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AlysonB
11-26-2006, 10:49 AM
Budget

* What budget have you allocated for buying this camera?
Preferably under $300.

Size

* What size camera are you looking for?
Smaller than my previous Panasonic FZ10.

Features

How many megapixels will suffice for you?
Minimum 5.0

* What optical zoom will you need?
Ultra zoom preferred, but will consider down to a 6x if meets other needs.

* How important is “image quality” to you?
10 - I want sharp details for portraits, but outdoors I can handle a little softness.

Do you care for manual controls?
Nice but not necessary.

General Usage

* What will you generally use the camera for?
Everything. I want something that will take excellent indoor pics without flash , has a decent zoom for outdoor shots and is compact enough that I can handle it one handed. Fast functioning very important as my two young boys move quickly and I don't have time to wait for long start ups.

* Will you be making big prints of your photos or not?
8x10 probably the largest.

Will you be shooting a lot of indoor photos or low light photos?
VERY important as I do my own portraits indoors with natural light and no flash. The Panasonic I previously had was excellent for this, but I'd like something smaller.

Will you be shooting sports and/or action photos?
Quite Possibly

Miscellaneous

Are there particular brands you like or hate?
I like Panasonic, Canon, Olympus, Kodak, but will try others with good recommendations.

Are there particular models you already have in mind?
Thinking of the Panasonic TZ1.

(If applicable) Do you need any of the following special features? (Wide Angle, Image Stabilization, Weatherproof, Hotshoe, Rotating LCD)
Image stabilization a must. A threaded lens where I could add filters would be awesome, but if not that's okay. Li-ion battery a must.

Thanks for any input!

speaklightly
11-26-2006, 11:37 AM
Alyson-

I own and use a Panasonic TZ-1. It is a very capable camera, but inside without flash is a huge challenge for the TZ-1. You have to use ISO 800 and the noise is very evident. Outside it does fine.

Fuji has pretty much dominated the high ISO indoor shooting arena. You might want to take a look at Jeff's recent review of the Fuji S-600fd, which he recommended. If size is a factor, then the TZ-1 is just about the only other small option if you want a small camera with long zoom.

SL

AlysonB
11-26-2006, 04:58 PM
I checked out the Fuji and although it looks nice I really want something with a lithium ion battery. My previous Panasonic FZ-10 did a fantastic job indoors with good natural light on a tripod. My indoor shots are primarily formal portraits so they are all done on a tripod, so I was hoping that that would give me some more options. Would something with a wide angle lens give me better aperture for the indoor shots?

-alyson

John_Reed
11-26-2006, 05:41 PM
I checked out the Fuji and although it looks nice I really want something with a lithium ion battery. My previous Panasonic FZ-10 did a fantastic job indoors with good natural light on a tripod. My indoor shots are primarily formal portraits so they are all done on a tripod, so I was hoping that that would give me some more options. Would something with a wide angle lens give me better aperture for the indoor shots?

-alysonYou say you need image stabilization, but you also say all your indoor shots will be from a tripod, where IS isn't needed, and it's even recommended that you shut if OFF when shooting from a tripod. So I guess you need IS because of your non-portrait uses?

Secondly, when you ask for "better aperture," and you're referring to needing that for portrait shots, I've always thought that the best portraits are taken at focal lengths longer, rather than shorter than "normal," where normal is ~50mm in 35mm equivalence. Certainly if you're looking for the type of shot where the subject is sharp and the background/foreground are blurred, you'll have the best chance of doing that with longer focal lengths. Is this contrary to your experience?

All that aside, while I certainly like the TZ1, have one and love it myself, I would think that if your FZ10 was too big, the next logical camera for you to consider would be the FZ7, at least in the Panasonic line, and possibly also the LX2, for a wide angle to portrait length lens with a good complement of manual controls. Frankly, the TZ1 would limit you with its lack of manual controls, in my opinion. On the other hand, it IS a great little camera, not bad to have around anyway!

AlysonB
11-26-2006, 06:05 PM
Sorry for not clarifying. I wanted the IS for outdoor shots using the zoom. As far as aperture is concerned, please excuse my lack of knowledge. It's been many years since my last photography class and I think perhaps I've confused something somewhere. I thought that the reason my FZ-10 took excellent indoor pics, and that my Olympus Stylus Verve did not, was because the FZ-10 had a physically larger lens in diameter, which in turn would let more light in and thus give better indoor pics, and I thought that was an aperture thing. Am I totally off on that? I was also just reading the review here on the Kodak P880 and he said that the 24mm lens would be appealing for indoor photography, so would something with a lens like that work for me? Thanks again for helping me out.

John_Reed
11-26-2006, 06:58 PM
Sorry for not clarifying. I wanted the IS for outdoor shots using the zoom. As far as aperture is concerned, please excuse my lack of knowledge. It's been many years since my last photography class and I think perhaps I've confused something somewhere. I thought that the reason my FZ-10 took excellent indoor pics, and that my Olympus Stylus Verve did not, was because the FZ-10 had a physically larger lens in diameter, which in turn would let more light in and thus give better indoor pics, and I thought that was an aperture thing. Am I totally off on that? I was also just reading the review here on the Kodak P880 and he said that the 24mm lens would be appealing for indoor photography, so would something with a lens like that work for me? Thanks again for helping me out.The FZ10 does have a very fast, sharp lens, capable of maintaining an f2.8 aperture over its entire zoom range, something not duplicated in today's "later" Panasonic cameras. So the faster lens will let in more light at a given aperture, a good thing. It's just that for portraits, one usually likes to single out the subject(s) for optimum focus, with blurred foreground and background. For that purpose, a longer zoom is necessary than what you'd get with wide angle. Just a case in point would be my Panasonic cameras which have "portrait" modes. The instruction manual states that they work best at maximum zoom. At this end of the zoom scale, that optimal combination of subject sharpness and blurriness elsewhere is easier to achieve, though still not all that easy with a small-sensor camera like we're discussing here. Just as an example, I'll show a "portrait" I made with my FZ30 of a Sparrow:

http://John-Reed.smugmug.com/photos/54965519-L.jpg

If you look at the EXIF data (http://John-Reed.smugmug.com/photos/newexif.mg?ImageID=54965519) for that photo, you'll see that I was shooting in Aperture Priority, and had dialed in the maximum aperture (f3.6) I could get for that focal length. (Which, with the teleconverter I had affixed, would actually be something like ~700mm equivalent) And, in order to get the foreground/background blurry, and the subject in focus, I had to use manual focus in this case, because the Auto Focus mechanism would have been totally befuddled by all those twigs in front of the bird.

AlysonB
11-27-2006, 06:58 AM
Thanks! That clarified it quite a bit. I think I'm going to go with either the TZ1 or FZ7. I'm leaning toward that FZ7 because I like the manual options and that you can add filters using the adapter. Is there any differences between the two cameras in terms of image quality?

John_Reed
11-27-2006, 07:45 AM
Thanks! That clarified it quite a bit. I think I'm going to go with either the TZ1 or FZ7. I'm leaning toward that FZ7 because I like the manual options and that you can add filters using the adapter. Is there any differences between the two cameras in terms of image quality?
Though the FZ7 is a 6MP camera, and the TZ1 5MP, both apparently use the same sensor. But the TZ1 uses the newer "Venus III" image processing engine, and so there are differences in the way images are processed after being captured. I've been happy with my TZ1 images, but there are plenty of advocates for the FZ7's image quality that would lead me to believe that you would be happy with either camera in that respect.

For what you're doing, the functional advantages of the FZ7, i.e., the longer zoom range, faster lens, the EVF, would tip the scales that way, in my opinion.

AlysonB
11-27-2006, 09:34 AM
I have one last question before I make a final choice. When you start up the TZ1, does the flash come on all the time? Let me explain what I mean. On my FZ10 the flash must be manually popped up to run, so by default all pics are without flash. That's what I like because I rarely use flash. On my Olympus Stylus Verve the flash goes off pretty much with every single picture, even in good outdoor lighting. It is a pain because I need to manually shut it off every time I start the camera up.

John_Reed
11-27-2006, 02:17 PM
I have one last question before I make a final choice. When you start up the TZ1, does the flash come on all the time? Let me explain what I mean. On my FZ10 the flash must be manually popped up to run, so by default all pics are without flash. That's what I like because I rarely use flash. On my Olympus Stylus Verve the flash goes off pretty much with every single picture, even in good outdoor lighting. It is a pain because I need to manually shut it off every time I start the camera up.I do know what you mean; I hate cameras that assume you're gonna need flash with every shot! But for the TZ1, you have only to select "Flash Off" in the flash menu, and it stays off until you turn it back on, even if you've turned the camera off in between. I too love available light, and really only use flash to pick up snapshots of people on occasion. The TZ1 does a pretty nice job of that, I might say as well.

greenlight
11-27-2006, 06:50 PM
My friend bought a fuji f30 and it takes great photos indoors without flash.