Help me decide on a DSLR please

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by Jeremy Z, Jan 5, 2007.

  1. Jeremy Z

    Jeremy Z No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Here's my situation & current equipment.

    • Olympus OM1n with Zuiko 50mm f/1.8, 28 mm f/3.5, 135 mm f/3.5, Olympus T-20 flash, Sigma 28-80 f/3.5-4.5
    • Olympus C-750 UZ (10x optical zoom, 4 MP)
    • Canon SD600 Digital Elph, 6 MP
    • A couple older rangerfinder 35 mms (Yashica Electro 35, etc.)
    I was leaning towards getting a Rebel XT, everything looks great about it except the tiny grip. (trying to cater to women, apparently) It is a shame about this, as ergonmics is one thing that makes me really like a camera. I like the price, now that the XTi has come out.

    I like the looks and ergonomics reviews of the Olympus E-500, and I have always loved Olympus optics. They are second-to-none, IMO. The price is pretty good, and it is available with two kit lenses which are pretty well-liked, for something like $650. If I bought this camera, I could buy an adapter to use my OM mount lenses, and if I bought a flash for it, it could also be used on my C-750 UZ. Are these good enough reasons to buy the Olympus despite the fact that the results are slightly worse than with the Canon? Also, I have a feeling that good optics are only going to be offered by Olympus, which means I will have to grab my ankles if I want something halfway fast. Tamron & Sigma probably aren't going to offer their lenses for Olympus, due to the oddball 200% multiplication factor.

    I've had a few Nikons in my day as well, and have always loved the rugged build quality. The optics were good too; on par with the Olympus Zuiko. The ergonomics seem to be more well-liked than the equivalent Canon. Nikon optics are quite pricey, but at least Sigma, Tamron, & Tokina make good aftermarket options.

    The new Sony gets great reviews and takes the Minolta Maxxum lenses, and it also has integral dust removal and anti-shake built into the camera body. I know this isn't as effective as optical IS, but I don't see myself spending that kind of money, so this is a huge advantage over Canon, Nikon, & Olympus. The only problems are that I can't use my non-dedicated Vivitar 2800 flash because of the oddball Maxxum flash mount, and the range of optics is a lot less than what is offered for Canon or Nikon. (but more than Olympus) Last and least, I have a hard time getting excited by the Sony name in a camera. Every piece of Sony electronics I've owned has had its buttons wear out sooner than Panasonic. It would be sweet if Sony would take Zeiss lenses like their ultrazoom cameras do... I'd buy one in a heartbeat if this were the case.

    Synopsis:

    Canon Rebel XT - Good everything except ergonomics. Wife would probably like it the best.
    Nikon D50 - good overall, but images aren't as well-liked by reviewers as the Canons
    Olympus E-500 - Great price, will work with existing optics I have, but aftermarket lens choices will be limited. Flash would be compaitible with my Olympus C-750. Good kit lenses. Not quite as sharp as Canon.
    Sony Alpha 100 - Great features such as body anti-shake, but oddball flash mount means extra cost in the future, fewer lenses available.
    Pentax *ist - Ready to play with the big boys? I don't know. Available optics? I don't know.

    What would you guys get if you were me & why? FWIW, I probably won't be buying until spring. (need to sell a motorcycle to finance this stuff)
     
  2. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    As always, I think that the most important thing is to hold the cameras and see which feels best to you.

    A few notes for you...
    What about putting a batter grip on the Canon? It makes the body bigger and gives you extra batter capacity.
    The Pentax *ist line is dead...they now have the K100D and the newer K10D, check them out.
    I think that some stores still have old Canon 20D in stock, which is bigger than the XT...although maybe still a bit more expensive than the XT. Have you considered the new XTi?
     
  3. Jeremy Z

    Jeremy Z No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    There's probably a lot of truth in that. While researching and reading that one camera is better than the other in certain areas, it's hard to remember that to most of us, they are splitting hairs.

    One thing I forgot to mention is that I like the use of lithium ion batteries. If I go through a period of a couple of weeks without shooting pictures, the stupid NiMH AAs are going to be half dead, and the LiIo ones aren't. So that's a real-world advantage to Canon over some of the others.

    That's true, but I don't think that will help the fact that the finger grip area is so damn thin.

    I just read a Pop Photo review of this over lunch, and it is in my top 5 now. It has an in-body image stabilizer, which will make the f/4-5.6 lenses perform more like F/2-4 lenses. (at least as far as shake is considered) This can possibly save me hundreds of dollars in lenses down the road. Then, a cheapo Pentax 50 mm f/2 lens will effectively be "faster" than a Canon 50 mm f/1.2 L. Low light focusing and optical performance at larger than 8x10 sizes will still go to the $1700 (?) Canon lens. Battery life is a factor, as is the fact that it uses AAs. I'd really rather have LiIo batteries, but I guess AAs have the advantage while travelling, right? Does anyone make Lithium Ion rechargable AAs? I could use my old Vivitar 2800 flash on this until I can save up for a nice Pentax dedicated one. (if I ever do, hehehe) It would also be sweet to buy another 500 mm f/8 mirror lens. With the anti-shake feature, and the 1.5x factor, this would give insane magnification for only about $150. I wonder if 750mm lens would even be useful though... Maybe for bird photography or something...


    Now this one is really worth looking into. If the EOS 20D performs about the same as the XT or the new XTi and costs the same as an XTi, I may stretch a bit and get that one. I think that is the model a friend of mine has, and I like the ergonomics of it about 100% better than that of the Rebels. I may even consider looking at a lightly-used 20D on ebay if the price is right.

    Another question: Is it better to go with a body that has anti-shake at the expense of fewer lenses available, or to go with a more mainstream body with millions of optica available? It seems like anti-shake may be the way to go to keep lens expenditures down. Maybe I'm the only one that can't afford these fast lenses, but I doubt it. It seems like it would make the kit lenses more livable. The optical quality is good enough for most of us, it is the slowness that bugs me the most.

    How much of a factor is dust? Is the dust reducing feature one that's worth giving weight to? Can I just blow off the sensor with canned air, or is it more complicated than that?
     
  4. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Canon & Nikon both use Li-Ion batteries and they last for a very long time. Also, I buy my spare batteries from www.sterlingtek.com for much, much less than the Canon batteries and they last longer too.

    As far as 'anti-shake' and 'IS' & 'VR' goes...it is very nice to have...but it isn't really the same as getting faster lenses. It does help with camera shake...but it doesn't help with subject movement...which can quite often be a problem. Also, most lenses work best when stopped down a stop or two...a fast lens may be at it's peak at F4...while you have to stop a slow lens down to F8, to get maximum sharpness and quality. Also, the very expensive lenses often have more advantages than just a faster aperture...the image and build quality is often higher as well. I can't afford the $1000 lenses either...so don't feel left out :lol:

    In body anti-shake is a good idea...I wish I had it...but you have to consider that their anti-shake is designed with compromises for all their lenses. In lens IS (VR) is customized for the lens that it's in...which probably makes for better results....or at least that's what Canon & Nikon users will tell you :D

    For some people, it's a big issue...for others it's not. If you change lenses a lot, especially outdoors...then it's more of an issue. If you shoot at very small apertures (landscape w\tripod) then the dust shows up more. Don't ever use canned air...that will just stir up a lot of dust and may also leave a sticky propellant behind. There are several products and techniques for cleaning the sensor. Everything from just using a blower bulb...to using a cleaning solution with special pads. Google it for lots of reading...or even search here on TFP, it's been discussed before.
     
  5. Frequent Traveler

    Frequent Traveler TPF Noob!

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    Hi Jeremy -

    I'd rather not start a flame-campaign, just an additional point of view so i thought i may chime in a bit...

    I am also concerned with ergonomics and my current dSLR is a Konica Minolta 7D - and it is a joy to hold and shoot - even for hours (and furthermore, even with big, heavy all-metal tele lenses). I have yet to hold ANY camera that fit my hands better (like food tastes this is obviously a personal thing - some people actually enjoy Brussel Sprouts - to me - yech!!!)

    I am not sure if you know this or not, but Carl Zeiss IS making lenses for the Sony (Minolta A-mount) dSLR's :mrgreen: . In fact, there are at least 3 Zeiss lenses currently available (2 primes and a zoom) and more to come (and ALL are vibration resistant:mrgreen: ).

    I'll try to insert a link here to make it easier for you to see for yourself...

    http://www.sonystyle.com/is-bin/INT...me=acc_DIAccessories_dslr_lenses&Dept=cameras

    As to your concern about flash accessory's - i am of the same opinion - the on-board flash does not deliver. However, excellent solutions are available, albeit for the right price (i believe competitive with the 2 other BIG houses). Of course, there are non-OEM manufacturers that can supply your flash needs (one in particular - Metz - is well-regarded).

    With lenses, always a big challenge for a camera maker, the standard opinion of most knowledgeble KM photog's is that the current Sony lenses are all re-badged Konica-Minolta lenses and most of these lenses are excellent. The current lens selection is a somewhat limited for now unfortunately and is somewhat spendy. However, that is likely to change as more and more of the former-Minolta professional grade lenses are brought back to production and updated accordingly. When production volumes increase to match demand, prices will drop as they always do. There are of course a few of the more consumer-grade lenses to choose from as well.

    The newly configured Sony dSLR team is comprised of MANY former konica MINOLTA engineer types and you can see that the Alpha100 is very similar to the KM 5D. The next upscale Sony dSLR is to be unveiled this Spring. For quality assurance, check out Sony's broadcast-quality video cameras - top quality there and i am pretty sure the dSLR products will follow along.

    Since Sony has sensor technology well in hand and with the former KM camera engineer's on staff in conjunction with it's VERY deep pockets for R&D, i am excited to see what Sony is committed to producing to become a contender in the dSLR market.

    Sorry if this is more than you were asking for, but i thought it equitable to more fully disclose other dSLR options.

    fm
     
  6. Jeremy Z

    Jeremy Z No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Not at all. I appreciate your candid opinions on this. That Sony α 100 is going to be a bit out of my reach, I believe, but your points are well-taken. I'm thinking of closer to $550 than $800 for the body, as the optics are the main thing that counts, right? Then again, I could get by with cheaper glass if I had the IS, so it's kind of a catch-22.

    I was thinking about getting a DSLR last year, but wound up getting another motorcycle instead. I was going to get the Minolta 7D, thinking that I would save money on quality optics because of the anti-shake feature. Seeing that they were bought out by Sony had shaken my confidence enough that I wasn't sure I wanted to include them in my considerations or not. At any rate, it looks as if I've come full-circle now, hehehe

    Although the in-body anti-shake is said to be less effective than the lens-specific variety, it has been proven that it does help, and with every lens. (more so with the shorter focal lengths) Good enough for me. I don't know why Canon, Nikon, and Olympus are so slow to get on board with this. Canon & Nikon: probably because they don't want to cripple the sales of their expensive IS lenses... :er: Olympus, who knows. They're an odd company. With some things, they lead the pack (i.e. dust control technology) and with others, they're very slow to adopt. (IS)
     
  7. Don Simon

    Don Simon TPF Noob!

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    Remember that the Sigma, Tamron and Tokina lenses are available for Minolta/Sony and Pentax as well.

    IMO Pentax and Minolta have both been ready to play with the big boys for several decades, and frankly are quite capable of beating them at certain things. Minolta/Sony and Pentax both have effective in-camera anti-shake systems. No they are not as effective with telephoto lenses as in-lens systems, but on the other hand they significantly reduce the effects of camera shake with any lens, and at much less cost. Pentax and Minolta both have fantastic glass and there's always Tamron/Sigma/Tokina too. Btw the K10d does not use AA batteries, although the K100d does. K10d also has weather sealing.

    If "ready to play with the big boys" means "will you see many professional photographers using them?" then the answer is no. But what professionals need and what amateurs need are not necessarily the same thing. I needed the best design, quality and value for the money and it wasn't either of the two big boys who offered me that.

    If that seems like a rant, it's because it is :lol: it's a variation of the same rant I produce every time this topic comes up. I don't have a problem with any company or its users, nor do I think any system is perfect. But I do like choice, and I'm reassured that you're considering all the options, which is something that doesn't happen all that often.
     
  8. dgs

    dgs TPF Noob!

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    I have the Sony A100 and am thrilled with it. The price has dropped considerably which is a help. But the real story (for me at least) is a lot of pretty good used glass out there.

    The following are actual eBay prices paid including shipping: 35-70/f4, $35(with free camera attached),70-210/4, $120; 50/1.7, $70; 28/2.8, $75; Tammy 28-200XR/3.5-5.6, $120. Remember that any and all are de facto stabilized with the inbody IS.

    All Minolta glass except, of course, the Tamron. Sharpness and distortion are excellent on the older Minolta lenses. Flair can be an issue as the coating technology is 20 years old, but it's not terrible by any means. Keep it in mind and any flare won't burn you. The Tamron is my lazy lens, strictly for walk around, and is noticeably less sharp. It is sure handy though.

    The new fast lenses coming from Sony or Zeiss are high. As is Canon L glass and what ever Nikon's pro line is called. Street price hasn't been determined yet as demand is still far outpacing supply.

    The image stabilization is really good. This example is hand held at 1/2 second handheld. (I think the EXIF is intact) This is not a remarkable photograph in any other respect, only as an example of IS. It was shot with the Tamron, any of the minolta lenses are sharper. The photo is not edited aside of size reduction for posting. It was taken in a darkened room during a projected movie presentation with the Tamron lens.

    http://i82.photobucket.com/albums/j255/First235/DSC01220_edited-1.jpg
     
  9. Jeremy Z

    Jeremy Z No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Daryl, that IS remarkable. About what focal length was it taken at? 28 or 200? ;)

    I just bought a Pentax K100D today on the merits of in-body IS. The article in Pop Photo indicates that Pentax's IS isn't quite as good as Minolta's, but that it still works for about 2 stops worth of handholding steadiness.
     
  10. Frequent Traveler

    Frequent Traveler TPF Noob!

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    Jeremy -

    Ya gotta love Pentax glass - have fun the that cam! I hope the lenses are still reasonably priced (Minolta used glass prices have gone ballistic - though still a bargain for what you get!).

    I think Pentax's lineup is something to behold! I wish i could justify a two-system line-up - that K10D looks pretty incredible!!

    Have fun!

    fm
     
  11. Don Simon

    Don Simon TPF Noob!

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    I think the price for my Minolta 50mm f/1.7 AF on Ebay was fairly reasonable... including postage, just over £15.00 (US$30) :D it was listed in the wrong place and the lens description wasn't in the title, so no-one else noticed it! This was before the 5D and before Sony took over though... no way I'd get away with that now. And no way I'm selling it either, sorry! :lol:
     
  12. dgs

    dgs TPF Noob!

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    Jeremy, the focal length was 200 mm. Oh, I lied, it was 1/3 second, not 1/2 (he gloated) Not all turn out that clear and this one isn't perfectly sharp.

    I started soaking up Minolta glass several months before buying the Alpha. There's been a real inflation in A mount lenses over the last 9 months or so.
     

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