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Equipment DSLR's - the best, or not?

Discussion in 'Photography, Art & Design' started by NoahFuLing, 6 Jan 2008.

  1. NoahFuLing

    NoahFuLing What's a Dremel?

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    Hey everybody! Man, I've missed the forums, but I've been super-busy with stuff. It's good to get back to a forum that actually cares (the ones I post in for quick questions are just rude.)

    So I'm heading off to Alaska for 2 weeks this summer (2008), and I've been talking with my dad about which camera I should get. I have an SD800IS that I've trashed, I actually had to use a screwdriver to force the lens to retract once, and I'm looking for a good camera for anything from casual shots, to landscapes, to nature scenes (IE animals), to just plain fun stuff. I want a dSLR, but my dad thinks a compact P+S would be better. My dad and I are both in love with film, so dSLR's are great fun for us. On a side note, if I could shoot film (my ancient Konica died, and now my beautiful F1.8 lenses are useless) I would. I'm only 16, and I miss the smell of a darkroom, the fun I had trying to manually compose a shot... Anyhow. My budget is "unlimited", that is to say that I want to spend ~1000 dollars for a DSLR, including a lens, (flash, batteries, etc. can be extra) and less than that for a P+S, but I could definitely stretch above that by a fair amount. I'm going to be doing a week of hiking and camping and fishing, and another week of just going around, and I'm wondering if a dSLR will be too heavy to drag around. My only requirement for a camera is that it have some form of image stabilization, either sensor-shift or lens-shift (physical only).

    In short, should I get a dSLR for Alaska, as I'm only going to be there once in my lifetime, and it's beautiful there? If so, which would you recommend, based on weight/price/usability?

    EDIT: Oh, and as for what I personally fancy (that's not stupidly expensive)? D80 body with the 18-200VR lens, it's supposedly great. The D80 is perfect, as I have no need to step up to a D200 or D300, and I'm dubious about the D40/D40x.
     
    Last edited: 6 Jan 2008
  2. Da Dego

    Da Dego Brett Thomas

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    A dSLR is not really a "one time use" purchase, in my opinion. You should do it because you enjoy photography. Largely, the inconvenience (no matter your nostalgia) of film has been surpassed by the benefit of digital, so it's a place to start over if you want a good re-introduction to photography as the art is "now" (not that you're old enough to really remember it otherwise, no offense!).

    Anyhow - breathtaking landscapes are awesome, but they're a focus-to-infinity that takes away the greatest benefit of a dSLR - being able to compose an image with the focus and subject where YOU want it. That's not to say you won't get better pictures with one, as you well know - but if you don't have the time to set up shots, etc, why bother? A PnS can get you a good "capture" of the image and you can edit away in photoshop or something.

    However, it sounds like you really MISS the SLR world - if so, you should consider re-entering it on the digital side. For that, the Canon 400D is a good starter (many of us use either that or the 350D - the trade-off is how you shoot long term, whether you want a bigger, brighter LCD screen or a smaller one and a separate status LCD). If you want to scale up a little, probably the best middle-weight dSLR is the Nikon D80. Keep in mind that whether you do Canon or Nikon will determine your future use - Canon has better image processing and arguably more variety of lenses, Nikon has better bodies at mid- to upper-price ranges and arguably higher quality lenses for the cost.

    In all honesty, if you think you'll go back to film, go for a cheaper body and a lens system you WANT to work with - canon's EF (NOT the EF-S) will work with film SLR's if you decided to backtrack. Nikon's will as well, though I'm not as familiar with its nomenclature - one set does, one set doesn't.

    The truth is, Alaska is beautiful and I WISH I could get out there with my dSLR and a set of lenses - I'd take a trip there just for the photography. However, if you think that this may be the last time you dust off your dSLR for a long time, look for a good PnS with a decent zoom instead. You can then use that extra money to do something fun in Alaska or something - no sense wasting on something for two weeks when you'll get some great pictures from a point and shoot that can slip in your pocket.
     
  3. NoahFuLing

    NoahFuLing What's a Dremel?

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    First of all, thanks for the incredibly prompt response, Da Dego, and I take no offense at all, my film teacher said the same thing about age. Although I hate to respond after a single post, your response shows me that I need to clarify.

    The reason I'm getting a camera now (well, somewhere between now and June) is because my SD800IS P+S is on its last legs, and I dearly miss using my film SLR that died in the past few months. I do in fact love photography, mostly because of my dad, and my parents are very happy to "chip in" for a new dSLR, IE the part that I can't pay for myself, so in this case it's more of a preference of price than a strict budget. I probably will never go back to film other than to dabble, my only reason for using film was because the camera was otherwise going to waste (the thousands of dollars my dad spent on it 20 years ago, on fabulous glass which is useless on dSLR's).

    The trip to Alaska is merely an impetus to get a new camera, not the sole reason. I would continue to use the camera a LOT afterwards, and definitely take it to college with me. The photos in Alaska would mostly be people, with some landscapes included, as I find solid landscapes dull after a while. The issue is that I'm going to be hiking, high up in the mountains, so high that there's snow next to meadows of flowers in August. I want to experiment with artistic as well as impromptu photography, so focus-to-infinity will definitely not be the most used feature on the camera. I'm just concerned that lugging around a dSLR will hamper me, and that a P+S, while inferior, will be better overall. I'm fairly strong, and I don't mind carrying weight, my school backpack weighs probably 40-50 pounds, and my fencing bag as much or more, so I'm used to lugging too much weight. The issue is whether a dSLR is really worth the money at that point, or a P+S will make my life easier until I get back, and can pawn it off on my mom.

    I'm not a newbie with SLR's, and since both my father and I will be using the camera, I'd definitely prefer a mid-range body, or at least a camera with good mid-range features. We have no real brand loyalty, no old lenses (the Konicas are entirely manual, so that kills most of a dSLR's features), and no accessories to tie us down. As most of my friends can't properly use a P+S, much less a dSLR, I'm looking for an opinion from people I know are competent: you guys. Thanks!:thumb:
     
  4. mvagusta

    mvagusta Did a skid that went for two weeks.

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    You've got the budget for it, how about getting a nice p+s for when you want/need something compact, such as trips/a night out on the town/etc and get a dslr for when you can take something big along.

    It seems you have the budget for it, or maybe the compact camera can be pawned off to your mom as you say, and you simply 'borrow' it occasionaly/rarely, and the dslr will be strictly yours.

    Have you checked out if there are cameras and/or adapters to use your nice lenses on a nice dslr such as a nikon or canon?

    It would be a shame otherwise :waah:
     
  5. Krikkit

    Krikkit All glory to the hypnotoad! Super Moderator

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    Having had a good read of this interesting thread, I'd say that mvagusta might be onto something. You could get both, and leave the DSLR in your bag for some quick, more casual shots, then get the DSLR out for some more carefully done shots.
     
  6. Lovah

    Lovah Apple and Canon fanboy

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    When you say Alaska, I'm reading breathtaking landscapes. So if I had to travel light and shoot digital, I would bring my 400D, EF-s 10-22, a tripod for landscapes and the 50 F1.4 for portraits/detail shots. And I would invest in a few decent filters.

    However since you are familiar with film, I would not bring the EF-s 10-22 as it only works on digital 1.6 crop cameras. I would bring a 17-40 F4 L instead and a cheap/lightweight analog body next to the dSLR. My EOS 1n HS is far to heavy, so I would look for a more portable 50E or something like that (dirt cheap btw).

    Hope that helps..
    Oh you should beable to get a used dslr, used slr, used 17-40 for under 1000$.
    Look for a good multi-use and decent tripod for about 200$. The fast prime would require another 300$ or so.
    (prices are guesses as I only know EU prices)

    I would bring a point and shoot for all the other shots (partying and whatnot).
     
  7. Jumeira_Johnny

    Jumeira_Johnny 16032 - High plains drifter

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    If you shot Konica in film and have the lenses (even manual ones), why not take a look at the Sony Alpha system? They bought the rights to the Konica/Minolta mount and have in body stabilization. It should fit your needs and budget.

    The D80 is a good camera (with a good JPG engine and decent noise control up to ISO 800), and the 18-200VR is a ok lens. It's DX and so will only work on an APS sensor. It's isn't the perfect lens, mind you, with the compromises that had to be made to make it. But many love it for it's zoom range.

    I should warn you, most people here are Canon fan boys, and so they will try and lead you astray with the marketing or techy stuff. But there are some good options out there in the mid-price ranges. The K/M mount seems like it's working it's way back, with a recent Zeiss deal for manual focus lenses. Nikon have a very good range of lenses-(on par with Canon except tilt/shift lenses), both on the DX range and for a film camera. And Canon have been working hard to retain their market share, so the 40D looks like a nice body in that price range. Another option would be the Panasonic Lumix range. The new L10 has been hanging around the office and I have to say, while I wouldn't use one for work, I would take this to parties without a second thought. There is simply no bad choice right now. The truth is, what ever you buy now will be replaced in 6 months in this wonderful spiral of innovation. But any camera built with in the last year and a half will produce what you want it to.

    The best advice is to settle on a budget, and start picking up bodies. All 3 systems feel very different in the hand. The buttons, menu layout and controls are what you will notice right away, and I alway recommend letting that make the decision for you. If you like the way a Nikon feels, go for it. If a Canon feels right, that's your pick. Maybe you like the Minolta feel and will take to the Sony. who knows. You are looking at a more advance camera segment and have a working knowledge base, so forget the 400D and D40. The D80, L10, Alpha and 40D have the controls you are looking for. You will want both aperture and shutter controls for manual exposure.

    All that being said, a Canon G9 or a Nikon p5100 will also do just about anything you ask of them. Much more compactly.
     
    Last edited: 6 Jan 2008
  8. Nexxo

    Nexxo * Prefab Sprout – The King of Rock 'n' Roll

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    I own both a Canon 350D and a Nikon D80. The Nikon won it for me for the sheer build quality of the body (and you're right --no need to step up to a D200 after that), ease of use and picture quality, but the Canon 350D and 400D also take very good pictures --it is only the kit lens that holds them back a bit. You can't go wrong with either, really. I'd say that a lot comes down to your personal "feel" of the thing so play with both in a good camera shop and make up your mind then.
     
  9. Jumeira_Johnny

    Jumeira_Johnny 16032 - High plains drifter

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    You surprise me, Nexxo. You didn't take the opportunity to mention that the 350D is for sale! :D
     
  10. Nexxo

    Nexxo * Prefab Sprout – The King of Rock 'n' Roll

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    :p

    Want to buy it? :D
     
  11. AJB2K3

    AJB2K3 What's a Dremel?

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    I use a fuji S5000 and my dad the s95** and I like both but when I can afford my own £300+
    My requirements are
    Remote trigger
    Flash trigger
    Adapter for external lenses/filted (current one uses 55mm filters)
    as to memory cards pick a camera for what ever cards you use.

    Both the one I mentioned use a 55mm ring how ever the 5000 is 6MP and the 9*** is 9MB and uses his old (film camera) flash gun and machanical remot trigger. Both are XD but I'm the only one with a 2 MB (well time amazon perchase)
    How ever both use digital viewfinders which proved that digicams are crap with moving targets.

    I own a cheep tripod made by Marchwood, I went for a 1.3m height (suits me fine) but What supprised me wa
    Quick fit shoe,
    Spirit level to get the camera level,
    90 degree tilt head (camera feels very secure even at 90 degrees)
    Can also tilt the head assembly fully down or up (with the exclusion of the pole getting in the way.)
    very light weight.
    FYI if you move to digital don't spend money on PS give the GIMP a go (completely free) and used by big name company's.
    Probubly not helping but I'm just saying what I use.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    BTW I'm slowly working through testing all functions.
    http://ajb-2k3.deviantart.com/art/Macro-mode-test-73932015
     
  12. Valo

    Valo Minimodder

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    get yourself a dSLR and have fun, nuff said.

    actually if I were to choose now and I were going to Alaska I'd get D80+18-200VR + some wildlife giant bazooka, some 300 proably, manual would do (the famous F-mount compatibility) but that might turn out to be a whole lot more than USD1000, actually 18-200 alone is in this pricerange

    btw. I own a Canon, but that I chose only because body was cheaper and there are more primes and body upgrade options (looking to get myself 5D or its upgrade sometime this year)
     
  13. Lovah

    Lovah Apple and Canon fanboy

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    I played with a Nikon D40 with kit-lens on friday and must admit that the Nikon kitlens is WAYYYYY beter built then the sorry excuse for a lens that comes with the 400D. The body itself feels much better as well, compared to my 400D. I'm very happy with my set though, and my post was "what would I bring in your situation" so I was limited to my own gear.
     
  14. Burnout21

    Burnout21 Is the daddy!

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    i personally went with a 400D in the end, i find the D40 body far to small to hold, so the 400D only slighty bigger was perfect for my wallet, and soon to bolt a BG-E3 under it.

    top tip for cold weather shooting, keep your spare battery inside your inner jacket pocket, battery life is short in cold climates. and consider buying two spare batteries for the trip. i personally would get 2 3rd party brand battieres that are compatitable. Canon and Nikon branded are soooo expensive.

    dont forget that the D40/x and 400D suffer the (x1.6) so a 18mm lens will actually be 29mm and for landscape photography it can be a killer. wide angle is a must so anything below 28mm. the kit lens will give you a fair wide angle, but if you decide to purchase a wide angle lens aim for sub 18mm.
    i bought a sigma 28-300mm and it works out to be more like a 45-480mm. i still love the lens! lol!
     
  15. Da Dego

    Da Dego Brett Thomas

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    Hey Noah,

    I see what you're saying now- since you are going to get your use out of it, I highly recommend you look at the Nikon D80. It's really the best "mid range" crop body out there - it plus one good lens will part you about $1300 total. I know nothing about the actual "must-have" stuff on Nikon, I'd highly suggest taking Jumiera Johnny's advice for that as he's one of the forum's most talented photogs. Or, Hwulex and Pookeyhead may have suggestions.

    If you like Canon, the 350/400 will leave you a little extra to buy lenses and the camera takes GREAT pictures. Alternatively, you could REALLY flex up and buy the 40D - but by the time you buy the body ($1299) a 50 prime ($100 or 350, depending on your tastes) and a 10-22 ($700) you're WAY over your grand, and you don't even have a decent telephoto. In the meantime, if you do a 350d ($550) or 400D ($700), you can buy those lenses plus a decent telephoto and be under $2000. It's not the body that takes the picture so much as the lens.

    Definitely try out the bodies before you buy - find out how the menus feel, that's the big difference between brands - each is intuitive to a different type of user and that all depends on how YOU mentally compose your image.

    And DO buy a small P&S, as suggested by others. There are times that an SLR is just not practical to be using for shots - it's better to have a shot from a nice little point & shoot (I personally like the canon elphs for their size, battery life and pic quality) than to have no shot at all because you couldn't get the dSLR set up right.
     
  16. NoahFuLing

    NoahFuLing What's a Dremel?

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    First of all, I want to thank you guys. I've asked similar questions on other forums, and never have I gotten so many (and so helpful) responses in less than a day. Awesome.

    mvagusta/Krikkit, you definitely have a good idea there. Our current SD800 is a family camera, but I'm usually the one who ends up using it. However, every time I take it from the window ledge where it would otherwise sit, unused, I get yelled at for "robbing my mom of the privilege of using it" or some rubbish like that. It's annoying, and frankly, I personally think that I am mature enough to handle a reasonably expensive camera. Every bit of damage to the P+S has been done by my mother or someone else, not me (Ok, 1 dent was my stupidity). I'm definitely considering that "borrowing" idea.

    Lovah, I have 55mm UV, Polarizer, Fluorescent, and ND filters, and a lightweight aluminum tripod that folds to nothing, an aluminum monopod/walking stick, and a solid milled aluminum tripod that is sturdy enough to hold me (200+ pounds), even with one of the legs partly broken, so that's taken care of. :D On the subject of film, I would only go back to have some fun, but never for travel. What with all the X-rays at the airport, the possibility of bad exposures, no easy review, etc., it's just not worth going back to film for a vacation. Maybe I'll do it at home, but probably not. Oh, and I'm buying new. New lenses, new bodies, new flash (maybe). I don't want to have a hassle with broken stuff and problems.

    Jumeira_Johnny, I've been looking at the Sony alpha series, and I just can't tell if my lenses would work with it. I have a 35mm f/2 Konica Hexanon AR, a 57mm f/1.4 Konica Hexanon AR, and a 135mm (unknown f-stop) Konica Hexanon AR. They all work with the Konica T range, and they're all capable of EE (electronic exposure). No idea at all if they fit.
    Here's the deal. If those lenses fit AND the electronic iris control works, then the Sony is a good bet because I don't mind manually focusing. However, I would definitely prefer a new digital kit, where everything works together (iris, focus, etc). The lenses aren't a priority, just sort of OK lenses that would be fun to use, but just as fine to leave in a closet where they've been for the past few months.
    Back on topic, I definitely want full manual control, and I agree that I need to go pick up bodies and lenses and try them out. It just requires precious time. I understand that bodies go obsolete in 6 months, while lenses are good for 2-5 years, so I'm ok with getting digital-only lenses for a digital body, I really don't need back-compatibility with film.

    Nexxo, thanks, but I'm buying new. :D And yeah, I really have to sit down and feel the cameras.

    AJB2K3, I'm not sure what your post said...

    Burnout21, thanks for the tip on the D40! I have enormous monkey paws for hands (and for feet too, I had US size 2 in children's shoes when I was born, no baby booties for me!), and all of the "one-size-fits-all" gloves and socks don't usually fit me, so comfort is going to be a big deal too. I definitely don't want to cramp up while using the dSLR, thanks! For cold weather, I'd be bringing tons of plastic baggies to eliminate condensation when going inside and outside, as well as plenty of silica gel in packets.

    Da Dego, I see what you mean price-wise. I'm definitely not going to buy all of the lenses at once, and the reason I liked the D80 and 18-200VR is because it's a single lens, and if I'm traipsing around Alaska, I don't want to stop to change lenses, and then a *crash* *snap* "Oops" later, I'm out $1400 of glass. However, I do see why you would recommend getting that specific set of lenses. With the P+S, I think you've all convinced me to get one, share it with my mom, and then snag it for the times I need it. I just don't want to be burdened down in Alaska, as I'll be doing stuff from 6AM to 11PM every day. I'm staying with friends who are awesome, and it's going to be a great 2 weeks.

    So dSLR-wise, I'm still ambiguous. For P+S, I think I want to go with one of the Canon Elph's, the ones with IS. I am choosing between the SD950IS, the SD870IS, the SD850IS, and the SD800IS (yet another one). I love their quality, the SD800IS we have now would not have lasted so long if it were not built like a brick sh*thouse.

    Quick question. When you recommend the f4 50mm, is that 50mm after the 1.6x that most dSLR's do? Or is that the rating that it would have if it were on a standard 35mm camera? So that means it's 50mm glass, coming out to an 80mm lens? Or it's a 31mm lens, coming out to a 50mm lens? Thanks, guys!
     
    Last edited: 6 Jan 2008
  17. Naked_Dave

    Naked_Dave What's a Dremel?

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    I have the 18-200 lens, and while it's not as good as seperate 2.8 zooms, it's probably still better than me. Don't let the pro's put you off... they forget what it's like to be a bit rubbish!
     
  18. TNash

    TNash What's a Dremel?

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    If you're considering a DSLR and you want IS, what about the Olympus E-510? I bought one back in July-ish and I really like it. The lack of cheap lenses is somewhat unnerving to me, but they are all digital and Olympus has made some fantastic lenses for the system. As far as image quality goes, I would say it's comparable to the D80 at up to 400 ISO, 800 and beyond the D80 pulls away, but you don't have IS unless you buy more expensive lenses. It certainly has better quality than the Sony Alpha. The two kit lenses are excellent as well, and the whole thing can be had for I think ~$650. Too bad for me, I bought it when it was $999, but that's your gain. Live View is great as well for setting up shots, especially if you're using a tripod.
     
  19. BUFF

    BUFF What's a Dremel?

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    They won't work directly (possibly there may be some kind of adapter but you wouldn't get AF etc.).
    Konica killed their SLRs long before the merger with Minolta so the KM & now Sony Alpha series use the Minolta AF mount.

    & Sony have just announced their replacement for the A100 - strangely enough called the A200 ;)
    http://www.sony.net/Products/dslr/a200/index.html
    Pricing looks keen with body only rrp of £369 incl VAT so expect to see cheaper street pricing than that in the not too distant future.

    they are AF (& manual too of course).

    Mind you, there was nothing wrong with Minolta lenses especially the "G"s.
     
  20. Jumeira_Johnny

    Jumeira_Johnny 16032 - High plains drifter

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    A 50mm lens will always be a 50mm lens. The physical distance from the film plane to the nodal point of the lens doesn't change. All that changes is the perceived field of view due to the smaller "crop" of the APS sensor. On a Nikon this is a 1.5 multiplier. Hence a 50mm will appear to have the FOV of a 75mm lens. To get the closest to a FOV that resembles a classic 50mm, try a 35/2 Nikkor. or a 30/1.4 sigma.

    I never try to put people off, claiming "OMG, that lens sucks. it's not a 2.8 zoom" I simply stated that a lens with this zoom range is a study in compromises. The 18-200VR is loved by a lot of people, but it has some quality control issues. When you get a great sample, to does a good job. But it's not stellar in any particular respect. I'm not putting him off buying it, I'm simply giving him a reasonable idea of what this lens is about. Any of the super zooms is a compromise lens. it's inherent to the optical design. People see the zoom range and think this is a do everything lens. And then wonder why it doesn't do everything well.

    On the subject of putting people off buying things, I wouldn't add the Olympus to the mix. The 4/3's mount has an even smaller sensor then the APS and is starting to hit the wall in terms of pixel densities. I am pretty brand neutral, but I don't see the 4/3's mount as viable for much longer.
     
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