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Which non-DSLR to shoot performing arts
Hello everybody,.

I plan to shoot dance performances to put some pics on my blog, which is dedicated to this subject (http://imagesdedanse.over-blog.com/). I made a first try some weeks ago with my Canon Powershot A700 in daylight at 400 iso and the result was quite satisfying (http://imagesdedanse.over-blog.com/article-11452602.html)..

But most of the time shooting dance is more difficult, while it requires high isos, high speeds and average or long focals. So I would like to replace my Powershot A700 (noise above 200 iso, no IS, zoom a little too short - 210 mm), but do not want to buy an SLR....

Am I dreaming ? .

I have seen the latest cams, to me the Panny FZ18 seems really great (impressive Leica lens, RAW, IS), but as you know Panasonic cams are not good in high isos. As for it's competitor the Fuji s8000 fd, we haven't seen any sample pic from it until now... And I doubt that it will be as good in high isos than the F30-31..

The new Canon Powershot A650 IS would be, in my opinion, absolutely marvelous, as it has IS, a taller sensor than my A700 and a swivel monitor, but alas the zoom is the same... As for the new Canon SX100, it has a longer max. focal (360 mm), but it's announced price ($100 less than the others) tells me that the image quality won't be terrific..

I must add that though the aim is mainly to publish some shots on my blog, I would like a decent image quality at usual print sizes, as the cam will also be used for family pics..

Any dance or theatre photographer by there ? Any pic to show ?

Comments (31)

You are going to struggle because the low light/fast action scenario is where DSLRs really shine..

Maybe one of the Sony H- series or the Canon S3 IS (which is f/3.5 at the long end)..

But if your objection to a DSLR is cost, then I might advise reconsidering as a base body with a reasonable telephoto (e.g. the Nikon 55-200 VR, Canon have just announced a similar lens) will do much better and not cost too much more..

Alex..

Comment #1

Alex Leach wrote:.

You are going to struggle because the low light/fast action scenariois where DSLRs really shine..

Indeed, that's the problem !.

Maybe one of the Sony H- series or the Canon S3 IS (which is f/3.5 atthe long end)..

But if your objection to a DSLR is cost, then I might advisereconsidering as a base body with a reasonable telephoto (e.g. theNikon 55-200 VR, Canon have just announced a similar lens) will domuch better and not cost too much more..

Alex.

If I don't want a DSLR, it is partially because of it's cost (don't want to go above, let's say, $500 with the lens), but also that I would like to avoid weighty stuff with ten lenses, as the cam will be also used on holidays, with my little girl and so on. Twenty years ago I had an SLR Olympus OM20, I had bought four beautiful lenses and now... I don't use it anymore.Anyway, thanks for your advice !..

Comment #2

From what I read, the Fujifilm S6000/6500 comes closest to meeting your needs...

Comment #3

If I don't want a DSLR, it is partially because of it's cost (don'twant to go above, let's say, $500 with the lens).

I've made a mistake : I meant 500, that is to say about $700...

Comment #4

Many suggest the Fuji S6000/6500fd for similar conditions. It's large (for a P&S) sensor allows it to use high ISOs well and it's 10x zoom will give you more reach than you have now. No IS but the high ISOs permit higher shutter speeds for stopping motion...

Comment #5

I too would suggest the fuji s6000/6500A picture is the expression of an impression.If the beautiful were not in us, how would we ever recognize it?Ernst Haas..

Comment #6

Definitely the fuji S6000/S6500 it out performs all in it's class under high ISO conditionsGreat pictures.

Albert..

Comment #7

OK, thanks everybody, I'm gonna seriously consider that choice, although I'm a bit concerned with the lack of optical image stabilization on the s6500..

No sample pics, though ? .

See also this thread about the Fuji Finepix f31d here :http://forums.dpreview.com/...forums/read.asp?forum=1012&message=24472555.

Of course and alas (Dpreview says that the low light abilities of the f30 are slightly better than the s6500) it's zoom is far too limited for me...

Comment #8

Unless you have free tickets, a press card or other tools to let you chose the best seating, the distant is a bigger problem than lighting..

It may sound weird, but in a pitchblack concerthall, the performer is usually in a spotlight..

If you use continous spot-AF, together with a low aperture and good OIS, then ISO really isn't a big problem..

The problem is more that the performers are usually unpredictable. I just use the hi-speed continous mode and shoot a bunch of pictures in succession..

Only a superzoom can get you near the performer like this:.

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Comment #9

Sorry.. wrong links.

These were made with only ISO100 if I remember correctly..

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Comment #10

Treblexl wrote:.

Sorry.. wrong links.

These were made with only ISO100 if I remember correctly..

Those aren't bad, but motion blur has become a problem owing to a relatively slow shutter speed, which was inevitable with low ISO and those conditions. The singer in #2 isn't really sharp..

I took this snap of my boss (on bass) in a pub at ISO720 and 1/250 sec with a fast lens, at f/1.8. Not a great image of course but the action is frozen in mediocre light:.

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I understand the OP's problem with dSLRs but they are the only camera that will get the job done - I'd ask him to handle a Nikon D40 in a store, he might be pleasantly surprised at the weight and size..

And Nikon are doing a 60 (about 100) rebate until the end of August. If he shoots dance a lot it will be very useful..

Alex.

Http://akiralx.smugmug.com/..

Comment #11

Great shot Alex, of course we can't obtain that sharpness with a bridge (which cam ? Nikon D40 ? I can't see the Exif)... The problem with having the Nikon D40 is that I have also to buy a powerful zoom, which will be pretty expensive... I know : I should know what I want  I think I will wait the reviews of the latest ultra-zoom bridges to decide. Maybe the raw shots of the Panny FZ18 at iso 800-1600 will be acceptable for small prints ? .

Treblex : iso 100 would be fine for wide angle shots of static performers, but to shoot dancers at 200/300 mm... I am dubious ..

Comment #12

Alex Leach wrote:.

Treblexl wrote:.

Sorry.. wrong links.

These were made with only ISO100 if I remember correctly..

Those aren't bad, but motion blur has become a problem owing to arelatively slow shutter speed, which was inevitable with low ISO andthose conditions. The singer in #2 isn't really sharp..

I took this snap of my boss (on bass) in a pub at ISO720 and 1/250sec with a fast lens, at f/1.8. Not a great image of course but theaction is frozen in mediocre light:.

Most certainly yours is sharper. But at what distance did you make that picture? Mine was at least 40 meters away at a 420mm range .

That's why I put the first pic in it too, so you can have an idea of the distance, which was my point actually. You can't always have frontrow seat .

This is already sharper at the same distance..

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Comment #13

DD70 wrote:.

Great shot Alex, of course we can't obtain that sharpness with abridge (which cam ? Nikon D40 ? I can't see the Exif)... The problemwith having the Nikon D40 is that I have also to buy a powerful zoom,which will be pretty expensive... I know : I should know what I want I think I will wait the reviews of the latest ultra-zoom bridgesto decide. Maybe the raw shots of the Panny FZ18 at iso 800-1600 willbe acceptable for small prints ? .

D200. Yep the 55-200VR will go over your budget, but you could get one for $200 (that's about half the UK price so count yourself lucky!).

I have 2 Panasonics and like them a lot but for this job I'd probaby lean towards Canon..

Alex.

Http://akiralx.smugmug.com/..

Comment #14

Treblexl wrote:.

Most certainly yours is sharper. But at what distance did you makethat picture? Mine was at least 40 meters away at a 420mm range That's why I put the first pic in it too, so you can have an idea ofthe distance, which was my point actually. You can't always havefrontrow seat .

Yes at that range without a DSLR that is a good shot..

Alex..

Comment #15

Well done, Treblxl, this one lets me a little hope with the FZ 18, I think ?

Comment #16

DD70 wrote:.

Well done, Treblxl, this one lets me a little hope with the FZ 18, Ithink ? .

Still depends on what you need it for... If you have some kind of press card and can get close to the performers, why'd you need a superzoom? In that case, you'd probably be better off with a Fuji F31..

Comment #17

1. DSLR but....

2. Fuji FinePix S6500fd with high-speed shooting mode activated + tripod is maximum you can obtain from a non-DSLR..

IS don't freeze the motion and is good only for static subjects! IS it's useful only for compensate the shaken of hands!.

A good high ISO can help you better to make crisper photos in low light when your subject is in motion but IS it's welcome...

Comment #18

I too wish that a non Dslr would capture dance performances, but from my experience, the only photos possible are of dancers when they are not really in motion. The response time of the p&s or bridge cams is too slow for you trip the shutter at a peak moment, if you luck out and capture that moment, the slow AF will not give a sharp focus. So the only photos you keep are of dancers "in repose"..

The Dslr is truly the ultimate tool for dance photography, basic Dslrs are not too expensive now, and you will "nail" 9 out of 10 shots, not "fail" 9 out of 10 shots. Dancers make wonderful subjects!..

Comment #19

Luxor2 wrote:.

I too wish that a non Dslr would capture dance performances, but frommy experience, the only photos possible are of dancers when they arenot really in motion. The response time of the p&s or bridge cams istoo slow for you trip the shutter at a peak moment, if you luck outand capture that moment, the slow AF will not give a sharp focus. Sothe only photos you keep are of dancers "in repose".The Dslr is truly the ultimate tool for dance photography, basicDslrs are not too expensive now, and you will "nail" 9 out of 10shots, not "fail" 9 out of 10 shots. Dancers make wonderful subjects!.

Thanks for your advice. I must admit that, after some days of research, I am quite convinced. As we could expect, the new fz18 is even worse than the fz50 :http://forums.dpreview.com/...forums/read.asp?forum=1033&message=24538089.

The Fuji s6500 seems to be the only bridge with nearly decent small pics at high isos... but unfortunately it lacks of image stabilization !.

The present pixel and zoom war lets us very little hope on the ground of good image quality at high isos.By the way, what budget slr would you recommend ? Nikon D40 ?

Comment #20

I think the D40 will be a little limiting due to it's restriction to AFS lenses, the D50 or D80 would be a better choice because you could use lower cost pre AFS lenses as well. Any of the low cost Canons will do well too, and also allow a large range of fast lenses. I assume you are on a budget. The availability of fast, affordable lenses is more key than the camera, The older AF 80 to 200 f2.8 lenses are a bargain, if cost was not a problem, IS versions of Canon and Nikon will give great results with dance performances on stage...

Comment #21

Luxor2 wrote:.

I think the D40 will be a little limiting due to it's restriction toAFS lenses, the D50 or D80 would be a better choice because you coulduse lower cost pre AFS lenses as well. Any of the low cost Canonswill do well too, and also allow a large range of fast lenses. Iassume you are on a budget. The availability of fast, affordablelenses is more key than the camera, The older AF 80 to 200 f2.8lenses are a bargain, if cost was not a problem, IS versions of Canonand Nikon will give great results with dance performances on stage..

Thank you very much, I will think seriously about it - even though cost is always a problem .....

Comment #22

Luxor2 wrote:.

I think the D40 will be a little limiting due to it's restriction toAFS lenses, the D50 or D80 would be a better choice because you coulduse lower cost pre AFS lenses as well. Any of the low cost Canonswill do well too, and also allow a large range of fast lenses. Iassume you are on a budget. The availability of fast, affordablelenses is more key than the camera, The older AF 80 to 200 f2.8lenses are a bargain, if cost was not a problem, IS versions of Canonand Nikon will give great results with dance performances on stage..

Ironically the clear AFS limitation of the D40 for use with prime lenses *might* be less of a problem for dance etc as Nikon's fine 55-200VR (which the D40 can use) might do it - my only doubt would be the speed, as the max aperture might not be enough. VR won't help with subject motion..

For indoor sports the 55-200VR or 70-300VR certainly can't hack it, you need at least f/1.8 ideally, though dancers might not be moving as fast as hockey players..

The 70-200VR would be good (though f/2.8 is still a bit slow), but too expensive I'm sure..

Alex.

Http://akiralx.smugmug.com/..

Comment #23

Alex Leach wrote:.

Ironically the clear AFS limitation of the D40 for use with primelenses *might* be less of a problem for dance etc as Nikon's fine55-200VR (which the D40 can use) might do it - my only doubt would bethe speed, as the max aperture might not be enough. VR won't helpwith subject motion..

For indoor sports the 55-200VR or 70-300VR certainly can't hack it,you need at least f/1.8 ideally, though dancers might not be movingas fast as hockey players..

The 70-200VR would be good (though f/2.8 is still a bit slow), buttoo expensive I'm sure..

Alex.

Http://akiralx.smugmug.com/.

Thanks for the advice..

As for the lens, I thought of the humble Nikkor 18-135 VR f/3.5. I definitely can't afford an f/1.8 lens... 55-200 mm seems not versatile enough to me, since sometimes wide angle could be useful. Having to change between the two pack lenses of the d40, 18-55 and 55-200, would not be very convenient, so I think I'd rather a "small" 18-135 mm and make some cropping when necessary. Fortunately enough, contemporary dancers don't move much, especially in Europe ))..

Comment #24

Bear in mind though that the 18-135 is only f/5.6 at the zoom end - admittedly so is the 55-200VR. Here in the UK the latter is actually cheaper.Alex.

Http://akiralx.smugmug.com/..

Comment #25

A french guy like me makes some good shots with the Sony DSC-R1(http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/sonydscr1/)See for examplehttp://flickr.com/photos/davido/sets/72157601886152676/.

This strange bridge has a tall dslr-like sensor. Unfortunately, the zoom lens is quite short (equiv. 120 mm) and this cam lacks reactivity, which is essential for that kind of pictures..

Of course, the result at full size is pretty ugly, with horrible artefacts (due to some noise reduction software ?) :.

Http://flickr.com/...=1334142357&size=o&context=set-72157601886152676.

And the shots are made with a tripod (no image stabilization on the R1) and low speeds, for example :http://flickr.com/...exif.gne?id=1334148489&context=set-72157601886152676.

I wonder if the Panasonic Fz18 would do worse or better, since the sensors are so different..

Http://imagesdedanse.over-blog.com/..

Comment #26

The 50mm f/1.8 is about $100 and the 85mm f/1.8 is about $400. Neither are long enough for performing arts. Also, f/1.8 gives you really narrow depth of field..

A 70-200 or 80-200 f/2.8 is probably ideal, but are heavy and the AF-S versions are expensive. The 70-300VR might be an option. The f/5.6 at the long end is a limitation, but it's partly offset by the VR. F/5.6 does give you far greater DOF than 2.8...

Comment #27

... And so, probably, the Canon Powershot A650 IS, whose IQ seems to be pretty similar to the G9. See these concert pics made with a G9 :http://forums.dpreview.com/...forums/read.asp?forum=1010&message=24895324.

A 6x zoom is much more versatile for stage shots than the 4x zoom of the Fuji F30-31. A good point for the Canon cams..

Http://imagesdedanse.over-blog.com/..

Comment #28

DD70 wrote:.

Am I dreaming ? .

Yes, you're dreaming. For low light you need high sensitivity with low noise and only large sensors can provide that. All compacts and SLR-likes with their tiny sensors are for very low ISO (i.e. very good light conditions) only..

However I must say that IQ of those new 10 megapixel compacts is bad even in the lowest ISOs....

The best non-SLR for low light is Sony R1 - it has APS-C sized sensor. Other choices for non-DSLR low light would be Fuji's with 6 megapixel Super-CCD sensors: S6500fd, F30, F31fd..

Edvinas..

Comment #29

The Canon S3IS is a good choice (I've put away my DSLRs for this and used my S2IS because of the shutter noise factor with the SLRs)..

The Canon has image stabilization which should give you a couple of extra stops, a good zoom, the ability to switch to grab video, AND most importantly, the option to make the camera virtually silent. No shutter noise, beeps, etc, so you won't be disturbing others around you and won't get thrown out of the theatre..

I also make sure that the display is closed/off, so that you don't disturb others with the viewscreen glare...

Comment #30

Http://forums.dpreview.com/...forums/read.asp?forum=1033&message=25924021.

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

Http://imagesdedanse.over-blog.com/ - http://www.flickr.com/photos/imagesdedanse/..

Comment #31

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