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View Full Version : How much optical zoom do I REALLY need?



denise
04-14-2006, 07:54 AM
I'm looking to purchase a new camera and want to be able to take action/sports shots of my kids (HS Soccer), indoor shots around our home, outdoors, vacations, etc...

I love the smaller cameras, but think I may need more zoom than they offer. I'm pretty sold on Canons since that's what I've had in the past...

1. Would I be happy with a 4x optical zoom with 6 megapixels? Thinking I could crop my pictures & still have great shots....????? (Canon SD700is)

2. Would a 6x optical zoom (about 6 megapix) do a better job? (Canon A700)

3. OR do I need to go up to a 12x optical zoom (6.2 megapix)? (Canon S3 IS)

Any opinions or suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks so much!
Denise

David Metsky
04-14-2006, 08:53 AM
For action/sports shots of people on a playing field you want big optical zoom. 10x or 12x. This will not be the best for indoor shots in low light. Which is more important to you?

-dave-

denise
04-15-2006, 08:06 AM
For action/sports shots of people on a playing field you want big optical zoom. 10x or 12x. This will not be the best for indoor shots in low light. Which is more important to you?

-dave-

Hmmm... I think indoor shots are important, but I really want to take some soccer action pics too. What do you think about going with less zoom (say 6x) and then just cropping the soccer pics to bring them in closer? Will that work??????

cdifoto
04-15-2006, 08:22 AM
Let's get away from using the x factors when discussing zoom. It's irrelevant and means nothing when comparing cameras. All 4x means is that that particular camera's lens has a maximum focal length equal to 4 times its minimum focal length. The minimum focal length could be anything, so the maximum could be 4 times that anything. In the case of 10x, then the ratio is 10 times the minimum to get the maximum. It really means nothing.


What you need to really look at is the "effective" or "35mm equivalent" focal length of the lenses in question. This is usually displayed somewhere on the lens itself or in the manual. You can also find this information in most camera reviews. Don't get this confused with the "actual" focal length which also varies from camera to camera depending on the size of the sensor in the camera.


Once you get some standardization in mind when discussing these lenses, only then can you begin to decide what you actually need. For sports on a field, about 300-500mm of 35mm equivalent is ideal so you can get frame-filling shots of the players from the end zone/goal zone or sidelines. Indoors you probably want between 18mm and 50mm of 35mm equivalent focal length.

swgod98
04-15-2006, 10:50 AM
Let's get away from using the x factors when discussing zoom.

That's a very good point, actually. While it's easier to discuss the x factor in zoom ratings, it doesn't tell us what we really need to know...

It looks like the A700 has a 35mm-210mm zoom range. The S3 has 36mm-432mm. For wideangle purposes, both camera's are nearly identical. At the long end of the zoom range, the S3 has more than double the range. I personally think 432mm is a perfect range to have when shooting sports. When you have to crop, you are losing resolution, and I find that getting the picture you want the first time is much better than having to crop what you have taken.

I was just looking over some camera's and noticed the Panasonic DMC-TZ1. This one looks to have very nice features. 35mm-350mm zoom (that's 10x). 1600 ISO! It also has image stabilization (as does the S3, but I don't think the A700 does), so taking clear pictures at the long end of the zoom range is much easier.

For indoor pictures, I don't see why the S3 or the TZ1 would be any worse than the A700. They all have about the same wideangle capability. It will probably be a good idea to wait for some sample shots to see how well each of these camera's perform under different ISO settings.

sw2cam
04-15-2006, 05:08 PM
Once you have a good amount of zoom you'll not leave home without it.

ZoomZoomZoom

ChrisBrewster
04-18-2006, 12:38 PM
I chose a Fuji s5200 over the Canon S2/S3, wanting Fuji's low-light performance. (Not up to the F10, but with some of the Fuji advantage.) But I didn't want to lose the greater zoom. (Canon sells 12x with a 430mm equiv; Fuji is 10x with a 380mm equiv.) So I did some comparing in the store, expecting to see a difference and hoping it wouldn't bother me. But I couldn't see *any* difference. I really tried-- I chose a representative area pretty far away and looked carefully at what was at the edges. They seemed the same for the two cameras. There had to be some difference but since I couldn't see it I decided not to worry about it.

cdifoto
04-18-2006, 12:47 PM
I chose a Fuji s5200 over the Canon S2/S3, wanting Fuji's low-light performance. (Not up to the F10, but with some of the Fuji advantage.) But I didn't want to lose the greater zoom. (Canon sells 12x with a 430mm equiv; Fuji is 10x with a 380mm equiv.) So I did some comparing in the store, expecting to see a difference and hoping it wouldn't bother me. But I couldn't see *any* difference. I really tried-- I chose a representative area pretty far away and looked carefully at what was at the edges. They seemed the same for the two cameras. There had to be some difference but since I couldn't see it I decided not to worry about it.


50mm on the long end rarely makes much difference unless you need all you can get for birding. 50mm on the wide end, however, is incredibly significant. There could also be some manufacturer discrepancy on top of that yet.