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Old Jun 23, 2006, 4:13 PM   #1
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I'm trying to decide between the Fuji FinePix S9000 and the Panasonic Lumix FZ30. My requirements are: long super zoom lens, hot-shoe for external flash, long built-in flash, weight, reliability, image-stabilization at long zoom. Zoom shots will be taken on college baseball field outdoors. Inside shots with and without flash will be taken in HS/College basketball arenas/gyms. Price. Megapixel is not a major concern, as most prints will be 4x6 or 8x10 "max". I'm currently using a 1980's Canon AE-1 film camera with a Tokina 200mm zoom lens and a SunPak Auto 422D Flash, and desire to move-up to digital.


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Old Jun 23, 2006, 5:42 PM   #2
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tdweiss1 wrote:
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Inside shots with and without flash will be taken in HS/College basketball arenas/gyms.
I'd plan on taking them with flash using the models you're looking at. :-)

Non-DSLR models like these have very small sensors (much smaller than 35mm film). So, to pack in that many megapixels, the photosites for each pixel have to be pretty tiny. As a result, they don't generate a very strong signal when light hits them, requiring more amplification for equivalent ISO speed (sensitivity to light). This amplifcation adds noise (similar to film grain), just like turning up the volume on a weak radio station (but, instead of hum, static and hiss, you get image noise).

For outdoor use, fine. For indoor use with a flash, fine (as long as you stay within the rated flash range and don't mind the flash providing most of the light).

But, for non-stationary subjects indoors without a flash, I'd look at a DSLR solution instead.

BTW, the Fuji does not have a stabilized lens. The Panasonic does. But, stabilzation only helps with blur from camera shake, not from subject movement, and you may consider noise levels to be excessive at higher ISO speeds, depending on viewing sizes needed.

Even at the highest available ISO speed (ISO 400) on a camera like the Panasonic, you're still not going to get shutter speeds fast enough to stop motion blur from subject movement in a gym.

If you want to take photos of basketball games indoors without a flash, I'd suggest looking at DSLR models instead. You'll also want a bright lens to go with one. A zoom capable of maintaining f/2.8 througout the focal range is a good idea for indoor sports (or even better, a brighter prime).

Canon, Nikon, Pentax, and Konica Minolta all make entry level DSLR models that would be a better bet for indoor use without a flash, capable of shooting at higher ISO speeds with lower noise levels compared to the non-DSLR cameras you're looking at.

Of course, the biggest tradeoff is that these will be larger and heavier, especially when you add a bright lens to one. The reason that the non-DSLR models can be so small for their focal range, is because their sensors are so tiny. That allows the manufacturers to use a much shorter actual focal length lens for any given 35mm equivalent focal range. The problem with the smaller sensors is that they don't gather as much light. So, for uses like indoor sports where you need higher ISO speeds to get shutter speeds fast enough to stop subject movement, a DSLR is a much better bet.

Unfortunately, Canon changed the lens mount since your AE-1 ame out. So, you'd need to start out fresh again.

For something like Basketball, you may want to go with primes (non-zoom lenses), since they are available brighter than zooms. A 50mm (f/1.8 or brighter) and an 85mm (f/1.8 or brighter) or 100mm (f/2 or brighter) would be good choices. Then, use your feet for zoom.

You might be able to get by with something like a Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG lens indoors at higher ISO speeds, depending on how good the gym lighting is (although primes will give you another stop of light, and the primes can sometimes be found for less money).

For indoor sports like Basketball, this would be my short list for an entry level DSLR model:

Konica Minolta 5D or 7D
50mm f/1.4 or f/1.7
and
85mm f/1.4 or 100mm f/2

Nikon D50 or D70s
50mm f/1.2 or f/1.8
and
85mm f/1.4 or 85mm f/1.8

Canon Rebel XT or EOS-20D or EOS-30D
50mm f/1.4 or f/1.8
and
85mm f/1.8 or 100mm f/2

Then, I'd use my feet for zoom.

If you really want to try a zoom indoors without a flash, you might be able to get by with something like a Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 instead of primes (losing a stop or more to the primes). This Sigma is around $800 now, and is available in popular camera mounts (Pentax, Canon, Nikon, Konica-Minolta). Of course, it's larger and heavier than the primes. You can sometimes find some bargains on the used market, too.

Note that these DSLR models have sensors that are smaller than 35mm film, too (although they're dramatically larger sensors compared to the cameras you're looking at).

But, for focal length comparison purposes, a lens on a DSLR like these will appear to be approximately 50% longer than the same focal length on a 35mm camera. In other words, a 100mm lens will behave more like a 150mm lens when used on a DSLR (multiply the focal length of a lens by 1.5x for Canon, Nikon, and Pentax models to see how they compare, or 1.6x for the entry level Canon DSLR models).

If budget won't permit a DSLR solution, I'd probably look at something like the older Fuji S5200. It's available for less than $300 now, and it's lens is brighter than most (only stops down to f/3.5 on it's long end), with a cleaner ISO 800 compared to most non-DSLR models that can go that high. It's also got ISO 1600 you can use in a pinch (just don't expect it to be as clean as a DSLR model).

It's not going to be as fast as a DSLR (or have many of the other advantages of a DSLR like a true TTL viewfinder, better low light aufofocus, more photos in a burst, etc.).

But, it's probably a better low light perforrmer compared to most non-DSLR models around if you need a longer lens (and it's lens is almost twice as bright on it's long end compared to the lens on the newer S9000, which is down to f/4.5 on it's long end).

Because the S5200 is only a 4MP model, noise (and/or softening of detail from in camera noise reduction) isn't as bad as the newer model either. None of the Fuji models (including the S5200) have a stabilized lens. But, for moving subjects, I'd give ISO speed more weight (you'll need higher ISO speeds to get shutter speeds fast enough to reduce the number of images with motion blur indoors without a flash).

This is a compromise solution. So, I wouldn't expect perfect results indoors without a flash (but, your percentage of keepers without motion blur would probably be higher with thiis solution, versus the cameras you're looking at).

A DSLR is a much better bet for indoor (or night) sports, if you want faster and more reliabile autofocus, lower noise/grain as ISO speeds are increased (so that you have more photos without motion blur), faster write speeds to media, etc. But, a DSLR would be a larger, heavier ard more expensive solution.

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Old Jun 25, 2006, 11:21 AM   #3
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Based on the two digi models you've referenced, it would appear your budget is more suited to the prosumer line rather than a dSLR. Jim makes some very valid points about low light/high ISO being the forte of dSLR models, but will come with a price premium.

If your budget is of concern, the FZ30 and knowledge that you're limited to outdoors, good light circumstances would probably be the better choice of the two models mentioned. It has the capability to get to 675mm Leica reach and has the features you've indicated as being desired. Just remember, it, as all Pany FZ models, is not for low light action situations.
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Old Jun 25, 2006, 5:33 PM   #4
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Telecorder wrote:
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If your budget is of concern, the FZ30...
It has the capability to get to 675mm Leica reach...
Which is pure fraud, cropping picture ain't called as longer tele or even less zoom.


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Old Jun 25, 2006, 5:45 PM   #5
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E.T wrote:
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Which is pure fraud, cropping picture ain't called as longer tele or even less zoom.
"Advertising is legalized lying."
-H. G. Wells
Open minded people are free to disagree. But to my mind, an image that is metered/exposed at theinstance of the exposure, directly onto the center portion of a digi's sensor is not fraud, is not a digital 'zoom' and is not cropped (except by the lens aperature at time of exposure) For my FZ30 using the EZ 3-MP option, I'm getting the FOV image as if I had taken the photo w/a 3-MP digi at 19.3X zoom. Where's the fraud? Thus, IMHO and others that share my understanding of the optics, agree that it is a higher level of native optical zoom.
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Old Jun 25, 2006, 11:39 PM   #6
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What kind of results will I experience inside with an FZ30 iff I use an external flash? Will I be able to "stop action" like I can with my current AE-1 with zoom & flash?
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Old Jun 26, 2006, 12:04 AM   #7
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tdweiss1 wrote:
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What kind of results will I experience inside with an FZ30 iff I use an external flash? Will I be able to "stop action" like I can with my current AE-1 with zoom & flash?
I can't fully say one way or the other as I've only had my FZ30 ~3-weeks and haven't had that many indoor shots nor am I familar w/ your other digi model. I can say thatthe 30's flash is stronger than that on my FZ5 and the FZ30 has a hotshoe for aux. flash units.

Again, the forte of the Pany FZ models is the outdoors w/good light. Indoors, its capable but will need an experienced (or well practiced) operator to get consistently good images. I'd venture if the indoor image was a pose for the camera, wait for the onboard flash, you'll be able to get good images. If its other than pose-for-the-camera, it will be harder and sometimes probably not worth attempting. unless you've got a strong aux flash unit.

I had the ocassion to try and do some shots of my grandson's dance recital in a new kindergarden auditorium from the 2nd row. I had to go to ISO400 to get the shutter speed up but it still could only get me to - ISO 400, f/4 and 1/8-second shutter... not enough shutter speed to stop the action, barely enough to hand hold w/the OIS (I had it on a monopod). Flash not allowed... Even then, I don't know if it would have helped much... given the distances :sad:

You're caught in the twilight zone as we all are. We want the reach, ease of use, image quality and affordable price of theprosumer zooms but, to cover all the bases we'd like, including indoors and low light circumstances, we have to start saving for a dSLR system with $$ glass... We're pretty much in the situation of wanting 5 critical, must haveitems but can only choose/afford 3 or 4 from the list...
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Old Jun 26, 2006, 4:30 AM   #8
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tdweiss1 wrote:
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What kind of results will I experience inside with an FZ30 iff I use an external flash?¬* Will I be able to "stop action" like I can with my current AE-1 with zoom & flash?
As long as target is inside range of flash getting well exposed shots with stopped motion is possible. Bigger external flashes should be generally good to at least about 50 feet.

But lower light level might necessitate setting focus manually beforehand. (in that longer depth of field of non-SLRs is actually big advantage) Autofocus speed is always slower in lower light and when combined with moving targets in frame that's very demanding situation.




Telecorder wrote:
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But to my mind, an image that is metered/exposed at the¬*instance of the exposure, directly onto the center portion of a digi's sensor is not fraud, is not a digital 'zoom' and is not cropped (except by the lens aperature at time of exposure) ¬*For my FZ30 using the EZ 3-MP option, I'm getting the FOV image as if I had taken the photo w/a 3-MP digi at 19.3X zoom. Where's the fraud? Thus, IMHO and others that share my understanding of the optics, agree that it is a higher level of native optical zoom.
Compare that 3MP digizoom shot to center portion of one taken without it. There's exactly same amount of details!
Real optical zoom/increasing focal length brings new, smaller details visible.
So it's pure digital zoom with changed clothes, they just left out the part of "mathemathically wild ass guessing" new 5MP for getting "full" 8MP picture.

You know... your country's school system isn't exactly known from quality and knowing/teaching facts so don't put much weight to words of people unless they're really working in that particular area. (and in case of politicians and corporate big shots/advertisers never)
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Old Jun 26, 2006, 5:47 AM   #9
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E.T.

While I agree with your attitude towards politicians and advertisers, I think it is somewhat arrogant of you to launch such an unprovoked attack on America's education system. Moreover, in a forum on photography it is totally misplaced. On behalf of Steve (who I have never met incidentally) and (I suspect), many members of these forums, I would respectfully suggest you keep your opinions of America/Americans to yourself and concentrate your posts on the matter/s in hand.

Apologies if my view offends, but as that VERY TALENTED American (in my opinion) Axl Rose wrote "and to all those opposed..... hmm well?"

Tony
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Old Jun 26, 2006, 8:09 AM   #10
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As for the record I don't put weight to words of any people regardless of their origin and/or education without first knowing have they understood what they're talking or are they just "playing parrot" with fancy and technical sounding slogans/names told to them.

"If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, we have at least to consider the possibility that we have a small aquatic bird of the family anatidae on our hands."
-Douglas Adams

Maybe discouraging people from thinking is feature of modern citied society, people everywhere just seem to swallow everything so easily even if just little bit of common sense and thinking would reveal true nature of claims.

So apologies for everyone feeling hurted, I'm not good at lying about what I think when it comes to lies.


"Do not eat toner." -- On a toner cartridge for a laser printer.
"Eating rocks may lead to broken teeth." -- On a novelty rock garden set called "Popcorn Rock."
"Do not look into laser with remaining eye." -- On a laser pointer.
"Do not use for drying pets." -- In the manual for a microwave oven.
"Remember, objects in the mirror are actually behind you." -- On a motorcycle helmet-mounted rear-view mirror.
"Product will be hot after heating." -- On a supermarket dessert box.
"May be harmful if swallowed." -- On a shipment of hammers.
"Do not attempt to stop the blade with your hand." -- In the manual for a Swedish chainsaw.
"Not dishwasher safe." -- On a remote control for a TV.
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