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Old Jul 30, 2009, 2:43 PM   #11
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I scratch my head and still can't figure out why so many people seem to think the Nikon models are better. Canon's AF system is pretty good. But, from my experience using a variety of Nikon models (including the D5000, D3, D300 and others), I just don't see it. Are they "good enough"? Sure, but they're on the slow side compared to some of the Sony and Canon dSLR models (although the D3 is pretty nice and stands out as being better).

For example, from the tests I've seen, the new Sony A230 (which is available for under $500 including an 18-55mm kit lens from vendors like buydig.com), is faster than any current Nikon model close to it's price in most lighting (including the D40, D40x, D60, D5000, D90 and D300). As for tracking, I really doubt the Nikon models anywhere near the price of the Sonys are any better based on my experience with them, with the possible exception of the D300 if the circumstances are "just right' (it's a bit slow to lock compared to the Sony models, but it does well tracking subjects with momentary obstructions in the way). Of course, the D3 and D3x are better overall (but, they're not $500 cameras either). ;-)

The new A230 is now a 4th generation model (starting with the KM 5D, followed by the Sony A100, A200 and now A230) in the entry level lineup, with refinements at every step (including improved AF algorithms and internal processing speed at each phase, a faster AF motor in the case of the A200, and a redesigned shutter/mirror mechanism with the A100, A200 and A230 (and the newer A230's shutter/mirror is quieter compared to previous models, too)

With each new model, AF speed has improved, and the A230 appears to be the most aggresive refinement yet (totally redesigned firmware, menus, body, shutter/mirror mechanism, control layout, etc.).

From tests I've seen so far, the new Sony A230 (for around $500 with a kit lens, which is lower priced than the Canon XS or Nikon D60 models if you get a kit including a lens) has faster AF speed in most lighting compared to any of the entry level Canon models (including the T1i) down to around 2 EV (much lower lighting than you'd find in typical home interiors at night with tungsten lighting). Then, the faster Canon models start to pull ahead.

With Nikon models, it's no contest (you'll see around 1/10 second faster AF speeds with the lowest priced Sony model compared to any Nikon model anywhere near it's price at lighting ranging from around 12 EV down to 2 EV from what I can tell from popphotos latest tests). That's a long time if you see something interesting and want to lock focus. Of course, lenses make a big difference, too (and the latest Sony SSM lenses like the 70-300mm are very fast).

As for tracking ability, it's unfortunate that standard ways of measuring it don't exist yet. About the only test I've seen from a reputable tester is mentioned in this forum post about a test performed by a well known German Magazine (with multiple Nikon and Canon models included).

http://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/p...good-info.html

But, I haven't seen one like it comparing the newer dSLR models yet.
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Old Jul 30, 2009, 3:34 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimC View Post
I scratch my head and still can't figure out why so many people seem to think the Nikon models are better. Canon's AF system is pretty good. But, from my experience using a variety of Nikon models (including the D5000, D3, D300 and others), I just don't see it. .
Jim - no disrespect, but there are a lot of professional sports shooters that would disagree with you. Believe me, if the low priced Sony DSLRs could outperform the D3, the sports shooters would be using it. There's not a lot of brand loyalty anymore. I've seen a couple serious ameteurs using the A700 with good results - combined with the expensive optics that's why I can offer the A700 as a possible choice. But as far as you saying the new Sonys can track as well as the nikon d300 or d3 I frankly find it difficult to believe. If it were true, more people on the planet than you would have come to that realization.
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Old Jul 30, 2009, 3:52 PM   #13
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I didn't say that. I mentioned that the D3 stood out as being better. :-)

For the lower end Nikon models, I would not agree that the Nikon dSLR models are any better than the entry level Sony models based on my experience with them.
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Old Jul 30, 2009, 4:14 PM   #14
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OK here it is - the only cameras on the market I would recommend to a sports shooter are as follows. In all cases but the T1i and D90 I make my recommendation based on viewing actual sports photos and research into Nikon and Canon:

Nikon D3, D700, D300, D90
Canon 1dmkIII, 1dmkIIn, 50D, 40d, T1i, XSi
Sony A700

The nikon d60 and d40 have stripped down AF. The latest D5000 and D3000 may have repaired that and simply left the cameras without the motor (which for sports isn't that important since a motor in the lens is better/faster).

I stand by my statement I have yet to see any results out of other Sony models, or any Pentax or Oly cameras that would indicate to me as a sports photographer that said cameras are in the same league as their competition (i.e. can they compete with the T1i, much less the 50d or nikon d90 or d300). The other technology has bourne fruit in the field. The sony models are, at best, untested as sports cameras. Until they are, I think it is irresponsible to recommend them. I understand you own sony and are happy with it and want others to share in what sony has to offer. But I don't think there is enough credible evidence to show they can compete with the Canon entry levels and the Canon / Nikon mid-levels.

Even the A700. We're not seeing a drove of sports shooters there either. People aren't abandoning Canon 50Ds and Nikon D300s to switch to Sony yet. So there isn't a large body of quality sports work out there on the A700. I've seen a total of 2 competant sports shooters use it. That's still a much smaller sampling than what I see from Canon or Nikon.

And for the record, while I shoot Canon I don't let my brand loyalty blind me to the fact the D300 / D700 / D3 are better sports solutions than the Canon 50d / 1dmkIII. I've seen work and heard testimony from too many qualified sports shooters to let my brand loyalty blind me to the truth.
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Old Jul 30, 2009, 4:24 PM   #15
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I wouldn't assume that the D300 is a better solution compared to the Canon models you're familiar with. I've taken thousands of photos with one in difficult conditions (including auto races at night, kids ball games and more).

But, in fairness to Nikon, that was before the latest firmware upgrades which were designed to address the "sluggish" AF performance that some of the more respected reviewers noted with this model. So, it's probably improved since then with the newer firmware upgrades.
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Old Jul 30, 2009, 5:51 PM   #16
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Tanks all for GREAT information, now the final choice depends on the final cost of the diferent combinations in Mexico.
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Old Aug 3, 2009, 9:15 PM   #17
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After research the real prices in Mexico, the only real choices was.
1.- Xsi + kit lens + tamron 70-300 cost 1300 US dlls.
2.- a 200 + 2 kit lenses 18-70 + 75-300 cost 932 US dlls minus 300 dlls for clareance final cost 632 US dlls.
Altough the sony AF isnt broad field test in sports and the IQ of the 75-300 is not the best at half the price i buy it.
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Old Aug 4, 2009, 4:28 AM   #18
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That sounds like you got a great deal (less than half the cost of an XSi kit). I didn't realize prices were that high in Mexico and it sounds like you got a great closeout price on the A200 (which is being replaced by the A230).

On the downside, the Sony 75-300mm lens does not have the best reputation for image quality, especially when zoomed in towards it's 300mm end (where it's a bit soft with higher than desired CA). Focus speed isn't the best on it's longer end either from user reports I've seen, especially in less than optimum lighting. But, in better daylight lighting, you may be able to get by with it until budget permits a better lens. I'd probably lean towards the new Sony 70-300mm SSM lens for daytime sports use.
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Old Aug 4, 2009, 5:34 AM   #19
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Unfortunately the a200 has been field tested - it's focus performance (and high iso) is very poor compared to competition. It was the replacing cameras that were un tested in the field.
Still, it is a big step up from what you are used to. And if budget was the driving factor you have to start somewhere.
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Old Aug 4, 2009, 6:33 AM   #20
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It's competition is the Canon XS and Nikon D60. The XSi is a higher priced camera. ;-)

If you want to see how noise compares with the XS in low light, here's a review with ISO speed comparisons in tungsten lighting. You'll see the D60 on the next page:

http://www.anandtech.com/digitalcame...spx?i=3434&p=7

For noise comparisons between the A200 and the higher priced XSi, see Dave Etchells' photos at imaging-resource.com. The Sony looks a bit better in some areas, and the XSi looks a bit better in others (where the Sony's NR can sometimes be a bit aggresive). But, you could turn off the in camera NR and use third party NR tools if desired if you need to shoot at higher ISO speeds often. But, unless you're pixel peeping at 100% viewing size, I doubt you'd see much difference in them overall at typical print and viewing sizes, even using the in camera noise reduction.

Rebel XSi at ISO 1600

Sony A200 at ISO 1600

Sony A200 at ISO 3200

Noise is fairly high at ISO 3200 with it. But, the the XS and XSi don't have an ISO 3200 setting. ;-)

As for AF speed, according to popphoto's tests, the A200 is faster than the XS, XSi and D60 in brighter lighting (and the OP sounds like he wants to take photos of daytime sports on a tight budget). In very low light, the XSi is going to test faster.

Again, this camera focuses much faster than the KM 5D that Mark1616 managed to get daytime hockey photos with using a budget Tamron lens, at a considerably lower cost in Mexico compared to the Canon XSi with the Tamron 70-300mm lens (which I suspect isn't going to be a speed demon on that body either).

With any of them, you'd want better quality lenses with faster AF speed for a higher percentage of keepers. But, if you're sticking to budget cameras and lenses for daytime use, I doubt you'd see a lot of difference between these models with similar budget lenses on them, and the Sony kit was less than half the price of the XSi kit from what the OP tells us (which would allow the OP to put aside almost $700 towards a nicer lens when budget permits compared to the cost of that Canon kit with a Tamron 70-300mm lens).
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