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Thread: Need a fast camera for shooting my hyperactive puppy!

  1. #1

    Talking Need a fast camera for shooting my hyperactive puppy!

    Hi all!

    I'm a newbie photographer who's frustrated by my slow-poke compact PNS which always fails to capture the moment when my puppy's doing something silly or running around in the dog park. I'm also looking to upgrade to get better pictures for travelling to take some casual portraits and scenery.

    Size, weight, design and colour is not important to me. The main considerations are fast AF (ie. minimal lag between picking up the camera and actually getting the first shot off), good image quality and value for money. Some video capability would be nice. Budget is under 1k, preferably below 800.

    I was considering some of the prosumers like the canon S90 (fast lens, large sensor (by PNS standards anyway), good image quality) and pana LX3 (fast lens, good image quality, but REALLY don't like the fact that a compact comes with a lens cap! ). Then I realised that if I pay a little bit more I could get a pentax k-x dSLR with 18-55mm kit lens for ~790 (not sure if that's current market rate now) that is also a highly rated entry-level dSLR.

    I like the fact that for $100-200 more I can get a camera with a much larger sensor, superior low light performance, more control over the photographs and potential customization options (although I'm highly unlikely to throw thousands of $$$ into buying whole array of expensive lenses, since I think I've relatively simple needs). But i guess the real question is do I really need to take the plunge and get a SLR which is totally different beast that I've absolutely no experience with? Or is the S90 or LX3 or some other compact PNS good enough for my main purpose - a camera fast enough to get high quality, candid pictures of my puppy?

    TIA to all the kind ladies and gentlemen of the forum. I await your responses with bated breath!

    p.s. this is my first post on ClubSNAP!

  2. #2

    Default Re: Need a fast camera for shooting my hyperactive puppy!

    If you're thinking of going for Canon, I'll recommend a 450d (about $650 2nd hand, older model, but cheap for people on a budget) along with a 50mm f/1.8 lens (about $100 2nd hand, good for portraits), a 18-55 kit lens (about $50-$80 2nd hand). It's hard to get a DSLR with video below 1k, especially if you want better lenses to go along with it. Also, factor in the cost of a dry box (Digicabi, about $100 for a 30 litre), cleaning kit (about $20), camera bag (cheap ones about $30). Total, amounts to about $1000.

    I'll let other people tell you about the other brands, cause I'm not familiar with them.

    Most important thing is, try out all the cameras, and pick the brand that you're most comfortable with...

  3. #3
    Deregistered allenleonhart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need a fast camera for shooting my hyperactive puppy!

    well. i did a lil pet photography when i was helping out my friends company. apparently the trick to getting tat candid isnt a fast camera. u will be surprised wad we used. more light.

    getting a well lit up room would be way better than just pure speed. to give u an idea, if ur in a dim room, u need to shoot at 1/30, iso 800 at f2.8

    flip on a switch, u can easily shoot at 1/60 iso 400 f5.6

    and tats the difference.

    since u said its a dog park, i will suggest flash actually. rather than getting a camera. unless u need it dun bother.

    may i ask wad is ur current camera? it may help me understand ur problem better
    Last edited by allenleonhart; 12th March 2010 at 06:05 PM.

  4. #4
    Deregistered allenleonhart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need a fast camera for shooting my hyperactive puppy!

    btw, dslr auto focus not always right and sharp. just letting u know. low light it will also take a while

  5. #5

    Default Re: Need a fast camera for shooting my hyperactive puppy!

    thanks for the quick reply people!

    I'm currently using a Fuji Finepix J250. takes nice enough pictures in bright daylight as well as indoors as long as the subjects don't move too much, which unfortunately doesn't work out too well when i'm trying to take pictures of my dog! i mostly take pictures in my room as well as outdoors in dog parks and other open areas. Most of the time I can only get nice sharp pictures if she stays still for a moment (which is not very often!), while I would really love to be able to take pictures of her scampering across the field chasing after her ball in full flow.

    besides sharpening up my obvious lack of photographic skills what else can I do?

  6. #6
    Deregistered rgy1993's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need a fast camera for shooting my hyperactive puppy!

    puppies are the hardest things to shoot on earth

    i think only a 1d MkIV or D3 will be fast enough to be able to shoot your puppies..

  7. #7
    Deregistered allenleonhart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need a fast camera for shooting my hyperactive puppy!

    Quote Originally Posted by stuck View Post
    thanks for the quick reply people!

    I'm currently using a Fuji Finepix J250. takes nice enough pictures in bright daylight as well as indoors as long as the subjects don't move too much, which unfortunately doesn't work out too well when i'm trying to take pictures of my dog! i mostly take pictures in my room as well as outdoors in dog parks and other open areas. Most of the time I can only get nice sharp pictures if she stays still for a moment (which is not very often!), while I would really love to be able to take pictures of her scampering across the field chasing after her ball in full flow.

    besides sharpening up my obvious lack of photographic skills what else can I do?
    one trick will be picking the right time and right place for the activities (: i know while most ppl goes to well sheltered parks (especially in the hot weather) if u really want those shots fast, it would be a good thing to go bright places. very bright.

    while doing so, always keep one finger on the trigger. its a habit i gained over the years. put to program mode since we just need the shot. sometimes getting the shot is more impt than the settings:P so yes i admit. even if i had a dslr, if i had to do those rush events i'l just use program and pray. and occasionally take over if the camera is too stupid.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Need a fast camera for shooting my hyperactive puppy!

    Quote Originally Posted by rgy1993 View Post
    puppies are the hardest things to shoot on earth

    i think only a 1d MkIV or D3 will be fast enough to be able to shoot your puppies..
    i don't need pixel perfect shots dude. i just wana know what kind of camera do I need to get decent shots off without obvious ghosting when the puppy is playing

  9. #9

    Default Re: Need a fast camera for shooting my hyperactive puppy!

    Quote Originally Posted by rgy1993 View Post
    puppies are the hardest things to shoot on earth

    i think only a 1d MkIV or D3 will be fast enough to be able to shoot your puppies..
    Quote Originally Posted by allenleonhart View Post
    one trick will be picking the right time and right place for the activities (: i know while most ppl goes to well sheltered parks (especially in the hot weather) if u really want those shots fast, it would be a good thing to go bright places. very bright.

    while doing so, always keep one finger on the trigger. its a habit i gained over the years. put to program mode since we just need the shot. sometimes getting the shot is more impt than the settings:P so yes i admit. even if i had a dslr, if i had to do those rush events i'l just use program and pray. and occasionally take over if the camera is too stupid.
    yeah i do try to prefocus on certain areas where I think she's headed into. but usually by the time the camera registers the trigger release, she's either out of the frame or just a blurry streak! i know the pentax k-x can do 4.7fps. is that not fast enough? also, any compact PNS can match that kind of speed?

  10. #10
    Senior Member madmartian's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need a fast camera for shooting my hyperactive puppy!

    Quote Originally Posted by stuck View Post
    yeah i do try to prefocus on certain areas where I think she's headed into. but usually by the time the camera registers the trigger release, she's either out of the frame or just a blurry streak! i know the pentax k-x can do 4.7fps. is that not fast enough? also, any compact PNS can match that kind of speed?
    Welcome to CS
    For your case, get a DSLR. It is not so much of 4.7fps. What you need is a faster shutter speed, If using flash, a fast flash sync speed will help. Also a DSLR offers you different focussing mode like 3D tracking. Read more on it
    Take the shot!

  11. #11

    Default Re: Need a fast camera for shooting my hyperactive puppy!

    Quote Originally Posted by stuck View Post
    yeah i do try to prefocus on certain areas where I think she's headed into. but usually by the time the camera registers the trigger release, she's either out of the frame or just a blurry streak! i know the pentax k-x can do 4.7fps. is that not fast enough? also, any compact PNS can match that kind of speed?
    the delay after pressing the shutter release till the actual photograph is captured is called shutter lag, it has nothing to do with the fps the camera can achieve.

    generally, a PnS camera will have a longer shutter lag, therefore your puppy may already get out of frame when the camera actually record the frame. higher end PnS (prosumer) camera will have shorter shutter lag, and DSLRs have the shortest shutter lag among the 3.

    also, there can be many factors that can cause a blurry streak, the fps is certainly not one of them. in your case it should be caused by a slow shutter speed cause your puppy is moving too fast. with slow shutter speed, you will still get blurry photo even if the camera can shoot 10fps.

    getting a DSLR doesn't mean you will definitely get sharp photo of your puppy, first you need to understand the relationship between ISO, Aperture, and Shutter speed, then try to tweak the settings in your current camera (if there is any, not too familiar with your camera). so in your case, you will need to increase your shutter speed, to at least 1/200 (change it faster or slower depending on how active your puppy is), if there is no manual mode, try the sports mode in your camera.

    like some other bros mentioned earlier, only shoot when the light condition is bright, other time just keep your camera and enjoy playing with your puppy. same for DSLR, yes DSLR may have a better performance at low light condition than PnS, but there are limitations too!

    sorry for the long post, just dun wan you to waste money buying something you may not even need.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Need a fast camera for shooting my hyperactive puppy!

    Sony Alpha A550 $1150

    Can shoot at 7 frames per second, the fastest DSLR among this price range.

    Of cos u need to know about lightning, fast lens etc. But knowing all these, combined with a 7fps DSLR will allow u to capture fast moving targets easily.

    Other DSLRs with such speed will likely cost more than $3k
    Last edited by android17; 12th March 2010 at 11:20 PM.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Need a fast camera for shooting my hyperactive puppy!

    Quote Originally Posted by miaoteh View Post
    the delay after pressing the shutter release till the actual photograph is captured is called shutter lag, it has nothing to do with the fps the camera can achieve.

    generally, a PnS camera will have a longer shutter lag, therefore your puppy may already get out of frame when the camera actually record the frame. higher end PnS (prosumer) camera will have shorter shutter lag, and DSLRs have the shortest shutter lag among the 3.

    also, there can be many factors that can cause a blurry streak, the fps is certainly not one of them. in your case it should be caused by a slow shutter speed cause your puppy is moving too fast. with slow shutter speed, you will still get blurry photo even if the camera can shoot 10fps.

    getting a DSLR doesn't mean you will definitely get sharp photo of your puppy, first you need to understand the relationship between ISO, Aperture, and Shutter speed, then try to tweak the settings in your current camera (if there is any, not too familiar with your camera). so in your case, you will need to increase your shutter speed, to at least 1/200 (change it faster or slower depending on how active your puppy is), if there is no manual mode, try the sports mode in your camera.

    like some other bros mentioned earlier, only shoot when the light condition is bright, other time just keep your camera and enjoy playing with your puppy. same for DSLR, yes DSLR may have a better performance at low light condition than PnS, but there are limitations too!

    sorry for the long post, just dun wan you to waste money buying something you may not even need.
    no worries! it was a most informative post!

    what i don't understand is what actually causes the shutter lag in a real-life shoot. most compact PNS in the market can theoretically achieve max shutter speeds of 1/2000s (including my current camera), so why does it sometimes seem to take forever (probably less than 1s but still a lifetime in photography ) for the camera to capture the image?? and how does cameras with fast burst modes overcome this lag?

    apologies for all the silly newbie questions! only beginning to think more deeply abt taking pictures now that i've a puppy and wana capture all the funny little moments (my friends complain that I'm like a super-OCD parent! )

  14. #14

    Default Re: Need a fast camera for shooting my hyperactive puppy!

    Quote Originally Posted by stuck View Post
    no worries! it was a most informative post!

    what i don't understand is what actually causes the shutter lag in a real-life shoot. most compact PNS in the market can theoretically achieve max shutter speeds of 1/2000s (including my current camera), so why does it sometimes seem to take forever (probably less than 1s but still a lifetime in photography ) for the camera to capture the image?? and how does cameras with fast burst modes overcome this lag?

    apologies for all the silly newbie questions! only beginning to think more deeply abt taking pictures now that i've a puppy and wana capture all the funny little moments (my friends complain that I'm like a super-OCD parent! )
    A shutter lag is the time it takes for the camera to register you pressing the shutter button. Even if the cam takes photos at 1/2000, it might start reacting, say, only 1 second after you press the shutter. A DSLR is really quick in that aspect, having a lag time of probably... 0.05 seconds?

    A high fps does help to a certain extent to choose the best photos among the bunch, but I think it'll be better if you observe your dogs more, and try to anticipate their positions/movements..

    Yes, having a flash helps... but that's provided you're willing to fork out more $ for one.. or you can consider increasing your budget.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Need a fast camera for shooting my hyperactive puppy!

    Quote Originally Posted by stuck View Post
    no worries! it was a most informative post!

    what i don't understand is what actually causes the shutter lag in a real-life shoot. most compact PNS in the market can theoretically achieve max shutter speeds of 1/2000s (including my current camera), so why does it sometimes seem to take forever (probably less than 1s but still a lifetime in photography ) for the camera to capture the image?? and how does cameras with fast burst modes overcome this lag?

    apologies for all the silly newbie questions! only beginning to think more deeply abt taking pictures now that i've a puppy and wana capture all the funny little moments (my friends complain that I'm like a super-OCD parent! )
    u still dun get it.

    erm.. let me try again, shutter lag and shutter speed are not related to each other. imagine that the sensor is actually covered by shutter curtain, the shutter curtain need to be opened to expose the sensor and capture a photo.

    so.. after you press the shutter release button, the camera will need to tell the shutter curtain to open, there will be some delay before the curtain actually open, this is called the shutter lag. and the shutter speed is the time that the shutter curtain remains open.

    so the effect of shutter lag --> the subject may be already out of frame when the photo is captured.
    effect of slow shutter speed --> blurry image of fast moving subject/motion blur

    so to overcome shutter lag, press the shutter release button earlier! even before the subject (ur puppy) run into the frame.

    to overcome blurry puppy image because she moving too fast, increase your shutter speed as much as possible (in manual mode if any, or use the sports mode).

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    Default Re: Need a fast camera for shooting my hyperactive puppy!

    Quote Originally Posted by stuck View Post

    ...
    so why does it sometimes seem to take forever (probably less than 1s but still a lifetime in photography ) for the camera to capture the image?? and how does cameras with fast burst modes overcome this lag?
    ...
    Write speed of the camera and speed of your storage medium play a part too.

    Also, PNS cameras are likely not to have a buffer or one that is significant to allow the file to written while you take another shot.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Need a fast camera for shooting my hyperactive puppy!

    and technically speaking, PNS cameras don't have shutter lag. It's just slow (and inefficient) electronics.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Need a fast camera for shooting my hyperactive puppy!

    I think the best camera in the long run to learn photography and shoot your hyper-active puppy would be a 2nd hand D300.

    I could talk about 3D-tracking autofocus all day long and how using a battery grip can help you acquire 7 fps and those fast lenses that can freeze motion. But fundamentally you should be buying a camera first and learning the basics before you will understand that animal and sports photography demands more than a good camera.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Need a fast camera for shooting my hyperactive puppy!

    Actually, you can overcome the running shots using a technique called panning. Basically you aim the camera puppy and follow through until the image is captured instead of holding it still. You might only get 1 out of 10 shots initially but if you do it correctly, the puppy will be mostly clear while the leg and background will go blur. It is a very nice effect that gives a sense of speed. Here is a sample I found on flickr (not mine): http://www.flickr.com/photos/wisdoc/123640339/

    As for the autofocus issues, I do something called pre-focusing. Basically have someone help control the puppy. Preassign somewhere to throw food/toy to make the puppy run. Since the puppy is going to run in a straight line. you can predict where he/she will go. You focus somewhere in the middle and press the shutter when puppy enters the frame. Both can be done using your current camera.

    Finally, for the indoor stuff, it is not possible to freeze fast action without flash even with most DSLRs. The best advice I have seen here is to learn to predict how dogs behave. I take quite a bit of dog photos on my manual focus lens so I'm sure you can do it with pns too

    Here are some of the stuff I bothered uploading: http://www.flickr.com/photos/29532792@N04/tags/dog/

  20. #20

    Default Re: Need a fast camera for shooting my hyperactive puppy!

    Quote Originally Posted by stuck View Post
    Hi all!

    I'm a newbie photographer who's frustrated by my slow-poke compact PNS which always fails to capture the moment when my puppy's doing something silly or running around in the dog park. I'm also looking to upgrade to get better pictures for travelling to take some casual portraits and scenery.

    Size, weight, design and colour is not important to me. The main considerations are fast AF (ie. minimal lag between picking up the camera and actually getting the first shot off), good image quality and value for money. Some video capability would be nice. Budget is under 1k, preferably below 800.

    I was considering some of the prosumers like the canon S90 (fast lens, large sensor (by PNS standards anyway), good image quality) and pana LX3 (fast lens, good image quality, but REALLY don't like the fact that a compact comes with a lens cap! ). Then I realised that if I pay a little bit more I could get a pentax k-x dSLR with 18-55mm kit lens for ~790 (not sure if that's current market rate now) that is also a highly rated entry-level dSLR.

    I like the fact that for $100-200 more I can get a camera with a much larger sensor, superior low light performance, more control over the photographs and potential customization options (although I'm highly unlikely to throw thousands of $$$ into buying whole array of expensive lenses, since I think I've relatively simple needs). But i guess the real question is do I really need to take the plunge and get a SLR which is totally different beast that I've absolutely no experience with? Or is the S90 or LX3 or some other compact PNS good enough for my main purpose - a camera fast enough to get high quality, candid pictures of my puppy?

    TIA to all the kind ladies and gentlemen of the forum. I await your responses with bated breath!

    p.s. this is my first post on ClubSNAP!
    I think you just need something with fast shutter speed - high ISO and big aperture. For that a entry level DSLR and a 50 F1.8 lens should suffice, and that will also meet your budget requirement plus some money left over to buy a dry cabinet.

    Not necessary to get D3/1D Mk IV, that'll be an overkill unless you want to shoot Wayne Rooney scoring a goal or go africa to shoot a cheetah hunting down a gazelle.

    My friend got a Canon 1000D recently and the bump in ISO is already giving her better shots of her dogs, much better than her old PnS. She's using the kit lens, a F1.8 will do more for you.

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