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Old May 2, 2005, 5:18 PM   #1
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I really need advice. I have a 4 meg Olympus digital (my fourth digi in 7 years) and it takes great pictures and all that stuff,but it's slow writing to the outdated smart media card while I wait to shoot. I want something more sophisticated so I was looking at the Nikon 880 which has great features and a great zoom, etc., but then I started reading all this hype about digital SLR's. What's so different about these two systems? Is is just the ability to change lenses? If so, does the Nikon 880 lens offer enough flexibility or is SLR definitely the way to go? From everything I'm reading, I'm kind of getting the feeling that unless you want something light and small that you can carry in your shirt pocket, then in this day and age you should go the digital SLR route if your willing to carry a bigger camera. Ie., why buy a 2 pound Nikon 880 when you can buy a digital SLR that what? Gives you more options? You can see that I'm an ameteur. From all the reviews I've read it appears that the Pentax istDS is the best choice of the lesser expensive digi SLR's, but I'm wondering if Pentax will soon release an updated version with more megs. Surely they must be working on that? Any opinions? The other concern I have with this SLR thing is that people like Pentax say in their specs, "Easy uploading via USB cable." Why can't you take the SD card and stick it in your computer or printer like you can with other digital camera memory cards? Or do you have to use a cable with SLR's? Any help will be much appreciated. Thanks from Nagootie.
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Old May 2, 2005, 6:26 PM   #2
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Nagootie wrote:
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I really need advice. I have a 4 meg Olympus digital (my fourth digi in 7 years) and it takes great pictures and all that stuff,but it's slow writing to the outdated smart media card while I wait to shoot. I want something more sophisticated so I was looking at the Nikon 880 which has great features and a great zoom, etc., but then I started reading all this hype about digital SLR's. What's so different about these two systems? Is is just the ability to change lenses? If so, does the Nikon 880 lens offer enough flexibility or is SLR definitely the way to go?
I'm going to assume you mean the Nikon Coolpix 8800 versus 880.

The DSLR (like the Pentax *ist DS you're talking about)is a Single Lens Reflexcamera with a true, TTL (through the lens) Optical Viewfinder.

It has a mirror in the light path that reflects the light up tothe focusing screenvia a pentaprism.This mirror moves out of the way at the time you take the photo, letting the light hit the camera's sensor (versus film in a 35mm SLR). Because of this design, coupled with a sensor that's not designed to be sampled at a rate fast enough for a live feed, you can't use the LCD for framing (or for things like movies) with a DSLR.

However, an optical viewfinder is generally preferable for things like focusing. You also don't have the momentary delay often associated with an Electronic Viewfinder (as found innon-DSLR cameras with longer focal lengths using them).

One of the main differencesbetween a DSLR model andlonger focal length Prosumer Models is the sensor size. That really doesn't have anything to do with the SLR design itself, butcurrent DSLR models usemuch larger sensors. This means lower noise, since the larger photosites for each pixel can gather more light, requiring less amplification of their signal for equivalent ISO sensitivity.

But, there are other differences, too. For one thing, Depth of Field for any given Aperture, 35mm equivalent focal length and focus distance will be much greater with a non-DSLR model.This can be a good thing, or a bad thing, depending on how you are trying to use the camera.

Of course, size weight and cost also enter the equation (since a bright lens in longer focal lengths can belarge and heavy for a DSLR, and you usually need to buy more than one lens to match the focal range you get in some of the ultra-zoom prosumer models).

There are usually differences in things like autofocus speed and reliability, cycle times between photos, number of photos in a burst, etc., too. This is really more about the speed of the electronics and amount of buffer memory, than the design of the camera itself.

I'd suggest reading through this thread from last week, where like you, someone is considering upgrading from a 4 Megapixel Olympus digital camera to a DSLR. I go into more detail about the pros and cons of both camera types in this thread:

http://www.stevesforums.com/forums/view_topic.php?id=54915&forum_id=87

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From all the reviews I've read it appears that the Pentax istDS is the best choice of the lesser expensive digi SLR's, but I'm wondering if Pentax will soon release an updated version with more megs. Surely they must be working on that? Any opinions?

You'll need to decide which one is betterfor your needs if you go this route. As far as if they'll soon release an updated version with more megapixels, I don't know. 6 Megapixel Models like the Pentax *iST DS, Nikon D70, and Konica-Minolta 7D are using a Sony CCD. So, chances are, when one of these manufacturers releases a model with more resolution, the others will follow suit soon (there would be a good chance that they'd all be using the same or similar sensor and would design new models around a new sensor when it's introduced).

Canon now makes their own sensors for their DSLR models (and they don'tshare their sensors with other manufacturers). Olympus DSLR models (i.e., the 4/3 System Cameras like the E-1 and E-300 EVOLT) use Kodak sensors at this time.

In any event, the industry is changing at a rapid pace. So, there will be upgrades. But, you'll never get around to enjoying a camera if you wait on the latest and greatest model to hit the streets, since there will always be speculation on the next one to come after that.

Like computers, you'll have newer, faster, smarter models come out not too long after you buy a new camera. That doesn't mean that the one you buy still won't take great photos. It's not going to stop just because a replacement comes out. ;-)


Quote:
The other concern I have with this SLR thing is that people like Pentax say in their specs, "Easy uploading via USB cable." Why can't you take the SD card and stick it in your computer or printer like you can with other digital camera memory cards? Or do you have to use a cable with SLR's?
Yes, you can take the Secure Digital card and stick it ina card reader, just like you can with any other popular digital camera memory card type. You just need a card reader that can read Secure Digital media (and most newer "multi-card" readers can). The images are going to be stored in a folder on the card. So, you can copy them from the card if you're using a card reader.


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Old May 27, 2005, 11:29 AM   #3
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Hey Jim C:

About three weeks ago I posted a question as to whether or not buy a Nikon Coolpix 8800 vs. a digital SLR such as the Pentax IstDs. You gave me an extremely informative answer and I never thanked you. I didn't thank you because I was too dense to realize that I had written the question twice in two different forums and I just realized today (May 27th) that you had replied in the questions and answers forum, whichI had never logged into.Anyway, thank you so much for the terrific advice. I learned a lot from what you said as you are obviously extremely knowlegable in this field.Since that posting I have done much research and especially after reading your information today, I have decided to buy the Pentax IstDS. I agree that if I keep waiting for the next "latest and greatest" model that I'll be waiting all my life and never be taking any photographs.

Having said that, I wonder if I could impose upon you for more advice regarding lenses. It seems to me that it might be better to just buy the camera body vs. buying a package dealwith one of those standard "do it all" inexpensive lenses because I couldthen "cherry pick" a couple of good lenses that I would probably buy anyway, and hopefully such lenses would alleviate the need for the standard lense that would beincluded in the package (that cost more money than just the body). I was thinking of the the new lenses designed exclusively for digital SLR's like the Tamron SPAF 11-18mm LDE Aspherical (IF) (whatever all that means, ha ha) and the Tamron AF 18-200mm F/3.5-6.3 XR Di II LD Aspherical (IF). But then I also noticed the just released Pentax 50-200 which although doesn't quite seem to match the Tamron zoom in capability, it is smaller and lighter which is attractive. Anyway, would you be kind enough to give me an opinion as to whether or not my strategy is sound, ie. buy a body only and then buy these lenses, and also, your opinion on the lenses I just mentioned above vs. other possibilities that you might favor more or suggest. Thanks again for all your help.

Nagootie
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Old May 27, 2005, 11:44 AM   #4
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I don't keep up with all of the new lenses, and the review sites with lots of lens tests tend to lag new models by a considerable amount of time.

So, your best bet is to ask the users of these lenses how they like them (how sharp wide open, focus speed/accuracy, color, contrast, CA, flare, ergonomics, etc.)

You may want to ask these questions in our Pentax Digital SLR Forum , where you may find users that have an opinion of the kit lens.

For third party lenses, you may also find the Canon and Nikon specific lens forums to be useful (since the same lenses from manufacturers like Tamron, Tokina and Sigma are available in a variety of mounts).


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Old May 27, 2005, 11:51 AM   #5
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JimC:

Thanks so much again for the quick reply. I will go to the various forums that you mentioned and ask some questions which will hopefully produce good opinions.

Nagootie
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Old May 27, 2005, 2:16 PM   #6
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Nagootie

As a current digicam user (for some time it seems), you are probably used to the handling characteristics of these cameras, a DSLR will be a very different experience for you. The Pentax kit lens is probably one of the most cost effective ways to get a true wide angle view with a DSLR, let me explain:

A28mm lens in a 35mm SLR is considered a moderate wide angle, perfect for most uses because it is about as wide as most people can handle and still produce pictures which do not look distorted (wider angle lenses must be used carefully to produce natural looking pictures). 50mm gives a very natural perspective, similar to the way we actually see, an 80mm is a decent portrait lens. The Pentax *istDS has a sensor smaller than a 35mm frame so a factor of about 1.5 must be multiplied by the actual lens focal length to get the 35mm equivalent. This means that the 28mm lens now acts like a 28X1.5mm or 42mm, not a wide angle at all. To get a 28mm equivalent requires an actual focal length of about 18mm. This means that the old standard "do it all" 28-90mm lens must now be replaced by an 18-60mm to cover the most popular focal lengths. The Pentax kit lens (I forget the exact focal length) gives you about this range in a tolerable quality for a very low price.

As for other lenses, the Pentax *istDS has more possibilities for lenses than just about any other DSLR since it can use all of the Pentax K-mount lenses, even those without auto focus or an A setting, and with an adaptor it can also use most old screw mount lenses (including some excellent SMC Takumar lenses). This makes the choice of lenses absolutely huge. Remember only proper modern AF K-mount lenses will use all of the cameras features, but if you don't mind slowing down a little these other lenses will give excellent results at an unbelieveable bargain. One warning, beware of some Ricoh K-mount lenses which apparently can get stuck on the camera and could cause damage.

Hope this is of some help.

Ira
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Old May 27, 2005, 4:35 PM   #7
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Ira:

I really appreciate guys like you and JimC who seem to know what's really going on in digital SLR photography. I did learn recently about the difference in field of view from the digital SLR to a regular SLR. While you've given me another perspective on this re: the kit lenses can I ask you a couple of questions: 1. I assume by the low price for these kit lenses that they are not the new breed of lenses made specifically for digital SLR cameras. Is that correct? If so, does that really matter that much? Or what about buying one of the new digital SLr lenses that has the same sort of range like 18-60mm (like a kit lensor something like that) but just paying more money to get the new breed of digital SLR lens instead? Basically what I'm saying is that instead of a standard kit lens I would be willing to pay more for the same specification lens but make it a lens made for digi SLR's. Does that make more sense? Thanks again for all your help Ira. Although I live in Key West now I'm an old hoser from T Bay Ont. and I once married a girl from Gander. And, I'm a Stompin Tom fan too.

Nagootie
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