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Old Feb 19, 2007, 11:47 AM   #1
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Hi everyone! (if you want to see the reason I ask "am I nuts?" scroll down to the one-liner)

After much reading here and at various other websites, I went to the local camera shop (well the only one within 100 miles!) to try out some DSLR's, as my time using the Fuji E900 I got last summer has just left me wanting for more; more wide-angle, low-noise high-ISO, narrow DOF, and faster shooting performance to name a few.

Before I went to the store, I was thinking I wanted the Pentax K10D, but really didn't want to spend that much on a body, so I was really going to try and appreciate the K100D. I thought both would be preferable to Nikon, as they seemed to offer similar quality at lower prices (not to mention stabilization in-body). I was somewhat worried about the current vacuum of avaliable Pentax lenses, as both their own and those from Sigma I'm most interested in seem nary impossible to find in stock. I've never liked any Canon camera I've tried, so I wasn't even considering them, nor the Sony for their awful customer service and overpriced accessories.

So I got there, and started by checking out the K100D. It felt nice enough, quite sturdy, but perhaps a bit smaller than my hands would prefer. In shooting with it, I found that I didn't like not having two command dials for manual mode, nor did I like the lack of an exposure meter in the viewfinder. The shutter button also felt quite akward, a combination of a cheap, plastic-y feeling and too much effort required to depress it. I also didn't like needing to use the LCD to change ISO.

Next I picked up the K10D, which also felt quite substantial, but still not quite large enough in the grip department. It did fix most of my bitches about the K100D, save changing ISO on the LCD in manual mode. At this point, I was thinking "rats, I guess I am just going to have to bit the bullet for a camera that will really work well for me."

Since I was there, I decided to check out what the other companies had to offer (why not, eh?) I still was not impressed by Canon, as the XTI felt like a joke to hold. Even the quite expensive 30D did not feel as nice as the K10D, and I really did not like the setup of the command dials. Not to mention how much less intuitive I found the menus.

Ok, so on to nikon. I picked up the D80, since it's about the same price as the K10D, but alas, no in-camera stabilization. Just playing with the D80, it quickly became clear that it handled better than the K10D. The menus were easier to navigate and the external buttons controlled more important features to me (like ISO). The exposure meter seemed more precise, and the status panel showed quite a bit more data. I found the QUAL button a lot more useable than the K10D's RAW button. Now I'm thinking "shoot, the camera I really want will make me end up spending even more on lenses to have stabilization!"

Again for the heck of it I picked up the D200, almost out of curiosity to see what more it really offered over the D80. Shoot! This thing felt like a dream to hold. Then I find how much more convenient the controls are again, even over the D80. And how much more accurate the exposure meter is. And the customizable shooting banks! And the smart way the CF slot works, not to mention the quick format feature. The D200 simply left me going "WOW," followed by "DAMN!"

So to summarize, am I nuts to go from a P&S straight to a D200???

To provide a bit of background, my most common time of shots are landscapes, but I like to hike, and not carry a tripod, hence the interest in stabilization. The more I think about it, though, stabilization is less an issue for wide-angle lenses, and for my main use for telephoto (sports) it's really not very useful from what I've read. So perhaps I should not be so hung up on it.

I bought the E900 because it has full manual capability and RAW capability, and have already gotten well used to editing my files in CS2. I think I will be using RAW most of the time on the DSLR as well, although having a RAW+JPEG mode will be nice for quickly reviewing files. I'll be using manual exposre most of the time, and perhaps shutter priority for sports.

At this point I think I'll just start out with a standard zoom, maybe an F2.8 if I feel it's worth the extra cash (about $150 extra for the Sigma or Tamron 18-50 over the Nikon 18-70, plus the more limited range). The maybe add a telephoto, super wide, or low-light prime later when I better know my needs.
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Old Feb 19, 2007, 12:05 PM   #2
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No, you are certainly not nuts, at all! It would seem to be a good deal wiser to go directly to the DSLR camera that really "works" for you in terms of: grip, feel, features and button placement. That would save the grief and expense of going through a gradual progression of DSLR cameras, that just did not feel quite"right" to you.

That is the very reason why we keep emphasizing the very real need to physically handle any camera that you are considering purchasing. Enjoying and having confidence in the camera that you are using, measureably contributes to the quality of the photos that you are taking.

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Old Feb 19, 2007, 1:40 PM   #3
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I agree with Sarah. This sounds like a good way to pick a camera. You've tried out all the things you liked and found the D200 fits the bill. I say go for it. You certainly won't be dissappointed.

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Old Feb 19, 2007, 1:55 PM   #4
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Make it 3.

Obviously ergonomics are very important to you. If you don't buy the camera that felt best then you're going to regret it. You'll always be thinking 'what if'.

My advice is: ignore those that say 'the D200 is too much camera for someone just entering into DSLRs'. That's hogwash. You like the feel and operations of it. And, the only real area where the D200 falls behind the others is in high ISO performance (the D80 will perform better at ISO 800 and 1600 than the D200 - especially in jpeg). But if you're going to shoot raw or shoot at lower ISOs, then this isn't an issue.

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Old Feb 19, 2007, 2:21 PM   #5
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You found the camera that feels right to you.

If you can afford it then go for it. Look at it this way - by going for the D200 and a good lens if you have problems with your pictures you know it's not the cameras fault!

Buy it!
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Old Feb 20, 2007, 12:12 AM   #6
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Well, I guess it's good to see everyone "approves" of my D200 lust!

I can afford it, though it would mean a different lens buying schedule than a cheaper body would dictate. I think the only thing that's knocking around my head is the idea that it might be a bit foolish to spend so much on a camera body, when they become outdated as quickly as they do these days. I mean look at the D100 for instance, it seems like you can't give those away anymore. But if the D200 takes great pictures now, it will still take great pictures once a D300 or whatever comes out (I can't for the life of me see how they could make it any more ergonomic or user friendly though, I guess that's the lust speaking .
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Old Feb 20, 2007, 12:39 AM   #7
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I really think you should give the 1Ds MarkII a try befre you decide. :blah:
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