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Camera Choice for Sailing

 
 
IYC Mike
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      05-17-2008
I may have made my mind up, but before I buy I'd welcome any comments.

I sail a small cruiser in the Thames Estuary and very much enjoy
taking photos from the boat, of other boats and wildlife; currently
with a 35mm SLR. However, I use digital for other photography and now
wish to try digital on the boat and need a different camera (for very
good reasons).

Boat photography is very demanding! Subjects are often a long way away
needing a large focal length, and the platform is unsteady making this
difficult to use. Sometimes, eg at the start of a race, a suitable
subject happens suddenly so you need to make a rapid change of focal
length - no time to change lenses, a good zoom is a must. Weather is
often grey, so you need to juggle (with the film camera) fast shutter
speed, aperture and film speed to get good results; I generally use
400 ASA film.

To photograph things on your own boat, a degree of wide angle is
generally needed. With a 35mm SLR you might as well throw the 50mm
lens overboard ...

And just to make camera choice a bit harder, cost comes into it for
this reason; insurance does not give very good cover. Generally, water
damage tends to be excluded!!! I ask you ... what's most likely to
happen on a boat. So I don't want to spend too much and was
thinking around 100 UK pounds.

So I need:
. a really good zoom lens ...
. ... which will work well at or near full aperture and high zoom
. image stabilisation of high quality
. good P&S and also good manual controls
. compact size (she's only a small boat)
. ability to work at higher ISO settings, to enable very fast shutter
speeds
. fairly fast reaction time for action shots
. good picture quality generally, of say up to A4 size
. lowish cost so I won't be too put out if it gets ruined

I know I have to compromise!

Now some comments on this. Some image quality issues can be tolerated;
the viewers are often pleasantly surprised that I've managed a
reasonable picture at all. As as long as I capture the essence of
what's going on, that's fine usually. However, I sometimes have time
to do a careful job (in quiet conditions) of getting everything right
and, with a steady hand, get good results ... such 35mm photos have
been enlarged to 10 x 8 very well and I still want to have this
ability.

I've done a lot of research and read loads of reviews, and seen many
relevant posts here.
My provisional choice is the Panasonic FZ8.

It seems to match my list very well, with one exception; its noise
problems at higher ISO settings. Use at higher ISO is on my list, to
enable high shutter speeds (to combat shake) on dull days.
As far as I can see, this problem is offset in 3 ways:
. excellent lens will work well at wide aperture
. better than average OIS, giving about 3 stops improvement over my
35mm SLR, and possibly 1 stop over most othe OIS systems
. ability to save raw for critical shots where I intend to enlarge or
crop.

It's just a bit over my intended budget but that's not hard and fast.

Above all, I see that John Navas uses one with good results and likes
it generally, especially for boat photography.

Any comments welcomed.
 
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ransley
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      05-17-2008
On May 17, 5:44*am, IYC Mike <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> I may have made my mind up, but before I buy I'd welcome any comments.
>
> I sail a small cruiser in the Thames Estuary and very much enjoy
> taking photos from the boat, of other boats and wildlife; currently
> with a 35mm SLR. However, I use digital for other photography and now
> wish to try digital on the boat and need a different camera (for very
> good reasons).
>
> Boat photography is very demanding! Subjects are often a long way away
> needing a large focal length, and the platform is unsteady making this
> difficult to use. Sometimes, eg at the start of a race, a suitable
> subject happens suddenly so you need to make a rapid change of focal
> length - no time to change lenses, a good zoom is a must. Weather is
> often grey, so you need to juggle (with the film camera) fast shutter
> speed, aperture and film speed to get good results; I generally use
> 400 ASA film.
>
> To photograph things on your own boat, a degree of wide angle is
> generally needed. With a 35mm SLR you might as well throw the 50mm
> lens overboard ...
>
> And just to make camera choice a bit harder, cost comes into it for
> this reason; insurance does not give very good cover. Generally, water
> damage tends to be excluded!!! I ask you ... what's most likely to
> happen on a boat. So I don't want to spend too much and was
> thinking around 100 UK pounds.
>
> So I need:
> *. a really good zoom lens ...
> *. * *... which will work well at or near full aperture and high zoom
> *. image stabilisation of high quality
> *. good P&S and also good manual controls
> *. compact size (she's only a small boat)
> *. ability to work at higher ISO settings, to enable very fast shutter
> speeds
> *. fairly fast reaction time for action shots
> *. good picture quality generally, of say up to A4 size
> *. lowish cost so I won't be too put out if it gets ruined
>
> I know I have to compromise!
>
> Now some comments on this. Some image quality issues can be tolerated;
> the viewers are often pleasantly surprised that I've managed a
> reasonable picture at all. As as long as I capture the essence of
> what's going on, that's fine usually. However, I sometimes have time
> to do a careful job (in quiet conditions) of getting everything right
> and, with a steady hand, get good results ... *such 35mm photos have
> been enlarged to 10 x 8 very well and I still want to have this
> ability.
>
> I've done a lot of research and read loads of reviews, and seen many
> relevant posts here.
> My provisional choice is the Panasonic FZ8.
>
> It seems to match my list very well, with one exception; its noise
> problems at higher ISO settings. Use at higher ISO is on my list, to
> enable high shutter speeds (to combat shake) on dull days.
> As far as I can see, this problem is offset in 3 ways:
> *. excellent lens will work well at wide aperture
> *. better than average OIS, giving about 3 stops improvement over my
> 35mm SLR, and possibly 1 stop over most othe OIS systems
> *. ability to save raw for critical shots where I intend to enlarge or
> crop.
>
> It's just a bit over my intended budget but that's not hard and fast.
>
> Above all, I see that John Navas uses one with good results and likes
> it generally, especially for boat photography.
>
> Any comments welcomed.


With boat movement a fast sensor is best, Fuji has been a step or two
ahead of the competition and Panasonic a step behind, you may only
need 5-7 mp resolution, Fuji may or may not have something like sonys
smart zoom feature that will allow more zoom at reduced MP. Panasonic
would be best for stationary use at 100iso, the Fuji may do as good or
better at 400iso For a boat where there is alot of movement Panasonic
would be my last choise.
 
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David J Taylor
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      05-17-2008
ransley wrote:
[]
> With boat movement a fast sensor is best, Fuji has been a step or two
> ahead of the competition and Panasonic a step behind, you may only
> need 5-7 mp resolution, Fuji may or may not have something like sonys
> smart zoom feature that will allow more zoom at reduced MP. Panasonic
> would be best for stationary use at 100iso, the Fuji may do as good or
> better at 400iso For a boat where there is alot of movement Panasonic
> would be my last choise.


However, for use on a moving boat, the excellent image stabilisation on
the Panasonic cameras may produce a greater percentage of sharp pictures
than the higher ISO in the Fuji! You pays your money and takes your
choice....

David


 
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ransley
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      05-17-2008
On May 17, 9:15*am, "David J Taylor" <(E-Mail Removed)-
this-bit.nor-this-bit.co.uk> wrote:
> ransley wrote:
>
> []
>
> > With boat movement a fast sensor is best, Fuji has been a step or two
> > ahead of the competition and Panasonic a step behind, you may only
> > need 5-7 mp resolution, Fuji may or may not have something like sonys
> > smart zoom feature that will allow more zoom at reduced MP. Panasonic
> > would be best for stationary use at 100iso, the Fuji may do as good or
> > better at 400iso For a boat where there is alot of movement Panasonic
> > would be my last choise.

>
> However, for use on a moving boat, the excellent image stabilisation on
> the Panasonic cameras may produce a greater percentage of sharp pictures
> than the higher ISO in the Fuji! *You pays your money and takes your
> choice....
>
> David


You might only get 1 step more with panasonic IS to Fujis IS and maybe
not, but you will get 2-4 more on the sensor, there wont be a
comparison, dp review put it at a leading 400 iso with 800 usable,
panasonic cant do that. On land its one thing, on a small bouncing
boat photographing a small bouncing boat 1 stop is a big deal, and he
will likely get 2-3 stops better, The new Fujis have I.S. For high iso
panasonic is the bottom ranked.
 
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IYC Mike
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Posts: n/a
 
      05-17-2008
> The new Fujis have I.S. For high iso
> panasonic is the bottom ranked



Yes, such a shame, on a camera that otherwise fits my needs very well.

I'll have another look at Fuji's with OIS and see if there is one
within (or close enough to) my budget. No decision as yet ....

By the way, I should have been sailing but can't due to a broken
finger; this does give me time for this kind of research.

Thanks to all for your help and expertise.
regards
 
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David J Taylor
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      05-17-2008
ransley wrote:
[]
> You might only get 1 step more with panasonic IS to Fujis IS and maybe
> not, but you will get 2-4 more on the sensor, there wont be a
> comparison, dp review put it at a leading 400 iso with 800 usable,
> panasonic cant do that. On land its one thing, on a small bouncing
> boat photographing a small bouncing boat 1 stop is a big deal, and he
> will likely get 2-3 stops better, The new Fujis have I.S. For high iso
> panasonic is the bottom ranked.


I would recommend using a low ISO with /any/ small-sensor camera. If you
find the results at ISO 400 acceptable, that does give you a bit more
margin.

David


 
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ransley
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Posts: n/a
 
      05-17-2008
On May 17, 2:45*pm, John Rethorst <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> In article <tMBXj.4963$(E-Mail Removed)>,
> *"David J Taylor" <(E-Mail Removed)-this-bit.nor-this-bit..co.uk>
>
> *wrote:
> > However, for use on a moving boat, the excellent image stabilisation on
> > the Panasonic cameras may produce a greater percentage of sharp pictures
> > than the higher ISO in the Fuji! *You pays your money and takes your
> > choice....

>
> If you're sailing on the ocean, what precautions would you want to take to
> prevent corrosion of your camera by salt?
>
> --
> John Rethorst
> jrethorst at post dot com


Id guess it wont last long with salt air and spray,there is alot more
to go bad then on a 35mm, I think Pentax makes P&S waterproof cameras.
At 150 though it would not be much of a loss. I dont know if you have
Hammacher Schlemmer over there because they sell a Fuji and have
lifetime warranty on what they sell.
 
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IYC Mike
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Posts: n/a
 
      05-18-2008
On 17 May, 22:33, ransley <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> On May 17, 2:45*pm, John Rethorst <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>
> > In article <tMBXj.4963$(E-Mail Removed)>,
> > *"David J Taylor" <(E-Mail Removed)-this-bit.nor-this-bit.co.uk>

>
> > *wrote:
> > > However, for use on a moving boat, the excellent image stabilisation on
> > > the Panasonic cameras may produce a greater percentage of sharp pictures
> > > than the higher ISO in the Fuji! *You pays your money and takes your
> > > choice....

>
> > If you're sailing on the ocean, what precautions would you want to take to
> > prevent corrosion of your camera by salt?

>
> > --
> > John Rethorst
> > jrethorst at post dot com

>
> Id guess it wont last long with salt air and spray,there is alot more
> to go bad then on a 35mm, I think Pentax makes P&S waterproof cameras.
> At 150 though it would not be much of a loss. I dont know if you have
> Hammacher Schlemmer over there because they sell a Fuji and have
> lifetime warranty on what they sell.


Hi,
it's not really the ocean, it's weekend estuary sailing and cameras
are not left on board. I use common sense to keep the camera dry, such
as dodging spray as much as possible, keeping it covered etc ... a
good lens hood will help. I do take a bit of a risk to try to get a
great shot .... to me, if getting that 'once in a lifetime' shot meant
ruining a camera, I'd do it; not everyone's choice I know.

I may be wrong, but I think most underwater cameras tend to have very
limited features, unsuitable for what I want.

In 30 years sailing, often with a camera, I've only had 2 fail on me
and one was probably just with age. That makes me just a bit more
willing to try a better camera. What I've done up to now is buy 35mm
SLRs cheap secondhand and consider them 'disposable'; but basically
they stand up to it. I got a lovely Pentax K1000 for £5 a few years
ago .... still going strong.

Re the suggestion of Fuji; I'm looking; but care is needed as some of
theirs claim an IS system which I think is just automatically raising
the ISO? But the more expensive S8000fd seems to have proper OIS so
I'll look into this one, as I guess I'd need true OIS *and* a higher
ISO ability to truly beat the Pana FZ's. That superb lens on the Pana
still tempts me ...

Great discussions, thanks!
 
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ransley
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      05-18-2008
On May 18, 3:54*am, IYC Mike <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> On 17 May, 22:33, ransley <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>
>
>
>
>
> > On May 17, 2:45*pm, John Rethorst <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

>
> > > In article <tMBXj.4963$(E-Mail Removed)>,
> > > *"David J Taylor" <(E-Mail Removed)-this-bit.nor-this-bit.co.uk>

>
> > > *wrote:
> > > > However, for use on a moving boat, the excellent image stabilisation on
> > > > the Panasonic cameras may produce a greater percentage of sharp pictures
> > > > than the higher ISO in the Fuji! *You pays your money and takes your
> > > > choice....

>
> > > If you're sailing on the ocean, what precautions would you want to take to
> > > prevent corrosion of your camera by salt?

>
> > > --
> > > John Rethorst
> > > jrethorst at post dot com

>
> > Id guess it wont last long with salt air and spray,there is alot more
> > to go bad then on a 35mm, I think Pentax makes P&S waterproof cameras.
> > At 150 though it would not be much of a loss. I dont know if you have
> > Hammacher Schlemmer over there because they sell a Fuji and have
> > lifetime warranty on what they sell.

>
> Hi,
> it's not really the ocean, it's weekend estuary sailing and cameras
> are not left on board. I use common sense to keep the camera dry, such
> as dodging spray as much as possible, keeping it covered etc ... a
> good lens hood will help. I do take a bit of a risk to try to get a
> great shot .... to me, if getting that 'once in a lifetime' shot meant
> ruining a camera, I'd do it; not everyone's choice I know.
>
> I may be wrong, but I think most underwater cameras tend to have very
> limited features, unsuitable for what I want.
>
> In 30 years sailing, often with a camera, I've only had 2 fail on me
> and one was probably just with age. That makes me just a bit more
> willing to try a better camera. What I've done up to now is buy 35mm
> SLRs cheap secondhand and consider them 'disposable'; but basically
> they stand up to it. I got a lovely Pentax K1000 for £5 a few years
> ago .... still going strong.
>
> Re the suggestion of Fuji; I'm looking; but care is needed as some of
> theirs claim an IS system which I think is just automatically raising
> the ISO? But the more expensive S8000fd seems to have proper OIS so
> I'll look into this one, as I guess I'd need true OIS *and* a higher
> ISO ability to truly beat the Pana FZ's. That superb lens on the Pana
> still tempts me ...
>
> Great discussions, thanks!- Hide quoted text -
>
> - Show quoted text -


A Fuji F50 has 2 types of IS, electronic settings and mechanical, I
only recommend Fuji because they are known for their sensors, go to
www.dpreview.com and read reviews, the F30 is the only P&S they called
a "classic" because of its high iso class leading performance.
Panasonic tops out at 200 iso, Fuji 800 iso for usable work. You have
no substitute for high iso as you will get the fast shutter speed you
need. You will need around 1/1000 sec to get good photos. What you
also need to look into is lens speed, low iso and a slow lens and what
you get will be worthless in a boat especialy a small one that
bounces. Fuji has had the fastest small sensor, its well known, Sony
was and still may be making Canons Nikons and others sensors but keeps
a slightly better version for itself. The Fz30 you are looking at I
havnt researched it lens but it might not get you much with a fairly
slow lens and low iso, reviews put 400 iso at not very good. Its a
great camera for land but I think you can do alot better with other
manufacturers. You shoot now at 400, but what speed is your lens,
compare that in you figure to a new camera. Id guess you want easily
1/1000 sec or photos wont be sharp, for water use a polariser filter
would also do the most for your photos. 150 isnt much for a camera and
it will get you something that will blow away 400 film, my 150$ sony
is as good as Kodachrome 25 asa and it now worth maybe 60$. Get
something with the fastest lens, highest iso you can, but that leaves
panasonic in last place for the sensor. You need to go to review sites
to do real comparisons on performance you can see.
 
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David J Taylor
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      05-18-2008
ransley wrote:
> You need to go to review sites
> to do real comparisons on performance you can see.


You should also handle the cameras to see how they suit you - and, for
example, how well you can use then with gloves on should that be a need.
Many of the reviews simply use the cameras with as-delivered settings,
which may well not be the ones which you want, or which produce the style
of images you want.

David


 
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