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amorphic8
07-09-2004, 08:41 PM
I am looking for a decent camera (who isn't?), but haven't decided on a budget yet although I do have features and other some requirements in mind (see below). I will be purchasing it for my web design company but will be using it for some hi-res work and personal/hobby shots as well.

Currently I own a Nikon Coolpix 885 (got it in 2002) and use it to death. I also own an Apple QuickTake 200 (remember those?) but it has been 'retired' for quite some time.

I have taken in excess of 15,000 photos with the Nikon and take it with me wherever I go. It has performed well, but there are some things that I am interested in improving on with a newer model.
Here are some features/requirements that I think are important:

--indoor low-light: nightclubs, concerts, and performances
This is an area that the Nikon really suffers (lots of red noise). I need to take clear photos in low light sometimes at a distance of over 20 feet from the subject. I am also interested in capturing ambient light (stage lights, etc...) so don't intend to use a flash in most of these situations
Nikon 885 Samples: http://homepage.mac.com/amorphic8/PhotoAlbum19.html

--optical zoom 5x minimum....10x optimally
The Nikon is 3x and I have learned to work with it. At 3.2 megapixels, it doesn't allow me to crop in too tightly (without serious pixelation) on subjects taken at a distance

which brings me to...

--4 megapixel minimum but am willing to spend the $$ for up to 8 if other requirements are met.
As I said, sometimes I need to take photos long distances from the subject in low light, so I need to allow for quite a bit of cropping. Additionally, some photos I have taken for web sites have ended up in printed magazines and advertisements. From my research so far, I am fairly convinced that 6 will probably do the trick for me, provided I have a decent zoom but I am open to be convinced otherwise

--shooting moving subjects
most of my paying clients are entertainers of some sort and I need to catch them in action. The Nikon exhibits a great deal of blur in low light and I am looking for something with a faster lens

So far I have considered the following models:
::Canon Digital Rebel - I like it, but I am not a pro and think it might be too much
::Fuji S7000 - liked it and was ready to buy until I saw the pictures in the DC resource review
::Sony 717 or 828 - I have a personal bias against Sony products in general but from what I have read (and heard from the Fuji rep at B&H in NYC), the Sony lenses on these models perform very well in low light (I was asking him about th S7000 and he pointed me toward the 717)...being able to angle the lens is nice, too for when I am shooting 'from the back row' or over a crowd

I am open to any other models and would appreciate recommendations.

I have read almost every DCResoursce review on cameras 4 megapixels and up from Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus, Minolta, and Fuji and I have also asked a ton of questions at B&H in Manhattan. I seems that the more I learn the more confused I get.

thanks...

magr
07-09-2004, 09:53 PM
I am using a Pentax S4 camera on a cross country bikeride, I've used all the features and have been really happy with all the quality. If you want to see what the video clips and pictures look like check out www.thelongbikeride.com

Jake Conner
07-10-2004, 10:12 AM
I'd get the 4MP Panasonic FZ10. With its fast, stabilized 35-420mm F2.8 lens, it's ideal for nightclubs. John, where are you?

Jake

John_Reed
07-10-2004, 01:30 PM
--indoor low-light: nightclubs, concerts, and performances
This is an area that the Nikon really suffers (lots of red noise). I need to take clear photos in low light sometimes at a distance of over 20 feet from the subject. I am also interested in capturing ambient light (stage lights, etc...) so don't intend to use a flash in most of these situations
--optical zoom 5x minimum....10x optimally
The Nikon is 3x and I have learned to work with it. At 3.2 megapixels, it doesn't allow me to crop in too tightly (without serious pixelation) on subjects taken at a distance

which brings me to...

--4 megapixel minimum but am willing to spend the $$ for up to 8 if other requirements are met.
As I said, sometimes I need to take photos long distances from the subject in low light, so I need to allow for quite a bit of cropping. Additionally, some photos I have taken for web sites have ended up in printed magazines and advertisements. From my research so far, I am fairly convinced that 6 will probably do the trick for me, provided I have a decent zoom but I am open to be convinced otherwise

--shooting moving subjects
most of my paying clients are entertainers of some sort and I need to catch them in action. The Nikon exhibits a great deal of blur in low light and I am looking for something with a faster lens

So far I have considered the following models:
::Canon Digital Rebel - I like it, but I am not a pro and think it might be too much
::Fuji S7000 - liked it and was ready to buy until I saw the pictures in the DC resource review
::Sony 717 or 828 - I have a personal bias against Sony products in general but from what I have read (and heard from the Fuji rep at B&H in NYC), the Sony lenses on these models perform very well in low light (I was asking him about th S7000 and he pointed me toward the 717)...being able to angle the lens is nice, too for when I am shooting 'from the back row' or over a crowd

I am open to any other models and would appreciate recommendations.

I have read almost every DCResoursce review on cameras 4 megapixels and up from Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus, Minolta, and Fuji and I have also asked a ton of questions at B&H in Manhattan. I seems that the more I learn the more confused I get.

thanks...
Well shoot, Jake done stole my thunder. But for all your requirements, you really should take a look at the Panasonic DMC-FZ10. It's got the fastest, longest zoom lens (f2.8 across its 35-420mm zoom range) currently available, with the added benefit of optical image stabilization. People have gotten very good results indoors and outdoors with this camera, even some good results at ISO 400, though you might want to apply a little post-processing noise reduction for ISO 400 shots to deliver pro prints to your clients. I have one, and I like it very much, not only for its long zoom, but for its rock-solid image stability at very slow shutter speeds in low light. Here's an example of an on-stage photo I took last year from about 30 rows back with my FZ1 (2MP "little brother" of the 4MP FZ10):
http://karsh-i.usefilm.com/7/1/1/711/182224-large.jpg

amorphic8
07-11-2004, 11:51 AM
Wow guys, thanks. I hadn't even considered the Panasonic. I was looking more at the traditional 'camera companies' offerings because I thought for pro quality stuff I should stick with them.

I am going to skim the Panasonic review on DCResource and then ask about it at B&H later today (I am heading there to x-change my Elura 65 camcorder due to 2 dead pixels in the viewfinder).

I'll report back if I have any more questions (or make a decision).

thanks again...

amorphic8
07-11-2004, 12:49 PM
Just read the DCResource review on the Panasonic FZ10 and realized I did read it before.

Things I wasn't crazy about (as per the review) was the lack of AF assist lamp and the 'disappointing' quality at higher ISO and low light.
Low light and fast focus are critical. I know I can't have everything in a digital, but I am hoping to do better.

Also the price/megapixel ratio seems a little high. Maybe the price is more refelctive of the lens (?) than the CCD, but I would hope to get into the 6.3 range for that price (even if it meant paying a slightly higher price).

Annoying, but not as important, is the in-ability to swap out memory cards while on a tripod. I didn't mention in my original (long) post that I often take photos for on-the-spot print and sell. This is the case when working with bodypainters especially. I usually swap out the CF card (in the Nikon), pop it into a reader and load pics into iPhoto or PhotoshopCS browser while I continue to shoot with another CF card.
(see http://www.latex-mania.com/gallery.html for many samples taken with the Nikon 885 **WARNING: the bodypainting photos are rated PG-13**).

I am heading to B&H now and will check it out if I have time.

thanks again.

Jake Conner
07-11-2004, 07:50 PM
Yes, but the IS means you don't *need* the high ISOs. And as for AF assist... Geez, just put a mag-lite in your hot shoe. Find a broken flash to steal a shoe from and solder it on.

Jake

D70FAN
07-12-2004, 09:21 AM
Also the price/megapixel ratio seems a little high. Maybe the price is more refelctive of the lens (?) than the CCD, but I would hope to get into the 6.3 range for that price (even if it meant paying a slightly higher price).

thanks again.

I'm afraid that your next step is to a dSLR, either the Canon dReb or Nikon D70. Although, at <$500 you should at least give the FZ-10 a chance. I honestly can't think of a better all-in-one camera for what you are trying to do. Try not to be pulled in to the 8MP all-in-ones (828, 8080, 8700, Pro1, etc.). The only 8MP camera worth it's salt is the Canon EOS 1D MKII in the $4500 range.

Keep in mind that a stabilized lens for a dSLR will start at around $450 (Canon) and go up. Some of the Nikon VR lenses go for $1500 or so. Fortunately, dSLR's take comparitively clean shots all the way to ISO 1600, and you can "push process" by using -2 to -3 EV to ISO 3200+. Actually you can use this trick with other digitals with varying degrees of success.

As a final note: There is software availabe, for noise post-processing, that will take moderate noise out of the picture (pun intended). Noise Ninja seems to be a favorite.

As always, go down to your favorite camera store and try these out. The FZ-10 uses SD cards, so buy a (low cost) 32MB card (enough for ~20 shots) and bring one of your CF cards for the other cameras, and actually take some pictures and then go home, check the shots, and decide what to buy.

jamison55
07-12-2004, 11:11 AM
The Panasonic is intriguing, but my vote would still go with the DReb because of the low light performance you are demanding out of the camera. Couple the ISO 1600 capabilities with an $80 50mm Mark II f1.8 lens, and you'll be able to capture shots that you wouldn't have been able to with the Panasonic. Hopefully I'm not proving my ignorance here, but you gain 3 stops of light from ISO 200 (the highest ISO setting you'd want to use on the Panasonic) to the ISO 1600 you can use on the DReb, and almost 1 stop of light for the f1.8 lens on the DReb, for a total of 4 stops. IS would compensate for approximately 1-2 stops giving the DReb a 2-3 stop advantage! No sweat on swapping the CF cards either. The other thing that nobody mentioned is the TTL composition (which is a blessing and a curse in your situation). TTL allows you to compose in low light using the viewfinder. From what I've heard, most of the EVF cameras are useless in low light. This also means that you must compose using the viewfinder. The LCD can't be used to compose a picture.

amorphic8
07-12-2004, 12:18 PM
Wow, thanks. A lot of really great information here.

I will do the SD/CF test at the camera store this week (damn, I was just there this morning) and take home the pix and compare results (thanks George). I did handle the Panasonic while there and it seems like a good contender. It's a lot BIGGER than I thought, but that is not an issue as I rarely travel light. I also have SD cards on hand as my Canon Elura DV cam uses them in addition to mini DV tapes.

I was considering the Dig Reb from the beginning, but, to be honest, was afraid I might get in over my head.

I am actually a web designer who started taking photos for a client as a favor and it has taken off from there. Little by little I have improved my photo taking and composition skills and learned a great deal.
:: thanks in no small part to this web site, lots of trade magazines, and B&H salesmen; my old Nikon 885 has enough manual settings to be educational, as well: I at least I can try out some of what I am learning on it ::

I knew (and was advised by a film photographer) that dSLR would be the most versitile. My main concern with a dSLR: where do I stop?

Maybe this is the topic for another thread, but I can easily see myself getting the dReb, a couple of lenses to get started, bigger CF cards, lots of batteries, a good flash, a sturdier tripod, a good filter set, another external HD, more lenses, those umbrella things, etc... then having to put it all on e-bay to pay my electric bill.