What are some good digital cameras for action shots? I'm minimum of 3.5 Mega Pixels and a maximum price of US$250.00. An example of what I'm looking for would be something that could take a picture of a football game from the side lines with little to no blur.
none. That being said, there are things you can do to speed up the response time, like setting the exposure controls on manual so the camera diesn't think between shots. You can probably set the focus at infinity so the autofocus doesn't hunt when you press the button.
But if you're really serious about shooting action, get a DSLR body that has a much faster response time.
Disagree - with all due respect - with Larry's answer.
What you want is one of the smaller 10-12x zoom cameras with 'anti-shake', which is very important at these magnifications.
I wanted the same sort of thing for bird identification and tried thru borrowing the Minota Z3, Minolta Z6, Panasonic FZ5 and FZ4. There are several others, and other brands, but this is all I was able to get my hands on. You will definatly want one with Image Stabilization, called "anti-shake": very effective! I briefly played with a Minolta A-200, no real test and found it very bulky. I chose the Panasonic FZ4.
My tests were both tripod mounted and hand-held, in all cases. Hand-held being the "real world" test.
I found that the higher megapixil cameras gave much worse digital noise, and no more useful image: the images are the same size within the camera, and digital zooming (cropping) doesn't 'buy' you much in any case, so I went for the lesser noise.
What's happening is that the manufacturers are pushing the capabilities of the same size sensor to gain more "Megapixils", and something has to 'give': more digital noise, particularly in the Minolta Z6. As they say, there is no free lunch.
This also got the price down, as the 4 megapixil cameras (Minolta Z3, Panasonic FZ4) are now being offered as "remainders". I got my Panasonic FZ4 on eBay for, yes, $ 250 - but the shipping charge did actually take the price a bit higher. Not much. And a good deal better than the $400 (399.99) and up that the newer 5&6 (and 8) megapixil offerings cost in even the discount stores - plus tax!
I'm very satisfied with the FZ4 for birdwatching, just wish it was pocketable - then I'd be in heaven! Although much smaller tha SLR's of all stripes, it's still large to carry around.
Still looking for a good way to carry it: I hate having a camera on a strap around neck or shoulder. I'd be grateful for advice from anyone reading this as to a quick-release belt pouch or the like for this size camera.
I would agree with Larry on this and say that for Football images you really need a digital SLR camera and a higher budget. I own a Fuji S-5100 digital camera (4 mega-pixel pop up flash only) and it works great for actions shots of firefighters putting out fires and daylight baseball games but it just doesn't hack it for football games at all. I tired to photograph several high school football games and both the Fuji S-5100 and Olympus C-750 just didn't get me the shoots I wanted.
First of all the low light in the football stadium didn't help and the images even when overexposured were still dark. Also when I had to shoot towards stadium lights I got light reflection in my images. Also other factor to look out for is how fast can you shoot single frames with the flash. In sports like basketball, football and soccer you need to have a camera that can recycle the flash and shoot very quickly between frames. I found in my football images when I was able to get enough light using the flash etc that I missed at least 60% of the shoots I wanted since the camera is slow to recycle itself (5 seconds for the flash to recycle is too slow). I also found shooting in continous batch mode on the Fuji S-5100 (up to 40 images at 1.5fps) was not that great or accurate the images tend to be a little dark and if the first one heaven for bid is out of focus or you jurk the camera you can forget getting good images. I find you really need to shoot single frames at football games to get the best results.
Try the Nikon D-70, D-50 or similar D-SLR camera for starters. Also get at least 1GB if not 2GB worth of memory cards for the camera. In a typical football game with a 4 mega-pixel camera I can shoot 1.5GB worth of images, although I usually edit down to 200MB since my Fuji S-5100 doesn't give me as many great images as I would have liked or thought I had.
A fellow photographer for the big local paper uses a Nikon D-70 6 mega-pixel camera (exact model I can't remember off hand) and he says for a typical game he will shoot almost 3GB worth of images at the highest quality setting. He says to make sure you have 2 fully charged batteries, extra battery for flash and 2x 2GB memory cards or 4x 1GB cards.
Hope this helps
Non slr digitals suffer from a problem called shutter lag, the time it takes to focus on the subject and record the image. Film cameras ans dslr's just do not have this problem.One may also have to pay attention to the burst rate, the number of pictures that the camera's buffer can hold while writing the image to the card and the number of frames per second that the camera is capable of shooting; this last parameter is of less consequence, IMHO.
My understanding is that non slr's are just not equipped to handle continuous shooting of the 4 frames /secor so that the original poster is looking for.
You're probably right. I do have that problem with wild birds, although I learned long ago to keep both eyes open for follow-thru.
Even in burst mode this can be tricky, though.
I have seen optical finders mounted on top of EVF digitals - too bulky for me!