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Old Oct 15, 2006, 2:58 AM   #1
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Hello !

I intend to buy a new DSLC this Christmas. At the moment I have3 year old Canon IXUS 400 and Iwolud liketo make a step forward. I live in Australia but my native language is Russian. I have already visited a few top Russian photo forums but the more questions I asked there the more I am confused. First, Russians are quite rude and an innocent question can annoy anyone. The most dangerous question is Please help me to choose the right camera ! At the moment I am happy with Canon 400D or Nikon 80D or maybe Sony A100, but I want to wait for a couple of weeks until they release Pentax 10D and Olympic 400E. As far as I understood, the kit lens which come with Canon/Nikon are not quite good and most reviews advice to buy a body only. But I am not going to become a professional photographer and send my photos to the glance magazines. Can anyone recommend me any universal lens for Canon/Nikon ? I am not also going to spend thousands dollars for the glass. I would like to make good family pictures, micro and ultra zoom. I realize that I need a different lens for a different situation. Do an universal lens exist ?

And another question. Is it safe to buy on E-bay from Hong Kong ? Do the sale exactly the same cameras as we have here in Australia ? What about the Australian adapter ? Can I have any problem with Asian cameras ?

I would appreciate any advise.


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Old Oct 15, 2006, 1:46 PM   #2
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The kit lenses really aren't that bad, but you can get better, sharper lenses for just a bit more. Or you can get a "universal" type lens that covers a wider range of focal lengths. But you will have a hard time doing both! The universal type lense, such as 18-200mm, will generally be like the kit lenses in that you have to stop them down a bit to get best quality. And they may suffer even more from optical distortion and chromatic aberation:

Here is one for only about $375 US:

That's the Sigma 18-200 f3.5-6.3. From reviews it appears as though it's reaonably sharp between apertures between f8-f16. But at more open apertures, it gets very soft in the corners. It also suffers chromatic aberation (purple fringing) at both the short and long end of it's zoom, and suffers from heavy distortion (barrelling or pincushing) as well as lens flare. In addition, auto focus will be very slow, and will struggle on some cameras. It's available for pretty much all of the major mounts (Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Olympus, Sony/Minolta).

Tamaron also has a model that is similar in price and performance, available for Canon, Nikon, Pentax, or Minolta:

And Nikon has the 18-200 f3.5-5.6 VR for about $800:

It doesn't look (at least in these tests) as though it's that much better optically than the Sigma , but it is notably better with regard to chromatic aberation, it has a better build, and it also has Nikon's shake reduction technology built in. And, maybe just as important as the VR (vibration reduction), it focuses much better (much faster) than the cheaper lenses.

There are also 28-200 lenses available if you are willing to do without the wider end. But they're really not much different optically. The Canon 28-200 f3.5-5.6, for about $350, while not a big improvement in optics and build quality over competing 3rd party models, does seem to do a better job auto focusing:


All of these will do OK withing their limits, particularly if you can keep away from shooting near the maximum aperture--they will tend to have a very narrow "sweet spot".

If instead, you decide to work with multiple lense, you might want to start with an upgrade over the standard zoom kit lenses. The Canon 17-85 IS, Nikon 18-70, and Sigma 17-70 are all good choices. Though the kit lense are generally good enough that you also could consider spending the money elsewhere (such as on a wide angle or longer telephoto):


If you do go the "universal lens" route, though, or start with the kit lenses, I would suggest also getting one bright normal prime lens, like an f50 f1.8. Most lines have a fairly inexpensive one in this range. That would give you an option for lower light situations where you need a brighter lens, and also give a taste of what you can expect from better optics. From there, you might know with more experience whether you want to invest in a longer zoom, wider angle lens, brighter standard zooms, or more prime lenses.

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