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Low light digital camera with zoom

 
 
Neil McNaughton
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      05-08-2004
I take a lot of photos in conferences in lousy lighting conditions. I am
quite happy with my old Digital Mavica with 10x zoom - but often the low
light makes it impossible to use. Any recommendations as to a good
replacement?

My understanding is that the bigger diameter lens, the more light it can
capture. But are there differences in the sensititvity of the digital
sensors - is there a measure of the intrinsic 'speed' of a digital camera
like the ASA or DIN numbers for film.

Otherwise any experiece or recommendations gratefully received.

Neil


 
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Boris Harss
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      05-08-2004
Hi!

> I take a lot of photos in conferences in lousy lighting conditions.


I assume, you are not interested in Fine arte fotography that much and
are on a certaine budget for this. Lets try to make it cheap... )

In todays market, you'll have to go for a DSLR for sigificant
improvement. All the compact cams might have good image quality in
general but use way to small chips to produce moderately low-noise
pictures at higher ISO settings. Your cheapest bets are the D70 (Nikon)
or the 300D (Canon). As a lense, I recommend a fixed-focal lenght 50mm
lense (non-zoom, that is!). This gives you a moderate telefoto of great
quality when light gets really bad and is brilliant for portriture. Form
Canon you get this as cheap as 100$. As a purist (that I am) I would
stop right here and spend a little under 1000$ total. However:

In addition, for your application and assuming a moderate budget, I'd
say, take a large aperture Sigma or Tamron zoom with data like
2X-8Xmmm/f2.8. These lenses are largely OK, but not as good as the
$1000+ glass from the camera manufacturer.

My so-far recommendation leaves you without a wide angle lense. If you
go with 300D, you can take the Kit instead of the body-only. Then you
have for +150$ a budget wide angle zoom in the package.

Expensive Greetings,
B.
 
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Rick
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      05-08-2004
"Neil McNaughton" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message news:c7i6d8$u4n$(E-Mail Removed)...
> I take a lot of photos in conferences in lousy lighting conditions. I am
> quite happy with my old Digital Mavica with 10x zoom - but often the low
> light makes it impossible to use. Any recommendations as to a good
> replacement?
>
> My understanding is that the bigger diameter lens, the more light it can
> capture. But are there differences in the sensititvity of the digital
> sensors - is there a measure of the intrinsic 'speed' of a digital camera
> like the ASA or DIN numbers for film.
>
> Otherwise any experiece or recommendations gratefully received.


Sony F-717. Its hologram AF can focus and frame in any light,
even complete darkness. Or the F-828 can do the same, except
with more noise and chromatic aberration.

Rick


 
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Neil McNaughton
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      05-08-2004
yes that is a little pricey - what of the Olympus Camedia C-760 Ultra Zoom +
with 64 MB xD card?


"Boris Harss" <(E-Mail Removed)> a écrit dans le message de
news:c7i84g$83i$(E-Mail Removed)...
> Hi!
>
> > I take a lot of photos in conferences in lousy lighting conditions.

>
> I assume, you are not interested in Fine arte fotography that much and
> are on a certaine budget for this. Lets try to make it cheap... )
>
> In todays market, you'll have to go for a DSLR for sigificant
> improvement. All the compact cams might have good image quality in
> general but use way to small chips to produce moderately low-noise
> pictures at higher ISO settings. Your cheapest bets are the D70 (Nikon)
> or the 300D (Canon). As a lense, I recommend a fixed-focal lenght 50mm
> lense (non-zoom, that is!). This gives you a moderate telefoto of great
> quality when light gets really bad and is brilliant for portriture. Form
> Canon you get this as cheap as 100$. As a purist (that I am) I would
> stop right here and spend a little under 1000$ total. However:
>
> In addition, for your application and assuming a moderate budget, I'd
> say, take a large aperture Sigma or Tamron zoom with data like
> 2X-8Xmmm/f2.8. These lenses are largely OK, but not as good as the
> $1000+ glass from the camera manufacturer.
>
> My so-far recommendation leaves you without a wide angle lense. If you
> go with 300D, you can take the Kit instead of the body-only. Then you
> have for +150$ a budget wide angle zoom in the package.
>
> Expensive Greetings,
> B.



 
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Boris Harss
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      05-08-2004
Hmmm...

> yes that is a little pricey - what of the Olympus Camedia C-760 Ultra Zoom +
> with 64 MB xD card?


Well, as I saied, no camera with a smal chip can do really well in low
light - this is NOT talking about the AF but the image. But I do not
know this model myself.

Good luck,
B.

 
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The Aussie Viking
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      05-09-2004
As the C750 can be contralled as full manual exposure (1/1000 to 16 second)
as well as F-stops, and manual focusing, I'd say have a very good look at
this one.

I have taken some very impressive night pictures with my one. But my 2 rules
to do so are;

1: Use a good tripod (Not some cheap one that flexes if there is wind!, and
;

2: Use the remote control to ensure no camera movement to operate the
shutter.

Following these 2 rules, I have even got good cave shots with a single
candle lighting the area. The Noise reduction in the camera helps as well.

The Aussie Viking.


 
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RobbH
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      05-09-2004
On Sat, 8 May 2004 10:40:03 +0200, Neil McNaughton wrote:

> I take a lot of photos in conferences in lousy lighting conditions. I am
> quite happy with my old Digital Mavica with 10x zoom - but often the low
> light makes it impossible to use. Any recommendations as to a good
> replacement?


This sort of question gets asked a lot, but there's not a lot of agreement
on what the question means. You stated your needs more clearly than most,
but it's still not entirely clear to me whether you intend to use flash or
not. If so, you need to be concerned with (1) low-light focusing ability
and (2) coverage of onboard flash and/or ability to use external flash.
But if your goal is available-light shooting, your priorities will
necessarily be different. Low-light focusing is still important, but you
also need to be able to capture that low-light image... which brings us to
your next question.

> My understanding is that the bigger diameter lens, the more light it can
> capture. But are there differences in the sensititvity of the digital
> sensors - is there a measure of the intrinsic 'speed' of a digital camera
> like the ASA or DIN numbers for film.


Most digital cameras can be set to different levels of sensitivity, more or
less accurately, on the same ISO scale as film. (The ISO scale superceded
ASA years ago.) The actual sensitivity of the sensor does not change, but
more gain can be applied to its output, to yield effective sensitivity of
ISO 200 or ISO 400, for instance. Unfortunately, this amplification
process also amplifies any noise in the image. Since the small sensors
used in most non-SLR digital cameras are rather noisy, they do not produce
very pleasing images at ISO 400 and above.

Someone will almost certainly suggest that all you need is a tripod,
allowing you to use longer exposures than can be hand-held. And this is
quite true, if your only interest is the architectural and design elements
-- how a conference has been set up. But if you plan to include people in
your photographs, you need something else.

I suggest you take a look at the camera reviews at Imaging Resource:

http://www.imaging-resource.com/

The conclusions usually include some comments on low-light performance, and
the photo samples include a series of comparison shots at different ISO
settings.

The reviews at Digital Photography Review may also be helpful, especially
the nose plots:

http://www.dpreview.com/

I can tell you that I use an Olympus C-4000 in many low-light situations.
It's not perfect, but I'm usually happy with the results. This camera has
been discontinued, but is still available from some legitimate dealers at a
low price. Its greatest disadvantage is that it uses Smart Media cards,
which are readily available and expensive but obsolete.

You mentioned the Oly C-760, which hasn't yet been reviewed at Imaging
Resource, but the review of the similar C-750 mentions that noise is a
problem. If the zoom range is important to you, you might look into the
Kodak DX6490. I've heard surprisingly good things about its low-light
performance, but have no experience with it, and it appears to have some
quirks that should be taken into account.

For a bit more money, someone has already mentioned the Sony DSC-F717. I
have no experience with it, either, but it still appears to be the best
non-SLR digital camera for available light photography.


 
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RobbH
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      05-09-2004
On Sun, 09 May 2004 12:38:11 GMT, RobbH wrote:

> Someone will almost certainly suggest that all you need is a tripod,
> allowing you to use longer exposures than can be hand-held. And this is
> quite true, if your only interest is the architectural and design elements
> -- how a conference has been set up. But if you plan to include people in
> your photographs, you need something else.


Following up on my own post because I neglected to mention that you
probably will need a tripod if you plan to use the telephoto end of a 10x
zoom in low light.

For shooting available light handheld, you'll be better off sticking to the
focal lengths found on a typical 3x zoom. There are some cameras available
with image-stabilized 10x (or so) zoom lenses, but they tend to be very
noisy at high ISO settings.

Your ultimate choice will probably have to involve some compromises. Or
you're going to have to spend a lot more than you originally intended!
 
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Trentus
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      05-10-2004
"Neil McNaughton" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:c7i6d8$u4n$(E-Mail Removed)...
> I take a lot of photos in conferences in lousy lighting conditions. I am
> quite happy with my old Digital Mavica with 10x zoom - but often the low
> light makes it impossible to use. Any recommendations as to a good
> replacement?
>
> My understanding is that the bigger diameter lens, the more light it can
> capture. But are there differences in the sensititvity of the digital
> sensors - is there a measure of the intrinsic 'speed' of a digital camera
> like the ASA or DIN numbers for film.
>
> Otherwise any experiece or recommendations gratefully received.


I'm astounded at the S5000's ability to take photos in low light.
Just ignore it's constant suggestion that you use the flash, which it
suggests for nearly EVERY shot regardless of light.
I've found if I DO use the flash, the shot is nearly always ruined, if I
don't use the flash the shot is normally fine.

The damn camera can see in the dark better than I can. There is one proviso,
first use self timer and a tripod, this means there is no camera movement,
otherwise the shots tend to blur. Secondly, which may rule the camera out
for your purposes, it's also best if the subject is still.

I did break ALL these rules, and especially the last one where the subject
is not moving, at a Christmas party dance - lit only with some coloured
globes on the roof and 2 coloured spotlights - and got some quite
unexpected photos. They were really LOUSY photos that I wouldn't dare
subject sensitive quality photographers like yourselves to, and only some
basic happy-snaps - but unexpected in that details into the far corners
of the room were quite visible in the photo, that I had not been able to see
with my own eyes. It actually makes the room look well lit, when in fact it
was a very dark and dingy scout hall out in the bush at night.

Do NOT critique the photos, I know there are SO MANY things wrong with them,
I do NOT claim to be a good photographer, but if you really must see the
photos just to get an idea of what I was talking about, I'll put them up
here for you.
http://www.dart.net.au/users/trentan...ht/noflash.jpg
http://www.dart.net.au/users/trentan.../withflash.jpg

This is what it can do with nothing but a candle (yes I know they're lousy
photo's I'm just learning both the camera, and photography in general)
http://www.dart.net.au/users/trentan...eriment036.jpg
http://www.dart.net.au/users/trentan...eriment038.jpg

And so those don't give you the wrong impression about my skills as a
photographer, these are what I can do when I try a bit harder, still not
good photo's but better than those dance shots.
http://www.dart.net.au/users/trentan...aintrip028.jpg
http://www.dart.net.au/users/trentan...inbilla024.jpg

Trentus






 
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Dave
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      05-10-2004
"The Aussie Viking" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message news:<409d921d$0$27642$(E-Mail Removed). com.au>...
> As the C750 can be contralled as full manual exposure (1/1000 to 16 second)
> as well as F-stops, and manual focusing, I'd say have a very good look at
> this one.
>
> I have taken some very impressive night pictures with my one. But my 2 rules
> to do so are;
>
> 1: Use a good tripod (Not some cheap one that flexes if there is wind!, and
> ;
>
> 2: Use the remote control to ensure no camera movement to operate the
> shutter.
>
> Following these 2 rules, I have even got good cave shots with a single
> candle lighting the area. The Noise reduction in the camera helps as well.
>


I cringe at the thought of anyone recommending the C750 for low light.
The autofocus becomes utterly useless and the electronic viewfinder
becomes slow and dark.

http://home.att.net/~galt_57
 
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