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PostPosted: Mon Nov 10, 2008 3:09 pm 
I'm doing restaurant reviews, mostly for blogs, but some small shots for a magazine. Many say an SLR is ideal, but I'd like to stay small for portability. Currently using a Canon SD430, which is obviously inadequate for low-light conditions.

Wondering whether you'd recommend the FZ28 or the LX3. Or maybe wait for the G1, but I think that's getting expensive (and into SLR price range)?

I don't usually use a tripod, so IS would be valuable. Have been using the macro setting with a flash, but would like to avoid a flash as much as possible, as it can be disruptive to others. That said, there will likely be time a flash is necessary at restaurants that are just too dark.

Note this will also double as my vacation camera, but even then, I'm almost always shooting close-ups of food, with some broader shots of the restaurant as a whole for a feel of the ambience.

Appreciate any advice any of you can offer - thanks!

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 10, 2008 8:23 pm 
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Hi dimsumfan, you will be able to get good results from a decent compact if it's forced to use its lowest sensitivity, but this will in turn mean a long exposure in the typical low light of a restaurant - and hence a tripod will be a necessity.

If you increase the ISO, then you will probably be able to handhold the shot, especially with IS, BUT the quality on a compact will quickly deteriorate.

You mentioned the LX3 - see this page to compare its high ISO performance with a DSLR: ... oise.shtml

But those are 100% crops of the complete image. If you look at the gallery page, you'll see shrunken images at various ISOs which may be about the size you'd use (or maybe even bigger) for your blog.

So if you're shrinking all your pics to a few hundred pixels across, you can get away with a compact even at 400 or 800 ISO. But the printed photos in the magazine will be MUCH more demanding, especially if it's reproduced more than a few inches across. If it's a pro magazine, they will want something much cleaner.

How big will the images be in the magazine and how demanding will they be?


PS - there are some pretty small DSLRs out there too, such as the Olympus E-420, although it doesn't have built-in IS. As you've identified, the Panasonic G1 is also a good prospective bet as it has a DSLR-sized sensor, allowing it to deliver lower nosie at higher sensitivities.

PPS - there may be some interesting threads in the Going Pro section - I seem to recall a member posting about food photography a while back...

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 10, 2008 9:20 pm 
Great info - thanks.

I only post a few photos a month to a magazine. The majority of my photos are online, never going over 640 x 480.

Of course, I want the print photos to look good. I've been surprised how nice the photos can look even with my current point-and-shoot, but I often have to do post-production (backlighting). Anyway, those photos are rarely larger than 4"x4"--and most are smaller. So the print work isn't a huge issue, and any camera should show improvement over the current one.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 12, 2008 3:43 pm 
Not to supersede what Gordon said, if you're looking for a compact upgrade from your SD430 which isn't too heavy on the pockets & can serve well enough as a travel buddy, then you really ought to consider the excellent TZ-5 by Panasonic.

It's considerably smaller than the FZ-28 (of which I'm a very happy owner) & uses the same sensor/processor & has excellent "out of the box" jpegs. Low light performance isn't exactly it's forte though, but as Gordon said, if you're really looking for a great low-light camera, you need to consider dSLR's.

However, given my personal use with the FZ-28 & my girlfriend's excellent experience with her TZ-5, I wholeheartedly recommend it to you as an inexpensive, compact & sufficiently improved upgrade.


Moving on though, you ought to consider that given the slightly larger sensor, better pixel density & faster lens the LX-3 would be a better bet for low-light situations. All three of these cameras feature the same Mega OIS but again, as Gordon explained, unless you want to push your luck with higher ISO you'll need some sort of a tripod for optimum results. (You can get very tiny, pocketable even, tripods rather easily these days so you ought to consider something like that).
So whereas the LX-3 is unquestionably better for low-light situations, I don't think the difference would be worth the extra $200 you're probably going to pay for it over the TZ-5. Also, it's limited tele capabilities would be perfectly adequate for your restaurant work, but would seem very limiting in general...

And finally, just to echo Gordon's final comments, for an ideal solution, you should consider getting an SLR. An older Olympus E-5XX for example with in-body stabilization used with a decent Macro prime would give you far greater results than any of the Pannys we've talked about...

Hope this helps...
- A Fellow DimSum lover!

PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2008 3:49 pm 
Check it out dimsumfan:
I am a new york based food photographer and often shoot in restaurants. My camera bag has two canon slr bodies, 3 lenses, a flash, a laptop and bunch of other stuff. I really have no problem caring all that. Obviously you don't have to. But here is what you can do to get great results and not invest much money:
1) buy a used older model of digital slr "canon rebel". It's very light, relatively small and has the same chip as a pro canon. It will cost under $300 with the lens on ebay. it will have 6.3 or 8.2 mega pixels (which is enough for a full page print in a magazine) it will have a pop up flash which you can defuse with "Gary Fong Puffer Pop Up Flash Diffuser" available on Amazon for $24. Food loves soft light.
To shoot without flash:
in a day time: ask for a table by the window.
the iso can be set at 800, shutter at 1/15 of a second f-stop at 4.5 and you'll be able to shoot without flash and tripod. Just hold the camera still. Bring a candle close to the plate and borrow another one from an empty table and you'll have plenty of light.... GOOD LUCK


Check out my food photography portfolio

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