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Old Aug 2, 2006, 8:46 AM   #1
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Hello, I was wondering if I could get some suggestions for the best point and shoot for taking action shots in fairly low-light conditions. I go to a lot of breakdance events and would like to be able to get some good shots.

I would prefer the camera to be at least 5MP, and around $350 or under. I'd prefer something fairly small, w/ an optical viewfinder and a movie mode that has audio

The last camera I had was the Olympus C-5000 and I kind of hated it. Bad shutter lag, no audio in movie mode and cheap plastic cover as a lens cap. It broke last week.

I am currently eyeing the Canon SD600, but am wondering if I need image stabilization? I was also looking at some of the panasonics (possibly one of the new lumix fx cams that just came out), its probably okay if they the IS creates some noise, but I'm not sure how fast the shutterspeed is on them

Thanks for any help/suggestions.
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Old Aug 2, 2006, 12:45 PM   #2
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mookey-

The current low light level shooting champ seems to be the Fuji F-30. Are you planning to use flash? Can you some measurement of how low the light levels really are if you are discussing photos without flash.

Here is an example photo of what the F-30 can do inside without flash, handheld, in the auto mode.

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Old Aug 2, 2006, 6:06 PM   #3
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Thanks for the info.

Argh, now I'm really torn between the F30 and the Canon A620.

Here are the advantages of each I'm thinking of:

Canon A620:
-Swivel LCD (could be very useful when trying to take pics over the heads of people in front of me)
-4x zoom
-available attachment lenses for more zoom and wider angled shots.
-cheaper

Fuji F30
-nice low light capabilities which will probably make for fast action shots
-nice and small

elch, this is hard. any further advice from anyone?
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Old Aug 2, 2006, 6:28 PM   #4
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mookey-

Thanks for the answer. However, you did not address the most important question of all. Can you use flash??

MT
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Old Aug 2, 2006, 6:43 PM   #5
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mookey wrote:
Quote:
I am currently eyeing the Canon SD600, but am wondering if I need image stabilization? I was also looking at some of the panasonics (possibly one of the new lumix fx cams that just came out), its probably okay if they the IS creates some noise, but I'm not sure how fast the shutterspeed is on them.
Quote:
elch, this is hard. any further advice from anyone?
Yes...

Don't be confused by the available shutter speeds on a camera. Just because the camera can shoot at faster shutter speeds, doesn't mean that you can actually use them.

If you don't leave the shutter open long enough for the lighting, aperture and ISO speed, you'll get underexposed (dark images). Try to shoot at 1/500 second indoors without a flash using a camera with manual exposure and you'll see what I mean (the image will be black).

Low light conditions are tough for a camera, unless you can use a flash.

If you can use a flash, and stay within the rated flash range, fine -- no problem.

If you can't use a flash, big problem. You'll end up with a blurry mess if you keep the shutter open long enough for proper exposure with most non-DSLR cameras trying to take photos of non-stationary subjects indoors without a flash (and for stationary subjects, you'll want a tripod with most cameras indoors without a flash).

The Fuji model that mtclimber mentioned is about as good as it gets right now in a non-DSLR subcompact camera, since it's got much higher usable ISO speeds compared to most models. The ISO speed represents how sensitive the sensor (or film) is to light. Each tiime you double the ISO speed, you can use shutter speeds twice as fast for the same lighting and aperture (the iris opening in the lens that lets in light).

Most non-DSLR models will be relatively useless indoors without a flash shooting non-stationary subjects. This particular Fuji is much better than most. But, it still has some limitations.

For one thing, it's lens loses a lot of light as you zoom in more. It has a largest available aperture of f/2.8 on the wide angle end (least apparent magnification). That's relatively common. As you zoom in more, it loses light (dropping down to around f/5. Note that f/2.8 is approximately 3 times as bright as f/5. So, you'd need shutter speeds around 3 times as long as it's maximum focal length (most zoom/magnification) for proper exposure. That's also relatively common for a subcompact model.

My suggestion, use the flash for something like break dancing indoors without a flash. If you can't use a flash, then the Fuji F30 would probably make a better choice compared to most. But, don't zoom in any more than you have to (and depending on the lighting, you may still get some motion blur).

If you need to shoot in conditions indoors without a flash where you do need to zoom in, I'd look at a different model.

For example, the Fuji S5200 has a lens that loses very little light at it's maximum zoom. It's ISO range isn't as good as the smaller F30. But, because you'd lose a lot of light with the F30 zooming in much, the S5200 would be able to give you faster shutter speeds on it's long end at a lower ISO speed compared to the F30.


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Old Aug 2, 2006, 7:34 PM   #6
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True optical stabilization like found on the Panasonics does not create noise. Noise comes from noisy sensors. And noise from the sensors can be reduced with good noise reduction in the camera processor. Panasonic hasn't been great at either low noise sensors or good noise reduction. They take good photos and stabilization can give a less noisy image by letting you shoot at a lower ISO and still get a good handheld shot.

But stabilization doesn't help at all for subject motion like you would be dealing with shooting break dancing. It is a great feature but not for what you want.

If you intend shooting the break dancing at night with street lighting the F30 might not hack it either. ISO 3200 is pretty grainy. In daylight or with good lighting it would work.

The A620 does seem like a good camera for your purposes. It has a decent flash and as you point out the articulated LCD is useful if you can't get to the front row. When you can get to the front row the optical viewfinder helps steady the camera and makes it easier to follow the action. Include the cost of a charger and NiMH batteries. They aren't expensive.


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Old Aug 2, 2006, 8:12 PM   #7
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Thanks to JimC & Slipe-

If flash can be used Mookey might be able to get by with the Canon A-620. Otherwise the only other option is to go with the Fuji F-30, providing there is enough light.

MT


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Old Aug 2, 2006, 8:22 PM   #8
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whoops, sorry for not addressing the question of flash.

Yes, 9 times out of 10, I should be able to use a flash :|, so I will go with the A620, which will make my wallet much happier anyway.

Thank you all so much for taking the time to help me and answer my questions. If I had not posted I would have ended up with a completely different (and probably wrong for me) camera.

much appreciated.
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