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fixerdave Aug 5, 2005 12:06 AM


well, I'm sitting here waiting for the insurance company to decide between fixing or refunding me for my dead Sony F717. The iris/shutter?? is sticking inside the lens intermittently. In a year and a half, I took over 45,000 pictures... I guess I wore it out.

Anyway, assuming I get some money back, I'm trying to decide between a dSLR and a really good electronic viewfinder camera. On the dSLR side, there's that mirror that has to move out of the way for each shot while the electronic viewfinder systems have far less moving parts.

What I want to know is how many times that mirror can flip out of the way before "it don't flip no more." I mean, I shot a lot of film, over years and years, with my first 35mm SLR but nowhere near the 45,000 digital pictures I've taken recently. That amounts to well over a thousand rolls of film. I wouldn't expect anything less than a full-on professional 35mm camera to stand up to that kind of beating. How do the dSLRs fare?

I'm seriously considering the Canon 20D but after holding it in my hands, and listening to the mirror flip back, I'm really hesitant. It just doesn't feel substantial... I guess I'm used to the heft of the Sony... and my old Pentax. I've also gotten used to the faint click my Sony makes when taking a picture; that slightly cheezy sounding THWACK of the 20D makes me flinch. How many pictures could I expect from it before it failed? Has anyone pushed one of these cameras?

And, slightly off topic, why is it that the electronic viewfinder cameras are so limited? It annoys me that they can show continuous movies yet the dang viewfinder blanks out between still shots. I mean, the cameras have buffers... why can't they send the occasional image to a tiny little low-res viewfinder? However, I really do like the overlay info on an electronic viewfinder... way better than any SLR I've seen. It should be a better technology than optical, but it's still not. As well, why can't they put a decent-sized sensor in a non-reflex camera? Ah well... I'm just griping now.

So... given the requirements that I take a LOT of pictures, like things to be quiet, have to have a "professional" looking camera, am not concerned with a little weight, want a manual zoom ring, and need something 3mp or better (no... I don't really need high-res), does anyone have any particular recommendations?


Hards80 Aug 5, 2005 1:19 AM

trust me.. the 20d will not fail you.. it is built forMANY more shots than your f717.. i have heard many a tale of 20ds dropped during hikes down hills of rocks and nary a scratch... reliability of the 20d is a mute point.. its reliable..

peripatetic Aug 5, 2005 2:01 AM

Canon quotes the MTBF of the 20D shutter to be 100,000 actuations and the XT to be around 50,000.

As to the sound of the 20D shutter/mirror flip I agree - it's the only thing that I really don't like about it; apart from that it's a fantastic camera and does everything I want.

As to a recommendation - have you looked at the Leica Digilux? I have no idea how many actuations it will handle, but it would seem to meet your other requirements.

fixerdave Aug 5, 2005 3:50 AM

Wow... I want to try out that Leica... it really appeals to me. Now I'm really hoping the insurance company sends me a cheque rather than a replacement. It would be strange though, going from an absurdly feature-rich Sony to a minimalist design. Not that I ever actually used any of the wild Sony features. But hey, you never know when you're going to need to do flash photography in complete darkness using night vision and holographic focus, and then record an audio message to explain why ;) Me... I just want to take pictures, mostly studio, maybe some outside.

Even the Panasonic DMC-LC1 equivelant would be nice. I just have to find a dealer around me. The closest Leica dealer is in the next city, across the water.

Thanks for the pointer... and the spec's on the D20. A mere 100,000 shots seems kind of limiting in the digital world. I calculated it out... in a year and a half, roughly 450 days, I've shot 45,000 pictures. That's 100 shots per day on average :) not that I take pictures every day. But, when I do, I take a lot; I love digital.


polarwasp Aug 5, 2005 3:53 AM

For those like me who don't really know what MTBF is

Monza76 Aug 5, 2005 6:26 AM

Check out the upcoming Fuji Finepix S9000, . The EVF in my S7000 freezes very briefly with each exposure but continues to operate even in burst mode, not quite as quick as a DSLR mirror but more than adequate for following action.

As for reliability, in over 25 years of use my film SLRs have never had a mirror problem (one K1000's shutter finally died but only after about 20 years of use). There are no problems with reliability of DSLRs, especially the 20D, only complaint I have ever heard about them is an occasional lock up (which requires battery removal to clear) and I think the latest firmware upgrade may have fixed that as well. As for the noise, all DSLRs have the mirror slap sound, some like the Pentax *istDS and the new Canon 350D are very quiet, the 20D is at the noisy end of the scale (I haven't heard a Nikon D70s so I can't comment), digicams are much quieter (unless you turn on the "shutter sound" offered on most cameras).

As a long time 35mm SLR user I am surprisingly not a big fan of DSLRs (except for those who really need the speed, high ISO performanceand flexibility). If you are not primarily an action photographer, the better EVFdigicams offer a zoom range equal to two good DSLR lenses, they are light weight, and as an all-in-one design, the only accessories you are likely to carry are an external flash unit, maybe some filters and spare cards and batteries. I will probably eventually get a DSLR to go with my Pentax or Minolta lenses, but I am in no rush since the S7000 (and maybe the S9000) serves me very well for my style of photography, with less cost and fewer hassles than a DSLR.

I guess it comes down to your style of photography, don't be afraid of DSLR reliability, no issues there, and give the S9000 a look, it may be all you need.


cameranserai Aug 5, 2005 6:34 AM

Well, to answer your basic question, I hate to think how many photos I have taken with my Nikon F90X and F5 over the last 10 years, but I have never had a problem with them, ever. I now have had a D70 for two years at maybe 20,000 shots per year and now a D2X (a different class altogether of course, but it should be at the price) and with neither of these have I had a problem. It seems to follow that the SLR range is built for substantial use, unlike the prosumer ranges.However, reading the forums it does seem that DSLR's are more prone to failure than the old film equivalents so perhaps they are still perfecting.

Moving on, I havealready posted that when I went digital I fully considered both Canon and Nikon, since I was going to be buying new lenses anyway, and knowing that some of my pro lenses were saleable if I switched. I tried the EOS range and the Nikon D series too, and quite frankly was amazed at the difference. The Canon just didn't feel right somehow in my hand but the Nikon did. Perhaps because I have used Nikons for 20+ years, but I was totally open minded when I approached the subject and was trulyamazed at how different each camera felt. Hence I now have a much depleted bank balance and a host of new lenses......all black.

The choice is yours, but at the rate you take pictures it is no wonder that the camera didn't last long. Only a professional camera like the Canon1D or the Nikon D2X is really built for that level of use.

fixerdave Aug 6, 2005 1:12 AM

Thanks to all that replied. From this I've learned:

- that I either need to push the shutter button less, go for a full-on professional camera, or make sure I keep burning them out before the extended warranty expires.

- there are more camera choices than I had originally thought. Some of them are approaching my ideal camera... though they either seem to be slightly flawed or not yet released.

I'm beginning to feel like I'm looking for a camera about one year too soon. I might just stall for a bit by picking up a Sony F828 as that would be my cheapest option, considering I already have spare batteries etc.. If I burned it out in a year or so... well, that would be okay - so long as I get my money back. Then, I'll start this process over again and see what's available.

I have decided to hold off on the dSLR though... the more I think about it, the more important quiet operation is to me. I'll stick with the EVF cameras until they either go pro or the insurance company won't play with me anymore. Maybe then I'll find a dSLR that feels and sounds good to me.

I still want to try out the Leica though... I'm not sure why but there's something about it I that really attracts me. I mean, the spec's on that new Fuji are pretty impressive but just doesn't say "own me" like the Leica does. It's not often a piece of gear hits me that way.

Thanks again for all the great information,


peripatetic Aug 6, 2005 2:47 PM

If you do wear out the shutter on the 20D you can always take it in for repair, you don't need to throw away the whole camera.

fixerdave Aug 9, 2005 1:13 AM

Well, I'd just like to thank everyone here again for your excellent advice. My insurance company just approved my extended warranty claim and, after going blurry-eyed reading spec's and reviews, I've ordered my camera: a Panasonic Lumix DMC-LC1.

Overall, I know it's not the "best" camera out there... but I think it's the best for me at this time. I picked it up for $1150 CDN, which is WAY lower than the $2100 CDN for the Leica Digilux 2. The Leica is prettier, but it 'aint $2100 purdy.

Why the LC1? Well, I finally realised why I didn't feel comfortable with the dSLRs. Besides the shutter noise, I realised that the Sony F717 spoilt me for ergonomics. Most importantly, because the EVF is mounted in the top/left corner, I can frame lansdcape or portrait shots without the camera squishing my nose. It never occurred to me before... not until I was trying out the Nikon D70 today. No... I don't have a really big nose! Well, it's kind of big but people don't stare at me or anything. I think this is a very big advantage of the EVF design. Once I realised this, my choices narrowed to the Sony F828 and the Panasonic/Leica. The Sony is going for $940 CDN, and I already have spare batteries etc., but the reviews of it's noise problems were pretty harsh. Anyway, that's what I told myself... because I really wanted that Leica. Then I found the Panasonic on for a mere $200 more and I managed to convince myself... while managing to ignore the minor point that I'll need to buy memory and batteries, another $200.

I'll just keep telling myself that I traded my old clunky (dead) F717 in for a brand new spiffy Panasonic LC1 and it only cost me $400 to upgrade :) The insurance company probably wouldn't agree with me though... Maybe if I take lots and lots of pictures, I'll be able to do it again in another year or so.

Anyway, I'd just like to say "thanks again" and I'll sign off with one final thought: credit card purchase protection can be a wonderful thing :-)


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