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Can someone please help me choose the right camera!!!?

by hillaryj01 / May 12, 2010 5:13 AM PDT

I have read like a thousand reviews and I am more confused than when I started.

I want to spend $300 or less and out of that I need a camera that has the following:
-use of optical zoom while recording
-can take good low-light pictures
-takes good videos

I use my camera a lot at concerts or of the young children in my life. I need good videos and pictures that aren't fuzzy or bad looking in the dark for concerts or night time. And I like to record videos at concerts so that is important.

My current camera is the Sony Cybershot DSC-W80 which is fine but you can't zoom while recording which I definitely need.

It can be pretty much any manufacturer as long as it's good!

Does anyone have any recommendations?!

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One main issue

At $300 you won't be able to find a camera that is good in low light. I don't keep up on the quality of videos from cameras but a $300 will have a small sensor and small aperture lens that makes it less than ideal in low light situations.

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by hillaryj01 / May 12, 2010 6:53 AM PDT
In reply to: One main issue

that's not any camera good in low-light for $300. geez and i thought $300 was a lot. college student budget here.

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It would seem a lot for a college student
by kalel33-20416052469708587370302374692233 / May 12, 2010 7:01 AM PDT
In reply to: none?

I've been there and you're a lucky student to have $300 for a camera. The cheapest one there is that does well, not great, in low light is the Canon S90. That will get you a large sensor, for a point and shoot, and a large aperture lens. The next choice is the Canon G11 or to go with a DSLR and a prime lens or large aperture zoom lens.

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yeah i've been trying to save to get something good!
by hillaryj01 / May 12, 2010 7:16 AM PDT

i was really interested in the canon s90 but theres no optical zoom while recording which is one of the main reasons i want a new camera. i also looked at the g11 which was good but $500! ahh why is this so difficult? a dslr would be GREAT buuut i would feel silly with one at a concert.

thanks !

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Many concerts won't even allow "professional cameras"(ie. DSLRs) to be taken into a concert venue. On top of that, you have a learning curve, much larger, and you still wouldn't have the video you were looking for. The one camera that seems to fit all your requirements is the new Sony NEX-3 or NEX-5, but that puts your budget to double of what it is now, not including buying another/more lenses.

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sub $300.00 Low light cameras
by thethriftyfox / May 13, 2010 12:32 AM PDT
In reply to: One main issue

There are several cameras that are good in low light and below $300.00. The Sont SHC20, Kodak M580, Canon sx20 and several lumix models. Try Ritz,Best Buy or Penn Camera for Assistance in your search.

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read the reviews
by kalel33-20416052469708587370302374692233 / May 13, 2010 6:29 AM PDT

All those cameras, especially the SX20, do not get good marks for high ISO noise. The better low light cameras have pretty clean high ISO abilities and none of the one's you mentioned have that. The SX20 has pretty good noise showing up in ISO 400. The S90 does an ISO 1600 that's pretty close to the SX20's ISO 400.

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how about these?
by hillaryj01 / May 13, 2010 9:29 AM PDT
In reply to: read the reviews

i've narrowed my search down to a few options. what do you guys think of these?

-Nikon S6000: sounds good but i can't find it in stores to test it out!

-Sony H55: tried it out, seemed kind of slow and i read that it does really bad indoors?

-Sony W370: liked it but concerned about where the flash is and that ill cover it with my finger .. but maybe that wont matter if its good enough

-Sony TX1: didnt get to test the video so im not sure

anyone have any opinion on the best buy here? i realize theres 4 choices but it is super hard to narrow down my options. thanks again!

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knock one off the list
by hillaryj01 / May 13, 2010 10:10 AM PDT
In reply to: how about these?

okay so im taking the Sony W370 off the list because of where the flash is and i read more reviews saying that the video quality is pretty bad.

so down to
-NIKON S6000

opinions anyone?

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we can go over these
by kalel33-20416052469708587370302374692233 / May 13, 2010 10:12 AM PDT
In reply to: how about these?

-Nikon S6000: Brand new and so there are no reviews, but unless Nikon has changed there cameras quite a bit from last year and all the years before then I wouldn't have it on my list. They make great DSLRs, but not so good at making point and shoots.

-Sony H55: It does do poorly indoors and it's not that fast, but what can you expect from a mega-zoom. They're all not good indoors and are usually slow than cameras with less zoom

-Sony W370: You can find this review on cnet. Again, a higher zoom equals poor low light and it was extremely slow.

-Sony TX1: Still not great indoors but much better than all your other options you had shown. It's like being skinniest person in the room but you still weigh 250lbs. It can use it's optical zoom while recording video.

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thank you
by hillaryj01 / May 13, 2010 10:58 AM PDT
In reply to: we can go over these

I was wondering why there isn't any reviews on the S6000! i just wanted to try it but can't find it.

I also didnt know that a higher zoom equals poor low light?

I guess I am just left comparing the H55 and the TX1.
I feel like the TX1 is $50 more and you get less megapixels and less zoom so I thought that was weird, no?

Perhaps zoom for pictures isnt that important to me, just during videos cause the singers move all the way across the stage alot.

But would it be dumb to pay more for less mp's and zoom?

Thanks again for all of the help

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You have to understand why it costs about the same
by kalel33-20416052469708587370302374692233 / May 13, 2010 11:31 AM PDT
In reply to: thank you

Not all sensors are created equal. That 10MP is a back-lit sensor that does better than normal sensors, such as the one in the H55. I haven't met one person that needed more than 8MP for image size. More megapixels don't make a better image, it just means more resolution and you won't see that resolution unless you print really large prints or crop alot. I've seen cameras that had high megapixels but they had cheap lens and a cheap sensor that made the image extremely poor, but people bought it because of the specs. Here is an article to help you understand a little more about megapixels and why you don't need more.

Now to deal with the megazooms. To save money, megazooms usually have a cheaper sensor in them or they'd cost quite a bit more. So if you see a really cheap camera with 7x or 10x then they cut corners in the quality of the lens or the quality of sensor. Also, a megazoom lens has more complex set-up to fit that really long zooming range into a small form factor, so what happens is that the shutter lag and focusing speed are compromised, which makes for a slower camera.

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sub $300.00 low light cameras
by thethriftyfox / May 14, 2010 11:37 PM PDT
In reply to: how about these?

As previously stated I mentioned the best cameras for you in that category. I have used them. I am considering posting sample photos.
The Kodak image sensors are used in both the Leica, Hasselblad cameras and NASA. They also won the award from the international Image Sensor Insitute last last year. Their "Smart Capture" technology ajusts your settings for low light sensitivity. Go into a store and try them out by comparison. Take a camera from the camera bar, Hold your hand or an object under the bar or in shadow, press the shutter button lightly and click. You will be amazed at the resolution and clarity of your photo.

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kaell3 need a sub $300.00 low light camera
by thethriftyfox / May 14, 2010 11:13 PM PDT
In reply to: read the reviews

The Cameras mentioned previously do weel in loss light up to iso 400 as I have used them all. One should not be using a small image sensor non professional camera above that range because they can do nothing with the F-stop relationship on these models. Many people read reviews aafter reviews without any hands on experience an give it to others as if it were truth. I have used the aforementioned cameras and have photographs as I am a professional photographer and imaging consultant. I would not give out advice with out making sure that it is as correct as humanly possible.

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better low light and video shots
by hjfok / May 13, 2010 10:44 AM PDT

For a budget of $300, you won't get a lot better from the new camera compared to your old one.

Tripod is your best friend in low light. A gorilla pod is also quite useful if you don't want to lug around a tripod.

For low light still photos, use low ISO and slow shutter speed. If you are taking a photo of someone standing in the foreground, then use flash for the person in the foreground and a slow shutter speed for the background.

For low light action photos, there is no $300 camera that can capture noise free sharp and clear photos. Instead use flash and time your shot to freeze the action. Or you can use your camera's video function. For indoor video, a tripod can also improve the video quality.

For concerts (if your kids are the performers), get as close as you can and use flash if allowed. If flash is not allowed, then use a tripod and video (try not to zoom in if possible).

Try not to zoom during video! Zooming during video is what amateurs do a lot. Professionals do zooming very selectively. Learn to move your camera around to shoot from different angles and different distance (use your legs). Zooming will degrade image quality, even if you use optical zoom. Zooming will decrease the amount of light reaching the sensor and will increase noise and degrade image quality. Zooming during video may also throw the camera out of focus, ending up with a blur. Furthermore, it is far more interesting to take shorter videos from different angle and different distance (use your legs to change your position) of the same subject, giving the viewer different perspectives, than to stand in the same spot zooming in and out. Zooming in and out too much may distract the viewer and make them feel dizzy. Next time when you watch a movie, pay attention to how the professional do video/filming. They don't zoom in and out like the amateurs do. There are a lot of cuts from different angles and distances, without zooming in and out.

This is a long way to tell you that you can save your $300, or use it to buy a tripod or gorilla pod if you don't have one. Upgrading a camera may improve your photos and videos a little, but improving your skill and style will go a much longer way. Try not to zoom in as much as you can. Use your legs to get closer to get better shots.

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One more advice
by hjfok / May 13, 2010 10:59 AM PDT

Let me emphasize this one more time. Developing basic skills is the heart of mastering any art, and photography or videography is not exception. You can spend all your time and money reading reviews and buying new cameras, but you won't have much improvement. There is no easy way to get better. Invest some time in reading and learning more how to take better photos and videos. This will help you more than anything else.

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by hillaryj01 / May 14, 2010 1:58 PM PDT
In reply to: One more advice

Going to BestBuy in the am

Which would you ultimately choose? (Hoping for a few opinions hopefully!!)


Thanks and I promise I'll try not to bother yall anymore!

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Pretty easy
by kalel33-20416052469708587370302374692233 / May 14, 2010 4:25 PM PDT
In reply to: OOOKAY SOOO

Those two are completely different classes of cameras. If you need something with long zoom then buy the H55, but if you want something that is faster and a little better indoors then you go with the TX1. Nobody can tell you what class of camera to choose, you based that on your preferences and needs.

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Panasonic Lumix DMCZS3
by MarDel53 / May 17, 2010 8:18 PM PDT
In reply to: OOOKAY SOOO

I too wanted a zoom feature while videoing my granddaughter's school performances. I didn't want the sound of zooming either. I also wanted stereo sound; I wanted low light features; I looked and looked and got to the point where I put the features I needed the most at the top of my list and purchased last November my Panasonic Lumix DMCZS3. I love it. ISO features for outside night videos is really great. Not like professionals but for what I want at my price, this camera is great. My granddaughter on stage and me 4 rows back in low light; I zoomed in while she was singing and could not believe the quality; all reviews claimed the battery didn't have a long life; after research, I also was able to find a spare (original battery) under $18 including shipping. Battery life for me? Haven't ran out yet. Panasonic has since come out with an upgrade so check into it.
Good luck. Yes, I almost purchased the TX1 but it doesn't have stero sound. Mine has two speakers; it has one.

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sub $300.00 cameras for low light
by thethriftyfox / May 14, 2010 11:46 PM PDT

Finally someone got the message across. You degrade your photos by trying to zoom with most retail grade small cameras. Take your best shot using some type of tripod and then crop what you want. Zooming only limits the the amount of light through a small lens to a small inexpensive image sensor. Your lens and image sensor are two of the most important compnents in your camera.

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