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Need camera for sports in low light
Hi there...I'm a newbie looking for advice. I've had a Fuji FinePix S3000 for 5 years and want to upgrade. It can't perform well in low light situations. Debating between high end Point & shoot vs dSLR. Willing to spend money, but want fast ease of use and PORTABILITY (dSLRs are bulky with extra lenses)..

I am mostly interested in taking picutres of my 2 young boys. They are into sports (soccer, hockey, baseball). Hockey season has started and I cannot get a decent shot with my FinePix inside the arena (too dark). They aren't too fast on their skates yet, but zooming in from the stands is an issue with the poor lighting available in the arena. Other uses for my camera are mainly candid shots indoors. When my kids are up to something silly, I want to take a pic FAST, before they stop....which brings me to my dilema with P&S vs dSLR..

Ideally, I would like a high-end P&S that can perform well n the above-mentioned conditions. I'm not looking for expert quality....I don't have a discerning eye for perfect quality. I just want to make sure that whatever I buy will get me good looking pics that have good lighting and acceptable picutre quality (minimal grain). A smaller camera that could fit in my purse would be great!.

I've been doing some reading and found the Canon S5IS, which sounds promising. I think 12X is enough zoom for accross the hockey rink, and if I buy an external flash for the hotshoe, would there be enough light for a good shot? Also, does the speed of successive shots differ when using an external flash? If so, how much longer does it take for successive shots to be captured?.

There is also the Sony H9 with a good zoom and a long range flash. Would this sufficie for my needs? Would the image quality still be acceptable when pushing it to it's limits?.

Any comments/suggestions would be greatly appreciated...

Comments (17)

Twoboysmom wrote:.

When my kids are up to something silly, I want totake a pic FAST, before they stop....which brings me to my dilemawith P&S vs dSLR..

It might be noted that the autofocus system in compact cameras is rarely fast at shooting moving subjects in really low light. Even SLRs have difficulty here, but they're more likely to have acceptable speed..

*snip*.

I've been doing some reading and found the Canon S5IS, which soundspromising. I think 12X is enough zoom for accross the hockey rink,.

12x is a meaningless number without the base focal length. It's a ratio. Unless you specify one of the numbers in the ratio, you can't judge either. Think in terms of focal length + sensor size, or field of view..

The S5IS has a powered zoom, correct? That means you'd have to spend time waiting for the zoom to move in or out, as the distances shifted unless you're so far away that you'd *always* be at full zoom. If you really, really wanted to use a fixed-lens camera, you'd probably be better with a mechanically-linked zoom ring that you can use quickly..

And if I buy an external flash for the hotshoe, would there be enoughlight for a good shot? Also, does the speed of successive shots.

Have you priced a 580EX? Guide number ~58m @ ISO 100 and 105mm. Take guide number, divide by aperture f/3.5 is the widest, at the long end and multiply by sqrt(ISO used/100). That's an estimated useful range..

Built-in flashes rarely have a GN of more than 11-12m @ ISO 100..

Http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canons5is/page7.asp.

And I wouldn't really recommend ISO 1600 on an S5 IS for somebody who wants "minimal grain". -Not- using ISO 1600, however, may mean that you have essentially no chance to get a shot without blur from subject motion. Depends on lighting and speed..

Differ when using an external flash? If so, how much longer does ittake for successive shots to be captured?.

Flashes take time to recharge. Depends on the flash and the power source. They also can get rather hot if you fire them a lot, requiring some time to cool down. You can probably download the 580EX manual and have a look..

Flashes also have the possibility of being banned for being distracting..

There is also the Sony H9 with a good zoom and a long range flash.Would this sufficie for my needs? Would the image quality still beacceptable when pushing it to it's limits?.

Small sensors and "minimal grain" don't go well together.http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/SonyH9/page6.asp..

Comment #1

As Leejay says, the demanding combination of requirements you specify is difficult to meet in a compact. Sports implies fast shutter speed, to freeze action; low light implies low shutter speed, of course. The only way to resolve this dilemma is to turn up the sensor to it's highest ISO setting (sensitivity)... which boosts noise. There is no way around this..

For action pics in low light you want ca camera with good performance at high ISO settings like 1600, which means a big sensor, which means a DSLR. The sensor in one of these (typically about half the size of a 35mm negative) is much larger than one in a compact (small fingernail sized) - so they collect much more light, which gives a stronger signal to work with, and less noise..

The trade off in low light is between portability and image quality... you just have to decide which is more important to you. A DSLR with a wide-aperture telephoto lens will be needed to have any chance of getting decent action shots at a distance in low light, all of which will weigh a ton. Alternatively a compact with low-light performance that is good-ish (i.e. good for a compact), like one of the Fujis, will fit in your purse, and you might be able to get reasonable pictures iwth it when people aren't moving too fast and aren't too far away..

Best wishesMike..

Comment #2

I thought the Canon S5 and the Sony H9 had bigger sensors (2.5mm) that are equivilent to some SLRs, like the Rebel. Please explain the difference to me...

Comment #3

I, too, am looking for camera for exactly the same settings (hockey, kids portraits, and outdoor sports, etc). I am willing to "jump in" to a dSLR because of frustration with shutter lag in the P&S models (I have a Kodak- need I say more?). My frustration far outweighs the portability of the P&S cameras. I am looking at the sony alpha a100, nikon d40x, and canon rebel Xti 400D. My budget is under $800. Any suggestions? I have read so many reviews that my head is spinning.

If there is a similar forum, please do not hesitate to point my in the right direction.Thanks!..

Comment #4

The sensor on the Canon S5 is 5.8 x 4.3mm. The Rebel uses an APS-C sized sensor (22 x 15 mm) which has an area about 13 times larger, hence it's much better performance in low light. You can see pictures of ths different sensor sizes at the bottom of this page:.

Http://6mpixel.org/en/.

Best wishesMike..

Comment #5

Thanks for that last post...I read it and it makes a lot of sense. When looking at cameras, the zoom and MB are prominently advertised,but not the sensor size. I even asked at my local camera store and the salesperson couldn't tell me if the sensor size was different for the Canon S5 and the Sony H9. A good starting point for me would be to know which high end P&S have the largest sensor size. Then I could compare them for zoom and MB. Thanks...

Comment #6

Thanks for that last post...I read it and it makes a lot of sense.When looking at cameras, the zoom and MB are prominentlyadvertised,but not the sensor size. I even asked at my local camerastore and the salesperson couldn't tell me if the sensor size wasdifferent for the Canon S5 and the Sony H9. A good starting pointfor me would be to know which high end P&S have the largest sensorsize. Then I could compare them for zoom and MB. Thanks..

That't it exactly. The number of MP is an easy one for sales people to use even though it's relationship to image quality is tenuous: a 6MP DSLR with a large sensor is likely to have much better image quality than a 12MP compact for lots of reasons, but all you get from adverts is that 12MP is somehow twice as good as 6MP. Small sensor cameras at high ISO produce so much noise (because each pixel is so tiny that it collects hardly any light) that the results look like mush, and the effect gets worse as the small sensors are subdivided into smaller and smaller pixels to generate a higher number of MP for marketing purposes..

An experienced guy on this form has said to many people something along the lines of 'Get the largest sensor you can, and the smallest number of MP you need.' I don't know which compact has the largest sensor, but that's the one to go for if you want good low-light pictures. I'm sure someone will be able to tell you....

Best wishesMike..

Comment #7

Twoboysmom wrote:.

A good starting pointfor me would be to know which high end P&S have the largest sensorsize. Then I could compare them for zoom and MB. Thanks..

Here are some of the P&S cameras with "larger" sized sensors.

Fujifilm FinePix S9100 @ 1/1.6"http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/specs/Fujifilm/fuji_finepixs9100.asp.

Fujifilm FinePix S6000 fd @ 1/1.7"http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/specs/Fujifilm/fuji_finepixs6000.asp.

Fujifilm FinePix Fxx series @ 1/1.7" such as the Fuji F31 fdhttp://www.dpreview.com/reviews/specs/Fujifilm/fuji_finepixf31fd.asp.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50 @ 1/1.8"http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/specs/Panasonic/panasonic_dmcfz50.asp.

Canon PowerShot G7 and G9 @ 1/1.8"http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/specs/Canon/canon_g7.asp.

Canon A6xx series @ 1/1.8" such as the Canon A640http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/specs/Canon/canon_a640.asp.

Good Day,Roonal.

'Money doesn't buy happiness, but it makes for an extravagant depression' by golf tournament sportscaster..

Comment #8

Twoboysmom wrote:.

I've been doing some reading and found the Canon S5IS, which soundspromising. I think 12X is enough zoom for accross the hockey rink,and if I buy an external flash for the hotshoe, would there be enoughlight for a good shot?.

Are you talking about using an external flash from the stands to light up someone on the other side of the rink?.

Also, does the speed of successive shotsdiffer when using an external flash?.

Most likely as the flash will need to re-charge - particularly if it's just made a full-power burst..

If so, how much longer does it take for successive shots to be captured?.

Depends on the flash, the batteries used, at what power level the flash is having to fire at..

Maybe anywhere from a moment to say 8 seconds or so..

There is also the Sony H9 with a good zoom and a long range flash..

With regards to the "long range flash":.

"...but be aware that this relies on the auto ISO going very high, so don't expect miraculous image quality at anything over a few meters.".

Quote above from the review of the H9 here on dpreviewhttp://www.dpreview.com/reviews/sonyh9/page2.asp.

Any comments/suggestions would be greatly appreciated..

In my honest opinion you're asking a lot from a camera:- low light venue- fast moving subjects.

A DSLR with a fast (large aperture) telephoto zoom lens. The DSLR gives you high ISO 1600 (and in some cases 3200) usability (with less noise and more detail than P&Ss) allowing for better shutter speeds. A f2.8 telephoto zoom lens can run $800+..

For example the Sigma 70-200/2.8 @ $890.

Http://www.bhphotovideo.com/...163-USA/Sigma_569101_70_200mm_f_2_8_EX_DG.html.

Or could go with a fast telephoto prime (non-zoom) lens for lower cost..

For example the Canon 85/1.8 @ $340http://www.adorama.com/CA8518AFU.html.

Or the Canon 200/2.8 @ $640http://www.adorama.com/CA20028AFU.html.

If money is an issue then (without researching the issue further) I guess (off the top of my head) I'd go with either the Panasonic FZ50 or the Fuji S9100.

- have hotshoe- can shoot RAW.

My 2 cents.

Good Day,Roonal.

'Money doesn't buy happiness, but it makes for an extravagant depression' by golf tournament sportscaster..

Comment #9

You assumed correctly about my previous question regarding the S5. I wanted to know if I can capture a good image of a hockey player across the rink (with the full 12X zoom) if I am in the spectator stands and using one of those external flashes you can pop on the hot shoe. Any thoughts on that?..

Comment #10

Twoboysmom wrote:.

You assumed correctly about my previous question regarding the S5. Iwanted to know if I can capture a good image of a hockey playeracross the rink (with the full 12X zoom) if I am in the spectatorstands and using one of those external flashes you can pop on the hotshoe. Any thoughts on that?.

Depends on the flash, the aperture and the ISO setting..

For example: I have a fairly powerful external flash and shooting at about f2.8 and 1600 ISO, the distance scale says it'll reach ~100ft although I've never tried it on a subject that far away..

Another thing to take into consideration is whether the spectator protective shield/glass is between you and your subject or whether you'll be shooting over it..

If it is in the line of fire then the some flash light will reflect off of it - possibly right back at you depending your angle to the shield/glass..

If I were going to a sporting event as a spectator it just wouldn't occur to me to take a flash as the subjects are generally just too far away..

Looking at the specs for the Fuji S3000:- ISO limited to 100- aperture of f4.8 at maximum zoom.

That is definitely not a camera for taking pics at a low light event..

Can you post some pics you've taken with your current camera?.

Do you have a picture that was taken at the hockey rink at full zoom where the exposure looks okay, but yet it is probably a complete blurry mess because the shutter speed was really slow?.

Can you read the exif data? What are the exposure settings?.

For Windows:.

1) right-click on the picture2) from the drop-down menu left-click on "Properties"3) in the pop-up next window at the top, left-click on the "Summary" tab.

4) in the next pop-up window, if no info is present then click on the "Advanced" button.

From this we can get in the ballpark for what you'd need in the way of ISO and aperture to get a minimum shutter speed of say 1/250 (to "freeze" a skating player) in those lighting conditions..

Good Day,Roonal.

'Money doesn't buy happiness, but it makes for an extravagant depression' by golf tournament sportscaster..

Comment #11

Nothing wrong with the advice you have received so far but it has tended to accentuate the negative..

I shoot in low light all the time (mainly theatre work). There is no superzoom or P & S that will get anywhere near the performance of a DSLR and you will need a good lens with a DSLR at that..

A positive suggestion. Get a Sigma 50-150 f/2.8. Different versions fit both Canon and Nikon. That is the cheapest f/2.8 telephoto by far..

For THE cheapest combination get a Nikon D40 which comes with a 18-55 kit lens and the Sigma then buy a 1.4 tele-convertor that will turn the Sigma lens into a longer zoom f/4 70-210. If you are prepared to spend a bit more you can do the same with a Canon XTI..

Someone else can give you prices. I am in the UK..

The Sigma will give you one lens that will do most things for you and it is not too bulky and heavy. If everything is too far away snap in the 1.4x teleconvertor. You will lose some light (1 stop) but it will bring play that is further away nearer to you..

Not only are good low light lenses expensive but they are also never more than 3x zooms. So, in a perfect world you need three of them! That which I describe above is the best compromise you will get unless you want to buy used equipment which is always difficult for a novice..

I have bought both my f2.8 constant*** zooms used for half the new price so that is your other option but you will need care to match components. Realistically you will need a reliable AND knowledgeable friend to buy for you. They are likely to be thin on the ground. (I have come across people on this site describing themselves as professional photographers when they do not even know how to get their photos from the camera to their PC!!!).

For most of your shooting you could just take the camera and 50-150 lens (with the 1.4x convertor in your pocket in case you need it)..

You may find the cost of the above prohibitive. If that is so the sooner you know the better you can focus elsewhere..

*** Most zoom lenses have figures like f/3.5-5.6 after the focal length given in mm so e.g 18-55mm f3.5-5.6. The f/3.5 tells you the aperture at 18mm (wide-angle) the f5.6 the aperture at 55mm (the telephoto end of the range). The example I have given is a slow lens. A fast lens would be 18-55 f2.8 (No 2nd figure because it is still f/2.8 at 55mm)..

Chris Elliott.

*Nikon* D Eighty + Fifty - Other equipment in Profile.

Http://PlacidoD.Zenfolio.com/..

Comment #12

As I can see from my pics taken this past weekend, my Fuji S3000 camera just doesn't have the guts to do what I want it to do. I figure I was about 50 feet away from my suject, shooting over the protective plexiglass. All the pics are dark and grainy. Sorry, I don't know how to post pics on this forum. Any more thoughts on what to buy to get ok pics of this type of kids hockey...not really NHL speed yet, so maybe something non-SLR will suffice???.

This is the info I found for my pix:.

Exif FD Pointer 252exposure time 0.008000F number 2.800000ISO speed rating 250Exif version 0220Focal Lenght 32Shutter speed value 7.000aperture value 3.000brightness value 1.21exposure bias value 0max aperture value 3.0metering mode 5light source 0flash 25.

Not sure what all this means....there was a lot more jargon associated with the photos....but I'm not sure exactly what it is you are looking for. Thanks...

Comment #13

The shutter speed is 1/125 as indicated. Can't you bump it higher. You can try shifting the ISO to higher so you can reach higher shutter speed. Higher ISO might brings more noise to the shot but you can remove it later. Plus it is better to be sharper than noisier... Johnnyhttp://tuxbailey.zenfolio.com..

Comment #14

Get a camera with good iso1600/3200 performance, I think the only non-slr to fit this are some fuji superccd.

Enter flickr and search samples, I got these searching "iso 1600 gym" and "iso 3200 gym", cheers R..

Finepix f11 (non-slr) at iso 1600.

Image control:Zoom outZoom 100%Zoom inExpand AllOpen in new window.

Canon EOS 20D (slr) at iso 3200.

Image control:Zoom outZoom 100%Zoom inExpand AllOpen in new window.

Pentax *ist DL (slr) at iso 1600.

Image control:Zoom outZoom 100%Zoom inExpand AllOpen in new window..

Comment #15

An SLR with a faster lens would work. I have shot my son in the hockey arena with my old (2 years) Pentax DS and Tokina 80-200/4 (> 20 years). The combo works great but the old tokina is a manual focus, one touch zoom. It is actually a handy lens. In and out changes the focal length while twisting focuses. It is a common lens and mostly prime quality.

Also, the Sears 80-200/4 is the same lens. Being a faster F4 at 200mm is a great help. Most consumer zooms are 1 - 2 stops slower..

The Pentax is a good match for it, since it will meter and the Pentax has a better viewfinder for focusing. AS on the newer bodies will help. The Pentax high ISO abilities will also be a great help. I have shot at ISO 1600 and printed clear poster sized prints. The Sony 6MP sensor is natually low in noise and Pentax does not add to it like others nor needs to use noise reduction...

Comment #16

Twoboysmom wrote:.

Sorry, I don't know how to post pics on this forum..

Need to use a image hosting service. For example a free one ishttp://www.photobucket.com. Each uploaded image is assigned a unique URL. Copy/Paste the URL into the body of a message you're composing for here, then when you post the message, your image will appear in the body of your post..

Comparing this exif info to specs I found inline for your camera:.

As other poster pointer out, shutter speed was 1/125 (=0.008).

The aperture was f3.0.

The ISO was either 100 or 200 (based on specs I found online for your camera).

The focal length was 203mm (the 35mm equivalent)..

Got focal length from 32 x 6.333 = 203.

The "6.333 factor" is particular to your camera, other cameras would use a different value..

So since you said the pics were "dark and grainy", if I then assume they are under-exposed by say 2 stops....

And if I also assume that the camera was shooting at 200 ISO....

And since it would be better if the shutter speed was 1 stop faster at 1/250th of a second instead of 1/125th to1) better freeze the players and.

2) help counter hand-holding induced camera shake when shooting at the telephoto end of the zoom....

So all this leads me the think you need a camera that can shoot at 1600 ISO at f3.0 at 1/250th at >=200mm focal length Yikes!..

This is DSLR & Fast (Large aperture) Lens territory..

Okay so based on my limited research I think your best non-DSLR bet is the Fuji s6000fd or it's sibling the Fuji s9100. They don't have a fast f3 aperture at the tele end of the zoom, but can't have everything..

There are other cameras that can shoot at high ISO, but their results - based on the reviews I've seen - tend to look worse than the two Fuji cams I've mentioned..

After the two Fuji cams I guess I'd consider the Panosonic FZ50..

Fuji s6000fdhttp://www.dpreview.com/reviews/fujifilms6000fd/.

Http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/S6000/S6000A.HTM.

Quote from imaging-resource review.

"Print Quality.

Great print quality, great color, excellent 13x19 inch prints! ISO 800 images are soft but usable at 11x14, ISO 1,600 and 3,200 shots are usable at 5x7, good at 4x6.".

Fuji s9100http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/S9100/S9100A.HTM.

Quote from imaging-resource review.

"Print Quality.

Great print quality, great color, crisp prints at 11 x 14 inches, usable ones at 13 x 19. ISO 400 images are usable to 11 x 14 inches, better at 8 x 10. ISO 800 is usable at 8 x 10, but ISO 1,600 is only good at 4 x 6.".

For comparison - the Panosonic FZ50.

Http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/FZ50/FZ50A.HTM.

"...At ISO 800, image noise is high, with strong blurring and yellow blotches are beginning to appear in the hair, but chroma noise (random color noise) has been removed from the scene. At ISO 1,600, image noise is quite high with very strong blurring, and though chroma noise isn't much in evidence, horrible unnatural yellow blotching makes this ISO setting unusable, at least for indoor shooting. See our Output Quality section for our evaluation of how the images look when printed.".

"Print Quality.

Good print quality, great color, good 13x19 inch prints. ISO 400 images are still quite good at 11x14, ISO 800 are still good at 8x10. ISO 1600 are best kept to 5x7 or smaller".

For comparison - Sony H9.

Http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/H9/H9A.HTM.

"...At ISO 800, fine detail is obliterated by significant "grain" pattern and blotchiness, and grey patches appear where highlights once were, changing the overall color balance. Noise is so high at ISO 1,600 that little detail is left, and the image has a strong water-colored look to it. We're not sure why Sony bothered with ISO 3,200.".

"Print Quality.

Good print quality, great color, good 13x19 inch prints, though with trouble in the corners. ISO 400 images are soft but usable at 8x10, ISO 800 shots are still good at 8x10; quality at higher ISOs goes down quickly.".

For comparison - Canon G7.

Http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/G7/G7A.HTM.

"Noise increases dramatically at the 800 and 1,600 settings, with a severe loss of fine detail at ISO 1,600. However, as mentioned above, noise suppression is clearly at work at all ISO settings, quite a disappointment coming from Canon.".

"Print Quality.

Good print quality, great color, good 16x20 inch prints. Ultra-high ISO 1,600 and 3,200 images are soft but usable only at 4x6; ISO 800 shots are still good at 8x10.".

Reference for Fuji s3000 specs:.

Http://www.steves-digicams.com/2003_reviews/fuji_s3000.html#specs.

Good Day,Roonal.

'Money doesn't buy happiness, but it makes for an extravagant depression' by golf tournament sportscaster..

Comment #17

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