you want something that focuses faster. If you read the Conclusion section (last page in each review before the sample images), you'll see comments on Autofocus Speed and reliability.

But, for condtions like Basketball in typical gym lighting without a flash, you will need to step up to a DSLR model (and you'll need a bright lens to go with one) if you don't want any motion blur. None of the non-DSLR models are going to handle rapidly moving subjects in low light without a flash (and even a DSLR is going to be challenged in those conditions).

Condtions like that usually require ISO 1600 *and* a very bright lens if you want to get rid of motion blur (and most non-DSLR models will have unacceptable noise levels at much over ISO 200 or 400).

Even in typical room lighting at night, it's tough to get photos of a non-stationary subject without a flash if you don't want any motion blur, even with a DSLR using a bright lens (even if they're only walking).

What's bright to the human eye is not to a camera's lens. What you think is a well lit interior is very low light to most cameras. That's where a flash comes in. ;-)

Out of the models you're looking at, I'd probably lean towards the Panasonic or Canon models. But, I wouldn't expect to get a high percentage of usable images in many low light condtions without a flash indoors if your subjects are not stationary.

For that, you'd want a DSLR capable of using much higher ISO speeds along with a bright lens (which increases size, weight and cost).

With an ultra-zoom model, in order to give you that much optical zoom in a very small package, the sensors have to be very small, too. Because they're very small, they have a smaller surface area for each pixel. As a result, they don't generate a signal that's as strong, requiring more amplifcation (which adds noise/grain) for equivalent senstivity to light. That's one of the tradeoffs with smaller cameras.

In contrast, a DSLR uses a much larger sensor, and can give you much higher usable ISO speeds (which you need to get shutter speeds faster to help with motion blur). But, they will also require much larger and heavier lenses for equivalent focal range (how much magnification from wide to long) and brightness.

There are some exceptions. For example, Fuji has managed to get relatively good high ISO performance in a couple of their new subcompact models (like the F10 and F11). But, they're not ultrazoom models, and they lose a lot of light as you zoom in more.

Any camera choice is a compromise.


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Old May 19, 2006, 11:55 PM   #6
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How does one account for the fact that people are getting great indoor shots [prom pix] with little P&S cameras? It blows me away...a friend of mine had one of those little square cameras and was snapping away at a night-time sports banquet--she had to send them to me because my Fuji pix [with flash] were all blurry--of the same shot!

I guess my sports-shooting days are mostly over. But I do need the ability to do candid shots--I'm afraid the Fuji has never been too good for that, so I'm loathe to buy another one. For graduation, I need distance and it'll be indoors [altho in the afternoon with a fair bit of outside light. I'm shying away from the Konica because it has been rumored that they're getting out of the camera biz.

I guess the Canon S2 appears, from other posts on the board, to be the front-runner...great zoom, great stability, good shots in low-light [I've read it in several posts] , fast shutter speed. That's my gut-feeling so far...

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Old May 20, 2006, 12:26 AM   #7
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margot wrote:
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How does one account for the fact that people are getting great indoor shots [prom pix] with little P&S cameras? It blows me away...a friend of mine had one of those little square cameras and was snapping away at a night-time sports banquet--she had to send them to me because my Fuji pix [with flash] were all blurry--of the same shot!
Buy your friend's camera. ;-)

Look, it's a matter of aperture, ISO speed and light (as I mentioned in my first post).

Most smaller cameras are not going to have apertures wider than f/2.8 on their wide end, and most will lose a lot of light as you zoom in more.

Most small cameras won't have usable ISO speeds above about ISO 400 (and most will have quite a bit of noise/grain at that ISO speed). At smaller print/viewing sizes, you may not notice it.

Light in a typical indoor environment runs at an EV (Exposure Value which is a way light is measured) of around 6. Some environments may have better light, and some may have worse light.

At f/2.8, ISO 400 with light at an EV of 6 (typical well lit home interior), you can expect shutter speeds of about 1/30 second. That's going to be at least 4 times as fast as you're getting with your Fuji model (it's much worse than most cameras).

But, that's still not fast enough to stop all motion blur if you're shooting a moving subject and not using a flash.

If you keep viewing and print sizes small, then blur won't be as obvious.

For a rapidly moving subject (as in basketball in most indoor gyms), you may need shutter speeds 5 or 10 times as fast you'd get with most smaller models to stop all motion blur. What you can live with is subjective.

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