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Old Jan 15, 2006, 8:09 AM   #1
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I know this question has been asked and answered to death by everyone already and I've read all the posts on them already. I'm just not getting any closer to making a decision so here goes.

I take mostly indoor, low light photos. My 5 year old is a frequent subject as are horses in motion, in a very low light riding arena. Very difficult subjects, I know. All my current photos (sony p72) of my daughter indoors end up with her in the middle of blinking from the flash going off. I've basically stopped taking pictures of her b/c of this, it's just too frustrating, which is a shame b/c she's awfully cute *grin*.

My p72 has now got to go, with my biggest complaints being the blinking eyes it's flash causes, the noisey, crappy photos it's taking in the arena of the horses, and totally unviewable/unusable black photos it took of my daughter's very first Christmas concert last month (which I'm sure were at least partly my fault). Oh, and last but most definitely not least, the horribly long time it takes between photos and start up time. I spend more time waiting for my camera to be ready to take a picture, than actually taking pictures. That just doesn't work when shooting subjects as unpredictable as children and horses.

So, with low light action shots, lightning fast operation being my main goals, and a very restrictive budget that has gone from $500 to around $800 now that I have spent time looking at the actual prices of these things I have decided that perhaps the rebel XT, nikon d50 and minolta 5d are topping my list, with the 5d at the top b/c of the anti-shake or IS or whatever it has. The problem with the 5d is that I am in Canada and trying to find some place in Canada to buy it (been looking mostly through ebay for second hand ones) so that I'm not stuck paying a million dollars in duty to get it across the border. Plus, I think I'd rather the 8mp's of the Canon, since I frequently crop photos, I'd like to have the extra mp's to play with.

I guess, my questions are, will the photos from the 5d really be that much better in low-light that it warrants me working harder to find one and going with the lesser mp's? And, whatever camera I ultimately go with, do I get the body only and buy a lens (if so which one) or look for a bundle kit? Sounds like, from the posts I've been reading I'd be better off to purchase a lens and the body...but then how much $$'s am I running? I also love playing around with taking portraits of my daughter, my friend's children and nieces so whatever lens I get needs to be able to that as well.

And finally, after all that, do I even really need an SLR that badly for the photos I'm taking?

Thanks in advance for any thoughts!
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Old Jan 15, 2006, 2:45 PM   #2
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The minolta's auto focus can't touch the D50 or the 350XT, specially in low light. Nikon has mastered the sync flahs and is best of group flashwise, the 350XT is more expandable 8mp is 8mp no matter how u cut it, can add a battery grip, micro drive memory is a little cheaper, and is a bit more options expandable. The 350xt n D50 will run u similar price when u consider that the D50 has no software for manipulating RAW immages, only a demo so u need to buy full software or a program that will raise price to over 100$ n more. D50 is nice if u don't got deep pockets, i love that it can go up to ISO 1600 with little noise, I have tried both at stores, The D50 feels nicer but the 350xt has a nicer eye cup since I wear glases, for some reason the cups larger on the canon, the nikon however i like that the AF is verry competitive. So far im stuck in thise two, I will prob get the rebel XT is the price drops a little, don't wanna buy from some sketchy vendors, would like a nice warantee, since u don't wanna blow $700 or more then have it break down (thats why i scratched off the minolta). Avoid the minolta wagon just because it has antishake, if u can run shutter speed fast enough ull compensate for movement, only usefull if u got a big lens n if u have a big lens u should have a tripod in first place.

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Old Jan 16, 2006, 8:16 AM   #3
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The whole point of anti shake is when you CAN'T use fast enough shutter speed it'll compensate for it by correcting for lens shake that otherwise would affect the image at slower shutter speed....which is why it is GOOD for low light....As for the slow AF in low light I personally have no issues with it....
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Old Jan 16, 2006, 8:47 AM   #4
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maybe moving from p&s to dSLR may be too big of a jump. you know ultimately a dSLR is where its at in terms of power, flexibility, quality etc but all that comes with a cost both in terms of money and time invested to gain the knowledge to know what your doing...

ive had a casio p600 for about a year and half now (an enthusiasts camera which allows for manual controls), and ive just upgraded to a panny fz rather than a dSLR. ive got friends with dSLRs and ive done some photography courses and read up as much as i can, but i still dont feel confident enough to step up to dSLR... and the lenses/memory etc costs of what id want it to do would cost 3x my panny setup.

anyway, thats me... ive got quite a nice setup that will last me for a year or two, by which time hopefully dSLRs will be much cheaper and ill be ready for them

have you considered the ultra-zooms? maybe one which can take a flash in a hotshoe would be an option for close quarters stuff...

on the other hand if your taking pics at long distance of a fast moving subject in a low light, then its dSLR only and its gonna cost ya

either way good luck and come back and post some pics when you get your rig sorted, cheers!
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Old Jan 16, 2006, 9:10 AM   #5
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I think that for what your doing, you'll only be happy with a DSLR. Response time, noise, and being able to get just the right lens... its a compromise on cost and size, every other camera is a compromise on the image and usability.

Ket the kit lens, IMO. Its not the fastest, but the zoom range is just right. A 50mm f1.7 prime goes for cheap used and would probably be even better around the house.

I dont care for the SD memory of the D50, compact flash is the standard in this market.

You can buy IS (image stabilized) or VR (vibration reduction) lenses for cannon and nikon respectively, but they'll cost you. It comes free with Minolta. I have AS (anti-shake) in my minolta A1 and I wont be without on any future camera, it works and works well. Less so with moving subjects, though, since a slow shutter will still allow motion blur even if you get rid of camera shake. You need a fast lens and high ISO settings to get the shutter speed up.

Image quality between these three cameras is probably, for all practical purposes, equal. Camera handling, cost, and features are what set them apart. Can you change ISO, drive mode, metering mode, and flash settings quickly enough to capture the shot? This is where the Minolta really shines.

Going DSLR is a big step, but unfortunatly there are only a couple P&S type cameras that can hold up to your demands, and they will still compromise your ability to get the picture in demanding conditions. They are a little more compact, but you still cant put them in a pocket so does it really gain anything? They cost as much too, and when you upgrade from one you start completely from scratch. If you later upgrade your DSLR, you can keep all the accesories and only replace the body.

If you find in a few years that you cant quite get that shot of your kids performances, or sports, you can buy a new (and very expensive) lens to go with a DSLR. With a P&S, tough break.

Between the three cameras, I think the minolta has the edge, but I'm biased (just ordered one myself). The most important thing is going to be that you can USE the camera well, not that the camera WORKS well (because they all do).

The resolution difference is just not worth considering, 3008 x 2000 (5D) vs 3456 x 2304 (Rebel XT)...
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Old Jan 16, 2006, 9:45 AM   #6
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Isn't there an underlying issue here that has not been addressed yet? The proposed budget is $500 to a top of $800. I teach digital cameras, doing both dSLR workshops as well as Intermediate and Beginner P&S workshops. I speak/instruct over 10,000 camera owners each year.

Therefore, I own the KM 5D, the Olympus E-500, the Canon XT, the Canon 20D, and the Nikon D-70 as well a a whole bunch of P&S cameras. Based on speaking with many enthusiastic dSLR users, as I do, one theme in always recurring: The dSLR body and the kit lens represents just the tip of the iceberg. It is the dedicated flashes (and yes, Nikon's SB-800 is a great one!), the additional lenses, and the accessories that make the REAL dSLR cost really add up fast.

There is a lot to be said for the high ISO capability, the lens interchageability, and the resolution of dSLR cameras that are in the 8mp range, but it comes at a much larger cost and far greater bulk to carry. If the cost and the bulk are not issues for you. Great! Move ahead with a dSLR decision.

However, you must keep in mind that the P&S category has also improved a great deal in the last 12 to 15 months as well. It is also rumored that Fuji will introduce a F-10 (ISO capability now 1600) replacement at PMA, called the F-30capable of a maximum of ISO 3200. There are some very capable P&S cameras out there now and it is only logical to suppose that we will see even more in the near future.

The bottom line is that the P&S manufacturers know that their P&S market's interestis shifting/tilting dramatically toward dSLR cameras. They want to retain their market share so we are probably going to see some nifty P&S cameras shortly that will address Roni's photo problems ata much lesser cost, and with a smaller size.

That does not displace the psychology of the problem at all. As has been suggested already, perhaps Roni will not be happy until he or she has a dSLR in hand. However, as someone who uses both types of cameras every single day, I can tell you the the camera capability gap between the P&S cameras and the dSLR cameras isNOT that large. The bottom line issue becomes how capable is the photographer. It takes both photographer and camera to make a great photo.

Thanks for listening/reading. That is just my 2 cents worth.

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Old Jan 16, 2006, 9:52 AM   #7
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I'm a totally unqualified newbie but I thought I'd throw my thoughts in since I just bought the D50 2 lens kit. I can only speak about US dollars, but here goes. The 2 lens kit as you know has high quality but not VR Nikkor glass with 18-55 and 55-200 range. You can find other bundles with say a single 70-200mm. After the $850 investment from a reputable source, you will have to add an SD card, and a suitable case. Ultimately you will probably want the external flash, an extra battery and another SD card in case of a failure. They say the battery is good for 2000-2500 flashes and after taking 200 shots just fooling around, heavy on flash, the battery hasn't dropped a tick. I'm not going on safari, so my concerns about a back-up battery have diminished a little. The case however is gonna be mandatory. There is a Nikon kit bag that is (supposedly) big enough to hold the camera with lens attached, an extra lens, flash, charger, battery, and miscellaneous and comes with a battery and one Quanteray 52mm UV filter - it runs $75-95.

But what about the camera? Again, I am am a newbie and have only a little experience with film SLR. But I have posted my delight with the camera on the Nikon board here. It feels great (IMO, but that is up to you to decide - don't pass up the advice to go hold them in the store). It is intuitive and logical in changing settings. Yes, some settings (switching flash off, switching from single to continuous mode) require holding a button in and turning a dial, but it only takes once to learn it and the button/wheel placement still allow a natural feel to hold the camera and make the changes. Did I say it feels great?

The transfer times are lightning fast. The included software to transfer and organize and (piddle) with the pictures is so so. I have posted that I have better results for such piddling with my HP software for my HP 2610. I own Photoshop 6 but haven't a clue how to use it so I wonder if the $100 purchase of Nikon Capture (?) would be worth it. I am only beginning to experiment in this area.

This camera has taught me - as I think any dSLR would - how little I know about photography. Quoting the sage advice of many boards, a great camera does not a great photographer make. But for me - THIS is what I wanted. I don't have kids (except the 4 dogs and 5 cats), so capturing precious moments is not the driving force for me. What I want is to learn, experiment, get immediate results, learn more, etc. and have FUN doing it.

Now, as to whether the KM anti-shake is worth paying duty and stretching to buy, I will say this. I have experimented with night shots and I will tell you that my hands will never be steady enough to take a picture that doesn't have motion (ick!) in it...a tripod it is. I don't know if the Nikon VR lens will help, but the earlier writer spoke highly of the anti-shake feature built into the camera. Likewise, think there are some cases where only a tripod will do. Remember though I am an extreme newbie.

Likewise, I think I would conclude if I were you, that if you go with a mega zoom (all I can think of is the Canon S2 IS, there are others), make sure it has image stabilization in it too.

My needs and goals are different than yours, but I just thought I'd give you some thoughts on my recent purchase from a VERY VERY newbie perspective. And, hey folks, if I said something dead wrong, PLEASE correct me.



Happy shooting, let us know what you decide and post some pics.

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Old Jan 17, 2006, 9:25 AM   #8
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If I can summarize where your current issues are:

1. Slow start-up time

2. Niece blinking in direct flash

3. Dark pictures of horses indoors

Just dealing with the second two issues, there are two ways to combat these problems:

1. External Flash (bounced for kid shots - to remove blinking and no red-eye) More powerful for horse shots

2. Have camera / lens combination that can take good low-light action shots (which means high ISO capabilities and 'fast' lens). The problem with this option is that it is expensive and the results really aren't that good. Depending on the environment, even with a 'fast lens' and high ISOs you may not be able to get shutter speeds needed to stop action. And, especially with DSLRs, a 'fast lens' (f1.8) has a very shallow depth-of-field (DOF) - meaning very little of the picture will be in-focus. That can have benefits, but it's also very tricky and problematic. And, of course, lenses faster than 2.8 are almost always prime lenses (fixed focal length)

In any case, since there is potential for movement, anti-shake doesn't help a whole lot since you need faster shutter speeds. So, while the KM's anti shake is a great feature it won't help you out for these needs.

I really think a digicam with a hot shoe for an external flash would be your least expensive option. That way, if the camera has good ISO 400 capabilities you won't need a fast lens. Then buy a good, compatible external flash that has bounce capabilities. I say digicam because your budget of $800 will basically only cover a DSLR with kit lens with no money left for the flash.

Just another approach. I currently use a Canon 20d, and my old digicam did not have a hotshoe so I can't give a knowledgeable recommendation of a digicam with hot shoe capability. But it is another avenue to pursue.
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Old Jan 17, 2006, 9:46 AM   #9
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I believe that John G's advice is excellent. There might be a better way to approach Roni's problem.

To increase your light output and to extend the range or reach of your flash, you can consider adding a slaveflash. No hot shoe is required and it also gives you the advantage of bounced flash as well, when desired. A slave flash set up will work with any camera.

By using a digicam and a slave flash Roni's problems can be addressed and Roni will be able to stay within budget. I have attached a photo of a typical slave flash set-up.

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