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beakydave Oct 22, 2005 4:12 PM

An old question, but one to which I need advice. I have recently bought Fuji s9500 which, while giving superb results, seems to have reliability issues. I am therefore considering switching from 35mm to dSLR. My problem is that I own a 700si which I love to bits. I could not, however, afford both this and a digital version. I certainly could not afford professional-levelso the 7D would seem to be the most obvious replacement. However, I would then have to choose between speed and flexibility of digital vs. 35mm image quality. I'd appreciate any advice from users who have made such a direct switch from film to digital, and in particular any comparison between the likes of the 700si and its digital 'equivalents'.

bernabeu Oct 22, 2005 6:36 PM

you will not go wrong with the 7d (or the 5d)

all maxum AFlenses will work (1.5x multiplier; a 50mm acts like a 75)

the 7d feels and operates exactly like a film slr

when properly exposed and 'processed' excellent 20x30 (or larger) is possible

yoza717 Oct 24, 2005 10:05 AM

I used to have the same dilema, although my worry wasn't too much as quality of digital but the price of the DSLR's. I have a Minolta X-700, Maxxum 7000i and now a Maxxum 7D. For what I shoot, digital gives me the same quality in print (I seldom print more that an 8x10). If the shot is that important I will go with Slide film on my film cameras which I haven't done since my 7D and my film has expired. Now all I have in my film camera is B&W film and red/orange filters. My DSLR has taken 99% of my pictures. Not having to process all those shots already has cancelled the price difference of a DSLR and a SLR.
So if you shoot store bought negative film in your SLR's, you will not notice a difference (especially if you processes at the hour photo).
If you buy Pro Film and go with pro processing, then there will be a some quality difference. So it is all up to what you shot before.

I hope this helps with your decision...

beakydave Oct 24, 2005 10:43 AM

Thank you, Yoza.

Discovered I don't have so much of a dilemma after all. Given that secondhand value of the 700si is practically nothing, there is no real benefit to ditching it. Going to 7D should in theory give me best of both worlds, like you. I will have the dSLR for general use and the 35mm SLR for those critical shots. I have to say that I cannot remember the last time I used colour negative film - any negatives I shoot are B&W. Virtually all my shots these days are on Fuji Velvia (Sensia if light conditions dictate). One of the attractive features of the s9500 is an f-chrome setting which seeks to mimic the colour saturation of reversal film. All I need to do now is find a spare £700 or so.

Unfortunately, replacing the s9500 for this purpose is not an option - this was bought primarily for my wife who has an irrational fear of SLR. She is not photography-minded and thinks an SLR too complicated. No amount of convincing can persuade her that the s9500 is any less complicated to use - the only difference really (apart from quality) is the fixed lens and EVF. Need to keep working on her!

beakydave Oct 24, 2005 11:08 AM

So let's assume I take the plunge. Cost is a consideration at the moment, so exactly what is the difference, in practical terms (I can read the specs) between the 5D and the 7D? The 5D is considerably cheaper, but would I end up wishing I had gone for the 7D? Or does the fact that I would continue with 35mm for critical shots mean that the 5D will suffice for others? I would obviously want the 7D, because it ought to be better, but does that quality improvement, whatever it may be, justify the price difference?

yoza717 Oct 24, 2005 12:33 PM

Your best bet is to go to a Camera store and hold each one in your hand.
I was going to get the 5D but when I held it, the 5D didn't feel as ergo(to me) as the 7D felt. The grip didn't seem fitted for larger hands so my fingers weren't snug around the grip (there was a little airgap where my fingers loop around and crunch up against the lens.
The 7D has all the controls external, and if you do any 35mm shooting this is a natural progression. I do not like to hunt through a menu system, so that was another plus for the 7D.
As far as performance they both looked equal and the 5D may have gotten better electronics, since they had a year to improve on the 7D. It was just a personal preference rather than performance for me. The 7D was probably meant for the old film shooters and the 5D was meant for people like your wife which may have been meant to convert digital P and S owners to a DSLR.

beakydave Oct 24, 2005 1:23 PM

Very helpful, thanks.

One other question (I'll find out anyway when I check it out) - does the viewfinder display exposure settings, like the 700si? As a 35mm user, I just can't get the hang of using the screen to shoot. However, one major complaint that I had re my first Minolta was that the exposure info was shown only on the LCD display on top of the camera - a real pain to continually have to take eye away from viewfinder to find out what cmaera was doing in Program Shift mode.

yoza717 Oct 24, 2005 1:47 PM

Yes it does. And it is nice to be able to adjust settings without removing your eye from the viewfinder. I shoot A most of the time so I have the other dial set to adjust the exposure +/- or switch to M and do all the adjusting myself with the meter telling me if I'm over or under...all without removing my eye from the viewfinder.
I forgot to suggest to download all the manuals for the cameras you are going to check out at the camera store. That always helps since some of the clerks are not familiar with the lesser known brands:sad:, unlike the Nikons and Canons.

dimagez1 Nov 9, 2005 7:15 PM

bernabeu wrote:

when properly exposed and 'processed' excellent 20x30 (or larger) is possible
While printing that large from any camera in the world is possible, one truly
needs to consider the actual resolution of the CCD and the print resolution.
First, a 6 megapixel digital SLR doesn't truly have 6 megapixels of resolution
unless it uses some method such as that of the Foveon chips. Secondly, even
if you did have 6 true megapixels, the image would need to be printed at 100
DPI to achieve a 20x30 inch print; a far cry from photographic quality. That's
almost as low as the resolution of a typical computer monitor! So, in order for
it to look "excellent", you'll need to stand farther away from the print (than
you would with an 8x10, for example) to avoid seeing pixelation or softness.
But then of course, that sort of defeats the purpose of creating a larger print.


JimC Nov 9, 2005 9:27 PM

There are pros and cons to either camera (5D versus 7D).

I "get a tickle" out of how well balanced the 5D is with something like the kit lens on it, everytime I hold it in the palm of one hand. I'm used to shooting with a larger and heavier Nikon body when I'm not using a smaller digicam (I keep a pocketable Konica Revio KD-510z with me at all times).

But, put a little heavier lens on a 5D, and you'll probably want a larger body and grip to help out some (a small grip area only goes so far if you're shooting a lot, and there is no optional vertical grip for the 5D like there is for the 7D).

Also, look at the viewfinder closely. If you wear eyeglasses, the 7D is probably a better bet.

As far as image quality, there's probably not a "nickel's worth of difference" between them. I believe that the 5D is about 1/3 stop more sensitive to light at higher ISO speeds based on images I've seen shot in the same conditions with the same lenses and camera settings.

It's probably due to differences in the supporting chipset prior to the Analog to Digital Converter between models (or perhaps even the AA filter over the sensor). That's one reason I went with a 5D (I plan on shooting at ISO 1600 a lot, and every little bit helps). But, I doubt most users could even tell the difference if the same cameras were both used in the same conditions.

Also, take flash needs into consideration. The 7D has a sync port for PC cord attached flashes/strobes. You'll need an adapter with the 5D (hotshoe only).

Buffer size is another consideration. The 7D has a larger buffer. However, the 5D is actually faster writing to media when flushing it's buffer. I don't shoot sports, so the 5D is plenty fast enough for my needs, even shooting in raw.

As for the LCD, the 7D has higher resolution. But, neither LCD (5D or 7D) is anything to "brag about" (debatable). I personally wouldn't worry about this difference.

The 7D does have some features that would be desirable (custom settings is an example). But, the 5D tries to make up for it with scene modes (not available in the 7D). I haven't taken the time to try them yet to see if they could be useful or not (but then again, I haven't bothered with them on previous cameras I've owned that had them either).

You've also got more external controls on the 7D (but most users don't really need them). There are more differences, too. But, you start getting into "splitting hairs".

AFAIK, the 14 segment honeycomb metering system is the same on both models, and the sensor is probably the same, too (although there may be some differences in the Antialiasing filter and supporting chipset between the models). If you shoot in raw, then you can process the images almost any way you want to using a variety of tools (bypassing the camera's image processing and letting a more powerful computer convert the data from the sensor). My favorite right this minute is dcraw.c (a free command line program that most users would be frustrated with).

If you shoot in jpeg, then both models have the ability to adjust things like contrast, sharpening and saturation to a point.

As far as print sizes, the images enlarge quite well (suprisingly well in my opinion). KM's JPEG engine seems to be up to the task if you're not shooting in raw, and IMO you'll get more "real" detail with better glass and technique than you will with more megapixels comparing 6 and 8MP models.

Don't forget Antishake either. It really works. I was surprised recently when I was able to get a relatively usable 1/2 second hand held exposure of someone sitting across the table from me. Try that one with another camera. LOL

Now, that's an extreme example (don't expect it to be very repeatable on a consistent basis), but you'd be surprised at how much it can help out if you need to stop down the aperture or are shooting in very low light and are trying to avoid maxing out the ISO speed to keep noise down. I must have taken a hundred images at shuttter speeds of 1/8 to 1/30 second over this past weekend at focal lengths that would have normally required faster shutter speeds without a tripod.

Heck, I'm sure I'll get arguments, but I just don't believe 35mm color negative film can match a 6MP Digital if you've got the light just right and spend a bit of time processing your images. I've seen too many prints from both Digital and 35mm negative film hanging on the wall "side by side". Even 2 and 3MP models can produce pretty darn nice looking 8x10" prints.

In harsh lighting, sure, maybe film is better, and I say maybe because I've seen negative film get in trouble just as fast as digital in the same lighting (especially if you're shooting contrasty higher speed film). Most users aren't going to be printing poster size images anyway, and even if you do, you don't look at them at distances as close as you do smaller print sizes.

I still shoot film from time to time, too (probably more often than I should admit on a Digital Camera Forum I'm a moderator on). :-)

But, image processing for digital is getting to be pretty sophisticated to extract the most detail out of a camera's sensor. It will continue to improve with time. If you shoot in raw, you'll probably be able to get much better images a few years down the road by reprocessing your images with the latest tools if you have some cherished memories you want in even larger sizes.

I'll be doing a more thorough writeup of my opinion on the 5D very soon. So, stay tuned and I'll make some more detailed comments on what I think it's pros and cons are.

As for 35mm film versus Digital for most user's needs at commonly used print sizes in most shooting conditions, IMO we were "there" about 5 years ago when the better 2 Megapixel cameras came out. Don't assume that more megapixels = better quality.

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