Is 12x optical zoom ona 10 mp digital camera good enough for shooting surfers from the beach? Thank

Discussion in '35mm Cameras' started by drelliot, Aug 27, 2006.

  1. drelliot

    drelliot Guest

    Is 12x optical zoom on a 10 mp digital camera good enough for shooting
    surfers from the beach? Thanks!
    drelliot, Aug 27, 2006
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  2. drelliot

    mianileng Guest

    Judging from the only two parameters you gave, by "good
    enough", I assume you're asking if you can zoom the
    surfer close enough. It depends on how close you are to
    the surfers.

    If you're talking about the new 10 MP Pana FZ50 with its
    420mm lens - a 6-foot surfer standing straight up, shot
    from a distance of 100 ft at max focal length, will nearly
    fill the height of the image in 4:3 mode, and will be
    slightly too big to fit in the frame in 3:2 mode.
    mianileng, Aug 27, 2006
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  3. That is sort of asking if a car is good enough if it has a speedometer
    that goes up to 120 mph and a 20 gallon gas tank.

    We need a little more information about the camera (make and model would
    be nice) and your needs. What I would want for a beach camera may be far
    different than you would. Finally there are question about your camera
    experience and the quality results you are expecting?
    Joseph Meehan, Aug 27, 2006
  4. drelliot

    Bob Williams Guest

    Depends on how far away the surfers are and how good is good enough for
    your particular application.
    To get an IDEA of what the camera will see, look thru a pair of 8 -10X
    power Binoculars.
    They should have 400-500mm lenses.
    Most 12X Zooms have max. focal length of 432mm
    Bob Williams
    Bob Williams, Aug 27, 2006
  5. drelliot

    drelliot Guest


    I'm just looking for some ballpark figures.

    Yes--it's the 12x zoom 10 mp panasonic.

    I was just wondeirng what others might have used for successful surfing
    prhotography form the shore.



    drelliot, Aug 27, 2006
  6. drelliot

    Mardon Guest

    As others have already said essentially what I will say. It depends
    totally on your definition of "good enough". My sister has a Canon
    PowerShot S3 IS with a 12x optical zoom and 6.0 mega pixels. She
    loves her camera and is extremely happy with both its zoom ability
    and its overall performance. She showed me a crop from one of her
    images that let her read a license plate from what I would estimate
    to be about 150 meters away. IMHO 12x would probably produce images
    that are "big enough" if you are not too far away. OTOH, I would be
    very unhappy if my only camera were one like hers. At full zoom, her
    camera shows a very marked loss of contrast, colour fringing, lack of
    edge definition and other problems. To my eye, no P&S camera can
    give "good enough" results. That's why I have a Canon dSLR and all
    "L" lenses. Like I said at the beginning, it depends totally on your
    personal definition of "good enough".
    Mardon, Aug 28, 2006
  7. drelliot

    Frank ess Guest

    If the OP ever gets a chance to observe surfsport photographers at
    work, he will see they have even more stringent requirements than do
    birders. They use BIG LONG lenses (600mm and up) and super-sturdy

    I used a Nikon CP8700 with add-on telephoto extender, equivalent to
    about 480mm, if I recall correctly. From the beach, it made nice
    scenics of waves and athletes on boards. From the pier it showed a few
    pretty well-filled frames. All that to indicate you either get a BIG
    LONG lens, or you get close.

    Local conditions may vary, but most surfside atmosphere is heavy with
    humidity, and even the best lenses' production is often degraded.

    It's another case of "If you intend making a career of it, it requires
    serious investment of study and equipment". A casual shooter might be
    satisfied with what comes out of a 12x small-sensor camera, but it
    won't measure up to what shows up in the magazines.
    Frank ess, Aug 28, 2006
  8. Rereading your message I see I did not properly read it. You want to do
    surfers from the beach. Well two points. 12X does not mean what most
    people might think it means. It is not like binoculars where a 12X
    binocular would make something appear 12 times closer. What it means is
    something will appear 12 times larger at the long end than the short end.
    However they usually have a wide angle on the short end so the long end is
    often something like 6 times larger than normal would be. That will vary
    depending on the camera.

    You will be able to get some good photos with the typical such camera,
    but it will not be anywhere close to the kind of results you might see in
    magazines etc, where they photographers are using lenses that cost far more
    than any camera you are looking at.

    Some places you can get some very nice shoots close to shore (depends on
    the surf) so at those locations the equipment becomes less important.
    Joseph Meehan, Aug 28, 2006
  9. drelliot

    Ron Hunter Guest

    Well, it is better than no zoom, but without a good IS, you might not
    get stable enough pictures for good use. 12X is pretty good for a zoom.
    Ron Hunter, Aug 28, 2006
  10. drelliot

    Stewy Guest

    Also keep in mind that the 12x starts from wide-angle. My camera has a
    6x optical zoom from 35-210mm equiv. So that's only around 4x actual
    Stewy, Aug 28, 2006
  11. This image was done at 420 mm on a 1.3x crop sensor:

    The curl is about 6 feet, so a surfer would have been
    a nice addition. I have photographed surfers from Hawaii
    to Australia with a 300 mm lens + 1.4x TC = 420 mm
    on 1.3x crop sensor which equates to 546 mm on 35mm.
    (none are online)

    In your case, I think the camera is 420 mm equivalent, so would
    be a little less than above. If you can get close enough,
    you could get some nice images.

    A small sensor camera has two issues: shutter lag, and
    signal to noise. See this test which compares various

    A Photographic Image Quality Test Using the Moon

    It shows you can get quite nice images from the small sensor
    cameras, just you can't enlarge the image as much as those from
    a DSLR. The other issue is can you get a fast enough
    shutter speed with adequate signal-to-noise? The above
    image was done at 1/2000 second at f/5.6 at ISO 160.
    That should be possible with with the FZ series cameras,
    with S/N differences like on the moon test page above.
    Shutter lag may be a frustration though in such a fast
    action sport.

    Roger N. Clark (change username to rnclark), Aug 28, 2006
  12. drelliot

    HEMI-Powered Guest

    Today, made these interesting comments ...
    I don't know, is it? You are only one who would know if that is
    good enough or not. But, if your real question is whether 12X is a
    long enough telephoto and can't find more, which I would believe,
    then shoot at the max MP and crop out the surfer from the middle
    HEMI-Powered, Aug 28, 2006
  13. drelliot

    cjcampbell Guest

    12x what?

    Tell us the 35mm equivalent of your lens. 12x could mean an equivalent
    of 12mm - 144mm. You can go very wide, but only medium telephoto. So
    who knows?

    If you really want to photograph surfers from the beach, though, you
    need a heck of a lens. Some guys use telescopes.
    cjcampbell, Aug 28, 2006
  14. drelliot

    Paul Furman Guest

    Roger, you still want that old broken D70?
    They weren't able to repair it after all.

    Roger N. Clark (change username to rnclark) wrote:
    Paul Furman, Aug 28, 2006
  15. drelliot

    drelliot Guest


    You've all been very helpful!

    OK--now here comes the second part.

    I am going to shoot surfers professionally--what kind of equipment
    should I buy?

    Lets' say I have $1,000, $2,000, and $3,000.

    What would you take to the beach if you were going to shoot surfers?

    drelliot, Aug 28, 2006
  16. drelliot

    SMS Guest

    You'll run into the age-old problem of shutter lag and frame speed if
    you're expecting to do action photography.

    Digital SLR sales would plunge if a P&S digital ever could approach the
    same shutter lag and frame speed. I was just talking to my nephew last
    night, who's daughter is a gymnast, and he's finally going to get a
    digital SLR because it's just hopeless to do sports photography with a
    point and shoot.

    Your real question should be whether you should get a Canon or Nikon
    digital SLR!
    SMS, Aug 28, 2006
  17. drelliot

    SMS Guest

    You're pretty much limited to Canon, as you'll need one of the BWLs
    (big white lenses).

    $1000, forget it.

    $2000, forget it.

    $3000, 30D and Zoom Telephoto EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS or EF 100-400mm
    f/4.5-5.6L IS.

    With the 1.6 crop factor, you'll be at 112-380mm with the 70-200mm and
    160-640mm with the 100-400mm.

    Since presumably you'll be shooting in bright sunlight, you may want the

    The great thing about going the Canon or Nikon route is that it's very
    easy to rent lenses. Spending $30-40 for a one day rental of a high-end
    lens, to use when photographing a competition, may be well worth it.
    SMS, Aug 28, 2006
  18. drelliot

    ASAAR Guest

    Oh, I see. Nikon and Canon rent suitable lenses, but only Canon
    sells them. :)
    ASAAR, Aug 28, 2006
  19. Zoom does not mean what you think it means. "Zoom" is a marketing term
    that corresponds to the ratio between the longest and the shortest focal
    lengths of the lens. It does not describe in any way the apparent
    magnification ration the camera will produce. And magnification ratio is
    what you seem to be interested in.

    For example, a camera with a 200-400mm lens has only 2x zoom. A camera
    with 25-300mm has 12x zoom. Yet (all other things being equal) the first
    camera at 400mm will produce much higher magnification ratio than the
    second camera at 300mm and, therefore, be much "better" in that respect
    for "shooting surfers from the beach".
    Andrey Tarasevich, Aug 28, 2006
  20. drelliot

    Mardon Guest

    I'm no longer confident that the OP is 'for real'. It seems a little
    strange to me to be considering 'professional' surfer phototography
    with a P&S camera and then a $1,000 to $3,000 budget. Anyway, one
    can never be sure, so I'll treat the question as real.

    I own the 70-200mm F/2.8L and use it with a 1.4x Canon extender on a
    20D (1.6 crop factor). I would never consider taking professional
    surfer photos with this focal length. It's too short. It's even a
    challenge to get as close as I would like to get when shooting field
    sports if the action is at the far end of the field. Because the 20D
    won't autofocus above f/4, I can't add a more powerful extender
    either. What lens aperture is required for the 30D to autofocus?

    IMHO, if the OP isn't prepared to spend close to $15K, he/she ought
    to forget professional quality surfing photos. I also wonder about
    photographic experience. Professional quality photos (surfing or
    otherwise) takes not only good equipment but experience and ability.
    If the OP was considering a P&S, does she/he have SLR experience? If
    not, then it seems like putting the cart before the horse to be
    considering professional surfing photography.

    Just my 2ยข
    Mardon, Aug 28, 2006
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