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Old Apr 23, 2009, 4:54 PM   #1
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I've had a Canon 300D (1st gen Digital Rebel) for 5 years and feel I mastered everything on that camera. However, the shutter failed and I need to purchase a new DSLR and want to move from casual amateur to part-time paid/freelance photographer.

My photography includes the following ranked areas -

1. My kids
2. Cars, racing, r/c planes
3. Gatherings of family (indoors)
4. and eventually product field shots for publications

I do not have a desire to do macro photography, weddings, or studio portraits. Any portraits will likely be outside. And as far as shooting cars, racing, sports, etc. I do not expect to be jump into the 400mm+ lenses just yet, but in the near future.

I currently have some Canon equipment. The 300D is dead and in many pieces, soon to be trashed. However I have a Quantaray 18-200 (non-stabilized) lens and Canon 440EX flash. I am not "married" to Canon and open to Nikon.

I have done tons of research, but as most amateurs entering the prosumer category I have not had the opportunity to handle several cameras side by side and compare them in the real world. I was in Product Marketing before and I know specifications can be misleading.

Here are my camera choices - Canon 50D, Nikon D90, and Nikon D300

My intention is to use an all purpose 18-200mm (IS or VR) lens until I build up business and can justify additional lenses. I would happily spend less than $2,000, but my budget is $2,500 for a lens and body. And if it the body is a Canon, I may even use my Quantaray lens for awhile.

How would you guys compare real world experience with the 50D, D90, and D300?

Feel free to visit my website for examples. The photos are not broken down by camera and were taken by me, my wife, and my sister using P&S cameras, 300D, and D200 (sister's camera).

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Old Apr 24, 2009, 8:33 AM   #2
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You're going to have a tough time finding one person that's shot all 3 cameras. They're all fine cameras and not surprisingly they rank according to price point. D300 then 50D then D90.

As to how you're going to use the camera, I'm unclear on this point:

4. and eventually product field shots for publications
I don't know what "product field shots" are. Can you elaborate?

It's important because the body is only part of the equation. Lenses, flash, tripods etc. are also important.

For example:

Cars: you'll want a wide angle lens with less distortion

Racing: What kind off racing? Where will you be - in stands, in pits, etc. - this will determine what focal length you need

RC Aircraft: Typically very small - I'd recommend a 400mm lens

Gatherings of family indoors: Good external flash (both systems have them but Nikon has better flash metering)

Unclear on whether the car, racing and RC shots are part of your 'part time paid freelancer' plan or just personal use. Also important because it drives where you need to spend your money.

You've got a lot of different needs here - and the challenge is - if you spend all your money buying a D300 you aren't going to have the money to get lenses to realize the benefit of that outstanding camera.

I'm also going to caution you about your 18-200mm idea. I think it's a bad one. Take the Nikon 18-200 - arguably the best of the bunch. It's a lot of money for a lot of compromises. You'll get better results using a 2 lens setup. If you're looking to take a step up from ameteur to prosumer, going with a 18-200 is a step in the wrong direction. You don't need to have pro glass out of the gate but you're still better off with 2 lenses rather than a super-zoom lens.

Now, I'm a Canon guy so I'll give an example in Canon. At B&H, the 50d with 18-200 sells for $1800. The 50d with 17-85 sells for $1400. The 70-200 f4 sells for $600. For $200 more you'd get much better results across the focal range. MUCH better.

The point being - if you want to step up your game, lenses are the most important part of it - don't throw your money away on poor 18-200 lenses.

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Old Apr 24, 2009, 9:24 AM   #3
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When I said product field shots, I am referring to shots of products be used in the field as opposed to studio shots. I have done this before with a former employer and enjoyed it very much. An example would be of a dozer or grader in operation.

I agree about the lenses, especially after reading the technical reviews of 18-200 and similar lenses. While they may get the shot and be clear, the overall image quality will not be on par for "paid photography".

I think I have decided on the 40D body and will need to choose ONE lens to fit with the current lenses I have, which are...

Quantaray 18-200mm 3.5-6.3 DiO, 62mm filters
Canon EF 80-200mm 4.5-5.6 II, 52mm filters
Canon EF 35-80mm 4-5.6 III, 52mm filters (kit lens from Rebel 2000?)
Canon EF-S 18-55 3.5-5.6, 58mm filters (kit lens from Digital Rebel?)

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