Looking for input on switch to dgital

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by Redrock320, Feb 22, 2008.

  1. Redrock320

    Redrock320 TPF Noob!

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    I'm thinking about switching to digital from my film SLR. I currently have a Minolta Maxxum 5000i and have the std. lens and a telephoto 70-130mm. I'm a recreational amature photographer. I have the background knowledge for many of the more advanced photo techniques (I used to do all of my own film processing) but I know I'll just use the camera for hiking trips, aireal shots (when I'm flying) and other photo-worthy outings.

    I'm more of a landscape type and typically work in B&W but would like to dabble in some partial color work.

    My question is: what's the better camera for the money under say $700?

    I'm also considering slightly used cameras as well as a platform that I can continue to use my current lenses on (Minolta/Sony).

    Any insight into the pros/cons of the likes of the Minolta D5/D7, Cannon XT/XTi, Nikon's, etc. would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks,
     
  2. Happy Hour

    Happy Hour TPF Noob!

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    Why would you not buy a sony? all your lenses will fit on all the new alpha bodies. The A100 was a ok camera but it also was the first of the line and not up to my expectations, but it did serve me well while I had it. But everything I did not like on the A100 was fixed on the A200. Which is a great camera. The A300 and A350with live view swivel mount will be out within a few weeks. And are said to be under 1000 in a kit. If you had the funds the A700 is the way to go. I am a long time Minolta user and have 8 Minolta bodies. All are inferior to the Alphas. Even the A100 would be a enormous upgrade from your 5000i. if funds are tight The A100's are going dirt cheap iv'e seen them as low as $500 you can't beat that!!!
     
  3. Antithesis

    Antithesis No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    It looks like Sony would be a good option for you, but in the long run you might be happier with a Nikon or Canon model because they have a broader selection of lenses and accessories. If you plan on simply using the ones you have though, I'd probably just go for the Sony.
     
  4. Happy Hour

    Happy Hour TPF Noob!

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    How do you figure? There are over 17,000 lenses that work on the Sony alpha bodies. that includes , Sony,Zeiss,Minolta,And any third party lenses made for the A mount. I suggest you know what your talking about before trying to recommend something you know nothing about! I own 8 Minolta bodies, 2 Sony bodies,5 speed lights, and 21 lenses that are all interchangeable with every one of my cameras. Not to mention Minolta lenses are dirt cheap! you can pick up the majority of them for under $100.00 ea. And no Minolta lover would be better off with a Nikon or canon. the Sony A mounts offer way more options (Like SSS ) and better image quality than any other camera in there class! for cheaper than any camera in it's class also! I'm not knocking Nikon or Canon. But not a great choice in comparison. I have shot with Nikons and Canons in the same class as my Alphas and IMO they are way under par compared to the Sony. Alot of people will knock the Sony but that is merely because they have never used one!
     
  5. Redrock320

    Redrock320 TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the input! I was leaning that way and that helps a lot.

    Redrock
     
  6. Sony is the answer. Yes, right now Canon and Nikon are the big brands. But every time Sony has decided to enter a market segment, it becomes a dominant player. It supports thousands of lenses (many extremely good) from the Konica and Minolta lines, and theyr'e much cheaper still because there's less demand than for Canon and Nikon gear. Also, Sony actually makes the sensors that Nikon uses, so in terms of image quality you are only limited by your own skill.

    Have fun, you will quickly figure out that shooting is much the same as it was with film - except that you can be less frugal with exposures. Because your memory card may easily have room for 150 shots, you can keep shooting until you're pleased with your composition. Also, being able to adjust ISO (f.k.a. ASA) every shot gives you a lot more flexibility. No more waiting to switch that roll of ASA 200 after 36 exposures to a 400, and having to wait till that was shot to make another switch.

    The bigger learning curve will be your workflow (a.k.a. "the way you do stuff"). I strongly suggest you shoot in RAW, rather than JPG. There's a lot of threads on this forum discussing the pros and cons. Put extremely simply, RAW is the data the way the sensor saw it, and JPG is a highly compressed version of that. If you shoot RAW, you're going to want to find a software with which to work on the files. I use Adobe Photoshop CS3, which comes with Adobe Raw Converter. It also comes with a program called Adobe Bridge, which is a nice file browser and organizing tool.

    Like sorting negatives, you will need to figure out a way to sort you files. It's a highly personal process, here's mine: I have two major folders, My Images and My Pictures. My Images is for my creative work, whereas My Pictures is for friends and family snaps (and thus accessible to my wife for making albums, email pics to others, etc.)

    I will create a folder for a special occasion, like a ski trip we were on for four days. All RAW files go into a sub folder. I will work on the RAW files (deleting bad shots, cropping, color correcting, exposure settings, etc) and then save them as JPGs so my wife has access to them. Sometimes I have images that I like a lot, and do more than a little work on (B&W conversions, dodging and burning in layers, etc). I save the working files as PSD files, and put those in a separate folder as well. Then I also save a JPG from the worked-on file for the family picture collection.

    So my tree looks like this:
    My Pictures
    -2008 02 Ski Trip
    --2008 02 Ski Trip RAW
    --2008 02 Ski Trip PSD

    I also keep a general dump-all file for a particular time period. Q stands for Quarter, so all shots not part of anything special from Jan 1 to Mar 31 get dumped into the Q1 folders.

    My Pictures
    -2008 Q1 Pictures
    --2008 Q1 Pictures RAW
    --2008 Q1 Pictures PSD

    For my creative work, I do it slightly reversed. I shoot a lot of RAW files, but don't bother to convert most of them. Once the files have been worked on, Bridge shows them with the changes, though the beauty of RAW is that with one click I can go back to the way the camera shot them. So that means my first folder within My Images will hold the RAW files, and a sub-folder contains the few JPGs I'm going to create.

    So my file tree looks like this:
    My Images
    -2008 01 Veene Street Junkyard Shoot
    --2008 01 Veene Junkyard JPG
    --2008 01 Veene Junkyard PSD

    There's also a Q folder into which I dump creative shots that I took while at certain events with my family. So:

    My Images
    -2008 Q1 Images
    --2008 Q1 Images JPG
    --2008 Q1 Images PSD

    Oh, and then you MUST maintain a regular back-up system. Either copy your folders to another external hard-drive, and/or burn them on to DVD-ROMs. I know many people who burn their RAW files directly to DVD as soon as they unload them from their memory card, so at least they'll always have the digital negatives if everything goes kaplooey. But I suggest you back up all your files regularly, not just the RAWs.

    Have fun, come back here to ask lots of question. Post pictures. And don't forget to help comment and critique other people's work as well, it will help you think about your own work.
     
  7. One final piece of advice: if you have the time, find a course for Photoshop. You live in or around Denver, there's plenty of colleges and art schools around where you can take an Intro to Photoshop class. There will be some that meet for four Wednesdays from 7-10 PM, for instance. It is WORTH it! You will ramp up your learning curve so steeply, and Photoshop is not intuitive or easy. None of the big editing suites are, they're quite powerful.
     
  8. Redrock320

    Redrock320 TPF Noob!

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    Iron,

    Thanks for all the indepth info!! :mrgreen:

    I'm going to go with the Sony and start playing with it this week. I wouldn't have thought about the file storage options. My home computer crashed last month and now I have a 120GB portable HDD and back-up won't be an issue anytime soon.

    Thanks again everyone
     
  9. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    Iron Flatline is probably correct about shooting RAW, IF he were referring to Canon or Nikon, but Sony has introduced some changes.

    Latest from users and reviews from the labs of magazines is that the latest Sonys produce better JPEGS than they do RAW files, which seems to be technically impossible. Shooting jpeg and RAW, some have found it impossible to reduce the noise level on the RAW file to that of the jpeg file that was produced in camera.

    Bottom line seems to be the quality of Sony's in camera processing procedures for their JPEGS seems to have surpassed what is possible with the standard approaches to editing RAW files.

    skieur
     
  10. One more thing, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is actually a really nice program that solves all the software issues, and costs a little less than Photoshop CS3.
     
  11. Happy Hour

    Happy Hour TPF Noob!

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    This is somewhat true Sony has what they call fine jpeg
    it is supposed to be almost lost less in info like raw. but only on the A700 the A100 does not have this option and Raw is the only way to shoot on that camera. The quality is far better than jpeg on the a100. On the a700 I shoot in fine jpeg because I can't see a difference between that and raw and I can shoot more pics with fine on it. The a200 a300 and a350 all have fine jpeg also (I do not have any experience in shoot with these cameras so I don't know if it is as good as the a700) as for converting raw the a100,A200,a300,a350,and the a700 come with Image data converter to convert them into jpeg or what ever format you want. So you don't have to worry about dumping 300 bucks on PS right away.
     
  12. That's a very good point - each camera comes with a software that converts their RAW files to something else - usually JPG and TIFF. This is where it starts getting geeky in a fun way, but you may as well know what's up: The big RAW conversion applications (such as Adobe Raw Converter) actually need to backward-engineer the RAW data - the camera manufacturers don't reveal the final total nuances of their own code, and you get the BEST (or at least most accurate) RAW to JPG conversion if you use the manufacturer's software. HOWEVER: it's usually a pretty clumsy application. The only ones who have (supposedly) figured it out are Nikon with their Capture NX application. So... even though the Adobe solution may be not quite as accurate (imperceptible to the naked and untrained eye) most people have found them to be simpler to use than the manufacturer's app.
     

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