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Old Aug 18, 2008, 8:42 AM   #1
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Hello everyone,

some years ago i was very fascinated by and interested in photography. I had some analog SLR (not a very good one, some Canon which at that time was a bit old. Don't remember it correctly) and had a lot of fun with it. But i hadn't enough time to maintain this hobby and stopped. Now with a wife, a small child and more time i would want to step back into this with a DSLR. Now it's very hard to decide for me which one I should take. I've read a lot in different forums, on review sites and talked a lot with two colleagues of mine very interested in photography and with far more experience with DSLRs than I have.

After lots and lots of that i can't decide between two cameras.

Namely the Sony A700 and the Canon EOS 40D.

My main problem is despite of the camera which lens I should take to a) have a good lense (or set of) now and b) still be able to use it in the future with maybe a better body.

Having a crop factor of 1.5 and 1.6 respectivly it's hard for me to find a good lens for a reasonable price.

Taking the A700 i think my best choice would be the SAL-1680Z as it seems to be very good and with effective 24nm-120nm it has a good range for a standard objective. If needed i could still add an SAL-70300G or an SAL75300 (although both don't seem to be THAT good....).

So A700+SAL-1680Z would be about 1500€.

Now for the EOS 40D i can't find a good compromise between range, price and quality.
Range seems to be good using the EF-S 17-85nm. The price is ok too, but then it has rather low quality in the wideangle range up to 35nm.
Another option would be taking the EF-S 17-55nm which is very good, but has a small range and a high price. Leaving me with the need to buy another standard zoom for the range of 55 to about 120 or a tele with 75-300. Both driving the price even higher.
One possible objective would be the EF 24-105L which has very good quality, but also a very high price and for its own no wideangle with crop of 1.6. Taking the EF-S 17-55nm for wideangle, and the EF 24-105L for standard zoom would result in 2000€ just for the objectives and a wide range overlap between those two.
Another combination would be the Ef 10-22 and the EF 24-105L. This would have even better wideangle, superb quality overall and a price of about 1800€ (without the body....).
For that pricing i could take just the EF 24-105L with an EOS 5D (or wait for a newer version of it).

So up to this in my opinion the Alpha is more appealing (in this price range when talking about body + good objectiv), BUT as i was pretty addicted to photography once and knowing myself that i would want to have a better body in the future (right now i don't need one, as i consider myself a "better" amateur regarding DSLR). I'm also thinking about changing the body in a couple of years. And it would be great to reuse the lenses then. So there is the problem that Sony at least for now has no better model than the Alpha 700. Which would be a point for Canon regarding the 5D as a good full format camera (or a successor in the next few years) or even the 1D.

So long story short: I don'r know which one to pick. For itself the Sony is more appealing, but in the long term the 40D (but then with a "good" lens) seems better regarding upgrades and also the wider range of good objectives for the canon.

Sorry for the wall of text. Help is greatly appreciated

EDIT: Just another more general question i wanted to add is reagarding "macro" photography. Is it enough to use a standard zoom lense or are the results a lot better using a special macro lens? (Keeping in mind that it is (or would be) a hobby for me and not for professional use).
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Old Aug 18, 2008, 8:59 AM   #2
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Ghrm wrote:
So there is the problem that Sony at least for now has no better model than the Alpha 700.
Sony will be releasing a new flagship model. It will have a 24.6 Megapixel full frame (35mm size) sensor. They've already had prototypes on display, along with some of the specs (sensor and more).

Scroll down past the ads on this page, and you can see some photos from Photo Imaging Expo 2008 in Ontario.


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Old Aug 18, 2008, 9:09 AM   #3
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Ghrm wrote:
I'm also thinking about changing the body in a couple of years.
A couple of years is a long time where technology is concerned. ;-)

I think you'll have more choices from Sony as time passes (both bodies and lenses). Also, don't forget that the Sony bodies can use any Minolta Autofocus Lens (a.k.a., Minolta A, Dynax, Maxxum Alpha mount), and they all enjoy the benefits of an in body stabilization system.

I copied this from a previous post of mine (this subject comes up from time to time):

I think Sony is going to be a very strong player in this market as time passes, too. Sony managed to grab 6% of the worldwide dSLR market in 2006, despite only having one dSLR model (the A100), that was only available for about 6 months of that year (placing them 3rd in worldwide dSLR marketshare behind Canon and Nikon). They managed to hold on to that same marketshare and third place in the dSLR niche for 2007, despite having that same one dSLR model for most of the year, only starting to ship the Sony A700 in the last quarter.

Now, Sony has released an A200, A300, A350, and A700, with a new full frame 24.6MP flagship model to be released later this year. Think about it... 1 model gave them 6% of worldwide dSLR marketshare, and now they've got 4 new models, with at least one more new dSLR model coming out later this year. I think Sony knows exactly what they're doing.

Sony is already the second largest manufacturer of digital cameras behind Canon. Nikon is not even close they're so far behind in their non-dSLR marketshare now, and Sony's just getting warmed up in the dSLR market niche.

Note that I shoot with a Sony A700 right now. So, I'm probably a bit biased.

Both the Canon and Sony models you're considering are very good cameras. I think you'd be happy with either choice.

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Old Aug 18, 2008, 9:19 AM   #4
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As far as your macro question - what is going to be your subject? Flowers can be done quite nicely with a zoom lens that focuses reasonably close. If you are talking about insects then you'll need to get closer than a zoom lens will let you. You can do that by adding dioper filters or extension tubes, or by a dedicated macro lens.

In general, a prime is sharper than a zoom. If you are planning on getting a fast lens for indoor use (say a 50mm 1.8 or so), you could add either without too much problem (other than the aggrevation of taking something off when you want to focus on infinity). A zoom lens with an extension tube can certainly work, if you are going to use a tripod (you lose light with an extension tube). You don't lose light with the dioper filters, but you really need a sharp lens to get really good results.

A dedicated macro lens is easier to use, but more expensive (and might or might notnot give better results than a fast, sharpprime with an extension tube). There are a number of them that are quite good and reasonably priced - check out pricing on Sigma and Tamron macro lenses. They are available in a variety of mounts.
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Old Aug 18, 2008, 9:23 AM   #5
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Thanks a lot for the answers so far. It's good to hear that there is something better coming (although as i said i would or will be very happy with this models for now), as it gives at least to option for upgrades in the future.

I'm sorry if i missed some threads about these two cameras, but i wanted to make a new one for the reasons i told above (objectives, future, etc.). And the threads i found were always a bit special regarding prices or camera models, etc.

So again thanks a lot it becomes clearer for me now that the Sony would be a good choice as i preffered it a bit over the 40D.

EDIT: Also thanks @mtngal. I will definitely take a closer look at those, as i wanted to use the macro function for objects around the size of insects or a bit bigger (samples from work).
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Old Aug 25, 2008, 1:00 AM   #6
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Hi Ghrm,

Having read through this post I think there is one, potentially, very important issue that hasn't been addressed:

If you truly think you will be upgrading in the foreseeable future to a camera like the 5D or the prototype Sony that was mentioned then you will need to factor that in when buying your lenses.

I have a Canon and the EF-S 17-55mm 2.8lens you mention and even on my dated 350D it's a great lens! I'm using it for indoor photography at the moment and it takes stunning pictures even in low light.

However, as with all Canon EF-S lenses, it is made for the 1.6 crop sensor. So if you were to shift to a full-frame body within the next couple of years this means you would have a lens that does not make use of the full sensor. I'm not familiar with the Sony lenses you mention so I don't know if they share the same limitations.

Now, chances are that Canon will continue to evolve the 1.6 crop line in the next few years at lest (there are persistent rumours that the 50D will be unveiled at Photokina in September and that it will be a new 1.6 crop sensor) and you will be able to get full use of EF-S lenses for another couple of generations. But if you're thinking in the lines of 5D within a couple of years you'd be better off buying EF L lenses.

P.S. My next body will be a 40D or a 50D (depending on pricing, timing etc.) and I expect that they either be more than enough for me for quite a while. I'm taking a lot of pictures these days but I very rarely get off the "P" setting...

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Old Aug 25, 2008, 1:50 AM   #7
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There are some alternatives for the 40D without breaking the bank.

Firstly the weaknesses of the 17-85 on the 40D are greatly exaggerated for real-world photography rather than test charts.


Secondly the new 18-55 IS kit lens is very very sharp, and quite an astonishing leap forward over the previous model. Canon went from having undoubtedly the worst cheap kit lens to what is possibly the best.


Thirdly - there are some non-Canon alternatives. In particular the Tamron 17-50 f2.8 is a very solid performer at an excellent price.


The 40D is a very good price at the moment, and is IMO the best value for money semi-pro camera around. With a 50D announcement imminent, you will probably be able to pick it up for a great price.

When you are looking at the semi-pro market I would also highly recommend that you have a look at DXO optics software. Consider it a "software upgrade" for all your lenses, it is superb at what it does. Now that I use the 5D I no longer find it particularly useful, especially as it doesn't support my main lens, but I used it with my 20D for 3 years and found that it was very easy to include in my workflow and automatically corrected all the flaws of the 17-85 with little effort.


Finally, even though you are currently looking within a particular budget, you would do well to consider lens and other accessories availability and price over your likely purchases over the next 2-3 years.

You might for example (as I do) set aside E75 or E100 per month which over the next 3 years could add an extra E3500 on top of what you are currently considering. How will that alter the picture?

Sony/Minolta/Zeiss undoubtedly has some superb lenses and nice cameras, but when you look at a system of 3-4 lenses the price may be surprisingly higher than Canon. And of course Nikon is due to announce the D90 very soon, and Nikon is on a hot streak at the moment, don't ignore them either. And even Pentax have a really nice camera in the K20D but a more limited lens selection.

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Old Aug 26, 2008, 9:31 AM   #8
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Thanks for the further answers.

I'm aware of the "system shift" from crop 1.6 (or 1.5 in Sony's case) to full frame regarding the lenses. That's something i will have to consider, too.

And yes, i've also thought in the"bigger picture" about further accesoires in the future. As there are many many lenses for example, which seem very nice to me .

As for now i will wait until about october to see how the prices will evolve with the upcoming changes especially in canons and sonys repertoire, the 50d and the "a900".

I think i can wait two more months, although it is not THAT easy. But hey, every euro on my side is a possible upgrade.
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