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Topic # 78925 10-Mar-2011 08:19
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Hi,

I've been using point and shoots from the beginning.  I guess I am using a top of the range point and shoot currently.. a sx1 IS.  I'm obviously no photographer and it takes nice snaps which is mainly what I use it for and obviously the zoom on these megazoom cameras is a big draw.

I am getting a little frustrated lately though as now my toddler can move fast that a lot of photos come out blurry or the photo isn't what I wanted eg the delay on the camera is too much so I miss the photo I wanted. 

I have been reading and it seems this is basically down to inbuilt delays in these cameras plus the small sensor size.

The answer is either a dslr or a micro 4 thirds..

The later interests me and Ive been eyeing up the lumix gh2...

All the reviews say the camera is _fast_ great autofocusing at very fast speeds etc and obviously way more compact than a full dslr and apparently easier to use and the video is meant to be incredible on it also, big bonus.

What I dont understand fully is, even though the camera is fast, is it handicapped by a "slow" lens?
I want to be able to click the shutter button and get a photo _now_ so what would i be looking at for this camera? I don't want to be spending a fortune on lenses though....

Any advise around this general topic would be much appreciated...



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  Reply # 447151 10-Mar-2011 08:33
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It's not clear whether your problem is the delay in releasing the shutter (shutter lag) or motion blur from the shutter being open too long (shutter speed).

A DSLR will give you less (virtually zero) shutter lag, but make sure that you are pre-focussing or using continuous auto focus, otherwise you may not have exhausted the capabilities of your existing camera.

For faster shutter speeds a fast lens and bigger sensor will help, but there are always limits when shooting fast moving subjects in low light without flash. In fact this is probably the most challenging shooting situation you can get.

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  Reply # 447154 10-Mar-2011 08:54
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The other thing is lighting at the time. If there is not much light any camera will want to keep the shutter open longer to let more light in, which results in blurry pictures if the subject is moving.

Perhaps you could investigate more manual control options of your current camera. You may have a dedicated moving subject setting/mode.
Or go manual and learn how to adjust for a fast shutter speed and opening the camera up to let in more light to compensate. Could also investigate if a flash can assist.

Sorry if this is all obvious to you but thought I'd mention it. Any camera will need a bit of work to take fast moving shots in low light conditions I guess is where I'm coming from.

 
 
 
 


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  Reply # 447159 10-Mar-2011 09:23
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I moved from a Canon Point and Shoot to the low end Canon DSLR (1000d) after the young one pulled the P&S off a table. Best decision we ever made.

Camera is really quick, great for catching the young one in action. And while you can use it as a "real camera" you can use most DSLRs as glorified P&S cameras as well.




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  Reply # 447163 10-Mar-2011 09:26
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No camera focusses instantly. I'm a professional photographer, I have two $3500 cameras (Nikon D700 DSLR), and top of the line lenses. You still need to prefocus (half a shutter press) if you want an instant response when the shutters pushed. In good light tho the D700 could probably almost focus and shoot instantly, but P&S cameras not so much.

I'd suggest you look carefully into the 4/3 or micro 4/3, as a DSLR is quite cumbersome, even the entry level ones. They're not cheap either, $1500 I guess for something decent, then you'll want a better lens, an external flash, etc. Also be prepared to spend a year getting really used to how to use it, as DSLR cameras assume you know what you're doing. Lower end cameras assume you know nothing, do it for you, and give you good pictures straight out of the camera.

dpreview.com gives good advice on a huge range of camera. I can't offer any better advice than them with P&S and micro 4/3 cameras. What I can do is check what the professionals use, tonight, once i'm at my PC, I remember a thread on a private pro photographers forum about it that I can't check from work.

btw I shot Canon for 5 years before I switched to Nikon, I had 20D-40D, 7D, 1D3. Nikons focus system kicks Canon out of the ballpark. At the entry/consumer level both use cut down focus systems so it's probably not really relevant, both should be fine for what most people do. Professionals really push their gear, plus mine accidentally rolled down a hill last weekend. It still works fine.




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  Reply # 447176 10-Mar-2011 09:45
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OK, so I think a simple (as much as I can make it) explanation is in order.

Cameras have three main things effecting exposure time.

- ISO Speed (Sensitivity of the film/sensor)
- Shutter Speed
- Aperture f-stop Speed (The size the iris opens when fired)

The ISO speed is how much light the sensor sees. A high ISO number (>400) will be more sensitive, so at lower light levels it will be able to see better. There are disadvantages with this however as the higher the number, the higher the amount of 'noise' is apparent. Noise is a kind of uniform grain that covers the image and will reduce clarity and sharpness.

Shutter speed is how fast the image is captured on the film/sensor. So a fast shutter speed means that it takes in a very short flash of light from the scene you're shooting. This reduces the likelihood of blurring but also reduces the amount of light hitting the sensor. This can lead to dark images.

f-stop numbers are related to your lens. The lower the f-stop number the larger the iris will open. For most cameras you will be looking at a lens between f2.8 and f22 or so.

So for your situation of low light, high speed you need a combination of the above to get your desired result.

You could use high ISO settings, probably >400. You will want to test these with your camera to see what number gives you an acceptable result when you view it on screen or print it. And so with a high ISO setting you would be able to use a faster shutter speed, and in turn a faster f-stop number.

Another way to fix this is to obviously increase the amount of light in the picture, this could be through the use of a flash, or by opening curtains, whatever. The increase in available light will mean that the ISO could be lower or the f-stop higher.

So your camera has a manual mode, shutter priority, or aperture priority. This means you can be fully manual with all your settings, set your shutter speed and it will automatically set everything else, or set your f-stop and it will set everything else respectively.

I would set your current camera to around ISO 400 or 800, with an aperture priority mode of as small number as you can use and then see what images you can get. If they're still blurry, try and flash, and if that still doesn't give sufficient results try a higher ISO number. This will likely produce unsatisfactory image quality but you will then know the limits of your camera.

Larger cameras generally have larger sensors which deal with higher ISO numbers better. This means there will be less noise than smaller sensors would produce.

It's hard to recommend a particular camera for you without knowing what your budget and desires are but I would try out my above suggestions first to see what your current camera can do.

Hope that helps.

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  Reply # 447185 10-Mar-2011 10:06
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DSLR ISO is pretty great these days. I use ISO6400 professionally if I need to, 3200 no problems, even 12,800 with a good reason. I tend to add light first though, usually with multiple radio triggered slaves, though that's not practical for most people.

A hotshoe mounted flash works MUCH better than any flash built into a camera, because then you can bounce the light off the ceiling or a wall, which is much more natural and flattering than direct flash. Direct flash makes everything look flat and washed out. You can also consider the color of light if your ambient is tungsten, gelling your flash, but that's probably not relevant for most people.

Even with flash you still want to use high iso in dark situations, otherwise you'll have a very dark background. For example at wedding receptions ISO 1600 F3.5 1/50th is a typical exposure, with flash adding light so the subjects are well lit.

With smaller sensored cameras ISO won't be as good, but 800 or 1600 should still be fine in a modern 4/3 type camera.

Consumer oriented cameras do quite well on scene modes. I find them frustrating though, I know what i want the camera to do, I don't want it making decisions for me! That's why I shoot manual most of the time, unless things are moving too fast for me to make the adjustments manually.




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  Reply # 447192 10-Mar-2011 10:19
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Thanks for all the great replies, I have learned a lot already.
I will have a play with the manual settings on my camera and see how I go.

DSLR's are out of the question, not because of $$ but they are just too bulky and I would never bother taking it anywhere because of that, so even though they might take the best photos, they are useless if you arent going to take it with you obviously.

So I think if I can't get the results I want with my current camera I would definitely look at the new micro  four thirds system, seems to be a pretty good step up and seems they are also designed for people like me, keeping it easy but getting better results etc.

I often try and take photos of my boy and I prefocus but often by the time its focused he has started running towards me so by the time i press the shutter hes already out of focus and this is outside on a sunny day so perhaps i didn't explain things too well and maybe its just the focusing speed that is letting me down?
While I know obviously that dslr or m4/3rds arent instant (not even light is) from what I have read they focus far faster.  the gh3 auto focuses in 0.1 seconds and is meant to be very accurate.  It is also quite an expensive camera though. 

As I said also, Im not a photographer and really have no interest in taking perfect photos or too much mucking around with a camera etc and its settings, im there to take photos on the spare of the moment of my kids mainly.

Anyway thanks again it has been great to get all the replies and has given me a bit to think about and play with.

cheeers




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  Reply # 447195 10-Mar-2011 10:22
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Some really good advice here but maybe you want something simple :-)

Buy a nearly entry level DSLR like a Canon 500d or Nikon D5000 (I can't recommend going to the absolute entry level) with their standard kits lens

I'd normally recommend people start off with the auto modes and you should have a play for a while, but in your case (indoor photos of kids) you really only have one good choice.

Manual mode. In this mode, you set the ISO (sensitivity of the sensor), Shutter speed (how long the shutter remains open) and Aperture (how much light the lens lets in). You should still let the camera do the focussing itself - unless it's quite dark, it'll do a better job than you for now.

When the lighting is consistent (indoor evenings, outdoor under cloud etc), manual mode makes exposure far more consistent. Take a few test shots to get the exposure right (typically so faces are well lit) and then let the kids play :-)

For focussing - the camera will have 2 basic modes of autofocus. One is a one shot AF - the camera locks on and then doesn't attempt to keep the object in focus. This is suitable for a single shot, and if the subject is basically standing still.

The second, and probably more appropriate mode for moving subjects is known by different names (check your manual) but instead of locking focus, it gets focus on a target and then tracks that subject as long as you hold the shutter button half down, so if they move towards or away from the camera, the kids should still be focussed when you do press the button.

The mistake I see a HUGE number of people making is expecting the camera to autofocus immediately and mashing the shutter button - that will hardly ever work.

Instead, learn and get comfortable with your autofocus system, half press the shutter button and watch carefully in the viewfinder, now, move the camera around and watch/feel how long it takes for the camera to track a moving object...

When you go to take a photo, you need to half press, wait for the camera to grab focus, then full press to take the button. It's not hard and very quickly becomes second nature, but it's something you have to deliberately practise to begin with.

For camera choice - there are many nice cameras around, and some of the niche DSLRs have their fans, and great features - but to be safe, buy a Nikon or Canon.

At the entry level, neither is better than the other, just a bit different, both will produce exceptional results in the right hands.

I shoot a lot of sports on some nice gear (pair of Canon 1d series cams and more lenses than I care to add up :-) but I have had to shoot before on an entry level Canon and the results were very similar.

Jump in, you won't regret getting a DSLR if you're prepared to spend a little time learning and practising, but you won't get the best results if you treat it like a P&S, so please take the time to learn.

Cheers - N
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  Reply # 447196 10-Mar-2011 10:24
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CHuckle, having read your most recent post it appears you probably would be better served with a new, high end P&S... It won't be as good as even an entry level DSLR, but the best camera is the one you have with you.

Cheers - N



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  Reply # 447198 10-Mar-2011 10:33
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Talkiet: CHuckle, having read your most recent post it appears you probably would be better served with a new, high end P&S... It won't be as good as even an entry level DSLR, but the best camera is the one you have with you.

Cheers - N


Heh, I just can't imagine lugging one of those around with me but who knows if I can't get decent photos I might change my mind.  Sometimes you only get one chance at a photo and so annoying when it comes out a shocker.. 

thx

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  Reply # 447246 10-Mar-2011 13:00
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The speed of a LENS doesn't change how fast the photo will be taken when you press the shutter button. Lens "speed" refers to something else: how much light it can let in. A fast lens lets in a lot of light, a slow one doesn't.

A fast lens lets you set a large aperture (small f stop number) which lets you take photos in lower light without flash, it allows you to create a more blurred background, it will focus faster and easier in low light, it will be bigger and more expensive. A fast zoom goes to f2.8. A fast prime lens (single focus length so no zoom) will go to f2 for a moderately priced one, down to f1.2 for a more expensive one.

Make sure you try any camera before buying. I like the concept of the small large sensor cameras (like micro 4/3), but to me the advantage of the small camera are way offset by the size of the lenses (unless you just get a small prime on it which you probably don't want).

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  Reply # 447259 10-Mar-2011 13:10
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Oh, and in some reviews they're refer to lens speed as how fast a point and shoot camera will go through it's travel from 'wide' to fully zoomed.

So it really is a speed thing for a point and shoot but you manually adjust this by hand on a DSLR.

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  Reply # 447268 10-Mar-2011 13:22
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Chainsaw: I like the concept of the small large sensor cameras (like micro 4/3), but to me the advantage of the small camera are way offset by the size of the lenses (unless you just get a small prime on it which you probably don't want).


I had a brief fling with Micro 4/3rds but ended up going back to my Nikon DSLR which has much better handling and the noise performance of the DX sensor is still noticeably better.

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  Reply # 447279 10-Mar-2011 13:45
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When I moved from Canon DX (7D, current generation) to Nikon FX (D700, older generation) I was surprised that even with the D700 being older the ISO performance was quite a lot better. Sensor size really is the main thing that determines iso noise, but how modern the sensor is does make quite a big difference too. The D700 at ISO3200 is probably as good or better than the old Canon 10D at ISO800!




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  Reply # 447309 10-Mar-2011 14:36
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I'm basically a similar shooter to yourself by sounds, but have a micro 4/3 camera (GF-1), I think they are a great system.  Have great photos of my lil girl and it was bought just to achive that purpose.  So that is a win worth its weight in gold.

BUT
- Pretty expensive
- Still too big to pocket, and if you want to travel you generally need two lenses and swap them as needed.  Basically its still a kit, you need a kit bag and you are not saving THAT much over a traditional dslr.
- While I love the shots you can get with it... a low F-stop (have a 1.7F lens) actually stuffs a few photos focus wise for users that don't know how to and will never know how to delve into aperture mode (ie - wife) no matter how many times you show them.  So now I try to remember to always leave it on A mode on a medium setting when I am not using the camera :) , but honestly its a pain as its easy to forget.

I think the speed of the new CMOS sensors coming out on compacts these days would have made me go a different direction if my buying decision was being made today. 
- Shutter lag no longer an issue like on cheap compacts, 
- 4 to 10 shots a second.  Up to 40 (!) on a casio at 9MP.
- 1080p movie recording all seem widely available
- Low light shots are better than CCD.
- There are ones that offer full PASM modes if you want.  I'm not sure its that useful (well for an aperture shooter like myself), the lenses generally stop at F3.0 and on a compact you won't achieve the same depth of field as on a DSLR at the same F stop anyways.

Yes its no dslr.  The sensor is still tiny as.  You are giving up some quality, especially in more chalenging conditions.  IMHO in non-chalenging conditions I don't think there is much difference.

The one trick I think with these cameras is to either get a 12mp one or below, or get one where you can dial the stupid 16mp setting to around 10mp, 16mp is just stupid, and leads to a stupid amount of noise in the samples I've seen.

Personally, we are soon to travel overseas for and I've decided the size, etc of my micro 4/3 is still a bit much and am going to go for a high end CMOS pocketable cam with 1080p recording.  Selling my telephoto lens basically has paid for it.  I'll leave the M 4/3 for indoors shots at home and creative photography, though that is just a luxury I may sell off.  

The only choice I need to make is whether do go for a ~14x zoom compact superzoom such as the canon SX230 or a less zoomy but lower F-stop lens such as on a IXUS 310 or Nikon P300.  These are the type of cameras I'd be looking at if I were you.

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