Recommendation for a low light but no zoom camera

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Siddhartha Jain, Nov 28, 2003.

  1. Hello,

    I am looking for a new digital camera. I am clear about my
    requirements:
    1. Pref 3MP or above.

    2. Small and lightweight. I have a small 2.1 MP CMOS camera now which
    fits in my shirt pocket. And I take lots of pics with it because it is
    so easy to carry around. I doubt that would be the case if I switched
    to a bigger camera.

    3. Auto-focus.

    4. Major requirement - Ability to shoot indoors, in low-light and
    generally brighter photos. My current humble camera gives me shots
    like this in daylight
    http://www.geocities.com/losttoy2000/private/DSCI0003.jpg
    http://www.geocities.com/losttoy2000/private/DSCI0030.jpg
    http://www.geocities.com/losttoy2000/private/DSCI0163.JPG

    Indoors and low-light is simply BAD:
    http://www.geocities.com/losttoy2000/private/DSCI0001.JPG
    http://www.geocities.com/losttoy2000/private/DSCI0054.jpg

    As you can see the shaded areas turn up bad and low-light is a
    disaster. Although, the camera has white-balance modes like shadow and
    sunlight, which I guess, would solve some of the problems but I want
    point-and-shoot. Not because I can't do manual adjustments but because
    many-a-times the moment slips away while you fiddle with the
    adjustments.

    My friend just bought a Olympus C-350 - 3.2 MP.
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00008WD8Y/ref=sr_aps_electronics_1_1/202-8017177-4663865

    I took some photos indoors in the night and to my amazement the photos
    were just as bad as my 2.1-CMOS camera's!!!

    So I looked for reviews of C-730, 740 and 750 which seem good except
    that they are big and I don't really need all that zoom. I can't ever
    recall using zoom. Though I appreciate good macro mode photos.

    So to sum-up,
    1. 3MP or above.
    2. Point-and-shoot
    3. Low-light and indoors.
    4. Light-weight and small.
    5. Auto-focus

    So what cameras are recommended??

    TIA,

    Siddhartha
     
    Siddhartha Jain, Nov 28, 2003
    #1
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  2. << 4. Major requirement - Ability to shoot indoors, in low-light and
    generally brighter photos. My current humble camera gives me shots
    like this in daylight
    http://www.geocities.com/losttoy2000/private/DSCI0003.jpg
    http://www.geocities.com/losttoy2000/private/DSCI0030.jpg
    http://www.geocities.com/losttoy2000/private/DSCI0163.JPG

    Indoors and low-light is simply BAD:
    http://www.geocities.com/losttoy2000/private/DSCI0001.JPG
    http://www.geocities.com/losttoy2000/private/DSCI0054.jpg >>

    Siddhartha-

    No doubt some cameras will take better pictures in low light. That is not your
    only problem.

    In the first bad example, the white wall is dominant, causing reduced exposure.
    As a result, the scene has a high average brightness so dark items and the
    items in the next room, do not receive enough exposure.

    In the second example, there is something extremely bright, possibly the sky,
    in the background. In this case, the scene has an even higher average
    brightness, which causes the poor exposure in the foreground.

    Taking such photos without flash requires that you take extraneous light
    sources into consideration. Make sure the light source is in back of you, not
    in back of the subject! Perhaps you could do better with your existing camera
    if there is a way to increase exposure to compensate for back lighting.

    Factors to look for in a low-light camera include a lens with a wide aperture
    and capability of high ISO (sensitivity). Small cameras I've seen had f/2.8
    lenses or worse, and maximum of ISO 800. Cameras to consider based on size,
    are the Canon S-400 and Olympus C-50 (or D-50, depending on your local TV
    system). Neither of these may be any better than what you have in terms of
    low-light capability, especially under the back-lit conditions in your two
    examples.

    These two have zoom lenses. I don't know of any that are fixed-focal length.

    Fred
     
    Fred McKenzie, Nov 28, 2003
    #2
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  3. Thanks Fred. I have been considering Olympus C-4000, C-730 or the
    Kodak DX6440. Do they sound like a good choice?? Or should I consider
    more cameras? Sony P72 and P8 are supposed to have low-light assissted
    focus mechanism and some exotic sounding lens. Then I checked out
    low-light photos of:

    C-730
    http://www.megapixel.net/reviews/oly-c730uz/gfx/c730uz-ns200.jpg
    http://www.megapixel.net/reviews/oly-c730uz/gfx/c730uz-ns400.jpg

    and C-4000
    http://www.megapixel.net/reviews/oly-c4000/gfx/olyc4000z-quality01.jpg
    http://www.megapixel.net/reviews/oly-c4000/gfx/olyc4000z-pano-s.jpg
    http://www.megapixel.net/reviews/oly-c4000/gfx/olyc4000z-ns400.jpg

    Needless to say that the photographs are impressive in low-light but
    left me confused between C-4000 and C-730.

    The one thing that I particularly liked about Olympus cameras is the
    ability to take panoramic photographs. Many times you goto a scenic
    spot and wish you could capture it all.

    But the Kodak has good reviews for ease of use and picture quality.

    Unfortunately, I cannnot afford a DSLR so which one do I chose?

    TIA,

    Siddhartha
     
    Siddhartha Jain, Nov 29, 2003
    #3
  4. << The one thing that I particularly liked about Olympus cameras is the
    ability to take panoramic photographs. Many times you goto a scenic
    spot and wish you could capture it all. >>

    Siddhartha-

    I did not mention before, but the two "bad" photos you listed in your first
    message, would have turned out better if you had used flash. The back lighting
    may have been strong enough to make the camera decide no flash was required.
    In that case, you would have needed the capability to set the camera to always
    flash. Since you want point-and-shoot capability, using flash may be the only
    alternative that will work in back-lit situations.

    Personally, I prefer Olympus. I have an older C-3040Z that does well in low
    light, providing there is no back-lighting to interfere with the exposure. I
    understand the C-4000 has an f/2.8 lens compared to the f/1.8 lens on my
    camera. The C-4040 and C-5050 models have the f/1.8 lens, so they would be
    slightly better in low light. However, none of these are as small as you
    wanted. I'm not familiar with the C-730 or DX6440.

    Panoramic photos are made by taking successive photos in different directions,
    and stitching them together using a graphics program. The trouble with the
    Olympus panoramic feature is that the Olympus panoramic software only works
    when you use the Olympus memory modules. Then, if you accidentally erase the
    memory module using your computer, the panoramic feature is erased as well.

    Actually, any camera can be used for panoramic photos if you have the software
    with the needed capability. It helps to use a tripod that is leveled, so you
    can rotate the camera in the horizontal plane.

    Fred
     
    Fred McKenzie, Nov 29, 2003
    #4
  5. Siddhartha Jain

    RobbH Guest

    You did not list extra zoom range as one of your priorities -- indeed, you
    were looking for a no-zoom camera -- but the C-730 offers 10x zoom, while
    the DX6440 has 4x, which is just slightly greater than the 3x zoom found on
    most consumer digicams. While an extended zoom range has many advantages,
    these cameras may not work well for indoor, available light photography.

    As Fred mentioned, to work well in low light, a camera needs to have a
    "fast" lens (one that can be opened up to a large aperture, letting in lots
    of light -- in general, the maximum aperture should be expressed as a
    number SMALLER than f/2.8), and high sensitivity (in general, the ISO
    rating should be at least 400; 800 is better and found on a few consumer
    digicams; to go higher than that, you'll need to investigate DSLRs).

    In addition, you should consider the noise generated by the sensor, which
    is present in all images but becomes more noticable as sensitivity is
    increased. In general, noise in inversely proportional to the size of the
    sensor. Cameras with extended zoom range usually use very small sensors,
    as do pocket-size cameras, so these cameras are likely to produce very
    noisy images when used in low light with high ISO settings.

    Of the cameras you mentioned, I am familiar with the C-4000. With its
    f/2.8 lens, it does not appear to be a likely candidate for low-light work.
    However, I find it performs reasonably well. When shooting available
    light, I set it to ISO 400 and set in-camera sharpening and contrast
    enhancement to -5, their lowest settings. With these settings, I am able
    to take pictures at family gatherings without bombarding people with flash.
    Of course, some of those pictures are spoiled because of slow shutter
    speeds -- a faster lens would help! -- but that's part of shooting
    available light. Autofocus works well enough in low light for hand-held
    shooting, but probably not for very long exposures that require a tripod.

    The C-4000 is really not a pocket-size camera. It certainly would not fit
    in the pocket of a dress shirt, such as I might wear to work in the USA.
    It does fit comfortably in the pocket of a coat, though. I think it will
    be difficult to find a camera that is small enough to fit in a shirt pocket
    and still performs well in low light. I've heard good things about the
    Minolta G500/Konica KD-510, but have not used it.

    Good luck on your search!

    r.
     
    RobbH, Nov 29, 2003
    #5
  6. Thanks for your tips and advises.

    In about an hour's time I will go and pick up the Olympus C-750 :)

    After searching through the markets, I found that all good cameras
    offer some zoom. Then I went to the Olympus dealer to check out the
    Kodak 6490 and Olympus C-4000, having read good reviews about both.
    The dealer told me that Kodak would arrive about a month later and the
    Olympus C-4000 only supports Smartmedia. A 64M Smartmedia card costs
    the same as a 128MB xD card here. I also checked the smaller
    C-730/740/750 cameras and the zoom enticed me :))

    So I took to decide between the C-730 and C-750. The latter is about
    $100 more expensive here (Oman) than the former. I swang like a
    pendulum between the 750 with an extra MP, a remote control and a new
    ED lens and the 730. Finally, I decided to take the C-730 with the
    assurance of exchanging it for C-750 if I didn't like the 730.

    So I brought home the C-730 and tried it out. Its amazing. I
    immiediately turned off the living room lights to take some pictures
    as my roomie laughed at the idea of taking photos in a pitch dark room
    (with some light filtering through the curtained balcony). To my
    amazement, the camera produced really bright photos even the "Auto"
    mode. Photographs with higher ISO settings turned out to be even
    better. So were the zoom photos. Ofcourse, a tripod is recommended in
    some conditions.

    Then I checked more reviews of the C-750. I found that everyone had
    reviewed it to be a worthy successor of the C-730. So after I write
    this up, I am going to the dealer and get the C-750 :)

    Will post some low-light photographs later.

    Thanks again,

    Siddhartha
     
    Siddhartha Jain, Nov 30, 2003
    #6
  7. Siddhartha Jain

    Dave Guest

    The purists sneer at any zooms greater than 3x, and remark that the
    C-750 doesn't have have a very light-efficient lens. Others also claim
    to have difficulty with the auto-focus on the C-750 in indoor
    lighting. Please check into the indoor auto-focus issue.
     
    Dave, Dec 8, 2003
    #7
  8. All the talk about C-750 being incapable of low-light photography is
    utter BS. Check out its review at www.megapixel.net for *claims*.

    I haven't faced any problems with it indoors or in low-light. And it
    also has a nice noise reduction feature.

    Ofcourse, since the lens is not stabiilised, you need a tripod to use
    the 10x zoom.

    I carried my laptop to the dealer and checked out the shortlisted
    cameras by taking photographs outside the store and inside the store
    in the night. I used all the review sites and *claims* only for
    shortlisting 3-5 cameras.
     
    Siddhartha Jain, Dec 8, 2003
    #8
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