Help a novice choose a specialized camera?

Alright, I very little knowledge of cameras.
I'm aware that megapixels aren't everything, that's about it.

Here's where I stand.

I deliver newspapers to businesses from around 1am to 6am in Maryland, and during the night I keep seeing things I wish I could photograph. Headed back through some woods and a bunch of deer are crossing the road slowly, someone being a nutt, all the way to closed off stores swarming with police cars. Obviously my cellphone camera isn't cutting it. Since I'm working, and the camera would be stowed in the front of the vehicle somewhere easy to get to, I would almost always be taking pictures from the passenger side of a parked van with the engine running. Image Stabilization is a plus. Average distance, I need to take pictures from say, the shoulder of a three lane road, to a storefront off the road. Lighting will vary greatly, but sources will usually be strong or absent like past street lights and police lights in the dead of night with clarity to recognize a face, or into the dark woods with almost no light, or perhaps flooded with light from my headlights with clarity to easily view an animal.

I'd wanted a digital camera anyway, but instead of getting a cheap one, I figured I may as well save and wait a bit longer to get something I could keep handy in the van and use at night as well. My 'ideal' budget would be under a grand. I could save this up in time, but I want to do this well and would rather save up what it takes and wait longer, then get poor results now. I was however, recommended this camera:

If that'll do what I'm asking, I'd love to spend 200 instead of 1,000!
Though I'm skeptical.

Failing that, I was looking at:
For daytime/regular, then getting a special lens to swap for longer distance night work?
Was thinking that would at least break up the price tag into two parts, too.
Is this what it would take to do what I want to?
If so, what lens would be recommended for it?

Any input would be helpful.
I will troll the thread until time for work, feel free to ask questions and I'll respond.
4 answers Last reply
More about help novice choose specialized camera
  1. The Xti is a good camera with good dynamic contrast. You'll need the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 lens about $100 for you to pratice. I have one since 1995 or maybe '96 from my Canon A2E and now reside on my XTi.

    And then if you save enough cash the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM for day and night the best lens you can put on Xti to date.
  2. I just tested the Fujifilm FinePix S100fs at the store and seems to be a better alternative than the Xti.

    Good quality 28mm-400mm built in zoom lens. If purchase separately could be $400 or more.
    More comfortable than XTi.
    Cheaper rechargeable AA battery can be use.
    Face detection with Red-eye removal.

    There are so many features on this camera that an entry level DSLR might not even have.

    However this is a prosumer and not DSLR camera.
  3. Maximum aperture of a bright F2.8
    Not enough, and $200 more for it.

    XTI + Lens will get it done, and the product reviews are promising, rather then absent on my favorite site.
  4. Just to let you know I have Rebel Xti and shooting at 1.8 is nice but having a zoom lens with 2.8 apertures and optical image stabilizer is better if no tripod is used.

    As mentioned earlier XTi is good camera if paired with good lens. And my only quibble on my Xti is constant change of the lens to get the pictures I wanted.

    Check the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens (one of my favourite lens along with the 1.8mm), if you ever got a need for one.

    If you can compare the Xti with the lens you wanted and the s100fs. That would give you an idea which camera to chose. Just a note fuji PS cameras has some purple fringing and chromatic aberration and at long end of zoom.

    But seems to me you're pretty much lock in to what camera you’d buy, anyway good luck for your purchase.

    Cheaper rechargeable AA battery can be use.
    I've check two cameras and made a mistake, the S100fs uses NP-140 Li-ion battery and not the AA batteries that s1000fd use.
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