Picking out a Entry level DSLR (Nikon d60 vs Sony A300 vs Canon XSi)

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by wharvey86, Nov 14, 2008.

  1. wharvey86

    wharvey86 TPF Noob!

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    Hello everyone i am new to this forum and new to dslr's in general. I have been into 35mm photography for about a year now and have decided to upgrade to a dslr and i am looking for some sound advice (not just the advise of some 18 year old kid in a blue shirt at best buy :lmao:).

    Here is what i am looking at. My fiance decided she would get me a Dslr for christmas. She is willing to spend up to $700. So i have been looking at all of these options

    1.) Sony a300 - I am attracted to the fact that liveview has the tilt screen which would help with taking shots low to the ground or above my head. I also like the fact that the image stabilization is builit into the camera which would allow for any lense to have IS. However i have heard negative things about sony's from the sale people at circuit city and best buy (though as you can tell im not sure how much i trust their advice!)

    2.) Nikon D60- This camera seemed to have a good reputation and relatively easy controls. The D60 however doesnt have liveview and the lens seem to be alittle be more expensive because they have builit in VR

    3.) Canon Xsi- This camera seems to have better autofocus than the nikon as well as more megapixels. It also has the live view. However it seems to have more exspensive lens as well .

    So i have a few questions for more experienced photographers.

    First off how useful is liveview? Is it something that is just nice to have or is it extremely useful to have? Also i have heard that liveview will kill your battery life. Is this exchange for use worth the battery life? Also how about image quality? will all 3 be close to the same or will one or the other be better? As for auto-focus i have never had any autofocus on my film slr so how often do most people actually use it compared to manual focus? Since manual focus i am so used to. Is a 3 point autofocus that much different in quality compared to a 9 point system? I dont really think that i plan on having a HUGE number of lens for my camera so i dont really know how much alittle more pricey lens would bother me. I am just looking for the best camera for a beginner in the dslr field which will last me as well as grow with me as my skill grows. I'll take any and all opinions as i am really puzzled as to which camera i should get.

    Thanks in advance to everyone!
     
  2. Big Mike

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

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    I don't have an SLR with that feature, so I'm not really sure...but for the most part, I'd guess that you would be using the regular viewfinder...so you may never use liveview, except to play around with.

    All three will have great image quality, that shouldn't be an issue.

    I'd guess that 'most' DSLR users, use autofocus 95% of the time. It's pretty good in most situations. I would say that yes, 9 points are better than 3 but it's not a deal killer.

    Yes, the Sony does have built-in IS/VR...and that is an advantage...but if you get an IS/VR lens with a Canon/Nikon...you would be just as well off. Yes, buying more lenses with IS/VR in them, can be more expensive in the long run...but Canon & Nikon also have a much bigger selection of lenses to choose from.

    My suggestion would be to go into a store and ask to hold all three. Try them out, shoot with them in the store, go through the menu system and play with the controls etc. If one of them feels better to you, then that is probably a good choice.
     
  3. epp_b

    epp_b No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Not at all. If you can even autofocus in LV mode (Canons can't, Nikons can, not sure about Sony), it's extremely slow and hunts like Elmer Fudd.

    Other than their stupidly-fast AF system, I don't like Sony DSLRs. Their functional arrangement seems sporadic and the viewfinder seems like an afterthought. Live view is a gimmick feature for suckers and snapshooters ;)

    Good controls, yes. As for VR built into the lens, it is better than having it built into the body because you can see it happening through the viewfinder (which is pretty good for a crop frame body, BTW).

    There are two things that will frustrate you about this camera, however:

    1. The metering, like on the D40 (and D40x and D80), is buggy. It consistently overexposes, but doesn't expose consistently. It uses a different median gray to calculate exposure and almost always gets it wrong. You will have to use exposure compensation to the right for almost all of your shots.

    2. Unlike other Nikon DSLRs (excluding the D40 and D40x), it has no AF motor built into the body, so you will need to use AF-S or AF-I lenses, which tend to be a bit more expensive.

    The live view on this camera is even more worthless than the Sony's. It's a gimmick.

    As for AF, it is definitely nice and fast. It, of course, has no AF motor in the body, but Canon has used in-lens AF motors since they started the EOS system in the 80's.


    In the end, go with what feels most comfortable in your hands and what you find most intuitive to control because there's little to choose between them in terms in image quality.
     
  4. Big Mike

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

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    As far as I know...they can focus while in Live View mode...but the Canon has to momentarily flip down the mirror, which isn't the best situation. The Nikon cameras that do have Live View, use contrast detection (or whatever it's called) for AF in L.V. mode...which is the same as what Digi-cams use...so not great either.

    A guy I know, has both Canon & Nikon DSLR cameras...and he has told me that while niether is great, the Canon was much better than the Nikon. He sometimes uses it to see the focus while doing macro. The problem was the the Nikon has a bad lag, so it wasn't truly 'real time'.

    Back to the original topic...don't worry about Live View when choosing a DSLR.
     
  5. Dao

    Dao No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Liveview is a nice feature to have. But I do not think it is a MUST HAVE feature.

    I have a older camera that do not have liveview and got a better model a week or 2 ago that support liveview. But, I can tell you that I have not use that feature yet. Since I have not run into a situation that need it.

    I took over 10000 pictures with my older camera without liveview and I did not feel I am missing anything. But of course, now I can do that .. but how often I need it. I do not know, it maybe less than 1%. So I really do not care that much ... Of course, your miles may vary.

    As for the cost of the lenses. They are about the same. It depends on what you are going after. It can be expensive if you choose the nice lenses, it doesn't matter they are made by Canon, Nikon nor Sony.

    Most of the entry level DSLR cameras are good for beginner. They both have pros and cons. Also, beside the brands you mentioned, there are other players in the market such as Olympus and Pentax.

    One thing I would like to point out though, because of the popularity of the Canon and Nikon DSLRs, you will find more third party companies make stuff for the system. And the non-oem accessories usually cost less. (but at the same time, it may not be as good as the OEM, but at least you have more choices if that is important to you).

    Basically, it is hard to recommend a entry level DSLR nowadays since they are all able to produce nice pictures (as long as the person behind the camera can). lol :) Go to a store, play with them and see which one you like.
     
  6. mrodgers

    mrodgers No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    As I am not a dSLR user, but a superzoom user that has no difference between my LCD and electronic viewfinder, why wouldn't LiveView be useful? Is it just because of a quality difference between the viewfinder and the LCD panel?

    Since mine is no different whether using the back of the camera or the viewfinder, I love the fact that I can put it on the back LCD for use with a tripod. Of course, handholding, I am not one of those people who hold my camera out at arms length, I use the viewfinder. But on a tripod, the LCD panel is great. So, I am guessing that the quality of the view is the issue with the feature on a dSLR?
     
  7. F1addict

    F1addict TPF Noob!

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    I have been looking at the same camera's for some time now also. I personally ruled out the D60 a while ago because of its lack of features compared to the Canon and the Sony and from some of the reviews I read and watched, they said it was basically just a reworked D40 or D40X. I'm going to buy the Sony sometime after Christmas, probably just before I go on vacation in February because I won't use it much before then anyways (stupid NY winters, I hate the cold so I tend to just stay inside and watch tv/surf the internet during this time of year).
    I just felt that I'd personally be happier with the Sony. It has more features, the live view and tilting LCD are nice and the live view is consistently said to be the best out of any DSLR with the fastest autofocus. I actually don't remember ever hearing that it's noticeably slower then when not using live view, although their are some A300/350 owners on here that can probably say for sure.
    I do need to go to a store and hold them and go through the settings and see which is nicer to me, the A300 or XSi. If the XSi's menu's are noticeably better then the Sony's I'll go with that and sacrifice the tilting LCD, in body stabilization, and good live view, for whats easier to use. But I don't think that will be the case.


    but from when I first asked the same question you have on hear about these cameras, one of the best things I was told was that it isn't really the camera body, but the user and the lens that make the picture. All three of these cameras will take amazing pictures with the right lens and the right person behind the camera.
     
  8. Stratman

    Stratman TPF Noob!

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    Pentax has a new entry level DSLR out now, the K-M or K2000 ( not sure what is it called here in the states ) Built in shake reduction, I believe it is 10.2 MP Might wanna check that one out too. [ame]http://www.amazon.com/Pentax-K2000-18-55mm-AF200FG-Flash/dp/B001GAPHOC/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&s=photo&qid=1226716755&sr=1-6[/ame]
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2008
  9. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    The live view which does not slow down autofocus, along with the tilt screen is invaluable for some kinds of shooting.

    Shooting in crowds, all I need to do is raise the camera over my head and use the tilt screen to frame. When shooting toddlers or other children, they tend to pose as soon as you put the viewfinder to your eye. Using live view and the tilt screen allows you to get some very natural shots. It is perfect for street photography, since you can frame your shot without raising the camera to your eye. You are then not noticed and your shot is more natural. I have also used it to take shots where photography is not allowed and when getting down low is not ideal considering mud or other hazards at ground level.

    So, live view and a tilt screen will allow you to get shots that would be difficult or impossible to otherwise get. It is a worthwhile option and the reason I added a Sony to my camera collection.

    skieur
     
  10. Stranger

    Stranger TPF Noob!

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    skieur, what body do you have?

    As far as live view goes, it has its places. Me and a buddy used to talk of how bad an idea it was until we got to a car show. He raised his 40D all the way up on the tripod, turned on liveview and framed it nicely. Me, a shorter guy, raised mine up (D200) as far as i could see to frame. Then raised it all the way and guessed on the composition.

    But, I bought a Fuji S5 yesterday so i guess liveview isn't all that important to me :)
     
  11. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    I have the Sony A350.

    skieur
     
  12. Early

    Early TPF Noob!

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    You should also add that you can use some old, interesting manual focus lenses for cheap. I don't know why the Pentax is dismissed so easily in these camera discussion.
     

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