handheld indoor photos without a flash for under $1,500

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Ned, Jan 11, 2005.

  1. Ned

    Ned Guest

    I would like to purchase a camera that is capable of taking handheld
    photos indoors without the use of a flash in low light conditions. I
    want to capture the moment as it really is, with the available lighting
    without the flash lighting up the whole place. I don't want to spend a
    fortune, but I don't want to end up with something that is unable to do
    the job either. I'd appreciate some help since I am down to the
    following cameras and I cannot make up my mind.

    DREBEL with a prime lens (1.4)
    Lumix FZ20 (2.8) (very reasonable, can it do the job?)
    D70 with a prime lens (1.8??)
    Maybe 20D with a prime lens (1.4) (expensive)


    Thanks!
    NH
     
    Ned, Jan 11, 2005
    #1
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  2. DRebel with a prime lens (1.4) works well. Don't have any experience with
    your other choices.
     
    Charles Schuler, Jan 11, 2005
    #2
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  3. "Ned" <> writes:

    > I would like to purchase a camera that is capable of taking handheld
    > photos indoors without the use of a flash in low light conditions. I
    > want to capture the moment as it really is, with the available lighting
    > without the flash lighting up the whole place. I don't want to spend a
    > fortune, but I don't want to end up with something that is unable to do
    > the job either. I'd appreciate some help since I am down to the
    > following cameras and I cannot make up my mind.
    >
    > DREBEL with a prime lens (1.4)
    > Lumix FZ20 (2.8) (very reasonable, can it do the job?)
    > D70 with a prime lens (1.8??)
    > Maybe 20D with a prime lens (1.4) (expensive)


    "Low light" varies a lot. I've been shooting "available light" (or I
    sometimes called it "unavailable light") indoor stuff since 1969 or so
    (pretty much from when I got into photography seriously), and that's
    one of the few things I can really promise you :).

    A digital SLR with decent performance at ISO 800 and 1600, and a good
    prime lens (f2 or faster) will do pretty well for you most of the
    time. Lower noise in low light is one of the areas where the digital
    SLRs are a *big win* over the consumer cameras.

    You'll also have to learn a lot about exposure; autoexposure doesn't
    work too well in these conditions generally.

    Before my Fuji S2, I was shooting similar work with an Epson 850z.
    That camera only goes up to ISO 400 and is very noisy in low tungsten
    light (it has an f2 lens, though). I still got *some* good pictures,
    by incessant application and ruthless deletion, a willingness to
    accept completely wonky color (or convert to B&W), and years of prior
    experience. But I wouldn't recommend it (go back to 2000-2002 in my
    snapshots to see examples of that; mostly without EXIF data in the
    gallery version back then, but you can tell which ones are in hideous
    low light by the look generally).

    Handling tungsten and other weird color balance well turns out to be
    an important factor for indoor low-light work, since those lights are
    *never* daylight, and often people have both tungsten and compact
    fluorescent lights in the same room.

    If you poke through my recent snapshots (URL in sig), you'll find that
    most of the recent photos have the EXIF data intact and viewable in
    the gallery, and you'll see what range of ISO speeds, shutter speeds,
    and apertures I'm using. Often you won't see the aperture; that's
    when I'm shooting one of my old manual focus lenses that doesn't
    communicate that electronically with the camera (so it's probably the
    58mm f1.2 NOCT, nearly always somewhere between f1.2 and f2.8).

    I can't say there *isn't* a consumer camera you would be happy with;
    both through lack of complete knowledge of consumer cameras, and lack
    of knowledge of your standards and skill. I don't think there's one
    that *I* would be satisfied with that's significantly cheaper than the
    low-end DSLRs, though.
    --
    David Dyer-Bennet, <mailto:>, <http://www.dd-b.net/dd-b/>
    RKBA: <http://noguns-nomoney.com/> <http://www.dd-b.net/carry/>
    Pics: <http://dd-b.lighthunters.net/> <http://www.dd-b.net/dd-b/SnapshotAlbum/>
    Dragaera/Steven Brust: <http://dragaera.info/>
     
    David Dyer-Bennet, Jan 11, 2005
    #3
  4. Ned

    Jimmy Smith Guest

    The operative phrase here is "under $1500." The answer to your question is
    that, yes, you can get a very good system for available (indoor?) light that
    can shoot in other conditions as an added bonus.

    Just think a little outside the box. Instead of focusing on the 20D, think
    about a brand new 10D with two lens combinations. The Canon 50mm f1.4 and
    the Canon 35mm f2.

    The whole schmear will be under $1500. The setup will be brand new and just
    because it ain't the latest model, remember, last year's world's best is
    still probably beyond anything you can imagine as far as performance.

    Jimmy

    "Ned" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > I would like to purchase a camera that is capable of taking handheld
    > photos indoors without the use of a flash in low light conditions. I
    > want to capture the moment as it really is, with the available lighting
    > without the flash lighting up the whole place. I don't want to spend a
    > fortune, but I don't want to end up with something that is unable to do
    > the job either. I'd appreciate some help since I am down to the
    > following cameras and I cannot make up my mind.
    >
    > DREBEL with a prime lens (1.4)
    > Lumix FZ20 (2.8) (very reasonable, can it do the job?)
    > D70 with a prime lens (1.8??)
    > Maybe 20D with a prime lens (1.4) (expensive)
    >
    >
    > Thanks!
    > NH
    >
     
    Jimmy Smith, Jan 11, 2005
    #4
  5. "Ned" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    >I would like to purchase a camera that is capable of taking handheld
    > photos indoors without the use of a flash in low light conditions. I
    > want to capture the moment as it really is, with the available lighting
    > without the flash lighting up the whole place. I don't want to spend a
    > fortune, but I don't want to end up with something that is unable to do
    > the job either. I'd appreciate some help since I am down to the
    > following cameras and I cannot make up my mind.


    If you refuse to use a tripod, maybe you can set the camera on something
    solid and use a timer, or brace yourself against something. You can use any
    camera for this. Get a two-year old Olympus D-40 or Fuji S602Z for under
    $200. f your convinced you need to spend big, consider at 1.4 you might not
    like your DOF. Oh, and I hope your subject is not moving!
     
    Dave R knows who, Jan 11, 2005
    #5
  6. Ned

    Robert Strom Guest

    I agree about depth of field. You may be able to use a faster shutter
    speed, but if your focus is off, you will have a unsharp. aslo, if
    you are doing portraits, you will need to use an f-stop of at least
    5.6 to get enough dof to make the head sharp from the tip of the nose
    to the ears. Always focus on the eyes, they are where people look
    first and they need to be sharp.

    robert Strom

    On Tue, 11 Jan 2005 23:31:32 GMT, "Dave R knows who"
    <> wrote:

    >
    >"Ned" <> wrote in message
    >news:...
    >>I would like to purchase a camera that is capable of taking handheld
    >> photos indoors without the use of a flash in low light conditions. I
    >> want to capture the moment as it really is, with the available lighting
    >> without the flash lighting up the whole place. I don't want to spend a
    >> fortune, but I don't want to end up with something that is unable to do
    >> the job either. I'd appreciate some help since I am down to the
    >> following cameras and I cannot make up my mind.

    >
    >If you refuse to use a tripod, maybe you can set the camera on something
    >solid and use a timer, or brace yourself against something. You can use any
    >camera for this. Get a two-year old Olympus D-40 or Fuji S602Z for under
    >$200. f your convinced you need to spend big, consider at 1.4 you might not
    >like your DOF. Oh, and I hope your subject is not moving!
    >
     
    Robert Strom, Jan 12, 2005
    #6
  7. Ned

    Dave Cohen Guest

    I have a feeling the op is asking for a camera where the flash can be turned
    off. Canon A series permit a 'no flash' selection and I would imagine this
    is the norm.
    Dave Cohen
    "Robert Strom" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    >I agree about depth of field. You may be able to use a faster shutter
    > speed, but if your focus is off, you will have a unsharp. aslo, if
    > you are doing portraits, you will need to use an f-stop of at least
    > 5.6 to get enough dof to make the head sharp from the tip of the nose
    > to the ears. Always focus on the eyes, they are where people look
    > first and they need to be sharp.
    >
    > robert Strom
    >
    > On Tue, 11 Jan 2005 23:31:32 GMT, "Dave R knows who"
    > <> wrote:
    >
    >>
    >>"Ned" <> wrote in message
    >>news:...
    >>>I would like to purchase a camera that is capable of taking handheld
    >>> photos indoors without the use of a flash in low light conditions. I
    >>> want to capture the moment as it really is, with the available lighting
    >>> without the flash lighting up the whole place. I don't want to spend a
    >>> fortune, but I don't want to end up with something that is unable to do
    >>> the job either. I'd appreciate some help since I am down to the
    >>> following cameras and I cannot make up my mind.

    >>
    >>If you refuse to use a tripod, maybe you can set the camera on something
    >>solid and use a timer, or brace yourself against something. You can use
    >>any
    >>camera for this. Get a two-year old Olympus D-40 or Fuji S602Z for under
    >>$200. f your convinced you need to spend big, consider at 1.4 you might
    >>not
    >>like your DOF. Oh, and I hope your subject is not moving!
    >>

    >
     
    Dave Cohen, Jan 12, 2005
    #7
  8. Ned

    Ned Guest

    Thanks for the very informative response. I wouldn't categorize myself
    as very knowledgeable. I've owned only two digital cameras. The coolpix
    990 and a Pentax Optio S4. I loved the coolpix, but I sold it after
    getting dark and blurry photos of a couple being married in a church. I
    inteded to get a DSLR but I used the money to buy my wife the S4 and
    only now do I have the money to purchase a replacement. BTW, the Optio
    is always in MY pocket and it's so small I forget I have it with me. I
    played with ISO and F stop on the coolpix and got great results but
    other than that I'd say I'm a novice.
     
    Ned, Jan 12, 2005
    #8
  9. Ned

    Ned Guest

    Hi Dave

    I didn't know a fast lens would have a problem with a moving subject
    and I didn't know DOF might be a problem. I don't understand how 1.4
    changes things, I thought it just allowed more light in. I will do
    some searches on Google and try to dig up some information. Can't
    someone just clone human eyeballs and somehow mount them on a camera?
    These lenses are tricky.
     
    Ned, Jan 12, 2005
    #9
  10. Ned

    Ned Guest

    YES. I need to be able to disable the flash.
     
    Ned, Jan 12, 2005
    #10
  11. Ned

    paul Guest

    A fast lense is no worse about moving objects. Yes it lets in more light
    and that'll let you get more DOF at the same speed. An image
    stabilization lense will let you shoot at slower speeds without camera
    shake but the slower speeds will blur moving subjects. ISO adjusted up
    will let you cheat a lot with a DSLR but at the cost of more noise (grain).

    I'm not sure but I think some of the smaller digicams are actually
    better in low light though there is again more noise & just generally a
    poorer image quality. The DSLR won't be that much improvement unless you
    get an expensive lens. The little digicams are more forgiving, less
    hassle if you aren't into lots of fiddling & extra equiptment. You can
    get a digicam with image stabilization in your budget but maybe not a
    DSLR with a fancy IS lens. Plus the DSLR lense is going to be huge if
    it's a good one and you probably will want 2 lenses at least because the
    zoom range isn't as much.

    I got a D70 DSLR & it's a lot more work to operate to it's potential.
    I'm willing to do that extra work but it's a bit painful. An 8MP digicam
    would have been sharper (unless I really shell out for a fancy lens). If
    you aren't planning to do huge prints and not inspired to spend a lot of
    time post-processing, a nice fixed lens digicam is probably a better
    choice. The DSLR's have more better info but it takes work to extract
    with photoshop & knowing how to set the settings & more expensive lenses.


    Ned wrote:

    > Hi Dave
    >
    > I didn't know a fast lens would have a problem with a moving subject
    > and I didn't know DOF might be a problem. I don't understand how 1.4
    > changes things, I thought it just allowed more light in. I will do
    > some searches on Google and try to dig up some information. Can't
    > someone just clone human eyeballs and somehow mount them on a camera?
    > These lenses are tricky.
    >
     
    paul, Jan 13, 2005
    #11
  12. Ned

    Robert Strom Guest

    I would respectfully disagree that a faster lens gives more dog at the
    same f-stop. DOF is a function of the size of the lens aperture. A
    F1.4 lens at F. 5.6 has the same DOF as a F.35 lens at F5.6

    If oyu look a t depth of field calculator you will see that the speed
    of the lens is not a factor

    see http://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.html

    I just picked this as the first search result doing a google search on
    "depth of field calculator"

    Example from calculator
    Camera: Fuji S2 Pro
    Actual focal length: 85mm
    Selected Aperature: F2.8 then F 1.4 then F5.6
    Sunject distance: 3 feet
    Toal depth of field .04 feet @ 1.4= .02 feet @F5.6= .08 feet

    Hope this clears things up

    Robert Strom

    On Wed, 12 Jan 2005 16:51:54 -0800, paul <> wrote:

    >A fast lense is no worse about moving objects. Yes it lets in more light
    >and that'll let you get more DOF at the same speed. An image
    >stabilization lense will let you shoot at slower speeds without camera
    >shake but the slower speeds will blur moving subjects. ISO adjusted up
    >will let you cheat a lot with a DSLR but at the cost of more noise (grain).
    >
    >I'm not sure but I think some of the smaller digicams are actually
    >better in low light though there is again more noise & just generally a
    >poorer image quality. The DSLR won't be that much improvement unless you
    >get an expensive lens. The little digicams are more forgiving, less
    >hassle if you aren't into lots of fiddling & extra equiptment. You can
    >get a digicam with image stabilization in your budget but maybe not a
    >DSLR with a fancy IS lens. Plus the DSLR lense is going to be huge if
    >it's a good one and you probably will want 2 lenses at least because the
    >zoom range isn't as much.
    >
    >I got a D70 DSLR & it's a lot more work to operate to it's potential.
    >I'm willing to do that extra work but it's a bit painful. An 8MP digicam
    >would have been sharper (unless I really shell out for a fancy lens). If
    >you aren't planning to do huge prints and not inspired to spend a lot of
    >time post-processing, a nice fixed lens digicam is probably a better
    >choice. The DSLR's have more better info but it takes work to extract
    >with photoshop & knowing how to set the settings & more expensive lenses.
    >
    >
    >Ned wrote:
    >
    >> Hi Dave
    >>
    >> I didn't know a fast lens would have a problem with a moving subject
    >> and I didn't know DOF might be a problem. I don't understand how 1.4
    >> changes things, I thought it just allowed more light in. I will do
    >> some searches on Google and try to dig up some information. Can't
    >> someone just clone human eyeballs and somehow mount them on a camera?
    >> These lenses are tricky.
    >>
     
    Robert Strom, Jan 13, 2005
    #12
  13. Ned

    paul Guest

    I meant that at the same speed a faster lense allows you to close the
    aperture and get more DOF. Sorry if I said it wrong.


    Robert Strom wrote:
    > I would respectfully disagree that a faster lens gives more dog at the
    > same f-stop. DOF is a function of the size of the lens aperture. A
    > F1.4 lens at F. 5.6 has the same DOF as a F.35 lens at F5.6
    >
    > If oyu look a t depth of field calculator you will see that the speed
    > of the lens is not a factor
    >
    > see http://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.html
    >
    > I just picked this as the first search result doing a google search on
    > "depth of field calculator"
    >
    > Example from calculator
    > Camera: Fuji S2 Pro
    > Actual focal length: 85mm
    > Selected Aperature: F2.8 then F 1.4 then F5.6
    > Sunject distance: 3 feet
    > Toal depth of field .04 feet @ 1.4= .02 feet @F5.6= .08 feet
    >
    > Hope this clears things up
    >
    > Robert Strom
    >
    > On Wed, 12 Jan 2005 16:51:54 -0800, paul <> wrote:
    >
    >
    >>A fast lense is no worse about moving objects. Yes it lets in more light
    >>and that'll let you get more DOF at the same speed. An image
    >>stabilization lense will let you shoot at slower speeds without camera
    >>shake but the slower speeds will blur moving subjects. ISO adjusted up
    >>will let you cheat a lot with a DSLR but at the cost of more noise (grain).
    >>
    >>I'm not sure but I think some of the smaller digicams are actually
    >>better in low light though there is again more noise & just generally a
    >>poorer image quality. The DSLR won't be that much improvement unless you
    >>get an expensive lens. The little digicams are more forgiving, less
    >>hassle if you aren't into lots of fiddling & extra equiptment. You can
    >>get a digicam with image stabilization in your budget but maybe not a
    >>DSLR with a fancy IS lens. Plus the DSLR lense is going to be huge if
    >>it's a good one and you probably will want 2 lenses at least because the
    >>zoom range isn't as much.
    >>
    >>I got a D70 DSLR & it's a lot more work to operate to it's potential.
    >>I'm willing to do that extra work but it's a bit painful. An 8MP digicam
    >>would have been sharper (unless I really shell out for a fancy lens). If
    >>you aren't planning to do huge prints and not inspired to spend a lot of
    >>time post-processing, a nice fixed lens digicam is probably a better
    >>choice. The DSLR's have more better info but it takes work to extract
    >>with photoshop & knowing how to set the settings & more expensive lenses.
    >>
    >>
    >>Ned wrote:
    >>
    >>
    >>>Hi Dave
    >>>
    >>>I didn't know a fast lens would have a problem with a moving subject
    >>>and I didn't know DOF might be a problem. I don't understand how 1.4
    >>>changes things, I thought it just allowed more light in. I will do
    >>>some searches on Google and try to dig up some information. Can't
    >>>someone just clone human eyeballs and somehow mount them on a camera?
    >>>These lenses are tricky.
    >>>

    >
    >
     
    paul, Jan 13, 2005
    #13
  14. Ned

    David Chien Guest

    Two solutions:
    1) Image stabilizer - Leica digitals usually have them. You can use
    them + faster ISO settings to get what you want to a degree. See
    reviews of the cameras at www.dpreview.com www.imaging-resource.com etc.
    for how well they'll do.

    2) Fast lens - f/1.0 is great! but if not, faster is better.

    In Japan, even FujiFilm has thought of this for the 35mm P&S camera
    line and recently released the Natura S 24mm f/1.9 (very fast for a P&S)
    P&S camera. When used with 1600 ISO film, you get amazing results at
    night and indoors.

    See http://fujifilm.jp/personal/filmcamera/35mm/naturas/index.html
    for their comparison pictures vs. a regular slow 35mm P&S to see
    what faster lenses can do for you.

    =-

    http://www.uscoles.com/exposures.pdf

    Print and use this calculator to give you an idea how much difference
    f/stops can get you. Here, assume you've got a f/3.5 regular camera at
    1/30th second (something like what you may get in a bright room at
    night), then compare vs. how the shutter speed changes at various,
    faster f/stops.

    You can literally go from fuzzy to tack sharp by jumping to a faster
    lens (eg. f/3.5 to f/1.0) at night.

    ---

    ISO speed is another way. Here, if you buy a camera that can go to
    faster ISO speeds w/o much degredation or noise (eg. EOS 1DS-II), you
    can easily jump right up to 400-1600 ISO w/o any problems at all. This
    plus a fast lens can do wonders!
     
    David Chien, Jan 14, 2005
    #14
  15. Ned

    Guest

    "Ned" <> wrote:

    >I didn't know a fast lens would have a problem with a moving subject
    >and I didn't know DOF might be a problem. I don't understand how 1.4
    >changes things, I thought it just allowed more light in. I


    Fast lenses don't have problems with moving subjects.

    Fast lenses do have more shallow DOF when used wide open.

    Here's an example with the 50/1.4 on a film camera shot at 1.4, 1/60th, and
    ISO 1600:

    http://canid.com/current/christmas_2004_6.html

    Not my greatest shot and won't make the cut to be put on the rest of my
    site, but it's an ok family snap. Don't be afraid of using a 1.4 lens.
    Plenty of depth of field. My daughter hardly ever stands still. I believe
    she qualified as a moving subject. :)

    The problem with many cheaper dSLRs is the sensor size is smaller than a
    normal 35mm frame. That means a 50mm lens is magnified to an 80mm lens.
    The camera shake is magnified, too. You'll need a faster shutter speed to
    keep the camera clur similar. A 35/2 lens isn't usually very expensive.
    That will give you an effective 50mm focal length. And wide open, it will
    give you the depth of field as if you were shooting a 50mm on a film camera
    stopped down one more stop.

    A 20D plus a 35/2 can be had for about $1700. Close enough to your $1500
    budget. :) If you want low light, I'd really go for the 20D over the
    digital rebel. The 20D's higher ISO settings are allegedly much cleaner and
    free of noise.

    --
    Eric
    http://canid.com/
     
    , Jan 14, 2005
    #15
  16. >I would like to purchase a camera that is capable of taking handheld
    >photos indoors without the use of a flash in low light conditions. I


    Depending on what you're taking a picture of, you may do better with a
    nice 1.4 lens, or with an image-stabilized lens. I use the Canon
    35-135 IS indoors to take pictures at 1/10sec, and they look great.

    Another option is a wide angle lens. Remember (without image
    stabilization), you can generally take a sharp handheld picture with
    an X-mm lens at speeds down to 1/X, so with a 50mm, 1/60 is roughly
    the lower limit. But with a 22mm lens, 1/20 should still be sharp.

    -Joel

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Please feed the 35mm lens/digicam databases: http://www.exc.com/photography
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
     
    Dr. Joel M. Hoffman, Feb 22, 2005
    #16
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