best low-light macro/zoom versatile digital camera?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Scott Speck, Mar 8, 2005.

  1. Scott Speck

    Scott Speck Guest

    Hi Everyone,

    I'm about to describe the kind of photography I want to do, and I'm hoping
    that someone out there can offer some good advice. First off, I have an old
    film-based Nikon AF-2020 SLR, which I haven't used in years, as well as a 3
    MP older-generation Nikon P&S digital camera.

    With digital, I found that I would take many more pictures than with the
    film camera. I enjoy the spontaneity of it, being able to instantly review
    the photo, as well as the ease of transferring data to my PC. So, I'm sure
    I want to remain in the digital realm.

    Now, however, the quandry. My small-aperture P&S Nikon is too lightweight
    for my wife -- she always gets blurred shots in lower light (in a forest,
    for example). And I don't like the unnatural look of flashes. So I figure
    I need a larger aperture for more light-gathering power (several inches in
    diameter instead of 0.5 inches in diameter). However, some new cameras have
    "anti-shake technology" built into them. Does that really WORK? Also, I
    want to be able to operate in auto-focus mode, or in pure manual mode. Good
    in low light. Some AF's I've been reading about don't focus properly in low
    light.

    Next, I don't know if I can lug around a big SLR outfit with multiple
    lenses. I'd like an all-in one unit, if possible. Also, I love doing
    macro-shots and closeups (insects, flowers, at a few inches away, to fill
    the frame with a butterfly or a small flower).

    So, what I'm seeking is something I can whip out and take a great picture
    with, without needing a tripod in somewhat low light (not NIGHT time, mind
    you, but all of my rainforest pics from the Olympic Peninsula came out
    slightly blurred, even in the daytime, with my small Nikon P&S). Also,
    macro/micro capability, a built-in flash, and something that takes great
    pictures. I do NOT need a huge number of pixels. 2000X2000 pixels is just
    fine by me.

    What should I get? If there's no really good, all-purpose P&S's that meet
    my needs, I guess I would have to go digital SLR, but that could get
    expensive. With a long telephoto, a shorter-focal length zoom, a
    macro/micro lens, a flash, and the body, it could really get expensive, and
    I'm trying to not spend TOO much money. For example, I'd like to get a
    system for $1,000 or less, if possible.

    I realize that I might be asking for too much in a P&S style camera. I like
    the Nikon 8800, but I've read that it AF's poorly in low light, and I don't
    want that. The D70 looks great, but it would be expensive to fully equip.

    Frustrated and confused, I would appreciate any basic advice, or a
    short-list of best cameras (2 or 3) to concentrate my search on. Any help
    would be greatly appreciated, and thanks for any replies.

    Regards,
    Scott Speck

    http://www.scottspeck.com
    Scott Speck, Mar 8, 2005
    #1
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  2. Scott Speck wrote:

    > Now, however, the quandry. My small-aperture P&S Nikon is too lightweight
    > for my wife -- she always gets blurred shots in lower light (in a forest,
    > for example). And I don't like the unnatural look of flashes. So I figure
    > I need a larger aperture for more light-gathering power (several inches in
    > diameter instead of 0.5 inches in diameter). However, some new cameras have
    > "anti-shake technology" built into them. Does that really WORK? Also, I
    > want to be able to operate in auto-focus mode, or in pure manual mode. Good
    > in low light. Some AF's I've been reading about don't focus properly in low
    > light.
    > ... snipped....


    Yes, Image Stabilization works. You effectively gain
    2 to 3 stops.

    Low light performance is directly related to the size
    of an individual pixel. See:
    http://www.clarkvision.com/imagedetail/does.pixel.size.matter
    The above page shows a factor of 8 in signal-to-noise
    between an 8 versus 3 micron pixel size in dark
    shadows in an image, even at low ISO.

    DSLRs have better AF performance in general. You can
    always get a zoom lens, leave it on and treat it
    as a P&S camera (but with better performance).

    Roger
    Photos at: http://www.clarkvision.com
    Roger N. Clark (change username to rnclark), Mar 8, 2005
    #2
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  3. Scott Speck

    Eddy Vortex Guest

    Sounds to me like you want Olympus C2100 Ultra Zoom. This cult camera has
    all that you've mentioned and a fairly large sensor with a low (2mp) pixel
    count = great low light performance.You can check it out at dpreview.com and
    ask questions at the Olympus Talk Forum there.


    "Scott Speck" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > Hi Everyone,
    >
    > I'm about to describe the kind of photography I want to do, and I'm hoping
    > that someone out there can offer some good advice. First off, I have an

    old
    > film-based Nikon AF-2020 SLR, which I haven't used in years, as well as a

    3
    > MP older-generation Nikon P&S digital camera.
    >
    > With digital, I found that I would take many more pictures than with the
    > film camera. I enjoy the spontaneity of it, being able to instantly

    review
    > the photo, as well as the ease of transferring data to my PC. So, I'm

    sure
    > I want to remain in the digital realm.
    >
    > Now, however, the quandry. My small-aperture P&S Nikon is too lightweight
    > for my wife -- she always gets blurred shots in lower light (in a forest,
    > for example). And I don't like the unnatural look of flashes. So I

    figure
    > I need a larger aperture for more light-gathering power (several inches in
    > diameter instead of 0.5 inches in diameter). However, some new cameras

    have
    > "anti-shake technology" built into them. Does that really WORK? Also, I
    > want to be able to operate in auto-focus mode, or in pure manual mode.

    Good
    > in low light. Some AF's I've been reading about don't focus properly in

    low
    > light.
    >
    > Next, I don't know if I can lug around a big SLR outfit with multiple
    > lenses. I'd like an all-in one unit, if possible. Also, I love doing
    > macro-shots and closeups (insects, flowers, at a few inches away, to fill
    > the frame with a butterfly or a small flower).
    >
    > So, what I'm seeking is something I can whip out and take a great picture
    > with, without needing a tripod in somewhat low light (not NIGHT time, mind
    > you, but all of my rainforest pics from the Olympic Peninsula came out
    > slightly blurred, even in the daytime, with my small Nikon P&S). Also,
    > macro/micro capability, a built-in flash, and something that takes great
    > pictures. I do NOT need a huge number of pixels. 2000X2000 pixels is just
    > fine by me.
    >
    > What should I get? If there's no really good, all-purpose P&S's that meet
    > my needs, I guess I would have to go digital SLR, but that could get
    > expensive. With a long telephoto, a shorter-focal length zoom, a
    > macro/micro lens, a flash, and the body, it could really get expensive,

    and
    > I'm trying to not spend TOO much money. For example, I'd like to get a
    > system for $1,000 or less, if possible.
    >
    > I realize that I might be asking for too much in a P&S style camera. I

    like
    > the Nikon 8800, but I've read that it AF's poorly in low light, and I

    don't
    > want that. The D70 looks great, but it would be expensive to fully equip.
    >
    > Frustrated and confused, I would appreciate any basic advice, or a
    > short-list of best cameras (2 or 3) to concentrate my search on. Any help
    > would be greatly appreciated, and thanks for any replies.
    >
    > Regards,
    > Scott Speck
    >
    > http://www.scottspeck.com
    >
    >
    Eddy Vortex, Mar 8, 2005
    #3
  4. Scott Speck

    Pete D Guest

    I am getting from your post that your methods are flawed, you say even your
    daylight shots are blurred..... probably means you are using the LCD screen
    to compose shots, that is what the viewfinder is for, the LCD screen is for
    reviewing taken shots. When you use the viewfinder to take shots you will
    tend to lock the camera in tightly and so will reduce or eliminate camera
    movement and get better shots. Try that before getting a new camera.

    "Scott Speck" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > Hi Everyone,
    >
    > I'm about to describe the kind of photography I want to do, and I'm hoping
    > that someone out there can offer some good advice. First off, I have an
    > old film-based Nikon AF-2020 SLR, which I haven't used in years, as well
    > as a 3 MP older-generation Nikon P&S digital camera.
    >
    > With digital, I found that I would take many more pictures than with the
    > film camera. I enjoy the spontaneity of it, being able to instantly
    > review the photo, as well as the ease of transferring data to my PC. So,
    > I'm sure I want to remain in the digital realm.
    >
    > Now, however, the quandry. My small-aperture P&S Nikon is too lightweight
    > for my wife -- she always gets blurred shots in lower light (in a forest,
    > for example). And I don't like the unnatural look of flashes. So I
    > figure I need a larger aperture for more light-gathering power (several
    > inches in diameter instead of 0.5 inches in diameter). However, some new
    > cameras have "anti-shake technology" built into them. Does that really
    > WORK? Also, I want to be able to operate in auto-focus mode, or in pure
    > manual mode. Good in low light. Some AF's I've been reading about don't
    > focus properly in low light.
    >
    > Next, I don't know if I can lug around a big SLR outfit with multiple
    > lenses. I'd like an all-in one unit, if possible. Also, I love doing
    > macro-shots and closeups (insects, flowers, at a few inches away, to fill
    > the frame with a butterfly or a small flower).
    >
    > So, what I'm seeking is something I can whip out and take a great picture
    > with, without needing a tripod in somewhat low light (not NIGHT time, mind
    > you, but all of my rainforest pics from the Olympic Peninsula came out
    > slightly blurred, even in the daytime, with my small Nikon P&S). Also,
    > macro/micro capability, a built-in flash, and something that takes great
    > pictures. I do NOT need a huge number of pixels. 2000X2000 pixels is just
    > fine by me.
    >
    > What should I get? If there's no really good, all-purpose P&S's that meet
    > my needs, I guess I would have to go digital SLR, but that could get
    > expensive. With a long telephoto, a shorter-focal length zoom, a
    > macro/micro lens, a flash, and the body, it could really get expensive,
    > and I'm trying to not spend TOO much money. For example, I'd like to get
    > a system for $1,000 or less, if possible.
    >
    > I realize that I might be asking for too much in a P&S style camera. I
    > like the Nikon 8800, but I've read that it AF's poorly in low light, and I
    > don't want that. The D70 looks great, but it would be expensive to fully
    > equip.
    >
    > Frustrated and confused, I would appreciate any basic advice, or a
    > short-list of best cameras (2 or 3) to concentrate my search on. Any help
    > would be greatly appreciated, and thanks for any replies.
    >
    > Regards,
    > Scott Speck
    >
    > http://www.scottspeck.com
    >
    >
    Pete D, Mar 8, 2005
    #4
  5. Scott Speck

    bob Guest

    Scott Speck wrote:

    > So, what I'm seeking is something I can whip out and take a great picture
    > with, without needing a tripod in somewhat low light (not NIGHT time, mind
    > you, but all of my rainforest pics from the Olympic Peninsula came out
    > slightly blurred, even in the daytime, with my small Nikon P&S). Also,


    Slow lenses and low ISO = camera motion in dim light.

    That Panasonic camera with the f/2 lens might help you. (fz20?)

    When I take low light pictures with my Coolpix 5000 camera, if there's
    nothing I can brace the camera against, I try the best shot selector
    mode, and if that doesn't work, I try increasing the ISO. Some people
    are opposed to using any ISO other than the slowest, but I often think
    that having a photo is better than not. ymmv. I've been using Neat Image
    software to reduce the noise, and it works a lot better than I expected.

    The anti shake software you ask about seems to mostly be a feature for
    long focal lengths. Notice the Nikon 8800 has it, but the 8400 (the wide
    angle version of the 8800) does not.

    Since you have an SLR that you already don't carry around, it seems like
    another slr that you won't carry around is not a good plan.

    If you really want low light, there's always that Sony with the active
    IR system. I guess that's really moving away from natuaral lighting, and
    rather quickly ;-)

    > macro/micro capability, a built-in flash, and something that takes great
    > pictures. I do NOT need a huge number of pixels. 2000X2000 pixels is just
    > fine by me.


    The black body Coolpix cameras (990, 5000, etc) are well regarded for
    their macro abilities. Mine will fill the frame with a keyboard key. You
    won't get closer than that without a tripod anyway.

    Bob
    bob, Mar 8, 2005
    #5
  6. Scott Speck

    Scott Speck Guest

    Hi Bob,

    Thanks for all your thoughts. I've actually been considering the Panasonic
    fz20, because it seems to have all the features that I want and need, plus
    it's all in one relatively compact package. My question now is, does the
    fz20 take pictures that look as good as a similarly priced Nikon? Any
    thoughts along those lines?

    Thanks again,
    Scott

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "bob" <>
    Newsgroups: rec.photo.digital
    Sent: Tuesday, March 08, 2005 3:14 PM
    Subject: Re: best low-light macro/zoom versatile digital camera?


    > Scott Speck wrote:
    >
    >> So, what I'm seeking is something I can whip out and take a great picture
    >> with, without needing a tripod in somewhat low light (not NIGHT time,
    >> mind you, but all of my rainforest pics from the Olympic Peninsula came
    >> out slightly blurred, even in the daytime, with my small Nikon P&S).
    >> Also,

    >
    > Slow lenses and low ISO = camera motion in dim light.
    >
    > That Panasonic camera with the f/2 lens might help you. (fz20?)
    >
    > When I take low light pictures with my Coolpix 5000 camera, if there's
    > nothing I can brace the camera against, I try the best shot selector mode,
    > and if that doesn't work, I try increasing the ISO. Some people are
    > opposed to using any ISO other than the slowest, but I often think that
    > having a photo is better than not. ymmv. I've been using Neat Image
    > software to reduce the noise, and it works a lot better than I expected.
    >
    > The anti shake software you ask about seems to mostly be a feature for
    > long focal lengths. Notice the Nikon 8800 has it, but the 8400 (the wide
    > angle version of the 8800) does not.
    >
    > Since you have an SLR that you already don't carry around, it seems like
    > another slr that you won't carry around is not a good plan.
    >
    > If you really want low light, there's always that Sony with the active IR
    > system. I guess that's really moving away from natuaral lighting, and
    > rather quickly ;-)
    >
    >> macro/micro capability, a built-in flash, and something that takes great
    >> pictures. I do NOT need a huge number of pixels. 2000X2000 pixels is
    >> just fine by me.

    >
    > The black body Coolpix cameras (990, 5000, etc) are well regarded for
    > their macro abilities. Mine will fill the frame with a keyboard key. You
    > won't get closer than that without a tripod anyway.
    >
    > Bob
    >
    Scott Speck, Mar 8, 2005
    #6
  7. "Scott Speck" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > Hi Bob,
    >
    > Thanks for all your thoughts. I've actually been considering the
    > Panasonic
    > fz20, because it seems to have all the features that I want and need,
    > plus
    > it's all in one relatively compact package. My question now is, does
    > the
    > fz20 take pictures that look as good as a similarly priced Nikon? Any
    > thoughts along those lines?
    >
    > Thanks again,
    > Scott


    I might answer your question like this: the only equivalent Nikon with a
    stabilised lens, the Coolpix 8800, costs a lot more, and it's an 8MP
    camera. We compared the FZ20 and the 5700 (Nikon 5MP) and the pictures
    were similar - perhaps a touch more exposure on the FZ20 which might mean
    compensating down by 1/3 stop - but with more "keepers" at low shutter
    speeds due the images stabilisation on the FZ20 making any camera-shake
    less visible.

    At the same spec level, you expect to pay more for the Nikon and perhaps
    get better quality or better support. That was true once, whether it is
    still as true today I doubt.

    Cheers,
    David
    David J Taylor, Mar 8, 2005
    #7
  8. bob <> writes:

    > Scott Speck wrote:
    >
    > > So, what I'm seeking is something I can whip out and take a great picture
    > > with, without needing a tripod in somewhat low light (not NIGHT time, mind
    > > you, but all of my rainforest pics from the Olympic Peninsula came out
    > > slightly blurred, even in the daytime, with my small Nikon P&S). Also,

    >
    > Slow lenses and low ISO = camera motion in dim light.
    >
    > That Panasonic camera with the f/2 lens might help you. (fz20?)


    Ummm, the Panasonic FZ cameras either have a f/2.8 or a f/2.8-3.5 lens.

    --
    Michael Meissner
    email:
    http://www.the-meissners.org
    Michael Meissner, Mar 9, 2005
    #8
  9. Scott Speck

    bob Guest

    Michael Meissner wrote:
    > bob <> writes:


    >>
    >>That Panasonic camera with the f/2 lens might help you. (fz20?)

    >
    >
    > Ummm, the Panasonic FZ cameras either have a f/2.8 or a f/2.8-3.5 lens.
    >


    It's the DMC-LC1 that has the f/2 lens (@ $1600).

    But the slower 2.8 lenses are still faster than the /f3.5 or so that
    most cameras feature.

    Bob
    bob, Mar 9, 2005
    #9
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