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Old Jan 14, 2009, 8:05 AM   #1
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I have been using an olympus c8008 for 4 years. Its a great camera. I shoot lots of macro. Flowers and many times i'll follow an ant for hours. I want a camera I can crop and enlarge more than my 8008. I think I want a slr like canon xsi or pentax k20d. But maybe I cold use another point and shoot. Any thoughts. I do take many landscape and family shots as well.
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Old Jan 14, 2009, 8:58 AM   #2
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If lighting conditions are OK, you'd probably be better off with a good point and shoot. A DSLR can potentially take better shots than a point and shoot, especially in low light, if you have the right lens for the job and you have the skill to take advantage of the DSLR's abilities. To be able to take the kind of shots you want with a DSLR, you'll need several different lenses - a macro lens, a long zoom lens and perhaps others. A good point and shoot, like the Canon SX10is, will enable you to take all those shots with its built-in lens.
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Old Jan 14, 2009, 9:44 AM   #3
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There are lots of ways to do macrophotography with a dSLR.

The simplest (and most expensive) is with a macro lens. It is very sharp and can double as a general purpose lens. It can focus from an insect to a landscape scene quite quickly and easily. Since few macro lenses are optically stabilized,doing macrophotography handheld would be best accomplished with astabilized dSLR like Pentax, Sony ormost Olympus bodies.(A noteable exception is the Nikon AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED.)

Another, less expensive method is to use extension tubes, which mount between a lens and the camera body. By increasing the distance between the lens and the image sensor, it greatly decreases the minimum focusing distance, but it also greatly decreases the maximum focusing distance, so to switch to general purpose photography, you must stop and remove the tube(s). It requires a sharp lens, and most kit lenses don't qualify, adn since extension tubes also affect the amount of light that gets through to the image sensor, it should also have a large maximum aperture. Most dSLRs have 50mm large aperture lenses available, and one of these would do nicely. Extension tubes also work best with cameras that use optical image stabilization, but few appropriate lenses are stabilized, so extension tubes are useful mostly with a tripod.

The least expensive method is also the least capable and most likely to adversely affect image quality. It is using close-up lenses that screw onto the end of the lens. They are simpler and easier to use than extension tubes, and can work well with either stabilized lenses or stabilized camera bodies. The problem is that they add optical elements to an already complex optical system, and can add distortion and chromatic aberration.

Nothing else that you say you want to do couldn't be done well with any dSLR and kit lens.
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Old Jan 14, 2009, 2:11 PM   #4
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In addition to what TCav mentioned, auto focus can get in the way of good macro pictures, especially when using a dSLR camera where your depth of field is so small. The Pentax K20 (or any Pentax dSLR camera) can use any Pentax lens ever made. For macro, you can pick up an excellent used macro lens that's manual focus, saving yourself some extra money. If you opt for using extension tubes, then you could also buy a manual 50mm f1.7 lens - they were going for around $50 a while back. My macro lens is a Vivitar Series One 105 macro lens that I think was last produced sometime in the 1990's and it's excellent. They were going for around $250 on ebaya year ago, not sure what they cost now.

Most other cameras have some compatibility issues with manual lenses, so for you, this could be a cost advantage. Otherwise, any of the dSLR cameras would work. The best thing to do is to handle the various cameras as they are all different sizes and weights. What one person likes another one will dislike.
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