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Old Mar 28, 2009, 4:41 AM   #1
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I am on the path of trying to decide which digital slr to buy (this will be my first digi slr) and to say I am confused and a little bewildered by all the choice and options available is an understatement so I thought I would ask the experts. I have no preference for make and am working to an entry level budget of about £4-500.00 but could go a little higher if need be. I will mainly be taking outdoor shots e.g. birds, architectureand landscapes and the usual family shots. I want reasonable ease of operation so I don't get bogged down spending an age trying to work everything out.I would prefer to operate with one lense if possible. So my question is which camera would you buy in my position? many thanks for any advise received.

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Old Mar 28, 2009, 5:31 AM   #2
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Welcome to Steve's Forums.

For birds, you'll need a long lens. 300mm might be long enough, but longer would be better. For landscape and architecture, you'll need something wide, with a focal length of 20mm or less. The usual family shots would require something like the typical kit lens.

I don't think you'll find a single lens that will do everything you want. And even the lenses that come close, won't do many of those things well. One major advantage of a dSLR is that you can use a lens that is capable of doing one thing well. A One-Size-Fits-All lens may do everything, but probably not do many of them well.

The selection of lenses should bea major criterion for selection a dSLR. If the dSLR that you like best doesn't have the lenses you need for the types of photography you want to do, then it's not a good choice for you.

Canon and Nikon (except the D40 and D60)have the best selections of OEM and third party lenses, by far, followed by Pentax and Sony, then the Nikon D40 and D60, with Olympus having the smallest selection. Image stabilization is a popular feature in cameras, and should be a consideration of yours since you're interested in shooting birds, which requires a longer lens. Canon and Nikon use optical image stabilization in some of hteir newer lenses, which makes them bigger, heavier and more expensive. Pentax, Sony and most Olympus dSLRs use sensor shift image stabilization in the camera body, which stabilizes any lens, including 20 year old Olympus and Minolta (Sony) lenses available on the used market. (Older Olympus lenses don't fit the newer dSLRs.)

For birds, especially birds in flight (BIF), you'll need a good autofocus system. Canon and Nikon (except the D40 and D60)have the best autofocus systems along with the higher priced Sony dSLR models.

It is important that you select an appropriate dSLR for what you wnat to do, because over time, you will possibly end up buying a collection of lenses that migh end up costing more than the camera. If you buy what turns out to be the wrong choice, you've already made a significant investment in inappropriate gear.

I think the best choice for you would be the Canon 450D, but that would put a strain on your budget even before you buy any lenses. The Canon 1000D and the Sony A200 and A300 might work well for most of what you want todo.
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Old Mar 28, 2009, 8:11 AM   #3
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For what you describe, Olympus may be a good fit.

The E510 (discontinued) or the E520 have stabilization built in. They have a somewhat smaller sensor (somewhat higher pixel density) which allows for a longer reach for a given focal length. The auto focus is less sophisticated, but very accurate.

The ideal setup on a budget would be the E520, the 14-42 f3.5-5.6 kit lens, and the 70-300 f4-5.6. There is also a second kit lens, the 40-150 f3.5-5.6 that you may consider instead of the 70-300 if you want to hold the cost down, but I think its short for birding. The lenses are are quite good for entry level and I'm astounded by their output (by others, I don't own any of the above equipment).

Now for the bad end. The entry level Oly cameras have small viewfinders. They are fine for composing, but manual focus is not recommended unless you have excellent eyesight. The setup described above is also not a dim light setup and will struggle in that situation. The autofocus will struggle there.

I stated I don't have the described kit. I started with the E500 and two kit lenses. I've moved to higher priced models, both cameras and lenses, but heres a few from my first kit.

All the below are E500/40-150 f3.5-4.5 (the "old" kit lens can still be had for around a hundred bucks, but softer at the long end)

(Edit) you may also want to consider a superzoom as it may fullfil those needs quite well also!!!

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