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Old May 22, 2007, 12:00 AM   #1
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I bought my first and only digital camera four years ago through the help of this site. It was an Olympus C-4000Z and still takes some awesome pictures. However, I feel like I've hit that point where I'm wanting more, and have decided to step up to an amatuer dSLR. I've spent many hours each day for the past week reading everything I can find about cameras in my price range, and the A100 seems to fit the bill. So here I am again, in need of some advice.

Looking over the pictures I've taken over the past four years, they are mostly family get-togethers, nature, dogs (my wife breeds dachshunds), and vacations.

First, I'm looking for a relatively good low light lens for indoor shots of the family, no flash. This would hopefully be my everyday lens so something in the 17-50mm range would be nice. If the kit lens would work fine for this purpose, I'll stick to that. But, if there's something else out there that is in the same price range that is faster, I'd be interested.

Second, I'd likea good size zoom telephoto (out to 300mm) for nature/birds. The faster the better, but I'm on a budget so that may be a compromise. The best I've found in my price range (couple hundred dollars) is f4. I've noticed there's comparable lenses in the 75-300mm range from Sony/KM, Sigma, and Tamron. I haven't seen any side by side comparisons yet, only that they are all just "ok"and need bright sunlight. They are all priced abut the same, so I'm wondering which would be best for my purpose. Open to others suggestions here.

Thanks for all the help! If all goes well, I'll be the proud owner of a new Sony A100 very shortly.
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Old May 22, 2007, 5:46 AM   #2
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While the kit lens is good, the Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 might suit you better.

And the Sony 75-300 f/4.5-5.6 is one of many good choices.
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Old May 22, 2007, 7:12 AM   #3
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flatland2d wrote:
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I bought my first and only digital camera four years ago through the help of this site. It was an Olympus C-4000Z and still takes some awesome pictures. However, I feel like I've hit that point where I'm wanting more, and have decided to step up to an amatuer dSLR. I've spent many hours each day for the past week reading everything I can find about cameras in my price range, and the A100 seems to fit the bill. So here I am again, in need of some advice.

Looking over the pictures I've taken over the past four years, they are mostly family get-togethers, nature, dogs (my wife breeds dachshunds), and vacations.

First, I'm looking for a relatively good low light lens for indoor shots of the family, no flash. This would hopefully be my everyday lens so something in the 17-50mm range would be nice. If the kit lens would work fine for this purpose, I'll stick to that. But, if there's something else out there that is in the same price range that is faster, I'd be interested.

Second, I'd likea good size zoom telephoto (out to 300mm) for nature/birds. The faster the better, but I'm on a budget so that may be a compromise. The best I've found in my price range (couple hundred dollars) is f4. I've noticed there's comparable lenses in the 75-300mm range from Sony/KM, Sigma, and Tamron. I haven't seen any side by side comparisons yet, only that they are all just "ok"and need bright sunlight. They are all priced abut the same, so I'm wondering which would be best for my purpose. Open to others suggestions here.

Thanks for all the help! If all goes well, I'll be the proud owner of a new Sony A100 very shortly.
Forget the kit lens indoors unless you have plenty of light. There are some good deals on a Tamron 20mm-40mm F/2.7-3.5 on KEH.COM. I bought one brand new for the sameprice they are getting for a "Like New" condition but that was a fluke. They are about 150 dollars or even less if you want in less perfect condition. The KEH ratings are very conservative, so their stuff is generally in great shape. It is a great indoor lens. It's great outdoors for landscape, but it comes up short at the long for outdoorspurposes as it could use a little more reach. It's got a very solid build and worth more money, but it's just not a popular size for outdoor work except for the wide end.

Unfortunately, I can't think of anything that will give you 300mm, is fast and under 200 dollars. Besides, 300mm may not be enough for birds. You are probablybetter off with something that can go to 400mm, but again, nothing out there for under 200 dollars. The 75-300mm Sony/KM is OK for routine work, but the older model known as the "Big Beer Can" is better if you can locate one used. I have the newer 75-300KM, but I prefer to use myTamron 28-300mm which is moreconvenient, plus I got it dirt cheap, but it's terrible in low light. Makes a good walk around lens for things like the zoo and other recreational stuff, but indoors it's a dud. I would like to replace it withtheir new 18-250mm lens as a walk around lens, but it's about 500 dollars since it just came out.
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Old May 22, 2007, 9:37 AM   #4
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Thanks for the replies. I'll be looking into the Tamron 17-50mm as an option since it offers a better range than the 20-40mm (though that one looks to be pretty inexpensive).

Ok, so forget the fast aspect of the zooms out to 300mm. Is there one that shines above the others, or are the all about the same in that price range? The beercan looks pretty attractive, too.

Now I have more options to think about. Maybe I'll get the Tamron 28-300mm as my first (and "everyday") lens and get the 17-50mm a little later when I can save up the money again and desire the low light performance.
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Old May 22, 2007, 11:44 AM   #5
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flatland2d wrote:
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Ok, so forget the fast aspect of the zooms out to 300mm. Is there one that shines above the others, or are the all about the same in that price range? The beercan looks pretty attractive, too.
Everywhere I looksaysthe Sony 75-300 is (slightly) better than the Sigma or the Tamron in that price range ($200-$250.) The Beercan (70-210 f/4) and Big Beercan (75-300 f/4.5-5.6) are supposed to be excellent but are scarce.

flatland2d wrote:
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Now I have more options to think about. Maybe I'll get the Tamron 28-300mm as my first (and "everyday") lens and get the 17-50mm a little later when I can save up the money again and desire the low light performance.
I don't think anyone will tell you that a super-zoom will outperform more moderate zooms. If you need the reach for your first and only lens, the Tamron 28-300 is not a bad choice.

When I bought my KM5D, I got it with the KM 18-200 (a rebranded Tamron.) For GP shooting, I was pleased with it, but when I started looking for more detail, I wasn't getting it. And the less satisfied I was with it, the more I was irritated byits flaws. Now I have this $400 lens that I never use.
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Old May 22, 2007, 12:11 PM   #6
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Get the minolta 50mm f1.7 lens from ebay. $125USD. Very good low-light performance.

Second choice is CZ or tamron 16-80mm. Both are quite expensive though and not that fast.

Get the 70-210 'beer can' minolta lens. $225CDN. Alternatively, the kit zoom lens is very good.
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Old May 22, 2007, 8:21 PM   #7
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I agree with cgl88 - get the minolta 50mm f1.7 lens. $100US or a bit more second hand. Very good value for the money. Sharp, fast, and a pretty usefull focal length.

With any dSLR the kit lens is good value unless you want really good glass at that focal length range. Sounds like you are more interested in a long lens so save the money toward that. None of the good ones are cheap. You might want to consider one of the second hand xx-300 zooms from K&H for under $75US. They will remind you of what looking through the bottom of an old coke bottle is like, but you will have something to use while you save up for a better lens.
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Old May 23, 2007, 7:05 AM   #8
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I agree with cgl88 and BillDrew that the 50mm f1.7 is an excellent low light lens, and it's inexpensive to boot. But it is at the upper limit of the range you specified. 50mm makes it a portrait lens on an A100, which is fine for photos of one person at a time, but you'd better keep the groups small or you'll need to be in the next room to get the shot.
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Old May 25, 2007, 11:33 PM   #9
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Thanks again for all the advice. I think I've come to a conclusion.

I think I'm going to stick with the kit 18-70mm lens (maybe the Tamron 17-50mm, but it's a little more expensive) and get some practice with thatthen probably get the Tamron 50mm f1.7 a little further down the line, with either a Sony or Beercan for my telephoto.
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Old May 26, 2007, 7:30 AM   #10
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flatland2d wrote:
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...then probably get the Tamron 50mm f1.7 a little further down the line ...
Actually, the 50mm f1.7 we're talking about is from Minolta. It is no longer in production, and is being swallowed up on the used market pretty fast. It's not expensive (less than $100) so you might want to jump on it if the opportunity presents itself.
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